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The Economist
Robert Mugabe is poised to rig a general election once again
Mar 23rd 2005 | BULAWAYO
From The Economist print edition

There has been less violence than there was in the run-up to the poll five years ago, but there is no chance that the one on March 31st will be free or fair

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IN A woodland park in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second town, a hundred or so black and white people huddled together in the moonlight, as if at a prayer meeting. Men perched on boulders and bowed their heads, women sat on fold-up chairs, a few devotees waved torches. Many wore bandannas, T-shirts or strips of white cloth signifying support for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the opposition party that would almost certainly win the poll if it were allowed to. Posters displayed the party's symbol, an open hand. Burly MDC youths watched out for police. A speaker greeted the group in the local language, Ndebele, then sang out: “A new Zimbabwe!” The crowd shouted back: “A new beginning! Amandla [Power]!” Yet the chances of the MDC guiding Zimbabwe towards that bright new dawn are minimal.

Of parliament's 150 seats, 120 are up for election in single-member, first-past-the-post constituencies; the president, Robert Mugabe, nominates the remaining 30 MPs. Few open-minded people doubt that, if the poll were free and fair, the MDC would romp home. Despite massive intimidation and vote-rigging in the last general election, in 2000, the newly formed party won 57 seats, with 47% of votes cast, against 62 seats for Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF (to give it its full acronym) which officially took 48.6% of the vote. The MDC lodged complaints about alleged vote-rigging in 37 constituencies which ZANU was adjudged to have won; but the courts, heavily influenced by the president and his friends, have failed in the past five years to deal with a single such case.

Two years later, in 2002, the MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, a trade unionist, would surely have unseated Mr Mugabe in a presidential election, had the police not beaten up opposition voters, blocked people from reaching polling stations, and let officials declare false results. The opposition is particularly popular in the capital, Harare, in larger towns like Bulawayo, and in the country's southern belt. Several years of economic collapse, hunger, corruption, a spiralling AIDS epidemic and chronic misrule mean that ZANU, itself sharply divided, is widely hated.

But there is little prospect of it being ousted soon. “I won't vote, it's useless,” says a street-trader in Bulawayo. “I voted last time, but not now. The old man [Mugabe] will win, whatever we do.” The city's outspoken archbishop, Pius Ncube, thinks most voters have been bludgeoned into passivity by years of violence. “There is no way for change, because of this rigging. It's likely to be more rigged than the last one. They [ZANU] have learnt a lot of tricks. People just pray that Mugabe should die. I pray for that.”

There are fewer reports of violence this time, partly because groups that used to document it have been forced to give up, though some still operate in secret. This week Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, reported less violence than before but said that intimidation and partisan laws give ZANU a huge advantage. It enumerates dozens of recent cases of MDC people being beaten, kidnapped and harassed by police and ZANU thugs. Hundreds of local journalists, it says, were arrested last year. Last week a Bulawayo newspaper reported that 40 people had recently been arrested for unspecified “political crimes”.

Mr Mugabe has evidently put out the word that there should now be less bloodshed. During the last general election, thugs and veterans of the independence war were paid to kill opposition campaigners and to invade and take over the farms of MDC-backers. Now, because he wants to avoid shocking observers from South Africa (even though he is letting in only those he thinks most sympathetic), he is adopting subtler rigging techniques.

All the same, most polling stations will be run by soldiers and party agents responsible for the violence last time round: they will hand out ballot papers and tally the results. And there is still the threat of violent retribution after the poll. “People are very much afraid,” says Archbishop Ncube. “No one in Zimbabwe is willing to sacrifice his life.”

Since last time, constituency boundaries have been gerrymandered. A handful of MDC-held seats in populous urban areas have been abolished and new constituencies demarcated in rural areas where land-hungry peasants are friendlier to ZANU. Some urban seats have been merged with neighbouring rural ones, where voters are more pliable and ballot boxes in remote parts more easily stuffed.

In addition, the smaller number of outside observers will be more stretched to watch every ballot box and monitor the count in 8,000-plus polling stations across the land—a vast increase on the past. This time, the ballot papers will be counted where they have been cast, rather than at central counting places. Moreover, villagers are being told that ZANU agents will know, by looking through the transparent new boxes, who has voted for the MDC.

Vote for me—or starve

And ZANU people say bluntly that only their supporters will get government food aid. Farming has collapsed, a drought is now parching the southern half of the country, most aid from outside the country is blocked, and AIDS is rampant. Last month the Johannesburg-based Famine Early Warning System Network, estimated that 5.8m Zimbabweans, in a population of around 11.5m, desperately need food aid—or they could starve. So voting the “wrong way” looks to many of them like a death-sentence.

Furthermore, the ZANU-appointed electoral commission is happy to use an out-of-date voters' roll. This, along with ballot stuffing, could be ZANU's single biggest vote-rigging advantage. A full register has never been disclosed. A partial audit of the roll by the MDC in Bulawayo shows why. Of a sample group of 500 voters, barely half were listed correctly. Nearly a fifth of those named were dead; officials ensure that such “ghosts” are loyal ZANU voters. The South Africa-based Zimbabwe Institute, which advises the MDC, reckons that this probably gives ZANU an 800,000-vote bonus in a voting population of around 5.3m. In addition, the 3m-odd Zimbabweans, most of them very likely MDC backers, who have been driven into exile by economic collapse or government repression, are barred from postal voting.

Few of the observers from abroad seem likely to complain about this patent skulduggery, since most of those let in are from countries whose governments are friendly to Mr Mugabe. The Commonwealth, the European Union and the United States have not been allowed to send observers. Independent-minded African watchers, such as the parliamentary group of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa and South Africa's trade union body, COSATU, have been barred.

South Africa's official observer delegation is the key. Recent comments by President Thabo Mbeki and the leader of his observer mission, Membathisi Mdladlana, the labour minister, suggest they have already made up their minds to declare the election free and fair. The MDC is appalled by Mr Mbeki's partiality, fearing that his team will make much of the quieter mood this time round. Almost all of SADC's 13 member-governments (Mauritius and Botswana are possible exceptions) sound inclined, in a show of regional solidarity, to fall in behind Mr Mbeki.

Hoping to take advantage of the comparative calm, Mr Mugabe has now decided to let in many foreign journalists, after years of excluding nearly all of them, and the MDC and Mr Tsvangirai are being given a few minutes of air time on the state television news (followed, of course, by an hour or so of Mr Mugabe and other ZANU leaders). But Zimbabwe's most independent newspapers, notably the Daily News, remain closed, and ZANU virtually monopolises radio broadcasts.

Mr Mugabe seems determined, this time, to win two-thirds of the seats, so he can then change the constitution. Among other things, he might scrap a provision that requires an election soon after a president steps down. That would make it easier for Mr Mugabe, now 81, to handpick and then impose a successor, probably the new vice-president, Joyce Mujuru, known during the liberation war as Comrade Spill Blood, wife of a former head of the armed forces and defence minister.

It is just conceivable that an MDC majority of votes will be too big even for Mr Mugabe's crooked officials to fiddle away. Or, if the result is rigged as expected, it is possible that demonstrations in Harare will be too big for Mr Mugabe and his soldiers to face down. But that does not seem likely. Mr Tsvangirai and his friends know from experience that Mr Mugabe is not averse to cracking a lot of heads. After being battered by several years of repression, the MDC does not look like having the stomach for a revolution on the streets.

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Yahoo News

Zimbabwe Leader Mugabe, Akin to Man Riding a Lion

      Wed Mar 23, 8:09 AM ET

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's veteran leader Robert Mugabe has
been likened by critics to a man riding a lion -- forced by pride to pose as
a hero while facing the constant threat of being mauled.

Political analysts say Mugabe has little chance of steering Zimbabwe out of
its political and economic crisis because he fears losing power which
undermines his ability to act.

Mugabe, an African liberation hero now pilloried as a dictator by Western
countries, will see his balance tested again when Zimbabwe holds
parliamentary elections on March 31.

The opposition says the polls will be neither free nor fair, but instead
will give the 81-year-old leader a chance to engineer another win for his
ruling ZANU-PF party which it says rigged victories in both 2000 and 2002.

But victory at the polls will hardly solve Mugabe's problems.

He cannot win back crucial Western aid for Zimbabwe's ravaged economy
without reversing some of his controversial policies, including tight
controls on the media and security laws hobbling the opposition, analysts

The embattled Zimbabwean leader is unlikely do this because it would expose
his weaknesses, leaving him vulnerable to leadership challenges from both
within ZANU-PF and from outside forces, the analysts say.

"For Mugabe, I don't think he sees any way of doing that without losing
control, and without endangering his own political position," said Eldred
Masunungure, a political science lecturer at Harare's University of

"For some powerful Western countries, the Zimbabwe question has become a
matter of prestige and I don't think they will accept any reforms which will
leave Mugabe posturing as the final winner in this stand-off," he said.


Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the Zimbabwe political pressure group the
National Constitutional Assembly, believes Mugabe sees a free press as a
threat because it would open up a public debate over his management of the
economy, his handling of ethnic issues and his overall leadership skills.

"In the last five years, Mugabe has stifled debate on whether he is an asset
or liability to this country ... and without the restrictions he has imposed
that debate will become a very serious issue," he said.

Mugabe responded with characteristic anger to a spirited drive by some of
his top political lieutenants, including former information minister
Jonathan Moyo, to oppose his decision late last year to elevate Joyce Mujuru
to the vice-presidency ahead of parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa.

For years, Mnangagwa had been touted as Mugabe's likely successor and
political analysts say the president -- expected to retire at the end of his
current term in 2008 -- was no longer comfortable with him and doesn't want
him in a post that puts him line for the top job.

Analysts say Mugabe does not want a strong successor because he fears
possible prosecution or persecution on charges of abuse of office, and
prefers a candidate from his Mashonaland home region whom he can manipulate
after retirement.


Mugabe's political balancing act takes place against the backdrop of a
severe economic crisis that has turned a country that was once one of
southern Africa's success stories into a basket case.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of inflation in the world,
unemployment of 70 percent, and acute shortages of food, fuel and foreign
currency -- all woes that critics blame on Mugabe's economic mismanagement.

Many Western donors have frozen economic aid to Zimbabwe because of Mugabe's
policies, a step the government says is unfair and invited by the

The European Union (news - web sites) has extended a series of sanctions
against Mugabe's government, including a visa ban on Mugabe and his top
associates, while the United States has lumped Zimbabwe with countries such
as Iran (news - web sites) and North Korea (news - web sites) as "outposts
of tyranny."

Many wonder how long the country can battle on in isolation.

A columnist in Harare's state-controlled Herald newspaper admitted recently
that Zimbabwe would want to see sanctions lifted and return to the
international fold.

"Countries are run on the basis of international finance, underpinned by the
global banking industry," Nathaniel Manheru said.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, accuses Zimbabwe's
former colonial ruler of leading a Western campaign to oust him over his
government's seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless

Thus far, there is little sign he is ready to back down.

Zimbabwe's anti-Western rhetoric has increased as the polls approach, with
Mugabe and other top officials accusing the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) of acting as a proxy for the government's enemies.

Critics say electoral reforms adopted under pressure from regional leaders
still don't meet international demands for a fair vote -- charges the
government dismisses as propaganda.

And although overt pre-election campaign violence against the opposition has
fallen this year compared to the last significant elections in 2000 and in
2002, analysts say Zimbabwe's political climate remains oppressive and
Mugabe's fears are to blame.

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SA team takes Zimbabwe electoral body to task

March 23, 2005, 17:45

South African parliamentarians are beginning to make their presence felt in
Zimbabwe. Today they took the country's elections supervisory body head-on.
They questioned the allocation of the 210 polling stations, seemingly to
favour Zanu(PF).

"These polling stations are identified on the ground in the constituencies
by the constituency elections officer in consultation with the contesting
parties and candidates so they are not something that is dictated to by the
commission to the constituencies," said Justice George Chiweshe, the
chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Political parties are yet to respond to the allocations.

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, is back on the campaign
trail adding a famous South African name to the list topped by Tony Blair,
the British prime minister. Mugabe attacked diamond magnate Nicky
Oppenheimer for not wanting to share his vast property. "Nobody is going to
own more than two farms, others like Ian Smith have remained with one farm.
We are a country with a heart we are humane and human beings. We could have
gotten his head if we wanted to yet they say we are undemocratic," he said.

MDC sells campaign manifesto
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was on the other hand selling its
campaign manifesto. It says the government fails to deliver in health,
education and the economy and even delaying a water project in the
Matebeleland province.

"It has been on the cards since 1920. They are still talking about it
today," said Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary for economic affairs.

Zimbabweans across the board are hoping that the elections and campaigning
will be peaceful.

SADC team calls for media coverage
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) election
observer mission to Zimbabwe has called for more representative media
coverage of political parties in the run-up to the country's March 31
election. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the chairperson of the mission, who is the
South African minerals and energy affairs minister, was speaking at a media
briefing in Zimbabwe's capital Harare earlier today.

She said competition in the election is stiff, adding that it is encouraging
to see the vigorous campaigning ahead of the poll. The SADC team will today
deploy its members to various parts of the country until election day.
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Barring media from Zim bad for democracy: Press Club

March 23, 2005, 18:00

The barring of some South African media from covering the Zimbabwe general
elections is a blow to democracy, the National Press Club said today.
"Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are the cornerstones of
democracy - tampering with these is a blow to democracy," said Ben Rootman,
the press club chairperson, in a statement. He was responding to the
Zimbabwe authorities' refusal to grant accreditation to Talk Radio 702 and
567 Cape Talk to cover the March 31 elections.

"Barring Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk from reporting on the general
elections in Zimbabwe next week does not auger well for the right to receive
information through recognised communications media," Rootman said.
Authorities gave no reason for the refusal.

Rootman said the press club had also received no response from Simon Khaya
Moyo, Zimbabwe's high commissioner in South Africa, despite numerous
requests for him to brief them on the forthcoming elections. "However,
serving a free media corps, the club's door remains open and we will
entertain such a briefing at very short notice," he said.

Last month three journalists -- Jan Raath and Brian Latham, who both work
for a number of British and South African news organisations, and Angus Shaw
of the Associated Press -- left Zimbabwe after their offices were raided and
they were interrogated by police about allegations that they broke the
country's media and security laws. Following their departure, only a handful
of foreign correspondents remain in Zimbabwe, including the tiny Reuters and
AFP bureaux.

Earlier this month the government-controlled Media and Information
Commission cancelled the licence of the Weekly Times newspaper. This was the
fourth independent newspaper to be closed in Zimbabwe since 2002. The Daily
News, the Daily News on Sunday, and the Tribune had all been closed. In
January, Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe president, signed a law requiring
journalists to be accredited by the government. - Sapa
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Zimbabwe to Reconsider Early Release of Mercenaries
      By VOA News
      23 March 2005

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has allowed the government to appeal the early
release of 62 South Africans jailed as suspected mercenaries.

The court today (Wednesday) granted the request from prosecutors, who had
argued that foreigners do not qualify for early release.

Lawyers for the South Africans say they will remain in prison until the
appeal is heard in coming weeks. The attorneys had initially hoped the men
would be freed and sent to South Africa earlier this month, after a local
court agreed to reduce their sentences.

Zimbabwe arrested the 62 men along with several others last year, after
their plane landed in Harare. Officials accused the men of planning to fly
to Equatorial Guinea to overthrow the government.

Most were sentenced to one-year jail terms for weapons and immigration

Some information for this report provided by SAPA and AFP.
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      SAF Civil Society Doubtful Of Free And Fair Elections In Zimbabwe
      By Joe De Capua
      23 March 2005

Members of South African Civil Society groups have returned from Zimbabwe,
after spending nine days in the country observing the election process.
They say few Zimbabweans believe the March 30th parliamentary elections will
be free and fair.

Nicolas Dieltiens is a member of the group, the Anti-Privatization Forum.
From Johannesburg, he spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua
about his assessment of the Zimbabwean electoral process.

He says, "It seems to any observer among us, among the six of us who went,
that the election situation is very peaceable.  I mean the political climate
in the country is quite peaceable, but most of the Zimbabweans we spoke to
whether in formal meetings or informally expressed some great reservations
about whether the elections would in fact be free and fair."  Based on their
experience in the previous election, he says many believe that "violence
will mar the polls."

He also says, "(There's) more particular concern among certain
constituencies about disenfranchisement, certainly among the students.  The
problem because of these reservations is the apathy among voters. The
expectation that the polls are rigged beyond any kind of controversion (sic)
to some legitimate poll is that the vote is wasted."

Mr. Dieltiens also says with some three million having left the country in
recent years, and their inability to vote in this month's elections, voter
turnout should be down.  He says many Zimbabweans expressed concern over the
statement by South African President Mbeki that he expected the polls to be
free and fair.  Some speculate it was an attempt by Mr. Mbeki to distance
himself from the United States, after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
called Zimbabwe an outpost of tyranny.

As for recommendations, The Civil Society representative says, "For free and
fair polls, it would have to be entirely reconstituted.  This election now,
it's a foregone conclusion its limitations on freedoms for citizens of the
country.  Any kind of possibility for political change in the country I don't
think would be coming from the democratic elections as they have been
currently set up."
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      Zimbabwe Appeals Electoral Court Ruling on Jailed Parliamentarian
      By Tendai Maphosa
      23 March 2005

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has petitioned the Supreme Court to
overturn a electoral court ruling that a jailed member of parliament can
participate in the March 31 parliamentary election.

The appeal pits the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Judge
George Chiweshe as one of the applicants against Judge Tendai Uchena of the
Electoral Court.

Earlier this month, Judge Uchena ruled that Roy Bennett an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change legislator serving a prison sentence for a
scuffle in parliament, can stand in his constituency from his prison cell.

Mr. Bennett had sought the intervention of the Electoral Court after the
nomination court rejected his nomination saying he is a criminal. In his
ruling, Judge Uchena said Mr. Bennett is qualified by law to stand for
election since he was sentenced by parliament and not a court of law.

Mr. Bennett is serving a year with labor in a rural prison after being found
guilty of contempt of parliament by the majority ruling ZANU-PF legislators.
The trial by parliament came after he knocked Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa to the floor during a heated debate in the house.

Judge Uchena postponed polling day in Mr. Bennett's constituency to April
30, a month after the general election for 120 parliamentary seats. Mr.
Bennett, jailed last year, could be out of jail in June if his sentence is
reduced for good behavior.

After the rejection of his nomination by the nomination court, his wife,
Heather agreed to stand in the place of the hugely popular legislator. Mr.
Bennett, one of three white members of parliament has represented a
predominantly black rural constituency since 2000.

President Robert Mugabe described Judge Uchena's ruling as "absolute
nonsense" and said it would be appealed.

Beatrice Mtetwa, the lawyer for Mr. Bennett told VOA that she saw a direct
link between Mr. Mugabe's outburst and the appeal. "If they wanted to appeal
they should have announced it immediately, now they are merely responding to
the president's displeasure," she said.

Calling the president's words intimidating, Ms. Mtetwa added that it proves
opposition claims that the Electoral Commission is not independent. The five
person commission comprises of four commissioners appointed by the president
from a list of seven nominees submitted by members of the ruling party and
the opposition but its chairperson is appointed by the president.
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Mail and Guardian

      Mugabe's Zanu-PF party walk out of debate


      23 March 2005 09:28

            Supporters of President Robert Mugabe's 25-year rule locked
horns on Tuesday with opposition members in the only public campaign debate
before the parliamentary elections on March 31.

            The stormy session, marked by catcalls and slow hand claps,
ended with a walkout by members of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Hundreds of
opposition Movement for Democratic Change loyalists attended, some of them
wearing party T-shirts.

            University lecturer Brian Raftopoulos, who moderated the debate
convened by an organisation of city taxpayers, pleaded repeatedly for "a
culture of tolerance".

            The election campaign has highlighted Zimbabwe's protracted
economic and political crisis, as well as accusations that poor governance
under Mugabe has driven this once-prosperous African nation to poverty. For
most of Tuesday, much of downtown Harare was without water, due to another
of the frequent unexplained shutdowns.

            Opposition finance spokesperson Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe faced
"demise as a nation state, like Somalia," if authorities failed to supply
water, fix roads and collect trash".

            "We can't live without water," said Biti, one of 57 opposition
lawmakers. "You can't divorce the crisis facing the state with the crisis in
local government."

            Ruling party members blamed opposition-controlled local councils
for neglecting services.

            Zanu-PF won 62 seats the last parliamentary election in 2000,
after which Mugabe nominated 30 more legislators under a 1990 electoral law
for a wide majority. The opposition and international observers disputed the
election results, as well as the results of the 2002 poll that re-elected
Mugabe. His current term runs to mid-2008, when he will be 84.

            Zimbabwean opposition leaders and several international and
national human rights groups have said the March 31 elections are unlikely
to be free and fair, because of violence and intimidation blamed on Mugabe's
increasingly isolated and autocratic regime.

            The debate on Tuesday underlined the failure of government and
opposition members to discuss policy, after six years of political and
economic crisis.

            Police gave permission for the debate and did not attend in
uniform, but many plainclothes agents were believed to be mingling with the
audience. - Sapa-AP

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Sky News


Zimbabwe's opposition leader has told Sky News his country is on the edge of
a precipice and that President Mugabe should pack his bags and go.
Human rights groups say a climate of political intimidation is clouding
campaigning in the run-up to parliamentary elections at the end of the

Sky's David Chater has been following the campaign and watched Morgan
Tsvangirai in action in Mashonaland, north of the capital Harare.

He saw Mr Tsvangirai elicit a passionate response from a group he was

But even though there are no obstacles put in Mr Tsvangirai's way, the group
he was speaking to was still small.

Mr Tsvangirai explained that intimidation made it difficult for villagers to
come and hear his message.

"It's not visible to the public eye but these people are being intimidated
by traditional leaders, food distrubtion is being used and militia come
through the night to this isolated village," he explained.

"The few you see here are the ones who are courageous. The bulk are

Of Mr Mugabe, he added: "The best he can do for his country now is to pack
his bags and retire."

Mr Tsvangirai also said that there could be problems ahead for the Zimbabwe
people, with widespread crop failure and drought meaning that up to seven
million people will be needing food aid before the end of the year.
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      Another independent withdraws from election in Zimbabwe 2005-03-23 16:48:15

          HARARE, March 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Another Zimbabwean independent
candidate has withdrawn from the race of parliamentary elections to support
the ruling party's candidate in his electorate.

          Lloyd Siyoka, former Matabeleland South provincial chairman of the
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), announced
his decision at a rally addressed by President Robert Mugabe in Beitbridge
on Tuesday, becoming the second ZANU-PF cadre after Ottilia Maluleke to
abandon standing in the election as an independent.

          Maluleke recently withdrew from the race and threw her weight
behind ZANU-PF candidate Celine Pote in Chiredzi North following talks with
President Mugabe.

          On Tuesday, President Mugabe warned that the ZANU-PF leadership
would not tolerate "indiscipline" within the party.

          "We have rules and regulations and those who break them are
punished. We punished those who held unsanctioned meetings at Tsholotsho
(and) Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo," Mugabe said when addressing thousands of
people at the campaign rally.

          He said Siyoka and five other party provincial chairmen, including
former Midlands chairman July Moyo, who is the minister of Energy and Power
Development, were suspended for being part of the plot which ostensibly
meant to subvert Politburo guidance on the nomination of members to the
party's Presidium.

          Mugabe took the opportunity to assure the people of Beitbridge
that the government would ensure that the drought-prone district is assisted
with transport for maize distribution and speed up programs such as the
electrification of chiefs' homesteads and other institutions in the
district. Enditem

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MDC has no respect for parliament - Zanu-PF
          March 23 2005 at 10:07AM

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF says there will be no bilateral talks with
the Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) on political and other
constitutional reforms because they do not respect the country's parliament.

      Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu-PF secretary for publicity, said on Tuesday
that the MDC never used its opportunities in parliament to push for
effective reforms.

      "As far as political issues are concerned, we expect more co-operation
between the parties in parliament ... (The MDC) should know that this is the
main decision-making body in the country and this is where they should
express their wishes, desires and grievances.

      "In the last term, the MDC behaved very badly and did not take the
opportunity of debating issues in parliament. "All they wanted was elections
so that they could get into power," Shamuyarira said in an interview.

      "To call the leadership of MDC and Zanu (together) will be pointless
if there is not this co-operation.

      "The ground must be prepared and one way of preparing the ground is to
intensify this co-operation in parliament."

      Shamuyarira reiterated his party's stance that they did not want any
European or American observers in the country because they were not neutral.

      "We have invited all the observers who have been neutral in the
Zimbabwean case. The ones we have not invited are the ones who have been
actively supporting the opposition, such as Britain."

      He was critical of former information minister Jonathan Moyo, standing
as an independent candidate in the highly contested area of Tsholotsho in
Matabeleland North.

      Moyo was booted out of Zanu-PF following his attempt to reshape the
party's presidium against President Robert Mugabe's wishes.

      "If Moyo had fought the elections as a Zanu-PF candidate he would have
won the seat. But now that he is fighting as an independent, Zanu-PF members
will not support him."

      Turning to his party's links with the African National Congress (ANC)
and South Africa, Shamuyarira said Zanu-PF was still on the "same road" and
sharing the "same cause" as the ANC, in spite of the "irresponsible actions"
of its alliance partners, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party.

      The party's relationship with the ANC and the SA government would not
be strained by either the arrest of a South African spy and mercenaries or
allegations that MDC "terrorists" were being trained in South Africa.

      "There have not been any strains at all. (ANC secretary-general)
Kgalema Motlanthe has been here several times.

      "We have discussed with him, we are on the same road, we are on the
same cause," said Shamuyarira.

      "They (the ANC) have given us the assurance that they are supporting
the line we have developed over the years and that we should not be alarmed
by the activities of these other partners (Cosatu and SACP).

      "What Cosatu and the SACP are saying and doing is completely
irrelevant to our understanding and our co-operation with the ANC and the
South African government," he said.

      Motlanthe has declined to comment.

      Shamuyarira accused Cosatu of having been infiltrated and used by the
US-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

      "That is why Cosatu is behaving in this way."

      Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven dismissed the allegation as

      "They obviously don't understand what the ICFTU is all about. It is a
confederation of unions that takes its mandate from its affiliates. It does
not involve itself with politics."
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Zimbabwean electoral commission says it is ready

March 23, 2005, 14:00

By Antionette Lazarus
Judge George Chiweshe, the chief electoral officer of Zimbabwe's Electoral
Commission (ZEC), says preparations for the March 31 parliamentary election
is at an advanced stage. He was briefing election observers and the press in
Harare earlier today. The ZEC, an independent body, was set up to run and
conduct the March 31 poll.

Chiweshe says the commission is ready for the poll. Election officers and
staff have been trained and the 50 000 translucent ballot boxes have been
delivered to the 8 235 polling stations throughout the country, he said. The
printing of the ballot pages is expected to be completed by today. The print
and electronic media have also been utilised to educate voters.

The ZEC has so far visited four of the eight provinces to assess their
readiness for the poll. Chiweshe said the commission is pleased that the
situation in Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo and the Midlands is
peaceful, with the exception of minor incidents. Fewer than 5.8 million
Zimbabweans have registered and are eligible to vote. Polling stations will
open at 7am and close at 7pm. Thereafter counting will commence at the
respective stations.
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Cosatu protests at Zimbabwe high commission

March 23, 2005, 16:30

About 300 Cosatu members gathered at the Zimbabwean high commission in
Tshwane today to demonstrate against conditions in Zimbabwe ahead of the
country's parliamentary elections on March 31.

Today's protest is the third of a series that will culminate in a night
vigil at the Beit Bridge border post on the eve of the Zimbabwean election.
The South African Police Service has confirmed that they have filed an
urgent court interdict to prevent the protest. Cosatu has vowed to fight the
interdict and to continue with the action regardless.

Cosatu has twice been forced to leave Zimbabwe while attempting to conduct
fact-finding missions.
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      Zimbabwe Accuses Legal Society of Prejudging Election
      By  Tendai Maphosa
      23 March 2005

A Zimbabwean government spokesman has denounced a Law Society of Zimbabwe
statement that conditions in Zimbabwe are not conducive for the holding of a
free and fair election on March 31. The authorities are saying the lawyers
are guilty of prejudging the poll.

Dismissing the lawyers' statement, George Charamba, the Zimbabwean Secretary
for Information and Publicity, said the legal body sounded like a "very
ignorant Law Society."

Mr. Charamba, who was quoted in the state-controlled daily, The Herald, said
the society's statement was politically motivated willful ignorance.

"It is difficult how such learned people could be ignorant of the laws of
the country," he said.

The society also criticized the country's Public Order and Security Act, the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting
Services Act. In its statement, the Law Society said the measures limited
the ability of Zimbabweans to express themselves freely.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is widely criticized
as an attempt by the government to muzzle the independent media. Under the
Act four newspapers have been banned and journalists arrested. It also
requires publishing houses and journalists to register with a government
appointed media commission to operate.

Among its provisions, the Public Order and Security Act requires police
permission for public meetings. The Herald says it was created to ensure
public order, peace and security in the face of continued violent mass
actions and strikes by the opposition and other, what are termed
"anti-Zimbabwe" civic organizations.

The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Joseph James, told VOA that
one of his society's complaints is what he called the selective application
of that law.

"We hear so many reports of breaches of the law by the opposition, but very
few cases are attributed to the ruling party," he said.

The Herald article said the lawyers' criticism of laws such as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, "runs contrary to the ruling by
the Supreme Court that the Act was constitutional."

Mr. James said a bad law does not become good because the Supreme Court says
it is constitutional. He added Zimbabwe does not need legislation that
denies citizens their human rights, as the country is not at war. He added
that judicial appointments over the past five years have resulted in a
Supreme Court bench that is not "too robust in standing up for human

The government spokesman, Mr. Charamba, said the Law Society showed where
its affinity lay by joining Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
British prime minister Tony Blair and U.S. president George Bush, in
prejudging the upcoming poll.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe is one of the 29 local organizations invited by
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to observe the election next week. At the
time of the invitations, Mr. Chinamasa said the organizations had been
invited for their non-partisan stance.
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Expatriates an untapped development resource, IOM

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 23 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean expatriates living in the
United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa are an untapped development resource,
says a study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The organisation conducted a survey of 1,000 Zimbabwean expatriates in South
Africa and the UK last year and found that, apart from economic remittances
to Zimbabwe, "nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents wanted to
participate in a skills transfer programme and ... 77 percent wanted to
contribute to the development of Zimbabwe".

IOM explained that the research "was not part of a wider programme ... or
developed to evaluate policy", but rather to gather data that would inform a
range of policy-makers and organisations.

The survey aimed to obtain a profile of Zimbabweans in the UK and South
Africa, determined by their skills base, transnational links and interest in
contributing to development in their home country.

"In terms of immigration status, 13 percent [of respondents] were
naturalised EU [European Union] or South African citizens, 15 percent were
permanent residents or had indefinite leave to remain, 20 percent were on
working visas, 12 percent were on student visas, seven percent had refugee
status or a form of humanitarian protection, 12 percent were asylum seekers
and 19 percent were undocumented migrants," the report noted.

Thirty-two percent of the South African survey sample were undocumented
migrants, compared to six percent in the UK. Zimbabweans living in South
Africa also visited Zimbabwe on a fairly regular basis, "with 55 percent
returning for a visit ... every six months or more".

The main reason for emigrating was the economic and political crisis in
Zimbabwe, and the consequent high rate of unemployment.

"Forty-eight percent said they left Zimbabwe due to the economic situation,
the lack of employment ... and around a quarter (26 percent) said that their
main reason for leaving was political," the report said.

The majority (82 percent) had arrived in the UK or South Africa with a
qualification, of which 38 percent held a bachelor's degree or higher, 19
percent had a diploma in higher education and three percent had a
professional qualification.

However, many in the UK and South Africa have had to take employment not
commensurate with their skills or experience, and "an area of great concern
is the effect on the skills base of this very highly skilled diaspora
population of not being able to use their skills and qualifications" in
their new country of residence.

This meant that "in future years, some Zimbabweans returning from the
diaspora will return with a lower skills base than when they left".

"Given that many Zimbabweans in the diaspora are key workers in the
education and healthcare professions, their emigration, and the evidence of
deskilling, creates clear and obvious concerns for the longer-term future of


The study found that "nearly everyone maintained regular social contact with
family members in Zimbabwe (96 percent)" and that "there were also strong
economic ties with family".

"Around three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) sent economic remittances
[to Zimbabwe] and of those that sent these remittances, 85 percent said the
main reason was to support family members."

Money was also more likely to be remitted by "the informal routes of family,
friends and personal visits to Zimbabwe than through formal financial
institutions", the survey found.

Clothes (85 percent) and food (43 percent) also ranked high as non-monetary
gifts sent home by expatriates.

Eighteen percent of respondents said they remitted on average US $565 per
month from the UK and South Africa. Another 18 percent said they sent
between $377 and $563.

Thirty-seven percent were sending between $188 and $375 a month, while 27
percent remitted less than $188.

Because these remittances were being transferred informally or via
independent money brokers, rather than financial institutions, "they do not
become part of the balance of payments and foreign exchange reserves" of

When respondents were asked what changes would help them to contribute, or
contribute more effectively, to development in Zimbabwe, they "mentioned
most often ... factors that related directly to Zimbabwe - political changes
(60 percent), economic opportunities (50 percent), and voting rights (49)
percent," the researchers noted.

"The data suggests that if the economic and/or political situation changed
in Zimbabwe, the skilled communities outside of Zimbabwe would be likely to
return and participate in the development of Zimbabwe from inside the

It was clear from the survey that there was "a commitment among Zimbabweans
in the diaspora to return to Zimbabwe, and a great deal of interest in
participating in development".

"Certainly the data from the survey highlights that the diaspora could be a
resource for Zimbabwe in the short term, if certain changes took place to
facilitate this," the report concluded.

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England and Zimbabwe agree to cancel Tests

Cricinfo staff

March 23, 2005

England and Zimbabwe appear finally to have drawn a line under the dispute
that has dogged sporting relations between the two countries for three
years, and reached a mutual agreement to cancel a two-Test series that was
due to have been played in Zimbabwe, under the provisions of the ICC Future
Tours Programme.

At last week's ICC executive board meeting in Delhi, it was agreed that the
current regulations - that all teams should play each other at home and away
over a four-year period - put too great a strain on the itineraries of the
busiest countries. By extending the cycle to six years, England, who last
played Zimbabwe at home in 2003, now do not need to take them on until the
winter of 2009.

"Both countries agree that the Future Tours Programme and volume of
international cricket scheduled in the foreseeable future results in an
absence of mutually convenient dates on which these matches could be
re-arranged," said the England & Wales Cricket Board in a statement.

The agreement was reached during the Delhi meeting between the chairmen of
the two boards, David Morgan and Peter Chingoka, and later confirmed by
David Collier, the ECB's chief executive. "The ECB is pleased to have
resolved the issues concerning the postponed Test matches," said Collier,
"and the chairmen should be congratulated on reaching a mutually agreeable
solution so promptly."

In addition, the two boards reached an amicable settlement regarding the
cancelled one-day international in Harare this winter, when England arrived
late for their five-match series following the Zimbabwe government's
decision not to issue visas to certain members of the touring British media.

With a four-year hiatus before England and Zimbabwe next appear on the
radar, it could finally mean the end of a kerfuffle that has demeaned the
game for far too long.

© Cricinfo
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

MDC MP's roadshow barred

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-24

POLICE have barred MDC Harare Central legislator Murisi Zwizwai from holding
a road show on Saturday to boost his chances of winning the seat on an
opposition ticket.
Officer commanding police Harare suburban district, Chief Superintendent
Kunene said he could not sanction the road show because it was not confined
"to any particular constituency or police district" despite the letterhead
of Zwizwai's request clearly stating the constituency  in which the campaign
will be held.
"Please be advised that authority to hold a road show has not been
 approved," read Kunene's letter dated March 23, 2005.
But in a police notification dated March 22 this year, Zwizwai through MDC
Harare office said the road show would take place in Harare Central.
"We intend to use 10 motor vehicles. There will be no whistles/hooting
during the event. We confine ourselves within the provisions of POSA. We
intent to put our fliers in the four wards namely ward two, five, six and
seven. Find attached our direction and route in respect of the road show,"
read the notice.
Zwizwai's lawyers, Kantor and Immerman yesterday wrote to Kunene questioning
the decision to ban the road show.
"As you are aware, and indeed as recently admitted by police spokesperson
(Wayne) Bvudzijena, the Act does not require the police to give authority,
all that is required is that the police be notified, which notification has
been given in accordance with provisions of the law," wrote the lawyers.
Bvudzijena confirmed yesterday that police had no authority to ban political
meetings or show, but was quick to point out that where matters of security
concerned, the uniformed forces would advise accordingly.
"We don't stop political events, but you must understand that we are the
custodians of law and order in the country and when we think there would be
breach of security at a rally on any political event it is our duty to stamp
authority. We take a pro-active position," Bvudzijena said.
Kantor and Immerman said it was incorrect that the road show was not
confined to any particular constituency or police district.
The lawyers added: "As is clear from the notification letter, the road show
is for Harare Central constituency which is under Harare suburban district.
All three police stations covered by the constituency have been duly
informed. The route to be followed by the road show was also attached to the
notification letter. The notification clearly accords with provisions of the
law and if you do not confirm that this is indeed the position before the
close of business today, please be advised that we shall approach the courts
for urgent relief."
At the time of going to press yesterday, the police had not responded to the
lawyers' demands.
Zwizwai is fighting it out to retain the constituency with Zanu PF candidate
Florence Chideya and independent Margaret Dongo in next week's parliamentary
Replying to the lawyers the police said they could not guarantee the safety
of participants, the show could trigger violence and that its personell had
already been deployed to polling stations ready for the elections.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Majongwe arrested

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-24

PROGRESSIVE Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general Raymond
Majongwe was reportedly arrested on Tuesday and later released that day,
police have confirmed.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed Majongwe had been picked up
for allegedly defaming President Robert Mugabe.
"He was charged. A warned and cautioned statement was recorded and
 released," Bvudzijena said. "We are going to proceed by way of summons."
Majongwe's lawyer Alec Muchadehama of Mbizo, Muchadehama and Makoni,
yesterday said his client was called to Braeside Police Station on Tuesday
morning and detained on allegations of having insulted the Head of State.
Muchadehama said the trade unionist was later taken to Harare Central Police
Station where he was released at around 8pm.
"He was released on summons last (Tuesday) night and the police said he had
contravened Section 15 of POSA after allegedly telling a Zanu PF gathering
in Cranborne that: How can you vote for Robert Mugabe achembera (old)," said
The lawyer said prior to Tuesday's arrest, police summoned Majongwe the day
before and ordered him to return to the police the next  day.
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Sorry, Tony, African Graft is Even More Incurable Than Aids

The East African (Nairobi)

March 21, 2005
Posted to the web March 23, 2005

Joachim Buwembo

You have most probably nursed a relative suffering from Aids. So you can
picture the following scenario.

A middle-aged male relative of yours has Aids and every fortnight, you drive
to his home two hours from town to deliver medicines, food and money. His
eight young children relish your visits because you bring them a few goodies
from town. His wife is grateful for the assistance with school fees.

One day, you take along a friend on the visit. The friend, who was largely
educated overseas and does consultancies in town, also teaches part-time at
the university. As you drive back to the city, he delivers his considered

You cannot continue making such an investment in this patient's family, he
says, because it is not sustainable.

As long as the man is sick, the food you are buying will not help him resume
feeding his family. So the only thing to do is to tell the man to get rid of
his HIV before you continue assisting him. Once he has removed the virus
from his body, your friend advises, you can even double the amount you are
spending on him because now he will be able to make proper use of it.

That is what the Commission for Africa told our governments just over week
ago. The noble proposal by British Premier Tony Blair's team to get us out
of our hopelessness includes having all of Africa's debt cancelled and the
doubling of annual aid to $50 billion. This, we are told, can be achieved
effortlessly on the part of the developed world, for all they need to do is
for each of their citizens to forgo half a stick of chewing gum per day. Now
why would anybody oppose such a plan?

Well, there's a catch. In order for the plan to work, African governments
must commit themselves to fighting corruption. Yes, the Aids patient must
eliminate the virus from his blood, whereupon we will give him all he wants.
Is this condition realistic?

Most African governments have the corruption virus firmly established in
their blood. For them to genuinely fight corruption simply means to commit
suicide. To start with, they come to power by stealing or buying votes, that
is, by engaging in acts of corruption. Even those who make it in a free and
fair election immediately become corrupt if they are to stay in power.

So, unless the Blair Commission are talking about pretending to fight
corruption, they know they are suggesting the impossible.

How can an African president remove corruption from his government? The best
way is to resign, as he is the one responsible for all the billions looted
under his administration. Do you see any African president resigning just
because resources have been squandered under his administration? Or sacking
all his unqualified loyalists, who hold key positions in the economy and
most importantly, in security?

Or is Mr Blair going to send a circular to all the thieves in the
continent's Cabinets, asking them to kindly resign? Even if the corrupt
ministers opted to stop stealing overnight, what of the corrupt people they
appointed and who have since set up networks to bleed treasuries across the

Telling an African government to stop corruption is even more unrealistic
than telling a person to remove HIV from his blood, because some drugs can
reduce the virus to undetectable levels, something that is not about to
happen to corruption. So let the well-intentioned people at the Africa
Commission talk about things that are possible and then maybe they can make
some progress towards their vision.

A more realistic way to help us would be an offer to cancel the debt of
every country that signs an agreement that it will not borrow again, and
passes a law to that effect. That way, the governments will not only learn
to live within their means, they will also have enough foreign cash at their
disposal, since they will no longer be servicing debts.

Moreover, foreign aid and loans create the temptation to steal. But if it is
only tax collections that are available to spend and steal, even the usually
forgiving African populations will get annoyed enough to kick out corrupt
governments in short order.

Joachim Buwembo is managing editor of The Citizen of Dar es Salaam.

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Mugabe rounds on ex-propaganda chief
Wed Mar 23, 2005 8:03 PM GMT

By Stella Mapenzauswa

TSHOLOTSHO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has urged
voters to hand defeat to ex-propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo, whose defection
ahead of this month's polls revealed cracks in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

"We say fine, get out of the party, let's see. The whole machinery of the
party will fall on you and you will get demolished," Mugabe told a rally of
around 3,000 in Moyo's home district of Tsholotsho north of Bulawayo.

Mugabe hinted that Moyo had sought to engineer a military coup after he left
the ruling party, which is widely expected to ride to a national victory
amid opposition charges of political repression.

"He did terrible things, going to the army commander ... did you want him to
effect a coup in your favour, so you become leader?" Mugabe asked.

Moyo lost favour with Mugabe after convening a secret meeting late last year
which the party says sought to push its own candidate for both party and
national vice president.

He was dropped from ZANU-PF's top leadership for backing Speaker of
Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa for the vice-presidency, in a furore which saw
Mugabe suspend over a dozen other top party officials.

The post instead went to Joyce Mujuru, inn what was seen as a step towards
succeeding Mugabe, 81, who is widely expected to retire when his present
term ends in 2008.

As information minister, Moyo spearheaded ZANU-PF's diplomatic war of words
with the West.

Moyo has nevertheless taken on his former master, running as an independent
in the March 31 parliamentary polls for his home district of Tsholotsho.


The controversial Moyo has become the most visible symbol of deep divisions
within the ZANU-PF -- which have taken on ethnic overtones in the fierce
struggle over who is likely to take over from Mugabe.

Moyo was sacked as minister after he decided to stand as an independent in
Tsholotsho -- a constituency in which ZANU-PF intended to field a woman

Moyo has campaigned hard in the region, and local political analysts say he
could take the seat from ZANU-PF, a result which would likely enrage Mugabe.

On Wednesday, Mugabe said the area would regret giving any votes to Moyo.

"If we hear tomorrow that Tsholotsho voted for Professor Jonathan Moyo, we
will say where does Tsholotsho want to go? Into isolation, into oblivion?"

Moyo says Mugabe is surrounded by clique of tribalists seeking to monopolise
power in the president's Zezuru group of the majority Shona tribe. Moyo is a
member of the minority Ndebele tribe which has a history of political strife
with the Shona-dominated government.

Earlier this month Moyo accused ZANU-PF officials of intimidating people in
Tsholotsho by suggesting that failing to vote for the party could provoke
reprisals similar to a 1980s government crackdown that rights groups say
left 20,000 civilians dead.

That crackdown in the minority Ndebele-speaking Matabeleland region, which
includes Tsholotsho, fuelled ethnic tensions with the Shona which only ended
with a 1987 pact which saw the two regions' political parties merge into

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Tuku sets the record straight
Oliver Mtukudzi,
March 25, 2005

Following recent press reports, I wish to place on record and make
absolutely clear that I am not a ZANU (PF) supporter. I am a loyal
Zimbabwean who believes in a true and tolerant democracy. As a musician, I
have been appalled that the Government has used its monopoly of the airwaves
to restrict airplay of artists who they see as unsupportive of its policies.
People who do not promote government's image are often seen as being enemies
of the government and attempts are made to silence them or undermine their
careers. This is a gross abuse of human rights, so many of which have been
violated in order to secure government's grasp on power. Most distressing is
that the government has denied numerous Zimbabweans in the Diaspora their
democratic right to vote.

Zimbabwe is a deeply divided society. The political divide often cuts across
family loyalties and ties, placing individuals in an impossibly difficult
position. Family and political loyalties may conflict and create underlying
personal tension, which in my case, has been exploited to try to portray my
political morality as being other than it is. Various subterfuges have been
used. A request to sing a few solo songs at what I understood would be a
private gathering of relatives was turned into a ZANU (PF) event, and,
without warning or permission, filmed and broadcast. It is like an American
Democratic Party supporter being asked to sing happy birthday to his
Republican brother and suddenly finding the event being used in a Republican
Party campaign ad.

Furthermore, I understand that one of my songs 'Totutuma' has just been
used, again without my permission, to promote a ZANU (PF) event in a manner
that suggested I would be performing at the event or that the event had my
support. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that this is a
deliberate strategy to undermine my popularity as a singer, and to prevent
my songs from being used as a rallying point for those who believe in a true
and tolerant democracy. However, I hope that my fans are, by now, wise to
such cynical manipulation, which so seriously undermines our collective
belief in a better Zimbabwe. In return for my fans' loyalty, the band and I
hope to put on unforgettable shows in our impending UK tour.

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New Statesman
Mark Thomas finds torture for sale on the web
Mark Thomas
Monday 28th March 2005
The NS uncovered a UK company selling torture equipment worldwide. It was advertising openly on the web - but the government had not even investigated it. By Mark Thomas

The more eagle-eyed among you will have noted that the sale of stun batons from the UK was banned in 1997. You get full marks for legislative awareness if you knew that brokering - that is, acting as a middleman and arranging deals for goods that don't touch UK soil - became illegal without a licence on 1 May last year. Previously, if a UK broker moved guns directly from Thailand to Sudan, say, there was nothing that the UK authorities could do about it.

Now a New Statesman investigation has found a British company selling torture equipment: TLT International, which is run by Tony Lee in south London and sells electro-shock weapons. Last year, I wrote in the 6 December issue of the NS about the company's website, which advertised stun batons and stun guns. "Only by Bulk [sic] purchasing," it said.

What is so bad about stun batons, you might ask, although you would get points deducted if you did. Stun batons, according to Amnesty International, are "the universal tool of the torturer". When used for torture they cause extreme pain while leaving no marks on the body - and they have a habit of ending up discharging shocks in the vicinity of people's genitals.

The Department of Trade and Industry states "that a person may not [without licence] . . . do any act calculated to promote [their] supply or delivery". So merely advertising the batons on a website would be illegal - though there have been no test cases so far for the new brokering legislation.

Lee's website had pictures and brief descriptions of the weapons, which are manufactured in South Korea by Hanseung Electronics Inc. They range from the 18-inch stun baton at 300,000 volts to the mini stun gun, at just over four inches long with 100,000 volts. The website encourages those who are interested to "please make enquiries".

I accepted this polite invitation. Posing as arms buyers, I and a Kurdish colleague from Belgium, Osman Kilic, e-mailed TLTi asking to be put in contact with someone who could provide the batons. The reply was swift.

On 2 December, three days after our initial contact, Lee quoted to provide 500 stun batons at a price of $29.10 each, with an optional holster ($2 extra), which is a disturbingly low price for an electro-shock weapon - although it was not until we had exchanged some 14 e-mails, made four phone calls and had one meeting that Lee wrote that he had "forgotten to mention batteries are not included in all sales". So any torturer getting one for Christmas will have to beg their dad to nip down to the 7-Eleven for a pack of double As.

The stun batons come with a year's warranty on the equipment. This must be a comfort to purchasers, knowing that their statutory and consumer rights are not affected just because they happen to be torturers. Indeed, the stun batons even carry a CE mark, the European Economic Area's Kitemark. Lee is so confident of the quality of the product that he wrote: "The stun baton do not need much persuasions and explanations, it speaks by itself. Once Your [sic] clients buy it they would love it."

Ah! The clients! Where, you might ask, did Lee think he was exporting the electro-shock equipment? The answer is Zimbabwe. We warned him on 3 December that "the client is from Zimbabwe". Asked if he was happy for the goods to go there, he replied: "Yes I will sort it out . . . We will ship directly from Korea." The next day, he quoted the $29.10 price. He was prepared not just to break brokering laws on torture equipment, but to break EU arms sanctions into the bargain.

Lee is hardly an arms dealer of international notoriety, merrily pouring small arms into African conflict zones by the ton. In response to these allegations, he took down the website and said: "I was truly not aware of any legislation or licensing on this products [sic]." However, he did take measures to ensure that the UK authorities remained in the dark. "All shipment documents," he wrote, "will be done directly from Korea but all communications should be done through TLTi." In effect, this meant that there was to be no paper trail of the deal in the UK. At a meeting on 22 December in London, Lee passed over details of his private bank account number in Korea into which we were to pay the money. He would pay the company from that account. So the UK banking authorities wouldn't spot it either. In fact, Lee was quite happy to discuss how we would avoid detection by the UK authorities and even suggested that we sign the deal in Korea to make sure.

Although he described the batons as "personal protection products", he was made well aware that they were for "interrogations". Which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, as Hanseung Electronics has, according to Lee, exported to a range of countries including Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, none of them noted for their kindly approach to imprisonment. The Amnesty International Report of 2003 states that in Egypt, "torture continued to be systematic and widespread in detention centres throughout the country . . . The most common methods reported were electric shocks."

That list of countries would soon expand if Lee had his way. In an e-mail dated 6 December, he wrote: "I have given a Nigerian company a sole sales agreement in Nigeria and West Africa. A large volume of order over the next three years would be expected soon." In another e-mail, he wrote: "This year [2004] in May and June, I went with two Nigerian officials and two members of the Nigerian company [Ovaltek] for Military kits supply, ie, Stun baton, Stun guns."

Nevertheless, when we put our allegations to him, Lee told us: "I've not made any single transaction or any penny from it. If I knew the relevant rules, I would not have tried . . . I would not do anything illegal . . . Now everything with these items have been removed."

Well, if he didn't make any money, it wasn't, as far as we can see, through lack of trying. The Nigerian authorities might be interested to know that Lee said he didn't think the senators' trip to Korea was an official visit and that "they will get a commission. You know what the system is like in Nigeria."

In the food chain of arms dealers, Lee is a bottom feeder. But if the authorities can't find and prosecute a man who openly advertised what he does on the web, what hope is there of taking on the bigger fish? Quite simply, new Labour cares more about arms sales than arms control. The Defence Export Services Organisation, working out of the Ministry of Defence, exists to promote UK arms sales. It has 161 people servicing deals for Saudi Arabia alone. This is one more than the entire staff of the DTI's Export Control Organisation, which licenses and controls every arms export from Britain. And its 160 staff are due to be cut to 120. In other words, there will soon be 33 per cent more government employees helping sell arms to Saudi Arabia than there are trying to control UK sales of arms across the world.

Until the government take arms control seriously, Lee and his like will continue unchallenged, BAE Systems will remain unprosecuted for alleged bribery and the Ministry of Defence will remain incapable of buying a helicopter that works
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Exiles to Make a Mockery of Zimbabwe Poll Via SMS

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 23, 2005
Posted to the web March 23, 2005

Jonathan Katzenellenbogen

TO PROTEST against the withdrawal by the Zimbabwe government of their right
to vote, Zimbabweans living in SA will be able participate in a mock
election by sending the name of the party they favour through SMSs.

Daniel Molokele, who is running the cellphone voting campaign on behalf of
the non-governmental organisation Crisis in Zimbabwe, said yesterday South
Africans could show their support by sending an SMS with the word

The initiative was part of a campaign by Zimbabwean exile groups and their
South African supporters to protest against the Zimbabwe government in the
run-up to the country's parliamentary polls this month.

This week, exile groups and their South African civic organisation
supporters, will hold a day of prayer for Zimbabwe.

Next week the protestors plan to hold mock elections outside the Zimbabwe
High Commission in Pretoria, and the youth wing of the South African
Communist Party, the Young Communist League, plan to march on the High
Commissions of Zimbabwe and Swaziland in Pretoria next week to protest their
"lack of commitment to democracy."
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Mugabe Trawls for Votes in MDC's Heartland

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 23, 2005
Posted to the web March 23, 2005

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe made a determined push for votes inside
the main opposition's stronghold of Matabeleland yesterday ahead of next
week's general election.

After taking a day's break to attend new Namibian President Hifikepunye
Pohamba's inauguration on Monday, Mugabe renewed his campaign trail with
trips into the heartland of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

This came ahead of his much- anticipated visit to Tsholotsho in Matabeleland
North, where he will canvass for votes in the territory of his former
information minister Jonathan Moyo.

Mugabe's former spindoctor has issued a manifesto calling for constitutional
reform to limit the president's term of office and restoration of democracy.

The clash between Mugabe and Moyo in the area, where an alleged palace coup
that effectively led to Moyo's dismissal was hatched last November, will
probably be the major highlight of the campaign.

Mugabe held rallies for the "Anti-Blair" election at Tshaswingo in rural
Beit Bridge near the border with SA and the town of Gwanda.

Addressing thousands of people at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda, Mugabe
stepped up his attacks against British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US
President George Bush, saying they were "liars".

Claiming his government was tolerant because it did not "cut off" former
Rhodesian premier Ian Smith's head, Mugabe said Blair and Bush were "lying"
about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

"We are not liars like the Blairs and Bushes," he said. "Those are liars.
They lied that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to find a
pretext to invade that country. Lies indeed."

Mugabe attacked SA's Oppenheimer family for "trying to cling to vast tracts
of land" when peasants wanted to share with them.

He will donate 800 computers to schools during his campaign.

While Mugabe ventured into the opposition-controlled areas, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai was also penetrating deep into the Zanu (PF) areas in
central Mashonaland. Tsvangirai held his rallies at Bindura, Mazowe and

Tsvangirai urged people to vote out Zanu (PF) for misrule and "have a new

He said his party was ready with a package of measures to reconstruct
Zimbabwe's "ruined economy"and get back the country into a healthy state

Zimbabwe turned down a request from the South African Council of Churches
(SACC) to observe next week's parliamentary election, the group's
secretary-general confirmed yesterday.

SACC secretary-general Rev Molefe Tsele, who visited the country over the
weekend, said yesterday the body had been refused permission to observe the

Official sources in Harare said the SACC's request to observe the poll was
turned down because of the group's remarks on Zimbabwe's political and
economic crisis.
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SW Radio Africa is still being jammed very effectively.  Two designs for anti- jamming antennae are available from the following websoites
 As a result of the nature of the jamming transmitters and the way that short-wave frequencies work,  if the antennae work at all in this situation, they will work probably most effectively on the frequencies in the 25m waveband that SWRA are currently using, and any higher frequencies.  They are cheap and very quick and easy to make.  Please forward this document to all people in Zimbabwe that you feel may wish to try this method of overcoming the jamming.
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Issue 5, Sunday 20 March, 2005



We need your help! Standing together, as Africans, in unity, means spreading
this newsletter as widely as possible! Whether in South Africa, Zimbabwe, or
abroad, whether by e-mail or as a printed copy. Don't hang on to it! Pass it

But please remember: anyone who wants to receive this newsletter directly
from must subscribe through e-mail in
person! This is to avoid problems with local and international Spam laws and
regulations (More info at the end of this letter).



The Zimbabwean, the only newspaper available to Zimbabweans internationally,
went online on the 21st of March at It has
simultaneous weekly editions in the UK and South Africa and has been hailed
as a major step in bridging the information gap between millions of
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and their troubled homeland.  It is also a vital
source of independent and accurate information to Zimbabweans at home who
have been snapping up the 10 000 copies shipped in weekly from Johannesburg
in a matter of hours.

Since its inception The Zimbabwean has attracted much opprobrium from the
authorities in Harare.  "All we want to do is inform people about what's
going on so that they, in turn, can make informed choices," said Mbanga.
"We are merely asserting the right of all Zimbabweans to freedom of
expression and access to information." The tabloid weekly contains news from
Zimbabwe as well as life in exile.  The content includes politics, art and
culture, business, sports, gender, human rights and social issues, news
backgrounders and analysis. Letters to the editor and classified
advertisements are key features.


The struggle continues for peace, truth and justice in Zimbabwe




  1.. Voices from Zimbabwe: The deepening political crisis in Zimbabwe
  2.. Opinion and analysis: Elections- What then?
  3.. Poem: What's the difference?
  4.. News Wrap 1: SA monitor criticized.
  5.. Zimbabwe Reports: Fear, terror and the spoils of war, youth militias
in Zimbabwe
  6.. News wrap 2: International organisations say free and fair poll not
  7.. About this newsletter
  8.. Calendar and Agenda
  9.. Distribution details and contact info
  10.. New contact information
  11.. Important Announcement
  12.. Disclaimer



Thrust into yet another general election, there is little sense in Zimbabwe
that the country is moving towards a substantive resolution of its political
crisis. This feeling of the continued postponement of a political
resolution, is expressed both in the ruling party's regular recoil from any
meaningful national dialogue, and in the persistent polarisation of the
international community on the issue of an acceptable outcome of the crisis.

Zanu PF and its affiliated intellectuals have made much of the electoral
reforms that have been introduced this year, and the nominal opening up of
the electronic media to opposition parties. In effect these 'reforms' add up
to little more than a thinly disguised framework for continued ruling party
control, while the slightly increased access of the opposition to the radio
and television have been, for the most part, undermined by the bombardment
of Zanu PF propaganda surrounding these minimal slots. The structural
authoritarian framework of the ruling party remains firmly in place, just as
the processes around the party's succession debate confirmed the party's
inflexibility, notwithstanding the eventual expulsion of its most loathsome
representative. Given the history of ruling party violence since 1980 even
the threat of violence and its symbolic presence in communities, serve as
constant reminders of the punishment that awaits rebellious voters. It is
unrealistic to pretend that voters will easily forget the central mobilising
tool of the present party, on the basis of the promises of 'non-violence'
made by its political leadership, that has on several occasions, proudly
defined its character by its accomplished 'degrees in violence'.

The dominant tone and message of Zanu PF's campaign once again reveals its
inability to accept the presence of a legitimate national opposition.
Casting its campaign as 'anti-Blair' and labelling critical voices as
'traitors', Robert Mugabe and his party continue to narrow the chances for a
productive national debate. The exclusivist presumptions of a dominant party
set the tone for another assault on our political culture. However, the
difference this time around is that the message carries less force than it
did in 2000 and 2002 and although the language of external blame is a real
factor, it has sounded increasingly hollow in the face of diminished
internal capacity and the corrosive effects of political rot. The real
complexities of the relations between outside pressures and internal
dynamics cannot be flattened by blaming it all on a foreign prime minister.
One gets the feeling that even within Zanu PF, this message has become a
talisman desperately invoked to hold back the accumulating fears within the
ruling party.

In the hands of Zanu PF the idea of sovereignty has been translated into a
legitimisation for national repression. Though problematic, the nationalism
that once carried the broad hopes of an emerging nation has been transformed
into an arcane authoritarianism dressed in revolutionary fatigues. The
Zimbabwean political landscape is littered with the wreckage of the ruling
party's clearance campaigns. Every appeal to 'the people' is not a call for
popular participation, but a rhetorical device used to legitimise yet
another attack on democratic spaces and individual liberties. The outcome is
a greatly weakened sense of a common national identity. Instead, many
Zimbabweans have a heightened awareness of a fracturing political process in
which a decreasing number of citizens are prepared to invest a common
loyalty. One of the major lessons of Zimbabwe's history is that a dominant
party cannot coerce a nation into unity. Neither the physical brutality of
political violence nor the symbolic onslaught of a monopolised media can
create the consensual basis for the long-term creation of national
belonging. In many ways we are witnessing traumatised subjects on hold, who
are living daily with their anxieties, fears, loss and material

It is this reality that those election observers who have been invited to
the party need to be acutely aware of. President Mbeki and his Foreign
Minister have gone out of their way to make a favourable pre-emptive
judgement of the forthcoming election. It is likely that the South African
President is responding to the Bush administration's negative
characterisation of the regime in Zimbabwe, and that the language of regime
change has set off the alarm bells in the ANC. Certainly it appears that the
former Mugabe/Blair public battle has been transposed into an Mbeki/Bush
row, and that President Mbeki is responding defensively to growing western
criticisms of his 'quiet diplomacy', while desperately seeking Mugabe's
cooperation for a more formally open election process that will  create new
diplomatic spaces in the post-election period. However it must be said that
while the South African leader is attempting to address a variety of
audiences he is communicating his messages very badly.

As things stand the script has almost been finalised for a continuation of
the political crisis in Zimbabwe. There is unlikely to be a sufficient
consensus amongst the regional and international players on the outcome of
the election and the stalemate, while slightly repositioned, is likely to
continue. The ball, for the most part, remains in Mugabe's court and his
relations with the South African government. A favourable election result
for Zanu PF, under the current election arrangements, is once again not
likely to convince any but the already converted. It may confirm that the
ruling party has its hands firmly on the levers of the state. However, it
cannot deliver the broader legitimacy that will provide the momentum for a
new political initiative in the country. On the other hand, a good election
result for the opposition will be damaging for the present regime.

For the MDC entry into this election has entailed some very serious but
worth while risks. For the alternative was a hazy strategy, expounded by a
section of the civic movement that would have most likely resulted in an
early implosion of the opposition. A disastrous election result,
notwithstanding the legitimate obstacles that will still confront the Zanu
PF regime, could still precipitate a leadership battle in the MDC and a
general reconfiguration of opposition forces in the country. However, the
battle to retain existing ground and to consolidate for a longer term
continues. Political struggle provides opportunities for rebuilding the
structures of the party and is as important as working through the tensions
and problems with the labour movement and the civic structures. For the
moment these efforts to strengthen the existing opposition need to be
maintained, while the limited spaces for such activities still remain.

Listening to the arguments for abstaining from the election, particularly by
the NCA, one is struck by the lack of an alternative perspective regarding
the way forward. In the current political environment the demand for a new
constitution - on its own - cannot provide a broad enough platform to create
a political alternative. Constitutional reform is a necessary but
insufficient requirement for a different political formation. Even in the
formative period of 1997-2000 the force of the constitutional movement was
based on its alliance to broader social forces and political objectives. The
rhythm of the constitutional process will continue to be determined by the
dynamics of stronger political forces. In recent weeks comments by the
leadership of the NCA indicate that the organisation may be looking towards
the creation of an alternative political force. The continuation of barriers
of electoral politics erected by Zanu PF could add momentum to such
thinking; although at this stage it seems unlikely that such a formation
would signal any significant advance in the political stalemate; especially
if the politics of an alternative force were linked to that of the so-called
Independents. The latter look more like a Zanu PF formation.

Thus both Zanu PF and the MDC face major challenges with little chance of
either advancing unilaterally in the near future. More than ever, a new
national dialogue is required but in the current context this is the least
likely outcome of Zimbabwe's political blockage. In the meantime the spaces
for democratic politics are dwindling and the opportunities for a democratic
opposition receding. This may be one of the undisputed legacies of Zimbabwe's
25 years of independence.


If people vote it doesn't mean there is peace or truth or justice





Zimbabwe police have prevented the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from
holding four public meetings in the Harare South Constituency, yet have not
denied permission for a single rally by the ruling ZANU (PF) party. The
Public Order and Security Act (POSA) deem it an offence for more than five
people to meet without notifying the police. The police may permit or deny
permission to any meetings without offering reasons. In a letter of refusal,
chief superintendent Sadzamari wrote that POSA does not allow people to hold
meetings in public places and threatened anyone who violated this provision
with arrest.



The outcome of the upcoming parliamentary election is far from certain.
Recent public statements, however, have indicated that SADC countries may be
willing to underplay Zimbabwe's non-compliance with the 2004 SADC Protocol
in its post-election assessment. This does not bode well for a free and fair
election on the 31st of March and suggests that the outcome will be heavily
tilted in favour of the ruling party, ZANU (PF). Without a convincing MDC
victory and the potential of a new democratic dispensation that such a win
may herald, the crisis in Zimbabwe looks set to deepen. Indeed, even if the
opposition were to garner enough seats to block the ruling party from
gaining its coveted two-thirds majority in parliament, a legislative
stalemate may further harden the ruling party's resolve in stamping out
dissent once and for all.

Since an overall MDC victory is unlikely, the human rights crisis will
either remain as bad as it currently is, or worsen. This is a bleak outcome
to contemplate because already ordinary Zimbabweans have little recourse
within the current legal system against victimization and repression.  Law
enforcement institutions have been so politicized that the law is and will
continue to be applied selectively against critics and perceived opponents
of the State. All of this will carry on under the Dictatorship's false
pretence of abiding with the rule of law. The regime in Harare contends that
if the deprivation of fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed rights can
be traced back to a legal source, it is then legally justified in its
tactics of repression. No remedy or vindication of rights can be found in
appealing to the Supreme Court which is stacked with politically partisan
appointees. The highest court in the land now tends to either uphold the
ZANU PF regime's general disregard for individual rights, or defer ruling on
substantive issues regarding the constitution all together.

Since the ruling party fundamentally believes that the capture of political
power is an end in itself and not as a tool through which it may represent
the interests of the electorate, there is absolutely no reason to believe
that anything will change. In light of this undesirable outcome, the vital
question remains whether there are other strategies, other than legal or
electoral strategies, through which Zimbabweans may successfully defend
their rights, and perhaps facilitate a transition towards true democratic
governance that is accountable to the people.

This will wholly depend on whether civic groups and the political opposition
will be able to agree on both a common agenda and a united way forward. To
date, disagreements have marred previous attempts to mobilize public
opinion. While civil society has sought a more confrontational stance
against the Harare regime's repression in the past, the opposition has
tended to give unwarranted confidence in the use of diplomatic, electoral or
legal avenues in precipitating change. It has shown, for example, a
disappointing ambivalence in calling for mass action or civil disobedience.
These fractures have had the overall effect of obscuring the depth of
opposition among the populace against the Harare regime's repression, while
allowing it to present oppositional forces as both marginal and incoherent.

As the economic and social condition of ordinary Zimbabweans further
deteriorates, any future attempt at popular mobilization, resistance, or
protest may be impeded by more urgent everyday practicalities and the needs
of a suffering population. In this context, oppositional forces must
necessarily re-articulate their struggle and alternative politics in such a
way that makes them more relevant to the masses. In other words,
oppositional forces must ground their message in concrete social conditions
that speak to the concerns of the vast majority of the population,
especially in rural areas.

Up until now, oppositional forces have primarily focused on issues of human
rights and good governance. While this is important, this focus must be
shifted so that it includes socio-economic rights. This is vastly important,
because until now oppositional forces have not adequately highlighted the
vast failings of the Harare regime in the economic and social delivery
spheres. The potential political inertia that is posed by the continuing
economic crisis,  the HIV pandemic and food shortages can be averted if, for
example, the right to food can be properly articulated to ordinary
Zimbabweans as being linked to good governance and human rights. Government's
lip service to economic empowerment and developmentalism must be countered
by alternative strategies that may give urgent socio-economic needs
practical expression.

This is not to say that emphasising the need for civil and political rights
must end. This is both necessary and important. At present, oppositional
forces must accept that both the electoral playing field and the legal
system are hopelessly stacked against them. The narrowing of democratic
space has made options extremely limited. New strategies need to be adopted.
Since regional partners have been reluctant, even averse, to exerting any
kind of effective pressure upon the regime in Harare, it is therefore up to
ordinary Zimbabweans to now do so. It is a question of whether oppositional
forces will now be able to successfully channel the frustrations and
disappointments of a suffering population into effective and meaningful
popular mobilization and resistance.


"An injury to one, is an injury to all"




Those who went to school

Call it defeatism.

To feel tired, rejected, and worn-out

Not even fit for the dung heap.

What's the difference, anyway?

I hear the same weary voices

Saying fatigued messages every morning on the radio.

See the same glossy faces

Telling the same old stories every night on T.V.

And wonder why it's news all the time.

I call it history for public convenience.

What's the difference anyway?

Some things have changed, I am sure

I was born in a country

Once called Rhodesia by the Rhodesians

Now it's called Zimbabwe by Zimbabweans,

Lived in a city

Once called Salisbury for some white reasons,

Now it's called Harare for black reasons,

Stayed in an avenue

Once called Jameson

Now called Samora Machel,

But the same feet patter along the pavement

It's something we can talk about.

Two steps forwards and five steps backwards.

What's the difference, anyway?

Courtesy of Freedom T.V. Nyamubaya, from on the road again, Freedom


All Shall Be Equal Before The Law!





The South African Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana, the head of the
South African government's observer mission to the elections in Zimbabwe on
the 31st of March, has been criticized by fellow members of the South
African government for making premature remarks about the election. Upon
arrival in Zimbabwe on Monday 14th of March, Mdladlana said that he saw no
reason why the elections should not be free and fair. Following these
remarks, the main Zimbabwean opposition party the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), cut off all contact with the South African observer mission.
The MDC later restored contact with the ANC mission after receiving a letter
from the ANC mission clarifying that it was separate from Mdladlana's
mission. The MDC continues to refuse to meet with the SA government mission
until Mdladlana is replaced as leader.

A representative of the South African Independent Democrats party has also
withdrawn from the South African Parliamentary observer mission. Member of
Parliament Vincent Gore said in a statement, "It is quite clear that the
upcoming Zimbabwean elections are not going to be free and fair, and that
the mission is being used as a vehicle to rubberstamp the ruling party's
(ANC's) various statements already made by government that the elections
will be free and fair."


"Peace and justice in Zimbabwe! Now!"





It is when fear becomes part of the social fabric of society that the spoils
of abused power become most lucrative. Amidst reports of decreased levels of
physical violence in the run up to the 31 March election in Zimbabwe, some
claim that at least here the ZANU-PF is making a difference. But this 'new'
level of violence is only relative to the horrific tempest that was
unleashed in the run up to and aftermath of the 2002 presidential elections.
At the same time it is far more a symptom of the overriding indifference and
uneasiness with which millions are now living, than any indication that
people are more secure.

At the heart of this climate of fear are the graduates of the Zimbabwe
National Youth Service, or youth militia, as they have become known. These
youths have a variety of local names such as the ZANU-PF militia", the
"Border Gezis", the "Green bombers" and the "Taliban". Despite recent
efforts to down play the role of the militia and absorb them into existing
state security apparatus, their impact on society has been formidable and
the ongoing effects of their campaign of intimidation and harassment

The national youth training was launched at Mount Darwin in August 2001 with
1000 recruits. During the last few months of 2001, youth militia training
intensified throughout the nation, and by January 2002 it was widespread in
all provinces. By the end of 2004, it was estimated that around 22 000 boys
and girls had passed through formal militia training in the five main camps.
Many of them were trained in less formal and often very primitive camps at
district level.

According to the Zimbabwe regime the majority of these graduates have been
incorporated into the country's security services, with a few joining the
civil service. Its report states that a total of 16 600 graduates from the
national youth service have been absorbed by its security organisations.
These include the police force, the army and the secret service. The
decision to employ soldiers as officials at polling booths in the upcoming
election casts deeper shadows over the role the incorporated youth will play
in extending their control. The individual psychosocial trauma of those who
fall victim to the militia extends to those who graduated from the camps who
were victims of somebody else's abuse of power. However this is only part of
the effect of the militia campaign. The deep communal trauma that now
characterises the social fabric of Zimbabwean society has created a climate
of collective fear that closes down any opposition and ensures an acceptance
of obedience and a dependence on authority.

When it was launched in 2001 the youth militia were presented as a helpful
way of channelling the energy of youth and creating opportunities to empower
and mobilise. Simon Muzenda described the national youth service training
programme as a 'Government' nation-building programme that was designed to
correctly inform their youths of their history and most importantly to equip
them with skills that enable them to survive the socio-economic challenges
facing Zimbabwe as a previously colonised developing nation. He stated that
"the modules delivered to youths during the training demystify what many of
our youths have been misled to believe, that Africans and their culture are
inferior to other inhabitants of this earth, more so to Europeans."

But in reality crude propaganda, violence and intimidation have been used to
indoctrinate the youth into thinking that their own impunity and abuse of
power is part of the struggle to protect ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe from foreign
influence.  The sole source of information available to youth in the camps
was a photocopied history manual called "Inside the Third Chimurenga". The
manual consists entirely of speeches made by Robert Mugabe glorifying
ZANU-PF heroes and labelling all opposition as part of a neo-imperial

By January 2002, army sources confirmed that the director of the National
Youth Service David Munyoro was a civilian. The unit was in fact run by a
military man called Brigadier Boniface Hurungudu at the time. At the same
time, the Border Gezi Training Centre was run by Colonel Josphat Shumba of
the Zimbabwean army, who is a former director of Military Intelligence; out
of the 30 instructors heading the youth militia training, 15 were either
serving or retired army officials while others were war veterans.

In January 2002 Amnesty International released a memorandum aimed at raising
issues of concern with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
before their meeting in January 2002. The memorandum outlined major
incidences of violence perpetrated by youth militia. It includes a list of
seven MDC members brutally killed between 20 December 2001 and 1 January
2002. In all cases the murders involved gangs of militia, often accompanied
or led by war veterans.

Other examples of violence in the report include torture and the destruction
of property. In addition there have been widespread reports of roadblocks
set up to search for civilians not carrying ZANU-PF membership cards. Those
found without cards were usually severely beaten or robbed of their identity
cards, thus effectively disenfranchising them.

In 2002 Amnesty International recorded evidence of sexual abuse on a large
scale. Amnesty International officials interviewed militia rape victims
themselves and received documentation of rape and sexual abuse from human
rights organisations such as Amani Trust and the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers'
Association. The latter claimed around 1,000 women were believed to be held
in militia camps for sexual purposes. In Masvingo, reports were received of
farm workers being raped by militia while their husbands were forced to
watch. In some instances, men were forced by militia to sodomise each other.

Following widespread reports of human rights violations the African
Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (African Commission) at its 29th
Ordinary Session held in Tripoli in 2001 decided to undertake a fact-finding
mission to the Zimbabwe Regime in 2002.

According to the report released in 2004, there was enough evidence placed
before the Mission to suggest that during the period under review, human
rights violations occurred in Zimbabwe. Concerning the youth militia the
African Commission stated that the "reports suggest that these youth serve
as party militia engaged in political violence." It went further to propose,
". that these youth camps be closed down and training centres be established
under the ordinary education and employment system of the country." The
Africa Commission further recommended that the Harare regime study and
implement the Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of
Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa as
adopted by the African Commission in October 2002.

The report also addressed the issue of the politicisation of the police
force. The incorporation of poorly trained militias into the security
services acts directly against these recommendations, "Every effort must be
made to avoid any further politicisation of the police service. The police
service must attract all Zimbabweans from whatever political persuasion or
none to give service to the country with pride. The police should never be
at the service of any political party but must at all times seek to abide by
the values of the Constitution and enforce the law without fear or favour.
Recruitment to the service, conditions of service and in-service training
must ensure the highest standards of professionalism in the service. . There
were also reports that elements of the CIO were engaged in activities
contrary to the international practice of intelligence organisations. These
should be brought under control."

At the time of going to press, there is increasing pressure on SADC member
states, SADC itself and the African Union to acknowledge that this climate
alone is in direct violation of the SADC Principles and Guidelines governing
elections. The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation Forum, a network of
progressive South African civil society organizations including youth,
women, labour, churches, human rights and student formations noted at its
recent 3rd Zimbabwe Solidarity Conference that "the overwhelming evidence of
the use of torture, intimidation, beatings and harassment to control the
political space and marginalise opposition makes it clear that the
forthcoming March 31 elections will not be remotely compliant with the SADC
Principles and Guidelines governing elections."

There is growing concern that SADC governments might try to reach a
practical agreement on the election pronouncement in the hopes that this
will bring some kind of stability to the region. This will enable the
militia and the security forces to continue using fear and terror as tools
of control. There is the possibility that after 31 March the ZANU-PF will be
able to point to more votes at the polls and claim this as an indication of
support for its policies. The securing of a two-thirds majority would be the
icing on the cake. Using violence, propaganda and an iron-fisted control of
the electoral process, the ZANU-PF will have been able to place itself into
a position of absolute power.

But the psychosocial trauma will continue to brew and the roots of conflict
in Zimbabwe will grow stronger and deeper. A social, economic and political
crisis will continue to haunt the region for decades to come. The survival
of the values of our own liberation as enshrined in our constitution; the
credibility of our newly created regional and continental institutions which
is designed to protect and empower, as well as the security of youth
everywhere, demand that we speak out and take action. The time to bring
about change is now, the struggle for freedom continues.




International organisations have stated that a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe is not possible in the current climate of violence and
intimidation. Amnesty International, a London-based human rights watchdog
organisation stated in a report that the level of violence was lower than in
previous polls, but that the playing field was far from level. "The use of
implicit threats and non-violent tactics to intimidate opposition supporters
is widespread," said Kolawole Olaniyan, director of Amnesty's Africa

Redress, an anti-torture group, has also released a report criticizing the
Harare regime for its failure to investigate and prosecute members of the
police and army officers accused of torture. The Redress report concludes
that the climate of impunity makes a free and fair election impossible.


"A legitimate election? In Zimbabwe?"




Over the past decades numerous South African progressive civil society
organizations have emerged that work on issues that form an integral part of
the current crisis in Zimbabwe. These range from humanitarian issues such as
food relief, to issues such as human rights and civil liberties, from
democracy to trade union work. But ever since the intensification of the
Zimbabwe crisis in 2000, Zimbabweans have rightly been complaining that
their fellow Africans, and first and foremost their South African
neighbours, have hardly done enough to aid the plight of the people of
Zimbabwe. However, over the past year several South African civil society
organizations of all walks of life have committed themselves to working
together in order to maximize their out-pout with regards to the crisis, as
well as show solidarity in practical sense as well as on a moral level.
COSATU's courageous attempted fact-finding missions to Zimbabwe are only one
example of practical solidarity for the people of that country.

The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation forum is a network of progressive
South African civil society organizations, including youth, women, labour,
faith-based, human rights and student formations. Over the past months our
network has grown rapidly in size and influence, and we say confidently that
we have contributed to a much greater understanding of the crisis and
challenges in Zimbabwe within our organizations and within the broader South
African debate.



22nd March       Press Conference, Parktonian hotel. Special updates and

23rd March            COSATU picket at the Zimbabwe High Commission

24th March            Regional Solidarity Action

25th March            International Day of Prayer, SACC

28th March            Zimbabwe Seminar, University of Cape Town, SRC

29th March            Zimbabwe Seminar, University of Venda, SRC/SASCO

30th March            Marches in Cape Town and Durban YCL/SASCO/COSAS

31st March            Picket at Zimbabwe High Commission YCL

                        All night vigil Beit Bridge, COSATU

Mock Election for disenfranchised Diaspora set up across the country, CRISIS

1st April            Press Conference and report-back from election

18th April            Zimbabwe Independence day programme



This Newsletter is the plain text version of the email Zimbabwe Solidarity
Newsletter. The main idea behind the Newsletter is that it can be
distributed in Zimbabwe so that people without internet access may receive
it as well. Therefore we also provide a print-easy format of this
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The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation Forum (ZS&CF) is not responsible
and cannot be held accountable for all the content or every article provided
in this Newsletter.

As the ZS&CF consists of many organisations, groups, movements and unions,
not every one of these can be expected to agree with the views, opinions and
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editorial staff makes a serious effort to express the views of all the
organisations involved but cannot guarantee 100% satisfaction.
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Sunday Times (SA)

Commonwealth rules out Mugabe talks

Wednesday March 23, 2005 07:28 - (SA)

The Commonwealth club of former British colonies hopes that Zimbabwe will
return to the fold one day but its secretary general said that it was too
soon to open a dialogue with President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the 53-nation Commonwealth in December 2003 after
leaders decided to prolong its suspension from the club in the wake of the
2002 presidential election that its observers said were flawed.

"The Commonwealth is sad that Zimbabwe has left," said Commonwealth
secretary general Don McKinnon following a 90-minute meeting with President
Thabo Mbeki that touched on the situation in Zimbabwe.

"We continue to see the people of Zimbabwe as members of the Commonwealth
family and we hope one day it will come back.

"If they want to come back - and we hope they will - we hope a dialogue can
be established," McKinnon told reporters.

But the Commonwealth chief said Zimbabwe's return would not be discussed at
the summit meeting in Malta later this year.

"The time is not right for him and I to talk to each other. The chemistry
must improve before that happens," said McKinnon concerning a possible
meeting with Mugabe.

He also said the Commonwealth would be watching events in Zimbabwe ahead of
the March 31 elections, adding: "We are hoping they will represent freeness
and fairness."

The parliamentary vote will put to the test Mugabe's commitment to hold
democratic elections following polls in 2000 and 2002 that were marred by
violence and allegations of vote-rigging.

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