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Zim Independent

Chaos dogs poll
Dumisani Muleya
A WEEK before Zimbabwe's crucial general election, administrative and
logistical hitches are dogging the poll amid fears it could deteriorate into
a washout unless urgent corrective measures are taken.

Confusion is reigning supreme over the issue of polling officers, polling
agents, polling stations and the voters' roll, among other important

This comes as former Information minister and independent candidate for
Tsholotsho, Professor Jonathan Moyo, threatened legal action to stop the
election unless contentious issues were addressed. Moyo said the issue of
election agents could create untold chaos unless it was dealt with urgently.

"In terms of the law, there shall in each polling station be at least three
voting compartments, each containing at least one ballot box, allocated for
the use of voters whose surnames begin with the letters A to L, M, and N to
Z," Moyo said.

"This means that each candidate will need at least four election agents,
three inside and one outside. But as it is, each candidate will have two
agents, one inside and the other outside."

Moyo, the author of Voting for Democracy which explores in detail the
electoral system in Zimbabwe, said it would be impossible for election
agents to cope, resulting in serious delays.

"How can one person deal with three copies of the voters' roll, three
polling booths, three queues of voters and counting of ballots from three
booths at the same time?" Moyo asked in an interview yesterday.

"There should have been adequate arrangements for this new electoral

Moyo said he had raised the issue with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa,
but nothing has been done yet.

"I raised the issue with Chinamasa two weeks ago but there has been no
action taken. The relevant authorities continue to dilly-dally and exhibit
ignorance about these fundamental issues," Moyo said.

"Meanwhile, time is ticking away and we are getting closer to the poll. If
they continue to vacillate we will seek court intervention on these issues."

Chinamasa could not be reached for comment. However, Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) chair Justice George Chiweshe a week ago claimed:
"Indications are that all preparations are on course."

But MDC candidate Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga said yesterday ZEC could
not competently comment on poll preparedness as it had no "capacity and
human resources" to run the election.

"The ZEC has no capacity and what is happening is that the same old bodies
are running the election," she said. "The old national logistics committee,
which has failed us in the past, is still in charge."

Polling officers will be trained during this weekend on the new voting
system, a few days before voting day on Thursday next week. The candidates
have not yet received from their constituency registrars the final voters'
roll copies. They have also not yet seen the supplementary voters'
registers, allegedly used to commit electoral fraud in the past.

These issues, combined with the problem of poorly trained staff, could
dramatically slow down the voting process, replaying the 2002 presidential
election fiasco.

"A rose is still a rose by any other name," Moyo said. "The reality is that
the same old institutions and staff are still in charge of the electoral
process. Nothing has changed."
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Zim Independent

MDC hopes remain high despite hurdles
Gift Phiri
THATCHED homes and bushes flash by, lit only by a glorious full moon as the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) campaign team speeds southeast in the
dead of night. Pamphlets spew out behind the truck and flutter wildly on the
barren lands of Nyanyadzi on the Mutare-Masvingo highway in Manicaland.

There are more than 30 000 fliers promoting the opposition MDC in the truck.
The passengers are on the legislative election campaign trail for an
opposition party harassed by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF government so
much that it is using the cover of night to strew pamphlets in a "whispering
campaign" to reach voters with its message.

A number of MDC rallies have been prohibited by the police, and many that

have been held have been disrupted by Zanu PF supporters who have for months
also been campaigning at night - manning roadblocks or roaming from door to
door harassing people who do not have party cards in the rural areas.

Manicaland is an MDC stronghold, but there is still reason to fear
intimidation. The men tossing pamphlets are nervous.

"If we come across another vehicle, duck so you can't be seen," says one.

Surveys forecast that the ruling Zanu PF will win at most 30% of the popular
vote in the area. Faced with loss of support and the collapse of a patronage
system that has richly rewarded party loyalty with jobs, money and land,
Zanu PF is resorting to desperate measures.

Ruling party officials in the province are reported to have told villagers
to line up behind their headmen at the poll "so that it would be known how
they voted".

All sorts of tricks are being conjured to make up for the potential
shortfall in votes - from the selective registration of voters to reducing
the number of polling stations in urban areas where the MDC has support
while increasing those in rural parts.

While many Zimbabweans fear electoral manipulation may enable Mugabe's
ruling Zanu PF to squeak to victory, in Manicaland people are confident that
Zanu PF stands no chance.

In some areas such as Nyanyadzi, Zanu PF has run out of membership cards due
to soaring demand from people who want the protection they bring, but nobody
is fooled.

"I managed to get one," said an adolescent villager who only identified
himself as Kuziva. "But even the guy selling them supports the MDC."

Tsvangirai descended on the constituency last weekend hardly three days
after Mugabe had exited the area. The contrast was striking.

Mugabe railed before a small, timid crowd about land injustices, racial
hatred and past victories when he addressed his supporters in Chipinge. In
Nyanyadzi, Tsvangirai spoke to a cheering throng about prosperity, food,
jobs, cultural diversity and a violence-free future.

"The whites want us to be slaves," Mugabe thundered before 4 000 people in
arid Chipinge where he admitted for the first time that there was a food
crisis. Three days later Tsvangirai, addressing a larger crowd, promised "a
new Zimbabwe, a new beginning".

With political violence against opposition supporters continuing, sometimes
with the alleged connivance of the police, -Mugabe has drawn a storm of
criticism from the international community. He has responded in a
characteristically militant fashion, defying all attempts to censure him.

Although his controversial land reform policies may have some support in
rural areas, his rally suggested that his support base in rural Chipinge has
all but collapsed. Scores of police and soldiers lined a grassy clearing in
Chipinge where he sat alongside his party stalwarts.

Mugabe recalled at length the struggle against Ian Smith's white racist
regime and his 11-year stint in jail. Then he concentrated on now-familiar
denunciations of Tony Blair, whom he accuses of harbouring "neo-colonial"

"What is their business here?" he asked. "How can the prime minister of
Britain behave like a street kid?" The opposition MDC comprised British
"stooges" and "a party of murderers" guilty of abductions and killings, he
claimed. The crowd cheered on cue but was otherwise silent.

In contrast a deafening cacophony of whistles, shouts and open-handed
salutes - the MDC slogan - characterised Tsvangirai's rally. Many of the 12
000-strong crowd wore red "No to violence" stickers on their foreheads. Size
was not the only difference.

While the front rows of Mugabe's rally were lined with middle-aged women
wearing dresses bearing the president's potrait, the Tsvangirai rally was
dominated by young people who pushed towards the front to get a better view
of their leader.

One speech was interrupted by an old tree branch that crashed, bringing down
several people with it. Tsvangirai urged voters to back the wife of jailed
white lawmaker Roy Bennett, who is running in the parliamentary polls on
behalf of her husband, after he was imprisoned for shoving the Justice
minister during a heated parliamentary debate.

"On the 31st of March, the people of Chimanimani shall speak with one voice,
the people of Zimbabwe shall speak . . . Mugabe must go," Tsvangirai said.
"Chimanimani will never be a Zanu PF constituency," he told a cheering

Tsvangirai, accused by Mugabe of being a puppet of former British colonial
rulers, drummed up support for Heather Bennett saying her husband has been
"incarcerated on trumped-up charges, but we are with him forever".

Roy Bennett won his case in the electoral court last week to have polling in
Chimanimani deferred by a month to allow him to file nomination papers and
run himself.

Tsvangirai - said he was finishing the "process of change" started five
years ago, when the MDC came from nowhere to win a near-majority of seats in
the 2000 parliamentary election. Land reform was necessary but not the most
important issue, he said. The first priority was food and job creation.

Mugabe, on the other hand, admitted there was no food. Mugabe was confronted
in Chipinge by the undeniable fact that the province had run out of grain
earlier this month. "We are aware that many people have nothing in their
fields," he said. "The government will not let people die of hunger. At the
moment the GMB is saying it has enough stocks to last the nation over the
next three months."

Tsvangirai said his party had "plans in place" to secure enough maize to
feed the country for a year. And whereas Mugabe accused white businesses of
deliberately closing down to "force blacks onto the streets and turn them
against their government", Tsvangirai spoke of the urgent need to attract
foreign investors.

Mugabe has dubbed the poll an anti-Blair election. For Mugabe, his party
will defeat the MDC and its "British masters". For Tsvangirai, it will be
the foundation for "a new Zimbabwe, a new beginning". An opinion poll
published 11 days ago showed the MDC in the lead, but in a sign of growing
fears nearly 60 % of those who participated in the survey refused to say how
they would vote.
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Zim Independent

Polls acid test for govt competency
Ray Matikinye
NEXT week's polls present an acid test for government's competency to run
credible elections. They also provide a plum chance for Zanu PF to redeem
itself from accusations of electoral fraud that have etched themselves
deeply in the public consciousness over the past five years.

The prospect of a chaotic poll are real as Zimbabwe's 5,6 million registered
voters have 720 minutes to cast their ballots on March 31 unlike during the
past five general lections when they had twice that length of time.

Zimbabwe's fate hangs on 12 hours of hectic voting.

Close to 8 200 polling stations are to be set up countrywide with an average
of 30 polling stations designated in urban constituencies while an average
of 90 have been designated for rural constituencies where the ruling Zanu PF
party draws the bulk of its support.

There are 8 175 polling stations for this month's election compared to 3 904
in 2000, according to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn).

"We are likely to witness a lot of chaos in these elections. There are
polling stations at contentious sites such as at the traditional leaders'
homesteads or very close to known war veterans' homesteads," Movement for
Democratic Change spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi said.

He said the MDC was concerned about such locations given the history of
intimidation and the associated violence directed at the rural voter in the
past and the more subtle methods employed by ruling party supporters this
time around.

The ruling party is in its worst dilemma in more than two decades, having
squandered enormous amounts of energy during the last five years trying,
without success, to convince the international community of the legitimacy
of the hotly-disputed 2000 election and the 2005 presidential poll.

In Bulawayo province where 339 990 voters are eligible to vote, an average
of 540 voters will scramble to enter each one of the 630 voting cubicles
dotted around the seven constituencies in 12 hours before polling closes at
7pm. If everyone eligible to vote goes to the polling station, this allots
him or her 98 seconds (1 minute 38 seconds) to complete the process.

Similarly in Harare province each one of the 832 517 eligible voters in the
19 constituencies has 97 seconds to go through the process of checking his
name on the voters' roll, dipping his hands in the indelible ink, going into
the cubicle to mark their ballot and dropping the ballot paper in the
translucent box.

In contrast, a voter in rural Mashonaland East province has 3 minutes 44
seconds to go through the process while their counterpart in rural
Mashonaland Central has 2 minutes 37 seconds to complete the same task.

During the hotly disputed 2000 poll, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe constituency
broke a record with the highest voter turnout of 30 876 voters having cast
their votes in one day. Pollsters calculated that it took 42 seconds for
each voter in the rural constituency to go through the process despite the
high numbers needing to be "assisted to vote" among the elderly voters. Even
though polling was conducted in two days, they had completed casting their
ballots on the first day of polling.

"Logistically we should have made preparations earlier to give ourselves
ample time for adjustments where necessary. But in our view it is better to
hold the poll in one day because the second day has in the past been used
for vote tampering," Nyathi said.

He said despite disconcert over the location of some poling booths his party
could not compromise on the integrity of the election by reverting to the
two-day polls, admitting that the preparations and setup were tardy.

"The problems is that when Zanu PF is compelled to do something logical it
always takes revenge and adopts a we-told-you-so attitude," Nyathi said.

Independent candidate for Harare Central, Margaret Dongo expressed concern
about the polling arrangement put in place for this month's poll, saying the
planning in Harare Central did not bode well for a one-day poll.

Dongo said the arrangements had not taken into account homes for the
elderly, citing Belvedere where she accused government of "cluttering the
area with polling stations with the hope of cap-turing the Asian community
and civil servants in that area" while booths were spread thin in of
Avondale suburb.

"All contesting parties should participate in the process to delimitate
constituencies and decide on proper locations for polling booths. To avoid a
lot of confusion avoters' roll should be made available a year preceding the
polling year to allow candidates study it, if we have to avoid vote
tampering," Dongo said.

Major fears have also emerged regarding the counting of votes when polling
closes in the evening.

Zesn chairman, Reginald Matchaba-Hove said problems could be encountered in
the counting of votes when it gets dark.

"We are in the process of acquiring candles and lanterns for use during the
elections," chief elections officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, said.
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Zim Independent

Voters still being registered
Conrad Dube
THE Registrar-General's office is still registering voters more than a month
after the closure of the current registration exercise, the Zimbabwe
Independent can reveal.

The registration exercise is in full swing in some areas, especially in
Norton where people are being bussed in from informal settlements such as
Tongogara, just outside Harare along the Bulawayo Road.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said voter
registration was a continuous exercise. He said the people being registered
would not vote next week since registration closed on February 4.

"Those who registered after that date will not be entitled to vote as their
names will not appear on the voters roll for the March 31 parliamentary
general election," he said.

There are claims that Zanu PF supporters are being given confirmation
letters by either party candidate Patrick Zhuwawo or by Local Government
minister Ignatius Chombo which they take to the Chegutu district office, or
sub-office in Norton, for registration.

Neither Zhuwawo nor Chombo could be reached for comment.

A copy of a Certificate of Registration as a voter in the possession of the
Zimbabwe Independent shows that a person (name provided) registered on March
17 has a certificate written "Closing date was 4/2/05".

Harare Central independent candidate Margaret Dongo claims the people being
registered will be included on the supplementary voters roll which is yet to
be made public. Dongo alleges the Registrar-General deliberately delayed
issuing the supplementary roll to accommodate these new voters.

"The idea of delaying the supplementary roll is to accommodate these new
entrants. They will use the supplementary voters roll for rigging. It's
disappointing," said Dongo.

Dongo in 1995 won the Harare South seat as an independent candidate in a
re-run against Vivian Mwashita of Zanu PF after a court ruled the first poll
had been rigged.

Dongo argues that if only one polling agent per candidate is allowed in the
polling station, it will be difficult for opposition candidates' agents to
oversee the process, in particular when each voter has been registered.

"There will be three lines at the polling station, A-L, M and N-Z, and this
will make it difficult for one polling agent to monitor all the developments
in the polling station," Dongo said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change and independent candidates
have complained about the state of the voters' roll.

MDC secretary for legal affairs David Coltart in an interview said any
person registering after the closure of the registration exercise is in
breach of the Electoral Act.

"There will be all sorts of tricks in this election if the past election is
anything to go by," he said. "These problems will always be there so long as
there is no independent electoral body running the elections."

A voters' roll audit conducted last month unearthed hundreds of ghost
voters, with some entered more than once. There are also incomplete
addresses and dubious entries.
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Zim Independent

Govt confiscates Zimind's satellite dish
Staff Writer
A SATELLITE dish and ancillary equipment which was supposed to be delivered
by Reuters to the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers, has been
confiscated by government at Beitbridge border post Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy the
media account manager for Reuters (Africa) confirmed that the driver of the
truck which was carrying the satellite dish to Harare from South Africa was
arrested after paying duty to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) at the
border and the equipment was confiscated.

The driver has since been released but the satellite dish and the truck that
was carrying the equipment are still being held by at the border.

The equipment is for receiving data only but the authorities at the border,
including police and intelligence officers, believe that the newspapers
would like to use the equipment to broadcast messages to recipients abroad
during the election period.

The seized equipment can be found at most news organisations which receive
news and pictures from Reuters. The news agency owns the receiving equipment
and users pay subscription fees. Similar equipment is already installed at
the Zimbabwe Independent and the seized gear was meant to upgrade the
current system.

The publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard has since written to
Zimra who have referred the paper to the Posts and Telecommunications
Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. The regulator has since asked the
publisher to provide specifications of the equipment and what it would be
used for.

Reuters logistics manager Garry Fielding last week said there was no clear
reason why the equipment had been confiscated at the border but he thinks
the matter is political.

"The reason they gave is that the machine, a receive-only dish, is meant for
transmission," he said.

Fielding told the Independent that Reuters were now working on how the
equipment could be released from the border.

"We are now consulting with the South African embassy and other people to
liaise with the people responsible and make new arrangements on the
transportation of the equipment to Harare," he said.
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Zim Independent

Chiyangwa diverted US$200 000
Gift Phiri/Chris Goko
PHILLIP Chiyangwa, the deposed Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman,
used US$200 000 meant to capitalise a Namibian joint-venture company to buy
a posh sports car and expensive furnishings for his sprawling $6,4 billion
Borrowdale mansion, documents to hand reveal. Despite spirited rebuttals by
the embattled businessman that he did not misappropriate funds for the
failed Crittal Hope Namibia (CHN) last week, information at hand shows that
Chiyangwa used N$1 093 713 (the equivalent of US$200 000) through various
withdrawals from Standard Bank Gustav Voigts branch in Windhoek, Namibia.

The spending ran from August 2002 to October 2003 where Chiyangwa made
various cheque payments to, among others, DaimlerChrysler SA, Randburg Motor
Link, Italian Lights and Furniture, Chris Carpets, and Casa Italia.

He paid Daimler and Motor Link nearly N$700 000, while the other payments
amounted to an accumulative N$166 904.

The flamboyant businessman also wrote a N$80 000 cheque in favour of LN
Valetti on September 2 2002 and another one in his name with a face value of
N$59 000.

On July 4 2001, Chiyangwa allegedly elbowed out fellow CHN director and
co-signatory Sebil Dhewa to emerge the sole account manager.

The account issue is now a matter of debate between Dhewa, Chiyangwa's
Zimbabwean lawyers Byron Venturas and Zimbabwean regulatory authorities,
excerpts of which are carried in Dhewa's letter to Chiyangwa's lawyers

Dhewa's letter came after Chiyangwa's lawyers had rebuked him for
propagating what they claimed were falsehoods about their client's business

Wrote Dhewa: "As director of CHN, I owe fiduciary responsibility to the
company and, therefore, my comments about the various allegations you make
will be guided by this responsibility.

"The registered office of the company was my business's physical address and
hence I became aware of the transactions relating to CHN. Given directors
liability, it became incumbent upon me to ensure that all transactions were
conducted in accordance with the laws of the country."

Dhewa also said in clearing Chiyangwa, he was not sure whether the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe had consulted the Namibian Central Bank "to ensure that the
aforesaid transactions are regularised".

He also emphasised that CHN was a Namibian-domiciled company and, therefore,
he had to ensure it complied with Namibian laws.

Byron Venturas had written to Dhewa on March 14 demanding that he retract
comments made to Nathan Mariemuthu of Africa Resources Ltd (ARL), a holding
company of CHN's Namibian management contractor Africa Resources Project
Services (ARPS).

The lawyers claim to be in possession of an e-mail written to the ARL

"We wish to advise you that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has cleared our
client of any acts of impropriety," Chiyangwa's lawyers said. "In the
circumstances we would request a full, unequivocal and public retraction of
the contents of your e-mail."

Last week Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said Chiyangwa was in the
process of repatriating funds to Zimbabwe. He said the outstanding foreign
currency should be regularised by the end of the month. He said Chiyangwa
still had to explain how he used the money.

The lawyers said Chiyangwa had cancelled forthwith the management agreement
between ARPS and himself, citing infidelity

Chiyangwa is now demanding N$5 million from Dhewa for damages arising from
alleged "defamatory remarks".

Byron Venturas also demanded that Dhewa return company documentation,
especially accounting and electronic correspondence, relating to the joint
venture since inception.

A recalcitrant Dhewa, however, said he was unable to return documents
belonging to a Namibian entity and "at law" the property of CHN.

"I face personal liability in Namibia and you are not suggesting that I will
be indemnified in the event the authorities here decide to pursue the

"Given the interest in the matter by the police in Zimbabwe, I am not sure
what approach your client wishes me to take as a director of CHN," Dhewa
wrote to Chiyangwa's lawyers yesterday.

Chiyangwa, meanwhile, is said to be making steady progress towards
repatriating the US$200 000 largesse he spirited to Namibia under the guise
of forging an alliance with Namibia Northern Investment Group.

The venture was to manufacture construction materials and equipment,
including window frames.

His Native Investment Africa Group was to be the technical partner,
providing plant machinery and other necessities.
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Zim Independent

CIO stalking NGO leaders
Staff Writers
ZIMBABWE'S notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is stalking
leaders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with a view to monitoring
their operations.

This has been brought about by the state's quest to buttress its claim that
NGOs have failed to account for funds availed by donors for the Consolidated
Appeal Process (CAP) of 2003.

The government has accused NGOs of diverting humanitarian assistance funds
to bankroll the opposition party.

The National Association for Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango), a
coalition of more than 350 organisations operating in Zimbabwe, this week
warned its members to be on the lookout for state agents.

Nango said it had received information that the CIO was keen to gather
information from NGOs to bolster the state's case.

Nango sent out the warning to its 350 members and urged them to be on the

"It has come to the attention of Nango that there have been reports of
increased surveillance of NGOs by people believed to be state agents, at the
back of an announcement by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
Minister, Paul Mangwana, that a committee has been set up to probe NGOs," it
said in a statement.

"This includes people being followed, unidentified vehicles being parked
around the vicinity of offices of NGOs, and NGOs being approached by
strangers and asked intrusive questions about their personal lives and
institutional issues."

It said NGOs should therefore improve their security awareness and take
measures to minimise their exposure to being isolated and subjected to

"This involves avoiding cooperation with strangers - whose personal and work
details have not been disclosed to your satisfaction - without legal

Jonah Mudehwe, director of the Nango, said his organisation had received
such reports of surveillance from at least four of its members. He said the
state agents have been requesting confidential information such as bank
statements and audited accounts.

Mudehwe said it was an attempt to bring the organisations into disrepute.

"These reports must be taken seriously especially because of the nature of
the operating environment in Zimbabwe where unlawful arrests are possible,"
Mudehwe said.

Government last year barred non-governmental organisations from providing
food aid following Agriculture minister Joseph Made's insistence that the
country would have a bumper harvest of 2,4 million tones of grain.

The government has accused the NGOs of embezzling funds amounting to US$88,
7 million in aid money mobilised by the United Nations Development Programme
for Zimbabwe's consolidated aid appeal in 2003.

Social welfare Minister Paul Mangwana last week set-up an eight-member
committee to investigate 13 NGOs that failed to account for the money.
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Zim Independent

'Cough up or stay out'
Gift Phiri
THE government turned down scores of applications by foreign journalists to
cover the general election next Thursday but in a major turnaround this week
signalled to others that they were welcome to come - so long as they had the

It will cost them US$600 to secure accreditation.

Although Media and Information Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona Mahoso
could not immediately comment on the number of foreign journalists that had
been accredited by Tuesday, saying "they are still coming", official sources
said more than 50 journalists mainly from "unfriendly states" had been
denied accreditation to cover the election.

Mahoso however confirmed that there was a heavy presence of journalists from
South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). He said
other news agencies such as Reuter and AFP were bringing in reinforcements
but could not immediately comment whether British and American journalists
would be accredited.

"We have received over 100 applications but we will obviously not accredit
all of them, they are too many," Mahoso said.

The international media is clamouring to cover what many expect to be a
strong challenge to Zanu PF's 25-year autocratic rule.

President Mugabe has accused the independent media in Zimbabwe and foreign
correspondents of "printing lies and stirring up unrest in the country".He
has divided the foreign press into perceived friendly and unfriendly camps
in an effort to control the media coverage. The BBC and most mainstream
British media outlets have been banned in recent weeks as organs of "the
former colonial masters".

Last month, Angus Shaw of the Associated Press, Brian Latham of the
Bloomberg financial news service, and Jan Raath, correspondent for the
London Times, Sapa, and German news agency DPA fled Zimbabwe after police
raided their offices.

In January, President Mugabe signed an amendment to Aippa to clamp down on
journalists practising without licences.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF imports Chinese regalia
Augustine Mukaro
IN a move that could be a violation of the Political Parties (Finance) Act
T-shirts, caps and doeks were recently flown into the country from China by
Zanu PF for its election campaign.

Under the Act, it is illegal for political parties to receive assistance
from abroad. Party sources said the campaign material could have been
donated by the Chinese government.

Highly placed sources in the ruling party said the Zanu PF regalia was
brought in aboard an Air Zimbabwe plane plying the Harare-Beijing route on
March 9.

Although the company that supplied the material could not be established,
the cartons had a stickers marked "DAS Air Cargo 761" and another, green in
colour, was written in Chinese.

The Independent this week witnessed the dispatch of the material to various
constituencies from the party's headquarters in Harare.

Sources privy to the development said Zanu PF was sourcing campaign material
from China because of its failure to pay previous suppliers.

"Local suppliers are now demanding cash upfront or at least a substantial
down payment before taking Zanu PF orders," sources said.

Suppliers for the 2002 presidential election campaign material ended-up
dragging Zanu PF to court to recover their monies. Some of the suppliers are
understood not to have been paid in full up to now.
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Zim Independent

African Commission to hear Aippa challenge
Ndamu Sandu
THE African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) will hear an
application against the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) at its 37th Ordinary Session in Gambia next month.

The session runs from April 27 to May 11.

Applicants in the case are the Independent Journalists Association of
Zimbabwe (Ijaz), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), and the Zimbabwe
chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) while the
respondent is cited as the Republic of Zimbabwe.

In correspondence to the applicants' lawyers, Scanlen & Holderness, ACHPR
said it had received a communication from the applicants.

"The communication has been registered.It will be considered for seizure at
the 37th Ordinary Session of the African Commission for Human and People's
Rights scheduled to take place from 27 April to 11 May 2005, in Banjul, The
Gambia," wrote Omari Holaki, officer-in-charge of ACHPR affairs.

In papers filed with the commission, the applicants argue that compulsory
registration of journalists as stipulated by Section 79 and the abuse of
journalistic privilege cited by Section 80 of Aippa are an infringement on
freedom of expression.

Parts of Section 80 have been struck down by the Supreme Court.

The applicants said the two sections were in contravention of Article 9 of
the African Charter on Human and People's Rights to which Zimbabwe is a

The applicants noted that accreditation fees provided for under Zimbabwean
law "are an additional restriction on freedom of expression".

The applicants contend that compulsory accreditation of journalists by the
Media and Information Commission interferes with professional independence
and autonomy of the journalism profession.

"Independence and autonomy of the journalism profession are essential for
the free receipt and dissemination of information, ideas and beliefs," the
applicants noted.

The applicants said they had sought audience with the ACHPR because they had
exhausted local remedies. This week the Supreme Court upheld contentious
sections of Aippa as constitutional in an application by Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe.

Since the enactment of Aippa in 2002, four newspapers have been closed down,
namely the Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, Tribune and the Weekly Times.
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Zim Independent

RBZ never gave us money - Byo mayor
Loughty Dube/Susan Mateko
BULAWAYO executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube has dismissed claims by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) that the central bank has advanced $150
billion to the local authority as a mere political gimmick by Zanu PF. No
such funds have been availed to the local authority, says the Mayor.

Ndabeni-Ncube this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that the council had
not received the funds that RBZ governor, Gideon Gono, claims had been
availed to the Bulawayo city council.

"As far as we are concerned, no money has been availed to the Bulawayo city
council," said Ndabeni-Ncube. "Gono has been talking about money that none
of the local authorities have got yet.

"We just read about the funds in the press and we believe that all this is
politicking ahead of the elections," Ndabeni Ncube said.

Gono announced last year that local authorities would receive funding

under the $10 trillion Parastatals and Local Authorities Re-Orientation
Programme (PLARP).

Ndabeni-Ncube said while the money was welcome, he was against the
politicisation of the funds by the ruling Zanu PF.

"We had Vice-President Joyce Mujuru over the weekend lying that Bulawayo
council has not come forward to access the funds and even Gono last year
told a public meeting during his monetary policy presentation in the city
that local authorities were not coming forward to claim the funds when it is
actually not true," he said.

"The talk changed recently and what we hear is that we have benefited from
the $50 billion availed by the RBZ but we have not received the money.

"We just read about it in the press and it ends there but the impression
Gono is creating is that the Bulawayo council is not using the money

Ndabeni-Ncube said the council did not receive any communication from the
Ministry of Local Government and National Housing and from the RBZ about the
cash injection.

He said the RBZ failed to raise the funds for the local authorities after
the floating of the bonds failed to raise anything last week.

"We have no objection to Gono genuinely coming to the aid of local
authorities but he should not play with people's feelings by raising their
hopes when nothing in effect was being done," Ndabeni-Ncube said.

He said the alleged misinformation peddled by the RBZ Governor was putting
the council in a fix, as residents want to know how the funds they read
about in the press are being utilised.

Meanwhile, the government has not yet approved the Bulawayo city council
budget for 2005, three months into the year.

Ndabeni-Ncube said the delay in the approval of the budget was affecting
service delivery to residents.
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Zim Independent

ZEC appeals against poll delay
Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission chairman Justice George Chiweshe has filed an
urgent application with the Electoral Court and Supreme Court challenging a
ruling by the Electoral Court last week enabling incarcerated MP Roy Bennett
to stand in Chimanimani.

The court postponed the poll to next month.

In its appeal the ZEC argues this would "inconv-enience" other candidates.

Economist Samuel Undenge is standing on the Zanu PF ticket in the

The appeal, lodged on Tuesday, follows President Robert Mugabe's outburst
last week when he said that the ruling by the Electoral Court to postpone
the election had to be contested.

Mugabe's utterances were roundly condemned by lawyers and civics both
locally and internationally.

According to the court papers, Chiweshe claimed that the judgement by
Justice Tendai Uchena was flawed.

The ZEC is seeking an interim order from the Electoral Court suspending the
March 8 ruling pending a determination by the Supreme Court.

The Commission has also filed an application in the Supreme Court praying

the court to set aside the Electoral Court's ruling and ensure the election
is held in Chimanimani on Thursday.

The ZEC would like the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the issue and in
the interim also suspend the Electoral Court's ruling.

"If the judgement of this Honourable Court is not suspended, it will mean
that all preparation for the elections including the preparation of the
ballot boxes and the polling stations will be put on hold," Chiweshe said in
his application to the Electoral Court.

"If then the Supreme Court upholds Applicant's contentions and reserves the
decision of this Honourable Court, it will then be too late to attend to the
preparations relevant to the elections to enable them to be conducted on the
date already set down by proclamation. This will obviously then cause great
inconvenience," the court papers state.

A fortnight ago Justice Uchena of the Electoral Court ruled that the
selection of Chimanimani candidates be redone.

Uchena said that the contesting parties who were interested in the
Chimanimani seat should lodge their papers on April 4, whilst the actual
polling should take place on April 30.

Presently, the Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett is behind bars for
flooring Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa.

ZEC is being represented by George Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike &
Associates, whilst Bennett is being represented by Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor
& Immerman.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

D-day is nigh

EASTER is coming this weekend and where will politicians be as they prepare
to enter the home straight of their campaign for the general election on
Thursday? As Zimbabweans prepare to attend church services and other events
associated with Easter this is also the last weekend for them to consider
which candidates to select after weeks of relentless campaigning by the two
main political parties.

Last Easter United States presidential aspirant John Kerry's quest to
fulfill a religious obligation by attending a church service suddenly became
a political issue. He was not the first Democrat to want to attend a church
service but that seemingly innocuous act became a national issue because
Kerry was standing in a presidential election. The church's position on
Kerry's standpoints was crucial hence the media watched with interest in
which church the politician's knee would bend.

If Kerry, a Catholic had stuck to his home Boston Archdiocese, he faced the
implied threat from Archbishop Sean O'Malley of being refused Communion.

Archbishop O'Malley, according to the Washington Post, had declared that
pro-choice Catholic politicians were in a state of grave sin and could not
properly take Communion, though he mentioned neither Kerry nor other
Democrats subscribing to the politician's ideals.

In his campaign for the presidency, Kerry favoured human stem-cell research;
the right to abortion, including partial-birth abortion; and civil unions
between homosexuals which was contrary to church teachings. He could
therefore not take Communion.

Reports say he ended up sidestepping the Communion issue by attending the
Missionary Baptist Church, where he quoted a few verses from the second
chapter of James.

He again worshipped with a Protestant congregation at the African Methodist
Episcopal Church in Dorchester where he received plaudits from the pulpit.

"We're thankful that there's going to be a revolution in this country ... a
new movement," the Rev Gregory Groover said from the pulpit during the Palm
Sunday service. "And we say, God, bring him on, the next president of the
United States."

That is the church taking a stand on key issues of politics. There are many
who did not vote for Kerry because they abhorred his stance on gay unions,
human cloning and abortion. Of course, praise for the Democrat who
eventually lost the poll to incumbent George Bush rang in church
auditoriums. God, bring him on, the next president of the United States!

This weekend, there are many candidates here who would wish to have that
kind of support from the altar. Candidates entering houses of worship will
be watched with curiosity, especially the infrequent visitors, not
necessarily seeking divine support but to making an appearance before a
constituency that is imbued with immense societal influence.

That is why Pamela Tungamirai had Zanu PF imbed Rev Obediah Msindo at
rallies in Tafara and Mabvuku last weekend notwithstanding the spectacle
created by the huge wad of cash - $90 million in all - which he held during
his "sermon". I did not see a bible in the hand of the man of God!

Msindo's campaigning for Zanu PF has been as overt as it gets. He has even
beatified Mugabe to the sainthood.

A number of senior Zanu PF officials have of late been regular visitors to
the churches where overawed clergymen have surrendered the pulpit to
political mandarins to expound the virtues of their party and Mugabe. Did I
lately hear one of them saying the Zanu PF government brought the people of
Zimbabwe closer to God by "democratising the church?" At a church service in
Harare Central last weekend parishioners listened in awe as the preacher
expounded the virtues of women leaders and why change was a demonstration of
lack of faith.

I see more visitations to churches and other religious gatherings by
aspiring politicians this Easter. They cannot be turned away but it is
important for parishioners to question what the politicians stand for. It is
important for the church to analyse campaign literature being used by
candidates' respective parties.

Does the church in Zimbabwe have a view on hate language used by Zanu PF for
example in its jingles on radio and television? Does the church believe that
it is fair for children as young as six to be herded to rallies where they
sit for hours under the baking sun waiting for the convoy of motor vehicles
or helicopters to disgorge the leader? Parishioners, especially in rural
areas, could this weekend be barred from assembling to celebrate Easter,
especially if ceremonies coincide with a political rally to be addressed by
the local god.

When will the church stand up to this bullying. Does their silence mean
endorsement or apathy?
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Zim Independent

Forces of coercion versus popular will
Dumisani Muleya

AS Zimbabwe's electioneering ahead of next week's general election enters
the last stretch of what looks like a close race, political parties are
increasingly stepping up their nationwide scramble for votes to win the
crucial poll.
The election will be mainly fought between the country's major parties, the
ruling Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). While
the ruling party controls the forces of coercion, the MDC has an edge in
terms of popular will.
Other small parties and independent candidates - who are trying to coalesce
into a Third Way - are by and large inconsequential, except perhaps in
symbolic terms.
Although Zanu PF and the MDC on paper stand an equal chance of grabbing a
hard-won majority in parliament, the reality on the ground clearly favours
the ruling party, which appears determined to win by fair means or foul
despite its incoherent campaign.
Zanu PF has all the advantages any party can wish for: a skewed playing
field tilted in its favour; flawed electoral system that allows it to
control the electoral bodies; a poisoned political climate in which fear
rules the roost; a solid national structure; vast experience in politics and
the theft of votes; and huge state resources at its command.
But its problems are equally numerous. The most debilitating one is that the
party is approaching a crucial election for the first time since 1980 deeply
divided. The cleavages in Zanu PF are gaping and many.
The party's policies are seen as unworkable and in some cases irrelevant.
Zanu PF also appears clueless when it comes to looking for solutions and
running a modern economy.
The party acts as if it is caught in a dangerous time warp and thus lacks
capacity and vision to move the country forward. It is clearly suffering
from the malaise of a liberation movement that failed to renew itself.
The MDC has an outside chance of pulling a shock victory, but the
practicalities of the electoral process diminish its prospects.
The opposition's main advantages include that fact that the political tide
sweeping across the country is in its favour. There can never be any doubt
that popular disenchantment has deepened beyond Zanu PF's ability to contain
it. The current state of the economy and the plethora of socio-economic
problems make Zanu PF's case untenable. Which explains the desperate tone of
its propaganda.
Zimbabwe's real gross domestic product (GDP) has shrunk by a cumulative 30%
in the past five years. Zimbabwe became the fastest contracting economy in
the world. Its inflation, which peaked at 622% in January last year, was the
highest in the world, according to jailed Finance minister Chris Kuruneri.
The budget deficit in 2003 reached historic proportions at 24% of GDP, the
total value of output actually produced in the whole economy over a
particular period of time, usually a year.
National savings were decimated, drastically reducing chances of local
investment. Other economic fundamentals were dislocated. The fiscal and
monetary policies were divergent and inevitably created financial chaos.
Agriculture - the economy's mainstay - was devastated through a chaotic
policy of land seizures which began in 2000. Resultant acute food shortages
necessitated massive food imports and donor assistance.
Wholesale company closures also became the norm rather than an exception.
The economy's dramatic decline fuelled unemployment, grinding poverty,
shortages of basic commodities and food, severe lack of foreign currency and
imported essentials like fuel and electricity.
In brief, Zimbabwe's social and economic conditions deteriorated, mainly
reflecting damaging economic policies and structural changes that badly
weakened the economic base.
In particular, the disorderly land reform programme contributed to a sharp
reduction in agricultural production. Widespread concerns about governance,
the rule of law and human rights and the continued lack of clarity about
property rights severely damaged confidence, discouraged investment, and
promoted capital flight and emigration. The country also continued to sink
irretrievably into a debt trap.
Social indicators worsened and the HIV/Aids pandemic remained largely
All these problems were, fairly or unfairly, put at Zanu PF's doorstep. The
party and its government almost gave up on how to resolve the crisis but
President Robert Mugabe engineered what in their view was a clear
masterstroke: central bank governor Gideon Gono's appointment.
Gono came into office in December 2003 and applied a stringent monetary
policy which partly helped to deal with certain problems, particularly
inflation. His approach also saved a lot of companies from collapse but
created havoc in the banking sector.
Although the measures were well-intentioned, they were not well-thought-out
and seemed decidedly haphazard.
Gono's performance and statistical manipulation were then used by Zanu PF to
claim an economic recovery, which was not supported by evidence.
This situation gives the MDC a good chance to make political capital and
catch votes if well-articulated and credible solutions are prescribed.
The other advantage for the MDC is that it represents an idea whose time has
come. A younger generation is not fooled by Zanu PF's puerile explanations
for economic failure.
However, the MDC has fundamental weaknesses. The party's command hierarchy
is weak and has fragile national structures. In some cases the
organisational structures are virtually non-existent.
Its policies are sometimes questionable and vague. They generally do not
resonate with the masses and sound unrealistic, although their refinement
may provide a basis for a serious policy framework.
But the electoral system will be decisive in the poll outcome. Elections are
not just a function of the range and quality of liberties guaranteed to
voters by the constitution but are defined by the overall institutional
framework within which they take place.
Although there is necessarily no link between elections and democracy -
elections also take place in some dictatorships - the question of whether a
country is democratic or not is ultimately settled by the organisation and
quality of its electoral system.
It determines the election of representatives to the legislature and, in
presidential regimes, the election of the president. It has a direct impact
on the composition of parliament, the configuration of the party system and
formation of government.
The electoral system determines - perhaps more than anything else - the
tactics and strategies that political parties use and has a direct bearing
on voters' choices.
The Southern African Development Community has principles governing
democratic elections in the region. The guidelines encourage free and fair
But in general, an election is considered free and fair if it fulfils
certain conditions: substantially the entire adult population has the right
to vote; no major section of the voting population is disenfranchised for
whatever reason; it takes place within prescribed time limits; all seats are
contested; campaigns are conducted in a reasonably free political climate
where neither law nor violence nor intimidation restrict candidates; and
ballots are cast freely and counted in an honest and transparent manner.
Zimbabwe only meets one of these basic conditions: holding elections
Against this background, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the
MDC to win when the political environment is hostile and the electoral
system is decisively tilted in favour of Zanu PF. For these reasons, if for
no other, Zanu PF will win the poll. They can only lose it themselves!
But on April 1 all the problems that bedevil the country will still be
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Zim Independent


Decide the future you deserve
ZIMBABWEANS go to the polls next Thursday with an unenviable yet crucial
task of deciding the fate of their beloved Motherland for the next five
In less than 12 hours the electorate has an enormous task to decide how best
to regain the deserved glory that accompanied its collective ability to
unshackle itself from colonialism. They have to decide how they prefer to be
governed through the next half decade.
It is a unique moment offering the Zimbabwean electorate an opportunity to
chart a new path leading to a healthier destiny for generations to come.
Voters have a task to restore the nation to the lofty pedestal that it
merits among the international community of nations.
The electoral choices Zimbabweans will make on polling day have immeasurable
Will they remain stuck in the quicksand the Zanu PF government has dragged
them into through numbing fear that has immobilisd their collective power to
resist being taken hostage? They have to engage in intense
self-introspection before entering the voting cubicle and ask themselves
whether they are comfortable with the way they are being governed or whether
they deserve better.
This is the bottom line. Voters have to look back a short five years and
take stock whether their lives have progressed or regressed, whether they
have transformed for the better or for worse. Or better still, whether they
enjoy the freedoms they anticipated when hordes of them left to prosecute
the war for national independence.
Rather poignant is the fact that the election, more than anything else,
offers each and every Zimbabwean an exceptional opportunity to rediscover
themselves and become the master of their destiny. It also offers a rare
opportunity for the electorate to collectively retrieve and repossess the
inviolable power to decide who should rule over them.
Over time the electorate has gradually lost that omnipotent clout to
determine who should lead them, often settling for the second-best and
meekly resigning themselves to whatever fate comes their way.
That should not be so for an electorate that boasts being the best educated
in the sub-region. It should not be the case because it is the voter who
wields unmatched power in his or her hand to elect or unseat a government.
Every democracy functions on the consent of the governed.
By the break of dawn on Thursday next week the election should unbundle the
inherent energies in the electorate and empower it to elect a leadership
that strikes a chord with national aspirations.
Zimbabwe is currently at the Biblical crossroads and the Zimbabwean voter
can be likened to an earthling standing at the fork, deciding which road to
take between one that leads to Eternal bliss and the other to Eternal agony.
The voter participating in the Thursday election is confronted with a choice
to push Zimbabwe over the precipice or redeem its image from being a pariah
of the continent merely by casting a marked ballot paper.
It does not matter much who they vote for provided the trust they have
invested in that choice keeps Zimbabwe out of harm's way. That is how the
polls should define their patriotism - the love of their country's wellbeing
ahead of any other consideration.
If the voter decides to vote for the opposition MDC so be it. If another
voter prefers to vote for Zanu PF or an independent candidate for that
matter, let no one question that choice if that political preference
guarantees Zimbabwe's social, political and economic prosperity. Guaranteed
national prosperity should be the sole guiding light to the way we vote come
March 31.
Next Thursday's polling is like no other before it. Voters have to be
intensely aware of the international context in which these elections are
being held. For the past five years Zimbabweans have been traumatised by the
unpleasant feeling of an illegitimate child in a community of nations. Our
electoral choices have the potential to open up a vista of social, economic
and political opportunities beyond human imagination.
If we mess up this election we are doomed as a nation. Our patriotism will
be shredded. We have a chance to wake up the following day, beating our
breasts in self-glorification for having displayed unimaginable political
maturity and acumen.
So let us grab the opportunity with both hands and make a conscious effort
to redeem ourselves and our country.
Let all of us take voting on Thursday as a matter of national duty, a
collective national responsibility.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Zanu PF's deceptive ad campaign

THIS column seeks to avoid political commentary, except when political
actions or statements have economic connotations or consequences. When that
occurs, commentary becomes necessary, for the focus of this column is
supposed to be economic and financial issues.
It was with that in view that some weeks ago this column commented
negatively upon the Movement for Democratic Change attack upon the 2005
Roadmap and Fourth Quarter, 2004 Monetary Policy Review of the governor of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). That attack disregarded a multitude of
facts, misconstrued an even greater number of facts and by so doing sought
to make political capital, without any concern that the already weakened
business confidence of Zimbabwe would decline further.
However, for the same reasons, it is now necessary to comment upon some of
the grossly appalling, deceptive and counterproductive advertisements which
Zanu PF is plastering throughout the print media. Those advertisements not
only detract from the very excellent advertisements recording the government's
achievements in bringing education to millions, but also destroy prospects
of national unity, of greatly needed reconciliation with the international
community and intensively mislead and deceive insofar as economic issues are
Few will disagree that the single greatest need of Zimbabwe is to reverse
economic decline and to embark upon such substantial economic growth as will
eliminate the near 80% unemployment level, the over 70% of the population
struggling to survive on incomes below the poverty datum line and the almost
50% of the population's bare existence below the food datum line.
However, the ruling party apparently has other priorities, for the keynote
of the advertising campaign is "anti-Blair campaign". Instead of addressing
substantive issues of national concern, the target is an immature, childish
personal attack which can only further worsen Zimbabwe's relationships with
key elements of the international community. That community's friendship and
support is critical to Zimbabwean economic recovery.
The advertising then identifies the government's campaign weapons. The first
is stated to be "getting back your land". Implicitly, there is a
contemptuous dismissal of the facts that most of the land was neither
occupied or productively used prior to the colonial era. There is dismissal
of the fact that the manner of "getting back the land" was devoid of
justice, and in outright conflict with international law.
Even worse is that this disgraceful policy of the government has been so
destructively pursued that over 300 000 farm workers, together with more
than 1,2 million dependants, were displaced, rendered homeless and
unemployed; maize production fell from 1,8 million tonnes to 600 000 tonnes;
tobacco output critical to foreign currency generation fell from over 237
million tonnes to a little over 80 million tones; the national herd
decreased by almost two-thirds; and the economy was set upon a downward
escalator to collapse. The foundation of the economy was destroyed by the
state and its near eradication of agriculture.
Then the advertisements pronounce that there will be "an end to racist
factory closures". The contention that such actions have occurred is
spurious in the extreme. No matter how racist may be some factory owners
they would not ruin themselves by factory closures, but would express their
racism in other ways. Instead, all that advertising achieves is to foment
racism and widen any racial divide.
The president has declared 2005 as the year of investment, and has urged the
international community to invest in Zimbabwe. But a positive response
cannot be motivated by recurrent attacks upon all who are not of indigenous
origin (as defined by the president).
Moreover, the fuelling of racism is a breach of the Zimbabwean constitution
that the ruling party claims to uphold, and business confidence and economic
development cannot be forthcoming when there is state contempt for the law.
Similarly, the allegation in the advertisements that there is "racist
withholding of commodities" is devoid of credibility. Not only are the
accusations of racism undoubtedly greatly exaggerated, but yet again the
suggestion that racists would deliberately jeopardise their business is
unbelievable. That is especially so when it is recognised that, in reality,
the causes of shortages are first and foremost the government-created
ruination of agriculture and the inadequacy of foreign currency availability
to fund essential imports.
The extent that the racist allegation is ludicrous is illustrated by the
magnitude of the scarcity of petroleum products. Those products are, in the
main, imported and distributed by a parastatal and by more than 60
indigenous operators. Is the ruling party seriously suggesting that they are
all puppets in the hands of racists? Surely not!
Then the advertisements promise "an end to politically motivated price
increases". It is long overdue that the government recognises the realities
of the disastrous economic environment it has created. When it is the cause
of wide-ranging shortages, it needs to recognise that those shortages cause
price increases. If demand exceeds supply, it is inevitable that prices
rise. But of even greater impact is that when commodities are scarce, the
suppliers must apportion their operating costs and overheads to fewer
numbers of units of those commodities, necessarily forcing price increases.
And, when foreign currency is grievously short, production volumes decline,
with a consequential increase in prices of the limited quantities that are
The resultant hyperinflation fuels yet further inflation, and particularly
so when wages are increased to an extent of inflation, or greater. If prices
do not rise in these circumstances, almost wholly the creation of
government, then the commodities cease to be available in even limited
quantities, factories close down, more become unemployed, and the economic
collapse becomes total.
As if all the misrepresentations did not suffice, the advertisements
repeated the government's prolonged false depiction of the sanctions applied
by some in the international community. The advertisements imply that those
sanctions are a cause of the economic morass, or that they are targeted at
the Zimbabwean population.
The actuality is that the sanctions are only directed against the
governmental and Zanu PF hierarchy, being bans on travel to those countries
applying the sanctions, and endeavours to freeze the foreign assets of that
hierarchy. The party propagandists strive to suggest that sanctions are more
wide-ranging by drawing attention to those countries that have discontinued
providing donor aid to Zimbabwe. In practice, most of the donor states have
continued to provide humanitarian aid, but have discontinued such aid as was
supportive to the government.The advertisements suggest that Zanu PF is
achieving "faster economic turnaround". At present there is no evidence of a
turnaround, save only for a decline in inflation, which is nevertheless
still at untenable levels.
The only turnaround of the economy overall is that it continues to be in a
"flat spin", on a downward spiral, although the RBZ - and not the
government - is striving vigorously to bring about a positive turnaround.

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Zim Independent


Same old dull Zanu PF tricks

HAS it occurred to Zanu PF that every time they pull one of their election
stunts the public become increasingly indifferent?
Warning was given that a stunt would be forthcoming by Webster Shamu in the
Sunday Mail. The MDC had been training Zimbabweans living in South Africa to
"unleash violence" in order to discredit the election, he claimed.
"The alleged hooligans and thugs have been given instructions on how to
perpetrate violence," he said.
Then predictably, the next day the Herald carried a headline announcing the
arrest of five MDC youths who were accused of being a "terror group" trained
in South Africa to "unleash a reign of terror" in Zimbabwe.
How many people believe this rubbish any more? Don't we recall almost
identical stories ahead of the 2000 and 2002 elections?
What happened to those "plots"? The evidence evaporated once the election
was over just as it did in the Tsvangirai treason case!
The MDC replied to the Herald's silly story saying they had seen it all
"For instance, on the eve of the March 2002 presidential poll, 17 army
'deserters' were paraded on ZBC. The Mugabe regime claimed that the 17
'deserters' had been arrested for plotting to cause disruption ahead of the
poll. No evidence was ever produced to support this claim. After the
election the issue of the '17 deserters' and their alleged crimes was never
mentioned again by the regime.
"In November 2001, five MDC activists were arrested for the murder of war
veteran Cain Nkala. At the time Mugabe claimed that their arrest proved that
the MDC was a party bent on using violent means to achieve its political
objectives. After being held in prison for over two years, and subjected to
torture, all five were acquitted last year."
As for the MDC training Zimbabweans to "unleash violence", which party is it
that has a record of unleashing violence against its opponents? Which party
has been using youth militias to impose its will on voters?
The police helpfully claimed that according to their investigations "the MDC
wanted to commit acts of violence so that Zanu PF and the government of
Zimbabwe would be viewed as perpetrators of violence".
Who was responsible for the murder of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya?
What has happened to their killers? Who tortured Gabriel Shumba and what has
happened to those responsible for the torture and subsequent death of
Tonderayi Machiridza?
Who were the very real perpetrators of state violence in those cases and why
have they not been brought to justice?
Please, no more "impish" stunts just because an election is pending. It all
looks like smoke-and-mirrors to even the most gullible readers.

till on torturers, the Sunday Mirror this week thought it had an exposť on
the United States' poor human rights record with a front page article titled
"CIA in torture scandal". The article contained a revealing comment from
Information permanent secretary George Charamba who cheerfully said: "The US
has historically been a net exporter of torture."
So that's where Zimbabwe has been importing all its torture skills from used
by our law enforcers? Muckraker feels Zimbabwe can now qualify to be a net
exporter of torture considering the country's well-documented exploits in
the run-up to the 2000 and 2002 elections.

If anybody doubted the "independence" of the Electoral Supervisory
Commission they should read the remarks by ESC spokesman Tarisai Manzonzo.
He told the Sunday News that the British and US governments were "begging
Zimbabwe" to accredit their officials as election observers.
We should not be surprised by this. The last such spokesman was a former
Herald deputy editor! But Manzonzo should be told his attempts to be helpful
to the state media and its partisan cause by depicting British and US
embassy officials as "begging" for accreditation when they were simply
applying for it in the normal way does nothing for the reputation of the
The same goes for ZEC spokesman Utloile Silaigwana's naive remarks about how
"happy" the ZEC was that President Mugabe was "encouraging tolerance among
political parties" and how this had "immensely contributed to the prevailing
Does that include Mugabe's remarks last week about Roy Bennett?
What we have here is a body appointed by Mugabe and accountable to him
supervising what is supposed to be an independent electoral commission.

We note Justice Chiweshe's statement that the ZEC had begun dispatching
application forms for postal votes to the ZRP, Defence forces and the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs as some of them would be working outside the
So why only government personnel working outside the country? What about
those who, whatever the opinion of the Supreme Court, are equally entitled
to vote as Zimbabweans working outside the country?
It is significant that in this case and the Aippa case the government and
Zanu PF celebrate every time the rights of Zimbabweans are abridged. And
they think nobody outside the country notices!
As one government columnist said last week, the MDC is not benefiting from
this "rule-of-law nonsense".
"Well done the Chief Justice," he added, suggesting a rather unhealthy
measure of patronage!

Tafataona Mahoso continues to invite ridicule in his weekly frothing.
Because Morgan Tsvangirai invited President Mbeki to come to Zimbabwe to
assess compliance with the Sadc protocols in the run-up to elections, this
means, Mahoso claimed, he has issued a "blank invitation by an opposition
party to the president of another power to come and literally take over the
functions of those constitutional authorities in Zimbabwe who should be
responsible for elections".
Mahoso called this "treasonous and unconstitutional".
Does Mahoso want to be taken seriously or not? If he does, he needs to avoid
these sort of fatuous claims that are just downright daft.
Sadc leaders have as their mandate the need to check compliance with their
own protocols. The whole point about Zimbabwe is that, despite its claims,
it is not complying with the Mauritius terms.
Mahoso does not help his case by citing the South African Human Rights
Commission's findings on its investigation of the media several years ago.
There can't be a single person, apart from Mahoso, who takes that profoundly
flawed report seriously.
But we liked the picture of Durban in 1976. At least Mahoso's tortuous prose
enables the Sunday Mail to dig into its 1970s photo collection!

We also liked the following comments carried in the Herald's report on the
Supreme Court ruling in the Daily News case last week.
".The court criticised MIC chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso for creating
misgivings and causing mistrust in him by the ANZ through making comments in
articles he wrote in newspapers that were likely to make the applicant feel
it would not get a fair hearing from the commission he chaired.
"The judge was referring to numerous articles authored by Dr Mahoso which
were placed before the administrative court by the ANZ lawyer seeking to
prove that he was biased against his client. In one of the articles Dr
Mahoso had referred to ANZ as an 'outlaw' and indicated that its application
would not be considered.
"He also remarked that the MIC was conducting itself in an inappropriate
manner. Dr Mahoso, he said, should have appreciated he would chair the
commission dealing with the ANZ's application for registration and, hence,
should have stopped making such statements of personal belief and opinion.
Accordingly, he should have refrained from making comments that were likely
to make (the) applicant apprehensive of not getting a fair hearing from the
commission chaired by him."
Despite all this, the Supreme Court noted that the evidence submitted to the
Administrative Court failed to prove actual bias on the part of Dr Mahoso.
It needs to be asked what he actually has to do or say to convince their
lordships of bias if not what they cited above!
There is also the case of Chengetai Zvauya who was refused accreditation by
Mahoso on the grounds that he had been found guilty of an offence by a
This related to a report in the Standard which claimed the Constitutional
Commission had reached its conclusions before its investigations were
complete. Zvauya was acquitted on appeal, a case Mahoso appeared not to be
following despite the MIC being a quasi-judicial body!
Will we see an improvement in his behaviour following the Supreme Court's
admonishment? Don't hold your breath!
Meanwhile, we noted the Supreme Court's ruling that once the ANZ complied
with the law "this court will accord it the same protection it accords all
citizens who are law-abiding".
Not much comfort there then!

Muckraker was intrigued by a story in the Sunday Mail's Metro supplement
this week. Written by Gilbert Munetsi, it said: "For a whole weekend I was
inside the walls of Harare Central, though by design. My mission was to
track down a former celebrated Commonwealth boxing champion, then
incarcerated, to find out if he really had converted to Christianity as
alleged in press reports.
"This for me meant dressing in prison garb and swapping my name for a number
after which I hoped to stalk my prey for perhaps a whole day before spelling
out the purpose of my visit to him and convincing him to grant me an
exclusive interview. In journalism that is called pulling a stunt."
No it's not. It's called unprofessional conduct. As a journalist, Gilbert,
you are supposed to disclose your presence and your identity, not "stalk"
your "prey" in a situation where he could hardly say no to your "design".
And what was the Prison Service doing allowing you to pose as a prisoner in
order to stalk another prisoner - boxer Arifonso Zvenyika serving an
18-month sentence for theft.
The interview took place a year ago, we are told, so it is difficult to
understand why it is only appearing now.
We would welcome a statement from the Director of the Prison Service on
this. We note that state journalists have the privilege, when they go in, of
deciding when to come out!

So Zimbabwe is President Mugabe's wife? He is angry with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair because he believes he is a wife-stealer.
At a rally at Mataga Growth Point in the Midlands last Saturday Mugabe said
he would fight tooth and nail if Blair tried to steal his wife. "Kana iye
Blair akada kutora mukadzi wangu tinonetsana," the Herald reported him as
No society should tolerate men who go about stealing other people's wives.
Do you recall the story of a man who stole a secretary in his office who
incredibly turned out to be someone else's wife? Unfortunately the husband
did not fight tooth and nail against the wife-stealer. He was simply
exported on a slow boat to China!

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Zim Independent

Hwange in barter deal with Chinese
Ndamu Sandu
COAL miner Hwange Colliery Company Ltd (HCCL) has entered into a barter deal
with China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) to export coal and coke in
return for coal haulage trucks and earth moving equipment from the Chinese
firm, businessdigest heard this week.

The equipment would be used in the coal miner's expansion project to
increase the production of coal and coke.

HCCL managing director Godfrey Dzinomwa said the coal miner is set to export
coke and coal to Norinco and at the same time import earthmoving equipment
and haulage trucks.

"We are starting exporting in April to Norinco's smelter in Democratic
Republic of Congo. Hwange will import the equipment in the second half of
the year," Dzinomwa said.

The coal and coke from Zimbabwe would be used to fire smelters in the DRC
with the end products being shipped to China. Dzinomwa said HCCL was also
exploring the logistics of exporting coal and coke to China.

Dzinomwa said discussions were still underway adding that HCCL would work
with Norinco as trade partners and progress to joint ventures once
discussions are concluded.

Dzinomwa said HCCL and Norinco had defined "their requirements and put the
framework together" to enable the trade but was optimistic that HCCL "would
give as much as it could in the deal".

HCCL and Norinco signed a memorandum of understanding last year and
officials from the Chinese firm toured the mine in December last year.

Dzinomwa said HCCL was in constant discussions with officials from Norinco
offices in the country.

HCCL exports to South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of
Congo with inquiries from China and India. Dzinomwa said HCCL was working on
measures to meet all its requirements locally.

HCCL is currently undergoing a turnaround programme to halt the declining
coal production.

The 3 Main Underground Mine was opened last month and will produce 50 000
tonnes of coal per month in the initial stages. The production is expected
to rise to 100 000 and then 150 000 at its peak.

Dzinomwa said plans were underway to recapitalise the current opencast mine
operations and the commissioning of a coal fines recovery plant.

Dzinomwa said the recapitalisation would need US$8,7 million. On the sources
of the funding, Dzinomwa said the money would come from various sources
including financiers and internal sources among others.

HCCL is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange and JSE
Securities Exchange.
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Zim Independent

Economic ills worsen housing plight
Conrad Dube
THE government has reduced Zimbabweans to perpetual tenancy as an acute
shortage of housing worsens.

The country has a housing shortage of about four million units and this has
driven most Zimbabweans into informal settlements around major cities.
Harare alone has a housing backlog of about one million units.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary for economic affairs Tendai
Biti says Zimbabweans have become so poor that they cannot afford decent
accommodation as the economy continues to tumble. Biti was speaking at a
rally in Norton on Sunday.

"We have seen an unprecedented increase in lodgers because the government
has failed to provide basic accommodation to citizens," said Biti.

"The government is ignoring the suffering of the people.

"Zimbabweans can no longer afford even decent underwear while their dignity
has been reduced to levels where they accept sub-standard products from
China," he said.

He said the economy has continued to tumble due to lack of foreign currency,
a weakening local unit and the collapse of industry. The dollar is currently
trading at $14 000 to the United States dollar and $22 000 to the British
pound on the parallel market.

While on one hand the depreciation of the dollar has steeply raised the
prices of imported raw materials and inputs, industry, on the other hand,
has not been privileged with a corresponding price increase of commodities
as price controls on selected products prevail.

For instance, fuel merchants were last month ordered to revert to the old
fuel price of $3 600 per litre after they had increased prices to $3 900 a

Economist John Robertson in an interview said interference in pricing slowed
down business in the three months to March while elections caused
uncertainty in the business community.

"Many companies put expansion and new investment plans on hold because of
the uncertainty currently prevailing. Some of it was caused by the elections
and some of it was caused by the changes to the platinum sector and
agricultural marketing," said Robertson.

He added the business community had questions over February's inflation rate
figure which showed a 5% decrease to 127% from January's 133%.

"The three months were characterised by foreign currency shortages and were
quite difficult for many businesses," Robertson said.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luckson Zembe said the
trading period was relatively depressed due to annual closures and the
election period. Zembe said investors had adopted a wait and see attitude
ahead of the election.

"Foreign currency inflows were lower than expectations as demand continues
to outstrip supply. We have been supplying only 10% of demand on the foreign
currency auction and this creates pressure on the exchange rate," Zembe

The pressure on the exchange rate will create a fertile ground for
businesses to engage in speculative activities which feed into the parallel
market, according to Zembe.

"The answer is not in more controls but pushing up supply side. We really
need balance of payments support and the restoration of international
relations if we are to successfully deal with the foreign currency problem,"
the ZNCC chief told businessdigest.
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Zim Independent


Who is the real 'disaster' in government?

ON Monday night I watched Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general
Welshman Ncube being "interviewed" on television by Supa Mandiwanzira and
Happison Muchechetere - two of the usual trio of Zanu PF lackeys who purport
to conduct ZTV's "impartial" political interviews.

Ibbo Mandaza was missing. Perhaps he had the good sense to realise that he
would be hopelessly outclassed by the intelligent, articulate Ncube.

These lackeys of the ruling regime were made to look foolish by Ncube. The
manner in which they conduct themselves, especially the hapless and hopeless
Muchechetere, guarantees votes for the MDC. Long may their incompetence be
used by ZTV in its vain and futile attempt to portray the MDC as a "puppet
of Western imperialists".

These Zanu PF apologists attempt to castigate the MDC by claiming that the
opposition wants to effect regime change. Of course that is what the MDC
wants to do! Have they no idea what democracy is all about?

Only Zanu PF believes that it is democratic for one party to rule forever
and that elections have nothing to do with regime change, and that if by
some chance the opposition does win then the military will ensure that
democracy Zanu PF-style prevails by refusing to serve under anyone of whom
they do not approve.

These same apologists irritatingly and constantly attempt to put words into
the mouths of those they are "interviewing". Fortunately the likes of Tendai
Biti, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Ncube are more than a match for
these sycophants who are unused to dealing with a combination of integrity
and intelligence.

On a previous programme Mandaza, when "interviewing" Biti, attempted to
attack the calibre of the MDC's candidates. What brazen hypocrisy! Has he
not considered for one moment the calibre of his own colleagues in Zanu PF?
Many of them may have a multitude of degrees, the likes of Joseph Chinotimba
notwithstanding, but of what worth are they without integrity?

Mandaza talks of the need for experience. Experience of what? Of corruption,
of destruction, of failure?

On Monday night Supa Mandiwanzira attempted foolishly to castigate the MDC
for it having been a disaster "in government" at the local level and for
having failed to keep its promises. Is he so blind that he cannot see the
irony in attempting such attacks on the MDC? Has he ever interviewed
Zimbabwe's president or any of his ministers and asked such questions?

Has he ever considered that an opposition can only be held to account for
its electoral promises if it comes into power?

A word of advice to this trio of functionaries of the ruling party: don't
risk asking the MDC about the calibre of its candidates, or about its
"broken promises", or about it being a "disaster" in government, or about
the "regime change" that is the fundamental purpose of any opposition in a
democracy. When you raise such matters you merely draw attention to the
calibre of Zanu PF's candidates, their broken promises, their disastrous
record as a government and to their fundamentally undemocratic nature.

At least these well-fed functionaries of Zanu PF have had enough sense, so
far, not to raise the issue of Zimbabwe's hungry masses. Now that would be
very difficult to stomach!

No wonder that Zanu PF does not want the MDC to have equal access to the
media when it has spokespersons of the calibre of Ncube, Biti and

RES Cook,

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Zim Independent


Let's vote out tyranny in our millions

WITH just a week before the parliamentary election, the indications are that
the democratic forces of Zimbabwe will turn the tables against Zanu PF.

However, sensing defeat, Zanu PF seems to be resorting to its usual dirty
tricks in order to cling on to power.

While there has been reduced violence as President Robert Mugabe feared
openly clashing with other Southern African Development Community (Sadc)
countries due to non-compliance with the bloc's protocol on elections, the
regime has decided to exploit some requirements of the Sadc protocol,
specifically the requirement to hold the elections in one day and the use of
translucent ballot boxes.

There are allegations that Zanu PF has been going about intimidating people
both in the urban and rural areas, telling them that because counting will
take place at the polling station the party will be able to identify all
people who vote at that polling station and these will be punished where the
opposition wins the majority votes.

As there will be more polling stations than has been the case in past
elections, most polling stations are likely to have a turnout of less than
300 voters, so it will be easy for them to follow up the voting patterns.

Zanu PF has allegedly also told the electorate that the ballot paper will
unfold when it is dropped into the translucent box, enabling them to see
which party one will have voted for.

While there is optimism that the majority of the people of Zimbabwe now
realise that such intimidatory statements are nothing but empty threats, I
want to suggest that voter education be intensified to instil confidence in
the electorate that their vote is not only their right but their secret, and
that no one will ever know who they will have voted for.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the media, civic society and all
the contesting parties must spread the message in the remaining days before
the election.

ZEC must set a good precedent for future elections. The learned men and
women in that body must know that Zimbabwe is under scrutiny, and they
should strongly advise Zanu PF and the government against stealing the
elections as they did in 2000.

ZEC and civic society organisations must run advertisements on radio,
television and in the print media to assure the electorate that the practice
by some political parties who are taking down their names, addresses and
national identification numbers is illegal and unconstitutional, and that it
is up to them to choose to vote or not to vote, that their vote is their
right and that no one will ever know who they vote for. Such advertisements
may help restore credibility in the whole process.

If the voters make the mistake and vote for Zanu PF out of the usual fear,
then there is no future for the majority of Zimbabweans.

Let us come out in our millions and vote out tyranny.

Benjamin Chitate,

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Zim Independent


Send ANC observers home now

ACCORDING to press reports Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister
Patrick Chinamasa has stated that the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has
not been invited to observe next week's parliamentary vote as it has "biased
and preconceived ideas about the outcome of the elections".

If that is the criteria then presumably any observers from South Africa's
African National Congress should be immediately sent home.

Mind you, only the brain-dead or the dishonest could pretend that there is
anything remotely "free and fair" about the forthcoming election.

What price an honest and intelligent observer or two turning up?

Everett Scott,

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Zim Independent


Where are the 2,4 million tonnes of maize?

IN his infamous SkyNews interview in April last year, President Mugabe said,
"why foist food on us, do you want us to choke?". Less than a year later, he
is now desperately trying to assure the people that no one will starve.

For a head of state to talk about seven truckloads carrying a paltry 224
tonnes of maize for the whole Masvingo province shows the systematic use of
maize for political gain. As a matter of fact, MDC imported more than 300
tonnes of maize for distribution for one constituency in 2003, which was
confiscated by government. We had plans to bring in over 20 000 tonnes but
were prevented from doing so.

People are starving in the following provinces: Manicaland, Masvingo,
Matabeleland North and South and Midlands. This government is fully aware of
the starving people throughout the country. At MDC rallies, which are always
attended by police details, thousands of people complain about starvation.
What happened to the 2,4 million plus tonnes bumper harvest? We have
evidence of the rampant politicalisation of food by the regime.

The Grain Marketing Board claimed that there was enough maize to take the
country to August this year. It is a fact, and they admitted it, that they
have been importing maize all along. They have been receiving imports at the
rate of 15 000 tonnes a month from a purchase from South Africa of 100 000
tons. It is this maize that they are distributing and selling selectively.

We know how the regime successfully stopped all food aid so that they are
the only ones with food during the elections. The effect of the current rain
shortfall would be later during the year, not now.

The country has now virtually run out of maize. There will be no food after
the elections. If the voters make a mistake and vote Zanu PF into power,
there will be starvation of major proportion in the country. The use of food
to buy votes plus intimidation of voters is clear evidence that Zanu PF has
no support whatsoever in the rural areas.

We will defeat Zanu PF inspite of all the threats and deliberate starving of
people and usher in a new beginning for the people of this country.

MDC shadow Minister for

Lands and Agriculture,

Renson Gasela.
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Zim Independent


Promises and promises!

ZANU PF is in for a big surprise on March 31. The Zanu PF campaign promises
carry empty and unrealistic messages.

For 25 years they have;

*Failed to bring about practical and true reconciliation in the country;

* Failed to distribute land in a transparent manner;

*Failed to stop corruption;

* Failed to lure big investors to create jobs and bring in foreign currency;

*Failed to grow enough food for the country;

*Failed to provide and maintain health and education in the country;

*Failed to change from a liberation movement to a people's government.

The masses have had enough of promises and a surprise awaits the ruling

Sam Tapera,

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Zim Independent


Time to give them the boot

ON March 31 people at home will have an opportunity to say to Mugabe and his
bunch of crooks in ministries and state parastatals that we have had enough
of Zanu PF mediocrity. We need a government of people that looks ahead.
People who are still able and full of energy and of the correct political
philosophy and morality.

Mugabe and his elderly lieutenants must go and rest and bask in the sun and
make way for a leadership that will put the people first. Whilst Mugabe
changed cabinet ministers with every reshuffle that came, none of the people
in Zanu PF have the honesty to tell him that he too needed to be replaced.
Mugabe has overstayed his welcome in the true judgement of true patriots and
nation loving cadres. We need Mugabe to leave politics, open Zanu PF to
democracy and then we can build our country.

Mugabe is Zimbabwe's greatest enemy not Zanu PF and we must replace Mugabe
so that the party can take a breath and recondition, reshape and
reinvigorate itself for the fulfillment of the agenda for which the party
was born.

I am talking about the war in which Josiah Tongogara was involved and the
entirety of the cadre community who perished in pursuit of the fight for
Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe that was fought for has not been open to all. It has
been the property of a few as was the situation under colonial persecution.

It cannot be right to assume that only Mugabe knows what is best for the
country and that it is impossible to find another leader even within Zanu PF
to take over. The fact that those in Zanu PF have been unable to see this or
to say it leaves Zimbabwe with only one option - the opposition, provided
the latter unequivocally assures us that they are not the latter-day Mobutu
Sese Seko's of Africa.

Courage Shumba,

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Zim Independent


Panellists damaging ZBH

I REFER to the "Talking Politics" programme aired last Tuesday, March 15 on
ZBC, where the MDC was invited to present their economic blueprint for
Zimbabwe, and wish to draw attention to the following.

The outrageous, unprofessional and crass manner displayed by the three
presenters, Supa Mandiwanzira, Ibbo Mandaza and Happison Mucheterere towards
the panellists, Tendai Biti and Prisicilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, calls for
drastic action to be taken by those in authority against the harm done to
the reputation and credibility of ZBH by the unacceptable behaviour of these
three men.

They spoke over the "guests", shouted them down, cut them short whilst
answering questions, snorted and scoffed openly at answers, were extremely
disruptive and hostile and generally created a drunken bar room atmosphere
to ruin an otherwise important national occasion which has great impact on
the course that our nation will decide on March 31.

Those three have shown disrespect to the viewing public and should be held
accountable for actions that have no place in a public broadcast.

Bertram Tabbett,

Arcadia, Harare.
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Zim Independent


Don't blow this chance

THIS letter is for all Zimbabweans.

Now that you have been given another chance to get rid of the evil Zanu PF
regime are you going to blow it again? It only takes good men and women to
be quiet for evil to triumph.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that Mugabe and his
cabinet have destroyed Zimbabwe that was once a prosperous and much envied

How many promises has Zanu PF made? Why is it that every election they make
promises and disappear once voted in? Have any of the promises materialised?
This is the time to cut them to size and let them know who has the power.
History will judge you harshly if you don't take action. Prices of basic
commodities are sky-rocketing daily. The health delivery system has
collapsed, unemployment is at record highs.

People of Zimbabwe, it's time you vote thugs out. People are starving while
they are busy lining their pockets. It's time you speak. Go and vote wisely.
You have the power to change things.

Kennedy Bumhira,

Montreal, Canada.
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Zim Independent


Mugabe, be warned

EDITOR, allow me space in your widely-read newspaper to warn the likes of
President Mugabe and his lot against making childish lies especially in the
run-up to elections.

I was totally taken aback by sentiments he made recently in Epworth that the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is to blame for the rot in the city of

Whom does Mugabe think is not aware that it is he and his lot in Zanu PF
that are responsible for all this decay we have not only in Harare but in
Zimbabwe as a whole? Does he surely think that the people in Epworth don't
have eyes and brains?

It is a well-known fact that the MDC administration led by the ousted mayor
Elias Mudzuri was never given any room to breathe by Ignatious Chombo with
the blessing of Mugabe himself.

Mugabe thought that by not giving the MDC administration room the people
would turn against the MDC but that never happened. A word of warning to the
president is that cheap and childish lies never win an election. Stop making
yourself a laughing stock.

Let all Zimbweans stop the habit of crying behind closed doors saying "we
are being oppressed" yet we don't go and vote.

Mudhara weNorton,

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and
love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time
they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it,

Mahatma Ghandi.


- ZW - Transfer from rural constituency - Hesebe
- RE: Mugabe's remarks on farmers - Bruce Gemmill



by Hesebe


I have just discovered that everyone I know who transferred from a a rural
constituency to a city constituency does not appear on the voters roll.
That includes the revised roll. I have been concentrating on Harare North
and East as i do not have access to the others.

Although we were given receipts to say that we have registered,there is no
guarantee that we will be allowed to vote on 31st.

I have just spoken to Mr Shereni at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
who assures me that our transfer registration receipts are enough proof
even though our names do not appear on the voters roll and we will be
allowed to vote!

The names I have so far gathered go across the ethnic divide.

I feel it is important to gather as much information as possible should
these receipts prove futile.

Please could you put out a communique asking people who did do a transfer
to make contact with me at ,stating full name,ID No
including prefix as soon as possible?

Very much appreciated.




by Bruce Gemmill

Dear JAG

On the 19th March 2005 it was reported in the Mail & Guardian (SA) that
President Mugabe had made the following remarks at a campaign rally, "we
will kick out the few remaining white farmers if they despise my

The few remaining white farmers who the President referred to are
represented by the CFU and it is they who will speak for the remaining few.
JAG seeks to speak for the dispossessed many.† The Presidents remarks imply
that the dispossessed white farmers despised his government because it was
black. The President's remarks are unfair and uncalled for.† We only
despise corruption; incompetence; nepotism; unjust laws and mendacious

In 1980 Comrade Mugabe made the following statement in public to the white
farmers, " I want you to stay, there is room for all, stay and help me
build a better Zimbabwe".

We trusted you and we stayed.
Bruce Gemmill.


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† please don't hesitate to contact us -
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines

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Concern over delay in accrediting monitors

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

JOHANNESBURG, 24 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) has expressed concern at the slow accreditation of election monitors
from civil society organisations.

The NGO said it was concerned that accreditation for civil society monitors
in the second city of Bulawayo had been delayed until Friday. However, the
statutory Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) this week started deploying
30,000 election monitors around the country, all drawn from the civil

The poll is to be held on 31 March.

ZESN national director Rindai Chipfunde told IRIN that most of their
previous concerns, including the absence of constituency maps and problems
of lighting at rural polling stations, were being addressed following
consultations with government.

She, however, expressed concern at the slow rate of accreditation of civil
society monitors, adding that it would affect their work as they could be
deployed much latter than others. ZESN had trained 6,500 election monitors
for the poll.

"Most of our earlier concerns have been addressed but we are still worried
about the slow accreditation of monitors. The ESC has already started
deploying its monitors but civil society organisations have to wait. Such
delays can affect the efficiency of the monitoring process," said Chipfunde.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi
said the party was also worried about the high density of polling stations
in the rural areas compared to the urban areas. Rural areas are
traditionally ruling ZANU-PF party strongholds.

He also dismissed government assertions that the number of registered voters
per constituency influenced the density of polling stations.

The government has increased the number of polling stations from 5,000 in
the last two elections to 8,227 for the coming polls.

Justice George Chiweshe, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) told IRIN that constituency maps were still being distributed. He
added that all would be ready by Monday next week.

He also sought to allay concerns over security and lighting problems in
remote locations, adding that the state had agreed to provide sufficient
security at polling stations.

"The government has ordered many candles and lanterns will be sourced from
all government departments. The police are there to ensure that the polling
stations are protected. So there is no cause for fear," said Chiweshe.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said all
preparations were on course. He said 43,600 out of the 50,000 translucent
ballot boxes ordered from China were already in the country. He said the
remainder could arrive anytime and would be taken to the polling centres

The run-up to the elections has been characterised by civil society and
opposition allegations that they would not be free and fair, as they alleged
that the government had failed to fully comply with the Southern Africa
Development Community guidelines on democratic elections.

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