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Ballot Papers Printed in Duplicate to Foil Rigging Detection

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 March 2008
Posted to the web 24 March 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Millions of ballot papers to be used in this Saturday's combined
parliamentary and presidential elections have allegedly been printed in
duplicate, to make it almost impossible to detect any rigging.

An employee for Fidelity printers, contracted by the Zimbabwe Election
Commission to print the ballot papers, leaked the vital information to
Newsreel through a third party.

This also confirms allegations by the Tsvangirai MDC that the Zimbabwe
Election Commission have printed an extra three million ballots for the
country's 5,9 million registered voters.

We learnt from Michael Musarurwa (not his real name) who has a close contact
working for Fidelity Printers, that employees there are being ordered to
covertly print extra ballots.

'The moment employees at Fidelity printers started getting orders to print
extra ballots using the same serial numbers, they knew immediately they were
meant for rigging. Workers there were unanimous to let the world know this
is what is happening,' Musarurwa said.

There is strong suspicion the duplicate ballot papers are to be sent to
rural constituencies and outlying areas in Zanu-PF strongholds, where
opposition-polling agents are usually barred from the polling stations.

According to Musarurwa by printing the ballots in duplicate it is easy for
the state to destroy the actual ballots used during the voting process and
replace them with the other batch, whose serial numbers match the
counterfoils that remain with election officials.

'For example, my contact tells me if you have two batches with 10 000 ballot
papers, what they simply do is use one batch for the actual voting. When its
clear Zanu-PF has lost they simply destroy 8000 out of the 10 000 ballot
papers and stuff the boxes with the exact number of ballots from the other
batch. Remember the ballots have the same serial numbers that tally with
counterfoils,' Musarurwa explained.

He added; 'the issue of extra ballots should be addressed by the opposition
because this is what Robert Mugabe had up his sleeve. He has been telling
his supporters Zanu-PF was going to crush the MDC at the polls and this is
how he was going to do it, through rigging.'

The MDC last week had accused the government of printing millions of surplus
ballot papers for the presidential and legislative polls. They say leaked
documents show nine million papers have been ordered for the country's 5.9
million voters.

The head of the electoral commission, Judge George Chiweshe, has rejected
suggestions that the extra papers might be misused. In effect he admitted to
the existence of the extra ballot papers, but would not elaborate.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said the claims of excess ballot papers
were based on leaked documents from the government printers.

The MDC also say that 600,000 postal ballots have been ordered for just a
few thousand police, soldiers and civil servants. This raised more questions
of rigging after the electoral commission confirmed last week that only 8
000 postal ballots had been requested by voters. Officially soldiers and
police officers started voting Saturday, but the MDC allege that
unofficially the exercise has been ongoing since the beginning of March.

Last week, we reported that over 75 000 postal votes had already been cast
by police officers and soldiers. In Mutare soldiers were ordered to write
down their force numbers at the back of the ballot paper, while in Bulawayo
police officers voted numerous times in contravention of the election rules.

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Murdered Tsvangirai Aide Still On Voters Roll

SW Radio Africa (London)

24 March 2008
Posted to the web 24 March 2008

Lance Guma

A former aide to Morgan Tsvangirai who was murdered by ruling party
militants in the run up to the 2000 parliamentary election, is still on the
voter's roll 8 years later. The name of Tichaona Chiminya is one of many so
called 'ghost voters' whose names still appear on the controversial roll.
Election expert Topper Whitehead who runs the Free-Zim Support Group in
Exile, released an interim report detailing the irregularities. Chiminya,
who was killed alongside fellow activist Talent Mabika in a petrol bomb
attack by CIO agent Joseph Mwale, is listed in the Harare East constituency.

Murdered white farmers David Oates and David Stevens are also listed as
voters on the roll. Stevens is on the Murehwa South constituency roll while
Oates is listed in Zvimba. Both were murdered in 2000 during violent land
invasions sanctioned by Robert Mugabe. It was also revealed earlier this
month that Desmond Lardner-Burke, a former Minister for Justice in the
Rhodesian government who died long ago, is still on the Mount Pleasant
voters roll. Trudy Stevenson, a parliamentary candidate for the Mutambara
MDC in the area, said there are people over 100 years old on each page of
the voters roll. Making a complete mockery of the roll is the fact that a
significant number of newly registered voters are over 100 years old.

Explaining how they examined the voters roll Whitehead said they were only
able to obtain some CD's in image form and these needed the painstaking
process of converting the pictures into text. He pointed to thousands of
duplicate voters on the roll whose national ID numbers were identical. He
also accused the Registrar General of playing around with the first two
numbers on each ID. For example the same ID number could be registered under
different registration centres, making only the prefix on the ID number
different. Whitehead said only a careful selection of the numbers in
sequence helped bring out the duplication.

Whitehead worked tirelessly for years to expose the rigging of the 2002
presidential election. But after 7 court cases and the near arrest of the
Registrar General for ignoring a court order, Mugabe's government deported
him on the flimsy grounds he had taken up South African citizenship.

Click here to read the Interim Report

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Despite Having Destroyed Zimbabwe, Mugabe Likely to be "Reelected"

Cato Institute

News Release
March 24, 2008

Zimbabwean member of parliament estimates conditions are worse than in

WASHINGTON -- Robert Mugabe will likely remain in power after this weekend's
elections despite being largely responsible for Zimbabwe's implosion, finds
a study released today by the Cato Institute.

"Few people believe that [the elections] will be free and fair," writes
David Coltart, a Zimbabwean member of parliament for the main opposition
party -- the Movement for Democratic Change.

In "A Decade of Suffering in Zimbabwe: Economic Collapse and Political
Repression under Robert Mugabe," Coltart points to the atrocities committed
by Mugabe's government -- including the massacre of 20,000 Matabeles in the
early 1980s -- and concludes that Mugabe cannot give up power peacefully out
of fear of prosecution.

Unfortunately that means that Zimbabwe's political and economic decline will
likely continue. Already, Zimbabwe suffers from 150,000 percent inflation
and an 80 percent unemployment rate. Life expectancy is now among the lowest
in the world, having declined, since 1994, to 34 years from 57 years for
women, and to 37 years from 54 for men. Moreover, Coltart estimates, more
Zimbabweans have died from the combined effects of malnutrition, crumbling
healthcare and HIV/AIDS than in Darfur.

According to the author, institutional weaknesses, which characterized
colonial rule and were enshrined in Zimbabwe's 1980 constitution, are the
root of the current crisis. The constitution provides little balance of
power between the branches of government and does little to restrain
governmental abuse. That has allowed the government to introduce many
policies that have crippled the economy, undermined the rule of law, stifled
civil liberties and squashed political opposition.

According to Coltart, Western countries and international financial
institutions are complicit in the country's downfall. They have poured
billions of dollars into Zimbabwe despite meager results. Other African
countries also "ignored very serious deficiencies in governance and in so
doing assisted in the perpetuation of the culture of impunity and violence
[in Zimbabwe]."

Coltart suggests a number of solutions to rectify the current situation,
including restructuring Zimbabwe's political institutions, limiting
government's interference in the economy, protecting property rights and
redressing past injustices.

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'I anticipate a landslide'

The Guardian

Monday March 24th 2008

Zimbabwe's former finance minister Simba Makoni, who turned 58 over the
weekend, has gone head to head with Robert Mugabe in the run up to
presidential elections on March 29. His decision to challenge his former
mentor and boss has met with mixed feelings. Some have vowed to him their
support while others have accused him of stalking Mugabe's horse in a bid to
undermine the chances of MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Here,
Makoni speaks about his mission, his meeting with Mugabe, and his chances in
the polls on Saturday

Monday March 24th 2008

I decided to run for president in July 2007. It was after Robert Mugabe had
announced in March - long before any of the processes required for a person
to take leadership of the party had been set in motion - that he would lead
the party into the next election.

It was then that I convinced myself we needed urgent renewal, and that I
needed to do something to bring it about. I began a process of consultation
with a wide cross-section of people within Zanu-PF and outside.

I went to Mugabe to tell him there was a growing desire for renewal among
some of his party members, renewal of leadership in the party and in the
country, and that there was a feeling this should come from within the

I was frank with him, and told him that I was prepared to stand as
president. I also told him there were people who supported my decision to
move in. He took note.

I won't be in this presidential campaign alone. There will be many more of
us - a great many of us. But I am not standing in the name of any party; I
am standing as an independent. I would have wanted to stand on a Zanu-PF
ticket, but that opportunity was denied to any other cadre within the party.

I believe my chances in the elections are very good - overwhelming even. I
am confident of beating Mugabe. Zimbabweans are going through such stress
and tension because of the myriad economic problems in the country, such as
poverty that affects more than 80% of the population, and rampant
unemployment, especially among the young.

I urge all those who yearn for genuine renewal and improvement in our
conditions - those who, like me, yearn for the restoration of a united
nation, for genuine national reconciliation, for our proper place in the
region and the global village - to come forward and participate in the
forthcoming elections under our banner.

But let me also encourage those others in Zanu-PF who have been, and are
still, working with us in this project for national renewal, to remain
steadfast and not be intimidated. I don't feel threatened. My security is
among the people.

Mugabe may have been elected at the December congress [the main agenda of
which was to confirm his candidature for the presidency], but let me tell
you this. When the full facts of the processes that led to that congress are
made public, people will understand why this decision has been necessary.
Questions will be asked of the legal secretary, the secretary for
administration and the political commissar.

I am asked: "Where are your alleged Zanu-PF party supporters?" But what is
this notion that people have, this belief that I was ever going to parade
people in front of the cameras? My consultations were not only with people
in the leadership of Zanu-PF but with all the people of Zimbabwe, at a
grassroots level.

I have come out and said that Zimbabwe's crisis is the result of the failure
of our national leadership, so I don't understand it when people still
expect to see me parade in public members of this very same leadership, who
are responsible for these same failures. Wouldn't that be a contradiction?

I have stood for hours in cash queues with ordinary people; I know
first-hand the tribulations they suffer, standing out there for long periods
of time just to withdraw a measely $5million. The people who matter most are
the people who are going to come out on March 29 to deliver a verdict.

No Zanu-PF officials have approached me to launch this challenge. I am
nobody's tool or agent. I had views of my own, that we were long overdue a
change of leadership. And I found that there was some significant support
for that change. I urge people not to be duped by the falsehood that I am a
Zanu-PF ploy.

I am asked why I waited until July 2007 to challenge Mugabe when I had seen
the rot set in long before. But if you look at the record of all my public
pronouncements, during the years I served in government and since leaving
government, you will realise what I have always been about.

I wanted to see a return to the original principles we held as a party at
independence, when the president told us to turn our swords into
plough-shares and establish an equitable and prosperous society. Those
values are still relevant now. It is just the leadership's deviation from
those values that I'm seeking to reverse.

Until the last minute I continued in Zanu-PF working towards a return to
those original values. I persevered only in the hope that there would be
some renewal of our party. Zimbabwe's ruling party has a history, but it
must also have a future.

Judging by the responses to my announcement to run for president, I do not
anticipate anything short of a landslide. The enthusiasm is palpable.

I do not make any distinction between urban and rural constituencies. Why do
we always want to categorise our people? Why do we herd them into paddocks?
All of them are Zimbabweans, and all of them yearn for the same thing, which
is an immediate renewal of our country. We should not create unnatural

I have been criticised for being vague on policy and strategy. But what I
will not do is make high-sounding promises to the people of Zimbabwe. I want
to emphasise this. I am not going to give them a reel of menus and recipes.
What I am offering is an opportunity to make changes, and to have real

I am not going to stand in front of the people and say: "I will build a road
here, a house here, a dam there." I cannot make such promises. There are 14
million Zimbabweans, and what I am about is offering each one of them the
chance to once again make the best out of their opportunities, a chance to
realise their full potential.

Mugabe's government made many lofty promises, but it was a mistake to
believe any of them would be delivered.

My economic priority would be to get the land producing again. We could get
all the fertiliser from China, India and so on, but the task would be to get
our own Zimbabwean companies going again. Manufacturing capacity is down,
primarily because companies cannot source raw materials. There will be a
need for technological overhaul in our industry, and we will need to
recapitalise our factories.

The most important thing is to get our people re-engaged, and to restore
their confidence, such that there will be no need for a parallel market, or
the need to pretend there is a formal market when one no longer exists. This
economy can still be turned around.

. Simba Makoni was talking to Njabulo Ncube in Harare.

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Freedom for the Country

The Zimbabwe Guardian (London)

21 March 2008
Posted to the web 24 March 2008

Morgan Tsvangirai

AS THE March 29 election in Zimbabwe approaches, the cards are clearly
stacked in favor of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

Draconian legislation has curtailed freedom of expression and association.
Daily, the representatives of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the
political party that I lead, are harassed, tortured, imprisoned without
trial and even killed.

Economic mismanagement by Mr. Mugabe's government is an even more serious
problem. Zimbabwe's inflation and unemployment rates are 150,000% and 80%
respectively. Infrastructure is crumbling, and education and health-care
systems have collapsed. Life expectancy is now among the lowest in the
world, having declined, since 1994, to 34 years from 57 years for women, and
to 37 years from 54 for men. Some four million of my fellow citizens have
fled the country, taking with them both human and financial capital.

Out of the many reasons for Zimbabwe's decline, three stand out. First is
the ruling regime's contempt for the rule of law. The government has
repeatedly stole elections, and intimidated, beaten and murdered its
opponents. It has confiscated private property without compensation and
ignored court rulings declaring such takings illegal. Such behavior only
scares away investors, domestic and international. Current circumstances
make it impossible to have a growing economy that will create jobs for
millions of unemployed Zimbabweans.

The government of Zimbabwe must be committed to protecting persons and
property; and the restoration of political freedom and property rights is an
essential part of MDC's economic recovery strategy. This means compensation
for those who lost their possessions in an unjust way. It also means
striking a healthy balance between reconciliation and accountability by
establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission along the lines of the
South African TRC. And it means restoring the independence of the judiciary.

The second reason for Zimbabwe's decline is the government's destruction of
economic freedom, in order to satisfy an elaborate patronage system.

Today, Zimbabwe ranks last out of the 141 countries surveyed by the Fraser
Institute's Economic Freedom in the World report. According to 2007 World
Bank estimates, it takes 96 days to start a business in Zimbabwe. It takes
only two days in Australia. Waiting for necessary licenses takes 952 days in
Zimbabwe, but only 34 days in South Korea. Registering property in Zimbabwe
costs an astonishing 25% of the property's value. In the United States, it
costs only 0.5%.

The MDC is committed to slashing bureaucratic red tape and letting domestic
and foreign entrepreneurs improve their lot and, consequently, Zimbabwe's
fortunes. We will open economic opportunity to all Zimbabweans. Unlike the
ZANU-PF dictatorship, which has destroyed domestic entrepreneurship, we
consider the business acumen and creative ingenuity of the people to be the
main source of our future growth.

The third factor responsible for the country's decline is the size and
rapaciousness of the government. Today, that size is determined by the
requirements of patronage. But a government that provides hardly any public
services cannot justify the need for 45 ministers and deputy ministers, all
of whom enjoy perks ranging from expensive SUVs to farms that were
confiscated from others.

The Central Bank too has departed from its traditional role of stabilizing
prices. Instead, it dishes out money to dysfunctional, government-owned
corporations that are controlled by the ZANU-PF and are accountable to no
one. The result is runaway growth in the money supply, and the highest
inflation rate in the world. Zimbabwe's potential for economic growth cannot
be realized without macroeconomic stability. Hyperinflation must be tamed,
in part by taming the government's appetite for spending.

The MDC plans a complete restructuring of the government, including a
reduction of the number of ministers to 15. The government will have to live
within its means. It will not be allowed to inflate its way out of trouble.
To that end, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe must become independent of the
government and given the sole task of fighting inflation.

Most state-owned companies are woefully inefficient, a strain on the budget
and a much-abused vehicle for ZANU-PF patronage. They will be privatized or
shut down.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of reforms necessary to set the
Zimbabwean economy on a path to growth. Our tax code will also have to be
made simpler and flatter to encourage thrift and enterprise, and our trade
and investment regimes will have to be reopened.

The people of Zimbabwe hunger not just for food, but also for political
change. MDC rallies draw enormous crowds -- even in areas where the risk of
being murdered by government agents is highest. A recent independent poll,
conducted by the University of Zimbabwe, puts my candidacy in the first
place, with Robert Mugabe's a distant second and Simba Makoni's third.

There is still a chance that the election results will reflect the popular
will. Then the people will have the new Zimbabwe they deserve, under a
government guided by the principles dear to free people everywhere.

Morgan Tsvangirai is the leader of the main faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change. This article was first published in The Wall Street

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Conditions for free elections "don't exist," says lawyers group

Monsters and Critics

Mar 24, 2008, 17:01 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwe cannot have a free and fair election in the current
environment where President Robert Mugabe - himself a candidate - maintains
almost total control over the electoral system, one of the country's leading
civil rights groups warned.

A report by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum released at the weekend
concluded that 'conditions do not exist for the holding of free and fair
elections on Saturday this week.'

It cited a 'partisan' and weak electoral commission that runs the elections,
widespread military involvement in the process and mass vote buying.

The report comes amid widespread fears of vote rigging - which independent
observers say have given 84-year-old Mugabe victories in the last three
elections since 2000 - in a complicated poll held on o only one day,
compared with three in previous elections. Observers also warn that the
state of ill-preparedness of the state-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) will lead to confusion.

On Sunday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned supporters of his
Movement for Democratic Change that Mugabe would 'use every trick in the
book to subvert the will of the people.'

In a move setting the scene for potential confrontation with the regime,
Tsvangirai urged supporters not to leave the polling station areas after
they had cast their ballots, but to stay and 'defend your vote.'

Poll watchers have reported a dramatic surge throughout the country in the
last few weeks in support for opposition parties, particularly for
Tsvangirai's MDC, while Mugabe's backing appears to falter, amid signs of
divisions in his ruling ZANU(PF) party.

Although the Forum report says that the ruling party's 'institutions of
intimidation ... are being used countrywide,' observers say that the level
of violent intimidation that has characterised previous elections is
considerably lower, and that opposition parties are able to campaign
relatively freely.

However, the Forum says that the ZEC 'continues to operate in a politically
partisan manner.' 'The key personnel who will run the elections on the
ground are pro-ruling party sympathisers, such as ex-army officers and
intelligence officers,' adding, one provincial electoral officer was a
serving officer.

Judge George Chiweshe, the chairman, appointed by Mugabe, is a former
brigadier-general 'and a staunch supporter of ZANU(PF),' it said. Recently
amended electoral laws put the ZEC in charge of maintaining the voters'
roll, but the law has been ignored and it remains under the control of
registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede, whom the Forum described as 'a fervent
supporter' of Mugabe.

The Forum said voter registration for this election had been 'selective and
fairly chaotic.' When it questioned him about severe inaccuracies, Chiweshe
'brushed the allegations aside.'

ZEC had also 'conspicuously failed' to take any action to prevent the state
run media from behaving like 'ruling party propaganda organs.'

The report also cited the heads of the army, the police and the prison
services as saying they would not 'salute' Tsvangirai because he was 'a
puppet' and ordered their officers to vote for Mugabe. Their statements were
'a gross abuse of office and are tantamount to treason.'

Reports said 'hundreds' of soldiers had been deployed in rural areas 'to
coerce the rural population to vote for Mugabe and his party.' Soldiers had
also been instructed to take leave to help ZANU(PF) campaign, it said.

The forum said Mugabe and ZANU(PF) had engaged in 'massive vote buying' by
using state resources. It cited massive pay rises for civil servants and the
distribution of millions of US dollars of imported agricultural equipment,
effectively free of charge, mostly to ruling party supporters.

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Robert Mugabe 'printing fake ballots to rig poll'

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger
Last Updated: 1:30am GMT 24/03/2008

Opposition leaders warn the Zimbabwean government is printing millions
more ballot papers than there are registered electors - raising fears of a
huge vote-rigging operation ahead of next weekend's election.

The registered electorate for the presidential and parliamentary polls
is about 5.9 million. But the Movement for Democratic Change says it has
obtained leaked documents showing nine million papers have been ordered.

Robert Mugabe, who is seeking a sixth term in office, is in a
three-way fight with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, a former
finance minister in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

If used in Mr Mugabe's favour, the extra ballot papers would be enough
to ensure that he passes the 51 per cent of the vote required to be declared
the outright victor.

Documents also show that 600,000 ballot papers have been ordered for a
few thousand soldiers and state employees working away from home, the MDC

The number of Zimbabweans who have left the country's economic turmoil
to seek a better life abroad is estimated to be between one to three
million. But despite opposition demands during talks mediated by the South
African government, the diaspora has not been granted the right to vote.

Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary-general, said: "We are extremely
worried about the extra ballot papers. If he steals the election, he will
get a temporary reprieve. But that will guarantee him a dishonourable if not
bloody exit. Either way he's in a no-win situation."

Mr Mugabe is widely believed to have stolen the last election in 2002.
This time around, observers from Western governments have been banned and
few independent media accreditations have been issued. The electoral roll is
allegedly padded with the names of dead people and polling stations are
relatively few in the opposition strongholds of Harare and Bulawayo, with
procedures being changed to allow police into them.

At a rally in Harare, Mr Tsvangirai told tens of thousands of
supporters: "The polling stations will open late and there will be no power,
no lights. They will have trouble with the toilets and they will be in a
muddle with the ballots and the voters' roll."

The veteran opposition leader is enjoying a surge in support in the
run-up to the election, which Mr Makoni's candidacy has made the most open
since independence.

Zimbabwe's economy went into reverse after Mr Mugabe began seizing
white-owned farms in 2000. It is the fastest-shrinking in the world outside
a war zone. Inflation is running at more than 100,000 per cent. About 80 per
cent of the population is unemployed and a third needs food aid.

Mr Mugabe admitted at the weekend he was not immune to the
deteriorating infrastructure, revealing there was no running water at his

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Zimbabwe's whites fear vote will change little


Mon Mar 24, 2008 2:21am GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Like many white Zimbabweans, James Douglas wonders if he
will still be a political punching bag for President Robert Mugabe after
Saturday's election.

Mugabe faces his biggest challenge in nearly three decades of rule in the
March 29 polls. The defection of two senior officials from his ruling
ZANU-PF party has raised hopes among his opponents of political and economic

But these hopes are not shared by Douglas and other whites, who lost power
with independence from Britain in 1980 and who feel like political
scapegoats in a country whose leader regularly decries Western conspiracies
and interference.

"If the elections were going to be fair, I don't think the outcome would be
in any doubt. But I don't think that will be the case and people are
expecting more of the same," said Douglas, whose 200-hectare farm was seized
as part of Mugabe's controversial land reforms.

The 54-year-old was uneasy during the interview, tapping the coffee table
and scanning the outdoor cafe for eavesdroppers, always a concern in a
country where human rights groups say abuses are common.

"I am very uncomfortable with this whole subject," he said. "I don't like
talking about our problems in isolation because that is what the politicians
are trying to do, to pin a special tag on us as whites."

Zimbabwe's white population, estimated to have shrunk to about 40,000 out of
a total population for Zimbabwe of around 13 million, has kept a low
political profile since 2000 when Mugabe started seizing white-owned
commercial farms for landless blacks with little or no experience in

A dozen white farmers were shot dead and many others were beaten and driven
from their homes. About 3,800 of the country's 4,500 white commercial
farmers lost their land.

Critics say the controversial land policy has plunged the southern African
country -- once a food exporter -- into a severe economic crisis marked by
food and fuel shortages and the highest inflation in the world, at above
100,000 percent.

Mugabe, 84, says the seizures are part of an ambitious black empowerment
drive and seek to correct colonial injustices that left 70 percent of the
best farmland in the hands of whites.

He blames Zimbabwe's economic woes on sanctions imposed by the West as
punishment for his land reforms.


Whites are used to insults and threats from his ZANU-PF party, which accuses
them of working with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change

"I think people have come to accept that they (whites) are a convenient
scapegoat, and while they are not comfortable with it, many white people
have come to expect it," said a white journalist who asked not to be named.

"You shrug and say, 'there he goes again.' But you take comfort from the
fact that race relations are generally cordial and that outside a few
politically motivated attacks, you are not in danger of suffering any
violence from other Zimbabweans."

Mugabe faces a fierce challenge from his former finance minister, Simba
Makoni, and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC's biggest faction, in
Saturday's vote.

The MDC is frequently denounced by ZANU-PF as a pawn of white western
interests, despite its largely black urban base.

Mugabe and his party say some whites have never accepted black majority rule
and are desperate to get "black puppets" into power to protect their
business interests.

Mugabe recently signed into law a bill empowering blacks to take control of
foreign companies, including mines and banks.

"We have whites here who see Zimbabwe as an extension of Britain, who see
blacks as second-class citizens, who are racist and have never truly
accepted that this is a black country, an African country," Mugabe said at
his election campaign launch.

"Anyone who thinks that we have to apologize for fighting for, and defending
the interests of the indigenous black people does not understand our role as
nationalists," he said.

Critics say Mugabe is obsessed with the belief that whites have never
stopped plotting against him since he assumed power from the white
government of former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith.

In 1965, Smith, who died last year, led 270,000 whites in then Rhodesia in a
unilateral declaration of independence from Britain and only bowed to the
pressure of a bloody guerrilla war spearheaded by black nationalists in the

Around 50,000 mostly black people were killed in the war.


The dwindling white population in Zimbabwe still retain some of the
trappings of colonial-era life: many live in big houses with servants and
swimming pools. But more and more are leaving, heading for Britain, South
Africa, Australia or other places.

More than 150,000 whites fled Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle and
after Mugabe's 1980 electoral victory, while some 40,000 others have
emigrated in the last 20 years.

Very few whites are comfortable talking to the media about politics because
they fear being branded racists by the government. A handful of white
officials with senior positions in opposition ranks are constantly subjected
to these accusations.

David Coltart, a leading figure in a faction of the MDC and a member of
parliament for a black constituency, says he has long stopped paying
attention to any racial insults.

"It's something I have got used to but which does not worry me at all
because I know those feelings and views don't reflect the general feeling in
our country," he said.

(Editing by Michael Georgy and Clar Ni Chonghaile)

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Funeral costs rise as Zimbabwe elections loom for Robert Mugabe

The Times
March 24, 2008

Catherine Philp in Harare
Hilton Takundwa died an old man in his own bed -- the only part of this tale
that is not a tragedy. On Easter morning his wife Winfildah got up to make
the breakfast and Hilton to pray. "Leave me a while so I can speak to my
God," he told her.

Then he got up from his knees and lay back down on his bed. "Now I must rest
a while."

When I arrived that afternoon, Hilton was dead. Inside his filthy bedroom,
his body lay under an ancient furred brown blanket on the mattress where he
and Winfildah had slept. She crouched on the floor beside the bed, her blind
eyes lit with tears.

Next door in the slum dwelling's only other room, the family sat fretting
over what to do. Tendai, Hilton's son, had just returned from the undertaker
where he went to plead for time to pay the Z$300 million it would cost to
take his father's body to the mortuary.

He returned with not only a refusal but worse news yet. In three days the
price had risen threefold to Z$1 billion, a mere £12 at black-market rates.

"It's the fuel increase," he said in despair. Their father's body would stay
where it was.

Hilton Takundwa had cheated the odds to live until yesterday, stretching his
life out for a full 74 years, exactly twice the average life expectancy for
a Zimbabwean male.

But as the years stretched on so the price of death rose until his family
could no longer afford to send him with dignity to his grave.

This is Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe on the eve of this weekend's historic
elections; a land of empty shelves and broken hearts where annual inflation
runs at 100,000 per cent, turning life into a struggle to survive and death
a struggle to afford.

Four months ago the highest denomination note available was Z$200,000. Now
it is Z$10 million.

Money earned one day melts into nothing the next and basic commodities are
so scarce and expensive that housewives buy carved-off slivers of soap
instead of bars and cooking oil is sold by the spoonful not the litre.

The Takundwa family were never rich but they got by. Hilton and Winfildah's
three sons worked in textile and canning factories and earned a basic wage.

Ten years ago their youngest son lost his job and committed suicide. Three
years after that the other two were laid off.

Diabetes cost Winfildah her sight six years ago, not long after Mugabe's
land reform programme started in what was once the breadbasket of southern

None of the family have had a regular job since, scraping by on profits from
selling vegetables by the roadside or mixing up sugar, water and colourings
to make a crude soft drink to sell in plastic bags.

Hilton scraped together the cash to buy diabetes medication for himself and
his wife. They used to get their treatment free but last year had to start

This month Hilton had gone to the hospital to beg for government assistance.
The Takundwas had no family abroad to help them as their luckier neighbours

A quarter of the population have left the country as the economy has
crumbled and one in three families relies on remittances from relatives
abroad. Once it was for extras - school uniforms and books. Now it is for
the most basic food.

"Life is very, very hard for us," Winfildah tells me, her cloudy eyes
darting in the gloom. It was not always this way. When she and Hilton
married in 1965 their wedding was a big one, a traditional tribal gathering,
with hundreds of guests feasting. Her face breaks into a smile as she
recalls the day.

"There was a cake and chicken, rice and drinks," she remembers. "Oh it was
very fine." What was Zimbabwe like back then, I ask. Her reply throws me for
an instant: "Rhodesia, oh it was beautiful, we could buy all the food we

Then her eyes filled with tears. "Zimbabwe, life is very hard. Now I'm
crying. You can't even buy a bar of soap. If Mugabe stays it will be worse,
even worse than now."

Zimbabweans are finally daring to dream that might happen. But for the
Takundwas, the immediate future looks bleak. Winfildah still needs
medication for her diabetes; how much she doesn't know, but whatever it is,
she cannot afford it.

"My husband bought it for me, from the money he got from selling the drinks.
Now he is gone, I am desperate. I don't know how I will buy it now."

Tendai comes in to the room and sits on the bed, next to his father's
corpse, shame written on his face. He has returned from going round the
neighbours, begging for contributions to have his father's body taken away.

They are sympathetic, but he is emptyhanded. The body will have to stay.

The flies were already beginning to circle as we left, Winfildah still
sitting in the gloom. Just up the road, stonemasons were hard at work
chiselling names into the grave stones that Hilton would never have.

"In loving memory of Father, Benjamin Chimalizeni," read one, but the dates
were missing, blank spaces where the masons had etched the words "Born" and

Benjamin Chimalizeni was still alive, it transpired, but his family had
bought the gravestone knowing that they would not be able to afford it if
they waited until he died.

I flipped through my notebook to where I had written down Hilton's birthdate
from his identity card. "23.3.34". It was his birthday. Hilton had died on
his 74th birthday but no one had told us or even remembered. They were too
busy trying to survive.

Catherine Philp and Richard Mills paid for the funeral. It cost £12.

Worthless money

- Hyperinflation occurs when the price of goods and services increases at a
rate so fast as to render the currency essentially valueless

- The most severe month of hyperinflation occurred in Hungary in July 1946
when prices increased by 4.19 quintillion per cent (419 followed by sixteen

- In the same year the Hungarian National Bank issued a 10 quintillion pengo
note (one followed by 19 zeros)

- During the hyperinflation episode in Germany from 1922 to 1923, the Weimar
Republic printed postage stamps with a face value of one billion marks, as
prices doubled every two days

- In Yugoslavia prices increased by 5 quadrillion per cent between October
1, 1993, and January 24, 1995

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ANC vows tougher observer mission

Mail and Guardian

Mandy Rossouw | Johannesburg, South Africa

24 March 2008 06:00

      African National Congress (ANC) MPs who are part of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) observer mission to the parliamentary
and presidential elections in Zimbabwe will have more freedom than before to
give their honest assessment of the situation in that country.

      The ANC will compile a report on the implications of the
collapse of Zimbabwe on South Africa's social and institutional
infrastructure. The MPs will be expected to "debrief" the ruling party when
they return.

      The new approach to Zimbabwe was underscored by ANC treasurer
general Mathews Phosa who came out against President Thabo Mbeki's policy of
quiet diplomacy at a meeting of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) last

      "The policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe has not worked.
I think [Robert] Mugabe abused us," he said.

      ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told the Mail & Guardian
that the planned report is an attempt to "close the loopholes within
government diplomacy".

      "The party-to-party engagement must be stepped up. We are
beginning to talk more critically of the implication of the collapse on
South Africa. The ANC members who are part of the observer mission will be
quite important for us. They will give feedback of their real observations
that are not captured in the general report."

      The ANC's approach to the observer function is a departure from
previous missions where the findings were not discussed in Parliament. The
report compiled by MPs after the 2005 elections has yet to be debated.

      The Democratic Alliance said the party reserves its right to
write its own reports that will be released daily.

      Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo, who will be heading the South
African contingent of the SADC observer mission, told the M&G that although
the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a "crisis", the
pre-election atmosphere is calmer and more tolerant than during the 2005

      The observer mission will only look at complaints brought to its
attention and will not factor in Mugabe's late announcement of the election
date, or the new law that gives Zimbabweans part ownership of foreign
companies, or the pay hike for civil servants.

      The role of the observer mission will be twofold: to observe the
elections and to intervene if "something can be corrected".

      "We want to help them have as credible elections as possible. We
will stay out of their politics. We will only go as far as our invitation
permits," Mamabolo said.

      A preliminary team was sent earlier to check the integrity of
the voters' roll and the environment in general.

      Mamabolo said the SADC team could not intervene in the
Zimbabwean government's decision on which media organisations will be
allowed into the country to cover the elections.

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Race firmly between Tsvangirai & Makoni

Nehanda Radio

24 March 2008

By Ibbo Mandaza

IT IS understandable that President Mugabe - and those few who remain
huddled with him - should feel threatened by Simba Makoni's bid for the top
office on March 29. For all indications and predictions so far confirm that
Mugabe is a rank outsider in the forthcoming poll, giving him a bare 4
percent of the vote.

This is not surprising given latest reports that the old man received only
13 percent of the vote in the 2002 presidential election. A grave warning to
all Zimbabweans that everything should be done to avoid another rigged
election this time around.

The race is now firmly between Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. I am not
certain that Tsvangirai understood fully the import of the statement he made
two weeks ago, to the effect that the forthcoming election is "a referendum
on Robert Mugabe".

But the obvious inferences to be drawn from the statement should have
educated such of his overzealous supporters as Roy Bennett (writing in the
Cape Argus on February 17) and Jacob Rukweza (a sub-editor of the Zimbabwe
Independent, writing in Candid Comment last week): that the main objective
of the vote is to end Mugabe's misrule; and that the opposition as a whole
should do everything possible to ensure that outcome by avoiding unnecessary
inter-party bickering and distractive campaigning.

I believe this was the central consideration that inspired David Coltart
(writing in the Cape Argus on March 10 ) when he described Roy Bennett's
attack on Makoni as "unfortunate" and "unjustified". Coltart's reply in this
regard should likewise shut up Rukweza's diatribe: "Simba Makoni was never
implicated in the Gukurahundi"; and as regards Murambatsvina, "the facts are
that Makoni resigned, in an unprecedented and brave act, from Cabinet in
2002, well before Murambatsvina took place" in 2005.

But that is not to deny that Makoni (and some of us involved in the
Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn initiative) has a strong historical association with the
national liberation movement, Zanu PF specifically. But neither Zanu PF nor
the Zimbabwe state has ever been ideologically and politically monolithic;
and it should not surprise any serious and informed analyst of the
Zimbabwean polity that the most formidable challenge to Mugabe's misrule
consists of persons - particularly Makoni himself - who have been the
conscience of a party that now stands ideologically and organisationally
vacuous, a far cry from the movement that inspired and motivated millions of
Zimbabweans during the struggle and well into post-Independence.

And let us not forget the millions of Zimbabweans for whom the struggle and
the gains of Independence remain indelible in their memory, and for whom the
hope is that the removal of Mugabe and his cabal of politically bankrupt
leaders will be a real dawn. There are many in Zanu PF who share this vision
and constitute a good proportion of that 95 percent of voters who have
already turned away from Mugabe and will vote against him.

But there has also been a huge swing away from the MDC to the Makoni camp in
the period since Makoni announced his candidature. And what about the many,
many more Zimbabweans who do not belong to either Zanu PF or MDC but who
rallied to Makoni's clarion call, and rushed in their numbers to inspect and
register on the voters' roll before nomination.

The figures speak for themselves and do confirm that Makoni has every reason
to expect and anticipate electoral victory. The records show that 45% more
voters registered in the period between the day on which Makoni announced
his candidature, and when the voter inspection and registration process

These are the realities that speak for themselves; less, perhaps, about the
personality of Makoni himself. This is not a new reality about which the
likes of Bennett and Rukweza should feel uncomfortable and threatened. It is
one that all Zimbabweans should embrace as heralding hopes and expectations
of a better future, the real opportunity to begin liberating ourselves from
fear, stress and tension, and from poverty and the burden of failure and

It is not true, as suggested by Rukweza, that "the majority of those who
have embraced Makoni as their future president have confessed that they know
very little about their candidate of choice". It was not an accident that
those of us who initiated the Simba project last December decided
unanimously that Makoni was the best person to lead this initiative. Some of
us have known him since the early 1970's, as one with a rare intellect, a
principled and honest man, hardworking, and a patriot second to none. He did
not campaign for himself: we chose him to lead us; and, as Coltart
concluded, it is Makoni's courageousness that should be supported, not
criticised. Of course, it is up to the Zimbabwean electorate to assess and
decide on Makoni at the polls.

Makoni's election campaign so far has yielded a good response; he is
emerging to be a popular and charismatic figure. He has been embraced as a
symbol of Zimbabwe's hope across the country. Makoni has the political and
technocratic skills that gives him more than an edge over all the other
presidential hopefuls in the forthcoming election. He has had almost 30
years of exposure to the public policy arena, as the youngest Minister of
State at Independence and, subsequently, as Minister of Industry and Energy;
and from 2000 to 2002 as the Minister of Finance who might have made a
difference to the flagging Zimbabwean economy had he been afforded the
opportunity by Mugabe.

Makoni's tenure at Sadc (1984-1994) will have exposed him to the challenges
of both external relations and economic development. And, contrary to some
reports which seek to throw aspersions on his tenure at Sadc, it was Makoni
who put the regional organisation on its feet and left it at a level of
pre-eminence that the body has not enjoyed again ever since those days. But
our future president also knows the world of business, as both a trained
chemist and industrialist, as well as an entrepreneur and farmer. We can be
certain Simba Makoni will bring all these 30 years of exposure to
statecraft, international diplomacy and entrepreneurship, to bear in the new
government that he will lead. Above all, Makoni's dramatic re-entry into the
political scene cuts him out as the unifier of an otherwise polarised

So, if this election turns out to be the most peaceful, it will largely be
due to the entry into the race of Simba Makoni and his "Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn"
movement. What a wonderful sight for me to have witnessed, throughout most
of the campaign so far, the MDC's, Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn, and Zanu PF, all
contesting side by side, bereft of the acrimony and violence that has
characterised previous elections. It is a great pity that certain elements
and individuals in Zanu PF are bent on frustrating the campaign process,
preparing to rig the elections and even threatening assassination.

However, I am hopeful that Zimbabwe is on the threshold of a genuine
democratic multi-party dispensation. But only if all of us keep the eye on
the ball and desist from reckless distractions as those attempted by Bennett
and Rukweza.

*Dr Ibbo Mandaza is a key aide to Simba Makoni's presidential bid.

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Tsvangirai draws record rally crowd

Mail and Guardian

Angus Shaw | Harare, Zimbabwe

24 March 2008 07:41

      President Robert Mugabe on Sunday vowed that his main political
rival would never rule Zimbabwe, as the opposition raised concerns that the
governing party would rig the March 29 ballot.

       Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai drew the biggest crowd so far in the election campaign, drawing
at least 30 000 people to a field in western Harare, compared with 10 000
people who attended a rally by Mugabe in the capital on Saturday and 3 000
for Mugabe's rally in the second city of Bulawayo on Sunday.

      "Tsvangirai will never, never rule this country," Mugabe told
the crowd, many of whom were bussed in from rural areas. "Those who want to
vote for him can do so but those votes will be wasted votes."

      Mugabe (84) was once expected to coast to victory in the

      But both Tsvangirai (55) and the other presidential candidate,
former finance minister Simba Makoni, an independent, say they are riding
high on anger against record inflation topping 100 000% and widespread
shortages of all basic supplies.

      At his rally, Tsvangirai said he expected Mugabe to "engage in
every trick in the book" to rig the polls. Western observers are barred,
with only delegates from "friendly" countries invited.

      The opposition movement on Sunday said leaked documents showed
that nine million ballot papers were ordered for the 5,9-million people
registered to vote next Saturday, and that 600 000 postal ballot papers were
requisitioned for a few thousand soldiers, police and civil servants away
from their home districts and for diplomats and their families abroad.

      It has also protested against last-minute changes to voting
procedures allowing police a supervisory role inside polling stations,
saying this would intimidate voters.

       Tsvangirai supporters waved red cards, an opposition symbol
denoting a soccer referee sending Mugabe off the field of play. One musical
group received thunderous applause for singing: "Saddam has gone, Bob is

      A few uniformed police ringed the field. Many supporters,
singing and wearing Tsvangirai T-shirts, arrived on old trucks and vans
belching exhaust smoke. A helium balloon aloft declared a Tsvangirai
campaign slogan: "Morgan is more." The carnival atmosphere contrasted with
Mugabe's austere meetings.

      'Eating fire'
      Tsvangirai said Mugabe was "really mad" over recent opposition
gains before the election. He said that the president "was eating fire"
after the poor turnout at Saturday's rally. "He was in a panic. When an old
man is so angry, the writing is on the wall," Tsvangirai told cheering

      Tsvangirai said in the past the greatest weapon of Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF party was fear and intimidation. He urged supporters not to
be afraid of "the last gasp of dictatorship".

      "The road we have trodden has been difficult and painful. Our
anger, our hunger and our suffering have made us strong. We have arrived at
the place we have yearned for. The time for the change everyone wants is
now," said the trade unionist.

      The opposition is expected to suffer from the fact that at least
four million Zimbabweans now live abroad. They are mostly fugitives from the
nation's economic meltdown and political exiles who would be natural
opposition supporters. They are not permitted to vote by mail -- despite
opposition demands that they should be allowed.

      Even so, Tsvangirai and Makoni hope to garner enough votes
together to deny Mugabe an absolute first-round majority and force him into
a second round of voting.

      Women at a meeting addressed by Makoni on Saturday complained of
a 4 000% increase in the price of life-giving HIV/Aids drugs from
Z$30-million in January to Z$1,3-billion (about R325 at the dominant
black-market exchange rate) for a month's course of medication.

      More than 20% of adults -- about two million people -- in
Zimbabwe are estimated to be infected with the virus that causes Aids. At
least 80% of the population lives below the poverty line of $1 a day.

      In Bulawayo, Mugabe repeated his usual tirade against former
colonial power Britain -- a "miserable" country -- and said Zimbabwe would
implement a new rule requiring all foreign and white-owned companies to give
51% ownership to blacks.

      "We want to see Zimbabwean people in control," he said. "Our
people must be run the businesses. They should not just listen to white

      Five trucks with bags of mealie meal -- the staple maize
flour -- were seen at Sunday's rally, reflecting opposition charges that
Mugabe is using scarce food as a political tool.

      But even that wasn't enough to entice the crowds in Bulawayo,
which is regarded as an opposition stronghold -- Mugabe traditionally has
solid support in the rural areas.

       Belinda (24), an unemployed Bulawayo resident, said she didn't
attend Sunday's rally because "it was a waste of my precious time."

       "That man has nothing new to say," she said, declining to give
her last name for fear of victimisation. "I am jobless; there is no water,
there is no food, so why bother?" -- Sapa-AP

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Zimbabwe opposition chief, a constant thorn in Mugabe flesh


HARARE, March 24 (AFP)

Morgan Tsvangirai, who has survived a treason trial and a severe beating by
security forces, is making a second bid to topple Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe in a poll he again suspects will be rigged.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, a thorn in
the side of Mugabe since the 1990s, is insistent he was the rightful winner
of the last presidential election in 2002 when he officially polled 1.2
million votes against Mugabe's 1.6 million.

"We won the elections in 2002 and we are going to win again this year," said
Tsvangirai at a recent rally.

However his confidence is tempered by the expectation that Mugabe will
simply not allow anyone but himself be declared the winner of the March 29

"The challenge we have got is that we are going into the elections fully
aware of the unfavourable conditions."

Disillusioned by the outcome in 2002, Tsvangirai appeared reluctant to join
the contest this year before eventually deciding to throw his hat into the
ring in February.

The economic meltdown in Zimbabwe -- where inflation stands at over 100,000
percent and unemployment at more than 80 percent -- should in theory play
into the opposition's hands.

But Tsvangirai's prospects have been damaged by a split in his party, first
triggered by a row over whether to contest senatorial elections in 2005,
which has lost him the loyalty of nearly half the MDC's lawmakers.

He also has to contend this time with a challenge from Mugabe's former
finance minister Simba Makoni whom Tsvangirai has acknowledged as a brave
patriot but not an agent for radical change.

Tsvangirai first took on Mugabe when, as secretary general of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, he led a series of crippling strikes against high
taxes in 1997 and 1998.

His protests were not appreciated by his foes. He claims to have been the
target of four assassination attempts, including one in 1997 when assailants
tried to throw him out of his office window.

Formed in September 1999, the MDC took almost half the seats in legislative
elections the following year in spite of campaign violence in which around
30 supporters were killed.

Tsvangirai's career almost came to a halt in 2001 when he went on trial for
allegedly plotting to kill Mugabe in a case based on testimony by a former
Israeli secret agent. He was eventually cleared.

Two years later, he was slapped with a second charge of treason for calling
on party supporters to overthrow the government in a case which was thrown
out of court before going to trial.

His most recent run-in with the law came last March when he was among dozens
of opposition supporters assaulted as they tried to stage an anti-government
rally, suffering head injuries.

"Yes, they brutalised my flesh. But they will never break my spirit. I will
soldier on until Zimbabwe is free," he said in a message from his hospital

His opponents however ridicule talk of bravery by a man who took no part in
the country's 1970s liberation war.

"My first priority was my responsibility to the family... I never considered
leaving (to join the war) except for a few wistful moments," he was quoted
as saying in a recent biography.

Born in 1952 in Gutu, south of the capital, he is the eldest of nine
children and the son of a bricklayer.

After school, he spent 10 years at the Trojan Nickel mine in Mashonaland
Central province, rising to become general foreman before having his first
taste of politics.

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Zimbabwean opposition "cautiously optimistic" ahead of polls

Monsters and Critics

Mar 24, 2008, 17:34 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg- Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) is 'cautiously optimistic' ahead of Saturday's poll but is
worried President Robert Mugabe might rig his way to power, a party
spokesman said Monday.

Nelson Chamisa told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the party's campaign
had gathered momentum and 'things look good,' adding, 'We are set for a big
victory for the people of Zimbabwe. We are cautiously optimistic.'

He said the ruling party's message appeared 'old and tired' alongside the
MDC's promise of a new beginning for inflation-riddled and
politically-divided Zimbabwe.

The MDC's Tsvangirai is standing against Mugabe and independent candidate
Simba Makoni in the polls. Tsvangirai lost to Mugabe by 400,000 votes in the
last presidential poll in 2002, a result the party has never accepted.

Chamisa cautioned that ZANU-PF still has the capacity to 'spring a surprise'
at the polls but only through rigging and manipulating 'the peoples will'.

The MDC has already complained about Mugabe's last-minute tweaking of
electoral rules to allow police into polling stations, and of the printing
of millions more ballot papers than are needed.

'Weve read all the books, but we still have an examiner whos likely to
change the syllabus,' Chamisa said.

Mugabe,84, told a rally Sunday that a vote for the MDC was a wasted one.

'You will be cheating yourself as there is no way we can allow them to rule
this country,' the longtime Zimbabwean leader said at a rally in the city of

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Report: Zimbabwe foreign embassy staff won't be voting

Monsters and Critics

Mar 24, 2008, 8:36 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - No staff from overseas Zimbabwe embassies have applied
to vote by post in Saturday's presidential and parliamentary polls, an
official from the state electoral commission was quoted as saying Monday.

Only 8,000 police have applied for postal ballot papers, Utoile Silaigwana,
deputy elections officer from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), said.

'This does not mean that all of them would cast their vote,' Silaigwana was
quoted as saying in Monday's Herald newspaper.

'We will consider their applications and see if they qualify because some of
them might not be on the voters roll,' he said as ZEC sealed postal ballot
boxes at the weekend.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
says he wants to know why if only 8,000 police officers are voting, 600,000
postal ballot papers have been printed.

Tsvangirai told a rally in Harare on Sunday that President Robert Mugabe,
84, would use 'every trick in the book' to win Saturday's election and give
himself a sixth term in office.

'We did not see (postal ballot) applications for staff from embassies; we
only saw applications for the Zimbabwe Republic Police,' Silaigwana said.
'As you know there is no law in Zimbabwe that compels a person to vote.'

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Zimbabwe government to 'read riot act' to overchargers: Mugabe

Earth Times

            Posted : Mon, 24 Mar 2008 16:11:07 GMT
            Author : DPA

Harare - The Zimbabwe government will "read the riot act" to
businesspeople who have been raising prices ahead of this weekend's polls,
President Robert Mugabe said Monday. Mugabe wants shops on Tuesday to revert
to prices prevailing before he announced a massive salary increment for
teachers and civil servants on March 11.

He told rally-goers in the coal-mining town of Hwange, in Matabeleland
North that companies would be taken over if prices do not go down.

"If industry fails to conform, the Indigenization and Empowerment Act
will come into effect," state radio quoted the 84-year-old president as
saying. The Act, signed earlier this month, obliges foreign and white-owned
businesses to hand over 51-per-cent shares to blacks.

With days to go before polling, there is speculation Mugabe may order
another price blitz to endear himself to struggling voters. A similar blitz
in June and July last year emptied shops of most goods. Many stores are
still sparsely stocked.

The Zimbabwean president is facing what could prove the biggest
challenge of his 28 years in power, with two strong contenders: opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni.

At the Hwange rally Mugabe also promised he would hand out 400 luxury
vehicles to government doctors on Thursday. Doctors have been leaving the
country in droves in search of better pay and conditions overseas.

Rights groups complain Mugabe has engaged in massive vote-buying,
handing out buses, farm equipment, salary increases, fuel and computers
ahead of Saturday's polls.

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MDC says dark forces at work in election campaign


March 24, 2008, 19:15

Thulasizwe Simelane, Harare
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe alleges
dirty tricks are being applied to block their campaigns. This includes
allegations that they are being refused access to public facilities for

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes his chartered flight was cancelled to
sabotage five of his rallies.

Access to public media remains a sore point in the pre-election build-up.
Some believe access to public media is inadequate.

On the other hand, the Pan African Parliament observer mission in Zimbabwe
says it is encouraged by the prevailing mood ahead of Saturday's election.
The mission has expressed satisfaction with opposition access to public
media, and what it calls unhindered political campaigning.

Observers are currently scattered across the country checking adherence to
regional principles and guidelines on elections.

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Mugabe will not concede defeat

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 03/25/2008 00:09:33
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will not concede defeat if he loses the presidential
elections this weekend, he told supporters in Bulawayo on Sunday.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, said a
vote for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would be a
waste because "there is no way we can allow them to rule this country".

Analysts predict Mugabe, 84, faces the biggest threat to his uninterrupted
rule from resurgent opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his former
finance minister, Simba Makoni, when Zimbabweans vote on Saturday.

Zimbabweans, facing daily hardships and a collapsing economy, have thronged
rallies addressed by Mugabe's main rivals causing panic in the ruling Zanu
PF party and Mugabe's loyalists in the security services.

Army commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri and the head of the country's Prison Services Paradzai Zimondi have
all said they will resist a change of government in what Mugabe's opponents
say is an "advance coup warning".

Taking his campaign to what is traditionally a hotbed of opposition to his
rule, Mugabe addressed thousands of cheering supporters at Stanley Square in
Bulawayo's poor township of Makokoba, vowing the MDC would not rule in his

He said: "You can vote for them (MDC), but that will be a wasted vote. You
will be cheating yourself as there is no way we can allow them to rule this

"We have a job to do and that is to protect our heritage. The MDC will not
rule this country. It will never, ever happen. Asisoze sivume (we will not

In his address, delivered in a combination of his native Shona language,
English and a sprinkling of Ndebele - the language spoken by most in
attendance - Mugabe pointed to his party's symbol of a clenched fist,
evidence he said, "we can box".

He mocked the MDC's symbol of an open palm which he said was proof "the MDC
does not have the zeal to work for the people".

Displaying an impressive grasp of Ndebele, Mugabe said: "Thina inqindi
silazo, siyanqinda futhi (we have the fists, and we can box)."

Reverting to his favourite theme of barbed attacks on western countries,
Mugabe claimed Zimbabwe's economic recession and growing poverty should be
blamed on sanctions imposed by Britain.

He charged: "All the problems you are witnessing - the lack of foreign
currency and so on - are because of sanctions.

"The Look East Policy took long to bear fruit because our economy was
aligned to the West. But trade relations with India, Iran, China and
Indonesia are growing. The West is also turning East."

Over the weekend, Mugabe made further whistle stops at Inkanyezi Primary
School in New Lobengula and a football stadium in Chitungwiza, near the
capital Harare.

In Chitungwiza, Mugabe told supporters he shared in their suffering, telling
them he also had a cold bath and experienced water cuts at his official

Mugabe said: "Last night (Friday) when I came back from Zvimba (his home
village), there was no water in my home. I didn't have warm water. I said to
myself I am a man, and I used cold water they fetched for me by buckets.

"This morning they tried to boil water for me, but I am used to the showers
in prison. I had a cold bath again. Water shortage is a problem. My minister
said they could not distribute water because they don't have money for
purification chemicals, and they were waiting for cabinet. I said why wait
for cabinet? They want foreign currency to import these chemicals from South

Mugabe railed at Makoni, calling him a sell-out and a prostitute.

He blasted: "Sell-outs will never win elections in Zimbabwe."

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We're not interested in Zim poll outcome - AU


     March 24 2008 at 06:55PM

Harare - The African Union's Pan-African Parliament (PAP) observer
group said it has "no interest" in the outcome of Zimbabwe's upcoming
national elections, but rather that the voting procedures are regular, it
was reported on Monday.

"We have no interest on the baby to be conceived, whether it is going
to be a boy or girl, but to ensure whether the process leading to that is in
place," Marwick Khumalo, the head of the group, told the official Herald

"We have not come to prescribe to Zimbabwe how they should conduct
their elections," Khumalo said about the March 29 vote.

"The purpose of our mission here is to ensure that the elections meet
the standards of the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and
Governance and the African Union Declaration on Elections, Democracy and
Governance in Africa," he told the paper.

The Zimbabwe government has been accused of inviting only observers
from friendly countries who will whitewash the results of the poll. Western
observer groups have been banned.

The PAP group observed Kenya's disputed elections in December.

In 2007, Zimbabwe's ruling party reacted with hostility to an attempt
by the PAP to send a fact-finding mission to Harare after a brutal police
crackdown on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change at an aborted
prayer rally. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe Decides - Five more years???

Mutumwa Mawere
24 March, 2008

With barely a week left before Zimbabwe decides on who should be the
president, senator, parliamentarian, and councillor, it is important to pose
to reflect on what would be in store for Zimbabweans during the next five
years if ZANU-PF and President Mugabe were to be re-elected.

What may be obvious to many that Zimbabwe needs to turn a new chapter is
apparently not so obvious to President Mugabe who still would want the
voting public to believe that his administration has really not been in
charge over the last 28 years.

If President Mugabe were to win, it is important to imagine what kind of
change he is promising. We now know that he will push for an amendment of
the constitution to ensure that people like Makoni will not be allowed to
exercise their constitutional right to offer themselves for election as

To the extent that President Mugabe would want Zimbabweans to believe that
he is still a democrat, his position on the Makoni presidency and his knee
jerk reaction of proposing to amend the constitution to address what appears
to be a party and personal problem clearly highlights that deep down in his
veins he does not support the bill of rights enshrined in the constitution
of the country.

This raises an obvious question of whether a person who holds the
constitution he was elected to uphold and protect in contempt should be
trusted with another five years in power. Is it conceivable that President
Mugabe's contemptuous behaviour to the constitutional order will change
after the elections? If not, what is the responsibility of anyone privileged
to vote in this historic election?

Should political clubs be the custodian of who should be a President when
the constitution provides for citizens to directly elect their leader?

To many people it might appear absurd for an incumbent President who for the
last 28 years has argued that citizens are sovereign and should be trusted
to make their own choices to now opportunistically make the case that
citizens cannot be trusted to choose between four men who have all qualified
to be candidates for the office of the President in this historic and
defining elections.

However, politicians in general only pursue politically expedient outcomes
and in most cases it is so because citizens allow them by choosing not to
exercise their democratic rights through non-participation in electoral

I have no doubt that President Mugabe is praying that like what happened
during the constitutional referendum many Zimbabweans will not vote and,
thereby, allow him to remain in power fully knowing that he also is
challenged by the future and has no real answers to the defining questions
that confront the nation.

It is evident that President Mugabe would not like this election to be a
referendum on his record rather he would like it to be a referendum on
colonialism and its known vices. To accept President Mugabe's argument means
that one has to accept the proposition that Rhodesia never died and he as
the only leader of post colonial Zimbabwe failed to provide the required
leadership that Zimbabweans deserve and urgently need.

President Mugabe has attempted to persuade Zimbabweans that voting for the
MDC would mean the restoration of colonialism. Whether this argument will
wash with the voters remains to be seen but what is clear is that for anyone
to accept this proposition one has necessarily also to acknowledge that
President Mugabe has failed to deliver independence to the majority a task
he willingly accepted to discharge in 1980 and at every election since then.

Indirectly, President Mugabe has accepted that sanctions are biting and the
future of Zimbabwe would be more secure and prosperous if sanctions were
lifted. If this is the case, no suggestion has been made by him that the
situation will be any different if he was to be re-elected. On the contrary,
anyone who will be naïve enough to vote for the status quo must accept that
sanctions will continue and fear will be institutionalised.

Even President Mugabe has correctly observed that only Tsvangirai has the
pin number required to unlock the sanctions issue. It is also evident that
President Mugabe has not informed the Zimbabwean public that he is powerless
to deliver hope and anything he says about the future is speculative and
cynical at best.

Zimbabwe cannot lift itself out of the current economic abyss without the
support of the international community and if the attitude of the
international community is accepted as given there is nothing in President
Mugabe's campaign message to suggest that he has any intention of reaching
out to the people who do not share his views on how the country should be
governed and, therefore, assist in bringing hope to a nation on its knees.

It is common knowledge that the so-called imperialists are firmly in control
of the very institutions that Zimbabwe needs to lift itself up and yet
President Mugabe would want to persuade Zimbabweans to commit economic
suicide by voting for him. The next five years under President Mugabe will
mean that the people's government will continue to be managed with no
accountability characterised by state induced fear.

Only yesterday, this is what President Mugabe on the campaign trail: "Let
the British keep their money and we will keep our land. It is treasonous for
the MDC to aid the British involvement in our country. They must take due
precaution because after the elections we will act against their companies.
How dare Tsvangirai and his party continue to bow down to the British? In
this day and age, when we have fought for the restoration of our dignity and
sovereignty of our people, the MDC still panders to the British?

A party that is full of white Boers and the white farmers? The likes of
Bennett (Roy) are still masters in the MDC. And this is the party that wants
you to vote for them to rule this country? Never in my lifetime will the MDC
rule this country. I swear by Mbuya Nehanda, that will never happen,"

It is evident from the above that no amount of persuasion will convince
President Mugabe to look into the mirror and see how irrelevant he may be to
the future of the country. Why would a person who purports to be a democrat
want to argue that a white Zimbabwean citizen like Roy Bennett is less
Zimbabwean than a black citizen while accepting that the constitution should
have the same meaning to all?

Who is President Mugabe to say that MDC will never rule Zimbabwe while
accepting to subject himself to electoral politics? Zimbabweans must take
responsibility for helping to create an absurd situation in which a
purportedly democratic order would allow itself to produce a President who
thinks he is above the constitution. If there was any reason why President
Mugabe must be shown a red card, I believe one does not have to look any
further than what I have quoted above.

Surely for Zimbabweans to reclaim their future and help shape their destiny,
it is evident that President Mugabe must go as his world view is clearly not
aligned to the kind of values a progressive nation needs.

All I can urge anyone who values his/her future, property and life to please
take a minute just to imagine what the next five years will bring under
President Mugabe's continued watch.

The future will surely belong to those who believe that change is not
someone else's business but theirs. It is not too let to put your signature
of the future by being the change you want to see.

It should be accepted that a vote for President Mugabe has its own meaning
and implications and ultimately responsibility must be accepted by those
privileged to vote that they had six days to think deeply about the future
and yet had the wisdom to invest in the past.

If the past is important to you, then President Mugabe is your man. Any
other outcome will surely represent change that people can really begin to
believe in.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 22nd March 2008

Stuffing the Ballot Box at the Vigil

It may have been the first day of Spring but weatherwise it was more like Christmas. All the elements were against us – a blustery wind and sleeting showers.  It was brilliant that so many people came.  A young woman from Sheffield said she was covered in snow when she left home.

In between dancing and singing we practised scenes for the media events we are holding during our Mock Election next Saturday.  A big thank you to Choice Mutambanadzo and her husband Julius who brought two tunics they had made for actors in our photo calls – so we had a dead voter and an election observer from that most democratic of countries, Sudan. They will be bringing more tunics next week. 

Also with us was Comrade Mugabe (he can’t keep away!) He gave us a preview of how he plans to rig next week’s elections by stuffing the ballot box.  His army and police force will be on hand to help him – Patson Muzuwa and Charles Masawi brought uniforms.

On this cold Easter Saturday there were almost more people at the Vigil than on the street.  But instead of hurrying by many of them did a double take when they spotted Mugabe and whipped out their cameras. 

For this week’s Vigil pictures:


FOR THE RECORD: 140 signed the register.



·  Friday, 28th March, 2.30 – 8.30pm. Vigil of Prayer at Southwark Cathedral on the eve of the elections. Saturday, 29th March, 9.15 am. Special Eucharist followed by a time of prayer until 11 am. If you wish to lead one of the prayer times on Friday afternoon, please contact Canon Andrew Nunn 0207 367 6727. (The Diocese of Southwark is linked to the Anglican dioceses of Manicaland, Matabeleland and Central Zimbabwe.)

·  Saturday, 29th March 2008, 6 am – 6 pm: Zimbabwe Vigil’s diaspora polling station and mock ballot.

·  Saturday, 29th March 2008, 2 – 6 pm. First Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information, contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291 150 and Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137. 

·   Saturday, 29th March 2008, 12.30 – 2 pm. The Zimbabwean Development Support Association Wales is holding a demonstration in Cardiff at the Bevan Statue, Queen Street, Cardiff. For more information contact Kuchi Cuthbert Makari 07939 721 419

·  Sunday 30th March at 7:00 pm. Tongue Tied? Zimbabwean dance company Tumbuka perform at the Cochrane Theatre, Southampton Row WC1B 4AP. For more information see  T ickets: £15  Box Office 020 7269 1606 or book online:


Vigil Co-ordinators


The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.



Vigil co-ordinator


The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.


You are receiving this because you have attended the Vigil or contacted the website.  Please advise us if you wish to be removed from this list.


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In Zimbabwe, bread costs Z$10 million

Christian Science Monitor

With inflation at 100,000 percent, few can afford even basic goods.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 25, 2008 edition

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe - In her pink-and-yellow Indian sari, Neeti Patel sees
the customers come into her shop, look longingly at the sandwiches, and walk
back out empty handed.

It's not that her prices are high - a sausage sandwich sells for a mere 30
million Zimbabwe dollars, or about $1.25. The problem is that Zimbabwe's
skyrocketing inflation - now the world's highest, running at more than
100,000 percent a year - keeps her costs rising. A 30-pound bag of potatos
cost 90 million in the first week of March. Now that same bag costs 160
million, and her potential customers simply don't have the money.

"We have to put the prices up, but then people cannot manage to pay us,"
sighs Ms. Patel, who moved to Zimbabwe with her husband six months ago from
India, assuming that this southern African nation would present the same
opportunities to her as it has for generations of Indian shopkeepers. "But
if we don't raise our prices up, we don't see any profit. We didn't think it
would be like this."

There are plenty of theories for why Zimbabwe has descended from Southern
Africa's breadbasket to its basket case. Western economists blame the
socialist-inspired redistribution of commercial farms by President Robert
Mugabe to his cronies and supporters. Mr. Mugabe's supporters blame Western
governments, which withdrew economic aid in response to Mugabe's human
rights violations. Whatever the cause, the hardship of ordinary Zimbabweans
is easy to see in their shops and homes, and difficult to resolve as long as
Mugabe and his supporters stay in power.

"It's really frightening what the future holds for people," says Paul
Siwela, an economist in Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold. Ethnic purges
against Zimbabwe's own people, combined with attacks against white
commercial farmers has sent much of the country's skilled manpower
elsewhere. "In the last eight years, the economy has contracted to 60
percent of what it was before."

Shifting blame?

Supporters of Mugabe, who faces the strongest-ever challenge to his 28-year
presidency in elections on March 29, blame the country's economic woes on
Britain, its former colonial ruler. But Mr. Siwela says most of the
country's problems are self-inflicted.

Economic sanctions levied by Western countries on Mugabe's regime don't
explain a huge growth in government spending which now equals nearly 60
percent of the total gross domestic product, he says.

With a manufacturing industry now operating at just 5 percent of capacity -
largely due to a lack of reliable electricity and water - there are fewer
taxes to pay for that spending, and Zimbabwe has fallen deeper into debt.

Most troubling, however, is the way Zimbabwe lost its ability to feed
itself, and the region. In 1979, when Mugabe's nationalist rebels overthrew
the white-dominated government of Rhodesia, and changed the name of the
country to Zimbabwe, thousands of commercial farms managed to grow enough
food to export throughout the region. Today, more than a decade of
mismanagement and neglect have dropped agricultural production to
precolonial levels.

This year, Zimbabwe's shortfall in maize is 360,000 tons, and its shortfall
in wheat is 255,000 tons. Food aid, from friendly neighbors, from the United
Nations' World Food Program, and from individual family members living in
neighboring countries, will help to stave off starvation - for a while.

If most of Zimbabwe's economic misery is self-inflicted, as many economists
say, then the solutions also come from within. One senior economic adviser
to the government, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that the first
step for Zimbabwe is to "liberalize everything."

Solutions must come from within

"First, you have to allow people to trade their Zimbabwe dollars freely, and
buy their goods in US dollars. Then you have to look at the government
deficit, the whole government budget, including the parastatal companies
(such as electric utilities) and the central government. You add it all up,
and subtract what you get in revenues, and then you have to bring the
difference down."

The stark inequities of the current system of cronyism mean that most people
will benefit from a wholesale change in the economy, the adviser says. "It
will be painful as you liberalize, but when you liberalize, you are also
taking away the risk of doing what people are already doing," such as
illegally trading their Zimbabwe dollars for US dollars at black market
rates. "It's almost like lifting a giant tax on everybody, because you will
be taking that risk away."

A stroll through a regional capital like Bulawayo shows that there is food
on the shelves, but all of it highly priced. Massive department stores,
built for a time when farmers from miles around would come to do their
weekend shopping, are full of clothes, but without customers.

Gas stations have closed down entirely, and most people who can afford it
buy fuel from roving bands of illegal fuel salesmen, who ladle out gasoline
by the liter and even by the spoonful.

At a local greengrocer, 12 million dollars (50 cents US) buys you a head of
wilted lettuce. Ten million dollars will buy a loaf of bread (40 cents US),
if you can find any. These prices are now beyond the reach of most

"We've gone two months without butter," says Sihle, a former schoolteacher
from Bulawayo. "For the common man, it's much worse."

The rooms of her apartment show photos of happier times. Now, teachers like
Sihle are quitting their jobs, when their 400 million-dollar salary fails to
pay for taxi fare to and from school, let alone grocery bills.

With cash almost a worthless possession, Sihle has invested her savings in
something more meaningful. She stacks bags of maize meal six feet high and
five feet wide in her bedroom, enough to last for months.

"I've never seen a country that doesn't appreciate professionals," she says.
"There's no point taking your kid to school. For what? In this economy, if
you see someone selling tomatoes cheaper, you buy them and sell them again
to get money. Now everyone is a commodities broker."

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Zimbabwe a shoppers' paradise for a select few - Feature

Earth Times

      Posted : Mon, 24 Mar 2008 15:59:06 GMT
       Author : DPA

      Harare - Want to shop till you drop in shortage-riddled
Zimbabwe? You can at a supermarket near President Robert Mugabe's retirement
mansion. The packed aisles of the Borrowdale Brooke Spar supermarket show
none of the empty shelves most Zimbabweans have got used to in the months
following last year's price blitz.

      In this exclusive store set amid the rolling hills and huge
mansions of the north of Harare, shoppers can choose from a selection of
luxury goods unthinkable in the city's townships.

      Luxury comes at a price though.

      A jar of black olives costs 375 million Zimbabwe dollars this
weekend, an entire monthly salary for a teacher. Mugabe promised teachers
earlier this month that they would get huge salary hikes. But some teachers
say they discovered last week that they had been paid just the same as last
month: on average, around 370 million dollars.

      There are tiger prawns for sale in this store, at more than one
billion dollars a packet. That's the amount candidates for this Saturday's
presidential election had to deposit when they were registering their
applications to vote.

      A chicken - rarely seen in shop freezers in Zimbabwe - costs 208
million dollars here. Reports say officers for the state Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) last month got paid just 10 million dollars per day.

      The luxury doesn't end there. At an exclusive lingerie boutique
in the same complex as Spar, shoppers can choose from Calvin Klein or Dolce
and Gabbana designer underwear.

      Not for wealthy shoppers the cheap Chinese clothes sold on city
flea-markets or the second-hand goods smuggled into the country by the

      Borrowdale Brookes Western-style shopping experience is in stark
contrast to a supermarket in Harare's central Sam Nujoma Street. Here, on
Easter Monday, there's no chicken, no milk, no cooking oil, no cheese, no
flour and - most worryingly - no sign of the staple maize-meal.

      Borrowdale Brooke Spar franchise is reportedly owned by a top
ruling ZANU-PF party official who appears not to have to worry about recent
threats to jail those charging high prices.

      It is in the same suburb as the blue-tiled mansion Mugabe and
his wife Grace have been building, ostensibly as a retirement home for the
84-year-old president.

      Mugabe evidently does not intend to retire just yet. He is
standing in Saturday's polls against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and independent candidate Simba
Makoni, a former finance minister.

      Analysts are warning that the dire state of the economy and the
shortages of many basics could prove the longtime leader's nemesis in the
polls. He has vowed the opposition will "never ever" win and blames former
colonial power Britain for the economic crisis.

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ZESN publication on the Profiles of Constituencies and maps

Dear fellow Zimbabweans and Partners,

Herewith the link of a ZESN publication on the Profiles of Constituencies
and maps. To view the reports per province please click the following link;

The production captures the geography, livelihoods and voting patterns of
people in the 210 constituencies. The Delimitation Report as written by the
Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) is a technical document. The purpose of
this publication is to simplify it and describe the places that are found in
a constituency. Zimbabwe is divided into 10 provinces, 210 House of Assembly
constituencies and 1958 wards. The report seeks to help stakeholders
understand Zimbabwe's electoral terrain. The 210 constituencies are
described to allow the readers to have a greater understanding and
appreciation of these constituencies. The book will enable voters to locate
their wards and constituencies, and enable them to exercise their democratic
right to vote.
The publication is made necessary, by recent changes that have been
introduced by the 18th Constitutional Amendment that increased the number of
constituencies from 120 to 210 in the 2008 harmonised election. The book
enables the reader to take a tour of the 210 constituencies in Zimbabwe.

It is our hope that you will find this work informative and that it will
assist you to locate your correct wards to enable you to cast your vote on
29 March 2008.

Your vote, your voice!

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Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum Press Statement

A week from today, on 29th March 2008, Zimbabwe goes for yet another
election which promises little hope of alleviating the even intensifying
social, political and economic crisis. The unbalanced electoral playing
field, the violently repressive electoral context and worrying signs of the
voting system itself being rigged are stark reminders of previous flawed
elections. There is no question that this election will contravene the SADC
guidelines for free and fair elections.

Nevertheless Zimbabwean parties have chosen to contest the poll and many
civil society organisations have called on citizens to use the opportunity
of the election to force open what little democratic space exists and assert
that all aspects of a democratic process should be contested and protected.
While the election offers only a little hope that change will come, in a
country with a deficit of hope at least this is something.

In the context of the Zimbabwe March polls, the African Union-AU has
requested the South African government, as driver of the SADC intervention
process in Zimbabwe, to remain engaged with the mediation process. This
indicates its acknowledgement of the extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe, and
the fact that the mediation thus far has not yet resolved the crisis.

Concerns raised over the breach of agreements reached during this process
need to be closely scrutinised by SADC during the election period. Further
concerns over the violation of the SADC Principles and Guidelines will
require comment by the SADC election monitoring delegation.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the National Constitutional Assembly, and a
coalition of South African organisations under the umbrella body of Zimbabwe
Solidarity Forum, recognise that the South African government and its
representatives will have a highly influential role in the deliberations
that will lead up to an official statement by the SADC on the election and
its outcome. This also means that the South African public including
Diaspora Zimbabweans will be influential in their reaction to the role that
South Africa and SADC play in the Zimbabwean Crisis.

ZSF, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and NCA are aware that the electoral
context is dominated by well documented evidence of a long history of
violence, including threats, intimidation, torture, and murder. The levels
of violent repression increased markedly in 2007, with over 6 000 documented
cases of Human Rights abuse. Security personnel and militias have been
deployed to all constituencies. The state is highly militarized and has been
captured by undemocratic elites who use the states resources to retain

We will strive to expose this, raise awareness of the violence and condemn
this violent and repressive abuse of state power. SADC and other policy
makers have a principled obligation to do the same.

The electoral playing field is unacceptably and undemocratically skewed to
the advantage of the ruling partner. This includes issues around the biased
electoral commission, the voters roll, the delimitation of constituencies,
media coverage, voter education, vote buying, politicised food aid and so
on. These issues are well documented in reports released by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Support Network, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

While some would argue that the election itself has not yet been rigged
there are concerns that need to be followed up regarding postal votes, the
number of ballot papers printed, ghost voters on the roll and a worrying new
development that allows for security forces deployed across the country to
enter polling booths and 'assist' voters. These provide opportunities for
rigging that need to be exposed and acted against now.

It is therefore crucial for us to locate avenues that will enable the voices
of civil society election observers to be heard during this process. In
particular those at grassroots level and in rural communities need to be
listened to. The ZSF will be working with its Zimbabwean partners in the
days ahead to provide a platform that will enable us to share information
and provide up to the minute details of the election related events and
information as they unfold in Zimbabwe

Every caution needs to be taken to ensure that those ballots that are cast
are counted, and that the results of this count are transparent. This is a
key part of the principles of a democracy. It asserts that all aspects of
the democratic process are important. And it occupies democratic space and
sets precedents that will need to be equally respected in the future.

However, regardless of the outcomes of this counting process, whoever comes
to power must immediately commit himself to creating the conditions for a
free and fair election that will uphold and promote the SADC principles and
guidelines governing elections.

Regardless of the outcomes of the election, Zimbabwe will still be in a deep
social economic and political crisis. The National Constitutional Assembly,
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Solidarity
Forum, Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and South Africa Communist
Party hereby present the following demands to anyone who will be declared
winner after 29 March polls.

* Establish an interim government of national unity and make arrangements
for a fresh election that will properly reflect the principles of freeness
and fairness
* Facilitate round table discussions with all stakeholders about a new
* The new government should pay reparations to victims of Operation
Murambatsvina that left 800 000 families homeless.
* All political prisoners should be released immediately to make sure sanity
and a culture of tolerance returns to Zimbabwe.
* An independent commission of enquiry should be set up to investigate
atrocities that have been committed in the past and bring perpetrators to
* An acknowledgement should be publicly made about the crimes committed
against the people of Zimbabwe by the state.
* The criminal justice system must be completely overhauled. The Central
Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe National
Army should be reconstituted by citizens who will be apolitical in
discharging their duties, unlike what we have seen in the past.
* The incoming government should heavily invest in improving service
delivery such as sewage system, education (primary and tertiary) and food
supplements as the country is already facing a drought, rather than in
* The exiled Zimbabweans, soon after confidence has been restored, should be
lured back to Zimbabwe to participate in the reconstruction process.
* SADC countries should also relax regulations on travel for cross border
traders as a way of providing an immediate solution to suffering Zimbabweans
until the economy starts functioning normally and basic goods are found at
affordable prices on our shelves.

These demands should be taken up by the South African government, the
African Union and its implementing arm the Southern African Development
Community as part of the ongoing mediation process.

The recent comments by the African National Congress castigating the
interference of Zimbabwe's top army and police chiefs in determining who
should be elected were noted with interest by civil society. Organisations
represented here would want to make an honest acknowledgement of the
importance of such statements by the ANC. The first step has been taken; the
journey that must follow has already started. Now is the time to hold the
leadership in Zimbabwe accountable and demand that a process of
transformation begins.

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London Rally Draws Many of the UK’s Struggling Zimbabwean Exiles

Women's International Perspective
March 24, 2008

by Sandra Nyaira
- UK -

Zimbabweans living in exile rally together in support of their loved ones back home. Photograph courtesy of the author.
On a chilly Saturday afternoon as rain drizzles continually from the grey London skies, Trafalgar Square slowly fills with women from all walks of life, braving the winds and cold. Exiled Zimbabwean men and women now living in the United Kingdom descend on the Square from all directions to support the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe, to restore dignity to its long-suffering women and to highlight their vital role in the country’s struggle for freedom.

The rally was organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), a London-based non-governmental organization fighting for Zimbabwean women’s rights. Black and white have come to support ACTSA; the biggest number attending are exiled Zimbabwean women, but Zimbabwean men also come to support their wives, mothers, sisters and aunts, though in smaller numbers.

They have deserted the care homes and the hospitals where they work to attend. They are fervent about supporting their compatriots back in Zimbabwe who, on a daily basis, go without basics like three meals a day, sanitary wear, medication and other necessities.

Some of the speakers suffered torture at the hands of Robert Mugabe’s handlers, among them the deputy leader of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and aspiring Member of Parliament representing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Lucia Matibenga. Student activist Maureen Kademaunga and Takavarasha Zhou, the president of the Zimbabwe Progressive Teachers Association, also attended.

A Zimbabwean band belts away on tunes, attracting even casual passers-by. A huge television screen lights up the historical Square with images of struggling Zimbabwean women serving as the backdrop for speakers like Maureen and her colleagues.

Maureen Kademaunga endured torture for being politically active in Zimbabwe. Photograph courtesy of the author.
Twenty-two year old Maureen Kademaunga speaks first. She was tortured by the Zanu PF government for openly advocating for change within institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe. She was suspended from the University of Zimbabwe three times and had to go to the High Court to force the authorities to allow her to sit her examinations and eventually graduate. Maureen is now the Gender and Human Rights Officer for the Zimbabwe National Students' Union, and intends to return to the UK sometime later this year to complete her Masters.

“The socio-economic hardships in Zimbabwe have eroded our dignity as women so much. Instead of agitating for deeper involvement in political processes and policy formulation, we are actually fundraising for things that are supposed to be basic commodities that we [should] not need to fight for.”

Maureen says the situation is so bad in the country that ordinary women have no choice but to use newspapers and rags during their monthly periods. As a result many have acquired diseases which eventually lead to divorce or even abuse from partners and spouses. “It is painful and difficult to say that instead of us coming here to England and actually joining hands with our sisters and fighting for meaningful involvement in political processes, we stand here today in shame looking for something that should be an inalienable basic human right – something like sanitary wear.”

“[It also] pains me that the young women of Zimbabwe are being left without education, which has become a privilege for the elite and not a basic human right,” she continues. Maureen says that many college students resort to prostitution to help pay their way through school and to help their struggling families, thus spreading HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted illnesses,

In parting, young Maureen says to her compatriots and other Londoners, “What we hope and pray for is that one day we will stand with our sisters from all over the world and be proud to be Zimbabwean.” She and her colleagues will soon go on to Brussels to lobby authorities there on the situation in Zimbabwe.

Twenty-nine year old Chipo Matanga, an ordinary Zimbabwean woman who works as a caregiver in London, is at the rally.

“I stand in shame here today because of the things that I have heard are going on in my country. Britain and many other countries, including some in Africa, are counting their achievements where women are concerned and their success in furthering the girl child, but we have gone back to the [stone] age.”

A mother of one who used to work in a bank back home, Matanga says it’s tough for her and many other Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora.

“We work so hard day and night, not to supplement what is in Harare, but to buy basic goods to send home and luxuries like cell phones, clothes, etc, so that people can survive.”

Speaker Lucia Matibenga, aspiring MDC politician. Photograph courtesy of the author.
Then short, dark and unassuming Lucia Matibenga, the aspiring Member of Parliament for the opposition party speaks to the crowd. Her two grown children live in the United Kingdom; her son is on hand to support her as she takes the stage. She says life for the ordinary woman in Zimbabwe gets worse by the day as prices continue to rise.

“Today women all over the world are busy plotting their future strategies, but we are where we were 28 years ago, if not worse. We are busy talking about basic commodities such as food for our children. We are at a standstill. Instead of waging women’s struggle for decision-making positions and general progression in life – we are fighting for survival.”

Cameras from many UK newsrooms flash as the atmosphere begins to turn into a carnival. Anti-Mugabe songs and slogans ring out urging those fighting against his iron-fisted rule to continue their resistance. News crews from the BBC, Channel 4, Reuters, AFP, ITN and other networks conduct interviews both with Zimbabweans living in the UK and the speakers who flew in all the way from Harare.

Events like this bring the Zimbabwean community in the UK together, the majority of whom live and work underground, due to the British government’s refusal to grant them legal status. Less than 1,000 are said to have been given political asylum by the British government, a position criticized by many as hypocritical since the British government seizes every opportunity to attack the Zimbabwe government for abusing and starving its own people. Failed asylum seekers and those in the UK illegally are not allowed to work. Therefore many squat on friends’ floors, working underground in order to send money back home to support their families.

Such events also give these Zimbabweans a chance to talk about the way their host country is treating them, to speak of the people back home, to share their hopes and anxieties and fears. Most importantly, they exchange telephone numbers, not only their own, but those of the people and services they use to send money, groceries and fuel coupons back home.

Loveness Piki came to the rally with two friends from Cambridge -- all of them failed asylum seekers still here in the UK. She says meetings like the rally help her keep in touch with events in Zimbabwe, her beloved country thousands of miles away.

Thirty-nine year old Piki, a mother of four children who all live back in Harare with their father, works day and night at three jobs to pay the bills both here and at home. She also manages to pay the school fees for her children – three of whom are in a private boarding school in Chegutu in Zimbabwe; her eldest attends university in South Africa.

Piki often sends money and groceries home to her parents, to her husband, to her three siblings and even her extended family. She also helps pay school fees for three nieces and a nephew orphaned by HIV/AIDS, the scourge that continues to hound so many families in Zimbabwe. Piki is a classic example of the thousands of Zimbabwean women who work hard in the UK in low-paying jobs, living in squalid conditions just to cut costs and pay bills back home.

Piki says, "I attend these meetings because I get to share my frustrations about the British system and its hypocrisy with my countrymen and women. But most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to campaign against human rights abuses. As Zimbabwean women we are going backwards instead of progressing along with the rest of the world. We work here day and night to feed people back home, to send them groceries from such far places as England and the United States. But in the process, we are helping keep Mugabe in power because we are feeding people who would be rioting against him if they were continually hungry.”

Many of the Zimbabweans living in the UK struggle to find work and long to return home. Photograph courtesy of the author.
There are also hundreds of professional Zimbabweans at the rally: nurses, doctors, social workers, pharmacists, engineers and journeymen. This Zimbabwean community has a good relationship with the British authorities who keep in touch with them through their professional organizations. But there are also other professionals, especially bankers and journalists, who have failed, despite years of trying, to break into British society as professionals. These people resort to working low-paying odd jobs wherever they can find them.

Alois Bunu, a middle-aged Zimbabwean man who came all the way from Birmingham to attend the rally says he too believes that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have inadvertently helped Mugabe and his Zanu PF party maintain a stranglehold on power.

"It is a catch 22 situation – like a cigarette burning on one end and on the other, the smoker is biting the butt. You suffer from both ends. We are here to protest and call for the restoration of our dignity as Zimbabweans but in an indirect way we are propping up the autocratic government we want to remove from office. We have to send the money, medicine, food and basics to help keep our families and friends alive!”

Barbara Nguwani, a 40-year old single Zimbabwean nurse working in Surrey is afraid to be interviewed or photographed for fear the picture may land her in trouble back home. She makes a different point about the situation in Zimbabwe.

“We need to start thinking about what we will do if the [upcoming] elections once again are not free and fair. I am tired of living in this country, but I cannot go back because it means if I go, the many people I support will die. I have no boyfriend, no husband, nothing, not because I do not want to, but because I am away from home because of Robert Mugabe’s policies.

Think of the many broken families -- mothers leaving home to come and work here or fathers doing the same because of the crisis and failing in the end to reunite with their families in their chosen countries. It is sad.”

Hope, she says, is all that Zimbabweans can cling to at the moment, especially those suffering in foreign lands to feed their families back home. Many cannot wait for a stable environment to prevail so they can finally get back to their beloved homeland.

After the rally, most of the Zimbabweans rush to catch trains back to their work shifts. They all live hectic non-stop lives with very little time left for the social interaction that builds the healthy, vibrant community they so need and wish they had. Life in the Diaspora is hard and more often than not, lonely.

About the Author
Sandra Nyaira is a Zimbabwean journalist currently based in the United Kingdom. A former Political Editor with the banned Daily News in Zimbabwe, in 2002 Sandra was one of the three winners of the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) Courage in Journalism Award for her work in Zimbabwe. Sandra holds an MA in International Journalism from the City University in London and has written for newspapers in several countries, including the Sunday Times, The Guardian, the British Journalism Review, The Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Africawoman and many others. She enjoys both reading and researching.


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