|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
HARARE - Police yesterday arrested an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate for distributing campaign fliers in her constituency in Harare.
Trudy Stevenson, who is fighting to retain the Harare North seat in the poll, was arrested together with her son and five other party supporters for distributing election fliers at a traffic junction in Harare. She was charged under the Miscellenous Offences Act for “obstructing traffic”.
Stevenson said she was detained for six hours and was only released after paying an admission of guilt fine to avoid spending the Easter Holiday in police custody.
“I am dismayed that we are being refused the space to
campaign freely. The police were stung by the popularity of the whole campaign
strategy,” said Stevenson.
Meanwhile, there was chaos in Harare yesterday as police openly aided ZANU PF youths to force private transport operators to stick the ruling party’s campaign posters on their vehicles in the city centre.
Under new electoral regulations political parties and candidates are prohibited from putting up posters on buildings and other property without permission from owners.
A ZimOnline news team witnessed three police officers and a group of ZANU PF youths moving around several termini threatening commuter bus drivers with arrest if they refused to let the ruling party youths put their posters on their vehicles.
"You should be grateful that we are only asking you to stick this poster. Your car is defective and we can impound it right now. We will arrest you with conduct likely to disturb public peace if you don't comply," our news crew heard one of the policemen shouting at one commuter bus driver.
The driver later told our reporters: "Uku kwave kubatana chibharo manje.” (This is more or less like rape. They are violating our rights).
The Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights accused the police in a report on human rights violations in Zimbabwe, officially released earlier this year, of applying the law selectively in favour of ZANU PF. - ZimOnline
There will be interview / picture opportunities on
Saturday, 26th March when exiled Zimbabweans gather outside the
Zimbabwe Embassy in
Among the invited speakers is Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for International Development.
Time: (followed by the regular Zimbabwe Vigil until )
Wiz Bishop 07963 521 160
Rose Benton 07970 996 003
Press Release: Attacks on Zimbabwean Churches
24 March 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The United Methodist Church near Marondera, damaged earlier this month when suspected supporters of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime torched the kitchen section, is the second church to have been desecrated in this previously productive Zimbabwean farming area east of Harare.
In the case of the first church, the little St Cross Anglican Church at Hwedza in the same vicinity, the sanctuary was plundered and vandalised by ZANU-PF thugs and the beautiful antique organ was stolen.
Sources said that the ZANU-PF minister responsible for youth training, Elliot Manyika, had put out the word that party meetings should be held in churches wherever possible in order to undermine the authority of the church in Zimbabwe.
In the case of the United Methodist Church, people in the area believe it was targeted because a commercial farmer who supported the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had facilitated the building of the church.
About ten years previously, the church women had asked Iain Kay, a farmer who has always been committed to the upliftment of the people in the area, if they could make bricks on the his farm using an anthill and farm water. Kay connected irrigation pipes to the site and work began.
Every morning at first light the women would arrive, make a set number of bricks and then return to their kumushas or communal homes to do their everyday chores and work in their lands.
Kay supplied gumwood to them to fire the bricks. As they built the church and money was available, the women bought window and doorframes, which Kay and his wife, Kerry, collected and stored for them.
“The building of the church, the kitchen room and the minister’s room were a labour of love,” said Kerry. “These women were part of the group I worked with on HIV/AIDS education, counselling, and home and community based care.”
In the early hours of the March morning when part of the church was torched, a man who was guarding the building in the absence of the minister, heard unknown voices. However, he only went to investigate when he saw that the kitchen section was on fire.
A few metres from the church, a house also caught fire and the residents managed to salvage a few belongings before the roof collapsed.
According to villagers, the likely reason for the arson was that ZANU-PF supporters were not happy that locals were worshiping at a church built with the assistance of an MDC official, especially a white person.
South African Council of Churches (SACC) envoy to Zimbabwe and Anglican Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal Rubin Phillip, who visited the country recently, said there was a sense of hopelessness among the ordinary people that the election would be free and fair so as to usher in political change.
He said the country needed an independent electoral commission and that the one in place, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, was terribly biased in favour of the ruling party. He noted that the government-controlled airwaves needed to be opened up to the opposition.
The Bishop also expressed disappointment that the Mugabe regime continues to use food aid as a political weapon ahead of the election. The main opposition MDC party accuses Mugabe of denying food aid to its supporters.
Critics of the severely flawed election process say that the church, regarded as society’s voice of conscience, has, in many cases, been at the forefront in criticising Mugabe’s human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
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Sokwanele - Zvakwana - Enough is Enough is a peoples' force through which democracy will be restored to the country and protected jealously for future generations to ensure that Zimbabweans will never be oppressed again.
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24/03/2005 20:34 - (SA)
JOhannesburg - Zimbabwe's ageing President Robert Mugabe presented a startling sight as he launched his party's election campaign with a woman's scarf tied around his head.
The campaign for a parliamentary election that critics have deplored as skewed by repressive laws and intimidation has seen a flurry of measures aimed at uplifting women in Zimbabwe's fiercely patriarchal society.
With little to show for nearly 25 years in power, Mugabe's critics claim his women's outreach is just a ploy to burnish his image.
"He is a traditionalist with very little time for women," said John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist.
"His volte face now is really a gimmick aimed at capturing women's votes in the face of a persistent opposition challenge that is threatening his government."
Mugabe does need to get out to chase the vote. His party won just 62 of parliament's 120 elected seats in 2000, despite what independent observers called widespread violence and rigging.
Not enough food
Earlier this month, Mugabe was forced to acknowledge that the former regional breadbasket is no longer producing enough food to feed itself, although he blamed four years of crippling drought for the crisis.
"He has no real achievements around the land issue, so now he has to change his tune," Makumbe said in a telephone interview from the United States, where he is a guest lecturer at Michigan State University.
Mugabe said he wore the green, black, yellow and red scarf, which belongs to the women's league of his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriot Front, to remind supporters at last month's rally that "if you ignore women, you are gone".
Women make up 51% of Zimbabwe's 11.6 million people, but hold just 13 of Parliament's 120 elected seats and three of the 30 appointed by Mugabe.
Women say they also face discrimination in applying for jobs, getting access to land and owning property.
In December, Mugabe appointed Joyce Mujuru as Zanu-PF and the country's first woman vice-president.
His party has also fielded 30 female candidates in the March 31 election in what it calls a serious bid to bring the country in line with the Southern African Development Community's goal of filling 30% of leadership posts with women.
However, secpticism is rife.
Excluded her main rival
Mujuru's appointment was seen less as an attempt to advance women than a way of excluding her main rival, parliament speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has made clear his ambition to succeed the 81-year-old Mugabe.
"It was an opportunistic political appointment dressed up as a progressive move by a party which has never demonstrated the political will to ensure women are afforded their equal status in society," said Lucia Matibenga, chairwoman of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's women's assembly.
There have been few other high-powered appointments.