The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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The Times

            Silence at Mugabe's iniquity
            By Bruce Anderson

            OUT OF AFRICA there is always something bad. Sub-Saharan Africa
is a stain on the advanced world's conscience. Even those of us who scorn
the masochism and hatred of their own societies, which leads many liberals
to blame the West for all of Africa's problems, must find it unacceptable
that so many people live brief and wretched lives: are denied any share in
the generous possibilities of the human condition.
            Africa is also in fashion. Politicians are talking about it,
especially when they are fighting general elections, or Labour leadership
ones. Yet it is right that Africa is now on the agenda, even if it arrived
there by dubious means.

            The West must help, but we cannot solve all of Africa's
problems. There must also be efforts by Africans. No aid programme could
work without local cooperation and it needs a moral co-operation as well as
a practical one.

            Which brings us to the imminent Zimbabwean elections. Though
this will not be the first time that a regime has stolen an election, there
has never been a more blatant act of theft. Yet Thabo Mbeki, the President
of South Africa, has said that the elections will be free and fair.

            In any fair election, Robert Mugabe would be blown away. The
Movement for Democratic Change and its brave leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
would win an overwhelming victory. Mugabe knows that, which is why the
elections will be run by the army with members of his own militia - the
so-called national youth service - at the polling stations to "assist"

            There will be widespread intimidation and brutality. If that
does not work, the ballot boxes will be stuffed. Those who count the notes
are under Mugabe's control. They will know what to do. It will be a
monstrous perversion of freedom, law, democracy and hope. Yet where are the
protests from other African countries?

            Mr Mbeki seems to speak for all his fellow sub-Saharan leaders.
Their argument appears to be that, as Mugabe helped to free his country, he
should now be allowed to wreck it. Thus millions of people are condemned to
suffering; a country which should be rich is condemned to poverty.

            If Africa cannot get Zimbabwe right, how can we trust it to get
anything right? African leaders must realise that failure to denounce Mugabe
is bringing discredit on them, their countries and their continent.

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Zim Online
MDC candidate arrested for distributing fliers
Fri 25 March 2005

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.

A police officer at Borrowdale police station confirmed the arrests but referred further questions to police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena who could not be reached for comment.

TRUDY Stevenson . . . the police were stung by the campaign strategy

Scores of MDC candidates have been arrested in the last two months in a crackdown by the police against the main opposition party ahead of the March 31 election.

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

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Zim Online

FEATURE: Political prostitutes or new vibrant 'Third Force'?
Fri 25 March 2005
  BULAWAYO - About 50 people mill around aimlessly at the 20 000-seater
White City stadium in Bulawayo's Luveve high-density suburb.

      They are here to attend the much publicised inaugural rally for the
new coalition of independent candidates, formed from the ashes of the
candidates' shattered political dreams in Zimbabwe's two main political

      Most of the shabbily dressed youths, who had bothered to come appear
totally distraught, mumbling something about the lack of seriousness on the
part of the organisers.

      Some attribute the rally's spectacular flop to painful birth-pangs
common with all political party "projects" and a few to sabotage by
President Robert Mugabe feared secret service agents. Whatever the youths
conclude, something appears definitely not right here.

      Dismissed information minister and Mugabe's propaganda tsar Jonathan
Moyo, who is rumoured to be the brains behind this "Third Force", is nowhere
near here. Word has it that he is away in Tsholotsho, 150km (?) away, in a
frantic bid to snatch the highly prized Tsholotsho seat from the jaws of the

      What had appeared a triumphant launch of a new political force to
challenge ruling ZANU PF hegemony seems to have fallen flat on its face.

      Liberation war hero Margaret Dongo, the "Iron Lady" of Zimbabwe's
politics, who is said to be part of the group, has also failed to turn up.

      The rest of the network's members are political rejects from ZANU PF
and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who were denied the chance to
represent their parties in next week's election.

      While the United States has made reference to "a coalition of the
willing" to effect regime change in rogue states, this new coalition - the
Independent Candidates Supporters Network - says it wants to rewrite
Zimbabwe's political script.

      Network co-ordinator, Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni told Zimonline earlier this
week that the coalition, made up of 16 independent candidates, was here to
stay. "It's a 'third force' in the sense that we want the presence of
independent candidates to be felt. We are helping them with everything that
we can so that they can make an impact."

      But analysts say this outward bravado and confidence masks serious
flaws in the network, so common with political marriages of convenience.

      They point to the lack of cohesion and a clear political ideology,
with coalition members only unified by their strong hatred of ZANU PF and
the MDC and the desire for personal political glory.

      Bulawayo-based political commentator George Mkhwanazi, had no kind
words for the independents.

      "The network is a group of aggrieved people in their respective
parties who were denied space and are now seeking a way out to realise their
personal ambitions. They are an impatient lot and have no unifying
 ideology," said Mkhwanazi.

      Equally scathing in its attack is the MDC which says the independents
want to play the role of spoilers, splitting votes in favour of the ruling

      "These independents are all power hungry, there just to spoil things.
The real battle is between the MDC and ZANU PF. None of the independents is
going to win a single seat in Bulawayo," said MDC information and publicity
secretary for Bulawayo province, Victor Moyo.

      Moyo said the network is "too tribal in its approach to have a
national impact as a political force."

      But independent candidate Leonard Nkala, a former ZANU PF official who
is standing for the Mpopoma-Pelandaba constituency in Bulawayo said while
the independents may fail to make an immediate impact next week, their role
is to act as a watchdog of society, barking if necessary to make their
presence felt.

      Nkala said: "A barking dog even if it does not bite, scares away
intruders . . . some dogs bark, some howl and others just whimper."

      Bulawayo councilor Stars Mathe who was expelled from the MDC after
opting to stand as an independent says if elected, the independents will
seek to make Parliament more accountable to the electorate. "With the Third
Force, the Parliament of Zimbabwe will be very hot."

      But the electorate appears unmoved by the new gospel peddled by these
political prophets.

      Linda Mthimukhulu, of Bulawayo, says Zimbabweans should not take these
"political prostitutes", who have been hopping from one party to another,
seriously. "They are a very confused lot and should be ignored."

      The government, which appeared to have been taken aback by the speed
with which these independents were moving, has threatened to crack the whip
against the network. A fuming Vice-President Joseph Msika, last month
threatened to come down hard on the network over its source of funding.

      But Ndiweni remains unfazed. He said: " We have nothing to hide. In
any case, it is not a crime to start a political party.

      "Fear has been used as a weapon for too long to silence dissenting
voices but we will not give in to fear. We are going ahead with our plans,"
declared Ndiweni. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

FEATURE: No chance for free and fair poll for a cowed nation
Fri 25 March 2005
  HARARE - From his Pretoria office, thousands of kilometers from Zimbabwe,
South African President Thabo Mbeki believes that Harare's forthcoming
elections will be free and fair.

      And with hardly a week into the country, the South African government
observer mission, in the country to observe next Thursday's election,
repeated Mbeki's claims.

      But 60-year old Edina Shorishori, a Zimbabwean villager who has had to
live as a refugee for the past month, wonders how next week's parliamentary
election could be free or fair.

      Shorishori spoke to ZimOnline from her secret location this week and
painted a gloomy picture of political intolerance in Zimbabwe.

      "How can anyone say the election will be free and fair when old people
like me are chased from our homes for supporting political parties of our
choice?" she said.

      Shorishori fled for dear life last month from her rural homestead in
Ward 15, Zimunya on the outskirts of the eastern border town of Mutare.

      Ruling ZANU PF militia descended on her home and threatened her with
death. The local traditional leaders followed suit while Ministry of
Education officials barred her grandchild from benefiting from the Basic
Education Assistance Module, a government assistance programme for rural
children, because of suspicions that she supported the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      Shorishori admits she knows little about international politics. But
she is bitter that some people could declare the election free and fair
despite her suffering.

      "Maybe you don't see the things we go through when you are a
foreigner. But now because I am not at home, I won't be able to vote. In
fact, my worry is that I might never be able to go back home after the
elections if ZANU PF wins," she says.

      Mbeki and his observer team provoked the ire of the MDC and other
independent observers by declaring that Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections
will be free and fair.

      But as Mbeki made these claims, many, like Shorishori were fleeing
from political violence.

      An elderly man who refused to give out his name for fear of
victimisation said it was still a requirement to produce a ruling party
membership card to benefit from government programmes such as food aid and
education assistance.

      "It's very much the same," said the 56-year old man from Chigodora
village in the eastern province of Manicaland.

      "The headmen still tells us that we will not get assistance if we vote
for the MDC and last week at a village meeting, we were told that the
government would be able to know if we voted for the opposition. So without
even being beaten physically, a lot of people here are very afraid."

      Lovemore Madhuku, the National Constitutional Assembly chairman said
there is no chance for Zimbabwe to hold free and fair elections under the
present conditions.

      "Anyone who says that the elections will be free and fair is obviously
not on the ground and has not been monitoring the situation. Our analysis is
that the legal environment is still unfair. On the ground, acts of violence
and intimidation are still being recorded. The rush to legitimise these
elections is ill-timed," he said.

      This week, the Law Society of Zimbabwe added its voice to many
complaining that the month end election will not be free and fair: "The
situation is not normal, nor is it conducive for a free and fair election."

      Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary general said Mbeki and his
government were grossly ill-informed on the situation in Zimbabwe.

      "We don't understand their ignorance about the situation here. The
position adopted by the South African government is not only misinformed but
dangerously premature."

      The MDC threatened not to co-operate with the South African government
observer mission because of the group's biased views on the polls unless
they apologised. The South Africans have since mended relations with the

      But as the debate over whether conditions do exist for a free and fair
election in Zimbabwe, Shorishori is pondering her future. She says both her
life and that of her grandchild are in jeopardy because of an intolerant
political system. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Mugabe victory won't solve economic mess: think-tank
Fri 25 March 2005
  HARARE - An expected decisive victory by President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF in next Thursday's general election will not lead to a
resolution of Zimbabwe's long drawn political and economic crisis, the
Economic Intelligence Unit has said.

      Instead Zimbabwe's battered economy will continue declining although
at a slower rate of 3.1 percent this year and 0.5 percent in 2006, the EUI
said in a report released this week.

      "It appears increasingly unlikely that the parliamentary elections
scheduled for March 31 will lead to resolution of the country's ongoing
political and economic crisis," the influential EUI said in the report.

      The group said an expected endorsement of Mugabe and ZANU PF's victory
in the March 31 poll by the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
would help the Zimbabwean leader gain firmer political ground against his

      A two-thirds majority victory, which the EUI said it expected ZANU PF
to win, would allow Mugabe powers to amend Zimbabwe's Constitution to pave
way for an exit from power on his own terms.

      The EUI said it expected Mugabe to remain in office until expiry of
his current term in 2008 but said the Zimbabwean leader will use the period
between now and the next presidential election to groom a successor.

      The economic thinktank said: "We expect that the ruling Zimbabwe
National Patriotic Front, (sic) will win a decisive majority in the
parliamentary polls and that Mr. Mugabe will seek to remain in office until
his term expires in 2008, when he will be 84.

      "As ZANU PF is likely to secure a more than two-thirds majority in
parliament at the election, Mr. Mugabe will be in a position to make
constitutional changes he wants from a position of political strength."

      The EUI said it expected Mugabe's chosen heir to begin economic
reforms as well as mending bridges with the international community but the
groups warned the process will be slow. It said: "The process will be drawn
out and any changes in economic policy incremental . . . as a result,
although we expect the economic decline of recent years to slow, real GDP is
still forecast to contract by 3.1 percent in 2005 and 0.5 in 2006."

      Zimbabwe has for the last five years grappled its worst economic
crisis ever, blamed on mismanagement by Mugabe and his government and their
farm seizure policy that estranged the southern African nation from the
international community.

      The International Monetary Fund cut off balance-of-payments support to
Harare in 1999 over differences on fiscal policy, human and property rights.

      The European Union, United States, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland
and Australia slapped targeted sanctions in 2002 against Mugabe and his top
officials for failure to uphold the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

      Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land reforms destabilised the
mainstay agricultural sector causing a fall in farm production of about 60
percent to leave once food exporting Zimbabwe dependent on international
food aid agencies.

      The Zimbabwean leader however denies his policies are responsible for
economic decline and food shortages in Zimbabwe instead blaming Western
nations of sabotaging the economy as punishment for Harare's seizure of
white farmland for redistribution to landless blacks. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Mugabe pledges to revive collapsed factories
Fri 25 March 2005
  BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe told supporters here that his
government was working on reviving factories that collapsed under a hostile
operating environment ironically blamed by many on Mugabe and his ruling
ZANU PF party's polices.

      Mugabe, who this week traversed the opposition supporting Matabeleland
region canvassing support for ZANU PF candidates in the March 31 poll, told
a rally at Mandwandwe High School in Bulawayo that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe was already working on a strategy to resurrect collapsed firms.

      Addressing about 2 000 people, most of them school children, Mugabe
said: "We are going to revive all companies in Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru and
Mutare, which shut down some years back. The RBZ Governor, Gideon Gono, is
working towards reviving the obsolete factories and companies.

      "Very soon he (Gono) will be visiting Kwekwe, Kadoma and other towns
and cities around the country where factories and companies have been
threatened with viability problems."

      >From Mandwandwe, Mugabe addressed another campaign rally at Masotsha
High School also in the city.

      Several thousand companies either drastically scaled down operations
or completely shut down shop due to a harsh operating environment marked by
hyper inflation, a fixed foreign exchange rate, controls on prices of
certain goods, political instability, violence and a breakdown of the rule
of law.

      Some of the companies were also forced to close by pro-Mugabe and ZANU
PF militants who accused their owners of backing the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party.

      Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farmland ostensibly for redistribution
to landless black peasants, only helped exacerbate the situation by scaring
away foreign investors and destablising the economically vital agricultural

      Most of the best farmland seized by Mugabe ended up in the hands of
his top lieutenants and their relatives with most of the once productive
farms hardly used while the country faces an acute food shortage. -
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Zim Online

Bid to bar ZANU PF candidate from poll fails
Fri 25 March 2005
  BULAWAYO - High Court Judge Nicholas Ndou yesterday dismissed with costs
an application by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party candidate
Renson Gasela, seeking to bar the ruling ZANU PF party's Josphat Madubeko
from next week's election.

      Gasela, who is sitting Member of Parliament for Gweru Rural
constituency wanted Madubeko disqualified from standing in the constituency
claiming the ruling party candidate was a traditional headman who is not
allowed to seek political office.

      Under the Traditional Leaders Act, chiefs, headmen and other
traditional leaders are prohibited from contesting elections while still
occupying their posts

      But Madubeko argued that he had since relinquished the headman's post
when he handed in his nomination papers last month. - ZimOnline.

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Daily News online edition

      Beware of Zanu PF tricks with public funds

      Date: 24-Mar, 2005

      CHITUNGWIZA voters may be relishing the almost once-in-a-lifetime
chance of living without the stench of raw sewage wafting into their dining
rooms every day. But they should pause for a moment: the government's
announcement on Monday that it would immediately release $2,5 billion to
repair the sewage works must raise a stink with them.

      This is a naked political gimmick. What the government ought to have
done, if it was genuinely concerned about the problem, was to quietly launch
the repair programme without any fanfare. The residents would then have
appreciated the gesture without necessarily associating it with political

      But that is not the Zanu PF way. The announcement was accompanied by
accusations of the MDC-dominated municipal council failing, in its five
years in office, to solve the stinking problem of the suburb. But not even
the most feeble-minded among the residents will forget why, in 2000, they
threw out all the Zanu PF councillors.

      Since independence, the ruling party had run the suburb, unchallenged.
Reports of corruption gave the suburb the reputation of being run like a
Zanu PF-income generating project. Development was at a standstill, more or

      From 2000, the municipality was controlled by the MDC. But, as with
other local authorities controlled by the opposition party, Chitungwiza's
found itself at perennial odds with the central government. Fortunately for
the executive mayor, Misheck Shoko, he did suffer the same fate as his
counterpart in Harare, Elias Mudzuri, who was ramrodded out of office by the
Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo.

      What might have saved Shoko's political bacon could have been his
impeccable war veteran credentials. Incidentally, it was Chombo, on a visit
to St Mary's and Zengeza suburbs, who announced the sewage rehabilitation
programme. The government has announced the release of billions of dollars
to help other local authorities cope with the economic crisis created by the
government's own hare-brained, "tuckshop" policies.

      These funds cannot be intended for anything except to persuade voters
in the urban centres, most of them now controlled by the opposition party,
to show their gratitude by voting for Zanu PF on 31 March. But most voters
are no longer that naive. The reasons which turned them against Zanu PF in
2000 remain.

      The party is still self-absorbed, still totalitarian, still arrogant,
still uncaring and still harbouring this great contempt for the voters,
remembering to respect them only at election time.
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Daily News online edition

      Opposition supporters denied food in Insiza

      Date: 24-Mar, 2005

      INSIZA - Villagers in this rural constituency have denounced the
government and the ruling Zanu PF for denying them food in order to force
them to vote for the ruling party in next Thursday's parliamentary election.

      The reports come in the wake of President Robert Mugabe's assurances
to Zimbabweans that no-one would starve. Government had all along claimed it
had registered a bumper harvest last year but now admits that there is a
serious food shortage.

      According to villagers interviewed during a visit by the Daily News
Online to the constituency this week, Zanu PF district structures operating
under the party's candidate for the area, Andrew Langa, have given them two
choices for their survival. They must either vote for Zanu PF and get food
relief or support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and go
without aid.

      Asked for a comment, Langa shouted at this reporter saying: "What has
that got to do with news? If there is no food that's our problem and not
yours. Leave us alone!" He then switched off his cellphone.

      Most of the villagers spoken to said they would rather die of hunger
than back Zanu PF, a party they have never supported in their lives.

      Assa Sibanda (83) of Dzhulube Village in Insiza told The Daily News
Online that her life was now in danger after Zanu PF officials in the
constituency made it a condition that villagers would only buy maize meal
brought by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) if they supported Zanu PF.

      "I challenged our village head to explain to me if it was government
policy to sideline people who supported other parties besides Zanu PF," she
said. "It was unfortunate for me because the same village head, Thomas
Mpofu, is the Zanu PF district chairman for

      Insiza whose committee is making the rules for grain selling."

      Mpofu, who is also Sibanda's son-in-law after he married her eldest
daughter, could not be reached for comment. This reporter visited his
homestead and only found his children who said he was out campaigning.

      A 50 kg bag of GMB maize grain was being sold for $37 000. Villagers
usually pay the money in advance to the village head, who in turn controls
the selling when the maize grain is finally delivered.

      Known and suspected MDC supporters who join in the queues to receive
their grain have been turned away after the Zanu PF officials accused them
of not supporting the ruling party.

      Jeslia Sibanda (69), a disabled villager from Simwango area,
castigated the government for shutting out ORAP, a non-governmental
organisation helping to feed rural communities.

      She said ORAP used to give elderly villagers free food but the
organisation was stopped from doing so after the government accused the NGO
community of undermining its authority and working together with the MDC to
effect regime change.

      Other villagers said they have never supported Zanu PF in their entire
life as they supported PF Zapu, then led by the late national hero Joshua
Nkomo, during the liberation struggle.

      "After the emergence of the MDC, it was the only option because we
have not benefited from any government programmes here," Sibanda said. "What
has become clear is that the government has deliberately starved Zimbabweans
in order to gain votes."

      Million Ndlovu (63) of Masiyepambili Ward in the constituency said
Langa's brother Vakatsha had been instrumental in the discrimination of MDC
supporters in the selling of GMB maize.

      Ndlovu said last Saturday, at a business centre in Simwango village,
Zanu PF officials with among them Langa's brother, refunded several
villagers accused of being MDC supporters their $37 000 paid for the
purchase of the grain.

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Daily News online edition

      Makokoba residents fume at unclear constituency

      Date: 24-Mar, 2005

      BULAWAYO - Residents here have castigated the government for shifting
boundaries of parliamentary constituencies ahead of next Thursday's poll and
afterwards failing to adequately inform the affected residents.

      In interviews at Bulawayo's oldest township of Makokoba this week,
residents castigated the Zanu PF government for focusing on electoral
victory at the expense of good governance and developmental issues.

      Sheila Nkomo (52) of Makokoba high density suburb in Makokoba
constituency told the Daily News Online that they were bitter that the
government, through the Delimitation Commission which established
parliamentary constituencies, had misnamed their constituency.

      "The government says we should be voting as people in Makokoba
constituency yet the Makokoba township is in Bulawayo East constituency,"
Nkomo said.

      "There is no place in the whole constituency named Makokoba under the
newly established boundaries for the March 2005 parliamentary election. In
2000 and 2002 it was clearer because the Makokoba constituency covered the
traditional areas."

      Under the newly-drawn boundaries, Makokoba constituency now
encompasses peri-urban settlements like Alseby Farm and the suburbs of
Mzilikazi, Barbourfields, Nguboyenja, Thorngrove, Entumbane, Northend,
Richmond, Trenance and Saurstown.

      The old Makokoba constituency only covered Mzilikazi, Barbourfields,
Makokoba, Thorngrove and Nguboyenja.

      Joyce Mpande (81) a widow in Mzilikazi suburb said besides the
electoral and political issues that affect them on a daily basis, they faced
serious food shortages.

      "We have daily problems throughout," Mpande said. "There is no hope
for our lives because our government has failed us for too long."

      Some of the residents that this crew interviewed were unaware of their
constituencies as they were confused over whether they should vote in
Bulawayo East or in Makokoba.

      The situation in Bulawayo is similar to all areas throughout Zimbabwe
where the Delimitation Commission altered the constituency boundaries.
Harare and Bulawayo lost a constituency apiece in a move widely seen as a
rigging plot.

      On Wednesday, President Robert Mugabe was forced to announce through a
Government Gazette that he was correcting the boundaries of Kwekwe and
Silobela constituencies after receiving several reports of confusion among
voters, according to Wednesday's issue of the State-controlled
Bulawayo-based Chronicle.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Observers warned

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-25

THE Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) yesterday warned foreign election
observers accredited to observe next week's parliamentary election to adhere
to the country's laws governing the polls and obey instructions from
electoral officers.

 Notably  three laws - the Electoral Act, Constitution of Zimbabwe and the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act - govern Zimbabwe's elections.
The warning was issued during a meeting, also attended by representatives of
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
ESC chairperson, commissioner Theophilus Gambe said: "It is important for
observers to read and understand the code of conduct before conducting their
observation duties."
The code requires that the observers obey every lawful instruction of an
electoral officer, not to hinder or obstruct electoral officials in the
lawful conduct of their functions and not to wear any apparel spotting a
prohibited symbol or indicating an affiliation with a candidate or political
party participating in the poll among other provisions.
    Another issue discussed at the meeting was the change in Zimbabwe's
electoral legislation and compliance with the Southern African Development
Community principles and guidelines on democratic elections.
Gambe told the observers that change to the electoral law had levelled the
political field, widely perceived to tilt heavily in favour of the status
He said issues such as the creation of the ZEC, electoral court and access
to the media by participating political parties and individuals, had been
provided for through legislation to bring the laws into compliance with the
regional guidelines and principles.
"The creation of the ZEC has seen the conduct of elections being
administered by an independent body," he explained.
"The issue of access to the media has substantially been addressed. Election
petitions are now being dealt with by an electoral court, which will
enable.petitions to be dealt with faster than in the old system."

The ESC said that observers must submit their preliminary reports before the
announcement of results.
This was done in response to previous negative experiences where some
observers had issued positive statements before the announcement of results
and later issued negative statements on the process after the announcement
of results.
"It is the hope of the ESC that you will conduct your observation duties
objectively and impartially, in a manner that will add to the peace and
democracy in Zimbabwe," Gambe said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited a total of 32 foreign observer
missions, while the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
invited 8 500 local observers.

Chairperson of the ZEC Justice George Chiweshe said ZEC was ready for the
election in all aspects.
He said that preparations for the poll were well on course, with all the 50
000 ballot boxes ordered having been secured.
Printing of ballot papers was almost complete, while ballot boxes for those
who voted through the post had been sealed in the respective constituencies
on March 18.
Only the officials of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Defence Forces
and Ministry of Foreign Affairs working outside the country were eligible to
cast their votes through the postal system.
Chiweshe said processing of the votes in this category was going on under
the watchful eye of all the candidates.
He said ZEC's National Logistics Committee had also completed a countrywide
assessment of the state of preparedness to hold the poll.
"The National Logistics Committee has just completed a week's tour of the
country to assess the logistical state of preparedness in the various
provinces and constituencies.  Indications are that all preparations are on
course," Justice Chiweshe said.
The country has held parliamentary elections after every five years since
attaining independence in 1980.
Zanu PF won 62 seats in the June 2000 election against its closest rival,
the MDC, [item ends here]

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

MDC candidate Masaiti bubbling with confidence

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-25

MDC's seating MP for Mutasa and candidate for Mutasa North, Evelyn Masaiti
is bubbling with confidence ahead of the March 31 parliamentary plebiscites.
As the MDC's top leadership descended on Manicaland province last week,
various campaign rallies, including one addressed by party president Morgan
Tsvangirai at Sakubva stadium, appear to justify the opposition movement's
claim that they will consolidate or even increase the number of seats from
the seven they won in 2000.
"Our support base in Manicaland and indeed the rest of the country is
growing from strength to strength. Often, people ask me how I managed to win
Mutasa Consituency in 2000 against the perception, fast becoming a
misconception, that rural areas are Zanu PF strongholds.
The people of Mutasa are in the eastern part of the country, like the
biblical wise men from the east, they see the light first. Now the MDC is
irresistibly making great inroads in other rural areas countrywide," she
Speaking at rally attended by thousands of people at Hauna growth point in
Honde Valley to drum up support for Masaiti, the MDC national chairman,
Isaac Matongo, who was part of a high powered delegation that also included
the MP for Mufakose, Paurina Mpariwa, said " Now that there is no violence
the MDC supporters should speak much more loudly on March 31.
 Chiefs and headman should be impartial and not threaten there subjects with
punitive measures should they vote MDC."

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Election Watch

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-25

ZANU PF Manicaland Zanu PF held two campaign meetings on March 21 at the
following venues: Chitaboo Business Centre in Mutare South constituency
addressed by Filda Matanga, Zanu PF Manicaland Provincial member; Mt Selinda
High School in Chipinge North constituency addressed by Zanu PF candidate
for the constituency Morris Sakabuya.

Another rally was held at Chikobvore Primary School in Makoni West on March
It was addressed by the ruling party's candidate for the constituency Joseph
Made who urged the people to vote for Zanu PF in order to preserve their
sovereignty, as well as consolidate the gains of independence.
Made articulated the party's manifesto as well as outlining his own
programme of action for the constituency once elected into Parliament.

Matabeleland South
 The ruling party on March 21 held campaign meetings at the following areas:
Mdlambuzi Business Centre in Bulilima and Empandeni Mission in Mangwe
addressed by Vice President Joseph Msika; Pegama Primary School and Shangani
Mine in Insiza addressed by the party's candidate Andrew Langa; Gwandavale
and Silozwe Business Centres, and at Baru Farm in Matobo constituency
addressed by the party's candidate Ananias Nyathi; Sizeze Business centre
addressed by Abigirl Damasane, the party's candidate. On March 22 there were
two more rallies at Chasvingo Primary School in Beitbridge and at Pelandaba
Stadium in Gwanda addressed by President Robert Mugabe.
At Chasvingo Primary School, Lloyd Siyoka, the independent candidate for
Beitbridge announced his withdrawal from contesting the elections and
rejoined Zanu PF. President Mugabe urged the people at both rallies to vote
resoundingly for the ruling party to bury the MDC and its western handlers,
emphasising that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

President Mugabe
Zanu PF held two campaign meetings at Davies Hall in Makokoba constituency
on March 21, which was addressed by Sithembiso Nyoni, the party's candidate
for Bulawayo South.
Another meeting was held at Nkulumane and was addressed by Jabulani Sibanda,
the former Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association chairman. Sithembiso
Nyoni in her address outlined programmes she intends to embark on once
elected, amongst the development and equipping of schools as well as the
financing of the informal sector. She urged the people to vote for her.

The MDC held a campaign meeting on March 22 at Chemhanza Ground in Tafara/
Mabvuku addressed by Tonderai Ndira, the MDC Harare Provincial Security
Officer and Tungamirai Mozalani, the Chizhanje Ward Organising Secretary.
Mozala told Mabvuku MDC youths that on March 24 they are to gather at Tafara
Lucky Seven Shop to map out strategies for " a  door to door campaign." He
said that the MDC needed to flex its muscles and thoroughly beat Zanu PF.
Another meeting was held at Chaminuka grounds in Mbare constituency and was
addressed by Gift Chimanikire, the party's candidate for the constituency.

The MDC held three campaign meetings at the following areas: Nyanyadzi
Business Centre in Chimanimani constituency and at Nyatate Business Centre
in Nyanga constituency addressed by the opposition party's leader Morgan
Tsvangirai on March 20 and 21. Another meeting as held at Rusape Park open
Ground in Makoni East constituency on March 22 and was addressed by Pishai
Muchauraya, the party's candidate for the constituency. In his addresses
Tsvangirai promised that his government would repossess land that was
allocated to those from outside Chimanimani and Nyanga and reallocate it to
the local people. He urged the people to vote for the MDC - New Ziana
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Commuter omnibus drivers assaulted

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-25

Some commuter omnibus drivers plying the City-Tafara/Mabvuku route were on
Wednesday reportedly assaulted by alleged Zanu PF youths who are said to
have forced the drivers to wear Zanu PF T-shirts and paste campaign posters
on their vehicles.
According to one driver who spoke on condition of anonymity, the youths
numbering around twenty ambushed the drivers and conductors at one of the
main termini in Tafara."They came in the morning, just after the peak hour
when most of the kombis were parked and they started distributing Zanu PF
T-shirts, which they said we should put on.
They also pasted some campaign posters on the kombis and said we should not
remove them until after the elections. The youths assaulted two colleagues
who had queried their actions. We were all left dumbfounded by their
behaviour," the driver said, adding that the youths left some posters in
some of the omnibuses and instructed the drivers to distribute them to their
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the police had not received any
report of such an incident. The police have repeatedly said they would not
tolerate any violence whatsoever in the run-up to Thursday's parliamentary
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MDC MP released from custody

March 24, 2005, 16:15

By Antoinette Lazarus
The MP from Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who
was arrested while putting up party posters in Harare today, has been
released from custody.

Gertrude Stevenson and five MDC youths were arrested during peak hour
traffic this morning in the upmarket suburb of Borrowdale while putting up
election posters. They've paid an admission of guilt fine of 25 000 Zim
dollars each - R250.

Wayne Bvudzijena, Zimbabwe's national police spokesperson, says Stevenson
and the youths were obstructing the free flow of traffic. He said: "It's an
offence to obstruct the smooth of traffic for whatever reasons. The arrest
has been recorded as a traffic offence but it is also politically motivated
because it is related to electioneering."

Bvudzijna has stressed that police will arrest any other persons who commit
the same offence.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on March 31 to elect parliamentarians in the
election for the 120 contested seats in the 150-member parliament. Just
under 5.8 million Zimbabweans are eligible to vote this year.
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Yahoo News

      Thursday March 24, 01:12 PM

      Wily Mugabe frustrates S.Africa

      JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's fumbling bid to end Zimbabwe's
political crisis is unlikely to see better results after next week's
Zimbabwean parliamentary polls, political analysts say.

      Miscalculations and mistakes have marked South Africa's strategy
toward its northern neighbour, leaving President Thabo Mbeki facing an
election outcome that could extend rather than extinguish Zimbabwe's
political stand-off, they say.

      Mbeki is facing strident criticism at home for not using South
Africa's enormous economic muscle to rein in Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe, who is widely accused of misrule, vote rigging and repression of

      The money is now on Mugabe's ZANU-PF retaining control of parliament
with a likely two-thirds majority after the March 31 vote, not least because
of his constitutional right to appoint 30 members of the 150-seat assembly.

      That would give ZANU-PF the power to amend the constitution, possibly
placing legal curbs on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
which has emerged as the most formidable challenge to Mugabe's 25-year rule.

      Such a result could add to pressure on Mbeki, whose policy of "quiet
diplomacy" has so far won little more than cosmetic reforms from Mugabe,
according to regional analysts.

      ZANU-PF and South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC)
share a common history of successfully battling white minority rule and have
been viewed in Africa as the anointed rulers of their respective countries.

      Many in southern Africa have been moved by Mugabe's framing of the
Zimbabwe issue, notably his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution
to landless blacks, as part of social justice. Mugabe denies charges of
misrule and accuses Britain and the West of wanting him out because of his
land policies.

      "Mbeki has been careful not to antagonise those who sympathise with
Mugabe's rhetoric," said Chris Maroleng, analyst at Pretoria-based Institute
for Security Studies.

      John Stremlau, professor of international affairs at Johannesburg's
Witwatersrand University, said Mbeki did not have good options.

      "A dream scenario is a government of national unity that allows Mugabe
to retire in dignity," Stremlau said. "The problem is how do you go from
here to there? It requires going through elections, but can you have free
and fair elections?"

      The combative Mugabe has declared that this month's election would
"bury the MDC". He lampoons MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as a puppet of
former colonial ruler Britain, which has led a push for international
sanctions against Mugabe's government.

      Yet some close Mbeki aides are willing to bet that ZANU-PF and the MDC
would come together in a government of national unity -- as one said, "in a
couple of years".


      But Maroleng said Mbeki's hopes for a unity government have been
shattered by the elevation of ZANU-PF hardliners following the party's
congress last December.

      "South Africa's policy was largely informed by an attempt to reform
ZANU-PF from within," Maroleng said.

      Pretoria had concluded that Zimbabwe's military were very partisan in
favour of ZANU-PF and would block any change that brought the MDC to power,
he said.

      "South Africa felt there was a need to engage more forcefully with
ZANU-PF so that progressive elements within the party could dictate the
dialogue," Maroleng added.

      These calculations were built around moderate ZANU-PF parliamentary
speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, who until last December was regarded as a
possible successor to Mugabe.

      But the plan backfired after Mugabe learned that South Africa was
trying to identify sympathetic factions within ZANU-PF, analysts said.

      Mbeki's spokesman Bekhi Khumalo dismissed the alleged Mnangagwa link
as "a conspiracy theory". "What South Africa wants is a home-grown solution
by the Zimbabweans," he said.

      Be that as it may, Mnangagwa and his supporters were stripped of key
party positions after the December congress.

      They had banded together to oppose Mugabe's choice of veteran ZANU-PF
member Joyce Mujuru as second vice-president, placing her in a position to
succeed the 81-year-old president who has hinted at retiring after his
current term ends in 2008.

      A number of key ZANU-PF officials close to Mnangagwa have since been
jailed after a swift trial on charges of passing official secrets to a South
African spy.

      Should ZANU-PF win big in the coming polls as expected, Mujuru's
faction which includes hardliners from Mugabe's Zezuru clan of the dominant
Shona tribe will clearly be in the driving seat. They do not look likely to
brook any deal with the MDC.

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Freedom House

Contact: Michael Goldfarb
(212) 514-8040 x12


NEW YORK, March 24, 2005 -- Upcoming parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe
face the likelihood of being severely compromised as repression against the
country's political opposition increases steadily, Freedom House said today.

As the March 31 elections draw near, reliable reports have emerged about a
crackdown by the government of President Robert Mugabe and by members and
supporters of his ZANU-PF party. The restrictions are in direct violation of
many election protocols established by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

"As pressure mounts against Zimbabwe's already beleaguered democratic
opposition, it is imperative that the SADC member states clearly remind
Zimbabwe of its obligations in ensuring a fair and transparent electoral
process," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "South
Africa, as the region's largest and most influential democratic nation, must
play a leading role in this regard."

The SADC protocols Zimbabwe has violated include: full participation of
citizens in the political process; freedom of association; equal access to
state media for all political parties; judicial independence and
impartiality of electoral institutions; a conducive environment for free,
fair and peaceful elections; and existence of updated and accessible voter

Government authorities are reportedly withholding food aid from supporters
of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
ZANU-PF members are said to be carrying out violent attacks against known
MDC supporters. Voter rolls are also said to be rigged, and the government
has further tightened restrictions on independent media, including access to
media coverage by members of the political opposition.

"Using food aid as a political weapon is a particularly appalling tactic and
tantamount to a gross violation of human rights," said Ms.
Windsor. "We encourage the United Nations Commission on Human Rights,
currently in session in Geneva, to roundly censure the Mugabe regime for its
assault on human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe."

The Zimbabwean government has also barred several international observer
missions from entering the country to monitor the elections, ensuring a
virtual news blackout on March 31.

The elections come exactly two years after Zimbabwe's last parliamentary
vote, which was also characterized by a violent crackdown on MDC supporters.
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Comment from The Star (SA), 23 March

A not-so-subtle rigging job

Mugabe may, however, find that his schemes are not destined to work out

By Allister Sparks

With Zimbabwe's election only a week away, the Mugabe government's strategy
has become clear, writes Allister Sparks. It is to allow freer
electioneering than previously so as to give the few friendly observer teams
that have been allowed in a basis for pronouncing it legitimate - but at the
same time to rig the result in less visible ways to ensure a Zanu PF
victory. There is still widespread intimidation of opposition candidates and
voters; there is no equal access to the state-owned media which even refuse
to accept opposition advertisements for meetings; the main opposition
newspaper, the Daily News, remains closed even though an appeal court judge
has ruled that its licence application should have been granted a year ago;
Independent radio stations are being jammed and foreign observers and
correspondents have been barred from the country on a highly selective
basis - all of which violate SADC guidelines for free and fair elections.
But most election watchers, including the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change itself, acknowledge that the MDC has been able to campaign more
freely than at either the last parliamentary election in 2000 or the 2004
presidential election. The MDC is drawing thousands to its rallies, even in
Zanu PF strongholds. Candidates report a surge of support that exceeds
anything they have experienced before. By contrast, some Zanu PF rallies
have been cancelled because of poor turnout. Yet everyone expects Zanu PF to

The devil, as the old saying goes, is in the details. In this case the
details of a skewed constitutional provision, a profoundly flawed voters'
roll, the manipulation of food distribution in starving rural areas, and how
the count will be handled on election night. Under the outdated Lancaster
House constitution, voters will elect only 120 of the 150 parliamentary
seats. The president will appoint the other 30. That means the MDC must win
76 of the 120 elected seats, or a 63% landslide, to get a majority of one.
Conversely, Mugabe needs only 46 seats to win and 70 for a two-thirds
majority. Worse still, the voters' roll is hopelessly out of date. A sample
study by an independent group recently indicated that of Zimbabwe's
5,6-million registered voters 800 000 are dead, 300 000 are listed more than
once and more than 900 000 do not live at their recorded addresses. It takes
little imagination to realise how easy it will be for a ruling party, whose
police and troops will be the only electoral officers, to arrange for party
loyalists to vote in the names of those dead and missing voters - and for
300 000 of them to do so more than once.

The paucity of election observers means this kind of malpractice will go
largely unchecked. So will the count, which will take place through the
night in 6 000 polling stations, many in poorly lit rooms in remote rural
areas. And even if the MDC lodges complaints, these can be delayed
indefinitely. The MDC has still had no response to 26 challenges lodged
after the 2000 election. Finally, there is the matter of buying votes with
food. People are starving in large parts of rural Zimbabwe, and MDC
officials report that they are required to present Zanu PF membership cards
to get food. It is a clever plan and will doubtless succeed in giving Mugabe
the victory he so desperately wants, perhaps even the two-thirds majority he
needs to amend the constitution to safeguard himself against any attempt to
drag him before an international tribunal for crimes against humanity should
he lose his presidential immunity one day. Mugabe's plan, some Zimbabwean
analysts believe, is to amend the constitution to enable him to declare
himself a constitutional president and appoint a faithful underling as prime
minister to run the country day-to-day. The hope is that this will be seen
as his de facto retirement, opening the way for an international community
desperate for an end to the Zimbabwe impasse to return and help the country
back on its economic feet.

It is a hope I suspect President Mbeki shares, the ultimate objective of his
long strategy of "quiet diplomacy". But it could backfire. Machiavellian
schemes have a way of going awry. Its weakness is that it overlooks the
single most significant factor in Zimbabwe, which is mounting factional
conflict within the ruling party over the unresolved succession issue.
Whatever the outcome on March 31, Zimbabwe is likely to be more politically
unstable after the election than at any other time since Mugabe came to
power 25 years ago. The centrepiece of the looming conflict lies in a bitter
personal rivalry between Solomon Majuru, who commanded Mugabe's guerrilla
army and later the Zimbabwe Defence Force, and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the
Speaker of Parliament and once Mugabe's favoured son whom many (Mbeki
included) thought would be his anointed successor. Majuru, now retired but
still with enormous influence over the armed forces, appears to have used
that influence to force Mugabe's hand into blocking Mnangagwa. Mugabe got
the party's politburo to name Majuru's wife, Joyce Majuru, rather than
Mnangagwa, to fill a key vice-presidential vacancy at the party's national
congress in December.

When Mugabe's most capable propagandist and dirty-tricks specialist,
Jonathan Moyo, tried to outmanoeuvre the president by organising a secret
meeting of regional Zanu PF leaders in support of a Mnangagwa candidacy for
the key vice-presidential post, which if successful would have made him the
clear heir apparent, Mugabe found out about it and fired Moyo. Moyo is now
running as an independent candidate in his Matabeleland constituency, and is
talking of forming what he calls a south-south alliance between his Ndebele
people and Mnangagwa's Karangas, who together constitute 41% of the Zimbabwe
population. The Karanga people, the largest of the Shona sub-groups who
jointly dominate Zimbabwe politics, are collectively disgruntled. They have
been sidelined in favour of Mugabe's - and Majuru's - smaller Zezuru clan in
the allocation of key jobs. The president, the two-vice-presidents, the
minister of defence, chief of the defence force, chief of the army, chief of
the air force, the commissioner of police, the chief justice and the
judge-president are all Zezurus.

Six provincial chairmen who attended the meeting with Moyo have also been
suspended and struck from the list of candidates for the election. They
represent 60% of Zanu PF's provincial leadership and form a formidable
constituency of disgruntled figures with grassroots support whom Moyo will
doubtless try to mobilise behind Mnangagwa and his putative south-south
alliance. Finally, the notorious War Veterans Association, once the blunt
instrument of Mugabe's politics of intimidation who played a key role in the
previous two elections, are also disenchanted. Mugabe recently fired their
elected chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, after he complained that commercial
farms seized from whites were being given to Mugabe's cronies rather than to
war veterans as promised. They are nowhere to be seen in this campaign. All
this spells trouble for the ageing Mugabe and his geriatric and fractured
party which is devoid of intellectual capital and with no line of succession
in preparation for the old man's inevitable departure. The post-election
phase is where the real drama lies.

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Mugabe vows to 'demolish' spin doctor turned rival

Former information minister accused of coup plot

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Friday March 25, 2005
The Guardian

Robert Mugabe has accused his former information minister of plotting a
military coup against him.
The Zimbabwean president vowed to "demolish" Jonathan Moyo while campaigning
for his Zanu-PF party ahead of next week's parliamentary elections.

"He did a lot of terrible things," Mr Mugabe told 3,000 supporters at a
rally in Mr Moyo's hometown of Tsholotsho, the state newspaper, the Herald,
reported yesterday.

Earlier this month Mr Moyo drew a larger and more enthusiastic crowd in
support of his candidacy in the March 31 poll. The former information
minister was sacked from the ruling party for spearheading an internal
challenge to the president last December.

Article continues



Mr Mugabe said he and his vice-president, Joyce Mujuru, had met Mr Moyo last
The president told the rally: "We asked him why he went to meet [army
commander General Philip] Sibanda, whether he wanted to stage a coup in his
favour, and tears started flowing down his cheeks."

Mr Mugabe continued: "The whole machinery of the party will fall on you and
you will get demolished. You can never win against Zanu-PF."

As information minister, Mr Moyo was one of Mr Mugabe's most powerful
deputies, acting as his spin doctor, particularly in the war of words with
Britain. He drew up harsh media laws used to close four newspapers and
charge nearly 100 local and foreign journalists.

Now Mr Moyo is defying his former boss, the most visible sign of the bitter
rivalries within Zanu-PF, where ethnic divisions have come to the fore in
the succession struggle.

The 81-year-old president's claims of a coup plot mark a new low for Mr
Moyo, who was unavailable for comment yesterday. Mr Mugabe has often accused
rivals of treason, most recently the leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsholotsho is in the opposition heartland of Matabeleland, an area hostile
to Mr Mugabe since his bloody crackdown of a local rebellion in the 1980s.
Some 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland were killed by Mr Mugabe's North
Korean-trained troops, according to human rights reports.

The president has been struggling to raise support at rallies across the
country. Last week he admitted to a gathering of visibly hungry villagers
that the country was experiencing food shortages. He promised that his
government would provide food and would not let them down. The crowd
appeared unmoved.

He also conceded that only 44% of the land seized from white farmers was
being cultivated - one of the main reasons that Zimbabwe, once known as "the
breadbasket of southern Africa", has faced severe food shortages for the
past three years.

Ordinarily food shortages, in-fighting and lacklustre turnouts for rallies
would indicate a tough electoral battle for the incumbent party.

But Mr Mugabe's party is expected to take a two-thirds majority, thanks to a
grossly inflated voters roll and partisan administration of polling and
vote-counting, according to rights groups.

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News Advisory – 24th March 2005




There will be interview / picture opportunities on Saturday, 26th March when exiled Zimbabweans gather outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London to raise awareness ahead of the parliamentary elections on 31st March.  The gathering is arranged by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is contesting the elections against Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Party.  The MDC in the UK wants to draw attention to the failure of the Mugabe regime to allow free and fair elections and the disenfranchisement of half the electorate who have fled the country.


Among the invited speakers is Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for International Development.


Time: 1 – 3 pm (followed by the regular Zimbabwe Vigil until 6 pm)




Washington Ali, Chair, MDC UK District   07786 646 071

Wiz Bishop       07963 521 160

Rose Benton     07970 996 003

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.
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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele Press Release: Attacks on Zimbabwean Churches
24 March 2005


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.

---------- ### ----------

About Sokwanele:

Sokwanele - Zvakwana - Enough is Enough is a peoples' movement, embracing supporters of all pro-democratic political parties, civic organizations and institutions.

Sokwanele - Zvakwana - Enough is Enough will never aspire to political office.

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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UK firm agrees to sell 'torture tools' to Zimbabwe

Rob Evans
Friday March 25, 2005
The Guardian

A London businessman has been accused of engaging in a deal to sell 20,000
stun batons to Zimbabwe in breach of arms control legislation.
In a sting operation, Mark Thomas, the comedian and columnist for the New
Statesman magazine, posed as a fictitious customer to set up the deal with
Tony Lee, a director of TLT International.

The case has been passed to Customs.

Mr Lee said he was not aware of the legislation. "I have not made any single
transaction or any penny from it. If I knew the relevant rules, I would not
have tried at all."

Article continues



Stun batons are criticised by Amnesty International as the "universal tool
of the torturer". The organisation says they cause extreme pain and leave no
marks on the victim.
Kate Allen, Amnesty's UK director, called for an investigation. In a report
last week, the group said there had been widespread and increasing
violations of human rights in Zimbabwe, including government-sponsored
intimidation, arbitrary arrest and torture.

Since 2002, companies in Britain and the rest of the EU have been banned
from selling to Zimbabwe weapons and equipment which could be used for

Last year, Mr Thomas noticed that TLT International, based in Brockley,
south London, was advertising stun batons and stun guns online.

Posing as arms buyers, he and a colleague contacted TLT, asking for a quote
for 500 stun batons. Three days later, Mr Lee agreed to provide the batons
for £15.50 each. When Mr Thomas told Mr Lee the batons were going to
Zimbabwe, Mr Lee replied that this was "no problem".

Mr Thomas said the batons were needed by the Zimbabwean security forces to
control subversives during elections.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the batons would be made in South
Korea and sent to Zimbabwe without touching British soil. Last May, the
government banned so-called brokering in which UK-based agents arrange the
sale of military equipment from one country to another.

At one point in the sting, Mr Lee wrote that the batons were "quality".
Later he said: "The stun baton do not need much persuasions and explanation,
it speaks by itself. Once your clients buy it, they would love it." Later he
entered into negotiations to increase the order to 20,000 batons.

When Mr Thomas revealed the sting, Mr Lee said: "I was truly not aware of
any legislation or licensing on these products. Please forgive me my
ignorance on this."

Mr Lee told the Guardian he did not want to discuss the matter further: "I
was set up; I am an innocent man."

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Mugabe pulling apron strings
24/03/2005 20:34  - (SA)  

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe wears a women's scarf during campaigning for the March 31 elections. (AP Photo)

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.

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New Zimbabwe

Time may be ripe for a third force

By Geoff Nyarota
Last updated: 03/25/2005 01:29:22
THE proposal last week by the publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent for the
emergence of a third political force in Zimbabwe made interesting reading.
This is, however, not the first time Trevor Ncube has articulated this

So that he does not remain a voice in the wilderness, while his enunciation
of this noble idea is reduced to an annual ritual, I rise in Ncube's

Before doing so, however, I wish to express a view contrary to his
suggestion that President Robert Mugabe has become the only Zimbabwean
capable of solving the many serious problems that he has personally created
since attainment of our Independence 25 years ago.

Notwithstanding Mugabe's sustained effort to build this aura of
indispensability around his own persona, I believe other Zimbabweans can
successfully implement programmes of meaningful change and take our country
to great heights of development, peace and prosperity. Mugabe cannot rule

For Mugabe to rescue Zimbabwe from its current doldrums certain conditions
must prevail. The president must raise the threshold of his political
tolerance and refocus his vision from the liberation struggle to
post-Independence national development. Zimbabwe would stand to benefit if
he regarded himself as more an elected president and less a hereditary
monarch, meanwhile reducing his level of the xenophobia that has turned our
country into a pariah state. But if his party can no longer put together an
election manifesto, as Ncube points out, it is unlikely that Mugabe can
formulate the required national rescue plan.

To entrench himself in power, Mugabe has exploited the absence of certain
fundamental political ingredients which any serious alternative leadership
would need to address or initiate as a prerequisite for any meaningful
programme of revolutionary change.

Mugabe's track record as an effective leader of the armed struggle is
entirely without blemish. The economic and political performance of Zimbabwe
going back to Independence has, however, cast serious aspersions on his

Likewise it may well turn out that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's courage in openly challenging Mugabe and seeking
to wrest the presidency from him through a process of democratic change was
his only great asset.

Instead of exhibiting the dynamism and vibrancy of a young and progressive
party, the MDC has become moribund. Apart from the founding fathers and
mothers it has not attracted any new blood or talent, apart from Shakespeare
Maya of NAAG, whose arrival added little value to the MDC.

It is the premise of Ncube's proposal that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai lack
the visionary attributes to lead Zimbabwe into a future of sustained
development and prosperity. However, what has kept Mugabe in power and
Tsvangirai out of it has little to do with their own intrinsic
qualifications for the job of president and qualities as politicians.
Circumstances have played a considerable role.

While Zanu PF has never been weaker as it enters next week's fray, it is
likely to emerge victorious. The forces campaigning against Mugabe's
dictatorship lack cohesion and unity of purpose.

Even the MDC has ceased to be a homogenous organisation. Zimbabwe's
opposition movement has no shortage of supporters, well-wishers, strategists
and indigenous financial backers. However, the greater majority, fearful of
the negative ramifications of public association with the opposition, prefer
to remain closet advisors, dispensing advice by phone or e-mail.

The proposed third force would, first and foremost, seek to overcome this
deep-seated fear of Zanu PF.

The legendary political apathy of Zimbabwe's middle class and the burgeoning
class of the super-rich is yet another obstacle. The working class has
exclusively sustained Zimbabwe's post-Independence campaign for real

It is the people of Mbare, Mpopoma and Chitungwiza who buy the membership
cards of the opposition political parties. They attend the political
rallies, join the protest marches and, more importantly, turn out in large
numbers to cast their ballot. It is they who endure the hardship of tyranny
and economic ruin.

The Welshman Ncubes and the Tendai Bitis of Zimbabwe's opposition politics
can be counted on the fingers of one hand. For any third force to take root,
the privileged citizens living in the leafier sections of suburbia need to
emerge from their cocoon of political complacency, wherein they engage in
endless political discourse. Favourite subjects until South African
President Thabo Mbeki showed his true colours recently included why he was
taking so long to deliver salvation to Zimbabwe.

But perhaps, the greatest challenge that such a new movement would confront
is that of ethnic polarisation, which the majority of citizens pretend does
not exist when an abundance of evidence exists. Before any new revolution
can take off, it is essential that all citizens recognise that they are
Zimbabweans primarily and Ndebele or Shona last.

The legacy of violence and intolerance bequeathed to Zimbabwe by Zanu PF and
PF Zapu going back to the 1960s cannot be allowed to take permanent root in
our national political psyche.

Ethnically inspired political polarisation was the driving force behind the
brutal massacre of 20 000 innocent Ndebele tribesmen two decades later.
Today sections of the Zimbabwean political community cite Gukurahundi while
pursuing an ethnically divisive agenda that would easily torpedo the
prospects of any third political force achieving meaningful success.

Radical Ndebele opinion associates all Shona speakers with support for
Gukurahundi. This, of course, is absolute nonsense. It is equally absurd to
link all white Zimbabweans with the murderous military raids launched by the
Rhodesian security forces on guerilla training and refugee camps in
Mozambique and Zambia. To castigate modern Ndebeles with the predatory raids
mounted on Mashonaland by their ancestors more than 100 years ago is even
more illogical.

If the people of Zimbabwe were united in the fight against tyranny their
task would be easier. Expending their energy and resources in the senseless
pursuit of retrogressive agendas strengthens the hand of the tyrants.

Jonathan Moyo, the mercurial former Information minister whose credentials
and qualities would contribute to national development if properly utilised
or harnessed, serves as a perfect example. He recently invoked the ethnic
spectre of Gukurahundi in his haste to launch himself as an independent

After he spent five years building and lining his own nest through close
proximity to Mugabe, once ejected from Zanu PF Moyo suddenly remembered that
his own father was massacred by the 5 Brigade. Those in whose ears such
sentiments are music have rallied around him in their thousands following
this opportunistic disclosure.

One does not need to be a rocket scientist, however, to perceive that for
Moyo, the long-term agenda is the renaissance of Zapu, with himself as the
successor to Dr Joshua Nkomo. But such an initiative, steeped in the
politics of the past as it would be, may potentially be ethnically divisive.
It possibly will not resonate well with the rest of a nation seeking to
redefine its vision of the future.

Any future leadership cannot take over until they accept that Zimbabwe is a
country for all its citizens. This is where Zanu PF has failed.

If the three top commanders of the Zimbabwe National Army hail from
Tsholotsho and they are the best military brains in the country then, by all
means, let them run the army. Likewise, if the entire teaching staff of
Magwegwe Secondary School in Bulawayo comprises members of the Manyika
tribe, let them teach the future leaders of Zimbabwe, as long as they are
qualified, competent and, above all, can speak fluent Ndebele.

Essentially, before any third force takes root, Zimbabweans need to
appreciate that it is they who will spearhead any process of change, not the
South Africans, the Nigerians, the British or the Americans. There is much
else that the international community can do to assist Zimbabwe to achieve
prosperity, especially in the area of investment.

The role of the white community must also be addressed. They must sincerely
join hands with their compatriots. They cannot continue to live in two
worlds. They stand to benefit from the new revolution and must, like true
patriots, contribute to the new programme of national development.

But they should desist from expecting that they will continue to play a
primary role in the frontline, determining the pace and direction of the
revolution. One of the causes of the decline in the appeal of the MDC was
its obsession with setting a quota for white people in its affairs, thus
playing right into the hands even of pseudo-revolutionaries.

Despite being democratic and non-racial, many people on the African
continent remain suspicious of the role of their former oppressors in
seeking to spearhead the new war against oppression. This is the trump card
that Mugabe exploits successfully.
Geoff Nyarota is the founding editor-in-chief of the Daily News. He can be
contacted at

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      TVs blare as Zimbabwe campaign hits airwaves

      Thu March 24, 2005 12:42 PM GMT+02:00
      By MacDonald Dzirutwe

      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's political parties have again drawn
election battle lines, only this time they are fighting it out with loud,
colourful TV adverts with the opposition allowed on state airwaves for the
first time.

      President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has long dominated the
state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), the country's sole
radio and TV broadcaster, which the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said was one of many factors weighing against it in the polls.

      But new electoral guidelines adopted last year by the Southern African
Development Community, to which Zimbabwe belongs, said all parties should
have equal access to state media, paving the way for MDC broadcasts even
though the party says Zimbabwe has fallen short of fully meeting the

      As the fight for votes heats up, Mugabe's ZANU-PF has packaged catchy
and colourful jingles denouncing former colonial power Britain and the MDC,
while celebrating its seizure of white-owned farms for landless black

      ZANU-PF has flavoured its messages by showing bare-footed and
bum-wriggling women and youths as if calling voters to join in celebrating
the controversial land reforms.

      In one advert, ZANU-PF mocks British Prime Minister Tony Blair's
involvement in the Iraq war and his "admission" that his government was
working with, among others, the MDC in trying to resolve Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis.

      In the background a female voice sings softly: "Sell-outs you have no
chance, lets all go and vote and shame Blair and his sell-outs."

      Mugabe, who has dubbed this year's polls "anti-Blair elections"
accuses the MDC of fronting Western interests and has vowed ZANU-PF will
deliver a victory that will bury the MDC and shame critics of his
25-year-old rule.


      But the MDC has entered the fray with its own package, spicing up the
TV campaign contest and giving something to look forward to, for voters long
bombarded by ZANU-PF adverts.

      In its package, played out in the two main local languages, Shona and
Ndebele, and English, the MDC's message for a "new beginning" for Zimbabwe
is cranked up with colourful scenes accompanied by a thumping musical beat.

      A huge chunk of roasted meat on a plate and fields with healthy green
crops are some of the images screened by the opposition to show voters what
they may hope for under the MDC.

      The party, the biggest threat to Mugabe's 25-year-old rule, took most
urban seats in 2000 parliamentary polls, but lost in ZANU-PF rural
strongholds -- where televisions are rare.

      Critics say Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, has turned ZBC into a private mouthpiece to attack those
opposing his rule.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi said ZANU-PF still retained a tight
grip on state media and said the government deserved no praise for allowing
the opposition airtime on television.

      "The government should not be rewarded for something that it should
have done long ago. In fact they should open up the airwaves to more
players," Themba-Nyathi said.

      Zimbabwe enacted tough media laws three years ago as Mugabe faced
increased opposition in the face of severe political and economic crises
that critics blame on government mismanagement.

      Mugabe blames a Western-backed conspiracy for the problems.

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