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The Scotsman
Friday 25 March

Polls show Zimbabwean opposition is gaining strength


LATEST opinion polls from Zimbabwe show President Robert Mugabe's ruling
party as only slightly in the lead with less than a week remaining before
the country goes to the polls.

Some 40 per cent of Zimbabweans questioned say they intend voting for Mr
Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front

Another 34 per cent will choose the main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in next Thursday's parliamentary elections, a survey
of 7,000 voters carried out by Joseph Kurebwa, a University of Zimbabwe
political lecturer, showed.

The study contradicts predictions of a landslide victory for ZANU-PF and
suggests that the MDC, led by the former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai,
may yet be able to overcome months of intimidation to retain many of its
parliamentary seats. Parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe in 2000 were won by
ZANU-PF by only a small margin. Mr Mugabe's party took 62 seats against 57
for the MDC.
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How to Rig an Election in front of the Watching World.

I am sure that many have asked this question. We talk so glibly about
"rigging" an election and about electoral fraud (often the same thing - but
not always) and I thought that to assist those who (a) want to understand
the term and (b) those who want to learn from Zanu PF experience, it might
be useful to explain how it is done.

First you have to hold an election - this is important, if for no other
reason than as a backdrop. Then you have to work out how to get the result
you want to secure. Deciding how many seats you need to hold after the
election will determine just how much you have to do to get there.

The Zanu PF objective this time round was quite simple - they are holding an
election - three months early to demonstrate their enthusiasm for democracy,
they want a two thirds majority - that is 101 seats in a 150 seat
Parliament. This means that with 30 seats appointed by the President
(Mugabe) they need to win 71 seats at the very least. That is half the seats
in Parliament but 63 per cent of the seats being contested (120 seats). To
do this they have to limit the MDC and others to winning only 44 seats.

When they planned this whole scam more than a year ago, they had assumed the
MDC would not have the capacity to fight more than 80 seats - so they
assumed in their early scenarios that they would have 70 seats in the bag
before they fired a shot - the 30 appointed seats plus the 40 uncontested
seats which they would win by default.

So they needed to win only 31 seats in open contest to secure their
two-thirds majority. Why two thirds? Because during the life of the next
Parliament they want to change the constitution so that Mugabe can appoint a
successor and do other things to entrench the effective "one party state"
that has been a Zanu PF goal from day one.

They then decided to ease up a bit on the conditions for the election
itself - vote in one-day, translucent boxes, no mobiles and visible ink. In
addition they planned to allow more press freedom and to permit the Daily
News back on the streets 5 weeks ahead of the election. All cosmetic changes
but designed to strengthen the impression that Zanu was trying to reform its

This liberal approach was possible because they were supremely confident
that they could control the election outcome. So confident that in August
2004 the Politburo discussed how many seats to allow the MDC to win - 15 or
20 seats, was the debate.

Now comes the hard part. To win they have to be able to either control how
people vote or to stuff false ballot papers in the ballot boxes before
counting takes place. In 2002 they had a rather crude mechanism - asses the
way things were going on Saturday night then order the required number of
false ballots to be flown to remote polling stations where they were then
introduced to the count. By our estimates this involved 800 000 ballots in
an election which involved 2,4 million voters. In addition they were forced
to actually stop people voting in the main cities for fear that even this
massive number of ballots would not be enough to overcome the MDC majority.

This time round it is a Parliamentary election so they have to win seats -
not simply a national majority. So they started early - first rule -
manipulate the delimitation exercise.

We have over 60 per cent of our population living in the Cities; in fact the
rural population is declining fast due to high rates of mortality and
emigration. So we reduce the number of urban seats to 33 per cent of the
total and increase the rural seats to two thirds. Then we take some of the
urban seats and include some rural areas into them - especially areas that
have been resettled by people who are dependent on Zanu PF patronage to hold
onto their land or occupation rights. It is assumed that Zanu can "control"
these votes.

The second rule - "fix" the voters roll. Not difficult where a civil servant
who openly says he is Mugabe's man, controls the whole thing. So you link
the Zanu PF membership files to the voters roll resulting in any Zanu PF
stalwarts becoming registered voters automatically. Then you concentrate the
whole effort to enlist new voters on the populations you think you can
control - rural peasants, resettlement farmers, gold panners and informal
traders. People with no independence from the succor and support of the Zanu
PF State. Then you deny all those you know are pro MDC as far as is
possible - all migrants, whites, urban workers. On any pretext - your mother
was Malawian? You are taken off the roll.

Allow a build up of the dead and displaced on the roll so that you have
plenty of room for the number of false ballots you want to use. It
embarrassed Zanu PF when in 2002 there were more votes cast in some Zanu
strongholds than there were registered voters - a bit obvious! So we now
have a voters roll with over 40 per cent dead and displaced people on it -
people who will certainly not be able to vote in person and therefore can
"vote in absentia".

Once you have done all this preparatory work, then all that remains is to
fix the vote on the day. Threats and intimidation may not be enough so they
have to bring in their third rule and plan for the introduction of thousands
of false ballots to the count.

This time they have done the following - they have forced all the members of
the armed forces to vote under supervision. This gives them 120 000 votes
which they can then direct to the constituencies they target. Then they
print up to 2 million ballot papers for the use of the team that is
controlling the voting. They have doubled the number of polling stations to
8300 and concentrated these in rural constituencies where they have three
times the number of polling stations that are located in the urban

They then arrange for each of these polling stations to have
communications - very important. So the PTC has installed telephones in all
stations where a service is possible and where this is not possible, Police
and Military radios are being provided. Then they put the military in charge
of these polling stations and change the Electoral Act to make this legal.
Now they can monitor the way voting is going across the country hour by
hour. They can prelocate false ballots in target areas and at targeted
polling stations. During the day or even later, they can then give
instruction to the people in charge as to how many ballots are to be used.
To be credible there must not be any serious distortions and the total
number of votes cast must not exceed to number of registered voters.

To achieve this the MDC and other parties must be unable to cover all
polling stations and to this end they have made it very difficult to
supervise the count and limited international observers to a handful who
will unable to observe more than a small fraction of the polling stations.

Now you are ready for a "democratic election" in Zimbabwe. This time round
their plans have gone awry in many respects - MDC is fighting all 120 seats,
we have put tens of thousands of Election Agents into the field and we are
trying to overcome the communications shortfall. Even with all these
elaborate preparations they might still come unstuck. I am sure they are
doomed to again be denied their two thirds and it is just possible that they
will be swamped by a tide of popular anger and revolt. They know this and
that is why they have tightened up on planned liberalization of the
process - no Daily News and jamming SW Radio are just two examples.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 24th March 2005

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Zim Online

Senior police officers lean on subordinates to vote ZANU PF
Sat 26 March 200
      BULAWAYO - Junior police officers in the opposition-supporting
Matabeleland region, who voted last week by postal ballot, were ordered to
sing the national anthem first before voting and to place their ballot
papers in envelops written their names.

      Hundreds of police officers interviewed by ZimOnline told of how they
were called out to station parade squares and addressed by senior commanders
who reminded them that they should vote to defend Zimbabwe's sovereignty and
that they should not sell away the gains of independence back to British
Premier, Tony Blair.

      "Even the ballots themselves were enclosed in envelops bearing the
voter's name and we were told to return them in those envelops after
 voting," said a policeman based in Hwange district, who did not want to be
named for fear of victimisation.

      The policeman added, "the whole thing was clearly meant to sway the
votes to the ruling party because our commanders support the ruling party,
since they are mostly former freedom fighters themselves."

      As senior police commanders openly attempted to nudge their juniors to
vote for ZANU PF several officials could be seen milling around police
stations where voting was taking place, some of the junior officers said.

      President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party, who accuse Britain of
sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy to punish Harare for seizure white farmland,
have dubbed their campaign for the March 31 ballot the: "Anti-Blair

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena dismissed as rubbish claims that
senior police officers tried to influence their subordinates to vote for
ZANU PF. He said, "that is rubbish. You people are lying, our senior
officers cannot stoop that low."

      Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) George Chiweshe, entrusted with
ensuring a free and fair poll next Thursday, defended the decision to allow
police officers to vote at their police stations and ahead of the actual
polling date saying it was meant to enable the officers posted away from
their constituencies an opportunity to vote.

      But Chiweshe, a former senior army officer, would not speak on the
alleged attempt by senior police officers to influence their juniors' vote.

      "This (postal ballot) is meant to accord them their voting rights just
like any other citizens of this country who registered to vote. The voting
is conducted in the presence of trusted witnesses. I cannot comment further
than that."

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has
already raised concern that it was not informed or where its polling agents
invited when police officers were voting, said it will apply to court to
have postal ballots blocked because of various and serious flaws in how
postal voting was conducted.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said: "We knew that was always going
to happen. We are definitely going to challenge that. Those postal ballots
should not be accepted because not all political parties were represented
there to see to it that the system is fair. We have already head about the
flawed system and we will definitely act on that."

      The police have in the past been accused of being sympathetic to ZANU
PF and of applying the law selectively to victimize the MDC. For example the
police have cancelled several MDC campaign rallies although no rally by ZANU
PF has ever been cancelled.

      The African Commission on Human and People's Rights in a report
released earlier this year also accused Zimbabwe's police of being partisan
in favour of Mugabe and ZANU PF.

      Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, a self-declared ZANU PF
supporter, denies charges that the law enforcement agency is biased against
the opposition. ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

Government board projects drop in tobacco output.
Sat 26 March 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has
revised downwards tobacco output this year by 50 million kg blaming the drop
on seed and inputs shortages.

      The state-run board had projected strong recovery in the mainstay
tobacco sector with production earmarked to rebound from a paltry 64 million
kg in 2004 to 160 million kg of export leaf this year.

      In its crop assessment report released this week the board said
production this year was now expected to be around 110 million kg.

      It said the drop in projected output was because of, "constraints
experienced in accessing ideal tobacco seedlings as well as timely
availability of other tobacco inputs such as fertilisers and crop protection

      The board said farmers were also facing difficulties in accessing
labour to reap the early planted crop and coal for curing.

      Tobacco is Zimbabwe's biggest single foreign currency earner but
production has rapidly declined in the past five years after President
Robert Mugabe seized land from white farmers, who produced the bulk of the

      Black peasant farmers resettled on former white-owned farms lack the
skill and financial resources required to maintain production.

      Tobacco exports last year earned US$190 million for Zimbabwe compared
to US$400 million realised from the crop in 1999/2000 season just before
disturbances on farms began affecting production. -- ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

State media hangman gets rewarded
Sat 26 March 2005
  HARARE - The government has spent more than Z$1 billion on a luxury
vehicle for the chairman of its Media and Information Commission (MIC),
Tafataona Mahoso.

      Mahoso, who has shut down four newspapers and ordered the arrest of
hundreds of journalists perceived as too critical of the government, took
delivery of a sport utility Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle imported from South
Africa at a cost of about 430 000 South African rands.

      One rand is trading at between Z$2 400 and $2 600 on the unofficial
parallel market where private businesses and government departments source
most of their hard cash. Using the parallel market rates the cost of Mahoso's
vehicle would be about Z$1 billion, which is enough to feed about 1000 poor
families in Zimbabwe for a month.

      Officials at the MIC said Mahoso was now demanding that then car be
fitted with bullet proof windows as a security precaution.

      "He (Mahoso) sees himself as a target for assassination. He is
paranoid about his security," said one official, who did not want to be
named for fear of victmisation.

      "He complained that a Nissan truck allocated to him earlier was not
secure enough since his job entailed making a lot of influential enemies
within and outside Zimbabwe," the official added.

      Mahoso refused to discuss the matter when reached for comment
yesterday. "Now you are on to my car. What next. Rubbish," Mahoso said
before switching off the phone. -- ZimOnline.

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      Zimbabwe Opposition Supporters Say They Are Not Allowed to Buy Food
      By  Peta Thornycroft
      25 March 2005

Some rural supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC, say they are not allowed to buy grain from the only
legal grain trader, because they are not members of President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

Last year, Zimbabwe's government said it no longer needed international food
aid. Human rights groups expressed concern that continuing food shortages in
the country could be exploited by authorities ahead of the country's March
31 elections, since grain is distributed exclusively through a government

The Matabeleland area is one of the regions of Zimbabwe where, human rights
groups say, food insecurity is chronic. Pensioners living in two villages in
the area southwest of Harare, say the ruling ZANU-PF Party has denied them
food because they support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

These villagers say tribal leaders in their areas have taken the names of
registered voters and threatened that their families will never get food
again, if they vote for the opposition in the parliamentary elections.

The ZANU-PF candidate for the area, Andrew Langa, denies food distribution
is based on politics.  He says everyone's vote is secret, and no tribal
leaders are monitoring how people would vote during the general election
next Thursday.

Jeslia Sibanda, who is 69 and disabled, says she was turned away from buying
food last Sunday by ruling ZANU-PF officials.

"Food is there, but it is the hands of ZANU-PF," she said.  "I, for one, I
am a known MDC supporter, and I have tried to force myself under difficult
circumstances to get to the venue or the selling point, but once there, you
are told point blank that the food is not meant for MDC supporters, but for

Zimbabwe's grain marketing board is the only legal cereal trader, and the
government subsidizes the price of the staple food, maize.  People are
increasingly hungry, since Mr. Mugabe told international donors last year
that Zimbabwe did not need food aid. Ms. Sibanda says she relied on that

"We were used to be assisted through the World Food Program, but,
unfortunately, since it stopped, we only saw food from one source, and that
was from the of hands ZANU-PF," she explained.

Million Ndlovu, 62, lives in a different village in the same Insiza voting
district.  He says he paid upfront for maize from the government, but was
not given the maize. He says that's because he is a known opposition

"In our area, we have a maize committee, which called us to the selling
point to say, come and collect your maize, since you already paid," he
recalled. "On our arrival there, we found that, on top of the heap of maize,
was the district chairman of ZANU-PF, Mr. Simon Madongo, sitting on top of
the heap, and he declared that the maize was going to be distributed to
ZANU-PF members only, not to any of the MDC supporters."

Before a special election in late 2002, the World Food Program shut down its
food store in Insiza, after several tons of food were stolen, allegedly by
ZANU-PF supporters, who distributed the food to voters ahead of polling day.

Reports have been coming in for several months that food is again being used
as a political weapon in areas where there are few crops. Amnesty
International says it recently interviewed people in Matabeleland and two
other regions, and found that opposition supporters had difficulty accessing

USAID and the World Food Program fed up to 5.5 million people, or nearly
half the population, until Mr. Mugabe told them to stop last year.  The
final deliveries of food were made in December.

Agricultural analysts say only enough maize was planted this year to feed
about a quarter of the population, and much of that has wilted because of
poor rainfall.

The World Food Program says more than 40 percent of Zimbabwe's population of
approximately 12 million is undernourished.
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Zimbabwe police discourage election road shows

March 25, 2005, 15:45

By Antoinette Lazarus
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has discouraged election candidates from
conducting car rallies or road shows in the run up to the March 31 election.
The Police Elections Committee says this type of electioneering could lead
to public disorder.

The wearing of party regalia or campaigning is also prohibited within a 200m
radius of polling stations on voting day. Wayne Bvudzijena, the ZRP
assistant police commissioner, says anyone displaying party regalia will not
be allowed anywhere close to a voting station. They will have to go back
home and change. Previously, the distance was a 100m radius.

About 33 000 Zimbabwean police officers are to be deployed to polling
stations across the country. Bvudzijena says: "The country's 8 235 voting
stations will be sufficiently policed to ensure the safety of voters on
election day". The deployment of the police officers begins this weekend.
"They are determined to ensure that peace, safety and security continues to
prevail in the run up to elections, during and after," says Bvudzijena.

Four police officers will be stationed at each voting station. Police have
also warned voters that it is a serious offence to vote twice.
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Zimbabwe police deployed ahead of polls
Fri Mar 25, 2005 11:54 AM GMT

By Lucia Mutikani

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has started to deploy police to try to ensure
peaceful parliamentary elections which President Robert Mugabe hopes will
help break international criticism of his government.

A poll free of violence and intimidation is crucial for Mugabe, fighting
five years of international isolation amid charges he rigged the last major
parliamentary vote and his own re-election as president in 2002.

Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) concedes
that political violence has dropped this year ahead of the March 31 polls.

But it says Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has nevertheless seized an unfair
advantage, using strict security and media laws to hobble opposition
campaigning and tilt the electoral landscape in its favour.

ZANU-PF has so far held 1,537 rallies, while the MDC has had 763, according
to police documents.

Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said officers were deployed
around the country to prevent any repeat of the widespread violence that
marked Zimbabwe's last two elections, most of which was blamed on ZANU-PF

"We will have sufficient officers at all polling stations to ensure safety
and peace for the voters. We want to assure voters that they will be able to
vote in peace without fear of being harassed," Bvudzijena told Reuters.

Police have banned the carrying of knives, traditional weapons and sticks.

Mugabe has made the elimination of violence a top priority ahead of next
Thursday's parliamentary vote, hoping smooth polling will torpedo criticism
that the election does not meet regional standards for fairness.


But analysts argue that perpetrators of violence are unlikely to be at
polling stations where international observers will be present, saying
intimidation is far more likely to occur within communities far from
watchful eyes.

"The absence of violence does not mean peace. If your neighbour has a
vicious dog and puts it on a leash when he invites you for tea, but reminds
you about it, that doesn't mean there is peace," said Brian Kagoro of rights
group Crisis Zimbabwe.

The MDC has in the past days described incidents of violence and
intimidation against its members ranging from assaults to eviction threats.

The government has said the MDC allegations are wrong, and in turn has
accused opposition supporters of provoking violence.

Bvudzijena told a media briefing on Friday that 301 supporters of both
ZANU-PF and the MDC had been arrested since January for politically
motivated crimes.

He said of the 13 cases reported between March 22-24, ZANU-PF supporters
were blamed for seven and MDC for six.

This week political activist Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional
Assembly was summoned by police and ordered to produce evidence to back
charges in a report which implicated security forces in pre-election abuses.

Kagoro said the action against Madhuku -- who by Friday had not produced the
required documentation -- showed that ZANU-PF was determined to keep firm
control over the election process.

"I don't think that the police is necessarily there to keep the peace," he
said. "Who are they keeping peaceful? The international community is not
foolish. They will not buy it."

The European Union and the United States have put sanctions on Mugabe's
government on charges of previous election rigging. But African leaders have
generally stood by Mugabe.

ZANU-PF is widely expected to win Thursday's parliamentary poll, despite the
southern African country's a deep economic crisis which has seen widespread
food shortages in recent years.

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Mail and Guardian

      Mugabe picks new target

      Godwin Gandu | Harare

      25 March 2005 09:59

            Jostling for votes on opposition turf in Beit Bridge and Gwanda
with less than a few days to go before the March 31 poll, Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe has continued to drum up his anti-Blair rhetoric.
But on this leg of his campaign blitz, he added another "imperialist" target
to his list: the Oppenheimer family.

            Mugabe, whose campaign motto during the 2002 presidential race
was "land is the economy, the economy is land", took a swipe at mining
magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, whom he described as selfish.

            "He has about 135 000ha of land at his ranch in this province,"
Mugabe said. "We only asked for half of that, but he says it's too much and
he instead offered much less."

            Mugabe told his supporters that the De Beers boss had reminded
him of when his grandfather fled the German holocaust and sought a piece of
land where he could rest. "He said his family was sentimentally attached to
the property.

            "When he told me this he wasn't wearing an Anglo or De Beers
hat, but a family hat."

            According to Mugabe, he reminded Oppenheimer that he had
inherited the property from his grandfather "but I inherited nothing from my

            The issue of access to land
            has been at the periphery of the 2005 election campaign.

            Mugabe, albeit belatedly, is increasingly realising the danger
of not feeding his own people.

            Mugabe was bombarded with complaints of hunger in Gwanda, about
500km south of the capital Harare. Even usually pliant local chiefs spoke
out about hunger stalking the countryside.

            "Nobody is going to die of hunger," Mugabe told 5000 party
supporters that included about 1000 school children.

            "We are likely to have drought if the rains don't fall," Mugabe
said, but assured the party faithful that his country would import food to
make sure "nobody starved".

            This about-turn comes barely eight months after telling Sky News
that Zimbabwe was going to have a bumper harvest. The 81-year-old leader has
led the Zanu-PF election roadshow from the front. His efforts to sway voters
got a boost on Tuesday when independent candidate Lloyd Siyoka withdrew from
the election race. Siyoka, the former Matabeleland South provincial
chairperson of Zanu-PF, was suspended after attending the controversial
Tsholotsho meeting last year. He became the second independent to bow out
and publicly declare support for ruling party candidates.

            Mugabe warned that the Zanu-PF leadership would not tolerate
"indiscipline" within the party. He said Siyoka and five other party
provincial chairpersons were suspended for being part of the plot to subvert
Politburo guidance.

            Zanu-PF's election drive has been hamstrung by in-fighting. It
is nevertheless expected to be triumphant at the polls.

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From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 25 March

My salary has been sun-baked like the land

Godwin Gandu

I am a very bitter man. I need peace but can't seem to find it. I fought
hard during the colonial era against Ian Smith because I wanted to live a
comfortable life. We won the struggle, but now, two decades later, my
choices are limited. I was born 66 years ago and have lived in Harare's Glen
View township area in 8th Crescent all my life. I wake up five days a week
around 3.30am to start work at 4am. It has to be early because I work at a
bakery and have deliveries to make. It's a 12-hour shift but my salary is
nothing to write home about. I can't buy anything with my monthly salary of
Z$1,2-million (about R1 000). Groceries cost me an average of Z$800 000 a
month (about R800), rates Z$60 000 (about R60), electricity Z$50 000 (about
R50) and my phone bill normally comes up Z$250 000 (about R250). Then there
are clothes and food for my children and school fees every school term - how
am expected to survive in this world? My salary, like the land during the
drought, has been sun-baked by inflation. Every day, the food is the same. I
have breakfast - a slice of bread and black tea. Milk and eggs are a luxury
here. Lunch is far from exquisite; a Coke at work is all I can afford - that
is, of course, if I have a bit of cash to spare that day. A plate of sadza
costs Z$15 000 (about R15) but it is a little beyond my means and my stomach
goes without.

The only decent meal I have is when I get back home after work, but often we
sleep on empty stomachs (usually during the middle of the month) when our
groceries run out. But I am not alone in my suffering, not that it is any
consolation. Many of my friends and relatives living here in Glen View have
carbon copy lives. My two unemployed children, aged 24 and 28, live with me.
They can't start life on their own without jobs and share the little food I
bring home with the rest of the family. With all this poverty I understand
why scores of school drop-outs in our townships leave for England, United
States and South Africa. There is nothing for young people here anymore. Yet
despite my meagre income I like my job and I have been working for Qtees
Bakery for the past 11 years. I am one of the few who can boast about having
a house of his own but, after all these years, I am still not able to save
even a penny of what I make. I could have retired years back but it's a pity
that all my life there wasn't a single company providing pensions for its
employees. If I can't work who will sustain my wife, nine children and their

One of my greatest fears is getting sick. My grandchildren are not on
medical aid. Even if they were, there aren't any drugs in hospitals. The
conditions under which patients live are unbearable. Even if doctors refer
you to pharmacies, drugs are expensive. I doubt if ever I will be able to
live a normal and comfortable life ever again. Problems mount every day. All
my children married and two died leaving behind children I now have to take
care of. Two are unemployed. Five of my grandchildren are going to primary
school. It's as if I have started marriage and life all over again. I have
to take care of my grandchildren until they finish school. I have never had
a holiday all my life. It's been work, work and work, but I have nothing to
boast of, except this house of mine. My wife, Molly, is a cross-border
trader. Every month she goes to Botswana or South Africa. Without her
helping hand, I wouldn't have been able to survive. Basic food commodities
are very expensive. My wife brings cooking oil, sugar and other commodities
for sale. That's how my grandchildren have been able to survive. During the
struggle in the 1960s, I was a Zanu PF political commissar. I was detained
several times by the Smith regime after participating in political
demonstrations in Harare's townships. There was so much euphoria after
independence on April 18 1980. It meant Zimbabweans could now live in peace
after a protracted bloody liberation war struggle. Now, you cannot
understand what I am going through unless you live in my shoes.

Story narrated to Godwin Gandu
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Mail and Guardian

      Opposition not the only loser

      24 March 2005 11:59

            Six days before Zimbabweans go the polls, it is safe to predict
that Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF will take the election - despite the Movement
for Democratic Change's (MDC) spirited, if belated, campaign. Even the MDC
seems to have accepted the inevitable, as suggested by the party's T-shirt
slogan: "Tsvangirai for president in 2008".

            The Zimbabwean Constitution determines that voters elect only
120 of the 150 parliamentary seats, while Mugabe handpicks 30. This means
that the task of winning a simple majority - arduous enough given the years
of government hate-speech, intimidation, harassment and legislative
repression - is rendered almost impossible.

            But the MDC will not be the only loser in this election; much
else has been lost. Zimbabwe has moved backwards since independence in 1980.
Once the region's breadbasket and a shining example of all post-independence
Africa could be, it has failed to sustain both a viable economy and a
democratic order.

            Zimbabweans are starving, and hunger - belatedly acknowledged to
exist by Mugabe - has become the election's dominant motif. The country's
brightest have left, again negating a key post-independence gain. Zimbabwe's
education system was once held up as a continental leader.

            Democracy has been lost too, sacrificed by both the South
African and Zimbabwean government. In its place, there is a slavish
adherence to democratic forms without its substance. Both governments harp
on about Zimbabwe signing the Southern African Development Community's
(SADC) electoral protocols. But they say little of the manifest ways in
which the commitments to the freedom of association, the media, the judicial
separation of powers and other democratic rudiments have been systematically
eroded over the past four years.

            South Africa has lost the moral high ground. Initially, the
government's policy of quiet diplomacy may have been strategically
palatable. At its core was the view that Mugabe could be persuaded to make
an early exit from the Zimbabwean political stage through backroom
negotiations - President Thabo Mbeki staked his international reputation on
this when he told United States President George W Bush that Mugabe would be
out of office by last year.

            The policy has manifestly failed - yet South Africa clings to it
like a drowning man to a straw. As late as last week, the guileless Minister
of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana said after talks with the Zimbabwean
government that he saw no reason for anything but a free and fair election.
International and domestic scorn was heaped on him, in a climactic
demonstration of how South Africa has lost face.

            The new Africa - represented by Mbeki's New Partnership for
Africa's Development and a revitalised African Union - is another loser.
Central to it was the concept of a peer review system as the driver of
African resurgence - a muscular way of keeping one's brothers on their toes
would triumph over the outdated policy of non-interference and overweening
respect for sovereignty.

            The policy is working in West Africa, where a power grab by Togo's
Faure Gnassingbe was recently thwarted by the Economic Community of West
African States. But on the southern tip it remains an elusive ideal.

            It is one of his tragedies that Mbeki, the intellectual
architect of new Africa, has allowed this to happen. Of course, he has an
eye on how regional forces are stacked in Mugabe's favour. But one would
have thought he has sufficient international standing to go out on a limb,
leading the region in a tougher and more rights-based approach.

            Instead, South Africa has often frustrated regional initiatives:
last month the Department of Foreign Affairs intervened to stop a SADC
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

            There is a growing suspicion that Mbeki and Foreign Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's stubborn support for Zimbabwe's government is
linked to South Africa's desire for a seat on a restructured United Nations
Security Council. If this is so, an ironic consequence could be that South
Africa's prospects have been damaged. There can be little doubt that Mbeki's
support for Mugabe has hurt his international reputation.

            With so much lost, what can possibly come of next week's
election but a democratic façade? Given the likelihood of a Zanu-PF win, it
has been suggested that the best outcome would be a two-thirds majority, so
that Mugabe can hold a constitutional referendum and step down from the
political stage.

            But it seems far more likely that he will linger on, finally
bequeathing the leadership to one of his acolytes, rather than a dynamic
young politician of independent mind.

            So the hope of sustained and far-reaching change also seems
lost. South Africa has failed and it is fanciful to believe change can come
from the top. In the end, the only solution for Zimbabwe is the slow
organisational grind that will rebuild people's power at the grass roots.
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Zim farmers help Zambia
25/03/2005 08:46  - (SA)

Choma, Zambia - White farmers who lost their land in Zimbabwe are helping
neighbouring Zambia shore up its tobacco and maize production while steering
clear of political controversy.

In the southern town of Choma, some 25 Zimbabwean farmers are leasing
farmland to grow tobacco and maize for export and creating jobs for many
poor Zambians and an "outbreak of money", officials say.

"Tobacco production has increased in the last three years because of the
white Zimbabwean farmers who have introduced highly mechanized farming in
Zambia," says Finance Minister Ngandu Magande.

"There is an outbreak of money in Choma," Magande adds.

The group is part of Zimbabwe's 4 500 white commercial farmers who had been
targeted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government since 2000 and
whose prime land had been taken away and given to landless blacks.

Before the land invasions, white farmers, mainly descendants of British
settlers, owned 70% of the most fertile land in Zimbabwe.

The Choma agriculturists are farming on long-term leases from individual
Zambians who were unable to develop the land because of a lack of capital
and equipment and are being financed through $25m in loans from US tobacco
company Universal.

"Each farm employs about 120 local people," says Tim Carter, 47, a
Zimbabwean who owns Nkanga Farms, a tract of land of around 1 200 acres west
of Choma.

Carter left in 1983

Carter left Zimbabwe in 1983, three years after Zimbabwean independence and
some 17 years before Mugabe let his supporters, led by independence war
veterans, attack and take over white-owned farms.

Mugabe's policy sparked an exodus with farmers leaving for Zambia,
Mozambique and a handful even going as far away as Nigeria to rebuild their

Most farmers crossed into Zambia without equipment because the Zimbabwean
government imposed a ban on the movement of farm machinery.

"The Zim farmers had to start from scratch," Carter says. Universal has
provided loans to buy new machinery.

He says he hopes things would change for the better in Zimbabwe after the
parliamentary polls on Thursday and is rooting for the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).

After the scathing experience of Zimbabwe, the white farmers are keeping a
low profile in Zambia.

"We don't even talk politics here. It's sports and farming," Carter said.
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Sunday Times (SA)

Farm workers struggle in Zimbabwe

Friday March 25, 2005 10:12 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwe's farm workers are finding that they are no better off
under the new black farmers that President Robert Mugabe is promoting in his
radical land reform programme, union officials and analysts say.

Five years after Mugabe's government began seizing land from white
commercial farmers and handing it over to landless blacks, Zimbabwe's
300,000 farm labourers are struggling to eke out a living.

"Farm workers have always lived an exploited life, but because of the
fast-track land reform programme, their conditions have even worsened," says
Gertrude Hambira, secretary general of the farm labourers union.

Only some two or three percent of the farm workers have been given land
under the government scheme while many lost everything when the white farm
owners left Zimbabwe, relocating to Britain and neighbouring countries in
southern Africa.

Of the 4,500 commercial farms that were the backbone of Zimbabwe's strong
agricultural sector in 2000, only 600 remain in the hands of white owners
while some 200,000 black farmers have been given land, according to
government figures.

Before the land seizures, some 70 percent of the most fertile land in
Zimbabwe was owned by white farmers who were mainly descendants of British

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe's agriculture production
has plummeted, from providing 50 percent of all export earnings in 2000 to
11 percent at the end of 2003, according to a study by an independent

"Farm workers are the ones who have been badly affected by the land reforms.
They have lost their homes. They have lost their only source of livelihood,"
says Hambira.

Workers themselves say they are getting better pay from the new farmers but
that they have lost many of the benefits such as food and medical aid that
helped them make ends meet.

"Former farmers used to subsidise food, offer lunch and drinks, but all that
is history now. What the new farmers do is that they pay well, they pay
better," said farm worker Simbarashe Donati from the KweKwe area of the
Midlands province.

The study by independent consultant Tim Neill also noted that black farmers
pay slightly more than the minimum wage but that a monthly salary equivalent
to some 12 US dollars per month still left labourers struggling below the
poverty line.

"The farm workers on the A1 (small scale farms) are in extreme poverty now,"
said Neill in the study released late last year.

With jobs on farms still scarce, many labourers move from one farm to
another in search of casual work, living in shacks on the outskirts of the

"People are suffering, some don't get salaries on time. At least whites used
to have facilities to borrow from banks and pay us on time even when they
did not have enough cash," said a tea plantation worker, who identified
himself as Simango, from the eastern area of Mutare, bordering Mozambique.

On the campaign trail ahead of the March 31 parliamentary elections, Mugabe
earlier this month expressed his disappointment with black farmers who he
said were not making full use of the land given to them.

Less than half -- 44 percent -- of the land now owned by the new black
farmers is put to productive use, Mugabe lamented, adding that "the
government will not hesitate" to redistribute the land.

Mugabe's land reform program has been partly blamed for food shortages in
the country. The government earlier this month announced plans to buy food
aid for 1.5 million needy Zimbabweans.

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Mail and Guardian
'Posters are not that inspiring'
Godwin Gandu | Harare
25 March 2005 08:59
Zimbabwean political pressure group Sokwanele-Zvakwana grabs the attention of motorists with their strategically sprayed graffiti and posters.
After the dust of next week’s election has settled, Zimbabwe’s municipalities face the headache of removing graffiti and posters from trees, walls, billboards, commuter buses, government buildings, shops and pushcarts. There are no catchy messages, but colourful campaign media is everywhere.

Political pressure group Sokwanele-Zvakwana (literally translated “enough is enough”) grabs the attention of motorists in the busy city centre with their strategically sprayed graffiti. The group is calling on people not to vote in an “illegitimate” poll.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidates have uniform posters: all in red, with the message, “New Zimbabwe A New Beginning”. It bears the picture of the candidate and voters are simply urged to “Vote MDC”.

Zanu-PF posters come in different shapes, sizes and colours — red, blue and green — with pictures of the candidates featuring prominently just below the party logo.

Posters of independent candidates, not surprisingly, have more information about themselves and their unique selling point. Margaret Dongo, an independent candidate for Harare Central, challenges voters to vote for a candidate with the three Cs: Courage, Confidence and Commitment.

In the hotly contested Tsholotsho constituency, about 600km south of Harare, former information minister Jonathan Moyo, who is standing as an independent, has posters which read: “Pambili le Tsholotsho” (Forward with Tsholotsho). His green posters have a picture of him and urge residents to “Vote Jonathan Moyo”.

The only Zanu-PF poster that has a different feel is that of the Tsholotsho candidate Musa Mathema who advised her supporters “umuzi, umuzi lomama” which translates into “a family is only a family with a mother”, obviously hoping to benefit from Joyce Mujuru’s ascendancy to the party vice presidency.

Interestingly, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s posters hanging on street poles, walls and trees call on people to “Vote Tsvangirai for President”. The MDC leader clearly has his sights on the 2008 presidential elections.

Analysts say this campaign media will not have any impact on voters. “It is just a formality, but people have already made up their minds,” says Lovemore Madhuku, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe. “It would appear candidates don’t believe in themselves. I am not surprised that their posters are not that inspiring.”

Brian Raftopolous of the Institute of Developmental Studies agrees: “They want to carry a broader political party position.

“Candidates are cautious to avoid spreading developmental messages that they won’t be able to fulfil.”
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Mail and Guardian

      'Hardship with Zanu, a better life with Morgan'

      Anne Wayne | Harare

      25 March 2005 08:59

            "It was 4am on Tuesday and under the clear Zimbabwean stars,
opposition candidate Iain Kay was driving to his hometown of Marondera, 70km
east of Harare.

            Two rallies had been planned. But by the time the sun had set,
the police had detained more than two hundred people and Kay had returned to
the interrogation centre where he had been tortured last year.

            The day had begun well. Two hundred members of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) had been delivered to the site of the first rally -
one of several that the party is holding in rural areas. Such a gathering
would have been unthinkable four years ago, when the last MDC candidate was
forced to flee the town after his house was firebombed and several
activists, including Kay, were badly tortured.

            Although there is less overt violence than in previous years,
the rural hinterland is still the stronghold of 81-year-old President Robert
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party. The supporters at Marondera sang their
loudest, but not a single local person showed up. Only a few curious faces
peered out from the bushes.

            "The government has been bussing people away from the areas
where we hold our rallies," complained Kay, who blames Zanu-PF for
preventing people from attending four rallies at the weekend.

            "They force people to attend alternate events. Last weekend,
they even held an unofficial rally at the same place that we had booked, and
posted people around the sidelines to make sure they did not sneak off from
the Zanu-PF event," he said.

            Other MDC members explained that government supporters had
threatened people to stay away, and often monitored the rallies to take the
names of those who attended. As if on cue, a truck marked "Zanu-PF,
Mashonaland East" pulled up, followed by an unmarked vehicle. Youths in both
cars circled the rally, giving the traditional clenched fist salute of the
ruling party.

            Forty minutes later, another lorry arrived and disgorged several
men wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts and a few more in plain clothes. They were
joined by another car that locals identified as Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), Zimbabwe's feared secret police. Kay, a former farmer,
is running against the former head of the CIO, Sydney Sekeramayi, now the
Minister of Defence.

            When the police arrived they ignored the Zanu-PF supporters and
told Kay that the rally had to take place on the roadside, opposite the
shopping area where the MDC had gathered.

            Undeterred, the crowd moved out, and the next hour was filled
with songs and speeches, always ending with the demand for "Chinja!"
(Change) that has become the MDC's rallying cry.

            However, the next assembly point, on Chiperawi farm, was empty
apart from three uniformed policemen and four CIO officers. Slightly
discouraged, Kay led his supporters down the hill for a tea break, and it
was decided to wind up for the day.

            "I am voting MDC because my children have no clothes to wear,"
said one woman as she clambered back into the truck. "We used to export
cotton. Now we have no cotton, no food, and no jobs. We have to change this

            As other supporters took up her cry, the lorries and pick-up
trucks wound back into Marondera. Some residents wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts
shook their fists at the MDC convoy. Many more stretched their fingers wide
in the open-handed salute of the MDC, or furtively flashed a grin. Some
simply gaped at this open display of defiance in a town where the MDC used
to do their campaign planning in caves to avoid arrest.

            The appearance of two police vehicles cut short the singing.
Both lorries and pick-up trucks, now silent, were escorted to Marondera
police station. Many of the inhabitants had been there before.

            "I was detained here on February 15, with three other women,"
said one woman. "They picked us up under Posa [Public Order and Security
Act, which stipulates that all political meetings need police permission],
even though we were just walking down a tar road. They kept us for three

            For Kay, the room where he and the other MDC leaders were taken
for questioning was uncomfortably close to the office where the police broke
two of his ribs during a beating last year. This time, they let him go after
an hour.

            "First they told us we could not sing," said Kay. "Then they
tried to say that we were illegally transporting people but I told them I'd
seen hundreds of Zanu-PF supporters bussed into Hwedza. We hadn't done
anything illegal, so they had to let us go."

            Silently, the trucks rolled out of the station. Quietly, they
returned to Marondera. But by the time the last few supporters were dropped
off at their homes, the memories of past abuses had been banished by the
renewed singing: "Hardships with Zanu, a better life with Morgan". That day,
at least, the MDC refused to be silenced.

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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Witness to the Nation
Sokwanele Report : 25 March 2005

It is 6.30 a.m. on a cool autumn morning and the streets of Bulawayo – washed by a recent shower – are almost deserted, for this is a public holiday. Good Friday in fact when, in place of the usual bustle of commercial activity, we shall soon be seeing a good turnout of the faithful to religious services across the city – in what is after all a nation noted for its religious observance. But it is too early for that now. Instead, for the moment, all we can see is a few cars and a handful of people gathering in the car park of the city’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, St Mary’s.

Slowly the activity in the car park increases. More early risers arrive. A large cross appears on the scene and a number of smaller crude, wooden crosses alongside. A few clergy assemble, including one in vestments which mark him out as an archbishop. Someone is calling the small crowd of 30 or so to order. The archbishop offers up a short prayer. He is given one of the smaller crosses to carry and he sets off, leading the others on a Good Friday procession across the rain-washed streets of the city.

Nothing very remarkable about that, save that this is no ordinary country and these are no ordinary times. This is Zimbabwe, almost on the eve of the parliamentary elections. A country in the grip of a major political and economic crisis. Also a country held in the iron grip of an aging dictator who shows no signs of any willingness to acknowledge the widespread clamour for change in the country he has led since independence 25 years ago. As with most dictators Robert Mugabe presides over a police state. The police and the military were long since co-opted as agents of his ruling ZANU-PF party. The law has been bent and twisted, and broken where necessary, to preserve Mugabe and his cronies in power, and a raft of draconian security legislation employed to strike fear into the hearts of any would-be dissenters.

That is what marks this Good Friday procession out as special. The walkers are risking arrest and imprisonment at the least for just walking down the street together, bearing crosses, on route to an ecumenical service held in another of the city’s churches. Looking around the small crowd who set off from the Cathedral, one is aware that at least a half of them have already incurred the wrath of the Mugabe regime and spent a weekend or two – or more – in the city’s squalid police cells as a result. Some suffered that fate for daring to take part in a similar procession of witness from one church to another just a few years before. The infamous Public Order and Security Act which is the cornerstone of Mugabe’s brutal hold on power, does permit “bone fide religious” gatherings to proceed without police clearance, but if the local police chief has a narrower view of what amounts to a “bone fide religious” event than the local priest, then so much the worse for those who participate. All this morning’s walkers are aware of the risks. Indeed it is the omnipresent fear factor which has prevented many others from joining them – and which has made Árchbishop Pius Ncube who leads the procession such a lonely figure among a national church leadership that has allowed itself, in large measure, to be cowed into silence. The ecumenical group, Christians Together for Justice and Peace, which is behind this event, provides one of the few more honourable exceptions to a picture of shame.

The walkers proceed a few blocks through the city centre until they come to the steps of the City Hall. There by prior arrangement they are met by the City’s Executive Mayor, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, another brave man who represents the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, and has had to endure all manner of harassment and intimidation from the Mugabe regime for his principled stand on many sensitive national issues. The Mayor greets the Archbishop warmly while the small assembly of the Christian faithful gather around. Then the Archbishop reads a short prepared text (*) in which he refers to the symbolism of the walk on this, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.

“We are walking together on this holy day … to mark the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also a highly symbolic event because we are walking in solidarity with, and to draw attention to, the terrible plight of those who suffer here in Zimbabwe today.” Special mention is made of the hungry and the starving, the victims of violence and those who “hve suffered, and are suffering still, because of their courageous stand for truth, for justice and for the cause of freedom.”

The large cross carried to this point by one of the local pastors, is handed over ceremonially to the Mayor, to be placed in the Council Chamber as a token of Christian compassion and solidarity with the poor. The walkers bid farewell to the Mayor and continue on their way.

A few blocks down the road the walkers arrive at the City Presbyterian Church. Here they gather in worship, using a form of liturgy that has been written specially for the occasion, and is entitled “Suffering and the Resurrection Hope – A Liturgy of Prayer and Reflection for the General Elections in Zimbabwe”. The words were in fact crafted by a liturgical team in KwaZulu Natal and sent out world-wide, with an invitation to the world Church to focus their prayers upon those suffering in Zimbabwe at this Easter time. So the intercessions of these few faithful in Bulawayo - prayers for courage and hope and deliverance through the forthcoming parliamentary elections - will be echoed around the world this Easter.

Remarkably the police did not intervene on this occasion to stop the procession or to arrest any of those participating. Perhaps it was the element of surprise on the part of the organizers which found the police and their informers unprepared. Perhaps it was the presence of a few election observers, or representatives of the foreign press here to cover the elections, which restrained them. Or, just perhaps, the prayers of the faithful for deliverance from ungodly rule are at last being heard.

March 25, 2005

(*) The full text of the statement is given below

Walking in the way of the Cross

Good Friday

7.15a.m. (approx)

On the Steps of the City Hall (leading to the Mayor’s Chamber)


Your worship, we Christians Together for Peace and Justice, greet you as the civic leader of the City Of Bulawayo and as our brother in Christ. We are walking together on this holy day in the Church’s calendar to mark the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also a highly symbolic event because we are walking in solidarity with, and to draw attention to, the terrible plight of those who suffer here in Zimbabwe today.

We remember the hungry and the starving. We remember the victims of violence and the victims of neglect. We remember those who have suffered, and are suffering still, because of their courageous stand for the truth, for justice and for the cause of freedom.

We mourn their pain and suffering. We confess our guilty silence and the silence of the Church in this land which for too long has prolonged their suffering, and we commit ourselves to work and witness and pray that all Zimbabweans may be free.

We present to you now this Cross which is a symbol both of our Lord’s compassion for all who suffer injustice and oppression, and a token of the victorious power of love revealed in his glorious resurrection.

God bless you.

The Mayor accepts the cross….


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1. Daily Print Media Update: Friday, March 25, 2005

BECAUSE of the late publication of today's issues of the Chronicle and The
Manica Post (25/3), MMPZ was unable to include the news output from these
two papers in its report. However, we have included the news content of
yesterday's Daily Mirror (24/3), which was only publicly available today.

a) Campaigns

THE Herald's coverage of the campaign activities of political parties again
blatantly favoured ZANU PF. All four stories that it published today were on
the campaign activities of the ruling party and nothing on the opposition or
independent candidates. These stories covered five rallies held by the
presidium in Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland. As a result, all eight
voices quoted in these stories were either ZANU PF (four) or government
(four). All the government voices echoed ZANU PF opinions.
Paradoxically, the MDC continued to dominate in three of the four ZANU PF
campaign stories where it was portrayed negatively as a front for
imperialist forces, particularly of Britain.

The paper passively allowed President Mugabe and his deputies, Joseph Msika
and Joyce Mujuru, to propagate this view as exemplified by Vice President
Msika whom it quoted as telling party supporters at a rally in the Midlands
that the "MDC was not a political party but a group of puppets and
The paper also failed to question the political implications behind
President Mugabe's on-going computer donations to schools during political
rallies after it reported him as having donated 50 computers to five schools
during his campaigns in Matebeleland.

In contrast, The Daily Mirror (25/3) maintained its professional stance,
giving equal coverage to the political party rallies in its Election Watch
column .The private daily carried six stories on the matter, three each on
both ZANU PF and MDC campaigns. None were on minor opposition parties or
The previous day the paper (24/3) carried nine campaign stories. Five were
on the campaign activities of the ruling party, three on the MDC and the
remainder on independent candidate and former Information Minister Jonathan
Unlike The Herald stories, The Daily Mirror stories were fairly presented as
illustrated by the paper's voice distribution in Fig 1.

Fig 1 The Daily Mirror voice distribution

Zanu PF MDC Opposition Independent ALT
22 13 0 1 2

For example, even when Moyo attacked Mugabe and his "Zezuru colleagues in
ZANU PF of imposing" Mujuru as vice-president, The Daily Mirror (24/3)
balanced this claim with input from ZANU PF and independent commentators
such as Brian Kagoro.

b) Administrative Issues

THE Herald carried two administrative issues where it passively reported on
the Greek ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dimitri Alexandrakis, commending the
"peaceful environment" prevailing in Zimbabwe ahead of the poll and the
deployment of members of the SADC observe mission to the country's
Both stories were briefs based on one opinion.

The Daily Mirror (25/3) also carried two stories on the electoral framework.
One was an event report, premised on a "warning" by the Electoral
Supervisory Commission (ESC) to foreign observers accredited to observe next
week's election to adhere to instructions from electoral staff according to
Zimbabwe's electoral laws.
However, the story failed to balance the ESC's instructions with views from
the observers themselves. Neither did it query the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission's state of readiness, only allowing the electoral body to make
claims that were not verified. For example, the paper did not confirm the
ZEC's claim that the postal votes were indeed being processed "under the
watchful eye of all the candidates". In fact, none of the contesting parties
were asked if they had been included in the process.
The other report, an opinion piece, explored the pitfalls of prejudging

c) Political violence

THE Herald did not publish any new cases of politically motivated violence.
But it carried two stories that sought to pre-empt the notion that there was
any violence in the country ahead of the election.

For example, in one of the two reports the paper carried Zimbabwe's
ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, was reported as attacking SA's
Young Communist League for telling that country's SA media that Zimbabwe was
experiencing "massive political violence" orchestrated by "the
government-funded youth militia".
The paper also carried a front-page follow-up story amplifying the police's
rebuttal of the claims by National Constitutional Assembly chairman,
Lovemore Madhuku, linking state security agents to cases of politically
motivated violence in the country.

However, The Daily Mirror recorded four new cases of politically motivated
violence and rights abuses in four stories it carried on the subject. Three
of the cases were reported on (24/3) and the rest on (25/3).
The paper identified MDC supporters, Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe
secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, and commuter omnibus drivers as the
victims in three of the cases, while ZANU PF and the police were named as
the perpetrators. The other case identified MDC supporters as beating up
their ZANU PF rivals.
In one such case of rights abuse by the police, Majongwe was detained on
Tuesday at Braeside Police Station and at Harare Central on allegations of
insulting the head of State. The paper quoted police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena confirming the incident and saying he had been charged.
Majongwe's lawyer Alex Muchadehama was reported as saying Majongwe was
picked up by the police on accusations of violating a section of the
repressive Public Order and Security Act after allegedly telling a ZANU PF
rally at Cranborne: "How can you vote for Robert Mugabe achembera (an old


2. Daily Electronic Media Update: Thursday, 24th March 2005


*MMPZ is still unable to effectively monitor SW Radio Africa.

THE national public broadcaster aired an interview with ZANU PF chairman,
John Nkomo, also Lands Minister in the President's Office at 9pm on
television and on Spot FM. Notably, the interviewers (Happison Muchechetere
and Supa Mandiwanzira) asked relevant questions and followed up the answers
in a rare display of professional journalistic inquiry.

a. Election Campaigns

ACCESS to the national public broadcaster remained heavily in favour of the
ruling party. ZANU PF had the highest number of campaign stories carried on
the stations of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH). It also enjoyed the
largest chunk of airtime. For instance, on ZTV (7am, 6pm & 8pm news
bulletins) ZANU PF got 28 minutes 15 seconds (76%), while the MDC and
Mabvuku-Tafara independent received 5 min 25 sec (14.5%) and 3 min 25 sec
respectively of television's campaign news time.
Studio 7 was more balanced, carrying one profile each between the two main
political parties and one more each on the two parties' campaign activities.
However, it ignored other smaller political parties and independents.

All ZBH reports were campaign rallies. Of the 11 ZANU PF voices quoted by
ZBH (on ZTV, Power FM, and Radio Zimbabwe), all were members of that party's
Presidium except Obert Mpofu, the Umguza candidate. Otherwise there was
precious little coverage on ZBH of other aspiring candidates for Parliament.

The government-controlled media continued to misrepresent the MDC. For
example, ZTV's anchor (8pm) said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would "remove
newly-resettled farmers from their allocated land if elected into power,
saying the opposition party will redistribute land in its desired way." But
the video clip showed him saying those who had settled themselves illegally
(without the authority of chiefs, headmen, district administrators, etc)
would be removed.

Number of campaign stories
STATION Zanu PF MDC Independent
ZTV 9 4 2
Power FM 3 0 0
Radio Zimbabwe 3 0 0
Studio 7 2 2 0

Voice distribution
STATION Zanu PF MDC Independent
ZTV 11 4 2
Power FM 3 0 0
Radio Zimbabwe 3 0 0
Studio 7 1 2 0

It is notable that the voice of the MDC and news of their rallies were
completely missing in ZBH's radio bulletins.

b. Administrative Issues

ZBH continued to claim that preparations for the elections were on course,
with equal access to the media, violence-free campaigning and positive
remarks from the SADC Observer Mission (ZTV; 6pm, 8pm, Power FM and Radio
Zimbabwe). They quoted SADCOM's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka confirming that her
team had not received any reports of politically motivated violence. ZBH
bulletins also reported that the Greek ambassador to Zimbabwe said "unlike
in other countries, the political playing field in Zimbabwe is level as all
political parties have access to the electronic media and all are
campaigning freely throughout the country"(ZTV). He was not directly quoted
saying this.

While ZBH stressed the SADC mission's reported endorsement of the
preparations, Studio 7 reported to the contrary. It quoted Mlambo-Ngcuka
taking issue with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over the role of
chiefs in the elections. Another member of the team, ANC parliamentarian,
Ramathlodi, was also concerned about the allocation of polling stations,
which he was reported to have said favoured the ruling party.

ZBH continues to stress that the administrative preparations for the
election are progressing so well that only "enemies of Zimbabwe" whose
intention was to "tarnish the image of the country" could claim the contrary
(ZTV; 6pm, 8pm).
The one report carried by ZTV and Radio Zimbabwe quoting a
government/business voice in the table below, was ZUPCO chairman, Charles
Nherera, saying buses would be available for ferrying people for the
holidays and the election.

stories Zanu PF MDC Indep/
OPP ZEC ESC Alt Foreign Ordinary
people GVT/
ZTV 7 0 0 0 4 0 1 4 15
Power FM 10 0 0 0 3 1 2 3
0 0
Radio Zim 6 0 0 0 0 1 3 2
0 1
Studio 7 3 0 2 0 0 0 1 0
0 0

ZBH stations did not access any political parties in relation to their
stories on election administration issues.

c. Political Violence

THERE were no reports of political violence. The 10 references ZBH made to
the topic, mostly intertwined with election administration stories, all
emphasized that there was peace throughout the country and largely quoted
people variously supporting that view.

Stories Zanu PF MDC IND/
OPP ZEC ESC Alt Foreign Ordinary
People MIN GVT/
Bus Media
ZTV 7 0 0 0 3 0 0 4 15
2 1 1
Power FM 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 3
0 0 0 0
RadioZim 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
Studio 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0


The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702,
E-mail: <>

Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we
will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information
about the Project, please visit our website at

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      Battle for Zimbabwe's Bulawayo hots up

      March 25, 2005, 17:45

      With six days to go, the battle for Zimbabwe's most important
constituencies is hotting up. Both Zanu(PF) and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) are leaving nothing to chance and are sending in the
big guns.

      Robert Mugabe, the president, came bearing gifts - state of the art
computers for schools in the area. Mugabe's rallying cry touched on improved
education, health and jobs.

      The MDC took Bulawayo in the last election, but this time round it is
up for grabs. The boundaries of the constituency were redrawn last year,
which could favour Zanu(PF). However, the MDC says it is more worried about
voter apathy than the ruling party.

      Over a million people call Bulawayo home. While it remains one of
Zimbabwe's most viable commercial cities, unemployment is a huge concern.
Come next Thursday, the people of Bulawayo will decide who will be led to
the slaughterhouse

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The Zimbabwean

An outside chance of Zanu-PF losing
By Harry Ndlovu
Regardless of all the odds that are stacked against the opposition MDC,
there is still an outward chance of Zanu-PF losing the March 31 elections,
and one may ponder about the repercussions of such an event, albeit
unlikely. With the use of controversial legislation and state machinery,
Zanu-PF has done all it could to rig the elections in advance. It has cowed
much of the electorate into submission using some of the most unfair,
violent and bizarre tactics ever heard of in the political landscape.
On election day, Zanu-PF party agents will most likely be drawn from the
Green Bombers and war veterans, who will ensure that MDC agents never set
foot at the polling
stations, which will open the counting process to massive fraud. Also, with
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that runs the election itself being
pro-Zanu-PF, together with its supervisor the Electoral Supervisory
Commission, that ostensibly wraps up victory for the ruling party in the
coming polls.

With the rigging mechanisms so much in place to thwart the opposition, it
would sound rather outlandish to suggest that Zanu-PF may lose the election.
But if one considers how Zanu-PF used to lose to PF-Zapu in the 1980s, such
an outside chance is not as remote as it may seem.

Those were the days that were dubbed the 'dissident era', when the Zanu-PF
government deployed about half the country's army, police and secret service
to fight only 100 disillusioned and leaderless gunmen in Matabeleland. That
also included 5 000 soldiers with ruthless murdering skills that were
imported from North Korea, who were used to force the PF-Zapu supporting
villagers of Matabeleland to abandon their party and support Zanu-PF, under
the pretext of fighting armed dissidents.

In the run-up to the 1985 elections, the villagers were forced to buy
Zanu-PF cards and attend the party's meetings. The people bought the cards
and attended the meetings for their own safety, for they had to produce the
cards on demand from Zanu-PF militias and the Fifth Brigade, and had to be
known to be Zanu-PF supporters to escape the wrath of the murderous

That fooled Zanu-PF into believing and announcing that it had grown a huge
support base in Matabeleland, and so would win all the seats in the 1985
elections. That was capped by President Mugabe touring the province for the
first time, which included his spectacular feat in Plumtree, where he
addressed the crowd holding a toddler onto his chest.

PF-Zapu politicians charged that he was trying to steal their initial
emblem, which depicted a soldier holding a baby. However, some analysts
argued that it was to discourage dissident snipers from shooting him, since
the area was believed to be crawling with thousands of AK-47 toting gunmen.

At that time Zanu-PF did not have the full services of the war veterans as
it does now. It however had its youth militias, who were nevertheless not as
ferocious as they have become today, and could not operate effectively in
Matabeleland as the dissidents often murdered them. That allowed PF-Zapu
party agents to monitor the electoral process in Matabeleland, though they
were expelled from several polling stations in Zanu-PF strongholds in the
Midlands and parts of Mashonaland. When the election results were announced,
Zanu-PF had lost all the Matabeleland constituencies to PF-Zapu. One of the
most memorable Zanu-PF losers in that election was Dr Callistus Ndlovu who
lost the Bulilima Mangwe constituency in Plumtree, who had defected from
PF-Zapu and famously called his former party a 'dead donkey'.

Another example that proves Zanu-PF is not invincible, never mind all its
election rigging skills, was in 1995 when independent Margaret Dongo beat
Zanu-PF's Vivian
Mwashita in the Harare South constituency. That was however after a re-run
of the polling after the court ruled that the election had been rigged.

Up to this moment, Zanu-PF has used its archaic intimidatory tactics to
steal the coming polls. That has included the deployment of the Green
Bombers in police uniforms, to harass members of the opposition MDC and deny
them a chance to mobilize support. Zanu-PF aligned war veterans have also
been conducting a 'census' in the rural areas. In that they pretend to be
collecting statistics about households and threaten the villagers with
reprisals if they do not vote for Zanu-PF.

Anyway, what brings into light the remote chance of Zanu-PF losing the
already rigged elections is that most of those Zimbabweans who have been
giving the party the benefit of the doubt are staunch supporters who have
been hoping to see it reviving its past glory. But now, like everyone else,
they have realized that the organization is getting deeper into the abyss
and heading for oblivion. They now know how bankrupt Zanu-PF policies are,
and are more likely to change their minds.

Considering the massive odds against the opposition, beating Zanu-PF would
need nothing less than a landslide victory in the polls. That would
overwhelm all the rigging mechanisms already in place, and make it
impossible to deny the opposition victory.

However, since Zanu-PF, though also contesting, will be running the
elections, it would be the first to realize that it is heading for a loss,
even before the counting is half way through. Considering its desperate need
to hold on to power, under such circumstances the polls could be annulled on
some concocted reason.

In such an event, the few international election observers allowed into the
country would have nothing to say and no election to observe, so they would
have to leave. Whatever some of them might say about the polls would be of
no consequence since there won't be anything they would do about it. The
SADC leaders might otherwise find that as a conducive situation to avoid any
confrontation with President Mugabe, the man all of them seem to fear so

The army, police, secret service, Green Bombers and the war veterans would
then be set loose all around the country to prevent the people from rioting
to demand their electoral rights. A state of emergency could also be
declared to suppress any uprising. More opposition members would also be
arrested on charges of inciting unrest, and more would have to flee their

In the event of such circumstances, many people would also be assaulted and
murdered, and an uprising would be prevented or subdued. Fortunately, as the
South African Institute of Security Studies stated recently, there may not
be a civil war because only one side is armed.

The elections would then be postponed indefinitely, to allow Mugabe to rule
Zimbabwe till he dies without facing justice and the consequences of his

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State Takes Over Services in Cities

The Herald (Harare)

March 25, 2005
Posted to the web March 25, 2005

Bulawayo Bureau

The Government has resolved to move into towns and cities to provide
services which are under the ambit and responsibilities of local authorities
to save the infrastructure in urban areas from collapse, President Mugabe
said yesterday.

Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at a rally at Masotsha Secondary
School in Magwegwe North constituency, the President said the infrastructure
in most cities and towns, which are being run by MDC councils, had
deteriorated to such an extent that the Government has been forced to act.

"The roads in the cities are terrible. They are full of holes and dangerous.
In places like Chitungwiza, sewage is flowing everywhere and children are
playing in sewage," he said.

"That is MDC, chinja maitiro ekuti vana vatambire musewage (The MDC's slogan
for 'change' amounts to children playing in sewage). Makuregera madhodhi
achiyerera. (You are now allowing human waste to flow everywhere). If you
had been clean, ukanzi chinja maitiro, iwe wobva waenda kutsvina? (If you
had been clean and are told to change your ways, do you chose filthy ways?).
Go to any toilet right now; it's full of dirt, there is urine everywhere."

As a result, the Government had decided to move into towns and cities to
maintain the roads which had fallen into disrepair because of the neglect
and incompetence of MDC councillors.

The President said MDC-dominated local councils were frustrating development
projects while sitting on funds which they are allocated by central
Government for service provision.

He said the Bulawayo City Council, for example, was allocated $150 billion
over a month ago to upgrade infrastructure, but the council had still not
utilised the money for that purpose.

"They have the money. They got the money between five and six weeks ago, but
nothing is being done to repair the sewage system.

"And so, my message to you now that you have pledged your vote is that the
Government of Zanu-PF will certainly ensure that the face of Bulawayo will
change; that the infrastructural projects that were promised by the city
council are implemented. We are going to move in as Government, but the
councils will still play their part," said Cde Mugabe.

In the Government's quest to change the face of Bulawayo, emphasis will be
placed on housing, education, roads, industries, health and rehabilitating
facilities in the townships.

The President said the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr Gideon
Gono, had already visited stressed companies in Bulawayo, Mutare and Kadoma
with a view to assisting them to operate at full throttle thereby creating

The Government was also supporting small and medium-scale enterprises to
engender their growth.

On next week's election, Cde Mugabe urged the people of Bulawayo to vote for
Zanu-PF candidates as they were tried and tested persons who stood for the
preservation of the country's heritage and unity which came through the loss
of thousands of lives.

He had been shocked by the results of the 2000 parliamentary elections in
Bulawayo and Harare as the two cities were the cradle of the revolution,
which led to the country's independence. He said what happened in 2000 was a
mistake and urged the people to vote wisely.

"No one has ever run a distance without a fall. Even if you know the road,
you might miss your step and fall. But if you fall and remain in the same
prostrate position, you are gone. If you are still asleep, I say to you
sukhuma khathesi (stand up now).

At another rally at Mandwandwe High School in Nkulumane constituency, Cde
Mugabe appealed to Zimbabweans in urban centres to rally behind Zanu-PF in
next Thursday's parliamentary election to preserve the country's

President Mugabe said five years after people in urban areas voted for MDC
MPs, the majority had realised that the opposition was championing
destructive foreign values.

He said most people were misled into voting "for regime change" as espoused
by the MDC, which was a concept sponsored by the country's former

"I realise that there is a turnaround in the way the people of Bulawayo
think. In the year 2000, we failed to impress on you on the need for you to
be consistent in supporting the revolution that brought our independence and
sovereignty," he said.

"We tried to impress on you that you were born out of the revolutionary path
and that you had a role to protect this sovereignty and the ownership of our

"Many people here in Bulawayo and as well as Harare listened to this weird
message, a meaningless message: 'chinja maitiro'.

"We were summoned to change ourselves, we revolutionaries into
counter-revolutionaries. The people of Harare and Bulawayo went along and
joined the MDC and Mr (Tony) Blair."

President Mugabe said the British Prime Minister was on record saying he was
working with the MDC to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

"The issue is noe other than the land question. We took the land, which was
in the hands of the white men, and gave it to the black people because it is
theirs. It was theirs in the past and it should remain theirs forever."

He said the war of liberation was waged so that the black people could
repossess their land, which the Government has done through the land reform

The President said he was encouraged to note that most people in the urban
areas had realised that MDC policies were not in tandem with the aspirations
of the revolution.

"We are grateful that after five years some people have realised that the
MDC does not think the way we do. People have seen the light and they now
want to unite. We are aware that people are complaining that some Government
projects are not completed on time, but let us look at where we are coming
from," he said.

"Zanu-PF is a revolutionary party that concerns itself with people's
aspirations. Do not isolate Harare and Bulawayo because we want our towns
and cities to be united under Zanu-PF and the Government of Zanu-PF."

Chronicling Zanu-PF's achievements since independence, the President said
thousands of people had been resettled on productive farms, secondary
schools were built across the country and health institutions were

He said the Government had also empowered workers by spearheading the
formation of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which ensured that a
minimum wage was pegged every year.

However, the President said, the Government was aware that some programmes,
such as the construction of hospitals, had been stalled because of a series
of droughts and lack of resources but stressed that they would be

The President reiterated that no one would die of hunger due to widespread
crop failure, adding that the Government had started mobilising funds to
import grain to augment this season's harvest.

He also pointed out that the Government was dealing with the issue of
multiple farm owners and of those who did not take up the plots they were

Turning to the education sector, the President said the Government would
this year launch a fund to computerise all the schools in the country.

President Mugabe said the Presidential Schools Computerisation Fund, which
he set up with assistance from local businesspeople, was voluntary and hence
the need to complement it with a comprehensive one backed by the Government.

Hundreds of computers, which the President has donated to various schools
across the country, have since been purchased from the fund.

"There is going to follow sometime this year a Government programme that
will be more comprehensive than this voluntary one," he said.

He donated 50 computers to five schools, namely Mandwandwe High School,
Nkulumane High School, Sikhulile High School, Gifford High School and
Mpopoma High School.

"These computers are not from the Government. The Government fund will
naturally come under the Ministry of Education and many schools will
benefit. Our hope is that by the end of the year all the schools will be
computerised. I am getting more donations and only days ago there was a
donation of $100 million for this programme."

The Government is also considering printing affordable textbooks.

He said low pass rates at primary schools continued to worry the Government
and measures would be taken to reverse the trend.

Earlier, the Zanu-PF Bulawayo Province interim chairman, Cde Zenzo Nsimbi,
told the President during a briefing that the ruling party had the potential
to regain the seven seats it lost to the MDC in 2000.

The President also took the opportunity to formally introduce four of the
seven candidates standing in Bulawayo, namely Cde Absolom Sikhosana
(Nkulumane), Cde Sithembiso Nyoni (Bulawayo South), Cde Joshua Malinga
(Bulawayo East) and Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu (Mpopoma/Pelandaba).

The First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe and Zanu-PF secretary for the commissariat
Cde Elliot Manyika accompanied President Mugabe.

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The Zimbabwean

Lords discuss Zim's 'thievocracy'
HOUSE OF LORDS, LONDON - Zimbabwe was the subject of a lengthy (two and a
half hours) debate in the House of Lords last week. Some excerpts follow:
Baroness Park of Monmouth rose to call attention to the situation in
Zimbabwe and to move for Papers.

Baroness Park: My Lords, only four years ago, Zimbabwe was one of the most
successful countries with the most sophisticated professional class in
Africa. Today, it imports grain from Zambia. GDP is down by 40%. Inflation
is over 300%. Banks are failing and corruption is rampant. The new
"thievocracy" have moved (onto confiscated commercial farmland) as landed
gentry. Far worse is the remorseless destruction of the rule of law and of
basic human rights practised by the Zanu (PF) government.

HMG have so far allowed themselves to be routed and manipulated by Mugabe
and Mbeki: both forbidding them to do anything, on the grounds that they are
a former colonial power.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: The most difficult question we have to answer is:
what can we do to assist change? One thing is certain: we cannot compel or
enforce change. There is no magic bullet.

Lord Blaker: One African leader could resolve the problem in a short time:
President Mbeki of South Africa. Sadly it seems that he has not been giving
much of a lead.
The maxim of President Mbeki has been "quiet diplomacy" . [but it] seems to
have enabled the impasse about Zimbabwe to be dragged on, so that none of
the issues that would be involved in a free and fair election would be

The Earl of Caithness: There is some good news. The Mugabe-led regime has
become even more isolated in recent months. Former allies in the form of
Namibia, Malaysia and Libya have all distanced themselves recently. China
alone remains committed to support the regime. In the past six months, the
AU has criticised the Zimbabwean Government for the first time. The SADC
leaders have adopted standards with which elections in the region should

Baroness D'Souza: There could be greater efforts to publish and disseminate
the true extent of election abuses in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe has proved
extremely adept at "packaging" his policies and even neighbouring countries
are not widely aware of the extent of torture and other violations in
Zimbabwe. A recent publication, The Zimbabwean, which is a weekly newspaper,
will go some way towards redressing this balance.

Lord Avebury: Britain has the unique opportunity as president of the G8 . to
require all African states, and particularly those that are members of SADC,
to act on Zimbabwe. Quiet diplomacy has failed and we must now call on the
rest of Africa to deliver on the commitments of the Harare Declaration, to
"work with renewed vigour" for "democracy, democratic processes and
institutions . the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and just
and honest government".

Those are the things that the people of Zimbabwe want, and we must help
Africa to deliver them.

Baroness Crawley [for the Government]: Zimbabwe has attracted, and continues
to attract, the closest attention of this Government. Our intentions have
always been clear: we want to see a return to a democratically accountable
government that represents and respects human rights and the rule of law.
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UN Must Not Shrink From Naming Human-Rights Abusers, U.S. Says

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)

March 24, 2005
Posted to the web March 25, 2005

Statement by the Honorable Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Head of the U.S.
Washington, DC

Boschwitz addresses human rights concerns at U.N. Human Rights Commission

Item 9 - Violations of Human Rights in any Part of the World

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr. Chairman,

As President Bush's representative to this 61st session of the UN Commission
on Human Rights, let me assure you that he views these proceedings as key to
his Administration's efforts to promote human rights and democracy
worldwide, part of what he calls his "forward strategy for freedom." The
United States particularly values this segment of the Commission -- when we
focus on the situation of human rights in specific countries around the
world. We are convinced that reinforcing positive developments when they
occur is an important part of the work of this body. And we are equally
convinced that putting dictators and other human rights violators on notice
that the international community is watching, and that there will be
consequences for their misdeeds -- what some refer to as naming and
shaming -- brings us closer to the day when all nations are part of the
growing community of democracies, and tyranny and slavery exist only as sad
chapters in human history.

My fellow delegates, though some of you would prefer to dispense with Item
9, it is not sufficient for this body to condemn the abuses but shy away
from naming the abusers. Speaking clearly about all those regimes that
commit such abuses is necessary if this Commission is to retain its

Distinguished Delegates,

We find ourselves in an extraordinary era of progress for human rights and
democracy. Around the world -- mostly notably in the broader Middle East and
Eurasia -- freedom is on the march.

In the three years since the fall of the Taliban regime, the people of
Afghanistan have struggled against terrorism and traditional ethnic,
religious and tribal cleavages, to extend fundamental rights to women and
minorities, open their society to unprecedented political competition and
freedom of expression, and to craft a new constitution faithful to their
values and way of life. In last October's presidential elections, 18
presidential candidates contended for the votes of 10 million registered
voters, more than 40 percent of whom were women. Despite terrorist threats
and pre-election attacks, more than 8 million Afghans chose their own leader
for the first time in their history. Meanwhile, conditions for Afghan women,
barred by the Taliban from even attending school, continue to improve.
Afghanistan's new constitution enshrines equal rights for women, President
Karzai's new cabinet contains three women ministers, and the Government
recently appointed the country's first female provincial governor.

On January 30, Iraqis took an important step toward democracy, when millions
braved violence and threats to cast their votes in the most democratic and
transparent election in their history. We commend the courage of the
Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, the thousands of Iraqi election
staff, the thousands of candidates who ran in the national and provincial
elections, Iraqi security forces, and voters who turned out in larger
numbers than expected. Thousands of domestic observers also showed up at
polling places throughout the country, providing the transparency vital to
democratic elections. Iraqis now face the tasks of drafting a constitution
that will provide the foundation for democracy and rule of law, and electing
a permanent government under that constitution later this year.

Though not yet a state, the Palestinian Authority held successful
presidential elections, democratically replacing deceased President Arafat.
In nearby Lebanon, the people - long intimidated and sidelined by an
occupying power - have recently used their internationally recognized right
to assembly to demand the right to determine their own future, including to
choose their own parliament in free and fair elections this May. In Yemen, a
female minister for human rights continued her struggle on behalf of women,
including important efforts against trafficking in persons. Saudi Arabia
held limited municipal elections earlier this year -- though we note that
women were excluded from voting or running for office -- and the National
Dialogue continued to raise public awareness on sensitive issues such as
women's rights and religious tolerance. In Jordan, the reform effort
continued, with the King's announcement of a decentralization initiative.
Meanwhile, in North Africa, Egypt has announced it will amend its
constitution to allow a contested multi-party presidential election for the
first time, and released from jail a major opposition contender for that
race. Morocco changed its Family Law to increase the rights of women, and
initiated a nonjudicial Justice and Reconciliation Commission to address
past abuses, and Algeria held its first contested presidential elections and
passed penal code reform criminalizing torture and sexual harassment.

A thousand kilometers farther north, last December's peaceful, People-Power
"Orange" Revolution in Ukraine, prevented a corrupt and semi-authoritarian
regime from stealing an election, and like Georgia's 2003 "Rose" Revolution,
inspired democratic and freedom-loving people everywhere. In true democratic
fashion, both the legislative and judicial branches of government joined
civil society and the press in contributing to the non-violent resolution of
the electoral conflict. The United States shares with the European Union and
others a dedication to helping Ukraine consolidate its recent democratic
gains and improve general respect for human rights.

Sadly, as we look around the globe, some states with long, democratic
traditions or more recent democratic transitions, have taken perceptible
movements back toward patterns of political authoritarianism, constraints on
freedom of the press, restrictions on political competition, and executive
influence over their judiciaries.

My government shares others' concerns that Ukraine's recent progress stands
in contrast to current trends in it's giant neighbor, Russia, where
regression toward the concentration of power in the Kremlin poses questions
for that country's democratic transition. We have been very clear with our
Russian friends, that, while we are by no means trying to impose the
American model on Russia - or on anyone else for that matter - we believe in
general that institutional checks and balances, rule of law, elections that
meet international democratic standards, and a vibrant civil society that
respects religious and other freedoms, are vital to democratic development.

In the Western Hemisphere, we have seen a steady deterioration of democracy
in Venezuela. The Government of Venezuela has increased its control over the
judicial system and its interference in the administration of justice,
packing the Supreme Court with loyalists and using the judiciary to harass
political opponents. The press and NGOs were subjected to threats and
intimidation by the government and its supporters. Under the guise of
protecting "public order and national security," the legislature adopted a
media law that seriously erodes freedom of the press, placing arbitrary
restrictions on broadcast content. Human rights groups and international
press organizations have widely criticized the law. The Venezuelan
Government has brought criminal charges of "defamation" against individuals
for making statements critical of government officials or the military.

Meanwhile, in Nepal, the King's recent dismissal of the Prime Minister and
the Cabinet, declaration of a state of emergency, and subsequent suspension
of basic human rights, set back that country's already cautious movement
toward parliamentary democracy. The U.S. joins much of the international
community in calling on the King to restore and protect civil and human
rights, promptly release those detained under the state of emergency and
move quickly toward the restoration of civil liberties and multi-party
democratic institutions under a constitutional monarchy.

Freedom and the ability to choose one's government still elude many people
in many portions of the globe.

Cuba, the Western Hemisphere's only totalitarian regime, maintained its
stance of rejection of all democratic processes and continued its harassment
and intimidation of pro-democracy activists, dissidents, librarians and
journalists. The majority of the 75 dissidents jailed in 2003 remain
incarcerated. While 14 were released late last year, we note that these
people were seriously ill and should never have been imprisoned in the first
place. Moreover, the Cuban Government continues to hold at least 300 other
political prisoners. Meanwhile, the government tightly controls the media,
and forbids any open discussion of what a post-Castro government might
entail. Cuba has repeatedly been censured by this Commission, and has
brazenly ignored CHR resolutions requiring it to take action. It continues
to refuse to allow the visit of the personal representative of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Commission should send a powerful signal to the Government of Belarus to
halt its assault on it own citizens' rights, and to take swift steps to
uphold its international human rights commitments. Not only has the
Government of Belarus not taken any meaningful steps to implement the
recommendations contained in last year's resolution; in fact, the situation
in Belarus has deteriorated as the Government has intensified its assault on
human rights NGOs, political parties, independent media, independent trade
unions and civil society, including minority religious groups, while
interfering in the legislative and judicial processes. Last October's
parliamentary elections and referendum to lift term limits on the presidency
and allow Lukashenko to run again, fell significantly short of Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) standards. Moreover, the
Government of Belarus continues to refuse to cooperate with the Special
Rapporteur the Commission appointed last year to assess the country's human
rights situation.

In Sudan, the United States is working directly with both the Government of
Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to facilitate the
implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This agreement provides
a sound basis for achieving stability and national unity throughout Sudan,
including in Darfur. We urge all parties to implement the Agreement fully
and rapidly. We are committed to working closely with the international
community to implement the accord, and are urging rapid action by the
Security Council to establish a peacekeeping mission. Our policy is to
provide assistance and to promote peace, security, accountability and
reconciliation throughout Sudan. In Darfur, despite the Government's
repeated commitments to refrain from further violence and to restrain the
Jinjaweed militias, the atrocities continue. We take this opportunity to
underscore our grave concern. In our view, a Security Council sanctions
resolution is necessary to pressure all the parties to end the violence in
Darfur and to conclude a political settlement peacefully. We have made it
clear to Khartoum that we will not normalize relations or re-examine
bilateral sanctions until the government makes significant progress on
implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and until the violence has
ended in Darfur. The United States also believes that there must be an
appropriate accountability mechanism to deter individuals from engaging in
further abuses. The African Union is currently developing a proposal and we
believe that this should receive serious consideration. In the meantime, we
urge this Commission to make clear that all parties must respect the
cease-fire and end the fighting. The Government must end its support for the
Jinjaweed militia and put an end to the killing, displacement from homes,
and atrocities in Darfur, which they have either sponsored or allowed to
continue. At the same time, we condemn the violence committed by the Darfur
rebels and demand that they cease. We also call upon the Commission to
refrain from taking any actions that might conflict with or complicate
Council deliberations.

We remain concerned about the Chinese Government's lack of commitment to
improve its poor human rights record, despite the willingness of my and
other countries to help. We have engaged with the Chinese in a broad
discussion about political and religious freedoms, and our discussions on
these issues will continue.

While they have recently taken a few steps in the right direction, the
overall situation of human rights in China remains poor. The past year
witnessed the Government launch a campaign against writers, religious
activists, and dissidents, many of whom were harassed, detained, or
imprisoned, including those who sought to commemorate the 15th anniversary
of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

The Government continued and intensified efforts to control the press and to
monitor the use of the Internet and wireless technology. Repression of
Tibetan Buddhists, Muslim Uighurs, underground Protestants, Catholics loyal
to the Vatican, and the Falun Gong, continues. Meanwhile, the Government
denied the UN High Commission for Refugees permission to operate along its
border with North Korea, and deported several thousand North Koreans, many
of whom faced persecution and possible execution upon their return home.
Women still suffer the ultimate limitation on reproductive choice in parts
of China - coerced abortion and sterilization -- in the name of population
policy. We must not forget that China is home to one-fifth of the world's
population. The international community must continue to urge, as will we,
that China address systemic shortcomings that give rise to the country's
myriad human rights abuses.

In neighboring North Korea, we remain deeply concerned about continued
reports of torture and execution for political and religious reasons, severe
punishment of some repatriated citizens, and extensive state use of
starvation, prison camps, forced labor, pervasive surveillance and extreme
repression. While recent talks with North Korea have focused on convincing
it to abandon its nuclear ambitions, be assured that human rights remain an
integral part of our comprehensive agenda with that country. Indeed, we will
soon name a special envoy on human rights in North Korea, as mandated by the
North Korean Human Rights Act, signed by President Bush in October (2004).

Burma's already poor human rights situation has deteriorated in the past
year. Not only does opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi remain under house
arrest, but her detention was extended. Meanwhile, more than a thousand
other political prisoners remain in jail. We continue to seek the immediate
and unconditional release of all those detained unjustly for their political
activities in Burma.

Furthermore, we remain deeply troubled by the Burmese military's abuse of
ethnic minority civilians, including rape, torture, forced relocations, and
confiscation of property. We will continue to support independent
investigations of these gross human rights violations.

Moving to the Middle East, in Iran, the regime's poor human rights record
worsened last year and a resolution on the disturbing human rights situation
in Iran was successfully passed at the UN General Assembly. Authorities in
Iran continued their crackdown on free speech, including closing independent
domestic media outlets, and harassing journalists and web-log authors. The
February 2004 parliamentary elections, when hundreds of reform candidates
were not allowed to run, made blatantly clear that regime hardliners
continue to exert undue influence on the electoral and legislative
processes, hindering the Iranian people's ability to assert their democratic
will. We urge the Iranian Government to enable all candidates, including
reformers, to run and campaign freely in the Presidential elections
scheduled for June (2005). Meanwhile, the Government continues to engage in
particularly severe violations of religious freedom, and Baha'is in
particular are subject to discrimination, harassment, and arrest.

In Syria, the Government continues to use its vast unchecked powers to
prevent any organized political opposition, and severely limits civil
society activities and anti-government manifestations, particularly by
ethnic minorities, such as Kurds. Citizens do not have the right to change
their government, and the Government prevented all organized political
opposition. While some unlicensed civil society forums were permitted to
take place, the Government significantly limits freedoms of speech, the
press, association and assembly.

My Government has long recognized Egypt's potential for advancing political
reform in the region. Pursuant to President Bush's State of the Union
Address, we call on Egypt to demonstrate leadership toward greater freedom
and democracy.

We are encouraged by President Mubarak's recent announcement that for the
first time he will allow other candidates to compete against him in the next
presidential elections, and we look forward to hearing more details.
Meanwhile, we urge the government to lift the emergency law, promote
pluralism and support the development of an active civil society, including
an outspoken and independent press, as well as to ensure freedom from
discrimination for Copts and other religious minorities.

In Russia, we remain deeply concerned about continuing violations of
international human rights and humanitarian law in Chechnya, and condemn all
terrorist acts. Chechen terrorist attacks on civilians, such as last
September's inhuman assault on a school in Beslan, the ongoing
disappearances of civilians detained by government forces in Chechnya, and
the taking of civilians as hostages for ransom by various groups, underscore
the extent to which all parties to the conflict continue to demonstrate
insufficient respect for basic human rights.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Robert Mugabe's political repression, media closures
and harassment of both domestic and foreign reporters in Zimbabwe, continue
to be an open invitation to international scrutiny, no matter how many times
he tells the rest of the world to mind its own business. A key test is
coming on March 31, when parliamentary elections are scheduled. Previous
elections in 2000 and 2002 were tainted by fraud, intimidation and violence
against the opposition. This campaign has been less violent than past
elections, so far, but there remain serious problems with the election
environment, which remains unfairly tilted in the ruling party's favor. We
urge the Government of Zimbabwe to adhere to the spirit as well as the
letter of the election guidelines unanimously adopted by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), of which Zimbabwe's a member, by
allowing independent organizations and media to freely operate, by giving
all parties equal access to official media, by inviting credible
international and regional monitors to observe the election, and by ensuring
that all voters have equal access to polling places.

Mr. Chairman,

The U.S fully supports efforts by the Commission and others to help
governments seeking to transition to greater freedom. We enthusiastically
support the High Level Panel's recommendation to beef up the capacity of the
Office of the High Commissioner to give advisory services and offer that
help. We co-tabled a resolution at the Commission's last session to make the
High Commissioner's office a focal point in the UN for promoting democracy
and rule of law, and made a voluntary contribution to fund that function.
Yet this Commission must speak up on behalf of the international community
to identify those regimes unwilling to seek help and deserving moral

As I have just highlighted, freedom and the ability to choose one's
government still elude many people in many portions of our globe. But let
the message of these deliberations be one of hope and promise to the
oppressed. As is the mandate of this Commission, let our work on Item 9 of
the Commission's agenda be the embodiment of the United Nations' commitment
to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who live in tyranny and
hopelessness. As the primary institution for the protection of human rights
in the UN system, our message to these true patriots of their nations must
be that you are not ignored and you are not forgotten, and we will not
excuse those who are responsible for your oppression.

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