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

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: 'Major disaster' looms as hunger spreads - WFP

JOHANNESBURG, 26 March (IRIN) - The World Food Programme (WFP) says it needs almost US $70 million urgently to provide food for 2,6 million people already suffering severe shortages in Southern Africa.

"Natural disasters and high maize prices have forced hundreds of thousands of people throughout the region to rely on food aid for survival. Donor response to repeated WFP appeals has been sluggish, and now the agency urgently requires US $69 million (145,866 mt of food) to ward off an imminent break in food supplies, particularly for people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe," the UN agency said in a statement on Tuesday as it issued a donor alert.

"If we can't get enough food to feed 2,6 million people right now, what will happen when potentially millions more need our help in the months ahead," said Judith Lewis, WFP Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. "Much more must be swiftly done to stave off the spread of hunger and malnutrition."

"The situation for people all over Southern Africa is very bleak, but I'm confident that help will start to come. It is extremely clear that a major crisis is on the horizon. Now is the time to act to prevent what is now a crisis, from developing into a major disaster," she added.

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation estimated in February that up to four million people in the region - mainly in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi - would go hungry in months to come. According to news reports, up to 300 people have died so far because of a lack of food.

WFP said initial estimates of the upcoming April/May harvests indicated that Southern Africa would experience yet another year of low maize production and economic hardship, made worse by a vicious dry spell which has withered crops across the region. "Coming on the heels of a similarly poor 2000/2001 production year, the effect of this year's poor harvest could be devastating," it said.

Logistical problems, mainly with delivery, have been exacerbating food insecurity in the region as suppliers try to meet the region's huge commercial and relief needs.

Malawi, for example, placed an order for about 150,000 mt of maize with South African suppliers late last year to get through the traditional lean season. However, only about 60,000 mt of the staple has actually been delivered so far. As a result, hunger in the landlocked country has been deepening steadily, with about 300 hunger-related deaths reported since the beginning of January.

In Zambia, about 117,000 refugees - mainly from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo - have been on half ration since the beginning of January because of delays in delivery. "A food aid shipment en-route from Durban, South Africa, will temporarily alleviate the problem. However, US $9,2 million is still urgently required up until the end of 2002 to avoid similar ration cuts in the near future," WFP said.

Kelvin Shimo, spokesman for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, told IRIN on Tuesday there was a steady inflow of refugees into camps in western and north western Zambia. About 700 Angolans had registered at the camps each month in January and February and it was not clear whether UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi's death on 22 February would result in dramatic inflows (of refugees in camps), he said. It was clear, however, that food pressures would increase in the camps.

WFP said it received only 40 percent of the US $19 million it needs to feed about 1,3 million Zambians affected by drought and floods last year. "As a result, WFP has just enough to feed the most vulnerable groups ... Many people have resorted to eating immature, green maize to survive. Others go hungry. WFP teams report that the traditional maize belt of Zambia has been hard hit by the lack of rain, dashing prospects of a favourable upcoming harvest," the agency said.

In Zimbabwe, where the agency resumed food aid distributions on 20 March after a break because of the 9-11 March election, donors have only contributed 30 percent of the US $60 million needed. "Therefore, food aid for half a million rural Zimbabweans could run out by July. The impact of land reform and economic hardship, combined with failed rains in key production areas, mean that Zimbabwe may have to import more than one million mt of maize from the already-tight surpluses in South Africa," WFP said. "The number of people needing food aid is set to rise."

In Malawi, experiencing one of the worst maize shortages in the region, maize prices had increased by as much as 500 percent and people were selling their livestock to buy some of the staple, WFP said. Yet, it added: "WFP has not yet received confirmed contributions to its US $4,2 million emergency operation to feed 255,000 people".

The agency said it had provided about US $1,5 million from its internal emergency credit reserve to buy food quickly for distribution, and had also channelled food from other operations in the country to the most critical areas. This money, however, had to be repaid with new contributions.

WFP said it was also battling to feed about 8,000 refugees in Malawi as it had not received any food aid pledges after appealing for US $724,000.

It said thousands of people in Mozambique were likely to need help in the months to come as the effects of the drought take root. "WFP is planning a new emergency operation, with the number of people requiring food aid now being finalised. WFP will this month complete an operation to feed 170,000 flood victims, some of whom were subsequently affected by drought," it said.

"Similarly, international assistance for Lesotho and Swaziland, which don't normally require emergency food aid, may also be required ... The precise numbers in need will be determined during forthcoming assessment missions. WFP has already directed food aid from existing disaster mitigation projects in Lesotho, to help some 36,000 people in the worst-affected pockets of the country," according to the agency.


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What About Human Rights?

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 26, 2002
Posted to the web March 26, 2002

Joe Seremane

SA CELEBRATED Human Rights Day in the shadow of the manipulation of voters
in Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe. I believe that unless the African National
Congress (ANC) government commits to immediate steps to help return to the
people of Zimbabwe their basic right to freedom from oppression and fear,
celebration of this day will be a sham.

SA cannot isolate itself from Zimbabwe's suffering to celebrate a sanitised
version of human rights day. Its commitment to human rights must be shown
through real and decisive steps to confront abuse of power and tyranny in

The Democratic Alliance believes government must celebrate human rights day
by exerting pressure on Mugabe to:

Determine a date for new elections, based on democratic rules;

Provide clarity on the fate of 1400 polling agents who are unaccounted for
since the election;

Take decisive action against marauding "war vets", who continue to plunder
and murder in the name of land reform;

Withdraw the trumped-up charges of treason against Movement for Democratic
Change leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube;

Revoke laws passed before the election to gag the media; and

Entrench civilian oversight of police and armed forces.

The ANC must show its commitment to human rights by taking a stand against a
president who has abused these rights. Otherwise, South Africans should be
concerned not only about the implications for Zimbabwe, but for SA's culture
of human rights.
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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 19:13 GMT
'Massive rigging' in Zimbabwe poll
Counting in Harare
The opposition wants the irregularities explained
The main opposition party in Zimbabwe has published a 200-page document detailing what it says was massive rigging of the election which returned President Robert Mugabe to power earlier this month.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says there were large discrepancies in the figures recorded at polling stations and those announced by the government.

MDC election report
Missing votes: 185,961
Extra votes: 246,445
Mugabe victory: 426,454 votes

The party says it is unable to compile a complete picture because some of its election agents are still missing and it is prevented from operating in some areas.

Commonwealth leaders last week suspended Zimbabwe for a year after their observer team concluded the elections had been held in a climate of fear.

However, the government and some African observers have said the election was free and fair.

The MDC's presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, has already rejected the poll result.

The opposition would need to prove that 200,000 votes were improperly cast to bring Mr Mugabe's vote total below the required 50% majority and force a potential run-off.


Nationwide, there were 185,961 missing votes in 48 constituencies, while there may have been as many as an extra 246,445 votes in 72 constituencies, the report said.

Official results gave Mr Mugabe 426,454 more votes than Mr Tsvangirai.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had rejected the poll result

The state Election Supervisory Commission's voting tables differed widely from results announced by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, according to the report that included alleged copies of the tables.

The supervisory commission organises the logistics of the election, while Mr Mudede is in charge of voter registration, supervising the ballot boxes and announcing the results.

The election tallies showed unusually high voter turnouts in ruling party strongholds and a decline in voting in urban opposition strongholds since parliamentary elections in 2000, opposition legal affairs spokesman David Coltart said.

"These figures must be explained by the relevant authorities," he said.

In some cases, "votes have disappeared, in others they have simply been stuffed," Mr Coltart said.

Among the other irregularities cited by the party were:

  • No opposition access to state media, which operate the only radio and television networks in Zimbabwe

  • A 40% reduction of polling stations in urban areas, traditional MDC strongholds

  • Reduced numbers of independent observers

  • New electoral regulations being issued up to the day before the voting began

  • New laws curtailing freedoms of expression and association

  • Delays in opening polling stations on the third day of voting in Harare

'Zimbabwe voting figures show massive rigging'

Disparities in official voting figures should nullify Robert Mugabe's victory in controversial presidential elections earlier this month, say Zimbabwe's opposition.

President Mugabe won the March 9-11 election with 56% of the votes cast compared with 42% for Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, according to official results.

But the state Election Supervisory Commission's voting tables differed widely from results announced by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, opposition officials said in a report that included purported copies of the voting tables.

The supervisory commission organises the logistics of the election, while Mr Mudede is in charge of voter registration, supervising the ballot boxes and announcing the results.

The opposition would need to prove that 200,000 votes were improperly cast to bring President Mugabe's vote total below the required 50% majority and force a potential run-off.

The MDC said the disparity called into question enough votes to invalidate Mr Mugabe's entire 434,000 vote lead, and it was considering legal action to challenge the results.

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Manchester Evening News

Call to ban Zimbabwe from the Games

A MANCHESTER Euro MP has called for Zimbabwe to be banned from the
Commonwealth Games.
When the African country was suspended from Commonwealth meetings in protest
at alleged vote-rigging in the re-election of President Robert Mugabe, it
was thought that the athletes would still be allowed to come to Manchester.

But on Tuesday Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy - also a member of the African,
Caribbean and Pacific Joint Assembly - said she believed a ban was one way
for the international community to show its disapproval of the election
without harming ordinary people.

Her view is at odds with the feelings of other local politicians, who have
stopped short of calling for a ban on athletes although city council leader
Richard Leese and Labour's Blackley MP, Graham Stringer, say officials from
the Zimbabwean government should not be welcomed.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has already said that it is a matter for the
Commonwealth Games Federation and not the British government.

Ms McCarthy, who met Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change, on his recent visit to Brussels, said: "Zimbabwe's
one-year suspension from the Commonwealth needs to be followed with a
suspension from Commonwealth activities.

"That should include its non-participation in the 2002 Games.

"It is important not to exacerbate the problems - namely food shortages and
the economic difficulties - which are causing suffering to the Zimbabwean
people. But we have to use so-called smart sanctions which will impact on
the Zimbabwe government's international credibility through diplomatic
measures, such as sporting bans."

She added that this was not a decision which could be made by Manchester
city council or Manchester 2002, the Games organisers.

She said: "It's up to the Commonwealth Games Federation, and I would hope
and urge them to take a principled moral stand on the issue.

"Zimbabwe may still be a member of the Commonwealth, but suspension should
mean exactly that - suspension from all Commonwealth activities.

"However, if the athletes do turn up, they should be made welcome.

"But I do not believe that any Zimbabwean government officials should be
afforded the same hospitality as other countries."

A spokesman for Manchester 2002 said: "Participation in the Games is a
decision for the Commonwealth Games Federation. We continue to work with the
Commonwealth Games Federation to support member athletes who attend the
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Zimbabwe to Drag SADC Down

The Insider (Harare)

March 26, 2002
Posted to the web March 26, 2002

Staff Writer

Zimbabwe is once again going to drag the region down with a negative growth
of 5 percent. Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia are all expected to
have positive growths. According to the annual results of the regional bank,
African Banking Corporation, regional growth for the Southern African
Development Community will this year average 3.5 percent. Zimbabwe will,
however, have a negative growth of 5 percent while Mozambique and Tanzania
will outperform the rest of the region.

Tanzania is expected to have a growth of 5.2 percent and Mozambique 9
percent. Botswana's growth will decline once again from its previous average
of 7 percent to 4.1 percent while Zambia will drop from 3.9 percent to 3
percent. But the bank, which has its primary listing in Botswana and a
secondary listing in Zimbabwe, says despite the massive loss of value of the
Zimbabwe dollar, Zimbabwe still contributes the bulk of its profit with
other regional operations only accounting for 18 percent of group profits.

The principal subsidiaries of the banking group are First Merchant Bank of
Zimbabwe which had a capital adequacy ratio of 15 percent, Bard Discount
House with 81 percent, udc Holdings (20 percent), African Banking
Corporation of Zambia (76 percent), African Banking Corporation of Botswana
(15 percent), ulc in Mozambique (10 percent ) and ulc in Tanzania (11
percent). It says the ratios are at or above those prescribed by central
banks of each country and are well above the internationally recognised
minimum ratio of 8 percent.

According to its financial results the group had net interest income of
US$20.1 million, a slight increase from US$18.1 million in 2000. It ,
however, had to write off US$8.1 million compared to US$1.6 million in 2000.
Its total income was, however, boosted to US$66.7 million, up from US$38
million, largely due to a hefty increase in dealing and other income.
Dealing income increased from US$6.2 million to US$15.6 million while other
income, mainly commissions and fees, shot up from US$11.8 million to US$34.5
million. Profit attributable to shareholders almost doubled from US$3.95
million to US$7.81 million.

The banking group says although the Zimbabwean operations are likely to
continue to be a major contributor of profits, their contribution is
expected to decline as Botswana and Zambian operations increase their
contribution. The group has applied for merchant bank licences in Mozambique
and Tanzania.
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SA Needs to Take a Stand Against Harare

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 26, 2002
Posted to the web March 26, 2002

Peter VerwerSaxonwold

WHEN are our politicians going to wake up to reality and the fact that
international sentiment is vital to our future growth and survival? The time
has come to take a stand against Zimbabwe and in particular its ageing,
desperate and destructive leader, Robert Mugabe.

When are our leaders finally going to accept reality and the Mugabe is
hellbent on destroying his country in the pursuit of selfpreservation? How
many more false promises does he have to make? How many more people need to
die? How many more need to starve? Do we want to continue sending disturbing
messages to the world that it is only a matter of time before SA follows the
same road, or do we want to send a strong message that SA is different and
not in danger of becoming another African "banana republic"?

The time has come for our leaders to condemn Mugabe's tyranny and set SA
free to truly become a world player. The alternative is too ghastly to
contemplate but is dangerously close to becoming a reality. We are printing
too much money and inflation is on the rise. The rand has fallen more than
40% against the US dollar. Interest rates are rising, which is a crippling
blow to thinly capitalised businesses and our citizens as a whole.

While the Reserve Bank has more than enough assets to fix our currency to
the dollar they choose to continue with their single-minded policy of
raising interest rates believing that this is the cure to all our economic

Also disturbing is our government's reaction, imposing a new wave of capital
controls that will drive people to find ways to ship money abroad, not to
mention inhibit foreign investment.

Unless our leaders take a positive stand on SA and the Zimbabwe crisis, we
will continue our course towards debilitating inflation and recession.

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The Nigerian Guardian

Zimbabwe after now

By Ozi-Ametu Akerele

THE much awaited presidential elections in Zimbabwe have come and probably
gone with Robert Mugabe coasting home with victory while our friends in the
MDC may actually be thinking of the way forward after a close shave with
death in the hands of the war veterans. While members of the European Union
and indeed the entire members of the international community may not
entirely be satisfied with the outcome of the polls and are probably
strategising on the best way to deal with Robert Mugabe and of course the
Government at large, the African observer teams which include the Nigerian
delegation and others may not necessarily see anything negative in the final
outcome of the elections.

While this is still on, the fact remains that Zimbabweans have gone through
hell in recent times in the hands of the ZANU-PF led government, with little
or no existing relationship with the international community and with an
almost moribund economy coupled with a tense political environment that is
hostile to investment and investors generally. The environment give no room
for debates and cross-ventilation of ideas amongst citizens. The government
of Robert Mugabe has continuously toyed with the future of Zimbabweans with
the land issue always forming the main focus of his policy thrust knowing
how emotional the issue of land is in the mind of the Zimbabwean populace.
In my own opinion, African political system has com. and furthermore
dissents superior arguments and gives no room for debates and
cross -ventilation of ideas of age in a way that by now analysts expect the
system to become hostile to political dictators like Robert Mugabe and all
his antics of survival. Robert Mugabe is in the class of people like Arap
Moi of Kenya, Gnasingbe Eyadema of Togo and Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria who
have continuously regarded heading their nation as their birthright and all
that is within it as their everlasting assets.

Now back to our main focus on the future of Zimbabwe after now, we don't
need a soothsayer to tell us that tough times await President Robert Mugabe
in the next five years that he will be at the helms of affairs. There will
be severe international isolation and serious sanctions from the European
Union and all serious nations that cherish democracy and free enterprise
with human dignity. The country's economy, which as it were is in a state of
coma, will further get worsen and the per capita income of the individual
getting to very ridiculous levels The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the
entire country will reduce due to international isolation and unhealthy
atmosphere for foreign direct investment. The future of Zimbabwe under
Robert Mugabe looks bleak in the science field owing to the obvious neglect
of the educational sector by the government over the years with little or no
partnership for exchange programmes with other developed nations. The plight
of the average Zimbabwean citizen is very pathetic, he is told to support
ZANU - PF because that is the party that will fight to reclaim his ancestral
lands and forests that were forcefully seized during the colonial times. His
sentiments are evoked in such a manner that he develops anti-white
tendencies in his behavioural patterns. He is made to believe that all other
political parties are pro white and by extension support white domination of
the economy and thereby having the illusion that whites are the bane of
underdevelopment and in Zimbabwe. All these are no doubt very dangerous
social indices that will eventually culminate into social upheavals as it

There is no doubt that Britain and other European countries have contributed
in no small measure to the problems presently being encountered in Zimbabwe.
Britain lack of commitment of Britain in resolving the land issue is a case
in point, the Abuja peace plan that mandated Britain to amongst other things
release funds for the peaceful and orderly resettlement of the white farmers
was blatantly ignored and left un-implemented. Britain has continuously
chased shadows on the Zimbabwe question in alliance with other European
Union members, the sanctions option has never resolved problems in Africa
over the years rather it has always been a stumbling block to the further
development of the average citizens in the recipient country. Hence the
present sanctions been dangled on Zimbabwe should be set aside and all
efforts should be geared towards the strengthening of the civil society and
consolidation of the achievement of Morgan Tsivangirai of the Movement for
Democracy Change (MDC) and all his allies to enable them achieve more in the
struggle for the liberalisation of the Zimbabwean polity. Further efforts
should also be geared towards the educational and health sectors by
international NGOs with a view to assisting the ordinary citizens of
Zimbabwe to achieve minimum educational and health standards as required by
the United Nations and other International protocols and charters of which
Zimbabwe is a signatory.

The entire members of the international community including the G77, the
Commonwealth, the U.N and all its agencies and of course our own African
Union are urgently needed in Zimbabwe to, among other things, come to the
aid of our brothers and sisters in terms of food aid and urgent
revitalisation of the economic system in all its entirety. The logic in this
argument is very clear. First of all sanctions are not meant to kill the
masses but are usually targeted at the government and mostly officials.
Secondly, Robert Mugabe who is the major culprit in this case is unlikely to
contest again after now, hence it will be foolish to destroy Zimbabwe and it
future because of one man who may not survive the next ten years. And
thirdly any international conspiracy against Zimbabwe is very likely to fail
because African members of the International community have already given
their maximum support and co-operation to Mugabe and his attempts at self
perpetuation in government.

Finally, the future of Zimbabwe is what is important. Let Mugabe live long
enough to face the law of nature which simply put is 'No evil deed can go
unpunished, any evil done by man to man will be reciprocated either now or
later, either by man or by God for the Triumph of evil over good is
temporary." By the grace of God, the punishment of Mugabe will be meted out
to him right here on earth before our very eyes except the entire human race
is biased against him and only if unjustly killed souls do not cry out for
justice and equity.

 Akerele is National Co-ordinator, Commonwealth International Solidarity
Group (CISG)
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Is It Democracy for Africa?

The Independent (Banjul)

March 26, 2002
Posted to the web March 26, 2002


The condemnation of Robert Mugabe's re-election by the international
community, mainly the European Union and the US, has attained hysterical
levels and it is inevitable that it will soon be capped by more sanctions
and other measures aimed at isolating Zimbabwe. As many countries jump on
the anti-Mugabe bandwagon, we need to also pose a few questions, whose
answers will go a long way in helping the international community to find
workable solutions to political crises that have become commonplace in

Does the West, particularly the Bush Administration, have any moral standing
to question Mugabe's legitimacy as President of Zimbabwe? In view of the
West's reactions to the elections that was simultaneously taking place in
the Republic of the Congo, are we justified in assuming that it is more
interested in spreading "democrazy" than in consolidating democracy in
Africa? Are Mugabe and his supporters right in reading sinister motives in
the virulent anti-Mugabe campaign that is escalating, and is spearheaded by
the Great Britain? "Comrade Bob," as Mugabe was, is still, fondly referred
to by millions of his admirers in Africa, but some are deeply disappointed
by some of the actions he has taken to curb some of the freedoms he
gallantly fought for all Zimbabweans to enjoy. However, the analyses and
news reports about Mugabe have been grossly exaggerated to demonize him
while skirting the crucial issues. As the world's attention has been
transfixed on Mugabe and his antics of retaining power through manipulation
of the electoral process, two other electoral stories were taking place in
Africa with little or no attention. There is no doubt what the answer will
be if one is asked to name an African president who was recently re-elected
after changing the constitution to disqualify his most credible opponents,
forcing other contenders for the presidency to pull out before polling day,
refused to allow an independent electoral commission to conduct the
elections, and garnered almost 90% of the votes? The obvious answer would,
of course, be Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. But this will be a wrong answer as
the president we are talking about is Dennis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic
of Congo who was re-elected to a 7-year term on the same day as Mugabe.
While British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has described Zimbabwe's election
outcome as a "tragedy" for the people of Southern Africa, the European Union
monitors have certified Sassou-Nguesso's election as "free, open and fair"
and hailed it as a positive sign for peace in Central Africa. In the
Republic of Congo, or Congo-Brazzaville, the electoral

manipulations by the incumbent, President Sassou-Nguesso, to retain power
makes Mugabe's look amateurish. His victory was assured months before the
elections were held when he undertook elaborate plans to eliminate all his
opponents. He not only refused to establish an independent election body to
oversee the elections but also made constitutional changes in January that
ensured his easy landslide victory and strengthened his grip on power. The
constitutional revisions also disqualified both former President Pascal
Lissouba, who defeated Sassou-Nguesso in the country's last presidential
election, held in 1992, and former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas. Lissouba
and Kolelas were barred from the presidential election by a new
constitutional clause that stipulated continuous residence of two years in
the country for presidential candidates before the elections. Sassou-Nguesso
had both forced to live in exile since 1997. The constitution was also
changed to allow Sassou-Nguesso to serve unlimited seven-year terms in
office, in effect transforming the country into a de facto monarchy.

After "legally" disqualifying his two most credible challengers,
Sassou-Nguesso erected insurmountable obstacles that forced his main
challenger, former Prime Minister Andre Milongo, to pull out of the race two
days before the elections citing "irregularities" in the electoral process
that made it impossible for him to mount a viable campaign.
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