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

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Independent (UK)

Mugabe's party raised millions from British residents, Foreign Office told
By Mark Olden and Adrian Gatton
27 March 2005

Allegations have come to light that a businessman has raised millions of
pounds from British residents towards the costs of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
re-election campaign, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. And, despite
European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Foreign Office has said raising
money on behalf of the party in the UK is not illegal.

Ironically, President Mugabe has built his election campaign on anti-British
rhetoric, and Zimbabwe's own laws - introduced by Zanu-PF to thwart the
opposition MDC party - forbid foreign funding of political parties. But the
British cash funding his party has done nothing to stem the tide of Mr
Mugabe's anti-British rhetoric. At a recent rally he said: "On 31 March we
must dig a grave not just six feet, but 12 feet and bury Mr Blair and the
Union Jack and write on top 'here lies the latter-day British imperialist
and the Union Jack, never again to rise.'"

The UK fund-raising claims came to light after Conservative front-bencher
Michael Ancram asked the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, what information he
had received "concerning the fund-raising mission to the UK earlier this
year of Dr Ghulam [sic] Adam from Zimbabwe; what action his department has
taken to ensure that there has been no breach of the European Union's
restrictive measures against Zimbabwe; and what action can be taken against
individuals who may have donated money in contravention of EU restrictions."

The Foreign Office has yet to reply, but it is understood that the claims
relate to Dr Gulam Adam, chief executive of the Quest Motors Corporation,
one of Zimbabwe's key vehicle assemblers. Quest has had a close business
relationship with the Zimbabwean government for years, supplying vehicles to
the Zimbabwe National Army.

Dr Adam was in the UK in January, when it is claimed that he raised a
reported £2.8m from Zimbabwean Asian business figures living in the UK.

Speaking from Harare, Dr Adam flatly denied the accusation, saying that he
had been on annual holiday in the UK. "I've got nothing to do with Zanu-PF.
I'm absolutely astounded by that stupid allegation. I'm not aligned to
anybody, I'm not a politician, I'm a businessman," he said. He challenged Mr
Ancram to make the statement outside Parliament.

The European Union imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe three years ago
because of serious human rights violations by the Zanu-PF regime. But a
Foreign Office spokesman said that fund-raising for the party in the UK
would not in itself be illegal. "Our views on Zanu-PF policies are well
known, but if they want to raise money in the UK they can do so as much as
the MDC," he said.

EU sanctions prohibit any transactions that make funds available to 95
leading Mugabe associates, but do not prevent money being raised for the
party itself.

The Foreign Office was made aware of the claims regarding Dr Adam earlier
this year, but, asked what action had been taken, a spokesman said he was
"not aware of any". "If it wasn't illegal why would there be an
investigation?" he said.

Dr John Makumbe, a leading Zimbabwean political analyst, said: "There is a
major loophole in the sanctions and we have pointed out to the EU that
Zanu-PF could operate and probably even open an office in London."

Mr Ancram said: "This is truly scandalous. Jack Straw has assured us that
the EU sanctions are tough enough. This episode just shows how ridiculous
and feeble they really are."
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The Scotsman

Zimbabwe poll threats escalate


THREATS of violence and other intimidation of opposition supporters in
Zimbabwe have escalated in the final days of campaigning for parliamentary
elections on Thursday.

While reported cases of political violence are far fewer than the bloody
attacks that characterised previous elections in the southern African
country, activists say the number of threats towards supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party have soared in the
past week.

They claim President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) has returned to its traditional tactics of giving
food and gifts to its supporters, while terrifying and starving opponents.

Professor Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary-general, has said tactics
include the use of food aid as a tool to manipulate voters.

Food is scarce in many parts of the country, with drought compounding
existing problems of runaway inflation and high unemployment, and
international observers estimate up to four million Zimbabweans are
starving. Mugabe is accused of exploiting the situation for political gain
by withholding desperately needed grain from areas that support opposition

The MDC also claims Zanu-PF is using traditional chiefs as agents to
threaten their local voters with violence. Zanu-PF has promised lavish
donations of hundreds of vehicles to loyal chiefs - unelected but
influential community leaders in rural areas who should remain outside party

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) observers in the country to oversee the poll, has voiced concern at
the problem. She said: "The SADC mission is worried by the role of chiefs,
because it keeps popping up everywhere we go. I am not satisfied with the
explanation of the authorities."

The claims of violent threats are backed up by two independent reports,
released last week, from the New York-based Human Rights Watch and Zimbabwe's
National Constitutional Assembly, which argue the elections will not be free
or fair.
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Gulf Daily News

      Election wiles frustrating...
      By John Chiahemen

      South Africa's fumbling bid to end Zimbabwe's political crisis is
unlikely to see better results after this week's Zimbabwean parliamentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Khaleej Times

Zimbabwe - the polls and beyond
By Mohammed A.R. Galadari

27 March 2005

WHAT is feared about the upcoming parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe is
that president Robert Mugabe will live up to his (ill) reputation of being a
deft manipulator of the democratic process.

Concern is widespread over the way the elections are being organized there
later this week, with the opposition being fearful that the process will not
be free and fair, and the Human Rights Watch coming out with a damning
report on the situation there. While the campaign this time is free of
large-scale violence, the rights panel's report documents cases of political
intimidation, including arbitrary arrests and beatings against opposition
party supporters by the ruling side. Worse, poor voters have been threatened
with stoppage of food aid. The elections there in 2000 and 2002 had seen all
these and more, including killings, that brought shame on the country and
international sanctions against the country.

The two electoral laws that Mugabe brought forward, in response to the calls
from the South African Development Community (SADC)-an umbrella organization
for governments in the region-have not gone a long way in addressing the
major issues that plague the election process. Rights activists say these
laws "failed to meet the full standards for full participation in the
electoral process, freedom of association, political tolerance and equal
access to state media, independence of the media and judiciary, impartiality
of the electoral institutions and voter education".

A fall in his support base, as reflected in the 2000 elections was what
prompted Mugabe to encourage a movement against White farmers, seizure of
their lands and their re-distribution to black Zimbabweans. The fact that it
impacted badly on the country's economy didn't go into the head of Mugabe,
who sees it as the best way to win back the people's support for him and his
party. With 25 years behind him in being in governance, the 80-plus
president has neither been able to strengthen the political system in his
country, nor improve the economy. One view is that the economy has
contracted by a third in the past five years, following the weakening of the
farm sector, consequent on Mugabe's misadventure. Unemployment is reportedly
running at an all-time high.

Look at the downfall of a country that was once known as the Jewel of Africa
and an agricultural powerhouse. Mugabe blames the West for what's going
wrong with his country, but who will believe him? A United Nations report
last year had dubbed Zimbabwe as a black spot on the economic map of
southern Africa, for the reason that while the rest of the region is
progressing well, Zimbabwe is left out.

That should, in normal course, have a bearing on the elections. But, will it
reflect in the results? Who can expect fair-play in a situation in which the
army will be administering the vote counting? Allegations have it that as
many as 800,000 dead people are on the electoral register. And, Mugabe's men
are threatening to starve people to death if they voted for the opposition.
They warn that a central computer identify who voted for whom-meaning, those
who vote against Mugabe will face the consequences.

Good sense must prevail on Mugabe in the run-up to the elections. He must
make sure that the elections are fair, if only to win back international aid
and revive the money-spinning tourism sector, as a guarantee to revival of
the economy. That must also help him change the perception of his country as
being an "outpost of tyranny", as a senior American official called it

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The Guardian

Zimbabwe's Ruling Party Predicts Victory

Sunday March 27, 2005 2:16 AM


Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's ruling party expressed confidence
Saturday that it will win a majority in this week's parliamentary elections,
while the opposition said a worsening economy will drive voters to protest
President Robert Mugabe's policies.

William Nhara, the director of elections for the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, predicted the ruling party will win two-thirds of the
seats in Thursday's voting for the 150-seat legislature.

``We have been conducting internal polls to determine our strength and our
predictions. That's why I am saying we are bubbling with confidence,'' Nhara
said Saturday.

``We are nearing 76-78 (seats) for the ruling party, with the opposition
getting about 36, and about three going to independents,'' he said. Nhara
did not explain who the party expected to win the remaining two seats.

The election will be held over one day on Thursday, instead of the usual
two-day vote, in an attempt to minimize opportunities for rigging.

Meanwhile, the wife of jailed opposition legislator Roy Bennett said she
would run in his place in the elections rather than postponing the vote so
he could run.

Heather Bennett, 42, said Saturday that her husband had reached an agreement
with election officials to let her stand as the opposition candidate for

The Electoral Court had ordered the region's vote be delayed until April 30
to allow Bennett himself to stand, saying he had been improperly barred from
filing candidacy papers.

But Bennett said she and her husband wanted the vote to go ahead as
scheduled to spare voters any possible intimidation by youth militia loyal
to Mugabe.

Nhara predicted low voter turnout in urban areas that he said would hurt the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Nhara said Mugabe's party had been improving its organization and support
base and that it is the only party that can in one day ``marshal and ensure
that its supporters come out'' and win the election.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai disagreed, saying economic hardship
would cause voters to cast ballots against Mugabe and his administration's

After the opposition won almost half the seats in elections in 2000 -
despite what independent observers called widespread violence and
vote-rigging - Mugabe began redistributing white-owned farms to black
Zimbabweans in an apparent bid to rally support.

The often-violent land redistribution campaign and an accompanying crackdown
on dissent plunged the southern African nation of nearly 13 million people
into international isolation and economic crisis.

The economy has shrunk 50 percent over the past five years. Unemployment is
at least at 70 percent. Agriculture, the economic base of Zimbabwe, has
collapsed and at least 70 percent of the population live in poverty.

``We are not going to have a problem of apathy ... I think we are going to
have an overwhelming turnout that is even going to surprise us,'' Tsvangirai
told the Associated Press on Friday

Some local observers also predicted a strong opposition challenge, after the
party's leaders spent the last five years quietly building support after
2000 elections, when it won 57 of 120 contested seats.

``We have done our own internal polling. There are factors, like 65 percent
of Zimbabweans think that their life has not improved in the past five
years, which means that those are disgruntled Zimbabweans,'' Tsvangirai
said. ``It is food and jobs that will determine this election, and that is
our message.''

Tsvangirai narrowly lost presidential polls in 2002 that were also condemned
by observers as deeply flawed by political intimidation and vote rigging.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders after EU
observers were kicked out of the country during the presidential polls. The
African Union endorsed a report criticizing violence and intimidation that
marred the election.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called Zimbabwe an ``outpost of

``The international community had already forecast that this election is
going to be very violent ... That's failed to materialize,'' Nhara said.
``For us, it is a watershed election, that we are proving our detractors

A successful election also would strengthen Mugabe as he prepares to pick a
successor and retire, ruling party officials said.

``He wants to leave a legacy, where there is peace, stability and
development, where every Zimbabwean would be proud to be Zimbabwean,'' Nhara

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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele Press Release

Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF Overturns "One Man, One Vote"
Diaspora to Participate in Mock Election

26 March 2005


The Mugabe regime has effectively overturned the principle of “One man, one vote” in Zimbabwe. The very reason for the liberation struggle against oppressive and exploitative colonial rule has thus been subverted - ironically by those who glory most in their liberation war credentials – and Zimbabweans around the world are encouraged to register their dissatisfaction prior to or on election day, 31 March 2005.

In many and various ways the ruling clique of ZANU-PF politicians has denied the vote to those upon whom the Constitution confers this fundamental right.

For example, the present appallingly corrupt state of the voters’ roll has resulted in tens of thousands of eligible voters being unable to cast their ballot in the forthcoming parliamentary election, while the inclusion of the names of some 800,000 now deceased persons and other gross irregularities on the roll opens the door to multiple voting by others.

In no single instance have more Zimbabweans been disenfranchised at one stroke than by the regime’s denial of the right to vote to citizens now living abroad.

It is estimated that between 25 and 30 per cent of Zimbabwe’s population have left the land of their birth. The regime’s own analysts put the number at 3,4 million. These are the Zimbabweans who now live in the diaspora, in South Africa, Europe, Australia, the United States and elsewhere.

For most of them the decision to leave Zimbabwe was not entirely voluntary. They were compelled by circumstances, either political repression and fear of violence or the mismanagement of the economy which destroyed tens of thousands of jobs.

Even pensioners were forced to become “economic refugees” when the plunging value of the Zim dollar rendered their pensions worthless, and they could no longer sustain themselves in their homeland.

Therefore the very fact of the huge number of Zimbabwean citizens living abroad is an indictment of the Mugabe regime’s disastrous political and economic policies.

For the regime now to benefit from their absence, by excluding those who might be expected to punish them in the election, is simply outrageous. It is ZANU-PF’s fear of rejection by the majority of citizen’s living abroad that has dictated the decision to disenfranchise this huge section of the electorate.

The right of citizens temporarily living abroad to vote in national elections is one that is recognized in most democracies the world over. Indeed the majority of Southern African nations accord their citizens this right.

Yet in Zimbabwe the ruling ZANU-PF clique has decided, without any consultation with the opposition or civic groups, that the country’s citizens will be denied this basic right.

Only embassy staff and members of the armed forces serving beyond the borders of Zimbabwe are to be afforded this basic human right – the latter being compelled to vote in the presence of their commanding officers.

When the decision of the executive was challenged in the Supreme Court by a group of seven Zimbabweans living outside the country, their application was brushed aside contemptuously by Chief Justice Chidyausiku, himself a prominent member of the ruling clique who has benefited enormously from Mugabe’s patronage - and whose judgments clearly show it.

Refusing to then give any reasons for his ruling, Chief Justice Chidyausiku said only that he and his brother judges Vernanda Ziyamba and Luke Malaba had “unanimously concluded that the application has no merit and (is) hereby dismissed.”

At a stroke the principle of “One person, one vote” is casually swept aside, and that on the authority of the highest court in the land. So far has Zimbabwe moved, under ZANU-PF misrule, from the noble ideals of the liberation struggle.

It is high time to correct this blatant injustice. It is high time to challenge and confront the whole corrupt system established by ZANU-PF which benefits just a tiny elite of the super-rich at the cost of untold suffering to the rest.

Those Zimbabweans who are part of the diaspora in South Africa will have an opportunity to vote in a mock election being held in Pretoria on Tuesday March 29 – two days before the poll in Zimbabwe.

· Further details of the South African vote and how to participate:

Date: Tuesday 29 March 2005
Times: 10h00 to 14h00
Venue: Outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria
798 Merton Street cnr East Street
Arcadia, Pretoria

Documents required: Nil

Alternative: SMS vote from cell phones on all SA networks
Send to: 34383 with name of chosen political party
Voice mail vote: phone 082 234 8683

Note: Only Zimbabwean nationals may participate and each is entitled to only one vote. A flagging system is in place to ensure that no one votes more than once.

· Further details of the United Kingdom vote and how to participate:

Date: Wednesday 30 March 2005 – all night vigil from 20h00
Date: Thursday 31 March 2005 – mock ballot from 05h00 to 17h00
Venue: Outside the Zimbabwean Embassy on the Strand in London

Documents required: Nil

Note: Only Zimbabwean nationals may participate and each is entitled to only one vote.

· Further details of the German (Munich) protest rally and how to participate:

Date: Thursday 31 March 2005 – protest rally
Time: 18h00 to 20h00
Venue: Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Zimbabweans living abroad, take this opportunity to show what you think of a regime that denies you the right to vote in your home country.


March 26, 2005

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

About Sokwanele:

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

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

Sokwanele - Zvakwana - Enough is Enough is a peoples' force through which democracy will be restored to the country and protected jealously for future generations to ensure that Zimbabweans will never be oppressed again.

Visit our website:
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We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.

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The Sunday Times (UK)

            Quiet chant of 'hungry, hungry' rouses a nation to oust Mugabe
            Christina Lamb in Harare

            IT STARTED with a whisper, a mother besotted with grief at
losing her son, people said afterwards. As she muttered the single word
"hungry", the crowd around her shifted uneasily and looked scared. Nobody
wanted a night in a Zimbabwean jail.

            On a platform in front of them, their great leader Robert Mugabe
was denouncing Tony Blair for "spending sleepless nights plotting how he can
remove the Zimbabwe government" and telling them to "bury Blair, vote

            But then another woman, shaded from the sun by a large coloured
umbrella, repeated the word: "Hungry."

            The people of Gwanda had been gathered to hear the president
tell them why his party, which has been in power throughout Zimbabwe's 25
years of independence, should be voted in for another term. Instead, they
thought about the fact that the Lutheran priests who used to bring them food
had been driven out by the government and a low chant of "hungry, hungry,
hungry" reverberated through the crowd.

            Agitated secret service men from the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) started to take names. The 81-year-old president,
perspiring behind his large, plastic-rimmed glasses, was hustled away. But
the damage was done.

            The story of the Gwanda rally may prove apocryphal but by the
end of last week it was being recounted in villages and bars across the
country. From Matabeleland to Manicaland, the refrain of "hungry" seemed to
be on everyone's lips. Along rutted tracks winding between failed maize
crops, one person after another held up open-fingered palms and said
 "chinja" or change, the slogan of the opposition.

            "This is the beginning of the end," said Solomon Saungweme,
standing in the ruins of his home in the Manicaland village of Ngirazi. The
house was burnt down last week by youths from Zanu-PF, which he once
supported. Afterwards they raped his 18-year-old daughter-in-law. "We don't
care any more about Mugabe's threats. It's better to die now than to starve
to death," he said.

            While Mugabe's friends Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Daniel arap Moi
of Kenya and Namibia's Sam Nujoma have all left office, Africa's last
remaining independence leader has used every trick in the brutality book to
stay in power.

            Many of those who dared to oppose Mugabe have been tortured and
killed, and their womenfolk raped; the free press has been bombed and closed
down; almost all the white commercial farmers have been kicked off their
farms, destroying the country's agriculture and leaving the nation hungry;
and food aid has been reserved for followers of the ruling party.

            Supporters of Mugabe have been rewarded with jobs and farms,
making all sectors of society complicit. The recipients of farms include 15
high court judges, senior military and police officers and the Anglican
bishop of Harare.

            But with the country in its third year of a drought, Mugabe may
have gone too far. Last year he halted foreign food aid, announcing that the
country had a bumper harvest and was "choking" on food.

            Yet diplomats estimate the harvest of maize, Zimbabwe's staple,
at 300,000 tons, one-sixth of what it needs. The opposition claims the
government has been handing out D-grade maize usually used for animal feed.

            Fusenet, an international organisation that monitors hunger,
estimates that more than 5m people, almost half the population, are on the
verge of starvation. Another 3m - many of them professional people - have
already voted with their feet and gone abroad. The country has been left
perilously short of doctors and nurses.

            As those who remain go to the polls in parliamentary elections
this Thursday, people are daring to believe that Mugabe's sins may finally
be returning to haunt him.

            The first sign I found that things may be changing came when I
arrived in Bulawayo eight days ago working undercover - as British reporters
have been forced to do for several years since Mugabe stopped letting most
of us in.

            Over tea and toast, David Coltart, the legal affairs spokesman
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), talked excitedly of
a "new mood sweeping through the country".

            "Everywhere we go, people are coming to us saying, 'We're right
behind you'," said Coltart. "It's the first time we have that combination of
a stolen election and hungry, angry people who blame Mugabe for their

            The mood was very different at the office of the city's Roman
Catholic archbishop, Pius Ncube, one of the few people to attack Mugabe
openly. His telephone has been blocked so that he cannot dial out and CIO
spies sit on the wall outside.

            "There is no way Mugabe is going to lose these elections," he
said. "They are going to rig them and they will get away with it. This is
not Kiev."

            The archbishop pointed at posters of Martin Luther King, Mahatma
Gandhi and Nelson Mandela above his desk and bemoaned the lack of leadership
in Zimbabwe. "Ninety-five per cent of people are fed up with Mugabe but they
don't know what to do. They have no real leader to motivate them and are
frightened that Mugabe will turn the army on them.

            "I feel powerless. We are no longer even allowed to feed people,
we cannot hold a prayer meeting for more than four without police permission
and my own priests are being bribed [with] computers and farms."

            That evening I met a terrified woman in an empty car park under
the cover of darkness. Her name was Maggie and she sobbed as she recounted
how a soldier had come to the house where she sells firewood to support her
family and warned her that she was now a "Zanu-PF target" for supporting the

            "How will my four children survive when they come and kill me?"
she wailed.

            Frightened as she was, Maggie nevertheless insisted that she
would vote MDC; and as I travelled across Zimbabwe last week from west to
east, I found that people who were terrified to be seen with a foreign
journalist on my last visit in November were now openly criticising the

            The capital, Harare, has long been an MDC stronghold. But in a
country where e-mails are monitored, it was still a surprise to find
students downloading Mugabe jokes from a computer and stamping 20,000-dollar
notes - each worth less than £1 - with "Enough!" to protest against
inflation running at 400%.

            The real shock came in the Zanu-PF heartland of Mashonaland
West. In the farming district of Norton, southwest of Harare, we stopped at
the burnt-out shell of a farm that had belonged to Terry Ford, a white
farmer murdered three years ago and found with his small terrier whimpering
beside his battered body.

            "What was the point?" asked Joe Whaley, the neighbour who found
him and whose own farm was seized by one of Mugabe's nephews. "They killed
Terry and are not even doing anything with the farm."

            A little further on were the ruins of Peter MacSporran's tobacco
farm. The house has been stripped of windows, doors, bricks, sockets,
lavatories, tiles - anything that could be sold. As we wandered around
nervously, expecting Zanu-PF militia to appear, a group of young men in
dirty T-shirts emerged and held out their palms, saying: "Chinja."

            "The government dumped us here," said one of them, who can be
identified only as Mylove. "I was working as a gardener in Harare but they
promised us land so we came here. They gave us no help and we are hungry, we
have no food or future, we are just living in the bush like monkeys, eating
fruit and whatever we can find."

            During the last parliamentary elections in 2000 and the
presidential poll in 2002, such a conversation would have been unthinkable.
Scattered throughout rural areas were camps of "Green Bombers", Mugabe's
youth militia, who rounded up, beat and tortured local people. Some 300 MDC
workers were killed in those campaigns.

            This time Mugabe has called off the thugs, apparently intent on
regaining some international stature before he retires. Zimbabwean
television has even been reporting on MDC rallies.

            The opposition is baffled. One explanation is that Mugabe
believes people are so cowed that he need do no more. Solidarity Peace
Trust, a religious group that monitors human rights, reported a few months
ago that about 300,000 Zimbabweans - one in 40 - had been beaten, tortured
or denied food since 2000.

            There is another possible reason, however: disarray in the
ruling party. Mugabe's announcement last year that he would retire after his
term ends in 2008 provoked a succession battle that has split the party
along tribal fault lines. All the key posts - including that of his new
vice-president, Joyce Mujuru, the wife of a powerful former army chief - are
held by members of Mugabe's Zezuru clan, while the Karanga clan has been

            Six provincial party bosses, all from non-Zezuru provinces, were
suspended for refusing to endorse Mujuru. Some of the disaffected are now
standing as independents, including Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's former spin
doctor, who has admitted the last elections were rigged.

            One might wonder why a dictator in a country where it is illegal
to raise an arm as his motorcade goes by bothers with elections. But in the
same strange way that he denounces Britain yet opens parliament in an old
Bentley and allowed his young wife Grace to become one of Harrods' biggest
customers until European Union travel restrictions were imposed, Mugabe
craves legitimacy.

            "He's the outcast in the playground and he hates it," said one
diplomat, who pointed out that Mugabe's friends outside Africa are Iran,
North Korea, Cuba, Malaysia and China, none of which is a place where he
wants to see out his days.

            Yet when he signed a protocol drawn up by the Southern African
Development Community last autumn committing himself to free and fair
elections, even his own supporters did not expect him to fulfil the pledge.

            "IT'S EERIE," said Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC's candidate for
Makoni East, with whom I spent a day on the campaign trail. The Zanu-PF-held
constituency in Manicaland saw some of the worst violence in the last
elections and was a no-go area for white journalists.

            As we bumped around the dirt roads in my car - Muchauraya has
only a bicycle - he showed me a house where he was abducted, beaten and left
for dead; another where an MDC worker was killed; and a lake where his
election organiser was thrown to crocodiles.

            The intimidation has not ceased. Lydia, a 13-year-old girl we
met, was beaten by Zanu-PF after she went to an MDC rally last weekend.

            But violence is not the main challenge for candidates such as
Muchauraya this time. First there is food, given out to those with Zanu-PF
membership cards in the local town of Mutare. Muchauraya has to give four
days' notice to the police for approval to hold a meeting, then often
arrives to find Zanu-PF holding a rally nearby at which food is handed out.

            The biggest challenge, however, is in persuading villagers it is
safe to vote MDC. Mugabe cunningly agreed to translucent ballot boxes -
demanded by the opposition as a safeguard against vote-rigging - then warned
villagers he would be able to see how they voted.

            Muchauraya uses a bottle to show villagers that if a ballot
paper is folded three times before being placed inside, nobody can see what
it says.

            When we stopped at Kawedza village, a group of women gathered,
patting their stomachs. "We have never been so hungry," said Everjoyce,
holding out a small yellow guava. "We're living on fruit that the baboons

            It is this desperation that is giving people the defiance to
speak out. Further along the road we gave a lift to a woman with two young
children suffering from malaria. They had walked nine miles to a clinic,
only to be given paracetamol as this was all that was available.

            In Mutare I watched queues of people outside banks that had no
money, and spoke to the manager of a wood factory who told me that almost
every day in the line for jobs they find a dead body. Life expectancy in
Zimbabwe has fallen to 33.

            But while Zimbabweans may be crying out for change, nobody
believes Mugabe has any intention of losing; there is just too much at
stake. Work is progressing on the $5m blue-tiled pagoda-style palace to
which he plans to retire in the exclusive Harare suburb of Borrowdale Brook.
A two-thirds majority for the opposition could see him removed from the
presidency and facing trial for abuses such as the 1980s massacres in
Matabeleland in which about 20,000 were killed by his notorious Fifth

            "Everything is in place for these elections to be rigged," said
Coltart. The 8,300 polling stations will be manned by military and police
officers. Investigations into the electoral roll have turned up a number of
non-existent and dead voters, all of whom are expected to vote Zanu-PF.

            Even if the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, were to win a
majority of the 120 seats contested, Mugabe appoints a further 30.
Traditional chiefs who receive government allowances are expected to tell
villagers how to vote and observers from Europe and America have been denied
entry. Handily for Mugabe, his ally President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
has already declared the elections to be "free and fair".

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Sun Herald (UK)

Zimbabwe: Mbeki sees no evil, hears no evil

Outcry as South African premier fails to back neighbour's struggle for
democracy, writes Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg

Zimbabwe's sixth parliamentary election, to be held in five days' time, has
become less a test of President Robert Mugabe's credibility and reputation -
which are already beyond repair - than the standing of his South African
ally, President Thabo Mbeki.
Mugabe, who has rigged yet another election in advance, has bet on Mbeki
having no stomach to act against him when South Africa's African National
Congress (ANC) government could, if it so chose, topple Mugabe in months,
perhaps weeks, by cutting off his electricity and oil supplies.

Mbeki greatly comforted Mugabe, but stunned many South Africans and most of
the concerned international community when, a few days ago, he proclaimed
from the steps of parliament in Cape Town: "I have no reason to think that
anybody in Zimbabwe will act in a way that will militate against the
[Zimbabwe] elections being free and fair."

This came in the wake of a statement by South African's most celebrated
human rights lawyer, George Bizos, who has defended both Nelson Mandela and
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in treason trials, who told the
International Bar Association in London: "Mr Mugabe needs this election. He
would like it to be certified as a free and fair election in the hope of
getting some relief from the terrible situation to which he has led his

"I don't think he should get such a certificate because in order to have a
free and fair election, you have to have the rule of law, an impartial and
independent judiciary, an impartial and independent prosecuting authority
and an impartial and competent police force.

"None of these things exists. Nor can they be put in place before March 31,
when the election takes place."

Zimbabwean human rights organisations and government opponents, distressed
by Mbeki's "see no evil, hear no evil" attitude, were incensed when his
labour minister, Membathisi Mdladlana, leader of the official South African
government election observer mission, declared the poll free and fair within
30 minutes of arriving in Zimbabwe.

Mdladlana told reporters in Harare, including local journalists who had been
detained and beaten up by Zimbabwe's police, that everything was "calm and
smooth" and that the ballot would be conducted properly. Mdladlana said too
many people had already concluded that elections in Zimbabwe would not be
free and fair. "Those people are a problem and a nuisance," he said. "But
nobody attacks them. Some of us are fed up with their lies."

Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), accused Mbeki and Mdladlana of taking partisan stances that are "an
affront to the ideals that guided liberation struggles across Africa".

Ncube added: "The South Africans have let us down. History will judge them
very harshly indeed. They are trying to sanitise the illegitimate regime of
Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF. The South African government continues to go out
of its way to act as the servant of Zanu-PF repression against the people of
Zimbabwe's struggle for democracy and freedom."

What is extraordinary about Mbeki's stand, apart from the long-term damage
it will cause an increasingly troubled post-Mandela South Africa, is that he
and other heads of state of the 14-member Southern African Development
Community (SADC), southern Africa's most important regional grouping, spent
a huge amount of energy six months ago drafting guidelines for free and fair
elections at a summit in Mauritius. The document won worldwide acclaim. It
was even signed by President Mugabe.

Yet it is clear that Mugabe has no intention of applying the guidelines. It
is equally clear that neither Mbeki nor the other SADC leaders intend
calling him to account.

In the end, South Africa and SADC will pay the price in terms of lost
credibility in the developed world, where they should have important roles
to play in negotiating a better deal for the struggling nations of Africa.
Forget about all the high ideals of Tony Blair's Commission for Africa and
of the coming G8 summit in Scotland if, after Thursday's blatantly rigged
Zimbabwe election, it is more of the same from presidents Mbeki and Mugabe.

Mbeki's much touted doctrine of delivering good governance in Africa for
better trading opportunities with the developed world will be the prime
victim. Investment in South Africa, already a trickle because of
bewilderingly complex black empowerment legislation and Mbeki's denial of
the scale of his country's Aids crisis, will almost dry up.

Pius Ncube, the outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, who is
Zimbabwe's nearest equivalent to South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize winner
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has observed that Mbeki "would be booed in the
streets" if he was to speak to ordinary Zimbabweans and ask them what they
thought about his views on their country.

The archbishop, who said he refused an offer from Mugabe of an appropriated
white commercial farm in exchange for his silence, said: "The people of
Zimbabwe have no respect for Mbeki. They don't know why he is supporting
Mugabe. They don't understand it."

Asked what he thought of Mugabe, Archbishop Ncube replied: "He's a very,
very evil man. The sooner he dies, the better."

Cold winds seem destined to blow through a region where, after March 31, the
future will look bleak and dangerous.

The assault on Mbeki, who is almost as prickly about criticism as Mugabe,
does not only come from without. His South African Communist Party and
Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions) partners in the so-called
tripartite governing alliance with the ANC are furious with the president.
Both have been refused permission by Mugabe to send observers to the
election, and when a Cosatu delegation was manhandled and turned back from
Harare after trying to meet fellow Zimbabwe trade unionists, the Cosatu
leadership was condemned by the South African government for not respecting
Zimbabwe law.

In a searing editorial, the Mail And Guardian newspaper, the ANC's most
valiant defender in the heyday of apartheid, said: "South Africa has lost
the high moral ground. Democracy has been sacrificed by both the South
African and Zimbabwean governments. In its place, there is a slavish
adherence to democratic form without its substance.

"Mbeki's support for Mugabe has hurt his international reputation. The new
Africa - represented by Mbeki's New Partnership for Africa's Development and
a revitalised African Union - is another loser."

27 March 2005
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Sunday Times (UK)

            March 27, 2005

            Jailed farmer's wife fights poll

            TO contest a parliamentary election is not a decision to be
taken lightly anywhere. But in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, where opposition
candidates are persecuted, it is literally a matter of life and death,
writes Christina Lamb.

            Heather Bennett, 42, a half-Scottish mother of two, knows better
than most people what Zimbabwe's president is capable of. After her husband
Roy, a coffee farmer, won a seat for the opposition party Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in the 2000 elections, their lives were repeatedly

            She was abducted when four months pregnant and made to dance in
the rain at spear-point until she miscarried; their workers were brutalised
and raped; their cat was burnt alive; and last April soldiers drove them off
the estate they had worked for years to buy.

            Roy Bennett is now serving a one-year sentence with hard labour
in one of Zimbabwe's worst jails. His crime - pushing the justice minister,
Patrick Chinamasa, who said that the couple would never set foot on the farm
again despite six court orders to the contrary.

            However, when she was asked earlier this month by the people of
the Chimanimani area to succeed her husband as their prospective MP in this
week's elections, Heather Bennett had no hesitation. "I never in my life
dreamt of becoming a politician," she said. "But in this country politics is
not a luxury - it's a matter of good against evil, pure and simple."

            The initial plan was that she would campaign in her husband's
name. A fluent Shona speaker, he is so popular among local people that in
the 2000 elections he won an overwhelming majority in what had always been a
stronghold of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

            Although the High Court ruled that Bennett could stand in this
year's election from prison, Mugabe denounced the decision as "madness" and
last week the country's election commission referred the matter to the
Supreme Court.

            Beatrice Mtetwa, Bennett's lawyer, said, "There was no point in
appealing. It was clear what they would say."

            Thus on Friday it was announced that Heather Bennett would
stand - one of just two white women contesting the elections.

            "Roy said that too many people have lost too much for us to give
up at this point," she said. "It feels like this is the last sprint."

            For the first time in her life she has found herself addressing
rallies, speaking in English while her campaign manager translates into
Shona. "It's scary," she admitted, sipping a whisky and water as she fielded
phone calls in her quietly spoken way.

            As the daughter of a Spitfire pilot who met her Glaswegian
mother during the second world war before moving to Zimbabwe in 1947,
Heather Bennett has plenty of fighting spirit. The attempt to become an MP
has restored the spark that friends say she lost when her husband was

            Her entry into the murky world of Zimbabwean politics is backed
by her 17-year-old daughter Casey, who is at school in Harare, and 19-
year-old son Charles, studying in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. "They know
we can't just give in," she said.

            If she is elected, her husband will serve the constituency once
he gets out of jail - she is allowed a half-hour visit to him each
fortnight - and she will be in parliament.

            "We will make a good team," she said.
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Mugabe paints MDC as Blairite cronies

Jeevan Vasagar in Harare
Sunday March 27, 2005
The Observer

President Robert Mugabe's party has dubbed this week's parliamentary
elections in Zimbabwe an opportunity to 'bury Blair', claiming the British
premier is the puppet-master of the opposition Movement for Democratic
News bulletins on state-controlled radio, the sole source of news for about
60 per cent of Zimbabweans, refer to the opposition as the 'Blair-run MDC'.
At a rally Mugabe told supporters: 'You will be lost if you vote for the
opposition because it would be as good as voting Blair into power.'

There is even a pop song attacking Blair, referring to a latrine common in
Zimbabwe's villages whose inventor shares the PM's name. The lyric includes
the line: 'The Blair I know is a Blair toilet.'

Government-run newspapers regularly portray Blair as a warmonger. The state
press also seized on a recent interview Blair did with the gay magazine
Attitude, in which he said Britain might have a gay prime minister in

Mugabe's critics say the focus on Blair is an attempt to remind voters of
1980, when Mugabe led the struggle to free the country from Ian Smith's
white minority rule.

'It's about the frame in which Mugabe wishes to set the contest,' said Iden
Wetherell, group projects editor of two privately-owned newspapers, the
Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard .

'He was obviously at the peak of his success as a liberation war leader. He
was able to dine off that particular table for many years after. The
challenge of the 1990s was for people who could govern, and maintain an
economy, and deliver GDP growth. He was an utter failure on that front.'

Mugabe's homophobia is an attempt to position himself as the champion of
'authentic African ideals', Wetherell suggested.

'[Gay rights campaigner] Peter Tatchell's attempt to arrest Mugabe has been
presented as incited by Blair. It has even been said in the official media
that Tatchell and Peter Hain are an item.'

In campaign advertising, the Zanu-PF Party blames Zimbabwe's economic woes
on 'racist' whites and other foreigners who deliberately caused the collapse
of their businesses in order to ruin the country.

There are food shortages in the countryside, while inflation running at 400
per cent slashes the value of the cash in people's pockets.

Analysts say Zimbabwe's economic plight is caused by years of government
corruption and mismanagement, compounded by the seizure of commercial farms,
which destroyed foreign investor confidence.

Lack of foreign currency means that Zimbabwe's petrol stations are short of
fuel. At filling stations, the queues snake around the block. What fuel is
available is not petrol but 'blend', a mixture of petrol and sugar cane

By contrast, the MDC's campaign focuses on the country's economic woes.

An opposition newspaper advert illustrates the impact of soaring inflation
by describing how Z$1,500 could buy a car 25 years ago, a bus ticket three
years ago, and a nail today.

Privately, senior MDC sources admit that references to Blair are political
poison for them.

In a country where majority rule was achieved just 25 years ago, suggestions
that they are collaborating with the former colonial masters are dangerous.

A remark Blair made in the House of Commons last June, that he was 'working
closely with the MDC' was gleefully seized on by the ruling party and sent
shudders through the opposition.

Yet for most people the constant references to Britain's prime minister are
baffling. 'We hear the name, but we don't know this fellow,' said Million
Ndlovu, a villager in the drought-stricken province of Matabeleland.

For Ndlovu, and thousands of villagers like him, there are more pressing
concerns. An MDC voter, he claims he is being denied food by local party
officials who control the delivery of emergency grain supplies.

At the upcoming elections, Zimbabwe's electoral authorities are introducing
transparent plastic ballot boxes, replacing the old wooden boxes. Opposition
supporters fear this innovation will make it easy to see who voted against
the government.

'Now they are saying all those who voted for the MDC will be identified, and
won't get any food,' Ndlovu said.

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A despair and a blessing
While Zimbabwe curses its colonial past, Zambia turns history to its
(Filed: 26/03/2005)

Zimbabwe's despair is neighbouring Zambia's blessing. And nowhere is this
contrast more pronounced than in the towns either side of the thunderous
waterfall between the two countries.
A mile of white, savage Zambezi water separates Livingstone in Zambia from
the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. While Victoria Falls is experiencing
a tourist drought, Livingstone is the focal point of an economic boom.
Perhaps the best place to sense the difference is at the border crossing
between the two countries. The only people crossing into Zambia from
Zimbabwe are local people desperate to buy food. The taxi drivers and tour
operators and touts gathered around the border post are complaining about
their lot. "No one wants to go over there," one man tells me, indicating
Zimbabwe. "It's all one-way traffic now and that's into Zambia. All the
adventures happen here." He's talking about the market for bungee jumping,
rafting, microlighting and helicoptering that Livingstone has cornered.
At the Kudu Crafts Shop I am told that many of the vendors, painters and
craftsmen who cram the town to sell their bits and pieces to the tourists
are now coming across the border every day.
In Livingstone, they used to joke that a man could stand in the middle of
the main street and not be beeped at for most of the day. Now the street is
regularly jammed with 4WDs.
Much of the inrush is a result of the giant South African Sun International
hotel group's opening in Livingstone. And yet, five years ago, when the
plans were announced, many analysts were sceptical. Why Livingstone? they
were asking. There are already luxury hotels in Victoria Falls. Who needs
Mugabe was, of course, part of the reason. The other, though, was the
Zambian government's determination to shed its worn-out socialist skin and
embrace new economic ideas. Sakwiba Sikota, a local MP, told me: "We are
very pleased with the way new business, especially tourism, has opened up
here, with many investors happy to come to Zambia."
Indeed, within 40 miles of Livingstone there are 12 lodges, ranging from Sun
International's giant Zambezi Sun and plush Royal Livingstone to the
discreet 20-bed River Club, a kind of Happy Valley Muthaiga Club
transplanted from Nairobi to the banks of the Zambezi. While a few lodges
have been there since the 1980s, most have opened in the past five-six
Some of the new investors come from across the river, but are reluctant to
say too much. "We are concerned about what Mugabe could do to us," I was
told. "Many of us still have businesses over there, and we don't want to
risk them by talking."
Livingstone used to possess a fine golf club with a bowling green and tennis
courts. It fell into decay during the years of economic stagnation. Now
there is a move to revive it - which is a reflection not just of the rebirth
of an economy but also of how Zambians view their history.
While Zimbabwe under Mugabe execrates its colonial past, Zambia, which
admittedly did not fight a war of freedom, turns history to its advantage.
Hence you see in Livingstone and along the banks of the Zambezi a kind of
Discovery Channel Africa, where luxuriant lawns are manicured, Earl Grey tea
is served and tall Buchanish tales are woven around the fire. Result:
Americans are flying in.
When the golf club finally reopens, pride of place will be granted to a 1946
cartoon that shows the members, red-faced and self-important, gathered in
the billiard room for a few beers. Its unwritten caption is self-evident:
these men belong to a prosperous town that they all helped to build. Maybe a
fresh cartoon should be commissioned: one of Mugabe himself, being inducted
as a new member... for services rendered to Livingstone.
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