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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mugabe gets prime time on Zim news
          March 27 2005 at 12:10PM

      Harare - Zimbabweans tuning in to watch the news on national
television these days first get to see a band of boisterous youths dancing
and raising their fists in a campaign ad for President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF.

      The young supporters urge Zimbabweans to vote for Zanu-PF "to put
Blair and his local puppets to shame", seconds before the news anchor
presents the top news stories.

      Often, the news bulletins feature the all-too-familiar report of
Mugabe donating computers to schools, slamming British Prime Minister Tony
Blair and urging Zimbabweans to support his party in parliamentary elections
on Thursday.

      Footage shown night after night shows Mugabe at the podium, then the
camera pans across a sea of heads draped in the ruling party signature
green, yellow and red colours, before returning to the podium again where
the 81-year-old leader delivers his message.

      When the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) gets
coverage, it is usually confined to brief footage of leader Morgan
Tsvangirai whose pronouncements are rarely aired, and is immediately
followed by a Zanu-PF ad, suggesting the MDC is sponsored by the British

      As the campaign heads into its final stretch, Zimbabwe's state media
are giving Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front party flattering coverage while the main opposition party is
struggling to have its voice heard.

      In a country where the government controls all electronic media and
the largest newspaper group while the independent press is emasculated by
tough media laws, the state is providing the main sources of information to
millions of Zimbabweans who are preparing to vote.

      The polls are being closely watched to gauge whether Zimbabwe will
adhere to guidelines for free and fair elections adopted by regional leaders
last year that include equal access to the media.

      But a local media watchdog concluded in a report this week that 90
percent of some 31 minutes allocated by Zimbabwe's national television to
the campaign from Monday to Wednesday this week was devoted to Zanu-PF,
against 10 percent for the MDC.

      "The MDC receives brief and inadequate reports. Coverage of the ruling
activities often includes disparaging attacks against the MDC which is not
given the right of reply," the Media Monitoring Project said.

      MDC secretary for foreign affairs Priscilla Misihairabi-Mushonga says
the state media have failed to give fair access, despite regulations adopted
last month by the government stating that all parties should be given equal

      "There is no equal and fair media coverage," Misihairabi-Mushonga told
AFP. "It's a fallacy."

      Two weeks ago MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube lodged a complaint
with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), charging that the national
broadcaster was offering "a facade of fair media coverage."

      "The Zimbabwe television and radio news and programmes continue to
function as part of the Zanu-PF campaign machinery," said Ncube in the
letter to the national broadcaster.

      He cited as examples of bias the launch of Zanu-PF's election campaign
which was broadcast live on national television for four hours while the
MDC's launch was allocated one minute 25 seconds.

      The country's national television began on Tuesday to air a MDC
advertisement featuring the party's slogan of "A New Zimbabwe, A New
Beginning" but this was only after the opposition party managed to raise the
equivalent of 612 US dollars per broadcast.

      South African Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who
heads the observer team from the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community (SADC), last week noted that "there is room to increase the
coverage of other parties and independents" on national television. -

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Declaring 'enough' in Zimbabwe
        By Michael Wines The New York Times
        Monday, March 28, 2005

HARARE, Zimbabwe She is in her 40s and the mother of four, though in the
dappled sunlight of an outdoor restaurant here, clad in a floppy hat and a
thin cardigan, she looks too young to be either.
Nobody would see her as a provocateur, much less a revolutionary.
But when Rebecca took one child to the doctor on a recent morning, she left
behind a clinic restroom plastered with stickers urging resistance to the
25-year reign of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe. Later, she littered
her bus seat with condoms emblazoned with a large Z and a call to "Get up!
Stand up!" against the government.
"There are more than 10,000 of us," she said. "And every one is excited,
because you know you are playing a part in something you believe in."
The Z stands not for Zimbabwe, but for Zvakwana, an underground movement
that strives to resist - and eventually undermine - Mugabe's authoritarian
rule. With a second, closely related group called Sokwanele, Zvakwana's
members specialize in anonymous acts of civil disobedience - a meld of
guerrilla theater and the philosophies of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Martin
Luther King Jr.
In ideology, and sometimes even in identity, Zvakwana mirrors grass-roots
efforts in any number of authoritarian nations. From Zubr in Belarus to
nascent groups in Egypt and Lebanon (whose names, in English, mean
"enough"), such civic movements may be the hottest phenomenon in global
democratic politics.
Many take their inspiration from Otpor, the movement that played a major
role in removing Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia.
Zimbabwe's groups sprang to life three years ago, shortly after Mugabe won a
re-election campaign that many international election observers said had
been stolen from his democratic opponents.
Their rationale is embodied in their names: in Shona and Ndebele, Zimbabwe's
two main languages, both names also mean "enough."
That the groups actually number 10,000 seems doubtful. Yet the government is
nettled enough to paint over much of their graffiti, and news media reports
say the police assembled a team of senior investigators 14 months ago to
find and destroy Zvakwana.
The police have failed. In fact, one Zvakwana member in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second-largest city, said that members of the movement stole into a police
station in January to slip antigovernment messages under supervisors' doors.
"We informed them that we are not their enemies, but their liberators," a
member, who would be identified only as Magamula, said in an interview.
"Even members of the police - the army, the CIO and the CID are working with
us," the member said, referring to Zimbabwe's intelligence apparatus and its
criminal investigations division. "That's how we've managed to survive this
Michael McFaul, a Stanford University political scientist and student of
grass-roots movements, has spent much of this year studying groups in the
Republic of Georgia, Ukraine and Serbia. To a remarkable degree, he said,
they and similar groups are facilitated by the Internet and by the
increasingly global nature of television.
Although many speculate that movements like Zvakwana are Western inventions,
McFaul said the opposite appeared to be true, at least for the moment.
In Lebanon, "They're modeling what they're doing on the Ukrainians," he
"It's not an American-centric thing that's being channeled through the White
House. It's more global."
Some movements do receive foreign money, but no amount of money will sustain
a democratic movement, McFaul said, if a nation's dissidents lack the
passion and numbers to carry the battle on their own.
In conversations and an extensive interview via e-mail, Zvakwana members
insisted theirs was a homegrown protest movement, free of foreign control.
But not free of foreign influence. In a long conversation, Rebecca said she
and fellow members had begun their membership in Zvakwana by viewing
videotapes on resistance movements in Poland, Chile, India and Serbia, as
well as studying civil rights tactics used in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rebecca, who refused to divulge her surname, said she joined the movement in
early 2002 out of despair. In the preceding years, she had worked for
Zimbabwe's sole political opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
"Where I was working, people would come to me to report incidents of
political violence," she said. "Women would call in to say they were raped.
Men were beaten so badly that they couldn't walk."
Rebecca said she helped start a women's group that prayed for Zimbabwe's
future, and through that group met other disaffected advocates for change
who told her of a new nonviolent resistance movement.
She joined, she said, "because what struck me most is that I don't want my
children to lead this life."
"I don't want Zimbabwe to be like this."
Since then, Rebecca said, Zvakwana has sunk roots even in small Zimbabwean
towns and cities and devised an array of tactics to spread its message.
But Zvakwana's message is not one of upheaval. It is, rather, of nonviolent
resistance to oppression.
"It is your right to think, read, hear and think what you like," reads a
yellow slip stapled to a phone card. "Here in Zimbabwe, this right has been
taken away by the government."
It may be the message Zimbabweans need right now, said Tawanda Mutasah, the
executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, which
encourages democratic change in Zimbabwe and elsewhere.
"In Zimbabwe, it is easy to give up hope," he said. "What a movement of this
nature is doing, in my estimation, is keeping the hope alive."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Time Europe Magazine
No Place Like Home
Zimbabwe's expats keep their country's economy afloat, but they can't take part in this week's vote
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Free Roy Bennett Campaign

Heather Bennett to Stand on March 31st
Campaign Update
~ 26 March 2005

From Roy Bennett
March 25th 2005

Last week Justice Tendai Uchena ruled that I am eligible to stand in the 2005 Parliamentary elections. In addition he stated that for my constituency of Chimanimani these elections would be held on April 30th 2005 and not the with the rest of the country on March 31st.

I have been advised by my wife and the MDC electoral campaign team in Chimanimani of their concern that if an election is held in isolation on the 30th April, 2005, Zanu PF will employ all their well-known rigging techniques as happened in the by-elections last year.

If this happened I fear that the will of the people of Chimanimani will be frustrated and that in the circumstances we will face a much better chance of winning this election on the 31st march 2005.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission has now appealed to the Supreme Court to have Justice Uchena¹s verdict set aside.

I have been advised by my lawyer that the application to the supreme court by the Zimbabwe Election Commission is illegal and no appeal is allowed in terms of section 46 of the electoral act.

Due to the recent history of Supreme Court rulings I am concerned that the provisions of the electoral act will simply be ignored.

Therefore I have decided not to fight the appeal by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and instead I throw my full support behind my wife's campaign.

I look forward to celebrating our victory on the April 1st 2005.

Roy Bennett

Mutoko Prison

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe cleric urges 'uprising'
Supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change party rally in Harare
Rallies by Zanu-PF and opposition parties have largely been peaceful
A senior Church leader in Zimbabwe has openly called for a peaceful uprising against President Robert Mugabe.

Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube told the Johannesburg-based Sunday Independent newspaper he hoped the people would oust Mr Mugabe after Thursday's poll.

He said the parliamentary ballot had already been fixed to ensure the ruling Zanu-PF party won, and urged a "non-violent, popular mass uprising".

Zanu-PF, which denies past vote-rigging claims, has promised fair elections.

But international human rights groups have already raised concerns about a climate of fear and intimidation in the run-up to the vote.

'Too soft'

Archbishop Ncube, of Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo, was outspoken in his criticism of Mr Mugabe.

Pius Ncube takes part in a Good Friday procession
People should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away
Archbishop Pius Ncube

"I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really organise against the government and kick him out by a non-violent, popular, mass uprising," he told the paper.

"Because as it is, people have been too soft with this government.

"So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away."

Archbishop Ncube insisted he was not advocating violence but simply backing a peaceful uprising like that in Ukraine last year.

He said the opposition needed to produce "a strong leadership" if Mr Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, was to be challenged.

'Vote for food'

A "kind of tacit violence" had characterised the run-up to this year's election, Archbishop Ncube told the Associated Press news agency, although most political rallies have been peaceful.

He also accused the government of denying much-needed food aid to rural supporters of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a rally in the capital, Harare, on Sunday that the country needed "a new vision, a new Zimbabwe that is able to respond to the crisis that we find ourselves in".

"Go and vote for food, go and vote for jobs, go and vote for MDC - and go and vote for your future," AP quotes him as saying.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Promises Reforms During Election Campaign

27 March 2005

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) addresses supporters during an election rally in Harare
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) addresses supporters during an election rally in Harare
In Zimbabwe, political parties are winding down their campaigns for Thursday's parliamentary election.

An estimated 30,000 supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change attended Sunday's rally.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai appealed to Zimbabweans to vote for his party to bring to an end what he called 25 years of misrule by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Mr. Tsvangirai said, although President Mugabe played a crucial role in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle against colonial rule, his image is now tainted.

"When you take Mugabe's legacy, you find that he has a serious democratic deficit over the last five years. How can you starve your own people? How can you repress your own people? How can you embark on a violent campaign against your own people? What is needed is a new vision, a new Zimbabwe that is able to respond to the national crisis that we face," he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai said, if his party gets the necessary majority in parliament, it will repeal laws introduced by Mr. Mugabe's government that he said deny Zimbabweans their rights.

Mr. Tsvangirai also pledged to revive the ailing health care system, to ensure all Zimbabwean children have access to free primary education and to ensure the elderly are looked after.

He also promised to ask for international assistance to address the country's food shortages.

The Movement for Democratic Change is participating in Thursday's election under protest, as it says the electoral playing field is heavily tilted in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


MDC accuses the ruling party of failing the people

March 27, 2005, 19:30

By Antoinette Lazarus

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, has accused the ruling party of betraying and
failing the people of Zimbabwe and says this legacy requires to be

The MDC leader was addressing more than ten thousand supporters at a rally
at Highfield, south west of Harare, today. He called on supporters to go out
and vote on March 31 for a better life. "Vote for food, jobs, hope, the
future and the MDC".

The rally today was part of the MDC's road show to win votes. Tsvangirai has
promised his supporters who came from all over Harare that an MDC government
will construct clinics and improve infrastructure on all farms, including
where new farmers have settled. He also promised to prioritise basic
education. "The MDC will provide free education to pupils from grade one to
seven. They are entitled to free education."

Tsvangirai who is confident his party will win the election, also says the
MDC will repeal Zimbabwe's repressive security laws and block a bill
restricting the activities of non-governmental organisations, passed late
last year. He added that in order to revive the economy, Zimbabwe needed
friends from the international community.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sokwanele blog messages

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Where are the observers?
Heard that villagers out past Bulawayo airport have been visited by CIO and
they've been told who will go and vote and how they should vote, and that if
there is any other result at that particular polling station other than the
expected result, all their houses will be burned down. This is the down side
of counting votes at each polling station. Where are the observers? Seems to
me that they are in Holiday Inns and only attending permitted rallies.
posted by Friend - Rural Matabeleland at 4:50 PM

Observers: watching, but not asking questions... why?
I heard from a friend who was part of the Good Friday walk in Bulawayo, that
a few walkers approached some observers outside the Selbourne Hotel. They
were completely uninterested in what the 'walkers' were doing or what they
wanted to say to them. I wonder why they are here if they are uninterested
to speaking to us.
posted by Parishioner - Bulawayo at 3:19 PM

Tsholotsho rallies
I have just heard that Professor Jonathan Moyo held a rally last week in his
constituency, Tsholotsho. His generous supply of free food and drink brought
in a crowd of 10 000 as reported by the State run newspapers. President
Mugabe held a rally in Tsholotsho's main business center a few days after.
His offer of free, forced transport brought in a crowd of 4000. The MDC also
held rallies in Tsholotsho in two separate, isolated, hard to reach growth
points. They offered no food, no drink and no transport. The combined
attendance at the MDC rallies was over 9000. Who knows, the MDC may retain
Tsholotsho after all.
posted by Friend - Rural Matabeleland at 12:37 PM

Saturday, March 26, 2005
'Fueled' or 'Fooled' ?
One of the speakers at the rally that I attended the other night was talking
about the level of corruption that has developed in our society and how
unashamed people have become. Today, I met with friends and the topic came
up again. My friend (I'll call him Mr.T) shared his experience...

Recently, Mr.T went on holiday to Mozambique. Because he was unsure of
whether he would get fuel along the way he took a jerry can of petrol with
him. Before he crossed the border he filled up the fuel tank in his vehicle,
but had about 10 litres left over in the can. At the border, the Zimbabwean
officials told him he was not allowed to take fuel out of the country.

Obviously, Mr.T was annoyed and was NOT going to allow the officials to have
his 10 litres of fuel. On principle, he started pouring the petrol out onto
the road.

The officials, accompanied by an armed policeman, came dashing over and
asked him to instead sell the petrol to the people nearby. Eventually my
friend gave in, and sold his fuel for Z$30 000.00.

A short while later, at the customs office, the same officials asked how
much cash he had on him. (There is a limit to the amount of Zim dollars you
are allowed to take out of the county). Because of his fuel 'sale' he now
exceeded the cash limit.

Surprise, surprise! Mr. T's extra cash was 'confiscated'.

You cannot win! Fortunately, our sense of humour can't be taken away.
posted by Noktula - Bulawayo at 3:38 PM

Nzara, Nzara
My domestic worker has just returned from a ZanuPF rally where the President
himself was addressing the crowd in Norton, just outside Harare. Five years
ago this area was considered one of the finest farming districts in the
country. Today it is a dusty patch of weeds. My worker attended the rally
purely out of curiosity and was amused to report that the many elderly
participants enraged the President as they set up a low chant in Shona
"Nzara, Nzara" in English, "Hungry, hungry". Five years ago everyone had a
roof over their head, a full stomach, a clinic to be treated at and a decent
school to send their children to.
posted by Flame Lily - Harare at 12:47 PM

Friday, March 25, 2005
Blocked ears
I feel compelled to share the lighter side of the farcical election campaign
being held in the Nkayi district. We all know that Obert Mpofu, a nefarious
and self important character and the governor of Matabeleland, is the
parliamentary candidate for this constituency.

Mpofu has had his thugs plaster his face to any wall, rock or tree space in
this rural area. Local residents (majority of whom are MDC supporters) have
responded to his mugshots with hilarious revenge tactics.

His posters now boast poked out eyes and ears, filled with stalks of grass!
This has really gotten up the noses of the ZanuPF supporters who are now
busy pulling down their own posters.

A good chuckle always makes the day's crises easier to deal with.
posted by Friend - Rural Matabeleland at 9:22 PM

'War vets' as election supervisors
Government Election Supervisors are following the campaigners around and
some of them have been recognized as local war vets. My belief is that these
war vets have been given uniforms to intimidate people at rallies. This has
happened in several different places. I've also been told that a notorious
war vet who works at the Chiredzi General hospital as a nurse is now an
Election Supervisor in this area...! We also have War vets as Polling
station Presiding Officers in this area. How can anyone possibly say that
this Election is free and fair under these circumstances?
posted by Cane Rat - Lowveld at 5:47 PM

Courage at corner of 23rd Ave/Plumtree Rd
Yesterday afternoon, at the busy intersection of 23rd Ave and Plumtree Road,
a group of MDC youths stood proudly on the traffic island wielding an
oversized MDC flag (I'll try and upload a pic later). The contrast between
these joyful youths and the shocked and depressed looks of passersby was
most conspicuous, living proof of the personal empowerment action brings.
This is not a time for caution, but it is the time to stand proud, be
courageous and do what is necessary. Freedom is a big prize and it deserves
extraordinary action if it is to be won.
posted by Still Here - Bulawayo at 5:16 PM

I was quite relieved to see our pastor in church this Good Friday morning.
He and some other members of our congregation had strolled through the city
centre earlier today, from one church to another, carrying crosses to
commemorate Jesus' sacrifice for us. When we were asked to join him, I
immediately thought: yes I do want to participate, as Christ died for me
too, and I would not be afraid to publicly acknowledge that. But then I did
become afraid after all. What if no police permission had been sought? What
if I would be picked up by the CIO and taken to the Police Station like
happened to me several years ago? What if I would have to give all my
particulars again (name, address, ID-number etc) including my church
affiliation? What if the CIO would read my name in the paper in the list of
polling agents, which has to be published by law? What if - and I can go on
like this for some time. So I did not carry my cross, and I felt terrible
for not doing so. I had let down my pastor, my fellow congregants, but most
of all I had let down Jesus Christ because I was afraid of mere men. This is
what election time in Zimbabwe can do to people.
posted by Church Mouse - Bulawayo at 3:11 PM

Like Kuwait
There are fuel queues at almost every service station again. With elections
less than a week away, rumours are rife about the fuel shortage. Some people
are saying that the government is holding back fuel so that people will not
have transport to go and vote. Others are saying we have run out of foreign
currency to purchase fuel.

We have become so accustomed to lining up our cars outside a petrol station.
I don't remember the last time I got petrol on the spur of the moment. There
is a joke circulating: "Zimbabwe is a lot like Kuwait, because all we do is
'queue' and 'wait'!"

Yesterday, as I drove through the city centre I noticed that there were
policemen on every corner of each block along the main street - robert
mugabe Way. We see this from time to time. It usually means that mugabe is
in town and is due to drive down that particular road, usually with a whole
entourage of security. At the end of the motorcade there is also normally an
ambulance, just in case. The road will be cleared ahead of arrival by
policemen on motorbikes. The procession does not impress people, but angers
them! More flagrant abuse of taxpayers money. The fruits of our hard earned

A while later, I pass a small van. The driver is hooting continuously as
they drive along. There are supporters in the back cheering and shouting,
trying to attract attention. I could not make out who they represented as we
passed each other to quickly. Election fever is building up.
posted by Noktula - Bulawayo at 3:05 PM

Lots of cars and helicopters
A couple of nights ago (22 March) I went to collect a colleague at the
airport who was arriving on the night flight from Harare. I was forced to
wait some time as guess who was coming to dinner??? It was the First Lady
herself. Her motorcade consisted of no less than 17 vehicles who left the
airport in a blur of speed. Earlier that evening, whilst sitting in my
garden, I had seen our dear president passing over on his way from a rally
in Gwanda to State House in Bulawayo with his normal squadron of three
helicopters. I wander, how many suffering children could have been saved
with the state funds used to prop up our corrupt regime just last night?

The United Nations reported last week that one child dies every 15 minutes
in Zimbabwe.....
posted by Still Here - Bulawayo at 10:03 AM

Soldiers seen moving on farms
Between 20 and 30 armed soldiers were seen moving on the farms half way
between Chiredzi and Mkwasine at 9.45pm on Monday. If this isn't
intimidation, then why are they hiding in the evening hours? Nevertheless,
despite the army using food and death threats to intimidate people in this
area - and the war vets saying that there will be war if they lose - people
seem to be ready to try and vote.
posted by Cane Rat - Lowveld at 9:23 AM

Illegal: Singing on a bus
My hairdresser's nephew was on a bus with 20 other male youths from their
Apostolic Church en route to a Christian camp at Masvingo this weekend. They
were stopped by Police at the Beatrice/Mbare road intersection and made to
go to Mbare Police where they were charged with "Singing on a bus".

The uniformed officious official fined them $450,000.00 (for the group of

Other police officers at the Station said " that is not an offence" to which
the more senior replied " I will do whatever the President tells me to do"!!
posted by Flame Lily - Harare at 9:17 AM

Thursday, March 24, 2005
Queues everywhere
Outside every bank in town, there are long, winding queues of people trying
to draw their months wages. At one point, I drive through past a fuel queue
on one side, and a bank queue on the other. It felt like I was driving
through a tunnel. I feel lucky, as I have money in my pocket and petrol in
my car.
posted by BD - Harare at 3:40 PM

First meeting
Last night I went to an MDC rally. Late in the afternoon, I finally managed
to persuade my friend to come with me. She had never been to a meeting
before, and was scared of being targeted for attending one. At 4pm she was
still 'undecided' but at 5.45pm, finally gave in. The meeting was due to
start at 6pm. As we arrived, I could sense the tension she was feeling, but
as the evening progressed she relaxed and it was not long before she was
throwing her hands up and cheering along with the rest of us. The atmosphere
was electric and the crowd were rearing to go! Nobody was afraid to wear
their MDC t-shirts, hats and headbands that are usually not shown in public
at all. There is a feeling of complete togetherness.

As we approached the gate to leave, my friend froze! There was a small group
of people standing in the exit. She did not know what to do - I realised
that she thought there was trouble ahead, and she did not want to go through
the gate. I nudged past her and she followed me. There was no trouble. The
group that had instantly intimidated her just by their presence, were the
young people manning the gate. As we walking back to the car she said to me
'people are no longer afraid, the MDC will win this time around, because the
people are not afraid anymore!' When I asked her to come with me to the next
rally on Saturday she said 'no way, that's going to be a big one with
Morgan, and there will be trouble'. It is hard to break the cycle of fear
that is ingrained after five years of continuous intimidation!
posted by Noktula - Bulawayo at 3:18 PM

Rally at Bulawayo Centenary Park
Last night I was at an MDC rally at the amphitheatre in Bulawayo's Centenary
Park, was brought close to tears, goosebumps abounding and the hair standing
up on the back of my neck. Seeing the commitment and appreciating the
loyalty, the infrastructural organization, the dedication and the outright
bravery of those who attended and put the event together was more than
posted by Still Here - Bulawayo at 2:23 PM

"No card, no fuel"
Today I waited in a fuel queue for over an hour, when I finally got to the
front of the queue I was asked to produce a Zanu PF card. I don't have one,
and don't want to have one. They turned me away without fuel or even an
apology they said "No card, no fuel" I can't believe that they can get away
with this. I was not the only one it happened to, there are at least three
of my friends I have spoken to who have gone through the same thing.
posted by Chipo - Bulawayo at 11:17 AM

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
It feels like Elections, not Easter !
At this time of the year people are usually talking about the Easter break
and going home to see their families. This year there is no Easter
excitement. People do not have money for the transport home. Everybody is
instead talking about the elections. Not who will win and who will lose, but
how they are going to be rigged. Most of the people I have spoken to, say
they are going to vote. They say they 'have to try'. Not many are
posted by Noktula - Bulawayo at 9:31 PM

Keeping a low profile
My small, half-dozen, circle of (white) friends, is probably more apathetic
about this election than the previous two. There is no inclination to get
involved or make monetary contributions. They are keeping a very low
profile. To a lesser extent this is true of me too. I still strongly
question the wisdom of the MDC to have gone back on its intial boycott of
the election, with the political playing field so uneven.

The same apathy can be said to prevail with the half-dozen workers I employ.
The frank, open exchanges of the last two elections debating policies no
longer takes place. We are all too scared lest there should be a Zanu PF
sympathiser amongst us. They do however concede that the township violence
and harassment of 2000 and 2002 is absent this time round.
posted by 'K' - Harare at 5:58 PM

Wanting to come home
I decided to blog under the pseudonym 'Cold Feet' because I'm always cold in
this part of the world - even in so-called summer, because I feel like a
coward for not being in my own country when everyone else is going through
such a hard time, and because I'm nervous about even contributing to this

It's funny: ZANU's whole campaign seems to be against Tony Blair. Apparently
Blair is on a mission to re-colonise Zimbabwe. In the meanwhile, Mugabe's
disastrous policies have made a huge number of us skip the country overseas
just so we and our children can survive.

Someone needs to tell our government- it's one thing to be deliberately
colonised by a country, but its completely and totally insane to hand all
your skills and assets over to another country on a plate, for nothing!

Maybe if ZANU re-focused on things at home, and stopped making us all so
scared for our futures, the millions of us out of the country would come
back. And guess what...? We'd be working hard in Zimbabwe, and our taxes
would be going to Zimbabwean schools, Zimbabwean children, Zimbabwean health
care etc etc etc.
posted by Cold Feet - Diaspora (UK) at 4:03 PM

Testing the hypothesis
People are so screwed up by life in Zimbabwe in so many ways. I keep
thinking of the frog in boiling water story, you know the one; if you put a
frog into boiling water, it will try get out, but if you put it in cold
water and then heat it slowly it will just get hotter and hotter until it
dies. Or so I am told. As if anyone would actually test the hypothesis. But
it's a good metaphor for Zimbabweans. Many of us here at home and not free
in the Diaspora just don't realise what Mugabe's done to us and how he has
impoverished our lives not only materially but also spiritually. The warmth
and compassion we used to have for each other is almost non-existent.
Intolerance and disrespect is the norm, irrespective of political
posted by Mandebvu - Harare at 1:22 AM

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Dying in a skanya
Yesterday I read an article in the newspaper about a woman who transported
her very ill husband to a hospital in a skanya (a small hand pushed cart,
usually about 1.5 metres long by 1 metre wide). When she got to the
hospital, she was turned away, or as the nurse put it 'referred to another
hospital'. The next hospital was miles away. She had no money for transport.
She had no assistance from the hospital because they had no doctor, or
medical supplies. Her husband lies bleeding from the nose and mouth beside

In a first world country, this would cause an outcry. Here at home, it has
become the norm. People don't bother to complain, because they know nothing
will be done. Today I read that one Zimbabwean child dies from AIDS every 15
minutes. I wonder much lower we have to go before the rest of the world
takes notice?
posted by Noktula - Bulawayo at 11:12 PM

Sunday, March 20, 2005
Optimism in the suburbs
There is a mood of optimism sweeping the suburbs. The hugely successful and
well attended MDC rallies at Northside Church seem to have infused voters
with hope. The apathy that was characteristic of people in this area may
well disappear in the next few days. People who only a few weeks ago said
they couldn't be bothered to go and queue to vote are now saying that with
so many polling stations, there won't be long queues and they are prepared
to vote on the 31st.
posted by Mandebvu - Harare at 5:54 PM

Uncannily quiet
All uncannily quiet and calm here, very unlike the previous election.One
disturbing story circulating is that the troops in the DRC "voted" a good 6
weeks ago and the ballot papers were all so pristine that it is doubtful
that they ever left this country!
posted by Bulawayo at 1:49 PM
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe Tourism Authority lashes out at US

March 27, 2005, 17:30

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has described the US's travel warning
to its citizens as being unfair and untrue.

Givemore Chidzidzi, the chief executive officer of the ZTA, was reacting to
a warning issued by the American government to its citizens. The warning
said it would be unsafe to travel to Zimbabwe in the run-up to that
country's elections later this week.

Chidzidzi says the country earns about US$155 million from foreign visitors
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Tsvangirai vows to jail Mugabe's inner circle
          March 27 2005 at 04:33PM

      Harare - Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, told a jubilant crowd of 25 000 in the capital that he
would prevail in Thursday's elections and jail what he called the corrupt
elite surrounding President Robert Mugabe.

      "I will have the keys," said the 52-year-old opposition leader. "I
will throw them away."

      Tsvangirai vowed that full investigations would be carried out into
acts of violence and human rights abuses and the culprits would be punished.

      The crowd of mostly young people wore bandannas with the slogan "MDC
new beginning" at the rally held at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield township.
It was the same location where Mugabe returned triumphant after winning 1980
elections after the seven-year civil war against white minority rule.

       Mugabe launched his election campaign about six weeks ago, ordering
"zero tolerance" to the violence that marred the last two elections since
2000 and which saw about 300 people murdered by Mugabe supporters.

      Tsvangirai has admitted the level of intimidation has been
considerably lower, and has commended police for acting "professionally".

      "On the 31st of March, the whole world will be looking at us,
Tsvangirai told the crowd. "The world used to say Zimbabweans are too
passive, they cannot remove Mugabe.

      "We are gong to remove him, in the manner that we know. We are not
interested in fighting, we will do it peacefully. Go and vote for food, go
and vote for jobs, go and vote for for hope and for a future.

      The elections come as economists say the country's economy has entered
a new steep decline into crisis. Inflation appears set to rise sharply from
about 140 percent, new shortages of basic commodities are emerging and fear
of famine is on the rise. - Sapa-DPA
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Financial Times

Zimbabwe opposition's hopes high
By John Reed in Bulawayo
Published: March 27 2005 20:33 | Last updated: March 27 2005 20:33

Zimbabwe's opposition is predicting an unlikely victory in Thursday's
parliamentary election despite a pre-vote playing field they claim is tilted
heavily toward President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

At a weekend rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Morgan
Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change, promised "to
organise the final retirement" of the 81-year-old Mr Mugabe, who has ruled
for 25 years.
"On Thursday we're going to vote for a new Zimbabwe," he told about 20,000
supporters, who cheered, shouted and raised open palms, the MDC's symbol.

After threatening to boycott a vote it believed would be unfair, the MDC has
launched what appears to be a well organised and aggressive campaign. It is
fielding candidates in all 120 of Zimbabwe's electoral districts, and has
blanketed the countryside with pamphlets promising "a new beginning" for the
economically depressed nation.

The MDC can count on strong support in cities and poor township suburbs,
especially in Bulawayo, historically an opposition stronghold. "Looking at
the people here, it's clear the MDC will have a landslide victory," said
Thoko Zani Khupe, running for re-election in Bulawayo's Makokoba township.
The party claims to have record crowds at its rallies.

However, Zanu-PF holds the upper hand in rural areas, laid low by drought,
hunger and HIV/Aids. The party is running what it calls an "anti-Blair
campaign", fanning anti-British sentiment and accusing the MDC of being
puppets of the UK prime minister.

Ruling officials have been crisscrossing the country, dispensing computers,
Aids relief funds, and other largesse as part of their campaign. Pius Ncube,
Bulawayo's Roman Catholic archbishop, on Saturday accused Zanu-PF of using
food as a political tool in Bulawayo's hinterland.

The region has seen little rain since January, leading to wide crop failure
among peasant farmers. Archbishop Ncube, an outspoken government critic,
claimed maize from the state's Grain Marketing Board was being
"systematically declined to people perceived to be MDC supporters".

Zanu-PF defeated the MDC in parliamentary and presidential elections in 2000
and 2002 that most foreign observers criticised as rigged. Gauging the
fairness of the coming election may be difficult, as only about 100, mostly
African, observers will be charged with monitoring voting at about 8,200
polling stations.

Zimbabwe's government barred a potentially critical Southern African
parliamentary forum and European Union monitors from observing the election.

Zimbabwe's constitution gives Mr Mugabe control over the appointment of up
to 30 seats in the 150-seat parliament. The MDC hope to win at least 51
seats to prevent Zanu-PF from obtaining a two-thirds majority that would
allow it to amend the constitution.

The MDC accuses Zanu-PF of gerrymandering electoral districts and putting
disproportionate numbers of polling stations in the countryside, and too few
in cities. While the official voters' roll is believed to overstate true
numbers significantly, Zimbabwe's 3m citizens abroad will not be able to
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe's war on AIDS threatened by cash crunch
HARARE, Mar 27 (Reuters) Zimbabwe, one of the countries worst hit by the
AIDS, is not getting enough money to fight the epidemic, the main UN agency
coordinating the programme said today.

Zimbabwe, with about a quarter of its adult population infected with HIV or
with AIDS received 60 million dollar from the US government and other donor
groups last year, Karl Dehne, the Zimbabwe head of UN agency UNAIDS, told

But that was a trickle compared even with smaller nations in the Southern
Africa region.

Dehne said Zimbabwe received nothing last year from the World Bank's
Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Programme for Africa and the Global Fund against
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and neither the World Bank nor the
International monetary Fund have had a programme in Zimbabwe since 1999.

No official reasons for the cash shortage have been given, but some donor
officials say concerns over Zimbabwe's internal policies have been a factor
in deciding on aid to Harare.

Some countries in the region last year received as much as 200 million
dollar from individual agencies to fight AIDS, Dehne said.

''What is certain is that Zimbabwe has been receiving much less than its

''We can do much more if we got more funds and we appeal to the donor
community for this,'' Dehne said. ''Zimbabwe gets significantly less than
its neighbours like Zambia or Swaziland when it has a severe AIDS crisis
that requires attention.'' Zimbabwe has faced economic and political
problems over the past five years sparked by President Robert Mugabe's
campaign to redistribute white-owned farms to landless blacks.

The country will hold parliamentary elections on March 31. While both the
ruling ZANU-PF party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) pledge in their manifestos to step up the war on AIDS, politicians say
little about AIDS in their public campaigns.

Carol Bellamy, head of the UN children's agency UNICEF, said this month that
AIDS killed a Zimbabwean child every 15 minutes.

UNICEF says the under-5 mortality rate has risen 50 percent since 1990 and
is now 1 death in every 8 births. In addition 1 in 5 Zimbabwean children are
now orphans and 1,60,000 children will suffer the death of a parent this

Although he did not have conclusive data, Dehne said the good news from
Zimbabwe was that the infection rate had slowed among some groups, condom
use had risen sharply over the past few years indicating people were
changing their sexual behaviour while the prevalence rates among adults
appeared steady.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe opposition fights to keep urban strongholds
HARARE, Mar 27 (Reuters) Zimbabwe's main opposition made a strong push today
to retain its support in the capital Harare in general elections this week
in the face of a spirited challenge by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF

Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has strong roots in
Zimbabwe's urban areas which have taken the brunt of a political and
economic crisis blamed on Mugabe's government.

An energetic Tsvangirai told about 15,000-20,000 supporters at a major
campaign rally in one of Harare's oldest and poorest townships that his MDC
party would not surrender the capital to ZANU-PF in Thursday's parliamentary

''Harare will never be ZANU-PF again,'' Tsvangirai said to wild cheers from
the crowd. ''The choice is very simple on Thursday. You are being asked to
choose between thieves, thugs and murderers, and people who want to take
Zimbabwe children to the promised land.'' ZANU-PF lost all the parliamentary
seats in Harare to the MDC five years ago, but is campaigning hard to regain

Harare is facing a collapsing sewerage and transport system, water and
electricity shortages and unrepaired roads, a picture replicated in almost
all the country's towns.

The labour-backed MDC says the urban councils it controls have been starved
of government funds and denied the right to borrow funds or raise taxes to
run efficient services.

Pacing up and down on a wooden podium in the middle of an open field,
Tsvangirai dismissed Mugabe's promises to ease transport problems in the
capital by introducing commuter trains as cheap talk that surfaced every
election time.

Tsvangirai urged supporters to turn their backs on ZANU-PF's pleas for a
another chance, saying the ruling party had already wasted 25 years.

''What are they going to do that they have failed to do in 25 years? We have
a plan and programme to put things right. We have the keys to open up
manufacturing and create jobs,'' he said.

Once the breadbasket of the southern African region, Zimbabwe's economy has
shrunk by about 30 percent in the last five years and four in every five
people is unemployed. Fuel, medicines and foreign currency are in short

The country's inflation rate of 127 percent is one of the highest in the
world. The Zimbabwean dollar has fallen in value to around 6,200 to the U.S.
dollar from a fixed rate of 37 in 2000, but trades at twice the official
rate on the black market.

''Mugabe says he is the only one who can manage the economy. We tell him
that this is the only economy where we have millionaires who are poor,''
Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of running an administration that he said had no
respect for the rule of law and property rights -- a state of affairs which
he said would not be tolerated by the MDC if it came to power.

He condemned Mugabe's land reform programme, which he said was fraught with
corruption, as well as the barring of non-governmental organisations from
distributing food.

''The NGOs have to come back. We have a drought and people are starving,''
said Tsvangirai, deriding Mugabe's predictions last year that the country
was expecting a bumper harvest.

Mugabe has since acknowledged that Zimbabwe is facing food shortages.

The MDC remains strong in urban areas and is expected to retain most of the
urban parliamentary seats in Thursday's vote.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Kruger elephants head for Mozambique    Leon Marshall
          March 27 2005 at 02:44PM

      The great elephant herds of the Kruger National Park, under threat of
culling, are migrating in growing numbers across the border into
Mozambique's adjacent Limpopo Park.

      Flying by helicopter over Limpopo Park last Friday, we could see
several herds and single bulls moving through the bush that had formerly
been denuded of game by Mozambique's protracted war and by serving as a
coutada, or hunting ground, under earlier Portuguese colonial rule.

      Also on the helicopter flight, sponsored by South Africa's Peace Parks
Foundation, was an excited Dr Markus Hofmeyr, head of Kruger's veterinary
wildlife services.

      He believes that the elephants are signalling each other that it is
safe to return to their old stomping grounds in the Mozambican area now that
the war is over and it no longer serves as a hunting place or as a "bush
meat" abattoir for guerrilla fighters.

      This is a remarkable change from four years ago, when most of the
first group of 25 elephants, which were symbolically handed over to
Mozambique by former president Nelson Mandela to start repopulating their
park, made a dash back to the safety of Kruger.

      Most found openings in the high-security fence at river crossings, but
Hofmeyr says one bull trundled for many kilometres along the fence until he
was able to round it where it meets the Limpopo River border in the far

      Other game, notably giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, impala and kudu,
have joined the elephants in crossing from Kruger through gaps in the fence,
mostly at river crossings.

      From the helicopter, fair numbers were spotted moving about in the
unspoilt and beautiful Mozambican terrain of high-cliffed river gorges,
valleys and rolling hills.

      Hofmeyr says they, too, have probably been taking their cue from game
translocated over the past two years by truck from Kruger into a 30 000
hectare enclosure in the Mozambican part to get them used to living on that
side of the security fence.

      The translocation of 3 000 head of game should be completed this year,
and the enclosure will then be opened at the furthest point away from Kruger
for the animals to start making their own way into their new country.

      Professor Willem van Riet, chief executive of the Peace Parks
Foundation, says the voluntary migration to Limpopo Park shows that
translocations can work in the short term if done effectively. It is the
small translocated groups that are enticing the others across the border.

      Only a relatively small portion of the high-security border fence
separating the two parks has been removed since they were ceremonially
joined together two years ago, with, in name only, Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou

      Together they are called the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park but the
actual link-up across the Limpopo River with Gonarezhou in troubled Zimbabwe
will take a while longer.

      Security concerns, especially about illegal immigrants and the
smuggling of weapons and four-wheel-drive vehicles, have been hindering the
removal of more sections of the border fence between the Kruger and Limpopo

      But control systems are now in place that will make it easier to
proceed with the removal of more sections of the fence, which was put up in
the mid-70s at the height of the regional conflict that also involved
apartheid South Africa.

      The migration of elephants into Mozambique will relieve some of the
pressure on Kruger where their burgeoning numbers have been causing serious
harm to the habitat. But it is unlikely to stave off culling.

      The elephant population has simply gone too far out of control since a
moratorium was placed on it in 1995. Kruger has about 13 000 elephants, and
its maximum carrying capacity is set at about 7 000. Limpopo Park can at
most take 3 000.

      At a million hectares it is half the size of Kruger and an even bigger
percentage of it is not suitable elephant habitat. So soon it, too, will be
under pressure if Kruger's elephants keep migrating.

      A final decision on culling, already building into a major bone of
contention among animal-rights groups internationally, should be taken some
time this year by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the environmental affairs and
tourism minister.

      Meanwhile, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park's elephant migration
should serve as encouragement for southern Africa's transfrontier-park
programme, in which the Peace Parks Foundation is playing a major
facilitating role.

      According to the 2002 African Elephant Status report of the World
Conservation Union, the estimated population for southern Africa - South
Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and
Swaziland - now stands at 300 000.

      Botswana has by far the worst problem, with an estimated 120 000
elephants in its Chobe Reserve and Okavango Delta.

         .. This article was originally published on page 5 of Sunday
Argus on March 27, 2005

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Issue 6, Sunday 26 March, 2005

We need your help! Standing together, as Africans, in unity, means spreading
this newsletter as widely as possible! Whether in South Africa, Zimbabwe, or
abroad, whether by e-mail or as a printed copy. Don't hang on to it! Pass it

But please remember: anyone who wants to receive this newsletter directly
from must subscribe through e-mail in
person! This is to avoid problems with local and international Spam laws and
regulations (More info at the end of this letter).

The Zimbabwean, the only newspaper available to Zimbabweans internationally,
went online on the 21st of March at It has
simultaneous weekly editions in the UK and South Africa and has been hailed
as a major step in bridging the information gap between millions of
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and their troubled homeland.  It is also a vital
source of independent and accurate information to Zimbabweans at home who
have been snapping up the 10 000 copies shipped in weekly from Johannesburg
in a matter of hours. Since its inception The Zimbabwean has attracted much
opprobrium from the authorities in Harare.  The content includes politics,
art and culture, business, sports, gender, human rights and social issues,
news backgrounders and analysis. Letters to the editor and classified
advertisements are key features.

If they Rig We Resist


NCA Consolidated Report Assesses Electoral Climate
News Wrap 1:  NCA Leader Held By Police Over Report
Opinion And Analysis: Post-Election Scenario Mapping
Poem: A Different Kind Of Love
News Wrap 2: Mock Election To Be Held In South Africa
Observers Query Chief's Role In Poll
News Wrap 3: SA Observer Mission Apologises To MDC
Voices From South Africa: Pre-Election Overview And Recovery Scenarios
News Wrap 4: Human Rights Watch Says Playing Field Isn't Level
Voices From Zimbabwe: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson Speaks Out
Social Movement Observer Mission Give Impressions Of Election
Calendar and Agenda
Distribution details and contact info
New contact information
Important Announcement

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has published its Consolidated
Election Climate Report, covering February 2005. The report is based on
information from a national network of community monitors, covering 8
provinces and 56 constituencies, with the exception of Manicaland and
Mashonaland West, and summarises information from previous provincial NCA

The report is based on an assessment of "Electoral Irregularities" (EI)
based on 18 different indicators; the higher the EI score, the worse the
electoral climate. An EI score of 3 or less is held to be consistent with
SADC Principles and Guidelines. Only five constituencies had an EI rating of
three or lower, including Bikita West and Hwange East.
Most constituencies had a much higher EI rating, with Harare province
reporting the highest irregularities. Seven of the ten worst constituencies
were from Harare, marking a shift in focus from previous elections, in which
the battleground was primarily in rural areas, to a focus on urban areas
where the MDC has usually been strong.

While reports indicate that actual physical violence has decreased compared
to previous elections the report emphasizes that physical violence is not
the only form of political violence but that other forms of political
violence including hate speech, threats and intimidation are being widely
used. These forms of violence are particularly effective given Zimbabwe's
recent history of serious political violence. As a result, the report
disagrees with the Zimbabwe Police Commissioner's assessment that Zimbabwe
is "calm" and "peaceful."
Militia bases were reported in 40% of the constituencies sampled in
February, both in urban and rural areas, and were associated with higher
levels of political violence as well as interference with basic freedoms. In
particular, the report details a strong correlation between the presence of
militia camps and the incidence of violence.

In particular, the report details high levels of interference with the basic
freedoms of association, assembly, movement and expression, with up to 90%
of constituencies reporting irregularities in these areas. The report
states, "Without these freedoms, citizens are not in a position to exercise
the kinds of choices that are necessary to reach the conclusion that an
election was 'free'." The interference with basic freedoms is overwhelmingly
against the MDC and its supporters, usually perpetrated by ZANU (PF)
supporters or by official figures including the police. Thus 52% of
constituencies reported people forced to chant ZANU (PF) slogans, as
compared to the 9% for MDC. Similarly, MDC supporters were nearly 3 times as
likely to suffer physical violence as ZANU (PF) supporters, and 41% of the
constituencies reported ZANU (PF) affiliated perpetrators of violence
compared to the 2% reporting MDC perpetrators. Certain types of gender
violence, particularly forced concubinage, were particularly associated with
the presence of militia bases. The report notes very low levels of voter
education, with only 25% of sampled constituencies reporting any voter
education taking place, most of which has been done by political parties.

In addition, the report notes extremely high levels of political use of
food. Nearly 72% of sampled constituencies reported political use of food,
the most common report being an inability to access food without presenting
a ZANU (PF) party card. The report emphasizes the severity of this finding
given the severe food shortage in the country.
The report makes several recommendations, including; the removal of partisan
forces such as war veterans and youth militia; the establishment and
enforcement of an electoral code of conduct for the political parties; the
investigation of partisan behaviour by the police and army; an increase in
voter education; the depoliticization of food relief and the prevention of
control and access to the provision of food relief by political parties

In conclusion, the NCA states that it has no confidence that "the current
electoral climate is conducive to the holding of genuine, democratic
elections." This data does not suggest that basic freedoms are available to
ordinary citizens, but suggest rather a climate of coercion, fear and
interference with the fundamental rights of citizens." Though the report
states that the MDC are not "blameless," it emphasizes that "the violence is
overwhelmingly due to Zanu-PF rather than the MDC."

"The Stakes Are Too High To Stay Home."

Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA),
was held by Zimbabwe police on Sunday the 20th of March in relation to a
recent NCA report detailing "widespread" political violence. On Tuesday,
Zimbabwe police commissioner Augustine Chihuri gave Madhuku two days to
produce evidence backing up claims in the report, which included partisan
behaviour by the army and police and political use of food distribution.
Chihuri has said that Madhuku could face legal consequences if he does not
produce evidence showing that security forces are involved in pre-election
violence, but has not identified what crime Madhuku might be charged with.

The NCA report is in agreement with reports by international human rights
organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the
Solidarity Peace Trust, all of which have reported intimidation of
opposition supporters.( From Reuters 22 March)

What will happen after the Zimbabwe elections? The prevailing conditions are
especially unsupportive of the views of the South African government.
Consider the conditions currently in Zimbabwe, as the recent National
Constitutional Assembly report describes them. In a report on 8 Provinces
and 56 constituencies, not a single province could be described as having an
electoral climate favourable to the holding of elections, and especially not
elections that look like they conform to the SADC Principles and Guidelines.
Even though the reports indicated an appreciable drop in physical violence,
they demonstrate interference with basic freedoms, psychological violence in
the form of hate speech, intimidation, threats, the political use of food,
significant irregularities involving militia and furthermore showed no
meaningful and non-partisan voter education. The reports also showed an
appreciable amount of gender-based violence.

This is quite evidently supported by the reports in the public domain,
especially in the press. It is corroborated by a wide variety of other
independent reports, several dealing explicitly with the observance of the
SADC Principles and Guidelines. Even more significantly, by the clearly
avoidant behaviour of the Zimbabwe Regime, with the refusal of a number of
regional African groups wishing to observer the election, and the total
banning of all countries and groups defined as enemies of Zimbabwe. However,
in their wisdom several African countries have decided that the outcome will
be fair and hence it does not matter who wins. If Zanu-PF win and MDC lose,
it will be declared free and fair and vice versa. This will now have a
decided influence on the outcome but if the divination turns out to be a
hallucination, then the reality to follow may not be as predictable as the
SADC leaders clearly hope.

Here we are bound to turn to the analysts, since history has a funny habit
of proving politicians wrong. We can see at least one very probable
scenario. This being a disputed election, with the international community
divided on acceptance and the continuation of the Zimbabwe crisis. This is
the one that most analysts seem to agree upon followed by the next step
being negotiations between the two major parties. Here negotiations are
likely to be protracted from past experience with the ways in which Mugabe
has attenuated the process.

Another scenario is conditional on the position that the MDC will adopt
after the elections which will depend on the number of seats they win. It is
not impossible that the MDC will retain the number of seats they now have,
thus having a constitution blocking minority in Parliament. With this number
or more, it is probable that the MDC will repudiate the electoral process
but go to Parliament under protest. The risk here is that going to
Parliament will validate the election and given the history of previous
electoral petitions, there will be no easy way to maintain the position that
participation is under protest. It is likely that this scenario will lead to
repudiation of the MDC by a number of civic groups if this outcome is not
previously agreed to by these civic groups. In this outcome, it is likely
that we will see a progressive weakening of the influence of the MDC in
Zimbabwe and it may possibly also lead to the search for new political
formations. The most serious aspect of this scenario is that the question of
legitimacy of the state may continue to be a focus of international dispute.

The next scenario is the of rejection of the results and the process by all
Zimbabwean groups outside of Zanu-PF which seems highly likely as protest
over disenfranchisement and an unfair electoral playing field has already as
seen in statements by all groups outside Zanu-PF. If voting in the urban
areas is impeded and many people find themselves excluded from the voters'
rolls, this could easily spark disturbances. The extent of the disturbances
will depend on one major factor being the position adopted by the MDC.
Should the MDC reject the elections and refuse to participate in Parliament,
the disturbances could very easily escalate. The down side of this scenario
is the likelihood that the rejection will be followed by massive repression
which together with the probable rejection of the outcome by most Western
and European nations will lead to a consequent humanitarian crisis of severe
magnitude. With most of the region in the grip of a drought and regional
food reserves badly depleted, the need for legitimacy and re-engagement with
the West and international finance institutions is pressing. However it is
doubtful that rejection of the election will be taken lightly by the Mugabe

The major factor that will influence this scenario is the decision that will
be taken by the MDC as the need for any major mass action needs to have
strong political party leadership. So far the MDC has indicated that they
are participating without prejudice but it is a large step to wholly reject
the election and refuse to participate in any subsequent Parliament. Their
possible responses are to call the elections either legitimate or
illegitimate and currently there is little indication of their thinking. No
serious discussion has taken place between the MDC and its possible civic
and labour allies about what a principled position should be in the wake of
these elections. There is no doubt that a broad front rejection by the MDC,
ZCTU, NCA, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and various other groups would
precipitate Zimbabwe into a fully-fledged political crisis. Possibly a
crisis so serious that even the AU would be compelled to act as it did in
the case of Togo. The big question here is whether the MDC will accept the
leadership necessary to create a real political crisis and move out of the
ambiguous political position of trying to maintain political pressure whilst
still validating the state by participating in parliament. The critical
issue that must be faced by the MDC is to see that their power to bring
Zimbabwe to a point of real crisis increases with the number of seats that
they win rather than the converse.

"Now Is The Time"

Some people loved this country so much
That they died for it
Their skeletons are scattered all over Zimbabwe

The skeletons are still dying for this country
As they turn into useful manure
The survivors do not seem to love
This country at all
Zimbabwe is dying
Who loves Zimbabwe to save it from dying for us?

Courtesy of Freedom T. V. Nyamubaya, from Dusk of Dawn, College Press

"To Rebel Is Justified"
Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation Forum

During a press conference held by the Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation
Forum it was stated that there would be at least one free and fair
Zimbabwean election but that the result won't unseat Mugabe, at least not in
practice. The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is to hold a mock election in
Pretoria this week. The forum believes the official election in Zimbabwe on
Thursday will be a mockery and will stage a series of solidarity marches,
vigils and players until then. One of the members of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition said Zimbabweans in exile wanted to remind Mugabe of the victories
for which liberation heroes had died. A member of the SA Young Communist
League demanded that the elections be postponed until there was freedom by
an independent electoral commission. He said they would March to the
Zimbabwean Embassy this coming Wednesday.

KwaZulu Natal Bishop Ruben Phillip, the SA Council of Churches envoy to
Zimbabwe said the mock election would not be the end of action by civil
society organisations. "There's a wave of growing protest which won't
dissipate. We will continue in playing a role in bringing about freedom in
Zimbabwe. We've just had human right's day in our country and we can't be
selective about human rights, they belong to everyone. We are part of a wave
that just can't be stopped. The wave will flow through Africa." (Star March
23rd pg 7)

"Seek Truth From Facts!"

The controversial role of traditional chiefs in Zimbabwe's electoral process
has come under the spotlight, amid revelations by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) observer mission that it has been swamped with
complaints that the ruling ZANU PF has roped in traditional leaders to
shepherd their subjects to polling stations

Information obtained by The Financial Gazette indicated that the MDC and
other local observers have continuously raised the issue with foreign
observers cherry-picked to observe this Thursday's polls since their arrival
in the country two weeks ago. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of the SADC
observer mission for the March 31 polls said her delegation wanted the
government to clarify the role of chiefs and headmen in Zimbabwe's political
process, especially on the day of voting.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the SADC observer mission to Zimbabwe had been unsettled
by incessant complaints mainly from the MDC, that the traditional leaders
were intimidating and threatening their subjects if they dared vote for the
opposition. She said her team had heard from locals that ZANU PF banked on
chiefs to deliver the crucial vote in the general election by ensuring that
their subjects flocked to the polls and voted for the ruling party.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, whose team arrived in Zimbabwe, last week raised the issue
with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC). "The SADC mission is worried by the role of chiefs because
the issue keeps popping up everywhere we go. It was first raised by the
opposition," she said. "I am not satisfied with the explanation of the
authorities". She said she would take up the issue on Saturday when they met
the chairmen again. Other members of her delegation said they were shocked
to hear the government had put in place a vehicle purchase scheme for chiefs
and had recently hiked allowances for the traditional leaders. Under the
vehicle purchase scheme, the government announced it would spend billions of
dollars buying 269 vehicles for chiefs.

"If it is for the empowerment of the chiefs, it is fine with us but if it is
an inducement as we are made to believe, then we need better clarification,"
said another delegate of the SADC observer mission. ESC chairman Theophilus
Gambe vehemently denied assertions that traditional leaders assisted or
influenced voters' preference in the countryside, saying the complaints
raised by the SADC mission and local observers could not be substantiated.
"These are mere allegations, there is no concrete evidence in that respect,"
said Gambe. "According to electoral laws governing elections in this
country, chiefs are not mentioned. They are just part of the government
system. We have our people on the ground at all polling stations and if
anyone provides evidence that this is what chiefs and other traditional
leaders are doing, we will address that," Gambe added.

Other members of the SADC observer mission said they had heard allegations
that some polling stations around the Mashonaland provinces. These were
generally perceived as ruling party strongholds and sited at traditional
chiefs' homesteads, a charge ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe said was
strange. "I am not aware of such a polling station". He queried what was so
important about that person that they had a polling station at their home.
"The location of polling stations was done in consultation with all
contestants in this election," Chiweshe said. (Financial Gazette Online)

The election observer mission of the South African government has apologized
to the main Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) for comments made by the leader of the mission, Labour Minister
Membathisi Mdladlana. Mdladlana had made comments appearing to prejudge the
upcoming Zimbabwe parliamentary election, following which the MDC vowed not
to cooperate with the South African government mission.

Mdladlana was attending a conference in Switzerland when former Limpopo
premier and MP Ngoako Ramathlodi led a delegation to tell the MDC that
Mdladlana's views did not necessarily represent those of the entire mission.
The MDC accepted the delegation's apology. (From Cape Times 22 March)

""Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories" (amilcar Cabral)"

Zimbabwe, a country which has experienced a drop in GDP of more than 30% in
the past three years, has been classified by the United Nations as having
the fastest shrinking economy in the world. It has also gone from being a
country that boasted one of the most successful economies on the continent
to one stalked by famine. It is now ranked 90th on the list of the world's
94 poorest countries. Even optimistic growth projections for a post-Mugabe
Zimbabwe suggest that it will take 15-20 years to regain the living
standards of the mid-1990s because of the breakdown of the country's
economic backbone - agriculture.

On the political front, pre-election activity over months leading up to the
31 March 2005 poll indicated an increase in repression, a further tightening
of political space for the opposition, a clampdown on freedom of speech and
association, violent harassment of opposition supporters, continuing human
rights abuses and a skewing of the electoral process, in spite of
undertakings made to the region that the election would be free and fair.
Mugabe signed up to the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
election guidelines for free and fair elections in August 2004, but has
failed to meet almost any of the criteria. The main opposition party, the
MDC decided only in early February 2005, under pressure from many quarters
including several SADC countries, to reverse its boycott of the elections on
the basis that not taking part may result in its further marginalisation
even though participation might equally serve to legitimise a fraudulent

The Debate around the recovery of the Zimbabwe economy, and the country as a
whole, has tended to focus on the removal of Robert Mugabe and a possible
change of government.
Although Mugabe's exit is a necessary condition for reform of the political
and economic structures of the country, it is not sufficient. Neither is the
changing of power from Zanu-PF to the opposition MDC, as many have
suggested. These solutions do not take into account the political nuances in
the country and the changes on the ground over the past year or so.

Although most non-partisan observers believe that the 2005 election in
Zimbabwe will not be free and fair, the outcome will point the way forward
in some respects. Key determinants of how relations between the two parties
should move forward include: the winner of the election, the size of the win
and the prognosis by observers as to the credibility of the result. The two
main post-election scenarios that can be contemplated are as follows: first,
that the election is declared 'substantially free-and-fair' by the majority
of African observer teams. The second scenario is that African observer
teams, notably those representing SADC governments, do not recognise the
election as being free and fair, an unlikely outcome. As with the
presidential election three years ago, it is difficult to envisage a
circumstance in which the African teams do not close ranks around Zanu-PF.
Some economic recovery may be possible under the 'close ranks' election
scenario, but it will not result from wider, non-African international
assistance and involvement except perhaps from China. This outcome will also
depend on what response the MDC adopts.

The MDC is the key to the legitimacy of the results, but the party has
already raised strong doubts about the freeness and fairness of the
election. Yet this is not a 'zero-sum' game. The outcome of the election
also depends to an extent on how the MDC responds. Its key political
leverage is the legitimacy it will accord, or not accord, to the process.
This, in turn, depends on how the party handles itself and its campaign in
the weeks before, during and, especially, following the election. The party,
rather like the ANC in South Africa's 1990-94 period, has to learn to play
to its strengths and in so doing highlight the comparative weaknesses of
Zanu-PF. These strengths include sound, youthful and pragmatic leadership, a
culture of non-violence, broad-based party support, and sensible policies.
More than anything, the MDC has to offer a reasonable, sensible alternative
to the eccentric, egocentric and increasingly costly behaviour of Mugabe's
party. This demands a clear and continuous articulation of its core
principles of inclusiveness.

Presuming that the election follows the predictable path of a hollow Zanu-PF
victory plagued by intimidation and rigging, it will be interesting to see
what role the MDC chooses to play after the election. It has a number of
possible strategies to consider. First, there is the 'obstructionist
parliamentarian' option in which the party fights for its cause from inside
parliament. This type of role may simply serve to grant a stamp of approval
to Mugabe, the electoral process and Zanu-PF misrule. A second option is not
to enter parliament and publicly contest the election result, using party
structures and its union base to mobilise mass protests.

Thus far from rendering the party powerless, Mugabe's excesses could
actually serve to empower the MDC further. In terms of the second scenario,
it would be imperative for the region to insist on formal MDC-Zanu-PF talks
under an interim multiparty government, to solve the political crisis. This
would form part of a constitutional review and a fresh poll under an
electoral process that keeps strictly to the letter and spirit of the SADC
guidelines. Mugabe's exit is crucial to a changed political landscape. He
has shown no willingness to reform and continues to consolidate his power
through patronage and fear. International engagement is not likely with him
at the helm. There are several ways he can leave office: through
negotiations with the opposition, standing down voluntarily and appointing a
successor to take part in a transitional arrangement ahead of a new
presidential election, or holding out for a face-saving exit strategy
executed by an international, preferably African, mediating group. There
could be a strong role for the SADC or the AU to play here.

The next presidential election is only in 2008 and although the constitution
can be changed to bring it forward, Mugabe will not lose under the current
electoral dispensation, which makes him both player and referee. Even if he
stands down, questions have to be asked about what kind of change a die-hard
Zanu-PF member who comes from the military e.g. Mujuru, will bring to the
country. However, the following is most likely to happen in the short term:
The SADC, led by South Africa and most likely the AU, will recognise the
election as being free and fair. The Mauritius accord will be in tatters but
regional leaders, notably Mbeki, will tell world leaders they were wrong to
doubt Mugabe's word that the election would be free and fair. The
international community outside Africa will criticise the election outcome
and possibly use aid as a stick with which to beat Zimbabwe and its
supporters, while African countries will in turn, criticize them for
doubting the efficacy of African democracy.

The MDC will object to the election outcome and possibly bring new legal
challenges to the results, which will be tied up in court until the next
election. The party's relevance will decrease even if disgruntlement with
the Regime increases. Zanu-PF with its new mandate will continue to keep a
stranglehold on all aspects of economic and political governance while
making some cosmetic reforms to try to lure foreign investment and aid. But
ironically an overwhelming Zanu-PF victory might also be what is needed to
unlock reform and political change. The powerful faction in the newly
divided Zanu-PF, led by Solomon Mujuru has a more pragmatic and moderate
stance and may be the catalyst for change. A wild card in this scenario
might be a division in both the region and the continent about whether the
elections were free and fair, given that a number of the SADC old guard are
gone or are about to step down and a number of powerful African governments
outside the region are no longer prepared to support Mugabe. This may
precipitate both parties being forced into talks to find a compromise
solution to the electoral crisis.

A full and unconditional return to the rule of law is crucial to restoring
normality, confidence and legitimacy to any course of action that
Zimbabweans decide to take. With the repressive legislation introduced over
the past few years still in place ahead of the 2005 elections, the
post-election period will continue to be one in which the rule of law is not
observed. The army and police, which have long benefited from Mugabe's
patronage and which serve him, rather than the country, need to be
re-directed to serve the broader state. Legislation must be reviewed. Not
only do many of the provisions introduced into law over more than a decade
violate certain constitutional provisions, they have also progressively
reduced the protection of people's rights. A representative and inclusive
constitutional review is necessary, among other things, to set up the
structure for good governance, open up space for free political activity and
create an environment for free and fair elections. The longer-term review
must be part of a mandated set of agreements that cannot be reneged on later
by Zanu-PF, the MDC or any other party down the line. (South African
Institute of International Affairs)

The international watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has joined
several international organisations in criticizing the electoral climate in
Zimbabwe. The organisation has issued a 35-page report entitled "Not a Level
Playing Field: Zimbabwe's 2005 Parliamentary Elections" which documents
cases of political intimidation of opposition parties and their supporters,
as well as ordinary citizens by the ruling party. The report also addresses
the Zimbabwe government's use of repressive legislation to restrict civil

A researcher for HRW, Tiseke Kasambala, said, "The results of the Zimbabwe
elections cannot be based merely on observation of the last week before the
elections. If SADC members fail to take into account abuses in the long
run-up to the polls, SADC's ability to foster democratic change in the
region will be compromised." (From HRW)

"A Legitimate Election?"

A summarised speech of the Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson Brian Kagoro at
the 3rd Zimbabwean solidarity conference:

A President of a country -I don't know where - someday woke up having eaten
what, I'm not sure, and suggested that the situation in Zimbabwe was
exaggerated, and particularly that Zimbabwe was not an outpost of tyranny.
Then again, this is a declaration of 'silent diplomacy'. You silently state
that the death, and maiming and imprisonment of people is an exaggeration. I
want to speak to you regarding these things. The first thing is that
Zimbabwe is in a state of crisis whether you like it or not. There is a
structural crisis. Why is there a structural crisis? It's because it's
fundamentally a crisis of an untransformed and seemingly untransformable
economic structure that is designed as a bell jar, or bottle-neck system to
benefit only a few to the exclusion of the majority. In its previous
incarnation, this iniquitous economic structure was racially dominated. In
its current incarnation this structure is still racially dominated, but
perhaps since it's dominated by my race one can take comfort in knowing that
although the majority of us black people are poor and struggling, the few
that are rich look like us.

The crisis that we face in Zimbabwe is one of racism and its resurgent
forms. It is correct that part of the problem in Zimbabwe - and Mugabe has
got part of this right - is because you had a section of the white community
that remained mortified from the transformation into an independent state,
and therefore sought to preserve for itself certain privileges. A very
isolated life, isolated from liberation, isolated from the need to come into
the nation and be part of the whole. Yet does this become justification for
taking our lenses of analysis and scrutiny out and assuming that every black
person who speaks liberty, every black person who speaks left necessarily
lives left, necessarily lives justice? Are we duty bound by the dictates of
liberation and liberty to begin to ask is the walk consistent with the talk?
So when we express solidarity with what we perceive as a revolutionary
approach to the redistributive politics in Zimbabwe, we must ask ourselves,
is the worker, is the tiller of the land any better off than they were
previously? It is insufficient, to say that because a person has the same
skin colour as me he is my brother.

Let me dare say comrades that the dictators on this continent cease to be my
brothers and my fathers the day they abandoned the premise of liberation and
struggle, and freedom and justice and equality. The minute they began to
engage in appropriation politics of amassing to them wealth that was meant
to be redistributed to the poor, they ceased to be my brothers. And, I will
not be a slave to skin colour, because I am a slave to principle as a basic
principle. You might ask why I speak like that. Am I here to apologise on
behalf of white oppressors? No, certainly not. But I am also here to say
something that Comrade Samora Machel once said, "We are fighting not in
order to indigenise oppression, but rather to transform the status quo in
the name of justice and equality and peace". Where there has been
indigenisation of oppression we must contest.

Public order and national unity have become a crisis. These are euphemisms
for conformism and obedience. Another crisis is the use of law as an
instrument of terror. The rule by law, as opposed to the rule of law. This
very fact that law can be deployed as a medium to harass, as a medium to
exclude, as a medium to oppress, as a medium to mark out from normal, as a
medium to mark as abnormal and therefore subhuman or inhuman, therefore not
entitled to rights. Once you mark out a person as not human they cease to be
human, they cease to be entitled to the civility, which the law that you
apply to yourself entitles them, because they are not normal. In Zimbabwe,
once you call people 'stooges of imperialism', 'proxies of imperialise
interest', you mark them out from normalcy. You then say the youth militia
can gang rape women who belong to this marked-out group. You then say the
police can ill-treat and arrest without cause. The police can deport without
cause those whom you've marked in this category. Law ceases to be an
instrument of empowerment; it becomes an instrument of terror.

The other crisis we are facing is one of impunity and immunity. The
suggestion that in the name of the leader, the party and the revolution, you
can create crime, commit crime and continually engage in crime and you are
immune from prosecution. I think if you asking what needs to change in
Zimbabwe, it is the culture of impunity and immunity. We need to look at it,
we need to contest it.

What can the youth in South Africa do? For a long time as young people who
were not really in the liberation movements, we struggled to find a meaning
to our lives, to define a niche for ourselves. Students are harassed and
beaten up, some have been shot. Every time we are dealing with student
leaders who are living in fear because state security agents harass them.
So, I've simply come to enjoin you that if there is a basis for solidarity,
begin to contest. Whatever the politics may be the principle of oppressing
students in South Africa, in Zimbabwe, in Zambia or anywhere else on this
continent is wrong. If the youth constitute the future why imprison, deprive
and oppress the future of the means of arriving into that future, optimally,
successfully and prosperously. We must ask this question. Women have been
some of the biggest victims of this crisis and conflict. Many have been made
vulnerable through the deployment of violence. How does politics become the
entitlement to take out your biological weapon and use it as a weapon of
mass destruction against a woman who has not sinned against you? Whatever
happened to persuasion and the politics of persuasion? What entitles you to
infect a woman with HIV/AIDS simply because she does not believe in your
politics? What happened to the pluralism? What happened to the freedom to be
different that our fathers fought for? And I think the women of this country
can do more, can speak out more, and can act out more in solidarity. And I
want to recognise right now not only COSATU, but women from
interdenominational and other women who have stood in solidarity with the
women of Zimbabwe. Please, let the struggle continue.

Lastly, civil society; South African civil society, I have said this to
Zimbabwean civil society - and I can say this as my term of office is about
to end - and I said, 'critical analysis in itself does not transform. We can
do beautiful critical analysis, but it is not transformative. It is
informing, and information that is not transformed or turned into action
becomes poisonous. But action that is not informed is equally poisonous. If
we can marry the intellectual analysis with the critical action, we will
have critical resistance and therefore critical transformation. Let me tell
you what is mobilising. When I heard Ray Phiri, Choking in my silent pain,
whatever that song meant. When I heard Joseph D sing Siyaya Jerusalem, I
know he wasn't singing about church, but he was singing about a land of
freedom and plenty. When I listen to Miriam Makeba, when I heard South
African poets, Mzwakhe Mbuli and others; when the South African arts
industry began to be an incarnation of the revolution and the struggle,
those of us who were ordinarily not interested, we could relate to Brenda
Fassie's, Black President, we could envision a black president. The arts
industry in this country can do more for my country, for Swaziland and for
everywhere else on this continent where there is dictatorship. The
Zimbabwean arts industry can do more for itself, because those who will not
come to listen to speeches will surely come to dance, and when they dance,
surely we can take the moment to say a short speech, so that they are
politically conscious. And surely if they dance with us, if we can turn the
dance into a march, they will have marched voluntarily or involuntarily with
us. Thank you.

"One Step Forward Two Steps Backwards"

Zimbabweans greeted Mbeki's announcement about the 31 March Parliamentary
elections in their country with consternation. How could the South African
President pre-emptively assess Zimbabwe's compliance with the SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections when the same
guidelines require that election observer missions be deployed 90 days
before the day of the elections? The South African observers arrived in
Zimbabwe just 16 days before the election.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition invited members of South African social
movements to visit Zimbabwe to observe the possibilities for a democratic
poll. What the Social Movement observer delegation went to determine was to
what extent Mugabe's regime has foreclosed the free and fair conduct of the
election. In the week prior to their arrival, restrictions on media access
by the opposition MDC had been eased and Regime appeals for a peaceful
election had disarmed some expectation of violence. Zanu PF, MDC and
independent candidates' election posters were frequently seen posted
side-by-side, and some measured coverage of MDC rallies was broadcast on
national television. The most common response to this show of political
tolerance was cynicism. No one they spoke to voiced any confidence in the
display of free election campaigning. Many were too scarred by their brushes
with the security apparatuses of the state to give any credence to Mugabe's
change of heart. Recounting abduction, imprisonment, torture and systematic
rape, they were reluctant to hazard repeating that experience.

These popular reservations amongst the electorate are so widespread that
voter apathy is anticipated more than repression. The MDC resolved to
participate in the elections at a late stage after a protracted debate
within the party but have not been able to convince all their previous
supporters of their wisdom. The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is mobilising
its 250 affiliated organisations to encourage voters, while the National
Constitutional Assembly - a social movement premised on the need for a new
constitution - is calling for a boycott. This split between pro-democracy
groupings will work in the ruling party's favour.

Laws found to be repressive in Zimbabwe

According to the Social Movement observer delegation, the most despised
piece of legislation is the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Under the
Act, any meeting of three or more individuals that could feature discussion
of a political nature cannot take place without the prior approval of the
police within four days of the meeting. A public meeting in Harare organised
by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on the 3rd of March came to an abrupt
end before debate had been exhausted because the time permitted for the
meeting had been exceeded. Though POSA applies to all political gatherings,
including those organised by the ruling party, the police apply the law

Another law called into question is the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) despite the sacking of former Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo's who introduced it. This Act that requires the registration
of all publishers and journalists with the Regime's Media and Information
Commission has led to the silencing of critical voices in the Zimbabwean
press. The only daily papers available in the country are, as a result of
AIPPA, Regime mouthpieces and one independent weekly newspaper remains.
Lastly there is the NGO Bill which is a piece of legislation that has had a
dramatic impact on the ability of NGOs to raise funds to conduct their
projects and campaigns. If the immediate effects of the pending law are any
indication of the viability of NGOs after its enactment, the prospect is
bleak. The proposed restriction on foreign funding of NGOs has already
stalled funding for NGO with donors reportedly too wary of investing their
budgets in projects that cannot be sustained after the Bill is enacted.

Repressive Electoral laws

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act (ZEC) was the February concession by
the Zimbabwean regime to comply with the SADC protocols. The Regime declared
that this is a transitional election after which a single election body is
promised. However the electorate cannot expect clarification from voter
education provided by independent election organisations because this has
been banned. The only authority permitted to provide voter education is the
electoral commission itself. The increased centralisation under the new laws
is most clearly expressed in the stipulation that election monitors are now
to be recruited from civil servants - including military and intelligence
officials - where before these personnel would be drawn from amongst
teachers. It is speculated that teachers were replaced with Zimbabwe Regime
bureaucrats because their loyalty to the Regime had come into question due
to their resistance to the rationalisation of education. This leaves
Zimbabweans from civil society with the possibility of only registering as
observers of the election. And even in this application process, little room
is allowed to appeal against the decision of the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC). International observers too cannot be trusted to deliver
impartial judgements of the free participation of voters. The numbers of
international observers has already been limited to those countries that
declared the 2002 election 'free and fair'. They have been drawn from SADC
countries that have already declared their satisfaction with arrangements
for the election.

The voter's roll for the election will not be a credible document to verify
the results. It was compiled before the voter registration process and there
has been poor public inspection of the roll. The inevitable problems of
duplicated names and deceased persons allow greater scope for the
manipulation of the election results. Lacking a transparent voter's roll for
the 2002 elections, there is reason to believe that the results were
inflated. The possibility of manipulating the results is also presented by
postal votes. These have been allowed to military and diplomatic personnel
only. The millions of Zimbabweans who fled the violence and socio-economic
conditions in the country - estimated to be about a quarter of the
population - have in this way been disenfranchised. The postal vote is
expected to show strong Zanu PF support, leading to the fear that they could
be used to shore-up results where the party's showing is low, as occurred
during the 2002 elections according to the ZESN.


Zanu PF's strategy to the upcoming Parliamentary elections is not so much
consolidation of its representation in the legislature but the overcoming of
the opposition ("burying the MDC"). The recourse to violence has not been
followed for this election given the regime's need for legitimacy through
its compliance with the SADC protocols on elections. The legislature itself
is not a seat of power given the powers of decree wielded by the presidency
and the executive determination of law. The consensus emerging from our
respondents was that the ruling party had only diverted its electoral
strategy from violent intent to one in favour of more discreet coercion and
manipulation of results. The constitution of the electoral commission limits
the realisation of true democratic will through the appointment of
Zanu-recruited civil servants to monitor the polls and the announcement of
accredited observers just two days before the election.

The handful of foreign observers already accredited are from countries (or
organisations) that have already declared their satisfaction with the
political environment. And even if they could be relied on as critical
role-players, voting at all the 27,000 polling stations cannot possibly be
observed. The stage management of the elections serves to cover-up the
heritage of historical imbalances that the country is still heavily charged
with. Only the most optimistic MDC politicians hold out hope for a political
transition through an incontrovertible election result. According to the
Social Movement Observer Delegation it is clear that a second
democratisation of Zimbabwe will require international activist

"One Person, One Vote"

Over the past decades numerous South African progressive civil society
organizations have emerged that work on issues that form an integral part of
the current crisis in Zimbabwe. These range from humanitarian issues such as
food relief, to issues such as human rights and civil liberties, from
democracy to trade union work. But ever since the intensification of the
Zimbabwe crisis in 2000, Zimbabweans have rightly been complaining that
their fellow Africans, and first and foremost their South African
neighbours, have hardly done enough to aid the plight of the people of
Zimbabwe. However, over the past year several South African civil society
organizations of all walks of life have committed themselves to working
together in order to maximize their out-pout with regards to the crisis, as
well as show solidarity in practical sense as well as on a moral level.
COSATU's courageous attempted fact-finding missions to Zimbabwe are only one
example of practical solidarity for the people of that country.
The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation forum is a network of progressive
South African civil society organizations, including youth, women, labour,
faith-based, human rights and student formations. Over the past months our
network has grown rapidly in size and influence, and we say confidently that
we have contributed to a much greater understanding of the crisis and
challenges in Zimbabwe within our organizations and within the broader South
African debate.

28th March            Zimbabwe Seminar, University of Cape Town, SRC
29th March            Zimbabwe Seminar, University of Venda, SRC/SASCO
30th March            Marches in Cape Town and Durban YCL/SASCO/COSAS
31st March            Picket at Zimbabwe High Commission YCL
                        All night vigil Beit Bridge, COSATU
Mock Election for disenfranchised Diaspora set up across the country, CRISIS
1st April            Press Conference and report-back from election
18th April            Zimbabwe Independence day programme

This Newsletter is the plain text version of the email Zimbabwe Solidarity
Newsletter. The main idea behind the Newsletter is that it can be
distributed in Zimbabwe so that people without internet access may receive
it as well. Therefore we also provide a print-easy format of this
Newsletter. The print-easy Newsletter can be printed-out onto three pages
A4, front to back. Please help us distribute the print-friendly copy in
Zimbabwe! The more access to information and solidarity the better! The
print-friendly copy can be requested by sending an e-mail with subject
'request print-friendly' to The
print-friendly Newsletter is distributed via e-mail as an Adobe Reader (PDF)

The below applies for the email Newsletter:
To subscribe or unsubscribe one can contact with the word 'subscribe' or 'unsubscribe'
as subject. Please note that you must subscribe in person (that is; you must
e-mail from the address you wish to receive the newsletter on). The default
format of this Newsletter is Rich Text (HTML), a more graphic layout but
also a larger file. A Plain Text format can be requested by sending us an
e-mail to with 'request plain text' as

Letters, reactions or opinions can be sent to with the words 'Newsletter reaction' in
the subject.

In anybody would like to speak to a representative of the Zimbabwe
Solidarity & Consultation Forum or to a spokesperson of the Zimbabwe
Solidarity Newsletter please send an email to with 'request contact' in the subject
line, as well as the reason why you wish to speak to one of our
representatives. Journalists can contact us in this way as well.

The Shona version of issue 1, 2 and 3 and 4 is ready! This can be requested
from by typing 'request Shona plain-text'
or 'request Shona PDF' in the subject line of an email to us, or by going to
our new website. For Ndebele the same applies as above, but with 'Ndebele'
in the request. Ndebele issue 1, 2 and 3 are now ready.
The previous week's issues can be requested by sending us an e-mail with
'request issue 1 and/or 2' in the subject.

The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation Forum (ZS&CF) is not responsible
and cannot be held accountable for all the content or every article provided
in this Newsletter.
As the ZS&CF consists of many organisations, groups, movements and unions,
not every one of these can be expected to agree with the views, opinions and
interpretations expressed in the Zimbabwe Solidarity Newsletter. The
editorial staff makes a serious effort to express the views of all the
organisations involved but cannot guarantee 100% satisfaction.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Dear editors at Zimbabwe Situation.
I just wanted to share with you and any of those interested about my cries
for Zimbabwe today, March 27, 2005:
This morning I woke up after 9am, and I was supposed to prep to go to
church. I then waited for this Zimbabwean family that lives in town, and
they came to pick me up and I joined them at their church for the first
time. I had a good time praising the Lord, and i will definitely go again,
back to the church for the time to come. Its good, I really feel good after
going to church.

Its gonna be another three days and the election will be done. My only hope
is that it will be fair, but already, it seems its unfair if food
distribution is politicised. One has to produce a ZANU PF card in some
places to be able to get food aid,or just evce to buy food. The headmen know
people in their villages, and they refuse to sell grain to known MDC
suppoters, thats is not fair, people are forced to vote for a particular
party, even agaist their will. thats not fair either. Hopefully, and
hopefully, Zimbabwe will be a democractic state again,democratic in its
fullest sense. we pray that the election result to come over the next weeken
will truly reflect the wishes of the electrorate, thats all I ask, and hope

We need freedom power, and to live, we do not need fear, intimidation,
hunger, threats or dictators, we do not need any of that. We need people,
real people, love peace, and tranquility. We need true and fair leadership.
We do not need corrupt leaders, we do not need people who do things only for
their political ambitions, we need people wit other people at heart.

WE need food on the table, we do not want to hear everyday that many people
in Matebeland are dying of hunger. We do not want tribalists, people who ask
what color you are, what your clan or where you come from. We need people ,
who take people as they are. We need a Zimbabwe that
is open to diversity, we need people who understand what diversity means.

We do not want leaders who take the law into their own hands, we need
leaders who are themselves loyal so that their subjects may follow their
good example.

We need leaders who are compassionate, people who are filled with love,
people who are real people. We do ont need liars, we do not people who only
pretend to be believers, but are just terrible members of the society as far
as ethics and morality are concerned.

We need people who try to find ways of reducing ,and dealing with the Aids
pandemic in Zimbabwe. People who are conscious of what this disease has done
to us. It has affected me. Both my paprents have died of Aids, and thats
very difficult for me. We need leaders who go out of their way to face
reality, to educate people, old and youths to prevent Aids, to be
responsible members of the society, and to take a stance against the Aids

Every day I look at my mothers picture on the wall. I want my mother, but
she is gone, and I will never see her again. Many Aids orphans are crying
like me, we need leaders who hear our cries, and not necessarily bring back
our parents, but do something so that this trend does not go on.

We need leaders who attend to our problems in the school system in Zimbabwe.
Many kids like me find it very difficult to go to school because our
paprents are not fortunate to be financially stable as to pay our fees. We
need leaders who not only understand these problems, but who do something to
ensure that everyone, and I repeat, everyone goes to school, rich or poor,
or anywhere in between. We need education, and we need books in our classes.
We need teachers who are willing to teach, teachers who are real teachers of
the right things, in our society, and what we need for our careers.

We need leaders who are concerned about civil rights, the right to speak
one's mind out, the right to be heard, the right to vote, and to vote for
anybody that we want to, without provoking any deadly consequences in doing

This is all I ask.

Thank you.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Australian

Zimbabwe's hope in vain
Gavin du Venage, Johannesburg
March 28, 2005
IT is a good thing Zimbabwe's electoral process has been rigged blatantly in
favour of the ruling Zanu PF party - because if Robert Mugabe were to lose
his grip on power in elections this week there is a very real chance of the
army emerging from the shadows and plunging the country into a military

"A victory for the opposition will be even more detrimental to Zimbabwe than
a win by President Mugabe," says Chris Maroleng, Zimbabwe watcher at the
Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

Such is the dislike for Mugabe's disastrous policies, which have turned the
once prosperous country into a nation of beggars in five years, that many
would like to see the President go at any cost. It's a course, however, that
could see the country pay dearly.

Lurking behind Mugabe are his generals, and they are not likely to watch any
other group take power, no matter what the election results. If Mugabe
loses, a coup is almost guaranteed.

This is no idle speculation, Maroleng warns. In 2002 Mugabe squared off in
presidential elections against Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change.

Days before that poll, the commander of Zimbabwe's defence forces, General
Vitalis Zvinavashe, staged a public meeting at which the top army, air
force, prisons and the feared Central Intelligence Organisation commanders
were present.

Zvinavashe laboriously read out a statement that made the military's view of
the vote plain. "We will not accept, let alone support or salute, anyone
with a different agenda," he said, as his officers stood by his side in
silent compliance.

Zvinavashe said the army would refuse to follow any political leader who had
not participated in the 1970s war of independence against white Rhodesia.
His meaning was clear: Mugabe had led a guerilla army during that struggle,
but Tsvangirai, a youth at the time, had not participated. "You could almost
call it a pre-emptive coup," says Maroleng.

As it turned out the widespread rigging of the election helped Mugabe, now
81, to a comfortable victory, and the military faded into the background -
officially, at least.

Behind the scenes, however, Zimbabwe's militarisation has continued apace.
Former and serving military and intelligence officers have been appointed to
key posts in the country's electoral machine, giving the defence forces
almost total control of the process. The chief elections officer, for
instance, is retired former brigadier Kennedy Zimondi, in a position that
previously went to civilians.

At polling stations countrywide, military officers will be on hand on
Thursday to "manage" the voting process.

"They put the military in charge of these polling stations and changed the
Electoral Act to make this legal," says MDC spokesman Eddie Cross. He
explains that if army officers on site at a particular poll station detect a
preponderance of opposition supporters casting votes, they will radio
through to headquarters, from where ballots bearing the mark of Mugabe's
party can be quickly transported and stuffed into the boxes.

The army has a ready pool of ballots, as it has ensured that all 120,000
armed forces members, including those from the police and prison services,
voted ahead of time. With their jobs on the line, not many will have dared
to vote any other way than for Mugabe's party.

In spite of the odds, and after years of harassment of its leaders and
frequent physical intimidation of its members, the MDC has still managed to
field candidates in each of Zimbabwe's 120 constituencies. Its leadership
clings to a faint hope that enough people are fed up with Mugabe's rule to
risk all and vote against Zanu PF.

The latest opinion polls offer a glimmer of optimism. A University of
Zimbabwe survey last week showed that in spite of having total control of
the media, Zanu PF was only slightly ahead of the MDC, leading by 40 per
cent to 36 per cent - not a significant margin in a country where people are
wary of revealing their true intentions and are likely to lie to pollsters.

Here too, the military has played its part in dissuading disgruntled voters
from the temptation of voting MDC. The country's youth militia has been
active in breaking up opposition rallies, beating up its supporters and,
according to some reports, raping young women who have done little more than
belong to a family associated with the MDC. The youth militia, known as the
"green bombers" because of the drab olive uniforms they wear, are housed and
trained in military-style camps run by former army officers.

Thousands of young men processed in these camps have been turned loose on
the population with a single purpose - to strike fear into anyone who even
thinks of voting against Mugabe.

It is a curiosity of Zimbabwean politics that the country's militarisation
has gone largely unnoticed. The former military commander Mugabe almost
never wears a uniform in public. He shuns the baubles and medals some of his
African counterparts favour, and instead addresses rallies in a tailored
suit or colourful shirt - or, as happened last week, a woman's scarf, to
show his solidarity with female voters.

But the civilian veneer is all on the surface. Underneath his Savile Row
suits, Mugabe is a military man and the army is his source of power.

Shortly after the country won its independence in 1980, the newly elected
Mugabe secretly arranged for an elite unit to be trained in North Korea,
even as he publicly promoted the integration of the former Rhodesian army
and the guerilla movements of his party, Zanla, and the Zipra forces of his
chief rival, Joshua Nkomo.

Mugabe's paranoia was well-founded. In 1983 5000 Nkomo loyalists tried to
stage a coup. The breakaway army marched on the country's second city of
Bulawayo but before reaching it were engaged by a detachment of ex-Rhodesian
soldiers. In the face of the opposition they broke ranks and many deserted,
bringing the putsch to an end.

Mugabe, however, did not allow the matter to end there. He dispatched his
Korean-trained 5th Brigade to the region, where they wreaked terrifying
vengeance on anyone suspected of having sympathised with the coup plotters.
At least 20,000 people were killed in the next two years.

By the time the 5th Brigade was recalled, Nkomo had pledged his loyalty to
Mugabe and merged his party as a junior partner into Zanla, to form the
current ruling organisation, Zanu PF, or Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front. Today the 5th Brigade remains as Mugabe's presidential
guard, its training and military proficiency remaining at a significantly
higher level than other units.

The military's loyalty is cemented by two ingredients: blood and money. Most
key posts belong to members of Mugabe's own tribal clan, the Zezurus, who
comprise less than 12 per cent of the total population. The Defence
Minister, defence force, army and air force chiefs, Police Commissioner,
Chief Justice and Judge-President are all Zezurus.

The majority Karanga clan, which makes up most of Zimbabwe's ethnic Shona
population and accounts for 23 per cent of the country's population overall,
are relegated to lesser roles in the defence establishment, if they hold
posts at all.

Wealth has also secured the army's loyalty. Senior army officers drive
luxury vehicles and many have been given land seized from white farmers
under Mugabe's land reform program. Zimbabwe's five-year Congo incursion to
help the government fight off rebellion also added mightily to the coffers
of senior generals. A UN report several years ago accused senior military
men of looting diamonds and other valuables, often flying their spoils home
in military transport planes.

With so much riding on Mugabe's continued grip on power, the military is
unlikely to respect an election that favours the opposition. Few doubt that
the Presidential Guard will hesitate to repeat its bloodletting of the 1980s
to protect its own interests.

For the MDC, the future appears bleak. Maroleng says many of its members
have grown disillusioned, and it could well fracture after the election.
"Their best hope is to climb down from their extremist position and begin
talking to Mugabe," he says. A convincing victory for Mugabe would secure
his position and likely make him more amenable to talks with the opposition.

If the unthinkable did happen - and the MDC won - then all pretence of talks
and multi-party democracy would end, setting the stage for a repeat of the
early bloody years of Mugabe's rule.

Back to the Top
Back to Index