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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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The Times

            'This time Mugabe is going for sure. The world is watching us'
            By Xan Rice and Jan Raath
            Zimbabweans are openly challenging the President, believing that
his days are now numbered

            AS THE drums sound at the Chimanimani Golf Club, a shy-looking
white woman appears before several thousand jubilant supporters. Her husband
is in jail. Her farm has been seized. She has no record as a politician, and
President Mugabe wants her out of the country.
            Yet the overwhelmingly black population of this rural
constituency has insisted that she stand as their candidate in Thursday's
election. And Heather Bennett, 42, whose campaign has become a symbol of the
defiance and optimism that has swept through Zimbabwe over the past week,
has an excellent chance of winning.

            A few weeks ago, eager to confer legitimacy on the parliamentary
election, Mr Mugabe ordered his youth militia to curb their violence and
permit at least the semblance of democracy. The strange new atmosphere of
calm - unseen for five years - has breathed unexpected life into a contest
that had seemed certain to end in crushing victory for the ruling party.

            From Chimanimani, a small town on the Mozambique border, to
Tsholotsho, another small town on the far side of the country where the
President's former spin doctor is standing against the ruling Zanu (PF)
party, to the capital, Harare, where 25,000 people attended an opposition
rally yesterday, something remarkable is happening. Zimbabweans are openly
challenging Mr Mugabe - and believe that his days may be numbered.

            "In December I said we would be lucky to get 25 of the 120
seats," David Coltart, Shadow Justice Minister for the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), said. "There is no doubt we will get the
majority vote. There is a buzz here that I have never seen before."

            It may be false hope, of course. Nobody doubts the Government's
determination to rig the election. It has redrawn the electoral boundaries,
will use intimidation at the polling stations and has apparently falsified
the electoral roll. But such is the mood that the risks of defying the
popular will are growing by the day.

            Yesterday Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo and a fierce
critic of Mr Mugabe, called for a "Ukraine-style, peaceful, popular
 uprising" if the election is stolen. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader,
addressed 25,000 supporters yesterday at a football ground in Harare's
Highfield township - one of the biggest crowds seen in the capital since
independence in 1980. "This time Mugabe is going for sure," he said. "The
world will be watching us. They think Zimbabweans are too passive and can't
remove Mugabe. Show them."

            Two months ago, Mr Tsvangirai would have been lucky to draw half
the crowd. No one would have dared to raise their hands in the MDC's
traditional salute. Those wearing MDC T-shirts at rallies would pull them
off as they left to avoid a beating. Yesterday thousands poured on to the
streets sporting full MDC regalia, waving and cheering, though 150 were
subsequently arrested.

            The new defiance is coming not only from the Opposition. In the
bars of Tsholotsho, a dusty one-street town where red-eyed men clutch
bottles in the midday heat, the song that plays over and over has the
refrain: "Sibabaza Ngaye, Siyabonga Moyo" (We give you praise, thank you,

            Jonathan Moyo, until recently one of the President's close
confidants, is running for parliament in this town as an independent
candidate. As Minister of Information, he virtually eliminated press
freedom, earning the nickname "Mugabe's Goebbels". But in November he
crossed his leader during an internal Zanu (PF) power struggle. Mr Mugabe
sidelined Mr Moyo in a move that exposed the party's divisions.

            Mr Moyo registered as an independent candidate and is likely to
win. "Most people will vote for Mr Jonathan," Kelvin Ncube, a student, said.
"He has done so much for us." A Moyo victory would be a significant blow to
Mr Mugabe.

            A triumph for Mrs Bennett would be equally galling. Her husband,
Roy, one of 40 whites in a constituency of 55,000 voters, stood for the MDC
in the 2000 election here. Shortly before voting, his farm was invaded by
Zanu (PF) activists. Mrs Bennett, who was pregnant, had a machete held to
her neck and was forced to sing ruling party songs. She suffered a
miscarriage. Mr Bennett won the seat, but his family were forced from their
2,800-hectare coffee-and-cattle farm. In a parliamentary debate last year,
he shoved Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, to the ground after the
latter had called his ancestors "murderers" and "thieves". Mr Bennett was
sentenced to a year's hard labour in jail. Two weeks ago the Electoral Court
ruled that Mr Bennett could run for parliament from prison in a d elayed
vote on April 30, enraging Mr Mugabe. The President appealed against the
decision, which was duly overturned at the weekend, but the Bennetts had
already decided that Mrs Bennett should stand instead.

            "After what we've all been through in Chimanimani, we cannot
turn back," she said.

            POLL POSITION

Population: 12.6 million

Eligible to vote: 5.1 million

Expatriates banned from voting: 3.4 million

2002 presidential elections: Robert Mugabe 56 per cent, Morgan Tsvangirai 42

Seats in the House of Assembly: 150

2000 parliamentary elections: Zanu (PF) 62 seats, MDC 57, Zanu- Ndonga 1,
President's nominations 20, tribal chiefs 10
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Zimbabwe - Hell in Paradise

By DEBKAfile Special Correspondent

March 27, 2005, 10:41 PM (GMT+02:00)

Amid rampant unemployment (est. 70%), repression, unbridled lawlessness,
hunger, intimidation and an unchecked, untreated AIDS epidemic, Zimbabweans
go to the polls Thursday, March 31. So secretive, brutal and repressive is
the quarter-of-a-century old regime of President Robert Mugabe, 81, and his
all-powerful ZANU PF party, that no one believes in the official figure of
5.6 million registered voters for 120 seats in parliament. Thirty are
handpicked by the president.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of second largest town of Bulawayo
called Sunday, March 27, for peaceful Ukraine-style street protests to
overthrow the ruler, because Thursday's election was certain to be rigged.
If he were to put on his vestments and lead a march on Mugabe's palace, he
feared he would be alone. "The people are so scared."

Since Mugabe came to power, Zimbabwe has been transformed from an African
paradise with a 4.5% growth rate to the fastest shrinking economy in the
world. Three quarters of the population live below the poverty line. Life
expectancy has dropped from 61 to 39.

Yet Mugabe is expected to engineer another win for his ZANU-PF as he did in
2000 and 2002. He trumpets the poll as free, open and democratic and is
echoed by his lone patron, South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, the MDC, predicts that widespread crop failure and
drought in the once thriving country could leave seven out of 12 million
Zimbabweans hungry before the end of the year. The quarter of a
million-strong white population has been whittled down to no more than an
estimated 35,000.

Tsvangirai, a former trade union head, has managed to survive long enough to
run against Mubabe after being in and out of prison for years and constantly
hauled back to face fresh charges ranging from plots to kill Mugabe to plans
for sabotage against the country. More than 400 MDC partisans have been
murdered by government militias since his party emerged in 1999. He himself
escaped an assassination attempt last July.

Now, says the opposition, the ruler's strong-arm tactics have "eased." The
thugs who raid government opponents' homes by night no longer murder and
torture; they merely threaten to cut off food to whole, starving
communities. No surprisingly, Tsvangirai's campaign attracts very small,
albeit enthusiastic, audiences.

DEBKAfile's special correspondent reports: The anti-torture group "Redress"
says that no free elections are possible in the current climate of fear.
Countries deemed hostile to the ruling clique have been banned from sending
monitoring teams for the vote, even former US President Jimmy Carter's peace
center in Atlanta, which Mugabe brands a "terrorist organization." Zimbabwe's
supreme court has barred more than three million expatriates from voting.

The last independent paper, Daily News , has been bludgeoned, beaten and
bombed into silence. The foreign press is absent or rigidly monitored. Any
real reporting is done with hidden cameras.

Mugabe's anti-Western and anti-White rhetoric has increased as polls
approach. The MDC is accused of acting as a proxy for the government's

The country, isolated by sanctions, is acutely short of foreign exchange.
The World Bank's lending program is "inactive due to arrears." Western
donors have frozen economic assistance; the European Union bans visas for
Mugabe and his top associates, while the US has lumped Zimbabwe with Iran
and North Korea as an "outpost of tyranny."

North Korean advisers are known to have spent most of the 1980s in the
country, training Mugabe's infamous Fifth Brigade and his bodyguards. They
came with $18m worth of military hardware, T-544 tanks, armored personnel
carriers, artillery and small arms.

No one knows if and when they left. They set up compulsory indoctrination
centers for young people, teaching them blind loyalty to the ruling Party
and its leader and hatred of political opponents, especially Whites and any
other non-Black communities. They were also inducted into Korean martial
arts and such assassination techniques as strangling with bootlaces. Young
female inductees were rumored to have been forced to provide sexual favors
to instructors and officers.

An ever-present scar on the Zimbabwean psyche, especially in Matabeleland,
is the memory of the terrible massacre, pillage and rape - The Gukurahundi -
unleashed during the North Korean era by the Fifth Brigade. No one knows the
number of victims.

The writer, Peter Godwin, in his memoir "Makiwe" (the African word for white
man), ventured into the site of the massacre in its immediate aftermath and
found a scorched land, a ghost-land of silence and destroyed villages, and
survivors too traumatized to speak.

In 2000, after the opposition won almost half the seats in elections, Mugabe
loosed the "war veterans" with their machetes on white-owned and even
black-owned farms, pillaging, destroying, murdering, raping their victims.
Fire burned throughout the country. But the White owners were not the only
victims. More than 400,000 Black farm workers and their families were thrown
out of work and have been utterly destitute ever since. The captured white
farms were not turned over to landless peasants but commandeered by party
hacks and ZANU PF apparatchiks.

In 2001, a second rogue state leader, Muammar Qaddafi, became Mugabe's best
friend. Giving up on influence on the Arab world, he preached African jihad
against the Whites and lavished cash and oil to buy influence. Together they
spread hate of Whites, including Jews. Mugabe's new patron pledged $1m for
his campaign fund, signed a $360m oil deal and handed out several loans to
rescue the country from collapse. Today, Zimbabwe is mortgaged to the hilt,
its ruler believed to have signed over to Qaddafi most of the country's
high-value assets: a stake in or ownership of its refineries, the
Mozambique-Zimbabwe oil pipeline, the Harare Sheraton, Victoria Falls
hotels, some 20 large ranches and mansions and even the famed Hwange
national game reserve.

There are stories that poachers are killing off the game in this and other
reserves out of desperation for food.

With inflation at a rampant 700%, bread is priced out of reach of the poor.

Hospitals are bare of the most basic equipment and supplies - even aspirin;
surgical nurses bring kitchen rubber gloves from home. More than 700 die
every week from AIDS, a million AIDS-orphaned children roam the streets in

In 2002, the UN reported DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe had
systematically plundered Congo's mineral wealth during the 4-year war in
which 2 million died. "Zimbabwean troops drafted to support the Kinshasa
government were reinforced in places like Kasai where Zimbabwean parties own
interests in diamond mines," said the report, accusing Congolese and
Zimbabwean government and military officials of transferring at least $5 bn
to private pockets.

Commander of Mugabe's defense forces, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, dismissed
the UN report as a Western plot to tarnish his country.

Despite fears of the ubiquitous secret police, Zimbabweans know quite a lot
about Mugabe's foreign adventure in DR Congo. They revealed to DEBKAfile's
special correspondent that more than 11,000 Zimbabwean soldiers were sent to
the country during the Congo war to guard Mugabe's diamond and mineral
mines, his payback for guarding the Kinshasa government. The planes returned
home loaded with incredible wealth amassed by their ruler and top military
brass and also the body bags of the soldiers who had been killed or died of
horrible diseases rife in the DR Congo hell hole.

Delivering the Easter Mass at Bulawayo's St. Mary's Cathedral, Bishop Ncube
urged worshippers to remain hopeful. "Somewhere there will come a
resurrection for Zimbabwe."
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Financial Times Editorial

Mugabe's misrule
Published: March 28 2005 03:00 | Last updated: March 28 2005 03:00

Anybody looking to Thursday's parliamentary poll for a way out of Zimbabwe's
political impasse and economic disaster is likely to be disappointed. The
vote is widely expected to consolidate the hold of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
Even if the opposition Movement for Democratic Change makes a decent
showing, the wily Mr Mugabe may turn that to his advantage and say it was
given its chance.

In a crucial year for Africa's relations with the developed world, the
election will be judged differently by Zimbabwe's neighbours and by the rich
nations on which any recovery will eventually depend. At least for the
English-speaking rich countries, including the US, which has lumped the
Mugabe regime together with Cuba's and North Korea's as an "outpost of
tyranny", Zimbabwe is a test of Africa's seriousness in its willingness to
confront misgovernance. But the leadership role that Zimbabwe's powerful
neighbour South Africa could have exerted - and has done on other African
issues - has been sadly missing.
The argument is made in Africa, and to a lesser extent outside, that the
focus on Zimbabwe is disproportionate. It is not Africa's only, or even
worst, case of misrule. But it is today's most egregious example of the
collapse of governance. That others may have worse conditions or more feeble
institutions does not excuse Mr Mugabe, who in the past five years has
sacrificed the welfare and livelihoods of his people to cling to power. The
longer the status quo continues, the greater the risk of violent upheaval,
and the greater the cost of picking up the pieces.

Zimbabwe signed up last year with other southern African nations to
guidelines for free and fair elections. But its token concessions, such as a
new electoral watchdog and opposition access to state media, are little more
than a sham. Draconian laws continue to be used to restrict freedom of
assembly and threaten the press.

True, there have not been the dozens of killings that preceded elections in
2000 and 2002. But intimidation is applied by other means. The MDC has
suffered systematic attrition and harassment. Any improvement on its 51
seats, out of 120 being contested, would be an achievement. But in a
parliament with 30 additional appointed seats, it would need 25 more for a
majority - a tall order in the face of gerrymandering and the rigging of
voter registers.

This time the only observer teams allowed in are those that are likely to
rubber-stamp the ballot. The European Union, which, like the US and some
other countries, enforces limited sanctions against Zimbabwe, has said it
will review its position after the vote. But until Mr Mugabe is prepared to
appoint a transitional government and arrange his own departure, it is no
time to relax the pressure. Endorsing this election on the grounds that it
was deemed acceptable by other African governments would not be supporting
Africa's cause but betraying it.
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The Mercury

      MDC still has an outside chance
      March 28, 2005

      By Basildon Peta

      Harare: Expectations are that President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
party will romp home to victory in the March 31 parliamentary elections.

      But what if the unthinkable happens and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change surprises everyone and wins the election convincingly?
This is an outside possibility that analysts are not discounting completely.

      Mugabe has turned down the violence and intimidation considerably.
Some analysts believe it is a deliberate ploy to disarm the foreign election

      But others believe that Zanu-PF is so riven with internal divisions
that it simply cannot muster the same sort of campaign of brutal persecution
of the opposition which worked so well in the last elections.

      Either way, the easing of pressure is helping the MDC. But the
critical question is probably whether Mugabe would allow the MDC to win - or
would he simply put more of an effort into rigging the election, as he is
widely believed to have done the last two times.

      The MDC claims it has privately calculated that it can win 100 seats,
sweeping all its stronghold urban seats and its rural Matabeleland seats.
The party has made these calculations on the basis of the deep divisions
tearing Zanu-PF apart, which have seen war veterans, Mugabe's staunchest
supporters, refusing to play an active role in the election.

      But the MDC does not need to win 100 seats to make life a nightmare
for Mugabe. It only needs 76 seats to maintain a majority in parliament.

      With a simple majority, the MDC will virtually make the country
ungovernable for Mugabe as it will block just about every piece of
legislation he proposes. It could even start sponsoring Bills undoing all
the draconian laws Mugabe relies on to maintain his stranglehold on power.

      A hundred seats for the MDC would plunge Zimbabwe into an
unprecedented constitutional crisis. The 100 seats guarantee the opposition
a two-thirds majority to impeach Mugabe in terms of Section 63 of Zimbabwe's

      The absurdity of Zimbabwe's constitution, which separates presidential
and parliamentary elections by a three-year gap, would then be brought to
the fore.

      Step down

      But if the MDC were to impeach Mugabe, he could retaliate by
dissolving such a hypothetical MDC-dominated parliament and order fresh
elections in terms of Section 69, a move that Zimbabweans and the world
would not accept.

      Lovemore Madhukuu, a University of Zimbabwe constitutional law
professor and Chairman of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly, says
the only honourable thing for Mugabe to do to avoid a constitutional crisis
if the opposition wins would be to step down from power voluntarily. -
Mercury Foreign Service
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Cape Times

      Zanu-PF sets sights on two-thirds majority

      People are disgruntled - MDC
      March 28, 2005

      Harare: Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF is confident it will win a
two-thirds majority in this week's parliamentary elections, an official
said, while the opposition countered that worsening poverty would drive
people to the polls to protest against President Robert Mugabe's policies.

      Zanu-PF was predicting low voter turnout in urban areas, said the
party's director of elections, William Nhara.

      Areas of "apathy" would be costly to the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, Nhara said.

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

      "We are nearing 76-78 (seats) for the ruling party, with the
opposition getting about 36, and about three going to independents."

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

      The economy has shrunk 50% over the past five years. Unemployment is
now at 70%. Agriculture, the economic base of Zimbabwe, has collapsed, and
at least 70% of the country's 12.7 million people live in poverty.

      "Ninety five percent of Zimbabweans think that this election is very,
very important," Tsvangirai said.

      "We are not going to have a problem of apathy... I think we are going
to have an overwhelming turn-out that is even going to surprise us."

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

      "We have done our own internal polling. There are factors, like 65% of
Zimbabweans think that their life has not improved in the past five years,
which means that those are disgruntled Zimbabweans," Tsvangirai said.

      "It is food and jobs that will determine this election, and that is
our message."

      After the opposition's strong showing in 2000, despite what
independent observers called widespread violence and rigging, Mugabe began
redistributing seized white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans in an apparent
bid to rally support.

      The often-violent land seizure and a crackdown on dissent plunged
Zimbabwe into international isolation and political and economic crisis.

      The European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders after EU
observers were kicked out of the country during the 2002 polls.

      The African Union endorsed a report criticising violence and
intimidation that marred the 2002 polls. US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice has called Zimbabwe an outpost of tyranny.

      But said Nhara: "The international community had already forecast that
this election is going to be very violent ... That's failed to
materialise." - Sapa-AP

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Mugabe minister says 'vote for me or lose your job'
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 28/03/2005)

One of the most feared men in President Robert Mugabe's regime was accused
yesterday of telling thousands of black labourers to vote for him in
Zimbabwe's general election or be sacked.

Sydney Sekeramayi, the defence minister, threatened to deprive the workers
of their jobs and livelihoods while addressing a rally in his constituency,
according to five people who were present.

Mr Sekeramayi is defending a wafer-thin majority of 38 in the parliamentary
polls due on Thursday. He spoke at a rally for the ruling Zanu-PF party at
Rakodzi farm in his constituency of Marondera East. The farm, owned by a
company called Mitchell and Mitchell, is by far the largest employer in Mr
Sekeramayi's seat, where the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
is mounting a strong challenge.

It supplies vegetables to British supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury's
and Waitrose, and its 7,000 workers comprise almost 20 per cent of all
registered voters in Marondera East.

According to a sworn statement signed by a 23-year-old woman who was
present, Mr Sekeramayi threatened to seize Mitchell and Mitchell when he
addressed the company's workers at the rally.

"Sydney Sekeramayi says if you don't vote for Zanu-PF the company will be
taken away," said the woman.

Another woman, 36, said: "He told the people who were in the meeting that if
you vote, you must vote Zanu-PF. If you do not vote Zanu-PF, I will close
this company because you are an MDC member. I was worried about those

Sworn statements signed by three more workers, all of them present at the
rally, carry the same account of Mr Sekeramayi's speech.

But Mr Sekeramayi, 61, angrily denied issuing any threats. "It's a blatant
lie. I want that company to succeed so that people keep their jobs, not lose
them," he said.

His denial comes among growing reports of Zanu-PF officials controlling the
electoral roll and polling stations, and of threats to deny food to
villagers who vote for the MDC.

The campaign has seen less violence and thuggery than any in the past 10
years. The greatest threat to its credibility comes from the chaotic state
of the voters' roll.

The authorities say that 5.7 million names appear on the list, but
Zimbabwe's population is only 12 million, most of whom are under the voting
age of 18. The University of Zimbabwe's statistics department says that the
voters' roll should have 4.6 million names at most. Other estimates suggest
that 3.2 million names would be closer to the mark.

Every independent study has shown that the electoral roll is padded out with
voters who have died or emigrated. This inflated total, say critics, gives
Zanu-PF the leeway for outright ballot rigging on polling day.

Mr Sekeramayi, who has served in Mr Mugabe's cabinet for 25 years, once led
the feared Central Intelligence Organisation and held the portfolio of state
security minister. He played a prominent role in the brutal crackdown on
dissidents among the minority Ndebele tribe in Matabeleland which claimed
some 8,000 lives in the 1980s.

The MDC found it almost impossible to campaign in his constituency during
the previous election in 2000 but still came within a whisker of defeating

When votes are cast on Thursday, the workforce of Mitchell and Mitchell
could decide whether Mr Sekeramayi keeps his seat in parliament. The MDC is
deeply concerned by an announcement that a polling station will be sited on
the company's farm.

The only people who will vote here will be the farm's workforce, who Mr
Sekeramayi is alleged to have threatened. They will be unable to vote at any
other polling station because Mitchell and Mitchell has offered them a bonus
of £5 each to work as usual on election day.

The MDC is asking the courts to relocate the polling station and will use
the five sworn statements for this challenge.

Iain Kay, Mr Sekeramayi's challenger from the MDC, said: "The workers say
that they can't afford not to work on election day because of the bonus, but
if they cast their ballot at the polling station on the farm, Zanu-PF will
know who among them voted for the MDC."

Adrian Zeederberg, managing director of Mitchell and Mitchell, said he would
be "relieved" if the polling station was not placed on the farm. He said
that it might have been a "mistake" to link the bonus payment with the
workers' presence on election day and the company would consider
"de-linking" it.
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Opposition fears Zimbabwe vote is already lost

Jeevan Vasagar in Bulawayo
Monday March 28, 2005
The Guardian

Zimbabwe's opposition is steeling itself for defeat in this week's
parliamentary elections as new allegations emerge of plans to rig the
Veteran observers such as Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of
Bulawayo, believe the opposition has already lost the election.

The archbishop yesterday called for "a nonviolent popular uprising" to
overthrow President Robert Mugabe, but leaders of the MDC believe there is
little hope of Ukraine-style street protests in a country cowed by years of

Article continues



David Coltart, the MDC's legal affairs spokesman, said: "I'm not sure that
the people of Zimbabwe are ready yet to go to the streets. This isn't Kiev
or Belgrade.
"We don't have the same communications as those European countries have. We
don't have independent radio stations. We don't have sympathetic neighbours.
And people understand that."

In the run-up to Thursday's election, Mr Mugabe has appointed a former army
colonel to head the country's electoral commission, and signed laws allowing
military officers to be election officials.

Senior military officers have close politicial ties to Mugabe, who has
rewarded their loyalty with confiscated commercial farms.

The voters' rolls are being stuffed with fictitious names, opponents claim.
One investigation of 500 homes found that nearly a fifth of the people on
the roll were not at their supposed addresses.

The government has also been accused of manipulating the voters' roll in
rural constituencies, where Zanu-PF is traditionally stronger.

In one remote rural constituency east of the capital, Harare, the MDC claims
that 14,000 names have been added to the roll since the presidential
election three years ago.

By contrast, in urban Bulawayo South, which has an opposition MP, just 3,600
people have joined the roll.

The government has agreed to an MDC demand that ballot boxes should be made
of plastic rather than wood so that election observers can see the level of
votes inside in an attempt to prevent them being stuffed with fake votes.

But instead of being translucent, as the opposition requested, the boxes
will be made of clear plastic, meaning that the ballot papers will be
visible from the outside.

Mr Coltart said: "They're putting the word out, 'Now we're going to know how
your village voted. And if you as a village want food, you're going to vote
for us.'"

The opposition's campaigning takes place despite draconian legislation such
as the Public Order and Security Act that prohibits political gatherings
without prior approval from the police.

The police have used the act to disrupt MDC rallies and arrest speakers.

"Five and a half years of brutal repression have left a legacy of fear in
this country," said Andrew Moyse, the coordinator of the Zimbabwe media
monitoring project. "The laws are there to silence the media and curb
people's freedom of association.

"They've just started allowing opposition rallies to happen in the last few

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, is the centre of opposition to Mr Mugabe.
Campaigning takes place here in churches, homes and municipal parks.

At one MDC rally last week, dancers in black jeans and white trainers
shimmied to a hip-hop soundtrack in a dusty park. Opposition speakers
implored voters to turn out in huge numbers.

"That's the only way we can stop this election being rigged," said one.

As he spoke, a Nissan minivan converted for use as a commuter bus zoomed
into the clearing. Youths leaped out raising their hands in the MDC's
trademark gesture, an open palm.

They taped a campaign poster to the back of their van, then zoomed off, to
cheers from the crowd.

MDC supporters point to the excitement at their rallies as proof there is a
groundswell of support in the country.

"If there's a [Zanu-PF] landslide, there may not be an immediate response."
Mr Coltart said. "But Mugabe is going to find it very difficult to govern,
difficult to maintain any semblance of legitimacy."

One factor in the opposition's favour is that the ruling party is in

Mr Mugabe has appointed members of his own clan, the Zezuru, to every
important position in the party, including his new vice-president, Joyce

The former information minister Jonathan Moyo fell out with the president
after campaigning against the appointment of Ms Mujuru. He is now standing
for parliament as an independent.

Six provincial party chairmen, all from non-Zezuru areas, were suspended for
refusing to endorse Ms Mujuru.

But even if the opposition wins a majority of the seats being contested,
there is another hurdle to overcome. The ruling party has a head start
because Mr Mugabe appoints the occupants of 30 of the 150 seats in the
Zimbabwean parliament.

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The Scotsman

Opposition says 'Mugabe must go' as elections loom


CHEERING crowds greeted Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's main opposition
leader, as he told a rally in Harare yesterday that President Robert Mugabe
had "no option but to go" in this week's parliamentary elections.

Waving flags, supporters climbed trees in the dusty Highfield suburb to get
a better view of the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, to whom
Mugabe supporters refer disparagingly as "chamatama" - the fat-cheeked one.

More than 5.6million Zimbabweans are due to go to the polls on Thursday for
elections that Mr Mugabe's party has vowed to win.

The opposition claims the ruling party has employed intimidation, propaganda
and hundreds of thousands of non-existent voters in its attempt to steal the
polls. "We are just saying, this time he [Mugabe] must go," said one

Mr Mugabe told his followers last week that the elections were "a matter of
life and death". The president has been fighting his campaign on an
anti-Blair ticket, warning Zimbabweans that Britain wants to recolonise the
country and make them "slaves of the whites again".
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The Telegraph

Opposition faces bitter struggle against a slanted system
By David Blair in Johannesburg
(Filed: 28/03/2005)

Thousands of Zimbabweans raised their hands for change yesterday at the largest rally of the opposition election campaign.

MDC rally in Harare
Movement for Democratic Change supporters in Harare

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, was greeted by a sea of open palms as he addressed 15,000 supporters in the capital, Harare.

The open hand is the MDC's official symbol - in contrast with the clenched fists brandished by President Robert Mugabe and his followers in the ruling Zanu-PF. "Harare will never be Zanu-PF again," Mr Tsvangirai said.

He urged the crowd to back the MDC in Thursday's parliamentary election, saying: "The choice is very simple. You are being asked to choose between thieves, thugs and murderers and people who want to take Zimbabwe's children to the promised land."

However, the contest is heavily rigged against Mr Tsvangirai. There is less violence than in any recent campaign but every branch of the electoral machinery is slanted in Mr Mugabe's favour. Independent surveys have shown that the electoral roll is stuffed with the names of voters who have died or emigrated. At least one million names have been falsely registered.

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Independent (UK)

Legacy of fear stifles hope for Zimbabwe
Three days before they go to the polls, Zimbabweans are desperate for
change. But few of them believe this election alone will make any
difference. Meera Selva reports from Bulawayo
28 March 2005

At an election rally in Bulawayo, supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change, are trying out their new slogans.
In an abandoned playground, surrounded by a broken roundabout and swings
with no seats, they raise their hands to shout out: "A new beginning, A new
Zimbabwe. March 31, Freedom Day."

But despite the sunshine and MP Dave Coltart's best efforts to rally the
crowd, there is something lacklustre about the cheers and the cries.

For most people in Zimbabwe, the general election, to be held this Thursday,
has already been lost. The police and the army have been placed in charge of
manning the 8,300 polling stations around the country. New, imaginary names
have appeared on voter rolls in rural areas, where support for President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is strongest. In a remote rural constituency
in Mashonaland East, 14,000 new people have registered to vote here since
2002, compared to just 3,600 in the urban Bulawayo South area. The ruling
party used to add the names of dead people and children to the voters list -
now, it simply fabricates the names.

People know an election is coming, but it does little to change their mood.
"This country is becoming darker and darker," said a Zimbabwean woman who
was raped during the Gukurahundi, a government-sponsored massacre of people
who opposed Zanu-PF in Matabeleland in the early 1980s. "In my neighbourhood
a doctor was killed when we need doctors so desperately, people are afraid
to talk, even if their parents have been killed or they have been starved by
this government." The woman, who was too afraid herself to give her name,
has reason to be pessimistic. The last general election held in 2000 was
dominated by government-sponsored violence. The MDC managed to win 57 out of
the 120 seats in parliament, but opposition supporters were routinely
arrested, beaten up and tortured by Mr Mugabe's youth militias, who set up
their notorious "Green Bombers" camps across the countryside. More than 300
MDC workers were killed.

This time around, the election campaign has been more outwardly peaceful.
"Mugabe is desperate for legitimacy," said Mr Coltart, MP for Bulawayo
South. "He wants to secure a landslide so he can say to the rest of the
world - I have the support of my people so I have a right to rule Zimbabwe."
In his attempts to clean up his reputation as an election fixer, Mr Mugabe
has even acceded to some MDC demands. He has got rid of the old wooden
election boxes that Zanu-PF stuffed with fake voting cards at the last
election, and replaced them with transparent, plastic ones.

The government has also allowed some independent observers into the country
to monitor the elections. American or European monitors are banned from
entering the country, but officials from other African countries have been
allowed to come in and observe proceedings. The South African President
Thabo Mbeki has already declared Zimbabwe's elections to be free and fair.

But as far as the MDC is concerned, all this is too little, too late. It
complains that it wanted translucent boxes that show the level of voting
cards, but hide the actual card. The transparent boxes simply frighten
people more; especially as Zanu-PF is now going around telling people that
it will be able to see how each village voted through the clear boxes.

The election monitors who have jetted into the country to stay at Holiday
Inn hotels and attend rallies and meetings as guests of honour, also inspire
little confidence. "I haven't seen a single observer so far," said Mr
Coltart. "There are 8,200 polling stations countrywide. If we're lucky we'll
have 200 or 300 observers. They can literally announce the result they
want - we can bleat as much as we want.

"Mugabe just doesn't understand that an election is not like a wedding - you
can't just invite your closest family and friends."

Zimbabwe's constitution does not help. Even if the MDC was to win two-thirds
of the 120 seats to be contested, Mr Mugabe can still appoint another 30
himself. And even if the MDC manages somehow to gain a majority, Mr Mugabe
can still hold on to power.

"If they [the MDC] win, there will be a constitutional crisis," said Andrew
Moyse, head of the Media Monitoring Service in Harare. "As things stand the
President will be able to rule by decree and make parliament irrelevant.
People have no doubt that that is just what Mugabe will do."

For its part, Zanu-PF appears confident that it will win. Both parties still
hold rallies, watched carefully by the police and the secret agents, but if
the number of posters pasted on trees and lampposts is anything to go by,
the MDC is campaigning much harder than the ruling party.

In this climate, Mr Mugabe has decided to use his favourite weapons of
intimidation and censorship selectively. Zanu-PF has withheld food from
people suspected of supporting the MDC in drought-stricken areas, and
villagers are being warned that constituencies that vote MDC will be denied
food after the election. But there is less overt violence and less obvious
attempts to gag dissenting voices.

Zimbabwe's only television station, the state sponsored ZTV is still heavily
biased towards Zanu-PF, but it has recently begun to air the MDC's party
broadcasts. But when Gordon Moyo, a black Zimbabwean who heads an
information pressure group Bulawayo Agenda, held a public debate about the
election, he received a menacing visit from Zanu-PF officials. "On Friday,
some guys came to my office and said they were paying me a courtesy call,"
he said. "They wanted to know why Zanu-PF had not been invited to the
meeting that we held. We had invited some Zanu-PF people to come to the
debate as speakers but they chickened out of the debate. They just wanted to
watch and scare people."

Mr Moyse added: "Five-and-a-half years of savagery have left a legacy of
fear in this country. Violence need only to be implied - everyone knows the
laws are there to silence the media and curtail the freedom of expression.
They don't always have to be used."

Roy Bennett, a white farmer who was elected as MP for the Chimanimani
district near the Mozambique border in 2000, has come up against another
form of intimidation. A year after he was elected to parliament, his farm
was seized as part of Mr Mugabe's land reform policy, which has taken land
away from white commercial farmers and redistributed it among his black
supporters. In October, he was jailed for one year for shoving an opponent,
and his wife Heather has decided to stand for his seat. "Roy should be
standing but this government has done everything it can to make sure he
cannot run," she said, sitting in a stylish café in Harare sipping café
latte. An electoral court had ruled that the elections in Mr Bennett's
constituency could be postponed until 30 April, allowing him time to file
candidacy papers, but after Mr Mugabe said he would contest the ruling, the
MDC decided to allow his wife to stand instead.

"The people in the constituency are absolutely terrified of a by-election -
they know Zanu-PF will come down and beat people up and intimidate voters.
Our best chance is to compete during the general election when they are
trying to give a semblance of legitimacy," she added.

Across the country, the MDC is focused on getting out the vote; it hopes
that if enough people turn up at polling stations, pro-government officials
will find it harder to intimidate people or tamper with the ballot boxes.

It is also banking on the fact that Zimbabweans are so tired of food
shortages, runaway inflation and a crumbling infrastructure that they have
lost faith in Mr Mugabe despite all his attempts to shore up support.

All across the country, people tell the same story. When Zimbabwe won
independence in 1980, it was among the most developed countries in Africa.

Even now, after years of economic decline, the country has some of the best
roads, telephone lines and power supplies to be found anywhere on the
continent. But even pro-Mugabe supporters cannot fail to notice that the
country is going backwards in economic terms, while neighbouring countries
such as Botswana and Zambia are racing ahead. In an attempt to compensate
for sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the European Union and America, Mr
Mugabe has signed several deals with Chinese businesses, as part of his
government's "Look East" strategy. It is a tactic that has not caught
people's imagination.

"Mugabe tells us that Zimbabwe is going to make connections with China and
Japan instead of the UK and America but what good is that for us?" asked
Ndo, an articulate, ambitious car rental manager. "Only American tourists
spend a lot of money here and what about us Zimbabweans - we want to go to
the West, not the East." His friend is equally pro-Western. "Mugabe tells us
that all of Zimbabwe's problems are caused by Britain but we do not believe
him. We know that it is Mugabe and his ministers who are to blame. They sit
in their big houses - they know as little about how we live as someone in
England does." Mr Coltart is certain this dissatisfaction can work in the
MDC's favour. "Mugabe is going to find it very hard to govern after this
election. He won't have the legitimacy he so craves, and if the food
shortages continue, he is going to find it very hard indeed to maintain his
support in the rural areas."

Other Zimbabweans are more pessimistic about how life in the country will
continue after the elections. Human rights agencies in particular are
worried about an NGO Bill, which will stop any human rights groups in
Zimbabwe from receiving foreign funding or employing non-Zimbabweans.

"Bulawayo Agenda will be closed down," said Mr Moyo with quiet resignation.
"Most of our funding comes from abroad - from places like the Konrad
Adenauer foundation, and if this NGO Bill is passed, we will not be allowed
to receive that kind of money."

Internally, neither Zanu-PF nor MDC are in the best of shape. The MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has spent so much time fighting three charges of treason
in court that his critics say he has not been able to lead the party
properly. One of Mr Mugabe's most trusted aides and former spin-doctor
Jonathan Moyo (no relation to Gordon) has left Zanu-PF and will run as an
independent against both Zanu-PF and the MDC in his rural home of
Tsholotsho. If he wins, many observers believe he could form a party that
could replace the MDC.

Across Zimbabwe, it is clear that people are desperate for change, but have
wildly different ideas about how it can be achieved. Some want
demonstrations in the street, others want foreign countries to intervene,
others believe Mr Mugabe must die before the government can improve. They
all have only one thing in common: no one expects this general election
alone to make to things better.
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Christian Science Monitor

South Africa's president feels the squeeze over Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's parliamentary election Thursday puts Mbeki between Africa and the

By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - For years, South African President Thabo
Mbeki's approach on the growing autocracy in Zimbabwe has been to use "quiet
diplomacy" - supporting President Robert Mugabe in public, cajoling him in
private. This used to satisfy the United States.
But that's begun to change. President Bush is newly set on "ending tyranny
in our world"; his team calls Zimbabwe one of six "outposts of tyranny." Mr.
Bush's ambassador to South Africa, Jendayi Frazer, hinted in a speech last
month that Zimbabwe's crisis threatens US support for the region. If African
organizations are "not seen to act forcefully against tyranny," she said,
"it is going to be a problem in terms of trying to build international
support and resources."

Now Zimbabwe holds parliamentary elections Thursday. Critics expect they'll
be flawed, like the 2000 vote in which Mr. Mugabe was reelected. If so, they
may cloud Mr. Mbeki's vision for an "African renaissance" that would bring
in billions in Western aid dollars in exchange for stronger democracy and
better governance.

"If Mbeki cares" how his plans are perceived by the world's wealthy nations,
"he's in trouble" over Zimbabwe, says Tom Lodge, a political scientist at
University of the Witwatersrand here.

As African crises go, Zimbabwe's is not the most dramatic. Some 4.8 million
of its 12 million people may be on the verge of hunger, according to the
Famine Early Warning System Network. But its masses aren't suffering like
those in Africa's two biggest conflict zones: Some 180,000 people have died
in Sudan's Darfur region since 2003, according to the UN; and 3.2 million
have died since 1999 in Congo, according to an estimate by the International
Rescue Committee.

But Zimbabwe's recent crackdown on press and political freedoms make it a
crucial barometer of how hard African leaders are willing to push their
comrades to improve leadership.

Western nations, especially the US, are increasingly tying aid to good
governance. Madagascar, an island off Africa, this month became the first
nation to get money - $110 million - under Bush's Millennium Challenge
Account. It rewards countries for financial accountability, economic reform,
and democracy.

One indicator to watch this week is the response to the elections by the
14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC). Earlier this month,
Mbeki told reporters: "I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe
will militate in a way so that the elections will not be free and fair,"
putting implicit pressure on the SADC to validate the vote. If the SADC and
the African Union, a new United Nations of Africa, both declare the
elections free and fair - amid evidence to the contrary - it could
compromise the groups in the eyes of Western nations.

But the West's concerns aren't the only thing on Mbeki's mind. The issue of
land looms large. Ever since colonial days, most good land in southern
Africa has been in the hands of whites. Starting in 2000, Mugabe let
supporters snatch thousands of white-owned farms. It caused social upheaval
that led to inflation of 600 percent and millions of Zimbabweans - black and
white - fleeing.

Mbeki faces land pressure of his own. South Africa's Landless People's
Movement aims to "take back" land owned by 60,000 white farmers. And Mugabe
is popular with many in Mbeki's party for taking a bold stand on land. In
fact, Mugabe's policies may be one reason he came in third in last year's
poll by New African magazine of the "100 Greatest Africans." Nelson Mandela
was first; Mbeki, eighth.

Mbeki, Bush's declared "point man" on Zimbabwe, has options for dealing
forcefully with its northern neighbor. He could turn off Zimbabwe's
electricity supply, which comes from South Africa. But doing that risks a
meltdown that could spill over into South Africa. "South Africa isn't
prepared to have another failed African state on its doorstep," says Peter
Kagwanja of The International Crisis Group in Pretoria. "South Africans will
tell you they had to choose between anarchy and totalitarianism" in

But now, Mr. Kagwanja says, with Mugabe's land-reform mostly over and the
return of relative stability, "the challenge for Mbeki is to dismantle the
totalitarian order" that came about partly because of his support.
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Zim Online

Tsvangirai warns of possible popular revolt
Mon 28 March 2005
      HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday warned of a
possible mass uprising by Zimbabweans if President Robert Mugabe and his
ZANU PF party stole next Thursday's general election.

      In a thinly veiled threat to call a mass revolt by his supporters if
the poll is rigged Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans will this time round not
accept a rigged result but will act to defend their vote.

      "We want to warn Mugabe that rigging the election will not be wise
this time around. It's dangerous. The people will not accept a rigged
election and the people will defend their vote and their choice," Tsvangirai
told about 40 000 supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare's Highfield suburb.

      Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party of using
violence and downright fraud to win a parliamentary election in 2000 and a
presidential election two years later.

      Efforts to use the legal route to overturn the results of the two
polls hit a snag after Zimbabwe's courts packed with pro-Mugabe judges sat
on the opposition party's petitions.

      The MDC, which only agreed to contest the March 31 poll last month
after having threatened to boycott the election saying the political playing
field was heavily tilted in favour of ZANU PF, had until now not hinted at
the possibility of calling its multitude of supporters in urban areas onto
the streets if it deemed the election result unfair.

      Speaking earlier before Tsvangirai MDC youth leader, Nelson Chamisa,
told the rally the youth wing had already informed senior party leaders that
it will strongly react to a "rigged result."

      "As youths we have already told Tsvangirai and the top leadership that
we will not repeat what we did in the previous elections. We will not sit
idly and watch Mugabe get away with a rigged election. We will react,"
Chamisa said.

      Tsvangirai also told his supporters that if elected next Thursday the
MDC will immediately disband government trained youth militia accused of
raping, torturing and murdering government opponents.

      An MDC government will also prosecute all perpetrators of political
violence as part of efforts to restore the rule of law, the opposition
leader said.

      "We will prosecute all perpetrators of political violence and disband
the militias who have been used to maim our supporters. This will be part of
our efforts to restore the rule of law," said Tsvangirai.

      The MDC would also immediately launch an appeal to international food
relief agencies to help feed about four million Zimbabweans facing
starvation after poor harvests.

      Mugabe two weeks ago admitted, while addressing a ZANU PF campaign
rally, that Zimbabwe was facing a serious food shortage.

      The Zimbabwean leader had all along denied that the country did not
have enough food telling food aid groups last year to take their aid
elsewhere because Zimbabwe had enough to feed itself.

      Meanwhile MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube has implored election
observers to visit the rural areas, where he claims incidents of violence
and torture are rampant.

      Speaking at a campaign rally in Bulawayo last Saturday, Ncube accused
the observers of spending too much time in urban areas.

      He said, "we do not want you to write reports based on what you saw in
Bulawayo, Harare or Gweru. Go to the rural areas and witness the real
intimidation against our supporters. That is where the chiefs are
intimidating our supporters. Why do you continue hanging around city hotels
if your mission here is to write comprehensive reports?"

      The MDC has said that it has recoded increased incidents of harassment
and intimidation of opposition supporters by pro-ZANU PF traditional leaders
in remote rural communities. ZANU PF party has denied using traditional
leaders to intimidate MDC supporters. ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

SA observers say situation in Zimbabwe is calm
Mon 28 March 2005
  HARARE - The South African government election observer mission has said
there is calmness in Zimbabwe ahead of the country's crucial general
election next Thursday.

      In a statement at the weekend the mission said it had since arriving
in Zimbabwe last month witnessed 31 political rallies by the two main
political parties and observed voter education sessions which all had been

      Pretoria's mission predicted a high voter turn out on March 31 when
Zimbabweans elect a new Parliament under intense glare from the
international community amid fears President Robert Mugabe and his ruling
ZANU PF party might rig the poll in their favour.

      The South African mission two weeks ago clashed with the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party after team leader
Membathisi Mdladlana appeared to prejudge the Thursday poll saying
conditions in Zimbabwe were conducive for a free and fair election.

      The MDC only ended a boycott of Mdladlana's team after the South
Africans reportedly apologised.

      Zimbabwe's election is seen as test of whether Southern African
Development Community (SADC) leaders will hold Mugabe to a regional protocol
on free and fair elections singed last August.

      The protocol aimed at engendering democracy in the region requires
independent commissions to run elections while electoral laws and processes
must be fair and transparent. The rule of law and human rights must be
upheld during elections under the protocol.

      The MDC says Mugabe has not adhered to the protocol and dismisses
reforms implemented by the government earlier this year as cosmetic and
meant to hoodwink SADC and the international community into believing that
Harare was complying with the regional protocol. The government denies the
opposition party's claims. -ZimOnline.

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Global Politician

EXPERT INTERVIEW: Jan Lamprecht Explains Crises In Africa


By Ryan Mauro
Events in Africa, like in Latin America, are often ignored. The only fact
most Americans know about Africa is that it is in a sorry state, not that
dictators and anti-American forces have taken hold of the vital mineral
resources of the continent. I knew more about Africa than the average
person, but I'll admit I did not know enough. To enlighten myself and my
readers, I decided to have Mr. Jan Lamprecht conduct an interview for this
website. For understanding the situation in Africa, no interview could be
more important. His website, contains headlines you'll
never see in most Western papers. It is one of the most enlightening and
disturbing websites I have seen on the subject.

To help introduce him, I asked him for a brief biography. This is what he
wrote: "I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up on a farm during the bush war,
which resulted in Robert Mugabe coming to power. I was educated at Churchill
High School in Harare. Upon leaving school I moved to South Africa where I
spent a short time in the South African Navy. Thereafter I went into
computers where I have spent the rest of my life. I had a natural aptitude
for programming and software development. At an early age I began doing
consulting and other independent work. I have been in computers for 22
years. My particular strength is systems analysis and design. The severe
political problems in Zimbabwe to the north of South Africa in 2000, and its
possible effects on South Africa caused me to write a political book called
'Government by Deception'."

WRM: What do you feel causes Africa's problems?

JL: This is a very broad question. Let's start with what does NOT cause
Africa's problems. When I was in Europe earlier this year, I saw that
Europeans believe the reason Africa has problems is because Africa is not
getting enough money from the West. The sentiments of us whites in Africa
can be summed up as follows: We do not believe money alone can solve
Africa's problems. And most of Africa's problems are not caused by a lack of
money. Nor will more money necessarily help - though the black governments
keep asking for more and more. We feel (and I speak for myself too - but
this is a broad sentiment), that the real issue is skills, incompetence,
honesty, etc. The real problem in Africa is HUMAN and not material. Money
alone cannot solve Africa's problems. But most of Africa's problems could be
solved if people had the necessarily skills and ethics to go with it. You
will see this when you compare colonialism and post-colonial Africa. You
will see, in Rhodesia and South Africa for example, that sanctions and a ban
on material goods did not cause much damage to each country. But hand it
over to unskilled people and even with lots of monetary assistance,
free-trade, etc and the results are disappointing. Time and again, you'll
see Africa's problems do not stem from poverty alone. Many parts of Africa
are extremely rich. How did Japan, with no natural resources get the 2nd
biggest economy in the world? It's all due to PEOPLE. In Africa, it's the
people who are the problem. And forget about the so-called "legacy of
colonialism". That's junk. The legacy of colonialism was, in each case, a
functioning country. But the countries went downhill AFTER they were handed
over in a functioning state. That has been the legacy of virtually each
black nation in Africa. It was due to many things - due to incompetence,
power hunger, socialism, chasing whites and Indians out, etc. In each case,
they took a functioning country and it slowly started falling apart. The
same can be seen even in South Africa in less than 10 years of black rule. I
must point out, most black countries are largely Socialist/Marxist in their
outlook - they do not encourage business or proper investment and are
control freaks. This plays a big role in countries ending up on the rubbish

WRM: And what does the incompetence of the leaders come from? Lack of
education? Technology? What needs to be changed so that a stable society is
built, what is needed?

JL: It's really a complex question. You can attribute it to many things, but
many of those answers result in a lot of beating about the bush. Let me try
to provide a broad answer like this: Half of the problems of Africa lie in
the fact that many of the leaders believe in socialism/Marxism. The other
half of the problem lies in the black people themselves. People will of
course hate this answer and say I'm being racist for saying this - but this
is the undeniable truth - and if it's racist - then so be it.

The Socialist/Marxist aspect doesn't need much discussion - it's simple
really. Socialism and the control freak attitude ALWAYS will destroy
personal initiative - it kills business, it stifles and holds back those
individuals who would do great things for society. It kills off business
ideas, entrepreneurs, etc who could bring many benefits.

With regard to problems in the blacks themselves - it is hard to
generalize - but there are many aspects to it. Some can be solved - and
others will be truly difficult to overcome. For example, there are certain
norms and standards which are taken for granted in much of the West which
are not part of the African mindset. There are many values such as:
efficiency, frugality, duty to a higher cause, etc which do not exist in
African culture in the same was as in the Western mind. Most of these things
can indeed be solved through education and Westernization. But many of these
Marxist leaders actually REJECT this filtering in of too much Western
culture and they fight it. They call for "Africanization" as the way
forward. From my experience, Africanization is a definite path to
destruction. Africanization is a step backwards. Blacks in Africa never
created a great society in the past - and a large part of the reason for
this lay in their culture and attitude to life. So it is insane to call for
Africanization because it brings about the glorification of old values which
never led to greatness.

I do believe black Africans have a serious problem in their makeup which
sets them apart from much of the rest of the world, and it will inhibit
their future development. One could call it IQ - but it may be better
described as 'aptitude'. It is a general fact of biology that people who are
good at mathematics and science are weak in the arts and vice versa. You
will note that the black race - I'm talking pure blacks as in Africa - not
"colored blacks" as in the USA - is particularly disadvantaged in this way.
You'll note they are exceptionally artistic - but in school - they do very
badly in mathematics and science. Now it is a fact of life that to built a
technological nation and to make use of the advantages of science - one
needs people with strong mathematical and logical skills. I am in the
computer world, and I can tell you many stories about how blacks in Africa
battle and struggle tremendously to gain the technical skills needed to
build complex computer systems. The same is true for engineering. It so
happens that Whites and Asians are particularly well talented in this area.
And in Colonial Africa, whites provided these skills.
Driving whites out of Africa also means driving out most of the scientists,
engineers, computer programmers, etc who build the hardware and software
which drives a nation forward. Like it or lump it, but black people in
Africa actually derive many benefits from having a multiracial society and
it is actually the key in driving their own development forward.
Colonialism, for all its moral wrongs, supplied the most crucial element
which African needs: Technical, logical and mathematical skills. This is how
Africa was built.

If blacks want to follow the trend set by Mugabe then they are truly
slitting their own throats. Watch Zimbabwe... wait and see the price they
will pay for their delusions... it will be a terrible price indeed. In a few
years they have gone back 50 years, and it may take them a very, very long
time before they ever can back to where they were. It could take many

WRM: Can you explain who these corrupt leaders are in Africa and what
countries they rule? I know that takes a lot of explaining, but few
Americans know anything about what really is going on in Africa.

JL: You will find corruption and Marxism in many countries - mostly in the
Southern part of Africa where the Russians and Chinese were determined to
have their way. These pro-Communist countries are: - South Africa, Namibia,
Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These countries cover a land area about 1/2 the size of the USA!! And most
are very mineral rich.

WRM: What is the geopolitical situation like in Africa, and how does it
affect the West?

JL: It appears to me, the socialist mindsets in Africa are becoming more
dominant, and Africa, especially now with the African Union happening and
being led by South Africa will move further and further away from the
Western sphere of influence. One way it affects the Western world is in the
demand for more money to uplift Africa and continued calls trying to lay the
blame on the West for Africa's failures. The raw materials Africa was so
well known for will still be available - though supplies, etc may become
more erratic. Africa is sliding backwards. If the West were to completely
ignore Africa, then it wouldn't affect the West too much. Although there is
one effect of Africa's implosion which the West cannot ignore: The continual
fleeing of millions of people to Europe especially and America from Africa.
This will continue and will get much worse. I suspect, since the West is
trying to help Africa that this implosion of Africa will be a concern
because it is the West who ultimately has to help foot the bill. As can be
seen, civil wars between blacks are becoming more common. And the West is
playing a role in sending in peace keeping forces into parts of Africa. So
the implosion of Africa will continue to require the attention of America
because Africa can't look after itself. The African Union which is a model
of Europe - is going to cost about US$100 million per annum - a cost which
most of Africa can't afford. So yet another delusion of Grandeur of the
Africans may yet have to be paid for by the Western world.

WRM: Explain more about the Africa Union, we hear little of it. Is this an
attempt at integration? And do countries like China and Russia see this
valuable to their geopolitical strategy, as they do with regards to the
European Union?

JL: Russia and China are not overtly involved in the African Union. But it
is driven by the local black Marxists. The African Union is basically a
similar idea to the European Union. However, keep in mind that Africa in its
current state is struggling with itself, never mind building something so
complex. I doubt the AU will actually be anything more than another white
horse and another bottomless pit of corruption and a huge waste of money
which can be ill afforded.

The theory is to bind Africa as a continent together, and to then to have
the Left dominate it. But as it is Africa is breaking down and there are
more wars and problems than before. So I think the AU won't succeed. I think
the AU will be just a huge waste of money. It is also said that most African
countries can't even afford the meager $100 million to run it annually.
Africans are asking the USA and the West to fund the AU. I certainly hope
the West does not pour money into another bottomless pit.

WRM: What do you see in the future for the Africa Union? Will it become a
quasi-superstate? Who will it ally with? Things like that.

JL: The theory is to turn it into a Super State. But it appears to me blacks
are becoming more divided among themselves all the time. Whereas the EU is
more or less succeeding, I don't see the AU existing in anything more than
just a name. I believe whites through colonialism and domination became a
common enemy and it united blacks. But now that white power is broken and
gone, I think blacks will return to fighting each other. The War in the
Congo involved almost a dozen black nations fighting each other and millions
died. There seem to be many wars in Africa which will continue for a long
time. I think we will see more war in the future.

WRM: What is the importance of Africa to American security?

JL: I think the main effect is with regard to strategic materials - e.g.
uranium and chrome (a product of Zimbabwe) - and also the Cape sea route.
The other thing to remember is that if the USA does not have a presence here
then someone else will. The Russians have played in Africa quite a bit and
play many games behind the scenes. But China is very keen on moving into
Africa. I believe this would be a very bad thing for not only Africa but the
world. I think we need US influence here rather than Chinese or Russian
influence. For that reason I hope the USA retains an interest in things

WRM: How do you feel about Marxist-Leninism and Communism in Africa?

JL: Southern Africa, the richest portion of Africa, is controlled by rulers
with a 100% pedigree originating from Russia and China. These people have
caused countries to collapse to an unbelievable degree. Angola, Mozambique,
Tanzania and Zimbabwe are basket cases and could take many decades to
recover - if ever. South Africa has not yet collapsed - but it will. Rest
assured, our current government is not solving any problems - in fact -
things will just get worse and worse. 65% of our taxes in South Africa are
paid by less than 400,000 people - the entire population is 44 million. That
is how socialist we have become and we are going backwards. Crime,
corruption, AIDS, etc are just spiraling out of control. The government's
policies are making all of the above worse. If they had a more Western
outlook, then we wouldn't be in such a mess - we should be BOOMING. But we
aren't. The socialism/Marxism is slowly sucking the lifeblood out of this

WRM: You mention Russia and China assisting Marxist-Leninist leadership
favorable to them in power in Africa. Do you see this as a move against
America, or to simply secure resources?

JL: Both. It is to try to get resources for themselves - but mainly to try
to remove these resources from the Western sphere of influence. Africa south
of the Equator is exceptionally rich in minerals of all kinds. The idea is
to cut off supplies of raw materials to US industry in the event of a future

WRM: Russia is now supposedly democratic and has Western freedoms. Why would
Russia today still support anti-freedom leaders of Communist nature, if it
is a "strategic partner", and a free country? What is their motive?

JL: I don't think Russia is democratic at all. The Communist Party is still
the only true national party in Russia, and Putin is just another product of
the KGB. So what has changed? Nothing really... just some window dressing.
Russia is still armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons all pointed at you
people in the USA. If I must be frank, I think some of your leaders, like
Condi Rice, really need a wakeup call.

Look at China - it is still openly communist. And Russia and China help each
other constantly and in the UN they stand together. I think nothing has
changed except the PERCEPTION in the minds of American leaders. And I think
that perception is false. I think the Russians are striking deals with the
West in order to get money out of you people. They're pretending to be
friendly - but only so as to use you. One day they will stab you in the

WRM: What affects does Communism in Africa have on geopolitics?

JL: It is responsible for the anti-Western rhetoric which keeps coming out
of the mouths of African leaders. It is the Communist influence which is
causing them to blame everything on "the legacy of colonialism" or the
"legacy of Apartheid". None of this is true - but the blame game is a lovely
game they like to play. They first lay the blame at the door of the West.
Then they come with their begging bowls and they ask for money, money and
more money. And the West will NEVER be able to give them enough money to
satisfy their greed. Of course, a small portion of that money will ever
reach the poor people at whom it is aimed. It will mostly line the pockets
of the black elite.

WRM: How are the world's major countries affecting African geopolitics?

JL: Japan wants close links with Africa - probably for the purpose of buying
raw materials here. But the communist Chinese are developing a big interest
in Africa - as do the Indians.
The West is too prostrate - the West is too guilt-ridden to effectively
exert much of a presence in Africa any more. The West needs to give up on
this guilt-trip. It's not helping anyone and the current black leaders are
milking it for all its worth. This needs to stop and sanity needs to be
applied to dealings with Africa. The bleeding heart attitude is not helping
Africa - but common sense and "tough love" could do the trick.

WRM: I've heard speculation that southern Africa could become a future
geopolitical battleground between the West and China, perhaps alongside
Russia. When a civil war breaks out in a strategic country such as South
Africa, can we expect any type of foreign military intervention?

JL: I believe if a World War were to be fought tomorrow, then South Africa
would side with the enemies of the USA. You could see it during the Iraq
war. If the USA wanted South Africa on its side per se, it has its work cut
out for it. It's not going to be easy without a change of regime. The ANC
and SA Communist Party would have to be crushed.

I don't foresee a civil war in South Africa at this stage. I think the
pro-Western elements are too weak. Also, the West can't tell their friends
from their enemies. Most in the USA and West believe the ANC are their
friends. One day they will see how completely wrong they are.
Many Americans were stunned when Nelson Mandela criticized the USA during
the Iraq war. Americans will be stunned later when they see what Mandela,
Mugabe, Mbeki and others really stand for. People will be shocked.

WRM: What do you feel is the most under-reported but dangerous reality in
Africa, that the media must concentrate more on?

JL: I think the decay of Zimbabwe and South Africa need more attention -
especially the out of control crime here in SA - and the AIDS situation
(which our President totally denies exists) - yet, 600,000 people died of
AIDS in South Africa in 2002 and probably 8-9 million are infected. I think
if the Western media reported on what is actually happening here - like Farm
Murders, our support of Zimbabwe, etc it would help to wake the world up. We
are heading for very dire times in the next 10 years.

WRM: What will occur in the next decade or so in Africa in your opinion?
What level of international involvement do you see coming?

JL: think the international community will tire more and more of Africa. I
see investment in Africa decreasing. I see more poverty, more wars, and more
chaos in Africa. I think Africa as a whole will move backward in the next
decade - not to mention the impact of AIDS - which will cause extreme
problems. There will be AIDS-induced poverty and AIDS-induced famines. I see
a very bleak outlook for Africa in the next 10 years. I see no progress at
all. I see the continent falling deeper into problems, and the Western world
looking on aghast and unbelieving that all the billions they poured into
Africa came to naught.
Some of us believe that the only way to turn things around is through a new
type of colonialism or injection of foreigners. Exactly what form this could
take is a big question by itself. What we need in Africa are more skilled
people from elsewhere in the world. And if the West does not control Africa
then one day, China will.

WRM: What is the first problem that must be tackled to improve the situation
in Africa?

JL: I think the main issue is government. Everything starts at the top. The
top must be cleaned up. Africa is run by socialists, despots, etc. The basic
idea I think is that the carrot and stick should be used. Cut off ALL AID to
black countries if they do not conform to certain standards. Then offer them
aid, but only if they adhere to certain standards. In some countries, the
governments actually need to be overthrown (e.g. Zimbabwe). In such cases,
the West should arm the opposition and let them start taking care of things.

WRM: How do you view the Bush Administration's approach to Africa,
specifically the AIDS initiative, and Powell's call for regime change in

JL: I believe that Bush's AIDS initiative was actually an old promise and
apparently (so we heard), it was something the USA was intending to deliver
on for a long time. Personally, I doubt anyone can do much about AIDS. If
you wanted to "cure" AIDS, you would need to put millions into quarantine -
but that can and never will happen. So instead, the disease will get worse
and tens of millions will die. AIDS is expected to peak in South Africa in
2015. In 2004 they are expecting 700,000 to die from it. By 2015, the death
toll will be horrendous. I have read that they expect AIDS in South Africa
to kill over 12 million people - in the next decade or less. While I doubt
Bush's AIDS initiative will change anything in a noticeable way, I should
say it is more than the South African government is doing.

I welcome Powell's call for regime change in Zimbabwe. Sadly, it will never
happen if left to Africa since South Africa really supports Mugabe. I
believe it could only ever happen if the USA or Britain were to finance it.
But since nobody seems intent on doing this - I figure Mugabe will stay in
power and things will just get worse. I was pleased to hear Powell's words
but unless somebody actually acts on it - I doubt anything will come of it -

WRM: Let's pretend you are in charge of policy towards Africa. What should
the US and its allies do to help, and what does the West get out of it?
Let's be realistic, no country will help a country, let alone a continent,
without something to gain.

JL: Well, I think it is in the US and Western interest to extend their
sphere of influence into Africa - that would be the self-gain. The gain
would be in business partnerships, access to strategic materials, etc.

If it were up to me; I would push for the overthrow of dictatorships and
Marxist regimes and for the setting up of nations based on proper Western
principles (and not Marxists masquerading as liberals). I would push for it
diplomatically. And if need be, I would secretly create and fund oppositions
which are truly democratic. And if need be, secretly arm them to overthrow
the Marxists. I would fight to win.

There have been many wars in Southern Africa which could have been won by
the West, namely: Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. These three countries
could easily have been 100% under Western influence. But in each case, the
West never had the will to truly fund the opposition and to make them win.

I suspect though, that the USA sent the CIA to stop the Marxist from taking
the DRC (formerly Zaire) in total. I think they funded the Ugandans and
Rwandans - and it was a very successful exercise. They nearly won. At least
it brought about a stalemate. More of that sort of thing could be done - but
it must be done until total victory is achieved. These half-hearted wars are
a waste of time.

WRM: I have heard that Africa is the most pro-American continent on earth.
Is this true and what is the attitude like on the streets towards the
anti-American forces plaguing the continent?

JL: This is a strange one to me. I would suspect this is true of the
people - the common people. Common people in Africa do indeed look up to the
USA. The USA is liked by most people - including many black people. But the
anti-US stance comes from the LEADERS in many of the African countries -
especially the dominant ones. It is from the top that one has the
anti-American stance - and they are the ones making the rules. If the USA
were to support many grass roots movements in Africa they would find
countless millions ready to take up arms against the existing
socialist/Marxist order. Sadly, the ones in power, who have the money and
who make the rules, have the dominant say. So unless the USA actually starts
supporting grass roots movements (or helps cultivate potential ones), then
this sentiment will be wasted. I know most Zimbabweans would absolutely love
to work with Americans. I know in South Africa most young Zulus also feel a
strong solidarity and admiration for the USA and I know many would be
extremely delighted if the USA would help support them. This is probably
true for much of Africa. But sadly, the "liberation" was done my Marxists
and socialists and they do not view the USA in a positive light, except to
come with begging bowls to try and scam as much money out of you folks as
possible. Their real loyalties will never lie with you.

WRM: Can you describe the fight for freedom in the heart of the African
people? Is there a struggle going on at all for freedom? Or is it mainly a
struggle between two corrupt sides?

JL: There are so many struggles for freedom in Africa. Sadly, the left
dominates most of these struggles - so it is unlikely that these will lead
Sadly, a lot of the true pro-Western pro-USA forces were only half-heartedly
supported by the West and most are now ineffective - like UNITA in Angola or
RENAMO in Mozambique or the MDC in Zimbabwe (thought the MDC is mildly
socialist) or the Zulus in South Africa.

The problem is that the left controls so much of Africa and there are far
too few black conservatives in Africa. There are too few blacks in Africa
who even believe in capitalism. Most blacks believe in some form of
socialism. The West has to win their hearts and minds over. Sadly, the left
dominates Africa to such a degree - and that is one of the reasons why
Africa is the complete mess it is in today.

If there is any example and proof that the left has nothing to contribute in
this world, then Africa is it. Africa is the proof that the left brings with
it nothing but destruction.

Ryan Mauro has been a geopolitical analyst for Tactical Defense Concepts
(, a maritime-associated security company, since 2002. In
2003, Mr. Mauro joined the Northeast Intelligence Network
(, which specializes in tracking and assessing
terrorist threats. He has been published in,,,,,
and in the Turkistan Newsletter (Turkistan Bulteni). He is a frequent writer
for as well. He has appeared on radio shows including The Al
Rantel Show, WIBG Radio, WorldNetDaily Radioactive with Joseph Farah, Jeff
Nyquist Program, Kevin McCullough Show, Laurie Roth Show, Tovia Singer Show,
Stan Major Show, and Preparedness Now. His book "Death to America: The
Unreported Battle of Iraq" is scheduled to be published in the coming
months. He publishes his own web site called World Threats. Mr. Mauro may be
reached at
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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Blogging along ...
Sokwanele: 27 March 2005

Today we launch our Sokwanele blog entitled ‘This is Zimbabwe’.

What is a blog?
A blog, for those new to the concept, is simply an online diary – the word blog derives from the term ‘web-log’. Visit our blog at the address or via a link on our front page.

Who is blogging?
We have invited a network of blog contributors to join us. They are based all around Zimbabwe, and come from all walks of life, and are ready to share with us their thoughts, feelings and humour about life in Zimbabwe in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections. All of our contributors – or bloggers – are committed, as we are, to the Sokwanele principles of achieving peace and democracy in Zimbabwe through non-violent means. We have provided a summary of some of their entries so far at the end of this email.

Blogging gives a voice to the people.
We know that not everyone has access to the internet, or to email, so we have asked our bloggers to report not only on their experiences, but also on the stories they hear from other people. We are also aware that security is a very big concern for people in Zimbabwe, especially when it comes to telling the truth in a climate where free expression is restricted and controlled, so we have made it possible for all of our bloggers to write for the blog anonymously.

Sokwanele will also be contributing to the blog under our own name. Our entries will be slightly different: we are committing ourselves to letting you and the world know about breaking grass roots news from Sokwanele activists during the election period. Our entries will be highlighted on the blog in a colour, to differentiate them from our contributors.

We plan to send out a regular short mailing over this period, which will contain a summary of entries from the day. In this way, those who cannot access the website will still be able to read some of our entries.

Sokwanele has recently added site feed to both the main website and the blog. This means that people, with newsreaders, can receive breaking news – articles and blog entries - by subscribing to our rss/xml feed. If you’d like to know more about how to subscribe to news feed, please send us an email at, and we’ll send you a short fact sheet.

Please circulate this email widely and invite other people to subscribe to our mailing list. The details of how to do so are provided in our footer.

Entries from 'This is Zimbabwe'

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

Friday, March 25, 2005

'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


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

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 20!).

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

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 orientation.

posted by Mandebvu - Harare at 1:22 AM

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Easter with a difference?

I was sad today. My girlfriend said she will not spend the easter holiday with me. She will be going home to see her parents. Home for her is Masvingo, the centre of Shona custom. Home will have a special meaning this Easter for Ruth*, affectionately called "My Sunshine" by yours truly. She has vowed that she will be voting. "I will cast my vote on the 31st." She said to me, "There is this lady in our street at home." She added, "Her campaign to be an elected representative of the people has been phenomenal. She has stood for councillor, she has stood for District Representative for her party, she is now going to stand for MP." She looks at me with determination in her eyes, " I am going to vote for that woman this time around, I think she deserves the praise of everyone in the community."

I swallow down the urge to remind Ruth that ours is a new found love that blossoms with every kiss and hug. I see in her the simple determination and reason that will drive the elections forward. Not many are thinking about the rigging, the violence and the intimidation. Many are looking at the elections with hope for a better future. People talk about the interviews held on TV and radio at workplaces and in commuter omnibuses. People make sacrifices to elected representatives. People wait for the dawn of a new era, today methinks Easter is coming with a difference.

*Name changed by Sokwanele

posted by Rudo - Harare at 12:43 PM

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