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Soldiers blow whistle on Mugabe rigging

A senior commander in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and two airforce
officers have released details of alleged rigging underway to hand president
Robert Mugabe a victory in Saturday's elections.

The tip offs were sent to a site set up by the non-governmental
organisation, Zimbabwe Democracy Now (ZDN), which has run full page
newspaper advertisements inside the country and throughout southern Africa.

The ads list a website where officials can post details of illegal
activities by the Mugabe government, both ahead of and during the poll, with
an offer of up to US$5000 for information.

"We have been swamped with information, some not credible, but much of which
has checked out," ZDN spokesman, Mr Goodson Chibaya said from Pretoria in
South Africa where the site is being managed.

"In particular we had separate postings from the Manyame Airforce
Headquaters in Harare and the Thornhill air base in Gweru, corroborated by
another tip off by a very senior person in the army who not only gave us his
name but allowed us to speak with him by phone," he said.

All three men had the same story.

On the night of Thursday 27 March, trusted officers in the army, airforce
and police will be required to vote under supervision for the ruling Zanu-PF
party. The officers will each fill in multiple ballot papers.

At Thornhill, the papers will be filled in at the air force sports club.

On Friday 28, a helicopter from Squadron No 7 at Manyame HQ will fly further
supplies of ballot papers to the Mugabe stronghold of Mount Darwin where a
crew is standing by to fill in multiple forms.

The exercises will be conducted by Mugabe's feared secret police, the
Central Intelligence Organisation or CIO.

"What then happens to these illegal voting papers, I don't know," Mr Chibaya
said. "But hopefully someone will inform us via the tip- off site. In the
meantime we have passed the information to the SADC observer mission and
have launched our own investigation."

The whistleblower website is at


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Inside Zimbabwe: Opposition threatens post-election uprising

Chris McGreal in Harare,
Thursday March 27 2008

Zimbabwe's opposition has said it will bring the government to its knees
with Kenya-style mass protests if the president, Robert Mugabe, carries
through extensive plans to rig Saturday's presidential and parliamentary

Mugabe has vowed to use the army to crush any demonstrations and warned
Zimbabweans not to waste their votes on supporting opposition candidates
whom he said he would never allow to come to power.

The 84-year-old president would struggle to extend his 28-year rule in a
clean election amid widespread hunger, mass unemployment, 100,000% inflation
and a currency devaluing so fast that the few people with jobs are paid in
billions of Zimbabwe dollars.

Monitoring groups say the ruling Zanu-PF party has paved the way to steal
the election by printing millions of extra ballots, intimidating rural
voters by threatening their food supplies, permitting policemen into polling
booths to "help" voters, and fixing the electoral roll.

Among those registered to vote is Desmond Lardner-Burke, who was born a
century ago and, as justice minister in the white Rhodesian government,
jailed Mugabe as a terrorist. Lardner-Burke died years ago in South Africa.

Ian Makoni, the election director for the opposition presidential candidate
Morgan Tsvangirai, who narrowly lost the 2002 ballot amid widespread fraud,
said his Movement for Democratic Change party would not repeat its mistakes
of six years ago.

"The lesson from 2002 is we didn't have a plan for after the vote. Everyone
stayed at home and said we will go to the courts. We have seen the lesson
from Kenya. We don't want the violence that happened in Kenya. The bit I
like about what happened in Kenya was they knew there would be fraud and
they were ready," he said.

"We will be out on the streets celebrating when the polls close. It will be
a celebration which can turn into a protest easily. Zimbabweans are angry,
they are desperate, they are ready to protest. It's the tipping point we are
planning for."

Mugabe told an election rally this week that a vote for the opposition would
be wasted because his opponents would "never be allowed to rule this
country", and he threatened to put down any Kenya-style protests.

"We have enough security forces. No nonsense, if that is what the likes of
Tsvangirai are planning, they are dreaming. That will never happen here.
Never ever," he said.

The most recent opinion poll gives Tsvangirai 28% of the vote, Mugabe 20%
and a third candidate who broke away from Zanu-PF, Simba Makoni, 9%.

Nearly a third of those polled were undecided or declined to reveal a
preference. The opposition says the bulk of them will be voting against

Tsvangirai said the real challenge for the opposition is to make sure its
votes count. "We expect the enemies of justice to engage in every trick in
the book," he said.

The opposition says one of those tricks is to have printed 9m ballots, when
there are 6m names on the electoral roll – many of whom are dead, fake or
improperly registered.

The law obliges the electoral commission to provide copies of the roll to
the opposition in digital form. The commission handed over 80,000 printed
pages scanned on to a disc, technically digital but of no use for computer
programs designed to turn up multiple registrations and false identity

Nonetheless, the MDC says it has uncovered 90,000 suspicious names on the
lists for 28 parliamentary constituencies, and it expects that pattern to be
repeated in the other 182.

There are 25,420 registered voters in the Harare North constituency but
8,201 - nearly one third of the electorate - are listed as living in a
single small area, described as Hatcliffe Housing Cooperate, with just 36
dwellings. Some houses have more than 300 people assigned to a single

The MDC calculates that the last presidential election was stolen through a
combination of ballot stuffing and by preventing hundreds of thousands of
its supporters in the cities from voting by creating huge queues with too
few polling stations.

Election monitoring groups estimate that for Harare polling stations to
handle every potential voter, each will have to be checked on the roll, cast
four ballots and leave in half a minute.

"It will be a problem," said Makoni. "Our hope is that voters will be so
angry they will just stay to make sure they vote no matter how long it

Although the opposition leadership has been largely left alone since
Tsvangirai was badly beaten up by Zanu-PF forces a year ago, the government
has pursued election workers of the MDC and Simba Makoni by harassing and
arresting them in their thousands. Some have been detained for campaigning
door to door or for putting up election posters in areas already smothered
with Zanu-PF propaganda.

The ruling party has also pressured hungry rural voters through village
chiefs by warning them that if the count for their area favours the
opposition they will lose their food supply.

Even if Zimbabweans do not bow to intimidation, there is no guarantee their
votes will count. Ballots are counted in polling stations but the results
announced after they are collated at a regional centre, which is where the
numbers were changed in favour of Zanu-PF in the last election, according to
the opposition.

Makoni said this time the MDC will use its agents to immediately announce
the results from each polling station and pre-empt any alterations. It will
then collate them at an election centre in Harare and issue its own count
ahead of the electoral commission, which is headed by a former military

"In order to avoid skulduggery, our supporters will follow the documentation
with the results from the polling stations and to the collation centres to
protect it. It's like a river that will be swelling and then if the
government tries to deny our victory it will not be able to turn it back,"
he said.

The opposition has in the past threatened - and failed - to mobilise
millions of Zimbabweans. If anger finally overcomes fear and fatalism,
protesters will face a regime that has vowed never to surrender power.

The police and army say they will crush opposition protests. The Zimbabwean
justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said allegations of rigging were no
more than an admission of defeat.

"What in fact is evident now is that Tsvangirai and his camp is now
panicking. They see the crowds that our president is drawing, they see our
popularity. In fact they are going to be wiped out of the political map,
they are staring defeat in their face. They are now trying to find excuses
to justify that defeat," he said on state television.

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White farmer gets suspended jail sentence for resisting eviction in hungry Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 27, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The first white farmer convicted of defying an order to
vacate his property under Zimbabwe's campaign to put more land in black
hands was given a suspended prison sentence Thursday.

A Harare magistrate gave Deon Theron, a vice president of the
white-dominated Commercial Farmers Union, one month to leave his farm and a
six-month prison sentence, suspended for five years on condition he does not
violate the Land Act.

Theron's lawyer said he would appeal the conviction and sentence.

The 53-year-old dairy farmer was convicted Tuesday of unlawfully remaining
on his farm after it was declared state land. The prosecutor had called for
his imprisonment.

The prosecutor, who refused to give his name to reporters but was addressed
by the magistrate as Mr. Zvakare, urged a quick sentencing saying it was "a
serious criminal case."

Observers inside and outside Zimbabwe blame the meltdown of the country's
agriculture-based economy on the often violent seizures of white-owned
commercial farms that began on President Robert Mugabe's orders in 2000.
Hyperinflation, goods shortages and crumbling infrastructure have been key
campaign issues in the approach to general elections Saturday.
Theron owns 400 head of dairy cattle on a 400-hectare (900-acre) farm south
of Harare and supplies 8,000 liters (about 2,000 gallons) of milk a day to
stores in Harare at a time when shortages of milk and dairy products are

A former senior official of the state central bank, identified in court as
Elias Musakwa, claimed he had been allocated Theron's farm in October,
according to court documents. Musakwa is a ruling party parliamentary
candidate in Saturday's national polls.

Theron says since October he and his family have been harassed and
threatened by ruling party militants who also targeted 12 other dairy
farmers remaining in the Beatrice dairy-producing district, 70 kilometers
(40 miles) south of Harare.

Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980 and is seeking
re-election Saturday, told supporters during a campaign rally this week the
government bought 800,000 tons of food from neighboring countries — about
half the country's requirements — to help feed the nation. Zimbabwe once
exported food. Mugabe blames the economic woes on Western economic

The economy and the presidential campaign of a former Mugabe loyalist
expected to attract disillusioned members of both the ruling party and the
main opposition have combined to present Mugabe with a tough election
challenge. But Mugabe has been accused of manipulating elections through
intimidation and fraud, raising questions as to whether the vote can be free
or fair.

The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying at a rally
Wednesday that his ZANU-PF party would accept defeat at the polls — and
saying opponents also should respect whatever result emerges.

He threatened a harsh response if disappointed opponents resort to violence.

"We are hearing some opposition members want to bring anarchy as was the
case in Kenya if ZANU-PF wins," the Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as
saying. "Try it and you shall see. If you want to please the British, you
shall see. We want to see you do it."

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga both
claimed victory in a December presidential election, which observers said
was so flawed by rigging that it was impossible to say who had won. Their
dispute unleashed weeks of bloodshed that left more than 1,000 dead before
the two agreed to share power.

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Zimbabwe Radio Filled With Party Political Messages


By Peta Thornycroft
27 March 2008

Zimbabwe's state media is being criticized for biased coverage of national
elections to be held Saturday, but party political advertisements in the
public media are being seen and heard for the first time.  Peta Thornycroft
reports for VOA the latest ZANU-PF jingle on radio exhorts people to vote
for the ruling party if they want a farm.

POLITICAL AD:  "If you want a farm, vote ZANU-PF.  If you want a tractor,
Vote ZANU-PF.  If you want a company, Vote ZANU-PF."

Those are the first phrases of a jingle that began playing Tuesday on all
four of Zimbabwe's radio stations.  The advertisement is playing throughout
the day and night with several others from ZANU-PF.

The state controls all radio, the only television channel, and both daily

The jingle tells people that President Robert Muabe will give them
consistent and trusted leadership and that ZANU-PF is for black economic
empowerment, although most businesses are already controlled by black

Mr. Mugabe handed out millions of dollars worth of tractors and other
agricultural equipment as he launched his campaign for re-election.  He also
signed a law that forces all corporations to hand a majority sharehold to
black Zimbabweans.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by founding MDC President
Morgan Tsvangirai also has several jingles on radio.

These advertisements say Tsvangirai and the MDC will return Zimbabwe to the
international community and will ensure jobs are created and that families
divided by the political and economic crisis will be re-united under MDC

If there are jingles for the other presidential candidate, former finance
minister Simba Makoni, they have not played for significant periods.

The independent Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe says the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation, which by an act of parliament is supposed to be a
public broadcaster, is biased in favor of ZANU-PF.  The internationally
funded project's daily election reports say ZANU-PF gets more than 80
percent of political coverage, all of it favorable, while reports on the
opposition are nearly all negative.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is also in a state of disrepair.  The
nightly news bulletin often starts late.

Last Sunday, the news began 25 minutes late and airtime was filled with
Japanese promotional material advertising different hairstyles for men and

Mobile telephone networks are also in a state of disrepair.  Many election
observers who began entering Zimbabwe from African countries late last week
are complaining they cannot receive or make calls on their mobile phones.

The few foreign journalists allowed in the country to cover the elections
are having a similar problem.

State telecommunications company, Telone, was not available for comment, but
insiders say it is short of foreign currency to import spare parts to keep
the networks working.

Many landlines around the country have also stopped working.  For many
people in smaller rural areas in the former commercial farming districts,
mobile phones are the only way they can keep in contact with their families.
Access to the Internet has also been extremely difficult before the

Zimbabwe used to have a reasonably efficient landline telephone network,
which was digitalized about 15 years ago.  Zimbabwe owes several countries
for foreign calls, and Telone has had to cut most calls made to foreign

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'Mugabe could still cling to power'


    March 27 2008 at 04:06PM

By Cris Chinaka

Harare - The economy is in ruins, the population live in misery and he
faces the most formidable challenge of his 28-year rule, yet Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe could still cling to power in Saturday's elections.

Although his Zanu-PF party is battling a crisis that would have buried
other governments long ago, critics say Mugabe has enough control of the
electoral machinery to retain power, with the decisive backing of police and

A Mugabe victory, however, could push the once prosperous southern
African country into more instability and suffering.

"I think Zimbabwe is going to see some trouble whether Mugabe wins or
loses," said John Makumbe, a Zimbabwean political commentator and a fierce
Mugabe critic.

"If he wins nobody will believe that he has won fairly, and if he
loses he will not accept the outcome and either way, we are going to pass
through some instability."

Mugabe, 84, is facing his toughest electoral test from former Zanu-PF
ally Simba Makoni and a resurgent Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the main
faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Makoni and Tsvangirai are campaigning on the economic crisis ravaging
the former regional breadbasket, which is reeling from the world's highest
inflation of more than 100 000 percent, dramatically reduced life
expectancy, chronic food and fuel shortages and a virtually worthless

A quarter of the 13-million population have fled. The March 29
presidential, parliamentary and local council polls are seen as the most
important since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, but few expect
a fair vote.

"Mugabe is both a player and a referee in this game and I just don't
see how anyone expects him to lose a game in which he makes the rules and
holds the whistle," says Lovemore Madhuku of political pressure group
National Constitutional Assembly.

"Except for Mugabe and Zanu-PF who are in denial, everyone knows that
this economy is in shambles and that the people who got us into this mess
cannot get us out of it, but the bottom line is that Mugabe can manipulate
the system to remain in office," he said.

Critics say the voters' register of 5,9 million people is in a
shambles, containing thousands of dead people, and that the government has
printed more ballot papers than voters.

The opposition says geographic distribution of polling stations
favours Mugabe's traditional rural strongholds.

Mugabe must win over half the presidential vote to avoid a second
round run-off that might unite his opponents. Mugabe denies persistent
accusations of rigging three elections since 2000 and accuses the West,
especially Britain and the United States, of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy.

He says they are working with the opposition to oust him in revenge
for his redistribution of white-owned farms to blacks.

Mugabe's former propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, who was expelled from
Zanu-PF after they fell out in 2005, also expects the former guerrilla
leader to squeeze through in the polls.

Moyo, who is contesting a parliamentary seat he holds as an
independent, believes Mugabe will rule an unstable country unless he changes
some policies and forms a unity government.

"Zimbabwean people want change, and if Mugabe wins, he needs to
introduce change," he said in a recent article, warning of violence if the
government rigged the vote.

"If Mugabe gets less than 51 percent and declares himself winner, that
will immediately precipitate a Kenyan scenario," Moyo said.

"I won't be surprised if he did that because he is desperate to win
this election by any means."

At the weekend, Mugabe warned Zimbabweans that his security forces
would put down any violence similar to clashes in Kenya that killed more
than 1 200 people after the opposition challenged the results of an election
in December.

But most analysts doubt that Zimbabwe's opposition leaders have an
appetite for sustained demonstrations against a government which has
mercilessly crushed previous protests.

"I am not sure how prepared the opposition is to lead any protest.
Without a clear leadership that is not much of an option," a senior Western
diplomat said.

A number of Zanu-PF heavyweights - including an influential former
army commander, General Solomon Mujuru - were rumoured to be behind Makoni's
bid, but analysts say his campaign has been hobbled by their failure and
fear to openly back him.

"The real contest is... between Mugabe and Tsvangirai," the diplomat

"Our reading is that although Mugabe has been weakened by the Makoni
factor, he still holds the commanding position and will hang in there," he
added. "That's not ideal, but that's what it looks like."

(Editing by Barry Moody and Matthew Tostevin)

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Journalists, lawyers protest Zimbabwe refusal to allow election coverage

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 27, 2008

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Associations for international journalists and
lawyers in southern Africa protested Thursday against the Zimbabwean
government's refusal to allow them to report on and observe that country's
general elections.

"When the government rejects all fears of a rigged election, why is it
trying to shield these elections from the vast majority of professional
journalists?" asked the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern
Africa, which represents 192 journalists from 122 media around the world.

On Saturday, President Robert Mugabe faces the toughest challenge ever to
his 28-year rule amid allegations that he is using the state machinery to
rig the polls.

Zimbabwe's government, which controls the country's local media, has barred
several international media organizations and refused applications from
dozens of journalists to cover the elections.

The "near-blanket denial of accreditation" was strongly condemned by the
journalists' organization.

It noted that the "rare approvals were given according to race or
nationality" — an apparent reference to the mainly black and southern
African journalists being allowed to report.
The association said most of its members were unable to even apply for
accreditation because of "astronomical fees" of some US$1,700 (€1,082)
demanded by Zimbabwean authorities.

"The whole process is creating an 'elite' of journalists allowed to do their
jobs in Zimbabwe, belonging to a certain race or chosen nationalities, and
benefiting from the support of rich media," the organization said.

Western election observers also have been barred, and only delegates from
"friendly" countries such as Iran, China, Russia and Libya were invited.

The Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association, representing
bar associations and law societies from 14 countries, complained Thursday
that it had not been given accreditation to observe.

"Unrestricted independent and impartial electoral observation by
international institutions such as the SADC Lawyers Association is vital to
the promotion and protection of fundamental democratic rights," the
association said. "Elections must be free and fair and be seen to be free
and fair."

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"Watch out Robert" - Zimbabwe opposition leader warns Mugabe

Monsters and Critics

Mar 27, 2008, 17:33 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai vowed
Thursday his party would not allow President Robert Mugabe's party to steal
victory in polls this Saturday.

Addressing around 8,000 cheering supporters in the poor, dusty working class
town of Chitungwiza, south of Harare, Tsvangirai vowed to open a 'new
chapter' for Zimbabwe.

'What Robert (Mugabe) does not understand is that he can no longer steal
this vote with the cooperation of the MDC. We will start and open a new
chapter for this country,' he said.

'This time it's time for Robert to commit himself to honour the election,'
he said as young supporters in the crowd shouted: 'Yes, free and fair

Tsvangirai, who wore his trademark wide-brimmed Stetson hat and a black and
white open-necked shirt, is standing against the 84-year- old president for
a second time.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni is also standing. He is believed to be
a favourite for educated urbanites and businesspeople. Little-known Langton
Towungana from Victoria Falls is the fourth candidate.

At the rally, the MDC leader said the question was no longer whether people
wanted 'change', his party's slogan. Instead, he said 'we have to defend our

The MDC leader - whom his supporters call 'super-sub', meaning super
substitute for Mugabe - claimed that 30 'ghost polling stations' had been
set up in Mashonaland Central province, where Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party
is dominant.

He also said nine million ballots have been printed for the poll, in which
fewer than six million people are registered to vote. Mugabe has dismissed
the vote-rigging claims as 'lies'.

'You want to tell lies, lies there has been rigging,' Mugabe told supporters
at a rally in Nyanga, in the eastern Manicaland province in quotes carried
by the official Herald daily Thursday. He warned the opposition not to stage
any violent protests should they lose.

Excitement is running high ahead of Saturdays polls. At the Chitungwiza
rally, after years of fear and intimidation, the crowd danced to songs
lampooning Mugabe.

With his voice hoarse from addressing back-to-back rallies this week,
Tsvangirai sang in Shona: 'Robert watch out, its over.'

'On March 29 Bob (Mugabe) is going to be relegated to a herd boy, and
Tsvangirai is going to be promoted to State House,' one youth leader told
the crowd earlier. 'Everyone, and I mean everyone, is now prepared to die
for a new Zimbabwe,' said the speaker.

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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai may face final test


Thu 27 Mar 2008, 12:12 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, March 27 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai goes into
Saturday's presidential election knowing another defeat could end a
political career that has brought him closer than anyone to unseating
President Robert Mugabe.

Once hailed as the great hope of Mugabe's foes, the fiery trade unionist
goes into the election with opposition ranks divided and with a defector
from the ruling party sowing further confusion by running against Mugabe as
an independent. The gruff Tsvangirai emerged eight years ago as the first
serious threat to the veteran leader, now 84, but a split in his Movement
for Democratic Change in 2005 seriously dented his image and standing.

"For Tsvangirai this is not just an ordinary presidential election, he will
be seriously thinking about his political future if he were to lose," said
John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer and Mugabe

Economic analysts remain sceptical of Tsvangirai's ability to revive an
economy that was once an African success story, saying he has neither the
experience nor the policies to do so.

Mugabe frequently labels Tsvangirai a "pathetic puppet" used by one-time
colonial power Britain to try to bring him down.

The former trade union leader says he is his own man with popular support
and calls Mugabe a violent tyrant.

Tsvangirai was hospitalised a year ago and said he had been bashed in police
custody, an event which his critics say helped revive his sagging political

He has vowed to defeat Mugabe this time around, saying the veteran leader
cheated him of victory in 2002.

Tsvangirai's working-class roots contrast with Mugabe's background as a
former guerrilla leader who has a string of university degrees.

Tsvangirai, 56, is the self-taught son of a bricklayer. He worked in a rural
mine to support his family and cut his political teeth in the labour
movement as a mine foreman.

In 1988, he became full-time secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions. Under his leadership, the federation broke ranks with Mugabe's

Tsvangirai led paralysing strikes against tax increases in December 1997 and
twice forced Mugabe to withdraw announced hikes. He helped found the
labour-backed MDC in 1999.

In February 2000, the MDC engineered Mugabe's first poll defeat -- the
rejection in a national referendum of a new draft constitution that would
have entrenched his presidential powers.

That June, despite killings and police intimidation, the MDC stunned ZANU-PF
by winning 57 of the 120 seats at stake in a parliamentary election as
Tsvangirai captivated the public with powerful speeches. (Editing by Matthew

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Saving Zimbabwe from Mugabe

International Herald Tribune

Published: March 27, 2008

It has been painful to watch the terrible decline of Zimbabwe, a country so
rich in human and natural resources. Perhaps that is why the elections
scheduled for March 29 still raise hopes that Robert Mugabe's astoundingly
destructive rule can be brought to an end, despite the certainty that the
vote will be neither free nor fair.

The other reason for hope is that the challenge to Mugabe this time is
coming not only from the battered and splintered opposition, the Movement
for Democratic Change, but also from within, in the person of Simba Makoni,
an articulate, 58-year-old former finance minister who until he declared his
candidacy was a ranking member of the ruling ZANU-PF.

There is every reason to be cautious, of course, given the roll of ZANU-PF
in bringing Zimbabwe to its knees, but Makoni has publicly - and therefore
bravely, given Mugabe's brutal tactics against critics - acknowledged the
corruption and failings of his former party, and has talked of forming an
alliance with the main opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, who was
beaten almost to death by the police last year.

The 84-year-old president is obviously worried. He has dug into his usual
bag of sordid campaign tricks: calling his opponents traitors, monopolizing
the news media, distributing tractors among rural supporters and signing a
law forcing foreign and white-owned companies to sell a majority interest to
black Zimbabweans - meaning, of course, his cronies. The costs of Mugabe's
brutal and capricious rule should be obvious to everyone. Inflation is
running at more than 100,000 percent a year. Virtually every once-thriving
enterprise, from commercial farming to mining, has run aground.

Mugabe's henchmen, including powerful figures in the army, the police force
and the fearsome Central Intelligence Organization, are certain to resist
any change. Before this weekend's vote, South Africa's president, Thabo
Mbeki, who has been far too passive, and important Western states must send
a clear message that those henchmen will pay a high price - in denied visas
or frozen bank accounts - if they continue to block the will of Zimbabwe's

Mugabe's defeat, while fervently hoped for, would not be enough.
Saving Zimbabwe will require generous aid and constant pressure from South
Africa, Britain, the United States, the European Union and international
lenders. All must insist that any new government respects human rights and
the rule of law and be ready to provide sustained advice on how to make a
difficult transition happen. It is a long shot, but the best shot Zimbabwe
has had in years.

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Interview transcript: Morgan Tsvangirai

Financial Times

Published: March 27 2008 17:55 | Last updated: March 27 2008 17:55

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main wing of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change, on Saturday March 19 is standing against President Robert Mugabe in arguably the country’s most hotly contested presidential election since independence 28 years ago. Alec Russell, the FT’s southern Africa correspondent, interviewed him between election rallies in north-east Zimbabwe, in an area where until recently it was too dangerous for him to campaign.

FT: Three years ago you were not able to campaign in this part of the country. Now you face big rallies. What has changed?

MT: People have finally realised, this man is taking us for a ride. The economy has become Zanu-PF’s Achilles heel. And it is through bad policies, the indigenisation programme destroying the confidence of the business community. Look at this, just look at it (pointing at empty shops by the side of the road). There’s no business. These are all empty shelves. It makes the people even travel far and wide to get basic needs. So we need to attend to those small business needs, because there’s no way you can service the local, rural community without them.

FT: In previous elections, the security forces have given you a very hard time, yet here you are and you’re going around the rural areas. I’ve been to other parts of the country, and lots of your campaigners are busily campaigning. Why no clampdown?

MT: Because the pillars of support have collapsed. They are not spared by the economic factors, their families and relatives are not spared by the economic factor. As we say, there is no store for the CIO; there is no store for the policemen. The whole police force, the whole army are his pillars of support, and they’ve now realised, without change, there is no future. They used to be cushioned by clear patronage, but they realise that Mugabe’s run out of options of patronage, because how far is he going to sustain that patronage?

FT: So how worried are you by the comments by the chief of police and

also I think the chief of army (saying they would not accept an opposition victory)?

MT: It makes no difference to me. Previously, yes, in the last elections, I would have got worried, but now I am not worried, because I know where this army stands. These are individual opinions. They do not reflect the institutional cohesion of that position.

FT: You know better than anyone that President Mugabe is an absolute master at winning elections that he appears not to have won. How do you stop him doing the same this time?

MT: He can only steal the election, he cannot win it. So much as he can boast, everybody realises that he’s run out of options. Even his machinery for rigging is no longer as cohesive as it used to be.

FT: Is going to try and steal it?

MT: Oh yes, of course. But experience is the best teacher. I think the MDC’s much more prepared this time around that in previous elections, both in terms of unrigging machinery in terms of collecting the data from every polling station.

FT: What will you do if Mr Mugabe declares victory in disputed circumstances as President Kibaki of Kenya did a few months ago?

MT: I cannot dismiss the Kibaki scenario. But he (Mr Mugabe) knows that if he goes that blatant route what happens the day after? What is he going to do? He can declare himself the president of the country. But the following day the crisis will be looking him in straight the face. He will have created himself an even deeper crisis.

We went in to de-legitimize Mugabe. Let him remove the last residual line of legitimacy he has. Even those within the region who still have supported him will find it impossible to justify that…

FT: Would you go to the courts?

MT: No this time we will not go to the courts. We are saying this is a people’s victory a people’s campaign. It is the people who have to respond. He will not have stolen it from Morgan Tsvangirai, an individual. Such will be the overwhelming groundswell of popular feeling he will not be able to contain it. That’s why we are saying, stay at the polls and defend your vote. The challenge is to defend the vote. It’s not about whether the people want change or not, but whether they are able to defend it.

FT: To be clear, under those circumstances either a premature Mugabe declaration of victory or a clearly deeply flawed election, would you call for people to go on the streets?

MT: No. I am not calling for a demonstration. If the people don’t themselves see this as their victory has been stolen then what do you expect the leadership to do.

FT: Some supporters were almost waiting for such a call in 2002 and

were disappointed.

MT: They were not ready. And Mugabe was ready to cause bloodshed. What

we are fighting for is democratic change of government.

FT: So you don’t regret that (as a missed opportunity)?

MT: I don’t regret that at all

FT: If elected president what would be your most pressing priority?

MT: There are two critical issues confronting any leader. One is to appreciate the fact is that this is going to be a transitional government which means that as much as possible you need to create a government that neutralises the insecurity of certain individuals, that may think any change of government is intended to embark on retribution. That confidence building measure may require not a winner take all but may require a national government. I am not talking of a government of national unity but a national government. To incorporate certain elements to create a stable situation, you need stability first.

Secondly you need a constitutional dispensation that will lay down the basis for an accountable government and move away from this one that created a militarised culture. Thirdly you need an economic intervention that is based on clear strategies. The first is short term interventions: the humanitarian crisis, the food situation, the

drug situation in hospital…. The diaspora of three million, teachers doctors.

You need to create an economic framework that is going to arrest the high inflationary framework. Given inflation conditions, an economic stabilisation programme is needed in the medium term. In the long term you start unveiling some of your investment They are the three major challenges any government has to face: first

stability, second govt interventions, third a macro-economic framework.

FT: So what is your vision of a national government?

MT: A government of nation unity is a coalition. A national government is based on a government having been elected but having decided on its own decision and through its magnanimity to incorporate other elements. Its authority is not undermined. It is as in 1980 when we had such a government. Mugabe won hands down and decided to

incorporate elements from Ian Smith’s party and Joshua Nkomo’s, but it was based on his own decisive mandate. The mandate of that government must be unquestionable it must be clear minded but through its magnanimity it must incorporate some elements of Zanu-PF.

FT: So it would include elements of Zanu-PF?

MT: Yes I will incorporate elements of Zanu PF. People must feel part of the solution and not the problem. Any sense of insecurity could destabilise the government.

FT: How to choose who from Zanu-PF can serve?

MT: There has to be consultation with the leadership of the reform elements, not the rabid elements, those who want to see the government moving forward, those who want to work with an opposition government.

FT: Would they include Simba Makoni (the former finance minister also

running against Mr Mugabe)?

MT: The Makoni element has a reform agenda but it has a fundamental difference from us. We are saying Zanu PF cannot be reformed but can only be transformed. It is the institutional omissions of Zanu PF that have led us to where we are.

FT: So what is your message to Zanu PF? Some of whom have benefited

hugely from Mr Mugabe’s rule?

MT: You have benefited from Mugabe’s patronage while the people have not benefited. It’s time you realised the people have a right to choose. You must allow them. You cannot defend your ill-gotten wealth. That is not what independence is all about it. Independence without freedom is paper independence.

FT: What is Mugabe’s future?

MT: We must emphasise we are patriotic Zimbabweans. We are committed to respect our heroes and our heritage. What we are opposed to is a situation in which a selection of heroes is based on Zanu-PF criteria and not on national criteria. The ultimate arbiter is Robert Mugabe himself. There will be a commission to decide. So if that committee or commission decides that Robert Mugabe should be in Heroes Acre so be it.

FT: How would he spend his time if defeated?

MT: I suppose he is a man of suspicious mind. He feels very insecure. How else can you explain the way he is sticking it out, without a transition, at his old age… I suppose he will feel that people are out to get him. But certainly that is not our preoccupation. In fact I will resist attempts at retribution at Mugabe. All we want is to give this country a new chance and a new chapter.

FT: So does that mean amnesty?

MT: I don’t know. There has to be a balance between those committing crimes against humanity and how are you going to treat them after. I suppose the truth has to be told. There is a way of healing the nation. A process has to be in place. It is only the truth that will liberate people.

FT: Like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

MT: Yes something like that. We need it not as an act of retribution

but as an act of healing the nation.

FT: There has been talk of sending him to the Hague for a war crimes

trial over the Matabeleland massacres.

MT: I wouldn’t suggest it.

FT: Suggest it or support it?

MT: I wouldn’t support it.

FT: One of the big issues has been land. How do you intend to address this with agriculture in this appalling state, and with many farmers having been evicted?

MT: Our plan is we cannot go back to pre-2000 and restore what happened before Mugabe embarked on this reckless process. We recognise it is as irreversible but we also recognise that we cannot condone what he has done. It has led the country to a serious food deficit. We need a rationalisation programme that will audit what happened. A commission an independent commission through parliament will come out with an audit and a recompensation policy for those who have lost property and

investment. The new programme will not discriminate on basis of race. So some of

the white farmers may find there is land for their farming activities but not the same farm they had before. That will be up to the independent commission. There is a political issue and an administrative issue. The political issue you cannot reverse, even before Robert Mugabe embarked on this irrational ham-fisted measure, there was a national consensus on the need for land reform. There was no argument. The argument is over how it was done. We need to deal with that not as a political issue but as an administrative matter.

It (the proposed commission) will look at titles, land tenure systems, how the land was managed who owns what. The land has to be rationalised. It will be a big programme. It will take three to five to ten years. We are not only dealing with those commercial areas but also with the communal areas. Communal areas have now been neglected

because of lack of imput, lack of support. These people have become even poorer.

FT: So what is your message to the outside world?

MT: Zimbabwe has been on the international radar for the wrong reasons. This is a country of great potential. We have overcome the political stalemate that has caused us to be a pariah for last ten years. We want to be part of the family of nations for the right reasons. In the long run the country should be able fund itself.

FT: China has been a stalwart supporter of Mr Mugabe. Will the

relationship change?

MT: I think one has to recognise that China is one of the big five economies in the world. You cannot avoid having relations with China. I suppose China was defending an individual, Robert Mugabe at the expense of Zimbabweans. I am sure that is where the distinction is. We will have diplomatic relations but no personal relations.

FT: And what about their investments?

MT: Any foreign investment will be protected Chinese English whatever.

FT: When did you realise something had gone wrong with the presidency?

MT: In 1985 when I was leader of mineworkers union in Bindura it became obvious to me that certainly Mr Mugabe’s policy was running into problems. Five years into independence things got out of hand.

FT: How do you explain that?

MT: It is a lack of democratic accountability. We have a big problem of accountability. There were people being killed in Matabeleland and the nation was denied information. The transformation of Mugabe has been some say dramatic. I suppose the man has always displayed these instincts of violence. That was bad. It’s a transformation of an individual from someone who had a high respect at home and abroad to someone who became a rogue. That is a dramatic transformation. There are the pictures of his fist. There is something positive about this election. Previously you would never see posters of me in this part of the world. It is quite remarkable.

FT: What is going on in his mind?

MT: I think the writing is on the wall. What he wants what he is looking how do I rescue myself from imminent disaster?

FT: What has been achieved by the South African mediation?

MT: Well, nothing really. On paper, yes, there has been some opening, but really the objective was to create conditions whose outcome was not going to be contested. But we all know that when Mugabe subverted that dialogue, he unilaterally imposed his will on the dialogue. It cannot be said that the dialogue achieved anything. In spite of the effort, the conclusion is that it did not succeed.

FT: So what do you make of the South African position?

MT: Well, I don’t know. They’ve not made their position clear, they

have tried to (influence) the outcome by a false report, submitted to

SADC, that all parties had agreed, and that there only a few outstanding issues. It is not a few outstanding issues, because the conditions for elections have not been rectified. There is no agreement that has been signed between MDC and Zanu-PF. In spite of our demonstration of goodwill on the process, Zanu-PF has not reciprocated that goodwill.

FT: Do you hope for a more sympathetic hearing from Jacob Zuma than

from Thabo Mbeki?

MT: No, I don’t think that… I think the change may be on style, not on substance. But so far, the ANC has made very commendable noises around the threats by the military here. Their comment was welcome.

FT: How do you explain South Africa’s policy of quiet diplomacy? It seems to have achieved nothing.

MT: I suppose the motivation was that you cannot force Mugabe, you have to persuade him. But persuasion has not worked, as everyone admits. So perhaps a

more robust engagement would have produced a remedy. But Mbeki and

his quiet diplomacy appear as if it is quiet approval.

FT: The impression in the diplomatic community is that President Mbeki

and his government had poor relations with you and so tried to fix up

a separate deal, leaving you excluded.

MT: I don’t know. I am not excluded by anyone. If there is going to be any exclusion, it is by the people of Zimbabwe. I don’t owe my allegiance to anybody. I owe my allegiance to the mandate of the people of Zimbabwe. Finished, period. And therefore, if anyone thinks that they can short-change Zimbabweans by another elite pact that does not involve Zimbabweans, it’s unfortunate.

FT: So what’s your message to the South African observers?

MT: I think one of the things that we’ve always said to the SADC and other observers is, don’t create an impression that the complaints raised by the opposition are frivolous, because your credibility as observers is at stake. Your involvement hopefully will assist in producing a legitimate outcome, and therefore you must be as impartial as possible. But if you create an impression that you already have a pre-determined position, then it’s unfortunate. We cannot respect that position.

FT: In the last few elections, the observers have rather controversially endorsed the election. Are you more confident this time?

MT: No, I am not confident at all. To me, Zimbabweans are alone in this. They are fighting for their country; they are fighting for their dignity; they are fighting to set a programme for prosperity and progress for the country against people who would like to be in solidarity with Mugabe. And this is in total conflict with the expectations and aspirations of Zimbabweans. It’s a very unfortunate position, but that’s why I am saying that the Zimbabweans are determined to restore their dignity, and of course, to restore their sovereignty.

FT: You were talking earlier about leadership. I suppose a blot on the MDC’s record has been the split in your own party. Why did that happen?

MT: Well, this is not the first time that a political party has split. It’s no use emphasising the split. I think the people of Zimbabwe are united for change. The split is an unfortunate incident, informed by various influences nationally and external to us. And therefore, to do a patchwork just to create that ideal impression is not practical. So it is unfortunate. One would have loved us to be one family, that’s why we have not pursued our colleagues over the name, because they are not the problem. The problem is Mugabe. Unfortunately my erstwhile colleagues believe that I am the problem and that Mugabe is not the problem, which is quite fascinating. But you know, for me, the people have spoken across the nation. They are speaking with one

voice, they want change, they want change of this government, and anybody else is a spoiler. They are focusing on the wrong person. Let’s all focus on Mugabe – to me that should be the rallying cry.

FT: Would there be room in a Morgan Tsvangirai government for senior figures from the breakaway wing of the MDC?

MT: It’s also dependent on the attitude of my erstwhile colleagues. They seem to be more preoccupied about hating me than seeing the bigger picture. The bigger picture has nothing to do with me as an individual. The bigger picture has to do with strategies and tactics that we employ. They have employed strategies of collaboration with Zanu, and I don’t agree with that, especially at this stage of the struggle. I think collaboration with Zanu-PF is a betrayal. We have sought to take a stand against Zanu. That’s the position. So fundamentally, they need to change their strategy and tactic also, in order to be relevant to the struggle.

FT: No-one is perfect, yet they say that you’re an autocrat. What would you say about that?

MT: I don’t agree. There is a difference between dictatorship and leadership. If I take a position, a principled position, to protect the interests of the party, which is my responsibility as leader of the party, which is my constitutional responsibility, that is not dictatorship, that is leadership. And at the end of the day, sometimes leaders are called upon to make tough decisions, not popular decisions. And when I take a stand because I believe it’s in the best interests of the party, which is serving this party very well, I think it’s a feasible position. It’s not a dictatorship, I am not an autocrat. I am submitting myself to the nation, I’m not imposing myself. And if you disagree with somebody, it doesn’t mean necessarily that that somebody is an autocrat because you disagree with him.

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Defence And Security Chiefs to Address Media On Friday

SW Radio Africa (London)

27 March 2008
Posted to the web 27 March 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

The country's defence and security chiefs from the Army, Airforce, Police,
Prisons and the CIO are set to address a press conference in the capital on
Friday, the eve of the country's crucial elections.

Our correspondent in Harare, Tagu Mukwenyani, told us on Thursday it's not
known what the military and security chiefs are going to say, but there is
speculation they might try to repeat what happened in 2002.

On the eve of the 2002 presidential elections, the then defence forces
commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe declared they would only back leaders
who fought in the country's wars of liberation.

Zvinavashe, flanked by commanders of the police, the air force and other
security organisations, said he would not salute Tsvangirai, who was
Mugabe's only challenger, adding that any change designed to 'reverse the
gains of the country's revolution' would not be supported.

'Its not clear what they want to say tomorrow (Friday) because the political
terrain has changed significantly since then. Zvinavashe has retired and is
rumoured to be supporting Simba Makoni. Other people can only assume they
want to urge all parties not to engage in violence, but its anyone's guess,'
Mukwenyani said.

Recently other service chiefs, namely General Constantine Chiwenga and
Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, have publicly rallied behind Robert
Mugabe saying they would not allow 'puppets' to take over the country.

The MDC has condemned the threats saying it is a flagrant affront to the
constitution of Zimbabwe, for the service chiefs to behave in such a manner.
The service chiefs might pledge their loyalty to Mugabe on Friday, but that
might not be the case with the rank and file members of the armed forces.

Some of them, including operatives from the feared spy agency, have been
leaking information to the opposition and observers about Mugabe's attempts
at rigging the coming election. A senior commander in the Army and two
airforce officers have also sent a tip off to a site set up by the
non-governmental organisation, Zimbabwe Democracy Now (ZDN), which ran
full-page newspaper advertisements inside the country and throughout
southern Africa. The adverts called on anyone with information about any
rigging by members of the regime, both ahead of and during the poll, to tip
them off for a fee of up to US$5,000.

In a statement released Thursday, ZDN spokesman, Goodson Chibaya said they
have been swamped with information. Although some had not proved credible,
much had checked out.

'In particular we had separate postings from the Manyame Airforce in Harare
and the Thornhill air base in Gweru, corroborated by another tip off by a
very senior person in the army, who not only gave us his name but allowed us
to speak with him by phone,' Chibaya said.

All three men had the same story. On the night of Thursday 27 March, trusted
officers in the army, airforce and police would be required to vote under
supervision for the ruling Zanu-PF party. The officers will each fill in
multiple ballot papers.

At Thornhill, the papers will be filled in at the air force sports club. On
Friday 28, a helicopter from No7 Squadron at Manyame will fly further
supplies of ballot papers to the Mugabe stronghold of Mount Darwin where a
crew is standing by to fill in multiple forms.

It's alleged the CIO will conduct the exercise for the regime and Chibaya
said they have passed the information to the SADC observer mission.

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Mugabe's Days Numbered Regardless of Vote, Mining Industry Bets


By Antony Sguazzin

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's mining industry, with the world's
second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves, should be booming amid record
prices. Instead, production has fallen. Ferrochrome output alone has slumped
by 15 percent since 2000.

The industry and investors are betting that better times lie ahead. The key:
the political future of President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's 84-year-old leader, whose economic policies have led to 80
percent unemployment and the world's fastest inflation, is facing more
candidates than ever as he runs for re-election March 29. Even if he wins,
he'll be pressed by his own party to step down, said Anne Fruehauf, an
analyst at Control Risks in London.

``There are investment funds waiting in the wings'' should Zimbabwe's
leadership change and the economic outlook improve, said Mark
Wellesley-Wood, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Metallon
Corp., Zimbabwe's biggest gold producer. ``We are hunkered down. It's been
survival and preparation.''

A leadership change might set the stage for a rebound from the country's
decade-long recession and 100,580 percent inflation rate. Metallon and
Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. already are prepared to expand. Zimbabwe has
some of Africa's best roads and best-educated workforce, and the remnants of
a manufacturing industry that once lagged behind only South Africa in the
continent's southern region.

Confounding Expectations

To be sure, Mugabe has confounded expectations of his departure before. He
said several times in the past few years that he intended to retire, without
setting a date. He told the state-controlled Herald newspaper in April 2005
that he would retire at his term's end this year, only to say in a February
2007 interview with the state-owned TV-One that ``there's no vacancy'' as
ruler of the country.

Last year, he signed a law installing a succession plan, according to the
British Broadcasting Corp.

The March 29 election pits Mugabe against two principal foes: opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a rebel from his own Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front party, Simba Makoni. Opposition and human-rights
groups accuse Mugabe of intimidating his opponents and preparing to rig the

Economic progress might come rapidly should Mugabe lose, or win and be
pushed out. ``I am certain that if there is political change, the turnaround
will be quick,'' Greg Hunter, chief executive officer of Central African
Gold Plc, which bought two Zimbabwean gold mines last year and is
considering expansion, said from Johannesburg.

Power Production

Relatively little investment is needed to rehabilitate the industry, Hunter
said. Power production could be ramped up at Zimbabwe's coal-fired plant at
Hwange in the northwest and the Kariba South Hydropower plant with minor
equipment replacements. Many of the country's gold mines aren't closed.
Instead, they have been maintained even while they were idled or had
production cut.

For now, Impala Platinum is delaying portions of an expansion plan in
Zimbabwe valued at $750 million in 2005. As recently as 1999, Anglo American
Plc planned to boost its gold production 10-fold in Zimbabwe. Instead, it
has sold ferrochrome smelters and nickel mines.

Zimbabwe last year produced 7.5 metric tons of gold, according to the
Chamber of Mines, compared with 29 tons in 1999. Gold production is at the
lowest level since 1907, according to John Robertson, an independent
economist in Harare.

Nickel and Iron

Since 2000, nickel production has fallen about 15 percent, while coal and
iron ore output has more than halved, said Robertson, who tracks mining.

Meanwhile, the price of platinum for immediate delivery has more than
doubled over the last four years to about $1,981.50 an ounce, while
ferrochrome is trading at $1.21 a pound compared with 57 cents as of March

Mugabe's seizure of white-owned commercial farms to redistribute to black
subsistence farmers and allies has slashed export earnings needed for diesel
and equipment to keep mines running. On March 7, Mugabe approved laws to
compel foreign companies to sell 51 percent of assets to black Zimbabweans.

In December 2006, Zimbabwe's government sent police to seize a diamond
concession from African Consolidated Resources Ltd., and last week Mugabe
said the government may ``act against'' British companies to retaliate for
U.K.-imposed sanctions, said the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.
London-based Rio Tinto Group owns a diamond mine in Zimbabwe.


``They have the mineral resources; it's only the presence of Mugabe that
makes the West uncomfortable,'' said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst at
Eurasia Group, a New York political- risk firm. ``Once he has gone, there
will be a sense of relief.''

Amos Midzi, Zimbabwe's mines minister, didn't return calls to his Harare

Zimbabwe developed a network of roads and rail during decades of British
rule that saw what was then known as Rhodesia serve as the hub of a regional
federation. Its literacy rate of 89.4 percent puts it behind only the
Seychelles in Africa, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

Impala, the world's second-biggest platinum producer, now is limited to
boosting annual output to 160,000 ounces by 2010 from just under 100,000
ounces last year, about 5 percent of the company's total output.

``The investment climate is a tricky one,'' Impala CEO David Brown said in
an interview. ``Zimbabwe is a country that has a lot going for it. It needs

To contact the reporter on this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at

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Fixing Zimbabwe could take a decade: Makoni


HARARE, March 27 (AFP)

Restoring inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe to its previous status as a model of
economic prosperity could take more than a decade, presidential challenger
Simba Makoni told AFP ahead of this weekend's elections.

In an interview late Wednesday, President Robert Mugabe's former finance
minister said he wanted to banish the climate of fear which he says now
pervades in the southern African nation. He also wants to embark on a
process to restore confidence in the battered economy.

"We must deal with the crises that are gripping the country, the food
crisis, the water and sanitation crisis, energy crisis," said Makoni, who is
standing against Mugabe at presidential and legislative elections on

"Those are important to deal with very early in the life of our government."

Once the region's breadbasket, Zimbabwe now experiences shortages of even
the most basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil and bread.

Unemployment is currently running at over 80 percent while annual inflation
has passed the 100,000 percent mark.

Makoni, who left government in 2002 in a row with Mugabe about devaluation,
said that a return to economic prosperity would not come about in a matter
of months or even years.

"This is not about the first six months after March 29 or even the first
five years ... it could range from 10 to 15 years," he said.

In the interview, Makoni said reconciliation would be one of his priorities
should he emerge winner in the March 29 elections.

"We must begin to lay the foundation for the reconciliation, the national
healing ... the removal of the fear that pervades our lives everyday, the
restoration of trust, and mutual confidence among our people," he said.

Makoni, who left Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party last month after announcing
his independent candidacy, said it was time Zimbabweans refused to be

"In the cabinet, in the politburo, I was a thorn in some people's flesh
because I kept asking awkward questions and suggesting things that they
didn't believe in," Makoni said.

"I don't think we should be too timid about our ambitions, we shouldn't be
too apologetic, we shouldn't accept too much of the constraints of the
status quo because that will take us back, I want us to break out."

"But reconciliation is necessary, reconciliation is part of national
healing. It's long term, but beginning to lay down the framework and the
foundation for genuine unity and reconciliation is important."

©2008 AFP

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Observers have a big role to play - Tutu


    March 27 2008 at 06:30AM

Observer missions sent to Zimbabwe by regional governing organisations
are faced with a big challenge of presenting a credible election report to
the world, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on Wednesday.

"They should give a guarantee that the elections were free and fair
and were conducted in an environment where people expressed their views
without intimidation," Tutu said.

He was speaking in Midrand, where he was awarded a gold medal by the
Public Relations Institute of SA (Prisa) for raising the profile and
reputation of South Africa.

"Knowing the extent of intimidation that preceded the elections, I
hope observers would be able to guarantee that elections were credible."

The Archbishop has in the past criticised the Zimbabwean government
for violation of human rights.

He infuriated President Robert Mugabe in 2004, leading him to say Tutu
was "an angry, evil and embittered little bishop".

Tutu said he did not foresee a change in Zimbabwe but it was upon
Zimbabweans to change their situation.

"I wish they get a leader they deserve. They do not want a
continuation of the status quo. No one in the world would want to live with
a situation where inflation was beyond the means of living," he said.

In accepting the award Tutu said awards were given to distinct
individuals and he did not think he deserved it.

"When you are a leader and stand out of a crowd it's because you are
on their shoulders."

He said it was nonsense to speak of a leader without followers so he
accepted the award representatively of all South Africans.

Tutu was the ninth person to receive the Prisa Gold Medal award.

Other recipients include: Gary Player, Chris Barnard, Mark
Shuttleworth former president FW de Klerk and former president Nelson
Mandela. - Sapa

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Zimbabwe Zanu-PF loyalist 'duped'


Thursday, 27 March 2008, 06:05 GMT

Zimbabwean subsistence farmer Tendai (not his real name) told the BBC
three years ago that he remained a supporter of the ruling party despite
losing his job on a commercial farm in the land redistribution programme.

Ahead of elections on 29 March, he talks about life and politics in
the rural areas.

 "People are praying for change - we need some change, no matter where
it comes from.

The change will come from the people who are angry, not hungry, but
angry - very angry.

To my surprise I am also praying that we must change the leader.

I have always said you must respect your elders, but they are clinging
to what is wrong.

They don't have mercy for others: they are not making room for the
younger generation that they can make a good life; they are not making
things easy for them.

In their hearts people in the rural areas are saying: "The old man
should go."

They are angry because there are no materials to plant. Firstly no
seeds - then if they find seeds, there is no diesel to do the ploughing.

Only those who had cattle could plough; those that planted without
ploughing had it all eroded away by the rain.

But I don't blame the heavy rains: I blame the lack of input.

I myself had to go to black market to sell three cows in order to buy

Free campaigning

I am lucky, other people don't have much to sell - there are many who
have no crops at all.

When we last spoke, if crops failed, people had others they could turn
to for help - some of the old [commercial] farmers were still here helping
their ex-workers or there were people who had profited from the land

But now all the people who could help can no longer help, there is no

The election campaign to my surprise is free - the opposition can
campaign for the first time without trouble and people are supporting the
other party openly and are criticising the ruling Zanu-PF party.

I was at a Zanu-PF rally where a minister was campaigning and heard
people saying: "What he is telling us is not sadza [maize meal], we need
sadza; it's not sugar, we need sugar."

They were lifting their hands in support, but under their breath they
were swearing.

I am not sure what to make of Simba Makoni [a former finance minister
who is standing for president against incumbent Robert Mugabe] - there is
doubt about him because he declared his candidacy late.

In my opinion we need a clean sweep - let the change be with the
opposition so that there is a complete change without suspicion.

Even the sons of the war vets, the sons of the parliamentarians - some
of them they are in the Movement for Democratic Change.


But I'm thinking the presidential competition is really between Makoni
and the big man [President Robert Mugabe].

I will cry when we lose because I have been with Zanu-PF for the whole
of my life, but I am not going to vote.

I will vote for God and I will pray so the voters will choose the
right leader.

My feeling is that I've been voting and voting and voting, only to
find I've been duped. I've been voting for nothing, now I'm going to pray
for something.

Like the prophet Elijah in the Bible, he prayed hard for rain and it
came after three years of drought, so I will pray that whoever wins will do
something for us.

Black-market life

The reason why I am neutral is that I have respect for the old man
that I can't completely condemn him - because of him I am the way I am
[living in a free country].

So I will pray for him so that he understands. Then I will pray for
the other guy that when he comes in he mustn't destroy the good things that
have been built, he must reunite the people and rebuild the country.

Only one of my sons is going to vote. They cannot make a living here -
it's a black-market life. I have changed my mind and think they have to go
outside the country now.

They're young, they should work for their lives, but I still think
they must come back afterwards to live and invest in Zimbabwe so they can
have a rural home, cows and ploughs.

Even I would consider going abroad to work for a short time if after
the election if I see that all my plans are shattered by the results. "

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Zimbabwe suspicious of SA media at polls

Business Day

27 March 2008

Wilson Johwa

Political Correspondent

NOT even the usually sympathetic South African Broadcasting Corporation
(SABC) had the welcome mat put out for it by the Zimbabwean authorities as
it prepares to cover that country's election on Saturday.

An SABC spokesman said the corporation was sending 74 people, including
production staff and journalists. This was slightly more than for the 2005
parliamentary elections. However, it was understood that the SABC initially
had to deal with unofficial disquiet from Harare about some of its coverage.

Most other South African media houses were guarded about their plans for
covering the elections, for fear of prejudicing their applications.

However, had resigned itself to not sending a team. Editor-in-chief
Deborah Patta said Zimbabwe's official Sunday Mail newspaper broke the news
that the station's presence in Harare was undesirable, leading get
confirmation from SA's foreign affairs department.

Patta said the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities had left it this late
before acknowledging applications showed how much of a "sham" much of this
coverage would be. "An election is not about one day," she said.

Two weeks ago, Zimbabwe's permanent secretary in the information ministry ,
George Charamba, revealed that about 300 foreign journalists had applied for
official accreditation to cover the elections. Charamba warned that Zimbabwe's
security personnel were on "the spoor" of foreign journalists who had
sneaked into the country, where unaccredited journalists face harsh
penalties including a prison term.

It is understood that Independent Newspapers had intended sending two white
journalists to Zimbabwe. When neither got accreditation, an application was
successfully made on behalf of a black journalist, although he has not been
spared surveillance by intelligence operatives.

South African National Editors' Forum deputy chairman Henry Jeffreys said
Zimbabwe's restrictions on the media were deplorable considering the
importance of the elections. Coming at a time when there were concerns
around the election's fairness, the move strengthened perceptions that the
Zimbabwe government had something to hide, said Jeffreys, an editor with

The group had not yet got accreditation for its team.

Media24 Africa editor Liesl Louw said though "by chance" Media24 was not
planning to send white journalists, it was concerned at reports that only
black journalists were being accredi ted.

"We are worried about the racist element. We have heard that only black
journalists were allowed," she said .

Last week, the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa sought
assistance from Zimbabwean ambassador Simon Moyo. Members were worried about
the $1700 accreditation fee, and the delay in getting to Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe cherrypicking of journalists to cover elections questioned

Monsters and Critics

Mar 27, 2008, 16:30 GMT

Johannesburg - The Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa
(FCA-SA) on Thursday condemned the Zimbabwean government's decision to bar
most of its members from covering the country's elections Saturday.

In a statement the FCA-SA blasted 'the near blanket denial' of accreditation
requested by its members. The FCA represents 192 journalists from 122 media
outlets around the world.

'No reasons were given by Zimbabwean authorities for the refusals but a
survey of FCA-SA members indicates that the rare approvals were given
according to race or nationality,' the statement said.

'This is of course unacceptable. And it would be quite naive to imagine that
the coverage would be more lenient if carried out by writers, photographers
and TV crews of a specific origin,' the statement continued.

'When the government rejects all fears of a rigged election, why is it
trying to shield these elections from the vast majority of professional
journalists,' the association asked.

Journalists from several southern African media outlets have been accredited
to cover the polls.

Germany's ARD television, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian
daily the Globe and Mail and Spanish daily El Pais were among the few
Western media houses to receive accreditation, which, at between 1,700 and
1,800 dollars per person, was seen as deliberately prohibitive.

Two weeks ago, George Charamba, permanent secretary in the Zimbabwean
ministry of information, accused Western countries of seeking to send
journalists to the elections as a 'monitoring surrogate.'

Western election observers have been barred from monitoring the polls.

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Zimbabwe President Blames West For Woes In Final Election Push



HARARE (AFP)--President Robert Mugabe accused the West of driving Zimbabwe
towards abject misery through sanctions as the contest to rule the ailing
former U.K. colony entered the final stretch.

In his most outspoken attack to date on the former colonial power and the
U.S., Mugabe said they were responsible for the chronic problems which are
now afflicting the health service in a country where even bandages and
painkillers are scarce and from where most doctors have emigrated.

As one of his two challengers said the country needed a period of healing
and reconciliation, Mugabe insisted it "will never die".

"Our detractors have tried to derail our efforts, but the unity and
resourcefulness of our people have always triumphed," Mugabe said on a tour
of Harare's main hospital.

"The British, the Americans and those who think like them, would rather see
our children, the old and the infirm suffer under the weight of their evil
sanctions they have imposed as part of their desire to effect the regime
change in our country. As a country, we march on unfettered."

The European Union and U.S. both imposed a package of sanctions against
Mugabe and his inner circle after he allegedly rigged his re-election in

While the sanctions, which include measures such as a freezing of bank
accounts and a ban on travel, are designed not to affect the population as a
whole, Mugabe has often blamed them for the country's economic woes.

Saturday's joint parliamentary and presidential elections, when Mugabe is
hoping to secure a sixth term in office, are being held against a backdrop
of an economic meltdown characterized by rampant inflation and an
unemployment rate of over 80%.

Even the most basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil and sugar are now scarce
in what was once the region's breadbasket.

The collapse of the country is amply illustrated in the health sector where
the average life expectancy has now dropped to 37, one of the lowest in the

According to a report by the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe obtained by AFP on
Thursday, the health sector has vacancy rates of up to 70% as a result of a
massive brain drain.

Mugabe, who has ruled uninterrupted since independence, said his country
could no longer afford vital equipment such as drugs as a result of the
"inhuman and insensitive, declared and undeclared sanctions".

With relations at an all-time low, Mugabe has banned Western countries from
sending teams to monitor Saturday's polls which see him pitched against
former finance minister Simba Makoni and opposition leader Morgan

Nearly all international journalists have also been refused accreditation,
prompting an angry denunciation from the Foreign Correspondents Association
of Southern Africa Thursday.

The opposition Thursday accused Mugabe of enlisting the services of Israeli
computer experts with links to the intelligence agency Mossad to doctor the
voters' roll.

"We are getting, by the second, evidence of the manner in which Mugabe and
his cronies are assaulting this election," said Tendai Biti, secretary
general of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), at a press

"Mugabe intends to steal this election...through the technical assault. They
are thoroughly organized, thoroughly computerized. The voters' roll and
technology is the key vehicle of fraud which they intend to use."

Meanwhile Makoni, who left government in 2002 as the country began its
downward slide, said he would make restoring the economy and banishing a
climate of fear his top priorities were he to oust Mugabe.

But he warned that there could be no quick-fix for the economy given the
accumulated damage.

"This is not about the first six months after March 29 or even the first
five could range from 10 to 15 years," he told AFP.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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The massive fraud of the Zimbabwe election

Independent, UK
Thursday, 27 March 2008

By guest author, Philip Chikwiramakomo

“You can vote for them (MDC), but that would be a wasted vote. I am telling
you. You would just be cheating yourself. There is no way we can allow them
to rule this country. Never, ever. We have a job to do, to protect our
heritage. The MDC will not rule this country. It will never, ever happen. We
will never allow it.”

Thus spoke Mugabe last weekend in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Coupled with
statements issued recently by heads of the army, police and prison services
who are vowing that they will not salute anyone else but Mugabe, you would
be forgiven for thinking that there is no point to the current election.
This however would not be wholly accurate because the situation on the
ground shows there is an even bigger appetite for change.

While all manner of intimidation remains - including a recent presidential
decree which allows police officers to ‘assist’ disabled voters in the
booth - there have been some shifts which have largely coincided with the
arrival of SADC’s election observers. Chief among them is the ability of the
opposition to campaign in rural areas relatively unimpeded, some opening of
state controlled media allowing the opposition some coverage and the ability
to air their adverts. Mugabe has also had to cancel many rallies due to
embarrassingly low turnouts and lack of interest even though he comes baring
phony gifts such as tractors and buses [which have been rumoured to be for
people’s eyes only as they are apparently being moved on to the next rally
without being disbursed]. His rallies have also been largely populated by
bussed in drones and school children compelled to attend.

In a country were there is 100 000%+ inflation and 80% unemployment, a
resurgent opposition [MDC – Tsvangirai], The Makoni candidacy and a divided
ZANU PF [Ruling Party], it is almost certain that Mugabe will lose the vote
numerically. And that is why I believe that the election will only be
decided after the polling booths have closed circa 7pm Saturday. The
question no one can answer is how determined Mugabe will be to hang on?
Every indicator shows that the scale of fraud that will be required to swing
it Mugabe’s way is mammoth. Assuming the more likely scenario of a rigged
election that deprives the opposition of a win [have deliberately not gone
for Tsvangirai or Makoni as that warrants an entirely separate analysis,
save to say that in a free and fair election there would be the real
contenders]. The question then becomes what strategies do they have in place
to reclaim people’s stolen vote. If the 2002 stolen elections are anything
to go by then one can not see beyond Mugabe prevailing.

Philip Chikwiramakomo is a member of the We Zimbabwe group

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Be prepared to help Zimbabwe

Christian Science Monitor

Elections could mark the beginning of the end of Mugabe's rule. The world
must be ready.
from the March 28, 2008 edition

One thing is certain about the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe. They won't be
fair. Strongman Robert Mugabe is seeing to that. But what of the outcome?
The possibility exists that it could trigger the end of his ruinous rule.

The imminent demise of the Mugabe era has been hinted at before. A year ago,
an editorial in this publication said that unprecedented pressure was
building on the octogenarian president to step aside after 27 years in
power. The US ambassador spoke of a "new spirit of resistance" among the
country's 13 million people.

At that time, inflation in Zimbabwe topped 1,700 percent. Now it rages at
more than 100,000 percent. People rush to a near-empty grocery store with a
bag of money to buy bread at Z$7 million a loaf, only to find it's Z$25

A decade ago, this southern African nation exported food. Agriculture was
the backbone of the economy. But after Mr. Mugabe expropriated white-owned
farms and handed them over to cronies who knew little about farming, the
economy began to tank. Now Africa's former breadbasket receives food aid.
Unemployment is stuck at around 80 percent. About a third of the population
has fled the country – fled hunger, power outages, and the lowest life
expectancy rate for women in the world (34 years).

Yet the politically wily Mugabe holds on. His legacy as Zimbabwe's 1980
liberator from white rule makes neighbors, such as South Africa, hesitate to
apply pressure for reform. And Mugabe's internal control of security forces,
his brutal tactics, and the rigging of elections prevent the country's
political opposition from toppling him.

What is different this year, however, is open rebellion from within his own
party, ZANU-PF. Simba Makoni, a former finance minister, criticizes the
leadership as "preoccupied with staying in power. We don't look at the
suffering." Mr. Makoni was expelled from the powerful ZANU-PF politburo when
he decided to run for president. He's quietly gaining support from security
and intelligence forces.

A house divided eventually falls, but when and how the house of Mugabe will
collapse is anybody's guess. He's redrawn voting districts to favor himself.
He's buying support with food and tractors and allowing only friendly
election monitors. He's placing police inside voting stations.

Still, there's a question as to whether officials who control the voting
process will re-rig in favor of Makoni.

Mugabe needs to win 51 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. An independent
poll shows opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with 28 percent of the vote,
Mugabe with 20 percent, and Mr. Makoni with 9 percent.

Africa and the West need to adopt the Boy Scout motto and "be prepared" for
a transition ahead. The International Crisis Group, a nonprofit analysis
group that seeks to prevent deadly conflict, warns of possible violence,
especially in a runoff or dispute.

The world was caught flat-footed at the violence that erupted after Kenya's
disputed elections Dec. 27. The African Union should be ready to send
negotiators to Zimbabwe to mediate a transition of power. The West should
send clear signals of willingness to help – economically and politically –
in a transition if Zimbabwe is ready to move toward reform.

Mugabe will be out some day. The world should be ready.

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Could Zimbabwe vote oust Mugabe?

Christian Science Monitor

Zimbabweans head to the polls Saturday amid suspicion that President Robert
Mugabe may rig the election to award himself yet another term.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 28, 2008 edition

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe - Few parts of Zimbabwe would like to see the end of
President Robert Mugabe's regime more than Matabeleland.

Ethnic repression against the Zulu-speaking Ndibele tribes here killed at
least 20,000 in the mid-1980s – a sign of just how far Mr. Mugabe would go
to hold onto power.

Small wonder then that the people of Matabeleland – and especially in the
quiet regional capital, Bulawayo – view Saturday's presidential elections
with a mix of hope and realism, and the knowledge that Mugabe will not go
without a fight.

"If Mugabe wins, we'll have economic disaster in Zimbabwe, complete
disaster," says Gordon Moyo, director of Bulawayo Agenda, a
democracy-building nonprofit in Bulawayo.

"If [former finance minister Simba Makoni] wins, we'll have unrest, because
Mugabe will fight. Either way, civil society should continue to press for
our rights, and join hands with other democratic forces to make sure this
government is delegitimized. Democracy is not final until it respects the
will of the people," he says.

Zimbabwe has never been so close to economic collapse – and oddly, to
political renewal – as it will be this month. An inflation rate of 100,000
percent, the result of socialist land redistribution, mismanagement,
corruption, and the withdrawal of Western financial support, has created
unspeakable hardship for the Zimbabwean people.

But hardship has also hardened the feelings of many Zimbabweans that the
time has come for a change in leadership. The question now is how Mugabe's
own party, the ZANU-PF – which controls the Army, police, the intelligence
services, the election commission, and nearly all news media outlets – will
respond to the public mood.

'Regime reconstitution'?

"What the history of Zimbabwe shows us is that the voice of the people is
not necessarily as important as the part played by the elites," says Chris
Maroleng, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in
Tshwane, South Africa. "If any change is to occur, it will not be a regime
change, it will be a regime reconstitution, with the ruling elite from the
ZANU-PF giving consent for Mugabe to be replaced. We may be seeing this

With three major candidates running for president – including Mr. Makoni,
perennial opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, and Mugabe – some analysts
say that the election is likely to go to a runoff, since no one candidate
will be able to secure the 51 percent of the vote required for an outright
victory. Of course, this scenario presumes that Saturday's vote will be free
and fair.

There are few signs of that. Several foreign election monitoring missions
have been denied accreditation, and George Charamba, the spokesman for the
Ministry of Information has publicly announced that they would scrutinize
any request for accreditation by any foreign journalists, sifting out those
from "hostile" Western countries such as the US and Britain.

In recent years, the strongest source of political opposition has come from
Mr. Tsvangirai, a former union leader turned politician. While Tsvangirai is
credited with courage –facing arrest, including a police beating last year
that left his skull cracked – he is also criticized by opposition supporters
for lack of strategic vision. In 2005, his Movement for Democratic Change
split. One faction is pushing Tsvangirai as their presidential candidate,
while another faction – strongly supported in Matabeleland – has thrown its
support behind Makoni.

Many opposition leaders now believe that Mugabe can only be removed if his
own ZANU-PF party removes him, and if they replace him with someone from
within. Makoni, many Zimbabweans say, is that man.

Makoni's credentials as an economist – and his lack of ideological baggage
from the liberation struggle – have made him a palatable alternative for
many opposition supporters, as well as those within the ruling party who
recognize the costs of economic collapse.

Makoni rose up the ranks of the ZANU-PF, serving as the party's
representative in Western Europe. But his outspokenness has gotten him in
trouble. After proposing the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar in 2005,
Makoni was declared an "enemy of the state" by his former mentor, Mugabe.

Agrippa Madlela, a former president of the defunct liberation group ZAPU who
is now running for a senate seat, says Mugabe "will play dirty," but he
thinks the opposition's best chance is to back a single candidate who can
push Mugabe out from within ZANU-PF. He has given up on Tsvangirai, who has
run against Mugabe twice and failed. Now he backs Makoni. "I think if we
support [Makoni], we can get rid of Robert Mugabe. This is the only way to
spell the end of the octopus."

Resilience in Matebeleland

Paul Siwela, a former senior leader in ZAPU, says that Mugabe's firm control
of the electoral process means only he can win Saturday's vote. But he sees
"no alternative" to Ndibeles voting in force for opposition parliamentarians
who will protect Ndibeles' rights and to push for greater autonomy.

"We are asking, instead of separation, we should have autonomy under a
federal government. The status quo is unsustainable. This is going to
explode into a crisis with terrible consequences."

Driving his rickety Datsun sedan through the streets of Bulawayo – a
cellphone perched against his ear – Pastor Dumiso Matshazi, an opposition
candidate, is handing out leaflets and giving campaign speeches at discreet
small rallies.

He knows that the ruling party has all the advantages, with free advertising
in state-owned newspapers and TV and radio stations, and with electoral
officials who will inevitably tip the balance when they can in the ruling
party's favor. But he senses that Zimbabweans, and especially of
Matabeleland, are willing to make sacrifices this time.

"In 1985, during the council elections, people still voted even after their
people were killed," says Pastor Dumiso, struggling to get the Datsun to
switch gears. "You have to understand the Ndibele mind-set. It's both
resignation and resistance. They think, 'You've already killed so many of
us, what do we care if you kill a few more.'"

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Zimbabwe warns foreign media on unauthorised poll coverage


HARARE, March 27 (AFP)

Zimbabwe, which has barred most foreign media from covering this weekend's
polls, warned Thursday it would deal severely with those who have sneaked
into the country and are operating illegally.

"Non-accreditated media houses like the BBC and CNN have set up broadcasting
facilities at secret locations ... not for professional reporting but for
fuelling negative stories to fulfill their prophesy of doom on their regime
change agenda," said Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

He alleged that some media organisations had installed "sophisticated
broadcasting equipment, telematic facilities and other cyber-spying
equipment in our country."

"Government will not take this imperialist propaganda kindly," he said.

Ndlovu cautioned those accredited to respect the laws of the country or
leave the country.

"Foreign journalists who are abusing the courtesy and hospitality of this
beautiful Zimbabwe, who come for other agendas other than covering
elections, might well pack and go and leave us in peace," he told a news

He said government had accredited around 300 foreign journalists for the
weekend elections in which long-running President Robert Mugage is fighting
for his survival.

International journalists have condemned the Zimbabwean government's denial
of accreditation to almost every major news organisation outside the country
to cover weekend polls.

Major news organisations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC),
Cable News Network (CNN) and the New York Times were all denied the right to
cover the general elections.

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Abducted MDC Candidates Missing in Epworth

SW Radio Africa (London)

27 March 2008
Posted to the web 27 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

We continue to receive reports of violence against opposition candidates and
supporters, as well as abductions carried out by suspected ruling party

Just this week in the Epworth area of Harare, a council candidate from the
Tsvangirai MDC was abducted from his home and is still missing. Another is
in police custody, after reporting poster defacement, and a third was
assaulted by police during his brief detention. All three have not been able
to campaign.

Incidents involving campaign posters that are being defaced by supporters of
all parties are rampant countrywide. But police are allegedly arresting
opposition supporters only, even in cases where they are the victims and
ZANU-PF thugs are the perpetrators.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa reported that Daniel Tawengwa, the
MDC council candidate for Epworth ward 5, was abducted from his home Monday
night. Tawengwa is a bachelor who lives alone so there were no witnesses
inside the house. Muchemwa said local residents saw him being bundled into a
vehicle known to belong to ZANU-PF supporters in the area. His whereabouts
are still not known and of course he has not been able to campaign.

Also in Epworth, the MDC council candidate for ward 4, Didymus Bande, has
been in police custody since March 19. According to our correspondent Bande
saw people he recognised as ruling party supporters pulling down MDC
posters. He went to report this to the police and was himself arrested.
Muchemwa said the ZANU-PF supporters were assisted by the Minister of Mines,
Amos Midzi.

The 3rd council candidate from Epworth to be victimized this week was Jester
Mutambirwa. Our correspondent said he was abducted by ZANU-PF supporters
while on his way back from a rally on Sunday. They accused him of defacing
Mugabe posters and took him to the local police station. Mutambirwa was
detained for 5 about hours during which it is alleged the police assaulted
him. He was released without charge.

In Mbare high-density suburb of Harare, the notorious Chipangano gang has
continued their attacks on opposition supporters who are distributing fliers
and putting up posters. Our correspondent said they have been taking
identification papers and passports from opposition supporters they find
campaigning. This is a calculated move, because the victims will not be able
to vote in the elections this weekend.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the Tsvangirai MDC, said this week that
there was an increase in the incidents of violence against their candidates
and supporters around the country. He explained that they had reported the
violence to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission but nothing is being done.

Chamisa also confirmed that the police are working with the perpetrators of
violence while arresting the innocent victims who report on them. Many are
released without charge after spending days, or even weeks in custody. This
has prevented many of them from campaigning.

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Head of observer team is furious with DA officials

From The Star (SA), 27 March

Party worried about prospects for free and fair poll

Hans Pienaar

The head of the South African contingent of the regional observer team for
the Zimbabwean elections has vowed to sit down with the rest of the
leadership to discuss the conduct of the three Democratic Alliance members.
Tony Leon, the DA spokesperson on foreign affairs, release a statement
yesterday saying the first reports from the three MPs of the party on the
mission "underscore grave concerns … about the prospects of the election
being free and fair". This, said Kingsley Mamabolo, South African leader of
the Southern African Development Community, could be a violation of the code
of conduct adopted by the electoral observation mission, known as the SEOM.
"We work as a collective, and will look at allegations of irregularities
together. We need to verify them before we come to an assessment. "If the DA
wanted to come with their own report, they should have got accreditation
outside SEOM."

He accused the DA members of using the SEOM as "a cover" to get their
message out. Mamabolo said there was a code of conduct that expressly
forbade members to talk to the media, whether on their own or through their
parties at home. "I'm very worried about their behaviour," he said. Leon
added in his statement: "It has also been reported to us that ANC members of
the SADC delegation have expressed their dissatisfaction with the tough
questioning of officials by the DA representatives on the observer mission."
Leon said the party had received its observers' first report yesterday and
had also been briefed by various non-governmental organisations. "Our
electoral observers, Dianne Kohler-Barnard MP and James Masango MP, have
pointed to the fact that the odds are heavily stacked against the March 29
poll being genuinely democratic."

Among the issues he identified were: The gerrymandering of constituency
boundaries to favour the ruling Zanu PF; The redrawing of constituency lines
had also had the effect of limiting the number of polling stations available
in urban areas - in Harare, there were 379 stations for 760 000 voters,
leaving only 22 seconds for each voter to cast a ballot; As many as
3-million "ghost names" on the voters roll; Opposition leaders continued to
be demonised in the state- controlled media; Maize from the Grain Marketing
Board was being distributed at Zanu PF rallies; Media access was completely
distorted in favour of the ruling party; Voter-education drives had been
very poor, especially given that Zimbabweans would, for the first time, be
faced with four different ballots; The last-minute change to the electoral
law, which will allow police officers inside polling stations, was highly
intimidatory and amounted to a clear violation of the agreements reached
during the South African-led mediation process; Party agents and observers
would not be allowed to witness the counting for the presidential election;
Observers were accredited until March 29, so they would not be able to
witness the tabulation of results.

According to the DA, the ANC has criticised its observers for their
aggressive questioning. Mamabolo indicated at a briefing before the South
Africans' departure that they would not "make noise" over irregularities. DA
officials said the two parties had been at loggerheads even before the start
of the mission, after Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad declared
that everything seemed set for a free and fair election.

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Tsvangirai 'surprised' by support

From BBC News, 27 March

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader has said he has been surprised at the
level of support he has received while out campaigning for Saturday's
elections. Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he felt President Robert Mugabe
and his ruling Zanu PF party may find it difficult to counter "the upsurge
on the ground". But he said it would be another thing altogether to defeat
the government. Earlier, a former Mugabe loyalist spoke openly about the
possibility that the president might be defeated in poll. Former Education
Minister Fay Chung told the BBC that the two main rivals could win if voters
were "courageous enough to come out in large numbers". The independent
presidential candidate, former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, meanwhile
complained he had been unable to place adverts in the state media. In an
interview with the BBC, Mr Tsvangirai expressed his surprise at the level of
support he had received, particularly in rural areas, while campaigning for
this weekend's local, Senate, House of Assembly and presidential elections.
"I have no doubt that we have overwhelming support. In fact, the Zanu PF may
actually find it difficult to suppress... the upsurge on the ground."
Nevertheless, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said he
remained pessimistic about translating popular support into electoral
victories. "This is the crisis we faced in 2002 and 2005," he said.
"Although we had the support of the people, we didn't manage to win the
election. This manipulation undermines the will of the people. This time
around, we hope that we are able to mitigate against some of the possible

Meanwhile, Mr Tsvangirai's pilot has been charged with fraud, for checking
into a hotel room booked in someone else's name, the MDC says. MDC treasurer
Roy Bennett says this has hampered Mr Tsvangirai's ability to address
rallies in rural areas. A majority of Zimbabwe's voters live in rural areas,
where Mr Mugabe has traditionally enjoyed his strongest support. The US and
the EU have accused Mr Mugabe of rigging previous elections - charges he has
denied. Western monitors have been barred from this election. Mr Tsvangirai
said that if he was elected president, the people of Zimbabwe would be given
the chance to rewrite their constitution. He also called for new policies to
address Zimbabwe's economic crisis, which has seen the country's annual
inflation rate hit 100,000% - the world's highest. Earlier, a former
government minister told the BBC that Mr Mugabe might not be able to prevent
one of the two main opposition candidates from winning the presidential
election. "I think the issue is whether the electorate is going to be brave
or courageous enough to come out in large numbers, because I think the
rigging of the election has been possible when there were small numbers
dividing votes," Ms Chung said. "But if you have millions coming out to
vote, it will be very difficult to rig. If the polling agents and the
observers are very watchful, it will become more difficult."

Ms Chung, a Senatorial candidate now allied to Simba Makoni, conceded that
"there are a lot of 'ifs'", but insisted that Zimbabweans were desperate for
change after 28 years of Mr Mugabe. "I hear people saying... 'We are being
abused. If we keep on electing the same government, we will continue to be
abused'," she added. "So the question is: will they vote for the MDC or
Simba's movement?" Ms Chung said Mr Makoni's decision last month to stand
against the president because of what he described as a "failure of national
leadership" had begun a "period of change" in Zimbabwe. "The steps taken by
Simba Makoni have broken a Gordian Knot in which we were so tightly strung
that we did not know how to get out of it," she told Radio 4's World Tonight
programme. "I think that whether he wins or not - I think he will win - he
has changed the political geography of the country." Ms Chung also
acknowledged there was a potential for violence similar to that witnessed
after the Kenyan presidential election last year, regardless of the result.

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Mugabe's 'pressure cooker'

Toronto Star

Zimbabweans girding for chaos as nation gets set for Saturday elections that
few expect will be fair

Mar 27, 2008 04:30 AM
Olivia Ward

Two questions hang over Saturday's national election in the lushly beautiful
but destitute southern African country of Zimbabwe: will there be change -
and will there be blood?

But long-time observers of Zimbabwe's unprecedented crash from prosperity to
poverty under President Robert Mugabe say the latter is more likely than the

"It's a Catch-22 situation," says former political prisoner Gabriel Shumba,
executive director of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, who is visiting Toronto
today in advance of the poll.

"The elections are rigged in Mugabe's favour. The guidelines free and fair
elections have been violated. Mugabe has already indicated he isn't going to
allow the opposition to take power. So even if by some remote chance they
won, there would be violence."

But Shumba added: "If Mugabe wins, the population is so disgruntled that
people could rise up, and then there would be chaos."

Mugabe, now 84, has hung onto power for 28 years through inflation that
topped a staggering 100,000 per cent, and a massively failed land-reform
program meant to redistribute farmland from white owners to poorer blacks,
but sparking an economic meltdown that bankrupted many of Zimbabwe's 12
million people.

As resentment of the former national liberation hero grew, he ratcheted up
repression against real and suspected opponents, from political foes to
ordinary people who lost their livelihoods and homes to brutal "cleansing"

Political opponents were jailed. Some were tortured or beaten, including the
popular leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, a
front-runner in opinion polls.

Meanwhile, soaring food prices led to countrywide starvation, and alarm
bells from the World Food Program, which declared more than 3 million
Zimbabweans unable to feed themselves.

Up to 3 million more people have fled the country and average life
expectancy has plummeted to under 36.

"Zimbabweans are incredibly peaceful people, with a literacy rate that is
the highest in Africa," says economist Craig Richardson, author of The
Collapse of Zimbabwe in the Wake of the 2000-2003 Land Reforms. "But they
are waiting in line for hours for a bus that's three hours late, many of
them not able to make ends meet. After six years of struggle, the situation
is a pressure cooker."

Mugabe's rivals in the election are Tsvangirai, who won 42 per cent of the
vote in the last poll, and former finance minister Simba Makoni, who quit
the ruling ZANU-PF party - an insider who has some high-level support but is
trailing with less than 10 per cent in opinion polls.

Even with widely predicted vote-rigging, though, the election may go to a
runoff before a winner is declared, increasing the possibility of violence,
like the tribal fighting that broke out in Kenya after re-elected President
Mwai Kibaki's opponents charged fraud.

In Zimbabwe the risk is heightened because the political landscape is split
not only among supporters of the three candidates, but within Mugabe's party

"There is a deep cleavage, and the factionalization goes to the security and
armed forces as well," says Andebrhan Giorgis, the International Crisis
Group's senior adviser on Africa. "Therefore the prospect of violence may
increase if the factions fight it out."

The Brussels-based crisis group has called on the 53-nation African Union to
stand by in case things spiral out of control. But, Giorgis admits, "time is

Zimbabwe is a member of the union, and unlikely to let AU peacekeepers in to
quell violence.

The South African leadership, an ally of Mugabe, could also reject an
attempt to intervene.

Nor is the international community likely to come to Zimbabwe's aid, after
years of watching with dismay as the country crumbled under Mugabe's iron

"The United Nations Security Council should get involved," argues Shumba.
"If chaos happens in Zimbabwe it would not only affect the country, but the
region. All the trends are toward preserving regional peace and security."

But, he says, it's the prospect of international justice that Mugabe fears
most. The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum has compiled hundreds of cases of alleged
torture, rape, police brutality and other human rights atrocities it says
have been committed by the Mugabe regime.

"Mugabe wants to hold on till he dies so he won't ever be called to
account," says Shumba.

"I think it must give him nightmares that (former Liberian strongman)
Charles Taylor is on trial at The Hague."

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Mugabe warns opponents against post-poll violence

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has warned his opponents
against resorting to violence if they lose this weekend's elections and has
dismissed vote-rigging accusations as lies, state media reported Thursday.

Mugabe told a campaign rally in the eastern district of Nyanga that an
opposition lawmaker had threatened protests similar to what had occurred in
Kenya following December elections there, the state-run Herald newspaper
"Just dare try it," Mugabe said. "We don't play around while you try to
please your British allies. Just try it and you will see. We want to see you
do it."

Mugabe faces a challenge from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni in joint
presidential, legislative and local council elections on Saturday.

He urged tolerance in the run-up to and after the elections and said losers
should accept defeat.

"We want peace and we want the elections to be conducted in a peaceful
atmosphere but no nonsense after victory," said the 84-year-old.

"When you join a political fight by way of an election, you must be prepared
to lose. If ZANU-PF wins, you must accept it, if you win we will accept,"
Mugabe said of his ruling party.

He accused the MDC, which has consistently accused Mugabe of looking to rig
the result, of lying.

"You always tell lies, lies that there has been rigging," Mugabe said.

Mugabe has ruled since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980.

The United States, the European Union and Britain have questioned whether
the polls will be free and fair.

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