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Zimbabwe: heavy mob takes to streets of Harare before day of reckoning

March 28, 2008

President Mugabe betrayed yesterday signs of anxiety over tomorrow's elections as the scale of the clamour for change throughout Zimbabwe became ever more obvious.

About forty armoured vehicles, including four Israeli-made water cannon, anti-riot trucks and six armoured personnel carriers packed with heavily armed troops, travelled through central Harare in the afternoon - a show of force never before seen in any election since independence 28 years ago.

The President had delivered earlier an angry statement via State media, warning Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, and his faction of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) against staging demonstrations if they lost the election. “If they make a disturbance like in Kenya, you will see,” he said. “We are not joking. We warn the MDC, if they want to put a rope around their necks, that is OK.”

Mr Tsvangirai has been urging his supporters to stay around the polling stations after casting their ballots, “to defend your votes” against attempts to rig the election. Despite Mr Mugabe's threat, Mr Tsvangirai repeated his call late yesterday to frenzied supporters at a rally in the neighbouring dormitory town of Chitungwiza. He held talks yesterday with the two other opposition leaders, Simba Makoni, Mr Mugabe's former Finance Minister, who has shaken the ruling Zanu (PF) party by his challenge to his erstwhile mentor, and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, to work out a joint strategy against the expected attempts to rig the vote.

The three were due to make an unprecented joint appearance at a press conference, but Mr Tsvangirai had been delayed, Mr Makoni said. He added that the three had been discussing the threat of cheating and that their consultations had been “under way for some time”.

“It is crucial that the three of them confront the rigging jointly,” a Western diplomat said. “They have to do it together or Mugabe will beat them.”

Mr Makoni showed photographs of a large, empty field in a Harare township, where the only signs of development had been pegs in the ground to mark plots for would-be homeowners. Yet, according to the electoral roll, it is a ward where 8,000 people are resident with specific addresses, at a density of up to 75 people on each 30 sq m plot, and who are to be served by ten polling stations. “This is evidence of a deliberated, sophisticated and premeditated plan to steal the election from us,” Mr Makoni said.

Mr Mugabe denied that his Administration had rigged elections and was about to do so again. “They want to tell lies, lies,” he said.

However, his denial is undermined by the determination of Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar-General, to keep opposition parties from getting hold of a digitally searchable copy of the electoral roll, which still includes the names of the first two MDC activists murdered at the start of the 2000 election campaign, and that of Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of white-ruled Rhodesia, who died last year.

Two years ago Mr Mudede defied court orders to give independent researchers access to ballot papers from the 2002 presidential election, when Mr Mugabe got 54 per cent of the vote after a savage campaign of intimidation.

It is not clear whether the President is aware of the depth of feeling against him, boosted daily by worsening hardship. Queues for bread and money in Harare yesterday appeared to have lengthened, as the basics of life become more difficult to find.

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Zimbabwe's Rural Voters Deserting President Mugabe in Re-Election Bid


27 March 2008

For the first time, many people in Zimbabwe's rural areas have dropped their long-standing support of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF, which has depended on the rural vote for victory.  Peta Thornycroft reports that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has made inroads into Mr. Mugabe's traditional strongholds before elections Saturday.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the congregation at a church in Bulawayo, about 500 kilometers south of Harare, 23 Mar 2008
President Robert Mugabe addresses the congregation at a church in Bulawayo, about 500 kilometers south of Harare, 23 Mar 2008
Deep into the bush from the nearest village of Headlands, then across shocking roads into a remote rural area about 130 kilometers southeast of Harare, the landscape seems empty of people and livestock.

The area used to be a prosperous commercial farming district, but most of the farms have been idle since they were nationalized during the past eight years.  Many people have fled to South Africa to look for work to support their families.

Disease has also ravaged the population.  Doctors say poor nutrition has taken its toll on those infected with HIV/AIDS.  One Harare doctor estimates about 10,000 young people are dying a week.

But in Headlands the topic of conversation is the upcoming election.  In the village, which is one short street, people in one shabby shop that has little to sell, agree this is the most peaceful election in many years.

Supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential candidate, attend a rally outside Harare, 27 Mar 2008
Supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential candidate, attend a rally outside Harare, 27 Mar 2008
Mununudzi Ghitsa, who is standing for local government office and loyal to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, says his supporters can campaign easily.  He said for the first time in eight years people can wear political T-shirts without fear.

He said he was in a last-minute push to educate people about where to vote.

"Some of them they know, some need to be educated, so we are running around to educate them," he noted.

Another supporter of the divided MDC, Patricia Kamembo, is loyal to founding president Morgan Tsvangirai.  She said her worry is about counting votes when 12 hours of voting closes Saturday.

Many district voters are anxious that votes for the presidential election will be counted in Harare instead of at the polling station.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe addresses a press conference in Harare, 20 Mar 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe addresses a press conference in Harare, 20 Mar 2008
"I am not happy if the counting is going to be done in Harare, since MDC has been losing, or any opposition party losing, because of this system of votes counted in Harare.  It is going to happen again," she said.  "The turnout in rallies, even if you speak to everyone, everywhere, hospitals, beer halls, buses everywhere, it seems as if everyone wants Morgan to rule."

She said the MDC had changed since the last elections, when it was a party of mostly young supporters.

"As I have been talking to several people, now even the old people want MDC to rule, so I am very sure MDC will win if anything does not go wrong with the counting," she added.

But Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa gave a long interview to state radio saying counting of all votes, including those for the presidential contest, will be done at polling stations.  The results would, he said, be posted outside the polling stations, and then transmitted to Harare.

Many in rural areas with no electricity, money for batteries for their radios, or newspapers will not find that out before election day.

Headlands is the home area of former finance minister Simba Makoni, who is running for president.  Political analysts say his late entry into the presidential race has changed the political landscape and divided the ruling ZANU-PF party.

He has credentials from the liberation war in the 1970s, which still has profound meaning to the generation who brought an end to minority white rule and independence from Britain in 1980.

One man, a 30-year-old peasant farmer whose father was resettled 16 years ago near Headlands village, was on his way to a ZANU-PF rally.

He was wearing a new ZANU-PF cap and a T-shirt supporting ZANU-PF parliamentary candidate Didymus Mutasa, the feared security minister.  Mutasa is also lands minister, and is accused of causing chaos in the land resettlement program.

He explained why he supported Didymus Mutasa

"I support him because I am on the land," he said.  "I was always a squatter from the beginning, so my father had land there, and I am growing tobacco and vegetables and different crops.  I manage to support even my kids, because of that land."

His father was part of an orderly resettlement program 16 years ago.  He began to laugh when asked about the opposition.

"Ah, the vote is my secret," he added.

Simba Makoni addresses supporters at the launch of his presidential campaign in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,01 Mar 2008
Simba Makoni addresses supporters at the launch of his presidential campaign in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,01 Mar 2008
Continuing to snort with laughter, he warned us that his ZANU-PF regalia did not match what was in his heart.  He confided that he was protecting his land by going to Mutasa's rally, but that he was a supporter of Simba Makoni, because he had known him all his life.

But there are still some in the Headlands district who continue to support ZANU-PF and Mr. Mugabe.

Ephraim Gwatidzo and a group of about 12 mostly young ZANU-PF supporters were walking towards Mutasa's rally and stopped to talk to VOA.

They say they support ZANU-PF, because they were given land and because their parents supported ZANU-PF.  Two of them, both civil servants and deeply suspicious, walked away and did not want to talk to VOA.

Others wanted to sing war songs from ZANU-PF's extensive repertoire.  The first was from the war against white farmers in 2000.

Mr. Mugabe has warned repeatedly in the past week that Morgan Tsvangirai will "never, ever, ever" rule Zimbabwe.

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Opponents say Mugabe undermining election


Thu 27 Mar 2008, 20:02 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's opponents joined
together on Thursday and accused him of plotting to rig Saturday's election,
the toughest battle of his 28 years in power.

After Mugabe handed out hundreds of cars to doctors in what critics say is a
vote buying campaign, he faced fresh accusations that he would steal the

Mugabe has vowed to crush old rival Morgan Tsvangirai and ruling ZANU-PF
party defector Simba Makoni. Both accuse Mugabe of wrecking what was once
one of Africa's most promising economies.

Makoni and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) said they had more evidence of planned ballot rigging and believed
Mugabe was planning to declare victory with almost 60 percent of the vote.

Tsvangirai, Makoni and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the MDC's smaller
faction, told reporters after holding talks that Mugabe had undermined
chances of a fair election.

"We believe there is a very well thought out, sophisticated and premeditated
plan to steal this election from us," Makoni said after the meeting. "We are
satisfied that the integrity and credibility of this election is gravely in

Mutambara, leader of a group that split from MDC leader Tsvangirai's main
faction in 2005, has backed Makoni, who is seen as an underdog behind Mugabe
and Tsvangirai.


Critics say Mugabe, who turns 84 this month, has maintained a tight grip on
power through a combination of ruthless security crackdowns and an elaborate
patronage system. Supporters revere him as an independence-era hero who
fights for his people.

On national television, Mugabe blamed Zimbabwe's troubles on Western
sanctions imposed on him and his allies to try to force reform. Mugabe said
the measures had harmed health care in Zimbabwe, one of the countries worst
affected by HIV/AIDS.

"Our health sector (once) operated in a regional and international context
that was free of the illegal sanctions which weigh us down today," Mugabe
said in a ceremony to give 450 cars to senior and middle-level doctors at
government hospitals.

Mugabe promised the doctors houses and said he had used his pocket money to
buy 300 flat screen televisions for hospitals.

In a procedural move, he told his ministers the cabinet had been dissolved
ahead of the election.

"I told them that some would return to government, others will be left
behind," Mugabe told a rally in the town of Bindura, 70 km (44 miles)
northeast of Harare.

Mugabe has also handed out farm equipment and public buses in what critics
say is an attempt to win political favour ahead of the vote in a country
where many can no longer afford even basic needs and food and fuel are in
short supply.

Nurses and doctors have been on strike to demand more pay and state workers
were promised higher salaries by Mugabe in the campaign, but inflation of
more than 100,000 percent quickly makes pay rises meaningless.

Critics say Mugabe's policies, particularly seizing white-owned farms to
give to landless blacks, have led to ruin.

Saturday's 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, who must win more than half the presidential vote to avoid a second
round run-off that might unite his opponents, rejects accusations of rigging
three elections since 2000.

Tsvangirai told a rally in Chitungwiza, just outside Harare, that Mugabe had
lost touch with reality.

"So when you vote, don't leave the polling station, we want to see how he
will steal," he said. "What Mugabe does not realise is that his system has

(Additional reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa in Bindura and Nelson Banya in

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Zimbabwean Military, Police In Show Of Force Ahead Of Elections


By Blessing Zulu, Netsai Mlilo & Irwin Chifera
Harare, Bulawayo & Washington
27 March 2008

Zimbabwean military and police units made a massive show of force on
Thursday in Harare’s densely populated townships and elsewhere after a
warning from President Robert Mugabe that protests after Saturday's
elections will not be tolerated.

Residents of the Harare high-density suburbs of Mabvuku, Tafara, Budiriro,
Highfield and Glen View as well as satellite city Chitungwiza said troops
and police in armored vehicles and on motorbikes accompanied by water cannon
were circulating.

In Mutare, capital of Manicaland Province on the border with Mozambique,
told VOA that air force jets made low-level passes over the city. Sources in
rural Manicaland said heavily armed soldiers had been deployed in the

Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was unaware of
such drills. But army sources said the armed forces are now on high alert.

The state-run Herald newspaper said police were holding anti-violence
exercises in Harare and Marondera, Mashonaland East, in case of
post-election violence.

Highfield resident Munyaradzi Gandanzara told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that security forces patrolling the streets
today were heavily armed.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu charged that the political opposition
plans to unleash violence following the presidential, general and local

Political analyst John Makumbe, a prominent government critic, said Harare
is trying to intimidate voters before the ballot, but said the tactic won't

Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai rallied supporters in Chitungwiza

Harare correspondent Irwin Chifera said Tsvangirai urged supporters to guard
against rigging of the vote by Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

From Bulawayo, correspondent Netsai Mlilo said supporters of presidential
hopeful Simba Makoni held a last campaign rally in the country's second
largest city at which former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa urged Mr.
Mugabe be turned out.

Some are comparing this election to the one in 1980 which ushered ZANU-PF
into power following a war which had almost brought the country to its

Now the economy is the foe and the ruling party is on the defensive with the
the opposition promising reform and restored prosperity.

For insight into this election dynamic, reporter Jonga Kandemiiri spoke with
veteran journalist and political analyst James Maridadi from Harare.

 Elsewhere, the lawyer representing incarcerated South African pilot Brent
Smythe, arrested this week while preparing to fly opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to rallies around Zimbabwe, filed an urgent high court
application seeking release of his client after Harare police failed
Thursday to bring him for arraignment as scheduled.

Police have charged Smythe with currency fraud and overstaying his visa.
Attorney Innocent Chagonda told VOA his client’s application will be heard

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Israeli firm to help Mugabe rig vote, says MDC

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Friday 28 March 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s main opposition party on Thursday accused President
Robert Mugabe’s government of contracting an Israeli technology firm to help
rig tomorrow’s elections.

Tendai Biti, who is secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party, told journalists in Harare that the firm, Cogniview PL, was
offering technical support to the Harare authorities to help rig the

“Mugabe and his cronies intend to steal this election through the use of
sophisticated software provided by the Israeli company with Mossad (Israeli
intelligence agency) connections.

“ZEC (the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is not running this election but it
is being run by Mudede (Registrar-General Tobaiwa) and the CIO (Central
Intelligence Organisation spy agency) with the help of the Israelis,” said

Zimbabweans go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new president,
parliamentarians and local government representatives amid shrills of
protests from the MDC that Mugabe was out to fix the election result.

Mugabe, whom the opposition accuses of cheating his way to victory in the
last presidential election in 2002, has fiercely rejected charges that he
was planning to rig the poll.

The MDC secretary general said the opposition party had unearthed massive
discrepancies on the voters’ register with, for example, as many as 75
voters having been registered as staying at one house.

The opposition party has also raised concern over the printing of over three
million extra ballot papers for the election by ZEC and the existence of
thousands of “ghost voters” on the voters’ register.

Attempts by ZimOnline to get comment from Cogniview yesterday were not

But information gleaned from its website showed that the Israeli firm, which
is led by a team of experts in the fields of artificial intelligence,
information retrieval and software engineering, was a leading provider of
data conversion software.

The firm said it also helped individuals and organisations to understand,
utilise and maximize the benefits of their data assets.

Mugabe is facing his biggest electoral test in the polls from Tsvangirai and
his former finance minister Simba Makoni.

The 84-year old Mugabe who was re-elected in a controversial election in
2002 that was dismissed as flawed by Western governments, has promised a
thunderous victory against Tsvangirai and Makoni whom he says are stooges of
former colonial master Britain.

The MDC last week raised fears that Mugabe, who is lagging behind Tsvangirai
in opinion polls, could resort to outright rigging to stay in power raising
prospects of violent protests from desperate Zimbabweans eager to see

Mugabe last Wednesday however told an election campaign rally in Nyanga that
the opposition should be prepared to accept the election result warning that
security forces were ready to crush any post-election upheaval. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe: a flawed electoral process

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Friday 28 March 2008

BULAWAYO – Zimbabweans go to the polls on Saturday to choose a new
president, parliament and local councils. But the opposition, Western
governments, local and international human rights groups say pre-vote
irregularities and a generally flawed electoral process means the
make-or-break polls cannot be free or fair.

For starters, they say the voters’ roll is outdated and so distorted that it
is in fact merely a register of people who were born or once lived in
Zimbabwe from the 1900s to 2008 – whether they are still alive, dead or have
long since left the country.

Other irregularities include politically motivated violence, gerrymandering
of constituencies and the printing of millions of ballot papers more than
are required.

ZimOnline correspondent Lizwe Sebata details below these and other
discrepancies that critics say will tilt the vote in favour of President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party:

Chaotic voters roll

A voter’s roll that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) agreed to
release only after the opposition won a court order compelling the
commission to do so revealed massive distortions including thousands of
names of people who are long dead or have left the country to live abroad.

For example, the late Desmond William Lardner-Burke who was minister of law
and order in the white supremacist government of Ian Smith is listed as a
voter in the Mt Pleasant constituency in Harare. Lardner-Burke, among
hardliners in Smith’s government who opposed black majority rule, was born
in 1908 and died many years ago in South Africa.

Also on the roll is Tichaona Chiminya, a former aide of main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was
murdered by state agents in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections.

The MDC believes these ghost voters could rise on election day to sway the
ballot in favour of the ruling party.

There are also widespread differences between the figures of people who
registered to vote released by the ZEC and the figures appearing on the
voters roll.

Take Gokwe Nembudziya constituency, for example, the ZEC said there are 27
261 voters in the constituency but the voters roll shows only 9 519 people
registered to vote in that same constituency.

Another constituency, Goromonzi South, is shown having 19 422 voters on the
roll which is 30.8 percent less than the 28 086 voters that the ZEC said
were in the constituency.

Distribution of polling stations

Voter distribution across the country with large concentrations of voters in
urban areas than rural would suggest that there would be more polling
stations in cities than in rural areas where voters are more spread over.

That, however is not the way ZEC sees it. The commission put fewer polling
stations in urban areas that also happen to be strongholds of the MDC and
flooded rural areas with polling stations. Rural areas are known strongholds
of Mugabe and ZANU PF.

For instance, there are only 379 polling stations in Harare where the
average number of registered voters per polling station is 2 022. In
Bulawayo, there are only 207 polling stations with the average voter per
station being 1 514.

In rural Mashonaland East province, a stronghold of ZANU PF, the ZEC
designated 1 038 polling stations with the average voters per station being

In Mashonaland Central, another ZANU PF stronghold, there are 774 polling
stations with the average voters per station being 579, raising suspicion
that the ZEC was favouring the ruling party even before a single vote was

According to independent election monitoring group, the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN), if theoretically all registered voters turned up to
vote in Harare, it means each voter would have only 22 seconds to cast their
ballot in the four elections for council, Senate, House of Assembly and

ZESN says there is a chance that hundreds of thousands of voters in urban
areas could fail to vote in scenes similar to those witnessed during the
2002 presidential election, controversially won by Mugabe.

Violence and politicisation of food aid

Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses largely blamed on
ruling ZANU PF party supporters have accompanied Zimbabwe’s elections since
the emergence in 1999 of the MDC as the first potent threat to Mugabe and
ZANU PF’s stranglehold on power.

The Zimbabwe Human rights NGO Forum said it recorded 336 cases of
politically motivated human rights violations in the month of January alone
and which it said were directly linked to campaigning for the Saturday

The Forum said the police and other state security agents were to blame for
the acts of violence and abuse, which targeted mostly opposition supporters
in a bid to coerce them to vote for Mugabe and ZANU PF.

There have also been widespread reports by the MDC, churches and human
rights groups of the government denying food to suspected opposition
supporters as punishment for not backing ZANU PF.

Mugabe’s government denies using food as a political weapon or that its
agents deny food aid to opposition supporters.

Three million extra ballots

It is incontestable that more ballots than the number of registered voters
had to be printed just in case of an emergency. But it is a little alarming
that the ZEC would print nine million ballots, which is three million more
ballots than the 5.9 million registered voters.

The commission has said the surplus ballots were in case there is a
shortfall, although without explaining what kind of shortfall would require
an extra three million ballot papers.

The MDC has expressed fears that the extra ballots could be used to stuff
ballot boxes.

Police presence in polling booths

Mugabe changed the Electoral Act by presidential decree at the 11th hour to
allow police to enter voting booths to assist illiterate or physically
handicapped people. Previously, police had been banished to no nearer than
200 metres from booths, in a move that was seen as necessary to avoid
intimidation of voters.

The opposition says the presence of police in voting booths will intimidate
voters to vote for Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Delimitation of constituencies

The government has been accused of gerrymandering after the delimitation
commission came up with more constituencies in the ruling party’s sparsely
populated rural strongholds and fewer constituencies in the opposition
supporting cities and towns.

Biased media coverage

Zimbabwe’s state-owned radio, television and newspapers have given more
coverage to Mugabe and ZANU PF in the run-up to the election in total
disregard of the Southern African Development Community guidelines on
elections that require that all political parties should receive equal
coverage in the public media.

No voter education

The ZEC has largely prevented independent groups such as ZESN from carrying
out voter education but the under-funded commission has failed to reach out
to all voters especially in remote areas to explain what is required in the
four elections that are being held together for the first time in the
country’s history. Analysts see chaos as a result.

National command centre

The ZEC has said ballots for all the other elections will be counted in
constituencies and results announced there but for the presidential
election, votes would be counted in constituencies and figures relayed to a
national command centre in Harare where the chief elections officer will
announce the result.

The commission says this is according to the law which stipulates that only
a chief elections officer can declare the winner of a presidential vote. But
the MDC says having votes collated at a command centre manned either by
serving or retired military men increases the risk of someone altering the
result if they deemed it unfavourable. - ZimOnline

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Survey shows Mugabe winning 56 percent of vote

Zim Online

by Thenjiwe Mabhena Friday 28 March 2008

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe could win 56 percent of the vote in
tomorrow's presidential poll to defeat his two challengers and avoid an
embarrassing second round run-off, according to new opinion poll results
released yesterday.

The opinion poll, conducted by University of Zimbabwe political science
lecturer Joseph Kurebwa, shows main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai garnering 26 percent of the vote
while former Mugabe ally, Simba Makoni, is seen capturing 13 percent of the

Kurebwa, who is widely regarded as sympathetic to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU
PF party, said a cross section of 10 300 potential voters were interviewed
for the poll carried out between February 15 and March 15.

The political scientist, who routinely defends the government in articles in
the state media, explained the big win he forecasted for Mugabe was a result
of the perception by ordinary people that they have benefited from the
policies pursued by the veteran leader, despite an acute economic crisis
many blame on state mismanagement.

Mugabe, who denies ruining Zimbabwe's once brilliant economy, has in recent
weeks distributed buses, computers, farm equipment, cows and other freebies
to beneficiaries in what analysts have said is an attempt to curry favour
with voters ahead of elections.

Kurebwa's findings are in marked contrast to another poll recently carried
by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), which tipped Tsvangirai to win
28.3 percent of the vote ahead of Mugabe at 20.3 percent and Makoni at 8.6

But Zimbabweans will remember Kurebwa's close to the mark prediction in the
2005 general election when he announced just before voting that ZANU PF
would win up to 83 of the 120 contested seats with the remainder going to
the MDC.

ZANU PF went on to win 78 seats against 41 for the MDC while one seat went
to an independent candidate in an election that was marred by pre-election
violence and allegations of vote rigging. - ZimOnline

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AU shoots down army's coup threats

Zim Online

by Prince Nyathi Friday 28 March 2008

HARARE - The head of the African Union (AU) election observer team to
Zimbabwe on Thursday, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, said the organisation would not
accept any government that comes into power through a military coup.

Kabbah, who is the former head of state of Sierra Leone and is leading the
AU election observer team in Zimbabwe, told journalists in Harare that the
AU wanted to see peaceful election before and after voting tomorrow.

"We agreed as the AU during a summit in Algiers that that any government
that comes into power through a coup will not be recognised.

"It is in this context that we are saying the AU will not allow any violence
before, during and after the elections," said Kabbah.

Kabbah's remarks appeared to have been directed at Zimbabwe's military
commanders who have over the past month threatened to reject an opposition
victory in the event that President Robert Mugabe lost the polls.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga earlier this month said
the army was only be prepared to salute Mugabe in remarks analysts said were
targeted at Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance
minister Simba Makoni.

Police chief Augustine Chihuri and Zimbabwe prisons chief Paradzayi Zimondi
also made similar comments vowing not to allow "Western-backed puppets" to
rule Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, who has often portrayed both Makoni and Tsvangirai as stooges of the
West out to reverse the gains of independence, this week repeated the
chilling threat saying he would go back to the bush if the MDC won the

Kabbah said the AU had resolved at its last summit in Algeria not to accept
any election results that were obtained through fraudulent means.

The AU election observer chief however said he was happy with the
pre-election conditions in Zimbabwe saying everything so far was "peaceful."

Political analysts have warned that Zimbabwe could explode into Kenya-style
chaos if Mugabe, who is accused of rigging the last presidential election in
2002, resorts to the same tactics to hang on to power. - ZimOnline

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Court dismisses MDC poll petition

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Friday 28 March 2008

HARARE - High Court Judge Tendai Uchena on Thursday dismissed an opposition
application demanding a full audit the voters' roll and all ballot papers to
be used in tomorrow's election.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had also
petitioned the court to declare illegal a national command centre set up by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the court dismissed the application in its

He said: "The application was dismissed. For instance, the High Court felt
that on the order we sought concerning the voters' roll, the court could not
direct that we be given what we are entitled to although we argued that the
commission had refused to release the voters rolls."

The court refused to outlaw the command centre after the ZEC belatedly
renamed the national collation centre, according to Muchadehama.

The MDC is concerned that about the three million extra ballot papers
printed may be used to stuff ballot boxes. The party also alleges that the
roll also contains the names of thousands of dead voters.

The MDC also wanted the ZEC barred from collating, counting or announcing
presidential votes at the command centre.

The opposition party says having votes collated at a command centre manned
by either serving or retired military men increases the risk of someone
altering the result if they deemed it unfavourable. - ZimOnline

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'Robert Mugabe has even robbed us of our dignity'

The Times
March 28, 2008

Jonathan Clayton
Maureen Dangarembizi, a 23-year-old Zimbabwean university graduate, stopped
dreaming years ago.

“When you are young, you have dreams of how it is going to be if you study
hard and get a good job - and then you end up like this, at the bottom,” she
said as she trudged up the steps of a dingy building in the crime-ridden
heart of central Johannesburg. “Now I just focus on each day. To remember
how I dreamt of where we would be at this age and then see where we are is
just too painful.”

Mrs Dangarembizi fled to neighbouring South Africa with her new husband,
David Jakana, 30, about 18 months ago. They hoped to find a better life.
Instead they found themselves at the bottom of the pile in a country where
they are not welcome.

Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, often unable to obtain official asylum
status, struggle to find work and face brutal police harassment and
resentment from local people fearful that they will take their jobs. On
Tuesday, in the latest outbreak of xenophobia, a Zimbabwean man living in a
slum outside Pretoria was burnt to death by an angry mob.

A brave handful have decided to return home to vote in Saturday's elections.
Many more, despite wanting to see the end of Mr Mugabe, cannot afford the
trip and are fearful that the South African authorities will close off the
border once they go back.
Officially there are one million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa but the
real figure is believed to be double, even triple, that. Many are
well-qualified professionals who end up doing the most menial of jobs and
living in poverty in overflowing hostels and church halls. They send what
little money they earn home for relatives.

“I was a primary school teacher, but my salary did not even cover my
transport to work. David is a qualified engineer but he had not had a job
for years,” Mrs Dangarembizi said.

After leaving Grace, their one-month-old daughter, at a crèche run by a
church group, the Dangarembizis work 12-hour days as hawkers. They sell
everything from sachets of soap and juice to cheap keyrings and name tags.
“It is not a nice life, especially when you know that at home you could be,
and should be, having a good job,” she said. “But we have no choice.”

Like other refugees they blame President Mugabe for destroying their dreams
and robbing them of hope.

Susan Ngwariu, who came to South Africa three years ago, said: “We used to
have dignity but he has even robbed us of that. We have nothing here but it
is still better than there. That is how bad it is. We all want to go home
and pray to God he loses. Only God can beat that man.”

Sitting in the half-light in the back room of the Central Methodist Mission,
one of the main unofficial homes for Zimbabwean refugees in Johannesburg, Ms
Ngwariu strained her eyes to make beaded keyrings that she sells for about
35p. “If I am lucky I sell five a day, and may be earn 25 rand (£1.60) ... I
send it all back home for my children. I have six, they are living with
different relatives ... We are all scattered now because of that man

Everyone is agreed that the moment Mr Mugabe leaves office they will return
home. “If Mugabe goes, I will go home immediately. Even though the economy
will not recover immediately, I will still go home because it will be better
there than here,” said Max Muriuti, 25, a mechanic.

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Zanu PF Uses Dominance of Media to Push Propaganda Jingles

SW Radio Africa (London)

27 March 2008
Posted to the web 27 March 2008

Brilliant Pongo

In the run up to the March 29 election the Zanu PF government has been using
its dominance of radio and television to force feed the public with
propaganda songs and jingles.

In one election jingle Zanu PF promises, 'if you want a tractor, vote
Zanu-PF. If you want a company, vote Zanu-PF.' Robert Mugabe himself is
moving around the country 'distributing' farm implements at his rallies.
Commentators say with nothing to offer, all Zanu PF can do is offer bribes.

One viewer that Newsreel spoke to said "Zanu PF is making false promises and
it will not be able to keep any of these election promises. Most importantly
they must make clear to the public what is Zanu PF money and what is
government money. The jingle is a big lie and people will see it as such."

The government has made it almost impossible for any dissenting voices to be
heard on the national airwaves and have labelled them as voices sponsored by
the west. However this has only made people more creative.

Activists have counteracted the daily propaganda bombardment by creating SMS
messages that mock Mugabe and his Zanu PF and voices mimicking or satirizing
Mugabe's speeches are proving to be popular ringtones in and outside

The MDC have also seen the power in music, and have commissioned musicians
to depict the current situation in Zimbabwe through politically loaded
songs. A group of unemployed youths in Rusape came together and have since
released popular choir songs, singing praises for the MDC and pointing out
the evils of Zanu PF.

But the government has made sure that such compositions are never heard on
state radio and television. To counteract this, the MDC have been
distributing the music free on CD and cassette.

Long suffering Zimbabweans have had to endure the relentless repetition of
Zanu PF's song's and jingles over the states airwaves which include Kwedu
Kumachembere, Sisonke, Our Future, Siyalima, Mombe Mbiri Nemadhongi Mashanu,
Uya Uone Kutapira Kunoita Kurima, Rambai Makashinga, Sendekera Mwana Wevhu,
to name but a few.

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Mugabe's Zanu-PF party draws the crowds

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Headlands
Last Updated: 4:11am GMT 28/03/2008

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is drawing crowds to its
rallies in Zimbabwe's rural heartlands despite a collapse in the economy
that has ravaged the country and created food shortages.

As the 84-year-old leader seeks a sixth term as president since
independence in 1980 he still has many genuine supporters.

Resting at the roadside in the village of Headlands, in Manicaland
around 85 miles south-east of Harare, a group of around a dozen locals sang
party songs, including Hondo Yeminda, which celebrates the "war" against
white farmers of the last eight years.

Another song recalled the battle for independence from Britain.

Among the group was Ephraim Gwatidzo, 43. "We support Zanu-PF because
of land," he said. "I have land now."

But this is an election where not everything is as it seems.

Wearing T-shirts and baseball caps promoting the ruling Zanu-PF party,
many locals in Headlands look very much the Mugabe loyalists he expects to
turn out and re-relect him on Saturday. But their appearance may hide their
true intentions once they arrive at the voting booths.

A peasant farmer made his way to a party gathering wearing a T-shirt
emblazoned with the glum features of the local candidate, the feared
security minister Didymus Mutasa.

"I support him because I am on the land and I was always a squatter,"
he said. "Now I am growing tobacco and vegetables and I can support my wife
and kids, and Zanu-PF gave me the land."

He sounded just like the Zimbabweans who Mr Mugabe has sought to lock
in for years with handouts of farming equipment and formerly white-owned

But then the man, who cannot be identified for his own safety, burst
out laughing. "What is here, what is outside appearances, is nothing," he
said, pointing to his T-shirt and new Zanu-PF cap.

"Maybe a new government will be good," he said. "Zimbabwe has been
suffering for a long time."

Without being explicit, he made clear that he was supporting Simba
Makoni, the former finance minister and Zanu-PF stalwart who has shattered
Zimbabwe's political dynamic by breaking with the party to stand against Mr
Mugabe as an independent.

But the man declined to condemn the president or the ruling party.

"My vote is secret," he said. "I must protect my land."

Headlands has long been a stronghold for Mr Mutasa and Zanu-PF -
although it is also Mr Makoni's birthplace.

But in the same way that voters' clothing may hide their true
intentions, with fears of vote-rigging rife many believe that the election
result will not reflect the ballots cast.

"If you look at the turnout at rallies, if you speak to people in
hospitals, in beer halls, on the buses, then Morgan Tsvangirai is going to
rule, but they are not going to let it happen," said Patricia Kanembo, who
works in a rural shop in the district, referring to the leader of the
established opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

According to Zimbabwe's electoral regulations, ballot counting must be
conducted at the polling station and the result posted there, before being
sent to Harare for collation.

In the last two elections, MDC election officials allege that the
results were manipulated by a team of Zanu-PF officials and generals at what
is known as the Command Centre, which is off limits to observers and

Mrs Kanembo, a mother of two, agreed: "That is what happened last
time, so it is going to happen again."

The Zimbabwean government has barred observers from Western nations
and what it calls "imperialist" journalists from covering the elections, and
there will only be about 200 foreign monitors, mostly from Zimbabwe's
neighbours, for 8,000 polling stations.

The electoral roll is around 5.9 million names long, but has been
padded with vast numbers of long-dead voters. No one from the Zimbabwe
Election Commission was available to comment.

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Mugabe opponents allege vacant lots used to rig voters lists in crucial Zimbabwe poll

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 28, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The three main groups opposing President Robert Mugabe and
his ruling party in crucial weekend polling are predicting wide scale vote
rigging, mainly though irregularities in voters lists.

In their first joint statement in campaigning for the elections Saturday
rival opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara and former
finance minister and ruling party loyalist Simba Makoni, running against
President Robert Mugabe in the presidential vote, said Thursday their
separate scrutiny of voters lists showed severe discrepancies that opened
the way for rigging.

In one sprawling district in northern Harare up to 75 voters were registered
as living at residential addresses that turned out to be vacant pieces of
bushveld without houses or other facilities, they said.

The unoccupied land in the Hatcliffe district had only been allocated plot
numbers for future housing development. The plot numbers were kept at the
local police station, said the statement accompanied by photographs
displayed to reporters, foreign diplomats and regional African election
observers at a meeting in Harare late Thursday.

The statement said that Mugabe's opponents still had not received full
nationwide voters lists either in printed form or computerized "searchable"
format. That would enable the checking of duplicate names, addresses,
personal identification numbers of voters and the identities of dead voters,
or ghost voters, whose names remained on the lists after their deaths were
recorded or publicized.

The opposition fears the inflated lists are open to abuse.
Among the more prominent names of those still listed to vote were Ian Smith,
the last white prime minister of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before
independence in 1980, who died last year in South Africa, and his former law
and order minister Desmond Lardner-Burke who died nearly 30 years ago.

The statement said official figures on voter registration also showed that
between December and February newly registered voters increased by up to 11
percent in sparsely populated rural ruling party strongholds compared to a 2
percent increase in urban strongholds of the ruling party opponents.

"This is a five fold difference which is not supported by our urban and
rural demographic profile. We don't understand the discrepancy," independent
presidential candidate Simba Makoni, speaking for the three groups opposing
Mugabe, told election observers Thursday.

He said voters registered on vacant lots in northern Harare reflected a
nationwide pattern of what he called "a very well thought out and
sophisticated plan to steal the election from us."

"On the basis of the information to hand, we are satisfied the credibility
and integrity of this process is gravely in doubt," he said.

He said state authorities, the government-appointed Electoral Commission and
the registrar of voters failed to attend a meeting to answer the opposition

The Electoral Commission says 5.9 million people are eligible to vote in the
combined presidential, parliamentary and local council elections Saturday.

The Movement for Democratic Change group led by Tsvangirai has shown
reporters documents leaked from the state security printer showing 9 million
ballot papers were ordered by the election commission. It alleged surplus
ballot papers were to be used for rigging.

That print order has not been clarified by the commission.

With some 5 million Zimbabweans living abroad as economic fugitives or
political exiles, the remaining population is estimated at about 9 million
people, half of them children ineligible to vote.

Monitors of the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network reported
numerous irregularities on voters lists earlier this month, including 50
voters resident at a hair dressing salon owned by a ruling party official in
southern Zimbabwe where no one lived.

Arthur Mutambara, head of a second faction of the fractured Movement for
Democratic Change, said ruling party opponents set aside their own political
differences to challenge election organizers and regional observers to stop
vote rigging which he said could spur "dire consequences" that might include
violent revolt.

"The irregularities are fundamental and very serious indeed. We are not in
competition over wanting to see free and fair elections," he said.

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Zimbabwe Vote Poses Human Rights Concerns


By Howard Lesser
Washington, DC
28 March 2008

Heightened police presence by Zimbabwe state security and army have signaled
voters that tomorrow’s presidential and parliamentary vote will be orderly
with no room for protest.  Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) contends that the election is being rigged by President Robert
Mugabe to perpetuate rule by his ZANU-PF government.  Professor Rowly
Brucken is the American country spokesman on Zimbabwe for Amnesty
International.  He says that a recent suggestion by Zimbabwe police that any
other outcome to tomorrow’s vote will not be tolerated should be taken as a
serious threat.

“We have heard statements from the head of the Zimbabwe Republic Police that
he would not respect any government that was not one led by Robert Mugabe.
Robert Mugabe has issued troubling statements that he would not let the MDC
take power while he is alive.  These statements are threats, and they have a
chilling effect on the opposition, and they are rightly condemned,” he said.

Brucken took note of government warnings against politically motivated
violence if the opposition loses the election.  But he had specific
criticism for President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, which he says has
“thoroughly penetrated the state security apparatus and has turned it into
ZANU-PF’s agency.”  He said Amnesty International is very concerned that if
Saturday’s vote does not go according to the way the government wants it to
go, or if there’s a heavy voter turnout in urban areas favoring the
opposition, in combination with a low voter showing in what were seen as
rural ZANU-PF strongholds, there could be a resort to government induced

“There’s not only fear, but there’s also simple hunger.  Amnesty
International documented in the past the manipulation of food aid by the
Grain Marketing Board, the governmental agency that has a monopoly for the
responsibility of the distribution of grain.  And allegations that Amnesty
documented that grain was being taken to regions of the country that
traditionally had strong ZANU-PF support, and withheld from cities.  So that
food and hunger have been used as a weapon in order to make people
subservient to the wishes of the ruling party,” he noted.

The Amnesty spokesman, who also serves as a professor of history at Norwich
College in the US state of Vermont, acknowledges that levels of violence in
the run-up to this year’s elections are reduced compared to the 2002 and
2005 polls.  He also says that in the event that none of the three
candidates, Mugabe, MDC opposition contender Morgan Tsvangirai, or  ZANU-PF
independent candidate Simba Makoni, wins a clear majority in Saturday’s
vote, a second round of voting has not been ruled out.  And  Amnesty
International recognizes that the Makoni candidacy represents a first in the
country’s history.

“Certainly, there is a chance, with a three-way candidacy, which has not
been seen in Zimbabwe’s history.  Usually, it’s been a dual runoff from the
moment of independence in 1980.  So this will be something new.  It’s
certainly mandated under the constitution.  So there’s no question of
whether it would be legal.  The question is, if that does happen in reality,
if the ruling party would acknowledge that, and we would hope, certainly,
that the ruling party would,” he said.

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'Israeli spooks paid to clinch Mugabe win'

Mail and Guardian

Mandy Rossouw

28 March 2008 06:00

      An aide of Zimbabwean presidential hopeful Simba Makoni has
alleged that Israeli intelligence group Mossad has been hired by President
Robert Mugabe to ensure he wins the upcoming election by hook or by crook.

      Ibbo Mandaza, a senior member of Makoni's campaign team, told
the Mail & Guardian that the voters' roll was manipulated in order to favour
Zanu-PF and that the format of the voter's roll was devised by Mossad on
instructions from the Zimbabwean government.

       It has also been alleged that Israeli intelligence has helped
Zanu-PF make the voters' roll inaccessible to the opposition, who had wanted
to use it to conduct more focused campaigning.

      Information technology expert Valentine Sinemane confirmed last
night that the electronic version of the voters' roll, sold to the
opposition by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for US$2 400, was compiled
by an Israeli company called Nirkuv Projects.

      The roll was provided in the form of picture files of the actual
voters' roll rather than in an electronic format.

      A Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate initially asked
Sinemane to convert the computer files on the CDs from images -- photographs
of the pages listing the voters in alphabetical order -- to Excel files, in
order to make analysis of the voters' roll easier.

      He was asked to do this for a single constituency, Harare North,
which is traditionally an MDC stronghold.

       More than 8 000 ghost voters were found when the addresses on
the voters' roll for this area were visited. Many of the addresses were
found to be empty stands with no residential structures. Harare North is an
affluent suburb adjacent to Hatcliffe, a poorer suburb.

      Sinemane told the M&G that the process of converting the files
would take a long time and they would therefore not be ready in time for
Saturday's election.

      Mandaza claimed that Zanu-PF called on Mossad to help them
because of the experience the intelligence agency has with elections. "They
have expertise in vote-rigging. Also Mossad is looking for any kind of
support and alliances and therefore Zimbabwe is the obvious target."

      He said that the opposition has been aware that Mossad had been
active in Zimbabwe over the past six months and that two weeks ago six
Mossad agents had arrived in Harare and held top-secret meetings with
government officials involved in state security.

      This is the latest allegation of vote-rigging levelled against
Mugabe's government.

      On Thursday, the MDC awaited the outcome of an urgent
application asking the High Court to instruct the Zimbabwean election
commission to provide more polling stations.

      Questions were also asked about the printing of a total of nine
million ballot papers for just more than six million registered voters.

      The Zimbabwean Election Commission, made up largely of Zanu-PF
sympathisers, has said that the printing of the extra ballot papers is a
contingency measure to ensure that sufficient ballot papers are available to
the voters.

      "I don't know about Mossad, but I will say this: if I have a job
that someone else is an expert at, we will seek assistance from them and
work with them, if they have the skills we need," said George Chiweshe, the
chairperson of the commission.

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Zimbabwe: No easy answers


Friday, 28 March 2008, 00:53 GMT

      By Paul Reynolds
      World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

Many foreign governments are left simply hoping for a result from the
Zimbabwe elections on 29 March that either undermines President Robert
Mugabe so much that he is forced to negotiate a way out or simply removes
him from power.

But they also think that Mr Mugabe will once again outwit his critics.

Given the level of international concern about Zimbabwe, the question
is often asked as to why the outside world has not intervened.

If "intervention" means invading, it would be against the United
Nations charter without the authority of the Security Council.

The Security Council is the only body that can authorise such an
intervention and it can do so only if it identifies a threat to
international peace and security. No such threat has been declared in the
case of Zimbabwe.

Getting the authority of the Council would be vital. The invasion of
Iraq has been criticised precisely because it did not receive the Council's
unambiguous backing.

It is true that new UN rules agreed in Security Council resolution
1674 in 2006 allow for a government to be declared in breach of a new
"responsibility to protect" its population. But this applies to "genocide,
war crimes, ethnic cleansing crimes against humanity".

African opposition

An invasion of Zimbabwe would also be unacceptable to its neighbours.

Whatever the faults of his government, Robert Mugabe is still for many
in the region, and on the continent of Africa, a heroic figure who liberated
his country from minority white rule.

It would be unthinkable, according to this view, for him to be
overthrown by force from outside.

It is sometimes argued that the West is hypocritical in that Nato went
to war with Serbia over Kosovo (without a UN resolution) but is unwilling to
help starving Africans by intervening in Zimbabwe.

But the West, even if inclined to make a case based on the growing
concept of "humanitarian interventionism", would not do anything militarily
without the support of regional leaders and the African Union (AU).

And that support is unlikely to come.

In the absence of military action, efforts short of invasion have been
and are being applied.


The United States and the European Union have imposed what they call
targeted sanctions at President Robert Mugabe and his key supporters. These
involve travel bans, restrictions on commercial dealings with those on the
lists and asset freezing abroad.

But sanctions have been ineffective. They simply mean that it makes
travel difficult (no more shopping trips to London and Paris), but they did
not stop President Mugabe from being invited to Portugal for a EU-Africa
summit last year.

Zimbabwe's neighbours have also led another sort of intervention, with
a mediation mission headed by the South African President Thabo Mbeki. This
has not worked out either.

It may be that the success of an AU-supported mediation effort in
Kenya, led by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, could provide
encouragement for a similar role in Zimbabwe.

But that would need the support of Mr Mugabe.

ICG report

The International Crisis Group (ICG), a private organisation which
monitors crises around the world and recommends action, has suggested
several measures for Zimbabwe.

If the election results are "heatedly disputed and national and
regional observers report credible evidence of widespread irregularities",
it wants the African Union, South Africa and the regional grouping of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to "issue a joint statement
that the regional bodies are withholding recognition of the results".

In that event, it also calls for a high-level AU mediation mission "to
assist negotiation of a power-sharing agreement... with a view to
establishing a transitional government.. in advance of new elections".

As for the US, the EU and others, it urges the extension of sanctions
to those abusing human rights or "blocking a political settlement" and the
relaxation of sanctions against those within the ruling Zanu-PF party who
are ready for "power-sharing talks".

More broadly the ICG wants the US, the EU and others to stand ready
with an economic and political package if a government of national unity is

And it wants them to go to the Security Council in the event of a
"massive outbreak of violence... threatening peace and security in the
country and the region".

Acceptance by the Security Council that there was a "threat to peace
security" in the region would potentially open the way to a military

But that is a long way off.

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If I win polls, accept it or else – Mugabe

The Times, SA

Maryanne Maina
Published:Mar 28, 2008
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe yesterday accepted for the first time
that losing the polls tomorrow was a real possibility — but he warned the
opposition to accept the results if his Zanu-PF won.

“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
[it],” the 84- year-old said at a rally in Nyanga.

His comments were clearly aimed at his opponents — MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and independent candidate Simba Makoni.

And while his challengers say it could take a decade to fix the economy of
the one- time regional role model, Mugabe fired off a fresh diatribe against
his opponents who he called stooges of former colonial power Britain.

He also denied he was rigging his way to a sixth term in office after
accusations from domestic opponents, as well as the West, that he stole
victory in 2002.

The MDC has complained that the government has printed nearly nine million
ballot papers when there are only 5.9 million registered voters.

Mugabe also told a campaign rally that an opposition lawmaker had threatened
protests similar to those that followed December’s disputed elections in

“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.” — Additional
reporting by Reuters and Sapa-AP

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Zimbabwe's mining houses hold their breath for winds of change

Business Report

March 28, 2008

By Antony Sguazzin

Johannesburg - Mining in Zimbabwe, which has the second-biggest chrome and
platinum reserves, should be booming amid record metal prices. Instead,
production has fallen, with output of gold, nickel, coal and iron ore
plunging since 2000.

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

With the country suffering 80 percent unemployment and hyperinflation of 100
000 percent, the 84-year-old leader faces more challengers than ever in
tomorrow's elections.

Even if Mugabe won, his own Zanu-PF party would press him to step down, said
Anne Fruehauf, an analyst at Control Risks in London.

Mark Wellesley-Wood, the chief executive of top Zimbabwean gold producer
Metallon, said: "There are investment funds waiting in the wings" should
Zimbabwe's leadership change and the economic outlook improve. "We are
hunkered down. It's been survival and preparation."

A political change may set the stage for a rebound from the country's
decade-long recession.

Zimbabwe has some of the best roads on the continent and the remnants of a
manufacturing sector that was once southern Africa's second-biggest. It has
a well-educated workforce; its literacy rate of 89.4 percent puts it behind
only Seychelles in Africa, according to the UN Development Programme.

To be sure, Mugabe has confounded expectations of his departure before.
Several times he has said he intended to retire, without setting a date.

Human rights groups accuse Mugabe of intimidating his opponents and
preparing to rig the outcome of the poll, which pits him against Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu-PF rebel Simba

"I am certain that if there is political change, the turnaround will be
quick," said Greg Hunter, the chief executive of Central African Gold, which
bought two Zimbabwean gold mines last year and is considering expansion.

Relatively little investment was needed to rehabilitate the mining industry,
Hunter said.

Power output could be ramped up with minor equipment repairs at the Kariba
South hydroelectric plant and Hwange coal-fired plant.

Many gold mines have been maintained even while they were idled or cut

Ready to expand

Metallon is ready to expand, as is Impala Platinum (Implats), the world's
second-biggest platinum producer, which is delaying portions of an expansion
plan valued at $750 million (about R6 billion now) in 2005.

Implats 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 firm's total

As recently as 1999, Anglo American planned to boost its Zimbabwe gold
output tenfold. Instead, it sold ferrochrome smelters and nickel mines.

John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare, said national gold
output was at the lowest level since 1907. According to the Zimbabwe Chamber
of Mines, the country produced 7.5 tons of gold last year, down from 29 tons
in 1999.

Robertson said coal and iron ore production had more than halved since 2000,
while nickel and ferrochrome output had fallen by about 15 percent.

Meanwhile, platinum and ferrochrome prices have more than doubled in four
years, and gold is at all-time highs.

Mugabe's decimation of the commercial farming sector since his 1999 land
redistribution programme has slashed export earnings. Earlier this month, he
approved laws to compel foreign firms to sell 51 percent of their local
assets to black Zimbabweans.

Tricky climate

"The investment climate is a tricky one," said Implats chief executive David
Brown. "Zimbabwe has a lot going for it. It needs stability."

In December 2006, the government seized a diamond concession from African
Consolidated Resources.

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

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe hands out cars

Yahoo News

By MacDonald Dzirutwe 1 hour, 26 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, facing the toughest
election battle of his 28 years in power, handed out hundreds of cars to
doctors on Thursday in what opponents say is a vote buying campaign.

Mugabe's opponents said the veteran leader was plotting to rig Saturday's
presidential election, in which he faces old rival Morgan Tsvangirai and
ruling party defector Simba Makoni.

Both accuse Mugabe, 84, of wrecking what was once one Africa's strongest
economies and pauperizing its people.

On national television, Mugabe blamed Zimbabwe's troubles on Western
sanctions imposed on him and allies to try to force reform. Mugabe said the
measures had harmed health care in Zimbabwe, one of the countries worst
affected by HIV/AIDS.

"Our health sector (once) operated in a regional and international context
that was free of the illegal sanctions which weigh us down today," Mugabe
said in a ceremony to give 450 cars to senior and middle-level doctors at
government hospitals.

He promised the doctors houses within two years.

In a procedural move, Mugabe told his ministers the cabinet was dissolved
ahead of the election.

"I told them that some would return to government, others will be left
behind. The good performers will continue," Mugabe told a rally in the town
of Bindura, 70 km (44 miles) northeast of Harare.


Tsvangirai's main wing of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) said on Thursday it had more evidence of planned ballot rigging and
believed Mugabe was planning to declare victory with almost 60 percent of
the vote.

Tsvangirai, Makoni and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the MDC's smaller
faction, told reporters after holding talks that Mugabe had put the
credibility of the election in doubt.

"We believe there is a very well thought out, sophisticated and premeditated
plan to steal this election from us," said Makoni.

Mugabe has also handed out farm equipment and public buses in what critics
say is an attempt to win political favor ahead of the vote in a country
where many can no longer afford even basic needs and food and fuel are in
short supply.

The health sector suffers a shortage of drugs and skilled workers because
many have gone abroad in search of better pay.

Nurses and doctors have been on strike to demand more pay and all state
workers were promised higher salaries by Mugabe during the campaign, but
inflation of over 100,000 percent quickly makes pay rises meaningless.

Critics say Mugabe's policies, particularly seizing white-owned farms to
give to landless blacks, have led to ruin.

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, who must win over half the presidential vote to avoid a second round
run-off that might unite his opponents, rejects accusations of rigging three
elections since 2000.

Tsvangirai told a rally in Chitungwiza just outside Harare that Mugabe had
lost touch with reality.

"What Mugabe does not realize is that his system has collapsed," he said.

(Additional reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa in Bindura and Nelson Banya in

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SA crisis team ready for Zimbabwe election


March 27, 2008, 22:30

A crisis team comprising officials from various government departments has
been established as part of contingency plans to deal with any crisis that
might arise from Zimbabwe's elections at the weekend.

The officials have secured a place around Musina in Limpopo for the
accommodation of about 3000 people - should the situation turn ugly.

The Musina Municipality has held talks with members of the SA Police, Home
Affairs and business community to look into what needs to be done around the
town and its border.

Shelter and medication will be provided
Municipal spokesperson Wilson Dzebu, says: "We have agreed that we must have
a temporary place where we can give them shelter, medication and proper care
in terms of emergency.

Spokesperson for the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Father
Chris Townsend, says his church is also putting contingency plans in place
around Musina and Louis Trichardt.

Townsend says they have organised with a number local churches to be ready
of any eventuality in terms of humanitarian assistance. He says the church
and other stakeholders will make available accommodation, blankets and
sanitary facilities. "We have identified a number of spots where we already
have community service situation, churches and clinics in Limpopo province
that we are prepared to use to increase our response."

Townsend added: "If need be we already have a feeding scheme that we can add
to, we are not going set up tents or anything like that but we are going to
be here to response in a human way in what could be a human problem."

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Exiled Zimbabweans Closely Follow Elections Back Home


27 March 2008

As Zimbabweans prepare to go to the polls Saturday, pre-election activity is being closely watched by an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans living in neighboring South Africa.  Although they cannot vote, these exiles have nevertheless formed dozens of civic groups to monitor the process and are being supported by South African activists.  VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

For the past five years Zimbabweans gather weekly  in central London every Saturday to listen to speeches and hand out leaflets -- and keep their spirits up as a community of expatriates.
For the past five years Zimbabweans gather weekly  in central London every Saturday to listen to speeches and hand out leaflets -- and keep their spirits up as a community of expatriates.
A leader of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum that supports Zimbabwean pro-democracy groups, Sipho Theys, told reporters in Johannesburg recently that Zimbabwe's upcoming elections will likely not be fair.

"The electoral playing field is unacceptably and undemocratically skewed to the advantage of the ruling partner," he said.  "This includes issues around the biased electoral commission, the voters roll, the delimitation of [voter] constituencies, media coverage, voter education, vote buying and politicized food aid and so on."

He cites reports that security forces have prevented some opposition campaign rallies from being held.  Coverage of ruling party candidates has dominated the state-controlled news media and, he says, state resources have been used for political purposes.

Zimbabwean election officials strongly deny the accusations and accuse their critics of being manipulated by foreign governments.

But the local representative of the National Constitutional Assembly that is pressing for a new constitution for Zimbabwe, Tapera Kapuya, says most exiles are not convinced.

"We are very skeptical whether these elections will represent any great change," he said.  "The structure for an unfair election does exist, and it is something which needs to be dismantled."

Human rights groups say there has been less violence in Zimbabwe than in previous elections and opposition candidates have been able to campaign in previously forbidden areas.  But they say the state apparatus has been used to influence voters.

Kapuya says the government has registered six million voters in a country whose total resident population is said to be less than 10 million people, including children.

"We deeply feel that the inflated figures of those who are said to have been registered create leverage for the incumbent to rig the election," he added.

He says the fact that the government has printed 9 million ballots for 6 million registered voters and hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots for a few thousand eligible expatriates is also worrisome.

And he notes that most Zimbabweans living outside the country are excluded from voting, disenfranchising up to 2 million potential voters.

Theys, of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, says nevertheless Zimbabweans should still vote on Saturday.

"While the election offers us only a little hope that change will come, in a country with a deficit of hope, at least this is something," he added.

And all appeal to Zimbabwe's security forces to responsibly discharge their duties and refrain from seeking to influence voters.

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Divisions Within South African Elections Observer Mission To Zimbabwe


By Patience Rusere
27 March 2008

A South African election observer belonging to the opposition Democratic
Alliance party could be expelled from Pretoria’s mission to Zimbabwe after
issuing a report saying Saturday’s elections there are unlikely to be free
and fair.

Mission head Kingsley Mamabolo has accused lawmaker Dianne Kohler-Barnard of
breaching the protocol of the mission working under the auspices of the
Southern African Development Community, by issuing an independent statement.

Former DA leader Tony Leon, now its foreign affairs spokesman, issued a
statement saying that Kohler-Barnard and another DA observer "have pointed
to the fact that the odds are heavily stacked against (the election) being
genuinely democratic."

The statement cited gerrymandering of constituencies by Zimbabwe's ruling
ZANU-PF party, insufficient allocation of polling stations to urban areas,
biased treatment of the opposition by state-controlled media, and political
use of food, among other issues.

The Democratic Alliance added that its delegates to the South African
mission have come under criticism from delegates of the ruling African
National Congress for what ANC delegates have considered to be unduly harsh
questioning of Harare officials.

DA spokesman Frits de Klerk told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that if Kohler-Barnard is removed the party might pull its
other delegates.

An aide to Mamabolo said he would only be available to comment on Friday.

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Comrade Bob's Last Stand

Wall Street Journal

March 28, 2008
One day Robert Mugabe will leave Zimbabwe to heal itself after his
disastrous decades at the helm. At 84, the strongman can't escape mortality
for good. But tomorrow's elections offer hope, however slim, that this
tragedy may end even sooner.

For the first time since he rose to power in 1980, Mr. Mugabe is in serious
danger of being ousted. Simba Makoni, his former finance minister, broke
with the ruling ZANU-PF party to run for President. Morgan Tsvangirai, the
trade unionist who leads the opposition, draws huge crowds to his rallies.

No one in Zimbabwe, perhaps except for the closest Mugabe cronies, has been
untouched by the country's dizzying collapse. Just a fifth of Zimbabweans
hold formal jobs. Life expectancy since Mr. Mugabe took power in 1980
dropped from the highest in sub-Saharan Africa to one of the lowest.
Inflation runs upward of 200,000% a year. Millions face starvation in a
country that once was the continent's breadbasket, and millions more have
fled. It's a record to make Idi Amin proud.

For all that, Zimbabwe needs a little luck and a hand from its neighbors to
show the old man the door. Comrade Bob, as Nelson Mandela patronizingly
called the Zimbabwean ruler, has always used indiscriminate force to cling
on to power. In 1976, while in exile, he said in a radio broadcast that,
"The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins." So
it has always been, with Mr. Mugabe boasting a few years ago that he had "a
degree in violence."

His first target, and greatest victims, were his fellow blacks. In the
mid-1980s, he unleashed a campaign of torture and murder against political
opponents in Matabeleland that claimed 20,000 lives. Later, he razed
shantytowns in the big cities inhabited by poor supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. Trade unions, journalists, independent
courts and other institutions, and political opponents received the African
"big man" treatment. Only in 2000 did Mr. Mugabe, out of desperation, target
the country's few remaining whites. The subsequent dispossession of
white-owned farms destroyed Zimbabwe's agricultural economy and brought the
country's troubles fully to the world's attention.

Signals ahead of this election are not promising. "Never in my lifetime will
the Movement for Democratic Change rule this country . . . that will never
happen," Mr. Mugabe declared last weekend. The army and police chiefs backed
him, saying they won't accept any other leader. With no independent
observers on hand, ballot boxes are likely to be as stuffed as all recent

The emergence of Mr. Makoni, however, offers a possible way out. The
technocrat lacks the votes to win by himself. Yet should Mr. Tsvangirai poll
too well even for the Mugabe regime fully to rig the election, a possible
coalition between the two men has been mentioned. Mr. Tsvangirai could bring
popular support and Mr. Makoni draw away important figures in the ZANU-PF
establishment, easing a transition to multi-party democracy. Mr. Mugabe is
well aware of the danger. He immediately branded Mr. Makoni a "traitor" for
daring challenge him.

It remains a long shot. Mr. Mugabe fears prosecution for past crimes and
won't likely give up easily. It's crucial then that Zimbabwe's neighbors,
particularly South Africa, at long last disown him. Their support over the
past decade has been a pillar of the regime. Just a signal that Mr. Mugabe
no longer enjoys the blessing of South Africa would give many Zimbabweans
the confidence to stand up to him.

Upon taking power 28 years ago, Mr. Mugabe declared that, "We have to
succeed in our bid to establish a nonracial society, in our bid to establish
civil liberties." He never bothered to try. But Zimbabwe can still realize
this vision. First Mr. Mugabe needs to go.

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Final push for votes in Zimbabwe

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawayika

HARARE (AFP) - The three main candidates in Zimbabwe's general election were
making a final push for votes Friday on the eve of polls which could bring
an end to President Robert Mugabe's 28-year grip on power.

After an election campaign which has been full of bitter rhetoric but
largely devoid of the violence which has overshadowed the run-up to previous
ballots, analysts believe the outcome is too close to call and could well up
with a run-off if no one obtains an absolute majority.

Mugabe, at 84 already Africa's oldest leader, has been confidently
predicting a sixth term in office. His two main challengers, long-time
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba
Makoni, say that his only hope of victory is rigging the outcome.

"Evidence on the ground suggests that none of the three political gladiators
is set to get the 50 percent plus vote," said Eldred Masungure, a lecturer
of political science at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.

"Zimbabwe should gear itself for a re-run."

The election campaign comes at a time when Zimbabwe is grappling with the
impact of the world's highest rate of inflation -- officially put at
100,580.2 percent -- and an unemployment level which has breached the 80
percent mark.

Once seen as the region's breadbasket, the country is now suffering from
previously unheard of shortages of even the most basic foodstuffs such as
cooking oil and bread.

Mugabe, who has ruled the ex-British colony since independence in 1980, has
blamed the economic chaos on the West which imposed sanctions intended to
only hit his inner circle after he allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election.

"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," he said during a visit to Harare central hospital on

With relations with the West at an all-time low, the government has barred
observers from anywhere in the European Union or United States from
monitoring Saturday's poll.

That task has instead been assigned to groups from organisations such as the
African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

While they have so far given preparations a clean bill of health, the
opposition has drawn up a list of complaints and says the government is in
clear breach of agreements reached during SADC-mediated talks.

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

Tsvangirai himself warned Mugabe in an interview published Friday that if
Mugabe tried to "steal" the upcoming election, the situation in the country
would worsen.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans to
"protect" their vote, and said that Mugabe would not be able to contain
popular anger with a rigged election.

"It is the people who have to respond," he told the business daily.

"He (Mugabe) will not have stolen it from Morgan Tsvangirai -- an
individual -- but from the people. Such will be the overwhelming groundswell
of popular feeling, he will not be able to contain it."

Makoni, once one of Mugabe's top lieutenants until he left the government in
2002, has refrained from insulting his old mentor even though the president
has called him a political prostitute.

However in an interview with AFP this week, he said the economic meltdown
which took hold since he left office could take more than a decade to

"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 told AFP.

While there have been no reliable polls, another prominent former minister
who has since turned his back on Mugabe agreed there was every chance that a
run-off would be required within three weeks of the first polling day.

"The mathematics of it, if you look around where Tsvangirai is popular and
likely to get support, where Mugabe is popular and likely to pick more
votes, none of them is guaranteed 51 percent, and that's what will cause a
run-off," former information minister Jonathan Moyo told

As well as voting for a president and 210 members of parliament, the 5.9
million strong electorate will choose the make-up of councils nationwide.

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Zimbabwe Police Detain Orphaned Girl for Insulting Mugabe


The 16-year-old has been held for over a week in Bulawayo

Pindai Dube

     Published 2008-03-28 11:01 (KST)

A 16 year-old orphaned girl has been languishing in police cells for almost
a week in Zimbabwe's second biggest city, Bulawayo, for allegedly describing
President Robert Mugabe as an old man who has wrinkled skin.

Feared ruling Zanu-PF youth militias effected a citizen arrest on Simanzeni
Ngwabi, a vegetable vendor at the main bus terminus of the city on Friday
after jokingly passed insulting remarks aimed at a campaign poster of
President Mugabe.

According to police records, Ngwabi is a man but OhmyNews established that
Ngwabi is instead an orphaned girl from the poor suburb of Njube. She
dropped out of school due to lack of funds two years ago to become a
vegetable vendor.

It is almost a week at the Bulawayo Central Police Station for the minor who
is being held against the country's laws that call on the police to take
prisoners to court within 48 hours.

Ngwabi was handed over to the police by Zanu-PF youths for her denigrating
remarks aimed at a campaign poster of Mugabe that the ruling party youths
were putting at the main Bulawayo bus terminus, Egodini terminus.

In Zimbabwe it is a crime punishable by either imprisonment or heavy fine to
insult the president, his office or to make gestures about him or his
passing motorcade under the provisions of the draconian Public Order and
Security Act and the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.

Ngwabi has been charged for "Undermining the Authority or Insulting the
President of the Republic of Zimbabwe" as listed under Chapter 9, section 33
of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.

The state case is that Ngwabi on Friday last week insulted Zanu-PF youths
who were putting campaign posters of President Mugabe at Egodini main bus
terminus, saying they should "go away with the poster of an old dying man
who has wrinkled skin."

The Zanu-PF youths made a citizen arrest on Ngwabi and handed her over to
police after she allegedly said to them in vernacular Ndebele: "Go away with
your campaign poster of your old man who has wrinkled skin and always raises
a knuckled fist."

Ngwabi's sister Thulisiwe told OhmyNews she was shocked that police can be
so evil to detain a poor sixteen year old girl for week without trial. She
said she was making efforts to seek funds to engage a lawyer for her young
sister's release.

"I am shocked that police can be so evil to detained a poor little girl for
a week without taking her to the court of law for trial .At the moment we
are running around to seek funds to engage a lawyer," she said.

National police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena refused to comment saying he
has yet to get details of what transpired.

Zimbabweans have taken to passing crude jokes and circulating emails or text
messages aimed at President Mugabe who is blamed for the unprecedented
economic decline because of his government's ill advised policies.

The nation is set to hold harmonised elections on Saturday to elect a new
president and representatives of the senate, ward and local authority.

President Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence, will fight
for his lofty post against independent candidate, Simba Makoni and main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

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How people are surviving in Zimbabwe

28th Mar 2008 00:11 GMT

By Nyasha Zuva

ONE question that baffles many people living outside Zimbabwe whether they
are foreigners or Zimbabweans who have taken refuge in other countries
mainly due to economical reasons is how do Zimbabweans survive?

As one of those Zimbabweans who have remained in Zimbabwe, I ought to have a
simple answer to this question but I don’t. My first attempt at an answer
would simply be that we survive by the grace of God.

That is the first explanation that makes any kind of sense. The more
practical answers would involve going into details of the kind of activities
that Zimbabweans undertake whilst chasing the ever falling dollar.

Zimbabweans have an uncanny ability to adapt to their environment like
chameleons. It is very easy to assume that when times get hard, females
simply resort to selling their bodies for money. Whilst some women will of
course resort to this age old profession, this attitude is not typical of
the Zimbabwean woman.

I would, however like to use the example of Zimbabwean prostitutes to
illustrate an example of the adaptation I’m talking about.

I once went to a Jo’burg night club. After a few minutes in this club I
recognized a few Zimbabwean faces amongst the ladies of the night. I was
then made aware of the fact that almost all the prostitutes in this club
were Zimbabwean. Zimbabwean women, I was told, had virtually taken over the
club because of one reason.

South African and other prostitutes from other countries at that bar had
been too business-minded in their dealings with clients.

Whenever they were approached by potential clients the women would
immediately start talking about the price for a liaison.

Zimbabweans, on the other hand, were said to be friendlier. Zimbabwean women
were said to have time to just talk, dance and socialise with potential
clients before the topic of money came up.

Zimbabweans eventually took over the bar because of their “customer care”.
My example may be unpalatable to some people but it is certainly applicable.

Some Zimbabweans have crossed the border in search of “piece jobs” in order
to survive. Zimbabweans are found in the cities of South Africa and Botswana
amongst other neighbouring countries doing menial jobs.

They do the jobs that the natives of that country shun or they do them
better. The money made from these jobs is then used to buy groceries and to
pay for bills and school fees for children, parents and other relatives back
home in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans also export all kinds of things to neighbouring countries in
order to make a living. It’s always amazing how Zimbabweans find out how
things like sacks, cell phones, orange juices, alcoholic beverages, fruits,
baby napkins, exercise books and other kinds of commodities are in short
supply or in demand across the border.

Selling things across the border has the advantage of payment in the elusive
foreign currency. Zimbabweans also go across the border to purchase basic
necessities that are not available in Zimbabwean stores. Groceries, clothes
and electrical goods are some of the commodities that Zimbabweans import
form neighbouring countries.

Some Zimbabweans cross the border on a weekly basis. In spite of regulations
concerning customs duty and travel visas, and other setbacks like government
coming up with all kinds of impediments that slow down cross border traders,
these resilient people may stumble but they refuse to fall.

Everyone knows of Zimbabweans who frequently cross the border without any
valid travel documents. These people are fearless, savvy, desperate or all
these things enough to face any challenges.

They play hide and seek with immigration officers, bribe their way through
wherever possible or necessary and continue with their efforts to survive.
Not every Zimbabwean though survives through the import or export of goods.
Some Zimbabweans use their survival skills within the country.

Shortages, though frustrating, are an opportunity for making money.
Government continues to create and fuel the black market through
irresponsible policies and regulations. Whenever government comes up with
regulations similar to the one where there want a price rollback to some
February date, the ridiculous regulation presents an opportunity for some
resourceful Zimbabweans to make money.

The first immediate consequence of this regulation will be that of creating
shortages and whenever shortages occur, someone makes money.

Shop shelves will once again be empty as owners either send goods to the
black market or fail to replace these goods because of being forced to sell
their merchandise at less than wholesale price. The people who can supply
these scarce goods will make money. Anyone with any connection to entities
like the Grain Marketing Board for example always makes money.

Maize meal can be bought there at ridiculously low prices only to be sold at
“real prices” on the black market.

Being connected is essential in Zimbabwe. Being connected or having your ear
close to the ground is a survival necessity in this country. Knowing who can
supply what and being a middle man is how most people are surviving.
Everyone always endevours to get a “cut” from transactions of individuals
whom they will have connected.

Things like meat, eggs, bread and milk amongst many other commodities are in
short supply. If I get to know of someone who is selling meat at a certain
price, I put a mark–up and advertise these commodities. When I find takers
at the new price, I make money to buy food for my family. This is how things

Zimbabweans buy sugar and bread from supermarkets and then proceed to sell
the same goods just outside these supermarkets at higher prices when the
goods are finished in the supermarket.

The other day I went to help my sister get an ID card near Mbare Township.
At the gate to the government offices, I found some very friendly young men
who greeted me politely. These young men were not being polite simply
because “vane hunhu” but they wanted to “help me” acquire the document I

This type of youngsters is either “connected” to officials at the offices or
they just know the procedures to be followed to get assistance there. There
are always people willing to “help” others who are too busy, frustrated,
lazy, ignorant or in a hurry to follow bureaucratic nonsense in order to
obtain documents like passport and ID’s at government offices.

I have merely scratched the surface of how the ordinary man in the street
survives in Zimbabwe without conning people out of their money or resorting
to other actual crimes. I have not even talked about the real “dealers” in
our society, the people who do the massive fuel and foreign currency deals
or the corrupt big fish with access to national resources whose exploitation
of the country is diabolical to the point of being treasonous.

The main real reason why ordinary Zimbabweans survive under such trying
times is because of attitude. Zimbabweans have amazing optimism. We believe
that things can only get better. We have faith in our ancestors and our God.
This faith helps us grit our teeth and do the best we can under prevailing
conditions whilst we wait for that day of deliverance.

This is the reason why Zimbabweans tend to put their lives on the “pause”
mode and have faith whenever things like cabinet reshuffles and elections
come up even when these things are in the hands of Zanu PF.

Whenever some events fail to produce desired results, Zimbabweans go into
shock, depression then recover and continue to live their lives. One can
only hope that as Zimbabweans will eventually get the government we truly
deserve at the earliest convenience. It would be greatly appreciated were it
to happen this month. Ndapota hangu kuvadzimu vangu na Mwari chaiye!
Tinzwireiwo ngoni!

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