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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Times

March 29, 2005

Ghost voters, rigged ballots and food bribes - the Mugabe route to power
By Jan Raath
TICHAONA CHIMINYA, a driver for the leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, was burnt alive in a truck. David Stevens, a white farmer, was shot in the back of the head.
The men were among the first to die as President Mu- gabe’s reign of terror unrolled five years ago. But their names are still on the voters’ roll.

Supporters of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change say that up to a million phantom voters may appear on the register and that “ghost voters” will be used by the ruling Zanu (PF) party to inflate the votes that it receives in Thursday’s parliamentary elections.
Added to a campaign to deny food to opponents of President Mugabe and door-to-door intimidation of rural voters, the MDC fears that it may lose the election, even if it has the support of the majority of voters.
Last week Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar-general who has run all of Mr Mugabe’s electoral victories since 1985, announced that there were 5.7 million voters on the roll.
Topper Whitehead, who runs a pro-democracy group called Freezim and who helped to detail irregularities in the 2002 presidential elections, analysed a sample of between 500 and 2,500 registered voters in 12 of the 120 constituencies.
Mr Whitehead estimates that 78 per cent of people who have died in Zimbabwe since 1980 are still registered to vote.
House-to-house checks revealed that nearly half of the voters in the sample had never been heard of at their addresses listed on the roll and the duplication of names was common.
Mr Whitehead said that a conservative extrapolation of the statistics gave a total of 2.6 million “ghost” and duplicate voters, and a voters’ roll that in reality is closer to 3.1 million. “There is only one way he can win — by stuffing the ballot boxes,” he said. “You need a heavily inflated number of voters so that a huge fake turnout doesn’t look unreasonable.”
In 2002 opposition researchers found that at rural polling stations where it had election agents, about 300 voters were casting ballots on each day. In the handful of stations that were unstaffed, however, the count went up to 1,500 a day.
The MDC has never been able to prove that fake balloting influenced the 2002 elections and the Government insists that there is nothing wrong with the electoral roll.
Yet Mr Mudede has defied three court orders to let the opposition officials review used ballot papers, counterfoils and lists of checked-in voters from the last presidential election.
This time a small number of observers, the cutting of the election from three days to one, the doubling of polling stations to more than 8,000 and the near-impossibility of the MDC training more than 32,000 election agents – four per polling station – have all worked in the ruling party’s favour.
And the Opposition insists that in an electoral system whose senior officials are personally appointed by Mr Mugabe, where polling stations are manned by civil servants, including soldiers and policemen, and independent scrutiny will be limited, required results can be made to order.
Independent observers accused the electoral authorities in 2002 of invented results. Officers from the 120 constituency centres telephoned their results to the “national command centre” — an operations room which passed them on to be broadcast. Lawyers who tried to enter the centre were threatened at gunpoint.

New electoral legislation passed in January abolishes the command centre. Counting is to be done at each polling station and the results telephoned to a constituency centre. However, instead of the command centre, there is now a “national election logistics centre” with obscure functions and whose existence is not legislated.
While the lead-up to the election has been peaceful, there have been widespread reports that rural voters are being told that they will be punished after the election for voting for the Opposition.

Village chiefs have been told to accompany their people to the voting stations to put pressure on them to vote for Zanu (PF). Voters have been told that it will be easy to see who they voted for, as the new ballot boxes are transparent.
There have been repeated reports of food being used as a way of forcing people to vote for the ruling party. In some areas it is difficult to buy grain without a Zanu (PF) membership card.
Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, accused President Mugabe’s regime on Saturday of using food in the drought-ravaged Matabeleland region in southwest Zimbabwe to coerce the electorate to vote for it in Thursday’s general elections.
Yesterday the President responded by calling Archbishop Ncube a mad, inveterate liar. “He has been lying for the past two years,” he said.
But some people say that some of the rigging has already started. Three million Zimbabweans who have left the country – and could be expected to support the Opposition – have been banned from voting. The 200,000-strong uniformed services have already voted by postal ballot. Party election agents and observers are barred from the process.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Times

            Against the closed fist
            Zimbabweans rally to the open palm, symbol of change

           Reality catches up with them all in the end, even with political
operators as skilled as Robert Mugabe at muffling and intimidating
opposition. Against all expectations, including his own, Zimbabwe's
parliamentary election campaign has burst into defiant life. Whatever the
ballot boxes entrusted to military and police election "organisers" are
declared to contain after the polls close on Thursday - a matter Mr Mugabe
is not expected to leave to simple electoral arithmetic - there is now no
gainsaying the impatience of millions of Zimbabweans for change.
            The raised fist of the ruling Zanu (PF), once the symbol of
national liberation, now signifies repression, intolerance and a capricious
authoritarianism that has ruined the lives of all but an unjustly favoured
few. One of Africa's most developed countries is now its fastest declining
economy. With the collapse of commercial agriculture, and the industries
that serviced it, four out of five people have no job, hyperinflation has
destroyed what savings they had, and hunger afflicts half the nation. Mr
Mugabe offers no panaceas, instead harping on anticolonialism in a
hysterical "anti-Blair" campaign. This has backfired. People hardly need
telling that Mr Mugabe, not Mr Blair, is their President, and that after 25
years in power, their increasingly desperate state is his responsibility.

            In great crowds and, more perilously, in small village
gatherings where the feared Zanu (PF) militias keep close count of the
"disloyal", people are rallying instead to the more appealing symbolism of
the open palm of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, has presented a detailed programme of reforms - and above
all, holds out the promise of "a new beginning".

            The chances of that new beginning remain remote. Mr Mugabe has
given himself ample means to treat opposition votes with contempt. He may
have hoped, as the MDC feared, that voter apathy about an election whose
result was seen to be a foregone conclusion would enable him to control the
campaign as well - and that he could afford a few weeks ago the "democratic"
gesture of ordering Zanu (PF) militias to desist from breaking up opposition
rallies and beating up MDC supporters. But in the relative calm that has
ensued, there has occurred a profound shift in the national mood.

            If the MDC were to win a popular majority, manipulating the
result could now risk mass unrest. Pius Ncube, the outspoken Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo, declares that if cheated in this election,
Zimbabweans should "really organise" to expel Mr Mugabe "by a non-violent,
popular, mass uprising". Zimbabwe's ruthless military, not to mention its
tightly controlled media and poor communications and the neighbouring
countries' shameful tolerance of President Mugabe, all make a surge of
people power, Ukraine-style, unlikely. The response to people power could be
violent. But without peaceful democratic change, violence will surely come
to Zimbabwe. It is not only out of concern for democracy that this week's
elections matter to the world.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Updated Report on Polling Stations
Dated 28/3/5 22:00

In terms of Section 51(3) and 52(2)(a) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13),
the details of Polling Stations for the 120 Constituencies were published by
the ZEC in a number of papers on or about 18 March 2005.

The primary source of data referenced in this report is the published
listings contained as an insert of 56 pages in the Zimbabwe Independent
newspaper (18 March 2005).

Later data was obtained from the 60-page ZEC insert in The Standard (20
March 2005) which was identical to that of the Zimbabwe Independent except
for an additional four pages at the end of the document. The four additional
pages contain:
* A page numbered E5 (sic - should be E57)
carrying details for Mhondoro Constituency
* Page E58: Gwanda Polling Stations
* Page E59: a MMPZ report
* Page E60:  a Reserve Bank advertisement


The 56-page listing is characterized by the following flaws:

* The listings are not always alphabetically listed either by
Constituency or Polling Station
* Entries are not consistent eg SECONDARY entered also as SEC
* Numerous spelling errors, eg
* Manicaland Mutasa South 70 ST BARBARA'S SCH
* Manicaland Mutasa South 71 ST BARBRA SEC SCH
* * Presiding Officer names are generally listed in the format
Surname, Forenames but in many instances are given Forenames, Surname making
it more difficult to check for duplicates
* * Numbering of Polling Stations is erroneous in many cases eg
* o Harare East
* o Chipinge North
* o Mutasa North
* Page E14 Bindura Constituency: from no 51, Polling Stations are
transposed with Presiding Officers
* Page E26 Goromonzi: both columns transposed
* Pages do not follow with correct data eg
* p 8 to p9,
* p11 to p 12
* top of p13 is a continuation of p9 Mutasa South
* The following Constituencies are omitted entirely:
o Mhondoro
o Gwanda
o Gokwe Sengwa
o Gokwe South
o Gweru Urban
o Mkoba
* There is confusion over the correct constituency names for
the Gokwe Constituencies. There are 5 Gokwe Constituencies but different
names appear in various places. The list of candidates has:
o Gokwe
o Gokwe Chireya
o Gokwe Kana
o Gokwe Nembudziya
o Gokwe-Sengwa

while the Polling Station List has
o Gokwe
o Gokwe Chireya
o Gokwe Kana
o Gokwe Nembudziya

* No Constituency Election Officers are named for
o Gokwe-Sengwa
o Hwedza
o Kadoma
o Shamva
* At least 50 names of Presiding Officers appear more than
* There are 152 duplicated polling station names, many in the
same constituencies eg
Nyanga 32 Mazarura Sec Sch Kadzere Camillo
35 Mazarura Sec Sch Njokoyo Joseph
5   Chaparatonga Prim School Mwapondora Themba
88 Chaparatonga Prim School Nyabunze Bernard

How and where will the rigging take place?

Voting takes place in 12 hours on a single day: this reduces the opportunity
for rigging at polling stations or ballot stuffing overnight.

Counting takes place at Polling Stations and results are forwarded to
Constituency Centres for collation and the official announcement of the
result. In 2000 and 2002, all results were collated and announced at a
National Command Centre in Harare which is where rigging occurred primarily.

If rigging takes the form of ballot stuffing, this will have to be done at
Polling Station level and given that the national average of voters per
polling station is >700, any polling station that has more ballots cast than
this figure should be subjected to intense scrutiny and verification of
ballot papers.

Polling agents have been warned that they will be arrested and prosecuted if
they communicate results at polling station level. The only reason for not
releasing results at Polling Station level is to allow results to be
"massaged" at Constituency or National Command Centre level.

Zimbabweans and International Observers must demand immediate access to
results at Polling Station level without "verification" at Constituency
level first.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Australian

Editorial: Another farce in Zimbabwe

March 29, 2005
DEMOCRACY has a chance in Thursday's parliamentary election in Zimbabwe, but
it will take a miracle. The country's dictator, Robert Mugabe, whose Marxist
policies have reduced the economy to rubble, has employed less ostentatious
violence and torture against his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change, than during the 2000 election campaign, but that is
because he is slightly more secure in his control of the process. Rigged
electoral rolls, a newly gerrymandered electoral map and the presence of
army thugs at each polling station to "manage" the vote have rendered Mugabe
so confident he has even allowed the MDC a few minutes on state-controlled
television. Nevertheless, "illegal" MDC gatherings - such as a planning
meeting between candidates and party officials - have been brutally broken
up, and the campaign of intimidation against anybody suspected of MDC links
has continued unabated.

That is why the fact that polls are showing the MDC in with a chance is
already a minor miracle. After all, even telling a pollster you were
thinking of voting against Mugabe could lead to a visit from members of the
country's youth militia, whose idea of re-educating any woman with
anti-Mugabe connections usually involves gang rape. The people of Zimbabwe
are crying out for freedom and democracy, which is why nobody seriously
doubts that in a free and fair election the MDC would win. Unfortunately and
disgracefully, the African establishment has closed ranks behind Mugabe,
with South African President Thabo Mbeki humouring his rants against Tony
Blair and others who want to "recolonise" Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, Mugabe lets
his people starve rather than being "choked" by foreign aid, while his
homophobia and AIDS-denial have resulted in 2.3 million Zimbabweans, out of
a total population of 13 million, living with HIV/AIDS.

Mr Tsvangirai promises to reverse the policies that have made Zimbabwe a
basket case. The danger, as Gavin du Venage argued in The Australian
yesterday, is that if Mugabe were destabilised, the army, which is really
all that sustains him, would step in and take charge. What such a view
possibly overlooks is the worldwide flowering of democracy, via
people-power, that has followed the liberation of Iraq from the tyranny of
Saddam Hussein. This is what really puts the skids under thugs such as
Mugabe and his backers - the fact that US President George W. Bush has
declared the long and ultimately cynical detente between democracy and
dictatorship over. That does not mean military action against Mugabe or his
cronies - such a folly would only impose more suffering on the Zimbabwean
population. It does, however, mean that those in countries ravaged by
tyranny know they will receive support from outside when they rise up
peacefully to overturn rigged polls and put those who actually win elections
in power. In a world buffeted by the winds of democratic change, not even
carefully vetted election observers recruited from docile neighbouring
countries may be enough to validate a rigged result in Zimbabwe on Thursday.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


MDC fears vote-rigging
28/03/2005 22:27  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition said on Monday some 800 polling officers sent
to a rural area at the weekend were turned back and accused of being
opposition sympathisers, prompting fears of vote-rigging in the
parliamentary elections later this week.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary general Welshman Ncube said
the polling officers were blocked on Sunday by a local government officer in
Mudzi, about 200km northeast of the capital, who apparently told them that
he "did not need polling officers from Harare".

"Sensing defeat, Zanu-PF has forced back to Harare 800 polling officers who
had been deployed by the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) to manage
polling stations in Mudzi east constituency, claiming they were MDC
supporters," Ncube said.

A spokesperson for the elections commission, Utloile Silaigwana, said that
election officials had been dispatched to the area to investigate the
incident and that a report would be issued.

The group are part of some 90 000 polling officers being deployed throughout
the 8 300 voting stations across Zimbabwe ahead of the parliamentary
elections on Thursday.

Ncube alleged that the ruling Zanu-PF candidate for Mudzi, Ray Kaukonde,
along with other local Zanu-PF leaders, "told the polling officers they were
not wanted in Mudzi because they were MDC supporters and sympathisers".

"We believe that the usual Zanu-PF machinery which will conduct the
elections is geared to rig the poll and steal the people's vote," said

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front has traditionally been
seen to be strong in rural areas such as Mudzi.

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is tipped to win the vote in this
week's elections, that are closely watched to see if the southern African
country will adhere to regional guidelines for democratic elections.

Schoolteachers 'disenfranchised'

The MDC has meantime said some 50 000 polling officers, most of them
schoolteachers who have been recruited to be polling officers will be
disenfranchised this week because they have been deployed outside their
constituencies where they are registered to vote.

"Teachers, just like members of the uniformed forces who have already cast
their votes through the postal ballot system, also have a constitutional
right to elect representatives of their choice into parliament," said the
MDC in a statement.

It said the problem showed that Mugabe's government was not ensuring
democratic polls.

"We view this development as another of the regime's futile attempts to
steal the parliamentary elections," said the MDC.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

ABC Australia

      Australian Broadcasting Corporation



      Broadcast: 28/03/2005

      Tsvangirai rallies against Mugabe in Zimbabwe
      Reporter: Zoe Daniel

      QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Zimbabwe's Opposition Leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has
addressed a campaign rally in Harare, telling citizens a vote for the
opposition is a vote for food. The country's general parliamentary elections
will be held on Thursday, and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF Party is
expected to win in a landslide. The President has recently acknowledged food
shortages in Zimbabwe, promising not to let people starve. But the
Opposition says rising poverty may lead people to change their vote. Africa
correspondent Zoe Daniel reports.

      ZOE DANIEL: With just a few days left until the election, Opposition
supporters have come out of hiding in a massive show of support for the
Movement for Democratic Change. In the Highfields township in the capital,
Harare, they gathered to hear opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai speak.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, MDC LEADER: You have a right - you have a right on
31st, on Thursday. You have a right to speak. You have a right to choose
your own leadership. You have a right to choose your own government. Go and
vote for food. Go and vote for jobs. Go and vote for MDC. Go and vote for
hope. Go and vote for your future!

      ZOE DANIEL: In Zimbabwe, shortages of fuel and food are critical
issues in the lead-up to this election. President Robert Mugabe has
campaigned hard against change. He says a vote for the opposition is a vote
for a return to colonial rule under British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Morgan Tsvangirai disagrees.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Tony Blair has nothing to do with Zimbabwe. If
Mugabe wants to contest Tony Blair, he should go to Britain and not to

      ZOE DANIEL: Proper Ndlovu and Thando Sibanda are observing the
campaigning from afar. They're young and politically aware, but they live in
Johannesburg and they have no official vote on Thursday. But they'll vote

      THANDO SIBANDA, ZIMBABWEAN STUDENT: It actually shows how much I would
have loved to have that right because voting is not a privilege, it's a

      ZOE DANIEL: A mock election being conducted via text message and
telephone will poll three million Zimbabweans living outside the country who
want to express an opinion.

      PROPER NDLOVU, ZIMBABWEAN EXPAT: I have the right to vote to choose my
future leader as a youth, you know? The person whom I am going to choose or
the party which I am going to choose, it's going to shape my future.

      ZOE DANIEL: There was a final legal challenge to allow millions of
Zimbabweans living outside the country to vote in the official poll, but it
was dismissed by the Supreme Court. The mock election will run alongside the
official poll, and will begin in South Africa on Thursday. Zimbabwean
political analyst Bheki Moyo says it's likely the Opposition will win the
mock poll, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if the ruling party did. He's
working with expats to make the experiment a success.

      BHEKI MOYO, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the idea is to judge the mood
and see who exactly enjoys popularity and then from there we develop

      ZOE DANIEL: Despite shows of support like this, the ruling party is
expected to win the official election with a two-thirds majority later this
week. Zoe Daniel, Lateline.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Washington Times

Analysis: No roses or tulips for Zimbabwe

By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst

Washington, DC, Mar. 28 (UPI) -- Can the tide of peaceful, democratic
revolution that has been rising over Eurasia and the Middle East work its
magic in central Africa? A growing number of people in Zimbabwe certainly
hope so. But it appears to be unlikely yet.

The impoverished central African nation and former British colony of 13
million people ruled with an iron hand by the 81-year-old Robert Mugabe over
the past quarter of a century is due to hold parliamentary elections
Thursday and there is virtually unanimous agreement that the votes will be
fixed to arrange yet another victory for Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF party.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsviangirai, who heads the main opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change, has been greeted by large, passionate
and enthusiastic crowds wherever he goes. Some 20,000 people turned out for
him at a rally Sunday in a poor part of the capital Harare.

Mugabe, by contrast, has run a bizarre campaign of demagoguery that appears
strangely disconnected from the universal poverty and despair, out of
control AIDS epidemic, and even widespread starvation from his government's
inept and heavy-handed economic and agricultural policies.

Ignoring all that, Mugabe has been running, not against his own opposition
but against British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he is trying to turn
into a fairy tale ogre and whom he has accused of plotting the return of
British colonialism to enslave the Zimbabwean people.

And on Monday, he labeled one of the most respected Christian leaders in the
country, Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
largest city, a "half-wit" for calling for a peaceful, non-violent popular
movement to drive him from power.

"I don't know to which God he prays. ... He is ...a half-wit. I don't know
why the Vatican tolerates prayers of that nature," Mugabe said in Chivhu,
south of Harare. Chivhu is a ZANU-PF stronghold where the president's wife
Gracie came from.

Archbishop Ncube called Sunday for a broad-based, non-violent peaceful
protest movement to topple Mugabe. He even volunteered to put on his
vestments and lead a march to the presidential palace himself. "I hope that
people get so disillusioned that they really organize against the government
and kick him (Mugabe) out by a nonviolent, popular mass rising," he told the
South African Sunday Independent newspaper which is published in

"... People have been too soft with this government. So people should pluck
up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away. ... I
am simply backing a non-violent popular uprising, like that in the
Philippines in 1986 and such as in Ukraine," he said.

But as Ncube himself acknowledged, that is unlikely to happen. "If I do it,
I do it alone," he said in the interview. "The people are so scared. You are
not going to get that where people are so cowardly."

For Zimbabwe is not post-Soviet Ukraine or Georgia, or even central Asian
Kyrgyzstan. All there of those countries had peaceful, revolutions with
ether no -- or in Kyrgyzstan's case last week -- minimal bloodshed. But the
Orange Revolution of Ukraine could turn blood red, and not because of
Georgian roses or Kyrgyz tulips, if it was applied to Zimbabwe.

That is because Mugabe is a veteran revolutionary leader who won power
through a ruthless, no-holds-barred guerrilla war and is determined to keep
it, unlike former Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine, Eduard Shevardnadze
of Georgia and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, all of whom were former communist
party apparatchiks who had no taste for either revolution or for violent
repression when the crunch time came.

Mugabe, by contrast, has reveled in repression and paranoia and continues to
do so, as his extraordinary comments about Blair indicate. Also, he
continues to try and take advantage of Zimbabwe's ancient tribal divisions
to retain the support of his inner clique, so that his security forces will
not melt away or refuse to fight for him, as Askayev's would not in the
Kyrgyz capital Bishkek last week.

On Sunday, the MDC claimed that Mugabe's security police had arrested 200
opposition supporters after their rally.

Archbishop Ncube told Britain's Sky News in another interview Sunday that
Mugabe and ZANU-PF were withholding food from political strongholds of the
MDC in drought-ravaged Matabeleland in the southwest of the country. The
accusation was especially potent because the Matabele people were never
supporters of Mugabe and he mercilessly crushed them after taking power in
the early 1980s.

ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira Monday angrily denied Ncube's charge.
"The allegation that they (Sky News and the archbishop) made is completely
unsubstantiated and untrue," he told the Herald newspaper in Harare. And he
called the archbishop "a mad, inveterate liar. He has been lying for the
past two years."

The archbishop, Shamuyarira claimed "fits into the scheme of the British and
Americans, who are calling for regime change and are feeding him these wild
ideas," he said

With Mugabe hanging in tough and the security forces and ZANU-PF cadres
still loyal behind him, Zimbabwe still looks a long way from any political
spring scented with oranges, roses or tulips.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe


      Nobody holds elections like Zimbabwe

      Last updated: 03/28/2005 23:58:59
      I WAS chatting to one of my many South African activists' friends
sometime during the past week over the much vaunted Zimbabwean elections. He
intimated to me on how he was so fascinated by the colorful and dramatic
nature of the polls. He compared the forthcoming plebiscite to that of South
Africa last year and was of the strong opinion that there was a large
difference between the two processes.

      The South African elections were too drab and dull. That is, when
compared to the current excitement in Zimbabwe. The southern neighbor's main
focus was the boring and inanimate issues such as empty promises on fighting
the high crime rate, HIV-Aids, and poverty alleviation strategies. No one
was allowed to say anything bad or nasty about the other party or its

      The elections emphasized on the letter of the hallowed Constitution.
The electoral institutions and the concomitant state functionaries such as
the intelligence and the police played a subservient low key role in the
entire process. Curiously, there was government controlled media at the
ready disposal of the ruling ANC.

      But even more importantly, there was nothing to write home about on
the credibility of the electoral process. No fears of rigging. No fears of
serious political intimidation and violence. No talk of fears about the
aspect of the elections being not free or fair. It appears all and sundry
have bequeathed their most profound faith and trust on the democratic
efficacy of the South African electoral system.

      Now let us fast forward to the northern neighbor's version of a
national polling process . . .

      The situation across the not so flooded but crocodile infested Limpopo
is the complete apposite to the one prevailing in South Africa. In Zimbabwe,
elections are not a Sunday lazy stroll in the central park. No, they are
very serious business with all the stakes raised so high like a township
tower light. It is not an overstatement to say that they elections in
Zimbabwe are a guaranteed matter of life and death.

      Nobody conducts elections the way Zimbabweans do it. Absolutely

      The March 2005 elections have however placed themselves in a complete
class of their own. Never have Zimbabweans staged such a dramatic and
colorful elections process. The plot is full of a lot of unanticipated twist
and turns. It is highly unpredictable. Maybe, only comparable to the
labyrinth nature of television soaps plots!

      There are a lot of dramatic events when Zimbabwe. Indeed can south
Africa have an answer to the glamour and pomp, not to mention the innuendos
and intrigues of the December 2004 Zanu-PF Congress? Can South Africa have a
comparison to the controversy and in-fightings of the MDC and Zanu-PF
primary elections?

      Can South Africa give us an answer to the colorful independent
candidates such as Jonathan Moyo and Margaret Dongo? Talking about Jonathan
Moyo, nobody spins and doctors the media like him. No, not even a rocket
scientist from Mars!

            "Need I talk about the Herald and the Chronicle, not to mention
New Ziana? South Africa has no answer to these prolific propaganda
      Unlike in South Africa, the electoral institutions are a source of
political amusement. For starters, it is so hard to take them seriously.
They are so discredited, so much that it is so strenuous to try and justify
their democratic legitimacy. Added to that, they are too many of them!

      There is the Registrar General (read Rigging General!) known as
Tobaiwa Mudede who has developed the art of messing up and cooking up the
voters' roll. Then there is the Electoral Delimitation Commission that is
notorious for withdrawing the opposition constituencies and depositing them
into what is perceived to be the ruling party's rural strongholds.

      Not to mention the Electoral Supervisory Commission. It is supposed to
be the constitutional equivalent of the South African Independent Electoral
Commission. But what does it in fact do? All it does is to supervise the
entire rigging process without raising any of its eyebrows or fingers.

      But can South Africa have an answer to our newly set up Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission. Curiously, the electoral body did not even exist at
the beginning of 2005. It was set up rather hurriedly sometime during
January. There are even fears that it does not have the requisite
administrative capacity to facilitate the conduct of a national election

      Then there is the nation's first and permanent media choice, the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. The ZBC is notorious for not only
claiming to be the first with the news but also boasting that before it
happens we will already be there! Witness the coverage of the Cain Nkala
murder story by Reuben Barwe.

      This is one thing I am sure all South Africans should be grateful that
they do not have. What is their SABC when compared to ZBC? Can the SABC have
an answer to such horrible programmes as the Media Watch, News hour, not to
mention the countless jingles like 'sendekera'?

      Need I talk about the Herald and the Chronicle, not to mention New
Ziana? South Africa has no answer to these prolific propaganda mouthpieces.

      And then there is this cast of delightful maverick characters in the
political stage. Can South Africa have the likes of Wayne Bvudzijena,
Tafataona 'MIC' Mahoso, Job 'Wiwa' Sikhala, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Lovemore
Madhuku, and John Makumbe?

      Indeed, does South Africa have the lyrical answer to politicians who
also could have made it in the music world? Does it have the likes of Elliot
'Nora' Manyika and Jonathan 'phambili le Tsholotsho' Moyo?

      And then there is this aspect of dancing at rallies. A lot of
choreographers better attend these rallies just to see the abundant dancing
talent that the country has. Who would ever forget the late Border Gezi's
famous 'kongonya' dance?

      Where in the world would you fight the leader of another country being
touted as an opponent in the local elections? But in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe
is busy contesting against the British Prime Minister. You should hear him
once he starts to wax lyrical about the so-called anti-Blair elections!

      And then those colourful campaign regalia. You should see how well
dressed supporters and leaders' alike look at some of theses rallies. Not to
mention the different assortments of caps and cowboy hats!

      And then the empty political rally speeches. Nobody gives harangues
like our leaders! These guys can talk like I don't know. Just the other day
our living room was set alight by one Morgan Tsvangirai. He was on the news
talking about Mugabe's success in ruining the economy. Said he, 'how can we
have a successful economy in a nation were millionaires are poor!'

      Hey, you got to hand it over to the Zimbabweans because after all has
been said and done, it appears no one holds elections like we do. Absolutely

      Anyway, let me take this opportunity to wish all Zimbabweans a very
peaceful elections day. May God be with the entire nation at this time of
critical national discourse.
      Daniel Molokele is a lawyer and a former student leader. He is
currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His column appears here every

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe opposition fears voter apathy
Mon Mar 28, 2005 11:11 AM GMT

By Emelia Sithole

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party fears voter
apathy and lingering concerns about political violence may keep many of its
supporters away from Thursday's parliamentary elections.

"Our biggest challenge is that Zimbabweans have never experienced any form
of free and fair elections and have had 25 years of broken promises and
betrayed dreams," said Movement for Democratic Change Information Secretary
Paul Themba-Nyathi.

"We have to make them see a future that they have never dared envisage," he
told Reuters during a campaign stop in Gwanda, southern Zimbabwe.

At every campaign rally, MDC leaders have exhorted supporters to turn out in
large numbers, hammering home the message each vote counts despite
expectations President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party will win.

Riding a wave of public anger over Zimbabwe's collapsing economy, the MDC
braved violence and intimidation by ZANU-PF supporters in contesting the
2000 parliamentary elections and a presidential poll in 2002. It maintains
it would have won both if not for rigging.

The MDC says Mugabe's party has used tough media and security laws to
engineer another victory this year.

"Apathy and fear are of major concern. After what happened in 2000 and 2002
some people say 'What changed, so why bother voting?'," Themba-Nyathi said.

Themba-Nyathi said the party has mounted an education campaign for its
election monitors, cautioning them to be extra vigilant about potential vote

Although the run-up to this year's elections has been relatively
violence-free, Themba-Nyathi says many people were still fearful there may
be a resurgence of the political strife that marked previous polls,
particularly in remote rural areas.

"People here are very vulnerable to all kinds of insinuations and this is
one area which experienced the brutality of the army (in the early 1980s)
and people still remember that," he said.

"The fear factor is there. When somebody is told that if we lose at this
polling station we know who you are and we will deal with you, people then
don't want to take the risk and so they would rather stay away from the

Themba-Nyathi reiterated charges that some ZANU-PF supporters were abusing
scarce food supplies to coerce people to vote for it, withholding the sale
of the basic maize meal from those who did not have its party cards.

ZANU-PF has denied the allegations.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zambia Benefits from Zimbabwe Woes, Others Struggle
Mon Mar 28, 2005 04:32 AM ET
By Manoah Esipisu
HARARE (Reuters) - Zambia's agriculture and tourism sectors have reaped rich
benefits from Zimbabwe's economic and political woes, analysts say, though
other countries have suffered losses.

White Zimbabwean farmers displaced by President Robert Mugabe's land reforms
have also boosted farm output in Malawi and Mozambique with their expertise.

But Zimbabwe's economic collapse, which has seen joblessness soar and
created food shortages, has also robbed neighbors like Mozambique of a key
market for their exports.

Zimbabwe was once a prized client of hydroelectric company Cahora Bassa and
Mozambique Ports and Railways, but the volume of its goods through
Mozambique has declined due to a persistent foreign exchange shortage,
analysts said.

"Zimbabwe used to be an important trade partner for Mozambique but foreign
exchange problems have limited cross-border activity," Professor Cardoso
Muendane, a Maputo development consultant, told Reuters Monday.

"The economic and political situation in Zimbabwe has negatively affected
Mozambique. That country has limited ability to buy Mozambique's produce,"
Muendane added.

"A quick solution would be desirable but unfortunately this does not depend
on a calendar and it is difficult to forecast when a turnaround will
happen," he told Reuters in Maputo.

Malawi had benefited from a trickle of Zimbabwean farmers, foreign exchange
shortages in Harare had distorted prices making Malawi's produce
comparatively more expensive, analysts said.

Zimbabwe faces parliamentary elections on March 31 which Mugabe hopes will
help counter international criticism of his government.

Mugabe has faces five years of international isolation amid charges he
rigged the last major parliamentary vote and his own re-election as
president in 2002. The European Union and the United States have put
sanctions on his government on charges of previous election rigging.


"Zimbabwe has hit Malawian exporters because of instability in the exchange
rate," said Malawi University economics professor Ben Kalua. A decline in
the Zimbabwe dollar hurts Malawi whose kwacha is relatively stable, they

Zambia meantime has had a boost, with significant gains in agriculture and
tourism, said financial commentator Ignatius Chicha, treasurer at CitiBank

"We are now seeing more tourists visiting Livingstone to see the Victoria
Falls from the Zambian side because of instability and food shortages in
Zimbabwe, growing tourism," Chicha said.

"There are more planes landing at Livingstone airport bringing in people who
would ordinarily be visiting Zimbabwe because of the good infrastructure it
has," Chicha added.

The growing tourism sector in Zambia had made small airlines in the
region -- including Zambian Airways and Air Botswana -- expand their
southern African routes, analysts said.

And the latest data from the Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) showed that
tobacco production would rise to 52 million kg this year from 31 million kg
in 2004 and just some 3.4 million kg in 2000 on the back of white Zimbabwe
farmers now in Zambia.

CitiBank's Chicha said Zimbabwe's economy could experience a rebound after
Mugabe leaves office, probably after 2008 when Zimbabwe is due to hold its
next presidential elections.

"They are working hard to stabilize the exchange rate and also to try and
lower interest rates and bring down inflation. The only thing they need to
do is repair their relations with Western donors," Chicha said.

Zimbabwe has had soured relations with Western donor agencies and countries
in a row Mugabe says was instigated by British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
angered at his taking of white farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

Mugabe's critics say he, not Blair, must bear the blame for 5 years of
economic decline in Zimbabwe.

Abel Mkandawire, chairman of the Zambia Association of Chambers of Commerce
and Industry (ZACCI), said an influx of Zimbabwe farmers and business people
also improved technology use in Zambia and fueled production of quality

"They have created jobs for Zambians and they have improved how we do
business," Mkandawire told Reuters in Zambia.

(Additional reporting by Shapi Shacinda in Zambia, Mabvuto Banda in Malawi
and Mateus Chale in Mozambique)

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sokwanele blog

Monday, March 28, 2005
Archbishop Pius Ncube for Nobel Peace Prize!
Congratulations to this hero for his outstanding courage in leading from the
front, rather than following his flock. Spiritual leaders need to ensure the
rights, lives and futures of their congregations. If they don't stand up for
good, who will?
posted by Parishioner - Bulawayo at 9:56 PM

Not very 'PC'!
Selina has just come back from her rural home and tells me that the
computers given to her child's school by our president, were then taken back
for delivery to another school. So much for election gimmicks!
posted by Still Here - Bulawayo at 3:15 PM

We are being heard...
Flattering comparison of Zvakwana to freedom fighters in Serbia, Ukraine and
Georgia. We hope we live up to it and we know Zimbabweans want freedom as
much as they do!

The whole world is noticing Zimbabwe's struggle. Zvakwana was featured on
page one of the weekly Mail and Guardian SA with five posters pictured and
'f*ck quiet diplomacy!' Sokwanele's blog has been noticed by the Guardian
newspaper (UK) in their online blog section.

Newsweek on its cover says "Mugabe is on the ropes".
posted by Sokwanele at 12:59 PM

Zim is beautiful, but there's something wrong here...
I have been visiting Zimbabwe for years as a tourist. If you like to be off
the beaten path, COME NOW! I practically had Vic Falls to myself, and the
road from Vic Falls to Bulawayo is empty. Stop at one of the little picnic
rest stops, which have unfortunately fallen apart, and you will be alone in

As for violence, how do you see it? As a visitor, you can't really see what's
happening. Thanks to sites like Sokwanele for telling what's really

The truth is that something's wrong. I saw a dead hyena on the road near
Hwange, and then heard that there is a giant elephant slaughter there. Every
single person wants to talk politics. Everybody asks for food - something
that did NOT used to happen here - and all the guys are looking very trim -
too trim, with small waists. You can tell they're not getting enough to eat,
even in Vic Falls where there are still some jobs.
posted by USA - Visitor at 12:29 PM

Thorn in the side
Sokwanele is obviously a thorn in the side of the zanupf technological thug
crew. They realize that civil society in Zimbabwe has finally found the
courage to stand up and say 'Enough is Enough' to the regime's crude and
violent oppression. They are trying to close us down. Last week Sokwanele
received two separate emails, one on Friday and another on Sunday (they are
working overtime!), directly from Both contained
viruses. They are desperate because their days are numbered, people have
said 'Enough is Enough!'
posted by Sokwanele at 12:53 AM

Sunday, March 27, 2005
I can feel the winds of change blowing.
Yesterday's rally was amaaaazing. We were conspicuous by our pale faces and
what a fabulous welcome we received from a happy bunch of Bulawayo MDC
supporters. I wish the other whities in this country would stop being so
afraid, kill their victim complexes and get out with our fellow countrymen
to end evil.

I was pleasantly surprised by the cops there, a few stood stony faced and
long suffering, some helped usher vehicles into the car park and you could
see many itched to fling their open hands up, joining the crowd in welcoming
democracy. At last they realize they are working for their children, not the
government that treats them like dirt. I can feel the winds of change
blowing .

A bit of humour. On the way to yesterday's rally, I was chuffed to find
myself driving behind David Coltart envoy. One of their enthusiastic numbers
was so busy waving to pedestrians, he was taken unawares when the truck he
was in moved off from a traffic light. He fell out the back, unhurt, picked
himself up and ran after the vehicle. He was too slow but luckily, Mrs
Coltart was coming up behind him and scooped him up.

The comedy not over, he jumped out of her vehicle at the next traffic light
to jump back into the back of the truck, but he was too slow! Once again he
was saved by the MP's good wife.
posted by Proud white Zimbo - Bulawayo at 11:14 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sokwanele - Zvakwana is a peoples' movement, embracing supporters of all
pro-democratic political parties, civic organizations and institutions.
Sokwanele - Zvakwana will never aspire to political office. Sokwanele -
Zvakwana is a peoples' force through which democracy will be restored to the
country and protected jealously for future generations to ensure that
Zimbabweans will never be oppressed again.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Ncube stands by inflammatory remarks on Mugabe

March 28, 2005, 12:30

Pius Ncube, the Zimbabwean Archbishop of Bulawayo, is standing by the
comments he made during an an interview with London's Economist newspaper.
He was quoted in The Economist as saying the people of Zimbabwe are praying
that Mugabe should die.

Zimbabwean government-owned newspapers have called on the Roman Catholic
diocese of Bulawayo to expel Ncube or force him to apologise publicly to
President Mugabe. In its editorial today, the Bulawayo-based government
daily, The Chronicle, has described Archbishop Ncube's statement as the
worst hate speech to have come from a man of the cloth.

However in an interview with the SABC, the outspoken archbishop says Mugabe
must be held accountable for the sufferings of his people.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Los Angeles Times

            March 28, 2005

Staying On, Amid Zimbabwe's Madness
.. My parents cling to their home in the face of Mugabe's hostility.

By Douglas Rogers, Douglas Rogers is a freelance journalist based in New

The dogs come in from the east: snarling, bone-thin mongrels the size of
terriers, their howls echoing down the valley to the farmhouse. Following
behind them, hacking their way through the bush with sticks and metal
slashers, come their owners, six men usually, squatters from the neighboring
farm who are ready to beat off the hounds after they have run down a zebra,
bush buck or impala.

Three years ago, at the height of the land invasions, when my father first
heard the dogs, he hauled out his shotgun and drove to the edge of his
property. He fired two shots in the air and the animals fled, their owners
in hot pursuit. These days when he hears the dogs, he just shrugs. The game
he had stocked his farm with has all been slaughtered in the last few years
or has fled through holes cut in the fence by squatters. The gun is now just
a small measure of protection for himself and my mother should they be
attacked by thieves or bandits who periodically roam their land.

It was with some trepidation that I returned to Zimbabwe last month, the
country in which I was born and spent the first 22 years of my life. I was
last here a year ago, and then things were bad. My parents had just received
a Section Five: a notice that the government intended, with or without their
assent, to acquire their 730-acre game farm "for resettlement." They had not
yet received a Section Eight, their final marching orders, but their
prospects looked bleak. For the first time since the liberation war more
than 25 years ago, they slept with a gun by their bed, and my mother had
taken to hiding her diamond ring in a window pelmet.

Via intermittent e-mails my father had sent in the interim, I gathered
things had got worse: Most of their remaining friends had emigrated, their
housekeeper had died of AIDS; the next-door farm, one of the most productive
in the country, had been trashed by police and the youth militia, and its
4,000 workers and their families had been made homeless. The bush was
rapidly closing in on my parents.

This is Zimbabwe 25 years after Robert Mugabe came to power. Initially he
was seen as a unifier, and my parents, longtime liberals, chose to stay on,
even as 150,000 of the 250,000 whites fled, unwilling to live under black
rule. Despite a decade of relative prosperity, the last four years have seen
the country descend into political turmoil and economic ruin. After losing a
referendum in 2000, Mugabe accused whites of being racist colonialists and
began violently seizing their farms. Blacks who opposed the regime suffered
even more.

The government has become increasingly corrupt, violence is endemic, human
rights violations are among the worst in the world. Despite all this, race
relations are surprisingly good. Most whites and blacks tend to see the wild
rantings of the regime for the cheap opportunism they are.

My parents' farm is in the Eastern Highlands, four hours east of Harare,
close to the Mozambique border. It was early evening, under a blood-red
sunset, when I arrived, and my parents were locking their front gate. There
were uniformed guards on the perimeter, and I saw the fence around their
house had been electrified. "We've just been to a farewell," my mother
laughed. "Soon we'll be the only ones left!" Today, 3 million of us live
outside the country. In Harare, they call London "Harare North."

My parents refuse to leave. "We are Zimbabweans, this is our country," they
say. My mother was born in Zimbabwe and my father, a South African, moved
there in the 1960s. But they no longer rail against those whites who do
leave. "We can't blame anyone for going," said my mother.

My parents' rental cottages are routinely burgled, entire living room sets
and fridges dragged away through the bush. When my mother phoned the police
about one robbery, the officer in charge barely stirred: "I have no car," he
said. "Can you pick me up?" That's Zimbabwe: Just when you think it's
Orwellian nightmare, it turns into Evelyn Waugh farce.

It is hard to imagine that just a few years ago Zimbabweans, black and
white, stood strong in the face of the political corruption of Mugabe's
government. Even during the height of the 2001-2003 violence, the opposition
party, Movement for Democratic Change, was ascendant; people really believed
change was coming. The 2002 presidential elections felt as momentous as
South Africa's in 1994. Despite threats and intimidation, people lined up in
the millions to vote, and for the first time in 22 years whites - my father
included - moved out from behind their high walls and sports clubs and got
involved in the campaign.

But the election was stolen by Mugabe through widespread vote-rigging and
intimidation - and the backlash was swift and brutal. The opposition has
been virtually silent since, its leaders beaten and jailed. Four newspapers
have been closed since 2002, a dozen journalists expelled. And there's no
reason to expect this week's parliamentary elections to be any less corrupt
than those that have gone before.

Four thousand of the country's 4,500 white farmers, overwhelmingly MDC
supporters, have lost their land through forced takeovers. There are now
fewer than 50,000 whites in the country, out of a population of 12 million.
Whites were targeted because they owned the best farmland, but they also
employed 3 million workers, produced the maize that fed the country and the
cash crops that provided 60% of the nation's revenue.

I said goodbye to my parents one Friday morning and headed west toward
Harare, the capital, where my sister threw a dinner party for me on my final
night - all friends and relatives and other white Zimbabweans who are
sticking around, just like my parents. There is a calm resilience to them as
they insist that they are Zimbabweans and that this is still their home. It
made me feel a little guilty for not sticking around too. But were they
really that confident about the future? "Sure," one said. "If you can avoid
getting sick, being arrested, losing your house or your farm, you can still
live a really good life here." He wasn't joking.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Radio Netherlands

Zimbabwe ballot: will it be free or fair?
by the RN internet desk, 28 March 2005

Many commentators on Zimbabwe say the country's upcoming parliamentary
election on 31 March will be yet another unfair contest. President Robert
Mugabe's party is again expected to remain in power despite his country
teetering on the brink of economic collapse.

Critics accuse Mugabe's Zimbabwe National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
party of buying votes with much-needed food, and the police of suppressing
rallies by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Few observers
Human rights organisations are concerned about the fact that very few
international observers will be allowed to monitor proceedings; only
representatives of countries which supported the country's 2000 and 2002
polls will be present. Neither the Commonwealth - which suspended Zimbabwe
in 2002 - nor the EU will be present.

Gabriel Shumba is a human rights lawyer for the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum. He
currently lives in exile in South Africa, after suffering torture in his
homeland. He told Radio Netherlands that he doesn't hold out much hope for
the outcome of the 31 March ballot:

"We have given up any hope. What gives testament to the fact that the
election won't be free and fair is that the international community has been
prohibited from observing that election. If the ruling party ZANU-PF has
nothing to hide, why then has the international community to be barred from
observing the elections?"
Bitter disappointment
He feels bitterly let down by the absence of outside observers, and would
like to see the rest of the world taking steps to make Robert Mugabe comply
with their own calls for a democratic Zimbabwe:

"We are extremely disappointed, because we would have thought that the

international community would do much to pressure Zimbabwe into turning to
the democratic path. All efforts taken so far by the international community
have been met with disdain and contempt by Robert Mugabe. We hope that maybe
some innovative, creative ways will be found to bring Mugabe back to his
In particular, he firmly believes that pressure should be brought to bear on
the South African President:

"What we wish to see happening is the international community forcing Tabo
Mbeke into pressuring Mugabe for an internationally-monitored election.
Mbeke is complicit in the human rights violations that are happening in

"Mbeke is still supporting Mugabe, so I'll say it's extremely disillusioning
and disappointing. I think the world now knows what is happening, and I
think the international community should read the warning signals and step
in before it is too late."

Slide into violence
Mr Shumba thinks that the longer the people of Zimbabwe experience an
oppressive regime, the more likely they are to rebel:

"I'm talking about the likelihood of people being frustrated for a very long
time, people being brutalized for a very long time and ending up at civil
disobedience which can even result in violence - if the government acts
violently against the people."

Although he sees the possibility of a violent reaction, Gabriel Shumba doesn't
believe that need be the only means of throwing off tyranny. Rather, he
looks to the United Nations to set an example, and believes there might even
be a repeat of recent events in former the Soviets states:
"You can try and bring unanimity within the thinking of the UN [.] So, you
could also have a situation where the Security Council could try and reach
unanimity in condemning abuses in Zimbabwe. An alternative could also be
like what happened in Ukraine, for example: people just refusing, just
saying 'enough is enough,' which is a scenario likely to happen in Zimbabwe
if the international community doesn't act soon."

If a situation arises, after 31 March, where it becomes clear that the
ballot has been rigged, Mr Shumba thinks the only possible reaction from the
rest of the world should be to shun relations with Harare and all its

"The international community could simply say 'we don't recognise Robert
Mugabe.' Then they seek to extend sanctions. I think the situation of
sanctions is that they have not been very effective. They have not barred
him from keeping on oppressing. So, I think there must be some creative ways
through which sanctions could be extended. Even to the extent of extending
them against countries that continue to support Mugabe in his brutality."

© Radio Nederland Wereldomroep, all rights reserved
Back to the Top
Back to Index


High turn-out expected in Zim
28/03/2005 09:10  - (SA)

Johannesburg - The large number of people attending election rallies boded
well for a high voter turn-out in Zimbabwe's general election, the South
African observer mission (SAOM) said on Sunday.

"... The mission is encouraged by the high turn-out at rallies by Zanu-PF
and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)," the mission said.

"As a result the mission anticipates high voter turn-out on voting day," it
said, adding that campaigning had been peaceful.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on Thursday.

The observer mission said it had been in Zimbabwe since March 14, and had
observed 31 rallies held by Zanu-PF and the MDC.

The observers, led by Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana and advocate
Ngoako Ramotlhodi, had also monitored voter education sessions, party
canvassing sessions and visited polling stations.

The mission had met representatives from Zanu-PF, the MDC, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, the Electoral Supervisory Commission, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Support Network, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Zimbabwe
Crisis Coalition and the National Constitutional Assembly.

The mission still plans to meet the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Globe and Mail, Canada

Again in Zimbabwe, the voters stand to lose

Monday, March 28, 2005

Based on outward appearances, Zimbabwe's parliamentary election this
Thursday lacks much of the violent intimidation that turned the past votes
into cruel jokes. Autocratic President Robert Mugabe has loosened his tight
grip on the campaign just enough to make his opposition think it could
actually defeat his bloody, disastrous regime. But don't be fooled. Mr.
Mugabe hasn't grown soft; he has simply grown a bit more subtle.

He has ordered his goons to refrain from the violence they used to silence
his opponents in the 2000 parliamentary vote and the 2002 presidential
election. Opposition candidates are freely campaigning in crucial districts
they were previously restricted from entering. Citizens are openly attending
public opposition rallies, something few would have dared in the past.

All this has given Mr. Mugabe's opponents renewed hope they can finally
unseat the increasingly unpopular 81-year-old leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe
with an iron fist for 25 years and driven it into the ground over the past
five. Thanks to his corrupt "land redistribution" program -- under which
rich farmland was seized from wealthy white owners, handed to Mr. Mugabe's
friends and left to waste away -- Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by 35 per
cent, unemployment is at 80 per cent and the country is gripped by famine.

Even in 2000, before the nation's downward spiral, the ruling ZANU-PF party
barely won, and that required thuggery and vote-rigging. In a truly free and
fair election, it's a good bet Mr. Mugabe's party would get trounced this
time. But after years of seeing government critics killed, expelled,
imprisoned and threatened, many voters would be too frightened to vote
against Mr. Mugabe's party even if the election were clean.

Which, rest assured, it is not. Mr. Mugabe continues to stack the deck in
his favour. Since the last election, the government has gerrymandered
constituency boundaries to dilute opposition support. It is using an
out-of-date voters list that is believed to contain the names of hundreds of
thousands of dead and non-existent voters. Mr. Mugabe is allowing only a
handful of foreign observers in to monitor the election. And earlier this
month, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court (which is populated by Mugabe cronies) ruled
that the more than three million Zimbabweans living outside the country -- 
many of whom are opposition supporters forced into exile -- are ineligible
to vote. The court has thereby eliminated more than a third of potential
Intimidation abounds. Government forces have been quietly telling opposition
supporters that they are taking names and will deal with dissenters after
the election. Voters will face these same soldiers staffing the ballot
boxes -- which, incidentally, will be transparent, allowing the soldiers to
see each ballot as it is dropped in the box.

But the most despicable element is the threat of starvation. With roughly
half the population in need of food aid, ZANU-PF officials have suggested
that aid will go only to those ridings that support their party. As The
Economist has written, "Voting the 'wrong way' looks to many [Zimbabweans]
like a death sentence." It's little wonder that Amnesty International and
New-York-based Human Rights Watch have declared that a free and fair
election in Zimbabwe is impossible.

Unfortunately, one of the few world leaders who carries some influence over
Mr. Mugabe -- South African President Thabo Mbeki -- doesn't agree. He
believes the election will be a fair one, and his country is providing the
only significant contingent of election observers to rubber-stamp it.

The only hope is that the South African observers will take their jobs
seriously, or that Mr. Mbeki will decide to lean on his friend Mr. Mugabe to
allow a clean election. That seems unlikely. Zimbabwe's citizens may be left
with only two choices to gain democratic rule: seize it through a popular
uprising, as in Ukraine, or wait for Mr. Mugabe's inevitable death.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 28 March

Mugabe will get re-elected thanks to the reanimated zombies who'll vote for
Zanu PF

By Peter Fabricius

On Thursday, as on the Day of Judgment, the graves of Zimbabwe will yawn and
hundreds of thousands of zombies will clamber out, dust themselves down and
march to the polls to elect a new parliament. And though election polling is
never an exact science, you can predict with absolutely certainty that all
the zombies - the ghosts of long-dead voters - will vote for the current
ruling Zanu PF party. So too, no doubt, will the millions of people who have
left Zimbabwe, either because of the repressive political climate, or, more
likely, because of the dying economy. A zombie, the Chambers dictionary
says, is "a corpse reanimated by sorcery". The sorcery that will enable
Mugabe to reanimate all these dead or absent voters, is the manipulation of
Zimbabwe's voters roll. A voters roll should be the most public document in
any democracy. But Zanu PF treats it like a classified document. It was only
last week that the latest printed version of it was made available to the
MDC. That was too late to mount any challenges to it. And the government has
refused to give the MDC the roll in electronic form. That would allow them
to use computers to check whether everyone on the roll is still alive or
still living in the constituencies where they are registered on the roll.

One MDC MP, Trudy Stevenson, laboriously checked the roll in part of her
Harare constituency by going door-to-door. She estimated some 60% of voters
on her roll were dead or otherwise missing from the constituency. If you
extrapolate these missing voters nationally, there may be millions of such
fictitious voters on the rolls. And it will not be too difficult for the
authorities to reanimate these corpses with sorcery - such as stuffing
ballot boxes with ballots in their names. The MDC is convinced that's how
Mugabe won the presidential poll in 2002, as evidenced by voter turnouts in
some constituencies that were larger than the entire population. The zombie
vote then, will very likely carry the day for Mugabe again this week. It is
a vote he badly needs, as by all accounts, living voters will either not
feel animated enough to vote at all, or will vote for the MDC because they
are hungrier and poorer than they were in 2000 when nearly half of them
officially voted for the opposition. Will the election observers be able to
disenfranchise the zombies? It seems not. No Western observers are there and
so most of the observers are South Africans.

Judging by his remarks on arrival, the now-sidelined head of the SA
government elections observers, Membathisi Mdladlana, will only be looking
out for very obvious fraud such as MDC candidates being murdered in the
polling booths by Mugabe personally or MDC votes being removed from the
ballot boxes and burnt on public pyres - both of course, before the TV
cameras. The head of the SADC observers, SA's minister of mineral and energy
affairs, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, seems more willing to tackle the problem -
but also bemused. She said this week that her team had taken up the MDC's
claims with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, but it was difficult to act
on them because there was no evidence to back them up. Of course the
solution to this would have been to insist a long time ago that the voters
roll be made completely public in its electronic version so that the zombies
could have been struck from the roll before it was closed. To her credit,
Mlambo-Ngcuka did ask, with apparent humour: "What happens then when these
dead people start walking?" What indeed. Presumably, as described above,
what happens is that these zombies will walk into parliament, carrying a
triumphant Zanu PF on their ghostly shoulders. And Mugabe, armed with his
zombie mandate, will then try to reanimate his dying nation. That will
require powerful sorcery indeed.
Back to the Top
Back to Index