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Those who protest election to face 'a rope around their necks': Mugabe

Ottawa Citizen

Warning comes amid accusations of vote rigging
Jan Raath, The Times, London; with files from Agence France-Presse
Published: Friday, March 28, 2008
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is betraying signs of anxiety over
tomorrow's elections as the scale of the clamour for change throughout
Zimbabwe became ever more obvious.

About 40 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 Zimbabwe's independence in

Mr. Mugabe had earlier delivered 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 also held talks 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 unprecedented joint appearance at a press
conference, but Mr. Tsvangirai had been delayed, Mr. Makoni said. He added
that the three had discussed 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

Mr. Makoni showed photographs of an empty field in Harare 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 square metre plot, and who are to be served by 10 polling

"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

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

Mr. Mugabe, who turns 84 this month, has held power for all 28 years of
independence 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.

Yesterday, he gave 450 free cars to senior and middle-level doctors at
government hospitals. In a move his critics dismissed as flagrant
vote-buying, Mr. Mugabe also promised the doctors houses and said he had
used his pocket money to buy 300 flat screen televisions for hospitals.

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

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

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

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

Journalists have condemned the Zimbabwean government's denial of
accreditation to almost every major news organization, including CNN, the
BBC and the New York Times.

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Zimbabwe military 'on full alert' against election violence; opposition warns of vote fraud

Santa Barbara News Press

ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer

March 28, 2008 1:20 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Soldiers took to the streets with armored cars and
water cannons Friday as Zimbabwe's security chiefs warned that they were
ready to confront any violence during the weekend's crucial presidential
election in this economically wrecked African nation.

The opposition urged its supporters to defend their ballots against what
they have charged is a plot by the ruling party to rig Saturday's vote.

President Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old revolution leader facing the
toughest challenge since he won power in 1980, told his final campaign rally
that the election would show Zimbabweans' opposition to former colonizer
Britain, which he accuses of supporting the opposition.

''Zimbabweans are making a statement against the meddling British
establishment,'' the president told about 6,000 people in Epworth, an
impoverished town outside the capital of Harare.

Mugabe called for discipline at the polls despite ''provocation from
outsiders who are already claiming the elections are not free and fair.''

Running against Mugabe are opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 55, who
narrowly lost the disputed 2002 election, and former ruling party loyalist
and finance minister Simba Makoni, 58. Preliminary results are not expected
until Monday.

Tsvangirai urged opposition supporters to stay at polling stations until
they close and counting begins.

''They would not rig in front of you,'' he told about 4,000 people in
Domboshawa, a farming community north of Harare. ''We have won this election
already. What's left is for us to defend our vote.''

Friday night, election monitors from the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community said they had observed ''a number of matters of
concern,'' which they did not specify. They said they would investigate and
raise the issue with relevant authorities.

Zimbabwe's security chiefs are firmly behind Mugabe and they gathered to
warn against unrest, telling reporters the armed forces were ''up to the
task in thwarting all threats to national security.''

In Harare, soldiers on all-terrain vehicles and police on motorcycles
escorted a convoy of armored cars and water cannons making a show of force.

''Those who have been breathing fire about Kenya-style violence should be
warned,'' the security chiefs said, referring to bloody protests in that
East African nation after a December presidential election so rigged no one
knows who won. More than 1,000 people were killed there.

The security chiefs have made veiled threats of a coup if Mugabe should
lose. The Defense Forces commander, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, warned that
his soldiers would not serve anyone but Mugabe.

On Thursday, Tsvangirai appealed to soldiers and other public servants to
reject any attempt to fix the voting. ''Mugabe cannot rig elections by
himself,'' he said. ''If someone tells you to falsify the results of the
elections, ignore the instructions.''

Mugabe has said he would crush any anti-government demonstrations.

''Just dare try it,'' he was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Herald
newspaper. ''We don't play around while you try to please your British
allies. Just try it and you will see.''

Mugabe blames Britain and other Western nations for the ruin of this
southern African nation's economy, which once exported food, tobacco and
minerals. Zimbabweans now struggle to survive amid 100,000 percent inflation
and dire shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine.

Some 5 million people, a third of the population, are thought to have fled
the country in recent years. An average of 1,000 Zimbabweans pick their way
through barbed wire barriers to sneak into South Africa every day, the
Organization of International Migration says.

Western sanctions introduced after independent monitors said the 2002
election was rigged involve visa bans and frozen bank accounts for Mugabe
and 100 of his cronies, but the president has convinced many supporters the
sanctions are to blame for the country's woes.

Mugabe's critics argue that the agriculture-based economy was derailed by
the government-ordered, often violent eviction of white farmers so their
lands could be handed over to blacks.

But Fungai Shangwa, a 30-year-old unemployed mother of two, said land reform
was one of the reasons she would vote for Mugabe.

''The opposition will give back land to the whites,'' said Shangwa, who got
no land herself. Most of the seized farms went to Mugabe's friends,
relatives and allies.

The president also is accused of trying to buy votes by handing out
tractors, power generators and state-subsidized food.

Makoni, a longtime ruling party politburo member until he was kicked out for
challenging Mugabe in February, has shaken up Zimbabwe's politics with his
appeal to disillusioned citizens, threatening to take votes from both the
opposition and Mugabe.

Makoni told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday that his
priority as president would be to restore the rule of law to pave the way
for economic recovery and re-engage with the international community.

''The cure is not big piles of money,'' he said. ''We will need money to
deal with the crises of food, energy and water, but the solution lies in the
revival of our own institutions and production in a climate of
constitutional order.''

Tsvangirai and other opponents have said Mugabe should be tried, possibly at
an international human rights court, for abuses such as the massacres of an
estimated 30,000 people during a campaign to subjugate the minority Ndebele
tribe in the 1980s.

Makoni said he would not mount a witch hunt against Mugabe, but he also said
he would give no special immunity to Mugabe.

At a joint news conference Thursday, their first, Makoni and Tsvangirai
appealed to election organizers and regional observers to prevent vote

They complained they had yet to receive full nationwide voter lists. But
Makoni said the partial lists showed enough problems to indicate ''a very
well thought out and sophisticated plan to steal the election from us.''

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Ballots to Be Counted And Displayed Publicly in Each Ward

SW Radio Africa (London)

28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

The Tsvangirai MDC on Thursday won a major victory over the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission. The ZEC agreed to provide them with a complete copy of
the voters' roll, and conceded to demands that all ballots be counted and
displayed publicly in each ward and constituency. The MDC had filed a High
Court application that was to be heard by Justice Tendayi Uchena, but he
never got the opportunity to make a ruling.

Lawyer Alex Muchadehama said the ZEC claimed that they had never denied the
MDC a copy of the voters roll and had never held back information on the
counting of ballots in the election on Saturday. Muchadehama said this was
not true. The MDC had letters and documents as evidence showing that they
had written to ZEC officials requesting the full roll, but had never
received a response.

The MDC also wanted the ZEC to disclose the composition of the national
command centre where presidential ballots were to be counted, and the number
of polling agents allowed inside each polling station. It had been feared
votes would be tampered with and rigging would take place without any
observers present.

The ZEC said there was no need for a ruling on these two issues because they
had established a national collation centre that would replace the command
centre, where the Presidential ballots only would be totaled. They will
still be counted at each individual polling station. All contesting parties
would be invited to send polling agents and each party will also be allowed
4 polling agents at every polling station. There will be over 8,000 polling
stations so this would require 32,000 people from each contesting party. The
Tsvangirai MDC have said that they have recruited 80,000 polling agents.

Muchadehama said the fact that ballots would not be counted secretly as was
done in the past is good news, but he added that there were still some very
worrying issues that had not been resolved.

The most worrying issue is the voters roll. As an example, the lawyer said
there was one address in Hatcliffe that had 8,000 people registered to vote.
There are also too many extra ballots printed for reasons still not
explained by the ZEC. They printed 8,800,000 ballots for a total number of
5,9 million registered voters.

There has also been no clarity regarding the number of postal ballots that
were printed and exactly who was allowed to use them.

Muchadehama said there is no way the elections can be deemed free and fair
under such circumstances. He believes the concessions made by the ZEC on
Thursday came too late and that it had been a calculated delay to frustrate
the efforts of the opposition parties.

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Zimbabwe Analysts Predict Easy Mugabe Victory


By Peta Thornycroft
28 March 2008

Analysts loyal to the ruling ZANU-PF at the University of Zimbabwe's
political science department have predicted that President Robert Mugabe
will easily win a new term in Saturday's election. Peta Thornycroft reports
from Harare that the prediction comes as Mr. Mugabe faces his stiffest
competition yet, from two powerful candidates.

In the violent 2002 presidential election Mr. Mugabe won the vote with a 52
percent majority.

The run up to Saturday's voting has been mostly peaceful and there has been
a resurgence of popularity for main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as
well as rejection of ZANU-PF in several key rural areas, but the prediction
in the state controlled daily, The Herald, is that Mr. Mugabe will win by 57
percent this time.

The researchers from the political science department at the University of
Zimbabwe are openly supportive of ZANU-PF.

The department's chairman Joseph Kurebwa also predicted that the now
seriously divided ZANU-PF will also win more than two thirds of
parliamentary, senatorial and local government seats in voting on Saturday.

He said his department conducted interviews with more than 10,000 people
around the country.

However, founding legal secretary of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, David Coltart, disputes claims of Mr. Mugabe's continued popularity.
He says in the southern Matabeleland provinces Mr. Mugabe is trailing badly.

Matabeleland accounts for about 20 percent of the vote.

"What is absolutely clear is that Robert Mugabe is in enormous difficulty in
Matabeleland," he said. "At the very least, the hardcore support of ZANU-PF
that is provided to him by the old ZIPRA war veterans, I think is gone. What
we don't know is whether Simba Makoni or Morgan Tsvangirai will benefit from
that swing."

It does appear though that in Harare, and some of the cities and suburban
areas in the North and East of the country, that Morgan Tsvangirai has
benefited more from that than independent presidential candidate Simba

Complaints about flawed election practices have again surfaced. David
Coltart says, in particular, the voter's roll has many names of people who
are long dead.

"We are very concerned about the voters roll," he noted. "The voters roll is
seriously deficient in a variety of respects, there are many dead people on
it. The voters roll that I have got for example in my constituency is
missing a whole chunk of names, all the surnames between C and M are
completely missing."

Coltart has also expressed concern about the Zimbabwe electoral commission,
the body that conducts the election, because the person in charge of that
appears to be partisan.

He says the police have also been partisan in the past, and of course Robert
Mugabe has made it very clear in recent statements that he simply will not
allow the opposition to win.

In rural areas some voters say openly that they had voted for Mr. Mugabe in
the past, but that they are now suffering and will vote for Mr. Tsvangirai
in the presidential election.

Zimbabwe has been suffering from hyper-inflation and at least a third of the
population is receiving food handouts from the west.

There are more than 9,400 polling stations for Saturday's election. All
counting has to be done at the polling station and those results forwarded
to a central command center in Harare for the presidential poll.

Tendai Biti, Morgan Tsvangirai's secretary-general says he fears this is
where the main rigging could take place, the transfer of vote counts from
deep rural areas to Harare.

Officials from Mr. Mugabe's Cabinet say he is a democrat and will accept the
results, even if he should lose.

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‘Ghost voters’ expected at Zimbabwe poll

Financial Times

Published: March 28 2008 17:30 | Last updated: March 28 2008 17:30

To appreciate the difficulty of safeguarding Saturday’s elections in
Zimbabwe against massive state-sponsored fraud it is necessary only to drive
to the northern perimeter of the capital, Harare, to a small plot of red
earth on the edge of the swanky suburb of Borrowdale.

The plot is marked on the map as Stand 10108. On the ground there is nothing
but an empty wooden shack. The nearest neighbours said on Friday no one
lived there. But the voters roll gives a very different picture: it says
that Stand 10108 is the home of 75 registered voters.

“They are ghost voters,” said Theresa Makone, the parliamentary candidate of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for that constituency, Harare
North. “They are generally fictitious names, although there are some names
of real people.” Among the names on the roll is that of Ian Smith, who led
Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was formerly known, and died last December.
As Robert Mugabe, the president, faces his stiffest electoral challenge in
28 years in power in joint presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls
on Saturday, the MDC, analysts and human rights groups say irregularities
such as at Stand 10108 are part of a systematic attempt to rig the election.

There is “a very well thought out and sophisticated plan to steal the
election from us”, said Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who has led
an insurrection in the ruling Zanu-PF party and is one of two serious
challengers to Mr Mugabe. In a sign of the opposition’s alarm, he was
delivering a joint message also on behalf of the two wings of the MDC.

Zanu-PF officials brush aside such criticism. “All systems go,” Simon Khaya
Moyo, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, said last week. “The country is
so tranquil. Parties are conducting themselves exceedingly well. This is to
the chagrin of our detractors, led by London and Washington, who would have
wished chaos and mayhem.”

The MDC concedes that the countdown to the election has been marred by far
less state-sponsored thuggery than in the last three elections since the
party’s foundation in 2000.

But analysts and western diplomats argue that over the past year Zanu-PF has
so manipulated the electoral machinery, misused state funds and dominated
state media that the campaign has been grossly unfair.

“This election is not being lost by people being beaten up. It is being lost
or stolen on a computer,” said Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the larger
wing of the MDC, which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai, referring to the voters

State media on Friday trumpeted a poll by the University of Zimbabwe, which
projected an easy win for Mr Mugabe with between 56 and 57 per cent of the
vote. The winner needs more than 50 per cent to avoid a run-off in three
weeks. Opposition supporters are confident he would lose a run-off, arguing
his image would have been shattered by his failure to get a majority in the
first round.

The MDC faces a dilemma over how it would respond to a disputed result. Mr
Tsvangirai has called on supporters to “protect” their vote by remaining
near the polling stations after voting. This raises the prospect of mass
demonstrations in the event of a disputed result, as happened after Kenya’s
flawed election in December, but Mr Mugabe has pledged a crackdown on

Mrs Makone intends to monitor the count in Harare North and to cry foul if
she sees any of the names registered as residing at Stand 10108 with a line
through them as if they had voted. “The difference from last elections is
that this time we’ve tried to be pre-emptive,” she said. “Whereas in the
past we reacted [to allegations of vote-rigging], now we are trying to be
proactive. But we know they will declare a victory.”

A prominent businessman who has close ties to Zanu-PF but is hoping for
change told the Financial Times there was only one chance for the MDC: “We
must hope the old man [Mugabe] is so arrogant that he believes his
propaganda that he is still loved. If so, he just may not have rigged this

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Zimbabwe closes international satellite feed on eve of polls

Monsters and Critics

Mar 28, 2008, 17:16 GMT

Johannesburg - Zimbabwean police dealt a further blow to international
media's attempts to cover the country's elections Saturday by shutting down
the operations of a company that has been providing satellite feeds for some
of the world's biggest media outlets and arresting two of their technicians.

Alan Hird, Chief Executive Officer of GlobeCast Africa, confirmed that
police had arrested two technicians sent from South Africa to operate the
truck after they had finished uplinking a transmission in Harare on Thursday

'They were approached by two police officers and detained,' he said.

The company's lawyer in Harare said the two South Africans, who are being
held at a police station in Harare, were accused of not being properly
accredited to work on the elections, Hird said.

Hird said, as far as he was concerned, GlobeCast, which regularly provides
footage of cricket games in Zimbabwe, had all the necessary accreditation.

The company's lawyer had sought, but failed to obtain, a court appearance
Friday. He had, however been allowed access to his clients, who had not been
badly treated in any way, Hird said.

'We just want to get them back home,' Hird told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The move deals a further blow to international coverage of the elections,
which has already been severely restricted after the Zimbabwean government
refused to accredit most Western journalists, claiming they are a plant by
Western countries wanting to monitor the polls.

'A lot of the international media who could not get in were relying on us to
do guest interviews,' Hird said, listing the BBC, CNN and other major
international broadcasters among Globecast's clients.

The BBC on Thursday conducted an interview with one of President Robert
Mugabe's main challengers, former finance minister Simba Makoni, by
satellite link-up.

Apart from GlobeCast Africa, South African television also has a satellite
broadcasting van for its election coverage.

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Watching for electoral fraud in Zimbabwe

The Guardian

Allegra Stratton
Will the Zimbabwean elections tomorrow be free and fair? And if not, can the internet help in monitoring transgressions?

Reasons to be worried:

1. The Zimbabwean government has restricted the number of election monitors allowed into the country.

2: The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai, says Robert Mugabe's ruling party has printed 9m ballot papers - for a nation of 5.9 million people.

3: 90,000 polling officers will be on hand to help illiterate voters - but will they doctor their votes?

What to do?

Ethan Zuckerman draws our attention to one attempt to map election rigging. Run by the activist organisation Sokwanele, he calls it a "Google Maps mashup of election-rigging incidents".

Every icon added to the map tomorrow will represent another report of an incident that contravenes the standards held by the Southern African Development Community.

Since the site is not pronouncing each reported incident as actual evidence of election fraud, it is seen as an aggregator of information, and so may steer clear of Zimbabwean laws requiring journalists to be licensed.

The initiative is similar to that of Ushahidi, which monitored flashpoints of violence in Kenya. That site was eventually shut down.

We wait to see whether Sokwanele manages to keep on the right side of the law.

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Pretoria’s silence betrays Zimbabwe

Financial Times

By Alec Russell

Published: March 28 2008 18:49 | Last updated: March 28 2008 18:49

With inflation somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000 per cent, it can be
tempting to derive a bleak humour from life in Zimbabwe. One of the more
prominent businessmen in the capital Harare regales visitors with his tale
of recently buying four bricks to prop up his barbecue. His punchline is
that they cost a million times as many Zimbabwean dollars as his sprawling
suburban house did a decade ago.

Then of course there are the Weimar Republic echoes of people rushing out to
spend their wages as soon as they receive them or queuing up to buy their
groceries with bags of banknotes. A billion-dollar brick of Z$10m banknotes
is worth US$25. Or at least it was when this article was written on Friday
morning. It will be rather less by the time it appears in print.

But arresting as these anecdotes may be, there is nothing comic about
Zimbabwe at the end of the 28th year of President Robert Mugabe’s rule. His
increasingly delusional leadership has shattered what little more than a
decade ago was one of sub-Saharan Africa’s more buoyant economies. Less well
recorded but more insidious, his rule is also day by day corroding the very
heart of society.

A senior teacher at a Harare school explained to me with tears in his eyes
this week that to support his family on a salary of barely US$20 a month he
became a black-marketeer. He, like most of his fellow teachers across the
country, has in effect stopped teaching. Instead he slips across the border
into neighbouring South Africa and buys goods to sell back home.

“I’m a tradesman in the classroom,” he said. “We call it black-market
teaching. I only spend two days a month at school and even then I am not
teaching but selling to and changing money with the children for their
parents.” And this is a country which until recently could claim to have the
best education system in sub-Saharan Africa.

Under such circumstances it should be impossible for Mr Mugabe to win
Saturday’s presidential election. You only have to leave the handful of
streets in the centre of Harare that maintain an air of bustling normality
to appreciate the pace of his country’s economic implosion. Such is the
despair, that even in his traditional rural strongholds his old aura of
invincibility is crumbling.

And yet he will “win”, if he gets away with rigging the results as he did in
the past three elections, and that is why arguably the critical test of
Saturday’s vote is not for the long-suffering Zimbabweans but for the South
Africans who dominate the regional observer mission. Supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change say they are determined this time
not to be cheated of a fair result. But Mr Mugabe will not be worried by
their complaints. He has seen them off before. His principal concern will be
to gain the endorsement of the regional observers. It matters not just for
his pride but for his legitimacy. The backing in particular of South Africa,
the regional powerhouse, will enable him once again to shrug off cries of
foul play as partisan and to avoid the international scrutiny that
accompanied Kenya’s flawed election last December. For South Africa’s ruling
African National Congress it is a moment of truth.

Jacob Zuma, the party’s new leader, rightly pointed out to the FT last month
that the “foghorn” diplomacy of Tony Blair had played into Mr Mugabe’s
hands. It has also rendered Britain powerless to mediate in the event of a
contested result. But, the ANC’s “quiet diplomacy” too has failed and been
an important fillip to Harare. South African observers at the last
presidential election in 2002 brushed aside evidence of state intimidation
and malpractice even though many of them did not venture outside the capital
to the rural areas where most of the abuses occurred.

Now once again there is widespread evidence of fraud. So skewed is the
electoral landscape, with state television pumping out encomia to Mr Mugabe,
the voters’ roll stacked with “ghost” voters and the ruling Zanu-PF
distributing state food only to supporters, to name just a few
irregularities, that even if voting is smooth it is hard to see the election
as anything but deeply flawed.

Most in the ANC appreciate Mr Mugabe’s departure from office is overdue, but
Pretoria still has a residual sympathy for his claims that in cocking a
snook at the west, he is striking a blow for Africa against the last
vestiges of imperialism.

There is some truth to the argument that western censure of Zimbabwe is
selective. There are other equally repressive regimes that have not
attracted half as much attention as Zimbabwe. If Mr Mugabe had evicted black
smallholders rather than white farmers in his land expropriations eight
years ago, the British media would have dedicated far less energy to
covering his abuses.

But that does not justify defending his excesses. Zanu-PF is no longer an
anti-colonial liberation movement. It has metamorphosed into little more
than a clique of kleptocrats who are making fortunes by plundering the
remains of the economy, even as their countrymen fall deeper into poverty.

Many in the ANC have fretted that to criticise Mr Mugabe would be to betray
Africa. To turn a blind eye to the electoral abuses would be the real
betrayal. It would condemn the black market teacher and Zimbabweans to more
suffering. It would also be viewed in the outside world as a sign that the
ANC has abandoned the moral high ground it occupied just 14 years ago at the
end of apartheid.

The writer is the FT’s Johannesburg bureau chief

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Mugabe's forces target teachers

The Guardian

Friday March 28th 2008

Zimbabwe's teachers have been attacked by the ruling Zanu-PF party for their critical stance on the country's deteriorating education system. Among them is Takavafira Zhou, 40, university lecturer and president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ). Zhou is one of 10 members of the trade union who were beaten and tortured at the Zanu-PF offices in Harare in February, by suspected youth militia. According to police, their crime was the distribution of leaflets about the education crisis. Also on the Guardian Weekly website: views on the election from Simba Makoni, and a collection of articles in our section on Zimbabwe

Friday March 28th 2008

Lead article photo

Youth militia are suspected of torturing PTUZ members in an underground chamber. Photograph: Howard Burditt/Reuters

The education system in Zimbabwe is collapsing. There used to be 150,000 teachers, and now there are less than 70,000. The political situation and economic hardships have forced them to move out of the country. This is why, on February 19, a group of teachers held a 'Save our Education' campaign.

We had divided ourselves into teams and were distributing pamphlets around public spaces – footbridges, bus terminals, etc when one of the groups was arrested by Zanu-PF militia and force-marched to the party's provincial headquarters.

Once there the soldiers used the teachers' mobile phones to call the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) leadership, which included myself and the secretary general Raymond Majongwe. We told them it must be a misunderstanding, that we were just trying to save the country’s education.

I went to the headquarters with some other colleagues. When I got there I announced that I was the president of the PTUZ. At the mere mention of the word president I was beaten up. A local youth was saying, "Come and hear this man who says he’s president, when we only have one president who is Robert Mugabe!"

I was booted and punched. Nine of us in all were taken to a torture chamber. Imagine. In the capital of an independent country that has enjoyed almost 28 years of independence, at the provincial party headquarters, there is an underground torture chamber.

On the walls of the chamber hung pictures of political luminaries – they and the walls were spattered with blood. In that chamber, there were seven teams, each comprising of 15 men. They beat us with wooden logs and iron bars while we lay on our stomachs. We had two women with us; they were sexually abused. They had logs forced into their private parts. It was so horrendous; I’ve never seen such thuggery.

We received what they called "political re-education", which included repeating slogans like "Mugabe is always right", and "Mugabe is the only person who should rule Zimbabwe". They searched our pockets for mobile phones, money, watches. They were policemen so we thought they were just going to put our valuables aside, but we never saw them again.

We were beaten and tortured for one and a half hours – until three of us passed out. That is what saved us. One of my colleagues shouted: "Down with oppression!" The policemen looked surprised and said: "But oppression ended in 1980. No one is oppressing anyone in Zimbabwe now that it is independent."

What surprised us most was that this level of brutality was taking place in the country’s capital city. If leaders of a genuine trade union that is representing the government can be beaten up in Harare, what about everyone else? Given the centrality of teachers in national politics, how could we have free and fair elections?

Even after the beatings the police still wanted to detain us, but what with the severity of our injuries the police were in a quandary over what to do with us. We were taken to a central police station and from there referred to Gomo Hospital. We were nursing fresh wounds and swollen faces, but there was virtually no medication – except condoms. After an hour or so we were referred to another clinic where we spent four days under heavy riot police guard.

The government is now charging us with what they call "criminal nuisance". You really wonder what was our crime and what was the nuisance; we were trying to serve the education system. The police commissioner had the audacity to say: "These members of PTUZ provoked the peace at the Zanu-PF headquarters." Any reasonable person in Zimbabwe knows that no one can attack the party headquarters.

Even as the police were beating us in the torture chamber, they were placing opposition campaign material and T-shirts on us. They claimed that we had been carrying it ourselves.

Only two people have been charged with beating us, but they haven't been condemned. It’s a political gimmick through which Zanu-PF can sponsor violence with impunity; there is no adherence to protocol. It's unfortunate and we really wonder how such things are allowed to happen.

Teachers are the latest group in Zimbabwe to be systematically targeted by the Mugabe government. As an intellectual group we are difficult to silence; we have access five days a week to pupils, and also indirectly to pupils' parents. We are opinion leaders and character moulders in our communities, so Mugabe’s intelligence agents see us as dangerous.

A lot of the politicians in Zanu-PF are former teachers and they are aware of how influential teachers can be. But instead of trying to equip teachers to play a positive role, they have decided to brutalise us.

They also underpay us, because they know that the wisdom of a poor man is never respected. It is a deliberate attempt to undermine the teaching profession. You really wonder where their priorities are: Zimbabwe is the only country in which a soldier or police officer with no A-levels gets paid three times more than a teacher. 

One outcome of the PTUZ beatings is that teachers have become more energised. Teachers are demanding higher wages. They have closed the schools and say that unless they are paid $1.7bn, they won't open them again.

This has created a dilemma for Mugabe, because teachers are crucial in the elections and you really wonder how things will be managed without them. It will be left to the police officers, militia and army to run the elections. It will be a chaotic situation.

In spite of the beatings we are happy to see that even the pro-government teachers have now seen sense and joined the industrial action. We feel that if we can unite with other progressive forces we can collectively put real pressure on the government. Because while we believe that the upcoming election won’t bring anything new, we know it will be a rallying point for a post-election fight against the regime.

We believe that there is a need for the international world, as well as the regional forces, to put more pressure on Zanu-PF. (We have seen the situation in Kenya – how a truce has been reached.) Europe, the UN and also Africa cannot let us down.

What we are doing is building forces for a post-election process, or democratic process, that will force Mugabe to introduce democracy in Zimbabwe. We hope that regional and international pressure is increased so that this abuse of human rights and this dictatorial rule is brought to an end.

The situation has become more complicated now that Simba Makoni has come into the picture. Makoni is accepted in the international community and among the intelligentsia, but he lacks grassroots support. If by a miracle (because we don’t think it will happen) he wins, we won’t see it as the ushering in of a new era of democracy.

Of course, if he wins it would be a step forward. But further steps would be necessary to ensure that we have a democratic process. The problem with Makoni is that he had wanted to stand for Zanu-PF. And anyone who is Zanu-PF is bound to perpetuate the existing system of torture, corruption and economic failure.

Our only hope is that there won’t be a decisive presidential candidate. We hope there will be a re-run, and that the re-run is between Mugabe and the leader of the opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai.

But even if the opposition were to win, any election currently held in Zimbabwe is done illegitimately, and any result would be invalid. The process needs to be made democratic, because the conditions for free and fair elections are not there right now.

• Takavafira Zhou was talking to
Anna Bruce-Lockhart.

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Zimbabwe Electoral Body Dismisses Vote Rig Allegations


HARARE (AFP)--The body overseeing this weekend's polls in Zimbabwe dismissed
allegations Friday that the electoral roll was stuffed with phantom voters,
saying the register may not be perfect but is credible.

"My understanding of voters rolls throughout the world is that they are
never perfect but I maintain that ours are credible...very credible,"
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said on the eve of
Saturday's joint parliamentary and presidential elections.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has alleged the electoral roll
is filled with ghost voters and that bogus polling stations have been
created in a bid to fix the vote in favor of incumbent President Robert

"When we are towards elections, temperatures get warmer and warmer and
hotter and hotter. We expect these allegations, even the most unreasonable
of them," Chiweshe told a news conference.

"But we can assure you that if there are any bogus polling stations we will
not accept their results," said Chiweshe, who is also a high court judge.

The country's registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede, who has run previous
elections which critics say were rigged on behalf of Mugabe, said the issue
of phantom voters is always raised but has never been proved.

"The question of ghosts coming to vote is always mentioned and we have never
seen ghosts coming to vote," he said.

Chiweshe said preparations for the vote are at "an advanced stage".

Mugabe, who is seeking a sixth term of office in Saturday's vote having
ruled the former U.K. colony since independence in 1980, is up against his
former finance minister Simba Makoni and opposition leader Morgan

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Zanu PF thugs takes IDs from villagers

The Zimbabwean

 Friday, 28 March 2008 13:49

Scores of villagers in Mberengwa District in the Midlands Province look set
not to vote on Saturday after alleged Zanu-PF thugs took away their National
Identity Cards after promising to source food aid.
It has emerged that many residents of Chaza and Langeni in Mberengwa
District are worried about their identity cards which were taken by
suspected politicians who promised to supply them with food and this has not
been fulfilled so far.
The Zimbabwean has been reliably informed that these residents have been
denied to vote on Saturday as their identity cards are still withheld by
their ‘donors’ who are still nowhere to be found.
These people have not yet been identified - their names and their
residential places, the Standard was told.
Sources have revealed that these people lied and refused to identify
themselves as they coaxed residents to issue their identity cards and get
food aid afterwards.
In an interview, the Midlands police spokesperson, Patrick Chademana
confirmed that he was aware of the cheating but could not identify the
suspects. “We have issued a report on the case and have warned members of
the public not to listen to anyone they do not know,” said Chademana.
The Zimbabwean learnt from Chademana that there was a belief that
‘unscrupulous people’ cheated these rural people who are wailing in
desperation of their national identity cards.
In an interview, a villager from Chief Mposi in Mberengwa showed disgust
over the devious comrades who want to deny them rights to vote. “When these
people came, we thought that we had got consolation for our starvation, only
to find out that we were angled off after these men went for good,” said the
villager who requested anonymity.
It has emerged that cunning people have been moving around all places in
rural areas trying to hinder villagers from voting freely in these
harmonized elections as some misinformed people on the election date and
some threatened villagers to gain support for their political parties.

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Elections - SADC Observers Play Down Fraud Denunciation

Angola Press Agency (Luanda)

28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008


The co-ordinator of the SADC observation mission for the elections in
Zimbabwe, José Marcos Barrica played down electoral fraud allegations made
Thursday, in Harare, by representatives of political parties.

Questioned by Angolan journalists in Harare to speak about the allegations,
José Marcos Barrica minimised the situation, considering the denunciations
as proper of the last day of the electoral campaign.

"During the last day of the campaign, the parties tend to place all their
tactics on the battle field in order to assure their positions", said the
co-ordinator, adding that these situations are due to the lack of democratic

Marcos Barrica expressed confidence and calmness that so far there has not
been any sign of boycotting the elections.

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Armed riot police intimidate Mabvuku residents

28 March 2008

Scores of armored trucks roamed the streets of Mabvuku and Tafara this
afternoon in a deliberate attempt to intimidate voters.  The soldiers did
not beat anyone but spent the whole afternoon driving around Mabvuku and
Tafara with Israeli made tankers in an obvious show of force. Frightened
residents contacted CHRA and expressed their disappointment and fear. The
residents said some people will be forced to vote for Zanu Pf for fear the
soldiers may start anarchy should President Mugabe looses.

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander General Chiwenga has already indicated
that they will not salute and leader who does not have liberation war
credentials. These inflammatory statements and the subsequent daylight
intimidation by the army flies in face of statement by SADC observer mission
that the environment in Zimbabwe is conducive for free and fair elections.
The Association is compiling a report to the SADC and AU observer mission on
the political environment obtaining before the elections.

Farai Barnabas Mangodza
Chief Executive Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
 Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912638401, 011443578, 011862012 or email, and

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A farmer's letter to Mugabe

25 March 2008

Dear Mr Mugabe

As you will be relieved of your post by this time next month, I thought I
would take this opportunity in writing to you, if only to add impetus to the
massive campaign that is currently underway - both inside and outside of
Zimbabwe's borders - to once and for all - rid Africa's potentially finest
nation of you and your party of thieves, murderers and gangsters.  Both you
and those high ranking members of your Zanu PF party are directly
responsible for the current disaster to all forms of life that is evident in
current day Zimbabwe.

I would like at this point to warn those members of your ship that are
jumping off at this the 11th hour, that they will be judged in their
individual capacities by Zimbabweans once the rule of law returns to our

Mr. Mugabe, over the years there has been many reports written with regards
to your fine oratory skills, your supreme intelligence and your ability to
sustain yourself in your powerful position as head of state.

For those simple folk like me, who have witnessed the bush war, 1980
independence, the Bulawayo massacres, the gradual destruction of the jewel
you inherited in 1980 to the Referendum in 2000 and consequently the all out
destruction that has taken place in the post-2000 period - rigged elections
and all, we know and understand the real facts.

If you care to look back at what you had at your disposal in April 1980 to
what you have today in March 2008, 28 years down the line, you have a basket
case. No Mr Mugabe, it is not your human genius that has got you this far,
it is the land and the peace loving and hard working people of Zimbabwe that
have kept your wheel turning.

The people of Zimbabwe have been physically, emotionally and economically
traumatised by you and your barbaric ways. But they are not stupid, they
know the final struggle is not yet over, and they know there is hope
awaiting them around the corner.

Real leaders will arise in every aspect of life in Zimbabwe and A NEW
ZIMBABWE will be born.

From a fourth generation white Zimbabwean (not a British colonial)…Mr Mugabe
I bid you adieu!

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Britain More Muted Over Concerns Regarding Zimbabwe Elections


By Tendai Maphosa
28 March 2008

Zimbabweans are preparing to go to the polls Saturday in national elections
in which long-time President Robert Mugabe is asking for another term in
office. Opposition and human rights groups express doubts that the polling
will be free and fair. But, unlike in previous elections, the British
government has taken a much more muted view and less critical stance. Tendai
Maphosa asks analysts why that might be the case.

Controversy over Saturday's elections has been raging for some time.
Zimbabwe's opposition has accused President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
party of planning to steal the vote. The human rights group, Amnesty
International, told VOA that Zimbabwe's whole electoral process raises
serious questions.

Amnesty spokesman Simeon Mawanza, who was recently in Zimbabwe, explains.

"Zimbabwe still falls way below international standards in terms of
protecting very important rights to do with an election process which are
freedom of expression, association and assembly," said Mawanza.

But, British officials have been more muted in expressing their concerns.
Earlier this week Foreign Secretary David Miliband sounded a more cautious
note. Asked what the British government would do if the elections in
Zimbabwe are not free and fair, he told reporters that he wanted to avoid
being seen as trying to affect the very tense situation in Zimbabwe.
Miliband added he would wait until after the elections to talk about what
Britain might do.

Political analyst Knox Chitiyo agrees with Miliband. Chitiyo is from
Zimbabwe and heads the Africa program at Britain's Royal Institute Services
Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI). He told VOA that
previously, negative comments from British officials were actually used by
President Mugabe to rally support.

"I think the Brits are trying to get out of this whole British conspiracy
hole which Mugabe has used very effectively," said Chitiyo. "The other thing
is past elections there has been a lot of raising of opposition hopes. I
think the British have been disappointed so many times so they are being a
lot more cautious this time around just in case things [don't] pan out and
it's business as usual."

Other experts agree. Thomas Cargill, Africa program manager at the Chatham
House research center in London, says that President Mugabe was able to use
outside criticism in the past, especially from Britain, as evidence that the
former colonial power is still trying to meddle in Zimbabwe's affairs.

"We have seen much less comment and criticism of the process for this
election than previous ones and I think the reason is that the outside world
and particularly the UK is realizing that every time it makes what's been
called a kind of megaphone intervention it really helps Mr. Mugabe and his
portrayal of himself as standing up to these neo-imperialistic aggressors,"
said Cargill.

Zimbabwe holds joint presidential, parliamentary, senate and local council
elections against the backdrop of the highest inflation rate in the world,
high unemployment, and chronic shortages of food, fuel and electricity.

Critics of Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980,
blame him for the country's crisis. Mr. Mugabe, however, blames the problems
on sanctions imposed by former colonial power, Britain.

Mr. Mugabe's challengers in the presidential election are Morgan Tsvangirai
of the Movement for Democratic Change and former finance minister Simba
Makoni, running as an independent.

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Journalists gather at Beitbridge border post


March 28, 2008, 13:15

Local and international journalists have gathered at the entrance to the
Beitbridge border post into Zimbabwe near Musina in Limpopo.

They are setting up their outside broadcast facilities getting ready for the
Zimbabwe elections tomorrow. According to reports only a few Zimbabweans are
crossing the border into Zimbabwe.

Sokesperson for the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference Father Chris
Townsend says he is pleased that the situation is calm. The organisation is
ready to offer humanitarian assistance.

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Journalists condemn Zimbabwe blackout

From correspondents in Johannesburg

March 28, 2008 04:32am

Article from: Agence France-Presse

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

The Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa (FCA-SA),
representing 192 journalists from 122 media, said there had been a "near
blanket denial of accreditation".

Major news organisations such as the BBC, CNN, The Associated Press and the
New York Times were all denied the right to cover elections this weekend.

Swedish, French, Japanese, Spanish and German media had also been blocked
from covering the vote, with partial accreditation being granted to Al
Jazeera, Agence France-Presse and Reuters, who have journalists working in
the country.

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

The organisation also condemned the "astronomical fees" demanded by the
Zimbabwean government for journalists to apply for accreditation.

Temporary general accreditation costs $US1500 ($1630), and the FCA-SA said
this was creating an "elite" group of journalists able to operate in
Zimbabwe based on race, nationality and support of rich media.

"When the government rejects all fears of a rigged election, why is it
trying to shield these elections from the vast majority of professional

South African private television station e-tv was denied accreditation,
while state South African Broadcasting Corporation was being allowed inside
the country.

A jail sentence of up to two years is imposed to any journalist operating in
Zimbabwe without accreditation.

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Bulawayo affected by severe fuel shortage


March 28, 2008, 20:45

A severe fuel shortage is being experienced in Bulawayo in the south-west of
Zimbabwe on the eve of that country's presidential polls.

Local electoral observers say their mobility may be compromised by the
shortage. The country has experienced chronic shortages in the recent past.
The shortage has ground essential services to a halt. Other municipal
services have also been severely affected.

However, at the local election commission, officials say they are not
worried. Precautionary measures have been taken to ensure the fuel shortage
does not impact on their mobility. The situation in the streets of Bulawayo
is calm with little sign of the importance of tomorrow's significant polls.

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Hope and despair among Zimbabwe blogs

Friday, 28 March 2008, 15:23 GMT

By Juliet Njeri
BBC Monitoring

President Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe has been accused of planning to rig the poll

As Zimbabweans prepare to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on 29 March, bloggers inside and outside the country have joined the political fray.

The poll will see President Robert Mugabe face a challenge from three contenders.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, former finance minister and Mugabe ally Simba Makoni, and a lesser known fourth independent candidate, Langton Towungana.

BBC Monitoring was unable to locate any pro-Mugabe bloggers or internet forums.

Election mood

This is Zimbabwe run by the Sokwanele Civic Action Support Group, has been posting regular updates.

One of them, titled "Let the world pray for Zimbabwe", sounded a sombre note:

"Sadness is the overwhelming emotion. Sadness at what could have been. So many have fallen victim to the mad dictator," the post said.

Everyone knows Mugabe is going to rig the results, but can he cope with a massive turnout of voters?
This is Zimbabwe
"The excitement that followed Simba Makoni's entry into the race has passed; now all everyone wants is for the next 10 days to be over."

But the post was not completely despondent.

"The depth of sadness all around us is tinged with hope, just a slight showing [of] its colour. No one wants to hope too much, for to have hope is to open yourself to disappointment.

"Everyone knows Mugabe is going to rig the results, but can he cope with a massive turnout of voters?"

The posting ended with the question: "Will ordinary Zimbabweans accept another rigged result?"

Rigging fears

Another post on "This is Zimbabwe", from contributor "Hope", was titled "Lies, empty promises, and kids with guns". It voiced fears that the poll would be rigged.

"All election talk in Zimbabwe revolves around rigging: a certainty that Mugabe has rigged and is doing his best to rig the elections; what tricks has he up his sleeve this time; what has he said to SADC [Southern African Development Community] to persuade them to look past the fraud; can we hope the police and army and teachers etc. in the polling stations will blow the whistle and reveal the truth?"

Hope wondered how anyone could believe that the poll would be free and fair.

"It has been rigged, is always rigged, is in the process of being rigged and is going to be rigged again."

Via Zimbabwe Today, Moses Moyo worried that voters would be disenfranchised.

In the blog, Moyo is described as an independent Zimbabwe-born journalist based in Harare, writing under an alias.

The prospect of a fair and true election in Zimbabwe seems further away than ever
"Many ordinary Zimbabweans, anxious to play their part in what remains of democracy in this country, won't get the chance," Moyo said in an entry titled "No time to vote!"

Moyo noted that there were fewer polling stations in areas where the opposition has more supporters, compared to rural areas where President Mugabe is said to enjoy wider support.

"The prospect of a fair and true election in Zimbabwe seems further away than ever," Moyo said.

The Sokwanele group has posted a map on their blog, which it says displays incidences of election breaches.

The blog says the map represents "a small sample of the breaches identified under the project since we started monitoring the government's non-cooperation with regional standards in July 2007. All the information logged under Zimbabwe Election Watch is derived from media sources."

Campaign promises

In a post titled "Eating sovereignty and voting for puppies" on "This is Zimbabwe", contributor Hope wrote about "the same old boring Zanu-PF rhetoric".

"The problem with blaming all the problems in the country on a big fat Western conspiracy is that it strips Zanu-PF of campaign options and promises.

"Unless they can come up with real solutions for the economy, they are finished. The problem with promising us the mines or ownership of other businesses (or whatever it is they have robbed from Peter to give to Paul today) is we have the experience of the land behind us now," said Hope, adding: "There is nothing left to dangle before our noses.

Even if the Tsvangirai MDC does win the 29 March election, Zanu-PF will still be around. I don't see them just up and disappearing come April
Bev Clark
Bev Clark, via, posted an entry titled "If you want a farm, vote Zanu-PF".

"What we need in Zimbabwe right now are more defections in Zanu-PF, a viable plan of action for what we'll do when the election is stolen (again), and citizens with courage.

"The thing is, even if the Tsvangirai MDC does win the 29 March election, Zanu-PF will still be around. I don't see them just up and disappearing come April."

She quoted a reader to the blog, who noted: "For many years the MDC has been unable to convert their stolen elections. Why would they suddenly be able to do so in 2008? A failing economy and an ailing dictator don't necessarily place victory in one's lap."
Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai intends to unseat President Robert Mugabe

This reader added: "If Makoni can somehow encourage the neutralization of Mugabe and create a 'new Zanu-PF' committed to justice and Zimbabwe's social, economic and environmental recovery then this should be seen as progress."

James Hall, via, wrote about the pay hikes awarded by the government during the campaign period. He warned Zimbabweans to be cautious.

"By all means, take the increment, you have after worked for it and deserve it. Understand though that this is not the largesse of a political party, it is what is due to you as long-suffering civil servants of an inefficient government," he said.

"Take the money, then vote him out!"

Amanda Atwood, via, wondered why Zimbabweans did not demand better leadership.

"Why aren't we more demanding?" she wrote. "Why aren't Zimbabweans more insistent that they deserve good leaders. Why do we settle for so much less than the ideal?

The masses in the rural areas need to distance themselves from the false sense of security that is presented to them by the party
On the blog, an anonymous blogger wrote about voters in rural areas.

"One can actually turn around and say these people in the rural areas are partly to blame for the downfall of the economy," the blogger wrote, adding that "they keep voting for a regime that only wants and supports them for their votes."

The writer offered advice to rural-dwellers: "The masses in the rural areas need to distance themselves from the false sense of security that is presented to them by the party."

In another post, the anonymous writer declared: "Anyone with half a brain knows change has got to come to Zimbabwe and it has got to come quick, not in the form of a quick fix but in the form of long-lasting stability."

Simba Makoni

Independent candidate and former Zanu-PF official Simba Makoni, has been the subject of blog comments.

A contributor on commented on Mr Makoni's appearance on a South African TV show.

Natasha Msonza said many people were convinced that Mr Makoni "was just a stalking horse for Mugabe".

"His complacency really smacks of a boot licker with so much Zanu-PF blood running thick in him," she wrote.

"Here are some of the questions that kept burning in my head after the show - why does this guy sound so apologetic? Why is he so prepared to grant amnesty to President Mugabe? And for crying in a bucket, what does he mean when he says he doesn't stand against Mugabe but rather, stands for something else? What is the difference anyway?"
Simba Makoni
Simba Makoni is standing as an independent

But another contributor to the same blog disagreed.

James Hall said Simba Makoni is "the most suitable commonsense manager for this country".

"It is time to drop the emotional rationale and revert to the logical rationale" he said.

"What the country needs is a good manager with the right credentials to attract the right investors, to manage the right negotiations for the right deals that are in the best interests of the country.

"It is time for commonsense to prevail and for Zimbabwe to reclaim a respectable place in the league of nations," he added.


Contributing to, Marko Phiri brought up election violence.

"There must be beatings, torture, and political rape as Zanu-PF activists violently 'prove' their loyalty to the party whose leader has in the past declared he was prepared to beat the daylights out of anyone who dared challenge him."

He noted that this time, however, people were defiant in their support of the opposition, despite threats of violence.

Reports about opposition MDC posters being pulled down across the country by Zanu-PF activists remain unpunished, and one has to wonder rather aloud if such behaviour is not likely to incite violence
Marko Phiri
"Some young - and not so young - opposition activists are literally daring the devil by loudly and proudly wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the image of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai," said the writer.

"It is a statement that they have had enough and are apparently ready to take the punches from any bellicose political thug."

He wrote about a man who was jailed for allegedly defacing a poster of President Mugabe, saying the authorities were applying double standards.

"Reports about opposition MDC posters being pulled down across the country by Zanu-PF activists remain unpunished, and one has to wonder rather aloud if such behaviour is not likely to incite violence," said the writer.

"But then this is Zimbabwe where the rule of law exists in different forms for different folks!" he concluded.

Held to ransom

On, Dewa Mavhinga criticized a statement from the army and police chiefs which said they would not allow the opposition to win the elections.

The entry was titled "Rantings of little men allergic to democracy and good governance".

"Zimbabweans will not be held to ransom by a bunch of men who should know that it is highly unprofessional for the army, police and prisons to delve in political matters or to attempt to influence the vote by spreading fear, alarm and despondency," said Mavhinga.

Enough is enough, we cannot accept mortgaging Zimbabwe's future to a few cronies who selfishly cling to the past
Dewa Mavhinga
He criticized the government, Zimbabwe's neighbours and the international community for not condemning the statements.

"It is shameful and unacceptable that SADC and international community should remain silent in the face of these treasonous statements," the blogger said, adding: "How can elections in Zimbabwe be possibly be credible, free and fair when the electorate is threatened with war should they vote out Mugabe?"

"Enough is enough, we cannot accept mortgaging Zimbabwe's future to a few cronies who selfishly cling to the past and are keen to destroy Zimbabwe for selfish personal interests," Mavhinga said.

Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

CM, writing in Zimbabwe Review, said an election win by either Mr Tsvangirai or Mr Makoni would only be the first step to a "post-Mugabe Zimbabwe".

"Zimbabwe is in for miserable times if Mugabe continues as president. There is absolutely no reason to believe that he has any new formula to reverse the decline he has presided over," said CM.

"Yet a win for Morgan Tsvangirai, or long-shot candidate Simba Makoni, or a coalition between them, will not suddenly usher in some golden age of enlightenment and prosperity. It will just be another phase in the gradual progression of Zimbabwe's politics."

The widespread desire that Mugabe goes does not mean his replacement guarantees the democratic, peaceful, prosperous Zimbabwe we had hoped to have had by now
He urged Zimbabweans to be "more realistic about the work and time frame of post-Mugabe recovery".

"Mugabe's reign is ending (whether you define this electorally or in terms of the 84 year old man's life expectancy) with so much misery and hardship that either of his two main opponents' win would be welcomed with overwhelming relief," he wrote, adding that "the widespread desire that Mugabe goes does not mean his replacement guarantees the democratic, peaceful, prosperous Zimbabwe we had hoped to have had by now."

The blogger wondered whether the MDC's "vision of rulership is what Zimbabwe needs".

"I am uncomfortable with what I believe to be the MDC's old-style client-patron relationship with the West. I fear going from the one extreme of Mugabe's self-serving, demonizing and blaming of the West for all his failures, to another extreme of a Tsvangirai presidency in which Zimbabwe is slavishly beholden to and controlled by that West," said CM.

CM questioned Simba Makoni's links with Zanu-PF.

"I hope for Mugabe's defeat, but would not initially be jumping up and down with any great excitement under a Tsvangirai or Makoni presidency. Even if this is the election that deservedly dispatches Mugabe into retirement, it would just be the first of many steps of building a new Zimbabwe."

10 Youths Arrested for Playing Anti-Mugabe Song

SW Radio Africa (London)

28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008

Brilliant Pongo

Riot police were called in Friday to stop youths from playing anti-Mugabe
songs and distributing election material in Bikita.

Madock Chivasa, Hillary Zhou, Farirai Mageza, Simbai Chivasa, Leonard
Musimiki and five others were arrested in the afternoon at Bikita rural
growth point. Police have not yet specified any charges and there are fears
that they will be held till after the elections.

The youth are said to have been distributing educative election material and
playing music that encouraged people to vote against Zanu PF. Newsreel spoke
to a member of the youth group, Wellington Zindove, who confirmed that the
youths had been arrested and are still in police custody. "They were playing
a song that spoke of Saddam Hussain's demise and that Mugabe would be next.
The song is titled Saddam wayenda sare Bobo, Saddam is gone Bob is next.
This did not go down well with the police". Zindove said.

On Wednesday four members of the same youth group were viciously attacked by
a Zanu PF mob in Bikita. Musimiki, Chisi, Petros Mutema and Justin Mabucha
had successfully completed a 'Youth Go Vote Campaign' in seven
constituencies in rural Zaka and Bikita. A Zanu PF mob at Nyika Growth Point
however decided to attack them. Petros Mutema, a young entrepreneur who is
said to have financed the 'Youth Go Vote' crusade, was amongst those

The youth are pointing the finger at a notorious Zanu PF member and army
Brigadier Rungani, who has masterminded a reign of terror in the district.
He is blamed for directing the violent Zanu PF mob to attack the youths,
especially Mutema. On Friday the youths vowed the attacks will not deter
them from their work.

In a press release the group says "The Youth Forum is pleased with the
results of the Youth Go Vote campaign carried out in the rural areas, which
has seen a huge attendance by young people at opposition rallies, including
the one addressed by the MDC President Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai at Majembere
Stadium at Bikita Rural District offices.'

Zimbabwe after the elections

Zimbabwe Watch (2008-03-27)

In collaboration with both its European andZimbabwean partners, Zimbabwe
Watch organised a roundtable titled"Elections and Post- Elections period in
Zimbabwe: What to do after 29 March2008 - Views from Civil Society and
Dialogue with the European Union" on 13 March
2008 in Brussels. The roundtable brought together civil society activists
from Zimbabwe, officials of the European Union (EU) institutions and
variousEuropean and international interest groups.
These are the recommendations from the round-table.

1. The conditions for the elections are such that they will not be free nor
fair and therefore cannot be called a legitimate expression of the will of
the people. The African Union (AU) and the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC) should be encouraged to make objective assessments of the
conditions and the process based on the SADC Guidelines on Free and Fair
Elections. The European Union (EU) should welcome such assessments that
recognise the unfree and unfair environment. If the AU and SADC fail to
recognise this, the EU needs to voice a very clear position on the the
unfree and unfair nature of the elections and condemn these partial
assessment. The international community must exert pressure on the
Zimbabwean government to restore the rule of law.

2. The delegation of the European Commission in Harare will produce a report
on the election process and outcomes. The EU Commission needs to consult
relevant Zimbabwean and European civil society organisations and include
their inputs in this report as well as in the EU's common position on the
elections. This report and the EU conclusions will should refer explicitly
to the SADC Guidelines for free and fair elections and look at the longer
term election environment which can already be considered as not conducive
for free and fair elections.

3. After the elections, a new fully inclusive AU led mediation process that
leads to a transitional process need to take place. This mediation must
include not only the political parties but also Zimbabwean Civil Society and
take place in an open, transparent and accountable process. Such a process
should be actively supported by the EU.

4. SADC proposed and started discussing an economic recovery plan for
Zimbabwe in 2007 but they will need the support of the international
community to implement this plan. The EU should work together with SADC (and
with the broader international community) through its regional assistance
programme on a broad economic, political and social recovery plan. This
process must be strongly inclusive of Zimbabwean Civil Society (including
Trade Union). Any recovery plan must reflect the demands and needs of
Zimbabwean Civil Society while having good governance and human rights as
key concepts.

5. For such a recovery plan to be devised initial audits of all the relevant
sectors (such as education, health, land, etc – not only the
economy) needs to be undertaken. For example proper accounting of the
education sector is required and support to local research institutions and
universities is needed. In addition a comprehensive census, including of
Zimbabweans outside the country, is needed for planning the recovery. Such a
recovery plan needs sustainable planning and clear commitments from the EU
for at least the next ten years.

6. The new Africa strategy emphasises common principles on human rights and
governance, the role of civil society and regional approaches – the EU
should together with SADC develop regional programs on governance, human
rights and crisis prevention in which Zimbabwe can be addressed. Europe must
develop and maintain a consistent position on Zimbabwe which also responds
to the needs and demands of the Zimbabwean Civil Society. The EU must look
at all the policy and financial instruments it has at its disposal (such as
the Cotonou agreement, the EU-Africa strategy, human rights, peace and
security and crisis prevention instruments) to engage SADC and AU partners
on Zimbabwe in a principled manner. It must consider Zimbabwe as a military
crisis and bring SADC and the AU to look at it in this way e.g. by having
SADC excluding Zimbabwe from joint military operations. The EU must
investigate if they support regional military training which includes
Zimbabwe and pressure for their exclusion from such programs.

7. The European Commission has produced a draft Country Strategy Paper (CSP)
in negotiation with the current Zimbabwean government for the spending of
the 10th EDF. It plans to adopt it as soon as the political situation allows
it. This is not the way to go. The EU has stopped bilateral aid because the
current government is not following good governance rules and is not
accountable. The EU therefore needs to re-open the negotiation of the CSP
with an eventual new
(transitional) government and negotiate the key sectors with them and
Non-State actors in a very inclusive, transparent and accountable manner.
This must apply for any assistance to any new (transitional) government.

8. The influence of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) should be
fostered in Zimbabwe, so that labour standards are observed and upheld and
serious abuses stopped. Zimbabwe should be answerable to the ILO.

9. The International community should now start to plan for and deploy
assistance programmes for the coming transition phase including recovery
policy development plans by Zimbabwean Civil Society. Planning the
transition is campaigning for it! In the event of significant power shifts
leading to a transitional government and policy changes, swift support for
the reconstruction of institutions, especially the justice, police, banking
and education sector must be available.

10. Continued support to civil society organisations as providers of checks
and balances for the human rights situation is needed.
Protection of human rights defenders (HRDs), especially in the case of
escalating post-election violence and security/military clampdowns needs to
be prioritised and the EU and member states must find urgent ways to provide
necessary support. Adequate actions need to be devised in accordance with
the demands from HRD's themselves, the EU Guidelines on Human Rights
Defenders and the Handbook linked to them provide examples of such actions
including observation of demonstrations and trials, visits in prison or
hospital, staying in touch with the HRD's and providing safe houses.

11. The EU must support the strengthening of the African Union's Peace and
Security Council and making the AU Peace and Security instruments more
effective and operational, using Zimbabwe as a test case. The full
implementation of the African Charter of Peoples and Human Rights, which
Zimbabwe signed, must be demanded. In view of the military nature of
Mugabe's regime, no Zimbabwean participation in international peace and
military interventions, in the context of the UN or the African Union, must
be allowed.

12. Silence of the United Nations Human Rights Council to post- election
violence would not be acceptable; it must then come up with a clear
resolution. The Mugabe government must be pressurised particularly by
African countries to extend an open invitation to all UN human rights
special rapporteurs (such as the one on torture) to the country. The EU must
work with African partners to ensure such steps. The EU must also continue
the monitoring of the human rights violations on the ground and engage the
AU and African countries to implement the resolutions coming out of the
Afican Commission on Human and People's Rights condemning the human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe. Finally, in the event of escalating post-election
violence, Zimbabwe needs to be referred to the UN Security Council.

'The Election Will Not Be Free And Fair'

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008

Ephraim Nsingo and Tonderai Kwidini

Where to begin with listing the concerns that surround Saturday's general
elections in Zimbabwe?

The widely-documented harassment and physical abuse of opposition supporters
and rights activists in the months preceding the polls by government
supporters and state forces -- and the lingering fear cast by even greater
levels of intimidation during previous parliamentary elections in 2005 and
2000, and the presidential poll of 2002?

Or, with complaints that the voters' roll includes thousands of ghost voters
who can be drafted into service for President Robert Mugabe and the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and about a
registration process for actual voters that many have described as flawed?

The alleged manipulation of food aid to ensure support for the ruling party,
at a time when the United Nations World Food Programme estimates that some
four million Zimbabweans are in need of assistance (about a quarter of the
population, which is in the region of 13 million)?

Or, with the bias towards Mugabe and ZANU-PF on the part of the state
broadcasting services, of critical importance in the absence of independent
local radio and television stations -- and given restrictions on the
independent print media?

The reported shortage of polling stations in urban areas known as opposition
strongholds, alongside a redrawing of constituencies in favour of the rural
areas said to favour ZANU-PF?

Or, with the exclusion of election observers from countries which have
criticised the Mugabe government, and of journalists from foreign media
organisations who have done the same -- even as "repression and
surveillance" of local journalists continues, according to a Mar. 21 press
release from the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders?

Then there is the disenfranchisement of millions of Zimbabweans who have
fled the political and economic disarray in their country, and who might
vote for the opposition if allowed to cast ballots abroad. Also: Statements
by various branches of the country's security services indicating that they
would not tolerate an opposition victory Mar. 29, allegations that the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not impartial -- and a presidential
ruling that allows police into polling stations.

While officials claim this move is for the assistance of illiterate and
disabled voters, others view it as another thinly veiled attempt to rig the
vote in favour of Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Independent monitors have questioned
recent national polls held in this Southern African country.

In the midst of these and other difficulties, the prospects for a just
election appear dim, says Takura Zhangazha, an advocacy officer at the
Zimbabwean chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

"The election will not be free and fair. A lot of people make sweeping
statements that this election has been without incident, but it's only true
in comparison to previous elections. People are still being intimidated,
parties cannot campaign freely, and because of the tough laws journalists
are being banned from covering the elections. All this diminishes the chance
of a free and fair election."

In another worrying development, "many in rural regions (are) fearful that
there will be retribution after the elections" against those seen as
supporting the opposition, says Simeon Mawanza, Zimbabwe researcher at
Amnesty International. He was quoted in a Mar. 26 press release from the
rights watchdog.

Saturday's polls come after nearly a decade of increasingly authoritarian
rule in Zimbabwe. Since being confronted some eight years ago with its first
credible electoral challenge from an opposition party -- the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) -- government has engaged in a variety of human
rights abuses, and embarked on a controversial land redistribution programme
that saw farms taken from minority whites for resettlement by landless
blacks. This move was interpreted by certain analysts as a bid to shore up
support among voters.

A number of confiscated farms are now said to be in the hands of
high-ranking officials, rather than those of Zimbabwe's poor, while
agricultural output has declined substantially. Hyper-inflation,
unemployment of about 80 percent, shortages of basic goods and foreign
currency, frequent power cuts and a decline in service provision routinely
prompt questions about how the country remains afloat, even with the help of
remittances sent from the vast diaspora.

Efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to resolve
tensions in Zimbabwe have not been successful, and the poll will take place
in violation of several aspects of the SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections, adopted by the regional body in 2004.

Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980 and now standing for a sixth
term in office, accuses Western nations of engineering the crisis in
Zimbabwe in response to the eviction of white farmers. The country is under
sanctions from the European Union (this in response to irregularities in the
2002 presidential elections) and the United States; however, these are
targeted more at senior officials than ordinary Zimbabweans.

Mugabe's main rivals in Saturday's poll are erstwhile union leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, head of the larger faction of a now divided MDC, and Simba
Makoni: a former finance minister and ZANU-PF member who announced his
candidacy on Feb. 5, and who has since been expelled from the party.

Speculation on the extent of Makoni's support within ZANU-PF has been
intense, this as party heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa backed the candidate.
Makoni has also been endorsed by the other faction of the MDC.

"As you can see, Makoni's campaign has been gathering momentum in Bulawayo
after Dumiso Dabengwa publicly declared he was backing him," said political
analyst John Makumbe, in reference to Zimbabwe's second largest city. "It is
now a question of who is backing who."

Noted Eldred Masunungure, another analyst, "Makoni's candidature lies in
between the MDC and ZANU-PF regarding the re-engagement with the West, the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ZANU-PF has decided to look
East, although nothing much will come from that end."

If one of the candidates in the presidential poll fails to win 50 percent of
the vote, a run-off ballot will he held to determine Zimbabwe's new head of

Thanks to a 2007 constitutional amendment, Zimbabwe will for the first time
also hold National Assembly, Senate and local government polls alongside the
presidential election, subjecting citizens to a complex balloting process
for which far too little preparation and voter education have taken place,
say civic groups.

"Right now there are many fundamental issues that have not been addressed,
yet we are just a few days before the elections," observed Zimbabwe Election
Support Network chairman Noel Kututwa recently.

"ZEC has shown very little by way of readiness...Just the time that it will
take to go through four ballot papers will unduly lengthen the voting
process, and it would have been preferable to increase the number of polling

Last week, ZEC chairperson George Chiweshe told journalists, observers and
diplomats that there would be 8,998 polling stations across the country. He
said the polling stations were set up after consultations with political
parties and their candidates.

According to latest figures from the ZEC, 779 candidates are contesting 210
seats in the National Assembly, and 197 the 59 Senate seats that are
available. A 60th senatorial seat has already been won by a ZANU-PF
candidate who was elected unopposed at the nomination court, while an
additional 21 Senate places will be filled in part with presidential
nominees. Figures for aspirants contesting the approximately 2,000 local
government seats remain elusive.

The ZEC puts the number of registered voters at 5.9 million. Voters will
choose between 17 political parties, of which the most prominent are ZANU-PF
and the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai, and 116 independent candidates. The
latter are mostly grouped under Makoni's Mavambo/Kusile banner. ("Mavambo"
is a Shona word that means "beginning"; "kusile" is Ndebele for "dawn".)

Despite the litany of problems surrounding Saturday's ballot, ZEC
spokesperson Shupikai Mashereni insists voting preparations are on track.

"Most of the claims people are making about the elections in the press and
elsewhere are unfounded...Everything is in order and we are all ready for
the elections."

For its part, the International Crisis Group -- a Brussels-based think
tank -- notes that "Zimbabweans desperately want change but have little
faith that the elections will produce it."

"Even after the 29 March elections, a negotiated compromise, including
creation of a transitional government, will likely be the prerequisite to
halting the crisis, but only the first step," the organisation states
further, in a Mar. 20 report titled 'Zimbabwe: Prospects From a Flawed

Zimbabwe on tenterhooks

Mar 28th 2008

No one is confident that President Robert Mugabe will let himself be voted
out of office

OPINION polls and anecdotal evidence suggest that Robert Mugabe would be
heavily defeated if the elections on Saturday March 29th were fair, but few
Zimbabweans expect the incumbent to allow himself to be beaten and stand
down. In any case, an array of imponderables make it hard to predict the
outcome, however fairly the poll and, more important, the count are
conducted. But for the first time since Mr Mugabe won power in 1980, there
is at least a chance that he will have to go.

One big imponderable is whether, even if he attempts to rig the result in
the first round, he will nonetheless have to submit to a run-off, which he
must do if he gets less than 50% of the votes cast. If that were to happen,
a second-round contest would have to be held within three weeks. All sorts
of new calculations would then come into play.

Presuming that Mr Mugabe were one of the two run-off candidates, much would
depend on how the third-placed candidate in the first round behaved. If the
polls are to be believed, Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who was
ejected last month from the ruling ZANU-PF party after challenging Mr Mugabe
for the presidency, will come third by quite a margin. One of his confidants
has insisted that Mr Makoni and the other main challenger, Morgan
Tsvangirai, a trade-unionist who was severely beaten up by the police a year
ago, would team up in the second round, whoever came third in the first. If
that happened, the momentum against the 84-year-old Mr Mugabe could be

But various other factors could then emerge. For instance, the heads of the
army, the police and the prison service have all flatly stated that they
would not let Mr Mugabe be beaten. He could call a state of emergency or
somehow have the challenger disbarred. Or he could promise to step down soon
after the election and, if ZANU-PF still has a majority in Parliament after
the “harmonised” elections that are being held simultaneously for four
levels of government, anoint a successor to take over from within the ruling
party. Or he could try to woo Mr Makoni, if he came third, back into the
ZANU-PF fold with a promise of forgiveness and high office, though that now
seems implausible.

Just ahead of voting, there were hints of panic within Mr Mugabe’s inner
circle. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), whose chairman is a
presidential loyalist, announced procedural changes that could make it
easier to rig the result. For one thing, it has been reported that the
vote-count will now be done at the ZEC’s headquarters in Harare, the
capital, rather than at polling stations in the constituencies, where
opposition monitors would have had a better chance of vetting the local
counts. For another, the police, who have previously overseen much of the
intimidation against opposition candidates and their supporters, and under
new rules were to be barred from the actual polling stations, will now be
allowed inside them, in theory to “help” illiterate voters.

Among a string of impediments facing the challengers, the electoral roll,
which is overseen by another Mugabe loyalist, the registrar-general, is
notoriously flawed. The opposition says that thousands of dead voters whose
names are still on it may have had their ballots already marked for Mr
Mugabe. In the past week, suspicions have been further aroused by an
acknowledgment that several million extra ballot papers have been printed,
officially in case of a shortfall in distribution. Mr Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change says that some 9m ballot papers have been printed for
an estimated 5.9m registered voters, suggesting that the surplus ones could
be used to stuff ballot-boxes in Mr Mugabe's favour. The media has been
blatantly partial. State radio, television and the sole daily newspaper are
all ardently pro-Mugabe.

Most independent monitoring groups, including all those from Europe and the
United States, have been banned by Mr Mugabe, who has accused them of bias
against him. But more weight than usual will be given to the verdict of
monitors from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a club of
15 countries, which has endorsed Zimbabwe’s previous flawed elections out of
solidarity for a fellow member. So far, SADC governments, including its most
powerful, South Africa’s, have sounded loyal to Mr Mugabe. But if the
groundswell of opposition against him within Zimbabwe becomes impossible to
ignore, they may have to modify SADC’s stance. That could conceivably tilt
the balance against him. But no one is betting on it.

Zimbabwe beyond 29 March; The win- win option

By. Moses Tekere

We have come to this day and Zimbabwe should be thinking of what happens
post the 29 March election. Surely the outcome would be contestable by both
sides opposition if ZANU PF wins or by Zanu –PF itself if the opposition
wins.  But is the contest going to help Zimbabwe?. The answer is no.  The
opposition has been making a number of allegations and to some extend Zanu
has also some concerns. We as Zimbabweans need to find middle ground and get
our country on the path of growth and working again. As our people are
suffering, post 29 March scenario cannot be business as usual but we need to
think deep as to where we want our country to be. The situation requires
that all of us make some sacrifices and not for a particular Party, or
person but for the people of Zimbabwe. One can certainly say the 6 million
voters will be split between opposition and ruling party and therefore the
winner takes all formula will leave a very large group of people unhappy.
 This is not the time to call each other names but a time to reach out and
make bridges and for each one to see how we can turn around our country.

Taking a cure from the post Kenya crisis I have some few advises to whoever
wins the presidential election.
The ideal for Zimbabwe is national reconciliation.

In a case the incumbent is declared President, for the sake of our country I
advise all concerned to consider the following;
• Opposition could highlight that compared to past elections; condition for
the 2008 elections generally improved although serious concerns may remain
prior and during the election and thus opposition could accept the outcome.
• Mugabe could  as president appoint a government of national unity with
Morgan Tsvangirayi as first Vice President and Dumiso Dabengwa as 2nd Vice
President. they should support the president. The point is that name calling
is not necessary and the principle guiding of such a move is to get our
country united and working again. Making ultimatums and having entrenched
positions of the past will not help Zimbabwe anymore. This will be an all
inclusive approach and not based on patronage and cronyism but reaching out
to all Zimbabweans. Mugabe showed this virtue when in 1980 he pronounced
reconciliation and included Smith in this first government. Opposition
leaders are not foreign so it’s possible.
• The new presidium,  opposition could together with ruling party hold joint
rallies to heal the country. Both will call upon the world to support the
new outcome, new government, mobilize resources from abroad and removal of
the targeted sanctions.
• The new government should take appropriate policies supportive of business
local and foreign  and in particular remove economic distortions namely
exchange rate, price controls. Business should be business.

In a case if the opposition wins the Presidency  and for the sake of the
country, the best option I advise an all inclusive approach that
• The opposition should salute President Mugabe for accepting defeat and
provide him with concrete guarantees that he will live without the
harassment we have seen in other countries to past presidents. Any torture
or incrimination to him is counter productive and will only further deepen
the crisis. He sacrificed and liberated country and surely this is key.
• The new president Tsvangirayi/Makoni should form a national government of
national unity with one Zanu PF (John Nkomo) as vice president and the other
being Makoni/Tsvangirayi.  The issue of reconciliation should be central
namely accepting that Zanu Pf is part to the solution for the country.
• The new presidium,  opposition could together with ruling party hold joint
rallies to heal the country. Both will call upon the world to support the
new outcome, new government, mobilize resources from abroad and removal of
the targeted sanctions.
• The new government should take appropriate policies supportive of business
local and foreign  and in particular remove rampant economic distortions
namely exchange rate, price controls..

The winner take all option will spell more disaster for Zimbabwe post 29
March. we need to first tell our people and the outside world that we are
united. Often the outside people have little interest in our country and
some may want to see the situation getting worse. As Zimbabweans we share
the same heritage and therefore we need a win- win situation and that means
taking on board everyone. The die hard positions and naming will not be
helpful at all. Let us all  stop and think deep of the future –polarization
or unity. We need moderates in government people who are able to reach out
to the other group build bridges and sacrifice for the country.

This is the win-win solution for Zimbabwe after 29 March.


Relief for white Zim farmers


28/03/2008 18:37  - (SA)

Windhoek - A Namibia-based regional tribunal on Friday granted temporary
relief to almost 80 white farmers in Zimbabwe, allowing them to remain on
their property until the next hearing in their suit on May 28.

"The tribunal grants the application for interim relief," Judge Luis
Mondlane, president of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
tribunal, ruled in a case brought before him by one of the farmers, William
Michael Campbell.

"All cases, including that of Campbell, will be heard next May," he said.

Campbell had last December sought the court relief for himself, his family
and all the employees on his Farm Mount Carmell "from a continued onslaught
of invasions and intimidation", court papers said.

The SADC tribunal granted Campbell the interim reprieve until May 28, when a
joint application of the other 77 farmers will be heard.

The tribunal was officially convened last April as part of a peer review
mechanism within the 14-nation organisation.

Mugabe supporters got the farms

It aims to ensure that the objectives of the SADC treaty, such as human
rights and property rights, are upheld.

"The four farmers who are not living on their farms any more are not granted
relief, but all the others will be added to the matter of the Campbell
case," the judge ruled.

Lawyer Saima Nambinga, who represented all the applicants, expressed his
satisfaction with the ruling.

"The ruling is as we expected and we hope the Zimbabwean government will
comply as it did with the Campbell case," she told AFP.

Zimbabwe's deputy attorney general Prince Machaya said that the government
would abide by the ruling, despite its disagreement.

"We are not satisfied with the ruling, but we will comply," Machaya told

In 2000, a small group of 4 500 white farmers in Zimbabwe were forced to
hand over millions of hectares of land in what President Robert Mugabe
trumpeted as a land reform programme to right injustices of the colonial

While landless blacks were meant to be the beneficiaries of the
controversial programme, some farms ended up in the hands of Mugabe

Launch of MISA-Zimbabwe Elections 2008 Media Centre

28 March 2008

Dear Colleagues

You have the Right to Access Information. The Media Is Your Voice Use It!

MISA-Zimbabwe is today, 28 March 2008, pleased to inform you of the opening
and availability of its 2008 Elections Media Centre which is housed at the
Jameson Hotel in Harare.

The Media Centre is available as an interactive and networking platform for
local, regional and international journalists to engage with civic society
organisations, all political parties and other stakeholders that are
relevant in the context of the 29 March 2008 elections.

Equipped with internet, satellite television, access to a website:, which has links of key stakeholders, the media centre is
designed to assist journalists access relevant data and information on the
elections as well as ensure wide and diverse pre-elections and post-election
coverage of the 29 March 2008 elections.

Civic Society Organisations, political parties, candidates and other
international groups also have the opportunity of using the centre for media
briefs, interactive meetings and posting of any relevant material on the
elections which can be accessed by journalists.

In that regard the Media Centre comes as a central venue accessible to
accredited local, regional and international journalists and MISA-Zimbabwe’s
membership and is in line with MISA-Zimbabwe’s objective of promoting free,
independent and pluralistic media as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek
Declaration as a principal means of nurturing democracy.

You are welcome to use the facility for purposes of briefing the media and
accessing relevant information and data pertaining to the elections which we
hope will result in extensive but quality, objective, fair and balanced
coverage of the elections.

All the Best and Good Luck!

You Have the Right to Access Information. The Media is Your Voice Use It.


Faith Zaba

Media Centre Programme Manager

Cell: 0912929196 or 023344138

Vivienne Marara

Cell:263 912982134

Nyasha Nyakunu


Tel: 776165/746838

Wilbert Mandinde


Tel: 776165/746838

Koliwe Nyoni

Cell: 011639682


84 McChlery Drive
Box HR 8113

Telefax: 00 263 4 77 61 65/ 74 68 38
Cell: 00 263 11 602 448/00 263 11 639 682
E mail

Churches Prepare for Likely Post-Poll Refugee Crisis

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008


The Catholic Church in Southern Africa is readying itself for a possible
refugee crisis should violence erupt in Zimbabwe after the Saturday
elections, which analysts say will be flawed.

The Refugee Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, the
Catholic Relief Services, the Jesuit Refugee Service and other church
charities have been meeting over the past few months to consider the
Church's response to a possible new refugee influx from Zimbabwe.

From Sunday March 16 to Tuesday March 18, a church delegation visited the
north of Limpopo Province of South Africa, on the border with Zimbabwe to
inspect some facilities which could be used as reception centres in the
event of an influx.

The Catholic Healthcare Association (CATHCA) was asked to try to find
medical personnel who could be released for three to five days in an

The International Crisis Group warned in its latest report that a flawed
election in Zimbabwe could spark a violent crisis. President Robert Mugabe,
Zimbabwe's only ruler since independence 28 years ago, is fighting his
keenest challenge as he seeks another term at the age of 84.

On Wednesday, the global human rights organisation, Amnesty International,
said that the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly are
being unnecessarily restricted ahead of the poll.

"Although opposition parties appear to be enjoying a greater degree of
access to previously 'no go areas' in rural areas compared with previous
elections, we continue to receive reports of intimidation, harassment and
violence against perceived supporters of opposition candidates - with many
in rural regions fearful that there will be retribution after the
elections," said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty's Zimbabwe researcher.