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The following article appears in the latest issue of Green Left Weekly
(, Australia's
radical newspaper.


ZIMBABWE: Was Tsvangirai `stung' by Mugabe agents?


The SBS Dateline current affairs program on February 13 broadcast a
special report -- ``Killing Mugabe: The Tsvangirai Conspiracy'' -- and a
follow-up report on February 20, by Walkley Award-winning Australian
journalist Mark Davis. The reports alleged that Zimbabwe opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai had ordered the assassination of Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe.

A secretly filmed video of a meeting held in Montreal on December 4 --
attended by executives of the Dickens and Madson (D&M) ``political
consultancy'' firm, Tsvangirai and at least one Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) adviser -- was the central evidence for the allegations
presented in both Dateline programs.

The other key piece of evidence cited was a statement issued by D&M
which, Davis reported, said the firm in October had been ``contracted by
Tsvangirai to kill Robert Mugabe. The Montreal meeting ... was to
discuss how to install Tsvangirai into power after the assassination.''

The whole case against Tsvangirai rests on the assertions of D&M
executives, Ari Ben-Menashe and Alexandre Legault.


Legault is wanted in three US states on charges that include
racketeering, organised fraud and mail fraud. The charges relate to a
fraudulent investment scheme that robbed 300 elderly people of savings
worth a total of US$13 million.

A Canada-based corporation owned by Legault, the Carlington Sales
Company, was involved in a scandal in Zambia last year in which maize
destined for hungry people was bought and paid for but not delivered;
US$6 million went missing. The company lists Ben-Menashe as one of its
``foreign agents''. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Disclosure
program on December 4 revealed that Carlington regularly fails to
deliver commodities after payment has been received.

Ben-Menashe, a former agent of Israel's Mossad spy service, played a
peripheral role in the US Iran-contra scandal in the late 1980s until
his exposure led to his sacking.

Peddling his notoriety, Ben-Menashe travelled the world contacting
left-leaning investigative journalists (including Green Left Weekly in
1992) to ``reveal'' numerous international conspiracies.

His greatest claim to fame was as a source for the ``October Surprise''
allegations: that Republican Party figures struck a deal with the
Ayatollah Khomeini's regime in Iran to delay the release of US hostages
until after the November 1980 presidential poll, thereby thwarting a
``surprise'' poll advantage for incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.

The October Surprise claims disintegrated when the central informant was
exposed as having fabricated the allegations. Ben-Menashe's claims too
were proven to be untrue. The US media organisations that had championed
October Surprise turned on Ben-Menashe. PBS Frontline announced that
Ben-Menashe's ``credibility with reporters collapsed because some of his
assertions proved implausible''.

Esquire's Craig Unger in 1992 even penned an article for the Village
Voice titled ``The trouble with Ari'' in which he explained the allure
and perils of dealing with Ben-Menashe: ``Ari has put five or six dozen
journalists from all over the world through roughly the same paces. His
seduction begins with a display of his mastery of the trade craft of the
legendary Israeli intelligence services... His astute analysis and
mid-boggling revelations can stir even the most jaded old hand... Listen
to him, trust him, print his story verbatim -- then sit around and watch
your career go up in flames.''

`A deal is struck'

Davis was told that ``one of the principals of Dickens and Madson''
(since revealed as Ben-Menashe) met with Tsvangirai in London in
October. ``According to D&M [i.e., Ben-Menashe], Tsvangirai requested
the assassination of President Mugabe at their first meeting and a deal
was struck'', Davis reported.

D&M told Davis that at a second meeting in November in London,
Tsvangirai agreed to pay US$500,000 and promised the company contracts
with a future MDC government in return for the hit on Mugabe.

If the D&M's spy-cam video of the October meeting is viewed with the
assumption that Ben-Menashe and Legault are telling the truth, the
footage seems damning.

But what if Ben-Menashe and Legault deliberately set out to entrap the
opposition leader as part of a ``sting'' operation, at the direction of
the Mugabe regime?

Dateline rejected this possibility. In the first program, Davis did not
mention Ben-Menashe and Legault's checkered histories. In the February
20 program, Davis did concede that ``many people have branded Ari
Ben-Menashe a liar''. However, in a telephone conversation with Green
Left Weekly on February 21, Davis was emphatic: ``I don't believe
[Ben-Menashe] is a liar.''

The meeting screened by Dateline certainly reveals that Tsvangirai and
D&M discussed detailed arrangements to return Zimbabwe to constitutional
rule, in cooperation with a section of the Zimbabwe military, following
an ``elimination'' of Mugabe.

However, the dialogue does not prove that Tsvangirai ordered such an act
to be carried out. It is apparent that Tsvangirai does not even believe
he would be the automatic beneficiary of it. Much of the discussion
revolves around the preparedness of a military figure, whose name
Dateline obscures, to guarantee the eventual holding of elections.

Did D&M deliberately set out to entrap Tsvangirai by falsely claiming to
represent an anti-Mugabe section of the military? Did Tsvangirai
foolishly agree to explore such an approach in the light of Zimbabwe
defence force commander Vitalis Zvinavashe's blunt statement that the
army would not accept an MDC victory in the March 9-10 presidential
election? Or was Tsvangirai's discussion of hypothetical scenarios put
to him by D&M taken out of context, as he maintains?

Double agents?

In the February 13 program, Davis stated that D&M ``has recently been
engaged by [the Mugabe] government, but four months ago, when this story
begins, they were free agents''. The implication being that D&M offered
its services to Mugabe only after Tsvangirai had asked them to arrange
the president's death. When GLW spoke to Davis, he remained convinced
that D&M had no business links with Mugabe prior to October.

However, later statements by Ben-Menashe indicate that Davis was misled.
The February 14 Canadian National Post reported that Ben-Menashe told
the newspaper that D&M had a ``long-standing working relationship'' with
Mugabe and his government. ``Mr Tsvangirai knocked on the wrong door'',
Ben-Menashe quipped.

Ben-Menashe made similar comments to the London Daily Telegraph,
reproduced in the February 14 Sydney Morning Herald: ``What [Tsvangirai]
didn't know was that we had a relationship with Mr Mugabe that dated
back quite a few years.'' Ben-Menashe told the February 14 Toronto Globe
and Mail: ``We had a long-term relationship with President Mugabe.
Personally, I've known him since the '80s.''

The fact that D&M was working for Mugabe strengthens Tsvangirai's case
that he was ``set up''. In a statement released on February 14, he
stated that it was D&M that approached the MDC to offer its services to
build the party's image in North America. The MDC accepted and meetings
were arranged.

However, Tsvangirai's claim that ``at no stage during the first three
meetings was the issue of elimination or assassination ever discussed''
is at odds with the videotaped discussion and his later statements.

His account of the taped meeting also does not match what appears on the
tape: ``Mr Menashe kept wandering from the issues discussed previously.
He and his team from nowhere introduced discussion around the issue of
elimination and kept asking strange questions. It was at this stage that
I burst out of the meeting.''

Dateline's videotape clearly shows that Tsvangirai did indeed leave the
meeting after some tense exchanges, but he returned after several
minutes and for the next hour discussed various post-elimination
scenarios. As Davis told GLW, ``Even if it was a sting, [Tsvangirai] was

Is this ``evidence'' that Tsvangirai ordered the assassination of
Mugabe, as Dateline insists? Clearly, Tsvangirai is not telling the
whole truth. Tsvangirai seems to be attempting to conceal that he was
prepared to deal with military figures who he was led to believe
intended to act against Mugabe.

Tsvangirai's comments to the South African Broadcasting Corporation's
Special Assignment program on February 19 strengthen that
interpretation. He said that in the early meetings, D&M claimed they had
contacts in the Zimbabwe military, but in the meeting that was recorded,
Ben-Menashe and Legault pressed the MDC about what contacts they had
made in the military.

``I said, `No, that was not the understanding ... You were supposed to
initiate [contact] because you said you had the contacts''', Tsvangirai
explained. ``I don't think the military was aware of what was happening,
but this was the portrayal that was being given by Ben-Menashe.''

However, Tsvangirai continued to maintain in his SABC comments that the
filmed meeting was a ``broad scenario discussion''. In the discussion of
the ``scenario'' of Mugabe's assassination, Tsvangirai said: ``There is
only one ... option: the [Zimbabwe] vice-president takes over, we will
cooperate as MDC in parliament to make the necessary constitutional
changes to facilitate the extension of the voting [to] March 31st, so
that we create conditions of stability before the elections are held.''
This is broadly in line with the recordings of the meeting.

The Mugabe regime has much to gain from a successful entrapment of the
former trade union leader. Tsvangirai is a serious threat to Mugabe's
22-year reign. Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) have embarked on a reign of terror to
intimidate supporters of Tsvangirai's trade union-backed MDC in an
attempt to retain power at the March election.

The charges made in the Dateline program may provide Mugabe with the
perfect opportunity to nullify the MDC challenge to his autocratic
regime. Repressive ``anti-terrorist'' laws passed in January carry
sentences of life for acts of ``insurgency, banditry, sabotage or

Zimbabwe's minister for national security Nicholas Goche told the
state-run Herald newspaper on February 15 that the allegations ``prima
facie suggest the commission of a number of very serious crimes. The
police will obviously need to conduct exhaustive investigations to get
to the bottom of the matter''.

Mugabe has resorted to similar charges in the past to neutralise his
political opponents. In 1983, Zimbabwe African Peoples Union leader
Joshua Nkomo fled the country after being accused of plotting to
overthrow the government.

Mark Davis told GLW that he had further footage from the secretly taped
meeting, but it is not scheduled to be broadcast at this stage. He
refused to release the entire tape to other journalists to examine.
``We'll wait and see what develops'', he said.

Transcripts for Davis' February 13 and 20 programs have been withdrawn form the SBS website due to a charge of defamation

Zimbabwe Independent

Davis admits Tsvangirai video edited

OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday sued an Australian television
station for defamation after it aired a video alleging he plotted to
eliminate President Robert Mugabe, his party said.

Tsvangirai was charged with treason on Monday over the alleged plot to
assassinate the 78- year-old ruler.

Tsvangirai and two MDC colleagues have denied charges, which carry the death

In a statement, the SBS television station said it stood by the story and
would defend the defamation action.

Dateline reporter Mark Davis stood by his story, saying the video aired in
Zimbabwe was not the same as the one he had used.

"Clearly they're editing it heavily," Davis said.

"We absolutely stand by the veracity of the material we've shown and the
context that it's in," he said.

The MDC's foreign spokesman Tendai Biti, who is in Australia to attend a
Commonwealth leaders summit at which Zimbabwe will be the main topic, said
the video broadcast by the Dateline programme on SBS was a set-up, and that
Tsvangirai never discussed killing Mugabe.

"He didn't actually say that, nor does the tape actually say that he says
that," Biti said.

"It's clear that whoever made the tape... was trying to put words in his
mouth," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio. - Reuter.

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Christian Science Monitor

from the March 01, 2002 edition

Zimbabwe farmers flee, start over

By Nicole Itano | Special to the Christian Science Monitor

CHIMOIO, MOZAMBIQUE - Mozambique has little of the natural mineral wealth of
its neighbors and, after years of war, few of the luxuries of modern life.
But to white Zimbabwe farmers fleeing turmoil in their homeland, the rich,
red soil of the former Portuguese colony's western provinces looks like
Many of the dozen or so families who have come to hew new lives from the
overgrown ruins of Mozambique's colonial-era plantations, lost their farms
in neighboring Zimbabwe in the last two years of political violence.

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 Reporters on
the Job:

Nicole Itano gives you the story behind the story.

One man watched as his timber farm was burned by squatters. Another, who had
supported the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), fled to
Mozambique in fear of his life after several death threats left him sleeping
with a gun beneath his head.

"Zimbabwe didn't look very bright, so we came here to try to make a go of
it," says Brendon Evans, whose family recently started Manica province's
first dairy. "If we can find security in Africa, then that's the place for
us. We've lived our whole lives here."

Zimbabwe, once one of Southern Africa's most stable and prosperous
countries, has been engulfed by violence since early 2000. President Robert
Mugabe, in a bid to garner popular support in the country's parliamentary
elections, began backing bands of squatters who invaded white-owned farms,
driving off or even killing the farmers and their families. The invasions
crippled the agricultural sector and led to widespread hunger and

Next week, Zimbabwe will hold its long-awaited presidential elections, but
few believe that they will be free and fair. Attacks against opposition
supporters - and any one suspected of being one, including election
observers from neighboring African countries - have increased in frequency
and severity.

In Zimbabwe, Mr. Evans helped work the farm of his wife's family. Their
dairy and corn farm was one of the first to be invaded and the family was
forced to abandon their property for six weeks. Although the squatters are
now gone, they could return, but the future in Mozambique looks more secure.

These days, the Evans family sleeps in a cold, unpainted, concrete house.
It's not quite the frontier - they are close enough to Chimoio that a
cell-phone hung on the patio still rings - but the five miles of potholed
dirt road over which they must take their milk to market becomes nearly
unpassable when it rains.

Uncertain of their future in Zimbabwe, one by one, families like the Evans's
are picking up and moving to countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, and even
war-torn Angola to start again.

Mozambique, devastated by decades of war - first for independence and later
by a 16-year civil conflict - is welcoming these experienced farmers to help
it build a commercial agriculture sector. But many of the basic necessities,
such as reliable telephones, well-paved roads, and experienced laborers, are
in short supply.

For the last five months, Ben, another new Zimbabwean farmer, and his
business partner, have lived in army-green tents without electricity or
running water while they rebuilt the ruins of a small, 1928 house and
planted their new 250 hectare farm. In less than half a year, acres of
well-tended tobacco and corn crops have sprung up and two dozen employees
work the fields and wooden tobacco drying sheds. The farm's neat fields are
a stark contrast to the thatched huts and small family plots of corn that
otherwise dot the landscape.

With their families still in Zimbabwe until the farm is running smoothly,
they have only each other for company. Their neighbors speak only
Portuguese, the country's official language. The only English-speaking
inhabitants are two Peace Corps volunteers teaching in the local school 2.5
miles away.

Financially, moving to Mozambique has meant starting over for most farmers.
The Zimbabwean government has severely limited the amount of money and
property they can take out of Zimbabwe and land ownership rules in
Mozambique make it difficult to acquire financing. One relic of Mozambique's
Marxist past is that there is no private land ownership. Land must be leased
from the state, at a rate of about $1 a year for three acres, but no bank
will take that lease as collateral for a loan.

"The problem is finance," says one farmer. "There are billions of dollars
worth of knowledge among Zimbabwe farmers, but very little capital. That's
why there's not a hundred farmers here."

The Mozambican government says it has received between 70 and 80
applications from white Zimbabwean farmers, but most are still struggling to
get financing or to find available land. Only about a dozen have so far
managed to settle in the provinces Manica or Tete, along the border between
the two countries.

In general, the people of Mozambique have welcomed the new farmers for the
jobs and experience they bring. Ben employees 25 people, the Evans family
75. A survey by a local farmers' union indicated that there was widespread
support for the new farmers and a hope that they would help introduce new
farming techniques to Mozambique's largely sustenance farming community.

Many of the new farmers say they will return to Zimbabwe if the opposition
MDC wins the election and ends the government's land seizure program. But
few hold out much hope that the MDC will be allowed to win, regardless of
what the people say at the polls on March 9 and 10.

Before long, some predicted, the countryside of Zimbabwe will look like that
of Mozambique, with the ruins of scattered farmhouses as the only testament
to the flourishing commercial agriculture that once thrived there.

"I have no doubt that if things go on as they are, my farmhouse in Zimbabwe
will be roofless in six months," says the MDC supporter. "The country will
disintegrate into nothing within a year."

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Despot At Large

Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)

March 1, 2002
Posted to the web February 28, 2002

Shaun de Waal

Over the past few years Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has taken ever
more desperate measures to cling to power

Martin Meredith takes as the epigraph to this book a 1976 quote from Robert
Mugabe: "Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we
shall have shall have been the product of the gun. The gun that produces the
vote should remain its security officer - its guarantor."

That was before Mugabe came to power in 1980 and it was clear that, like
Chairman Mao, he saw power as proceeding from the barrel of a gun. Meredith
makes it clear in his book that Mugabe still believes in this power and has
not hesitated to use it.

Meredith rather skims over Mugabe's early life and his 11 years in jail;
most of the book is devoted to showing how Mugabe and his ruling elite have
systematically looted their own country, destroying its once flourishing
economy, using whatever means came to hand to stay in power. The latter
chapters of the book are the most detailed, dealing with the corruption,
manipulation and violence of the past few years as Mugabe has taken ever
more desperate measures to cling to his position.

It is clear, though, that from the beginning Mugabe had more faith in the
gun than in the vote. He was a reluctant participant in the Lancaster House
talks that led to the end of Rhodesia and to the foundation of a black-ruled
Zimbabwe: it was pressure from Mozambican leader Samora Machel and Zambian
leader Kenneth Kaunda that got him to the negotiating table. Meredith quotes
Mugabe as recalling his feelings: "Why should we be denied the ultimate joy
of having militarily overthrown the regime here?"

And in 2000, as the farm invasions gathered momentum, he repeated that idea:
"Perhaps we made a mistake by not finishing the war in the trenches ... If
the settlers had been defeated through the barrel of a gun, perhaps we would
not be having the same problems." It is as though Mugabe believes that a
full military victory would have given him more absolute power from the
start - and perhaps he wouldn't have had to bother with all these pesky
elections, never mind the trappings of the kind of constitutional democracy
Zimbabwe was designed to be by the Lancaster House agreements.

Yet Mugabe has never entirely abandoned the pretence of democratic
procedures and structures. Instead of simply dismissing parliament,
cancelling elections and, as it were, coming out as a fully-fledged
dictator, it appears that he would rather go ahead with elections and use
undemocratic methods to win the vote: browbeating and intimidating his
supporters into voting for him, and simultaneously sanctioning violence
against his opponents, making it as hard as possible for them to campaign.
Meredith doesn't really examine why this should be.

After all, Mugabe's contempt for the rule of law has become increasingly
evident - let alone his dismissal of fundamental democratic rights such as
freedom of the press. He shrugs off criticism from outside Zimbabwe as a
neo-colonial plot. He has the loyalty of the army, it would seem, and that
is probably the single most important issue in his ability to cling to power
(as it so often has been in post- independence African countries).

Why does Mugabe even bother with the business of elections? Meredith hints
in places at the pressures placed on Mugabe by the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund, but does not really delve into the nature of
that relationship, or describe exactly what those funding bodies expected of
the Mugabe government in exchange for their moneys. Such information would
have been useful.

The book as a whole, it must be said, is relatively superficial, though it
does give a reasonable overview of Mugabe's years in power. And what a sorry
story it is. Those who might have lionised Mugabe at one time, and he was
lionised, will see (on the evidence presented here, at least) that he was a
hard man right from the start. Meredith sees Zapu-PF's 1980 election victory
as a vote for peace by the populace more than anything else; it was a matter
of vote for Mugabe or the war would continue. On taking power, Mugabe was
conciliatory, but once in power he took extreme measures to crush any
opposition, including his employment of the notorious 5 Brigade in
Matabeleland, where many thousands died. As the former British ambassador
Robin Renwich has pointed out, Mugabe is a terrorist in the truest sense of
the word: like Robespierre or Stalin, he has used terror to stay in power.

Corruption has taken deep root and Zimbabwe has turned into another African
kleptocracy. Thomas Mapfumo, the musician and activist who had once sung in
praise of the chimurenga, or struggle against colonialism, sang in 1990
about chamunora, or corruption - and got banned again. He has since left

Meredith does make it clear what a canard the whole land resettlement issue
is. The British government spent £44-million on resettlement schemes before
pulling out in disgust at the way the whole process had been mismanaged and
corrupted. Apart from the way appropriated land was given to members of the
ruling elite instead of to the poor farmers it was supposed to benefit, the
issue of resettlement was also used in a blatantly political way. For
instance, farm land owned by Ndabaningi Sithole, a former Zanu-PF leader and
now a foe of Mugabe's, was seized in 1993, despite a high court order
refuting the state's right to do so. About 20 000 people, members of
Sithole's Ndau tribal group, were forcibly removed from the land. So much
for helping the poor.

As Zimbabwe's presidential election looms, it is clear that the whole
situation is a very tricky one. Can the elections possibly be free and fair
when, as Moeletsi Mbeki pointed out on TV the other night, Zanu-PF has had a
plan of intimidation in effect at least since the last election, which
Mugabe nearly lost? And what if the Movement for Democratic Change wins,
despite the intimidation and violence? In the eyes of international
observers is that a fair victory, or would the general lack of freedom and
fairness invalidate it?

One is not sure what to make of Essop Pahad's plea to the media to stop
"demonising" Mugabe. One is sure, however, of the fact that the notion of an
African renaissance is meaningless unless a stand is taken against despots.
Meredith's book shows just how much of a despot Mugabe has become.

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Independent (UK)

Mugabe's police arrest 31 amid poll-rigging fears

By a Special Correspondent in Matabeleland and Kathy Marks
01 March 2002
Zimbabwean police arrested 31 opposition supporters yesterday in a violent
raid on a training session of polling agents in Harare.

It was the latest example of pre-election unrest that has brought the
country to the brink of suspension from the Commonwealth. Opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai is challenging 78-year-old President Robert Mugabe in
hopes of ending his 22-year rule.

Leaders meeting at the Commonwealth summit at the weekend are due to
consider suspending Zimbabwe for its wholesale flouting of democratic rules
but appear resigned to the prospect of action being deferred until after the
election. As Tony Blair flew to the summit in Australia, his officials
conceded that the meeting was unlikely to reach agreement on sanctions
against Zimbabwe because of the imminence of the presidential election on
9-10 March.

The Prime Minister wants Zimbabwe suspended from the Commonwealth but admits
there is no consensus among the 54 Commonwealth countries. The most that Mr
Blair can expect to win is a call for "free and fair" elections, with the
issue of action against Zimbabwe put off until after the poll.

A spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Learnmore
Jongwe, said police who raided the training meeting in Harare yesterday,
beating up nine people in the building, gave no reason except that it was an
"illegal gathering".

However, he pointed out that the training of polling agents, who will
monitor the vote, was in line with electoral laws. Mr Jongwe said: "We
condemn the arrests and the attacks, especially from the police who are
there to protect us. It is part of a disturbing pattern in which police are
at the forefront of attacks on members of the MDC."

However, police said the MDC supporters were trailed back to the building
after a clash with Zanu-PF supporters.

It was also reported yesterday that hundreds of Zimbabweans have vanished
from the voters' rolls days ahead of the elections. They will join hundreds
of thousands of mostly opposition supporters who have been in effect
disenfranchised by a government apparently intent on rigging the poll in its

Despite a decision on Wednesday by the Supreme Court theoretically opening
the way for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans living abroad to vote by
post, in practice, they and others missing from the roll are unlikely to be
able to cast their ballots.

The government said yesterday that it would abide by the judges' ruling. But
the MDC's justice spokesman, David Coltart, said the government had neither
the will nor the ability to organise postal votes or reinstate missing names
before the election.

"At this stage, it is unlikely that thousands of eligible voters who have
gone missing from the roll will be reinstated. It is a cynical move by Zanu
PF, which knows that in practice appeals against disenfranchisement will
just clog up the courts and will not be heard in time," he said.

However, thousands of disenfranchised expatriates, including Britons, will
be able to vote after the high court extended the deadline for expatriates
to end dual citizenship – although some 2,400 Britons had to revoke their
Zimbabwean citizenship by January.

According to the influential Financial Gazette, the newly disenfranchised,
among them senior MDC officials, join some 3,000 voters already removed from
the roll by the registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede. Although many have
appealed to have their names reinstated, the MDC fears many others who do
not realise their names are missing will be turned away at polling stations.

Mr Mudede blamed "human error" but the MDC believes opposition supporters
are being "systematically struck off" to rig the vote. An MDC spokesman,
Paul Themba Nyathi, said: "I can confidently say that a sizeable chunk of
voters between 18 and 25 will not be able to vote."

Zimbabwe's draconian press reporting restrictions make it a crime for
unregistered foreign correspondents to report from there. As a result, our
correspondent cannot be named.

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Ministers Discuss Zimbabwe Violence

Friday March 1, 2002 4:30 AM

COOLUM, Australia (AP) - With Zimbabwe's elections just over a week away,
Commonwealth ministers on Friday discussed imposing sanctions on the
southern African nation for pre-election violence and intimidation by
backers of President Robert Mugabe.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman said London would push, with
little hope of success, to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

``We don't believe that there is a place in the Commonwealth for a
government which is prepared to inflict such suffering on its people and
which continues to flout the Commonwealth's fundamental values,'' said the
spokesman on condition of anonymity.

Suspending Zimbabwe, where Mugabe is fighting to prolong his authoritarian
22-year rule, would cut off Commonwealth aid to the struggling African
nation, a former British colony.

The spokesman said he hoped the heads of government meeting, to be formally
opened Saturday by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, would ``send a very clear
signal to Zimbabwe that the Commonwealth will be watching the election very

Ministers from eight nations making up the Commonwealth Ministerial Action
Group discussed the Commonwealth's response to escalating violence and
intimidation ahead of the March 9-10 elections. The meeting was expected to
make recommendations for the full CHOGM summit to debate. Options open to
leaders include suspending Zimbabwe or imposing economic sanctions.

Botswana's minister of foreign affairs, Mompati Merafhe, who chaired the
meeting said it went ``very well'' but he declined to give details of the

Security was tight Friday at the summit venues. More than 2,400 military
personnel teamed up with hundreds of police to patrol perimeter fences
circling two hotels where meetings were to be held. Air force F/A 18 fighter
jets patrolled overhead.

The summit was to have been held in nearby Brisbane last October but was
postponed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Security is at levels never before seen in Australia.

The Commonwealth, a 54-nation group made up of Britain and its former
colonies, has a team of election observers monitoring Zimbabwe's election

Host nation Australia will push at the summit for leaders to sign off on a
strong statement condemning terrorism.

Commonwealth member states include Britain, India, Pakistan, Canada,
Australia, many Pacific and Caribbean Island nations and several African
states. Their combined population of 1.7 billion accounts for one-third of
the world's population.

Currently only Pakistan is suspended from the Commonwealth after the 1999
military coup that brought President Pervez Musharraf to power.

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Yahoo News

Commonwealth grapples with Zimbabwe response
By Belinda Goldsmith

COOLUM, Australia (Reuters) - Commonwealth foreign ministers met today on
the eve of a leaders' summit, deeply divided over what to do about alleged
intimidation by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in an upcoming election.

The group composed mainly of former British colonies is split over whether
to suspend Zimbabwe and impose sanctions, following the lead of the European
Union and United States, and the issue is likely to dominate the four-day
summit in Australia.

Despite British calls for immediate action, many African member nations are
reluctant to act ahead of a March 9-10 presidential election in the southern
African country where Mugabe faces his biggest challenge in 22 years in

As Commonwealth leaders arrived at Coolum on the tropical Queensland coast
of eastern Australia, the first of several thousand expected protesters
began to gather.

A handful of adherents of China's banned Falun Gong religious group waved
banners at Coolum airport on Friday, saying they hoped to persuade the
Commonwealth to put pressure on China.

A larger protest is planned for Saturday by demonstrators including human
rights groups, environmentalists and anti-globalisation activists but
organisers have pledged to make their rally a peaceful one.

Commonwealth members range from wealthy nations like Britain, Australia and
Canada to populous India and tiny Pacific island states like Nauru and
Tuvalu. Fifty of its 54 members are developing nations.

Problems afflicting developing nations such as AIDS and sustainable
development usually feature high on the agenda at Commonwealth summits. But
the Coolum gathering is likely to be dominated by the deteriorating
situation in Zimbabwe.


Its key decision making body, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group
(CMAG) made up of eight foreign ministers, was meeting behind closed doors
at a plush resort on the Sunshine Coast, protected by jet fighters and 6,000
soldiers and police.

The ministerial group was expected to prepare a report on Zimbabwe to be
submitted to the full Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on Saturday.

No news conference is planned to inform of the policy making body's
recommendation. But diplomats do not expect consensus for any punitive
action until after the election when Commonwealth observers report back on
whether the vote was free and fair.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is likely to be a lone voice condemning Mugabe's
"dictatorial" actions and pressing for immediate sanctions.

Host Australia has taken a middle road, saying that if Mugabe's main rival,
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, is not allowed to stand, it will call
for Zimbabwe's suspension and impose targeted unilateral sanctions like the
EU and Washington.

There was some confusion on Friday about whether Tsvangirai had been charged
with treason following the airing of a videotape allegedly showing him
plotting Mugabe's assassination.

South African officials say they were told he had not been charged with
treason, a crime that carries the death penalty.

A ministerial Commonwealth meeting in London in January could not agree on
Zimbabwe. Britain, Australia, Canada and Barbados backed the country's
suspension while Nigeria, Botswana, Malaysia and Bangladesh opposed any

But that meeting did issue a statement expressing deep concern over
continued violence, political intimidation and curbs on the freedom and
independence of the media.

Officials at the Commonwealth summit in Australia said this weekend's summit
would most likely do exactly the same.

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Ministers make secret Zimbabwe decision

Commonwealth foreign ministers have wound up their meeting to discuss
possible action against Zimbabwe.

But the chairman of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG),
Botswana's Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe, refused to comment on what had
been agreed.

"The meeting went very well," Lieutenant General Merafhe told reporters.

"I'm afraid I can't share what we've decided to do.

"This is a meeting which was intended to prepare a report for the leaders. I
would be out of order if I shared it with you before I report it."

 Asked if the meeting reached an agreement on Zimbabwe, he said: "We reached
agreement on practically everything".

The Commonwealth is under pressure to take act against Zimbabwe for its
treatment of white farmers and its crackdown on free speech.

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The Times

March 01, 2002

Zimbabwe sanctions must wait

By David Charter, Chief Political Correspondent

IT WILL be impossible to agree on immediate sanctions against Zimbabwe at
this weekend’s biennial meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Australia, Tony
Blair admitted yesterday.
The heads of the 54 Commonwealth nations were too divided to agree on
measures against the regime of Robert Mugabe while elections are on-going,
but will make a commitment to judging Zimbabwe once the outcome is known, Mr
Blair said.

The Prime Minister warned however, that if Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe’s
main opponent, was prevented from taking part in the Zimbabwe poll on March
9-10, the Commonwealth would be galvanised into immediate action.

He said: “I have no doubt at all that whatever disagreement there may be in
the Commonwealth about sanctions in respect of Zimbabwe, if anything as
outrageous as that happened then the Commonwealth will pull together.”

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US warns Mugabe against stealing Zimbabwe election

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 — Blasting a ''campaign of repression orchestrated by
the government of Zimbabwe,'' the United States warned President Robert
Mugabe on Thursday that he faced financial sanctions if he failed to respect
the will of his people in upcoming presidential elections.

       Morgan Tsvangirai, who poses the stiffest challenge to Mugabe's
22-year rule, says the government is trying to win the election through
intimidation. Police say the opposition leader was charged with treason
following the broadcast of a video purporting to show him discussing
Mugabe's assassination.
       ''We are looking at mechanisms by which we could in fact freeze
individual assets and perhaps corporate assets as well. We are examining
those mechanisms now,'' Walter Kansteiner, the top State Department official
for Africa, told a House of Representatives committee hearing.
       ''The government of Zimbabwe should have no illusions about the
consequences of a seriously flawed or annulled election. ... The
international community and most importantly, I believe, the people of
Zimbabwe, will not allow it,'' he added.
       He left little ground for optimism for the future, saying that even
if there were a fair and free election on March 9 and 10 that Mugabe
respected, political institutions would need to be reconstructed -- and if
not, worse was to come.
       ''We believe that the campaign of repression orchestrated by the
government of Zimbabwe has gone on for too long and has been too profound
and too pervasive to allow for an untainted election,'' Kansteiner told the
congressional panel.
       ''Nonetheless it is possible that the brave people of Zimbabwe will
vote with such conviction and in such numbers, that the election will
produce a meaningful result,'' he added.
       ''The voice of the people can still be heard, even with the unlevel
playing field that we see emerging today.''
       California Republican Rep. Edward Royce, who chaired the hearing,
accused Mugabe's government of relentlessly harassing independent media,
setting up new youth militia training camps to attack opposition supporters,
rape and other violence against opponents and an escalation of political

       He cited figures from a group called the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum
as showing there had been 25 political killings in the first six weeks of
the year and named three victims as Richard Chitunga, Richard Maphosa and
Henry Moyo.
       On the economy, Kansteiner said massive reconstruction would be
needed. ''This place is bust. It's bankrupt,'' he said.
       ''If you do get over the political hurdle and there is an election
where the body politic of Zimbabwe is heard ... even there you're going to
have to rebuild political institutions.''
       He offered some hope however, predicting that the army would respect
the election outcome if Mugabe lost and noting that the judiciary still
showed some signs of independence.
       Mugabe on Thursday told a South African delegation Tsvangirai leader
had not been charged with treason, contrary to police reports.
       Kansteiner said he had seen ''no convincing evidence'' of
Tsvangirai's guilt and issued Mugabe with a stern warning.
       While President George W. Bush Feb. 22 signed ''what we hoped we
could avoid'' -- a ban on Mugabe and senior members of his government and
their families from entering the United States -- other sanctions were still
available, he said.
       Bush's move came five days after a British-led visa ban and asset
freeze on 20 top officials by the European Union.

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The President of Zimbabwe
His Excellency, Robert Gabriel Mugabe
Private Bag 7700, Causeway
Harare, Zimbabwe
February 16th 2002
Dear Mr. President
As a church leader in Zimbabwe, I believe I have a moral obligation to address you and I choose an open letter, since what I say is obvious to anyone who cares to look.
Mr. President, I am horrified that I find the person who holds the most honoured position in our country condoning:
· the trampling upon our constitution
· the suppressing of fundamental freedoms and human rights
· the violence that supports Zanu PF interests
· the lies and deception in the State media
· the recently enacted oppressive legislation
· the selective enforcement of the rule of law
· the spread of injustice and corruption
· the hypocrisy with respect to property rights
· the violent attacks upon opposition Members of Parliament
· the threatening of our judges
· the fuelling of racial hatred
· the widespread intimidation of the electorate
No democratic country can tolerate any of these evils and remain a democracy and no country, with a sense of morality, can ignore such abuses without violating its conscience (Jeremiah 6:13-15).
I believe, Mr. President, that you have polluted your commission by abusing the authority entrusted to you by God and the Zimbabwean people (Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 2 Chronicles 19:5-7; Psalm 82:1-5; Proverbs 24:23-25; Isaiah 10:1-3; Romans 13:3).
I believe that, as a Christian minister, ordained by God, I have an ethical duty to denounce any of our national leaders who embrace a path that is immoral and oppressive (Exodus 5:1,2; 2 Samuel 12:7; Esther 7:6; Matthew 23:14; Mark 6:17,18; Luke 13:31,32).
I believe this prophetic responsibility necessitates rebuking wickedness without fear or compromise and I pray that the true church will not only refuse to tolerate such behaviour from you, but from any future President of our country.
Therefore, just as Nathan the prophet said to king David, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7), and as Elijah told king Ahab that it was his sin that had brought trouble upon Israel (1 Kings 18:18), so I say to you, Mr. President, that you are fundamentally to blame for the destruction of and oppression in our nation. The Zimbabwean people are being crushed and I choose to identify myself with them and say in God’s holy name, “Enough!” My prayer is for God to be merciful and deliver us from your oppressive hand and that once delivered, He would make us vigilant so we never again allow the framework for such oppression to be erected.
Finally, I am moved by God’s grace and a clear conscience, knowing that it is far better to die while seeking to uphold truth and justice, than to live as a compromised coward under an oppressive ruler (Matthew 16:25). Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help us all. Amen!

Rev. Dr. Derek Carlsen,  L.Th, M.Miss, D.Miss.
P.O. Box 3348, Paulington, Mutare, Zimbabwe
Scripture verses as quoted on previous page:
Jeremiah 6:13-15
13 “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. 15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20
18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.19 “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.20 “You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
2 Chronicles 19:5-7
5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city,6 and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.7 “Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
Psalm 82:1-5
1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. 2 How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked. 5 They do not know, nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are unstable.
Proverbs 24:23-25
23 These things also belong to the wise: It is not good to show partiality in judgment. 24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Him the people will curse; Nations will abhor him.25 But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, And a good blessing will come upon them.
Isaiah 10:1-3
“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune, Which they have prescribed
2 To rob the needy of justice, And to take what is right from the poor of My people, That widows may be their prey, And that they may rob the fatherless. 3 What will you do in the day of punishment, And in the desolation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help?
And where will you leave your glory?
Romans 13:3
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
Exodus 5:1,2
Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ”2 And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
2 Samuel 12:7
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
Esther 7:6
6 And Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” So Haman was terrified before the king and queen.
Matthew 23:14
14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
Mark 6:17,18
17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 For John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Luke 13:31,32
31 On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’
1 Kings 18:18
18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals”.
Matthew 16:25
25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”.
Scripture quotes taken from the NKJV, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1990
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New Zealand Is to Push For Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

----------------------------------------------------------------- Xinhuanet 2002-03-01 13:55:17

WELLINGTON, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- New Zealand is likely to adopt
sanctions against Zimbabwe and will push for its suspension from the
Commonwealth if upcoming elections are not "free and fair", New Zealand
Prime Minister Helen Clark said here on Friday.

Helen Clark, who will leave Friday night for the Commonwealth heads of
government meeting in Australia, noted that Zimbabwe's future is expected to
be the "main issue" of the meeting.

She said the Commonwealth has to decide whether it is "seriousabout its
fundamental principles which include maintaining democracy, human rights and
the rule of law."

New Zealand will be pushing for the meeting to send a signal to Zimbabwe
about the "consequences of not holding free and fair elections," she added.

The prime minister said her country would also support Commonwealth-wide
sanctions against Zimbabwe if the elections are not "fair", and if the
Commonwealth doesn't adopt sanctions it would consider joining European
Union's "smart sanctions" which include a visa ban and a freeze on
Zimbabwe's overseas assets.
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Zimbabwe Independent

Maize imports falter as potatoes run short
Stanley James

THE government's attempt to import 52 000 tonnes of mealie-meal before the
election has hit a brick wall as producers in South Africa cannot guarantee
the supply of the quantities sought in the time available.

Sources in the industry yesterday said the taskforce on food importation was
dispatching Airforce of Zimbabwe Commander Perence Shiri to South Africa to
try and negotiate the deal. The sources said Grain Marketing Board
operations director Justine Mutasa who is in South Africa co-ordinating the
importation of supplies was being called back and replaced by Shiri.

The sources said South African companies might be able to supply 20 000
tonnes before the election if lines of credit are negotiated on time and
transport arranged quickly.

Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst food shortages since Independence in
1980 and currently needs 120 000 of food - on suppressed consumption - per
month. The government has announced that it has imported 200 000 tonnes of
maize from South Africa but to date only 25 000 tonnes have arrived.
Spoornet, the rail transporter of South Africa, has indicated that it can
only move 120 000 tonnes of maize between March and August and road freight
can only move 10-15 000 tonnes over the same period.

Meanwhile, prices of fresh produce are set to increase dramatically this
month due to shortages on the market. The shortages have forced producers to
seek permits from the Ministry of Industry and International Trade for the
importation of the fresh produce, primarily potatoes, from South Africa and
other neighbouring countries.

Fresh Produce Marketing Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Natalie Shallow
yesterday confirmed that the producers were experiencing difficulties coping
with demand.

"The top four horticultural producers are likely to face operational
constraints owing to the limited output. In fact, the current situation
where demand outstrips supply will only be solved through increasing the
prices of our produce," she said.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Thousands of poll monitors could miss vote
Loughty Dube

OVER 150 000 civil servants seconded to the Electoral Supervisory Commission
(ESC) and Registrar-General (RG)'s office for the forthcoming election could
be denied the vote if deployed in areas outside their constituencies.

More than 22 000 civil servants have so far been trained as election
monitors by the ESC, with the numbers set to swell after the inclusion of
monitors currently being trained by the first batch.

The RG's office will further deploy over 80 000 civil servants who will act
as polling officers, presiding officers and verification officers among
other duties.

If the two bodies proceed with the deployment strategy it would mean that
monitors and polling officers will be posted within their provinces but out
of their constituencies.

The High Court recently ruled that restricting voting to constituencies in
the presidential election was ultra vires the Constitution.

ESC spokesman Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba confirmed to the Independent
his organisation would deploy the officers in provinces they work in and not
necessarily their constituencies.

"We carried out an exercise and from the exercise we derived a strategy that
will ensure that our monitors are deployed according to the province they
reside in, the idea being to cut on transport costs," said Nyikayaramba.

The ESC is expected to deploy at least four monitors at each polling station
throughout the country.

Nyikayaramba said so far the ESC had trained 23 080 monitors who will be
deployed throughout the country.

"The 23 000 monitors are currently training more people in their respective
provinces," he said.

The Registrar-General's office says it has not yet established the number of
polling stations to be set up throughout the country for the crucial
presidential poll due next week. Nor has it released a definitive voters'
roll, a point observers quizzed Tobaiwa Mudede on at their meeting.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last week alleged that
the government was planning to reduce polling stations in the opposition
strongholds while increasing them in areas where the ruling Zanu PF enjoyed

An official from the RG's office, who did not want to be named, said civil
servants should expect to be posted anywhere on polling days since they
would be performing state duties.

A source in the RG's office said over 5 500 polling stations would be set up
for the two-day voting period.

Meanwhile hundreds of people in Kwekwe will not be able to vote in the March
9/10 presidential poll as they do not have identity cards.

Over 200 people in the province have lost their identity documents to Zanu
PF supporters in a move to deprive them of the vote.

This week the Zimbabwe Independent was inundated with calls from people in
Kwekwe who were angry at the way they were being treated by officials at the
Kwekwe District Administrator's office. The office had reportedly run out of
film and was not issuing identity cards.

"We have been going to the District Administrator's office for identity
documents countless times and have been turned away on claims that they do
not have money to buy the required film," said one resident from the
Midlands city.

Movement for Democratic Change member of parliament, Blessing Chebundo,
routed Zanu PF heavyweight and current Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, in the 2000 parliamentary poll.

Officials at the District Administrator's office confirmed that they were
experiencing problems in securing funds to buy films.

"We have been experiencing very serious problems of late and we have not
been able to issue identity documents," said an official.

Chebundo said this move was a campaign strategy by the ruling party to
frustrate the urban electorate.

"It is really a nightmare to try and get an identity card in Kwekwe for
urbanites but for the rural folk it is easy.

"We are aware that some people are being transported from the rural areas
and they easily get their particulars (in town)."

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Zimbabwe Independent

Zanu PF steps up efforts to win over Zvobgo
Dumisani Muleya

WITH electoral defeat staring President Robert Mugabe in the face, Zanu PF
is stepping up efforts to court Masvingo political baron Eddison Zvobgo back
to the party fold.

The ruling party has now electrified Zvobgo's rural home and nine schools in
his Masvingo South constituency. The project, which took only 22 days to
draw electricity from 30km away, was commissioned on Wednesday.

Mugabe's lieutenants organised a gala on Wednesday to mark the event at
Shonganiso Mission near the Masvingo maverick's home.

Sources said 10 beasts were slaughtered and over $1 million was used to feed
the crowd, estimated at 20 000. Zvobgo was reimbursed $315 000 he had paid
two years ago for the project.

Mugabe has been accused of using rural electrification as a campaign
gimmick. Officials say so far hundreds of millions of dollars have been
spent on 18 projects and $42 billion is earmarked for more schemes.

Although the Masvingo function was purportedly an official commissioning
occasion, sources said it was intended to give Zanu PF heavyweights a chance
to campaign in Zvobgo's constituency.

Zanu PF chair John Nkomo, who presided over the function, Mines and Energy
minister Edward Chindori-Chininga and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) executive chair Sidney Gata - who is Mugabe's brother-in-law - tried
to turn the function into a rally.

Sources said Nkomo pleaded with Zvobgo to bury the hatchet with Mugabe.

"Put your differences in the deep freezer and solve them later. At the
moment we should face the common enemy (the MDC)," he said.

Source who attended the gathering said Mugabe's emissaries were shocked by
their unenthusiastic reception.

"Zanu PF officials chanted slogans and praised Mugabe but the people were
not interested," a source said. "It was a frosty reception."

Zvobgo it seems also declined to be used.

"Zvobgo never said anything about the election," a source said. "He spoke
about electricity only."

Contacted for comment, Zvobgo referred questions to Nkomo, Chindori-Chininga
and Gata, who reportedly behaved like a Zanu PF politician at the function.

Mugabe has been battling to get Zvobgo to bolster his campaign in Masvingo
province - which has the third largest number of registered voters after
Harare and the Midlands - to bridge the potentially damaging rift within his

The president recently dispatched senior party officials and army chiefs to
engage Zvobgo. However, the former minister, whom Mugabe dumped in 2000,
refused to yield, saying he would not be used again.

Publisher Ibbo Mandaza is also understood to have led a failed one-man
mission to lure Zvobgo back into the Zanu PF camp.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Mugabe's choppers burn $30m
Blessing Zulu

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has so far spent a staggering $30 million of public
funds on flying jaunts during his four-week campaign that has seen him
addressing rallies across the country, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Mugabe makes use of three helicopters when travelling to his rallies: a
French-made Cougar AS 532 bought in 1995, an Allouette 3, and Bell 206.

Military sources this week said the luxury Cougar with its two Turbomeca
engines costs at least $500 000 an hour to run while the Allouette 3 costs
$100 000.

The Bell 206 costs about $80 000 an hour to fly.

All three helicopters are used on Mugabe's trips. A journey to and from
Gokwe for example would take roughly one-and-a-half hours of flying time
which works out at $1,02 million dollars.

Zanu PF received $62 million from state coffers under the Political Parties
(Finance) Act last year. This figure however doesn't begin to meet the funds
required for the party's presidential campaign and government sources told
the Independent this week that the money was likely to be sourced from the
Defence budget. The helicopters are based at Manyame.

Mugabe has so far addressed 30 rallies taking him to eight provinces in the
country. He launched his campaign on February 2 in Mashonaland East
addressing two rallies at Chinamhora communal lands before going by air
again to Wedza. Mugabe's abuse of public resources contrasts with practice

"In the United States, if the president is accompanied by the airforce
during his campaigns, his party must reimburse the funds," said a United
States embassy spokesperson.

The same procedure is also followed in Britain when a prime minister is
seeking re-election.

"There is money allocated by the state to all parties and one cannot eat
into the state coffers," said an official in the British High Commission's
Political Affairs Department in Harare.

First Lady Grace Mugabe has so far distributed $2,2 million in cash and over
30 sewing machines at rallies addressed by the president.

The first lady's spokesman, Lawrence Kamwi, would not disclose the source of
the funds being doled out in this way.

"I cannot disclose the source of those funds because I am not in the
Department of Information and Publicity," he said. "I have been given the
wrong title by the press."

Pressed to explain why, as a public employee, he was unable to comment,
Kamwi said:

"That has nothing to do with your inquiries."

The $30 million spent so far on Mugabe's campaign travel is enough to
purchase 2 000 tonnes of maize which would bring relief to villagers forced
to attend his meetings.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Starving voters more worried about food shortages

FOOD shortages are approaching critical levels in parts of Zimbabwe, raising
the spectre of some voters starving to death before the presidential poll
next weekend.

Children have been fainting in schools, pregnant women miscarrying from
malnutrition and people going for days without food. Grain and vegetable oil
shortages prompted by severe drought, endemic poverty and the state-
sponsored invasion of commercial farms by "war veterans", are beginning to
bite. The staple maize crop has dropped by nearly 50%.

The United Nations estimates that about half a million of Zimbabwe's 12,5
million people are already going dangerously hungry, and many of them are
also angry - bad news for President Robert Mugabe, who blames the shortages
on drought and grain hoarding by white farmers intent on toppling him. In
the parched south, people have accused the government of "playing with their

Outside a supermarket, a young woman with a baby on her back, begs: "Please
buy me some food. Anything. I haven't eaten since yesterday." Around the
country, irritated people stand in long queues for hours for small rations
of maize, and police have had to calm unruly crowds.

Eddie Cross, economic spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), whose head, Morgan Tsvangirai, is Mugabe's main rival, said: "The
situation is frightening. Food shortages are causing extreme hardship across
the board and across the country.

"The political implications are profound. I would hate to run a campaign
amidst a food crisis for which there is no solution. Also, war vets are
leaving commercial farms in droves, because their crops have failed for lack
of water. Zanu PF's fast-track land reform - the heart of its programme - is
collapsing. People are blaming it for their hunger."

People are most at risk of starvation in the south, west and far north of
Zimbabwe, naturally arid areas where subsistence maize crops have shrivelled
in the absence of rain for nearly two months.

An estimated 2,7 million people in Masvingo and Matabeleland - more than
half of the population of those provinces - face extreme hardship.

New figures by food industry leaders, released to the Independent, estimate
a shortfall of maize of 300 000 tonnes, and stocks to deplete by February
and March. In 2002-2003, there is forecast to be a shortfall of more than a
million tonnes.

Three years ago, Zimbabwe was the bread- basket of southern Africa, fully
self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs with surpluses for export including
maize, wheat and soya bean meal. It supplied 25% of the world's flue-cured
tobacco and 8% of European horticulture imports. Now it is a large net food
importer and wheat, tobacco production and horticultural output are down 25%
to 30%. Most serious is the 50% fall in maize.

Because maize is in short supply, demand for bread has soared. This is
rapidly depleting wheat stocks, which are expected to run out by June.

The World Food Programme began distributing imported food relief to 40 000
people in Matabeleland North last week. It calculates that 19 of the
country's 57 districts are at risk. "The situation could get rapidly worse,"
says the WFP's Anna Shotton in Harare. - The Independent (UK).

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Zimbabwe Independent - Muckraker

Ben-Menashe great 'source' of news for state media

YOU can tell Ari Ben-Menashe has been in town. Zanu PF's tall stories have
grown even taller over the past few days.

Viewers to SABC's Special Assignment will recall Ben-Menashe being described
as a "fantasist" who spun tales that nobody believed. He was a serial liar,
a Newsweek journalist who was given the job of checking out his stories in
the 1980s, suggested. He was the master of the grainy video footage that
didn't quite check out, he said, cautioning anybody approached by the former
Israeli intelligence agent to be on the lookout for a "prima facie scam".

Now we can see the connection. All those mind-insulting conspiracy stories
being churned out every day by the state media are probably the product of
Dickens & Madson's political consultancy contract paid for by Zimbabwean
taxpayers in US dollars.

On Monday the Herald published one of their fantasies, which claimed British
intelligence, the MDC and Selous Scouts were smuggling weapons into the
country and infiltrating UN-run refugee camps in order to foment anarchy if
President Mugabe won the election.

The plot was linked to British High Commissioner Brian Donnelly visiting
white farms around Harare as part of a campaign to "do a Milosevic on
President Mugabe".

This, apparently, had been inspired by the "wave of violence" in Madagascar
where the opposition was challenging a rigged electoral outcome. Donnelly
was formerly Britain's ambassador to Yugoslavia thus offering conspiracy
theorists "evidence" of a link to the campaign, which overthrew Milosevic.

The Herald has at least provided Zimbabwe's civil society with a useful
precedent. The peaceful civil campaign which saw the overthrow of a corrupt
tyrant in Belgrade who refused to acknowledge his electoral defeat is an
obvious inspiration to the people of this country. So were the peaceful
protests in Madagascar which saw hundreds of thousands of people pouring
onto the streets when the opposition candidate was thwarted by the

No wonder the authorities here are worried. But as with all its "fantastic"
stories the Herald was unable to produce a shred of evidence - largely
because there isn't any.

The best they could do was cite "widespread speculation in diplomatic and
media circles" that Donnelly was about to "do a Milosevic". Donnelly
dismissed it as "total nonsense", which would have made a suitable headline.

Then there are the bare-faced lies thrown in for good measure.

"The MDC has requested for British military intervention if it loses the
election," the Herald report stated. Has it? What evidence do we have for
that? The same as for all the other fantasies which people have simply
stopped taking seriously!

As for Morgan Tsvangirai's purported interest in the furnishings at State
House, it is salutary to see how that lie emanating from Ben-Menashe was
quickly picked up and circulated by the state media. At least the link is
now transparent.

Professor" Tafataona Mahoso's report on the progress of his misnamed ethics
committee recently claimed that respondents had said media training
institutes should focus on patriotism and African values.

Apparently nobody mentioned blatant lies by the government-owned media. In
fact we haven't heard a single word from Mahoso, who doubles as a vitriolic
Zanu PF publicist in the Sunday Mail, about the complete absence of evidence
in stories appearing in the state media. Or about dubious "sources" quoted
to justify paragraphs like this: "(The MDC) came to the conclusion that they
will not win the election in October last year when success of the land
reform programme was assured. In fact the signing of the Abuja agreement was
a blow to British plans in Zimbabwe because soon after there was restoration
of law and order."

So the British signed an agreement that was a "blow to their plans"? Why
would they do that? And what happened to the "restoration of law and order"?

Mahoso may agree with these sort of ludicrous claims because they suit his
fossilised ideology. But his failure professionally to draw attention to
whopping lies, deliberate distortions and unsubstantiated assertions - ie
bad journalism - makes his committee's report simply laughable. He is in no
position to lecture anybody on journalism standards. Having witnessed what
passes for patriotism in the government media we can safely conclude it is
indeed the last refuge of that particular scoundrel!

We had a good example of the sort of thing Mahoso is happy to ignore last
"Tsvangirai sinks deeper into political oblivion," wrote Munyaradzi Huni in
the Sunday Mail as he continued his appointed task of rubbishing the MDC and
its leader every week. But Huni himself sank deeper to a new professional
low by attempting to interview himself in an adjoining column. Purporting to
be a response to public inquiries about the effect of sanctions, it turned
out to be a clumsy propaganda piece in which Huni asked himself ideal
questions which he was then happy to answer.

One example of this novel technique should suffice: Question: "Is the EU
being fair in its treatment of Zimbabwe?"

Answer: "The EU is behaving like a bully boy and treating Zimbabwe as if
it's not an independent and sovereign state."

You get the gist! Asking himself what the future holds, Huni suggested it
was time to "strengthen relations with countries like China".

This mirrors the president's remarks about "Who needs Europe?"

Apparently Mugabe did every time Grace wanted to fill her shopping bags. And
many of his ministers do when they want to spare their kids "Chenjerai
Hunzvi" schools at home.

And who is behind Mugabe's revamped image at Zanu PF rallies? When the
campaign kicked off he was wooden and dull. Then the PR men intervened. When
he arrived in Murambinda two weekends ago he and Grace were smiling and
waving their fists around in synchronised movements.

Grace, who has turned looking bored into an artform, has clearly been asked
to cheer up and look as if she is enjoying herself among the povo. In
keeping with the "Who needs Europe?" policy, the Paris wardrobe has been
temporarily locked away and replaced with colourful African prints. One
European decoration which has not been discarded however is the comfortable
French helicopter that ferries the first couple to Zanu PF rallies at
taxpayers' expense.

Meanwhile, Huni, who is the Sunday Mail's political editor, remains
blissfully unaware that the Commonwealth heads of government meeting has
been relocated from Brisbane to the Queensland resort of Coolum. Will
somebody tell him.

Huni's bootlicking is matched only by that of Phillip Magwaza who, writing
in the Herald last Saturday, attempted a hatchet job on Basildon Peta, not
to mention other journalists working in the private sector.

"Half-baked stories and fictions have become the order of the day," he
wrote. And, working at Herald House, he should know!

Clearly seeing his chance to put the boot in now Peta is down, the cowardly
Magwaza attacked Peta's record and those of a number of other journalists
who he childishly claimed had "demonised" President Mugabe.

But what has Magwaza ever done? What, apart from slavish adulation of the
regime that pays him, has he ever contributed to journalism?
Having rubbished a number of people who are better reporters than he will
ever be, he ended: "Need I say more?"

Yes Phillip. You should disclose details of the case where you reportedly
attempted to blackmail the owner of LeVanhu nightclub. And we hope you are
not still telling businessmen you can give them a bad press if they don't

It would appear that Mugabe has completely lost control of the Frankenstein
monster he has created. The Herald reports that the president has in the
past four weeks been addressing an average of two rallies a day at which he
called for non-violence and unity. But looking at the situation on the
ground, there are no signs of his message being heeded. Instead, it seems
the violent mobs Zanu PF created to spearhead its re-election campaign are
under the direction of warlords who don't take instructions from Mugabe.

If anything, reports are that they have set up base camps all over the
country where they torture suspected members of the opposition. Why are they
not listening to their boss when he tells them violence will not win the

Of course part of the reason is that state-controlled media have twisted the
truth about violence, as if it wasn't Mugabe who personally boasted of
having degrees in violence. If Zanu PF thugs cause violence they are
immediately publicly disowned as "unknown assailants" or - even more
preposterously - a "third force".

In the same Herald report on Tuesday we were told Mugabe had addressed 28
rallies each attended by nearly 20 000 people. Nothing is said about these
hungry folk being forced onto buses or to walk many kilometres to meet their
messiah and then being left stranded after Mugabe's address.

What do hungry people have to do with Tony Blair? At most of the rallies
that we have watched on ZTV people have been concerned about how to get
food, water, schools and clinics. None of these have been solved 22 years
into Independence, but that has not stopped the Herald going wild about
Mugabe's oratorical skills about the liberation struggle. But is that what
people want to hear about in this time of starvation? Are they going to eat
the past? Why doesn't Mugabe give them his vision of the future?
Unfortunately he has none and that subject is better left unmentioned.

Instead we are told Mugabe has been preaching his pan-Africanist views
"where Zimbabwe will be the land for Zimbabweans and no-one else". Do we
sense a terrible case of schizophrenia here? What brand of pan-Africanism is
Last week was President Mugabe's birthday.

Despite Mugabe's own admission that he is now in the twilight of his life,
the Herald showed him blowing out 65 candles way back in 1989. And the
wish-to-fact caption: "It is heartening that today he will be blowing 78

It was not to be and the whole thing passed as good as unnoticed. At least
we were spared any more hot air from that particular source!

Meanwhile, ZTV has been busy covering its tracks. We reported last week that
the sequence of the surveillance video footage in the Tsvangirai case had
been changed to suit the conspiracy theory. In subsequent screenings by ZTV
the time record has been blacked out so the cutting and splicing is less
evident. Guilty or what?
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Zimbabwe Independent

Diamond dealers fear Mugabe defeat
Vincent Kahiya

PANIC is setting in among diamond dealers with links to the Zimbabwe
government who fear that a defeat for President Robert Mugabe could
jeopardise their interests in the region.

Sources said a looming victory for Morgan Tsvangirai has seen frantic moves
by diamond companies that have benefited from Zimbabwe's presence in the
Democratic Republic of Congo and the illicit traffic in "blood diamonds"
that has followed.

This explains, they said, the dramatic disclosure by Canadian consultancy
Dickens & Madson, which has been linked to diamond dealing, of a plot to
assassinate Mugabe by Tsvangirai.

Intelligence sources this week said the relationship between Zimbabwe's
leaders and rogue businessmen, both local and international, involved in
trafficking in arms, gemstones and precious metals dating back to the
Mozambican civil war in the early 1980s, was under threat.

The sources said Zanu PF's partners in the diamond and precious metals trade
assisted Zimbabwe to fight Renamo and open up the Beira Corridor in the

"These are guys who once supported Renamo but turned against the movement
and provided information to Zimbabwe thereby undermining rebel positions," a
source said.

The news followed reports this week that John Bredenkamp, who is exploiting
diamond and cobalt deposits in the DRC, had recently put together plans to
sell off his claims.

Bredenkamp tried to sell his cobalt and diamond concessions last month but
the move was blocked by the Congolese who were unhappy about it, especially
after Zimbabwe had played a key role in ensuring the ceding of the claims to
the businessman, the source said.

According to a United Nations Security Council Report, under pressure from
Zimbabwe Bredenkamp's Tremalt Ltd in January last year formed a joint
venture with Gécamines, called Kababancola Mining Company (KMC). In a
25-year agreement, KMC acquired rights to a concession representing the
richest Gécamines holdings, the report said. Bredenkamp pledged to invest
$50 million in the mining operations, which translated to 80% of the
venture. Profits were to be split between the government of the DRC (68%)
and Tremalt (32%).

Gécamines is the largest mining operation in the DRC and has holdings in
government-controlled Katanga province which contain one of the largest
concentrations of high- grade copper and cobalt in the world.

Apart from diamonds Zimbabwe is also involved in what the latest Global
Witness report calls the largest logging concession in the world, Socebo
(Société Congolaise d'Exploitation du Bois), a joint venture between
Zimbabwean military controlled Osleg (Operation Sovereign Legitimacy) and
Kinshasa-based company Cosleg.

The company has started to exploit 33 million hectares of forest in the DRC,
15% of the total land area. Logging has already commenced in Katanga,
carried out by the Zimbabwean military in conjunction with a company called
SAB Congo. The export sales arm of SAB Congo is a London-based company,
African Hardwood Marketing Ltd.

Sources said the ring had since Zimbabwe's move into the DRC ensured that
the diamond industry in Zimbabwe remained a closely guarded secret.
Proposals to open up the industry and develop a processing plant have
largely been ignored.

Last year United States-based Flashes of Color, a gemstone buying firm, sent
a letter to President Mugabe proposing the setting up of a diamond industry
to process gemstones from the DRC. To date no response has come from of the
Office of the President.

The company co-owner, John Marsischky, told the Independent last week that
he had been approached by numerous senior politicians and military leaders
during a visit to Harare, all of them offering to sell diamonds which had no
certificates of origin.

Congolese officials are believed to be keen to prosecute both Congolese and
foreign companies or individuals who have not adhered to the terms of
agreements reached for the exploitation of their resources. They are
particularly keen to secure restitution from Israeli generals who have been
prominent in the Congolese diamond trade.

The timing of the release of a surveillance video in which Dickens & Madson
directors led Tsvangirai in explaining what would follow an assassination or
coup plot against Mugabe has been seen as linked to a scramble by diamond
dealers, many in South Africa, who will no longer be able to launder their
stones through Harare. - Staff Writer.

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Zimbabwe Independent - Comment

Attacks on Sadc observers were inevitable

WE very much regret the stain on Zimbabwean hospitality that attacks on
South African and Sadc observers represent. But they were inevitable.
Despite President Mugabe's public commitment to non-violence, his supporters
continue to abduct, torture, stone, and beat up other Zimbabweans with

Last weekend two South African observers in Kwekwe and Sadc Parliamentary
Forum observers travelling near Chinhoyi were attacked by rampaging mobs
belonging to the ruling party.

Now representatives of the region can experience with Zimbabweans the
electoral thuggery of Mugabe's party. And Zanu PF can no longer pretend it
has some ideological objection to European observers when its supporters
assail fellow Africans.

We hope that following these incidents, the South Africans and their Sadc
colleagues will stop dancing around issues of electoral violence. Their tact
has not served them well to date. But their sessions with the Electoral
Supervisory Commission and Registrar-General's Office have at least led to
some changes in balloting procedures which will have been reinforced by
Wednesday's Supreme Court judgement.

This is unlikely to save the thousands of people excluded by arbitrary fiat
from the voters' roll. The Registrar-General's Office continues to deprive
people of the right to vote in response to political directives but in
defiance of the law. Prosecutors and magistrates have collaborated in this
abuse of power. War veterans are being authorised to act as voter education
officers on acquired farms and are forcing settlers to practise filling out
draft ballot forms. Soldiers and civil servants dependent upon the
government for their incomes and promotion act as monitors of a process
already deeply flawed.

The police have written to the MDC to cancel rallies they had already
approved in writing in Harare and Bulawayo this weekend. The reason?
President Mugabe has decided to hold rallies nearby. The role of the police
in granting permission to Zanu PF to hold a march on Monday, February 18,
which turned violent, and forcibly breaking up a peaceful NCA demonstration
the previous Friday are now a matter of record.

But none of these interventions appear to be able to dam the tide of popular
opinion that is flowing heavily against Mugabe. His anti-British crusade at
the hustings has only served to confirm the impression of a leader locked in
the mindsets of the past.

The latest desperate bid to shore up his position - the treason charges
brought against Morgan Tsvangirai and two others - are bound to fail in the
courts because the evidence is not only inadmissible but heavily doctored
and of dubious provenance. Defence lawyers will run circles around any
prosecutor attempting to mount a case on the basis of what is known so far,
and that includes Wednesday's "revelations".

And the most obvious question: How much did the Zimbabwe government pay
Dickens & Madson to procure this "evidence" has not even been put yet. The
public, whose funds have been abused in this partisan cause, will want

Significantly Mugabe has offered no clue as to how he proposes to rescue the
collapsing economy, avert starvation and restore relations with the outside
world. Vague assurances that nobody will die of starvation and that new ties
to the Far East offer a lifeline are wishes rather than realities. A $35
billion agreement to supply Malaysia with commodities in 2000 has sunk
without trace. So have the one million houses and 850 000 jobs promised by
Zanu PF in the 2000 campaign.

That Mugabe's supporters still take his promises seriously is a tribute only
to his capacity to abuse public resources for political reward. And the
British, trying to offload Gibraltar despite the protests of its
inhabitants, must be wondering what Zimbabwe's prostrate economy holds that
could possibly lure them back to govern central Africa!

As the credibility gap between promises and delivery widens, and the tempo
of arrests and violence against a largely peaceful opposition mounts, Mugabe
is stripped of his threadbare nationalist mask. What we are witnessing now -
and the observers are there to see it - is a criminal regime clinging to
power by criminal means.

Instead of unleashing his supporters on people wanting to exercise their
right to vote and pressing spurious charges against a challenger who,
despite insults, he evidently fears more than anybody else, shouldn't he be
telling the public what he thinks he can achieve at the age of 78 that he
has failed to achieve over 22 years?

The trouble is, whatever he says now, nobody is going to believe him. His
record speaks for itself. Poverty and violence are his legacies to Zimbabwe.

Let's hope Jacob Zuma, making all sorts of misleading claims on Mugabe's
behalf in parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, will have had his eyes
opened by his talks with the South African Observer Mission and other
parties during his visit to Harare later that day and yesterday. Contrary to
Ari Ben-Menashe's facile pretensions, Mugabe is indisputably on the wrong
side of history. Southern Africa's prospects are in tatters as a direct
result of his "Africanist" policies.

Zuma, Aziz Pahad, Sam Nujoma, Kaire Mbuende and other apologists for this
violent regime should reflect carefully on the consequences of being seen to
indulge rulers who block the democratic rights of their people.

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ZIMBABWE: EU sanctions list

JOHANNESBURG, 27 February (IRIN) - "Smart sanctions" imposed by the European Union (EU) on Zimbabwe's political leadership have targeted President Robert Mugabe's inner circle rather than his cabinet.

Among the 20 people identified by the EU for a travel ban to Europe and a freezing of assets are Zimbabwe's top military and intelligence chiefs.

Second on the EU's list after Mugabe is Cabinet Secretary Charles Mutete, often referred to as Zimbabwe's de facto prime minister. He is followed by Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former security boss who has been touted as Mugabe's successor.

Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, Security Minister Nicholas Goche and Youth Minister Elliot Manyika - the ruling party's "political commissar" - are also named.

Also on the list are Information Minister Jonathan Moyo; Permanent Secretary for Information in the Office of the President George Charamba; Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa; Agriculture Minister Joseph Made; Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo; Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Senior Secretary Willard Chiwewe.

The military personalities are headed by defence force commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who had earlier said he would not serve a president that did not have a liberation war background - believed to be a reference to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Also named are army commander General Constantine Chiwenga; air force chief Perence Shiri; police commissioner Augustine Chihuri; head of the Central Intelligence Organisation Elisha Muzonzini; prisons chief Paradzi Zimondi and Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi.

The EU applied sanctions on 18 February in a row over the accreditation of EU election observers for the 9-10 March presidential elections. The EU observer team, which was to have been headed by Swedish former minister Pierre Schori - who led an EU team that was critical of Zimbabwe's 2000 legislative elections - was also withdrawn.

Mugabe has dismissed the impact of EU sanctions, and similar measures applied by the United States.
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