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

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      Mugabe criticises MDC 'traitors'

      President Robert Mugabe has condemned Zimbabwean opposition supporters
as traitors, as parliamentary election campaigning enters its final phase.
      Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was "a black man with white blood"
and his supporters were "sell-outs", state media quoted Mr Mugabe as saying.

      Election officials say conditions are peaceful ahead of Thursday's

      The opposition concedes that levels of violence are down but says
Thursday's elections will not be free and fair.

      "All those who will vote for the Movement for Democratic Change are
traitors," Mr Mugabe said at a ruling party rally in Mutoko, north-east of


      Police have warned government and opposition supporters that they will
not tolerate any violence on election day. "This condition is
non-negotiable," said police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.

      But opposition leaders say tough media and security laws and
intimidation mean the election remains heavily skewed towards the ruling
Zanu-PF party.

      International human rights groups have also raised concerns about the
climate of fear and intimidation in the run-up to the vote.


      Meanwhile, local human rights groups have released a report confirming
that levels of violence are far lower than previous elections over the past
five years.

      "There is general peace and tranquillity throughout the provinces,"
chairman of the elections supervisory commission, Theophilus Gambe, said on

      Pressure from regional countries is seen as having contributed to a
drop in incidents of political violence.

      The government has promised a fair vote in Thursday's general
elections and is thought to be keen to gain legitimacy after heavily
criticised polls in 2000 and 2002.

      The head of South Africa's observers - the largest foreign delegation
invited to watch the election - reports relatively smooth progress but say
they have had to step in to prevent political clashes.

      More than 1,000 Zimbabweans held a mock vote in South Africa's
capital, Pretoria, to protest at their exclusion from the polls.

      The elections are the last to be held before President Mugabe is due
to retire in 2008.

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Results of the Diaspora Vote

Sokwanele Flyers : 29 March 2005

Zimbabweans queuing outside the Zimbabwean Ebassy in Pretoria to cast their votes in a a mock ballot.The Mugabe regime has removed the right to vote in the Zimbabwean parliamentary election on March 31 from the estimated 25 to 30 per cent of the population now living outside the country. The regime’s own analysts put the number of displaced Zimbabweans at 3,4 million. These Zimbabwean citizens have been effectively disenfranchised by a regime which fears above all that the will of the people may prevail in the election. As a part of the huge and intricate process set up by ZANU-PF to conceal the will of the people and to rig the elections, they decided to deny non-resident Zimbabwean citizens their basic constitutional right to participate in the election.

But Zimbabweans of the diaspora are not willing to meekly accept this blatant theft by the Zimbabwean dictator. Most of them were forced to leave their homeland through political repression and the years of ZANU-PF misrule that have destroyed the economy. They are not about to suffer this further injustice without protest.

Photographs courtesy Beeld Newspaper (South Africa). Photographer: Alet Pretorius

A crowd of disenfranchised Zimbabweans voted enthusiastically in a mock election held outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Tuesday 29 March 2005. The results of their protest poll were MDC 442 votes, ZANU-PF 20, and other parties and Independents 10.

Photographs courtesy Beeld Newspaper (South Africa). Photographer: Alet Pretorius

It was decided therefore to hold a mock election as a protest outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria on March 29, two days before the Poll in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean citizens living in South Africa were invited to cast their ballot in this mock election in order both to register their protest against the theft of their votes by the Mugabe regime and to indicate the party of their preference for which they would have voted had their real votes not been stolen.

Transport and other practical problems in getting to the Embassy on a working day, plus the ever-present fear factor caused by the sinister activities of Mugabe’s spies even in South Africa, meant that the number able to participate was relatively small. Granted however that this can only be regarded as a sample survey of the Zimbabwean diaspora, the voting pattern is nevertheless very clear and highly significant for the election in Zimbabwe.

The result from the mock election was:

A landslide victory for MDC with 93,6 per cent of the vote !!!

Other sample polls and protest vigils are expected to take place across the diaspora in the course of the next few days. But let those who believe in freedom and democracy take heart from this, the first clear indication of the will of the Zimbabwean people.



Further details of the United Kingdom vote and how to participate:

Date: Wednesday 30 March 2005 – all night vigil from 20h00
Date: Thursday 31 March 2005 – mock ballot from 05h00 to 17h00
Venue: Outside the Zimbabwean Embassy on the Strand in London

Documents required: Nil

Note: Only Zimbabwean nationals may participate and each is entitled to only one vote.

Further details of the German (Munich) protest rally and how to participate:

Date: Thursday 31 March 2005 – protest rally
Time: 18h00 to 20h00
Venue: Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Zimbabweans living abroad, take this opportunity to show what you think of a regime that denies you the right to vote in your home country.


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Dead and buried but backing Mugabe
Jan Raath, Harare
March 30, 2005
SEVENTY-EIGHT per cent of people who have died in Zimbabwe since 1980 are
registered to vote and are expected to give phantom votes to Robert Mugabe
in tomorrow's national poll.

Supporters of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change say up to a
million phantom voters may appear on the register and that "ghost voters"
will be used by the ruling Zanu PF party to inflate the votes that it
receives in this week's parliamentary elections.

For instance, Tichaona Chiminya, a driver for an opposition leader, was
burnt alive in a truck. David Stevens, a white farmer, was shot in the back
of the head. They were among the first to die as President Mugabe's reign of
terror unrolled five years ago, but their names are still on the voters'
roll. Added to a campaign to deny food to opponents of President Mugabe and
door-to-door intimidation of rural voters, the opposition fears that it may
lose the election, even if it has the support of the majority of voters.

Last week Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar-general who has run all of Mr
Mugabe's electoral victories since 1985, announced there were 5.7 million
voters on the roll.

Topper Whitehead, who runs a pro-democracy group called Freezim and who
helped detail irregularities in the 2002 presidential elections, analysed a
sample of between 500 and 2500 registered voters in 12 of the 120

Mr Whitehead estimates that 78 per cent of people who have died in Zimbabwe
since 1980 are still registered to vote.

House-to-house checks revealed that almost half of the voters in the sample
had never been heard of at their addresses listed on the roll and the
duplication of names was common.

Mr Whitehead said that a conservative extrapolation of the statistics gave a
total of 2.6million "ghost" and duplicate voters, and a voters' roll that in
reality is closer to 3.1million.

"There is only one way he can win -- by stuffing the ballot boxes," he said.
"You need a heavily inflated number of voters so that a huge fake turnout
doesn't look unreasonable."

In 2002 opposition researchers found that at rural polling stations where it
had election agents, about 300 voters were casting ballots on each day. In
the handful of stations that were unstaffed, however, the count went up to
1500 a day.

The opposition has never been able to prove that fake balloting influenced
the 2002 elections and the Government insists that there is nothing wrong
with the electoral roll.

Yet Mr Mudede has defied three court orders to let the opposition officials
review used ballot papers, counterfoils and lists of checked-in voters from
the last presidential election.

And the opposition insists that in an electoral system whose senior
officials are personally appointed by Mr Mugabe, where polling stations are
manned by civil servants, including soldiers and policemen, and independent
scrutiny will be limited, required results can be made to order.

While the lead-up to the election has been peaceful, there have been
widespread reports that rural voters are being told that they will be
punished after the election for voting for the opposition.

Voters have been told that it will be easy to see who they voted for, as the
new ballot boxes are transparent.

Three million Zimbabweans who have left the country and could be expected to
mainly support the opposition have been banned from voting.

The Times

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Freedom House

Contact: Arch Puddington
212-514-8040 x21


NEW YORK, March 29, 2005 - As Zimbabwe prepares to hold parliamentary
elections on Thursday, March 31, Freedom House has made available its latest
report on the state of political rights and civil liberties in the African

The report will be featured in Freedom House's forthcoming annual global
survey, Freedom in the World 2005. Zimbabwe is rated Not Free, and ranks
among the world's most repressive regimes according to Freedom House's
rating system. Its Political Rights score declined this year due to
government repression of political opponents, civil society activists, and
independent media representatives.

Click here for the Zimbabwe report

As the Freedom House report points out, Zimbabwean citizens "cannot change
their government democratically." Freedom House reported last week that
President Robert Mugabe's government is withholding food aid from supporters
of opposition parties and preventing opposition candidates from accessing
the media.
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Zim Govt Accredits 212 Foreign Journalists to Cover Parliamentary Polls

The Post (Lusaka)

March 29, 2005
Posted to the web March 29, 2005

Chansa Kabwela

The Zimbabwean government has cleared about 212 foreign journalists to cover
this week's parliamentary elections, cabinet and presidential spokesperson
George Charamba has said.

In a statement, Charamba said out of 280 applications from various
organisations, including the United Kingdom and Europe, only 212 had been
accepted into the country.

Charamba said notable inclusions on the list were the United States-based
Cable News Network (CNN) - whose South Africa-based Charlayne Hunter-Gault
has in the past churned out anti-government pieces - and Sky News.

"We have accredited six journalists from CNN, APTN, Associated Press, CBC
Television and a radio from Canada. The United Kingdom has also had
journalists accredited, despite its well-known views about the Zimbabwean
political climate. Organisations such as Independent Television News (ITV),
the Financial Times, ITN Channel Four, The Independent, Reuters and The
Times," Charamba stated.

"Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Germany and Switzerland will also send their
journalists. France will be represented by Le Monde newspaper, Liberation
and Radio France. Asia's media organisations accredited are Xinhua News
Agency and China Radio. We are also expecting a contingency of three
reporters from Qater-based Arab Network Al-Jazeera, known for their sharp
analysis and independent views regarding international issues. All
journalists from the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region
have been allowed into the country and South Africa has the largest
contingent," Charamba explained.

Charamba added that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had been
denied access due to their prejudiced views about Zimbabwe's elections. He
said the Zimbabwean government also found it sinister to allow foreign
journalists whose organisations already had correspondents in Africa, adding
that they only allowed African correspondents who would bring out the
African perspective.

"It really does not make sense to allow the BBC when they already perceive
the elections as not free and fair. We have also denied entry to news
organisations from Australia that have taken the 'crown illusion' and the
British prejudice. Other journalists, David Blair and Grant Ferret from the
Daily Telegraph, the BBC's Hillary Anderson and the Sunday Times' Christina
Lamb, have been barred due to having previously broken Zimbabwean and
international broadcasting law. Anderson fabricated a story on national
service camps, which she later dissociated herself from, while Lamb had a
penchant to find corpses on golf courses," he said.

And speaking earlier, ZANU PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira said the BBC
had applied for accreditation of 64 journalists who had since been denied

Meanwhile, a nine-member African Union (AU) observer mission led by Dr
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan also arrived in Harare to monitor the parliamentary polls.

And a six-member team of election observers from Malawi is also expected to
observe the parliamentary elections.

The team will comprise of Reverend Emmanuel Chinkwita (commissioner with the
Malawian Electoral Commission), a presidential advisor, a member of
parliament, a High Court judge and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official.
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      Zimbabwe opposition says ruling party youths kill supporter

      Tue March 29, 2005 6:58 PM GMT+02:00
      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said on Tuesday that one of its supporters had been killed in a
politically-motivated incident ahead of Thursday's election, but police
denied the allegation.

      The MDC's first charge of political murder in this campaign followed
greatly reduced political violence this year compared to bloodshed during
polls in 2000 and 2002.

      The MDC said Gift Sunday was attacked in the MDC stronghold of Epworth
east of Harare by young suspected supporters from President Robert Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF party.

      "He was from the shops on his way home when he came across a group of
about eight ZANU-PF youths who assaulted him for wearing an MDC shirt," said
Tapiwa Mashakada, the party's member of parliament for Epworth.

      "We know the people who committed the crime. They are known and
identified ZANU-PF activists," he told Reuters.

      Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed Sunday's
murder but denied it was politically motivated, saying it appeared to have
been the result of a bar brawl.

      A poll free of violence and intimidation is crucial for Mugabe, who
has been fighting international isolation for five years after charges he
rigged the last major parliamentary vote and his own re-election as
president in 2002, partly through violent intimidation of opposition

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Financial Times

      Zimbabwe poll victor will face economic headache
      By Tony Hawkins in Harare
      Published: March 29 2005 17:16 | Last updated: March 29 2005 17:16

      Whoever wins Zimbabwe's parliamentary election on Thursday will face
some tough economic decisions, most urgently over the exchange rate, which
bankers say is now hugely overvalued and threatening exporters' viability.
In the last year, Zimbabwe's real exchange rate has appreciated by around 50
per cent at the twice-weekly foreign currency auction, reflecting one of the
world's highest inflation rates of 127 per cent in the year to February.

      The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) manages the auction as part of its
anti-inflationary stance, but the result is that a yawning gap has opened
between the official rate of Z$6,080 to the US dollar and the parallel
market rate of around Z$13,500.

      In March, the central bank could meet only 8 per cent of companies'
bids for foreign currency. Bids currently run at around $140m per auction,
but the RBZ can supply only $11m per auction. Analysts now expect the
Zimbabwe dollar to devalue to between Z$8,500 and Z$10,000 to the US dollar
within the next month.

      Economists also predict that the prolonged decline in inflation, from
622 per cent at the start of 2004 to 127 per cent last month, is ending.
They expect steep rises in the prices of food, fuel and electricity, all
held down by the government before the election.

      Price rises also seem certain given the apparently inevitable
devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar.

      The central bank's interest rate and borrowing policies are also
unravelling, according to bankers.

      Latethe government's domestic debt surged by 140 per cent in the last
month to Z$5,800bn ($953m, ?738m, £509m). Meanwhile the government is trying
to raise a further Z$10,000bn to finance an ambitious restructuring
programme for state-owned companies and local government. But the first
local bond issue, to raise Z$500bn, raised just Z$124bn.

      Market analysts say the government's Z$10,000bn target is out of
reach, and it will have to scale down its investment plans and raise
interest rates.

      With a budget deficit target of Z$4,500bn, or 7.5 per cent of gross
domestic product, and off-budget subsidies estimated at Z$3,000bn, the
state's total borrowing requirement, including the reinvestment plan for
state-owned companies, is Z$17,500bn or 30 per cent of forecast GDP.

      Economists say such borrowings are simply not feasible with the
Zimbabwe economy in its present state.

      With prices having risen almost 18 per cent in the first two months of
the year, the official inflation target of 35 per cent by December is
already out of reach. Equally unachievable is the RBZ's plan to merge the
market and officially subsidised bank lending rates at 50 per cent by the
middle of this year. The government is forecasting an economic recovery this
year, saying it expects real GDP growth of at least 3.5 per cent, driven
largely by 28 per cent expansion in agriculture.

      But poor rains and the sustained effects of the government's bungled
land reform programme point to little if any economic growth this year. The
London-based Economic Intelligence Unit recently forecast a further 3 per
cent decline in GDP in 2005.

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Mail and Guardian

      Zim torture victims pick up the pieces in SA

      Benita van Eyssen | Johannesburg, South Africa

      29 March 2005 06:16

            "For the first three days they cut your buttocks with a razor.
You lie down and they slice you. They slice your buttocks and tell you to

            At first it appears as though the seriously ill and fearful
34-year-old Zimbabwean is speaking about someone else's ordeal at the hands
of officers from President Robert Mugabe's notorious Central Intelligence

            Propped up in a hospital bed in South Africa two weeks after her
release from Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare, it becomes apparent that
the woman who wants to be known only as "Itaai" is expressing her own
traumatic experience.

            The side of her frail hand traces the path of the razor making
neat parallel lines on the blanket covering her as she speaks of what is
widely reported to be a standard form of torture sanctioned by an
increasingly paranoid ruling party against its enemies, real and perceived,
in the ailing country.

            At the very least, her experience is remarkably similar to that
which many opposition political activists and supporters of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) who have dared to question Zanu-PF party policies
and laws have had to endure.

            But Itaai insists she is just an ordinary woman with no
political affiliation, who had been trying to make a living in an
increasingly unbearable economic climate blamed largely on Mugabe's
mismanagement of the country.

            Illegal currency
            Last November she was caught trying to convert Z$11-million into
South African rand (R1 000 or about $160) in order to travel to neighbouring
South Africa to buy supplies.

            Mugabe had long outlawed the possession of foreign currency by
individuals in the country with an increasingly worthless domestic currency
and serious and chronic fuel and food shortages.

            "The CIOs approached me and said I was a money dealer," she said
in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, DPA.

            Her fate was sealed, she says, when they discovered she had
refugee status in South Africa where she has lived on and off since 1998.

            "They saw my papers and said: 'On what grounds are you a refugee
in South Africa? What is wrong with the life in Zimbabwe? You must be
supporting the MDC,' and I was arrested." The mother of one was put in
isolation at the prison. "For November and December they beat me and raped
me every day. There were four of them -- officers from the CIO," she said.

            "They send people from the government who pretend that they are
from the opposition to see you. When they offer to help you and you say
okay, they beat you. They beat you so badly because you 'support the
opposition'," she said.

            "They would pour water on the floor and tell me to sleep there.
I started to be sick in prison. When they released me, I could not eat and I
could not walk. I used to be 65 kilograms, now I am 45 kilograms," she said.

            Fearing for the safety of her family, Itaai fled to neighbouring
South Africa, boarding a bus with little more than the clothes on her back
and desperately in need of medical treatment for tuberculosis.

            She believes members of the ruling Zanu-PF's youth brigade in
her home town of Masvingo sold her out to the CIO. "If they suspect you of
doing anything against Zanu or of being an MDC member, or even that you
don't like Zanu, you are in for it. They can kill you."

            "My parents found me in prison a week before my release and said
'don't come home'," she said, adding "the youths will know when I return
home and they may come looking for me or attack my family." Itaai made
contact with the Johannesburg-based Zimbabwe Tortured Victims (ZTV)
program -- a civil society body that offers help to victims of the Mugabe
regime -- shortly after she arrived.

            "They are trying their level best to help me. I am getting
counselling. I need to stay here. I won't go back home. I feel safe here, I
even wish to take my daughter with me," she said.

            Zimbabwe's biggest export
            It is said that since 2000, Zimbabwe's biggest export has been
its people. Most end up in South Africa, where they live illegally or as
refugees. The violence and intimidation in the run-up to the presidential
elections of 2002 brought another wave of exiles.

            "We believe there are about 3 to 3,7 million Zimbabweans in
South Africa now," says ZTV official and a campaigner for the MDC, Mbiko
Moyo. "It escalates all the time. Very few are likely to go back unless
there are constitutional changes. Most find a way to survive here."

            Moyo estimates that "a quarter or half of the numbers here" are
in exile in Botswana. Like Itaai, many flee into exile for fear of being
tortured or killed. In the two months that it has been operating, the ZTV
programme has been helping 43 victims of what is described as "severe

            "The cases that we see range from cases where you find that
people have been detained and severely tortured to cases where victims have
been driven to redundancy and are dependent on psychiatric drugs."

            "They are primary victims of torture from Zimbabwe's working
class and youth, most of whom supported the opposition. A few are from the
military and from the police, though," added Moyo, a lawyer
            who himself fled Zimbabwe in 2001.

            Among them are a 19-year-old woman who was gang-raped by ruling
party thugs and a teenage boy who was badly beaten and sodomised who have
found shelter in the densely-populated suburb of Yeoville.

            The program is funded and supported to a degree by the churches
and non-governmental agencies from the southern African region and the MDC
under former Zimbabwean labour leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

            MDC national director of intelligence Chikohwero Sox has lived
in South Africa since 2003.

            "I am in exile now, but I don't want to be here," said the
former airforce office who is wanted in Zimbabwe on false allegations by the
state of having recruited soldiers into the opposition party, overseeing
military training on farms for MDC "soldiers" and the assassination of a
Zanu-PF "warlord".

            After being arrested four times in two years, tortured but never
convicted of any of crimes, the 40-year-old was forced to flee his home

            "They were using electrical systems to torture, dumping heads in
buckets of water. My doctor warned that my heart would not stand any more
electric shocks and I had to leave. They confiscated my passport so I had to
do a border jump to get here," he said.

            "Life is a risk here. It is very close to home," he explained.

            What makes life in South Africa even more "difficult", he notes
is that South African President Thabo Mbeki who has been accused of turning
a blind eye to Mugabe's jackboot approach, appears oblivious to developments
in the country across his northern border.

            "Mbeki does not believe there is a crisis in Zimbabwe," he

            Zimbabweans who find themselves trying to pick up the pieces in
South Africa have little assistance from Pretoria. Local church and civil
society bodies do however make a contribution to their efforts away from

            Human rights activist and former Amnesty International official
Heather van Niekerk was one of five civil society activists from South
Africa who toured Zimbabwe ahead of the elections earlier this month.

            The delegation were left with a sense that little or no voter
education had been undertaken, that the fear of a return of the ruling
party-backed violence and intimidation that characterised the pre-election
period of 2002 was a reality for many there.

            Strong perceptions that the poll outcome was pre-determined
might lead to a high level of apathy come March 31, van Niekerk told DPA.

            "With the violence in 2000 and 2002 having been so bad, people
there do not need to be convinced that it can happen. The ruling party
militias won't need to be seen walking and beating anyone up
            this time," she said. -- Sapa/DPA

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The Age, Australia

Secret agent mocks 'free' Zimbabwe poll
By an Age correspondent*
March 30, 2005

The Mugabe Government's claims of a free electoral environment were silently
mocked yesterday at an opposition rally by the presence of a Government
intelligence agent.
Perched on the side steps of the opposition's campaign stage, taking notes,
the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officer was clearly an
intimidating presence during three hours of political speeches just outside

To say anything deemed derogatory of President Robert Mugabe is punishable
by prison. But with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
experiencing an extraordinary groundswell of support just days from the
poll, its legal affairs spokesman, David Coltart, took the threat head-on.

"They have thrown everything at us," Mr Coltart said, to cheers from the
crowd. "The police, the CIO here today - look around you. Understand your
murder, your rape, your arson, your detention, your threats have failed."

There is a new defiance about town after 25 years of political and economic
hemorrhaging under Mr Mugabe's authoritarian reign.

With the poll just three days away, the aisles of Bulawayo's scantily
stocked shop shelves are perused by shoppers sporting MDC shirts.

Until now, such a brazen support for the opposition would have resulted in
beatings and police detention.
The embattled opposition has been heartened by massive attendances at
rallies by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who addressed about 25,000
supporters at Bulawayo on Saturday and about 50,000 in Harare on Sunday.

This renewed spirit filled the Bulawayo hall hosting yesterday's rally, with
people squeezing into the aisles and doorways and the hands of those left
outside thrust through the bars of windows.

As the throaty calls for guqula - the Ndebele word for change - electrified
the room, hundreds of hands leapt in the air, displaying the opposition's
trademark open-palm salute.

It's a far cry from just a few months ago when opposition MPs were
disillusioned and in serious debt.

Election-rigging, food supply threats and state-sponsored violence
surrounding the 2000 and 2002 elections had etched apathy and fear into the
Zimbabwean psyche.

The ruling ZANU-PF party was so confident about trouncing the MDC at the
polls it was arguing about how many seats to "give" the opposition to retain
a veneer of multi-party democracy.

But an opening for much freer expression was created after Mr Mugabe signed
a protocol for free and fair elections, drawn up by neighbouring southern
African states.

MDC leaders said yesterday the sudden surge in support for the opposition
gave them the confidence to believe they could win more than the 61 seats
required for a majority of elected positions.

* The name of the journalist has not been published for security reasons.



Formed in 1964 during white minority rule, one of two parties that led the
struggle for independence. Robert Mugabe, left, has led ZANU-PF for nearly
30 years. It won 62 of the 120 contested seats in 2000.

Movement for Democratic Change

Formed in 1999, propelled by a wave of popular anger at Mugabe's policies.
Won nearly half of contested seats in 2000. Last month it dropped a threat
to boycott tomorrow's poll.


Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's former propaganda chief, is expected to pose a stiff
challenge to ZANU-PF in his rural Tsholotsho constituency.
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Court gives Cosatu green light for demonstrations

March 29, 2005, 16:45

The Pretoria High Court has allowed Cosatu to go ahead with a planned march
and demonstration at the Zimbabwean border at Beitbridge tomorrow.

The court however ordered the trade union federation to observe certain
conditions. Cosatu is holding the demonstration to show solidarity with
Zimbabwean workers ahead of the country's elections on Thursday

The Union will be allowed to hold their protest action, as long as they stay
off the road or the shoulder of the road. The court also stipulated that the
protestors remain approximately 200 meters behind the border post. The Union
will also have to limit their supporters to 10 000, with at least 500
marshalls who will be responsible for the movement of the supporters.

Cosatu says the conditions are virtually impossible to comply with and could
set a bad precedent. Zwelinzima Vavi, the secretary general of Cosatu, says
they want to check with their lawyers and see if this could set a precedent
for demonstrations against Zimbabwe and Swaziland and other rogue states,
and they will take it on review in another court. Cosatu's planned night
vigil at the border post was not changed.

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Yahoo News

      Tuesday March 29, 02:33 PM

      Zimbabweans see no improvement after polls

      CHINAMHORA, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - When Zimbabwe holds parliamentary
elections on Thursday one issue will be uppermost in voters' minds -- the
dire state of the economy in this once-prosperous country.

      Although still seen as President Robert Mugabe's main power base, the
rural poor have increasingly borne the brunt of the worst economic and
political crisis since independence, blamed by critics on Mugabe's

      An air of despondency hangs over some rural areas and few residents
believe the March 31 vote, in which Mugabe's ZANU-PF party faces the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will herald a change in

      "Life has become really difficult. Everything, particularly food, is
very expensive. We want a better life, but I don't think that will come with
the elections. I am just going to vote because I have a duty," said former
bank employee John Mawire.

      Inflation is running at 127 percent, one of the highest in the world,
while the economy has shrunk by about 30 percent in the last five years.
Over 400 companies have shut down since 2000, leaving four in every five
Zimbabweans unemployed.

      "The government was doing fine, but they have lost the plot. The
dollar continues to fall, we are not even sure it's still there because we
now have these bearer cheques which also don't buy much," said Mawire who
ekes out a living growing tomatoes in Chinamhora, 60 km (38 miles) north of
the capital Harare since losing his job in the bank.

      Zimbabwe introduced bearer cheques two years ago after the country ran
out of bank notes.

      The Zimbabwe dollar has fallen in value to around 6,200 to the U.S.
dollar from a fixed rate of 37 in 2000, but trades at twice the official
rate on the black market.


      Villagers in Chinamhora said a drought had worsened their plight,
claiming that some people were going to bed hungry. Many spend every day
lining up on the main road linking Chinamhora and the capital Harare selling
guavas, tomatoes and sugar cane.

      "For three days now, I have not sold anything. People don't have
money," said Roparashe Nyare.

      Even so, the MDC has so far failed to capitalise on discontent in the
countryside and analysts expect a repeat of previous elections, with rural
parts mainly backing Mugabe's ZANU-PF and serious MDC support confined to
urban townships.

      Analysts have criticised Mugabe, who this month publicly ackowledged
hunger problems for the first time, for sidestepping the issue of the
crumbling economy in the election campaign.

      The 81-year-old veteran leader, in power since independence, has
denied his policies are to blame for the country's economic woes, instead
focusing ZANU-PF's campaign on attacking British Prime Minister Tony
Blair -- whom he accuses of economic sabotage and of trying to recolonise
Zimbabwe through the MDC.

      "Few will disagree that the single greatest need of Zimbabwe is to
reverse economic decline," said leading private economic consultant Eric
Bloch, in a recent article.

      Bloch estimates that over 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million
population is struggling to survive on incomes below the poverty line.

      "Instead of addressing substantive issues of national concern, the
target is an immature, childish personal attack that can only further worsen
Zimbabwe's relationships with key elements of the international community,"
said Bloch.

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Daily News online edition

      Zanu PF denies starving MDC supporters

      Date: 29-Mar, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party has attacked Britain's
Sky News for reporting that the party was deliberately starving supporters
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of elections on

      The British television network aired excerpts of an interview with one
of Mugabe's fiercest critics, Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo,
who alleged that people suspected to be anti-Zanu PF were being denied food
aid in the south-western Matabeleland region.

      "Sky News interviewed Pius Ncube in his church in Bulawayo and he went
on to make these allegations and called on the people of Zimbabwe to rise
against their own government," said Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu PF information
secretary, in an interview with the government-controlled media.

      "We have told the Sky News people to give us concrete proof of the
allegations that they made for their story," Shamuyarira said, adding that
they were "unsubstantiated and untrue".

      Shamuyarira said the government has distributed more food relief to
Matabeleland which was severely affected by drought.

      Ncube has called for a "Ukrainian-style peaceful popular uprising"
against Mugabe, who has enjoyed unfettered rule since independence in 1980.

      But Shamuyarira blasted Ncube, saying: "He is a mad, inveterate liar.
He has been lying for the past two years. As an archbishop, we expect him to
tell the truth and to respect the people of Matabeleland. He, however, fits
into the scheme of the British and Americans, who are calling for regime
change and are feeding him with wild ideas."

      The MDC and civic groups have alleged that the ruling party is using
food to buy votes, demanding that people show their Zanu PF cards to get
food hand-outs. But government has denied such allegations with Mugabe
promising the people of Bulawayo last week that all hungry people will get

      "It might not be enough, but we don't want anyone to starve to death,"
said President Mugabe.

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Daily News online edition

      The greatest challenge is to conquer fear

      Date: 29-Mar, 2005

      NEXT to apathy, the greatest challenge for the voter in the elections
on Thursday is to conquer fear. There is the fear of reprisals, the fear of
retribution and the fear of deprivation. What ought to embolden people is
that the rewards of triumph over fear could be abundant.

      Voters have been warned during this campaign that a vote for the
opposition is a vote for Tony Blair and the return of the country to
colonial rule. A realistic appraisal of this warning must persuade many
voters that it can become a reality only if they themselves, as the
inhabitants of Zimbabwe, allow it to happen.

      What is being offered by Zanu PF is, at best, vague and at worst, an
unattainable Utopia anchored on a mythical sovereignty which takes no
account of the realities of survival in the new millennium. Zanu PF cannot
guarantee the prosperity of the country, as it pursues an unrealistic "go it
alone" economic policy, with indistinct leanings towards the East, rather
than the West.

      The East has forsaken its ancient dogmatic ideological differences
with the West. For the sake of prosperity, it is prepared to sublimate all
those high-sounding, but eventually empty declarations to the material
survival of its people.

      The Global Village is slowly becoming a reality, notwithstanding the
impediments, albeit temporary, being presented by the provisions of the
World Trade Organisation. Zimbabwe, under the stewardship of President
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF, promise voters more pain as they pursue a
vendetta against the rich nations of the world.

      Independence and sovereignty cannot translate into poverty and
isolationism. Not a single member of the Southern Africa Development
Community (Sadc) has joined Zimbabwe, economically or politically, in its
"anti-imperialist" struggle against Britain and the

      United States.

      Most of them enjoy healthy trading links with the two and continue to
prosper, while Zimbabwe runs short of drugs, jobs, food, foreign currency -
all the things that ought to flow into a country proud to have triumphed
over colonialism and joined the community of nations as an equal partner.

      The Zimbabwean who loves his country and knows it deserves better than
Zanu PF has offered it so far, will not be deterred from voting for change
by this fear of the unknown.

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Daily News online edition

            Call for protection of journalists during poll

            Date: 29-Mar, 2005

            HARARE - The Association of Zimbabwe Journalists in the UK has
appealed to the Harare administration for protection of journalists to
freely cover the general election on Thursday.

            In a statement from London, the association challenges all
parties taking part in the election, mainly the ruling Zanu PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to make life easier for both
local and foreign journalists covering the election by being readily
accessible as the world anxiously await news of the poll.

            It says the security of journalists covering the election is
also of paramount importance, especially at a time when oppressive media
laws have recently been tightened, further curtailing media freedoms.

            "If journalists can zoom their cameras and carry notebooks in a
war zone why can't they do the same in an election process," said Forward
Maisokwadzo, the association's chairman, challenging the authorities to
protect and allow journalists to report events as they happen. "Journalists
who still have an appetite and energy to cover the Zimbabwe story should be
allowed to carry their work without being harassed, intimidated or

            The association also appeals to all journalists, especially
foreign reporters who want to cover the election, to accredit themselves
with the responsible authorities in Zimbabwe to limit chances of being
denied entry.

            "We are also calling for responsible and truthful reporting from
all the journalists covering the election as we look up to them to tell the
world about what is really going on in Zimbabwe," the Association of
Zimbabwe Journalists in the UK's secretary, Sandra Nyaira, said.

            Recent and on-going attacks on journalists and lack of a free
Press are a great concern to the association, which is calling on the next
government to repeal oppressive media laws like the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act. Such laws have had a great impact in making
Zimbabwe one of the worst places in which one can work as a journalist.

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Zim elections 'a sham'
29/03/2005 20:30  - (SA)

Brussels - The EU presidency had harsh words for Zimbabwe's president Robert
Mugabe here on Tuesday describing the upcoming general election there as a
mockery, in a speech to the European Parliament.

Speaking on behalf of the EU presidency, Luxembourg's foreign minister
Nicolas Schmid said the conditions surrounding the March 31 general election
in Zimbabwe were deeply worrying as Mugabe "would tolerate no observation of
this sham election".

"We're worried and shocked, not only by this pseudo-election campaign but by
what's been going on there for years," Schmid said, promising the election
would be debated at the next council of foreign ministers.

Schmid said the election proceedings so far failed to conform to accepted
norms and said the EU would take swift action.

Luxembourg currently holds the revolving EU presidency.

No whites invited

Some 5.8 million registered voters in Zimbabwe are to cast ballots on
Thursday in a poll that will be closely watched to determine whether they
meet guidelines adopted by regional African leaders last year calling for
free and fair elections.

Mugabe's government enacted legislation as part of efforts to adhere to the
guidelines agreed by the 14-nation Southern African Development Community

"We have invited many countries but not whites... the likes of (British
Prime Minister Tony) Blair and other Europeans," Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe refused to allow EU countries to monitor its presidential elections
in 2002 which were tainted by widespread charges of violence, intimidation
and poll fraud.

The European Union and the United States responded by imposing a travel
embargo on Mugabe and members of his inner circle, which remains in place to
this day.

Russia is the only European nation of the 32 invited to observe the
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'Vote will be rigged'
29/03/2005 20:30  - (SA)

Harare - The wife of a jailed opposition member of parliament standing in
this week's elections says Zimbabweans are ready for change but that
President Robert Mugabe's party will not allow a free and fair outcome to
the vote.

"There has been a huge groundswell. Everyone you speak to wants change,"
says Heather Bennett, whose husband Roy is serving a one-year sentence
imposed by fellow MPs for shoving the justice minister to the ground in a
parliament brawl last year.

The soft-spoken 42-year-old candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) is running in the eastern Chimanimani constituency, which along with
the Matabeleland region, are shaping up as key battlegrounds in the
elections on Thursday.

The campaign for the 120 contested seats in parliament has been peaceful,
marking a sea-change in Zimbabwe politics from the 2000 and 2002 elections
where scores of people were killed, opposition supporters were beaten and
their houses burnt.

"I think that they have stopped the violence to say that it is free and
fair, and they will rig the ballot somehow," says Bennett in an interview
with AFP in her Harare home on Monday.

Bennett dismisses the steps taken by Mugabe's government to hold a
democratic vote as "window-dressing" including the decision to allow
international observers, mostly from Africa, and for the first time,
allowing coverage by the national media of MDC candidates.

"The fact that the violence has stopped, I don't think that it's a genuine
gesture of goodwill," says Bennett.

"It's just window-dressing while the observers are here. I think when the
observers have left, the country will still go back to what it was," she

The Bennetts lost their large coffee plantation in Chimanimani during
Mugabe's land reform program launched in 2000 which saw nearly 4 000 of the
4 500 white Zimbabwean large-scale commercial farmers thrown out of their
properties that were handed over to landless blacks.

Weekend rallies

Roy Bennett - one of three elected white lawmakers in the last parliament -
was a member of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party until 2000 when he moved over to the
MDC, winning victory in a constituency that had been known for its loyalty
to the ruling party and which is home to many veterans of the liberation war
in the 1970s.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has chosen Chimanimani region as the final stop
for his campaign on the eve of the vote to underscore to Mugabe that jailing
Bennett will not prevent his party from winning the seat in the commercial
farming area.

Bennett's campaign, however, has been waged on decidedly different
conditions than that of her husband in 2000.

She holds rallies every weekend, contrary to Roy who never obtained police
permission to address a gathering of her supporters, and has been able to go
door-to-door to meet voters.

During the last campaign, Roy Bennett would hold "secret meetings" at night,
moving from hut to hut to address small groups of people, she recounted.
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Business in Africa

Zimbabwean farmers settle in Kwara State

Published: 29-MAR-05

Zimbabwean farmers who have resettled in Kwara State, are carving out a new
future -- mapping out fields, building houses and drilling boreholes. They
may have moved north of the Equator and more than 4,000 km from Zimbabwe but
farming is familiar territory. "We are very happy to have this place. The
land is rich," said farmer John Sawyer, pointing to the dark soil of the
land that runs alongside the River Niger near the town of Shonga.

Kwara State governor Bukola Saraki has allocated some 16,000 hectares to 15
Zimbabwean farmers on a 25-year lease. Sawyer and three colleagues are the
advance party, with the others set to follow later in the year along with
their families, 50 black Zimbabwean farmhands and 2,000 cattle. They will
run dairy farms and grow maize, rice and soybeans. Authorities and farmers
alike are bent on avoiding tensions between the newcomers and local

"We recommended them to be settlers not as sole proprietors of land,"
Agriculture Minister Adamu Bello told state-owned Radio Nigeria. "We want to
benefit from their wealth of knowledge but we would not allow anybody to
become lords over our people." Alongside the 15 Zimbabwean farms, there will
be a 16th farm which will act as a government-funded training centre, where
Zimbabwean farmers will teach Nigeria's largely-subsistence farmers the
techniques of modern mass-scale farming. "I think the project will be very
successful and we hope to impart our knowledge to help the Nigerian local
farmer," Sawyer said.

Saraki has said he also expects the farmers to generate jobs for local
people and help boost Nigeria's agricultural production. Some officials have
talked about the area becoming the breadbasket of West Africa, pumping out
crops of maize, rice and soybeans. Prior to independence and before oil
warped Nigeria's economy, the country's fertile soils provided the nations
wealth. The Zimbabwean farmers have the credentials to bring about that
change. Among the 8,000 or so residents of Shonga, hopes are equally high.
The immediate expectations are for jobs and improved earnings.

The only paved road in Shonga is the one that runs from the state capital,
Ilorin, but it is in poor shape and has collapsed in some places. The town,
which lies 400 kilometres north of Lagos, has been without electricity for
the last decade since a previous government agricultural project collapsed.
People rely on streams and a scattering of boreholes for drinking water. All
these things need addressing, explained Halina Yahaya, the traditional Emir
ruler of Shonga.

But the precedents are not encouraging. A previous government attempt to
spur development --- the construction of the Bacita Sugar Factory in the
late 1970s -- collapsed after it became embroiled in massive corruption and
mismanagement scandals. "Bacita was a big disappointment to our people,"
said Yahaya. "I hope this time the vision of the government is not thwarted
by corrupt people." And many people have their doubts about the whole
Zimbabwean farming endeavour. Tayo Olagoke, a businessman who hails from
Shonga but now lives in Lagos, believes that Nigerians could do the work of
the foreigners, given the right support from the government.

"With this move to bring white farmers, the government is making us look
stupid," Olagoke said. "If the roads were good and I was able to raise soft
loans to acquire tractors and other equipment, I wouldn't have gone to Lagos
in search of better fortunes." He predicted that discontent would bubble up
quickly in Shonga if the local people's earnings from the Zimbabwean farms
did not meet their expectations. Already not everyone is jumping on the
Zimbabwe farming bandwagon. Some residents in Shonga, fearful that the
foreigners will become landlords, have petitioned the federal government in
Abuja about the project.

The Fulani nomads, who are used to freely grazing their cattle on the land
that has been assigned to the Zimbabweans, are also a potential problem
area. Kwara State government spokesman Mohammed Kanga acknowledged the
Zimbabwean farmers have already expressed concern about the presence of the
nomads. "We have held a series of meetings with the Fulani chiefs and they
have promised not to tread on the farmlands as long as they are provided an
area where their cattle can graze," he said.

Even the law under which the land was assigned is controversial. The 1978
Land Use Act was passed as a military decree by Obasanjo, who was then a
military and not democratically-elected ruler, and gives all power over
Nigerian land to the state government. Under the law any piece of land
required by the government can be acquired. Compensation is paid for crops
or buildings that are razed, but not for the use of the land itself. To
date, the law has been used most in the southern Niger Delta oil region of
Nigeria to the bitter opposition of the inhabitants.

The law has remained a major source of friction between locals and oil
multinationals operating on delta land, and some analysts fear that similar
friction may occur in the central region where the Zimbabwean farmers have
been given land. "If all goes well all the aims outlined by the government
in inviting the white farmers may be achieved," Val Okeke, a real estate
lawyer, said. "But there is a worst case scenario, where their presence
might breed discontent and the unrest of the oil region is replicated around
Shonga."- Nigeria Today Online
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Black farmers in Zimbabwe risk losing their land

March 29, 2005, 11:30

The black farmers in Zimbabwe who were awarded land under that government's
land redistribution programme run the risk of losing their farms.

The ruling Zanu-PF says more than 40% of the farms redistributed are not
being utilised, and government says it will not hesitate to take the land
back and redistribute it again. The party says that while the land
redistribution programme has been a successful exercise, some of the land
has fallen into the hands of people who have no interest in farming. It says
it understands that there are numerous challenges facing emerging farmers,
but also wants to see results.

Problems expected
Walter Mzembe, Zanu-PF's parliamentary candidate for the Masvingo South
Constituency, says they expected problems but also want to see output.
Mzembe says some of the difficulties farmers face include their inability to
access finance from banks, poor mechanisation and the drought in the SADC
region. He also acknowledged that there were people who wanted land just for
the sake of owning it.

Mzembe believes that the land programme is an ongoing process and says that
Zanu-PF intends to do a comprehensive audit of the all the farms. The ruling
party believes the land was hard earned and it is for that reason that it
believes the land has to be protected.
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These lines are open to supporters to obtain information and make reports.
Report any challenges you may encounter, which will be attended immediately
on our hotlines, which are available 24 hours a day:

Harare:             (+263 4) 793259, 793260, 781139, 773142, 793250

Bulawayo:        (+263 9) 75233, 884080

Please PRINT THIS OUT NOW and put next to your telephone, and distribute by
whatever means to as many people as you can.
Thank you.

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      Zimbabwe Excludes 100,000 from Voting
      By Peta Thornycroft
      29 March 2005

With time running out before Zimbabwe's parliamentary election on Thursday,
there have been many last minute problems. One of the biggest so far is the
exclusion of up to 100,000 government workers from voting.

Close to 100,000 government workers have recently been commissioned by the
Zimbabwe government to work at the country's 8,000 polling stations on
election day, making it impossible for many of them to cast ballots in their
own election districts. The one option they did have to vote was by absentee
ballot, but the deadline for casting ballots by mail was March 21 and many
of the government workers did not learn of their poll monitoring duties
until after the deadline had passed.

Though their political allegiances are seldom talked about, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change says many of those working for the government
in urban areas do not support the ruling ZANU-PF.

Another issue of concern is the government's move to increase the number of
polling stations in rural areas.

Bryant Elliott, an expert on Zimbabwe's elections, says the new measures to
increase the number of voting stations means that a maximum of 600 votes
will be cast in each ballot box. This, he said, would undermine the secrecy
of the ballot because it makes it easier to identify how people voted
village by village.

Bishop Sebastian Bakare, head of the Anglican church in Zimbabwe's eastern
Manicaland province, says rural people are worried that if they are
suspected of voting for the opposition, they will be denied food. Only the
government is allowed to hold any stocks of the staple food, maize.

The opposition also has concerns about what happens after the voting. The
results at the polling stations may only be announced by a central electoral
authority, the National Logistics Committee. The committee is staffed by the
Commissioner of Police Augustine Chihuri and other leading government
officials. No independent observers or opposition members are allowed to
monitor the committee.

The opposition went to court two weeks ago asking that the committee not be
allowed to be the sole announcers of the votes. So far, the court has not
heard the case.

In addition, an opposition group, Justice for Agriculture, claims ZANU-PF
has warned several of the few remaining white farmers that if people vote
for the opposition at polling stations on their farms, they will be evicted.

ZANU-PF held a major rally in a rural area 50 kilometers north of Harare
Tuesday. The main speaker, Elliott Manyika, called for a free and fair poll
without violence.
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The Times

            March 30, 2005

            Sorry, the resurrection's been postponed
            Magnus Linklater
            Tomorrow's election in Zimbabwe will expose Mugabe's thuggery
and South Africa's misguided approach

            THERE ARE two kinds of courage. One is blind and instinctive -
Napoleon called it "two in the morning courage" - when adrenalin takes over
and you tackle the burglar in the front hall, or confront a gang of youths
breaking into your car. It is admirable but unpredictable, and it can all
too easily fail you. Instead of playing the hero, you cower in bed or carry
on walking.
            The other kind is sustained courage in the face of overwhelming
odds. It is deliberate and determined. It wins few friends and makes many
enemies. It can end with an assassin's bullet, or in the dark corner of a
torture cell. For most of us, it is beyond the reaches of our imagination.

            Archbishop Pius Ncube carries this brand of courage
unassumingly, but with burning conviction. His outrage at what has happened
to his nation, Zimbabwe, has never abated; indeed it grows. It takes the
form of open defiance of the most sinister regime in Africa, and it is
embraced in full knowledge of the risks involved. On the wall of his office,
next to St Mary's Cathedral in Bulawayo, hangs a picture of Oscar Romero,
Archbishop of San Salvador, who was murdered by death squads as he said Mass
in his chapel. Archbishop Ncube knows, therefore, what may lie in store for
him if he continues to challenge the excesses of Robert Mugabe's State, and
to expose the fraudulence of his elections. But he does not give up.

            When, tomorrow, the voters of Zimbabwe go to the polls, they
will do so with the words of Archbishop Ncube ringing in their ears:
"Somewhere there shall come a resurrection for Zimbabwe," he told his
congregation on Easter Day. He called for a "popular mass uprising" to
remove Mr Mugabe from power. "The people have been too soft with this
Government," he said. "They should pluck up a bit of courage and stand up
against him and chase him away."

            Words like these are an open invitation to the thugs of Zanu PF,
the ruling party, to apply their tactics of violence and intimidation.
Archbishop Ncube is fully aware of the risks. His sermons are monitored, his
telephone bugged, he has been told he is on a death list, he has been
subjected to a series of ugly slanders by pro-government propagandists. Yet
he is relentless in exposing the corruption and violence that has brought
the country to its knees. And he has been consistent.

            From the terrible period in the 1980s, when Mr Mugabe dispatched
his notorious Fifth Brigade to suppress dissidents in Matabeleland - a war
that is said to have led to the deaths of anything from 2,000 to 8,000
people - to the seizing of white farms by "war veterans", and the deliberate
manipulation of elections, Archbishop Ncube has never flinched from the
truth. He has exposed the facts about the destruction of the country's
economy, and the poisoning corruption of Mr Mugabe's regime.

            He has done so in language that is less than blunt. "Our
Government engages in lies, propaganda, the twisting of facts, half-truth,
downright untruths and gross misinformation, because they are fascists," he
said last year.

            This is indeed a turbulent priest; to support Archbishop Ncube
inside Zimbabwe is to invite the possibility of torture or imprisonment.
Outside, however, one might have expected that he would have the backing of
any government which believes in decency and democracy - none more so than
Zimbabwe's powerful neighbour, South Africa, which has its own history of
authoritarian regimes.

            Yet Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa, believes that
accommodating Mr Mugabe and attempting to mould him gradually to a more
acceptable form is more effective in the long run than outright criticism.
His achievements in this direction can best be described as modest. They are
as follows: in this election, for the first time, the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change has been given 12 minutes' broadcasting time on
television; there is to be an "independent" electoral commission, albeit
with Mr Mugabe supporters on it; there will be vote counting at polling
stations in front of observers.

            No one seriously believes that these reforms will be enough to
prevent yet another Mugabe victory, nor do they justify Mr Mbeki's claim
that there is "no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe will act . . .
against the elections being free and fair".

            Mr Mbeki's task, of course, is by no means straightforward. He
is acutely aware that in black South Africa Mr Mugabe enjoys the status of
an anticolonialist hero. At the same time he must know that six years of
quiet diplomacy have achieved very little in face of the forced exodus of
thousands of starving Zimbabweans, a wrecked economy and another manipulated
election. When, the day after tomorrow, it becomes clear that Mr Mugabe has
once again rigged the result to ensure the continuation of his evil regime,
I hope that Mr Mbeki will reconsider his Government's position, and apply
the force of morality rather than politics. Pius Ncube's Easter sermon
provides a useful text to start with.

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The Times

            March 30, 2005

            The sumptuous retirement mansion Mugabe has no intention of
using - yet
            By Xan Rice
            While his people starve, the president is splashing out

            THE dark blue tiles atop the pagoda-style roof were shipped in
from Shanghai. The walls of the three-storey house with four acres of
floor-space are lined with Italian marble. Arab craftsman decorated the
ceilings of the 25-odd bedrooms.
            Although photography of President Mugabe's palatial new mansion
is strictly prohibited, The Times has obtained a picture of the nearly
completed property that shows just how far removed Zimbabwe's leader has
become from his people, who are sliding further into poverty each day.

            "He is a liar and a thief," said a domestic worker in a nearby
house as he looked with disgust towards the blue mansion set among 44 acres
of woodland.

            Unfortunately, Mr Mugabe shows no sign of wanting to take up
residence in his retirement home in the exclusive Harare suburb of

            He and his ruling Zanu (PF) party are vigorously contesting
Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections tomorrow, and most observers believe they
will do whatever it takes to make sure they emerge trumphant.

            Since 2000, during which time the Zimbabwean economy has shrunk
by 40 per cent, Mr Mugabe is estimated to have spent £8 million pounds on
the home, which was built by a construction company from the former
Yugoslavia. Inside, there are reported to be double-storey receptions rooms,
a ballroom, and hand-carved fittings.

            Armed guards patrol the perimeter of the property, which also
includes a lake, day and night.

            President Mugabe, who has the use of two official residences in
Harare and others in Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare, already owns a number of
lavish properties.

            Media pressure forced his wife Grace to sell "Gracelands", the
mansion she allegedly built by using a state fund designed to help low-wage
civil servants.

            However the President still owns a Chinese-built mansion in
Zvimba, the area where he was raised, and a expansive cottage in Nyanga
highlands in the east of the country.

            But if Mr Mugabe climbed into his custom-made armoured Mercedes
and drove with his usual 30 vehicle motorcade just a few miles down the road
from his new mansion, he would see the ruinous effect of his controversial
political and economic policies.

            On the edge of Harare stands an expanse of huts and shacks whose
inhabitants were promised patches of land of their own as part of the
Government's land reform programme. They now have land, but no electricity
and no running water.

            "Nothing has improved for us," said Christine Mahushani, sitting
barefoot on the red earth as her two-year-old son Trilliant chewed on a
piece of sugarcane. "Life has actually got worse." With four in five adults
in Zimbabwe jobless, the Mahushani family could be considered lucky. Mr
Mahushani is employed as a security guard at Borrowdale Brook, the exclusive
golfing estate that Mr Mugabe's retirement home overlooks.

            Yet the Z$1 million (£60) that Mr Mahushani brings home each
month is not enough to pay for the basic food, shelter and education his
family needs.

            Although inflation in Zimbabwe has been reduced from more than
600 per cent to 130 per cent, it is still rampant. Household items are far
more expensive than in neighbouring countries such as South Africa. There is
also a chronic food shortage. Since the seizure of many of the country's
commercial farms, the agriculture sector has collapsed. Once a bread basket
for the region, nearly half of the 11 million people in Zimbabwe were
dependent on food aid last year.

                  The HIV/Aids infection rate, one of the few problems in
the country for which the President's critics cannot blame him, is one of
the highest in the world. A quarter of the adult population have the
disease. A child dies from Aids in Zimbabwe every 15 minutes.
                  Many families can no longer afford to educate their
children. Neila, Mrs Mahusani's 16-year-old daughter, had to drop out of
school two years ago. "It's painful because I need education to find a job,"
Neila said.

                  The family's hopes are now resting on Tafadzwa, 17, who
sleeps in a shack covered with a plastic sheet, next to his mother's hut.
Resting against the wall of his room is a wheelbarrow. On the floor is a
folded mattress, a candle and a plastic bag containing his tattered exercise
books. "I want to be a pilot," he said.

                  On the dirt road that leads to Mrs Mahushani's hut, a
group of women are wearing T-shirts of the ruling Zanu (PF) party. There is
no open sign of support for the Opposition here; it is merely hidden.

                  "My vote is a secret," said Mrs Mahushani, looking around
at the small group of people that had gathered. "But everything will be fine
if we have a new government."

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