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

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Mugabe warns that opposition election victory will not be tolerated

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria, and agencies in Tsholotsho and Harare
Wednesday March 30, 2005
The Guardian

President Robert Mugabe called the Zimbabwean opposition "traitors"
yesterday and accused the Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai of running to the British "like a puppy wagging its tail".
As the tension increased before tomorrow's general election, Mr Mugabe told
20,000 supporters that his party, Zanu-PF, would win a "free and fair"
contest with the MDC, whose leader he mocked as a "big-headed man with no

"He runs to the British like a puppy wagging its tail, campaigning for
sanctions, and asking to be installed as leader," he said at one of his
biggest rallies since electioneering began a month ago.
Later he declared that victory by the opposition party "will not be

Reginald Matchaba-Hove, director of the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network,
said he was concerned about Mr Mugabe's remarks and had asked foreign
observers to stay in the country for at least a week after polling for fear
of renewed violence.

The opposition said yesterday that one of its supporters had been killed by
Zanu-PF members: its first accusation of murder in the campaign.

The police denied that the crime was politically motivated.

The EU dismissed the elec tions as "phoney", yesterday, and said that it
would take unspecified steps against Harare.

"As soon as these phoney elections have been held, I can commit myself to
the fact that the issue of Zimbabwe will be on the [EU council of
ministers'] agenda when we next meet," the deputy foreign minister of
Luxembourg, Nicholas Schmit, said.

On Sunday the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, called for
a "nonviolent mass popular up rising" if Zanu-PF won the general election by

Yesterday he said Mr Mugabe's comments revived ominous memories of moves
against suspected opposition voters after previous elections.

"It may be quiet now, but we are not sure what will happen after these
elections," he said.

"You are dealing with people who bullied everyone into silence in the past."

Voters will choose 120 members of Zimbabwe's 150-seat parliament. The
president ap points the remaining 30 seats, so the MDC needs to win 76 seats
for a majority.

Mr Mugabe's former information minister Jonathan Moyo told Reuters that the
president's remarks showed that he was unable to accept a democratic

"[He] has an unfortunate habit of always accusing opponents of plotting a
coup. That might demonstrate his attitude to the democratic process," he

Mr Moyo, who is standing as an independent in his home area, Tsholotsho,
said Mr Mugabe's rhetoric showed that he was nervous about the outcome of
the elections, which he described as too close to predict.

He hoped that voters would deny Zanu-PF the two-thirds parliamentary
majority it is seeking, which would enable it to amend the constitution and
strengthen its grip on power.

Campaigning yesterday Mr Tsvangirai focused on the economy, as has been his
party's strategy throughout. Zimbabwe's farms, industry, education and
international relations had all been destroyed, he said, speaking in his
home region, Buhera.

"How are we going to rebuild Zimbabwe? You and me have to work together," he

Yesterday was expected to be the last day of campaigning, but electoral
officials said additional rallies would be permitted today.

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Independent (UK)

Mugabe prepares for threat of uprising by arming youth militia
By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
30 March 2005

The Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not taking lightly a respected
cleric's call for a Ukrainian-style uprising to overthrow his regime.

Sources close to Mr Mugabe said yesterday that the President had taken a
last-minute decision to secretly arm thousands of party youth militias. He
has already readied troops in case the opposition heeds the call from Pius
Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, for a peaceful uprising to oust him from
power if he steals tomorrow's ballot, as widely expected.

Archbishop Ncube is the Roman Catholics' second most senior cleric in
Zimbabwe. His unprecedented call for a peaceful uprising to stop Mr Mugabe,
whom he has branded a brutal crook who relies on ballot theft to cling to
power, has seemingly energised a previously cowed populace.

The sources said that Mr Mugabe had ordered the army to provide the youth
militias with weapons and maintain them in army barracks should their
services be required.

The youth militias were indoctrinated at ruling party training camps across
the country under a national youth service training programme.

Although they had been used previously to commit violent acts on Mr Mugabe's
enemies, he had not integrated them with the army or provided them with
heavy weaponry.

Mr Mugabe has also recalled retired soldiers and taken delivery of a
consignment of arms from China and Iran to ensure the army is well-equipped.

It is believed that about 40,000 militias had been trained in the youth
camps. Up to 15,000 would have been roped into army barracks by now and
supplied with heavy weaponry. Even if nothing happens after the election,
they will be integrated into the army and police to ensure their loyalty,
military sources said.

The Zimbabwe army and the defence ministry refused to comment.
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Sunday Times (SA)

Army of poor to monitor polls: MDC

Wednesday March 30, 2005 07:20 - (SA)

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The Zimbabwean official opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will
deploy its own "army of the poor" to monitor tomorrow's polling in the
general parliamentary election, says its economics spokesman Eddie Cross.

In a statement, he said the party would deploy an army of peasant farmers,
widows, grandmothers and low-income workers numbering some 35,000 - who had
volunteered to have their names printed in newspapers along with their
identity numbers and physical addresses - who would "go out to witness and
supervise the elections at 8,300 polling stations".

"They will have to walk to their stations in most cases. Many will sleep at
the stations they are looking after because they live too far away. Only a
handful will have their own transport and the MDC simply cannot move them to
their stations because they themselves have no wheels.

"They will vary from illiterate people who cannot write their names to
teachers and headmasters who have defied their government employers to help.
They will carry small packs - a candle, a box of matches, some toilet paper,
two kilograms of maize meal and some form of 'relish' to go with it. Perhaps
some water in a plastic bottle."

Cross said they "will have to man their stations for up to 24 hours
straight - no sleep as people will vote all day and in some cases well into
the night. They run the risk of physical violence and intimidation and
offers of money to abandon their posts or allow the operation of the station
to be subverted while they are there".

He added that they had already been threatened with the loss of their jobs,
transfers to hostile places and the denial of food and medicine for their
families. In Masvingo the head of the armed forces said this past week that
the "bushes would become soldiers and MDC supporters beheaded".

"At their polling stations they will enter a totally hostile environment.
There will be police present, probably youth militia, peasant farmers will
be faced with their traditional leaders all of who are paid to work for the
State and Zanu-PF. All the officials in the polling station will be
hostile - probably drawn from the army or the CIO (Central Intelligence

"Even the staff of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will be vetted by
Zanu-PF and will be proven Zanu supporters and cadres," claimed Cross.

But he said: "They will have had a days training from the MDC and a couple
of hours with the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission). They are the only way
we can stop the kind of activity that we saw and experienced in (the
election of) 2000 and (the presidential election of) 2002 - which resulted
in the election being stolen from the democrats.

"They are in small groups - three per station, in lonely places, many
kilometres from the nearest town. They are armed only with their principles
and pens. They cannot call on reinforcements if they get into trouble and we
may not even get news of them for hours after any incidents. But these are
the people who are holding the line for democracy in Africa and I am so
proud to be one of them."

I-Net Bridge

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New Zealand Herald

      EU promises action after 'phoney' Zimbabwe poll

      30.03.05 11.20am

      BRUSSELS - The European Union dismissed Zimbabwe's parliamentary
election as "phoney" on Tuesday, two days before it takes place, and said
the bloc would take unspecified steps against Harare as soon as possible.

      "As soon as these phoney elections have been held, I can commit myself
to the fact that the issue of Zimbabwe will be on the Council's agenda when
we next meet," Luxembourg's Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolas Schmit said,
referring to the council of 25 EU leaders.

      "At first sight it appears that they do not at all comply with
internationally recognised election standards, but the Council will
definitely take steps as soon as possible," he told the European Parliament.

      Luxembourg holds the EU's presidency until June and Schmit, who was
standing in for Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, was speaking with the
authority of all EU governments.

      Veteran Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Tuesday he had no
fear of his ZANU-PF party losing the elections.

      Mugabe is trying to persuade the world he has improved democratic
governance since bloodshed and allegations of rigging marred polls in 2000
and 2002.

      Some 500 international observers, from the South African government,
parliament and ruling ANC, as well as the Southern African Development
Community and the African Union will monitor the elections.

      But there will be none from the Commonwealth, the United States,
Britain or the EU, drawing scorn from Schmit.

      "Mr. Mugabe is not a big fan of election observers, in fact he won't
allow any observers to look at his elections," he told the parliament.

      - REUTERS
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Zimbabwe opposition's 'tell a friend' plan to foil vote riggers
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 30/03/2005)

"Write down the result, tell a friend, then run like hell!" This was the
order to polling agents for Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change, before they began moving off to monitor more than 8,000
polling stations ahead of tomorrow's general election.

It is designed to spread a word-of-mouth picture of the results at each
polling station before they are fed into a central election office in Harare
controlled by some of President Robert Mugabe's most loyal aides.

The octogenarian president is said to have everything in place to ensure
victory. Critics say polling stations will be run by cowed officials, with
voter rolls bloated with phantom voters.

In isolated rural areas and farms, villagers have been threatened with being
denied food or being sacked if they are found voting for the opposition. The
media dare not stray from supporting him.

Officially, four large groups of foreign observers will monitor the election
but they are all linked to supporters of Mr Mugabe, while any organisations
critical of the regime have been banned.

Three are dominated by members of South Africa's ruling African National
Congress, whose leader, President Thabo Mbeki, supports Mr Mugabe.

The fourth, from the Southern African Development Community, is led by a
South African cabinet minister, Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka, who has spoken
encouragingly on Zimbabwe's state-controlled media about the electoral
climate. Sources inside the observer groups say they believe the words
"sufficiently free and fair" will emerge in their reports.

The EU is highly critical of the arrangements. Speaking on behalf of the EU
presidency, Luxemburg's junior foreign minister, Nicolas Schmit, said
yesterday that the conditions were deeply worrying because Mr 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," Schmit said, promising it would be
debated by EU foreign ministers.

Justice for Agriculture, a pressure group, says Zanu PF has warned some
remaining white farmers that if people vote for the opposition at polling
stations on their farm they will be evicted.

John Worsley-Worswick, the chief executive, said: "Farmers in two provinces
have contacted us as they are under extreme pressure to ensure that no votes
are cast for the opposition on their farms. They were told that they survive
only because Zanu PF allows it."

This time, the authorities in rural areas will find it easier than ever to
identify who voted for the opposition. There are twice as many polling
stations in rural areas as in the last election in 2002.

"Zanu PF will be able to identify, village by village, if people voted for
the opposition. There were too many polling stations in rural areas for the
last election. Now there are even more," said a senior Zimbabwe election
lawyer who asked not to be named for professional reasons.
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Zim Online

Government militia tells people vote ZANU PF or else.
Wed 30 March 2005
      BULAWAYO - Hundreds of the government's dreaded youth militia deployed
in the opposition stronghold of Bulawayo this week are threatening people
here to vote for the ruling ZANU PF party tomorrow or face unspecified

      A ZimOnline news crew yesterday saw some of the youths, clad in their
green military type fatigues, patrolling the central business district and
the city's Belmont industrial area.

      An executive at a cloth manufacturing firm, who did not want his name
or the name of his company revealed for fear of victimization, explained how
the youths threatened to deal with him after he refused to tell his workers
to vote for ZANU PF tomorrow.

      "They came at my office today (Tuesday) and ordered me to command my
employees to vote for their party. I told them to leave, but they became
antagonistic and accused me of supporting the MDC (opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party) before threatening me with unspecified punishment,"
the company executive said.

      Residents living in and around the city centre also told of how the
youths, who were first seen in the city last Monday, were visiting them at
their homes telling them to ensure the ruling party wins in the city or face

      A resident at a block flats just outside the city centre, who
identified herself only as Phumzile, said:"We are sick and tired of these
youth militias. They have threatened some of us here and we have since
reported the matter to the police."

      Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena would not comment on the reports
that the youth militias were intimidating people to vote for ZANU PF but
insisted the police was working out to ensure a violence free poll.

        Bulawayo ZANU PF stalwart and the party's deputy national commissar,
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, however denied that the youths had been deployed in the
city to coerce people to vote for ZANU PF.

      "There is no vestige of truth in that. It's a lie being peddled by a
few individuals who are sensing defeat in the elections. ZANU PF is not a
violent party," Ndlovu said.

      The youth militias trained under the government's national youth
service training programme have been accused of torturing raping and
murdering MDC supporters. The government denies the charge saying its youth
training programme is meant to inculcate discipline and patriotism in young

      Bulawayo like Harare is one of the strongest bastions of support for
the MDC with the opposition party defeating ZANU PF in all elections held in
the city since 2000.

      Revelations of the youths intimidating people in Bulawayo comes amid
reports that an MDC activist was murdered near Harare last Thursday by
suspected ZANU PF militants.

      Open violence has remained relatively low compared to previous
elections in 2000 and 2002. But the MDC maintains that intimidation has gone
on unchecked especially in remote rural areas where traditional chiefs on
the payroll of the government are
      intimidating their subjects to vote for ZANU PF. ZimOnline.

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Zim Online

More polling officers expelled for not supporting ZANU PF
Wed 30 March 2005

      GWANDA - Five more polling officers have been barred from tomorrow's
election after being accused of being sympathetic to the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      The five, who are teachers in Matabeleland South province, bring to
1005 the number of people who were being trained or had already been trained
as polling officers who have been dropped from the election at the last
minute because they are suspected of not supporting the government.

      David Magagula, Dumezweni Nkala, Nkululeko Khoza, Stalin Dube and
Reuben Tshuma had to drop out of final training as polling and presiding
officers after anonymous callers told them by phone that they were no longer
needed because they were "enemies of the state."

      "The caller never identified himself. He just told me that I am an
enemy of the state, that I should pass the same message on to Nkala," said
Magagula explaining how he found out he had been dropped from tomorrow's

      President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party routinely accuse
MDC supporters of being enemies of the state. At a rally last Sunday Mugabe
repeated the accusation calling people who vote for the MDC tomorrow

      Magagula told ZimOnline that when he checked with a Mr. Chigare, who
is an official with the Registrar General's office that is training polling
officers, he was told that orders to drop him had come from "higher

      The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which is overall in charge of
the election could not be reached for comment on the matter last night.

      But Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, himself a well known ZANU PF
supporter, said people being barred from working as polling officers might
be known members of the MDC and could therefore not be trusted to carry out
their duties fairly.

      "There are many opposition members within the civil service. It is up
to the electoral officials to decide who is suitable for polling duties and
who is not," said Mudede.

      Earlier in the week on Sunday ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland East
province Ray Kaukonde barred 1 000 teachers who had been deployed as polling
officers in Mudzi district in the same province.

      Kaukonde, who himself is ZANU PF candidate for Mudzi, allegedly told
the polling officers they could not conduct voting in the area because they
were MDC supporters.

      While the ZEC is work charged with running the election Mudede
supported by former and serving army and police officers is effectively
running the show. ZimOnline.
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Zim Online

COSATU Beitbridge demo on
Wed 30 March 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
will today demonstrate at Beitbridge
      border post against repression and human right abuses by President
Robert Mugabe after the Pretoria High Court yesterday turned down a police
application to block the protest.

      COSATU spokesman Pat Craven said the union will hold a march and an
all night vigil at Beitbridge but would observe restrictions imposed by the
court not to blockade traffic at the border post, which is a vital lifeline
to Zimbabwe.

      Craven said, "The court granted permission for the demonstrations to
take place as long as we march on the shoulders of the road. The ruling also
says we should monitor the number of demonstrators and ensure that they do
not exceed 10 000 to ensure that they do not disrupt traffic heading to and
from the border post

      "We are a law abiding union and we will stick with the decision of the
court ..we shall stick by the provisions of the ruling."

      The union official said marchers will start converging at Musina town
near Beitbridge at around 9.00 am before proceeding to the border.

      The police had wanted the march barred saying it could compromise
security and safety of traffic on the busy highway linking South Africa and

      Today's demonstration wraps up a series of protests and picketing at
Beitbridge border post and at Zimbabwe's embassy in Pretoria by COSATU since
last month.

      The union, which is in a ruling alliance with President Thabo Mbeki's
African National Congress (ANC) party and the South African Communist Party
(SACP), has led open criticism against Mugabe and his policies.

      The powerful union on two occasions attempted to send fact-finding
missions to Zimbabwe to asses the human rights situation in that country but
its delegations were deported.

      The SACP backs COSATU's robust approach against Mugabe while Mbeki and
his ANC refuse to openly condemn the Zimbabwean leader. ZimOnline.
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Zim Online

MDC predicts high turn out tomorrow
Wed 30 March 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party has predicted a high turn out in tomorrow's key election saying
voter enthusiasm was high in rural and urban areas alike.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi said the opposition party was only
concerned with the administration of the election as more polling officers
who had already been trained or were being trained to conduct voting were
being dropped at the last minute after being accused of sympathising with
the his party.

      Themba-Nyathi said, "I have no doubt that they will not be apathy,
there is the same enthusiasm in rural areas as in urban areas. This is a
watershed election I do not see any apathy at all."

      Open violence has been low-key in the run up to the parliamentary poll
as compared with previous elections in 2000 and 2002.

      Some political analysts had feared that the MDC's decision to leave it
until February to confirm it was going to contest the poll might have worked
against it causing apathy among the party's supporters.

      But turn out at the opposition party's rallies as well as at rallies
by the ruling ZANU PF party has been high suggesting a higher turn out at
the polls tomorrow. ZimOnline.
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Zim Online

SA observers broker peace
Wed 30 March 2005

      HARARE - The South African government observer mission on Tuesday met
Catholic Church bishop, Pius Ncube, in an attempt to resolve differences
between the clergyman and President Robert Mugabe and his government.

      Leader of Pretoria's observer mission Ngoako Ramatlhodi told the Press
that they were concerned with statements by the bishop, a long time critic
of Mugabe, that Zimbabweans were so fed up with Mugabe that most of them
were parrying that he dies.

      Ncube also accused Mugabe, who belongs to the majority Shona tribe,
was denying food to the minority Ndebele tribe in southern Zimbabwe as
punishment for supporting the opposition.

      Mugabe and his government have dismissed Ncube's accusations saying
the bishop was bent on dividing Zimbabweans along tribal lines. ZimOnline.
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Independent (UK)

Secret tour of Zimbabwean wards shows collapse of health system
By Meera Selva in Bulawayo
30 March 2005

Driving into one of the main public hospitals in Bulawayo, you pass a wide,
curved roundabout outside casualty. It was carefully designed to allow
several ambulances to drop patients off as close to the door as possible,
before driving off seamlessly to another emergency.

But now, the driveway is empty. Most patients who can afford the hospital
fees come in on rickety minibuses, with every jolt making their pain worse.
The wealthier come in borrowed cars that belch fumes, making the passengers

One doctor remembers exactly when the ambulances disappeared. "During the
constitutional referendum [in early 2000] Zanu-PF commandeered all
parastatal transport, including ambulances, to go and campaign," he
recalled. "The vehicles were completely wrecked and a viable hospital
referral system, which brought patients in from the countryside at regular
intervals, disappeared."

Zimbabwe's health sector was once the envy of other African countries, but
two decades of mismanagement, neglect and theft have left the country short
of medical care. The government realises that the health sector is something
to be ashamed of - it rarely allows foreigners to enter public hospitals
unless they are on an official, state-approved tour.

One doctor, who asked not to be identified, agreed to show me around his
hospital as long as I pretended I was searching for a relative. "Maybe your
'uncle' is in here," he said, opening the door to the emergency operating
theatre. "Though I hope for his sake he isn't."

It was clear what he meant - the furniture was broken, and the overhead
light, needed for surgeons to see what they are operating on, needed a new
fuse. Technically, the hospital still had a functioning casualty unit but
anyone needing emergency surgery risked being killed by a collapsing
operating table.

The other wards were just as chaotic. The maternity ward has a working
ultrasound machine, but the person who knows how it works only comes in two
days a week. The store-room was alarmingly bare. The hospital was short of
the basic medicines needed to treat heart disease, fevers and malaria.
Expensive drugs like anti-retrovirals did not exist. Most of the shortages
appear to be caused by erratic financing.

"There is a different excuse for everything, but I'm not interested," the
doctor said. "In one case, the contract is given to an indigenous supplier
who could not deliver, another company was not paid for 12 months so stopped
shipping medicines, or the manager simply has no idea how many canulas he
needs to order each month."

Well-trained medical staff have already fled the country. The doctor who
showed us around the hospital said five of his colleagues have left in the
past few years - some because they were offered better salaries elsewhere,
others because they were car-jacked or fed up with the working conditions.
Inflation is so high in some areas that the government has recruited Cuban
doctors and paid them in foreign currency to cope with shortages.

Now, the wealthy in Zimbabwe go to private hospitals. The poorest have
simply given up on medical care. Since the government reintroduced an
upfront fee in the same year that it gave large payouts to war veterans, at
least half the hospital beds have lain empty. The staff say patients cannot
afford the bus fare to the hospital, never mind the admission fees. And
since the 1990s, standards in hospitals have fallen so much that most
patients know that, even if they are seen by a doctor, they will not be

"People have lost faith in the system," said the doctor. They think: 'Why
spend money on a sub-standard, ineffective service?' Now, if they really
want to be cured, they go to a witch doctor." Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is
33 years, compared to 63 in 1988.

The decline of the health sector coincides with a rapid rise in the rate of
HIV infection. A report by Unicef shows that the country has the fourth
highest level of HIV/Aids in the world with at least one in every four
people being infected.

The government in Harare has added a 6 per cent Aids levy on income tax to
combat the problem, but it is not clear where this money is going. Only two
clinics in Bulawayo can supply anti-retroviral drugs, and the waiting time
just to be seen is five months.

Most staff remember the better days. At independence, Zimbabwe boasted that
it had the best medical system on the continent after South Africa - all the
new government had to do was make it accessible to everyone. "At
independence, Zimbabwe had a very viable medical system," said the doctor.
"The whites had the biggest share of the cake. That was obviously bad. The
government pushed through measures to equalise things for a halcyon period
before things were messed up. Now, after all that, we have a health system
on a par with Burkina Faso."
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Washington Post Editorial

Zimbabwe Votes
Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page A14

IT'S EASY TO SEE why Zimbabwe's Archbishop Pius Ncube calls for a "people
power" uprising in his country. The parliamentary elections on Thursday have
been rigged so comprehensively that it's unlikely President Robert Mugabe
will be unseated no matter how much his 25 years in office have harmed his
countrymen. At least 1 million of the 5.7 million names on Zimbabwe's voter
rolls are thought to be fictitious; the ballot boxes are made of transparent
plastic; the polling stations will be run by pro-Mugabe thugs from his
security forces. The campaign, though less violent than some previously, has
featured brutal intimidation. People have been told that districts that
support the opposition will be denied food distributions, a potent threat in
a country where one-third of the population is on the verge of hunger. The
main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been forced to defend himself
against treason charges, and recently more than 200 of his supporters were
arrested after attending his rallies. "I hope that people get so
disillusioned that they really organize against the government and kick him
out by a nonviolent, popular, mass uprising," Archbishop Ncube told a South
African newspaper over the weekend.

If brave Zimbabweans can be that outspoken, the question is why other
African leaders are not. South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, has talked
grandly of a new African determination to create fairer and more honest
government, and this determination is cited by Africa boosters who want rich
countries to come up with extra aid. Zimbabwe is a model not only of bad
government but also of its consequences: Over the past five years, the
economy has contracted by a third; inflation has hit three digits; and some
3 million Zimbabweans have emigrated in search of work. Yet Mr. Mbeki
refuses to criticize Mr. Mugabe publicly, even though he has the power to
switch off his northern neighbor's electricity. To the contrary, Mr. Mbeki
has announced that he is confident Zimbabwe's elections will be fair.

This refusal to recognize an obvious problem, analogous to Mr. Mbeki's
earlier refusal to acknowledge the threat to his people from the AIDS virus,
should not be politely ignored by Western donors, notably the British
government. The British are leading the international charge for expanded
aid for Africa this year; they want assistance to double immediately and
eventually to triple. In making the case for this expansion, the British are
happy to present the democratic leaders of South Africa and Nigeria as
evidence that democracy is taking root on the continent and that Africans
are doing their part to tackle their own problems. But Mr. Mbeki's position
on Zimbabwe makes it hard to take him seriously as a force for broader
political reform in Africa. If Britain wants other donors to accept the idea
that Africa deserves more aid, it should tell South Africa's leader to make
good on his rhetoric about good governance by condemning a fraudulent vote
in Zimbabwe.
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The Star

      Ruling party probed for blocking poll officers
      March 30, 2005

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      Harare - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is investing allegations
that the ruling party, Zanu-PF, has prevented 800 polling officers who were
deployed to manage voting stations from resuming duty.

      Utloile Silaigwana, spokes-person for the commission, yesterday
confirmed that they had received such complaints. "At the moment we have not
made any findings but we are investigating. We take it very seriously."

      The opposition MDC claims that 800 polling officers arrived at the
Mudzi East parliamentary offices at the Kotwe Business Centre on Sunday,
only to be told to go back to Harare upon arrival.

      "The polling officers could not take the guard's word and decided to
seek an audience with the district administrator.

      "A delegation representing the polling officers met at about 10am with
the district administrator, who told them that he had enough human resources
to run the elections and did not need polling officers from Harare," said
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

      "While the delegation representing the polling officers was meeting
with the district administrator, the Zanu-PF candidate for Mudzi East, Ray
Kaukonde, came to the centre in the company of other Zanu-PF leaders, who
told the polling officers they were not wanted in Mudzi because they were
MDC supporters and sympathisers."

      Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu-PF's secretary for information and
publicity, dismissed the allegations as the influence of British and
Americans who don't want to see "peaceful and well-organised elections".

      "These are false statements coming from groups under the influence of
Britain and the US. These allegations are entirely bogus.

      "We are not involved in the training and deployment of polling
officers - it is the duty of the electoral commission. The British are
trying to generate conflict in the last minutes to undermine our elections,"
said Shamuyarira.

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      Africa's Pol Pot

            By Roger Bate  Published   03/30/2005

      BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- As Zimbabweans prepare to go to the polls on
Thursday and Zimbabwe receives global attention, if only for a few hours, it
is important that the desperate HIV situation there is acknowledged -- if
for no other reason than it is beginning to harm regional AIDS control
programs funded by the US Government and the private sector.

      '"If I had enough to eat I could take the adult dose", claims Lucy who
is one of the "lucky" Zimbabweans receiving treatment for HIV. Fragile, just
able to lift her arm, I was apparently seeing her at her best in her small
shabby house she shares with too many others in the unbearably poor
outskirts of Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.

      Everything is falling to pieces in Bulawayo and especially the health
care system. But while the regional African Presidents see refugees pushing
up their burden of malaria and HIV, they shy from breaking ranks with a
fellow African leader and refuse to condemn Zimbabwe's patent contempt for
democracy. It's time to ask whether aid to the region should be stopped
until these spineless leaders decide to act on the only leader Zimbabwe has
ever known -- his excellency, comrade President Robert Mugabe.

      Zimbabwe's rapidly escalating and politically-induced humanitarian
disaster, which has manifested itself in chronic shortages of food,
medicine, fuel, electricity and hard cash, has driven over three million
Zimbabweans into South Africa, Botswana and other neighboring states. In a
chilling echo of what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia in the 1970s, Didymus
Mutasa, Secretary of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF government, said: "We would
be better off with only six million people". Prior to the crisis, Zimbabwe's
population estimate was 12 million; today 60 to 70 percent of the country's
productive population is now living elsewhere. Since the World Food
Programme (WFP) was thrown out of the country in December, what food remains
is allocated along political lines, leaving over 5 million malnourished:
Secretary Mutasa may get his wish.

      Zimbabwean Health Collapse -- Probably the Worst in the World

      According to Amnesty International many refugees are assaulted or
raped on arrival and destitute young women frequently end up as prostitutes.
The refugees know it's going to be very hard, but leaving is still
preferable to staying.

      Twenty years ago, life expectancy in Zimbabwe was 58; in 2002 it was
33 and dropping. The official HIV/AIDS rate in 2002 was about 25 percent
(the highest in the world for any sizeable country), but the real rate is
probably much higher. With no hope for treatment, and little for long term
survival, behavior rapidly worsens. According to one survey, over a third of
Zimbabwean men who are aware they are HIV positive do not tell their
partners they have the disease. And astonishingly 79% of women surveyed said
they would not tell their partner if they had HIV. As one put it to me -
"life is too short here to worry about HIV."

      Dr. Mark Dixon from Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo says that 70 percent of
the patients he treats for any reason carry the HIV virus. A possible
explanation for this extraordinary number is the high incidence of
unprotected sex (usually rape) in Mugabe's youth camps, where sexual power
is used to suppress dissent against the ruling party.

      Over 250,000 Zimbabweans now die from AIDS annually. Many sufferers
have no drugs and no future, as they are too sick to travel and seek
treatment abroad. The only good thing about this is that they won't carry
the virus elsewhere. Younger Zimbabweans, who are generally healthy though
malnourished, leave if they possibly can. This is exactly the age group that
carries the highest HIV burden -- estimated by local doctors to be over 40
percent -- and they take the virus with them wherever they go.

      To make matters worse, some of the Zimbabwean strains of HIV are
probably resistant to drugs that were used in frequently interrupted trials
in Zimbabwe. In Bulawayo, Lucy's drug regimen has been changed twice in the
past six months, once due to drug shortages, the second due to lack of food,
without which she was unable to take the correct dosage of drugs.

      South Africa Takes the Strain, Can Others?

      South Africa, with its 42 million people, is perhaps big enough and
rich enough to accommodate the Zimbabwean influx. Other countries are not so
well placed. According to figures from nongovernmental organizations working
in the region, Botswana, with just over a million people, now probably hosts
more than 200,000 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. And that allows for the
thousands who are unofficially deported from Botswana back to Zimbabwe every
week (official figures talk of only 2,500 per month, but NGOs say it's far
higher).The permanent and temporary influx has caused terrible strains,
leading to conflict, rape, and the possibility of increasing the HIV rate
from an already staggering 38 percent.

      The HIV infection rate in Zambia and Mozambique is worsening. Official
figures say it's 16.5% and 12.2% respectively, but neither country has the
level of border control enjoyed by Botswana and hundreds of thousands of
HIV-positive Zimbabweans may well be entering both countries.

      According to Michael Biemba, the Livingstone council AIDS coordinator,
HIV rates are 55% in Livingstone (the closest Zambian town to Zimbabwe) and
this is partly due to the influx of prostitutes from Zimbabwe. There are
fights breaking out between local sex workers and the influx of desperate
Zimbabweans who are undercutting their prices. AIDS rates in close by Katima
Mulilo in Namibia and Kasane in Botswana are also high and rising, and
Zimbabwean sex workers are largely to blame there, too. One Zambian doctor
monitoring AIDS in this border region said that rates of over 60% were not
unusual. Given the lag for HIV to take its fatal toll, the Zimbabwean influx
into the entirety of its neighboring states will take time to really show
its worst effects, but the worst is what we should expect.

      An Old Foe Returns -- Malaria Again

      Although HIV is the main concern, malaria rates in the region are set
to rise as well. In 2004 Zimbabwe's underfunded health department managed to
cover just 3.4% of buildings designated to be sprayed with insecticides.
Exact malaria rates are unknown but likely to be soaring; the child death
rate is extremely high, due to the shortages of drugs. Meanwhile at a
malaria rally my colleague Richard Tren attended in November, the health
minister was more interested in attacking the opposition MDC party than in
combating malaria. His chant "Down with the MDC; Down with Mosquitoes" was
half-heartedly taken up by a shocked audience expecting a health speech.

      The Limpopo Province in South Africa forms the Southern border of
Zimbabwe. Its health department has excellent data, and Dr. Philip Kruger
says that January's malaria rate in the Province was five times higher than
last year, and "Zimbabweans are a likely cause."

      Despite the impact on the region, few non-Zimbabweans, especially
political leaders, will openly criticize Mugabe. This leaves a vacuum the
international community is loathe to fill. Tom Woods of the State Department
told me that the "US would not hold the region hostage over Zimbabwe." But
he agrees that an African solution is required, such as occurred recently in
Togo, and only South African president Thabo Mbeki has the clout to provide

      While Mbeki continues with his strategy of "quiet diplomacy", the
corpses of those who die of AIDS related diseases and kwashiorkor -- caused
by acute malnutrition -- continue to pile up in Zimbabwe's mortuaries. Also
piling up are the bodies of murder victims since there are no longer any
qualified personnel left in the country to conduct forensic post mortem
examinations. Until the pathology tests are done, relatives of the victims
cannot bury their dead.

      With Western help, an exit strategy for Mugabe could be devised and
the rule of law returned to Zimbabwe. But to achieve this aim the
international community must speak with one voice.

      Carole Bellamy, head of UNICEF, last week asked for more aid for
Zimbabwe. This is the wrong signal to be sending regional leaders who will
use any sign of Northern weakness to vacillate over Mugabe. Bellamy must
know that the aid will not be used to save lives of the poor but will be
used politically. Mugabe only knows about power and protecting it, aid and
soft words have not worked, tough talk from the Sate Department, backed up
by action from the region, is what is required. Lucy's life and that of
millions of fellow Africans hinges on political will to push change in this
outpost of tyranny.

      Roger Bate, a health economist, is a fellow at AEI and a director of
Africa Fighting Malaria. His co-authored paper on the Zimbabwean and
regional health crisis 'Despotism and Disease' can be found at
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Pretoria News

      Why Mugabe has eased off on violence
      March 30, 2005

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe once gloated that members of his
Zanu-PF party have academic degrees in violence.

      And his publicity secretary, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, once appeared on
national television bragging that the MDC could not wage the same sustained
violence as Zanu-PF.

      Violence and intimidation have always been synonymous with Zimbabwean
elections - before and after independence.

      Before independence, violence was directed by the white minority
regime under dictator Ian Smith against black democrats.

      After independence, black-on-black political violence was fuelled by
tribalism and rivalry between Mugabe's Zanu, which was predominantly Shona,
and Joshua Nkomo's Zapu, which drew most of its support from the
Ndebele-speaking south-west of the country.

      In the 1980 and 1985 elections, Zapu found it impossible to campaign
in Mashonaland and Zanu could not penetrate Matabeleland.

      In the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential
elections the new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
also found it too dangerous to enter some areas of rural Mashonaland.

      The elections of 1995 and 1996 were an exception to the electoral rule
of violence.

      However, Eldred Masunungure, head of political and administrative
studies at the University of Zimbabwe, says that was because there was no
need for Zanu-PF to use violence then.

      "Zanu did not contest elections against anybody because all parties
and independent candidates boycotted the elections," he notes.

      So Zanu-PF has always in the past been ready to use violence and
intimidation when it needed to, raising questions about the freeness and
fairness of the past five elections - and therefore also about the Zanu-PF
government's legitimacy.

      However, for the first time in the history of the party and the
country, Zanu-PF enters the elections tomorrow facing a real, strong
opponent in the MDC and yet in a largely peaceful atmosphere.

      In his state of the nation address this year, Mugabe took many by
surprise when he said he wanted this year's elections to be held in a
peaceful climate.

      When Zanu-PF supporters were waiting for Mugabe to arrive at a rally
last week in Tsholotsho, 550km from Harare, a master of ceremonies told war
veterans to go and force people in the community to come to the rally.

      After one of the senior Zanu-PF officials whispered something to his
ears, he changed his tune: "Don't force them, ask them," he said.

      It was a telling moment, an indication of an important change of
tactics, especially in the highly contested and controversial constituency
of Tsholotsho in Matebeleland North where Mugabe's sacked information
minister Jonathan Moyo is standing against Zanu-PF as an independent.

      Even Shamuyarira, who five years ago was happy to boast about
Zanu-PF's violent potential, today is talking like a pacifist.

      "The co-operation between the MDC and Zanu-PF over the electoral
process has been commendable. Such a joint approach had a sobering effect on
the parties and the electorates," says Shamuyarira smoothly.

      "President Mugabe led the issue by stressing that people should eschew
violence, they should not engage in any violent activities. I am glad that
the leaders of the opposition also echoed the same sentiments.

      "People got a message very clearly that there should be no violence.
We were lucky and pleased about that," he told Independent Newspapers.

      "The SADC guidelines have been reduced to legislation here, they have
been made the law of the country. There was a further requirement that the
nation abides by the SADC principles and guidelines: one was about avoiding
violence," says Shamuyarira.

      He significantly cited the crucial reason why Zanu-PF had decided to
fight this election peacefully.

      Mugabe lost considerable international legitimacy as a result of the
2000 and 2002 elections - among other things - and has become steadily
isolated by and from the international community, except his few friends in
the SADC region.

      South Africa, the SADC and the Africa Union were the only few ones
that declared the previous elections free and fair.

      However, South Africa this year chairs the SADC organ on politics,
security and defence - an institution that is key to enforcing the SADC
electoral guidelines.

      During the SADC's Mauritius summit last year when the guidelines were
adopted, SADC member nations did not mince their words in telling Mugabe he
had better stick to the guidelines, especially in
      relation to the use of violence.

      Therefore, Mugabe was not going to lose face - and support - from his
few remaining friends by perpetuating violence, and if he wins, his
legitimacy in the eyes of these friends is guaranteed.

      For them the issue of violence is the litmus test, even though the MDC
claims Zanu-PF is violating many other SADC guidelines.

      So it is in his interest to shun violence. "He is also longing to
return to the community of nations. His isolationist attitude is draining
Zimbabwe," says Masunungure.

      Other factors have contributed to relatively peaceful elections:

      a.. The war veterans are not as cohesive a force as in 2000, to an
extent that some have reportedly said they won't support Zanu in these

      a.. Unlike in 2000 and 2002 when the emotive land question was central
to Zanu-PF's elections campaign, there are no themes so provocative this

      a.. The growing poverty and hunger have sapped political energies,
creating voter apathy;

      a.. The growing support for opposition has created a new culture of
people from the same village or family supporting different parties and
therefore developing some form of tolerance;

      a.. Cosmetic reforms to repressive laws have diminished the police's
tendency to resort to violence.

      But Mugabe and his government have also calculated the situation -
including the mood of the observers - and realised that rejecting violence
could be used to their advantage as a diversion from other breaches of the
SADC guidelines, such as that:

      a.. All the daily newspapers, radio and television stations are still
blatantly pro-Zanu-PF;

      a.. The electoral machinery could easily be manipulated by the ruling
party - especially because the voters roll is not transparent and may
contain as many as two million fictitious voters;

      a.. The civil service is dominated by Zanu-PF sympathisers who
comprise the bulk of the polling officers;

      a.. There are still areas that could be perceived as Zanu-PF
strongholds, thus contributing to psychological intimidation; and

      a.. Economic hardship, especially food shortages, makes voters
vulnerable to being blackmailed into voting Zanu-PF or they won't get food.

      But the international media and foreign observers are concentrating on
the absence of violence which, according to the opposition MDC, does not
mean the presence of peace - or a level playing field.

      The SADC and the South African parliamentary and government observer
missions have this week generally said the election had so far been
peaceful, despite complaints of intimidation from the MDC.

      However, one member of the SA parliamentary observer team, the DA's
Roy Jankielsohn, disagreed, saying there was still violence but it had gone
underground. But he acknowledged that it has nonetheless diminished.

      "The violence is no longer as blatant as it once was, although there
is evidence that it is still continuing. Clearly, Mugabe is making an effort
to make it easier for his small band of international friends to claim that
the parliamentary elections have at least a measure of freedom and
fairness," he said.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi churns out daily e-mails about
incidents of intimidation.

      Though most observers believe Zanu-PF will not allow the MDC to win
this election, the absence of violence, the growing economic hardships and a
strong opposition have introduced an unusually strong wild card factor.

      Some observers believe that by switching off the violence, Mugabe may
also have switched on an MDC victory. Hard to imagine, but the fat lady has
still to sing.
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Distrust precedes election
While state-sponsored violence against Mugabe opponents has abated, some
groups say political intimidation and violence remain in Zimbabwe


March 29, 2005

CHITUNGUIZA, Zimbabwe -- Election fever is running high on the streets of
this poor township outside the capital, Harare. Campaign posters compete for
space on roadside stalls and, unlike in the past, opposition supporters clad
in party regalia walk the streets without fear.

After almost five years of state-sponsored violence against those who oppose
him, President Robert Mugabe is trying to reform his image and show the
world his country is not the "outpost of tyranny" to which U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice recently referred.

"I think Robert Mugabe is tired," Tariro Shumba, chairman of the local
chapter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said as he made
his way to a rally, his head wrapped in a white bandana bearing the campaign
slogan: A New Beginning. "I think he is trying to negotiate his exit
package." Mugabe is 81 and has ruled for a quarter of a century.

Most observers say the run-up to Thursday's parliamentary elections has been
much less violent than in the previous two elections. Organizations such as
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have warned that political
intimidation and violence remain - and election monitoring groups fear vote
rigging - but in places like Chitunguiza the mood has changed.

"Last time was terrible," said Brian Dzimbo, an MDC party member here. "But
now there is no more fear." Still, ordinary people in this opposition
stronghold remain distrustful. Few would talk openly about politics or
discuss which party would receive their vote. And at the rally, held for a
local MDC candidate, men and women dressed in ruling party T-shirts hovered,
intimidating, on the fringes.

At stake in Thursday's election are the 120 elected seats in Zimbabwe's
parliament. During the country's last parliamentary elections, in 2000, the
MDC won 57 seats, more than any opposition group since independence from
Britain in 1980.

This election is unlikely to bring an immediate end to Zimbabwe's political
and economic crisis. Since the government-sponsored seizure of white-owned
farms began in 2000, the country's economy has been in free-fall. Inflation
has skyrocketed and there have been widespread shortages of gasoline and
staple foods, such as corn meal, caused by a failed land reform program and
exacerbated by a regional drought.

Still, even the most optimistic opposition supporters admit it will be
difficult for the MDC to gain a majority of seats in parliament. Under the
constitution, Mugabe appoints 30 seats in the 150-member parliament. Many
observers say the vote this time is about rehabilitating the image of Mugabe
and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front at home and
abroad. The president, a former guerrilla fighter who has led Zimbabwe since
independence, has promised to step down when his current term ends in 2008.

Mugabe's re-election in 2002 was condemned by many international observers,
and some analysts believe the president wants this election to be called
free and fair in order to bring legitimacy to his rule.

"He wants to exit as father of the nation," said Brian Kogoro, who heads a
network of civil society organizations called Crisis in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is
gambling that the past five years of political oppression have broken the
opposition enough that ZANU-PF can still win this more-open election, one
Western diplomat said. But the ruling party, he said, has a limited campaign

In 2002, Mugabe campaigned largely on the issue of land, promising to
reclaim for black Zimbabweans property he said was stolen by whites. But the
land reform campaign is over, and conditions have deteriorated for many
ordinary people.

In Chitunguiza, one vendor was selling a single egg earlier this week for
$1,700 Zimbabwean (about 30 cents American); she remembered the days when an
egg cost 50 cents Zimbabwean. ZANU-PF has tried to blame economic problems
on white imperialists and the MDC, which the ruling party says is trying to
recolonize the country. ZANU-PF's election theme is the "Anti-Blair

"This election is about protecting our sovereignty and our revolutionary
gains," said Ephrim Masavi, a spokesman for ZANU-PF and an appointed member
of parliament. "We have done everything here. We are the people who have
brought education to the people, who have brought land to the people. ...
What I see in the MDC is a bunch of hooligans."

For African observer groups - the only ones invited by the government during
this election - the vote also represents a test of the continent's
commitment to democracy and good governance. African leaders, including
Thabo Mbeki, president of neighboring South Africa, have been largely
hesitant to criticize Mugabe and his government. In 2002, South Africa
declared the elections legitimate, though not free and fair.

Judging the results of this election will not be an easy task. There has
been less violence, but the odds are stacked heavily against the opposition.
ZANU-PF has been using state resources, including the army, police and state
broadcasting, in its campaign. And there are problems with voter rolls and
accusations that local chiefs in rural areas will be used to ensure that
voters cast their ballots for the ruling party.

Even hard-won election changes fought for by the MDC and civil society
groups may backfire. In attempt to prevent vote-rigging, ballots will be
dropped into translucent boxes and counted at individual polling stations
rather than at regional centers, but human rights groups say voters in rural
areas are being told this will allow ZANU officials to know for whom they
are voting.

It is also unclear what would constitute a fair result. Most observers
believe a fair poll would leave the MDC with at least some seats, but it's
difficult to tally the opposition since its supporters are not going public.
"My vote is my secret" is a commonly heard refrain here.
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Jamaica Observer

      Mugabe needs to be thrown out

      Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tomorrow, when Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect 120 members of their
150-seat parliament, we hope they will send a loud and strong message to
President Robert Mugabe that they will no longer tolerate his despotic rule
of that southern African country.

We hope too, that the people of Zimbabwe will not cower in fear at Mr
Mugabe's scare tactics, which he seems to revel in utilising to disrupt the
democratic process at each election.

This newspaper has, in the past, expressed its disappointment with Mr
Mugabae's behaviour. Not only has he trampled on the rights of his people by
trying to silence opposition, but he has also undermined institutions,
thereby creating the kind of tension that can explode into civil disorder
and plunge Zimbabwe further into poverty.

Mr Mugabe, according to wire service reports, made his latest tyrannical
utterance yesterday at a rally in Bindura when he told 15,000 supporters of
his ruling ZANU-PF party that a win by the Opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) would "not be tolerated".

The day before, at a rally in Mutoko, he branded as "traitors", everyone who
intended to vote for the MDC in tomorrow's elections.

Mr Mugabe knows very well that this kind of inflammable rhetoric will spur
members of his party and its feared youth militia to take violent action
against Opposition supporters and candidates. For, it has happened in the

While the election campaign thus far has not seen the level of violence
experienced in the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential
vote, Mr Mugabe, it appears, would not mind his supporters using their
"sticks" to "beat out the snakes" among them, as he so viciously instructed
after an election victory in 1985.

But really, what else could we have expected of this bully whose security
forces last Sunday arrested 146 Opposition supporters after a campaign
event; has shut down most independent media in Zimbabwe while using state
resources for campaigning; and whose government has threatened to withhold
food aid to Opposition supporters?

Frankly, with each passing day, Mr Mugabe appears more of a demented tyrant
wallowing in corruption while Zimbabwe, which many people, including
Jamaicans, helped in the tough struggle against apartheid, continues to

The world should not allow him to continue destroying the democracy that so
many fought to achieve.
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Pretoria News

      I shall win - Mugabe

      Zanu-PF 'will increase majority'
      March 30, 2005

      President Robert Mugabe said yesterday he had no fear of losing
tomorrow's parliamentary election in Zimbabwe, dismissing his opposition
challenger as an empty-headed British "puppy".

      Mugabe pledged that the vote would be fair and said the government
would increase its majority.

      Police vowed tough measures to prevent any pre-election violence this
time and international observers said they had intervened several times to
defuse tension.

      But the opposition yesterday charged that one of its supporters had
been killed by ruling party members - its first charge of murder in the
campaign. Police denied the crime was politically-motivated.

      Mugabe told journalists after a campaign rally in the Zanu-PF
stronghold of Bindura he had not considered the possibility of defeat by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which he branded a puppet
of former colonial ruler Britain.

      "I never think about that. I am a total optimist," he said, dismissing
the question with a wave of the hand.

      Mugabe had earlier told 20 000 supporters in Bindura, about 90km
north-east of the capital Harare, that Zanu-PF would win a "free and fair"
election against the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, whom he mocked as a
"big-headed man with no brain".

      "He (Tsvangirai) runs to the British like a puppy wagging its tail,
campaigning for sanctions, and asking to be installed as leader," Mugabe
said in one of his biggest rallies since electioneering began about a month

      "There will be a free run again of elections but of course they are
going to lose. This time much more than they did in 2000. It's clear now
that the people have seen through them (the MDC)," Mugabe said.

      The head of South Africa's observer mission - the largest foreign team
invited to watch the election - said his group had noted relatively smooth
progress but had still stepped in to prevent political clashes.

      "We know what is happening on the ground ... we have intervened to
deal with tense situations that could undermine the process," South African
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said.

      Mdladlana said South African observers had intervened several times to
ensure police freed MDC supporters detained for political activity, to
ensure planned meetings went ahead or to protect Zanu-PF members in an MDC

      MDC leaders concede violence is low compared with previous elections,
but say intimidation and tough media and security laws enacted by Mugabe's
government have still skewed the election heavily towards Zanu-PF.

      Zimbabwe's police have said they will tolerate no violence on election

      a.. Peta Thornycroft reports, however, that there were some incidents
in one of the most isolated areas of northern Zimbabwe over the Easter

      Alan McCormick (55), a former farmer evicted from his home four years
ago, is standing in a ruling Zanu-PF stronghold, Guruve North, for the MDC.

      His campaign ended violently over Easter. His constituency reaches up
to the cliffs on the edge of the Zambezi River and neighbouring Mozambique.

      "Over Easter it got too bad and we have pulled out."

      As the campaign kicked off three weeks ago, a young MDC activist, Noah
Chirembwe, in his early 20s, was hanged from a tree by his wrists with
burning logs underneath his dangling feet.

      When the branch broke, he fell and rolled over into a ditch.

      "Eventually we found him and brought him to hospital in Harare, and
he's okay now," McCormick said.

      He said that on Easter Saturday, "one of our guys, Elphas Mhamiti, was
abducted from outside the (government) Grain Marketing Board at Mushumbi
Pools (in the Zambezi Valley) and taken away.

      "He was left for dead. We went in at midnight and sent him to Harare
as he was coughing up blood. He was given some pills and seems alright now."

      Bishop Sebastian Bakare from the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland, in
eastern Zimbabwe, said: "Psychological and physical violence is there, all
the time. It is less obvious than before but most rural people are short of
food and are so vulnerable to threats about how they will vote."
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The Scotsman

Tensions Mount as Zimbabwe Election Looms


President Robert Mugabe's branding of opposition supporters as traitors rang
out repeatedly on state radio, raising fears of new political violence as
his party and its main rival held rallies two days before parliamentary

Voters will tomorrow choose 120 members of Zimbabwe's 150-seat parliament.
The president appoints the remaining 30 seats, so the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change would need to win 76 seats for a majority.

Yesterday, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai focused on the economy, as has been
his party's strategy throughout the campaign. Arguments that Mugabe's
policies have driven Zimbabwe's once thriving economy into the ground were
likely to resonate with voters in this impoverished country.

"Zimbabwe has been destroyed, farms have been destroyed, industry has been
destroyed and education has been destroyed. Even relations with other
countries have been destroyed," Tsvangirai said in his home region of
Buhera, 120 miles south of Harare. "How are we going to rebuild Zimbabwe?
You and me have to work together."

Zimbabwe was plunged into political and economic chaos when the government
began seizing white owned farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans in
2000 in an often violent campaign to redress colonial-era imbalances.

At his rally yesterday in Bindura, 50 miles north of Harare, Mugabe told
15,000 ruling party supporters that an MDC win would "not be tolerated."

A day earlier at a rally in Mutoko, 90 miles northeast of Harare, Mugabe
said: "All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors." State radio
broadcast the comments throughout the day yesterday.

Similar comments by the president in the past have encouraged the ruling
party and its youth militia to take violent action against opposition
supporters and candidates.

Reginald Matshaba-Hove, director of Zimbabwe's independent Electoral Support
Network, said he was concerned about the remarks and had asked foreign
observers to stay in the country for at least a week after the polls because
of fears of renewed violence.

Mugabe's comments came in the wake of a call by Roman Catholic Archbishop
Pius Ncube of Bulawayo on Sunday for a "nonviolent mass popular uprising" if
the ruling party wins tomorrow's election by fraud.

In 1985, tens of thousands of black families were evicted from their homes
into midwinter cold until they could produce ruling party cards. That year,
Mugabe told victorious supporters: "Now take your sticks and beat out the
snakes among you."
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Cape Times

      SA's Harare mission imploding
      March 30, 2005

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      Harare: An opposition party member of the SA parliamentary observer
team says he has has been threatened with being abandoned to face the music
from Zimbabwe's notorious police if he continued to speak his mind.

      ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana
and Deputy Safety Minister Suzan Shabangu have allegedly threatened to
revoke Democratic Alliance MP Roy Jankielsohn's observer status.

      The three were part of an 11-member ANC delegation, including SA
ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jerry Ndou, who interrogated Jankielsohn on Monday
after he released a statement about reports of intimidation during

      Jankielsohn said they told him they would not protect him against the
Zimbabweans if he continued with his statements.

      "They interrogated and reprimanded me.

      "What frustrates us as the opposition members in this mission is that
we don't get any proper briefs from our leader (Mbulelo Goniwe). We have
been trying to meet him so that we can know what is the protocol but in

      "Since we arrived we have been faced with silent behaviour from
Goniwe. They have been telling us that 'you behave yourself or we can't
protect you from the Zimbabweans'," he said.

      The DA said it would send a letter to the Speaker of the National
Assembly, Baleka Kgositsile, "objecting to the behaviour of certain members
of the ANC delegation".

      Jankielsohn said he would continue speaking his mind on the situation
in Zimbabwe.

      "I am not going to be intimidated by Goniwe. I didn't take the whole
process (of interrogation and reprimanding) seriously. They might be 11
people, but I am not scared of them. I report to my leader (Joe Seremane).

      "We will release our own minority report if the situation is contrary
to what the ANC says," he said.

      A two-day attempt to get comment from Luphumzo Kebeni, spokesperson of
the SA Parliamentary Observer mission, failed despite repeated promises to
return calls.

      Seremane condemned what he described as the ANC leadership's attempt
to gag Jankielsohn: "This attempt to bully is unacceptable. There are no
rules governing the accessibility of observers to the media other than those
made up by the ANC alone.

      "We believe Goniwe's actions amount to a threat to incite action
against an elected representative of the SA people by the Zimbabwe security
apparatus, notorious for its human rights abuses," said Seremane.

      "We believe the behaviour of the Mugabe government is deeply
embarrassing to the ANC. We believe the ANC would like the story of the
Zimbabwe elections toned down as much as possible. They have an interest in
these elections being valid and anything that threatens the validity of the
elections also threatens the credibility of ANC policy. That is why they
want to shut us up."

      He added that the DA would not be silenced.

      "We have been mandated by the South African parliament to observe the
elections on behalf of the South African people. We are in Zimbabwe to bear
witness. We will do our job," Seremane said.

      a.. Reuters reports that Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said yesterday that one of its supporters had been killed in a
politically-motivated incident ahead of tomorrow'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 Zanu-PF.

      "He was coming 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.

      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.

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Washington Post

For Some in Zimbabwe, Rations Can't Quell Hunger for Change

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page A01

ZHULUBE, Zimbabwe -- Hundreds of bags of cornmeal were stacked in front of a
bar near here this month, rising as high as its roof. The only problem for
the hungry people of this drought-stricken area was that the food, like the
bar, was controlled by officials from the ruling party. With a crucial
election nearing, they weren't about to give it to just anyone.

The officials first held a rally by their impressive mound of food,
witnesses here said. The next day, as hundreds of people from surrounding
villages gathered to collect the 110-pound bags they had ordered and paid
for months before, ruling party officials announced that only their
supporters were eligible. When the names of opposition voters were called,
they were simply handed back their money, according to several people who
were turned away. The leftover bags went on sale hours later for twice the

Human rights reports say withholding food from opponents is nothing new for
the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the party of President
Robert Mugabe. But this year, the threat of starvation is creating a
potentially potent backlash against ZANU-PF.

Many people in this tiny, impoverished village in southern Zimbabwe say that
their votes in Thursday's national parliamentary elections will be based
less on their immediate food needs than on which party offers the best
chance to reverse Zimbabwe's five-year-old economic decline and end
recurrent food shortages. Opposition party leaders say the issue might
represent their best chance to make inroads into Mugabe's traditionally
strong rural support.

Among those who went home empty-handed here on March 19 was Thenji Matema,
48, a lean and soft-spoken widow supporting a daughter and four
grandchildren on the roughly $25 she earns each month selling mats that she
weaves by hand. Matema said she walked away furious and doubly determined to
vote for the opposition -- even if she has to drink tea to curb her hunger
before her one daily meal, and serve meat to her family only once a week.

"It's better I suffer than vote for ZANU-PF," Matema said. She later
elaborated on her distaste for the ruling party. It is not only its role in
mismanaging the food situation, she said, but "that they are forcing people
to do what they want. People don't like that."

Mugabe's party has manipulated voter rolls and is likely to send the
politically loyal military to oversee polling stations and ballot counting,
human rights groups say. Even the most enthusiastic opposition activists say
this rigging makes outright victory for the opposition unlikely.

Mugabe, in power since this nation's independence in 1980, can neutralize
all but a landslide win for the opposition because he directly appoints 30
of the 150 members in parliament. His current six-year term lasts through

But if a single issue dominates political discussions this election season
in Zimbabwe, it is the growing problem of hunger, as evidenced by the
thousands of acres of wilted corn plants that can be seen, brown and dying,
across a country once regarded as southern Africa's breadbasket.
International groups that monitor famine say nearly half of Zimbabwe's 13
million people might need food aid in the coming months.

Less than a year ago, Mugabe boasted of a bumper harvest to come and ordered
international food donors to cease general feeding programs in what many
political analysts in Zimbabwe regarded as an attempt to gain control of all
food stocks before the election. In a rare interview with an international
news organization in May, he told Britain's Sky News: "We are not hungry. .
. . Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked. We have

But Zimbabwe, which was already suffering food production declines after the
violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms beginning in 2000, was soon
hit by a drought, one that has also hobbled food production in neighboring
Zambia and Botswana.

Farmers who grow their own food on small patches of land suddenly faced a
near-total loss of their staple crop, corn, which is milled into a fine
grist, then boiled into a stiff mush that is central to Zimbabweans' daily

Mugabe has belatedly acknowledged the drought and food shortage, telling
supporters at campaign rallies that he will prevent mass starvation by
importing food from neighboring South Africa, where modern irrigation
systems make farms resistant to drought. In state-owned newspapers, top
ruling party officials in Zimbabwe have called reports that they are using
food as an election tool "completely unsubstantiated and untrue."

Such reports have been widespread for many years, detailed in accounts by
independent journalists and such groups as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty

Catholic Archbishop Pius A. Ncube, a leading critic of Mugabe in nearby
Bulawayo, said the use of food as a weapon was common throughout the country
this election year, as it was in 2000 and 2002. "They are totally corrupt,
and they will use anything to protect their power," he said.

Here in Zhulube, 82-year-old Asa Sibanda said her refusal to support ZANU-PF
had cut her off for years from food reserves controlled by the government
and the party. Instead, she supports herself, five orphaned grandchildren
and one great-grandchild by selling chickens and getting occasional gifts of
cornmeal from her son, who lives nearby. Her total income, she said, is a
few dollars each month.

Though she did not get government food, she used to get regular deliveries
of cornmeal, beans and other food from international aid groups. But in the
middle of last year, Mugabe ordered an end to such efforts. As for the
chickens, only eight are left.

Sibanda said some people in her village would vote for the ruling party out
of fear that government food aid will otherwise be withheld. "Most people,
they are not voting for ZANU-PF, but they are voting for food," she said.
Yet she and many other opposition supporters will not be doing the same, she
said. "I choose to die rather than be arm-twisted to go back to ZANU-PF."

Hunger has become a central rallying point for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, which features images of green, fertile fields and
well-stocked grocery shelves in its television ads.

A victory for the opposition, party members say, would allow Zimbabwe to
rapidly repair the international relations of a country that U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice in January called one of the world's "outposts of
tyranny." Major food aid, plus a resumption of foreign investment, say
opposition leaders, would quickly follow.

Matema, the widow, is ready for some good news. In October and November,
three of her four head of cattle died as a result of the drought. The
following month -- two days before Christmas -- her husband died. Later,
when the rains failed in January and February, her fields of corn turned
brown, leaving only a handful of plants with enough water to grow ears with
edible kernels. An adjacent field of peanuts was also a nearly total loss.

"We are hoping for a change," she said.
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The Mercury

      ANC tells DA observer to toe the party line
      March 30, 2005

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      A member of the South African parliamentary observer team has been
threatened with a visit to Zimbabwe's notorious police if he continues to
speak his mind.

      ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana,
and Deputy Safety Minister Susan Shabangu have threatened to revoke
Democratic Alliance MP Roy Jankielsohn's observer status.

      The three were part of an 11-member ANC delegation, including SA's
Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jerry Ndou, which summoned and interrogated
Jankielsohn on Monday after he released a statement about reports of
intimidation during elections campaigns in Zimbabwe.

      Jankielsohn said they had told him they would not protect him against
the Zimbabweans if he continued with his statements.

      "They interrogated and reprimanded me. They wanted to know the content
of my statement, and told me that I won't have protection as an observer if
I continue to make such statements," Jankielsohn told The Mercury yesterday.

      "What frustrates us as the opposition members in this mission is that
we don't get any proper briefs from our leader (Goniwe). We have been trying
to meet him so that we can know what the protocol is, but in vain.

      "Since we arrived we have been faced with silent behaviour from
Goniwe. They have been telling us: 'You behave yourself or we can't protect
you from the Zimbabweans,' " he said.

      The DA said it would send a letter to the Speaker of the National
Assembly, Baleka Kgositsile, "objecting to the behaviour of certain members
of the ANC delegation".

      Jankielsohn said he would continue speaking his mind about the
situation on the ground in Zimbabwe.

      "I am not going to be intimidated by Goniwe. I didn't take the whole
process (of interrogation and reprimanding) seriously," he said.

      "They might be 11 people, I am not scared of them. I report to my
leader (Joe Seremane). We will release our own minority report if the
situation is contrary to what the ANC says. We have been consulting other
opposition parties throughout the process."

      Seremane condemned the ANC leadership for trying to gag Jankielsohn.

      "This attempt to bully is unacceptable. There are no rules governing
the accessibility of observers to the media other than those made up by the
ANC alone," Seremane said.

      He also said the DA would not be silenced.

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 by Elliot Pfebve:

The Zimbabwean political saga is a complex one, its casualties far much more
than the pen can write and its social impact disastrous. The world will
never fully understand it. It takes the soul within to understand it, yet it
means to be tortured, murdered, raped and imprisoned to fully understand it.
How many would be prepared to go through this ordeal for the sake of writing
a story? This account is about a man who grew up in a bloody ring of
politics in Zimbabwe, detained for confronting authority, arrested for his
birth right, businesses ransacked, property destroyed and family members
maimed and murdered. This account transverse the valleys of power struggle
in the two most powerful political parties in Zimbabwe MDC and ZANU (PF).
From the ruthless regime of Robert Mugabe to the struggle within struggles
in both parties to control this rich Southern African country leaving a
trail of destruction never to be seen in the history of the country. The
economy in ruins and the infrastructure shattered. Man became the enemy of
man forcing over 3 million people in exile, three times the population of
neighbouring Botswana, all but few the highly educated and skilled manpower.
No sane nationalist would claim victory over such calamity for what ever
reason. In trying to be makers of history we have become the enemy of

What then are the chances for a win for MDC?

There is no doubt that MDC's spirit is high and the support base gearing for
a victory, but I have seen that before. MDC rallies continue to manifest its
popularity but I have seen that before. Morgan Tsvangirai is as charismatic
as ever but I have seen that before. T-shirts are everywhere but I have seen
that before. To my fellow citizens, MDC members and the hand picked
observers, the elections have been rigged, are being rigged and will be
rigged. The 3,5 million people scattered all over the world are opposition
supporters and have been denied their birth right to vote, that is already
the biggest rigging exercise since the concept of one man one vote was
adopted by progressive forces world over. What if the 3 million people
horrendously exiled by Mugabe are allowed to vote? What if the people decide
to reclaim their power by massive civil disobedience? If we analyse the
Zimbabwe political past and present, these elections are just what if than
being a new turning point for a new Zimbabwe.  Let's listen to Pius Ncube
but let us not overburden his courage. All Zimbabweans world over must
unite, irrespective of party lines and demand that meaningful change be
delivered to the bleeding country. Lets all Zimbabweans safeguard their
vote! We have been docile to the point of being stupid, I see no choice
between death and starvation.

Is ZANU (PF) sincere about preaching a peaceful campaign leading to the 31
March election?

Is the violence statistics lower than the previous 4 years?

Zimbabwe what went wrong?

  1.. They will never be a prospect of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe
on the 31 March 2005. The reasons are clear, the political landscape is
tilted in favour of ZANU (PF), and they hold the state machinery which they
have been using to murder, maim and rob its own citizens for the past 5
years. Even if they might appear to be less violent election than the
previous one, the fear embedded into people's minds is real and is harvest
time for ZANU (PF). They are still harvesting from the proceeds of a brutal
and violent tenure. SADC election guidelines lacks the balance and checks of
an enforceable regional legislation. They only guide the willing and watch
the unwilling. Mugabe is seeking a fortune turn around by becoming the first
leader to adopt the SADC guidelines albeit cosmetically and lip service at
most. The massive exodus of eligible voters to the tune of around 3 million,
95% of which if accorded the chance to vote would vote for the opposition,
they cannot vote for a party that had, against their will sent them into
exile. This is more than half the legible voters in this coming election.
The deployment of the feared army to monitor and supervise elections all of
which adds to the fear already in many rural people cannot be over
emphasised. These factors and much more will not make this election free and
  2.. ZANU (PF) is not sincere in preaching about a peaceful election. If we
revisit all past elections, 1995 against ZUM, 2000 against MDC and 2002
against MDC, you will find a pattern of systematic persecution of perceived
opponents of ZANU (PF). Mugabe has never participated peacefully in an
election he is convinced he will lose without using violence. He has always
used violence where it suited him most. How does he know whether he will
lose or win an election? Remember Mugabe is the only President in Africa
with a first world class security service in a third world country. The CIO
is the only organization whose operation is windfall funded by the state. It
has been used to sustain the regime since 1980. They have structures with a
high alert warning system to warn Mugabe of a pending victory or loss. If
there is any achievement that we Zimbabweans have done is to prove beyond
doubt that Mugabe has been the architecture, director and coordinator of
violence. There is no way he could have stopped violence if he was not the
leader of its origin. In short we have a historic land mark here where
history must judge him harshly for causing impeccable suffering of his
people. When your liberator turned oppressor your will have very little
chance of survival.
  3..  What triggered the violence in 2000 election? A combination of fear
for defeat and a bankruptcy of a political solution to the woes of the
country by the present regime. There is no doubt that Mugabe used to be a
hero of may peace loving Zimbabweans in the early years of his rule, yet we
all know that everybody has his hay days, by 1998 Mugabe has reached a sell
by date of his usefulness to the people of Zimbabwe. His defeat at the
referendum, the upcoming of an alternative viable opposition party, MDC and
the final straw of swing support by white farmers to MDC was a blow to
Mugabe. The battle ground was drawn and the hiring of the mad professor,
Jonathan Moyo to prop up his lost popularity coupled with the use of the war
veterans marked the beginning of a dark history in Zimbabwe. Mugabe new he
will lose the election this is why he postponed the 2000 elections twice
before settling for June 2000 date. Mugabe did not have any solution to the
crumpling economy, high inflation rate and massive unemployment rate of more
than 70% other than to use violence. More than 200 people were recorded
murdered between 2000 and 2002. All bye- elections turned into battle
  4.. Zimbabwe what went wrong? Everything had gone wrong in Zimbabwe. While
one man has hold 12 million people at ransom, you and I cannot escape the
blame for not standing up for a cause early enough and effective enough.
2002 was the year, presidential election was the event and Mugabe could have
found very little breathing space to continue against people's wishes. This
was the only election Mugabe was not sure whether he would survive. Even
after the results, business remained closed, some for 2 days, police were
even no where to be seen on the streets, there was confusion. We needed only
1000 people in Harare to march to the State House. We had no plan B. ZANU
(PF) will go, it might not be this coming election but the conviction of a
pending defeat is imminent. Victory is in the air; the journey might be long
but let us begin.
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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Print and Electronic Daily Media Update # 7



1. Daily Print Media Update: Tuesday March 29 2005

a. Campaigns

ZANU PF continued to receive positive publicity in the government-controlled
dailies. These papers carried 10 reports on the ruling party's campaign
activities. Six were in The Herald while four were in the Chronicle.
Campaign activities of the MDC, smaller parties and independent candidates
were suffocated.

In fact, the MDC was only mentioned in the context of ZANU PF officials'
vilification of the party. Whites, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the
US President George Bush were also castigated in some of the reports on the
ruling party's campaigns for allegedly trying to effect regime change in
Notably, The Daily Mirror had no campaigns reports. Its daily Election Watch
column, which, over the past weeks has publicised campaign activities of
both the ruling party and the MDC, was missing in today's issue.

b. Administrative

WHILE the Chronicle had no reports on the administration of the impending
election, The Herald carried two reports on the topic. One was an
announcement on the deployment of African Union observers. The other was a
feature article that used, among other issues, the accreditation of foreign
observers and selected foreign media, the printing of ballot papers and the
dispatching of 50,000 translucent ballot boxes to all the provinces to gloss
over problems bedevilling the electoral process. These developments were
simply presented as an indication of the country's readiness to hold the
election under the SADC electoral guidelines.

But while the government Press was advancing its familiar claims that the
country had fully conformed to the regional guidelines on the conduct of
democratic elections, The Daily Mirror reported to the contrary in one of
its three reports on administrative issues.
It reported that about 1,000 polling officers deployed to Mudzi by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had been sent back to Harare by the
District Administrator and the ZANU PF candidate for the constituency, Ray
Kaukonde, who allegedly accused the officers of being MDC sympathisers.
Although ZEC spokesperson Utloile Silayigwana was quoted saying the
commission was still investigating the matter, MDC Secretary-General
Welshman Ncube claimed the officers had since returned to Harare and were
likely to be redeployed in the capital.

In its other story, The Daily Mirror reported that the High Court had ruled
that an application by aspiring MDC candidate for Gweru Rural, Renson
Gasela, seeking the disqualification of his ZANU PF rival Josphat Madubeko
did not merit an urgent hearing. Gasela wanted Madubeko, a headman,
disqualified in terms of the Traditional Leaders Act, which bars traditional
leaders from contesting an election. The government Press ignored these
The third report that the private daily carried was an announcement by the
ZEC that 8,235 presiding officers and 90,585 polling officers were
undergoing training countrywide.

b. Political violence

ONLY The Daily Mirror carried a report on political violence. It reported
that the MDC candidate for Mhondoro, Shakespeare Maya, was remanded out of
custody to April 7 for allegedly assaulting a man he saw wearing a ZANU PF
T-shirt in Norton. However, the paper provided few details of the incident.
Instead, the report focused on comments from police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena saying the police had banned road show campaigns "to clamp down
on public disorder and the disruption of traffic".
Bvudzijena also revealed that 13 more cases of political violence had been
reported throughout the country since March 22. However, there was no
detailed breakdown of the incidents in the paper's story.

The government dailies ignored these issues and only carried three stories
dismissing reports on the politicisation of food by government and
intimidation of suspected opposition supporters. Two of the stories reported
Social Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana trying to disprove Archbishop Pius
Ncube's allegations that government was starving people in Matabeleland to
coerce the electorate to vote for the ruling party. Mangwana was quoted
saying 74,100 tonnes of maize had been distributed in Matabeleland between
November last year and March 18. However, the papers did not challenge him
to explain the criteria in which that maize was distributed.

The other report was an opinion piece by The Herald's regular pro-ZANU PF
columnist Caesar Zvayi, seeking to dismiss reports of the violent
intimidation of opposition supporters as "testimony of the role of third
forces" in the alleged attempts by civil society and the MDC to "tarnish the
March 31 poll".

2. Daily Electronic Media Update: March 28th, 2005

ZTV aired the second presentation of the MDC's election manifesto by the
party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Gibson Sibanda. The
presentation was made in English, Shona and Ndebele. Also presenting their
manifestoes were independent candidates Margaret Dongo (Harare South) and
Leonard Nkala (Phelandaba).

The jamming of SW Radio Africa's short wave transmissions continues and as a
result, MMPZ is still unable to adequately monitor the content of its
output. The station continues to attempt to broadcast on three separate
frequencies in the short wave band in the evenings and between 5am and 7am
(1197 Khz) in the medium wave band.

Election countdown

a) Campaigns

MONDAY'S news coverage continued to show the heavily biased output of state
television in favour of ZANU PF.
Of the 18 rally reports carried on ZTV in its 6pm and 8pm bulletins, 15 were
on the ruling party, two on the MDC and one on the Zimbabwe People's
Democratic Party (ZPDP).
The time allocated to the ZANU PF rallies also reflected this bias. Out of
the 40 minutes and 30 seconds ZTV devoted to the political parties'
campaigns, 35 minutes (86%) were allocated to ZANU PF, three-and-a-half
minutes (8.6%) to the MDC and two minutes (5%) to ZPDP.

In addition, four MDC rallies were crammed into one report in the 8pm
bulletin with picture coverage only being given to rallies the opposition
party held in Highfield and Gweru. The other two rallies, in Bindura and
Norton, were mentioned in passing. ZTV delayed broadcasting news of all four
rallies, which took place over Saturday and Sunday.

ZTV's (8pm) report on the four MDC rallies was given a total of two minutes
and 10 seconds, while two ZANU PF rallies addressed by President Mugabe in
Chikomba and Mutoko alone were allocated a total of six minutes and 10
seconds, including full picture coverage of both rallies. The ZANU PF
rallies were billed as top news stories.
The pattern was the same on radio. A total of 12 ZANU PF campaign stories
were reported out of 14 campaign stories aired on Power FM (six) and Radio
Zimbabwe (six).
The remaining two stories were on the MDC's Highfield rally on Sunday,
carried briefly once each by Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe.
This contrasted sharply with the generous coverage the government-controlled
radio stations gave to ZANU PF rallies in Shamva, Mutoko, Mpopoma,
Chitungwiza and Mount Darwin.

The bias in coverage was also evident in the way the government radio
stations sourced their voices as shown in Fig 1.

Station ZANU PF MDC Other Opposition
Power FM 7 1 0
Radio Zimbabwe 6 1 0

Studio 7 attempted to balance its coverage of the political parties'
campaigns in its four stories, reporting two MDC rallies in Bulawayo and
Harare, one ZANU PF rally in Chikomba and the campaign activities of
independent candidate for Kariba, Sam Mawawa. The private radio station also
carried a profile of the MDC's Tsholotsho candidate, Mtoliki Sibanda.
Studio 7 reported that it had tried unsuccessfully to report on the campaign
activities of ZANU PF's Musa Matema (Tsholotsho) and Shumbayaonda
Chandengenda (Kariba), as well as the MDC's Nathan Makwasha (Kariba) and
independent candidate for Tsholotsho, Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo, for example, reportedly told the private radio station that he
preferred to focus on his campaign than "waste time talking to us".
Studio 7 reported Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube predicting a ZANU PF
victory in the elections, not because of popular mandate but through
rigging. The cleric alleged that the ruling party was "enticing the people
by providing food, computers and sewing machines", adding, "Everything is in
their favour, 300 000 bogus voters are on the roll, 800 000 dead voters and
600 000 names of duplicate voters gives them a total of almost two million

b) Administrative issues

ZTV carried one administrative report in which it merely reported on an
announcement by the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) calling on Public
Service and District Development Fund (DDF) employees willing to be
recruited and deployed for electoral duties to report to their provincial

Power FM carried a total of 11 stories on issues relating to the
administration of the election. Eight of the stories were on voter education
and assurances by electoral authorities that the election logistics were in
place, while the rest comprised ZANU PF's satisfaction with the election
preparations and an announcement that the leader of the SADC observer team
and the Iranian delegation would meet President Mugabe. All the stories
merely echoed official sentiments.
Radio Zimbabwe's four stories on the topic were similarly superficial and
sympathetic to the ruling party and covered the same issues broadcast by
Power FM.

By comparison, Studio 7 was not dependent on official statements for its
stories relating to election administration. For example, the station
reported that 800 polling officers deployed to Mudzi by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission had been sent back to Harare by the District
Administrator and ZANU PF provincial chairman (and candidate for the area),
Ray Kaukonde, allegedly because they were "MDC loyalists". ZEC spokesperson
Utloile Silayigwana confirmed the incident.

In its second story, Studio 7 reported fears expressed by the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) that about 50 000 polling agents, mostly
teachers, due to be deployed outside their constituencies, may not be able
to vote if the ESC did not address the issue before Thursday. In addition,
ZESN chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove was reported in the same story as
raising concerns about the capacity of what he said were about 7,000 local
observers to effectively observe the conduct of the voting process in more
than 8,000 polling stations nationwide.

c) Political violence

ZBH did not record any cases of politically motivated violence or rights
abuses. However, ZTV, Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe carried one story apiece
on government's rejection of Archbishop Pius Ncube's allegations reported on
Sky News television that it was deliberately starving opposition supporters
in Matabeleland in order to force them to vote for the ruling party.
Studio 7 aired a report that on Sunday police had arrested 145 MDC
supporters coming from an MDC rally in Highfield. However, no details were
given on why they were arrested, neither was there police confirmation of
the arrests.

The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702,
E-mail: <>

Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we
will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information
about the Project, please visit our website at
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