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

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Sokwanele blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Persistent dirty tricks

Chaos abounds in the ruling party structures and there is a last minute attempt to block legitimate access to polling stations by MDC and Independent Election Agents. Despite mugabe’s desperate need to present tomorrow’s vote as free and fair so as to garner international recognition, the dirty tricks department has seen the writing on the wall and, as you read this, are busy trying to rig the vote.

Today was the day to deploy all Election Agents (in previous elections known as Polling Agents) to the 8500 polling stations located in 120 constituencies.

At Victoria Falls this afternoon, the MDC candidate’s appointed Election Agents were turned away. The reason given was that they could not produce an affidavit that they had signed the “Declaration of Secrecy” as prescribed by the “Electoral Secrecy Act”.


At several other polling stations, particularly in the rural areas, Election Agents were turned away because they could not produce a hard copy of the advertisement posted in the press to announce their names. These adverts were timeously published in a local newspaper, the Presiding Officer was simply up to dirty tricks.

Ironically, zanupf failed to honour the regulation set out in the Electoral Act that stipulates advertisement of the Election Agents be published at least three days before voting day.

The Chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC) was handpicked by mugabe for the job, and under him is his Commission. The next step down from the Commission are the 120 Constituency Election Officers, all of them civil servants, military or police. Each candidate has a chosen Chief Election Agent and the candidate appoints a maximum of 4 partisan Agents per polling station. Each polling station is under the jurisdiction of a government selected Presiding Officer.

Tent polling stations

Tent polling stations have been going up today.

Not such a proud, white Zimbo today...

I am not such a proud, white Zimbo today because I discovered that all too many of my whitey friends believe they should not go out to vote tomorrow morning.

These ostriches think it isn’t their fight, are too afraid to get involved, or are just too lazy to get out of bed. Well, they certainly aren’t being invited to my victory party!

Now I got that off my chest, a bit of good news. The place is buzzing, people are stocking up with groceries as they believe the country is going to shut down until the regime is kicked out. It was also on the news that Grace and the kids have gapped it to London, well that’s a good sign.

It’s time to get rid of the bullies.

More panic measures from zanupf

The government has come up with another panic measure - this time to buy the urban vote. Today, domestic workers’ salaries and wages were increased across the board by a staggering average of 900% backdated to 1st March, 2005.

Does the illegitimate and bankrupt regime really believe that domestic workers are stupid enough to change their allegiance over this last resort measure?

The urban masses know that the economy is in a state of collapse, they know how useless the Zimbabwe dollar is, they understand fundamental basic economics – put wages up, inflation increases, salaries still worth nothing!

Election fever beginning

Today on my way into town I saw my first polling station – a large green tent that has been erected close to a local shopping centre. Wow! I had feelings of excitement and fear all at the same time. Excitement, because the day that the people will speak is near. Fear, because all Zimbabweans know that the threat of violence is always close by. As I sat waiting for the street light to change, a dark green bus (army I expect) pulled up alongside me. It was absolutely crammed with people, from what I could see, most were women. A few were wearing zanu scarves on their heads. Some were singing. I wonder where they were being transported to? There is electricity in the air. Election fever is upon us!

I'll wear my shirt with pride

Yesterday I was given an MDC campaign t-shirt. I am not going to use it as a ‘sleep shirt’ in the privacy of my home. I am going to wear it when I go out. I am going to wear it with pride, and no-body is going to stop me! And when I am not wearing my t-shirt, I am not going to hide it deep in the back of my wardrobe, under all my other clothes like I have done in the past. Supporting the peoples party is not a crime. I will not be afraid.

zanupf dirty tricks!

Information has just come in that flyers under the MDC banner have been printed by forces opposed to democracy encouraging people to boycott elections because "the playing field is not level". It is clear that state controlled agencies are becoming increasingly nervous over the groundswell of support for democratic process, they can see that democracy has a voice and will be heard. The printing work sympathetic to zanupf was raided in Harare before many of the flyers could hit the streets. This flyer is another dirty trick in an attempt to quell the huge number of anti zanu voters planning to exercise their democratic right on the 31st March. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, confronted with this blatent breach of electoral conduct, has been involved and it is hoped that they will take appropriate action.

Zimbabwe Radio also broadcast tonight that the public may not return to their polling stations to witness the election results being posted. This works in direct contravention to the Electoral Act.

The people of Zimbabwe will be heard. Freedom Day is coming!
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The Herald

Subversive literature lands youth in court

Herald Reporter
A SELF-EXILED MDC youth yesterday pleaded guilty to smuggling into the
country subversive material from South Africa.

Vuyisiwe Sibindi (23) of Brea suburb in Johannesburg, South Africa, pleaded
guilt to the charges

when she appeared before Beitbridge magistrate Mr Jabulani Mzinyati.

Prosecutor Mr Tarcisius Moyo said the agreed facts are that Sibindi entered
the country from South Africa on March 25 this year and complied with all
immigration and customs formalities at Beitbridge border post.

However, luck ran out for her when alert detectives demanded that her
luggage be searched for any smuggled goods.

The detectives later found Sibindi in possession of six sets of books that
were subversive and also insulting the President.

One of the books was entitled; Farm Invasions in Zimbabwe: Is Zimbabwe a

On page 14, the book states that the problems bedevilling the country were a
result of bad governance and that the country was being run "like
(President) Mugabe's back pocket".

On page 23, the book said an inquiry into the President's background might
reveal psychic similar to that used by serial killers.

Sibindi also had in her possession, a book entitled; Sitting in the fire,
which was inscribed that only violence was needed to get (President) Mugabe
out of power.

The state argued that the statement was meant to incite public violence and

Sibindi told the court that she had obtained the material from the MDC's
Johannesburg offices.

She was remanded in custody to April 11 for sentence.
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Please take Note:
147     Prohibition of certain activities in vicinity of polling stations
(1)  Without derogation from any other provision of this Act or any other enactment, no person shall, within two hundred metres of any polling station on any polling day-
        (a) convoke or take part in any gathering of more than twelve persons; or
        (b) canvass for votes; or
        (c) utter slogans; or
        (d) distribute leaflets or pamphlets for or on behalf of any candidate or political party; or
        (e) organise or engage in public singing or dancing; or
        (f) use bands or music or loudspeaker vans or apparatus.
(2)  Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an illegal practice and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

*  At these occasions or locations, the possession or use of cellphones, pagers and similar devices is strictly prohibited.

1. A lion.
2. A bird of prey.
3. A rhinoceros.
4. A laurel wreath.
5. A leopard.
6. A cheetah.
7. An owl.
8. A sword.
9. A griffon.
10. A cobra.

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Amnesty International

Zimbabwe: Fresh warning that free and fair elections impossible amid human
rights violations
Amnesty International said today (30 March) that the Zimbabwe government's
systematic harassment of all opposition and violations of basic human rights
in the run up to tomorrow's elections have made free participation in the
elections impossible.

During a research trip to Zimbabwe last month, Amnesty International
delegates gathered evidence of continued government intimidation and arrest
of opposition candidates and supporters, manipulation of food distribution
for political ends and severe restrictions on freedom of assembly and

The organisation presented these findings to election monitors ahead of the
31 March vote.

Amnesty International Africa Programme Director Kolawole Olaniyan said:

"Persistent, long-term and systematic violations of human rights and the
government's repeated and deliberate failure to bring to justice those
suspected of responsibility means that Zimbabweans are unable to take part
in the election process freely and without fear.

"The climate of intimidation and harassment in which the elections are
planned is a matter for serious international concern.

"The use of implicit threats and non-violent tactics to intimidate
opposition supporters is widespread. Given past acts of reprisal against
opposition voters including eviction, assault, and denial of food, such
tactics create a pervasive climate of fear and threat."

In its report published earlier this month Zimbabwe: An assessment of human
rights violations in the run up to the March 2005 parliamentary elections,
Amnesty International documents a series of on-going human rights violations
committed by the government and its supporters including:

  a.. Arbitrary arrests to hinder opposition campaigning activities,
including the detention of at least eight candidates of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and the MDC's Director of Elections this year as
well as several opposition campaign workers. No ZANU-PF candidates have been
arrested during the election campaign.

  b.. Acts of political violence, including the beating of MDC supporters
and the burning of their homes in Chipingi South, Manicaland in January

  c.. Continued manipulation of food distribution by the
government-controlled Grain Marketing Board, denying opposition supporters
access to maize, the staple food for most Zimbabweans. (March is known in
Zimbabwe as the height of the "hungry season", when the previous harvest has
run out and before the new harvest is due

  d.. Widespread intimidation and harassment of opposition supporters, with
many afraid of post-election reprisals aimed at areas in which people are
known to vote for the opposition

Amnesty International is calling on all governments and inter-governmental
bodies sending election monitors to Zimbabwe to ensure that they fully take
the human rights context into account when monitoring the elections.

The monitors must be given access to all areas of the country and focus
particular attention on access to justice, food distribution, freedom of
movement, assembly and expression, as well as equal security for all
candidates and supporters.

Amnesty International is also calling on election monitors to remain in the
country after the elections to help ensure the aftermath is free from human
rights abuses.
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The Times

            March 30, 2005

            On the spot in Harare

            Despite the growing domestic and international demand for
democratic change in Zimbabwe, Xan Rice, The Times's correspondent in
Harare, believes Robert Mugabe is in no mood to relinquish control and his
people are not yet ready for revolution.

            "Compared with previous election campaigns, the change in mood
is unbelievable. The freedom to voice an opinion, to go to rallies, to
openly support the opposition; many people haven't seen anything like this

            "If you put on a MDC T-shirt five years ago you would get a
beating. Now people are out wearing them out on the streets.

            "There's definitely a spring atmosphere. It's obvious that the
majority of people want change and the MDC is the face of that change. It's
only two or three weeks since the militia was told to lay off the violence
and in such a short time a huge amount of momentum has built up.

            "I don't believe we are seeing a spontaneous People's Revolution
along the lines of  those in the Ukraine and Lebanon. That remains a pretty
far-fetched idea. I don't get the feeling that we will see a mass popular
uprising with people gathered out on the streets if they don't get their

            "The major difference now is that the people have started to
speak out. Just two weeks ago such comments were very difficult to voice.

            "Zimbabweans in general are getting poorer by the day and there
is a serious food shortage. Unemployment is 80 per cent and rising and the
economy has shrunk by 40 per cent in five years.

            "President Mugabe is still seen by many as a liberator from
colonial rule. And there is no opposition leader with the charisma of a
Mandela or Yushchenko for the masses to unite behind. Tsvangirai has had a
hard time since he was defeated in the 2002 presidential election. Charges
of treason against him were only dropped a few months ago. He's no

            "Even Mugabe's most fierce critic, Pius Ncube, while being
respected as a clergyman and supported by many for his outspoken opinions,
has yet to galvanise people in action. What he is now saying about Mr Mugabe
is much stronger than most, although people can certainly identify with the
central message that it's time for him to go.

            "The MDC has had a little coverage on the television but it is
all skewed at least 80/20 in favour of the ruling party. The state-owned
newspapers are little more than a joke, every single political story is
pro-government. They have been forced to give the MDC some coverage, but
it's usually negative and anyway it's a drop in the ocean.

            "Even so, it's going to look very suspicious if Mr Mugabe claims
to have won the two-thirds of the vote he needs to change the constitution.
Support for the MDC, while unlikely to be strong enough to win the 76 seats
it needs for an outright majority even if the election is run fairly, is

            "Now Mr Mugabe has loosened the shackles on his people he has
started a process which may be the start of a far-reaching change."

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      Zimbabwean gov't quadruples domestic workers' minimum wage on poll's
eve 2005-03-31 01:34:56

          HARARE, March 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The Zimbabwean government
announced Wednesday new minimum wages which will see domestic workers' wages
quadruple, one day ahead of the country's parliamentary poll on Thursday.
But some fear the move might add to the unemployment woes facing the

          The new minimum wages, now at 800,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about129
US dollars), are a significant increase from the 190,000 Zimbabwean dollars
(about 30.6 US dollars) which the workers have been getting since last year.
The new wages are applicable from March 1.

          This comes just one day before the southern African country's
sixth parliamentary elections to be held Thursday, seen largely as a
two-horse race between the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition MDC.

          Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mangwana,
told reporters on Wednesday that workers in grade one, comprising yard and
garden workers, now earn 800,000 Zimbabwean dollars per month, those in
grade two, comprising housekeepers or cooks, will get 850, 000 Zimbabwean
dollars (about 137 US dollars)per month while those in grade three,
comprising child minders and disabled-age minders now earn 900,000
Zimbabwean dollars (about 145 US dollars) per month.

          Workers in grade four or disabled-age minders with Red Cross
certificates and those in unclassified operations now earn 950,000Zimbabwean
dollars (about 153 dollars) per month.

          The minister also announced allowances for the workers whose
employers do not provide accommodation, transport, and other services.

          These include 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 16 US dollars) per
month for accommodation, 140,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 22.6 US dollars)
for transport, 86,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 13.9US dollars) for fuel,
60,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 9.7 US dollars) for lights and 20,000
Zimbabwean dollars (about 3.2 US dollars) for water.

          "These minimum wages have been set in view of the impact of
inflation on real wages of domestic workers," Mangwana said.

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Will Zimbabwe's elections be fair?
Zimbabwe goes to the polls on March 31, amid claims that the elections will not be free and fair.

The campaign has been less violent than that of 2002, but opposition candidates say they still face harassment.

President Robert Mugabe has accused his opponents of being western stooges, and says this will be an "anti-Blair election."

If his Zanu-PF party wins a two-thirds majority, it will be able to change the constitution.

Can the election be free and fair? Will Zanu-PF get a two-thirds majority? If you're in Zimbabwe, send us your impressions of the campaign and the voting.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The very people within the country who do not support Mugabe and his policies are apathetic
Mike Moyo, Zimbabwean in MN, USA
How can anyone consider the elections fair when the very people within the country who do not support Mugabe and his policies are apathetic with even registering or showing up at the polls. Obviously the bravest opposition supporters will end up showing up, and the overwhelming majority will be Zanu die-hards who have as narrow a vision of the future as Mugabe does, and additionally they are the only ones who feel safe in openly revealing their affiliation. This is another farce of an election.
Mike Moyo, Zimbabwean in MN, USA

Why is it always that, the so-called "West" is always waiting to see Africa fail. Will Zimbabwe's elections be fair? Is it always so 'fair' in your countries?
Joelle, USA

Mugabe is a scar on the face of Zimbabwe. He is opposed to democratic means and will do anything to get his own way. He is not fit to lead a country if he doesn't give a damn about its people. The sooner this man is removed from power the better. Why can't Bush issue a warning like he did with troops in Beirut - oh, maybe there is no financial gains for him here.
Alan, Northern Ireland

Fair elections in an autocratic government? You have to be kidding to ask. The old man has failed the country with his incompetence and corruption, and he is too proud to admit it. Rhodesia used to be bad, but this regime is even worse. It is time for change. Its neighbours and the rest of the world should demand change for the good of Zimbabwe's people.
Ian Yee, Austin, Texas USA

The events in Zimbabwe show how far we in Southern Africa are from stabilising a region still recovering from decades of oppression and its consequential apathy. The fact that the international community (including South Africa) can stand on the fence whilst turning their back on such gross human rights violations and political dysfunction truly displays how much further Africa has to trudge, and how imperative it is for the global community to walk besides her. Having personally seen how far my country has travelled in the past decade, only now to witness such injustice taking place on our border, leaves me vexed.
Gavin Silber, Cape Town, South Africa

As long as Mugabe doesn't start building WMD with western supplied materials, he's safe
Michael, London, UK
Is this a serious question? And where are Blair and Bush bringing freedom from thuggery, intimidation, killing, deliberate starvation. As long as Mugabe doesn't start building WMD with western supplied materials, he's safe.
Michael, London, UK

Mr Mugabe has been running elections (and influencing their outcomes) for a quarter of a century. I see no signs that he has become a reformed character, so the answer must be a resounding no, Zimbabwe's elections will not be fair.
John, England

When will Africa be free from this shame of sit-tight rulers. Someone misruling his people for 25 years and still contesting in a charade called election is beyond description. I am not a Zimbabwean but you need no prophet to tell you that Mugabe will win again so that he would die in office like his compatriots like Mobutu, Enyadema and maybe, Ghadaffi. It is quite appalling that this is happening in the 21st century. Lack of credible opposition due to lack of political education is the albatross of my people. I am weeping.
Akinbode, Onitsha, Nigeria

"Free and fair" politics is an empty phrase when one of the major issues in Africa continues to be a growing racism that seeks to pit black against white instead of seeking cooperative progress. They apparently fail to realize that they threaten to seriously harm social, technical and economic progress in Africa.
John Holmes, Canada

It is difficult to answer the question of whether Zimbabwe's election will be 'free and fair' or not. This is because, anything short of victory for the opposition MDC is unacceptable to Britain and its Western Allies. Even if the best satellite in the world showed a massive victory for Zanu-PF, the MDC and the West will say it was rigged. So at the end of the day, free and fair has a new definition - 'what the West wants', and Africa is paying heavily for this western hypocrisy, because in defiance, most Africans will prefer to vote a bad nationalist ruler than a western puppet. I certainly see Zanu-PF having a landslide victory, for just one reason, lack of a true Zimbabwean opposition party!
Chidi Nwamadi, Toulouse, France

I think President Robert Mugabe is a courageous man for fighting for the common man if only other African statesman did the same. Its about time the indigenous people were given the establishments used during colonial rule, long live President Robert Mugabe !
Kime Dashol, Gaborone, Botswana

Elections can never be considered free if those outside the country are denied the vote. However, despite the massive machinery that Zanu-PF has, including abuse of state resources, TV, radio and the print media the majority of Zimbabwe will surely vote to prevent Zanu-PF gaining the 2/3 majority it needs to temper with the constitution. The reason is simple, Zimbabweans are an educated lot and you cannot continue to lie to them. They know the source of their problems. Zanu-PF leaders still assume that there are addressing the same audience of the 1970s yet this is the 21st century!
Chipo Mbanjwa

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Protesters demand democracy in Harare
          March 30 2005 at 06:06PM

      Pretoria - More than a thousand members of the Young Communist League
(YCL) gathered to chant outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria on
Wednesday, demanding democracy in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

      Members of the Swaziland Solidarity Movement (SSM) would join the
protest and march from the Zimbabwean Embassy to the Swazi Embassy, said SSM
spokesperson Lucky Lukhele.

      The SSM said King Mswati III and the Swazi government had been
misleading the world by claiming to be engaged in constitutional reform over
the past decade.

      The multimillion-rand constitutional reform project, the SSM said, was
predetermined to retain all the executive, judicial and legislative powers
of the king.

      Among the SSM's list of demands was the unbanning of all political
parties in Swaziland and an end to arbitrary arrest, torture and the
victimisation of political leaders, unionists and activists.

      The march was observed by about 30 police officers in seven
vehicles. - Sapa
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Tsvangirai is a 'flawed' opposition hero
          March 30 2005 at 02:37PM

      By Cris Chinaka

      Harare - Morgan Tsvangirai was once seen as the great hope of
Zimbabwe's opposition, a fiery trade unionist with the guts to unseat
President Robert Mugabe.

      But as Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) heads into
parliamentary polls on Thursday cast as clear underdogs, many supporters are
now focusing more on their leader's frustrating failure to deliver.

      The MDC, its supporters cowed and weakened by government pressure, is
given less of a chance of victory in this poll than in previous elections of
2000 and 2002, when it came very close to beating Mugabe.

      Political analysts say although Tsvangirai has missed some
opportunities and was probably cheated in the presidential elections three
years ago, he is still seen a hero by many for standing up to Mugabe - the
country's only president since independence from Britain in 1980.


      Tsvangirai climbed from trade unionist to potential president by
overcoming internal MDC rivalries and a severe government crackdown. His
determined optimism has repeatedly boosted his supporters' morale despite
the pressure.

      Tsvangirai's earthy style - focusing on basic economic problems - can
make Mugabe's lofty and combative oratory appear abstract and remote for
ordinary Zimbabweans, analysts say.

      During this campaign the 81-year-old Mugabe has stuck faithfully to
his old anti-British liberation struggle credentials. Tsvangirai has
concentrated on how the MDC would revive the battered economy in this once
prosperous nation.

      At his peak, on the eve of presidential elections in 2002, Tsvangirai
was considered by his supporters and some Western governments as Zimbabwe's
only hope of pulling out of a spiral of economic decline and social unrest.

      The MDC lost those elections, as it had parliamentary polls in 2000,
and charged that Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF rigged the vote. The government
denied the allegations.

      Tsvangirai then fought an increasingly disorganised battle that saw
MDC demonstrations put down, its leaders harassed and supporters scared and

      Tsvangirai took the heat personally when he was charged with treason
on the eve of the 2002 presidential poll, accused of plotting to have Mugabe

      He was acquitted of the charge last October, but faces another treason
case in connection with MDC street protests the government says were also
aimed at overthrowing the government.

      Political analysts say Tsvangirai, now 53, has gained valuable
experience over the last five years, especially in handling diplomatic
issues and taking the fight to Mugabe.

      But they say the party remains poorly organised and riven by
rivalries, leaving it in a weak position to take over from Mugabe's Zanu-PF
either at the ballot box or in government.

      The self-taught son of a bricklayer, Tsvangirai gave Mugabe his first
taste of electoral defeat in 2000 when voters backed the MDC and rejected a
constitutional amendment which would have given the president more power.

      Despite killings and police intimidation, the MDC went on to stun the
ruling party by winning 57 of the 120 seats at stake in a parliamentary

      The MDC has had a tough time capitalising on its early success,
however, while Zanu-PF has gained confidence, accusing the MDC of being a
stooge for white racists.
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Count Down to Elections: Protest Graffiti Sprouts All Over Harare

The Daily News (Harare)

March 30, 2005
Posted to the web March 30, 2005


Protest graffiti has started to emerge in many public places in Zimbabwe's
capital city as opposition parties, which have been denied access to the
public media, put their campaigns in top gear ahead of tomorrow's crucial

From messages in support of Margaret Dongo, who is contesting the poll as an
independent, to the official opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), many streets and walls in the city centre have been painted white and

Although it is an offence to inscribe any graffiti on public buildings
without prior permission from the owners, some public buildings, cemeteries
and stadium walls carry campaign messages by supporters of the opposition
parties. Zanu PF supporters seem to have also joined in, if what is written
on the walls of the disused cemetery along Beatrice Road in Mbare is
anything to go by.

Those involved in graffiti writing have argued that they had to resort to
that because their parties were not being afforded any opportunity to
explain their policies in the public media.

It was only last week when the MDC was for the first time allowed to place
advertisements in the state-controlled media, such as The Herald and The

Givemore Nyahwai, an MDC activist who lives in the high density suburb of
Mbare, told The Daily News Online that protest graffiti, especially at
public places, was now the order of the day as the government was not
allowing opposition parties, especially MDC, sufficient airtime on radio and
space in the print media.

"The only cost which we incur is for paint and brushes. The rest is for free
and it only takes someone who sees the need for this regime to be removed to
volunteer his time and effort and start writing political messages on the
walls," he said, adding that most of the graffiti was written at night or in
the early hours of the morning.

Another graffiti writer said he had resorted to the dangerous profession
after failing to obtain a job. He said he was involved in graffiti writing
as a way of earning a living.

"This is a dangerous profession because you can be beaten up by the police.
The police have become more dangerous than the Zanu PF youths. They are
beating at will MDC supporters in Highfield and Mbare," he said.

"To earn a living, I have to solicit for work from both the politicians and
their agents," he said, adding that he was now managing to pay rentals for
his two-roomed shack in Epworth.

In public toilets, which are rarely cleaned by Harare City Council
employees, the walls are also filled with protest graffiti, some of which
borders on the obscene and is full of rumours.

From the reasons why Zimbabwe's former Minister of Finance, Christopher
Kuruneri, is still languishing in jail to what killed Sally Mugabe - all can
be read in the graffiti at public toilets. You can even find out why
President Mugabe hates gays and lesbians so much.

Meanwhile, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) has confirmed
that Zimbabwe's opposition has not been given enough media space in the run
up to the poll. In one of its recent reports, MMPZ said the Zimbabwean
public media space was still a domain of the ruling Zanu PF.
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Mugabe rules out unity government in Harare
          March 30 2005 at 06:29PM

      Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ruled out the creation of
a unity government that would include members of the opposition as he
prepared for landmark elections on Wednesday.

      "Once we have fought in an election, a party has lost and we have
won," he confidently asserted at a campaign rally in Harare attended by 3
000 supporters on the eve of the parliamentary vote.

      "We expect that party to respect the results," he declared, adding:
"Why should the outside world say they need to have a government of national

      "What were the elections about? About who should govern and who should
not," said the veteran leader.

      "And the people will have said that 'MDC don't govern, Zanu-PF you
govern." - Sapa-AFP
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MDC urges reconciliation
30/03/2005 21:13  - (SA)

Biriwiri, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged
political reconciliation on Wednesday, on the eve of landmark elections that
he predicted his party would easily win.

"We are going to win and win by a wide margin," said Tsvangirai at a rally
on the final day of campaigning in the village of Biriwiri near the border
with Mozambique.

"We hope the outcome of the election will provide an opportunity for
national reconciliation and hopefully Zanu-PF will not be arrogant," said
the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has
been posing the strongest challenge yet to President Robert Mugabe's 25
years in power.

Addressing a separate rally in Harare earlier, Mugabe rejected the prospect
of a unity government that would bring in the opposition and confidently
asserted that his rivals would have to accept defeat to his ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

"Once we have fought in an election, a party has lost and we have won,"
Mugabe said. "We expect that party to respect the results."

Zimbabweans go to the polls on Thursday to elect a new parliament following
weeks of campaigning that have been surprisingly free of the bloodshed that
marred the 2000 and 2002 elections when scores were killed and beaten in
political violence.

Called on people to 'liberate' themselves

Mugabe is hoping to clinch a massive win in the vote but the opposition says
it could score an electoral upset.

"Zanu-PF has lost five years, where it could have negotiated with the MDC,
but it was hoping that the MDC would disappear," said Tsvangirai, 53, a
former union leader who launched the party six years ago.

Addressing the crowd on the grounds of the Biriwiri high school, Tsvangirai
called on the people of the rural farming region to turn out and vote to
"liberate" themselves from 25 years of Zanu-PF power.

"Mugabe has destroyed the farms, the factories and the mines and the MDC is
going to repair what Mugabe and Zanu-PF have destroyed and create jobs for
our children," said Tsvangirai, 53, a former union leader who launched the
MDC in 1999.

Tsvangirai travelled to the Chimanimani constituency to show support for
Heather Bennett, the wife of jailed white opposition lawmaker Roy Bennett,
who lost his farm during the 2000 land invasions.

Mugabe's land reform programme in which thousands of white owned farms were
seized and distributed to landless blacks and several droughts have been
blamed for the collapse in agriculture in Zimbabwe, once the breadbasked of
the region.

Food shortages and rising unemployment have sent living standards reeling,
along with the Aids pandemic affecting one in four adults.
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Mugabe turns to family to tighten hold on power
HARARE, Mar 30 (Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, facing dissent
over his possible successor in the ruling ZANU-PF party, is increasingly
turning to his own family members to shore up political support.

A selection of Mugabe's relatives are on the ZANU-PF ticket for tomorrow's
parliamentary vote, a move analysts say could be intended to extend the
81-year-old president's influence after his planned retirement in 2008.

Nephews Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuwao, both political neophytes, have joined
the race, while Mugabe's 71-year-old sister Sabina, a backbencher in
parliament, and cousin, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, are
expected to comfortably retain their seats.

The Mugabe clan also boasts uncle Solomon Samkange, the Mashonaland West
governor who automatically becomes an MP under a law that enables Mugabe to
hand pick 30 legislators.

Mugabe's dynastic moves follow an unprecedented power struggle within
ZANU-PF which saw powerful party insiders backing an alternate candidate as
Mugabe's possible successor.

Although he was able to secure his own choice, liberation war veteran Joyce
Mujuru, as his new vice president and presumptive heir, analysts said the
split encouraged Mugabe to put in place more dependable political allies.

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CBC News

Voting rolls 'in shambles,' Zimbabwe coalition says
Last Updated Wed, 30 Mar 2005 15:16:16 EST
CBC News
HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe predicted "a huge,
mountainous victory" in Thursday's parliamentary election, while a coalition
of local aid and rights groups said the vote would not be free, fair or

  a.. INDEPTH: Zimbabwe

"Covert intimidation is still rife, as is the culture of fear," said Brian
Kogoro, chairman of the coalition Crisis in Zimbabwe. He also said the
voters' roll was "in shambles."

Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since it received official independence from
Britain almost 25 years ago, told a rally in the capital on Wednesday that
his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front would win again.

"We have never been losers, because we have always been a party of the
people," Mugabe said.

Mugabe has repeatedly claimed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
which won almost half of the contested seats in the last parliamentary
election in 2000, is a puppet of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's

"The one thing we will never allow anyone in the world to interfere with, is
our sovereignty," Mugabe said. "Zimbabwe must never be interfered with by
anyone. It doesn't matter who it is, Bush or Blair."

"Mugabe is completely out of touch with reality," countered Nelson Chamisa,
the MDC's national youth chairman and, at 28, one of the party's youngest
stars. "We have no Blair in this country. The election is between the MDC
and ZANU-PF. ... He keeps talking about Blair, and for that he will be
punished, and punished thoroughly, by the people of Zimbabwe."

During the election campaign, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has concentrated
his attacks on "food and jobs," blaming Mugabe's policies for impoverishing
the once thriving country, where unemployment approaches 80 per cent.

The living dead can't vote

About 5.8 million of Zimbabwe's 12 million people are registered to vote on

But the FreeZim rights group said its audit of the voting list indicates it
contains up to 1 million dead people, 300,000 duplicate names and 1 million
people who no longer live at their registered address.

"I could not vote because I was dead," said one potential voter, Marjorie
Shishi. "They could not find my name in the register's office or on the
voter roll. They were claiming I was dead."

Another 3.4 million Zimbabweans have been barred from voting because they
live outside the country. Those expatriates are considered overwhelmingly
opposition supporters.

Zimbabwe's parliament has 150 seats, but 30 of those positions are appointed
by the president. That means the MDC would need to win 76 of the 120
contested seats to gain a majority in parliament. The MDC won 57 seats in
2000, despite widespread reports of violence, intimidation and vote rigging.
It has lost six seats in byelections in the past five years.

Mugabe hopes to win two-thirds of the contested seats, which would guarantee
his ability to push through constitutional changes.

Friendly observers

About 500 international election observers have come to Zimbabwe, including
teams representing South Africa, the regional Southern African Development
Community and the African Union, an organization of 40 African countries.
All of these groups have been friendly to Mugabe.

No observers have been invited to participate from the Commonwealth, the
United States, Britain or the European Union - all of which have criticized
the government.

The European Union said Tuesday the Zimbabwe election was "phoney" and
denounced the "pseudo electoral campaign."

And a U.S. State Department spokesman warned that "the manipulation of the
media, the lack of independent outside observers, the tilting of the playing
field in favour of the government ... are all factors and considerations
that will weigh into our assessment of the elections."

People in rural areas hit by drought say they have been told they will lose
their food aid if they vote for the MDC. The government denies that, but
Mugabe was quoted on state radio Tuesday saying "all those who vote for the
MDC are traitors."

The polls will be open until 7 p.m. local time Thursday (noon EST). Kosam
Margararerey was willing to talk to the CBC about the election, but wouldn't
say how he would vote.

He didn't dare reveal that, Margararerey explained. "It's your secret.
Otherwise you'll be killed."

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When will the World Say "Enough is Enough"?
Sokwanele Report : 30 March 2005

"We are not hungry . Why foist this food upon us ? We don't want to be
choked. We have enough." Even when Robert Mugabe made this absurd claim to a
Sky News reporter in May 2004, no one believed him. Patently it was a lie,
made to justify his decision to close down abruptly the international food
relief programme then in full swing.

We commented at the time that Mugabe's comments indicated not just an
appalling failure of planning, as serious an indictment of his regime as
that would be in itself, but a carefully planned act of the most diabolical
cunning against the people of Zimbabwe. Recalling Mugabe's own words that
"absolute power is when a man is starving and you are the only one able to
give him food", we wrote: "Mugabe welcomes a famine as the ultimate means of
political control and absolute power. Whatever the appalling cost to his own
people, he will not permit anyone or anything to undermine that hold on
power". It gives us no pleasure whatsoever, on the eve of this election in
which Mugabe and his ZANU-PF partners in crime are fighting desperately for
their very political survival, to say - there you are, we told you so. But
that is the fact.

Of course ZANU-PF is at pains to deny the charge - especially when the
country is again under the international spotlight. They are shrill in their
denials and profess righteous indignation that anyone could even suggest it.
Food for votes ? Never. Starvation for those who refuse to change their
allegiance from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
ZANU-PF ? What a thought ! Those who suggest such a thing are obviously - as
the ZANU-PF propaganda machine insists - the treacherous agents of Tony

Yet whatever the denials, it is now abundantly clear that ZANU-PF is indeed
using food as a political weapon to bolster their flagging support against a
resurgent MDC. Across the country; sometimes with finesse and subtlety; at
other times in quite blatant fashion. Nor is this just hearsay. It is hard
fact, for which there is now abundant evidence.

That there is a food deficit of major proportions is now no longer in
dispute. According to a report released earlier this month by the United
States-based Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) there are up to
4,8 million Zimbabweans in urgent need of food aid or they could starve.
Mugabe's ministers no longer bother to deny what is obvious for all to see.
Their own attempts to import maize secretly from the region in order to
reduce the deficit have proved hopelessly inadequate. Mugabe's monstrous lie
of last year has been exposed - though, under the country's draconian
security laws, it could cost any Zimbabwean up to two years imprisonment for
daring to make that observation in public.

Yet as a part of the Machiavellian planning that created this appalling
situation, control of the scarce food resources now lies exclusively in the
hands of ZANU-PF. The national Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was given a
statutory right of monopoly on the purchase, storage and distribution of the
staple food, maize. And across the country the GMB grain silos are under the
control of loyal and trusted ZANU-PF cadres, most of whom are from the
military. Mugabe and his minions are in control of an essential commodity
that is in short supply - and quite simply that translates into crude
political power.

So far the plan is working out just as intended, save perhaps that with a
poor rainy season on top of the collapse of the commercial farming sector,
the food deficit is more severe than was intended. Such a situation is at
least potentially embarrassing to the dictator. But the Mugabe strategists
no doubt feel they can contain the situation until after the March 31
election, which they have every intention of stealing as they did the two
previous polls. After that, provided the dictator has not been dislodged,
they can expect to be given a freer hand to deal with a restive population.
Their supply of military hardware from China has recently been topped up for
just such an eventuality.

Which is where we come to the evidence of withholding food from the
opposition. The evidence surfaces - despite every effort to silence the
witnesses - from every quarter.

An eighty-three year old woman from Insiza District in Matabeleland South,
who looks after five orphans, dares to speak to a Sky News reporter telling
him how, because she supports the MDC, her name is on a list of those who
have been denied the right to buy food from the GMB. Her local headman has
told her bluntly that unless she converts to ZANU-PF she will die of
starvation. Her children have almost nothing to eat and cry from hunger
every day.

Eight villagers from the same district report how on March 19 GMB maize was
finally delivered to their area. They had paid Z$ 37,000 in advance, in
January, for 50 kg bags of maize, but when they came to collect the food
they found that their names were among those on a long list read out of
supposed MDC supporters. The eight were publicly humiliated and sent away in
disgrace by the local ZANU-PF chairperson, who was sitting on top of the
bags of maize. Their money was returned to them and they were told they
would never again receive GMB maize, because it was only for ZANU-PF.

The brave villagers from Insiza who dare to talk of the abuse they have
suffered themselves, also report that in their ward alone there are 188
families on the "MDC list" who are denied access to GMB grain.

Nor is the abuse of food confined to the Insiza district. In Bulawayo at a
ZANU-PF rally on March 10, the candidate Sihle Thebe, told residents in
Makokoba constituency that the ruling party controls the GMB and that if
they back the opposition they will surely be cut off from the supply of
grain. The candidate was speaking in the vernacular language in the presence
of ZANU-PF and state second Vice-President, Joyce Mujuru, yet that lady who
flouts her born-again Christian credentials and her status within the
Salvation Army, thinks not to either reprimand or correct her. Obviously
this is ZANU-PF policy, whether officially so or unofficially.

Another district rife with reports of food abuse is Gwanda, some 100 ks
south-east of Bulawayo. Here the ZANU-PF leadership in all but two of the
nineteen wards stand accused of using their access to the GMB to deny MDC
supporters the right to buy food. Details of those responsible were
furnished to the District Administrator in a letter from Glory Makwati, the
MDC Provincial Administrator. We have a copy of the letter in our
possession. The matter was brought to the attention of a multi-party liaison
committee and referred on to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which failed
to investigate it any further.

These are just a few sample cases that illustrate what can only be called a
national pattern. The complaints from across the country show a remarkable
consistency. The situations are many and varied but the pattern is always
the same, and it points unmistakably to ZANU-PF using their monopoly control
of the GMB to threaten and intimidate a people who are extremely vulnerable
due to the scarcity of the staple food and widespread poverty which makes
the commercial cost of mealie meal unaffordable to hundreds of thousands of

Enter Archbishop Pius Ncube, that redoubtable champion of the poor, who
voices his deep concern in a statement released to the media on March 26 and
entitled "Political abuse of food ahead of the parliamentary elections". The
fearless cleric relates the background to the food crisis and then cites one
example after another of documented cases of the use of food as a political

"That people are actually having food withheld, or are being threatened with
this outcome if any party other than ZANU-PF should win the election at the
local levels, is a serious crime," he writes. "The right to food is the most
primary right of all human beings. Without food, people die. There is great
hunger in Zimbabwe right now ."

"It is an evil form of coercion," he continues, "to chase men and women away
from food selling points for political reasons." Referring to the agonizing
choice confronting parents of children crying from hunger, he says "What
greater violence against the family unit can there be than to make parents
choose between political freedom and the well being of their children ?"

"The legitimacy of this election must be once more called into question
ahead of voting day," the Archbishop concludes. "With almost total crop
failure looming in our region, to cynically use hunger as a weapon is to
stab at the very heart of democracy."

We agree, one hundred per cent; and we call upon the international
community, regional and other world leaders, the United Nations and all who
believe in freedom and democracy, to take serious note of what is happening
in Zimbabwe today. It may be tempting to look the other way and hope the
problem will disappear. But one of the lessons of history is that unless and
until tyranny is confronted it only grows more bold, and the suffering
intensifies. When tyrannical mis-rule reaches the point it has in Zimbabwe
today it is surely time for the international community to consider what
action is appropriate in support of those gallant champions of the victims
such as Archbishop Pius Ncube.
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The Age, Australia

Mood for change is upon Zimbabwe
March 31, 2005

Today's election is likely to be rigged. Even that may not save Mugabe.

Fear. Hunger. Change. These three words have become the motifs of the
campaign for today's parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe. The first two are
grim reality for Zimbabweans after 25 years under the rule of Robert Mugabe
who, at 81, clings to power as the last of Africa's "big man" liberation
leaders. But change, the slogan of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, is still a brave hope in a country deservedly singled out by the US
as an "outpost of tyranny". Overt intimidation by the state turned past
elections into a cruel sham - an estimated 300 MDC workers were killed in
the 2000 and 2002 campaigns. For that, Zimbabwe earned a slap on the wrist
from the Commonwealth. The violence against opponents continued, the
independent press was shut down, foreign journalists were barred, the
economy was run further into the ground. Half the population of 13 million
is on the brink of starvation, but foreign aid was blocked last year and
state food aid has been distributed only to loyalists.

Perversely, President Mugabe still craves legitimacy and respect,
particularly among his neighbours. Last year he signed a protocol drawn up
by Southern African states that committed Zimbabwe to free and fair
elections. And, to the surprise of Zimbabweans, there has been little
violence in this campaign, although the threat of reprisals is ever present.
MDC rallies have drawn huge crowds, emboldening Zimbabweans to express a
previously hidden desire for change. They are openly saying they have had
enough of hunger and fear, and of the insane misrule of what is increasingly
a one-man government as the ruling ZANU-PF party begins to fracture.
Perhaps Mr Mugabe has miscalculated, perhaps he is confident that polling
stations run by loyal army and police officers will produce a result in his
favour, aided by a suspiciously inflated electoral roll (it isn't open to
scrutiny) and the denial of the right to vote to 3 million Zimbabweans who
have been driven to live overseas. Until a month ago, the MDC intended to
boycott the elections, but it now says the campaign is a test of national
sentiment. Other countries have shown that there is a point at which public
feeling becomes so clear that rigged election results, and the position of
those who rely on them, simply become unsustainable. Zimbabweans have been
brave enough to hope for change and declare this publicly. They are entitled
to ask why the world has not done more to help rid them of the man who
promised liberation but delivered a tinpot dictatorship.
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Praying for Regime Change At Ballot Box

The Daily News (Harare)

March 30, 2005
Posted to the web March 30, 2005

Munodii Kunzwa

IT is easy to engage in hyperbole in a frank discussion of the parliamentary
elections tomorrow. For instance, the walk into the polling booth could be
compared with the head-bowed, heart-thumping journey into the Confessional
box. Most Catholics, never mind how old, are invariably seized by a
heart-stopping anticipation of release or apocalypse as they go to confront
their Confessor.

Mostly, it's a leap of faith, as heavy with symbolism as the voter's
decision to vote for one rather than the other party courting their vote.
Faith is the thing. Those who replace faith with fear may be the traitors,
not only to their Conscience and their children, but also to themselves and
to the country.

What is faith? Be philosophical, if need be. Faith is reliance or trust in
something - the existence of a Supreme Being, or belief in the ability of a
party to deliver on its promises. It can be reliance even on a soccer team,
having the faith that your team will win the championship cup.

If you were asked: How can you have such faith, not being a clairvoyant or a
soothsayer? How do you reply? "I just know it" may be woefully inadequate,
if you are talking about faith in God. Not having seen Him or not having
actually heard Him speak, how else do you explain your faith?

All this may sound a bit "if-ish", but democracy itself can be placed in
that category. The leader of a former Soviet republic, claiming to be its
democratically-elected leader, recently fled the country after a majority of
his people thought he was ripping them off, politically and otherwise. They
installed another leader and are unlikely to look back. The chances of the
political fugitive returning to power are zilch.

Georgia's Edward Shevardnadze suffered the same fate. At the time of his
ouster, The Herald newspaper in Harare would not give its readers the
chapter and verse of his political demise. The cynical view was the editor
was told that it might plant subversive ideas into the minds of certain
people, people itching to find a way of getting rid of Zanu PF and President
Robert Mugabe.

At the time, Jonathan Moyo was in charge of Mugabe's information and
propaganda. Today, Moyo is still around, being interviewed by the same
journalists he once called "terrorists". His predicament has provoked
smirks, chortles, chuckles and guffaws from the same journalists.

Tomorrow could result in a regime change at the ballot box. If the MDC did
win a thumping majority of the 120 seats up for grabs, there would have to
be a change, if not of government, then certainly of Parliament.

Mugabe would not stand for it. In fact, you have to feel sorry for the man.
At no time, since he took over the leadership of Zanu PF in 1975, has he
ever felt so challenged. Like the 2000 constitutional referendum and every
election since 1980, the contest has always been about Mugabe, not
necessarily Zanu PF.

Few leaders have imposed their personality on the leadership of a country as
insidiously as Mugabe has done on Zimbabwe. Even his party, Zanu PF, would
be nothing without him. What he has managed to instill into the minds of the
people is the fear that even the country itself would be lost without him.

Which is why he has managed to personalise this election - it's Mugabe
versus Tony Blair. Voters endorsing the Zanu PF candidates will be voting
for Mugabe, not their candidate.

Unemployment is about 70 percent, inflation still the highest in the
Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and Z$15 000 are now worth US$l
on the parallel market. The health delivery system has virtually collapsed
and the educational facilities are in tatters. There is precious little
foreign direct investment in the country and there are four million
Zimbabweans living outside their country as economic refugees.

All this, as far as Mugabe is concerned, should not bother the voters. The
issue of all issues, for Mugabe and for Zanu PF, is Tony Blair. Jobless,
hungry and probably shelterless voters are expected to limp into the voting
booth to vote against Tony Blair, in the hope that this act alone will give
them jobs, food and shelter.

Unless Mugabe and Zanu PF have prepared the most elaborate rigging machinery
to win this election, their platform should drive most voters to vote
against them. But Zanu PF has rigged elections before and could do so again
tomorrow. Anybody believing that this party has suddenly been hit by the
righteous bug is day-dreaming. Only if the unexpected happens could Zanu PF
lose the way it ought to lose an election with its poor record.

At one time, during the campaign, some people thought Mugabe had seen the
light. The MDC was being allowed to campaign more freely than ever before.
It was being given a lot more time on radio and television. Morgan
Tsvangirai was on TV more frequently than during his treason trial. His
rallies were given footage that almost equaled Mugabe's.

There was speculation that Mugabe had decided he would leave the political
scene with his record as the great liberator unsullied by an election in
which his party won by treachery. The man is serving his last term and will
soon pass into history.

He will always be remembered as the man who launched the Gukurahundi war
against ex-Zipra guerillas, in which 20 000 died, among them innocent women
and children. He will also be remembered as the man who launched the
so-called Third Chimurenga in which white farmers and their black workers
were killed in 2000.

But apparently he may not have wanted to be remembered, on top of all that,
as the man who destroyed his country, economically, because he harboured a
personal vendetta against Tony Blair. Or perhaps he genuinely wants the
international community to re-engage him politically and economically. So,
he allows the opposition to do as any opposition would do in a truly
democratic country.

Still, for many students of Mugabeism, the expectation of a truly free and
fair election is something of a mirage. People, in general, have lost faith
in Mugabe and would not vote for him if all things were equal.

For instance, there is a bizarre story about the computers the president has
been donating to many rural schools. The story is told of the computers
being the same at every school. None of them are being left at the schools,
but are being ferried to the next one, to be presented as another batch - so
the rumour goes. This could be a falsehood concocted by his enemies, but it
illustrates, more than any other public relations gaffe his spin doctors
have committed, the people's loss of faith in Mugabe. That could be his
final undoing tomorrow.
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Transcript from ABC Raduio, Australia

      Downer calls on Zimbabwe to lift media ban
      PM - Wednesday, 30 March , 2005  18:49:04
      Reporter: Stephanie Kennedy
      MARK COLVIN: The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is unhappy that the
ABC and other Western news media have been banned from entering Zimbabwe to
cover the polls. Mr Downer also thinks that the Zimbabwe poll is unlikely to
be free and fair.

      The Foreign Minister told Stephanie Kennedy that he wanted the
Zimbabwean authorities to lift the ban.

      ALEXANDER DOWNER: We clearly do object to them denying access to the
ABC, but more importantly even than denying access to the ABC is the issue
of whether Zimbabwe will have free and fair elections and we have grave
concerns about the way the electoral process is being handled.

      There's still a significant element of political intimidation by the
ZANU-PF people. There is particularly concern about the electoral roles, the
extent to which the electoral roles are what we could call clean electoral
roles. There's concern about the way food is being used by the Government as
a political weapon.

      So, as things stand, these don't look as if they're going to be
remotely free and fair elections, even though people appear to be much more
enthusiastic this time about participating in the political process.

      STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Three years ago the observer group which monitored
the last elections found they were not free and fair. Has anything changed?

      ALEXANDER DOWNER: I don't think a lot has changed, frankly. I mean,
this time countries like Australia are not able to send observers. Our
Embassy in Harare will be monitoring the elections as best it can, but we
can't send observers.

      But all the signs are the elections are going to be manipulated in
similar ways to the way the elections last time were. I think the only
difference is this time there will be more participation in the elections.

      But, for example, our doubts about the neutrality of the Zimbabwe
electoral commission remain as great today as they were when the
Presidential elections last took place.

      STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Do you think that the opposition parties have had
greater freedom to campaign this time?

      ALEXANDER DOWNER: They probably have had a bit more freedom to
campaign this time. They've certainly been out there expressing their views.
Of course they don't have equal access to the media. The media is completely
dominated by the Government and the Government's point of view.

      They're able to. the opposition are able to campaign, but they don't
intimidate in the way the Government is intimidating people to get them to
vote for them. The opposition's not threatening people with food, with a
loss of food, with access to food in the way the Government is doing. The
opposition don't control the Zimbabwe electoral commission, the Government
does. And frankly, we have no confidence that the electoral commission is

      So, you know, the concerns may be slightly different this time but
they are very similar.

      STEPHANIE KENNEDY: After last election, the Commonwealth excluded
Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. Do you think that has had any impact?

      ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well it probably has had an impact on a lot of
people in Zimbabwe. It hasn't had any impact clearly on President Mugabe,
but I think a lot of people in Zimbabwe, and they've told me this
themselves, are very pleased that the Government has taken. or the
governments in the Commonwealth have taken a strong stand against Zimbabwe
and that Zimbabwe is no longer in the Commonwealth.

      On the other hand, you know, nothing appears to move President Mugabe.
He has an interest simply in hanging on to power and hanging on to it
indefinitely whatever the price.

      MARK COLVIN: The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer talking to
Stephanie Kennedy.
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New Zimbabwe

What will you tell your son on Thursday?

By Bekithemba Mhlanga
Last updated: 03/30/2005 22:51:41
ON Thursday morning I will take my son along with me to the mock vote in
London. This will be my third time to take part in Zimbabwe's "elections"
but only the second time that my son is around me while I exercise my right
to vote.

The first time around was in 2002 .On that hot blistering day I dumped him
with relatives to go and cast my vote at David Livingstone school.

In my naivety I had thought the process would take a few minutes and I would
be back at home with my little boy watching the rest of the proceedings on
television. It was not to be. Ten hours later, minus a several litres of
petrol and a possible permanent damage to my heart as a result of all the
stress I was back at home. I had been tossed around from one polling station
to another and finally voted in one corner of Harare that I never knew

One thing I knew for sure was that the whole charade was part of stealing an
election, stealing a people's right, a right that hundreds had died for in
the liberation struggle, a right that many more continued to suffer for in a
free Zimbabwe. The right to vote. My confirmation came on Sunday morning on
national radio when Jonathan Moyo announced that Harare was not Zimbabwe and
Zimbabwe was not Harare. Speaking in tongues the Professor had just told
millions of Zimbabweans to forget any illusions of any MDC victory or an
honesty outcome of the election as Zanu (PF) had this deal done long back. I
cursed several times in the car and my son looked at me in amazement. I
apologised for the swearing and explained to him that one day I would
explain all this to him.

So on Thursday I want to leave up to my promise and explain my un-gentleman
like behaviour some three years ago. On the train ride to I will brief him
on why we are travelling by train in foreign lands to take part in a mock
voting exercise with other children of the soil. It is so sad that such a
scared process one that many will die for can be mocked. I will explain to
him that the same government that is urging me and his mother , his aunties
and uncles in the diaspora on a day to day basis to send money home, does
not want us to vote.

I will tell him of that Sunday when I cursed in the car and why I was so
furious. I will tell him that the fury still abides in me. However I am sure
I will not swear in front of him as it is unlikely that I will hear that
voice telling millions of Zimbabwe that Tsholotsho is not Zimbabwe and that
Zimbabwe is not Tsholotsho.

If he does ask me why then the fury I will say to him that not all
Zimbabweans are allowed as in the case of myself and his mother. I will tell
him that even some in Zimbabwe are also not able to vote. I will tell him
that civil servants who are helping out in the voting exercise for instance
have had their vote cleverly stolen from them. Most of them have been
deployed so far from their constituencies that they will not vote. Further
more I will tell him that voting is an outcome of a process. This process
involves a free competition of ideas in the political market place. I will
tell him that in Zimbabwe's market place the trading has not been that
clean. One set of traders has turned up armed to the teeth with axes and
knives to deal with customers who have a different preference of products.
The same set of traders has been destroying the market stalls of other
traders before they have even been set up. To make matters worse any
advertising material about the other traders' goods and services has been
defaced and destroyed. Should he ask me why the traders are behaving like
his, as any child is naively bound to ask, my simple answer to him will be
that it is because of greed.

At the end of this dialogue, knowing my son as I do, he will ask me why then
we did not stay at home and he could have watched cartoons instead of
embarking on a meaningless train journey. I will tell him that the
experience of what has happened in his homeland must not be lost in anyone's
mind, that his generation deserves better, that at the moment the country
has been ravaged to the bone, that he must value his right to vote and other
people's right to do the same. I will tell him that how want him to learn
that the market place for political ideas has no room for knives, axes,
knobkerries and truants who have no tolerance for other traders' goods and
services. What will you tell your child on Thursday, or worse stilln, on
April fool's day?
Bekithemba Mhlanga is a Zimbabwean journalist and writes from England

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Mail and Guardian

      SA's Zim observers 'hang around in hotel'

      Cape Town, South Africa

      30 March 2005 01:47

            Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
accused South Africa's government-aligned observers to Zimbabwe's March 31
elections of wanting to "rubber-stamp" the outcome.

            "The MDC no longer has any faith whatsoever in the capacity of
Minister [of Minerals and Energy] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of the
SADC [Southern African Development Community] observer mission, to act
impartially," MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said on Wednesday.

            "This follows her unqualified comments on Zimbabwe's electoral
process and environment over the past few days," he said in a statement.

            "The comments made by the minister, and other comments
attributed to the head of the ANC [African National Congress] observer
mission, have revived our suspicions that South African observers allied to
the government and ruling party are not interested in the facts on the

            "They are only interested in manipulating events so that they
can rubber-stamp another fraudulent Zanu-PF victory," Ncube said.

            "On [the] SABC [South African Broadcasting Corporation] this
morning [Wednesday], the minister contemptuously dismissed MDC allegations
of the use of food aid as a political weapon, the role of chiefs in coercing
the electorate, and our deep concerns around the state of the voters' roll.

            "We have supplied the observer missions with substantial
evidence to corroborate our allegations, yet they have failed to investigate

            Ncube said the MDC invited the South African and SADC observer
missions to numerous rallies in rural areas, but they "didn't bother to turn
up, preferring to hang around in the lobbies of five-star hotels in Harare
and Bulawayo".

            At these rallies, countless people approached officials from the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to complain about the role of chiefs and the
fact that they were being denied food aid.

            "We have given observers the names of constituencies and the
names of those known to be in involved in incidents of electoral
malpractice, yet they have not visited these areas."

            The MDC suspects the remarks by the minister and the head of the
ANC observer mission are part of a calculated move by South Africa to
prepare the ground in the hope that Zanu-PF will win, and they can then
legitimise the "victory".

            "Given the evidence of widespread electoral malpractice, this
would be pure folly. No one is going to take such claims seriously. The
world is not blind to such shenanigans."

            However, despite the partisan manner in which the election has
been managed, and the absence of democratic conditions on the ground
precluding a free and fair election, the MDC is confident of victory.

            "Our rallies around the country have attracted thousands of
people. Thirty-five thousand attended the rally in Bulawayo last Saturday
and 40 000 attended the one in Harare the next day.

            "The people are behind us. If the MDC does win the election, it
will be because the will of the people will have prevailed over attempts by
[President Robert] Mugabe and Zanu-PF to rig the ballot.

            "It is deeply regrettable that certain South African observers
don't appear to have much of a problem with overt attempts to subvert the
principle of 'one person, one vote'," Ncube said. -- Sapa

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"So far, the steps that have been taken are according to the SADC guidelines.”
SA Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Failure to comply with SADC Standards

Impartial, all-inclusive        X       * Electoral Supervisory Commission
competent and                                * Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
accountable …                                * Delimitation Commission
electoral bodies                               * Registrar General of Voters
                                                          All hand-picked by Robert Mugabe

Equal opportunity                 X      * The 3,4 million citizens forced to leave
 to vote and be                                    Zimbabwe, including an estimated 1,7
 voted for                                            million living in South Africa, denied the
                                                             right to vote
                                                          * The Voters’ Roll in a shambles, including
                                                             800,000 names of dead persons, 300,000
                                                             names duplicated, 900,000 not known
                                                             at given addresses …
                                                                       Opposition severely hindered
                                                                        in campaigning, beaten up, jailed…..

Equal access to the                 X      The opposition granted last minute 
State media                                       token access to State media                                   
                                                            Independent press under constant siege                                                                     
                                                            *  Daily News bombed in 2001 and
                                                                closed down in 2003.
                                                                Journalists tortured, beaten up,
     imprisoned and living in fear                                                                      
                                                             *  Foreign journalists excluded
Conducive environment               X     * Repressive legislation
for free and fair election                       * Police force politicized                                                                                      
                                                                 * Military in charge of elections
                                                                 * 100 Dongfeng military vehicles
                                                                     shipped into Zimbabwe ahead
                                                                     of the election   
      * Use of food as a political weapon


Accreditation of election               X       COSATU  /  SADC LEGAL TEAM
observers on non-discriminatory            SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM       
       basis                                                          ELECTORAL INSTITUTE OF
                                                                          SOUTHERN AFRICA (EISA) and 
                                                                          many others refused accreditation                                                                    
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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
30 March 2005

Statement on the Media Environment in Zimbabwe Prior to the March 2005

The national public broadcasting corporation, ZBH, has failed to fulfil its
public mandate to provide 'balanced, fair, complete and accurate' coverage
of the March 2005 parliamentary election campaign as stipulated under the
Broadcasting Services (Access to radio and television during an election)
Regulations gazetted in February 2005.
While opposition parties and independent candidates have been officially
allowed access to Zimbabwe's electronic media for the first time during an
election campaign, news and current affairs coverage both prior to and after
the start of the February 26  'election period'1, was extensively biased in
favour of the ruling party, ZANU PF.
Democracy depends upon an electorate that is capable of making informed
choices. It is therefore the duty of the national public broadcaster to
grant political parties equitable access to its airwaves at all times and
not just before elections. The imposition of a 33-day "election period" as
set out by Zimbabwe's broadcasting laws, is an arbitrary figure set by an
interested party that implies a limit to ZBH's public service mandate which
in itself undermines basic principles of democratic practice; the right to
know and to be informed. For this reason MMPZ has assessed access to the
media and election coverage from 1 January 2005, as well as coverage during
the "election period".
MMPZ's findings show that between 1 January and 29 March the main stations
of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZTV, Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM) carried
a total of 408 election campaign stories covering the activities of ZANU PF
and the opposition MDC. Of these, 346 (85%) were on ZANU PF while 62 (15%)
were on MDC. Although coverage of the MDC was generally neutral, coverage of
ZANU PF was used to either to denigrate the MDC or to portray the ruling
party positively.
The distribution of time allocated to the two main political parties'
campaigns on ZTV (6pm & 8pm bulletins) illustrates this bias even more
starkly. Of the 12 hours 23 minutes allocated to both political parties in
the 12 weeks between 1 January and 29 March, the national public broadcaster
gave ZANU PF 11 hours and 29 minutes (93%), while 54 minutes (7%) were given
to the MDC. For example, when ZANU PF launched its campaign on February 11,
ZTV allocated 18 minutes of its 8pm news bulletin to covering the launch.
The station subsequently devoted an additional 13 minutes 15 seconds in its
evening news bulletins of February 12th and 13th to the ruling party's
campaign launch.  In contrast, ZTV gave the MDC's campaign launch only 2
minutes 35 seconds on February 20, the day of the event, with no further
MMPZ's findings also revealed blatant bias by ZTV even in the 'election
period' where ZBH is obliged by law to provide a 'fair, balanced, accurate
and complete' service when covering elections. Between February 26 and March
29, 4 hours and 44 minutes (87%) were allocated to ZANU PF while only 41
minutes (13%) were allocated to MDC.

With regard to "election programmes" specially accorded to contesting
parties and candidates in terms of the Broadcasting Services Regulations,
allocation of access between political parties and independent candidates
between 26 February and 29 March was as follows:
Party Time allocated
ZANU PF 2 hours 12 minutes
MDC 2 hours 24 minutes
Zanu (Ndonga) 1 hour 42 minutes
ZIYA 1 hour 42 minutes
ZPDP 1 hour 30 minutes
Independent candidates 1 hour 45 minutes
MMPZ noted that in the interviews and discussion programmes allocated to the
MDC, ZBH panellists persistently interrupted responses from the opposition
party representatives to allegations made by the panellists.
In contrast, interviews and discussion programmes held with members of ZANU
PF were handled in a considerably less hostile manner. Ruling party
officials were allowed to comment without interruption and instead of posing
questions on ZANU PF's policies, in most cases the panellists asked the
ruling party representatives to respond to positions taken by the MDC during
their interviews. During the discussion programme aired on March 29th, the
invited members of ZANU PF appeared to be answering questions from notes
made according to questions they had been furnished with earlier.
The biased approach of the questioning during these programmes was clearly
structured in a way that was designed to further discredit the opposition
and enhance the image of the ruling party.
With regards to print media, the newspapers in the government-controlled
Zimpapers stable, failed the Zimbabwean public and the journalistic
profession with their blatantly biased coverage of election issues. Since
the year 2000 these newspapers have been used as a propaganda tool to
enhance the image of the ZANU PF government and to attack and discredit the
political opposition. Little has changed during the 2005 election campaign
period. The insulting and abusive nature of these newspapers' reports on the
opposition and government critics was only toned down following the
departure of the former Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo. But the bias
remains the same.  For example in the week beginning Monday 14 March and
ending Sunday 20 March 2005, out of the 64 campaign stories carried in The
Herald, the Chronicle, The Sunday Mail, the Sunday News and The Manica Post,
52 (81%) were on ZANU PF, 11 (17%) on the MDC and only one story (2%) on
independent candidates. Smaller opposition parties were not covered. Those
stories covering the MDC were almost all used to discredit the opposition.
While MMPZ welcomed the regulations granting political parties' access to
the electronic media prior to the March 2005 parliamentary election as a
positive development, we condemn the flagrant bias in news coverage of
election issues. ZBH has made no attempt to disguise its favour of the
ruling party at the expense of other contesting parties. Such distorted
election coverage clearly violates the spirit of the SADC guidelines on
equal access to the media and has inevitably deprived Zimbabweans of their
right to access information on the activities of the main contesting parties
in order that they can make informed electoral choices.
It should also be noted that the Supreme Court struck down as
unconstitutional the monopoly of the airwaves enjoyed by ZBH in the year
2000 on the grounds that it interfered with Zimbabweans' rights to freedom
of expression. However, ZBH has been allowed to continue holding this 'de
facto' monopoly in violation of this ruling.

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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Print and Electronic Daily Media Update # 8



 As this report was being compiled it was becoming apparent that the
countrywide list of polling stations published in the Press on March the
18th and subsequently, contained a number of inaccuracies and vague
references that failed to identify the exact location of polling stations.
It is of great concern to MMPZ that the published information is
insufficient for many voters to identify where they can vote, particularly
because the election is being held over just 12 hours.
It is of even greater concern that none of the media have investigated the
list and alerted the authorities to the problems this may cause in time for
them to correct this fundamental obstacle before voting begins.

1. Daily Print Media Update: March 30th 2005.

a) Campaign stories

THE Herald continued to ignore the campaigns of the main opposition MDC,
smaller opposition parties and independent candidates in its coverage of the
political parties' activities on the eve of the election.

For example, out of the six stories the paper published on the subject five
were approving reports on ZANU PF campaign activities, while the reminder
was just a brief announcement on the withdrawal from the poll of independent
candidate for Bulawayo South Charles Mpofu.
The five ZANU PF campaign stories carried by the government paper consisted
of two stories on six rallies held by President Mugabe (one rally) and his
deputy, Joyce Mujuru (five) in Mount Darwin and Harare, and three opinion
features, praising ZANU PF and vilifying the MDC.
President Mugabe and Vice President Mujuru's rallies were also characterised
by their anti-MDC/West rhetoric.
The paper's sourcing pattern was also almost exclusively ZANU PF, whose
voices the paper quoted four times against one by Mpofu.

In contrast, The Daily Mirror, in its Election Watch column gave a balanced
coverage of the two main parties' rallies in its seven campaign stories,
although it also largely ignored the smaller political parties and
independents.  It carried three stories each on ZANU PF and MDC rallies. The
seventh story was an announcement on the withdrawal from the election of
Mpofu. However, the paper also favoured ZANU PF in its sourcing, as shown in


ZANU PF Zanu PF MDC IND Other opposition
15 15 6 1 0

b) Administrative issues

The Herald again completely confined itself to the voice of the electoral
authorities in its coverage of administrative issues. It carried three
stories on the matter, one of which was an official announcement by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Election Supervisory Commission
(ESC) making sweeping assurances to observers on how their poll preparations
were "almost complete". For example, the story lacked details on the
logistics surrounding the staffing of polling stations and whether those
stations located in areas without electricity would be adequately provided
with light.

One story reported the police warning winning candidates not to celebrate
their victories provocatively, while the other reported the police
instructing voters not to remain at polling stations after casting their
votes to conduct "so-called vigils".
The Herald carried a constituency boundaries' map in its Business section
with a front-page brief advising readers where to find it.
However, the map's typography was reproduced in such a small typeface it was
virtually illegible, thereby defeating the purpose of publishing it as a
source of information. Nor was their any narrative explaining detail of
boundary changes to the relevant constituencies.

The Daily Mirror reported a story first carried by Studio 7 (28/3) that
about 50 000 polling officers, mostly teachers, were unlikely to be able to
vote in tomorrow's poll due to logistical problems arising from their
deployment outside their constituencies.
It carried an official comment from the ZEC confirming the story but
suggesting that the "affected teachers" may be granted "postal votes". But
the logistics of allowing this was not made clear. The Herald ignored the
The story was one of the three stories the private daily carried on
administrative issues. The paper also carried a comment in which it
castigated district administrator and ZANU PF candidate for Mudzi, Ray
Kaukonde, whom it reported yesterday (29/3) as having allegedly chased away
1 000 polling officers deployed in the constituency by ZEC on the grounds
that they were "MDC loyalists".
The remaining story was a ZEC announcement encouraging observers to produce
their preliminary reports on the poll before the results are announced.

The paper's stories on administrative issues were evenly sourced, as shown
in Fig 2.

Fig. 2 Voice distribution in The Daily Mirror

2 1 1 0 1

c) Political violence

The Herald did not report any incidents of politically motivated violence or
rights abuses in the two stories it carried relating to the issue. The two
were again official announcements by police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena
warning candidates and voters against causing mayhem after voting.
The Daily Mirror also did not report any incidents on political violence.
Its only story related to the topic was one on the possibility of NCA
chairman Lovemore Madhuku facing prosecution after the police gave him until
last Thursday to validate claims contained in his organisation's report
alleging widespread violence in the run-up to the polls. The story also
comprised warnings to voters by the police against congregating at polling
stations after voting.

2. Electronic Daily update: Tuesday March 29th

ZBH stations carried an hour-long discussion programme with ZANU PF national
chairman John Nkomo and the ruling party's politburo member Hebert Murerwa
on the party's policies. The panelists asked relatively tame questions
compared to the March 24 interview the broadcaster conducted with Nkomo.

a. Campaigns

ZBH continued to favour ZANU PF in its coverage of the political parties'
campaign activities, two days before polling.
For example, 11 (73%) of the 15 stories ZTV carried on campaigns were on
ZANU PF while the remaining four (37%) were on the MDC. Smaller parties and
independent candidates were not covered.

The dominance of ZANU PF campaign activities on ZTV's bulletins also
resulted in the ruling party getting more airtime as compared to its main
rival, the MDC.
Out of 29 minutes and 42 seconds the station devoted to campaigns, 24
minutes and 42 seconds (84%) were allocated to ZANU PF while the remaining
five minutes (16%) were dedicated to the MDC.
While reports on the MDC were neutral, almost all reports on ZANU PF
campaigns quoted the ruling party's leadership and aspiring candidates
vilifying the opposition party. The MDC was not given any platform to
ZBH's Radio Zimbabwe adopted a similar trend. Three of its four campaign
reports were on ZANU PF. Only one report was on the MDC. Power FM completely
ignored the activities of the opposition. All six of its campaign reports
were on the ruling party.

In contrast, Studio 7's coverage was more balanced in the five campaign
stories it carried. One report covered ZANU PF rallies in Bindura and
Highfield and MDC rallies in Chimanimani and Buhera. The other four were on
profiles of contesting candidates. Of these, two were profiles of MDC
candidates for Bulawayo East and Lobengula-Magwegwe. One was a profile of
both ZANU PF and MDC candidates for Nyanga constituency. The remainder was a
profile of the MDC and independent candidates for Masvingo Central.

b. Administrative issues

ALL 14 reports that ZBH (ZTV [5], Radio Zimbabwe [3] and Power FM [6])
continued to give the impression that Zimbabwe had fully conformed to the
SADC electoral guidelines and was ready to hold a democratic election. The
broadcaster alleged that the country has always held free and fair polls
since 1980.

The Electoral Supervisory Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) were reported as expressing satisfaction with their preparations for
the elections. The police were also quoted saying they were prepared to deal
with any cases of violence to ensure that polls were conducted under a
peaceful environment.
Pertinent questions on the electoral process were not raised. For instance,
the broadcaster did not challenge the electoral authorities on how and when
polling officers would cast their votes.
Neither did it address the state of the voters' roll nor demand
clarification on the roles of other electoral bodies such as the Elections
Logistics Committee, which was appointed early this month.

Studio 7, which has previously raised such issues, carried three reports on
the administration of the election. In one of its stories, the station
reported that although about 200 foreign journalists had been registered to
cover the election, "hundreds" were either denied accreditation or still
awaiting government's response.
The other was a report on the South African High Court's ruling barring the
police from stopping COSATU's planned Beitbridge demonstration against bad
governance in Zimbabwe on the eve of the election.
Its third report was on a mock election by 1,000 Zimbabwean exiles in South
Africa, who were protesting against the authorities' decision to deny them
their vote.

c. Political Violence

THERE were no incidents of political violence recorded by ZBH. The
broadcaster (Radio Zimbabwe and ZTV) only carried three related reports in
which the police were quoted assuring the public that they would maintain
peace before, during and after the poll.
Studio 7 however, recorded two cases political harassment and violence,
reportedly committed by ruling party supporters against MDC activists.
One report was on the murder in Epworth of an MDC supporter by alleged ZANU
PF activists.

The police confirmed the incident but denied that the murder was politically
motivated saying it followed a "pub row". But they gave no details of the
circumstances leading to the row.
The other report was on the eviction of suspected MDC lodgers in Mutare by
house owners who support ZANU PF. The report relied on the victims and did
not have comment from the police.

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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In this issue:
· Verification Team
· Stats
· Last Chance
· How What, Why
· Down the Line with Martin Redfern
· Contacts


Valcon's verification team is working steadily through its massive task
with the team leader reporting few discrepancies between clients' claims in
the original 9-page document and the team's confirmation. A few issues:
Clients should not feel offended by on-the-spot checks - they can often
work in the client's favour e.g. verifier identifies incorrect
measurements. Clients will only be contacted following a verification if
there is a major problem, otherwise they should assume the certified
evidence is being collated and fed into the individual's file in Valcon's

Where aerial photography is being used the quality of the photographs is
generally excellent and is a good record for farms which have not been
valued and cannot be verified on the ground.  This method of verification
is progressing well but takes time.

In our April issue we plan to include some interesting and gritty details
of the verification process.


Allan Higgins thanks the six clients who provided feedback on significant
sales during the period 1985-1999."That is exactly what he wanted," he
reports but says Valcon is "still waiting for sales evidence/turnover
figures from cattle and game ranchers in Matabeleland and the Lowveld.
Please would clients in those areas respond as soon as possible. You can
contact Allan at:


The database will be closed for further registrations at the end of June,
2005.  Although the time was extended last year and again in February this
year at the request of land owners, Valcon will be unable to do this again
because of the enormously increased running costs of the office set up to
establish a database. This means land owners have very little time left to
register. Please send this newsletter to any friend, former neighbour who
you think may have not yet registered.


There is a useful Questions and Answers section on our website
( and members of the Consortium are also available
for further discussion (see CONTACTS below). Clients in South Africa might
like to get in touch with Ian Burgoyne who is now living there


The Valuation Consortium: Harare (04) 746926 Redfern
Mullett & Co.: (04) 746654;
Holland & Redfern Bulawayo: (09) 882944/5/6
Holland & Redfern Mutare: (020) 64303
GRL Farm Sales: (04) 776255
Burgoyne Estate Agents:
J. Pocock & Co.: (09) 70753
Purkis & Co.: (04) 570203
CC Sales Harare: (04)
CC Sales Gweru: (054) 21912



JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to
be taken at his word."

General de Gaulle.


- ngatibatanei tizvisunungure! "Solidarity" - Zvakwana
- So, What Happens after another flawed election? - Lovemore Madhuku
- Election will not change grip on power - Sternford Moyo


LETTER 1: ngatibatanei tizvisunungure!, received 29.3.2005

by Zvakwana

Dear JAG

"No way will elections kick out zanu pf.  They cheated in 2000 and 2002.
They will rig these elections.  And when they do, I hope that people get so
disillusioned that they really organise against this government and kick
them out by a non-violent, popular mass uprising." --Archbishop Pius Ncube

We write to you in your capacity as an active, thoughtful leader in
Zimbabwe's Civil Society.

The cries of "enough is enough" are familiar to Zimbabwe. Zvakwana is not
alone in feeling this sentiment, or in articulating it. Nor were we the
first to express this. We have merely taken up this widespread spirit and
amplified it.

In many recent examples - Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan's budding
Tulip Revolution-civil society organisations in other oppressed countries
of the world have been able to unite with opposition parties to effectively
demand an end to dictatorship. They have united under the banner of
"enough" - enough to oppression, poverty, and injustice.

Why can't Zimbabwe be next? The 31 March election presents a very good
opportunity for galvanising popular discontent and transforming it into
real People Power. At no other time in zanu pf's history have they been
more fractured and more unpopular. Surely this is the time to move in and
end zanu pf's tyranny? It would be a tragedy if we allowed this opportunity
to go to waste.

Regardless of the results, the outcome of 31 March will be three more years
of repression as Zimbabwe waits for the 2008 elections.

In a recent article on Kyrgyzstan, Frank Brown of NBC wrote:

"If unchallenged, last month's elections would have cemented (Kyrgyzstan
President) Akayev's hold on power. With the voting rigged, his son and
daughter both won seats in the new Parliament, along with a phalanx of
corrupt cronies."  (Another People's Revolt, 27 March 2005).

That is exactly what will happen in Zimbabwe unless we work together to
actively reject the election results. We need to convince the MDC not to
take up its seats in Parliament, and present a united popular front of
Zimbabweans who reject this stolen election and refuse to accept another
three years of political deadlock.

Unless the MDC wins 101 seats to zanu pf's 19 (enough to be able to rewrite
the Constitution), Zimbabwe will remain in the political deadlock it is
currently experiencing. Even if the MDC won a Parliamentary majority, the
ministers and commissions which are appointed by mugabe will remain in
force, and the MDC's effectiveness would be largely compromised.

Just as Zanu PF have begun the process of closing ranks to secure victory
at this critical time, so must we. This is a time for co- operation, not
co-optation. We believe that the "Enough" slogan- enough to dictatorship,
enough to poverty, enough to oppression-could be a unifying banner for many
civic groups as well as the MDC to work together to actively demand a new
approach to government.

But regardless of the slogan that is adopted, we are urging you to take up
this challenge and work with other civic groups as well as the MDC to
organise the sorts of popular protests that may be the only way to stop the
continued repression in Zimbabwe. Keep us informed of what you organise, so
that we can inform our members and make sure that we are all in these
actions together.


Zvakwana Sokwanele Enough

PS: We have attached to this email articles by Lovemore Madhuku and
Sternford Moyo which we think help to explain some of these issues very
clearly.  We hope you find them of interest.

Article 1:

So, What Happens After Another Flawed Election?
by Lovemore Madhuku

Chairperson, National Constitutional Assembly

At the centre of the Zimbabwe crisis is the absence of democratic and
accountable governance.  This is manifested by, among other things, the
systematic assault, by the Robert Mugabe Government, on all fundamental
freedoms that are taken for granted in many parts of the world.

This election is being conducted under a constitutional framework whose
raison d'être is to preserve the status quo. Until Zimbabweans overhaul the
constitutional frame-work and introduce a new constitution anchored on
democratic institutions, it is impossible to attain the level of 'free and
fair elections'.  An election that is neither free nor fair cannot produce
a fair result.

Election promises ludicrous

This election will not change the government, whatever the result.  The
president remains the head of government and is entitled to constitute the
government until 2008, even if his ruling party loses the parliamentary
election. As the election is not about the next government, this makes
election promises by the opposition ludicrous. A prospective MP who
promises jobs, better management of the economy and so on, when he knows
that he will not be in the government whatever the result of the election,
may be seen by some voters as taking them for a ride. This may contribute
to apathy and lack of enthusiasm among voters.

Pro-democracy forces must unify

In the circumstances, what is the way forward? In the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) we have consistently asserted the following
position: Zimbabweans must, as a starting point out of this crisis,
advocate for and fight to establish a democratic dispensation within which
to do genuine politics. This requires unity of all pro-democracy forces
around a common agenda of establishing a new constitution and thereafter
elections under that new constitution. This approach requires the
suspension of the ambitions of individuals and political parties to acquire
political power and subjecting all our energies towards one priority:
forcing the Mugabe regime to embrace genuine democratic reform. This
pressure is not easy to achieve, nor will it be a one-day affair. It may
take a long time to build and means serious risks to the life and freedom
of everyone involved. But if clear parameters are set and participants made
aware of the risks and the length of time involved, success is guaranteed.

Flawed elections change nothing

This approach contrasts with that of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). The MDC believes in capturing power from the Mugabe regime and then
using that power to push for democratic re-forms. This approach has seen
the MDC participating in the 2000 and 2002 elections under hostile
conditions.  Notwithstanding the hostile electoral environment, the mood in
2000 and 2002 was one of hope and enthusiasm. In both elections, it was
felt that the overwhelming anger of the people was sufficient to overcome
the constitutional and legal obstacles placed in the way of a free and fair
election. In my view, the results of those elections proved beyond any
shadow of doubt that this approach does not work in Zimbabwe.

Rules must be changed

The rules of the game must be over-hauled first before dreaming of 'victory'
under a set of rules specifically designed to make victory by an opponent
impossible. Many who disagree with this approach are pure power-seekers.
This brings me to the March 2005 parliamentary election.  The MDC agrees
that there has been no significant change to the rules as they stood in
2000 and 2002 but still believes it may 'win' the elections. It will not
win the election for one reason: the constitutional and electoral framework
under which the election is being conducted will not allow victory for the
opposition. A better approach would have been for Zimbabweans to have
refused to legitimise the Mugabe regime's rule by not participating in a
futile election and concentrating all their energies on demonstrating the
illegitimacy of the regime and mobilising Zimbabweans to put pressure for
genuine democratic reforms as a pre-condition to an election.

Mass mobilisation and protest

Be that as it may, the election is taking place on 31 March 2005 and
Zimbabweans who wish to vote must do so. What is important is to map out
what to do after the elections.  To me, the way forward is simple: the
Mugabe regime will remain in power after 31 March. It will continue with
the path of bad governance, human rights abuses and lack of respect for the
rule of law. For the third time, Zimbabweans would have realised the
futility of an electoral process outside a genuine democratic order. After
31 March, all pro-democracy forces must unite and face the Mugabe regime
with far-reaching demands. The post-election struggle must be based on mass
mobilisation and mass protests, regardless of the number of times we may
fail. Zimbabweans must continue with the fight for a new democracy founded
on a new constitution and not allow them-selves to be distracted by another
future election. The role of SADC and the rest of the international
community is to understand this position and support it.

Article 2:

Election will not Change Grip on Power
by Sternford Moyo

As the country enters elections in 2005, it is confronted by the very rare
phenomenon of an election devoid of legal authority to renew or transfer
executive authority.  The forthcoming election cannot, in terms of the
Constitution, produce a new government. Although the resultant Parliament
can function as a forum for debate and expression of grievances, a monitor
and a scrutiniser of government expenditure, and as a legislature, it will
not be fully representative of the electorate, neither will it have the
power to create a new executive authority for the country or to make or
break a government.

President's all-encompassing authority

In terms of the current Constitution, the executive authority of Zimbabwe
is vested in the President and is exercisable by him directly or through
Vice Presidents, Ministers and Deputy Ministers appointed by him. He
appoints all diplomatic representatives representing Zimbabwe. He receives
and recognises all diplomatic representatives hosted by Zimbabwe. He enters
into all international treaties and conventions.  He has the power to make
all constitutional appointments.  He assents to all legislation before it
can be gazetted into law.  He appoints the eight provincial governors who
are ex-officio members of Parliament and 12 members of parliament.  He
appoints ten chiefs who become eligible for election by his appointee
chiefs to parliament. In summary, he appoints, directly and indirectly, 30
out of the 150 members of parliament.

The President's term of office expires in 2008. Executive Authority of
Zimbabwe is vested in him until then, and he remains Head of State, Head of
Government, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Zimbabwe.
Constitutionally, whatever the outcome of the forthcoming general election,
there will be no change in the status of the President as Head of State,
Head of Government, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces vested with
the executive authority of the country.

Stranglehold on parliament

The President is part of the legislature.  No Bill can become law unless he
gives it assent. Should Parliament decide to pursue the enactment of any
law he will have refused to assent to, it passes a special assent motion.
Where the President is not happy with the assent motion, he has the power
to dissolve parliament. Accordingly, no parliament can force the enactment
of any law which is not acceptable to the President.

There are only three mechanisms for a constitutional transfer of executive
authority by a hostile majority in Parliament.  These are a vote of no
confidence, an impeachment motion, or a constitutional amendment.  Each of
the three requires the support of two-thirds of members of parliament to
succeed. Armed with the 30 seats referred to above, the Government requires
only 21 additional seats from the forthcoming general election to defeat
any of the three motions.

Furthermore, despite the apparent absurdity of it all, in theory the
President can constitutionally reverse the outcome of a general election by
exercising his power to dissolve parliament.

A note to election observers

In conclusion, before even adverting to other pertinent issues such as the
absence of constitutional guarantees for full citizen participation in
political processes, the negative impact on citizen participation and
freedom of expression of repressive legislation such as the Public Order
and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, the impact of late access to State media by opposition political
parties, the dominance of State Broadcasting as opposed to Public
Broadcasting, obstacles to the exercise of universal adult suffrage, the
negative impact of limitations on voter education, and the partiality or
otherwise of electoral institutions, it would be interesting if election
observers could answer a more fundamental question. Is it possible to have,
as a democratic free and fair election, an election which cannot renew or
terminate the executive authority of a government? Furthermore, it would be
interesting if they could turn their attention to the non-general character
of the election. In other words, is an election in which 20 per cent of the
members of parliament become members of parliament without election a
general election?

Sternford Moyo is former President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and
Vice-President of SADC Law Association

As printed in the Human Rights Institute International Bar Association
Zimbabwe Election Focus Supplement Friday 25 March, 2005.


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
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Exercising one's right to vote is an essential civic duty and this, in
spite of the fact that all the pre-conditions for a totally free and fair
electoral process have not been met, and that apathy and despair are more
than evident in our society.

In the current Zimbabwe it is every adult voter's absolute responsibility
to offer the children of this country a better future that is hopeful and
worthy of their lives by exercising their democratic and constitutional
right to vote.

JAG strongly urges all eligible Zimbabwe citizens to contribute
meaningfully to the electoral process tomorrow, Thursday 31st March 2005.


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines
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"Ahhgh, rubbish, it's just rubbish!"

I never share politics publically
Never rant and rave
However I have to declare
The time has now come to speak.

You have starved millions
Killed thousands too
Use torture and submission
Dealt by your numerous minions.

You rape pillage and abuse
Accuse the west for your failure
Bread basket of Africa once called
What a bunch of bollocks that is.

Your people are dying
They are crying and wailing for help
For the mercy that you are able to give
Not the hate that you cast towards all.

Election time is near
The suspense sharp as a razor
People are willing to vote but are scared
Even dead you call, shame on you.

When questioned about registered dead voters
You said "Ahhgh, rubbish, it's just rubbish!"
And let me tell you of rubbish
You and the advice provided to you.

Leader of what was my homeland
Time to learn that your term is up
You're old and frail and are loosing power
Leave now before it's all taken from you.

But no you never give up
You are a chief by heart
And a tyrant by nature
A respected liberator once, true.

Hold your grasp onto the power
Because the time comes nearer
The people are fed up
Their monies absolutely useless once strong.

Please give up, for the peoples sake!

Copyright (c) Ingwa March 2005.

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