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

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26 March 2005







With only days to go to the Parliamentary elections, food is being used as a political weapon in parts of rural Matabeleland. Our region of Zimbabwe has had almost no rain since January, and rural households are facing close to 100% crop failure. Families that were being sustained by World Food Programme donor food during 2004 no longer have this lifeline. Very few stores, whether in town centres or elsewhere, have mealie meal for sale, and in any case the commercial cost of mealie meal is unaffordable for many of the hundreds of thousands of rural Zimbabweans who live in our drought-stricken regions. 


Since the World Food Programme was requested by our government to cease its feeding, the only source of mealie meal in many rural communities has become that sold by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), a government parastatal. This means that government effectively controls where in the country maize is available – and to whom.


It is therefore of deep concern that evidence has been brought to my attention that in some places, GMB maize is being sold on party political lines. I have spoken to villagers from Insiza District in Matabeleland South, who report that GMB maize is being systematically denied to those perceived to be supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The following are a few examples of the political abuse of food: 



This brave and desperate group of villagers believes that in their ward of Insiza alone, there are 188 families that are on the MDC list and cannot buy GMB maize. This represents a sizeable proportion of those resident in this ward.


It is reported that similar food abuse is occurring in other wards of Insiza.

Furthermore, we have received reports from some other parts of Matabeleland, of widespread threats that if people vote MDC then their area will never see GMB food again.



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. 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 clear that while this government may not wish people to starve to death, certain elements within government are happy to have those who do not support ZANU PF to suffer from hunger, anxiety, insecurity and depression. How can people thus afraid of starvation be free to vote for the party of their choice?


It is an evil form of coercion to chase men and women away from food selling points for political reasons. Must parents in some parts of Zimbabwe now choose between belonging to the party of their choice and then having to listen to their children crying from hunger, or to join the political party that is prepared to risk the health of the nation’s children for political gain? 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?


It is the role of the Church to speak on behalf of those who voices are not being heard, and to amplify the brave voices of those prepared to speak out on behalf of their communities. In some parts of Zimbabwe, people are being deliberately denied access to food because they do not support ZANU PF. This must stop.


The legitimacy of this election must be once more called into question ahead of voting day. 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.




Archbishop of Bulawayo


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Two questioned in connection with anti-MDC pamphlets

The MDC information officer has confirmed that party officials apprehended a printer

The MDC has accused the ruling Zanu(PF) party of printing false pamphlets in the Harare area

March 30, 2005, 13:45

By Antoinette Lazarus
Harare police are questioning two people in connection with allegations that they are responsible for printing anti-MDC pamphlets in the CBD. They were apparently apprehended by MDC officials and handed over to police last night. This latest incident comes a day ahead of Zimbabwe’s parliamentary election.

The pamphlets claim that the MDC is boycotting the election. Maxwell Zimuto, the MDC information officer, says they discovered several boxes filled with the pamphlets after receiving a tip-off. They are accusing the ruling Zanu(PF) party of printing the false pamphlets.

Police say the two people are assisting them with their investigations. Wayne Bvudizijena, the assistant National Police Commissioner, says whether the two are arrested or not will depend on the case against them. He says they are still busy with investigations.

"We suspect that this could be part of Zanu(PF) scheme to try and avoid defeat in the election. There is no basis for us (MDC) to boycott an election which we are winning," says Zimuto.

Dr Nathan Shimuyarira, the Zanu(PF) information officer has denied the allegations. He says that Zanu(PF) is not connected with any of this "nonsense".

The Zimbabwe Electoral Supervisory Commission (which is responsible for monitoring the election) and the SADC Observer Mission have been informed of the incident.

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Post-Election Unrest Predicted

ZANU PF seems set for victory, but opposition unlikely to accept result.

By Marceline Ndoro in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 22,

As the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
MDC, wrapped up their campaigns ahead of the March 31 election, supporters
of both parties were jubilantly predicting victory.

More sober analysts said yet another victory for ZANU PF, which has ruled
for a quarter century, seemed certain to be followed by serious unrest as
the MDC and other organisations make allegations of wholesale vote rigging
by the government.

Supporters at the MDC headquarters in Harvest House in Harare, the Zimbabwe
capital, told IWPR they expected to win 80 of the 120 parliamentary seats
compared with 57 at the last election in 2000. They refused even to
contemplate a ZANU PF victory.

Michael Madzimure, an MDC organiser who has been attending MDC rallies in
rural Mashonaland areas considered traditional ZANU PF strongholds, compared
the atmosphere in the country in March 2005 with that in 1980 when Zimbabwe
gained its independence from colonial rule.

"The mood in rural areas is the same as that of the 1980s when people were
voting for independence," said Madzimure. "The rural folk are saying they
are going to punish ZANU PF in this election." He identified five ZANU
PF-held seats in one province alone, Masvingo, which would go to the MDC -
Gutu South, Bikita East and West, and Zaka East and West.

"There is no doubt, MDC will win," said volunteer campaigner Manhla Thebe.
"I can't even imagine another five years of ZANU PF. If people think things
have been bad, the situation will get worse if ZANU PF wins."

But across town at ZANU PF's headquarters on Samora Machel Avenue, named
after the late Mozambican president who gave Robert Mugabe shelter when he
fled white-ruled Rhodesia in 1975, senior party official and Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa dismissed any possibility of an MDC victory.
Predicting that the ruling party would win a minimum of 65 to 80 of the 120
directly elected seats, Murerwa added, "ZANU PF has the most credible
turnaround plan that will create jobs in agriculture, mining, manufacturing
and tourism sectors. This will restore confidence and Zimbabwe will be a
formidable player in the region."

In an eve-of-election giveaway, President Mugabe issued a decree increasing
tenfold the minimum salaries of domestic servants and gardeners. The minimum
monthly wage for a housemaid and a gardener is now 900,000 and 800,000
Zimbabwean dollars [148 and 131 US dollars] respectively.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions dismissed the decree as a gimmick
which, if implemented in Zimbabwe's current state of rapid economic decline,
would lead to massive unemployment as domestic servants were laid off.

ZANU PF and their supportive observer teams from the South African
government and parliament are saying the election campaign has been free of
violence and intimidation.

But at least one MDC campaigner has been killed by ZANU PF militants in the
town of Marondera, 70 kilometres southeast of Harare, and there are many
other reports of violence in rural areas. One white farmer still on his land
told IWPR, "Look, the way ZANU PF has treated the people for the last five
years has been like someone beating a dog badly and constantly.

"After that you don't have to beat him further. You just show him the

Marceline Ndoro is the pseudonym for an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Deep Anger in Matabeleland

Some members of the Ndebele ethnic group warn of an uprising if the election
result is as flawed as they expect it to be.

From Chipo Sithole in Bulawayo (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 22,

Amid much simmering nationwide resentment of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party
across the country, there is one part of this nation where a fraudulent
election result this week is likely to push the people to the brink of mass
resistance: the townships of Bulawayo.

Built in the days of racial segregation in the old Rhodesia, these clusters
of tiny brick and corrugated iron houses in the heart of Matabeleland, the
western part of the country, are home to tens of thousands of a minority
ethnic group, the Ndebele, who are experiencing extreme hunger and high

In the early Eighties, Mugabe, sent his North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade,
made up entirely of men from the majority Shona ethnic group he himself
belongs to, to quell what he claimed was a rebel uprising.

In little over two years, many thousands of Ndebele civilians were
slaughtered. To stop the slaughter, Joshua Nkomo, leader of the
Ndebele-based ZAPU, Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, agreed that his movement
should be absorbed into the then prime minister Robert Mugabe's ZANU or
Zimbabwe African National Union. The result was ZANU PF and a one-party
state, in which all power remained with Mugabe's faction.

Touring Bulawayo's townships for several days ahead of the March 31 vote, an
IWPR contributor was told of a mood of deep anger stemming from people's
belief that President Mugabe is again cheating his way to victory.

There were dire warnings that this time, the Ndebele, who are an offshoot of
the Zulus of South Africa and account for 15 per cent of Zimbabwe's 11.5
million population, will no longer stomach rule by Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Nqobizitha, an Ndebele, is one of Zimbabwe's genuine liberation war
veterans, a guerrilla who fought for eight years during the pre-independence
bush war of 1972-80.

In 1983, as Mugabe's Fifth Brigade were slaughtering Nqobizitha's
countrymen, he returned home to the bush district of Tsholotsho in northern
Matabeleland, to find that his pregnant cousin had been sliced in half by a
Mugabe militiaman. It was just one of countless atrocities.

"The people here are very angry," he told IWPR. "The youth especially are
angry. They are itching for a fight. They come to us for leadership but we
tell them we have no weapons, no structure, and no training. But it will
happen. The Ndebele can take no more of this man's ZANU PF."

Bulawayo's townships are braced for a violent clampdown when Mugabe declares
victory, which he is expected to do over the weekend of April 2-3.

There is sense that people here have passed some kind of threshold, and are
no longer frightened. Many told IWPR openly that they would be voting for
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC - "for change", as many
put it.

George Moyo, a traditional Ndebele healer who chairs the residents'
association in Tshabalala township, south of Bulawayo, and is the most
senior cultural figure in this community, said, "There is a volcano here in
Matabeleland which is going to erupt. But we don't want to jump right now;
they will kill all our children. But we are waiting, and it will happen.

"The government has its instruments here already, waiting to punish us. They
are everywhere, in plain clothes, pretending to be friendly, but all the
time watching us. If we strike now, they will crush us. We don't want our
children to disappear."

Moyo concluded, "ZANU PF will win - everyone is expecting that. But if we
rise up now, it is like going up to a lion and saying, 'Open your mouth, I
want to get in'."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, on a visit to Tshabalala, attacked Mugabe for
letting the country slide into decay. He urged supporters to hand ZANU PF a
resounding defeat at the polls.

Tsvangirai then moved on to Bulawayo's White City Stadium, where Mugabe
deployed his North Korean-trained soldiers to quash dissent in the Eighties.
A crowd of some 15,000 supporters erupted into a rapturous roar as
Tsvangirai arrived, greeting him with the MDC's open palm salute and
chanting the party slogan "Guqula izenzo" (change your ways).

Tsvangirai was scathing about the way the 81-year-old head of state has run
economic policy, "Mugabe says no one can manage the economy better than he
did, but where have you seen any economy where millionaires are poor?"

He was referring to the collapsing value of the Zimbabwean dollar, which has
plummeted to an official exchange rate of 6,000 to the US dollar compared
with around 55 to the dollar five years ago. On the black market, the US
currency now buys 12,000 Zimbabwean dollars. A week's decent week's basket
for food literally costs more than a million Zimbabwean dollars.

The opposition leader also took a swipe at ZANU PF's campaign against
British prime minister Tony Blair, calling it farcical. "While Mugabe is
talking about Blair, we will be talking about how we will feed our children,
and while he is talking about [US President George] Bush, we will be talking
about how to create jobs for our youth," he said. "If Mugabe wants to fight
Blair in an election, he must go to Britain."

Mugabe has been publicly at loggerheads with the British premier since
launching his land reform campaign in 2000. He blames Blair for the
sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe by the European Union and the United States
because of the land programme, which has seen more than 4,000 white farmers
driven from their properties. He also claims that Blair backs the MDC.

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Archbisop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, who has
called for an "Orange Revolution" like that seen in Ukraine, warned that
violence was certain after the election.

"It may be quiet now, but ZANU PF are very violent. You are dealing with
people who bullied everyone into silence in the past," said Ncube. "Mugabe
is a very, very evil man. After previous elections he told his supporters,
'Now take your sticks and beat out the snakes among you.'"

At his final election rallies in Mashonaland, the heartland of the Shona,
Mugabe dismissed his election opponents as traitors.

"All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors," he said. And in one
speech he warned, ominously, that victory in the election by the opposition
"will not be tolerated".

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

South African Observer Role Under Fire

Credibility of regional states invited to monitor the election is "on the

By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 22,

The International Bar Association has issued a powerful warning to South
Africa's president Thabo Mbeki and his 13 fellow heads of state in a
powerful regional grouping, saying their international credibility is on the
line as Zimbabweans go to vote in this week's parliamentary election.

The government of South Africa and the Southern African Development
Association, SADC, to which it belongs, are among those invited to send
observer missions for the March 31 ballot, while anyone liable to be
critical of the conduct of the vote such as most European states has been

The statement by the association, IBA, which represents law societies and
bar associations around the world and works to uphold the rule of law, says
that President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF government has used brutality
and torture to instill fear into the populace for so long that it no longer
even needs to employ violence on a wide scale.

"The mere presence of the repressive forces has become enough of a threat to
hold the citizenry in a state of suspicion and tension," said the statement
by the London-based IBA.

Referring to this month's Human Rights Watch, HRW, report on the March 31
election, "Not a Level Playing Field", the IBA says the history of violence
as a tool of repression by the Mugabe government, coupled with the
application of repressive laws, have set "such a precedent, that the ruling
party's thugs and the state's police and Central Intelligence Office spooks
only need to make an appearance to prevent ordinary Zimbabweans from
speaking their minds freely, from holding meetings and from exercising their
democratic right to vote for whomever they choose".

It is in this broader context of violence and a repressive legal framework
that the poll must be judged, the IBA argues. The report goes on, "Seen in
this light, the much-publicised lower levels of violence preceding the
upcoming parliamentary elections - as compared to elections held in 2000 and
2002 - take on an entirely new meaning.

" There is a 'continuity' between all these elections. The violence
preceding the 2000 and 2002 elections was well-documented. Zimbabweans
therefore know that the ruling party's recent threats to withhold food aid
from or 'deal with' those who have voted for and who are thought to have
voted for the opposition Movement for Democractic Change (MDC) are not

The IBA notes that during HRW's visits to Zimbabwe in December 2004 and in
February this year, the researchers found "high levels of intimidation",
particularly in rural areas. The report documents cases where people were
beaten or detained for wearing an MDC scarf or for holding meetings; and
threatening visits by ruling party loyalists to households in rural areas or
townships to ask about residents' party affiliations.

Quoting HRW's chief Africa researcher, Tiseke Kasambala, the IBA said
background events in Zimbabwe raise "the spectre of post-election violence''.

"The government is determined that these elections be seen as peaceful,"
said Kasambala. "It's almost a tactic on the part of the government. They
know there was widespread violence in 2000 and 2002, therefore they only
need to threaten people. Intimidation is more than enough to get people to
stay home or vote for ZANU."

Similarly, Brian Kagoro, who chairs the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition, explains
this point graphically,"If your house has been burnt on several occasions,
it is not necessary for it to be burnt again. All that is necessary is the
presence of those who have the capacity to do so. Where a government has
used the past four years to create a climate of political intimidation,
killing and trauma, free and fair elections are simply not possible."

The IBA noted that the authorities have made some improvements to electoral
systems in an apparent effort to adhere to the SADC's guidelines and
principles for democratic elections.

However, it warns that some of these changes need to be seen in context. For
instance, the ballot boxes will be made of translucent material, in line
with recommendations for fair elections. But some rural chiefs are telling
people that the see-through boxes will allow officials to see who they voted

"Some of the changes are seen as positive, but now they seem to have a
negative twist to them," said Kasambala, adding that because of the
negligible extent of voter education, many Zimbabweans are still not aware
that their vote is secret.

Joseph James, president of the Zimbabwe Law Society, said he does not
believe the government has made any real effort to comply with the standards
set by the SADC.

"The essence of these guidelines is that there should be fairness to all the
parties taking part in the elections, and that people should be able to
exercise their democratic right to vote in an atmosphere which is free and
fair," said James.

Instead, he said, "selective application of the law" continues, and the
authorities are still using legislation such as the Public Order and
Security Act and repressive media laws. "Foreign observers need to see how
the laws of this country are applied by the executive in order to appreciate
the issues," he added.

Michael Clough, HRW's advocacy director for Africa, said the credibility of
the SADC and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki are "on the line" in these
elections, noting that the reports compiled by their observer missions will
indicate the extent to which they have taken significant pre-election
factors into account.

Arnold Tsunga, the executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
agrees that these elections will show whether the SADC, and South Africa in
particular, are committed to the standards they have set themselves, or
whether these principles merely reflect what regional heads of state want to

Tsunga said people need to see behind "the appearance of quietness and the
appearance of falling levels of violence".

Fred Bridgland is IWPR's Zimbabwe project editor based in Johannesburg.
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      Zimbabwean Poll May Not Change Much for President
      By Tendai Maphosa
      30 March 2005

Zimbabweans go to the polls Thursday to choose 120 parliamentary
representatives. But, whether President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party wins
or loses, Mr. Mugabe will still be president after the result is known.

Before a single ballot is cast, the ruling ZANU-PF party will already have
thirty seats in the new parliament. The 30 non-constituency seats are filled
by ten chiefs elected by the Council of Chiefs, 10 resident ministers
appointed by the president and another 10 presidential appointees.

Though ZANU-PF is widely expected to dominate the new parliament, both the
ruling party and the opposition say they are confident of winning a majority
of the 120 parliamentary seats at stake Thursday. If ZANU-PF gets 70 of the
seats, it will have the two-thirds majority needed to change the

Human rights lawyer Eric Matinenga says if the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change does win a bare majority of the seats up for grabs, Mr.
Mugabe, whose six-year term ends in 2008, may choose to carry on as before.
Should the MDC victory be overwhelming he may have to sit down and talk with
the opposition party to chart a way forward. During his campaign, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has repeatedly said the election is about sending Mr.
Mugabe into retirement.

Mr. Mugabe, now 81, is presiding over the worst economic and political
crisis since coming to power in 1980. His campaign message was that Zimbabwe
is in danger of being re-colonized by the British because of the chaotic and
sometimes violent land reform program launched in 2000. The exercise saw
white farmers losing their land ostensibly for the re-settlement of landless
blacks. Mr. Mugabe has, however, admitted that things did not go according
to plan and some of his senior party members helped themselves to more than
one farm.

He accuses the MDC of being puppets of the British government in this
re-colonization scheme.

Mr. Tsvangirai denies the charge and says an MDC victory would usher in a
new beginning for the crisis-ridden country.
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Over 1,000 "pro-opposition" poll officials fired

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 30 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government has reportedly
dismissed over one thousand polling officers and accredited election
monitors, ahead of Thursday's parliamentary elections, on allegations that
they support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC and some civil society organisations said they were shocked by the
expulsion on Monday of 800 election monitors from Mashonaland East province
by governor David Karimanzira and Ray Kaukonde, the parliamentary candidate
for the ruling ZANU-PF party.

According to the pro-government Daily Mirror, the monitors, mainly teachers,
were ordered to leave the northern province as they prepared to go to their
assigned polling stations. The monitors have since been redeployed around
voting centres in the capital, Harare.

Neither Karimanzira nor Kaukonde were willing to comment on the issue, but
both men had reportedly accused the teachers of being active supporters of
the MDC - a view of the profession generally held by ZANU-PF.

In Gwanda, in Matabeleland South province, five people who had been
appointed and accredited were reportedly dropped just before deployment,
also on accusations of being "enemies of the state".

The five include two schoolteachers, two college lecturers and one civil
society activist. David Magagula, one of the victims, told IRIN that he had
received an anonymous call telling him not to report for the final
pre-deployment session on Friday morning.

"The caller did not identify himself - he just told me that it had been
decided that I could not go on with polling duties because I am an enemy of
the state. He told me to pass the message on to some of my colleagues, who
were also dropped on the same allegations," said Magagula.

Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede told IRIN it was up to electoral
supervisory officers to decide who could take up poll-related duties.

"I cannot confirm [the expulsions], but we know there are many opposition
supporters in the civil service from which these monitors are drawn. But it
is up to electoral supervisory officials to make their own assessments, and
judge who can take part in polling supervision. It is a process that
requires careful management, so anyone with known political inclinations
simply cannot be a polling or presiding officer," said Mudede.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman, retired judge
George Chiweshe, told IRIN on Wednesday that everything was in place for
holding a successful ballot.

"We have established exactly 8,256 polling stations around the country, and
this is much more than the 4,000 polling stations that were in place during
the 2002 presidential elections," Chiweshe said. Over 5.7 million
Zimbabweans have registered to vote.

The election for the 120-seat parliament is basically a two-horse race
between ZANU-PF and the MDC, although a few independent candidates are
standing, most notably the former minister of information, Jonathan Moyo.

For the first time, voting will be held in one day, with counting conducted
at the polling stations, in line with the Southern African Development
Community's principles and guidelines on free and fair elections.

"Voting is expected to start at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m., after which
counting should start immediately," said Chiweshe.

More than 7,000 observers are in the country and over 500 journalists have
been accredited to cover the elections.

Police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, told IRIN that
25,000 officers, assisted by 5,000 police reservists, had been deployed to
protect polling stations.

"We would like to warn all party supporters to restrain themselves, and not
be too excited and disturb the peace if their candidates win," said

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The Guardian

Mugabe predicts 'huge' poll victory

Staff and agencies
Wednesday March 30, 2005

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, today predicted a "huge, mountainous
victory" for his Zanu-PF party in tomorrow's parliamentary elections, which
have been described by the EU as phoney.
Mr Mugabe made the prediction and ruled out a national unity government - an
idea mooted by South Africa - while speaking at a rally of more than 10,000
supporters in Harare.

His appearance came as he and opposition leaders engaged in a last day of
frantic campaigning.

Analysts have predicted a win for Mr Mugabe, 81, and one of his ministers,
and according to BBC Online, Didymus Mutasa claimed today that Zanu-PF would
win at least 80% of the vote.
But opposition leaders continued to urge their supporters to go out in
numbers tomorrow to show their discontent with years of declining incomes,
soaring unemployment and rampant inflation.

Reports suggest that overt violence and voter intimidation has declined, but
human rights groups argue the damage to democracy has already been done
after years of Mr Mugabe's repressive regime.

In other developments today, Pius Ncube, a Roman Catholic archbishop,
repeated the claim that the government was refusing to sell food to
suspected opposition supporters in parts of the south of the country.

The archbishop, who was branded a half-wit by Mr Mugabe yesterday after
calling for a non-violent uprising against the ruling party, said that in
just one village alone there were 188 families on a list of people not
eligible to buy food.

"The legitimacy of this election must be once more called into question ...
to cynically use hunger as a weapon is to stab at the very heart of
democracy," he said.

He claimed one 83-year-old woman who supports the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party was told that unless she switched to
Zanu-PF "she will die of starvation".

But Mr Mugabe told supporters in Harare that food was not being used as a
political weapon and that "aid is given to all deserving cases without

As his supporters cheered, Mr Mugabe, who has become a pariah in the eyes of
many world leaders, said: "We have never been losers, because we have always
been a party of the people."

Meanwhile, the government announced in an eve of election move that it would
increase the minimum wage for domestic servants almost tenfold. The MDC said
this was designed to "drive a wedge" between urban employers, thought to
support the opposition, and their employees.

Mlamleli Sibanda, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions,
predicted that with many middle class employers already struggling to
survive financially, it would lead to mass redundancies and increased
illicit employment of children from rural areas.

He described the move as "two steps forward, one step backward" for the
country's estimated 250,000 domestic workers, now mostly employed by black

Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by around 50% over the past five years while
unemployment is at least 70% and at least 70% of the population lives in

Agriculture, the country's economic base, has collapsed, with opposition
leaders blaming Mr Mugabe's policy of seizing thousands of white owned
commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

At stake tomorrow are 120 elected parliamentary seats. Mr Mugabe appoints
another 30 seats, virtually guaranteeing Zanu-PF a majority.

The MDC won 57 seats in the last parliamentary election in 2000, despite
what western observers called widespread violence, intimidation and vote
rigging. But it has lost six seats in subsequent by-elections.

In 2002, the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, narrowly lost an equally flawed
presidential poll.

While there has been much less violence during this campaign, a coalition of
local aid and rights groups said today the poll would not be free, fair or

"Covert intimidation is still rife, as is the culture of fear," said Brian
Kogoro, chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition.

A series of repressive laws introduced since 2000 have drastically curtailed
the opposition's ability to meet, express its views and its access the
media, the group said.

While restrictions have been eased in recent weeks to allow campaigning by
all sides, security forces and the ruling party's youth militia have
maintained a menacing presence at opposition rallies.

Based on an audit of 10% of the list, the FreeZim rights group concluded it
contains up to 1 million dead people, over 300,000 duplicate names and one
million people who no longer reside at their registered address.

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      Third independent candidate withdraws from Zimbabwean poll 2005-03-31 01:31:06

          HARARE, March 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe's Bulawayo South
Constituency independent candidate in Thursday's parliamentary poll,
Alderman Charles Mpofu, withdrew from the race on Wednesday on the eve of
the poll.

          Mpofu, who was poised to battle it out with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Legal Affairs Secretary David Coltart
and Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises Development, Sithembiso Nyoni of
ruling ZANU-PF, withdrew from the polls after consulting with his advisers.

          "I have considered a number of factors surrounding the elections
and had consultations with my campaign committee and our advisers have come
up with a decision to withdraw from the race on the reason basically known
to us," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

          Recently Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) Matebeleland South Chairman and independent candidate for
Beitbridge, Lloyd Siyoka, and Ottilia Maluleke in Chiredzi North pulled out
of the race as independent candidates.

          Zimbabwean voters are going to elect 120 lawmakers of a 150-member
parliament on Thursday. Though five political parties are contesting the
country's sixth parliamentary elections, it is largely seen as a two-horse
race between ZANU-PF and the MDC. Enditem

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Govt will not tolerate post-election demonstrations

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 30 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government has threatened
to crack down on any public demonstration after the 31 March legislative

The government was responding to calls by the opposition for peaceful
'Ukraine-style' protests to oust the ruling ZANU-PF party of President
Robert Mugabe should it win the keenly-contested elections on Thursday.

Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), alleged over the
weekend that the elections had already been rigged and called on people not
to accept another "stolen" ZANU-PF victory.

Ncube repeated allegations that opposition supporters were being denied food
aid, while Tsvangirai, addressing voters on Sunday, called on MDC supporters
countrywide not to accept a ZANU-PF victory.

ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira dismissed Ncube as a liar and said
government would publish its latest food aid distribution reports to prove
that food was, indeed, reaching everyone, regardless of political

Home affairs minister Kembo Mohadi said any demonstrations against the
elected leadership would be a violation of the country's democratic
principles, and the government had a responsibility to ensure law and order
in the pre- and post-election periods.

"We have a duty to ensure there is peace and order in the country. The
security forces will not stand by and watch people subverting our national
democratic processes to get a short cut to regime change - anyone who plans
to engage in such acts should know that it is not only illegal but
unacceptable," Mohadi told IRIN.

He said Zimbabweans had worked hard to achieve democracy, and "allowing it
to be hijacked and abused by malcontents would be a self-inflicted injury on
the part of government".

"People who want political office in this country have to run for it. We
cannot allow the will of the people, shown through democratic elections, to
be subverted by malcontents and Western agents of regime change," Mohadi

He declined to comment on whether Ncube and Tsvangirai would face arrest for
making the call for peaceful demonstrations.

Tsvangirai still faces a charge of treason for calling for a "final push"
demonstration to oust the Mugabe regime in June 2002.

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New book lifts the lid on 'paranoid' Mbeki
          March 30 2005 at 06:14PM

      By Alistair Thomson

      A new book describes President Thabo Mbeki as a paranoid control freak
whose ruthless silencing of critics of his policies on Zimbabwe and Aids
risks a backlash of the left and disenfranchised poor.

      In an uncompromising critique, journalist William Gumede paints a
picture of a highly effective cut-and-thrust politician behind the urbane
pipe-smoking statesman who often charms Western leaders and businessmen.

      Gumede's book - Thabo Mbeki And The Battle For The Soul Of The ANC -
which hits bookstores this week, charts the rise of Mbeki, whom he says was
catapulted into pole position to succeed Nelson Mandela as party and
national president by the murder of Communist Party leader Chris Hani by
rightwingers in 1993.

      Mbeki then sidelined rivals like now-businessmen Cyril Ramaphosa,
Mandela's favourite, and Tokyo Sexwale "in a series of rapid and ruthless
political manoeuvres behind the scenes".

      "Never was his paranoia more apparent than when he announced that his
former rivals - Ramaphosa, Sexwale and (Mathews) Phosa - were conspiring to
oust him in 2001," Gumede writes.

      Gumede is scathing of Mbeki's refusal to take neighbouring Zimbabwe's
president, Robert Mugabe, to task over human rights abuses and the collapse
of that country's once vibrant economy.

      "For Mbeki, 'quiet diplomacy' means abstaining from public rebuke of
Mugabe while telling him privately, over a cup of tea, that some people are
a little annoyed with him," he writes.

      "It would be foolish to pretend anything except that the universally
reviled Mugabe had outplayed the silky Mbeki at his own game. Quiet
diplomacy has failed abysmally to stop the rot in Zimbabwe, but it is not in
Mbeki's make-up to admit defeat."

      Mbeki's spokesperson dismissed Gumede's criticisms, saying it had
become fashionable to publish "fanciful claims" about Mbeki.

      "The facts speak for themselves: The country under the leadership of
the president stands high in the community of nations and his positions on
crucial issues such as the fight against HIV/Aids are well known and have
been widely hailed by the United Nations and serious observers
internationally," he added.

      Gumede says that in its rush to appease business and markets after the
ANC victory in free elections in 1994, the ANC under Mbeki failed the poor
black masses it was meant to serve.

      "Unless the economy delivers to the country's poor, South Africa's
democratic miracle could unravel," Gumede says.

      Mbeki is already facing increasing pressure from labour federation
Cosatu, a key ally of the ANC, on issues ranging from the strength of the
rand, job losses and Zimbabwe.

      Gumede reserves some of his most cutting criticism for Mbeki's
refusal, fed by "nocturnal online research," to accept that the HIV virus
causes Aids, and for his refusal to allow the ANC to debate policies on
Aids, Zimbabwe or the economy.

      "In dealing with Aids, Mbeki may have wandered off on a deadly
diversion that has helped place an entire nation in denial and needlessly
taken the lives of millions of its citizens."

      Gumede chronicles the downfall or marginalisation of politicians who
crossed Mbeki. He alleges Mbeki neutralised them using all the party and
state resources at his disposal, from spying to media leaks calling their
probity into question.

      Mbeki's spokesperson declined to discuss this allegation and other
specific aspects of the book before reading it.

      Gumede says Mbeki's handling of investigations into bribery
accusations against Deputy President Jacob Zuma, whose financial adviser is
on trial on charges of soliciting a bribe for Zuma from a French arms firm,
has been motivated in part by a wish to sideline an estranged ally and rival
in such a way as to avoid a huge backlash from Zuma's many grassroots

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Zimbabwe Opposition Lodges Election Complaint

Mar 30, 2005 Harare
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has filed a protest
with electoral authorities claiming local officials are denying
accreditation to the opposition party's poll monitors. The MDC says this is
illegal and will hamper the party's ability to assure the proper course of
Thursday's parliamentary elections.

MDC legal spokesman David Coltart says he is outraged by reports coming from
around the country that the party monitors are being denied accreditation by
local polling officials even though MDC has complied with the law requiring
the party to publish the names of the monitors in newspapers. He says the
monitors are being asked to bring proof that their names are on the
published list even though no such requirement was written into the election

The MDC had published a list of 24,000 monitors to observe polling inside
and outside the polling places. Each party is by law allowed one monitor
inside and one outside each polling station.

In a lawsuit challenging the legality of the 2002 presidential elections,
the MDC alleges four out of 10 of its monitors were either beaten or chased
away and some said they were too scared to show up for duty. President
Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party won the election by 15 percent, and a
court case challenging the result is yet to be heard by the High Court.

MDC's Mr. Coltart says the party has filed a complaint with the Zimbabwe
Election Commission protesting not only the polling authorities' refusal to
accredit its monitors, but also the failure of the ruling Zanu-PF party to
publish the list of its own monitors within the legal time limit.

Chief election officer Lovemore Sekeramayi who was asked to comment told VOA
Wednesday he does not answer questions from the media over the telephone and
said he was too busy to answer questions faxed to him. South African
observers who were contacted for comment said they were under instructions
not to talk to the media.

Party monitors at polling stations help identify each voter, assure the
legality of the voting process and monitor the counting of ballots. MDC
officials say the monitors' presence is critical in assuring the elections
are not being rigged.

Independent candidate and former information minister Jonathan Moyo has said
he is filing a lawsuit to seek permission to increase the number of party
monitors inside the polling stations.

Voting at Zimbabwe's eight-thousand polling stations ends Thursday at seven
o'clock in the evening.

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Politics: EU Fears 'Sham' Elections in Zimbabwe

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

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

Stefania Bianchi

Leading European Union officials are warning that the general election in
Zimbabwe Thursday will be a sham.

Some 5.8 million registered voters in Zimbabwe will vote Thursday to elect
120 lawmakers in a 150-member parliament. President Robert Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition, are locked in a two-horse

The poll will be closely monitored to see whether it meets guidelines
adopted by regional African leaders last year on free and fair elections.

But European Union (EU) officials are already warning that the election
proceedings so far have failed to conform to accepted standards. They have
indicated that the bloc will take swift action against the Mugabe government
after the polls.

Speaking to members of the European Parliament Tuesday, Nicholas Schmit,
Luxembourg's deputy foreign minister, whose country holds the rotating
presidency of the EU, said the conditions surrounding the Mar. 31 general
election were deeply worrying as Mugabe "would tolerate no observation of
this sham election."

"We're worried and shocked, not only by this pseudo election campaign but by
what's been going on there for years," he said.

Schmit also promised that the election would be debated at the next council
of foreign ministers.

"As soon as these phoney elections have been held, I can commit myself to
the fact that the issue of Zimbabwe will be on the Council's agenda when we
next meet," he added.

Zimbabwe refused to allow EU countries to monitor its presidential elections
in 2002. The election was tainted by widespread charges of violence,
intimidation and poll fraud. In response, the EU and the United States
imposed a travel embargo on Mugabe and members of his inner circle, which
remains in place until June.

Russia is the only European nation amongst 31 others which have been invited
to observe this year's election.

British Socialist MEP Glenys Kinnock has also expressed concern about the
elections. While she welcomed the courage of the MDC, she expressed doubt
over the impact it would have.

"The MDC have again exhibited remarkable courage, determination and
restraint in opposing Robert Mugabe's thuggish dictatorship. Zanu and their
apologists point to the calmer atmosphere than preceded the 2000 and 2002
elections, but are they seriously expecting plaudits for scaling back on the
murder of political opponents and harassment of the legitimate opposition?"
she said in a statement Wednesday.

Kinnock also expressed regret that little has changed since the 2002
presidential elections, and pointed to the measures taken by the government
to manipulate opposition voters.

"The truth is that this election will be as lacking in legitimacy as the
last two. The same soldiers and Zanu thugs who beat and killed would-be
voters now stand at the polling booths. Constituency boundaries have been
gerrymandered to suit Zanu-PF," she said.

"Government officials openly tell people that if they vote MDC they will be
clearly able to see using the new transparent ballot boxes. There will be
just 300 election observers to cover 8,000 polling stations, and they have
been given permission to observe the elections because they are not expected
to be critical. The country's independent press remains closed, and food aid
continues to be used as a political weapon," she added.

President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has been ruling Zimbabwe since the country
attained political independence in 1980 from Britain. Mugabe has only
recently faced any serious challenge to his authority, in the form of
popular protest and substantial gains for the opposition MDC, which refuses
to recognise Mugabe as head of state.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of human rights abuses
and of wrecking the economy.

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

Some nine million people (75 percent of the population) live below the
poverty line. About 100 children are born with HIV every day.

The government has promised a fair vote in Thursday's general election and
is believed to be eager to gain legitimacy after the heavily criticised
polls in 2000 and 2002.

Mugabe has introduced some electoral reforms, such as an election commission
and court to run the polls. But in spite of these moves, human rights groups
have raised concerns about the climate of fear and intimidation in the
run-up to the vote.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say MDC activists and
candidates are still being harassed and that in rural areas, suspected MDC
supporters are denied food aid.

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New Zimbabwe


      Moyo a Zanu PF member, but a bitter one
      Last updated: 03/31/2005 03:12:48
      IT IS only a few hours before the dejected people of Zimbabwe queue
with a degree of melancholy and gloom to cast their vote. As for the former
Minister of State for Information in Mugabe's government of national
plunder, the learned Professor Jonathan Moyo, the side effects of political
insider-trading are telling.

      The political maverick is now considering halting the voting process
purportedly in an effort to correct the very election principles he used to

      With Zimbabwe's election fever spreading like the fends that carry
with them deadly cholera and ebola, Moyo has found it fit to buy some time
as a way of taking sure his political mentors in ZANU-PF do not cheat him as
they have been cheating the opposition in all years past. Moyo wants us to
believe that he would rather stop the election process than give birth to an
anatomically strange baby fathered by ZANU-PF.

      We are not so daft as to have forgotten that Moyo has been
prostituting with ZANU-PF in denying the people of Zimbabwe unfettered
democracy. We all know what Moyo did last summer. The vicious and poisonous
statements he made as the supreme spokesman for the enemy are still ringing
in our minds. When he said what he said, he never gave any impression that
he would ever regret it. It is true that he does not regret what he said. He
said everything with all his heart and love for the murderous party.

      The people will only be foolish to have forgotten how he made
passionate pleas of leniency to Mugabe as recently as four weeks ago. He did
not want to leave ZANU-PF. He believed in Mugabe and the principles of
destruction that are the hallmark of ZANU-PF. His refusal to resign from the
party and government are all signs that he had invested his soul deeply into
the politics and policies of ZANU-PF. He cannot be a saint or saviour! He is
one of the ugliest advocates of Mugabe's tyranny, perhaps his zeal being
matched by that of Mnangagwa and Grace only.

      If Moyo was indeed a saint and saviour, especially for the people of
Tsholotsho, he should have quit before he was told to pack his small bags.

      In his scanty brainwork, he saw it fit to face the humiliation of
being fired in a press conference by the wicked party. He even had the
temerity to ask for leniency before he could show the world that he had his
own set of brains by registering as an independent candidate.

      His adventure into the political arena of Zimbabwe as an independent
      candidate does not absolve him from guilt by criminal association. He
went on to form the loose association of independents only as a way of
getting even with those who refused him his grand wish to be the ZANU-PF
candidate for Tsholotsho. Moyo has no ambitions either for himself or the
people he claims to represent. He is a stooge that was manufactured in
ZANU-PF laboratories of hate, wickedness and cruelty.

      For the mere fact that he is now in ZANU-PF's political wilderness,
Moyo strangely feels that the chances of election manipulation by ZANU-PF in
their favour are too high to ignore. Moyo is not as intelligent as his line
of educational degrees and scholarly achievements would have us believe. He
is one person who thinks the people of Zimbabwe are as forgetful as he is.

      The people know who he is, where he is from, why he is what he wants
us to believe he is and where he would go from here.

      The people are well aware that Moyo came from ZANU-PF and would
probably go back to ZANU-PF like one cowardly Siyoka of Beit Bridge
confessed to the butcher of Zvimba why he had wanted to stand as an
independent. (So that he would whisk back his trophy in the form of the
parliamentary seat of Beit Bridge back to ZANU-PF). This is cheating,
plotting, scheming and out-right malicious duping of the people!

      Assuming that Jonathan Moyo is out-right done with ZANU-PF forever,
what implications does his court action on postponing the elections of
Zimbabwe have on the political scene? It is clear that Moyo could be using
inside knowledge to unravel the impediments that work against a free and
fair election. Having been part of the craftsmen who plotted the meanest
ways of rigging an election, Moyo knows the sinister advantages the ruling
party has in that regard. He fears those advantages as he knows their

      I am sure he recalls how he managed to single-handedly influence the
results of the 2002 presidential election when he was the main man at
ZANU-PF command centre which was temporarily based at the Sheraton Hotel in

      He probably fears that the same tricks he instilled within the ZANU-PF
election department would come back to haunt him. He knows the truth and he
is just refusing to tell us exactly what he knows.

      Time will tell. Jonathan Moyo will spill the beans when it matters
most to ZANU-PF. For the time being, we all know that he is a ZANU-PF
member, albeit a bitter one. We know that he knows everything sinister about

      We know that unfortunately, he crafted some of the unholy activities
that now work against his election bid.

      Who doesn't know what Jonathan Moyo did in the last election?

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What Motivates a Policy That Debases Our Democratic Dream?

Business Day (Johannesburg)

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

Steven Friedman

CHARADES can be a pleasant game. But not when millions of people stand to

The charade in question is tomorrow's Zimbabwean election. As the poll
nears, we have been treated to solemn reports on the campaign and the
seemingly earnest attempts by our observer mission statements to ensure a
fair poll. Directly or by implication, we are asked to think of the election
as an event whose outcome and fairness is still to be decided. And yet it
should be clear to anyone with any knowledge of Zimbabwean politics that the
interesting question is not whether the poll will be grossly unfair, but why
our government insists on pretending that it won't be.

It is conceivable that the vote will be reasonably free of rigging, just as
the campaign has been fairly violence-free. The governing party seems to
have been putting on a show of a fair election because it no longer has to
do anything untoward to ensure an unfair advantage: the job has already been

A battery of security laws has restricted opposition activity for years.
Opposition newspapers have been closed while the governing party dominates
the media. The electoral commission is appointed by the government with no
stake in the process for opposition parties. The only observer missions
allowed are those whom the government expects to approve the elections. So,
even if we choose to disregard past reports of bullying of opposition
politicians and supporters, or accept claims that violence is used by both
sides, the playing field is so tilted against the opposition that anyone in
the early 1990s who proposed a South African election under these conditions
would have faced justifiable scorn.

And so, the question is not whether the election is biased, but why our
government insists on doing everything it can to bestow legitimacy on it,
and the government which is running it. Why is our foreign policy so firmly
tilted in favour of the Zimbabwean authorities?

The official position is that we are not partial to anyone: we are working
quietly behind the scenes to achieve a generally acceptable outcome. Since
the Zanu (PF) government will not be lectured to in public, and pressuring
it through sanctions or worse would cause untold damage, there is, we are
told, no alternative.

It is true that government attempts during the Mandela administration to
isolate human rights abusers in the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) led, instead, to our being isolated: this apparently prompted a
decision to engage with, rather than confront, among others, Zanu (PF). It
is true that invading Zimbabwe or starving it into submission are not
plausible options.

But our policy is not even-handed "quiet diplomacy". It is solidly
supportive of the current regime. As a Zimbabwean civil society activist
told one of our diplomats who insisted we would not use "megaphone
diplomacy" in his country: "You are already using a megaphone. But you are
pointing it in the wrong direction." Our government has repeatedly issued
statements supportive of the Zimbabwean authorities while remaining silent
about restrictions on opposition activity.

Contrary to government claims, there is a clear alternative to our current
policy: we could be really even-handed. And we could insist on the same
standards for Zimbabwean democracy that we rightfully demand for our own.

Since the "quiet diplomacy" argument holds no water, we are left with less
edifying possible explanations for our policy.

One is that the decades-old custom of African leaders sticking by each other
still trumps all other considerations. This would mean, of course, that all
the African Union and SADC declarations setting new democratic standards are
not going to be implemented because acting on them would offend heads of

Another is that our government believes African governments that are
criticised by western powers must be defended because the alternative is to
endorse prejudices which hold that black people cannot govern. But, while
irritation at imposition from the rich and powerful is understandable, this
too gives a blank cheque to autocrats, nullifying the charters and

Third, and perhaps most disturbing, is the possibility that government
leaders feel that a trade union-led opposition party challenging a
liberation movement at the polls is a precedent it does not want set in
southern Africa because the implications are uncomfortably close to home.

And that would mean that our governing party feels its role in winning
freedom exempts it from electoral challenge, placing democracy under future

The common thread between these possible explanations is that they show
that, whatever the precise reason for government's attitude, it tarnishes
our commitment to democracy on the continent and at home.

Support for Zimbabwe's government is eroding the promise of a new democratic
start on the continent and threatens our own democratic progress. If Africa
is to make the move towards democracy that our government advocates, it
needs to start in Zimbabwe.

- Friedman is senior research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies
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We have an additional shortwave frequency for this critical election period in an effort to beat the jammers and give you complete election coverage.

Starting tomorrow, Thursday 31st March we will also be broadcasting on:

12145 kHz  in the 25m Band

This frequency is available to us for our full three hours of broadcast, 6 - 9pm, Zimbabwe time and we're hoping that it will be a good signal, free of jamming.

Don't forget we are also on the following:

6 - 8pm         15145 kHz in the 19 metre band

8 - 9pm         11770 kHz in the 25 metre band

6 - 9pm         3300 kHz in the 90 metre band


Medium wave in the mornings, unjammed!

5 - 7am         1197 KHz

Please pass this information on and thanks to all our listeners who are so gamely tracking us across their radio dial!
Here's to a peaceful, unrigged election, with a happy result.

Gerry Jackson
Station Manager
SW Radio Africa
Tel: (44) (0) 2083871407
Mobile: (44) (0) 7789874019

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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele Special Report : Mauritius Watch Summary
Sokwanele : 30 March 2005


For 22 weeks the Mauritius Watch feature has tracked the performance of the Mugabe regime in relation to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, adopted by SADC on August 17 2004, and to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. Now on the eve of the parliamentary elections, and therefore ahead of the reports of the official observer groups which Harare has hand- picked in anticipation of favorable verdicts, we bring you a summary of:

(A) the foreign missions which the regime has deliberately excluded from the observer and monitoring process and

(B) the verdicts already recorded ahead of the poll (excluding the obviously partisan statements issued, from time to time, by various members of the South African Government)

This is the background against which the verdicts of Mugabe’s hand-picked few should be seen in due course. That so many “unofficial”, that is uninvited, observers should be willing to express themselves ahead of the actual voting is not as strange as might at first seem. We ourselves have demonstrated in our “SADC Checklist” which surveys the electoral and security legislation under which the contest is taking place, and in our regular weekly reports of events on the ground, that conditions are such in Zimbabwe today that many – we believe most – independent observers have already concluded that a “free and fair” election is not remotely possible. Indeed this is the conclusion to which we ourselves have been driven.

Finally, we must say that although we have tried to include as many as possible of the more significant players, we make no claim that this summary is comprehensive.

(A) Foreign Missions excluded from observing the Zimbabwe Poll

1. From Southern Africa

The SADC Parliamentary Forum and EISA are regarded by human rights activists and election observers as two of the most credible election observer groups in Southern Africa EISA has been involved in 20 elections while the SADC Forum has witnessed polls in 10 countries in the region since 1999.

2. From the International Community

Foreign Observer Missions Invited by Zimbabwe

Regional and international organisations invited

Liberation Movements Invited:

(B) Verdicts recorded (and comments) ahead of the Poll

SADC Parliamentary Forum

The SADC Parliamentary Forum stated that it was not going to observe the March 31 ballot as it had “not been invited in its own right as an autonomous institution of SADC, which is a fundamental departure from the established practice.”

Electoral Institute of Southern Africa

The head of EISA, Dennis Kadima, commented: “When observers are restricted, one questions whether the government is hiding something. We at EISA not only observe elections, we have also been documenting electoral processes for the benefit of all the countries in the region.”


COSATU Deputy President Joe Nkosi, said the election should be postponed as it would not be free and fair “under the current legislation” which has imposed sweeping restrictions on the independent media and the opposition movement.

Asked to give the Zimbabwe government a mark out of 10 for its progress towards achieving democratic elections, Nkosi gave it zero. “They do not even qualify for a mark,” he said. “There is duplication of names on the voters’ roll. The political climate is not right for free and fair elections.”

Amnesty International

Amnesty International sent a fact-finding team to Zimbabwe in February. Their report reads, in part:

The government is misusing meager food stocks against the backdrop of impending shortage as “an instrument of political pressure” by allocating it only to supporters of Mugabe’s ruling party. “The use of implicit threats and non-violent tactics to intimidate opposition supporters is widespread.”

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


This anti-torture group criticizes the Mugabe government for failing to arrest and try several police and army officers suspected of torture. It notes that torture has been inflicted on the political opposition “with impunity”, which has made the population afraid of expressing its dissatisfaction with the government.

Redress supports the findings of Amnesty International (cited above) that the forthcoming elections cannot be credible because of the gross human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

HRW is a New York-based NGO. In its report entitled “Not a Level Playing Field: Zimbabwe’s 2005 Parliamentary Elections”, following visits to the country in December 2004 and February 2005, the group notes that opposition supporters and other Zimbabweans have been intimidated by ZANU-PF and government officials. This continues a pattern of repression that has characterized the past five years, they say.

HRW condemns in particular the government’s use of restrictive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which has undermined the opposition’s ability to campaign, and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which has muzzled the independent press.

“(With) only days remaining before voters go to the polls,” says HRW, “it is clear that the government has not adequately met the benchmarks set by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.”

Institute of Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) – Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) – Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) – South African Council of Churches (SACC)

Following an informal fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe in early March the above groups, working under the Zimbabwe Solidarity Network (ZSN), issued a statement to the effect that the country’s electoral field remains heavily tilted in favour of Mugabe and his ruling party, in breach of the SADC protocol on democratic elections.

Executive Director of the IJR and spokesperson for the group, Professor Charles Villa- Vincencio, said that although there was less overt violence compared to previous polls, intimidation of perceived government opponents and the electorate in general was still rife.

“There is a downplaying of overt violence, such as killings and harassment but this does not mean the playing fields have been leveled …. the oppression, control and manipulation are now far more subtle. So the playing fields have decidedly not been leveled and the SADC principles are not strictly adhered to.”

South African Council of Churches (SACC)

The South African Council of Churches was to have led a group of six South African civil society organisations, including the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Centre for Policy Studies, on an observer mission to Zimbabwe. They were however all denied observer status by the Mugabe regime. In a statement issued on March 9, urging churches to mobilize public opinion against human rights abuses and repression in Zimbabwe, the SACC said:

“The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe is not likely to be resolved by the March 31 election, regardless of the outcome.”

On March 28, Molefe Tsele, the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, was refused permission to enter Zimbabwe at the Beit Bridge border post. Tsele was traveling to Zimbabwe at the invitation of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches to take part in an ecumenical delegation to observe the March 31 election. Tsele was accompanied by Abie Ditlhake, general secretary of the Southern African Development Community NGO Council, who was also turned away by immigration officials because their names did not appear on the government’s list of accredited election observers.

South African Communist Party

"We believe it’s extremely unlikely that there can be any effective compliance with SADC [Southern African Development Community] protocols in this election,” said SACP deputy secretary general Jeremy Cronin, a member of the ANC’s national executive committee. "The South African and SADC observer missions need to state very accurately what happens so that we don’t undermine the protocols. That there will be non-compliance is obvious. That should be noted, not simply to say whether the election is free and fair, but to say what should be done afterwards."

"We are a bit dismayed by the statements of some of those representing South Africa, particularly the minister of labour (Membathisi Mdladlana). It seems to be an exceptionally partisan and ill-informed statement, and we hope the South African government will speak to him about it," said Cronin.

Independent Democrats (SA)

On withdrawing from the multi-part South African Parliamentary observer mission, the ID issued a statement through Vincent Gore MP, saying: “It is quite clear that the upcoming Zimbabwean elections are not going to be free and fair, and that the mission is being used as a vehicle to rubber stamp the ruling party’s (ANC’s) various statements already made by government that the elections will be free and fair.” He said that, in his view, the “entire observer mission (was) a farce and a waste of tax payers’ money.”

Democratic Alliance (SA)

The DA’s observers in Zimbabwe report widespread intimidation of opposition members and supporters; that members of non-governmental organisations are arrested when they try to conduct voter education programmes; and that many Zimbabweans believe that members of the youth militias will carry out violent retribution after the elections against people in areas where the MDC has a strong showing.

The observers describe a media environment in which ZANU-PF enjoys continuous coverage, while the MDC was only allowed onto state television 30 days prior to the elections and still receives very little positive coverage.

They also suggest that parliamentary constituencies have been gerrymandered to reduce the opposition vote in both urban and rural areas, and that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has no physical infrastructure to allow it to carry out its responsibilities.

Finally, they also report that there are allegations that the government is stockpiling food aid for distribution by agents during the elections in order to reward government supporters and to punish voters who choose the opposition.

Reporters Without Borders

This international press freedom group reported: “It is now clear that the legislative elections will take place in a climate of intimidation and censorship.”

“There will clearly be no compliance with the democratic criteria established by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Africa Union’s treaties … Robert Mugabe’s government is violating the principles of free expression with impunity and Zimbabweans will pay the price. It is time the countries of Southern Africa stopped looking passively on as one of their members sinks into the dark.”


The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ)

LSZ President, Joseph James has issued a statement to the press saying the situation on the ground makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections

“The situation is not normal, nor is it conducive to a free and fair election.”

“The right of assembly and association is enshrined in our constitution but the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) … curtails that right. The police seem to believe that they have the right to authorize public meetings.”

On the issue of the required independence of electoral institutions LCZ says: “Regrettably, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission does not project an image of independence and non-partisanship.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

Chairman of ZLHR Arnold Tsunga has dismissed Zimbabwe’s claim of full compliance with the SADC electoral standards, saying, “The whole claim is a total deception. SADC electoral guidelines call for freedom of speech, assembly and the rights of voters to civic education and equal access to the media in the case of political parties. None of these exist in Zimbabwe.”

He went on: “The continued existence and use of draconian laws like (POSA), (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services make a complete mockery of the SADC guidelines.”

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)

Lovemore Madhuku, NCA chairman, says there is no chance for Zimbabwe to hold a free and fair election under present conditions.

“Anyone who says that the elections will be free and fair is obviously not on the ground and has not been monitoring the situation. Our analysis is that the legal environment is still unfair. On the ground, acts of violence and intimidation are still being recorded. The rush to legitimize these elections is ill-timed,” he said.

Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ)

Andrew Moyse of MMPZ says that media freedom has continued to shrink in the last three weeks ahead of the poll. He referred to the closing down by the government’s Media and Information Commission of the private Weekly Times newspaper and the harassment by state security agents of foreign media correspondents.

“Three international journalists were forced to flee the country in the face of relentless harassment. Add to these the hundreds who fled persecution since 2000, and the picture is that of despair.

“Despite assurances from the state, the coverage of the activities of any political party other than those of ZANU-PF remains thin, and it is mostly hate messages and racist invective aimed at individuals and organizations perceived to be anti-government,” said Moyse.

Let the last word be given to a lady – Ms Elinor Sisulu, writer and passionate human rights activist based in Johannesburg. She described the situation both eloquently and accurately:

“If awards were given out for successfully rigged elections, Zimbabwe would rank among the leading nations in the world. The Zimbabwe government is a past master of cynically manipulating elections to ensure victory for the ruling party, ZANU-PF.”

March 30, 2005



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Daily News online edition

      US disappointed on eve of poll

      Date: 30-Mar, 2005

      WASHINGTON - The United States administration says while it is
encouraging that campaigning in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections has been
relatively calm, it is disappointed over restrictions on media coverage and
outside observers.

      At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli noted
with "disappointment" that the Harare government has not invited civil
society election monitors from neighbouring states.

      Ereli said Zimbabwe has not invited parliamentarians from the Southern
African Development Community, SADC, which he said was "inexplicable and

      He lamented curbs imposed on international media reporting of the
election and on local coverage by independent media outlets.

      "They have cracked down on independent and international media and
denied them access to the election campaign," he said.

      Zimbabwe has barred outside correspondents from international news
organizations such as the Voice of America, the British Broadcasting
Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from covering the
election, but has allowed in other foreign reporters, from among others, the
New York Times, the Economist magazine and Britain's independent Sky

      A commentary in the government-controlled Zimbabwean newspaper The
Herald said the three international broadcasters were being excluded for
"vilifying the country".

      Ereli also that millions of Zimbabweans living outside the country had
been barred from voting.

      He said many of them had fled Zimbabwe to escape political repression
and that even outside the country, as he put it, they remain
disenfranchised. He said U.S. officials are encouraged by one development,
that the Zimbabwean election campaign has been "largely non-violent".

      He said the MDC has been allowed to hold campaign rallies in most
parts of the country, which he said was a significant change from elections
in 2000 and 2002.

      Questioned on campaign remarks by President Mugabe this week that
those who voted for the MDC would be "traitors," Ereli said the United
States urges all parties to maintain a posture and rhetoric that support a
peaceful election environment.

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Daily News online edition

      Ministers grilled for failing to deliver

      Date: 30-Mar, 2005

      HARARE - Two government ministers, Herbert Murerwa and Sydney
Sekeremayi, had the scare of their lives when they were quizzed by the
electorate on what they had done for their communities in the past five

      At Goromonzi Business Centre, Zanu PF supporters told Murerwa that
they had not participated in the ruling party's primary elections to choose
a suitable candidate for the area as they were directed by the party not to
look for anyone to stand against Murerwa. They said if an election had been
held, they would have voted him out because he had not done anything for
them over the past five years.

      "You could not even repair the road which leads to your own homestead.
Why do you think that we can continue entrusting you with the development of
our area? Goromonzi is less than 50 km from Harare but there are some areas
which do not have essential services like telephones and electricity," said
one irate party supporter.

      Some of the supporters said they were not going to vote for him in
tomorrow's election because he had failed them in the 10 years he has been
their MP. Murerwa said if the people had told him they no longer liked him,
he could have stepped down honourably.

      "This is unfair. You cannot tell me now that you do not like me. You
should have told me long ago so that I could have decided not to stand as a
party candidate. We cannot let the party down this way," said Murerwa.

      He narrated his political history in the party and promised that he
would improve on his performance if voted into office.

      In Marondera, residents who had been forced to attend a Zanu PF
campaign meeting at Dombotombo Hall were stunned when Sydney Sekeremayi, the
Zanu PF candidate for Marondera constituency, told them that the town's
water reticulation system had been sabotaged by MDC supporters.

      Sekeremayi said MDC connected the town's water system to the sewerage
network, resulting in residents receiving contaminated water for some days.
The problem was only discovered after complaints from some of the residents.

      But the residents said what Sekeremayi was claiming was hard to
believe as Harare, under the Zanu PF leadership, had experienced the same
problem. As the minister was trying to respond, electricity was cut off,
prompting the residents to complain to the minister that the town had
constant electricity cuts.

      The residents admonished him not to blame the MDC, but to find a
solution to the power cuts.

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Daily News online edition

      MDC will form next government

      Date: 30-Mar, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's main opposition party will declare victory
and form a government if it wins a majority of the 120 parliamentary seats
at stake in tomorrow's elections, the MDC's shadow minister for Foreign
Affairs, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said here.

      In an interview on the eve of crucial election, Misihairabwi-Mushonga
said her party needed at least 75 seats to form the next government as
provided for in the constitution, which allows President Robert Mugabe to
appoint 30 non-constituency Members of Parliament.

      She said if the MDC garnered most of the 120 seats the party would
form a government, and thus spark a constitutional crisis.

      "The people will defend their vote this time," she warned, referring
to past elections in which the MDC accused Zanu PF of rigging the vote.

      Misihairabwi-Mushonga's declaration came hours after the MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai issued a thinly veiled threat to call a mass revolt by his
supporters if the poll was rigged.

      Speaking at an MDC star rally at Zimbabwe Grounds last Sunday,
Tsvangirai said: "We want to warn Mugabe that rigging the election will not
be wise this time around. It's dangerous. The people will not accept a
rigged election, and the people will defend their vote and their choice."

      Catholic Bishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, has called for "something
like Mahatma Gandhi did, educating his people to be aware of their dignity
and to stand up for their rights even if it meant suffering disadvantage".

      Meanwhile, in Harare, opposition officials are quietly talking of
victory, with analysts observing that Zanu PF is at its weakest since
independence 25 years ago.

      The MDC came close to overhauling Zanu PF's majority in parliament
with 57 seats in 2000.

      Veteran journalist and publisher Trevor Ncube observed: "I get the
sense that MDC will do far much better than they did in the last
parliamentary elections. I will be surprised if they get less than 65

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Daily News online edition

      MDC predicts slender majority win

      Date: 30-Mar, 2005

      BULAWAYO - On the eve of Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, has expressed hope that it
will clinch a slender majority.

      In an interview, the secretary general, Welshman Ncube, said his party
had made a great effort to reach out to the electorate in those
constituencies where Zanu PF pipped the MDC by a slender margin.

      "We hope that everything is now in order in these constituencies and
we are waiting for the great day to stop the Mugabe regime from continuing
to ruin our country," he said.

      Ncube said the MDC enjoyed support in all the urban areas, where more
than 80 percent of the workforce had been laid off due to the skewed
economic policies of the government.

      He said although the MDC had not been given enough time to market
itself through the public media, it had made inroads into the so-called Zanu
PF strongholds.

      "We have been given, at most, 30 minutes of campaign time on national
radio and television, with Zanu PF taking most of the time through news
items, documentaries and talk shows. Our people will, however, vote Mugabe
out tomorrow because they are fed up with his iron fist rule," said Ncube.

      An unsuccessful Zanu PF candidate in a Harare by-election won by the
MDC, William Nhara, said his party had managed to improve the living
conditions of most Zimbabweans in the past five years and that people would
vote for it tomorrow.

      Nhara said Zanu PF's drive to improve education standards was one area
many youths would support it for.

      "Look, we have one of the best literacy rates in Africa. Countries
like South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Australia
lure our academics because they know that they are the best," said Nhara.

      After it was put to him that most of the Zimbabweans in the diaspora
had run away from the economic mess at home and that their plight had been
worsened by government's decision not to allow them to vote in tomorrow's
election, Nhara said there was no way they could be accommodated because
Zimbabwe, like many other countries, had a constituency-based electoral

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Zim Online
MDC renews attack on SA observers
Wed 30 March 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has renewed its attack on South African election observers in the country saying the observers want to legitimise a fraudulent electoral process.

MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said in a statement today that the opposition party had lost faith in the head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, to act impartially  following the team's recent statements endorsing a ZANU PF victory.

"The comments made by the Minister (Mlambo-Ngcuka) and other comments attributed to the head of the ANC observer mission (Mbulelo Goniwe) have revived our suspicions that South African observers allied to the government and ruling party, are not interested in the facts on the ground.

MDC supporters at the opposition party's rally in Bulawayo last weekend.
"They are only interested in manipulating events so that they can rubber-stamp another fraudulent ZANU PF victory," said Ncube.

Earlier this month, the MDC refused to entertain the South African Observer Mission (SAOM) headed by Membathisi Mdladlana for allegedly uttering pre-judgemental statements relating to the polls. The stand-off was only cleared after the South African team apologised to the MDC for the "offensive" remarks.

Ncube criticised Mlambo-Ngcuka for dismissing MDC charges of the use of traditional leaders in coercing voters in rural areas to vote for the ruling party and denying that ZANU PF was using food as a poltical weapon.

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

Ncube said his party now suspected the remarks by Mlambo-Ngcuka and the ANC head of delegation, Goniwe, were part of a calculated move by South Africa to prepare the ground for a ZANU PF win.

"If our suspicions are correct about South Africa praying for a ZANU PF victory, they are likely to be disappointed. 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," said Ncube.

Efforts to contact Ngcuka-Mlambo and Goniwe, for comment on the MDC charges failed as the two leaders were said to be locked up in meetings. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Civic groups condemn election
Wed 30 March 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe civic groups today said the country's parliamentary
election tomorrow cannot be free and fair or its outcome legitimate because
the government did not fully comply with a regional protocol on democratic

      The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), which brings together 350
civic bodies, churches, student and labour groups, women's organisations and
opposition parties, said at a press briefing in Harare that while open
violence declined, intimidation of opposition supporters persisted
throughout the campaign period.

      Access to the public media remained in favour of President Robert
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party while repressive state security and
Press laws continued to hamper the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change from reaching out to voters, according to the CZC.

      "The above factors point to only one conclusion that the Zimbabwean
government has not scrupulously complied with the SADC guidelines and
principles. In the result, the election to be held tomorrow will not be
free, fair and legitimate. This position will not be altered by an MDC
victory," the CZC said.

      The CZC also pointed out that an impending harsh non-governmental
organisation (NGOs) law had effectively barred civic bodies from carrying
out voter education and monitoring human rights abuses during the run-up to
the key ballot.

      The recruitment of serving and former military and state intelligence
officials into electoral bodies such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
Electoral Supervisory Commission and the Delimitation Commission was
inimical to the requirements of a free and fair election, civic coalition

      The CZC said: "Private media is still severely stifled, for example
four newspapers were closed in a space of one and half years. The
infrastructure of violence set up by ZANU PF over the last 5 years is still
intact and has been absorbed into the state institutions.

      "The voters roll has not been easily accessible and is still in
shambles. There has been a wholesale disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans in
the diaspora."

      Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Zimbabweans
living abroad did not have an automatic right to vote in this election.

      Tomorrow's poll is seen as a stern test of whether SADC leaders will
hold Mugabe to a regional protocol on free and fair elections agreed last
year in a bid to engender democracy in the region. - ZimOnline

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Embassy Magazine, Canada

Mugabe: Outstaying His Welcome
Like the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Cuba's Fidel Castro,
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is a revolutionary who would have served
his people best by dying a long time ago. Instead, at the age of 81, he is
now deliberately starving people who refuse to vote for his Zanu-PF party in
the parliamentary elections on March 31. Perhaps no one individual can claim
the credit for ruining a whole country, but Mugabe would certainly lead the

When Robert Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe a quarter-century ago, after
a long guerilla war led by Zanu-PF had finally overthrown the white minority
regime of what was then Rhodesia, he inherited a country with a decent
infrastructure and rich agricultural resources. Far too much of the land was
in the hands of a mere 4,000 white "commercial farmers", but Mugabe basked
in the goodwill of the international community and he had both the money and
the time to address that problem. He didn't do it.

Zimbabwe did fairly well despite Mugabe. It was impossible to defend the
fact that white farmers owned most of the good land in the country, but they
did grow enough to feed everybody with plenty left over for export. A
property-owning and even factory-owning black middle class appeared in the
cities, though too many of them owed their prosperity to their political
connections. Zimbabwe looked OK --- but it really wasn't keeping up.

I went back to Zimbabwe in 1995 for the first time since the end of the
liberation war, and the contrast with South Africa was stunning. It was only
one year since the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, and I had
just come from the rural northern Transvaal, hardly the richest part of the
country -- but across the river in Zimbabwe was a different world. Nobody
was starving and most of the kids were getting at least a few years of
school, but despite a fifteen-year head-start on South Africa as a
post-colonial, non-racist society, Zimbabwe's black majority were hugely
poorer than their counterparts in South Africa.

Then, in order to secure Zanu-PF's hold on power forever, Mr. Mugabe held a
referendum in 1999 to change the constitution and turn Zimbabwe into a
one-party state. That gave everybody an opportunity to say no, so they said
it loud and clear, rejecting the proposal, and Mr. Mugabe has been running
scared ever since. He's a bit old to learn new tricks, so that mainly means
confronting the local whites, blaming everything that goes wrong on the
"colonialists" and "imperialists", and beating up, jailing, starving or
killing those Zimbabweans who defy Zanu-PF.

The land reform that should have begun over twenty years ago, with
compensation for white farmers who were gradually bought out and training
and financial assistance for black farmers who were given a piece of the
huge commercial farms, was done by violence, without compensation, in less
than two years. Huge amounts of land have simply fallen out of production -- 
Mr. Mugabe himself admitted last week that only 44 percent of the
confiscated land is being used properly -- so production of maize (mealies,
corn), the staple food crop, has fallen by almost half. Not only are there
no exports to bring in foreign exchange; one-quarter of Zimbabweans are
slowly starving.

To make matters worse, last year Mr. Mugabe stopped international aid
organizations from distributing food in Zimbabwe: "We are not hungry. Why
foist this food on us? We don't want to be choked," he said. He probably did
it more out of pride than malice aforethought, but the effect has been to
make everybody in famine-stricken areas totally reliant on buying food from
the government-controlled Grain Marketing Board. And in many areas where
support for the opposition has been strong in recent elections, the GMB will
only sell food to Zanu-PF members.

If you fall afoul of Zanu-PF in today's Zimbabwe, do not expect the police
or the courts to help you. And don't expect parliament to help you, either:
well over half of Zimbabweans would probably vote against Mugabe and his
cronies in a genuinely free election, but an estimated two-thirds of voters
will take the safer course and cast their ballots for Zanu-PF candidates in
the actual election on March 31. And so it will go until Mr. Mugabe is
removed either by death or by his own colleagues.

Zimbabwe would probably be a lot happier place (and Mr. Mugabe would be
revered rather than execrated) if he had died in, say, 1981.
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Zimbabweans Gear Up for Their Judgment Day

Business Day (Johannesburg)

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

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWEANS go to a crucial general election tomorrow, a poll that is widely
regarded as being a judgment day for a people and a country battered by five
consecutive years of misrule.

The result of the election, which has attracted worldwide interest, will
have far-reaching consequences: it will determine whether Zimbabwe will
continue to sink into an economic and political quagmire or secure its
deliverance from a sea of troubles.

It will also decide the country's place in the region. Thus, Zimbabweans,
whose country is a pariah state, have to pay special attention to the local
and international context of the election.

It does not really matter who wins - but it must be a party that has
credible policy programmes, the capacity to deliver and a vision to take the
country forward.

Voters have to choose whether to remain locked in a disastrous national
emergency or liberate themselves from a low-intensity tyranny and the
economic shambles it presides over.

Some analysts say this is a poll without a choice, but a wise decision has
to be made nonetheless. Voters should emphatically reject political
shenanigans and the shibboleths of the past which they are being invited to
buy into by some spent forces.

Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. It is reeling from the damaging effects of
extended years of political repression, maladministration and economic
mismanagement. Bad governance has been the main feature of the country,
which has become a scar on the face of the region. The collateral damage
Zimbabwe has inflicted on the region, if not on Africa as a whole, is

The image of the region and the continent - as well as pan-African projects
such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), whose
architects include President Thabo Mbeki - has been undermined by this
suppurating problem.

Nepad is almost certainly a dead letter now, partly due to Mbeki and other
African leaders' marked reluctance to grab the Zimbabwean crisis by the
scruff of the neck. Nepad depends on African leaders' ability to tackle
issues of democracy and governance in return for funding, but Mbeki and
colleagues have not fulfilled their side of the bargain. Zimbabwe is the
test case.

Against this background, Zimbabweans have a simple task - choosing to wallow
in the continuing man-made disaster of their former liberators, or a
promising future shaped by themselves through the ballot.

The election is largely a choice between the country's major parties, the
ruling Zanu (PF) and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

While the ruling party controls the forces of coercion, the MDC has an edge
in terms of popularity. The contest is really between the forces of
repression and the popular will. The small parties and independent
candidates - trying to coalesce into a third way - are largely

Although, in theory, Zanu (PF) and the MDC stand an equal chance of winning,
the reality favours the ruling party, which appears determined to win by
fair means or foul, despite its incoherent campaign. Zanu (PF) has all the
advantages any party could wish for: a playing field tilted in its favour; a
flawed electoral system that allows it to control the election bodies; a
poisoned political climate in which fear rules; a solid national structure;
vast experience in politics and theft of votes; a defective voters' roll
that contains tens of thousands of "ghost voters"; and huge state resources
at its command.

But its problems are equally numerous. Zanu (PF) is at war with itself. It
will fight the election as a divided front. Its manifesto is mere rhetoric
and largely irrelevant. It also appears clueless on running a modern

The MDC has an outside chance of pulling off a shock victory, but the
practicalities of the electoral process diminish its prospects. It is also
inconsistent on many policy issues. Its main advantage is the surging
political tide sweeping across the country, which may cause a critical shift
in the voting pattern.

The state of the economy and social problems make Zanu (PF)'s case for
re-election untenable. This partly explains the increasingly desperate tone
of its propaganda, which saturates newspapers and the airwaves.

In the end, whichever party wins, the poll has the potential of making or
breaking Zimbabwe.

- Muleya is Harare Correspondent.
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The State Owned Chronicle Declines MDC Advertising Space

It is campaigning time in Zimbabwe and we are told by the SA Government that
the conditions are right for a free and fair election. Campaigning for a
party that stands for justice, democracy, hope and one which aims to protect
the citizen's basic rights and freedoms, is an absolute honour and joy.
Naive you may say.... no not at all, you see the MDC is a party made up of
every type of Zimbabwean from all walks of life bonded together by the
desire to rid ourselves of oppression. That is why it is so exciting to
imagine getting rid of a dictatorial regime and to be governed by people who
are part of us and care for us!!

BUT striving for democracy is unbelievably difficult and today was never
going to be any different although I had really hoped for a

David Coltart, our MDC Candidate for Bulawayo South Constituency, is
attempting to hold a number of campaign meetings and in order to tell people
the truth and expose the electorate to his party. The constituents, which
cover the full spectrum of humanity as does our party - the labourers, the
unemployed, middle class and upper class people) cannot listen to what he
has to say as we cannot advertise through the means of radio, we cannot use
the television, we cannot stand at a street corner, or in a shop, or in a
factory and hand out flyers or publicly announce our policy or comment on
the state of affairs of our nation.

However, we can sneak around late at night and toss flyers, which have been
made secretly in various locations. We target bus stops and places where
people gather in the hope that our flyers will be found next morning.

Today we tried to put this notice in the Bulawayo based government
controlled daily newspaper and it was declined. This directly contravenes
the SADC Electoral Protocol. This was even though I had confirmed that the
notice time was right, even though I had enough funds and even though it was
at first completely accepted by the advertising lady who had sent me to go
and pay.... I was stopped. "Sorry I need to pass this via our production
department." She said." Ah ,mama " I whispered to her, "Why don't you just
let it go through " I can't she said and I knew that fear on her face the
fear that is reflected on a million Zimbabwean faces , the fear that breaks
our hearts but makes us never want to stop this struggle!!! She would never
have been able to do it without dire consequences to herself. She took the
advert out of my sight to an office and returned with the word DECLINED
written on the acceptance form and an embarrassed look on her face as she
said sorry it has been denied. She tried to tear off the order numbers
showing the acceptance of our ad but I said "I think I need to take all of
this form with me and I grabbed the papers and was gone.....

It is no wonder our campaign is for freedom, I felt like I was escaping a
prison and leaving Mrs A behind as a captive!

Another day fighting for justice and freedom for Zimbabwe while the world
turns a blind eye.

Stella Allberry, Activist, mother and wife, Bulawayo
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The attached letter from the lawyers representing the MDC is self explanatory.
As is the case with the "Fast Track" land reform this "fast Track" Electoral Act and the ZEC are a disaster and now zanu pf is on the receiving end for a change -
We wonder WHAT Presidential proclamation will be used to bail them out of their self inflicted mess.
from R W  { Topper }  Whitehead
The Chinja Mechanic
"let it never be asked of any of us - what did we do when we knew another was oppressed" Nelson Mandela
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