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Zimbabwe's election travesty

   The Washington Post The Washington Post  Saturday, March 2, 2002
Zimbabwe's presidential election of March 9-10 is shaping up to be a
travesty. The discredited government of President Robert Mugabe has employed
thugs to intimidate opposition activists. It has bullied the judiciary and
passed a law that effectively bans criticism of the government. What's more,
Mugabe has seemed contemptuous of outsiders' concern. Foreign journalists
have been kept out, and on Sunday a mob stoned a car carrying foreign
election observers. The government recently revoked a visa it had granted to
Senator Russell Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate's
Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, alleging that "the time for this
visit is not suitable."
The government's prize gesture toward pluralism this week has been to charge
the opposition leader and two senior opposition officials with plotting to
assassinate the president. There is no reason to believe this accusation,
and every reason to suspect it has been cooked up to throw Mugabe's rivals
off balance. The government claims that Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition
leader, discussed killing Mugabe with a consultant in Canada who now is on
Mugabe's payroll - a bizarre notion. The tape that the government has
released to support its claim appears to have been edited. The State
Department has called the charges against Tsvangirai and his colleagues a
"blatant example of President Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian rule."
The state radio and television stations, the main source of news for many
Zimbabweans, portray Mugabe as a hero of the struggle against white rule and
Tsvangirai as a "tea boy" for white interests. Nonetheless polls suggest
that if the vote is fair, Tsvangirai will be elected. That would rid
Zimbabwe of a leader who has not only suppressed freedom but also damaged
the economy to the point that thousands of Zimbabweans risk their lives
trying to cross the border into South Africa. A rigged election that kept
Mugabe in power might plunge this once stable country into violence,
destabilizing neighbors. In the final days of the campaign, southern African
leaders need to join with the United States and the European Union in
calling for a fair election. There are signs that this might have at least
some effect. On Wednesday Zimbabwe's Supreme Court, perhaps emboldened by
foreign outrage over the harassment of opposition leaders, struck down some
of the new rules designed to stack the election in favor of the government.
On Thursday, a visit to Zimbabwe from Jacob Zuma, South Africa's deputy
president, prompted Mugabe's deputy to retreat slightly on the accusations
against Tsvangirai. In the coming week, Mugabe must be made to hear more
from the international voices that he is so keen to shut out. Concerted
condemnation from outside might yet get through to him.
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Inside the terror camp

Zimbabwe has banned the BBC but John Sweeney spent two weeks there, secretly
filming witnesses to torture and mass murder

Saturday March 2, 2002
The Guardian

Outside, a car pulls up, a door slams. Silence. There are six of us in the
room, three black, three white. Michael, our eyewitness, a torture victim
who helped bury some of 300 bodies he saw; his brother, also tortured; the
translator whose father has been kidnapped and is almost certainly dead; the
owner of the house whose lover has been framed by the police for something
he didn't do; and two of us from the BBC, which is banned. All six would be
a catch for the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Robert Mugabe would
be delighted.
A twitch of a curtain. The gardener, who is keeping watch at the front of
the safe house in the cathedral-quiet white suburbs of Bulawayo, turns and
gives a Queen Mum wave of the hand. It's a neighbour returning from
shopping. False alarm. Michael continues his story in Ndebele.

"I buried them in the toilet pits," he says. "Some people were beaten even
if they did not have any reason to beat you up. When they realised that one
man was nearly dying they would order us, the other detainees, to bury that
one. We would throw him in a pit even when he was still alive."

Michael worked very hard at digging the toilet pits and dumping the bodies,
lest they kill him too. Most of them had been beaten unconscious. But some
had been tortured - electric shock, rape, mutilation. They would force
people to climb trees, the higher the better, and so many were crammed on to
a branch that it began to sag and creak. Then they would club people still
on the ground, forcing them up, and they would push the people on the
outmost branches further and further out. Then the branch would snap and the
people would fall to the ground, some just bruised, some with broken legs,
some dead. Or they would force five people into a sewage pipe and smash
rifle butts into either end, forcing those on the outside to punch and kick
and squeeze themselves inwards, crushing the "piggy-in-the-middle" to death.

All of that happened long ago, in 1984, at Bhalagwe camp, the base for the
Fifth Brigade, trained by the North Koreans, during the "Gukurahundi". It's
a Shona expression meaning "the rain which washes away the chaff before the
spring rains". But no one talks about it, in the open. Michael has never
spoken before to anyone outside his immediate family about what he
witnessed. He suffers from nightmares: he was beaten and has the scars to
prove it. If at some time in the future scientists, archaeologists and
pathologists were to dig up Bhalagwe camp, would they find the bones?

"Yes," he says, "they will find them." How many bones? How many buried? "I
don't know as the bones might disintegrate into the earth. I personally saw
about 300 dead bodies."

Two men offered to take us to the camp, one white, one black. They both
risked a very great deal to do so. At the camp, there wasn't much left. A
few brick guard houses, roofless. Shards of asbestos crackled underfoot, the
remains of pens - the kind of thing in which you would keep pigs in
England - into which up to 60 people were crammed.

Michael remembered: "The idea was that when you were sleeping, if one person
wakes up, the whole line will be aware, because it was possible for people
to escape. If they did manage to escape, the person nearest them would be
tortured and they assumed you knew how he escaped.'

In the middle of the camp is an ornamental pond in the shape of Zimbabwe and
around it a cluster of 10 big holes in the ground. The bones never lie, they
say. But Robert Mugabe's killers aren't taking any chances. At some point
between Michael dumping the dead and dying in the grave pits in 1984 and a
few weeks ago, someone has gone back to Bhalagwe camp and dug up the remains
of the murdered and dumped the bones elsewhere, leaving the holes in the
ground. But the grave-tamperers didn't even bother to fill in the exhumed

A motorbike coughed in the near distance. Our two guides, producer/cameraman
Will Daws and I stopped dead. Our cover - that we were English bird-watchers
on holiday in Zimbabwe - might not last a cursory examination from the CIO.
But beneath our feet was more than enough evidence to start a war crimes
investigation against Mugabe for his part in the killing of up to 20,000
people. The motorbike coughed again, further off, and we carried on filming.

The national treasurer of the opposition, the Movement for Democratic
Change, Fletcher Delini is an elderly Christian, who suffers from diabetes,
a gentle man with a slight frame and - according to Mugabe's police - a
double murderer. Delini was charged last November and spent a month in one
of Zimbabwe's grim prisons. They didn't give him proper treatment for his
diabetes, his blood sugar count went higher than 20 and he started losing
the sight of his one remaining eye. There is one problem with the case
against him. Delini was 500km away on the day that he was allegedly plotting
his double murder in Bulawayo. Among his alibi witnesses are 20 MPs and the
speaker of the house of parliament.

Stephen Chasara was also picked up and questioned for his part in the
Bulawayo double murder plot. He has never been to Bulawayo, he told us. But
he is active in the MDC and they tortured him. They beat him on the soles of
his feet and cut his back with whips. He still limps, his legs still
bandaged. Photographs of his back and feet taken immediately after his
torture are sickening evidence that corroborates his story in every

"If you scream, they only beat you more," he said. And he made the sound you
have to make when you are in great pain but cannot scream. It was a long,
slow swan's hiss of suppressed agony unbearable to listen to. Can we film
your face, use your name, we asked. "Yes, show my face." Chasara drew us a
map of where he had been tortured. It turned out to be the CIO office inside
Harare Central police station. So we set off to film it.

The angle was difficult and Will had to mess about with the secret camera
right in front of the torture centre. Mistake. A man driving in a car -
perhaps an off-duty CIO goon - rumbled us, shouting out: "Is that a camera?"
We made our excuses and left.

To interview the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, was not easy.
His home is watched by the CIO. Last June they deported me for the crime of
working for the BBC. They had marked my card on that trip so the return
journey was a bit dodgy. Had the police stopped a car going into
Tsvangirai's home a few days ago and opened the boot they would have been
surprised to see me huddled up, mumbling into a night-vision camera.

The car stopped, the boot opened. It was Tsvangirai. They have tried to
assassinate him twice; shot at him and charged him with treason. He said he
felt threatened, not afraid, and it was support of the ordinary people that
kept him going. He only lost his composure once, when I asked him about his
reaction to the murder of Tichoana Chiminya, his election agent for the
parliamentary election in 2000.

"I received it with disbelief. I was flying across to Europe, to America.
Someone phoned me on the plane [to say] that Tichoana had been killed. I
felt helpless, felt a part of me had gone because he was that close to me.
But then ever since those kind of instances, we've had constant reports of
killings, muggings, displacements and every day provincial leaders phone me,
'so-and-so has been beaten, he's in hospital'. And after a few days, he's

Who is going to win the election? If you count the posters, Mugabe. We
criss-crossed Zimbabwe from west to east and back again, thousands of
kilometres, and we didn't see a single Tsvangirai poster. But that is
because you can be put in gaol, even killed if you put one up. But a straw
poll of every petrol- station attendant en route told a different story.
They were all going to vote for Tsvangirai. I met no one who planned to vote
for Mugabe. He has lost Matabeleland, because of the 20,000 murdered in the
Gukurahundi. He has lost the cities because of the corruption. Now he is
losing the countryside even in his own heartland, Mashonaland.

He has also lost some of the police. An MDC friend was caught by a police
officer with a bag containing hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe dollars and
100 MDC red cards. The policeman clocked the lot, said "Very good, sir" and
flagged him on. Mugabe has even lost some of the CIO. Shortly before one
opposition MP was raided, he got three calls from different CIO officers,
telling him he was going to be raided.

But will the election be fair? Or, rather, how unfair is the election going
to be? The story of Chiminya's murder tells you much about that. In April
2000, shortly after nightfall, he was driving in a MDC pick-up, organising a
rally for the next weekend in Tsvangirai's constituency. He was chased by a
pick-up truck full of Mugabe's party, the Zanu-PF, and driven by a CIO hood
called Joseph Mwale.

In the front of the MDC pick-up were three people, Sanderson Makombe, Talent
Mabika and Chiminya. The sole survivor, Makombe, told us that Mwale blocked
the road, leapt out and then started smashing Chiminya in the face with the
butt of a rifle. He hit Mabika, a young woman activist, who was sitting next
to him. Makombe kicked his way out of the window on the other side of the
pick-up and ran off into the bush. The story is taken up by a second
witness, who was in the back of the Zanu-PF pick-up. He saw Mwale douse the
unconscious Chiminya and Mabika with paraffin, and then the whole car burst
into flames. From the bush, Sanderson saw two balls of fire lighting up the
night sky. Chiminya died straight away, Mabika after hours of agony in which
she managed to identify the killers. Tsvangirai lost that election.

Zimbabwe's police have not been able to track down Mwale, which is odd
because he works in the CIO office inside Chimanimani police station. In
that town, in the far east of the country, he is known as the petrol bomb
man. He has threatened one MDC supporter with castration. Mugabe is making
sure the votes are going to be counted correctly. He has asked the CIO - men
like Joseph Mwale - to assist in the smooth running of the election. Just in

· Zimbabwe Burning, reported by John Sweeney and produced by Will Daws, will
be screened in the Correspondent slot tomorrow night on BBC2, at 7.15pm.

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The Finale

Round Up

It’s only 7 days to go to the most vital election in this countries history.
I thought it might be instructive to look back over the past 22 years since
1980 and ask ourselves what we have learned as a country.

We came out of 84 years of government dominated by whites in 1980. 1950 to
1962 was the last period in which there was any significant white
immigration to this country. After that it’s a great deal of flight to safer
pastures. During the period of white rule, we never had any real peace – the
Shona and Ndebele wars in the late 1890’s, followed by the Boer War in South
Africa and then the "Great War". This was followed by the great depression
and all sorts of domestic problems. Then the Second World War and after that
Federation and then the break up of the Federation after 10 years. This was
followed by UDI and 15 years of isolation, sanctions and civil war.

When we woke up on the 19th April 1980 the country had a national debt of
about Z$700 million, the Zimbabwe dollar bought US$1,48 and the population
was made up of about 150 000 whites, 8 million black people and a small
minority (less than 20 000 people) of Asian or mixed race decent. Living
standards were low, but we were able to feed ourselves and had an industrial
base that provided about 90 per cent of what we consumed on a daily basis.
The economy was highly diversified, if protected and inefficient in many
areas and we had 120 000 men under arms from 4 hostile armies.

In the first decade of independence, Zimbabwe made great strides – the white
population declined at first and then started growing again, Agriculture
grew steadily and there was great progress in education and health services.
Tertiary education also made great strides and living standards rose to
quite respectable levels compared to the region as a whole. A national army
had been forged out of the disparate groups that had existed before and we
boasted a professional and reasonably competent civil service.

On the down side we made little progress in the field of democratic
practices, the constitution was revised to make it more open to abuse by
those who held power and corruption in many areas of government activity had
begun to creep into the system.

After 1990, the slide in all these areas became more pronounced. Political
opposition was muddled and ineffective. The President took unto himself
increasingly totalitarian powers and the economy began to falter under the
growing weight of accumulated debt. Corruption began to take off and
accelerated to the point where it has been a major factor in the decline in
living standards in the past 5 years. As the honeymoon with the West came to
an end, democratic governments began to ask questions and to query
governance practices. This received a hostile and angry reaction from a
President who had never tolerated criticism.

At first a faithful tool of Zanu policies, the Trade Union movement
gradually gained strength until by 1995 it was the main civil organisation
in the country and the only group with the structures capable of raising
questions about how the country was being governed. It all started in 1995
when the Trade Unions joined with other civic groups and set up the National
Constitutional Assembly to promote the development of a new constitution
with an emphasis on greater democracy. This initiative was initially brushed
aside by the State.

In 1997, the Unions again led the attack – this time on the issues of macro
economic policy and fiscal indiscipline and corruption. The justification –
everything the Unions were doing to try and improve living standards was
being undermined by the States actions in other areas. This initiative too
was brushed aside by the State with the claim that this has nothing to do
with the Unions. It was the business of government and government alone.

Eventually the Unions ran out of patience and decided that the only way
forward was a direct political challenge to the Zanu PF government. They
recognised that nobody else had the institutional strength or the broad
based foundations required to set up a political party capable of running
against the entrenched power of Zanu PF. They also knew the price they would
pay for any rebellion against Mugabe’s authority.

"Who are these upstarts?" Mugabe asked at the inception – a train driver and
a weaver from a textile mill with hardly any education? Morgan responded –
"well at least train drivers keep their trains on the rails and pay for it
if they don’t". They persisted and after careful consultation across the
country they launched the Movement for Democratic Change in late 1999. The
first Congress attended by 6 000 delegates followed in early 2000 and then
the defeat of the referendum on a new constitution in February. This was
followed by a contest in every constituency in the country resulting in June
2000 with the combined opposition defeating Zanu for the first time with 52
per cent of the vote, but slightly less than half the seats in the House.
The constitution came to Mugabe’s rescue and he was able to load the bases
with another 30 personal appointees and continue to govern.

But life was never the same for Zanu PF – many of their old stalwarts were
defeated and left the national scene, the new Parliament had all these young
lawyers and economists and unionists who refused to lie down and acquiesce
as the old Parliament had done for 20 years. Questions were asked,
corruption exposed and suddenly the fact that Zanu was no longer invincible
became apparent. In particular, Mugabe started to look more and more weary
and less and less in charge of national affairs.

Above all, Zanu PF knew they were now in a fight for their continued
dominance over national affairs and that they were hoisted on their own
petard in the form of a constitution of their own design that gave the
President unassailable powers. If they lost the presidential election, which
had, by law, to be held on or before the 17th of March 2002, then it was all
over. Many would face the probability of prosecution for human rights abuses
or corruption, or both. Many would be forced into oblivion. Business empires
would topple and the gravy train derailed.

Mr Mugabe and his close cohorts were never angels; they had been there
before and had "degrees in violence". They were ruthless and cared little
for either the real welfare of the people or the opinions of others. The
stage was set for a protracted and bitter political campaign. Their opponent
was a movement with its foundations amongst the poor; the rich and the
powerful shunned the MDC, siding with the gravy train, which they saw as
being unassailable. Regional governments feared the emergence of another
labor dominated political grouping which did not come out of the liberation
war stable and might encourage restive groups at home. Internationally the
tendency was to go with the devil you know and argue for a reformed Zanu as
the easy way to change, this was encouraged by moderates in Zanu who saw in
the waning fortunes of the older leadership of Zanu PF, a pathway to power
for themselves.

It was not to be; Mugabe held onto power and forced Zanu PF to endorse his
positions. Instead of facing the need for change they planned a savage
assault on their opponents – those that refer to Zanu PF as their
"competitors" while Zanu PF referred to their opponents as "enemies". These
two phrases characterised their respective campaigns.

The MDC put together a network of groups to work on policy in every sphere
of national life – analysts were engaged and asked, what has gone wrong? How
do we fix the problems and how do we get the country back on its feet?
Detailed policies were evolved and agreed and then actual planning for a new
era in Zimbabwe life was undertaken. Political structures were established
throughout the country – first based on the Trade Union structures but then
independent of the Unions and encompassing the wider base of the Party that
was starting to coalesce about the center. It remained a party of the poor
in every way – the officials worked voluntarily, holding down their own jobs
at the same time, the party ran on a shoe string and struggled to find its
budget every month but it gradually grew in stature and slowly gained
respect and recognition as a substantive alternative to Zanu.

At the same time efforts to reform Zanu PF were still born. Its leadership
changed in personalities but not in character. In fact they lost some of the
better characters to age and indisposition or simply disaffection and
silence. Some did their political calculations and concluded that Mugabe was
finished and they quietly prepared for a new dispensation in Zanu PF after
the presidential elections. Mbeki and other African leaders tried to secure
reform in Zanu but were rewarded with Jonathan Moyo and Chinotimba.

On the ground the battle was joined. Zanu used every trick in the book and a
few they invented themselves. They infiltrated MDC, paid bribes and
threatened individuals and families. They ruined businesses and withdrew
favors from those who they perceived as being on the other side.
Assassinations were planned and carried out – in full view and with complete
disdain for the law. The farming community was targeted and the land issue
taken out of cold storage and made center stage. The rules for the election
were reengineered and key voter groups that were perceived as implacably
hostile to Zanu PF targeted.

The consequences of this all out campaign for Zanu PF has been disastrous –
they have lost any residual international support they had, the economy has
spiraled downwards losing 30 per cent of its value. The political
foundations of Zanu have disintegrated and all they have left is their
residual power as incumbents in State positions. Even the Gods have ruled
against them – the skies are blue and dry, the granaries are empty, the
spirit mediums and Nanga’s are blaming Mugabe and Zanu PF for the violence
and stating that the Spirits are not happy.

Now it’s all over – in 7 days we as a nation go to the polls. Many thought
we would never get here. 15 months ago a political analyst advised the MDC
that it’s best option was a March 2002 election with Mugabe as the Zanu PF
candidate. We are now there, bloodied but not bowed in any way. Ready to
take power and deliver on our promises but most of all to give notice to
political despots everywhere, that once a people has decided that enough is
enough, it takes more than a few killings and intimidation to stop the
process of change. Providing we can supervise the poll, it’s going to be a
landslide and I have no doubts that a peaceful transition to a new era will
then be possible.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 1st March 2002
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2nd March update from Igudu Farm, Wedza, Mashonaland East

At 11 am today a group of settlers arrived, they gave Rob and Jan Edgar 2
hours to leave or "face the consequences". They did not leave and the
situation has remained tense. Two South African Observers were able to come
in to observe the situation. No Police support was available by 2:30 pm this
afternoon. Pls call Jenni for more info.

 Background info from Thursdays Sit Rep.....

Wedza – the robbery of the workshop at Igudu last week during the owners
absence, it now comes to light the entire workshop was cleaned out,
including a motorbike, welder, compressor and gas welder. The farm lorry
went to obtain fuel this morning and was stopped and  the driver told the
fuel belonged to the Government. The owner was told he must be off the farm
28.2.02. and he must go and see the DA if he wants an extension to stay on
the farm. The settlers are demanding the owner brings back his irrigation
pipes so they can use then.

(The legal status of farmers under Section 8 Notices is unclear at present
for the following reasons 1. An eviction notice can only be issued by the
Competent Court and 2. The Acquiring authority identified in legislation is
the Minister of Lands Agriculture.)

Jenni Williams Mobile (Code +263) 91 300 456 or 11 213 885
Office landlines: (+2639) 72546 Fax 63978
Visit our news website

News release

(On behalf of the Commercial Farmers Union)

Extortion and evictions have reached alarming proportions in the Chivhu
district of Mashonaland East, with over 21 farmers reporting incidents of
extortionate labour demands and threatened or actual evictions of workers
and farmers.  Already, over Z$ 12 million has been paid out in illegal
demands on behalf of approximately 200 workers.

In a blatant move to disenfranchise farmers and farm workers ahead of the
imminent Presidential election, over 100 farmers countrywide and many
hundreds of farm workers have been forced off commercial farms in the last
few weeks.

The mob that is causing havoc in the Chivhu area operates under the command
of local war veteran leader 'Comrade Padera', with assistance from CIO
operative Charles Gumbo, currently on remand on a charge of public violence.
The farms are being targeted irrespective of their legal status in the
process of compulsory acquisition.  The modus operandi has been to instruct
farmers to immediately lay off their workers and for the workers to vacate
as soon as they have been paid.  In four cases, the farmers have also been
forced to vacate in fear of their lives.  One of the affected farmers is a
successful black commercial farmer who recently won a court order barring
the local Member of Parliament from disrupting the farming operations on his

All incidents have been reported through police structures right up to
national level, but there has been a marked reluctance on the part of the
police to intervene.

In a dramatic case on Thursday 27 February, 22 ZANU PF supporters, armed
with sticks and axes, arrived at 6:45 am on Ashton Farm.

The owner, Mr K Whitfield, recounts the event.

“They demanded that we pay our farm labourers gratuities and pensions and
that we should leave the farm, never to return. We were forced to drive a
delegation to collect other workers where they had been assigned to herd
cattle. We requested police assistance, but by the time we returned to
Ashton they had still not arrived.”

Whitfield was asked to sign a written agreement to the demands but declined
to do so.

The farmer was warned by the group that he should not consider reporting the
matter to the police as they had higher authority. Negotiation ended on a
tense note and the group withdrew,  returning  within an hour in a
remarkably more militant mood under the new leadership of two women who
apparently report to a ‘Comrade Dhera’, a war veteran from the Mhondoro
communal area.

“They dismantled my security fence, surrounded the house and after several
attempts they were able to smash the locks on the front door and gain entry
into the house.  Since they were armed with axes and sticks and since there
was still no response from the police, I was forced, single-handedly, to
defend my family. I discharged a firearm into the ceiling to frighten away
the advancing mob. When the group retreated I followed them outside
discharging a further two rounds into the air. My wife and daughter were
then able to hastily load up a vehicle with minimal possessions and we made
our escape. Our house is unsecured and domestic animals will have to fend
for themselves. We are unable to return to the farm at this time.”

The wave of extortion in the district began a fortnight ago when war veteran
'Comrade Madaka', apparently operating under instructions from Padera,
visited the O’Neil family. Madaka arrived and decreed that the farm abattoir
was to close by Friday 15th February. He also ordered that the labour force
and a family resident on their property, Vlakfontein Estate, were to be
relocated to the home farm, Gelukverwacht.

“Once we had done this, they then advised that all our employees were to be
retrenched immediately and paid out in terms of Statutory Instrument 6 of
2002 – this was to be done by 12pm Thursday 14th February - if we did not
have enough cash then we were to give them cattle in lieu of money due.”
Said Mr. Boetie O’Neil, the owner of the farms.

Statutory Instrument 6 of 2002 is a recent amendment to labour regulations,
which stipulates the conditions for terminal benefits and entitlements of
agricultural employees affected by compulsory acquisition. At least four of
the farms affected are not listed for acquisition and nine others have not
as yet received compulsory acquisition notices. Most farmers have opted to
retain their labour force despite being under threat of compulsory
acquisition and eviction.

A CFU official,  commenting on Statutory Instrument 6 of 2002 said, “The
motive of SI 6 is to swing the burden of terminal benefits due to workers
onto the farmers who are already the victims of compulsory acquisition.
Even under the current environment of punitive and discriminatory
legislation, there is no way that the interpretation of SI 6 can be
stretched to allow war veterans and unruly ZANU PF elements to enforce these
regulations. Unfortunately the very existence of SI 6 appears to have
paralyzed the police into inaction as far as this spate of extortionate
demands are concerned."

O’Neil sought assistance through legal channels and the National Employment
Council but was unable to resolve the situation. The worst was yet to come.

“We were informed by way of a tip off that the we had to be off the property
by the Friday and that the possessions left behind would be appropriated. We
were informed that should we wish to remove our possessions, we would first
have to pay off our staff. If we did not comply by the time given, we were
to expect the farmhouse to be looted. The impracticalities of paying off 170
workers was pointed out to them but to no avail. We were further informed
not to bother to call the police as the police answered to Padera. We did
call the police but obtained no response."

Despite exhaustive consultation with farm workers, and dialogue with the
Labour Department, the National Employment Council (NEC) and the Agriculture
Labour Bureau (ALB), the matter could not be resolved in the absence of
police intervention.

The O’Neil’s were able to get most of their family off the farm for safety
as the situation deteriorated.

“Further threats at 5pm from Mr Padera and his youths to beat up staff
resulted in the situation becoming uncontrollable. The police refused to
come out and denied my employees request to sleep within the police station
for the night. The farm workers were eventually forced to sleep together
near the dairy under guard of the youths, who drank beer all night and
taunted them mercilessly.”

The ordeal continued as dawn broke on Friday.“ In the morning the agitated
labour force demanded their ‘retrenchment pay’ immediately. We stressed that
it was not our wish to retrench our labour nor did the majority of labour
want to go. Under duress, we made the pay slips available to Trade Union
officials and when they could find no fault we were instructed to start
paying staff. This process began at 6pm, Friday, and went on until the cash
on hand was exhausted.  We could only obtain the balance on Monday – we went
on to face a weekend of being restricted to our premises and a constant
stream of war vets whom we had to feed.”

Mr O’Neil ran out of cash on Monday and on Tuesday had to borrow money from
various sources and sell cattle to complete the payout. Members of the Youth
insisted on observing each employee receiving their money.

“We were forced to pay out a total of Z$9 million and all employees that had
been paid had to be off the property on the same day. We were only able to
retain six workers and even these were subsequently forced to leave."

Mr O'Neill dispatched a vehicle to assist his workers to go to their family
areas, mostly in Chivhu and Mhondoro. The driver of this vehicle was
severely beaten by youths when entering Mhondoro.  The vehicle was
commandeered and the diver's ID and drivers licence were stolen.

In the meantime, Mr O’Neil was instructed to seek permission from Padera to
remain in his home.

“Padera granted me permission to stay on the farm, but we still have
approximately 15 war vet youths on our property standing guard and limiting
access. We have had absolutely no protection from the police."

Commenting on developments in the Chivhu area, Commercial Farmers' Union
President, Colin Cloete deplored the lack of police response and the lack of
protection afforded to the affected farmers and farm workers.

Ends 1st March 2002

For more information, please contact Jenni Williams

Mobile 263 – 91 300 456 or 263 -11 213 885

Or email me at or
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Isn't this applicable to all Zimbabweans?  We owe it to ourselves. Get out and vote so that we can stand proudly again.
6 to go
----- Original Message -----
From: "Derek Carlsen" <>
To: <>
Sent: 02 March 2002 09:16
Subject: My letter to church leaders in Zimbabwe

A Pastor’s call to all Church leaders
(March 1st 2002)

Fellow office bearers in Christ’s Church, we stand together at one of the
most critical times in our nation’s history and a vast majority of
Zimbabweans are looking to us for moral guidance. If we, however, refuse to
give direction by failing to call wickedness by its name now, then we will
not be able to call anything wicked in the future. The issue facing us is
not "party politics", but morality, i.e., that righteous behaviour God
expects from the least of us to the greatest, since the universal principles
of truth and justice have been written on the heart of every person.
Morality is inseparable from the religious beliefs we profess, thus to
ignore the immorality that has been thrust into our faces, is to deny our
religion and faith. What do we become if we, who are meant to be the
standard bearers of truth and justice, refuse to clearly distinguish between
morality and immorality with respect to the known activities of any
presidential candidate? If we as church leaders in these perilous times, are
unwilling to call immorality what it is, then we will have no basis for
justifying the existence of our office afterwards. For us to suggest (by our
silence), that it is a moral option for our congregation members to vote for
a candidate whose policies and achievements include genocide, the
dismantling of our judicial system, the perversion of justice, the raping of
our economy, the disintegration of the rule of law and the use of thugs,
terror and lies, means that we will have no basis for ever calling any
person in the history of the world, immoral. If we act as though we have no
responsibility to exhort our congregations about the obvious and blatant
immorality of a particular presidential candidate, we will be condoning the
immorality of that candidate whom we are afraid to expose—our silence will
say evil is acceptable. As ministers, we cannot act as if morality is
irrelevant in this issue, without making our own calling and religion
irrelevant. To attempt to be neutral in the presence of blatant immorality
and oppression, is not a sign of Godliness, but of perversion. Godliness
never has and never can attempt to be neutral or remain silent in the face
of wickedness. If we cast aside morality in this context, then how can we
insist upon it in any area of our existence ever again?

Therefore, I implore you all, by the grace and mercy of God, to exalt God’s
standard of truth and justice and speak out for the oppressed, for the
widows, for the orphans and the helpless—in other words, to uplift Christ’s
Name. If we, as leaders in Christ’s Church, refuse to speak now, then
history will rightly regard us as nothing but hirelings (John 10:12,13). If
we fail in our responsibilities at this decisive time, we will have no
ministry worth preserving. Moreover, when the leaders of Christ’s Church
value their lives more than righteousness, be assured, evil will triumph.
Fellow officers, the cross-roads are before us and the nation awaits our
counsel, but to make an unclear sound on the trumpet in the heat of the
battle, is to fail.

Your fellow servant in Christ’s eternal Kingdom
Rev. Dr. Derek Carlsen

P.O. Box 3348, Paulington
Mutare, Zimbabwe
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Dear Family and Friends,
I am not ashamed to tell you that I sat in my car outside a small Marondera shop this Friday morning and cried. Four pick up trucks filled with shaven headed youngsters had passed me carrying flags and waving their fists to demonstrate their allegiance to Zanu PF. On the corner a few metres away a dozen armed police reservists stood watching and almost every car I saw had government number plates. An opposition rally was being held in Marondera and most ordinary shoppers had stayed at home. I tried for the fifth time this week to buy maize meal or sugar or cooking oil or margerine but there was none so instead I bought a dozen eggs for Z$150 and 1kg of rice for Z$290 and a copy of the State owned newspaper. I cried as I read in the newspaper that my farm has been listed for seizure by the government. For me it is exactly two years ago, to the day, since this hell started. On the 1st of March 2000, strange men calling themselves war veterans arrived at my farm gate, shouted HONDO repeatedly (which means WAR), whistled and sang revolutionary songs and said they were taking over the farm. In the following 7 months they claimed the farm field by field, built shacks, hacked down hundreds of trees, claimed the grazing and water, burnt everything, came in with packs of hunting dogs, held huge political rallies and slowly destroyed the lives of my family, my employees and their families. I have told that story in my book African Tears and thought I had come to terms with the horrors that went on in 2000. Exactly 2 years later, to the very day, on the 1st of March 2002, the Government of Zimbabwe has informed me in The Herald newspaper that in terms of the Land Acquisition Act, "the President intends to acquire compulsorily the land described in the Schedule for resettlement purposes." I now join thousands of other Zimbabweans whose farms, homes, livelihoods and pensions have been seized by the Government. Exactly 7 days before the election I am told that the President intends to seize my farm - which President, the outgoing or incoming? Along with thousands of other Zimbabweans, I will now start the fight for my legal and constitutional rights to own a piece of land in the country of my birth. A piece of land which was bought legally in 1990 backed by a Zimbabwe Government Certificate of No Interest. A piece of land on which we pay rates, taxes and levies. A piece of land which was to have been my son's inheritance. A piece of land which, according to the government, is now number 65 of Lot 39. Even as a lawyers daughter, I never thought I would have so much to do with the profession: 7 months fighting for my rights to get any of the serialisation payments and royalties still owed to me by the publishers of African Tears and now more lawyers, this time to try and save the farm it took a decade to pay for.
Trying to come to terms with the horrors of this political nightmare in Zimbabwe has now become unbearable.Trying to find words for people whose spouses are arrested, whose relations have been beaten, whose homes have been destroyed - has become impossible. Trying to find the most basic and ordinary food has become exhausting. Juggling the bills, stretching out the meals and filling up on bread is an everyday event for us all. In 7 days time we go to the polls and I believe that everyone who is hungry and unemployed, who has been beaten, lost their loved ones, been imprisoned or had their life and rights taken away from them will vote for peace, democracy and freedom. As always I thank you all for your support and friendship this last 2 years and hope very soon to be able to tell you that at last the insanity is over. With love, cathy.
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200 Join Zimbabwe Protest Held In UK
Saturday March 2, 2002 3:37 PM

Around 200 exiled Zimbabweans and pro-democracy activists have gathered in
London to call on President Robert Mugabe to allow free and fair elections.

The demonstration came as Tony Blair is due to recommend Harare's suspension
from the Commonwealth at the organisation's summit in Australia.

Outside the Zimbabwean High Commission, protesters chanted traditional peace
songs and waved banners telling the world to "wake up" because "Zimbabwe is

Ten of the activists, including gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, were
staging a 36-hour hunger strike which began at 8am this morning.

Several of the crowd have been expelled from Zimbabwe while others have fled
in fear of their lives.

Taurayi Chamboko, 30, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, said he had
been threatened with death by Mr Mugabe's henchmen if he continued with his
work as an activist with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

"I was taken away at 3am one morning in June 2000 by people who said they
were from the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) which is a non-uniform
section of the police.

"They said they wanted to take me to the police station for questioning over
a parking fine. But I was taken to a country house and locked in a room and
told to sing pro-Mugabe slogans. Although they threatened me with death I
continued my work with the MDC until I came to Britain for a rest.

"I have not been back because the situation deteriorated from that point
onwards. Some of my friends disappeared entirely. A young guy from the youth
department of the MDC was never seen again. Mugabe's thugs were coming in
the middle of the night, taking people away and beating them, and some lost
their lives during these beatings."

The hunger strike is aimed at pressurising the Commonwealth to agree to
issue warrants for the arrest of Mr Mugabe, suspend Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth, ban the export of luxury goods to the country and send 1,000
human rights monitors to all regions to report on intimidation and violence.

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ABC News

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Says Reconciliation Was Mistake

March 2
— By Cris Chinaka and Emelia Sithole

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told an
election rally on Saturday that his worst mistake on assuming power in 1980
was to extend the hand of reconciliation to "die-hard racists" who opposed

"...We made a mistake when we showed mercy to those who are hard-hearted,
permanently hard-hearted," Mugabe told thousands of supporters in the
southern city of Bulawayo, a stronghold of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

"When you show non-racialism to die-hard racists, when you show a people
with...a false culture of superiority based on their skin, and you do
nothing to get them to change their personalities and their perception and
their mind, you are acting as a fool," he said to loud cheers.

Mugabe, who faces the stiffest challenge to his 22-year grip on power in a
presidential election on March 9-10, was speaking shortly after MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai addressed a crowd at a stadium less than five km (three
miles) away.

No violence was reported at either venue. The city has been the scene of
past clashes between the rival parties.

Mugabe, who led the former renegade British colony of Rhodesia to
independence in 1980, said it had been a mistake to leave the economy and
land in the hands of the white minority.

"We are wiser now. There's been a lesson. The lesson that we made a mistake.
The lesson that we left them in control of our economy, especially in
control of our land," Mugabe, 78, said.

Mugabe has waged a virulent campaign against the white minority, including
the seizure of white-owned farms, which he says must be done to right the
wrongs of the colonial past.

But critics allege the land seizure is a smokescreen to deflect attention
from a collapsing economy. They also say it has disrupted commercial farming
and contributed to a chronic food shortage that had left 500,000 people in
need of food aid.


"We were determined to bring change to this country because there were some
of us who were murdered in order to bring this democratic change (about),"
Tsvangirai told a cheering crowd at his rally.

"We must make an effort to make sure that we have the highest turnout...we
must confirm a resounding defeat for this regime," he said.

His speech was disrupted when a military helicopter circled the stadium. The
crowd, believing Mugabe was aboard, chanted "Change your behavior" and waved
open palms, an MDC symbol.

Tsvangirai pledged to restore law and order. He called for a truth and
justice commission along the lines of South Africa's truth and
reconciliation commission, to probe politically motivated murders.

The MDC says at least 107 of its supporters and activists have died in
political violence over the past two years.

International involvement in the poll also neared a climax as a Commonwealth
summit in Australia considered what to do about the southern African

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has pushed for action against Zimbabwe,
calling on leaders to send "a really tough statement making clear our total
abhorrence and condemnation of what's happened in Zimbabwe."

But African Commonwealth leaders on Saturday defied Britain's call for the
organization to deliver Mugabe an ultimatum to hold free elections or face
punitive action.

Speaking at the biennial summit, several African heads of state said it was
too soon to talk of action before the vote.

Ghana's President John Kufuor told reporters the idea of Commonwealth
sanctions was "too radical to think of right now."


Last month the European Union withdrew its election observer team and
imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying the observers had not been
allowed to do their job.

The head of the Commonwealth observer mission in the country, former
Nigerian head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar, met Mugabe for an hour
on Saturday.

"The president assured the chairman about the security of the observers and
said that they were free to go wherever they wish," said mission spokesman
Mwambu Wanendeya.

"The chairman raised some issues of concern to the observer group," the
spokesman added.

Diplomatic sources said these concerns included the impact of a Supreme
Court ruling on Wednesday that struck down a new law Mugabe's opponents had
called a ploy to keep him in power.

Among other things, the law stripped millions of Zimbabweans living abroad
of their voting rights. It is now unclear if the voter registration process
will have to begin again.

Zimbabwe's last non-black Supreme Court judge, who presided over Wednesday's
ruling, has quit, the official Herald newspaper reported on Saturday.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the paper that Ahmed Ebrahim, a
Zimbabwean of Asian origin, was expected to retire at the end of May.
Ebrahim could not be reached for comment.

Critics say Mugabe is stacking the court with his allies in what they call
an assault on the judiciary's independence.

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Another Judge Quits In Zimbabwe

Saturday March 2, 2002 3:10 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - A Supreme Court judge has quit the bench, joining a
growing list of resignations by independent-minded members of the judiciary
in Zimbabwe.

Judge Ahmed Ebrahim's decision to step down Friday came just two days after
a Supreme Court panel he headed struck down revised electoral laws that had
given state polling officials sweeping powers.

The ruling was considered a major blow to President Robert Mugabe's
government ahead of the March 9-10 elections. Determined to remain in power
after 22 years of autocratic rule, Mugabe has tried to push through
legislation aimed at squashing dissent ahead of the vote.

Ebrahim is a Zimbabwean of Indian descent and was the last non-black judge
in the Supreme Court.

The judiciary has been under growing pressure by the government to issue
rulings in its favor and government officials described the decision Ebrahim
oversaw as ``a rotten fish''.

Justice ministry officials said Ebrahim submitted a letter of resignation
stating he would be taking leave before retiring from the court in May.

Ebrahim is the fifth senior judge to quit in the past year.

Among senior judges to have left the bench recently is former Chief Justice
Anthony Gubbay. He was forced to take early retirement last July after the
government warned him and other judges they would not be protected from
ruling party militants, who stormed the Supreme Court in December 2000,
shouting, ``Kill the judges!''

The Supreme Court under Gubbay had declared the government-sanctioned
seizure of white-owned farms illegal. The court was accused by militants of
bias in favor of white landowners.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down the General Laws Amendment Act,
passed by the ruling party in January.

The ruling said the act was improperly pushed through Parliament and
violated constitutional and voters rights. It nullified sweeping powers
given to state electoral officials and restrictions on election observers
and party polling agents.

It also overruled an amendment giving the state sole power to appoint local
election monitors and allowed church and other independent groups to deploy
monitors at voting and counting stations.

Last year, the government expanded the Supreme Court bench from five to
eight judges, in an apparent bid to pack the highest court in the country
with sympathetic judges.

Gubbay's successor, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, has been accused of
openly supporting ruling party policies.

Zimbabwe has been wracked by political violence as Mugabe, 78, faced his
biggest challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.

The opposition narrowly lost parliamentary elections in June 2000.

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Letter to the Editor:

The Zimbabwe Independent


Dear Sir,

The suspense is almost over. The presidential election for which Zimbabweans have been waiting for two years and more with incredible patience and endurance is now upon us. Soon we shall know whether our beloved country is to put an end, once and for all, to a corrupt dictatorship, taking a first courageous step towards good governance. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

This is surely the moment for which all Zimbabweans of good will have been waiting for so long – the moment to use our votes in order to consign a racist, lawless, minority regime to the rubbish bin of history. This is the moment for the people to bring in their final verdict on years of corrupt mis-rule.

This is the moment for us finally to overcome the violence of the ruling party with our steady and unflinching commitment to the way of non-violence.

This is the moment to overcome their corrupt and corrupting rule with a new integrity and transparency of purpose.

This is the moment to overcome their insatiable greed for power with a resolve to make accountable all those entrusted with power.

This is the moment to bring down their lies and the whole elaborate propaganda apparatus with our steadfast adherence to the truth.

This is the moment to end the policies that divide our people according to race, tribe or ethnic origin and to forge a new unity together.

This is the moment to defeat every effort of the ruling party to steal the election (through harassment, intimidation, and a barrage of dirty tricks) by the sheer number of votes cast for freedom and democracy, justice and peace.

What is needed therefore is one final, supreme effort to bury this evil regime under such a cascade of votes – such a landslide - that the will of the people cannot be either concealed or denied.

Every single vote then will count and a high order of courage and patience will be required of each one of us. But the God of justice and peace will surely be with us, and when the election is over and has become a matter of history shall we not discover for ourselves the truth of Desmond Tutu’s famous affirmation:


"Goodness is stronger than evil;

love is stronger than hate;

light is stronger than darkness;

life is stronger than death;

and victory is ours through Him who loves us"

Rev Graham Shaw, Bulawayo



28th February 2002

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Africa leaders defiant on Zimbabwe
March 2, 2002 Posted: 7:51 AM EST (1251 GMT)

COOLUM, Australia -- African Commonwealth leaders have defied Britain's call
for the organisation to deliver Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe an
ultimatum to hold free elections or face punitive action.

As Commonwealth leaders met in Australia for their biennial summit, several
African states led a host of poorer nations warning against action before
next week's presidential poll.

Speaking at the start of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting
(CHOGM) near Brisbane, several African leaders said it was too soon to talk
of action before the March 9-10 vote.

"That is too radical to think of right now," Ghana's President John Kufuor
told reporters when asked if the Commonwealth should consider sanctions
against Zimbabwe.

Another southern African leader told Reuters: "The Commonwealth is not a
police force," declaring that even discussing action before the Zimbabwe
ballot was "premature."

A third African leader, in a veiled criticism of British Prime Minister Tony
Blair's repeated public attacks on Mugabe, told the news agency that the
Commonwealth should be conducting quiet diplomacy instead of "pouring petrol
on the flames."

The official position -- that action against Mugabe had been blocked -- was
summed up by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

He told reporters: "A number of Commonwealth countries have made it clear
that this issue of suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth should
only be decided after the election process is completed."

Blair had argued for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the Commonwealth,
accusing Mugabe of orchestrating a campaign of intimidation against
political opponents to ensure his re-election.

Blair called on the group of 54 nations -- mainly ex-British colonies -- to
express its "total abhorrence" of Mugabe's actions and to set up a mechanism
to act against Zimbabwe if Commonwealth observers report voting

But South Africa and Nigeria had already blocked Zimbabwe's expulsion from
the Commonwealth and seemed certain to have their way again in what emerged
as an "Old Commonwealth" versus "Third World Commonwealth" divide.

Blair warned that the credibility of the Commonwealth would be badly damaged
if it failed to suspend Mugabe's regime after elections in Zimbabwe scarred
by violence and intimidation.

Blair said: "There is a disagreement here about tactics, because some of the
African countries feel it is wrong to suspend Zimbabwe at this moment.

"I think the real test for the Commonwealth is after the election, if those
observers report that, as we have been reading, there has been widespread
violence and intimidation. If Mr Mugabe were to win in those circumstances I
think it would be essential for the Commonwealth to act and act by
suspending Zimbabwe."

Blair was backed by the foreign affairs spokesman of Britain's Liberal
Democrats, Menzies Campbell who said: "This could be a defining moment for
the Commonwealth.

"If Zimbabwe can breach the obligation to respect human rights and to fulfil
democratic principles the foundations of the Commonwealth will be
irreparably undermined.

"Even as a `talking shop' its relevance will be severely curtailed."

Both the European Union and the United States have announced action against
the Harare regime.

The EU has already imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe's inner circle and
withdrawn its election observers after Zimbabwe refused to accredit their
team leader. The U.S. has said it is following suit.

Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 22 years, faces his stiffest ever challenge
from Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change

Tsvangirai was this week accused of treason over an alleged plot to
assassinate Mugabe -- a charge which Britain said was a further sign that
Mugabe was determined to fix the election.

Mugabe accuses Blair of backing Tsvangirai, who denies the treason

Zimbabwe's pro-ruling ZANU-PF party newspaper The Herald carried a banner
headline on Saturday saying "Club Snubs Blair" and accused Blair of adopting
"a bullying stance."

Mugabe told the paper: "ZANU-PF has never cheated in any election and unlike
the MDC and their British sponsors, the ruling party does not have a culture
of dishonesty."

Back in Zimbabwe the main rivals in the presidential race were due to begin
the final week of a heated, violent election campaign on Saturday with major
rallies in the southern battleground city of Bulawayo.

Mugabe, whose ruling ZANU-PF party lost Bulawayo to the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change in 2000 parliamentary elections, was addressing
supporters at the city's Barbour Fields stadium.

Less than five kilometres away, MDC challenger Tsvangirai was to address his

"We are entering this election under protest because the conditions are not
ideal, but if we have an MDC victory that may confirm that people are
determined to exercise their rights and deliver change," Tsvangirai told
Reuters after he arrived by plane in the city for his rally.

The state-run Chronicle newspaper reported on Saturday that a suspected MDC
supporter was beaten to death and his car was set ablaze after he drove it
into a group of ZANU-PF supporters at a funeral for a ruling party activist.

Police told the newspaper they believed he had lost control of his vehicle.

In Rome, the United Nations warned on Friday that half a million Zimbabweans
are desperately hungry. The country has been hit by drought and an economic
crisis fuelled by the state seizure of white-owned farms for black

South African border patrols have said a steady stream of immigrants braves
crocodiles, barbed wire fences and almost certain deportation to escape
Zimbabwe, where food is scarce and prices have been soaring.

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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Elections 2002 Daily Report No.  2 PRINT MEDIA REPORT - Saturday, March 2nd, 2002 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS The Daily News carried two Reuters' news agency stories relating to the deliberations of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Committee and the heads of state meeting in which British Premier, Tony Blair was quoted.  In one, which reports that Blair has appeared to stand alone in efforts to have Zimbabwe suspended, Blair was reported as saying he believed that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai could still win the election, despite widespread intimidation.  He was also quoted saying: "It is important to make quite clear that if the opposition do win in Zimbabwe, they are given strong and unequivocal support, and any attempt to interfere with the result would be an outrage to the democratic principles of the Commonwealth."
The other story, C'wealth divided over Zimbabwe, reported Blair as having called for immediate sanctions against Zimbabwe or at least for the Commonwealth to send " a really tough statement making clear our total abhorrence and condemnation of what's happened in Zimbabwe, and setting up some mechanism for taking a follow up action if necessary."
The paper reported diplomats as saying the Commonwealth was likely to issue a strongly worded statement to Mugabe, with a final warning that the election must be free and fair or Zimbabwe would face the consequences.
The Herald picked up Blair's isolation and led the paper with its report of the split in CMAG under the headline 'Club snubs Blair'.
The newspaper noted that the eight foreign ministers agreed to remove the discussion on the country from the summit agenda until after the presidential election, noting that African, Asian and some Caribbean countries had resisted British pressure to have Zimbabwe's suspension discussed at CHOGM.  The Herald comment argued that the Zimbabwean situation should be judged "from an African perspective" without elaboration.  In another article, The Herald accused Britain of "bully tactics" at the Commonwealth.

ELECTORAL ISSUES The Daily News carried an editorial comment, Supreme Court ruling stalls Zanu PF plot to steal poll, in which it hailed the ruling as a welcome development that would allow civic organisations to carry out voter education.  The paper noted however, that ".  the Supreme Court decision may be too little and too late to prevent theft of the election by Zanu PF."
The paper also carried a revealing opinion piece by Pierre Schori, The peasant is equal to the President on election day chronicling the electoral flaws in the run-up to the election.
The Herald in an article headlined "Improper procedure used when introducing Bill" obscured the ruling by concentrating on Justice Malaba's dissenting judgment.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE The Herald carried one incident of political violence blamed on MDC.  In a revealing statement, the newspaper noted: "Campaigns have in the past been characterised by a lot of mudslinging and violent physical attacks by supporters".
The Daily News carried five stories on political violence in which six incidences of violence were recorded.  There was no murder reported.  Zanu PF supporters were blamed in five of the incidents and war veterans in one.  The victims were MDC supporters in four incidences and white commercial farmers in two.  In one incident it reported that the police refused to cooperate when they were asked to escort the MDC president to Marondera.

CAMPAIGNS The Herald gave prominence to Mr Mugabe's rallies and dismissed the disruption to the MDC's rally in Marondera, describing it as "a lack of support".  The paper reported Mr.  Mugabe's sustained and vitriolic attack on British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the MDC leader at length.  In the report Mr.  Mugabe was reported insulting Mr.  Tsvangirai, as "stupid", "foolish" and "a goblin of Britain".
The Daily News however, attributed the cancellation to reports of a plan "to ambush Morgan Tsvangirai's convoy" and widespread intimidation of MDC supporters.  It also reported the MDC chairman as saying the police had refused to provide an escort, but the paper failed to say whether it had tried to confirm this with the police.
The Herald also reported that "white MDC supporters, with the help of rogue party youths, have embarked on a door-to-door exercise, distributing pamphlets to domestic workers to vote for MDC and not ZANU PF".
The Daily News carried two-campaign related stories, one on the aborted MDC rally and the other on a ZANU PF rally in Masvingo under the headline, Mugabe pleads with Zvobgo.  The paper focussed on this appeal and quoted Mugabe saying, ".  We might have differences, but now we have a common enemy and I plead with you that we should remain united." Strangely, it reported that Vice-President Simon Muzenda, was not present at the rally and repeated its claim of the previous day that it was believed he had suffered a stroke.  But the front-page picture in The Herald appeared to disprove this and used it to dismiss the allegations about his health.

ELECTRONIC MEDIA REPORT February 2, 2002 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: CHOGM ZBC (8pm) presented the Commonwealth's decision to put on hold discussions on the suspension of Zimbabwe as an end to the poor relations between Zimbabwe and the West.
The state broadcaster reported that most the 54 members of the club were behind Zimbabwe.  The Zimbabwe's ambassador to Ghana representing Zimbabwe at CHOGM, Dr.  Machiwenyika Mapuranga was quoted on ZTV saying: ".the whole world is behind the land reform programme and it is only the EU and the US that are not in support of what is going on in Zimbabwe".
The reporter cited statements made by other African heads of state in support of Zimbabwe to buttress the impression that Africa was behind the country.

ELECTORAL PROCESS ZTV, in its current affairs programme Face the Nation, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede attempted to explain and clarify issues relating to the electoral process.
Mudede gave confusing information on the registration process.  He stated that his office was still registering people for the presidential election and would close the process on March 3.
The fact that registration was still taking place was not given any media attention.  Mudede was not clear on whether those being registered would appear on the voter's roll.  And the media is not asking who is monitoring this process.
Before the interview ZTV broadcast information on how to vote during the three-tier election in Harare and Chitungwiza.

3FM had seven stories related to presidential election campaign.
Six (86%) were pro-ZANU PF and one (14%) was about the MDC's aborted rally in Marondera.
Radio Zimbabwe had 13 campaign stories and all favoured ZANU PF.  However, 10 of them were repeats of ZANU PF rallies held in Mashonaland central in February 28.
ZTV had five campaign stories and all were pro- ZANU PF.  ZANU PF was allocated nine minutes 35 seconds on Newshour while one- minute 25 seconds were used to criticize the MDC.
ZBC's (ZTV and & 3FM, 8pm) bias against the opposition was exposed in its coverage of an MDC Marondera rally, which the opposition called off.  All stations claimed that MDC called off its rally because it wanted to create a wrong impression that it was being intimidated.  ZTV reporter stated: "In a desperate move to attract the sympathy of its Anglo-Saxon sponsors currently attending the CHOGM summit in Australia and portray a deteriorating political situation in Zimbabwe, MDC cancelled a poorly attended rally and started sending distress calls to election observers.Some observers, including the head of the Namibian observer team, Dr Kaira Mbuende were at the venue of the rally and had not witnessed any violence to justify the cancellation."
No comment was sought from the MDC nor was Mbuende given any live sound bite.
As a counter to private and international media reports that most MDC rallies had been called off or disrupted because of violence, a ZTV reporter added: "Using the same ploy, the MDC cancelled its weekend rallies in its own stronghold of Gweru saying the party has been threatened with violence".
In an attempt to portray Morgan Tsvangirai as having been weak in his campaign and not people oriented ZBC (ZTV & 3FM, 8pm)
reported: "While Tsvangirai has been busy playing to the international gallery of the media president Mugabe has been meeting people at his campaign rallies.  Today President Mugabe held his 37th rally while Tsvangirai has held barely
The report cited Business Day editorial as evidence that "even media that has been on his side now views his campaign as weak and ineffective".  No detail was given on what exactly the Business Day editorial said about Tsvangirai.
Contrary to ZBC reports that the MDC rally in Marondera was deliberately called off to give a wrong impression on the political climate in Zimbabwe, Shortwave Radio Africa highlighted the circumstances, which caused the cancellation of the MDC rally.
The station quoted MDC provincial Secretary Didymus Munenzva and other party officials explaining why they called off the rally.  The officials added that their campaign posters announcing the rally were pulled down and their supporters were intimidated and harassed.  Victims of violence were also interviewed giving accounts of what happened.
ZTV (9pm) aired the second programme of Talk Policy where three representatives of Zanu PF, NAGG and Paul Siwela were interviewed on their policies on Health and Education.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE ZTV had two reports on incidents of political violence.  In both reports MDC was accused.  The broadcaster reported (8pm) that MDC supporters had attacked ZANU PF supporters who had gathered to bury their colleague, Sibanglilizwe Magagula, who was allegedly killed by MDC supporters.  Interestingly, the broadcaster ignored the death when it happened only to report it as a funeral.
The report was however not clear on the circumstances that led to the death.  The newscaster Magagula had died when he "was beaten to death by MDC supporters early this week".  The reporter stated that the deceased was hit by a "suspected MDC car at a ZANU PF camp".  ZTV also reported, in the same news story that an alleged MDC car was torched after hitting 'deliberately' five women who were going to attend the funeral and that one of them is suspected dead.  No comment was sought from the police who were shown at the scene of a car, which appeared to have been torched.
In another report ZTV (8pm) stated that MDC supporters had beaten up alleged ZANU PF supporters in Marondera after the aborted MDC rally.  In the report, which negatively presented the MDC, the reporter stated: "Several observers have said political violence is isolated but has been exaggerated by the media".
However, statistics given by the police commissioner Augustine Chihuri evidently shows that media are under reporting violence.
ZTV quoted (26/02.  8pm) Chihuri saying that 250 cases of violence were reported from February 1 to February 25.  And in the same period ZTV reported only 25 incidents while 3 FM reported 32 and radio Zimbabwe reported 15.  These figures are far less than the figure given by Chihuri.
Both 3FM and Radio Zimbabwe had no reports of political violence.
Ends Contact the Project Coordinator, 15 Duthie Avwenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:, Web:
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 Friday, 1 March 2002 20:39
Dear All
HARARE, March 1 With just over a week to go until the elections, the atmosphere in Harare is building daily.  The city is awash with posters for both candidates -- a clench-fisted Bob in fatigues vs a smiling Morgan.
People are looking forward to the election and I do not think there will be the apathy that we have seen in elections since independence in 1980.  "Wait until after the election,"
is the response to many a question.  Here in the urban areas, most people see a Tsvangarai victory as the only legitimate outcome.
Mugabe for another 6 years is just not something they want to contemplate.
This election is seen as the last hope for many and so it pervades almost every aspect of life.  Last week, two cars were involved in an accident outside our house and the heated aftermath demonstrates just this. In the one car was a couple of "nose brigades" -- educated black Zimbabweans who speak what is a nasal form of Standard Zimbabwean English (the way a local white would speak, but without the pitch) -- while the occupant of the other vehicle was a "chef".  The "chefs" are Zanu-PFapparachiks who have benefitted from their links to the party -- usually typified by waist and car size.The pissed chef had smashed his posh Honda CRV into the VW Golf, which had wrongly done a U-turn on the blind side of hill.  As the discussion got more heated about who was to blame, the NBs -- also called "ama-salads" in Ndebele (for obvious reasons) -- told the "chef" that he was "going to rot in jail" once Bob had been removed in the elections.  "Just wait until the elections chef." "Elections, elections?  I don't care about your elections," the chef slurred in response.
Things are bad, but not as dire as they are portrayed in the overseas press .
And I do not think this is some Marie Antoinettish view from the lofty Ridge.  It appears most people who come here and our friends in SADC just think we are just not violent enough.  I mean, only 100 lives in this election campaign?  Remind me, what is the African standard again before a response is actioned?  To them Harare still has (and capitals is often the way things are judged) an air of normality and functionality not found on this continent.  The mood is hard to describe; you know there are big problems, more to come and the state is trying to erode your rights ...  but there are few obvious signs of outright fascist oppression.  I have discussions with people as to whether we are freer now than in the 1980s with the State of Emergency.  I get very different responses.  People are cautious about what they say politically, but their anti-government views are obvious when it comes to why there is no maize meal (the stable diet) and other essentials such as cooking oil in the shops.  And no tonic water!  It's tragic!  The government, as usual, blames the farmers for hoarding, but people in general know it is gross mismanagement.  And if you institute price controls below production costs in a high-inflationary environment, you can expect companies will stop production.  Dressed in Bushy's work outfit (the"glorified prison garb"), I regularly get taken for a farmer and get asked by bank tellers or shop assistants whether I "have any maize".  "Real" Zimbabweans are supposed to drool over the cooked version -- it's a maize mash called "sadza" (silly journalists call it a "porridge") -- but I've never longed for it.  Many are now forced to eat more expensive staples such as potatoes and rice.  In the typical Zimbabwean fashion, most laugh about how prolonged intake of rice might give you Chinese features or offer such outlandish statements as: "After eating rice for one week, you start to become very cold."
The MDC newspaper advertisements capitalise on these kinds of things and are pretty good when compared with Zanu-PF's.  The MDC particularly plays on Bob's age and inflation with such slogans as: "The only thing higher than Mugabe's age is the inflation rate (116%)." They also have ads showing what has happened to the value of money in the past 17 years.  In 1985, Z$1500 (aroundUS$700 at the time)
bought you a Peugeot 404 -- an icon on Zeem roads -- whereas now all Z$1500 (US$5)will get you is a one-way bus ticket to Bulawayo.
Under another headline of "What Zanu-PF has done toZ$10", it shows 10 loaves of bread in 1985, while 2002 you get five slices.  Zanu-PF still doesn't seem to have woken up to the fact that Mugabe's age is a negative for many.  Last week, The Herald ran the usual fawning supplement filled with parastatals and*-kissing businesses congratulating "Cde RG Mugabe on his 78th" and wishing him many more.  The "celebrations" were, however, nothing like the 1980s with presents of pangolins and Great Leader adulation's from "Feb 21 Youth Movement".  (Of note,Tsvangarai celebrates his 49th birthday on March 10, the last day of the election.) Zanu-PF ads mainly attempt to portray Tsvangarai as a puppet of the British and racist whites, which will turn Zimbabwe into a "colony" again.
Banal and insulting, few of them are very clever and I was wondering a few months back whether they would play on one of the landmarks of Zimbabwean rural life -- the Blair toilet.  It was invented by Blair Institute to cut down on the fly-borne disease from open pit latrines.  Sure enough,the advertisement came as: "The only good Blair is a toilet." (I have attached a picture for those who have not had the pleasure).
The other day, I heard the gardener's 8-year old daughter practicing her English verse when I was looking for a container.  "Eye'ma going to Rondon to hava tea with the Queena" -- something Bob used to love to do and now claims he does not miss that international their spin-doctors.  And I was struck how Zimbabweans with a reasonable amount of education (up to say 14years old) have no concept of the UK and might therefore suck in some of this Jonathan Moyo bullshit. Ernest, the nursery manager, asked me last week what life was like in the UK.  "Are there poor people?""What do they eat?" "Can I get a job on a farm?" And, er, he asked, "does it rain?" I could see that he could not conceptualise much of what I provided as answers.  "What do you mean that people get money if they do not work?" And:
"But if it is such a rich country, why can't they pay for the land they stole."However, there remains an overriding feeling that we need a change of government.  The MDC will clean up in the urban areas, Matabeleland and among the "born-frees" -- those too young to have much recollection of the war.  And who knows what the fickle rural folk will do?  They turn up to rallies, but come the big day, will they -- tired of being beaten up and terrorised -- cast their ballot for the opposition? There is no recourse to the partisan police, who are more interested in running their funeral and ferrying services from the Police Land Rover.
Many people find it hard to understand just why people would vote for Bob.
As the West sees it, we have a crazed, arrogant dictator surrounded by his corruptelite desperately clinging onto power and destroying the country in the process.  But as Mugabe sees it --and the way it is portrayed in the state media -- he is fulfilling the goals of the Liberation Struggle and it is this cherished dream of the Zimbabwean people.  I was told the other day about a speech in 1980 when the cleric said: "I hope in time that white arrogance and black resentment is not replaced with black arrogance and white resentment."
Just how effective the Zanu-PF misinformation machine has been is hard to gauge because many are now aware it's state propaganda.  But considering they even manage to use a moronic Australian journalist to "unveil" an "assassination"
attempt shows the long reach of the men in darkglasses.  No doubt meeting Ben Menashe and his crowd constituted naivety on the part of MDC, but the whole story looks pretty much like a state-sponsored sting if you look at the connections that Ben Menashe has with Zanu-PF henchmen.
The Herald and ZBC dig the story out every day, and in the urban areas with the choice of media, you can ignore it if you choose to.
Many in the rural areas do not have that access,because you get beaten up if you carry a copy of The Daily News.  The State's control of radio is their best tool because after being told things enough times, some believe what they have been told -- that it's all one big conspiracy by Britain and its allies to "recolonise" Zimbabwe.
Zanu-PF thinks it is going to be close race and, aside from the propaganda, they have used just about every idea they must have brainstormed in the Politburo.  The party has the propensity to "alter" the result by probably around 10%.  This has been achieved by disenfranchising perceived MDC supporters, either by displacing farm workers in the rural areas, or through such dubious "legal" means such as taking whites off the voters' roll for being "foreigners".  However, the General Amendment Acts Bill, which enacted this, as well as banned observers from travelling with ballot boxes, was found on Wednesday to been passed through Parliament illegally.  What the implications are, no one knows -- the proverbial Presidential Decree can reinstate the Act anyway.  The "new" Voter's Roll apparently has several omissions -- two MDC MPs from Harare and people such as Sir Garfield Todd, a former Prime Minister, have got letters in the post telling them they cannot vote.  Born in New Zealand, Todd came to the country in 1934 and was regarded as leading opponent of Ian Smith's government in the 60s and 70s. And then there is the age-old trick of stuffing ballot boxes.  The system of voter registration and tallying votes cast with those people recorded as voting, is reasonably robust.  But the massive increase in the number of voting booths in the rural areas (compared with the reduction in urban areas where they are holding municipal elections concurrently and therefore should have increased them), makes it that much harder to monitor it.
It'll take a brave person to predict the overall"result".  The usual response if you ask someone is a bit of a smirk and a "wait for the results".  In the last survey, nearly 60% of people said they would not say whom they would be voting for ...  and in this political climate, it may be interpreted as a vote for the opposition.  A lot of people will still vote for Bob whether the rest of the world regards it as being political suicide or not.  It's a bit like the Australian vote for a Republic.  Why didn't they take the opportunity when it was offered to them?  Fear of the unknown?  Mistrust of politicians?  It was obvious to the rest of the world that they should have moved the Queen on, but political trickery and propaganda won the day.  Bob has employed these and other tactics-- the cheating I have outlined above, playing on his war hero status (however tarnished internationally),and used massive government misinformation to cast doubt and raise suspicion about the opposition and the role of the whites therein.  Two things that I think will happen is that people will give away more signs about who they are going to vote for in this coming week.  Secondly, there will be a huge degree of uncertainty in the week following March 9/10.  The poor schoolkids, who would love the time off, are having extra homework given to them should the schools not come back that week.  Neither side has prepared themselves to lose.  Will Bob go gracefully if he loses?  Will the people accept a flawed Zanu-PFvictory?  Because should it not go the way the silent majority of the people believe it will, there will be trouble if they feel this election is "stolen" from them.
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 Morgan Tsvangirai discusses his race against Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe

Stop the Haemorrhage   
The presidential candidate   
RAATH: Western opinion is now strongly against Mugabe. Do you think it worries him?
TSVANGIRAI: As long as it was an isolated Western opinion, obviously he would disregard it as imperialism, and he would get away with it. But now it’s not just Western opinion, it’s international opinion—across race, across region, everyone has condemned him, even African heads of state.
Isn’t Mugabe likely to drive on regardless?
Mugabe is being defiant to national and international pressure, but I think he has overstepped the line. He has a choice. If he wins the election, the outcome is, of course, illegitimate. He knows the consequences of isolation, of sanctions. This country is in dire economic difficulties, and he needs the outside more than the outside needs him. And he knows that.
If you win, what will be your immediate priorities?
The first is law and order. The lawlessness that has been abetted and supported by the government has been detrimental to confidence in the country. You have to deal with fundamental economic equations, stop the decline, stop the haemorrhage. There are measures in our recovery plan to ensure that. The third issue is that the chaos in the agricultural sector, in [Mugabe’s] land-reform plan, has to be put right in a manner that is equitable, that gives support to the farmers, that ensures agricultural production is put on a sustainable footing again.
What about Zimbabwe’s involvement in the war in Congo?
It is unsustainable and we will withdraw.
Do you believe the military would overturn a Tsvangirai victory?
That’s what they said, but the danger of them carrying out their threat is very minimal. When people have exercised their right, I cannot see anyone subverting that right and surviving. Besides, the region will not tolerate military action.
If Mugabe wins, by whatever means, what future does the country face?
A very bleak future. It will take another 20 or 30 years before people begin again to rise up and say we have to have a change. It is important to realize this is about a political culture—there may be people who outlive Mugabe’s current terror and still carry out his culture.
You recently said you wouldn’t have a problem with recognizing Mugabe’s contribution to independence, but there are many who insist he is a candidate for trial in
The Hague for crimes against humanity.
I recognize the injustice that has been committed, but Zimbabweans have two choices: to continue on, driving Mugabe to destroy the country, or reassure him, have free and fair elections and start sorting out the mess without him. They cannot have it both ways; Mugabe is a stumbling block if he is continuously threatened. But that does not mean you are sweeping the injustices under the carpet. It has to be a balancing act to ensure you don’t ignore the victims; at the same time you are not trying to sacrifice the future by targeting the perpetrators. A process of national healing, national debate, will be required. There could be a process of immediate economic investment [to] the victims, and to recognize that this is a national conscience we have to bear. The best way is to ensure that it never happens again. I think that would be more integrative than to pursue Mugabe.
Do you feel your life is in danger?
I feel risk for everyone in the MDC leadership. I think it’s obvious that I am the prime target. But in spite of that, Mugabe also knows that if anything happens to me, it is he and his generals who have threatened me.
What result do you expect in the elections?
A resounding victory, a confirmation of the desire of the people of Zimbabwe to have change.
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Credibility warning from Blair over Mugabe

Tony Blair warns the credibility of the Commonwealth will be badly damaged
if it fails to suspend President Robert Mugabe's regime.

He was speaking after African leaders blocked any move to suspend Zimbabwe
at the opening session of the Commonwealth Summit.

Mr Blair said if Mr Mugabe won, or refused to accept a victory by his rival
Morgan Tsvangirai in the March elections, the 54-nation group must take

The Prime Minister, speaking after the summit in Coolum, near Brisbane, said
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change could still win the March 9
and 10 poll.

He added: "There is a disagreement here about tactics, because some of the
African countries feel it is wrong to suspend Zimbabwe at this moment.

"But I do think it's essential for the credibility of the Commonwealth that
if, after the election in Zimbabwe, the Commonwealth observers report there
was malpractice and intimidation during the election, then it's essential
that we take action against Zimbabwe if Mr Mugabe is still in power."

He added: "I think the real test for the Commonwealth is after the election,
if those observers report that, as we have been reading, there has been
widespread violence and intimidation. If Mr Mugabe were to win in those
circumstances I think it would be essential for the Commonwealth to act and
act by suspending Zimbabwe."

The Prime Minister, speaking before attending an official banquet with the
Queen - who opened the summit - added the result of the election in Zimbabwe
was still not known. But it was already clear that there had been violence
and intimidation of opposition leaders and supporters.

He added: "I think there is no doubt at all there should be a suspension in
those circumstances. If there wasn't then the Commonwealth would be badly

The four-day summit will continue with further talks focusing on the fight
against international terrorism and the role of the organisation itself in
the 21st century. Two of those days will be spent "in retreat" - with
leaders holding informal talks in closed sessions.

Story filed: 10:27 Saturday 2nd March 2002
Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 04:21 GMT
Commonwealth split over Zimbabwe
Opening ceremony
The ceremony opened with a folklore display
The crisis in Zimbabwe is set to dominate a 54-nation Commonwealth summit meeting which has opened in Australia.

The Commonwealth is split over whether to suspend Zimbabwe, where the run-up to presidential elections on 9-10 March has been marred by political violence. No decision on suspension is expected before the elections.

The Commonwealth over past years has been a staunch upholder of democratic values

Prime Minister John Howard
The four-day Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) is being held in Coolum, a holiday resort north of Brisbane.

The response to international terrorism in the wake of the 11 September suicide attacks are also high on the agenda. The summit - originally due to have been held in Brisbane last October - was postponed because of the attacks.

The UK Government is leading calls for immediate sanctions against Zimbabwe. Australia, New Zealand and Canada, support the UK line.

The UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has described Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as "dictatorial," saying the violence against dissidents in the election campaign is "an outrage".

Colourful ceremony

Trumpeters signalled the start of the summit with a procession of presidents, prime ministers and other representatives of states from every corner of the world.

The Australian hosts welcomed their guests with displays of Aboriginal and other Australian folklore, beginning with dancers from the local Gubbi Gubbi tribe.

Flags at Coolum
CHOGM is the largest gathering of world leaders since 11 Sept
There were no direct references to Zimbabwe in the accompanying speeches, although Australian Prime Minister John Howard emphasised the need for promoting the fundamental values of the Commonwealth, such as democracy.

But President Mbeke, the outgoing Commonwealth Chairman, emphasised different issues, like the struggle against racism and against poverty and under-development.

All speakers paid tribute to Commonwealth head Queen Elizabeth II who this year marks 50 years on the throne.

The Queen told the summit it was the diversity of the Commonwealth, a free partnership of nations, that made the organisation strong.

"The events of 11 September have reminded us all of the need to build bridges between different cultures based on greater knowledge and understanding of our differences," she said.

Africans oppose Zimbabwe sanctions

African nations have resisted any direct measures against Zimbabwe.

Namibian Foreign Minister Theo Ben Gurirab told the BBC that some people had already made up their minds that President Mugabe had rigged next week's presidential election, and were out to punish him.

Mr Ben Gurirab said the issue was being given too much prominence at the summit.

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

Commonwealth foreign ministers from eight nations - the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group - have prepared a report on Zimbabwe, which will be presented to the full summit.

President Mugabe's government is accused of breaches of democratic rule and intimidation during the election campaign.

Tough statement

The UK prime minister is pressing for a strongly-worded statement by Commonwealth ministers.

"All the countries concerned believe in the principle of fair elections," Mr Blair told the BBC. "The statement will strongly condemn the violence in Zimbabwe."

Mr and Mrs Blair arrive at conference
Blair faces opposition from African leaders
"I think it's abundantly clear that if there were free and fair elections the opposition would win," Mr Blair added.

Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon said the situation in Zimbabwe was "deteriorating".

"Certainly there is evidence from a number of international organisations that it is much more uncomfortable there than it was during the June 2000 elections."

He said about 40 Commonwealth observers were monitoring the election and would report back.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says the most likely summit outcome will be a recommendation that ministers be given power to act quickly against Zimbabwe if necessary after the election.

The ballot presents Mr Mugabe with the sternest test of his political life. He is facing a strong challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Blair urges Commonwealth summit to condemn Zimbabwe

 Last updated: 02-03-02, 06:18

The crisis in Zimbabwe is set to dominate a 54-nation Commonwealth summit
meeting which has opened in Australia.

The Commonwealth is split over whether to suspend Zimbabwe, where the run-up
to presidential elections on 9-10 March has been marred by political
violence. No decision on suspension is expected before the elections.

This morning, Britain’s Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair bowed to African
opposition against imposing immediate sanctions on Zimbabwe but urged the
Commonwealth to strongly condemn the political violence.

Commonwealth leaders began the four-day summit in Australia today urging
some of the world's poorest nations to join the "fight against terrorism,"
racism and religious intolerance.

They also called on the world's rich nations to adopt more humane
globalization policies to reduce the gap between rich and poor, which
provides fertile ground for political instability.

The 54-nation Commonwealth represents 1.7 billion people, about one third of
the world's population, but includes some of the poorest nations on earth
like Bangladesh and Tuvalu.

Toronto Star

Chretien hardens line on Zimbabwe

COOLUM, Australia (CP) — Zimbabwe should be suspended from the Commonwealth
if President Robert Mugabe can't manage to hold a fair election in a week's
time, Prime Minister Jean Chretien said.

But he urged other Commonwealth leaders Saturday not to take hasty action at
this weekend's summit of the international body.

"Even if we were to suspend them from the Commonwealth today, Mugabe would
carry on with his campaign," said Chretien.

Chretien favours waiting for the outcome of the March 9-10 election, in
which Mugabe has been accused of loading the dice against his opponents to
retain power.

Should that turn out to be true, Chretien said there would be no choice but
to suspend Zimbabwe from the 54-country Commonwealth a disciplinary action
used against several countries in the past in response to human-rights

"If the observers tell me it was an unfair election, that Mugabe had won —
had stolen the election type of report — suspension is clear in my mind,"
said Chretien.

The prime minister's comments came just as the Queen, visiting Australia on
a Golden Jubilee tour, was about to preside at opening ceremonies for the
four-day summit.

It was Chretien's toughest statement since reports first began to surface
that Mugabe — who is not attending the summit — was flouting human rights
and strong-arming political opponents in an effort to retain power.

Concern was heightened this week when Mugabe took the dramatic step of
charging Morgan Tsvangirai, his main political opponent, with treason —
although he is still allowed to contest the election.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has served notice he will press for
suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and Australian Prime Minister
John Howard, the host of the summit, has indicated he favours a similar

Britain has already joined other European Union countries in imposing
sanctions that include a cutoff of economic aid, a ban on travel to the EU
by Mugabe and his senior ministers and freezing of their assets in Europe.

Canada cut off new aid money last year, although about $12 million worth of
projects then under way were allowed to continue. Ottawa did not call the
move a sanction at the time but it amounted to punitive action for earlier
human-rights violations.

Chretien's position at the Commonwealth summit has been complicated by his
chairmanship of this year's G-8 meeting of leading economic powers, set for
Kananaskis, Alta., in June.

The prime minister has made African aid a major theme for that meeting and
was hoping to meet privately with several African leaders to lay the

The campaign could be undermined if the Commonwealth splits along geographic
and racial lines in its dealings with Mugabe.

Aside from Zimbabwe, the leaders hope to draft a statement of principles and
a co-operative action plan to deal with international terrorism.

The summit had been scheduled for last October but was postponed following
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and the subsequent war
in Afghanistan.

When the Commonwealth meeting was rescheduled, it was moved from the major
city Brisbane to Coolum, a resort community more noted for its sunshine and
surf than for high-level politics.

Some 4,000 police and 2,000 soldiers are in place and Australian air force
jets enforce a no-fly zone in a security operation aimed primarily at
deterring any terrorist threat.

A second goal was to ward off domestic protesters who might try to disturb
the deliberations of the leaders.

A number of groups, including anti-globalization activists,
environmentalists and opponents of restrictive Australian immigration and
refugee policies, were expected to turn out.

Advance estimates ranged from 500 to 2,000 demonstrators but authorities
expressed little concern about potential violence, saying they negotiated
deals with most groups to ensure order.

The riot squad is on hand if needed, said Chief Supt. Bob Watson of
Queensland state police. But they are not equipped with tear gas, rubber
bullets or water cannon, all of which were used in Quebec City last April at
the Summit of the Americas.

"We respect people's right to protest," said Queensland Premier Peter

"Hopefully, it will be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere."

Ministers Meet On Zimbabwe Violence

Saturday March 2, 2002 4:30 AM

COOLUM, Australia (AP) - Dozens of Commonwealth leaders gathered Saturday,
seeking ways to strengthen their hand in dealing with issues such as
terrorism and violence marring Zimbabwe's presidential elections.

Queen Elizabeth II formally opened Britain's largest gathering of world
leaders since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, presiding over a ceremony
featuring classical music and a welcome by an aboriginal tribe.

British and Australian officials say they'll press delegates to suspend
Zimbabwe from the 54-nation organization to protest widespread and brutal
attacks on opponents of President Robert Mugabe in the campaign for March
9-10 presidential elections.

But British Prime Minister Tony Blair conceded that the push was doomed to
fail because African nations were expected to line up behind Zimbabwe.
Mugabe was not at the meeting.

``What is happening there is completely unacceptable, an outrage in terms of
democracy,'' Blair said arriving in Australia late Friday.

Blair said he hoped the meeting would strongly condemn Mugabe's
administration and outline an action plan should observers rule the
elections are not free and fair.

The four-day meeting brought together some 40 government leaders from
Britain and its former colonies at a sprawling beachside resort, 800 miles
north of Sydney.

Security was heavy with more than 2,400 military personnel teamed up with
hundreds of police to patrol perimeter fences circling two hotels hosting
meetings while air force F/A 18 fighter jets patrolled in the air.

Australia also will use the meeting to push for a strong statement against
terrorism and will seek to move forward reforms aimed at giving the
organization more power to protect human rights and democracy in member

``The Commonwealth must move with the times if it is to remain relevant,''
the queen said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki urged strong action on terror.

``In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in the United States last
year we should ensure that the fight against terrorism is a common struggle
against each and every act of terror wherever it may occur,'' Mbeki said.

As delegates arrived, several hundred protesters gathered outside to air a
range of grievances, from Australia's treatment of asylum seekers to third
world debt and environmental issues.

Sydney Morning Herald

Decision on Zimbabwe to await poll
Saturday, March 2, 2002
By Craig Skehan and Michelle Grattan

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon yesterday signalled that
Commonwealth leaders will not suspend Zimbabwe before next weekend's
election - despite what he described as a "deteriorating" situation.

But the Prime Minister, John Howard, meanwhile toughened his rhetoric
against Zimbabwe, the knottiest issue facing the Commonwealth Heads of
Government meeting, which opens this morning.

In an interview with ABC Asia Pacific TV broadcast on Thursday night, he
said the Commonwealth should maintain the Harare principles on minimum
democratic standards.

"If the Harare principles are to mean something now and into the future,
they have to be applied in a fairly consistent fashion."


The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group discussed Zimbabwe at its meeting
yesterday, but Mr McKinnon was tight-lipped about what the group would put
to the leaders.

Officials said they would certainly consider ways of authorising the
Commonwealth to intervene in member states where threats to democracy fell
short of an armed coup.

One source said leaders would provide for new criteria which would be
applied to Zimbabwe after the March 9-10 election.

Zimbabwe's visiting opposition foreign policy spokesman, Tendai Biti, told
the Herald the Commonwealth "must give a warning" in anticipation that
President Robert Mugabe would steal the election and in anticipation there
would be "a breakdown in law and order".

Mr Biti said there were "precedents" for the international community to
intervene where a government lost control "or too much control results in
the genocide of innocent people".

It might also become necessary for the Commonwealth to help with urgent food
aid as tens of thousands were facing starvation because of economic
mismanagement and misrule.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was due to meet Mr Howard late last
night. Britain, like Australia, has taken a strong position on Zimbabwe, but
African nations have refused to go along with it.

Before leaving London, Mr Blair indicated Zimbabwe was unlikely to be
suspended this weekend.

His spokesman said although the Zimbabwe Government was prepared to inflict
suffering on its people and flout Commonwealth values,

it was "unrealistic' to expect CHOGM to take a decision to suspend Zimbabwe
just a few days before the elections were to be held.

Australia last hosted CHOGM in Melbourne in 1981. There are 54 Commonwealth
countries but Pakistan is suspended and thereby not eligible. All but two -
Grenada, and Antigua & Barbuda - of the 53 eligible countries are expected
to attend.

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* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *

1 March 2002 AFR 46/014/2002

Amnesty International is calling on the assembled Commonwealth leaders in
Coolum, Australia to engage constructively with the Zimbabwean authorities
about the future of human rights in that country after the presidential
election scheduled for 9 - 10 March 2002.

In a five-page appeal to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
(CHOGM) opening on 2 March 2002, the organization described the gathering as
"a unique chance for the international community to begin the process of
discussing with the Zimbabwean authorities the longer term implications of
the government's undermining of the independence of the police, the army,
the prison services, and the judicial system".  If the newly elected
government demonstrates the political will to rebuild respect for human
rights, Commonwealth states should aid human rights reforms.

Through a "win at all costs" campaign, the Zimbabwean authorities have
subverted the impartiality and professionalism of the criminal justice
system, including the laws, the courts, the police and the prisons, and
turned them into tools for political repression.  The police, for example,
far from investigating the state-sponsored violence in an impartial and
independent manner, have blocked those members of the ruling party and its
militias suspected of gross human rights violations from being brought to

In its December 2001 visit to Zimbabwe, Amnesty International delegates
interviewed-- under guarantees of anonymity-- senior ZANU-PF officials,
senior police officials and senior army officers.  They confirmed that the
police, army and the party were deliberately promoting killings, torture and
forcible displacement in a planned, state-coordinated program of widespread
human rights violations.  Dozens of interviews with victims confirmed what
Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations have been documenting extensively
for almost two years.  The present government is trying to retain power in
this month's presidential election at the cost of enormous human suffering.

The arbitrary detentions in February of two Zimbabwean members of parliament
and 16 other opposition officials illustrate the extent to which the court
system has been manipulated to defer to the wishes of President Mugabe, who
on at least three occasions denounced the opposition as "terrorists"
and named the defendants as guilty of the killing of an official of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association.
Amnesty International believes all 18 of those being prosecuted on
politically motivated charges will be prisoners of conscience if convicted
and imprisoned, and appeals to the Zimbabwean authorities to drop the
charges against the defendants because they appear to be based solely on
evidence extracted by torture.

This week's arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate for the
Movement for Multiparty Democracy, also appears to be politically motivated
in its timing.  While Amnesty International has not had the opportunity to
examine the video evidence used to justify his arrest, the judicial system
in Zimbabwe remains compromised by political manipulation.  There is no
effective, impartial mechanism in Zimbabwe for evaluating properly the
allegations that Morgan Tsvangirai was involved in an attempt to hire
individuals to assassinate the President.
Amnesty International therefore expresses doubts as to the fairness of his
arrest and further prosecution.

Regardless of which political candidate wins the election in less than 10
days' time, Amnesty International remains concerned that further human
rights violations will be carried out by the state or its militia.  We
therefore urge the Commonwealth leaders gathered at the CHOGM to clearly
communicate to President Robert Mugabe, and other senior Zimbabwean
government officials, that the human rights violations that are taking place
on a daily basis must be ended immediately.

If they demonstrate the political will to remedy the cycle of impunity,
assistance could be offered to the Zimbabwean authorities to help bring to
justice those who have so far avoided being prosecuted; compensate the
victims of those violations fairly; rebuild an impartial and independent
police and prisons service; repeal draconian legislation that has been put
in place recently to repress freedom of expression, assembly and
association; and entrench in the law the protection of basic human rights.

You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main text is not
altered in any way and both the header crediting Amnesty International and
this footer remain intact.  Only the list subscription message may be
To subscribe to amnesty-L, send a message to <> with
"subscribe amnesty-L" in the message body.  Visit <>
for information about Amnesty International and for other AI publications.
Contact if you need to get in touch with the
International Secretariat of Amnesty International.
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Sun, Mar 3 2002 8:07 AM AEDT

Postponed: CHOGM delegates have delayed debate over Zimbabwe.

CHOGM action against Zimbabwe considered unlikely

The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has conceded African nations are trying to delay any punitive action against Zimbabwe.

Commonwealth leaders will today attempt to reach a compromise on the sensitive issue.

Leaders today leave their advisers behind for the traditional Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) "retreat".

It is a chance for one-on-one informal discussions, as well as more formal bilateral talks.

The meeting's chairman and host, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, will be trying to reach a compromise between African nations which oppose punitive measures, and Britain, which has called for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth.

Mr Downer has confirmed African countries are not ready to move against Zimbabwe.

"There's much more of a mood amongst African nations to wait and see what the outcomes of the elections are," he said.

The issue of what to do about the political violence in Zimbabwe has split the ranks of the 54-nation Commonwealth.

But even British Prime Minister Tony Blair says it is unlikely CHOGM will deliver anything stronger than a written statement condemning political violence.

Mr Blair has lowered his expectations and now says he expects a strong joint statement condemning political violence in Zimbabwe rather than suspension.

He also wants a mechanism so that the Commonwealth can act if the looming elections are found to have been unfair or the Zimbabwean Government loses but refuses to give up.

With increasing political intimidation and violence in the lead up to Zimbabwe's elections, CHOGM is under pressure to follow the United States and the European Union and impose sanctions.


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has told an election rally his policy of reconciliation with his country's whites after independence was a mistake.

Speaking in the southern city of Bulawayo, Mr Mugabe said white Zimbabweans had turned against him by lobbying against changes to the constitution two years ago.

The constitutional changes would have allowed expropriation of white farmlands without compensation.

The comments came as campaigning in Zimbabwe's election enters its final week.


Yesterday Commonwealth leaders adopted an action plan to stamp out terrorism.

The plan was drafted by a special group set up by Secretary General Don McKinnon, to examine ways of helping Commonwealth nations implement UN resolutions on combating terrorism.

Mr Kibazo says the action plan covers legal and financial measures, as well as enhancing law enforcement in member countries.

Mr Howard has praised the Commonwealth's ability to contribute.

"The terrible events of September last year have driven home to the entire world, the importance of reaching out to one another, of respecting difference in race and religion and ethnic background," he said.

"No organisation has done that better than the Commonwealth."

Fiji under scrutiny

The Commonwealth is to maintain a watch on politics in Fiji.

CHOGM today noted Fiji's return to full membership, following its election in September.

The Commonwealth spokesman, Joel Kibazo, says the summit ordered the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to continue to monitor Fiji.

In particular, CMAG will particularly follow the court case by the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

"Heads heard a presentation on Fiji," Mr Kibazo said.

"Of course the fact that it had been on CMAG, and its return.

"But they also did say that CMAG should continue to monitor developments in Fiji.

"Particularly in view of the court action is currently proceeding."

Pakistan's suspension

The Commonwealth summit has continued Pakistan's suspension from membership because of its military regime.

The Commonwealth spokesman, Joel Kibazo, says the leaders noted General Musharraf's promise of a return to democracy but kept the ban in place.

"The debate on Pakistan was in the context of return to democracy and the road map for the return to democracy," he said.

"In that sense they noted the developments and the progress that has been made by General Musharraf.

"But they also decided Pakistan should remain suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth."

Future of Commonwealth at risk over Zimbabwe - Rudd
CANBERRA, March 3 AAP|Published: Sunday March 3, 9:58 AM

The future of the Commonwealth would become irrelevant if it failed to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe, Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said today.

African nations were yesterday unwilling to support sanctions against Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in response to the growing breakdown in democracy, media freedoms and the campaign against white farmers.

Commonwealth leaders were expected to decide the contentious issue today.

"I think this is a real truth test for the future of the Commonwealth," Mr Rudd told Channel Seven.

"The Commonwealth is often good at pomp and circumstance, now it's time for substance, and we have an application of substance pending in terms of the grave political situation in Zimbabwe today.

"There are plain actions which are available to the Commonwealth, within its own mechanisms, to send a clear message to the regime in Harare that what is going on there is unacceptable."

Mr Rudd said as host of CHOGM, Australia should take a leadership role and immediately impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"We should, as a separate national government, institute targeted sanctions now," he said.

"We should, secondly, argue for the Commonwealth to do the same at the leaders' meetings today."

Mr Rudd also said the Commonwealth should set up a trip-wire and automatically suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth if next weekend's electoral process is marred.

Election campaigning in Zimbabwe has been marred by violence as Robert Mugabe struggles to extend his 22-year rule against a tough challenge from former labor leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe's opposition spokeswoman Sekai Holland has warned that thousands would be killed if the Commonwealth took no action.

She said more than 100 people had been killed and more than 1,000 abducted in election-related violence.

The Commonwealth has sent a team of about 50 elections observers to monitor the Zimbabwe poll.


Ministers refuse to kick out Mugabe
By Barbie Dutter in Coolum and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 02/03/2002)

BRITAIN conceded yesterday that Zimbabwe will escape expulsion from the
Commonwealth as leaders gathered for the organisation's summit in Australia.

The reprieve came as President Robert Mugabe continued his war of words with
Tony Blair and told him to "go to hell".

Earlier Mr Blair had described Mr Mugabe's conduct of the presidential
election campaign, in which 24 murders have been recorded so far this year,
as "an outrage".

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group met to discuss Zimbabwe yesterday
but divisions between the eight foreign ministers represented on the body
resulted in a failure to agree on immediate suspension, which Britain

Instead, Zimbabwe will be slapped with little more than a stern statement,
pending the outcome of its election next weekend and a report from the
Commonwealth observer team covering the contest.

The ministers refused to disclose their decisions, which will be referred to
the heads of government today. But Lady Amos, who represented Britain at the
meeting, said: "It is not realistic to expect a decision on suspension (of
Zimbabwe) now."

Don McKinnon, Commonwealth secretary-general, admitted the situation in
Zimbabwe had worsened. "The general tenor of reporting is that the situation
is certainly not good. The situation is deteriorating."

Mr Mugabe is missing the summit for the first time in his 22-year rule and
will therefore avoid any possibility of coming face to face with Mr Blair.
Yesterday the Prime Minister described Mr Mugabe's actions as "completely
unacceptable, an outrage in terms of democracy".

Earlier, Mr Mugabe told a campaign rally that Mr Blair was "interfering" in
Zimbabwean sovereignty and added "but of course we say: 'Go to hell'. Go to
hell. Our people have decided and that is what matters to us.

"It's not the right or responsibility of the British to decide on our
elections. We don't decide on their own and why should they poke their pink
noses in our business?"

Mr Mugabe spoke as mobs of his supporters were responsible for yet more
violence. Scores of members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
were injured in the farming town of Marondera and Morgan Tsvangirai, the
party's presidential candidate, was forced to abandon another rally.

At least three opposition members were taken to hospital. One had the
letters "MDC" etched into his back with knives.

Mugabe tells Britain: you can go to hell

Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Saturday March 2, 2002
The Guardian

On the eve of the Commonwealth summit the Zimbabwean president, Robert
Mugabe, has lashed out at Tony Blair, telling him to "go to hell" for
criticising him in the Commons.

With one week to go before the presidential election, Mr Mugabe's invective
against Britain is growing more extreme by the day. He launched his latest
attack while campaigning in rural areas.

Responding to Mr Blair's criticism of the violence and repression Mr Mugabe
has used in his election campaign, the president said: "Go to hell. Our
people have decided, and that is what matters to us. It's not their [the
British government's] right or responsibility to decide on our elections. We
don't decide on their own, and why should they poke their pink noses in our

Speaking in the northern town of Mvurwi on Thursday, Mr Mugabe repeated
charges made by the state-owned Herald newspaper this week that the British
government was plotting to unleash violence in Zimbabwe after the elections.

The British government has rejected the charges as "total nonsense", but Mr
Mugabe persisted in claiming that Mr Blair was conspiring with former
Rhodesians and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to overthrow
his government.

"What is this latter-day Blair imperialism?" he said. "We will defeat Blair
on March 9 and 10. Blair will suffer defeat of his conscience, of his
intentions, of the machinations Britain has to this day been displaying in
favour of the MDC and against us." Mr Blair should "wash out his dirty
mouth", Mr Mugabe said.

The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had to cancel a rally in the
northern city of Marondera yesterday because the venue was surrounded by
armed and hostile police, soldiers and youth militia.

The city has seen particularly vicious state-sponsored violence against Mr
Tsvangirai's supporters. The independent Daily News yesterday carried a
front-page picture of a man whose back was carved with the initials "MDC" by
the youth militia. Two other men were similarly branded and beaten, and are
in the intensive care unit of the Marondera hospital.

The MDC said the charred body of one of their officials Newman Bhebhe was
discovered on Thursday, bringing the number of opposition party members who
have been killed in the past year to 107.

Zimbabwe is at the top of the agenda for the Commonwealth heads of
government summit which opens today in Australia.

The summit, which the Queen will open this afternoon at the Queensland beach
resort of Coolum, brings together more than 50 countries, almost all of them
at one time under British imperial rule.

There will be few formal speeches, and even fewer decisions. When the summit
ends on Tuesday, the list of measures agreed by the leaders will be tiny.

The ineffectiveness of the Commonwealth was underlined again yesterday when
the organisation's executive arm - the Commonwealth ministers' action group,
which is made up of eight foreign ministers - failed to reach an agreement
on punitive measures against Mr Mugabe.

Britain, Canada and Australia pressed for suspension and sanctions, but
these were blocked by Nigeria and Botswana. There will be further discussion
by leaders this weekend.

Further down the agenda is Pakistan, which was suspended from the
Commonwealth because of the military coup by President Pervez Musharraf. In
spite of his being welcomed back into the international fold by Washington
for his cooperation in the war in Afghanistan, the Commonwealth will refuse
to readmit the country until democratic elections are held.
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Three items that illustrate the sort of rumours and mind games stressing folk in Zimbabwe out right now.  Who knows what to believe?  - A time to be careful.

There are reports that due to the shortage of soap there are some people who are going around selling bathing soap that has traces of indelible ink (the ink used to identify those who would have voted in elections). These people are targeting urban areas which is the opposition party stronghold. If you buy this soap & use it you will not be able to cast your vote in the forthcoming elections because the traces of indelible ink will be detected at the polling station.
So please DO NOT BUY SOAP from street vendors !!!!!.

High placed sources have confirmed that the ruling party will organize youth brigades who will line up at strategic points to the polling stations. Their hands will be full of the indelible ink (remember this ink is colourless & can only be seen under ultra-violet light) & they will be offering you a goodwill handshake congratulating you on your decision to go & vote. You will be shocked to be denied the right the right to vote at the polling station because your hands will have traces of this ink. Once again urban areas are targeted & also they will use youths who are known in your neighborhood thereby making you not suspect anything.
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Mugabe opponents forced to campaign at dead of night

By a special correspondent in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe

03 March 2002

Thatched homes and bushes flash by, lit only by a glorious full moon as we speed north in the dead of night. Pamphlets spew out behind us and flutter wildly to the ground.

There are more than 30,000 fliers promoting Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the back. My companions are on the election trail for an opposition party so harassed by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government that it has mostly gone underground, using the cover of night to strew pamphlets, emails and a "whispering campaign" to reach voters with its messages.

More than 100 MDC rallies have been prohibited by the police, and many that have been held have been violently disrupted by government supporters who have for months also been campaigning at night – manning roadblocks or roaming from door to door, beating or harassing people who do not have Zanu-PF cards.

There have been tens of thousands of reported cases of violence and intimidation, and some 100 MDC supporters murdered, in the two years since Zanu-PF panicked at the prospect of losing power to a swelling opposition after two decades in power.

Matabeleland is an MDC stronghold, but there is still reason to fear intimidation. Our truck's numberplates are false, and the men tossing pamphlets are nervous. "If we come across another vehicle, duck so you can't be seen," says one. "If we get chased, hold on tight."

The province is home to the Ndebele, descendants of dissident Zulus who fled north from King Shaka's expanding empire in the 19th century. At a recent rally in Matabeleland, Mr Mugabe reportedly warned the Ndebele that if they voted against him they should "pack their bags" and go back to South Africa.

In the 1980s, Mr Mugabe sent in the brutal Fifth Brigade, which crushed dissent among the Ndebele minority at the cost of 20,000 lives. Surveys forecast that Mr Mugabe will win, at most, 30 per cent of the popular vote. Faced with loss of power and the collapse of a patronage system that has richly rewarded party loyalty with jobs, money and land, Zanu-PF is resorting to desperate measures.

Officials in two provinces are reported to have told villagers to line up behind their headmen at the poll "so that it would be known how they voted".

Everything is being done to make up the potential shortfall in votes, from the selective registration of voters to reducing the number of polling stations in MDC-supporting urban areas while increasing those in rural parts. The Electoral Supervisory Commission has been stuffed with security officials and the state-controlled broadcasting corporation is becoming ever more partisan.

While many Zimbabweans fear electoral manipulation may enable Mr Mugabe to squeak to victory, in Matabeleland people are confident that he will finally be forced to retire.

In some areas, Zanu-PF has run out of membership cards due to soaring demand from people who want the protection they bring, but nobody is fooled. "I managed to get one," said a businessman in Bulawayo. "But even the guy selling them supports the MDC."

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

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Zimbabwe Rivals Gear Up for Another Showdown

March 2

— By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main political opponents face another election showdown in the nation's capital on Sunday, after a bitter declaration from President Robert Mugabe that racial reconciliation had failed.

"...We made a mistake when we showed mercy to those who are hard-hearted, permanently hard-hearted," Mugabe told supporters on Saturday in the southern city of Bulawayo, a stronghold of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"They are voting not for us but against us. Voting and biting the hand that was feeding them. Then I say to myself never again, never, never ever again shall we act the fool."

State-run media in Zimbabwe presented as a victory signs that Commonwealth leaders meeting in Australia had dropped plans to impose sanctions on the former British colony -- at least until the March 9-10 presidential election was over.

African Commonwealth leaders had said it was impossible to talk of imposing punitive action ahead of the vote.

But in Harare, the Commonwealth election observer group accused state broadcaster ZBC of giving a distorted account of remarks by the group's leader, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former Nigerian head of state, after he met Mugabe early on Saturday.

" deplores this crude attempt to compromise the integrity of its chairperson and of the group as a whole," a statement said after ZBC news bulletins quoted Abubakar appearing to criticize the media for exaggerating the level of campaign violence.

"The Commonwwealth Observer Group has received credible reports of violence, met with victims of violence, witnessed several incidents of violence and, indeed, has itself been a victim of election-related violence," the statement said, without stating whether the MDC, Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, or both, were responsible for the violence.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai staked his claim to bring change to the country with accusations that Mugabe had plunged it into its worst economic crisis in history, bringing starvation to its 13 million people.

"No single individual should claim the monopoly of having liberated this country -- we all have brothers and sisters who perished during the liberation war," he told a rally on Saturday held just a few kilometers (miles) away from Mugabe's.

"The tragedy of our liberation struggle is that the so-called liberators, the ruling elite, have betrayed the objectives and dreams of that liberation struggle."

Both Bulawayo rallies went peacefully, in contrast to an escalating cycle of violence seen over the past year. The MDC says at least 107 of its supporters and activists have died in political violence over the past two years.


On Sunday, the two leaders go head-to-head for the second consecutive day, at separate rallies in the nation's capital.

In a rare sign of humility, the 78-year-old president acknowledged on Saturday that he was facing a tough challenge after 22 unbroken years in power.

"We must win this election, we have to win this election... It is a difficult moment, a moment for a vital decision by the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

Mugabe has waged a virulent campaign against the white minority, including the seizure of white-owned farms, which he says must be done to right the wrongs of the colonial past.

Diplomats estimate that only about 70,000 white citizens are left out of around 280,000 at independence in 1980.

Critics allege the land seizures are a smokescreen to deflect attention from a collapsing economy. They also say it has disrupted commercial farming and contributed to a chronic food shortage that has left 500,000 people in need of food aid.

The official Herald newspaper, meanwhile, reported that Ahmed Ebrahim, Zimbabwe's last non-black Supreme Court judge who presided over Wednesday's ruling had quit.

Ebrahim could not be reached for comment.

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