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."
prize gesture toward pluralism this week has been to charge
leader and two senior opposition officials with plotting to
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
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
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
condemnation from outside might yet get through to him.
Inside the terror camp
Zimbabwe has banned the BBC but John Sweeney spent
two weeks there, secretly
filming witnesses to torture and mass
Saturday March 2, 2002
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
twitch of a curtain. The gardener, who is keeping watch at the front of
safe house in the cathedral-quiet white suburbs of Bulawayo, turns and
a Queen Mum wave of the hand. It's a neighbour returning from
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."
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
In the middle of the camp is an ornamental pond in the shape of
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
of the murdered and dumped the bones elsewhere, leaving the holes
ground. But the grave-tamperers didn't even bother to fill in the
A motorbike coughed in the near distance. Our two
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
the sight of his one remaining eye. There is one problem with
against him. Delini was 500km away on the day that he was allegedly
his double murder in Bulawayo. Among his alibi witnesses are 20 MPs
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
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
To interview the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, was
His home is watched by the CIO. Last June they deported me for the
working for the BBC. They had marked my card on that trip so the
journey was a bit dodgy. Had the police stopped a car going
Tsvangirai's home a few days ago and opened the boot they would have
surprised to see me huddled up, mumbling into a night-vision
The car stopped, the boot opened. It was Tsvangirai. They have
assassinate him twice; shot at him and charged him with treason. He
felt threatened, not afraid, and it was support of the ordinary
kept him going. He only lost his composure once, when I asked him
reaction to the murder of Tichoana Chiminya, his election agent for
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
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
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
But will the election be fair? Or, rather, how unfair is the
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
Chiminya. The sole survivor, Makombe, told us that Mwale blocked
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
Makombe kicked his way out of the window on the other side of the
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
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.
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
Burning, reported by John Sweeney and produced by Will Daws, will
in the Correspondent slot tomorrow night on BBC2, at 7.15pm.
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
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
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.
standards were low, but we were able to feed ourselves and had an
base that provided about 90 per cent of what we consumed on a
The economy was highly diversified, if protected and inefficient
areas and we had 120 000 men under arms from 4 hostile
In the first decade of independence, Zimbabwe made great strides
– the white
population declined at first and then started growing again,
grew steadily and there was great progress in education and
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
On the down side we made little progress in the field of
practices, the constitution was revised to make it more open to
those who held power and corruption in many areas of government
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.
first a faithful tool of Zanu policies, the Trade Union movement
gained strength until by 1995 it was the main civil organisation
country and the only group with the structures capable of raising
about how the country was being governed. It all started in 1995
Trade Unions joined with other civic groups and set up the
Constitutional Assembly to promote the development of a new
with an emphasis on greater democracy. This initiative was
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
"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
But life was never the same for Zanu PF – many of their old
defeated and left the national scene, the new Parliament had
all these young
lawyers and economists and unionists who refused to lie down
as the old Parliament had done for 20 years. Questions were
corruption exposed and suddenly the fact that Zanu was no longer
became apparent. In particular, Mugabe started to look more and
and less and less in charge of national affairs.
Zanu PF knew they were now in a fight for their continued
national affairs and that they were hoisted on their own
petard in the form
of a constitution of their own design that gave the
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.
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
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
The MDC put together a network of groups to work on policy in
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
Detailed policies were evolved and agreed and then actual planning
for a new
era in Zimbabwe life was undertaken. Political structures were
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
respect and recognition as a substantive alternative to
At the same time efforts to reform Zanu PF were still born. Its
changed in personalities but not in character. In fact they lost
some of the
better characters to age and indisposition or simply disaffection
silence. Some did their political calculations and concluded that Mugabe
finished and they quietly prepared for a new dispensation in Zanu PF
the presidential elections. Mbeki and other African leaders tried to
reform in Zanu but were rewarded with Jonathan Moyo and
On the ground the battle was joined. Zanu used every trick in
the book and a
few they invented themselves. They infiltrated MDC, paid
threatened individuals and families. They ruined businesses and
favors from those who they perceived as being on the other
Assassinations were planned and carried out – in full view and with
disdain for the law. The farming community was targeted and the land
taken out of cold storage and made center stage. The rules for the
were reengineered and key voter groups that were perceived as
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
Now it’s all over – in 7 days we as a nation go to the polls. Many
we would never get here. 15 months ago a political analyst advised
that it’s best option was a March 2002 election with Mugabe as the
candidate. We are now there, bloodied but not bowed in any way. Ready
take power and deliver on our promises but most of all to give notice
political despots everywhere, that once a people has decided that enough
enough, it takes more than a few killings and intimidation to stop
process of change. Providing we can supervise the poll, it’s going to be
landslide and I have no doubts that a peaceful transition to a new era
then be possible.
Bulawayo, 1st March 2002
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
leave or "face the consequences". They did not leave and the
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
call Jenni for more info.
Background info from Thursdays Sit
Wedza – the robbery of the workshop at Igudu last week during
absence, it now comes to light the entire workshop was cleaned
including a motorbike, welder, compressor and gas welder. The farm
went to obtain fuel this morning and was stopped and the driver told
fuel belonged to the Government. The owner was told he must be off the
28.2.02. and he must go and see the DA if he wants an extension to stay
the farm. The settlers are demanding the owner brings back his
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
Jenni Williams Mobile (Code +263) 91 300 456 or 11 213
(+2639) 72546 Fax 63978
Visit our news
(On behalf of the Commercial Farmers Union)
evictions have reached alarming proportions in the Chivhu
Mashonaland East, with over 21 farmers reporting incidents of
labour demands and threatened or actual evictions of workers
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
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
Gumbo, currently on remand on a charge of public violence.
The farms are
being targeted irrespective of their legal status in the
compulsory acquisition. The modus operandi has been to instruct
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
vacate in fear of their lives. One of the affected farmers is a
black commercial farmer who recently won a court order barring
Member of Parliament from disrupting the farming operations on
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
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
dismantled my security fence, surrounded the house and after several
they were able to smash the locks on the front door and gain entry
house. Since they were armed with axes and sticks and since there
no response from the police, I was forced, single-handedly, to
family. I discharged a firearm into the ceiling to frighten away
advancing mob. When the group retreated I followed them outside
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 house is unsecured and domestic animals will have to fend
We are unable to return to the farm at this time.”
of extortion in the district began a fortnight ago when war veteran
Madaka', apparently operating under instructions from Padera,
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
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.
official, commenting on Statutory Instrument 6 of 2002 said, “The
SI 6 is to swing the burden of terminal benefits due to workers
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
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
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
were able to get most of their family off the farm for safety
“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
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
stream of war vets whom we had to feed.”
O’Neil ran out of cash on Monday and on Tuesday had to borrow money
various sources and sell cattle to complete the payout. Members of the
insisted on observing each employee receiving their
“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
In the meantime, Mr O’Neil was instructed to seek
permission from Padera to
remain in his home.
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."
developments in the Chivhu area, Commercial Farmers' Union
Cloete deplored the lack of police response and the lack of
afforded to the affected farmers and farm workers.
Ends 1st March
For more information, please contact Jenni Williams
263 – 91 300 456 or 263 -11 213 885
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Isn't this applicable to all Zimbabweans? We owe it
to ourselves. Get out and vote so that we can stand proudly
6 to go
----- Original Message -----
Sent: 02 March 2002 09:16
Subject: My letter to church leaders in Zimbabwe
A Pastor’s call to all Church leaders
Fellow office bearers in Christ’s Church, we stand together at one
most critical times in our nation’s history and a vast majority
Zimbabweans are looking to us for moral guidance. If we, however, refuse
give direction by failing to call wickedness by its name now, then we
not be able to call anything wicked in the future. The issue facing us
not "party politics", but morality, i.e., that righteous behaviour
expects from the least of us to the greatest, since the universal
of truth and justice have been written on the heart of every
Morality is inseparable from the religious beliefs we profess, thus
ignore the immorality that has been thrust into our faces, is to deny
religion and faith. What do we become if we, who are meant to be
standard bearers of truth and justice, refuse to clearly distinguish
morality and immorality with respect to the known activities of
presidential candidate? If we as church leaders in these perilous times,
unwilling to call immorality what it is, then we will have no basis
justifying the existence of our office afterwards. For us to suggest (by
silence), that it is a moral option for our congregation members to vote
a candidate whose policies and achievements include genocide,
dismantling of our judicial system, the perversion of justice, the raping
our economy, the disintegration of the rule of law and the use of
terror and lies, means that we will have no basis for ever calling
person in the history of the world, immoral. If we act as though we have
responsibility to exhort our congregations about the obvious and
immorality of a particular presidential candidate, we will be
immorality of that candidate whom we are afraid to expose—our
say evil is acceptable. As ministers, we cannot act as if
irrelevant in this issue, without making our own calling and
irrelevant. To attempt to be neutral in the presence of blatant
and oppression, is not a sign of Godliness, but of perversion.
never has and never can attempt to be neutral or remain silent in
of wickedness. If we cast aside morality in this context, then how
insist upon it in any area of our existence ever
Therefore, I implore you all, by the grace and mercy of God, to
standard of truth and justice and speak out for the oppressed,
widows, for the orphans and the helpless—in other words, to uplift
Name. If we, as leaders in Christ’s Church, refuse to speak now,
history will rightly regard us as nothing but hirelings (John 10:12,13).
we fail in our responsibilities at this decisive time, we will have
ministry worth preserving. Moreover, when the leaders of Christ’s
value their lives more than righteousness, be assured, evil will
Fellow officers, the cross-roads are before us and the nation awaits
counsel, but to make an unclear sound on the trumpet in the heat of
battle, is to fail.
Your fellow servant in Christ’s eternal
Rev. Dr. Derek Carlsen
P.O. Box 3348, Paulington
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
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. http://africantears.netfirms.com
200 Join Zimbabwe Protest Held In UK
Saturday March 2, 2002 3:37
Around 200 exiled Zimbabweans and pro-democracy activists have
London to call on President Robert Mugabe to allow free and fair
The demonstration came as Tony Blair is due to recommend
from the Commonwealth at the organisation's summit in
Outside the Zimbabwean High Commission, protesters chanted
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.
Chamboko, 30, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, said he had
threatened with death by Mr Mugabe's henchmen if he continued with his
as an activist with the opposition Movement for Democratic
"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
The hunger strike is aimed at pressurising the Commonwealth to
issue warrants for the arrest of Mr Mugabe, suspend Zimbabwe from
Commonwealth, ban the export of luxury goods to the country and send
human rights monitors to all regions to report on intimidation and
Zimbabwe's Mugabe Says Reconciliation Was
— By Cris Chinaka and Emelia
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
election rally on Saturday that his worst mistake on assuming power
was to extend the hand of reconciliation to "die-hard racists" who
"...We made a mistake when we showed mercy to those who
permanently hard-hearted," Mugabe told thousands of
supporters in the
southern city of Bulawayo, a stronghold of the opposition
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
No violence was reported
at either venue. The city has been the scene of
past clashes between the
Mugabe, who led the former renegade British colony of
independence in 1980, said it had been a mistake to leave the
land in the hands of the white minority.
"We are wiser
now. There's been a lesson. The lesson that we made a mistake.
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.
allege the land seizure is a smokescreen to deflect attention
collapsing economy. They also say it has disrupted commercial farming
contributed to a chronic food shortage that had left 500,000 people in
of food aid.
OPPOSITION PLEDGES CHANGE
"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
must confirm a resounding defeat for this regime," he
His speech was disrupted when a military helicopter circled 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
International involvement in the poll also neared a climax as a
summit in Australia considered what to do about the southern
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
But African Commonwealth leaders on Saturday defied Britain's
call for the
organization to deliver Mugabe an ultimatum to hold free
elections or face
Speaking at the biennial summit,
several African heads of state said it was
too soon to talk of action before
Ghana's President John Kufuor told reporters the idea of
sanctions was "too radical to think of right now."
ELECTION OBSERVERS WITHDRAWN
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
president assured the chairman about the security of the observers and
that they were free to go wherever they wish," said mission spokesman
"The chairman raised some issues of concern to the observer
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
Among other things, the law stripped millions of Zimbabweans
of their voting rights. It is now unclear if the voter
will have to begin again.
non-black Supreme Court judge, who presided over Wednesday's
quit, the official Herald newspaper reported on Saturday.
Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the paper that Ahmed Ebrahim, a
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.
Another Judge Quits In Zimbabwe
Saturday March 2, 2002
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - A Supreme Court judge has quit the
bench, joining a
growing list of resignations by independent-minded members
of the judiciary
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
The ruling was considered a major blow to President Robert
government ahead of the March 9-10 elections. Determined to remain
after 22 years of autocratic rule, Mugabe has tried to push
legislation aimed at squashing dissent ahead of the
Ebrahim is a Zimbabwean of Indian descent and was the last
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
Justice ministry officials said Ebrahim submitted a letter of
stating he would be taking leave before retiring from the court
Ebrahim is the fifth senior judge to quit in the past
Among senior judges to have left the bench recently is former Chief
Anthony Gubbay. He was forced to take early retirement last July
government warned him and other judges they would not be protected
ruling party militants, who stormed the Supreme Court in December
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
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down the General Laws
passed by the ruling party in January.
The ruling said
the act was improperly pushed through Parliament and
and voters rights. It nullified sweeping powers
given to state electoral
officials and restrictions on election observers
and party polling
It also overruled an amendment giving the state sole power to
election monitors and allowed church and other independent
groups to deploy
monitors at voting and counting stations.
the government expanded the Supreme Court bench from five to
eight judges, in
an apparent bid to pack the highest court in the country
Gubbay's successor, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, has been
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
The opposition narrowly lost parliamentary elections in June
Letter to the Editor:
The Zimbabwe Independent
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
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
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
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
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
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
As Commonwealth leaders met in Australia for their biennial
African states led a host of poorer nations warning against
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
"That is too radical to think of right now," Ghana's President John
told reporters when asked if the Commonwealth should consider
Another southern African leader told
Reuters: "The Commonwealth is not a
police force," declaring that even
discussing action before the Zimbabwe
ballot was "premature."
African leader, in a veiled criticism of British Prime Minister Tony
repeated public attacks on Mugabe, told the news agency that the
should be conducting quiet diplomacy instead of "pouring petrol
The official position -- that action against Mugabe had been
blocked -- was
summed up by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander
He told reporters: "A number of Commonwealth countries have made
that this issue of suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth
only be decided after the election process is completed."
had argued for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the
accusing Mugabe of orchestrating a campaign of intimidation
political opponents to ensure his re-election.
Blair called on
the group of 54 nations -- mainly ex-British colonies -- to
"total abhorrence" of Mugabe's actions and to set up a mechanism
against Zimbabwe if Commonwealth observers report
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
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
Blair said: "There is a disagreement here about tactics,
because some of the
African countries feel it is wrong to suspend Zimbabwe at
"I think the real test for the Commonwealth is after the
election, if those
observers report that, as we have been reading, there has
violence and intimidation. If Mr Mugabe were to win in those
think it would be essential for the Commonwealth to act and
Blair was backed by the foreign affairs
spokesman of Britain's Liberal
Democrats, Menzies Campbell who said: "This
could be a defining moment for
"If Zimbabwe can
breach the obligation to respect human rights and to fulfil
principles the foundations of the Commonwealth will be
"Even as a `talking shop' its relevance will be severely
Both the European Union and the United States have announced
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
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
Mugabe accuses Blair of backing Tsvangirai, who denies the
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
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
Mugabe, whose ruling ZANU-PF party lost Bulawayo to the
for Democratic Change in 2000 parliamentary elections,
supporters at the city's Barbour Fields stadium.
than five kilometres away, MDC challenger Tsvangirai was to address
"We are entering this election under protest because the
conditions are not
ideal, but if we have an MDC victory that may confirm that
determined to exercise their rights and deliver change,"
Reuters after he arrived by plane in the city for his
The state-run Chronicle newspaper reported on Saturday that a
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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 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
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
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)
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
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.
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
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
However, statistics given by the police commissioner Augustine
Chihuri evidently shows that media are under reporting violence.
(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.
Friday, 1 March 2002 20:39
Subject :ZIMBABWE NEWS
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
Mugabe for another 6 years is just not something they want to
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
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
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
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
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"
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.
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'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.
Morgan Tsvangirai discusses his race against Zimbabwe’s Robert
Stop the Haemorrhage
The presidential candidate
RAATH: Western opinion is now strongly against Mugabe. Do you think it
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?
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?
unsustainable and we will withdraw.
Do you believe the military would overturn a Tsvangirai victory?
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
If Mugabe wins, by whatever means, what future does the country face?
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
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.
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
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.
"There is a disagreement here about tactics, because some of the
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
the election in Zimbabwe, the Commonwealth observers report there
malpractice and intimidation during the election, then it's essential
take action against Zimbabwe if Mr Mugabe is still in power."
"I think the real test for the Commonwealth is after the election,
observers report that, as we have been reading, there has been
violence and intimidation. If Mr Mugabe were to win in those
think it would be essential for the Commonwealth to act and
act by suspending
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
He added: "I think there is no doubt at all there should be a
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
Story filed: 10:27 Saturday 2nd March 2002
Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 04:21 GMT
Commonwealth split over Zimbabwe
The ceremony opened with a folklore
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.
Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) is being held in Coolum, a
holiday resort north of Brisbane.
The Commonwealth over past years has been a staunch upholder
of democratic values
Prime Minister John Howard
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".
Trumpeters signalled the start of the summit with a procession of presidents,
prime ministers and other representatives of states from every corner of the
The Australian hosts welcomed their guests with displays of Aboriginal and
other Australian folklore, beginning with dancers from the local Gubbi Gubbi
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
CHOGM is the largest gathering of world leaders since
But President Mbeke, the outgoing Commonwealth Chairman, emphasised different
issues, like the struggle against racism and against poverty and
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
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.
The UK prime minister is pressing for a strongly-worded statement by
"All the countries concerned believe in the principle of fair elections," Mr
Blair told the BBC. "The statement will strongly condemn the violence in
"I think it's abundantly clear that if there were free
and fair elections the opposition would win," Mr Blair added.
Blair faces opposition from African
Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon said the situation in Zimbabwe
"Certainly there is evidence from a number of international organisations
that it is much more uncomfortable there than it was during the June 2000
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
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
This morning, Britain’s Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair bowed
opposition against imposing immediate sanctions on Zimbabwe but
Commonwealth to strongly condemn the political
Commonwealth leaders began the four-day summit in Australia
some of the world's poorest nations to join the "fight against
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
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.
Chretien hardens line on Zimbabwe
(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
"Even if we were to suspend them from the Commonwealth today,
carry on with his campaign," said Chretien.
favours waiting for the outcome of the March 9-10 election, in
has been accused of loading the dice against his opponents to
Should that turn out to be true, Chretien said there would be no
to suspend Zimbabwe from the 54-country Commonwealth a
used against several countries in the past in response to
"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,"
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
was Chretien's toughest statement since reports first began to surface
Mugabe — who is not attending the summit — was flouting human rights
strong-arming political opponents in an effort to retain power.
was heightened this week when Mugabe took the dramatic step of
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
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.
minister has made African aid a major theme for that meeting and
to meet privately with several African leaders to lay
The campaign could be undermined if the Commonwealth
splits along geographic
and racial lines in its dealings with
Aside from Zimbabwe, the leaders hope to draft a statement of
a co-operative action plan to deal with international
The summit had been scheduled for last October but was
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and
the subsequent war
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
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
deterring any terrorist threat.
A second goal was to ward
off domestic protesters who might try to disturb
the deliberations of the
A number of groups, including anti-globalization
environmentalists and opponents of restrictive Australian
refugee policies, were expected to turn out.
estimates ranged from 500 to 2,000 demonstrators but authorities
little concern about potential violence, saying they negotiated
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.
people's right to protest," said Queensland Premier
"Hopefully, it will be conducted in a peaceful
Ministers Meet On Zimbabwe Violence
Saturday March 2,
2002 4:30 AM
COOLUM, Australia (AP) - Dozens of Commonwealth leaders
seeking ways to strengthen their hand in dealing with
issues such as
terrorism and violence marring Zimbabwe's presidential
Queen Elizabeth II formally opened Britain's largest gathering
leaders since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, presiding over a
featuring classical music and a welcome by an aboriginal
British and Australian officials say they'll press delegates to
Zimbabwe from the 54-nation organization to protest widespread and
attacks on opponents of President Robert Mugabe in the campaign for
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
``What is happening there is completely unacceptable, an outrage
in terms of
democracy,'' Blair said arriving in Australia late
Blair said he hoped the meeting would strongly condemn
administration and outline an action plan should observers rule
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.
heavy with more than 2,400 military personnel teamed up with
police to patrol perimeter fences circling two hotels hosting
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
Commonwealth must move with the times if it is to remain relevant,''
South African President Thabo Mbeki urged strong action on
``In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in the United
year we should ensure that the fight against terrorism is a
against each and every act of terror wherever it may occur,''
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
March 2, 2002
By Craig Skehan and Michelle Grattan
Secretary-General Don McKinnon yesterday signalled that
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
In an interview with ABC Asia Pacific TV broadcast on Thursday
said the Commonwealth should maintain the Harare principles on
"If the Harare principles are to mean
something now and into the future,
they have to be applied in a fairly
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group discussed Zimbabwe at its
yesterday, but Mr McKinnon was tight-lipped about what the group
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
Mr Biti said there were "precedents" for the international
intervene where a government lost control "or too much control
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
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
Before leaving London, Mr Blair indicated Zimbabwe was unlikely to
suspended this weekend.
His spokesman said although the Zimbabwe
Government was prepared to inflict
suffering on its people and flout
it was "unrealistic' to expect CHOGM to take a
decision to suspend Zimbabwe
just a few days before the elections were to be
Australia last hosted CHOGM in Melbourne in 1981. There are 54
countries but Pakistan is suspended and thereby not eligible.
All but two -
Grenada, and Antigua & Barbuda - of the 53 eligible
countries are expected
* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of
1 March 2002 AFR
Amnesty International is calling on the assembled
Commonwealth leaders in
Coolum, Australia to engage constructively with the
about the future of human rights in that country after
election scheduled for 9 - 10 March 2002.
five-page appeal to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
opening on 2 March 2002, the organization described the gathering as
unique chance for the international community to begin the process
discussing with the Zimbabwean authorities the longer term implications
the government's undermining of the independence of the police, the
the prison services, and the judicial system". If the newly
government demonstrates the political will to rebuild respect for
rights, Commonwealth states should aid human rights
Through a "win at all costs" campaign, the Zimbabwean
subverted the impartiality and professionalism of the
system, including the laws, the courts, the police and the
turned them into tools for political repression. The police,
far from investigating the state-sponsored violence in an
independent manner, have blocked those members of the ruling
party and its
militias suspected of gross human rights violations from being
In its December 2001 visit to Zimbabwe, Amnesty
interviewed-- under guarantees of anonymity-- senior
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
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'
Amnesty International believes all 18 of those being prosecuted
politically motivated charges will be prisoners of conscience if
and imprisoned, and appeals to the Zimbabwean authorities to drop
charges against the defendants because they appear to be based solely
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
mechanism in Zimbabwe for evaluating properly the
allegations that Morgan
Tsvangirai was involved in an attempt to hire
individuals to assassinate the
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
If they demonstrate the political will to remedy the cycle
assistance could be offered to the Zimbabwean authorities to
help bring to
justice those who have so far avoided being prosecuted;
victims of those violations fairly; rebuild an impartial and
police and prisons service; repeal draconian legislation that has
in place recently to repress freedom of expression, assembly
association; and entrench in the law the protection of basic human
may repost this message onto other sources provided the main text is
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Sun, Mar 3 2002 8:07 AM AEDT
Postponed: CHOGM delegates have delayed debate over
CHOGM action against Zimbabwe considered unlikely
The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has conceded
African nations are trying to delay any punitive action against
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
constitutional changes would have allowed expropriation of white farmlands
The comments came as campaigning in Zimbabwe's
election enters its final week.
Commonwealth leaders adopted an action plan to stamp out terrorism.
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
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
"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
"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.
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
"Heads heard a presentation on Fiji," Mr Kibazo
"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
"Particularly in view of the court action is currently
summit has continued Pakistan's suspension from membership because of its
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.
that sense they noted the developments and the progress that has been made by
"But they also decided Pakistan should remain
suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth."
Future of Commonwealth at risk over Zimbabwe -
CANBERRA, March 3 AAP|Published: Sunday March 3, 9:58
The future of the Commonwealth would become irrelevant if it failed to impose
sanctions against Zimbabwe, Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said
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
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
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
conceded yesterday that Zimbabwe will escape expulsion from the
as leaders gathered for the organisation's summit in Australia.
reprieve came as President Robert Mugabe continued his war of words with
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".
Ministerial Action Group met to discuss Zimbabwe yesterday
between the eight foreign ministers represented on the body
resulted in a
failure to agree on immediate suspension, which
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.
ministers refused to disclose their decisions, which will be referred to
heads of government today. But Lady Amos, who represented Britain at
meeting, said: "It is not realistic to expect a decision on suspension
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
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
unacceptable, an outrage in terms of democracy".
Mr Mugabe told a campaign rally that Mr Blair was "interfering" in
sovereignty and added "but of course we say: 'Go to hell'. Go to
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
Mr Mugabe spoke as mobs of his supporters were responsible for
violence. Scores of members of the opposition Movement for
were injured in the farming town of Marondera and Morgan
party's presidential candidate, was forced to abandon another
At least three opposition members were taken to hospital. One had
letters "MDC" etched into his back with knives.
Mugabe tells Britain: you can go to hell
Andrew Meldrum in
Saturday March 2, 2002
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
With one week to go before the presidential election, Mr
against Britain is growing more extreme by the day. He
launched his latest
attack while campaigning in rural
Responding to Mr Blair's criticism of the violence and repression
has used in his election campaign, the president said: "Go to hell.
people have decided, and that is what matters to us. It's not their
British government's] right or responsibility to decide on our
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
"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
The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had to cancel a rally in
northern city of Marondera yesterday because the venue was surrounded
armed and hostile police, soldiers and youth militia.
The city has
seen particularly vicious state-sponsored violence against Mr
supporters. The independent Daily News yesterday carried a
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
Zimbabwe is at the top of the agenda for the Commonwealth heads
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
Britain, Canada and Australia pressed for suspension and
these were blocked by Nigeria and Botswana. There will be
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.
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
1. INDELIBLE INK
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
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.
So please NO GOODWILL
HANDSHAKES UNTIL YOU CAST YOUR VOTE !!!!
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
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
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
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.
Zimbabwe Rivals Gear Up for Another Showdown
— 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
"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
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.
"The...group 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
"The tragedy of our liberation struggle is that the so-called liberators, the
ruling elite, have betrayed the objectives and dreams of that liberation
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.
TSVANGIRAI, MUGABE HEAD-ON-HEAD AGAIN
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
"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
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.