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

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Sydney Morning Herald

For the common good, don't wimp out

By Michelle Grattan

If Commonwealth leaders set up a group to monitor Zimbabwe, John Howard
could very quickly find his new role as Commonwealth Chairman particularly

The Commonwealth is split on Zimbabwe. That's why there was no chance of
getting it suspended before next weekend's poll.

The big question is whether, if Robert Mugabe holds power and Commonwealth
observers find the election - as they must - unfree and unfair, there will
be a common will in the Commonwealth to do what already should have been

The group being talked about to look at the situation would have on it
Howard plus the South African and Nigerian presidents. If the Africans
remained reluctant to act strongly against Zimbabwe, that would put Howard
in a very awkward position, both as Prime Minister of Australia and
Commonwealth chair.

It's an irony that the Commonwealth statement on minimum democratic
standards, which Zimbabwe is so conspicuously flouting, was crafted at a
CHOGM in that country and is called the Harare Declaration. Zimbabwe has not
only become a disgrace to itself but an embarrassment to the African section
of the Commonwealth as a whole.

While many African states disapprove of what's happening there, they are
reluctant to take the ultimate step of suspension, not just because of
regional solidarity but also because of Mugabe. These leaders feel a
particular identification with Mugabe, who was once a hero as a freedom

For President Obasanjo, Mugabe is a friend of long standing. Obasanjo has
been obviously trying to influence him. But the Nigerian leader, the single
most important African figure on the issue, is yet to be willing to take the
next step.

How it handles Zimbabwe after next weekend, if there is a Mugabe win, will
be the most important test the Commonwealth has faced for some years.

At this CHOGM, it's talking about how to be more relevant for the new
century. If it is not tough with Zimbabwe, all this talk will be for nought.
It will have wimped out.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Fresh Commonwealth bid to suspend Zimbabwe

By Michelle Grattan in Coolum

Commonwealth leaders may set up a heads of government group, which would
include the Prime Minister, John Howard, to consider suspending Zimbabwe
after it holds elections next weekend.

Others in the group, being discussed at the Commonweath Heads of Government
Meeting at Coolum today, would be South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and
Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The leaders would be able to suspend Zimbabwe if the election was judged not
to be free and fair and not to represent the views of the people.

However, with two African leaders in the group, it could be difficult to get

Australia and Britain lost the battle for immediate suspension before the
leaders assembled. African countries have resented Zimbabwe even being
discussed. Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa lashed out yesterday, saying
he hoped the retreat discussion would be "balanced enough not to influence
the [election] result either way.

"I am hoping that if we discuss or analyse or pass information it will not
be aimed at ... rooting for anyone, any one side, because that would be
pre-empting the prerogative for sovereign right of the people of Zimbabwe to
make an unfettered choice about their leader and their government."

Mr Mkapa said the whole discussion was premature. "The scene is unfolding in
Zimbabwe. It is not unfolding in Coolum."

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Helen Clark, said her country would have
preferred Zimbabwe to have been suspended earlier this year. New Zealand
would now want "a very swift review of Zimbabwe's status" after the

As soon as leaders met for their first executive session on Saturday, Mr
Howard had Zimbabwe referred to the retreat to allow horse trading rather
than being dealt with at the full session.

Australia has been trying to have a role retained for the Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) which has dealt with Zimbabwe over recent
months. Britain, which is a member of this group, is strongly in favour of

If the leadership group goes ahead and is confined to the three members
suggested, Mr Howard could find himself in a challenging position.

He would be a member of the group because he will be chairman of the
Commonwealth until next year's CHOGM. Mr Mbeki is the departing chairman, as
well as being leader of an important African neighbour of Zimbabwe.

President Obasanjo has been the leading African player on the Zimbabwe

African leaders disapprove of the violence and breaching of democracy in
Zimbabwe, but leaders like Mr Obasanjo have long-time personal links with
President Robert Mugabe.

The Zimbabwean Minister for Information, Jonathan Moyo, renewed his
country's bitter attack on Britain and its Prime Minister, Tony Blair,
accusing him of arrogance and interference.

"Mr Blair should shut up," Professor Moyo said.

"He makes a bad foreign minister."

He said Britain was getting "nervous and desperate" because the Mugabe
Government was certain to win the election. Responding to allegations of
violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe, he said: "There are more crimes
committed in Britain than Zimbabwe. There is more violence in Northern

He said Mr Howard was now chairman of the Commonwealth, but the Commonwealth
was "our world - all of us - not his, not Canada's, not Britain's."

Australia has sent two extra observers to the Commonwealth election
monitoring team - the shadow foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, and Liberal
Senator Alan Ferguson.
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Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 12:51 GMT
Zimbabwe attacks UK 'colonialism'
Tony Blair with Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos
Blair wants Commonwealth action against Mugabe
Zimbabwe has accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of disgraceful colonialism for trying to have the country suspended from the Commonwealth.

The attack from Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo came after Mr Blair warned the Commonwealth's reputation could be damaged if it did not take tough action against President Robert Mugabe.

Mr Blair needs to be told that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again, never

Jonathan Moyo
Zimbabwean minister
Meanwhile, Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram is pressing for the international community, and not just the Commonwealth, to send a clear message to Zimbabwe.

Commonwealth leaders are in private talks in Australia over their policy towards Zimbabwe ahead of the next weekend's presidential elections.

But they are not expected to decide on immediate action.

'Colonial hangover'

Mr Moyo told BBC News it would be voters and not international observers who would decide the polls.

Mr Moyo was fiercely critical of Mr Blair, who he said was "suffering from a colonial hangover" and making arrogant statements.

Jonathan Moyo
Moyo says observers will not decide the elections
"He needs to be told that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again, never," said the minister.

"He can make as much noise as he wants and the more noise he makes, the more he exposes himself to the international community.

"Some of the statements that have been attributed to him yesterday and today are disgraceful and shameful."

The European Union has now imposed targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his allies but Mr Ancram said those should have been enforced much earlier.

'Clear message'

Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast With Frost programme, Mr Ancram said the failure to take firm action last year had given a "green light" to Mr Mugabe.

"I would like to hear a very clear message that if this election is not free and fair and democratic then the international community, not just us unilaterally or the Commonwealth, will take action to make sure the situation is rectified," he continued.

Mr Ancram accused Mr Mugabe of heading a "fascist" regime that had sponsored "political murders".

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos said the UK could take action on its own against Zimbabwe.

But she said there needed to be "some kind of mechanism that the Commonwealth would immediately put into action if the Commonwealth observers judge the election not to be free and fair".

Blair's plea

On Saturday, Mr Blair warned that if observers concluded the election, which has been tainted by reports of violence and intimidation, was unfair then it would be "essential" for the Commonwealth to act.

Mr Blair said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change could still win the poll on 9 and 10 March.

He added that if Mr Mugabe refused to accept a victory by his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, the Commonwealth had to act.

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

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

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'Racial' split on Zimbabwe

March 3, 2002 Posted: 5:02 AM EST (1002 GMT)

Moyo's comments were the focus of attention at Coolum on Sunday
Moyo's comments were the focus of attention at Coolum on Sunday  

By Grant Holloway

COOLUM, Australia (CNN) -- Commonwealth leaders have split along broadly racial lines over taking action against Zimbawe for reported erosion of democracy ahead of the nation's general election next week.

Zimbabwe delegate Jonathan Moyo told media Sunday that nations such as Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand were running a racist agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being held in the Australian resort town in Coolum.

Britain and Australia in particular are pushing for the meeting to adopt some form of sanctions against Zimbabwe -- including possible suspension from the Commonwealth -- for what they allege is the use of intimidation, vote-rigging and political suppression in the African nation.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has even gone so far as to suggest that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe would simply not allow main Opposition leader

Morgan Tsvangirai to take power, even if Tsvangirai won the election.

Commonwealth leaders have been discussing the Zimbabwe issue in a private retreat Sunday, but are believed to split on what, if any, action to take.


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African states in particular are opposed to the Commonwealth taking any action until after the election is held and election observers have had a chance to report on the legitimacy of the vote.

Moyo accused Britain and Australia of trying to hijack the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) discussions of Zimbabwe and said the African nations in the Commonwealth were prepared to "send a clear message to their former colonial masters'' on the issue.

Moyo said Britain and Australia did not like the Mugabe government's moves on land-ownership because they "don't want to see social justice in Zimbabwe".

"It is racism … They want to deepen inequality in Zimbabwe," he said.

He accused the British Prime Minister Tony Blair of interfering in Zimbabwe's affairs, saying Blair's Labor Party was funding Tsvangirai's campaign.

'Shut up'

Blair should 'shut up', Moyo said
Blair should 'shut up', Moyo said  

Blair earlier Sunday suggested Mugabe was using intimidation and violence in the election campaign because he was afraid of losing.

"The violence, the intimidation, why is he doing this if he is so secure in the support of the people of Zimbabwe?" Blair said on Australian television.

Moyo responded by saying Blair should "shut-up". "He makes a bad foreign minister."

"What we do in Zimbabwe is in accordance with our law and our constitution," Moyo said.

"The people of Zimbabwe will decide what happens, not outsiders ... We will accept the verdict of the people of Zimbabwe."

'Toothless tiger'

While the Commonwealth leaders have yet to decide a course of action on Zimbabwe, it is believed that no recommendations will made at this CHOGM, with delegates preferring to postpone any actions until after the election is completed.

CHOGM spokesman Joel Kibazo told media Sunday that the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had submitted a paper to the leaders on Zimbabwe which set out "conditions and a timetable for some things to happen" with regard to that nation.

Kibazo would not reveal any details of what that timetable for action might entail, saying the leaders were still discussing the paper.

The issue of Zimbabwe is a critical issue for the Commonwealth, which stands accused of being a "toothless tiger" on such controversial issues because of its diverse range of nations and its insistence on consensus decision-making.

The United States and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe over its actions.

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If Mugabe wins, the worst is yet to come
By Graham Boynton
The Telegraph: (Filed: 03/03/2002)

AT this time of year Zimbabwe is at its most seductive. The intense furnace
of the summer months is past, the rains should have come and gone, and the
country should be bathed in the glow of clear blue autumnal skies and cool,
crisp evenings.

But the rains have not come and the political landscape has cast a pall of
gloom over the country. I grew up here and although I left more than 25
years ago I am constantly drawn back by the awesome beauty of the place and
the kindness and humour of its people.

Now, with a week to go the election, I find myself apprehensive and
wondering whether the country that President Mugabe proclaimed as the jewel
of Africa when he took power in 1980 is about to be plunged into civil war.

Five words dominate conversation here. They are "When the election is over".

At the moment the country is paralysed; as Duke Lefhoko, the head of the
election observer group from the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), said last week, people are "nervous and reserved", and that there is
"a state of general fear".

Mugabe's thugs are roaming the countryside beating and torturing anyone
whose allegiance to the 78-year-old despot is in question.

Despite the presence of foreign observers, Mugabe is blatantly rigging the
electoral process, using the police, the army, the judicial system, and the
national press. It is widely accepted here that if this were truly fair
election he would be lucky to gather 20 per cent of the popular vote.

If there is a high turnout at the polling stations there is a slim chance
that his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, will win by enough votes to make it
impossible to steal. If not, it is hard to see how the incumbent will
concede defeat.

There are three likely scenarios to consider. The most optimistic has
Tsvangirai winning so handsomely that Mugabe will be forced to leave the
country in haste, possibly for Namibia.

This is the only chance the country has of making any kind of recovery from
the economic and social chasm into which it has plunged, and avoid the
impending famine. With Mugabe gone, the most productive farmers would be
restored to their land immediately, there would be some redistribution of
farms to help black farmers, and staple crops planted for the next season.

This also assumes that major international financial and logistical support
would be forthcoming, a prospect that is unlikely if Mugabe were to retain

Domestic consumption of maize, Zimbabwe's staple food, is 1.7 million tons a
year. At the moment the only maize in the country is being brought in from
South Africa, and until the current crop hits the market in July, there will
be no local maize.

To put this decline in perspective, until Mugabe derailed the agricultural
economy with his so-called land reform programme, Zimbabwe was so productive
that it not only fed itself, but exported maize to neighbouring countries
and was able to hold a strategic grain reserve of a million tons.

Ironically, the maize coming in at the moment is grown by white farmers in
South Africa, a fact that has not intruded into Mugabe's wild anti-white
rantings over the past few weeks.

The second and least decisive scenario has Mugabe winning the election, and
it being declared moderately free and fair. Mugabe would then announce that
he will retire and will name his successor (even though this is
unconstitutional) thereby retaining power for his Zanu PF party.

This presumes he will announce concessions, re-evaluate the land reform
programme and restore some of the farms to the commercial farmers.

Even if the threat of sanctions recedes, economic moderation is introduced
and there is slow economic recovery, power will remain with the very people
who have aided and abetted him.

The ordinary Zimbabwean's income has halved in the 22 years Zanu PF has
ruled and with the economy in such a parlous state, half measures such as a
trickle of aid money and limited loans will not be enough.

Equally, Mugabe's successor is likely to come from his party's inner
sanctum, probably one of the 19 people the EU and the US have named as
targets for sanctions.

The bleakest scenario is that the election result is inconclusive and is not
accepted either by the African countries or the international community.

This raises the spectre of further sanctions from the US, and the EU,
isolation from the SADC countries, food riots that will lead to military
suppression and the post-election witch-hunt of Mugabe's opponents that the
president and his most rabid supporters have been threatening over the past
few weeks.

This grim prognosis means that the estimated £180 million in emergency food
aid that is required to stave off famine will not be forthcoming and that
the only way the government will be able to prevent a violent uprising will
be by imposing military law.

A further wave of migration - a problem South Africa is already facing and
which it simply cannot afford - will inevitably follow.

This scenario will also exacerbate the chaos that Mugabe's reign has visited
on the very people he claims to have liberated from the colonial yoke. Human
rights organisations allege that communities are so damaged by years of
torture, abductions and beatings that it will take decades to restore

One human rights worker, whom I cannot name, told me that his organisation
estimates 79 per cent of Zimbabweans had been exposed to state-organised
violence during Zanu PF's rule.

This to me is one of the greatest tragedies of the Mugabe years and the most
compelling reason to wish for the convincing defeat of the tyrant.
Zimbabweans are noted throughout the region for their kindness, hospitality
and gentle nature.

In the old days it was with some relief that one crossed the Limpopo River
border from harsh, hard-hearted apartheid South Africa into this country.
Mugabe has turned families against one another, encouraged friends to betray
friends, and excluded the bulk of the populace from the dignity and
prosperity that was supposed to have come with liberation.

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The Age, Melbourne

Undercurrent of African resentment to white critics
Tony Parkinson
March 4 2002

African leaders are voicing open frustration at the Commonwealth summit in
Queensland over the damaging impact of the political crisis in Zimbabwe on
their efforts to rehabilitate the continent's image in the eyes of
international investors.

The skirmishing at the Coolum summit is obviously not helping.

Consequently, there is an undercurrent of resentment towards the governments
of Britain, Australia and Canada, seen as riding roughshod over Third World
sensibilities in their campaign to isolate Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Consistent with the extravagant and acerbic rhetoric of his President,
Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, went way over the top,
accusing them directly of racism.

Other African leaders were more circumspect - but they certainly had the
Western media in their sights. Entrenched prejudices and cultural
stereotyping, some asserted, were becoming as much a part of the problem as
the violence and intimidation for which Mr Mugabe stands accused.

Negative portrayals in the Western media of Africa as a continent cursed by
corrupt and power-crazed tyrants were undermining the best chance in a
generation to create the conditions for an economic and political

Sadly, for Mugabe's neighbours, the focus on Zimbabwe is cruelling their
pitch. As leaders went into their informal retreat, tensions were simmering.

The sense of despair produced heated words from the President of Uganda,
Yoweri Museveni, during the launch yesterday of a new fund aimed at boosting
the flow of private investment into the African economy. Scolding Western
journalists, he said: "The images you keep highlighting will discourage some
people ... it's your job to help solve this problem so we can all make

A joint project of the Commonwealth and the World Bank, the fund, to be
known as Pan African Commonwealth Partners, seeks to attract $300 million of
private equity to spawn development across a range of industries.

But the first issue raised by the assembled media was Zimbabwe. Wasn't
President Mugabe's conduct likely to deter investors, and poison the climate
for the rest of Africa?

The President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, said he hoped markets would draw
a distinction between Zimbabwe and its neighbours to avoid "spillover

Mr Museveni was more agitated, delivering a lecture on the injustices if
Africa continued to be sidelined as a ghetto economy. "Pretty soon we will
have a population of one billion people, and those people at the moment are
under-consuming. Incomes are too low.

"The normal human being should consume 200 litres of milk a year. Now,
Africans are consuming 30 litres of milk a year. Beef is the same. And while
you will have these one billion people starved of jobs and incomes, you (in
the advanced economies) are over-consuming. There has to be a limit. How
much more beef can you eat?"

Bristling over criticism that African leaders were subverting Commonwealth
principles to prevent sanctions being imposed on Mugabe regime, he accused
the Western media of reporting Zimbabwe in "a very partial way" while
ignoring the gaping income divide that kept Africans among the world's
poorest people.

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Independent (UK)

Colonial past still haunts debate on Zimbabwe
Disagreements on action against the Mugabe regime lay bare divisions between
black and white nations
By Kathy Marks in Coolum, Queensland
04 March 2002
Internal links

Rallies in Harare townships start final week of campaigning
Seated on yellow sofas in the drawing-room of a luxury resort hotel on
Queensland's Sunshine Coast, Commonwealth leaders wearing open-necked shirts
grappled with the thorny problem of Zimbabwe between sips of tea yesterday.

Voices rarely rose above a genteel murmur as delegates spent the afternoon
in private talks, closeted away from their officials and the media. Outside,
though, bitter divisions between the Commonwealth's black and white nations
were laid bare with painful clarity.

While Britain, Australia and New Zealand forcibly restated their wish to see
Zimbabwe suspended after the intimidation and violence that have marked
campaigning for next weekend's presidential election, African countries
vented their frustration at being railroaded into immediate action.

Britain and Zimbabwe, meanwhile, escalated their war of words, with Tony
Blair accusing President Robert Mugabe of attempting to rig the election and
Harare's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, castigating Mr Blair for
neo-colonialist meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state.

The dilemma concerning the Commonwealth's most recalcitrant member has
preoccupied the grouping of Britain and its former colonies for months.
There were hopes that this four-day summit would end the prevarication and
send a clear signal of the civilised world's abhorrence of Mr Mugabe's
repression of the media and opposition parties.

Few of the presidents and prime ministers cloistered in the heavily guarded
Hyatt Regency complex in Coolum would dispute that Zimbabwe has flouted
Commonwealth principles of respect for democracy, human rights and the rule
of law. But they remain split on whether to resort to the ultimate sanction
of suspension.

The timing of the biennial Commonwealth heads of government meeting –
originally scheduled for October, but postponed because of the 11 September
atrocities – has strengthened the hand of those leaders inclined to be
forgiving of Mr Mugabe. With polling just a week away, and Commonwealth
observers deployed in the country, they argue that it would be foolhardy to
punish Zimbabwe now. Even before they arrived in Coolum, Mr Blair and other
vocal critics, such as New Zealand's Prime Minister, Helen Clark, were
resigned to the prospect of action being deferred.

The issue threatens to undermine the Commonwealth's credibility and
illustrates the obstacles that prevent it from acting decisively. The group
of disparate African, Asian, Pacific and Caribbean nations insists on
decision-making by consensus and speaking with one voice. So the outcome of
the Zimbabwe discussions is likely to be a classic Commonwealth fudge: a
strongly worded statement and – following a compromise proposal tabled by
Canada yesterday – a timetable for Harare's status to be reviewed within six
weeks if election observers give critical feedback.

The other problem is the uneasy, quasi-paternalistic relationship between
white developed countries and other member states.

The Tanzanian President, Benjamin Mkapa, articulated the anger of many
African leaders yesterday, saying: "The scene is unfolding in Zimbabwe, not
in Coolum. Unless we are going to make unintelligent, irrational decisions,
we should let the scene play out before we make a judgement." There was an
assumption, he said, that a Mugabe victory meant a rigged election. "That is
ridiculous," he said. "Let's wait and see."

Ghana's President, John Agyekum Kufuor, said the idea of suspending Zimbabwe
was "too radical to think of right now".

Yesterday Mr Blair challenged Mr Mugabe, who is not attending the summit, to
ensure that the election result reflected the will of the people. "What he
should do if he is confident of his support amongst the people of Zimbabwe
is let them have free and fair elections," he said in an interview with
Australian television.

A few hours later, Jonathan Moyo, marched into the media tent at Coolum and
unleashed a stream of invective against Britain. "This is gross interference
in our independence and sovereignty by a prime minister of a former colonial
power who has exhibited unbelievable arrogance," the Information Minister

Referring to Britain's alleged support for Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
main opposition party, the Movement of Democratic Change, Mr Moyo added: "He
[Mr Blair] says that unless his candidate wins, the election will not be
free and fair. That is insulting, not only to Zimbabwe but also to African
nations and the Third World."

Zimbabwe has overshadowed all other issues at the summit, to the irritation
of small countries who regard the Commonwealth as their only platform.

Yesterday Koloa Talake, Prime Minister of tiny Tuvalu, struggled to make his
voice heard as he appealed for help to prevent his low-lying South Pacific
island nation from being engulfed by rising sea levels as a result of global

And little fanfare – perhaps fortunately – attended remarks made by the
Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, as he accepted an award for his
government's campaign against Aids. Mr Museveni declared that the HIV virus
was spread mainly by heterosexuals in his country, since "we don't have
homosexuals in Uganda".
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The Age Melbourne

Violence toll rises to 31 in Zimbabwe ahead of vote
HARARE, March 3 AFP|Published: Monday March 4, 9:15 AM

Political violence ahead of Zimbabwe's presidential election had claimed the
lives of 31 people since the start of the year, a local human rights group
said in a report released today.

Zimrights' last toll, in a report issued February 18, had stood at 25.

The toll includes 18 people identified as supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and two as supporters of the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, the
report said.

The other 11 had no known political affiliations.

The report came as longtime ruler Robert Mugabe and his challenger Morgan
Tsvangirai of the MDC were rounding off their campaigns with rallies in the
capital Harare today.

Mugabe, 78, is under personal sanctions imposed by the European Union and
the United States over the climate of violence and intimidation in the
run-up to the election next weekend, in which he faces an unprecedented
challenge from Tsvangirai.

The Zimrights report voiced concern over "militias active in the country"
and said that so-called training camps for ZANU-PF youths - where MDC
sympathisers were allegedly tortured - would be used as polling stations
during the vote next weekend.

ZANU-PF has been accused of recruiting youth militias responsible for much
of the violence ahead of the vote.

The Zimrights report said that between February 25 and 28, suspected Mugabe
supporters had carried out 11 beatings and two MDC officials remained in a

It cited one case of police torture and three cases in ZANU-PF camps, of
which two allegedly were carried out in the nearby farming town of Marondera
involving carving the initials MDC in the victims' backs.

Zimrights groups several human rights organisations, including the Zimbabwe
branches of Transparency International and Amnesty International.

Political violence in the run-up to legislative elections in 2000 - which
saw the invasions of hundreds of white-owned farms by Mugabe supporters -
claimed some 32 lives.

The newly-formed MDC made a strong showing in that election, taking nearly
half the contested seats.
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The Age, Melbourne

Zimbabwe labels Australia as racist
COOLUM, Qld, March 3 AAP|Published: Sunday March 3, 6:55 PM

Zimbabwe today accused Australia of joining in a racist campaign to
undermine its upcoming elections.

Zimbabwe information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo told reporters at the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) today he believed
Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain were basing their criticism of
Zimbabwe's elections on racism.

"It's racism, is it not?" Professor Moyo said.

"It is so obvious they are doing this because they are unhappy about the
redistribution of land in Zimbabwe.

"They don't want to see social justice in Zimbabwe.

"They want to deepen inequalities in Zimbabwe.

"It is obvious to anyone who has been following this problem that there is
racism involved in this matter."

Professor Moyo said he had no criticism of Prime Minister John Howard's
chairmanship of CHOGM, which is expected to consider the issue of Zimbabwe's
democratic commitment tomorrow.

"Mr Howard is chairman of the Commonwealth and we expect he will exercise
the chairmanship in the tradition we are all accustomed to," Prof Moyo said.

"What I'm aware of is now he is the chairman of the Commonwealth and the
Commonwealth is our world, our total experience - not his, not Australia's,
not Britain's, not Canada's, not New Zealand's - all of us."

Prof Moyo said Zimbabweans would not cast their votes at the March 9 and 10
poll based on what the Commonwealth had to say.

"The people of Zimbabwe will decide as Zimbabweans - they will not decide as
members of the Commonwealth or in terms of sentiments coming from the
Commonwealth," he said.

"We are our own liberators."

By Paul Osborne

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Zimbabwe Independent

'Top Six' turns Chinhoyi upside down

By Andrew Zhakata

Chinhoyi-Notorious gangs of Zanu PF youths code named Top Six, have
intensified their terror campaign in Chinhoyi town and other parts of
Mashonaland West province ahead of the crucial presidential elections to be
held this weekend.

Top Six, which has been accused of turning Chinhoyi into a terror zone,
comprises Zanu PF supporters bussed into the town from Kariba, Hurungwe,
Gokwe, Makonde, Zvimba and Chegutu at the beginning of this month.
Residents said Top Six had set up bases at Zanu PF offices, halls and
disused beer-halls in Chinhoyi's Gold Stream, Hunyani, Gadzema and
Chikono-hono high-density suburbs where it has been launching a violent
The marauding gangs have unleashed a reign of terror against members of the
opposition MDC party in the town and other parts of Mashonaland West
There have been reports of residents being beaten up, tortured, kidnapped
and forced to attend Zanu PF meetings in the dead of night. Drivers of
commuter omnibuses and long-distance buses are also being forced to display
Zanu PF posters on their vehicles.
Apart from brutal attacks on MDC supporters and the demanding of Zanu PF
membership cards, Top Six has also been mounting illegal roadblocks in the
Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman, Philip Chiyangwa said Top Six
was the party's special group formed to promote a peaceful campaign in the
"Top Six is for a peaceful campaign. If it turns violent it will be in
retaliation to attacks by MDC supporters who want to tarnish our image by
their stage-managed political violence," said Chiyangwa.
But on Sunday night last week, Zanu PF supporters went on the rampage in
Chinhoyi beating up people and attacking houses belonging to MDC supporters.
At least five houses of MDC supporters and a Zanu PF supporter were attacked
that night.
The attacks came after a well-attended campaign rally by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai at Chinhoyi Stadium.
Earlier on, rowdy Zanu PF youths had made a futile attempt to disrupt the
rally which was attended by over 10 000 MDC supporters.
Zanu PF supporters also attacked a convoy of Sadc parliamentary observers
who had attended the MDC rally that day. Three observers were injured in the
At about 9pm the same day, about 50 Zanu PF youths from Top Six, descended
on Chikonda Chaguta's house in Hunyani 2 and shattered window panes and the
Chaguta, who is a Zanu PF supporter, said he was accused of harbouring MDC
youths at his house. He was away when the incident happened.
The assailants, who identified themselves as the Top Six gang, demanded to
see MDC youths, Trinos Nyamasoka and Cuthbert Mazorodze, whom they had seen
attending the rally.
Although the mob was told that Trinos and Cuthbert had not yet returned
home, it proceeded to stone the seven-roomed house. The two had already fled
into the night after sensing danger.
"The thugs, armed with sticks, knobkerries, slashers, stones and hard liquor
would not listen when we told them that Trinos and Cuthbert were not at
home. They started chanting Zanu PF slogans, sharpening knives and stoning
the house. There were some people, including children, sleeping inside but
the Top Six went ahead with its attack," said Andrew Kataraumbe, Trinos'
brother who was also in the house when the gang struck.
Kataraumbe said the gang, led by Paul Pindani, Zanu PF secretary for
administration in Hunyani's Ward 4, wanted Trinos and Cuthbert for
questioning at a nearby Matikwiri base, a disused beerhall.
"The Zanu PF supporters said they wanted to teach Trinos and Cuthbert a
lesson for mobilising people to attend the MDC rally at Chinhoyi stadium
that Sunday," said Kataraumbe.

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Zimbabwe Independent - Comment

An angry and bitter man...

Throughout his campaign meetings in the last two weeks, President Mugabe has
put up a brave face and adopted a defiant attitude, spending a considerable
amount of time telling his various audiences how unconcerned he is about the
smart sanctions imposed on him by the European Union and the United States.

His has repeatedly told his audiences which, stripped of forced attendances,
have averaged half of those addressed by main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, that
he would not lose sleep over being unable to gallivant in London, Paris, New
York, or Brussels, as he used to do.
Last week it was at Nkayi Growth Point where he told his audience:"What is
Europe? What will I be wanting in Europe?" This week it was in Rushinga
where he declared: "I have never set a day to say I want to visit Britain.
It's either I was invitied to attend meetings or I was just passing

Breezing through Harrods, Marks and Spencer, and Harvey Nicholls for two,
three days, what kind of "passing through" is that? How long does it take to
pass through London, especially when you have a chartered plane on the
ground? Spending days on lush estates as a guest of the likes of Tony
O'Reilly, what meeting was he coming from? Few Zimbabweans can remember any
year before 1999 when the Mugabe family did not make its annual trek to
London and other European and American destinations for their Christmas
shopping, or simply to take a holiday.

Mr Mugabe is evidently very bitter that he is no longer free to come and go
as he pleases. And so must be his wife, whose baby wear shops quickly became
the envious talk of the town for its range of imported children's wear,
brought in duty free by the tonne-load.

Of course it is not lost upon us that the issue on which Mr Mugabe is
spending so much time and effort on is not really meant for the people of
Nkayi or Rushinga, but to spite western leaders, and to buttress his image
among the ordinary people as a true African leader who is being victimised
for championing his people's quest for land. But what serious politician
spends 80% of his campaign time attacking his opponent and foreign
countries, instead of explaining to potential voters what he has to offer
for them, how he intends to avert the starvation that he himself created
through short-sighted and populist decisions. The people of Dzivarasekwa and
Mufakose do not want to hear Mugabe's opinion of Britain and America. They
want to know how the industries they were retrenched from are going to be
re-opened; where they are going to obtain bread, mealie-mealie, cooking oil
and milk to feed their families; what plans the government has to restock
medical centres with even the most basic drugs; when again they can expect
to sleep safely in their homes without war veterans and ZanuPF hooligans
knocking on their doors and windows, and shaking their gates at all ungoldly
hours. But no, none of this. All they get is "Blair this, Blair that" as if
Tony Blair lives in Warren Park. By way of comparison, Morgan Tsvangirai has
been very clear and focussed on what the MDC stands for and hopes to achieve
in a new government, and has spent very little time on trivial issues such
as attacking Mugabe.

This day next week will be the final one of voting in what is undoubtedly
Zimbabwe's most historic election, one in which Zimbabweans go into knowing
full well that the playing field is not at all level. But for all its
devious ways and means, for all the rigging mechanisms that have been put
into place by ZanuPF, we hope that Zimbabweans will vote so overwhelming as
to overcome whatever fraudulent measures have been put into place to steal
the election.

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Zimbabwe Independent

CID detectives in trouble

By Chengetai Zvauya

THE purge on police officers suspected of being sympathetic to the
opposition MDC continues, with reports that 20 detectives from Marondera
Police Station have been arbitrarily transferred to remote parts of the

One of the officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), who
was affected by the latest purge, told The Standard they were victimised for
investigating incidents of political violence which were being perpetrated
by Zanu PF supporters.

Last week, war veterans and Zanu PF youths held a meeting with Marondera
police chief Assistant Commissioner Chipembere and presented a list of
'unfriendly officers', who they suspected of being MDC members and demanded
that they be transferred.

"The problem started last month when a vehicle belonging to the MDC was
burnt by war veterans. They also attacked Didymus Munhenzva, who was the MDC
candidate in parliamentary elections. We were assigned to investigate the
case and picked up bullet cartridges to present as evidence," said the

"As soon as we were making headway in the case, a new team was assigned to
take over. I have been arresting war veterans and I was ordered to release
them, yet these are the people we have identified burning people's property
and intimidating opposition supporters."

Another officer said that he was now being transferred to Karoi after he was
accused of being an MDC member.

"When the Chegutu mayoral election results were announced, I was seen
talking excitedly on the phone and my seniors suspected that I was
celebrating the MDC victory. The next day I was informed that I was to be

"We are being victimised purely on political grounds because we have been
working professionally without taking any sides as police officers. We had
managed to clamp down on lawlessness in Marondera," said the detective.

Marondera falls under Mashonaland East province which has recorded many
cases of political violence, with Zanu PF supporters apparently having a
free reign in their terror campaign.

On Friday an MDC star rally which was to be addressed by the party's
president, Morgan Tsvangirai, had to be cancelled following the discovery of
a plot to attack his convoy. Efforts to seek escort from police were turned
down as the officer commanding the province, Assistant Commissioner Mary
Masango, insisted that there were enough officers on the ground to ensure
Tsvangirai's safety.
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Zimbabwe Independent

Unofficial state of emergency in Bulawayo

By John Makura

BULAWAYO-The government has intensified a crackdown on all activities
suspected to be anti Zanu PF, raising fears that the City of Kings could be
under a de facto state of emergency.

Residents here say this move could be designed to shut out the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from the city where it enjoys massive
In the 2000 June parliamentary elections, the then nascent political party
swept all the seats at stake in Bulawayo, ending Zanu PF's stranglehold on
Zimbabwe's second largest city.
MDC went on to beat Zanu PF in the same battlefield last year in August when
its candidate, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, dismissed a token challenge from Zanu
PF's George Mlilo in the mayoral elections.
Now with indications that more and more people are turning to MDC in
Bulawayo, repression has become the order of the day as authorities
frantically seek to stem the tide of the opposition party sweeping across
Residents told The Standard it was becoming increasingly difficult for
people hold meetings in the city. Local police, armed with the draconian
Public Order and Security Act (Posa), seem to be on the lookout for any
meetings considered harmful to Zanu PF that is responsible for impoverishing
the country, once a breadbasket of southern Africa.
In the last two weeks alone, they have cancelled several meetings, giving
flimsy reasons, that analysts say can never be justifiable in a democratic
One such meeting which was organised by Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) was recently banned by the police at the last minute.
An official of ZESN told The Standard that police informed them they could
not go ahead with their meeting, whose venue was a inner room of a city
hotel, because of the volatile political situation in Bulawayo.
Several MDC meetings have also been cancelled by police who claim they are
out to maintain law and order. Even clerics have not been spared of the
antics of the force, headed by an open Zanu PF supporter, Augustine Chihuri.
A prominent Bulawayo Methodist Church cleric, Reverend Graham Shaw Francis
was arrested for organising a 'Pray and Walk' procession which had nothing
to do with politics in Hillside suburbs two weeks ago.
Rev Shaw, who is among the clergymen accused by the state-owned Chronicle
newspaper of turning their sermons into MDC rallies, had defied police who
banned the intended procession citing the "volatile political climate
prevailing in the country".
When fellow clerics, who included Reverend Noel Scott of the Anglican Church
and Father O'Doherty Patrick of the Roman Catholic Church, joined hands and
started praying for the release of Reverend Francis, police also arrested
them saying their action hindered police vehicles which were intending to
use the same portion of the pavement.
All the 11 have since appeared in court facing charges of contravening
sections of the discredited Posa. They were remanded to March 4 on $1 000
bail each.
Former Chronicle general manager Peter Botwright was also arrested in
connection with the 'Pray and Walk' procession.
Although there is no official curfew in Bulawayo, the Zanu PF militia,
camped at communal halls dotted around the city, is being accused of beating
people going about their business at night in the high density suburbs.
"We are now afraid to walk at night in groups lest we are suspected to be
MDC supporters," a resident in Mpopoma.
Another resident from Entumbane noted that the situation prevailing in some
high density suburbs at night was not very different from that of the early
80s when the vicious crack army unit, Fifth Brigade, under an operation code
named Gukurahundi, was deployed in Matabeleland.
"During the time we could hardly go out at night fearing the soldiers who
were out to beat or even kill people," he said.
Reports also abound of the militia going door to door in the high density
suburbs demanding Zanu PF party cards whose demand has risen sharply in the
past few months.
There are also reports that the militia's favourite hunting grounds these
days are the long and winding for mealie meal queues in the city.
"Initially their job was to ensure that retailers did not overcharge the
staple food, but they have broadened their horizons, eavesdropping on
people's conversations while in the queues," said Khulani Moyo, a resident.
Early this week a man who was 'talkative' was assaulted by some youths
suspected to be the militia after he tried to politicise the people to vote
the Zanu PF government out while at the queue.
Bulawayo City Council says it is powerless to remove the youths from their
community halls where they are camped.
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Chicago Tribune

Zimbabwe's downward spiral

Published March 2, 2002

Zimbabwe's immovable president, Robert Mugabe, seems willing to destroy his
country rather than face the prospect of surrendering power. With a
presidential election scheduled for next weekend, Mugabe has stepped up his
well-honed use of violence and intimidation to scare off the opposition and
foreign observers.

Mugabe is hated by many of his own people. Increasingly, he's a threat to
the region, too. The latest outrage in Mugabe's tormented nation is an
attempt to discredit his main opponent in the race for president. Morgan
Tsvangirai and two top associates have been charged with treason for
allegedly hatching a plot to assassinate the president.

Tsvangirai, a labor leader who heads the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), denied the ludicrous charge leveled against him and was released from
detention Monday.

The charge, which carries a possible death sentence, has been dismissed by
the U.S., Britain and others as not credible. Indeed, coming so close before
the election, it sounds ludicrous.

But Mugabe isn't concerned about the world's scorn. He's concerned about
political survival. The damage he's doing to his own nation--stirring up
attacks by blacks on white farmers, confiscating their lands, and unleashing
paramilitary thugs to attack his political opponents--threatens to cause
economic harm and political uncertainty in the rest of southern Africa. It's
drying up investment, undermining the rule of law, slowing democratic reform
and inciting Africans to violence.

Mugabe's government is doing its best to isolate itself from the rest of the
world. It expelled the head of the European election observer mission last
month. That dashed hopes that elections would be free and fair and prompted
the U.S. and Europe to slap travel bans on Mugabe and 19 of his associates.
The Europeans also froze the foreign assets of the president and the leaders
of his thugocracy.

Two weeks ago, Zimbabwe revoked the visa of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)
after agreeing to let the senator, who is chairman of the Africa
subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visit during the
buildup to elections. The government's reasoning was odd: that the elections
were a busy time for officials and thus, "would not be ideal for your

Feingold was understandably baffled, calling the revocation suspicious and
unprecedented. "The regime in Harare has shown that it is willing to destroy
the Zimbabwean economy, to violently repress the Zimbabwean people, to
harass the press, and to undermine the rule of law," he observed, "all in
the name of clinging to power."

As foreign investment stays away, the economy is unraveling. The nation is
suffering with 60-percent unemployment and an annual inflation rate above
100 percent. Some 500,000 Zimbabweans in rural areas are now believed to be
at risk of starvation.

Tsvangirai once represented an opportunity for Zimbabwe to free itself, at
last, of its tyrannical leader. Now it's clear Mugabe will take no risks
with his own future.

No wonder the EU threw up its hands last week and withdrew its observer team
from the election. Mugabe is planning to steal it, and with it Zimbabwe's

Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune

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Zimbabwe Independent

Swiss to hold chefs' $23b

By Trevor Muhonde

PRESIDENT Mugabe and his top lieutenants stand to lose over œ55 million
($4,56 billion, or $22,8 billion at the parallel market rate), stashed in
Swiss bank accounts if Zanu PF cheats its way to victory in next week's
presidential election.

A senior Swiss government official told The Standard on Friday that his
country had decided to join the 14-member European Union and the United
States in taking decisive action against the Mugabe regime for crimes
against humanity.

The official said Switzerland's decision to punish Mugabe was taken last
week by the country's cabinet.

"The cabinet agreed it would be appropriate to impose sanctions after the
polls as a way of dealing with Mugabe and Zanu PF who are sure to rig the
elections and cling on to power. The meeting resolved that the outcome of
the elections will determine their decision on Zimbabwe," the official said.

"Our government has for a long time been looking at the situation in
Zimbabwe and this has not been pleasant. What our cabinet resolved was to
wait and see the outcome of the election and then we would impose the

Daniela Stoffel-Fatzer, the Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman, confirmed to
The Standard that her government was poised to swoop on accounts held by
Mugabe and his officials, and that last week's decision would have to be
ratified by parliament. "The decision on whether to block bank accounts,
impose trade restrictions and ban travel by Zimbabwean officials would have
to be taken by the federal cabinet," she told The Standard from Switzerland.

She added that her government was expected to convey its decision to the
Zimbabwean ambassador in Bern.

The action will see the freezing of secret bank accounts that Mugabe and his
cabinet officials are reported to have in Switzerland. The European country
has historically been a favourite destination for the world's dictators who
see it as a safe haven for stashing ill-gotten wealth because of its
secretive banking policy.

However, since the controversy surrounding the millions of US dollars which
the late Phillipine president, Ferdinand Marcos, had stored in Swiss banks,
the country has since reviewed its ultra-secret policy and now allows looted
funds to be recovered.

A spokesperson for the Swiss embassy told The Standard that, like the rest
of the international community, their government was worried with the
current situation in the country which was pointing to a flawed presidential

Revelations of the billions that Zanu PF leaders have stored in Switzerland
come at a time when the country is facing an acute food shortage, with the
government barely able to import enough grain to feed the nation. It also
comes against an acute shortage of foreign currency which has seen national
reserves run dry.

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Zimbabwe Independent

SA mobilises troops along border

By Loughty Dube

BULAWAYO-South Africa is reported to be mobilising troops along its Limpopo
River border with Zimbabwe, in anticipation of security threats ahead of the
country's crucial presidential polls which take place on Saturday and

Travellers from South Africa told The Standard that South African Defence
Forces troops were setting up makeshift camps at the border town of Messina
and in other areas in the vicinity.

"Army tents are being pitched all along the way and there is an abnormally
large presence of military personnel in Messina and outlying areas."
Returning residents said that the troops were moving equipment closer to the
Zimbabwean border town of Beitbridge.

An official from the South African high commission would not comment on the
reports when approached on Friday. "We don't have any information on that at
the moment," said the official from the political desk.

However, reports from South Africa on Friday quoted the officer commanding
Messina's Soutpansberg military base, Colonel Tol Synman, as confirming the
presence of the troops at the border.

Synman told reporters that apart from the forces already in place at the
border, there was a contingent on standby ready to be mobilised in 24 hours
and in 48 hours.

"We have troops in place at the border post and apart from the ones already
in place, there is another group that could be mobilised within 24 hours, as
well as another group that could respond within 48 hours," Synman was quoted
as saying.

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Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 06:44 GMT
Commonwealth rift over Zimbabwe
Tony Blair and other Commonwealth leaders in Queensland
Britain is accused of railroading other states
Commonwealth leaders meeting in Australia look to be on a collision course over whether to take action against Zimbabwe.

After deep differences emerged between the nations on Saturday, the subject was postponed for a private session on Sunday.

How does the Commonwealth handle Zimbabwe? Why should it handle Zimbabwe?

Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa
But some African and Asian nations are closing ranks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government and Namibia has said it will walk out of the summit if the issue leads the debate.

As the election campaign continues in Zimbabwe, two rival political rallies in Bulawayo passed off peacefully.

In another development, a BBC investigation has uncovered evidence of mass graves at an army base in Zimbabwe.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Coolum, Queensland, Britain and Australia have acknowledged that their call for immediate sanctions in protest at political violence in Zimbabwe has failed to win support.

Even a joint call by Canada and New Zealand to threaten sanctions if elections on 9-10 March are deemed to be unfair has failed to win support.

Quiet diplomacy

Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa bridled at the idea of interfering in Zimbabwe's affairs.

"How does it (the Commonwealth) handle Zimbabwe? Why should it handle Zimbabwe?" he said. "Let the scene unfold."

He said quiet diplomacy would be more effective and suggested that debating Zimbabwe's problems at the meeting was "ridiculous".

Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa
Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa says Zimbabwe should not be discussed
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was more optimistic. He told the BBC: "There are differences of opinion but we shall harmonise them. That is what the meeting is for."

The 54-nation Commonwealth is one of the few organisations to have observers in Zimbabwe for the elections.

Many say the poll has been marred by intimidation and violence towards the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

But Namibian President Sam Nujoma told the BBC: "How can we judge the outcome of the elections before we know what has happened?"

Hardline stand

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair Saturday condemned the escalating violence as an "outrage against democracy".

He called for "a tough statement making clear our total abhorrence and condemnation of what is happening in Zimbabwe".

Commentators say that some African leaders believe Britain is trying to railroad them into taking a hardline stand against their neighbour.

Queen Elizabeth opening the summit
Queen Elizabeth opened the summit
An investigation by the BBC's special correspondent, John Sweeney, has found evidence of mass graves at a Zimbabwean army camp south of Bulawayo.

The camp was used by the North Korean-trained 5th brigade, which was notorious for human rights abuses in the 1980s when Mr Mugabe cracked down on so-called dissidents.

Local people say torture and mass killing were routine at the camp and the digging of graves was a daily chore

One man said he saw at least 300 bodies.

Mr Tsvangirai has told the BBC that if he wins next week's elections, his government will set up a commission of inquiry into the alleged political killings.


03/03 05:04
Tanzania Urges Commonwealth to Stay Out of Zimbabwe (Update1)
By Gemma Daley

Coolum, Australia, March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa
today told Britain to stay out of Zimbabwe politics until after next
weekend's presidential elections.

Mkapa is the first African leader at a meeting of 51 Commonwealth nations in
Australia to publicly challenge British Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts
to convince member nations to banish or sanction Zimbabwe because of
violence and human rights abuses by the government of 78-year-old President
Robert Mugabe in the lead-up to the poll.

``The Commonwealth should not handle Zimbabwe -- we are thousands of miles
away and we should wait to see what is played out there,'' Mkapa told
reporters in the coastal resort of Coolum. ``The scene is unfolding in
Zimbabwe, not in Coolum. To act now would be premature.''

It appears other leaders are listening to Mkapa. The U.K and Australia last
night acknowledged they had failed in their bid to have Zimbabwe ousted from
the Commonwealth of nations.

Blair, in Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting,
denounced political violence in Zimbabwe, though admitted he couldn't get
consensus from mainly African nations to suspend or sanction the country.

And it's not only African nations that appear to be withdrawing support for
Blair's bid to act before the election.

Canada Backs Off

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the Commonwealth should
wait until after the poll. Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong also
appeared to distance himself from Blair when he told reporters today African
nations ``better understand what is happening on the ground.''

Commonwealth leaders deferred a decision yesterday on what action to take
against Zimbabwe, agreeing to discuss the issue at a retreat away from their
delegations and the media today.

``Many of the African countries totally accept that what is happening in
Zimbabwe is wrong,'' Blair said during a BBC interview. ``The question is,
is the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth the right way to deal
with it? We think it is, they don't.''

One of the group's smallest members, Belize, with a population of 247,000,
acknowledged the Commonwealth's integrity was on the line because of
Zimbabwe. ``To some extent, yes, but I think spineless is a strong word,''
said Belize Prime Minister Said Musa.

Assassination Plot Alleged

Zimbabwe's Mugabe has ruled for 22 years and has ignored calls for him to
retire. Human rights groups decry his government's record, which was further
tarnished last month when it charged opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
with allegedly plotting Mugabe's assassination, a charge that could bring
the death penalty.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer told Channel 10 that
even still, Tsvangirai could win the upcoming election.

The European Union and the U.S. imposed sanctions against Mugabe and 19 of
his associates after Zimbabwe last month expelled the head of an EU team
monitoring the election.

Leaders and representatives from 51 of the Commonwealth's 54 nations are
meeting at Coolum, a coastal resort 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of
Brisbane. Three Commonwealth nations, Pakistan, Antigua and Barbuda, and
Grenada aren't at the meeting. Thirty percent of the world's population live
in Commonwealth countries and the group accounts fo fralmost a quarter of
the world's trade.

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The Age, Melbourne

Rudd criticises Howard govt for inaction against Zimbabwe
SYDNEY, March 4 AAP|Published: Monday March 4, 10:27 AM

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd today condemned the
Australian government for not imposing sanctions against Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Mr Rudd and Liberal Senator Alan Ferguson will form part of a team of 40
Commonwealth advisers who will report on Zimbabwe's elections at the

President Mugabe's government has been criticised for cracking down on media
freedom and opposition parties during the election campaign.

Speaking at Sydney Airport before his departure, Mr Rudd said it was time
the Howard government took tough action against Zimbabwe.

"The time for high sounding phrases is over on Zimbabwe - the time for
concrete, real action is now," he told reporters.

"Australia should take the lead and it should have taken the lead a
fortnight ago in initiating targeted sanctions against the (Mugabe) regime."

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March 1, 2002

Helping Mugabe mug Zimbabwe

National Post

Canada, which once led the campaign to isolate the former apartheid regime in South Africa, now has the shameful distinction of attempting to impede international efforts to bring another racist dictatorship, that of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, to heel.

In his desperate attempt to steal the country's March 9-10 presidential election, Mr. Mugabe has introduced draconian laws curbing civil liberties and waged a campaign of terror against his opponents. The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, says more than 90 of its supporters have been killed by goons acting at Mr. Mugabe's behest. Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, has been threatened with treason charges. Police in Harare raided MDC offices on Thursday and arrested 31 officials. Nine people were beaten during the raid.

As if there were any doubt, the leader of the group of campaign observers from Southern African countries declared that Zimbabwe's elections are "not free." The official also described the country as existing in a "general state of fear." The European Union pulled out its monitors for that reason, and imposed travel bans and targeted sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and his cronies. The U.S. government has since imposed its own sanctions. Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, has served notice that he intends to push for strong action at this weekend's Commonwealth summit, including the suspension of Zimbabwe's membership in the organization and the introduction of Commonwealth-wide sanctions.

This would seem a no-brainer for the soft power enthusiasts in Ottawa as much as for more hard headed members of the foreign policy establishment. The Commonwealth has taken similar action in recent years with less obvious justification, such as against Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in October, 1999. Fiji was also suspended from the Commonwealth following a coup.

As he readied to depart for Australia and the summit, Jean Chrétien said: "I sense that the situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating day by day ahead of the election. ... I think (this) will be the main topic of discussion at the Commonwealth summit." But discussion appears to be all the Prime Minister is interested in. He is resisting calls to take immediate action. He prefers that any move to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and levy sanctions await the election outcome. Canada's posture appears designed to use the threat of sanctions to deter a crime, but the crime has already been committed.

Bill Graham, the Foreign Affairs Minister, justified Canada's unwillingness to act on the basis of concern that unilateral declarations on the eve of the election could serve to alienate African members of the Commonwealth. "There are going to be some African voices saying, 'Let's give the election process a chance,' " he said yesterday. Too late: the election is now merely cover for a tyrant ensuring he stays in power by any foul means necessary. The theme of this year's summit, "The Commonwealth in the 21st Century: Continuity and Renewal," reflects proposed reforms to ensure the organization remains modern and relevant. By its willingness to play along with Mr. Mugabe's charade, Canada is instead contributing to the perception that the Commonwealth has outlived its usefulness.

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Canada takes Africa's side over Mugabe
Chrétien prevents black/white split over Zimbabwe, but supports suspension if elections prove rigged Commonwealth summit

Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief
National Post, with files from news services
Andrew Vaughan, The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien greets Australian Prime Minister John Howard, left, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon, centre, as he arrives at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum, Australia, today.

COOLUM, Australia - Canada will support Zimbabwe's suspension from the 54-nation Commonwealth if it is proven that Robert Mugabe, the President of the southern African nation, rigged next week's elections, Jean Chrétien said today.

As the Commonwealth summit opened today, Canada joined with many African nations in rejecting calls to impose immediate sanctions on Zimbabwe for pre-election violence and intimidation by Mr. Mugabe's backers.

The decision of Canada's Prime Minister to side with African nations virtually guarantees the Commonwealth will simply issue a strongly worded statement to Mr. Mugabe, warning that the election must be free and fair or Zimbabwe could face the consequences.

Britain and Australia have pressed for immediate sanctions against Zimbabwe, like those set by the European Union and the United States. Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, has branded Mr. Mugabe a dictator and even called for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the Commonwealth.

Mr. Chrétien said Canada will only support Zimbabwe's suspension after the election is over and if there is evidence Mr. Mugabe fixed the results. "If the [election] observers tell me it is not an fair election -- that Mugabe stole the election -- suspension is clear in my mind," he said.

Mr. Chrétien, who had been courting African leaders in advance of the G-8 summit in Alberta where he hopes to make Africa the key focus, does not want to take any punitive action against Zimbabwe until after the election when Commonwealth observers report back.

"We are at a meeting where all the countries of the Commonwealth have a voice and they want to discuss that. The election will be in seven or eight days from now. We still have observers and as long as a there is an election and we have observers, the object is to wait to see what the observers tell us," he said. "If the reports are that there are no real elections, we should say that suspension will come."

However, even the Prime Minister's own officials acknowledge the situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated. The United States said on Thursday it did not believe the March 9-10 presidential election would be untainted.

Despite the Commonwealth split, however, officials portrayed Mr. Chrétien as a consensus builder who feared a black/white nation split that could harm the Commonwealth. Officials said the Prime Minister was trying to prevent some African leaders from leaving the summit if sanctions were immediately imposed.

"We don't want to see people leave. Canada is always there, trying to bring people together," a senior official said.

Foreign ministers from eight nations, including Canada, met yesterday to prepare a report for the leaders today, but Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, suggested no punitive measures would be taken until after the ballot.

Mr. Mugabe, who skipped the summit, yesterday angrily lashed out at Britain for trying to convince Canada and other Commonwealth nations to take action against Zimbabwe, a former British colony.

"It's not the right or responsibility of the British to decide on our elections.... Why should they poke their pink noses in our business?" Mr. Mugabe was quoted by the official Herald newspaper in Harare.

Mr. Mugabe faces his strongest challenge yet to his 22 years of rule from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In a series of intimidation tactics, the Mugabe government has charged Mr. Tsvangirai and other MDC politicians with treason for allegedly planning to plot his assassination.

Widespread reports of violence, political intimidation and curbs on media freedom and independence have led the European Union to withdraw its team of observers.

Mr. McKinnon told reporters about 40 Commonwealth observers were monitoring the election in Zimbabwe and would report back, but he admitted the elections are suspect. "The situation is deteriorating."

Canada's reluctance to take action runs counter to the recommendations of the House of Commons sub-committee on Human Rights, which on Thursday in Ottawa unanimously adopted a motion supporting targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe.

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