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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Monday, 4 March, 2002, 07:58 GMT
Summit strikes Zimbabwe deal
Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair and Olusegun Obasanjo
Leaders managed to reach a compromise
Commonwealth leaders have said no action is to be taken against Zimbabwe before presidential elections later this week.

Under a deal reached at talks in Australia, the leaders agreed to set up a three-member committee to decide possible action, based on the findings of the group's election observers deployed in the country.

Without any feeling of 'Oh, I have lost out or I have won', there's no winner, no loser

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
The troika is made up of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says it was a painful compromise between countries like Britain and Australia - which had pushed for immediate suspension - and mainly African nations that had wanted the issue off the talks agenda altogether.

In its first reaction, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it was totally dissatisfied with the deal as there was no question the election could be free or fair.

'Credible outcome'

A statement from the summit in Coolum, Queensland, says possible measures against President Robert Mugabe's government range from "collective disapproval to suspension", if the poll is not free or fair.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said it had not been easy to reach a deal which was a "quick, sure and fair mechanism".

"There is a range of views, strong feelings are held. But what the Commonwealth has decided upon is not something that pushes it [Zimbabwe] to the never-never if there is an adverse report but provides a mechanism [for action]."

Opposition MDC supporter hurt after being attacked by Mugabe followers
The opposition said it wanted action not words against Mr Mugabe
"I think it's a credible outcome for the Commonwealth," he added.

Significantly, Zimbabwe had been party to the agreement, President Obasanjo told the BBC.

"Frankly, and without any feeling of 'oh, I have lost out or I have won', there's no winner, no loser. The consensus agreement we have reached, we are all the better for it," Mr Obasanjo said.

Although the three-member body will have the power to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, our correspondent says there is no commitment to any particular action even if the poll on 9-10 March is not free and fair.

And despite the summit's condemnation of violence in the run-up to the election, the statement refrained from blaming Mr Mugabe or his Zanu-PF party for it.

MDC spokeswoman Sekai Holland told the BBC the opposition was disappointed - it had hoped for action not words as Mr Mugabe had flouted all previous agreements and instituted a regime of violence against opposition members and their leaders.

Racial divide

The dispute over what the Commonwealth should do about Zimbabwe has been extremely divisive - pitting many African countries against a group of predominantly white member states led by Britain and Australia.

They had been urging Zimbabwe's suspension from the body.

I think it's a credible outcome for the Commonwealth

Australian Prime Minister John Howard
But, with Tanzania and Namibia opposing any discussion of the issue at all, the conference had at times resembled a black-white divide.

Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, described Britain's stance as "disgraceful" when he made an impromptu appearance at the summit.

President Mugabe himself has reportedly called on Mr Blair to keep his "pink nose" out of Zimbabwe's affairs.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe Indy media

by W. Chibebe, ZCTU Monday March 04, 2002 at 02:39 PM
263- (011) 610593.

Alert about missing trade union leader.


The President of the Zimbabwe Civil Service Employees Association, Ephraim
Tapa, and his wife Faith Mukwakwa, have been missing since the 16th of
February when the vehicle they were traveling was intercepted by war
veterans at Corner Store between Mutoko and Murewha.

Mr. Tapa’s two brothers, who were travelling in the car, were able to
escape, although one of the brothers was shot in the arm. Mr. Tapa was
coming from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union’s All Stakeholder meeting
which had been held in Harare earlier in the day. From there he had
proceeded to pick up his wife before starting on the journey.

Mr Tapa is a member of the ZCTU General Council.

The abduction was reported to the police but no serious investigation has
been carried out. The ZCTU has written a letter to Mr. July Moyo, the
Minister for Labour and Social Welfare, who has been requested to pressure
his counterpart from the Home Affairs to find the whereabouts of the couple.
There are additional worries for the safety of the couple, as both are
hypertensive and if alive, would need to have access to medication for their

Trade unionists have been targeted particularly harshly because of their
link with the Movement for Democratic Change, whose base is in the labour
movement. During a campaign speech over the weekend, the Head of State,
President Robert Mugabe specifically threatened that he would deregister the

Civil society groups have long been calling for the disbanding of the
ZANU-PF militias and have pressured the police to take up their duty to
protect citizens from harassment. The locations of the militia camps are
known but no attempt has been made to shut them down even though it is clear
that they are responsible for campaign of terror and brutality which has
intensified each month in the rural and peri-urban areas. The area where the
couple were abducted is known to be one of the “hotspots” where incidents of
human rights violations have been particularly high.

The tragic abduction of Mr. Tapa and his wife demonstrate the extent of the
levels of viciousness that citizens are subjected to in the country and the
impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators.

For further information contact: W. Chibebe, ZCTU, 263- (011) 610593.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Age Melbourne

Now not the time for action on Zimbabwe: McKinnon
WELLINGTON, March 5, NZPA|Published: Tuesday March 5, 8:30 AM

Now was not the time to take tough action on Zimbabwe, Commonwealth
Secretary-General Don McKinnon said today.

Commonwealth leaders yesterday opted for a wait-and-see approach towards the
strife-torn African nation, deferring any action until after this weekend's
presidential election.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark wanted a stronger stance from the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Queensland.

The leadup to the election has been marred by violence against opposition
supporters, leading to severe doubts that the elections will be fair and

Clark said New Zealand might take its own sanctions against Zimbabwe.

McKinnon, a former New Zealand foreign minister who has headed the
Commonwealth for two years, said it was not his place to comment on the
stance of one leader.

But he felt one week before the election was not the right time for the
Commonwealth to take action, even if some felt there was already evidence
the elections would be undemocratic.

Nothing would happen until after South African President Thabo Mbeki,
Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Nigerian President Chief Olusegun
Obasanjo had considered the Commonwealth observers' post-election report.

If the report, due about six days after the ballot, judged voting was not
free and fair, McKinnon would then decide what action to take.

"The most important thing is having people there who are witnessing very
clearly what is happening, and can accordingly report," he told National
Radio this morning.

"There's no way that any Commonwealth leader wants to create a situation
where the Commonwealth becomes the enemy in this whole process."

Commonwealth decisions were reached by consensus, which was never easy,
McKinnon said.

Some leaders would have been pleased with yesterday's action, others less

Suspending Zimbabwe earlier would not have prevented the present violence,
McKinnon said.

"There's still a body of opinion in Zimbabwe that they want that engagement
with the Commonwealth," he said.

"They want those observers on the ground because they are the very people
who can give some people the chance to vote, when they otherwise might not
do so."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Real social change – or lies, violence, and privilege?
by Novasc Monday March 04, 2002 at 10:37 AM

A backgrounder on the Zimbabwean situation.

Zimbabwe 2002
Real social change – or lies, violence, and privilege?

Zimbabwe faces a presidential election on 9 and 10 March 2002 which is of
critical concern for the world civil society movement and for all militants
working for the realisation of the other world that is possible.

The pre-election period has been characterised by an extreme intolerance of
opposition and critical voices by the ruling party; violence, harassment and
intimidation of political opponents – essentially, a terror strategy - in
which scores of people have been killed; attempts to coerce people into
membership of the ruling party by demands for party cards at illegal
roadblocks and the restriction of civic and voter education; and draconian
security and media legislation to limit political campaigning by the
opposition. The substantive and real land reform issue has been manipulated
to appear as an issue of race and of Zimbabwe’s contention with Britain, and
has been carried out in a chaotic and corrupt manner and which has
significantly contributed to a serious (40% +) fall in food production since

Confronting forces in the election are
- an aging and discredited ruling party, ZANU(PF), in power since 1980, its
leaders drawn from the nationalist struggle of the 1970s, and with the
commandist and military traditions of that struggle informing their current
practice; and
- a broad coalition of social forces under the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), a political force led by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade

Key issues in the coming election will be:
- the restoration of the rule of law, under a people’s power dispensation
and constitution, with an independent and ethical judiciary and
professional, efficient and socially responsable armed and security
- the revival and reinvigoration of an economy that has been undermined by
global economic factors (structural adjustment from 1990) and by a corrupt
and self-serving elite;
- the establishment of a orderly and transparent but radical agrarian reform
- the demilitarisation of Zimbabwe and its disengagement from military
adventurism, for example in its longstanding, expensive and corrupt
engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- the establishment of freedom for peoples and civil society organisations
to organise and associate and to carry out their programmes
- a true analysis and understanding of the politics of liberation, moving
away from the era of national liberation movements to the era of peoples and
social movements.

Historical background

The liberation war of Zimbabwe (1967-1979) was a struggle against minority
(white) rule, in which the non-democratic and repressive policies privileged
a racial minority (never more than 4% of the population) with dominant land
ownership, control of wealth and social resources. An armed liberation
struggle eventually led to a negotiated agreement at Lancaster House in
1979, which led to elections and independence in April 1980.

A decade of social progress followed, with economic growth ranging between 5
and 10 % during much of the decade. Unused or underused capacity was made
productive, and by 1990 27% of the GDP was provided by manufacturing; a
largescale industrial agriculture provided the base of this industry, and a
significant mining sector was also active. Nonetheless, social
transformation was more problematic:
- military repression put down protest and terrorised the rural population
in Matebeleland in the mid1980s, resulting in some 8000 recorded deaths
directly caused by the repression;
- trade union action was harassed in practice and restricted by legal
- land reform moved very slowly, and was subject to a first wave of
corruption in which ruling party elite served their own interests first
- political opposition to the ruling party was attacked by youth militants
in the 1985 and 1990 elections;
- a concentration of power in the hands of the presidency occurred after the
constitutional change of 1987; the Executive State President, Mugabe, was
also President and First Secretary of the ruling party

The last decade saw the failure of government to take decisive steps in land
reform, the introduction with the complicity of the ruling elite of a
structural adjustment programme that saw industrial production drop to 19 %
by 1998, and which continues to involve a corrupt and destructive
privatization; a huge expenditure in 1997 to angry veterans of the war of
liberation (9% of annual budget) and the economically costly war involvement
in the Congo of one third of Zimbabwe’s large army.. largely to provide
security for enterprises of Zimbabwean military and political elite.

The context of the present election

The authoritarian, paternalist, arbitrary, monopolist, intolerant style of
the ruling party has resulted in an atmosphere of repression, fear and
resistance in the political domain. The unaccountability and the refusal to
accept the rule of law practiced by the ruling elite (under wide-ranging
Presidential Powers similar to a formal state of emergency) resulted in a
large-scale and broadly inclusive civil society campaign, called the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) which mobilised support for the
creation of a new peoples constitution, and which managed to defeat the
Government’s inadequate proposals to tinker with the constitution in a
referendum in February 2000.

Following more than a decade of increasingly negative relations between
social movements and civil society organisations with the ruling party, the
Movement for Democratic Change was launched in late 1999 with the central
role being played by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. It contested the
June 2000 parliamentary elections, winning 57 out of 120 elected seats,
despite undoubted electoral fraud. (In the previous parliament 3 seats were
held by opposition parties).

Following its defeat in the referendum in early 2000, the ruling party
launched a land invasion or occupation strategy of the industrial scale
farms owned principally by white Zimbabweans. A combination of party
militants, some war veterans, urban and rural unemployed youth, and poor
peasants were encouraged and supported (by political exhortation and
nationalist (and racist) rhetoric, transport provision, partisan police
presence) to occupy large farms and to divide them up. This policy, called
the fast-track land distribution policy, was also response to a 1998
conference on land reform which st conditions of orderliness and
transparency for international support for land; but principally it has to
be seen as populist attempt to garner or consolidate support among the rural
population, and also as a means to coerce and threaten potential political
opponents. The failure of the ruling party to support new “settlers” with
inputs for production may mean that this policy will backfire.

No-one denies that land reform is seriously and urgently needed. But the
chaotic, violent and corrupt process currently underway is not the way
forward, and is not based on peoples organisations and peoples interests.

The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy, involving runaway inflation (currently
112%), a major foreign currency crisis (and parallel market at 6 times the
official rate), the ballooning of the state’s debts both domestic and
international, and its defaulting on the repayments to the World Bank in
early 2001, a crisis of industrial and agricultural production which has led
to a massive increase in unemployment and underemployment, a food supply
shortfall for the first time since independence due to the disruption of
agriculture during 2000 and 2001 indicates the bankrupcy and incompetence of
the current government. The buying power of the Zimbabwe currency has been
hugely eroded, resulting in great hardships for those who remain in
employment. The opposition party MDC, a broad coalition with a largely
social democrat position has made it clear that stimulating growth and
redistribution will be among its key initial activities.

Partly as a result of structural adjustment but also due to the budget
pressures caused by the Congo War, the education and health sectors, and the
social welfare system have been undermined and demoralised; there has been a
significant brain drain from these and other professional sectors to
neighbouring countries and also to countries of the north (for examples,
Zimbabwean nurses are particularly in demand in the UK, where it is reported
that more than 20 000 currently are employed. Criminality has seen a
significant rise, as the police have been demoralised by being politically
manipulated, and where a form of political cleansing has taken place, in
which opponents (or suspected opponents) of the ruling party are removed
from office. This political cleansing also operates in the civil service and
in local authorities and municipalities, where perceived opponents are
removed or harassed.

Violence and fear
The coercion of rural people, and their instrumentalisation as support for a
ruling clique, has exacerbated the intolerance of opposition practiced by
the ruling party since its arrival in power in 1980. New forms of coercion
include a state sponsored training of youth to form a national youth
militia, who have recently become involved in illegal roadblocks to control
and search rural travellers; one requirement demanded is the ruling party
card. Even rural transport has become hazardous for rural people. Likewise,
the new Public Order and Security Act, which requires all public meetings
(of more than 3 people!) to be notified to the police, criminalises civil
disobedience, places extreme restrictions on public protests, has a broad
and disturbing category of breaching the peace, and provides for detention
without judicial rights for up to 7 days. Thus, political meetings and
rallies will be severely restricted, especially in this coming pre-electoral

Media strategy and lies
A key means of repression has been the attempts to control and manipulate
the media. Electronic media is monopolised by the state and de facto by the
ruling party – both television and radio may not be operated by any
organisation or company without the permission of the Minister of
Information. A new media law, passed into law yesterday (31 January 2002)
requires all journalists to be licenced by the Minister of Information,
restricts external media personnel, criminalises much political commentary.
It is widely seen as a means of suppressing independent expression in the
run-up to the forthcoming election.
The current use of the radio and television, and of the government owned
print media, consists of denigration and baseless allegations about the
imperialist basis and connection of the trade-union led opposition.

Electoral rules
Disenfranchisement of many potential voters, and the refusal to allow civil
society monitors and observers, and to ban the civil society organisations
from carrying out civic and voter education, will further distort the
preparations for the forthcoming elections, and will further reduce the
possibility that they can be seen as free and fair, and an accurate
expression of the people’s will.

Labour law
The Government is also introducing amendments to Labour law which in
particular will greatly reduce the possibilities and rights to strike action
by organised workers. The government and ruling party have also sponsored
parallel unions and federations to attempt to undermine and de-legitimise
the independent and established unions (including in the student sector).

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Committee (a broad coalition of more than 200 civil
society organisations) recently made the following points relating to the
way forward for returning Zimbabwe to the path of democratic and popular
development :

The immediate return to respect for human rights, democratic principles and
the rule of law, being the essential elements, include:
· The immediate cessation of all organised violence and torture;
· The immediate disbanding of all militia and in particular youth militia;
· The application of the rule of law without political favour;
· The restoration of non-partisan enforcement of the law by the police;
· The prosecution of all those involved in human rights violations;
· The repeal of all draconian legislation, including the Public Order and
Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and
the "Harmonised" Labour Act.
· The suspension of the use by the President of his powers under the
Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act;
· The establishment of an independent electoral commission;
· The acceptance that civil society organisations can carry out voter
· The conduct of the Presidential Election under a common roll instead of
under a system of constituency based voting;
· The allowance of postal voting by all Zimbabwean citizens outside
· The barring of the use by the President of the sweeping powers granted to
him under section 158 of the Electoral Act to interfere with the electoral

In relation to the forthcoming Presidential elections, the Crisis Committee
recommends that the Zimbabwe Government adhere to the election standards
adopted by the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) Parliamentary
Forum in March 2001, simplified by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network in
December 2001.

The Zimbabwe Government must undertake to allow the observation of the
upcoming elections in March 2002 by representatives of other countries,
regional and international bodies and local and international civic
organisations and that such observers should be permitted to commence their
observation immediately should they wish to do so.

Unless these measures are taken human rights will continue to be extensively
violated. No free and fair elections can take place if there is a
continuation of political violence and blatant manipulation of the electoral

International solidarity
International civil society can play a key role in assisting Zimbabwe in the
following ways:
- establishing contacts with civil society organisations in Zimbabwe (see
below) so as to provide solidarity and support
- lobbying their own governments, and relevant international organisations,
to be actively involved in raising concerns about Zimbabwe in international
fora, especially in the human rights, legal, media and labour sectors

Contacts: ZCTU
Crisis in Zimbabwe:; Chairperson, Crisis in



Further info from NNAP –NGO Network Alliance Project

[prepared for distribution at World Social Forum Porto Alegre February 2002]

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News


Mugabe bears striking resemblance to Nigeria’s Babangida

3/4/02 7:53:46 AM (GMT +2)

By Nyasha Nyakunu Deputy News Editor

AT the height of his reign, former Nigerian strongman, General Ibrahim
Badamasi Babangida, earned the nickname, Maradona, ostensibly because of the
smart Machiavellian tactics he employed to perpetuate his rule.

The socio-political and economic environment unfolding in Zimbabwe today has
an uncanny resemblance to the Babangida era in Nigeria.

As Zimbabwe's political path narrows towards the 9 and 10 March presidential
election, President Mugabe appears to have plucked several leaves from the
Babangida book.

The only discernible difference between the two African leaders where it
concerns maintaining a firm grip on power, lies in their political

Mugabe came to power through popular elections at independence in 1980,
while Babangida assumed the mantle through a palace coup in 1985.

Mugabe faces his stiffest challenge in the presidential race from Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition MDC leader.

Ironically, Mugabe was among leading statesmen who spearheaded campaigns
during Nigeria's dark period to return that country to democracy.

The diplomatic offensives came into play when General Sani Abacha came to
power after Babangida annulled the 12 June 1993 presidential election won by
tycoon, Moshood Abiola, who died in custody.

Several years later, the clock of history appears to have moved backwards
for Zimbabwe as roles are reversed for almost similar political iniquities.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is presently on the forefront of
international campaigns aimed at restoring the rule of law in Zimbabwe and
securing an orderly land redistribution exercise.

As for Babangida, he was a skillful political player who managed to keep the
100 million-plus Nigerian population stultified as he created confusion on
the political landscape thereby delaying the transition to civilian rule.

This he managed to achieve through a plethora of decrees
after suspending the Constitution as is the tradition with military juntas.

Babangida, a wily politician, paraded himself as a people's leader through
carrot-and-stick policies designed solely to perpetuate his rule.

Through extra-budgetary spending, loans were doled out to the urban and
rural poor.

In Zimbabwe, the build-up to the presidential poll has seen the ruling Zanu
PF pumping out millions of dollars towards income-generating projects to
"improve the well-being" of the country's disadvantaged groups.

According to Nigerian political scientists writing in the book, The
Political Economy of Nigeria Under Military Rule (1984-1993), Babangida
assumed that the Treasury was his personal account.

Those people who were seen as being too vocal and opposed to the government
were settled with money.

Obasanjo, who was watching from the sidelines then, described Babangida's
style of government by donations, as the "settlement syndrome".

Interest groups and individuals who could not be settled were persecuted or
repressed .

Vocal segments of the Nigerian elite were co-opted into the government.

Prince Bola Ajibola, the vocal president of the Nigerian Bar Association,
for instance, was made Minister of Justice.

When the chips started falling for Mugabe, he had no hesitation hugging
Professor Jonathan Moyo, his erstwhile rabid critic in his heyday as a
political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

Since he was drafted into government as Minister of State for Information
and Publicity, Moyo has joined the bandwagon of the anti-democratic forces
within the rank and file of Zanu PF.

In Nigeria, popular musicians, such as Majek Fashek and Sonny Okosun, were
engaged to support Babangida's policies.

If one compares the trend and style of politics with the Zimbabwean
scenario, images of our own musicians, Andy Brown and Dickson "Chinx"
Chingaira, immediately appear on the political screen.

To perpetrate his politics of deceit, Babangida sponsored several dubious
civic associations to parrot his commitment to democracy and good

Heritage Zimbabwe, Inyika Trust, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions and
Zanu PF Supporters Network fit the glove of the Babangida gamesmanship.

The Nigerian government was run by a clique that was unwaveringly loyal to
Babangida and his confidantes.

The run-up to the presidential race has seen Mugabe relying heavily on
loyalists like Moyo, Joseph Made, the Minister of Agriculture, Patrick
Chinamasa, who heads the Justice Ministry, and Elliot Manyika, the Minister
of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation.

To complement the efforts of the ministers, certain church leaders have also
been baited.

Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, head of the Harare diocese of the Anglican Church,
sticks out.

At a national prayer day-cum-Zanu PF rally, a drooling Kunonga told the
congregation in the presence of Mugabe, for maximum effect, that the
Zimbabwean leader was a better Christian than himself.

In the same vein of the cult syndrome, one Nigerian judge described
Babangida as a Kabiyesi ­ one with divine and unquestionable powers or
someone who is the equivalent of an unquestionable monarch.

A public relations firm was even hired to spruce the Nigerian government's
image in the United States and serve as lobbyists for Nigeria in the US
Congress as criticism mounted against Babangida.

The Harare government employed a similar marketing strategy during the
formative stages of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.

Mugabe engaged Cohen and Woods, an American public relations firm, in a
frantic bid to forestall passage of the Bill. The legislation, which imposes
personal sanctions against the Zanu PF leader and other senior government
officials in the wake of the breakdown of law and order, is now in force.

Back to Nigeria, Babangida promulgated several decrees which were amended by
yet more decrees to suppress public opinion, freedom of the Press, movement
and association.

Several editors and journalists were subsequently detained, their
publications banned, while newspapers were incessantly seized by the regime.

Zimbabwean journalists have undergone similar experience.

Several roadblocks were mounted to make it virtually impossible for
opposition parties to flourish when the Nigerian population was conned into
believing that Babangida was pro-democracy after he lifted the ban on
opposition politics.

This is how he played the game.

Following the lifting of the ban, opposition parties were given only two
months within which to meet certain stringent

Each political party was required to have offices in all the federal and
state capitals, local government headquarters and wards.

They were also expected to produce passport-size photographs, names and
addresses for each and everyone of their members within the stipulated

Eighty-eight political parties mushroomed following the lifting of the ban,
but only 13 submitted their applications to be registered accompanied by
lorry-loads of passport-size photographs of respective members.

This was just another subtle decree to prolong his stay in power as one can
only imagine the amount of time it would have taken to sift through the
piles of photographs and other documentation.

The run-up to the 9 and 10 March presidential election has seen the
enactment or failed bids to come up with anti-democratic laws to stifle
freedom of the Press and disenfranchise the electorate.

In that regard, Zimbabwe's Parliament recently enacted the draconian Public
Order and Security Act, the General Laws Amendment Act and the Electoral Act
to curtail basic human freedoms and to disenfranchise sections of the
electorate in the hope of diluting the vote for the opposition.

The equally repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill,
crafted by Moyo, only sailed through Parliament after heated debate which
saw more than 50 of its unconstitutional clauses being either struck off or

Meanwhile, as Babangida continued to hoodwink the electorate, renowned
Nigerian international academic and human rights activist, Wole Soyinka, had
this to say of the army general nicknamed Maradona:

"Babangida craved power . . . it however, corrupted him thoroughly, and all
the more disastrously, because he came to identify the people of Nigeria and
her resources as his own personal wealth.

"His fatal error was that he began to play against himself and scored his
own goal."

Nevertheless, through his political wizardry, Babangida managed to
perpetuate his stay at the helm for a cool eight years before his inglorious

Will the same tactics work for Mugabe as he seeks a further six-year term in
addition to his 22-year reign?

The answer is only a week away.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

Maize deliveries grossly inadequate, says Robertson

3/4/02 7:46:30 AM (GMT +2)

Business Editor

STATISTICS being regularly released by the State media about maize
deliveries to Zimbabwe won’t help solve the country’s food problems, says
John Robertson, an economic consultant.

Robertson told a breakfast meeting of the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries in Harare last week that the country needed “at least” 150 000
tonnes of maize a month to survive the crisis.

The economist said the looming drought had “nothing to do with the shortage
but that advice was not followed by the authorities when it was given”.

Robertson said what was being published by the print and electronic media
was mere “politicking which would haunt the individuals when the truth came

Robertson said: “We need 150 000 tonnes of maize a month. If we get very
technical, we need a 32-tonne truck every 10
minutes for 24 hours a day in order to feed the nation. When we hear of 1
600 tonnes landing in the country this becomes laughable because it will be
finished in the morning.”

Conservative statistics show that the country needs at least US$450 million
(Z$24,7 billion) for the import exercise.

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made,
has been at pains to tell the nation that
Zimbabwe has sufficient maize stocks to last until the next

Disputing figures given by prominent international organisations such as the
World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Made said
the organisations were being alarmist because there were sufficient maize

Robertson said the only way Zimbabwe would be able to import maize at a
“manageable cost” would be through help from the donor community.

“Never in the history of Zimbabwe have we been more in need of friends,”
Robertson said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

50 000 attend Tsvangirai rally

3/4/02 11:09:41 AM (GMT +2)

By Pedzisai Ruhanya

MORGAN Tsvangirai, the MDC’s presidential candidate, yesterday addressed his
biggest campaign rally ever since launching his bid to dislodge President
Mugabe from power.

About 50 000 supporters attended Tsvangirai’s main rally at the Zimbabwe
Grounds in Highfield suburb where he urged Mugabe not to rig the poll.

About 200 police officers maintained their presence around the suburb and at
the venue to ensure law and order was maintained throughout the proceedings.

“We are meeting today not because of Mugabe’s generosity but because our
people want change. We are going into the election under protest because the
electoral process is not free and fair,” said Tsvangirai.

“If Mugabe tries to rig the election he will be an illegitimate president
because our people know that change is now irreversible. I urge all of you
to go out in large numbers and vote to avoid this rigging, to determine the
country’s future.”

He said immediately after his election into office, he will restore law and
order in the country so that all Zimbabweans, irrespective of their
political affiliation, will do their business in a peaceful environment.

Tsvangirai said: “So many people have been killed, houses burnt and we
should not betray them by voting for Zanu PF. We have to end lawlessness in
the country in order to create jobs, open up new industries and fight
against HIV/Aids as a nation.”

He said the war veterans should be thanked for the role they played in the
liberation of the country but they should not hold the people to ransom by
beating up opponents of Zanu PF.

“The police and other security agents, including members of the Central
Intelligence Organisation, should know that they are working for the country
not Mugabe. They have nothing to be afraid of if they are part of our
national institutions but we do not need those who believe that they work
for Zanu PF,” he said.

He said an MDC government will import food to feed the nation until March
next year.

Tsvangirai said he has information that Zanu PF plans to bring maize-meal
and other basic commodities into the shops over the weekend so that urban
voters will rush to buy the food and stop voting.

Tsvangirai said traditional leaders will be given their autonomy without
turning them against the people as Ian Smith and Mugabe have done.

“The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation believes that land is the only
problem we have in this country. I say shame on them.

“We will deal with land redistribution in a transparent, lawful and
equitable manner not just dumping people like Zanu PF is doing. We need jobs
through opening of new industries among other issues,” Tsvangirai said.

He castigated Kaire Mbuende, the head of the Namibian observer mission for
saying political violence cases had been exaggerated by the media only a day
after his arrival in the country.

“How can someone have the moral audacity to say political violence is being
exaggerated, contrary to what is on the ground? Thank you Mbuende. You can
go back to Namibia. We do not need you,” he said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

Police raid MDC Mutare offices, seize property

3/4/02 11:14:39 AM (GMT +2)

From Our Correspondent in Mutare

THE police in Mutare last Wednesday night stormed the MDC offices and seized
property worth thousands of dollars.

MDC officials, including Pishai Muchauraya, the party spokesman in
Manicaland, were placed under house arrest for more than 15 hours.

The property seized included 210kg bag of maize-meal meant to feed about 8
000 people displaced by political violence, and 828 cans of spray paint.

Earlier this month, the police raided the same offices, saying they were
searching for arms of war.

On Wednesday night six armed policemen surrounded the MDC offices.
Muchauraya said upon seeing them, the MDC officials locked themselves in one
of the offices.

Five policemen, two of them armed with AK47 rifles, were standing guard in
front of the offices when The Daily News crew arrived at the scene.

Election observers from South Africa and Norway were at a loss for words at
the police action. The MDC members only opened the doors after journalists
and the international observers arrived.

On Thursday, reinforcements, including Central Intelligence Organisation
officers, were deployed at the offices, this time armed with a search
warrant. They confiscated a camera.

A policeman, who identified himself as Assistant Inspector
Nyamukova, said: “All we want is Muchauraya’s camera because he took
pictures of us yesterday and today.”

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News

Mugabe appeals for support

3/4/02 11:08:55 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday addressed three low-key rallies in Harare and
Chitungwiza during which he told his supporters to vote for him or risk
losing the land allocated to them under the fast-track land resettlement
programme if Morgan Tsvangirai comes into power.

Mugabe addressed rallies in Mbare, Glen Norah and Chitungwiza.

In Mbare, Mugabe warned his supporters not to vote for the opposition MDC,
saying the party did not represent the wishes of the majority.

All the rallies were characterised by a low turnout.

At all the three rallies, Mugabe addressed a total of about 20 000

War veterans’ chairman and Zanu PF political commissar for Harare, Joseph
Chinotimba, urged Zanu PF supporters to vote for Amos Midzi, who is
contesting for the Harare mayoral seat.

Mugabe repeated his attacks on the British government. He accused the
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of supporting Tsvangirai, the MDC

In Chitungwiza, Mugabe addressed a rally attended by mainly members of the
Johanne Masowe Apostolic sect.

During the three rallies, there was a heavy police presence which some
residents said was very intimidating. Some Glen Norah residents said they
attended Mugabe’s rally because they feared reprisals if they stayed at

Contrary to the conditions outlined in the Public Order and Security Act,
Zanu PF supporters were bussed to all the rallies in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Monday, 4 March, 2002, 18:14 GMT
Opposition anger at Zimbabwe deal
Supporters of President Mugabe
The opposition says the election will not be fair
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has criticised a Commonwealth decision to take no action against the country before presidential elections later this week.

Tendai Biti, MDC shadow minister for foreign affairs, said the Commonwealth should have carried out its earlier threat to suspend Zimbabwe, given that state-sponsored violence against the opposition had got worse.

The decision... is a bitter disappointment to the MDC

Tendai Biti,
"A free and fair election is clearly impossible at this late stage in the proceedings," he said.

But a spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party welcomed the Commonwealth's ruling, under which a three-member committee will be set up to decide future action based on the findings of the group's election observers.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says the Commonwealth decision was a painful compromise between member countries.

Britain and Australia had pushed for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension, while others such as Tanzania and Namibia opposed any discussion at all.


Hours after the deal had been announced, police in Zimbabwe broke up a meeting in a Harare hotel between Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, and foreign diplomats.

They had been in the middle of discussing food shortages in the country when officers went in and declared the gathering illegal.


I cannot wait for the elections to be over. Perhaps then I will be able to live a normal life

Barbara, a teacher
arrow More voices from Zimbabwe

In other incidents, an MDC spokesman said three activists were being held at a ruling party base south-west of the capital.

A group of militants supporting the ruling party had also attacked shops owned by an opposition supporter, he said.

The three-member Commonwealth committee, or troika, is made up of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Analysts say President Robert Mugabe is likely to be pleased with the deal as Nigeria and South Africa have in the past opposed sanctions on Harare.

A statement from the summit in Coolum, Queensland, said possible measures against Mr Mugabe's government range from "collective disapproval to suspension", if the poll is not free or fair.

Mr Howard said it had not been easy to reach a deal which was a "quick, sure and fair mechanism".

Opposition MDC supporter hurt after being attacked by Mugabe followers
The opposition said it wanted action not words against Mr Mugabe

"I think it's a credible outcome for the Commonwealth," he added.

Significantly, Zimbabwe had been party to the agreement, President Obasanjo told the BBC.

"Frankly, and without any feeling of 'oh, I have lost out or I have won', there's no winner, no loser. The consensus agreement we have reached, we are all the better for it," Mr Obasanjo said.

But British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the summit ought to have gone all the way.

"The case for suspending Zimbabwe now, I think, is very plain," Mr Blair said.

Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, described Britain's stance as "disgraceful", when he made an impromptu appearance at the summit.

President Mugabe himself has reportedly called on Mr Blair to keep his "pink nose" out of Zimbabwe's affairs.

Despite the summit's condemnation of violence in the run-up to the election, the statement refrained from blaming Mr Mugabe or his Zanu-PF party for it.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zealand Herald

Editorial: Apathy in Africa works for Mugabe


If there is anything more disturbing than the behaviour of President Robert
Mugabe of Zimbabwe, it is the reluctance of African member countries of the
Commonwealth at the heads of government meeting in Australia at the weekend
to support punitive measures against him. The kindest construction to place
on the attitude of African leaders is that they know, better than the likes
of New Zealand, that Commonwealth criticism may be counter-productive in an
African electorate. Already Mr Mugabe is trying to turn outside criticism to
political advantage in his election campaign.

But the lengths to which Mr Mugabe has gone to intimidate opposition and
voters eclipse any such considerations. This is not a campaign that will be
won by argument and oratory. There was a time Mr Mugabe could have won most
contests on those skills, but that era has long gone. His rule has been so
wrong-headed that he stands utterly discredited in the eyes of educated
Zimbabweans, and he has had to turn vicious to have any hope of surviving
the election due this weekend.

It is unlikely that the strongest possible Commonwealth condemnation now
could dissuade him from the course he is on. But the lack of some such
condemnation can only encourage his resolve. It tells his opponents they can
expect no support from an organisation that claims to uphold civil liberties
and democracy. If the Commonwealth cannot take a stand when its heads of
government get together, it probably never will.

The meeting has discussed a plan to act on a report of the election within
the fortnight after the poll. Zimbabweans will not be holding their breath.
It is hard to see action coming from a report compiled by a Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group after the event. Worse, perhaps, the indecision and
division at the Coolum conference have told Zimbabwean voters that fellow
African leaders evidently see nothing untoward in Mr Mugabe's techniques.

It is worth recalling some of those techniques. He has recruited a mob of
unemployed youths, trained them in tactics of intimidation and sent them out
to break up opposition campaigns, beat up and sometimes kill suspected
opponents of the regime and generally scare people away from the election.

There have been about 100 killings in the campaign so far. Influential
people in villages, such as teachers and nurses, have been systematically
threatened and sometimes beaten up. Many have fled to the cities or
emigrated. Like the seizure of white-owned farms by Mr Mugabe's supporters,
the terror he is wreaking for his electoral purposes, is driving money and
skills out of the country and further ruining its economy.

Even without resorting to violence, Mr Mugabe would have held all the
electoral cards. He controls the broadcast media which faithfully accuses
his main opponent of plotting to assassinate him and hand the country back
to colonial masters. Most outside media have been barred during the
campaign. The law prevents opponents from publicly denigrating the
President, which makes election debates rather one-sided. The President, of
course, is under no such constraint.

The electoral law has been amended to allow only state-approved monitors to
oversee the voting and the count. And, unbelievably, it is now illegal for
organisations to tell voters that the ballot is supposed to be secret.

Despite all this, the opposition campaign is holding rallies in cities and
more private gatherings elsewhere. Mr Mugabe, for his part, is concentrating
on the the countryside, hoping to gather enough support from his rural Shona

Unofficial surveys suggest he could yet lose. Barely 25 per cent say they
intend to vote for Mr Mugabe, against 70 per cent for his opponent, Morgan
Tsvangirai. But it defies belief that a president who has gone to
extraordinary lengths to poison the poll would now be content to let the
votes fall as they may.

The election can produce only one credible result, and few in the
Commonwealth expect to see it. African leaders, sadly, seem content to look
the other way.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe's opposition chides African leaders

HARARE, March 4 — Zimbabwe's main opposition party accused African leaders
on Monday of turning their backs on democracy by blocking Commonwealth
sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's government.
       The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) stated its ''bitter
disappointment'' that Commonwealth leaders meeting in Australia deferred any
action against Mugabe until after next weekend's presidential elections.
       ''Democracy in sub-Saharan Africa is at a delicate stage,'' the MDC
said in a statement in Harare.
       Without naming any individual African leader at the summit, it said
some had ''become accomplices to the crimes being committed by the
Zimbabwean government against its own people.''
       Britain, the former colonial power, summit host Australia and New
Zealand had pushed for sanctions or suspension against Mugabe's government,
accusing it of human rights abuses and trying to fix the March 9-10
       Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has pushed legislation through
parliament that critics say is aimed at restricting the opposition and
helping Mugabe winning the election.
       MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has mounted the strongest challenge to
Mugabe since he took office in 1980 at independence from Britain.
       After heated debate, the Commonwealth leaders on Monday appointed a
committee of Australia, Nigeria and South Africa to decide on action ranging
from ''collective disapproval to suspension'' once election observers report
back on the poll.
       The successful resistance against sanctions was led by African states
who account for about a third of the 54 countries in the Commonwealth.
       ''We as a party would like to express our disappointment,'' the MDC's
foreign affairs spokesman, Tendai Biti, told a news conference in Harare.
       He objected to the Mugabe government's portrayal of Britain as the
cause of pre-election tension in Zimbabwe.
       ''It is not a Zimbabwe-British crisis. It is a crisis of human
rights, a crisis of leadership...
       ''This is the message that we would like a few of our African
brothers to have understood,'' Biti said.
       ''There is serious violence in Zimbabwe, serious assault on the rule
of law. We in the MDC have lost at least 34 people since January 1,'' he
       The MDC says the elections cannot be free and fair because of
violence and other issues like the alleged partiality of the government body
supervising the vote.
       Earlier on Monday Zimbabwean police stopped a meeting at a luxury
hotel between the MDC and dozens of foreign diplomats.
       ''If meetings can be stopped in a five-star hotel in Harare, imagine
what can be done in rural areas,'' Biti said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

ZIMBABWE: CHOGM panel to monitor Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG, 4 March (IRIN) - The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) has given a three-person panel the authority to initiate action against Zimbabwe - should the presidential election on 9-10 March be deemed not free and fair.

The CHOGM decided not to take any action against Zimbabwe until after the election, in which President Robert Mugabe faces the toughest challenge yet to his two-decade rule from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

CHOGM's statement on Zimbabwe expressed "deep concern about incidents of violence and intimidation surrounding the election campaign" following reports of torture of opposition supporters by ruling party militia.

The co-author of one such report, Dr Hans Draminsky Petersen of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), said the Zimbabwean government could no longer deny that opposition supporters have been tortured and harassed.

Last month the Zimbabwean government dismissed the PHR report as "sickening disinformation". However, the CHOGM statement, in light of such reports of human rights abuses, has left the way open for sanctions and the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

CHOGM's three-man panel consists of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. They will "in close consultation with the secretary-general, and taking into account the Commonwealth Observer Group Report... determine appropriate Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe in the event the report is adverse". Such action would range "from collective disapproval to suspension".

The PHR report was co-authored by Shari Epple of the Amani Trust, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that documents torture, and Petersen, a founder of PHR in Denmark. They had documented cases of severe torture and harassment of MDC supporters, allegedly by ruling ZANU-PF militants, in rural Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa, Danson Mudekunye, had told IRIN last month that the PHR report was "sickening disinformation" and "utter nonsense".

Apart from instances of torture and the denial of healthcare to opposition party supporters, the PHR report also contained allegations that identity documents (IDs) of MDC supporters were being stolen to prevent them from voting.

Petersen has now written to Mudekunye to defend his report. He wrote: "Our own findings document organised and planned torture and other human rights abuses committed by ZANU-PF supporters against persons identified by the perpetrators as supporters of the political opposition.

"We had statements from torture victims who clearly needed hospital care for injuries caused by torture that a document issued by the police was necessary to be allowed treatment in hospital."

The report by PHR stated: "In three cases, the police issued documents apparently necessary at any hospital (in a particular district in southern Zimbabwe) in order for health staff to be allowed to administer treatment to people who arrive with obviously politically motivated injuries. In one case in this district they refused to write the needed letter, resulting in a 24-hour delay of treatment at the hospital. Treatment was eventually given only as the result of the victim having a relative on the hospital staff."

Petersen was in rural Zimbabwe in mid-January and took statements from torture victims.

"But of course, I may be wrong and (Mudekunye) right, although (Mudekunye does not) give any reference or argument (to substantiate his claim). Three of the torture victims that we examined reported that the perpetrators (ZANU-PF supporters) robbed their ID cards. We state that this means that the victims thereby are deprived of the possibility to vote," said Petersen

A voter must produce his or her ID card at the polling station, or a drivers licence or passport. "According to local experience, the authorities for the time being only issue very few new ID cards, allegedly because of lack of time," Petersen said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mugabe puts Blair at heart of Zimbabwe campaign

HARARE, March 4 — President Robert Mugabe has made Tony Blair a central
player in Zimbabwe's presidential election.
       The incumbent is treating Britain's prime minister like a born-again
colonialist, itching to regain control of a country which won independence
in 1980 after one of Africa's most bitter liberation wars.

       The strategy, analysts say, is aimed at reminding Zimbabwe's 13
million people about the inferior status of the black majority in
white-ruled Rhodesia.
       The obsessive focus on Blair's Britain also diverts attention from
more mundane issues like a collapsing economy, corruption and Mugabe's
22-year grip on power.
       BLAIR THE ''BLIAR''
       At rally after rally before this weekend's voting, Mugabe has
dismissed his real opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for
Democratic Change, as a third-rate stooge and ''tea boy'' of British
       Not that 78-year-old Mugabe, whose studies during 11 years in
detention earned him a string of university degrees, shows much respect for
Blair, 30 years his junior.
       ''How can a prime minister, the prime minister of a country like
Britain, behave as if he were a street kid?,'' Mugabe asked 4,000 supporters
of his ZANU-PF party at a rally in Harare.
       He said Blair -- disparaged as ''Bliar'' in the ruling party's
election advertising -- had shown poor judgment by overtly supporting
Tsvangirai's MDC.
       ''What if ZANU-PF wins, as we shall win?
       ''We are not learners being put in class by Britain, less still by a
young politician like Blair. He has a lot to learn.''
       Relations have been at a low ebb for a few years now. Mugabe's
contempt for homosexuals -- there are several in Blair's cabinet -- is one
major source of acrimony between them.
BRITISH SETBACK ON SANCTIONS Mugabe's campaign A-team has picked up the
       Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told Blair to ''shut up'' on
Sunday when both were in Australia for a Commonwealth summit.
       Britain failed to win the group's agreement to impose sanctions on
Zimbabwe before the March 9-10 elections on the grounds that intimidation
and cheating by ZANU-PF had already prevented a free and fair ballot.
       But African leaders at the summit sided with Mugabe's delegation and
insisted that Commonwealth and other observers should assess the quality of
the election before a decision.
       Britain's setback was hailed as a triumph by Zimbabwe's state media,
fitting neatly into the anti-Blair strategy.
       ''Mugabe's rival candidate is Blair,'' said Lovemore Madhuku,
chairman of the pro-MDC National Constitutional Assembly.
       ''They (ZANU-PF) have actually sat down and thought out the Blair
thing and said let's go for it -- an anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist
       Demonising Zimbabwe's whites, particularly commercial farmers, is
part of the strategy. The community is ageing and down to no more than
70,000 -- a quarter of the number at independence -- but state media portray
most whites as Blair's agents in the field, running the MDC.
       The question to be answered at the weekend is whether the Zimbabwean
electorate will give Mugabe the same backing as African leaders in the
       The pro-opposition Zimbabwe Standard newspaper thinks not.
       ''What serious politician spends 80 per cent of his campaign time
attacking his opponent and foreign countries instead of explaining to
potential voters what he has to offer for them?'' it asked in an editorial.
       Tsvangirai agrees.
       ''Does it bring bread on the table to keep attacking Blair?'' he
asked supporters at an MDC rally on Sunday.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Age, Melbourne

Code of conduct aims to prevent Zimbabwe poll violence
HARARE, March 4 AFP|Published: Monday March 4, 10:50 PM

With five days to go before Zimbabwe holds historic presidential elections,
polling authorities today helped party officials finalise a code of conduct
aimed at preventing violence after a campaign that has claimed 31 lives.

"We are trying to create a mature way of dealing with ... political
differences," Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, chairman of the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC), told AFP.

He said six representatives of three political parties were finalising a
code of conduct that will be applied before, during and after the polling on
Saturday and Sunday.

Gula-Ndebele was speaking on the sidelines of a one-day seminar on conflict
management being run in conjunction with the Electoral Institute of Southern
Africa, a non-governmental organisation.

ESC spokesman Thomas Bvuma said the major component of the code of conduct
was the prohibition of violence.

"Even when there is no elections, parties should be able to solve their
conflicts peacefully rather than solve them violently," Bvuma said.

"Really it's a question of trying to avoid violence," he said.

Asked whether it was too late to try to get parties to agree such a code
after at least 31 people have been killed since the start of the year,
according to human rights groups, Gula-Ndebele said: "We don't think it's a
bit late. Yes, it would have been better to have it earlier, but it is
better late than never."

A special conflict management lawyer, Charles Nupen from the International
Labour Organisation office in South Africa, is advising the parties on
details of the code of conduct.

Meanwhile about 50 polling agent supervisors were also undergoing training
in the capital by the ESC today.

They are expected to train their own party polling agents in the coming
days. Each party is to have a polling agent for each of the 5,400 polling
stations across the country.

"Yes, this may be coming a bit late but we hope it will be useful," Bvuma

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe police stop Tsvangirai meeting envoys

HARARE, March 4 — Zimbabwe police stopped opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai from briefing foreign diplomats on Monday on his plans if he
ousts President Robert Mugabe in elections this weekend, witnesses said.

       Diplomats present said police called Tsvangirai out of a meeting at a
top Harare hotel with about 30 foreign envoys and told him the gathering
called by his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was illegal.
       The few pre-election polls show that Tsvangirai has a real chance of
unseating Mugabe, who has held power for 22 years, after a runup to the
polls that has been marred by violence.
       Foreign observers were shown evidence on Monday of more violence near
Bulawayo. Locals blamed government supporters.
       Spanish Ambassador Javier Sandomingo told Reuters the disruption of
the meeting with Tsvangirai was unprecedented.
       ''We have the right and the duty under the Vienna Convention to talk
to political forces when we think it's appropriate,'' he said.
       Tsvangirai was expounding to diplomats his party's transition
programme if he beats Mugabe in the March 9-10 poll.
       A police spokesman said he was unaware of the incident but was
checking the report.
       As the final countdown to the election began, Commonwealth leaders
meeting in Australia rejected British-led calls to penalise Mugabe for
failing to ensure a fair campaign, but said steps would be taken if the
election was not free and fair.
       In a compromise after three days of heated debate, the 54 mostly
ex-British colonies agreed on Monday that a three-nation task force would
decide on action ranging from ''collective disapproval to suspension'' if
the poll was not democratic.
       The MDC said it was disappointed at the decision, but spokesman
Learnmore Jongwe said the party would concentrate this week on shoring up
support to make sure it won the election.

       Villagers near Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, an MDC stronghold,
meanwhile showed foreign election observers the results of an alleged attack
by pro-government militants, saying five people were wounded and six
homesteads were destroyed.
       ''We had to run for our lives as they were axing some people and we
couldn't stay to try and save our property,'' one villager told observers
outside a shattered homestead in St Pauls, about 30 km (20 miles) from the
southern city.
       Bulawayo police Inspector Manzini Moyo told the observers, from the
Commonwealth, South Africa and Norway, he was aware of the attack early on
Sunday and said it was a serious incident, but he declined to give further
       Witnesses led the observers to charred homesteads, saying they had
lost everything they owned in the attack.
       They said about 600 youths wearing t-shirts of the ruling ZANU-PF
party rampaged through the settlement, wielding sticks, clubs and axes.
       One woman said five people were seriously wounded in Sunday's attack
and were taken to a hospital in Bulawayo.
       ''We have had nothing to eat since yesterday because all our food was
burnt and I have no clothes except this that am wearing now,'' another woman
told Reuters.
       The MDC says at least 107 of its members and supporters have died in
political violence over the past two years. Many of its rallies have been
blocked or disrupted.
       Tsvangirai also faces treason charges linked to a video purporting to
show him discussing Mugabe's assassination with security consultants in
Canada. He denies the charges.
       In an editorial, Zimbabwe's privately owned Daily News lamented the
decision by African leaders in the Commonwealth to side with Mugabe.
       ''It is ironic that when the world was focusing attention on Bosnia
and Kosovo, it was accused of ignoring Africa. Yet when it repeatedly points
out Africa's shortcomings, it is accused of seeking to recolonise the
continent,'' the paper said.
       Mugabe's ZANU-PF is campaigning largely on the claim that the MDC and
Tsvangirai are stooges of Britain, the former colonial power, and of
Zimbabwe's tiny white minority of around 70,000 in a population of 13
       Tsvangirai charges that Mugabe has wrecked a once vibrant economy,
reducing many to poverty.
(With additional reporting by Emelia Sithole in Bulawayo

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Tsvangirai not only Zimbabwe challenger to Mugabe

HARARE, March 4 — The spotlight is on Morgan Tsvangirai's challenge to
President Robert Mugabe in this weekend's election in Zimbabwe, but there
are another three candidates waiting in the wings.
       The three, dismissed by many political analysts as presiodential
no-hopers, are running low-level campaigns far from the limelight.

       The few pre-election polls show that only Tsvangirai, a former trade
unionist and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has a real
chance of unseating Mugabe in the March 9-10 election.
       The private Daily News has called the others spoilers with no
coherent political agendas and said none would be recognised by voters if
their pictures appeared without captions.
       But Shakespeare Maya, 48, of the little-known National Alliance for
Good Governance (NAGG) sees himself as a serious candidate to end Mugabe's
22-year grip on power.
       Wilson Kumbula and Paul Siwela, both disowned by their largely
regionally based political parties, insist they can beat both Mugabe and

       ''Only those who don't know what support we enjoy on the ground
regard me as an outsider in this contest,'' said Maya, a social scientist
who runs a private research institute.
       ''The media has taken sides without realising how desperate the
people of Zimbabwe are for the middle course, which is neither (ruling)
ZANU-PF nor MDC and which to pursue with solid social and economic
policies,'' he said.
       Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos, whom the government accuses of
opposition bias, said the three had failed to refute charges that they are
there with Mugabe's blessing to split the opposition vote or bolster an
image of multiparty democracy.
       ''Whatever these guys are saying, it looks like they are stuck with
the label that they are spoilers and ZANU-PF quislings,'' he told Reuters.

       Siwela, a 41-year-old former school teacher, is standing as an
independent after his small ZAPU party refused to back his nomination over
charges that he was being pushed into the race by the ruling party.
       ZAPU claims the support of most of the nation's southwestern Ndebele
tribe, which comprises around 16 percent of the population behind the 71
percent of Mugabe's Shona tribe.
       Siwela denies that he is a spoiler and says he will emerge the winner
of this weekend's election.

       Kumbula, 58, sits in parliament for the small ZANU-Ndonga party --
which has maintained support in the eastern Chipinge district, the rural
home of its founder president Ndabaningi Sithole who died more than a year
       ZANU-Ndonga went to court to challenge Kumbula's election as party
president. The case is scheduled to be heard after the presidential
       ''The election result is going to prove to everybody that I am not
running just to add to the numbers,'' he told Reuters.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Monday, 4 March, 2002, 15:40 GMT
Zimbabwe: Will the Commonwealth deal work?
Commonwealth leaders have agreed to set up a three-member body to consider measures against Zimbabwe.

Under a deal reached at talks in Australia, the committee will be made up of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The leaders will decide on any possible action to take against Zimbabwe based on the findings of the group's election observers deployed in the country.

Although the three-member body will have the power to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, there is no commitment to any particular action even if the poll on 9-10 March is not free and fair.

Do you think that the Commonwealth body will help to resolve the turmoil in Zimbabwe? Should sanctions still be imposed against the country? HAVE YOUR SAY

I hope I am wrong, but I do not think this will help. What seems to be clear from the last few months is that the African leaders think first about protection for fellow African leaders and only secondly about protection of African peoples. This includes their own peoples in Mbeki¿s case, as Zimbabwe drags the SA economy and credibility downwards. The club rules will not be broken, because each one of them knows that they might be the next one under pressure.
Ally, Scotland

I can appreciate the African leaders in the commonwealth being sick of the West trying to "rule the world" and this is why they are having trouble in deciding what to do with Zimbabwe. The problem though, as we all now know, is with Mugabe and his greedy henchmen who know what will happen to them when they eventually come of power, and these are the people that need to be eradicated.
John Williams, UK

I pray that the people will go to the polls and vote for Morgan.

Muungwe Tom, Zimbabwe
I have noticed that many, if not all the people that have responded to this question are from other countries, not Zimbabwe. Why is this so? I suppose it is because them and their families have not lived under the oppressive rule of Mugabe and his party. As for us Zimbabweans, I think it is time for Mugabe to go. We would rather struggle under a different government that to continue to be oppressed by a person like Mugabe. He has enriched himself and his cronies over the years whilst the masses suffer. We have had enough of him. I pray that the people will go to the polls and vote for Morgan. The international community will come to our aid if the president changes. Enough of Mugabe and his greedy people.
Muungwe Tom, Zimbabwe

I find the attitude of the African leaders objecting to sanctions in Zimbabwe somewhat predictable. What has caused the real lasting problems in Africa is that power seems to always concentrate into the hands of a very small number of determined men. Countries like Nigeria and South Africa seem to have formed a somewhat distasteful bond of solidarity with a man they see as helping them resist the meddling west. The Populations of their countries should wake up and realise that it is their own leaders, not the Commonwealth, which makes their countries a difficult place to live.
Russell Priest, UK

The commonwealth is a waste of time space and energy. I want my country out of it now. I don't want to be a subject of a racist foreign power and part of a body does has done absolutely nothing for the ex-colonies but banish them to poverty and subject them to racial discrimination. Kenya should leave the commonwealth [and the Useless Nations] now and we should forge our own destiny in this hostile world based on a policy of self-reliance and self defence. International co-operation to date simply means a raw deal for you if you're not the right colour and hopelessly tedious lip service being paid to your concerns.
Amoroso, Kenya

There is no democracy in Zimbabwe and no law, therefore change will only come about with the help of outside forces like the commonwealth. If they pass the buck and do not use their present opportunity well - there will have to be another civil war. Sanctions will only work if the right sanctions are done. Rhodesia survived a very long time on sanctions and was made stronger for it. Rather attack Mugabe's money reserves and army movements.
Thompson, Zimbabwean in UK

Once again the Commonwealth has shown itself incapable of facing up to real issues

Steve Male, UK
Once again the Commonwealth has shown itself incapable of facing up to real issues. Perhaps it is because many of the leaders present at the CHOG would feel more than a little tempted to follow Mugabe's lead if their grip on power were to be threatened by the democratic process!
Steve Male, UK

If, and hopefully when, Morgan Tsvangerai becomes president of Zimbabwe, I would not blame him if he pulls out of the Commonwealth and the Southern Africa Development Community, who both have exhibited weakness to the point of complicity with Mugabe's mafia.
Andrew Cover, UK

Britain favours sanctions against Zimbabwe for the purpose of encouraging free, fair and democratic elections. Well it seems quite hypocritical when you consider that when moves to impose trade sanctions against South Africa were made, they were steadfastly resisted by Margaret Thatcher prior to Mandela becoming the first democratically elected President of South Africa.
Martin Doyle, Australia

The Commonwealth is not the national police force of Zimbabwe. If Mugabe kills anyone, then surely that is a national matter for their justice department. If the truth is that the West are worried he will win again and treat the white minority badly, then the Commonwealth ought to wait and act "after the fact". How can you imprison a person because you think he is going to commit a crime? And I thought this was all about a democratic process.
Austin Amadasun, Nigeria

Austin from Nigeria has got it wrong. It's not just the white minority we are concerned about but EVERYONE who lives in Zim, or who has been forced to leave the country in fear of their lives from this oppressive and unjust regime. How many MDC supporters are white compared with 'native' Africans? I think you'll find the majority are not white. When Mugabe is prepared to look after ALL his citizens, he'll be respected as a true democratic leader. I suspect that will never happen. SO, vote for Morgan and end the dictator's rule.
Brian Naylor, England

Mugabe is a hero for not bowing down to pressure from Europe

Melchior Julien, Boston, USA
If the intention is to remove Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, then I doubt that it will work. Nigeria and South Africa can identify with Zimbabwe's struggle. They are well aware that it's unfeasible for the minority of a population to control fifty percent of the farmlands and hundred percent of the fertile lands. We should have a reverse role in Europe. What would be the reaction of the European majority? Mugabe is a hero for not bowing down to pressure from Europe.
Melchior Julien, Boston, USA

The people in Zimbabwe whose families have been affected in the most brutal and tragic way must be totally appalled at the lack of response to their pleas for help. Are the leaders of the other African nations fully aware of the atrocities being committed or are they merely turning a blind eye??
Mark Corton, Netherlands

Just imagine how the Commonwealth, and other nations would have responded to attempts by the apartheid regime in South Africa to rig elections. It's time African tyrants were treated with equal contempt and with far tougher sanctions than have been agreed in Australia. It's time we stopped treating Mugabe as a naughty child and started treating him as a mature, accountable dictator.
John, UK

Message from African 'leaders' to world: Keep out - unless you're carrying money. The Commonwealth's action is too little, far too late, and sends a clear message to other thugs on the Continent that they can do as they please. Plus ça change.
Peter Tallon, Geneva

The MDC spokesperson at the CHOGM, Sekai Holland, rightly pointed out that the need to redistribute land is undisputed. Believing that current opposition to Mugabe and Zanu-PF is about land plays directly into their hands. This is about an autocratic leader who stops at nothing to remain in power- against the wishes of a majority of the population. Don't we have a responsibility to find a way to help the people of Zimbabwe?
John Bird, UK

If the facts stated on the BBC2 Correspondent programme are correct, this apology for a president has been torturing and murdering the people of Zimbabwe for the last 20 years. The Commonwealth should ostracise such people at once without waiting for the outcome of the forthcoming election.
Simon Fenland, UK

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Prenter Media
Bloodbath warned for Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic
Change Leader Ms Sekai Holland

Nigerian President
His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

Coolum, Australia (prenter News) Concerns of widespread violence were expressed today following the action plan released by the Heads of Government at CHOGM to monitor the election in Zimbabwe on 9-10 March. Ms Sekai Holland from the Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change said that the statement issued today did not go far enough. "There will be a bloodbath. This will give Mugabe the opportunity to dispose of his opponents and those that will not vote for him", said Ms Holland. The critical time for the people of our country will be when the Commonwealth observers are not there. That is when he [President Robert Mugabe] will strike", she explained.

The statement released by Heads of government describes a 3-point action plan. Firstly, a Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) will be present whilst the election takes place. This group will be made up of similar people etat observed the last election in 1998. The report from this group will then be presented to a troika of leaders comprising the current Chairman of the Commonwealth, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, the immediate past Chairman, South African President Thabo Mbeki and the next Chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. The three leaders in consultation with Commonwealth Secretary General Donald McKinnon will then jointly decide what sanctions, if any, will be imposed on Zimbabwe. These sanctions range from collective disapproval to suspension from the Commonwealth. Economic sanctions were not ruled out. It is expected that this process will take from 9 to 14 days.

"If there is to be an Observer Group they must be in Zimbabwe for four weeks", pleaded Ms Holland. "This is not a good outcome for the people e of Zimbabwe", she stated.

The CHOGM statement on Zimbabwe follows claims yesterday from Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo that others should stay out of his country and that British Prime Minister Tony Blair should; "Shut up" and "Grow up". The election to be held in 5 days is expected to be fought bitterly particularly following accusations of vote rigging and murder plots. Not all African leaders expect mass violence. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo applauds the plan that Heads of Government have delivered and is encouraged for a peaceful outcome in Zimbabwe. "There should not be a bloodbath. Those that speak of violence are irresponsible", he said. "I am a fair man and this is a fair plan.", added President Obasanjo. He summarised the situation by stating; ""Zimbabwe is a poor country and the most important point is that they need our help. That is far more important then fuelling the flames of violence."

By Peter Higgins
Editor prenter News

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Media Monitoring Project (Zimbabwe)
Daily Media Update No.3 Sunday, March 3, 2002

The day saw the usual ZANU PF dominance on ZBC's news bulletins.
ZTV had six campaign related stories.  Of these, four were ZANU PF campaign rallies, including repeats and one was a negative report on the MDC rally in Bulawayo.  The other report was on Simba Makoni's campaign statement.  In its 8pm news, ZTV allocated 12 minutes 35 seconds to campaign rallies.  11 minutes five seconds were allocated to Mr.  Mugabe's campaigns in Hwange and Bulawayo while one minute 30 seconds was used to denigrate MDC.
Radio Zimbabwe had one ZANU PF campaign rally and three reports which denigrated the opposition.  The station ignored MDC's campaign rally in Bulawayo.
3FM had nine reports on campaigns.  Six of them were ZANU PF campaigns.  Three were negative reports about MDC.
ZBC made it clear in their coverage of the two rallies held by Mr.
Mugabe and Mr.  Morgan Tsvangirai in Bulawayo that the broadcaster is pro-ZANU and is not interested in giving fair coverage to the opposition.
The description of the atmosphere at both rallies also exposed ZBC's unwavering support for Mr.  Mugabe.  Mugabe's rallies were described (all stations, 8pm) as colourful and people were said to have shown solidarity with Mugabe.  Stadia in which he addressed rallies were said to have been packed to capacity.
In contrast, Tsvangirai's rallies were said to have been attended by youths.  The reporter criticized Tsvangirai for not acknowledging that government was empowering people through land redistribution.
The broadcaster chose excerpts of Tsvangirai's speech and used them to portray the MDC as a violent party.
Political violence ZTV had no reports on political violence.  Radio Zimbabwe had one report in which MDC supporters were accused of beating up ZANU PF supporters in Kuwadzana.
3FM reported two incidents.  In both reports MDC supporters were accused of beating up ZANU PF supporters in Kuwadzana and Chitungwiza.
International relations ZBC (all stations, 8pm) continued to celebrate CHOGM's decision to put the debate on the suspension of Zimbabwe on hold.  The state broadcaster reported that the decision had "embarrassed Tony Blair" whose government has been calling for the suspension of Zimbabwe.
PRINT MEDIA REPORT - March 3rd, 2002 The Sunday Mail's coverage continued to prove beyond doubt that, in the pre-election period, the newspaper has been as good as a ZANU PF propaganda sheet.  The tone of reporting of MDC has been mostly hostile and negative in the context of political violence, intra-party divisions and all manner of unsubstantiated conspiracies.  The newspaper portrayed MDC as a front for imperialist forces, particularly, Britain (UK in do or die tussle with Mugabe).  ZANU PF's President Mugabe was portrayed as a defender of African values e.g.  Tried and tested .  The pan- Africanist, revolutionary and beacon of hope".
In a front-page story on Mr.  Mugabe's campaign, The Sunday Mail accused MDC of ".fomenting violence to court international sympathy so that they can cry for international intervention when they lose the election".  No comment was accessed from the MDC.  In an article headlined "Separating boys from the men"
the newspaper extolled everything in the ZANU PF manifesto but dismissed the MDC manifesto as a 500-word summary of generalizations In an unsubstantiated front-page article, the newspaper alleged that top MDC officials were contemplating quitting politics while others were said to be considering defecting to ZANU PF after the election.  The article relied on anonymous sources.
Adding more confusion to the electoral process, the newspaper reported that ".  government on Friday gazetted the Electoral Amendment Bill which will amend the Electoral Act".
MMPZ notes that with only six days to go to the polls, the legal framework of the electoral process is still shrouded in confusion.
The only comments from election observers reported in The Sunday Mail were confined to those commenting positively on the electoral process.  The Sunday Mail quoted president of the United Democratic Movement of South Africa as saying ".  Zimbabwe is capable of holding a free and fair presidential election." 
The Standard meanwhile, led with a story on the mounting international pressure on Mugabe to respect the rule of law and ensure a free and fair poll or face further international isolation.  The story, Swiss to hold chefs' $23b, a follow-up of an earlier report in the privately owned Press, quoted a senior Swiss government official confirming that his country had decided to join the EU and US in taking decisive action against the Mugabe regime for "crimes against humanity."
South Africa was reported to be mobilizing troops along its Limpopo River border with Zimbabwe, "in anticipation of security threats ahead of the country's crucial presidential polls ."
It relied on travelers and reports from South Africa quoting a South African military commander to substantiate its story.
The paper carried two articles on political violence, both of which implicated ZANU PF supporters and the National Youth Service as perpetrators against perceived MDC supporters.
In 'Top six' turns Chinhoyi upside down, the paper noted that gangs of ZANU PF youths bussed in from Kariba, Hurungwe, Gokwe, Makonde, Zvimba and Chegutu at the beginning of this month were causing havoc in Chinhoyi town and other parts of Mashonaland West.  But the ruling party's Mashonaland West provincial chairman was quoted denying the allegations of violence, preferring to say: "Top six was the party's special group formed to promote a peaceful campaign in the area."
Said Chiyangwa: "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."
In Unofficial state of emergency in Bulawayo, the paper highlights how the government, through the police and ZANU PF youths had embarked on a clampdown against the opposition MDC, arresting and beating up opponents and clerics.
While The Sunday Mail reported that only about 5 000 people attended Tsvangirai's White City Stadium rally, The Standard put the figure at 20 000.  The Standard also reported that the MDC leader "pledged to compensate victims of political violence if elected to power in the presidential election scheduled for Saturday and Sunday."  The paper quoted Tsvangirai saying:
"We will set up a truth and reconciliation commission which is meant to heal the wounds of political violence."
Reporting on the ZANU PF Barbourfields rally, the paper said: 
"Zanu PF bussed hundreds of people to beef up the crowd there to counter the huge crowd that had freely thronged to Tsvangirai's rally."
The Sunday Mail gave prominence to Mr.  Mugabe's Barbourfields rally, and virtually ignored the MDC rally in the same city.  While the paper concentrated on reporting Mr.  Mugabe's appeal to the people to vote in peace, in the turn of the story to an inside page, the paper also reported him using violent language when delivering a threat to the political aspirations of the ZCTU.  "We did not intend to create a political monster out of the ZCTU," he was quoted as telling the rally.  "What we saw is that some leaders wanted to use the ZCTU for political mileage and convert it into a political party.If you follow that path you will find us grinning with our teeth ready to bite you."
Ends This report is produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:  Previous reports can be accessed at Please feel free to circulate this report.
Back to the Top
Back to Index