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

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Mugabe hands poll to army

New fears of election fix as military put in charge

Chris McGreal in Harare
Monday March 4, 2002
The Guardian

Robert Mugabe has put Zimbabwe's army in charge of next weekend's
presidential election and vote count, compounding fears that his
government's campaign of mass intimidation will continue right up to the
ballot box and that widespread vote tampering will be used to try to keep
him in power.
Revelations that the election has fallen under the control of the military,
just weeks after army chiefs threatened to stage a coup in the case of an
opposition victory, will add to the pressure on the Commonwealth summit in
Australia to take a firm stand against Mr Mugabe.

Commonwealth leaders are deeply divided over the Zimbabwe crisis and
ministers were locked in discussion last night in an attempt to find a
compromise after Tony Blair failed to win agreement to suspend Zimbabwe

With just five days to go before the polling stations open, the growing body
of evidence that the election is already deeply flawed will reinforce
British pressure on Zimbabwe's neighbours to declare the results null and
void should Mr Mugabe claim victory.

Almost every aspect of the vote, including the handling of ballot boxes, is
now in the hands of a retired army colonel, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele. Mr Mugabe
quietly appointed him as head of the Electoral Supervisory Commission a few
days after the military high command made its coup threat.

Col Gula-Ndebele has in turn appointed Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba as
chief elections officer, the second most important post. The government says
Brig Nyikayaramba retired from the army a few weeks ago, but sources close
to the commission say he is merely on leave of absence.

The Guardian has learnt that in recent weeks soldiers have been appointed to
all levels of the election process, including many as monitors who are
supposed to act indepen dently to ensure that ballot boxes are not tampered
with and to verify the count.

The electoral commission has also recruited "war veterans", who have led the
often violent invasions of farms and been instrumental in the campaign of
terror against Mr Mugabe's opponents, and members of the feared Central
Intelligence Organisation, to work alongside the soldiers.

The government refuses to reveal the names of the six members of the
commission's secretariat but they are known to include at least two other
army officers, including one from military intelligence.

"We're very concerned about it," said Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the chairman
of the Zimbabwe election support network, an independent organisation that
used to work closely with the government's electoral commission but is now
excluded. "It's totally unprecedented for the military to run and monitor an

The military's infiltration of the electoral process means that soldiers,
war veterans and ruling party officials responsible for a two-year
government campaign of violence will be inside almost every polling station.
In some cases, they will be "helping" voters to mark their ballots.

In addition to well-documented decisions such as banning potentially
critical foreign election observers, the Guardian has learned that Mr
Mugabe's war of attrition against the vote has taken on several other forms:

· The government has cut the number of polling stations in urban areas which
firmly support the opposition, in the hope that long queues will discourage
people from voting. It has increased balloting places in the countryside
where Mr Mugabe is more popular and rigging is easier.

· Independent monitors and party election agents will no longer be able to
travel in the same vehicles as ballot boxes transported to and from the
polls, raising concerns that the boxes could easily be switched.

· Hundreds of thousands of people have disappeared from the voters' roll,
including many young people and most of the white population.

At the heart of Mr Mugabe's strategy to cling to power is the perpetual
violence begun by the war veterans who led the farm invasions and now
extended to towns and villages by the ruling Zanu-PF's private militia, the
National Youth Service Brigade.

In Mashonaland, where Mr Mugabe must do well to stand any hope of winning
the election, villagers have been ordered to take advantage of a provision
which allows an election official to help them vote if, for instance, they
are illiterate.

Zanu-PF militia members will be outside to deal with anyone who does not ask
for help.

Tawanda Hondora, a human rights lawyer, says there is no doubt that the
myriad of attacks on the vote is coordinated toward one end - getting Robert
Mugabe re-elected, however illegitimately.

"Look at the high incidence of violence, look at the creation of the Zanu-PF
youth militia and that the war veterans have not been arrested for violence.
Look at the number of people who have been tortured, disappeared or whose
homes have been destroyed. What else can you conclude?" he asked.

Yet Mr Matchaba-Hove says the election is far from lost for the opposition.

"We are starting off with a playing field that is uneven - legally,
logistically, politically and otherwise," he said. "But we are still telling
people to vote, that the vote is secret and that it is important to go to
the polls."

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The Age, Melbourne

Aust Opp leader Crean calls for action on Zimbabwe
COOLUM, Mar 4 AAP|Published: Monday March 4, 12:23 PM

Federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean today said the Commonwealth could not
remain relevant without acting on the situation in Zimbabwe.

Speaking after a half-hour meeting with British PM Tony Blair today, Mr
Crean said it was important that the Commonwealth had some bite and
responded to rights abuses in the African nation which goes to the polls
this weekend.

"I believe that the Commonwealth does have to look at this issue terribly
seriously in terms of its ongoing relevance," Mr Crean said.

"If the Commonwealth stands for anything it stands for democratic values and
the promotion of them."

Mr Crean said sanctions should have been imposed, but he understood the
Commonwealth leaders had informally reached agreement that no action would
be taken until after the Zimbabwe election.

"If in fact there is an argument that one needs to wait until after the
elections next weekend, the least the Commonwealth should do is to impose
some trigger such that if it is established that free and fair elections are
not conducted then action can be triggered immediately," Mr Crean said.

By Paul Osborne

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The Times

The last of Mugabe's non-black judges quits
From Jan Raath in Harare

AHMED EBRAHIM, Zimbabwe’s last non-black Supreme Court judge, has resigned
just days after the Government said that it would reinstate controversial
electoral laws that his court had struck down last week.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, announced at the weekend that Judge
Ebrahim would leave office in May and said that he had given no reasons for
his resignation.

The judge, who is of Indian origin, could not be contacted yesterday.
Colleagues said that he had left for Pakistan, where he is to referee a
cricket Test match. He was appointed an international referee several years

Judge Ebrahim is the seventh judge to have resigned in less than two years.
This has occurred in a period in which President Mugabe’s Government has
persistently violated the rule of law, ignored court orders, threatened
judges with violence and “packed” the courts with cronies to ensure
favourable decisions.

On Wednesday last week Judge Ebrahim led a sitting of the Supreme Court that
struck down an electoral law that would have made it easier to rig voting in
the presidential elections on March 9 and 10 and which would have hampered
scrutiny by observers and election agents. He ruled that the laws had been
passed “incorrectly” by Parliament.

After being outvoted in Parliament on January 9, when they were introduced,
the Government brought them back the next day, by which time it had mustered
a majority of MPs.

On Friday Mr Chinamasa said that the judicial ruling was “like a rotten
 fish”. He said that he would effectively reinstate the law by issuing
edicts to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.

The law struck down by Judge Ebrahim ended a ban on members of civic
organisations serving as official election monitors, as well as the rule
preventing anyone but those from the stateappointed Election Supervisory
Commission carrying out voter education.

It was also an effective ban on putting up election posters and banned
postal votes for anyone but members of the Zimbabwean Armed Forces. The
prohibition was regarded as a deliberate move to disqualify possibly up to a
million exiles and refugees who have fled the country.

They are predominantly supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, the
opposition body led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe’s challenger in the
presidential election.

Judge Ebrahim was the country’s most senior independent judge, junior only
to controversial Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, a close ally of Mr
Mugabe. He was appointed over Judge Ebrahim’s head in July last year.

Mr Mugabe’s onslaught against what was one of the most highly respected
judiciaries in the Commonwealth began with the forced resignation of the
internationally regarded former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay last July. He
was threatened with violence by Mr Mugabe’s militias and was refused

The Government also tried to force Judge Ebrahim and his fellow Supreme
Court judge, Justice Nicholas McNally, to resign, but they refused. Judge
McNally retired in December when he turned 70.

The last judge to resign was David Bartlett, in December, after the
Government refused to carry out his orders to investigate why Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament, had ordered the release from prison of
a convicted bank robber who was subsequently identified as the Speaker’s
illegitimate son.

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The Age Melbourne

NZ PM blasts CHOGM over inaction on Zimbabwe
COOLUM, Qld, March 4 AAP|Published: Monday March 4, 12:51 PM

New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark today said she would refuse to sign
a Commonwealth declaration which did not include strong action against

Ms Clark said the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was a
long way from a consensus over what action to take against Zimbabwe.

Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Canada want the CHOGM meeting to impose
sanctions against Zimbabwe and its President Robert Mugabe for the
deterioration in democracy and the rise of election-related violence and

But African nations want the Commonwealth to do nothing until after this
weekend's elections in Zimbabwe.

"We're some way from consensus here," Ms Clark told reporters.

"From New Zealand's point of view, we're not prepared to join a consensus
which doesn't get us anywhere."

Ms Clark said Pacific nations believed the CHOGM meeting had double
standards after the Commonwealth's quick action against Fiji following the
coup in 2000.

But she said it now appeared the Commonwealth had given President Mugabe
permission to break all the principles of the Commonwealth.

"New Zealand thinks Zimbabwe should have been suspended (from the
Commonwealth) weeks ago," she said.

"That hasn't happened. It's not going to happen at this Commonwealth

"The very least you would expect to happen would be strong action in the
light of evidence that there is not a free and fair election."

She said President Mugabe came to power and ended minority rule in Zimbabwe
with the goodwill of the Commonwealth.

"And now it's as if he's free to break all the rules and values that the
Commonwealth stands for.

"The point of having a Commonwealth is that over time you hope that everyone
will embrace the standards of democracy, rule of law and constitutionality
that the Commonwealth stands for.

"It looks like we are not going to cross that bridge completely at this

She said NZ would impose its own sanctions against Zimbabwe.

By James Grubel, Chief Political Correspondent

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The Age Melbourne

CHOGM inaction giving Mugabe time to kill:oppn
BRISBANE, March 4 AAP|Published: Monday March 4, 7:06 PM

The Commonwealth's decision not to take action on Zimbabwe until after this
weekend's election could lead to a bloodbath, a leading Zimbabwean
opposition figure warned today.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official Sekai Holland said the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting's statement today on the situation
in Zimbabwe was "all talk and no action".

She said with the Commonwealth ruling out immediate action against President
Robert Mugabe and no likelihood of any move until well after the March 9-10
election, violence in Zimbabwe would escalate.

"It gives Mugabe more time to kill because nothing is going to happen to him
... because we are five days away from the election," Mrs Holland told

The MDC had called on the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe's membership,
issue a warning to Mr Mugabe about the dangers of a stolen election and that
poll observers stay in the country for four weeks after the vote.

Mrs Holland, who is the MDC's secretary for international affairs, described
the Commonwealth's response as a catastrophe.

She said the 54-nation grouping's apparent reluctance to keep observers in
the country after the election would also give Mr Mugabe a better chance to
hold onto power in the likelihood of an election defeat.

"The need for international observers in Zimbabwe will be even more
important after the results are announced," she said.

"We believe that whoever wins, Mugabe will use the instruments of violence
he has put in place in the way of the army, the militia."

By Chris Herde
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The Irish Times

World  Mon, Mar 04, 02

MDC inspires youthful enthusiam while Mugabe evokes memories of old battles

  ZIMBABWE: It was a tale of two rallies in Harare yesterday. President and
challenger entered the home straight of Zimbabwe's most bitterly contested
election, and the contrasts were striking.

President Robert Mugabe railed before a small, timid crowd about land
injustices, racial hatred and past victories. Mr Morgan Tsvangirai spoke to
a cheering throng about prosperity, cultural diversity and a violence-free

"The whites want us to be slaves," Mr Mugabe thundered before 4,000 people
in Harare's Mbare township yesterday morning. An hour later Mr Tsvangirai,
addressing a crowd three times that number, promised the "Second Republic of

With political violence against opposition supporters continuing ­ sometimes
with the connivance of the police ­ President Mugabe has drawn a storm of
criticism from the international community. He has responded in a
characteristically ebullient fashion, defying all attempts to censure him.

But although his controversial land reform policies may have some support in
rural areas, yesterday's rallies suggested that his support base in the
capital has all but collapsed.

Several hundred police and soldiers lined a grassy clearing in Mbare, where
he sat alongside his young wife, Grace, party stalwarts and delegates from
the Libyan embassy. (Libya's mercurial leader Col Muammar Gadafy has been
one of Mr Mugabe's most loyal supporters, thanks to their shared contempt
for Western powers.)

After opening remarks from Joseph Chinotimba - a war veteran recently
acquitted on charges of shooting an opposition supporter ­ Mrs Mugabe led an
attack on Mr Tsvangirai as "the tea-boy" of the British government.

Then Mr Mugabe rose from his armchair. At first he recalled at length the
struggle against Ian Smith's white racist regime and his 11-year stint in
jail. Then he concentrated on now-familiar denunciations of Mr Tony Blair,
whom he accuses of harbouring "neo-colonial" aspirations.

"What is their business here?" he asked. "How can the prime minister of
Britain behave like a street kid?" The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change comprised British "stooges" and "a party of murderers" guilty of
abductions and killings.

However human rights groups report that of over 100 politically related
deaths in the past two years, the majority have been of MDC supporters,
usually killed by government supporters.

The crowd cheered on cue but was otherwise silent. In contrast a deafening
cacophony of whistles, shouts and open-handed salutes - the MDC slogan -
greeted Mr Tsvangirai at the Zimbabwe grounds in nearby Highfield.

Many of the 15,000-strong crowd wore red "No to violence" stickers on their

Size was not the only difference. While the front rows of Mr Mugabe's rally
was lined with middle-aged women wearing dresses bearing his face, the
Tsvangirai rally was dominated by young people who pushed towards the front
to get a better view of their leader. One preliminary speech was interrupted
by an overladen tree branch that came crashing down, bringing several people
with it.

Mr Tsvangirai ­ who was last week accused of plotting to assassinate Mr
Mugabe ­ said he was finishing the "process of change" started two years
ago, when the MDC came from nowhere to win a near majority of seats in
parliamentary elections.

Land reform was necessary but not the most important issue, he said. The
first priority was food. Mr Mugabe, on the other hand, only made passing
reference to the food crisis gripping Zimbabwe,

Mr Tsvangirai said he had "plans in place" to secure enough maize to feed
the country for a year. And whereas Mr Mugabe accused white businesses of
deliberately closing down to "force blacks onto the streets and turn them
against their government", Mr Tsvangirai spoke of the urgent need to attract
foreign investors.

Both candidates have dubbed their campaigns the "third Chimurenga". The
first Chimurenga or "liberation" was in 1896, when spiritual leaders rose
against British colonists. The second was the 1970s guerrilla war. For Mr
Mugabe the third Chimurenga will be the defeat of the MDC and their "British
masters". For Mr Tsvangirai it will be the foundation of "the second
republic of Zimbabwe". An opinion poll published 11 days ago showed Mr
Tsvangirai in the lead, but in a sign of growing fears nearly 60 per cent of
those surveyed refused to say how they would vote.

© The Irish Times
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The Age, Melbourne

Downer attacks Labor on Zimbabwe sanctions issue
CANBERRA, March 4 AAP|Published: Monday March 4, 2:32 PM

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today branded his opposition counterpart
Kevin Rudd an "expedient hypocrite" for his call to impose immediate
sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Mr Rudd today condemned the Howard government for not imposing immediate
sanctions, saying Australia should act unilaterally against the Mugabe
regime and not wait for other Commonwealth countries.

Commonwealth leaders are set to make a statement on Zimbabwe today, but will
not make a decision on sanctions until after the southern African country's
presidential poll this weekend.

The issue will be discussed at the final session of the leader's retreat at
the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Coolum, Queensland.

Mr Downer said imposing sanctions now would undermine Australia's
contribution to the election observer process.

He labelled Mr Rudd a hypocrite for making the demand on the same day he was
leaving to join a Commonwealth observer team.

"It shows him to be an expedient hypocrite whose passion for international
travel is more important than any policy principles," Mr Downer said in a

"As I have said on a number of occasions, to impose sanctions now would
undermine our contribution to the election observer process.

"We would have no choice but to abandon our role in the Commonwealth
observer team."
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The Independent (UK) Leading article

What is the point of the Commonwealth if this is the best it can do?
05 March 2002

Over the past two years, as the political situation in Zimbabwe has gone
from bad to disastrous, the Commonwealth has dithered on the sidelines,
issuing ever-fiercer warnings about the consequences of flouting democracy.
In all that time, it has done absolutely nothing. The Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM) that closed in Australia earlier today followed
in that same dishonourable tradition.

A move by Britain, Australia and Canada to have Zimbabwe suspended from the
54-state "family" was defeated. They had to be content instead with a
"mechanism" that would be triggered in the event that the elections this
weekend are found to be less than "free and fair". With European Union
observers withdrawn, Commonwealth observers few and far between, repression
of the opposition mounting by the day and the army apparently set to run the
polling stations, freedom and fairness look to be a remote prospect indeed.

Even taking the most charitable view in advance of the elections, however,
the "mechanism" approved by the Commonwealth has compromise stamped all over
it. Three national leaders – of Australia, Nigeria and South Africa – will
sit in judgement as a quasi "appeal court" (the words of the Commonwealth
Secretary General). They will receive the election report of the observers
and decide what to do about it. The actions open to them range from
"collective disapproval" to suspension.

So CHOGM, the one body with the undisputed authority to suspend members, a
body that meets only once every two years, flunked its chance to show that
the Commonwealth has a modicum of principle. It took its cue from three
previous meetings of the interim ministerial committee – and temporised.
Zimbabwe's main opposition to President Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic
Change, not surprisingly called the decision an "insult".

Not all the reasons for inaction were ignoble. Opponents of suspension
expressed the view – as they have at each ministerial meeting since the
summer – that engagement was better than abandonment. That Mr Mugabe still
wants to argue the legal toss about the remit of the Commonwealth's
ministerial committee suggests that he still cares just a little about his
image. That he is still proceeding with elections – however heinous his
abuses of power through the campaign – suggests that he wants to give the
appearance of having retained power through the ballot box.

With less than one week remaining before the elections, the desire of the
Commonwealth majority to exploit every last ounce of leverage is
understandable. The minority, led by Britain, had no option but to go along,
lauding the "mechanism" as an acceptable solution – by which they surely
meant that it was better than the alternative, which was nothing.

In failing to act yet again, however, the Commonwealth displayed its
spinelessness for all to see. It failed to impose any penalty on Mr Mugabe
for his wanton disregard of civil rights in his country, agreeing no more
than a minatory wag of the finger. Worse, it split precisely along racial
lines, exposing once again the lingering resentment between the less
developed and developed world.

CHOGM's one modest achievement was to establish clearer rules for handling
renegade countries, such as Zimbabwe, in future. Until now, only a coup
d'état has triggered automatic suspension. That allowed Mr Mugabe to breach
Commonwealth principles with impunity. It also left plenty of room for the
other 53 members to quarrel about what sort of conduct was so bad as to
warrant suspension. Elementary justice dictated that the new rules should
not be applied to Zimbabwe in retrospect – hence the one-off committee of
three to which the next decision has been delegated. Regrettably, Mr Mugabe
is not offering the same standard of justice to the voters of Zimbabwe.

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Independent (UK)

Blair fury at decision to postpone action on Zimbabwe
By Kathy Marks in Coolum, Queensland
05 March 2002

A furious Tony Blair yesterday condemned a Commonwealth decision to postpone
action against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

After five days of heated debate, leaders agreed a procedure to suspend
Zimbabwe, but only if next weekend's presidential elections are deemed by
Commonwealth observers to have been rigged.

In a startling departure from the 54-nation organisation's tradition of
consensus, Mr Blair – who has lobbied forcefully for Mr Mugabe's regime to
be suspended without delay – poured scorn on a statement issued on the
penultimate day of the biennial Commonwealth summit at Coolum, Queensland.

The statement expressed "deep concern" at the violence and intimidation that
have marred the election campaign, but declined to blame Mr Mugabe or his
Zanu-PF party. Leaders "called on all parties to refrain from such violence
and urged all concerned to work together to create an atmosphere in which
there could be a free and fair election".

Mr Blair said he would never have drafted the statement in such terms.
"There is no point in using diplomatic language," he said in a television
interview. "We should have provided a far stronger statement and backed it
up with action."

The compromise plan was brokered by the Australian Prime Minister, John
Howard, to heal divisions that had split the Commonwealth along racial
lines. A three-nation task force – Australia, Nigeria and South Africa – was
empowered to take punitive action after considering a report by the
Commonwealth's 60 election monitors.

There was no immediate response from Zimbabwe.

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Christian Science Monitor

Zimbabwe vote: land vs. law and order

Redistribution of land resonates with President Mugabe's backers in run up
to Saturday's election.

By Nicole Itano | Special to the Christian Science Monitor

HARARE, ZIMBABWE - For Jerry Mugabe, a Harare hawker who waited in the hot
midday sun this weekend to hear his president speak, Zimbabwe's coming
election is about one thing and one thing only: land.
"He is good for the people," Mr. Mugabe said of President Robert Mugabe (no
relation), who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. "He is giving
us the land back."

 In four days, the people of Zimbabwe will go to the polls in the most hotly
contested election in the country's 21 years of independence. Voters will
choose between President Mugabe, who promises to continue redistributing
white-owned land to blacks, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who
says he will return the country to law and order after an election that has
thus far been characterized by violence and intimidation.

Mugabe, leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party, calls this election the "Third
Chimurenga" - or revolution in Zimbabwe's most widely-spoken language,
Shona - and says victory over Zimbabwe's white colonizers will be complete
only when the majority of the country's land is in the hands of black

Until two years ago, when Zimbabwe launched its controversial land
redistribution program, about 4,000 white commercial farmers owned half of
Zimbabwe's farmland. In an attempt to woo voters in the run-up to the
country's 2000 parliamentary elections, Mugabe's government backed land
invasions, often violent, by landless squatters who called themselves
veterans of the country's independence war. The government began listing
white-owned farms for redistribution.

Speaking to voters this weekend in a series of campaign rallies, the
president vowed to continue with his controversial land-redistribution
program "at any cost," despite international pressure to respect the rule of

"They wanted us to send the Army and the police force [to the occupied
farms] to remove the war veterans," he said, referring to Zimbabwe's former
colonial power, Britain. "But the Zimbabwean people would not stand for it."

That message has struck a cord for voters like Jerry Mugabe, who says his
family recently received five acres of land near the Eastern city of
Masvingo, which his wife farms, planting corn and peanuts, while he works in
the city.

The violence of the last two years have destabilized Zimbabwe's economy,
causing hyperinflation and widespread food shortages. For the first time in
almost a decade, international aid groups have had to import corn to a
country that once fed much of the region.

Mr. Tsvangirai's party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the
international community blame government policy for the crisis and say the
bulk of land seized has gone to ZANU-PF officials rather than common people
like the Mugabe family in Masvingo. For their part, the MDC has promised to
bring transparency and order to the land issue.

But Mugabe's version of land reform retains a strong appeal for some voters,
especially those in rural areas. At a ZANU-PF women's rally in Marondera - a
farming community about 40 miles from Harare where the land invasions first
began in 2000 - more than a thousand women wore their political affiliations
on their backs. Their colorful dresses of yellow, red, and green were
decorated with Mr. Mugabe's picture and ZANU-PF slogans.

One woman raised a hand full of party-supplied sadza, a stiff corn gruel
that is a staple food in Zimbabwe, said enthusiastically: "This is what we
are fighting for."

Aside from the land issue, the main question surrounding the coming election
is whether or not it will be free and fair. Although observer teams from
other African nations and the Commonwealth say they still have hopes that it
will be, human- rights groups and the opposition party say the government is
waging an intimidation campaign against MDC supporters and forcing voters to
attend ZANU-PF functions.

Organizers of the women's rally deny this accusation. They maintain that the
women came to show their support for the president and not for the food
being given away, though the organizers refused to let any of the women
speak to international reporters.

"I assure you that we are going to win," said Lawrence Katsiru, the local
ZANU-PF secretary for security. "But we want to win nonviolently."

Only a day earlier, however, a planned MDC rally was cancelled after the
opposition party heard rumors of a planned attack on Mr. Tsvangirai's

And two local MDC supporters who spoke only on condition of anonymity said
the ZANU-PF-led reign of terror had forced hundreds of opposition supporters
to flee the area. Even wearing MDC paraphernalia or speaking to
international observers could endanger their lives, they said. The MDC
claims at least 107 of its supporters have been killed over the past 2

At Mr. Mugabe's weekend rallies in Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second-largest city, both MDC strongholds, thousands showed up to hear the
president speak.

But the enthusiasm of the crowds at ZANU-PF and MDC events were markedly
different. Mr. Mugabe's supporters were mostly silent, while Mr. Tvangarai's
cheered loudly, hands raised in the open palm salute of the MDC.

Tracy Mutinhiri, a minor ZANU-PF official in Marondera, however, remained
convinced that her party, the party that brought freedom to Zimbabwe, would
win. For her, as for Jerry Mugabe, the election is about land and finishing
the revolution.

"The MDC is supported by young people who don't understand their history,"
she said. "But we have been teaching them that ZANU-PF is for the people.
They are learning that the MDC has nothing to offer. They do not have an
ideology, especially on the land issue."

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Studying a Dark Future

The best and the brightest prepare for the worst in Zimbabwe

By Karen MacGregor and Tom Masland

March 4 — “Use my name-it doesn’t matter, I’m on the run anyway,” says
Tapera Kapuya, 21. “There’s a warrant out for my arrest.” His crime: helping
organize student demonstrations last year at the University of Zimbabwe in
Harare. Some of these rallies were in support of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, others protested the murders of fellow student activists
Batanai Hadzizi, beaten to death in his dorm room, and Lameck Chemvura,
strangled with a shoe lace and thrown off a moving train.

     IN THE TENSE RUN-UP to Zimbabwe’s presidential elections this weekend,
Kapuya now sleeps on friends’ couches, a few hours at a time. “Police are
harassing my mother,” he said. “I feel terrible, but I really don’t see that
we have a chance when it comes to fighting for our rights. There are many of
us who will always do that, now and under any other future government.”
        These are not idle boasts. Though often melodramatic and
disorganized, the pro-democracy student movement in Zimbabwe helped ignite
the outrage over the Mugabe government’s excesses that now threatens its

         Ever since, the best and the brightest of Zimbabwe have paid a
heavy price. Last week a magistrate’s inquest found that overzealous police
had beaten, bludgeoned and kicked Hadzizi to death last year. Chemvura, say
eyewitnesses, was killed by a group of soldiers. One soldier who was
arrested is now out released on bail. But in the current climate of
political repression, nobody expects the guilty to be brought to justice.
Security forces and thugs have operated against President Robert Mugabe’s
political enemies for two years with near-total impunity. In January alone,
16 people died in political violence—nearly all of them supporters of
opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.
        Students were among the first to rise up against Mugabe. Beginning
in 1989, they rallied in support of a new political party, the Zimbabwe
Unity Movement, founded by a former Mugabe crony who split with the ruling
party over unpunished corruption and economic decline. Police shut down his
first campaign, for a parliamentary by-election, and the state-controlled
press ignored it. When students took up his cause, the repression was
brutal. The police fired tear gas in the dorms, beat students and set up a
makeshift jail outside the university entrance. For the first time ever,
authorities shut down the institution, just two weeks before exams.
Tsvangirai, then a labor leader, took the occasion to issue his first
broadside against the Mugabe government—and promptly was locked up.

        The police evidently learned their lesson. As the presidential
election campaign reached a peak last week, the campus was quiet: the
mid-term break has been expanded past election day. So has the start of the
main soccer season. Other students in the capital who haven’t already headed
home plan to do so for their own safety. “The cops may come on campus and
beat up the teachers,” said Vusa Ncube, 15, who attends a nearby boarding
        He said he had largely escaped the pre-election climate of
intimidation. The only close call came one day when he was walking on a
street with his father, and a group of passing youths demanded to know why
the father was carrying an independent newspaper they said was “full of
lies.” (He escaped a beating by saying he only reads the sports section.)
        Last weekend,Ncube and some friends were shooting hoops on the
University campus; someone had tried to rip down pro-Mugabe posters pasted
to the glass backboards. He was planning to go home two days before the
voting on March 9 and 10. “I think I’ll be home a while,” he said. “Most
probably there will be violence.” It’s a good guess.

       © 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
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Zimbabwe opposition dismisses new claims on Mugabe ouster plot


HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 4 — Just days before the presidential election,
Zimbabwe's state radio accused opposition officials Monday of offering to
bribe a top military commander to back the ouster of President Robert
       Leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change denied the allegations,
saying they are part of a smear campaign by Mugabe's ruling party, ZANU-PF.

        ''It is rubbish. We are busy with the election. We have no time for
ZANU-PF drama,'' opposition spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said.
       The allegations came as Britain and its former colonies deferred a
decision on whether to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth for
government-sponsored violence against the opposition.
       At the Commonwealth summit, Britain, Australia and New Zealand
demanded Zimbabwe's suspension but African nations insisted no action be
taken until after the elections.
       Mugabe, 78, is fighting for his political survival after 22 years at
the helm. His main rival in the March 9-10 election is the MDC leader Morgan
       Earlier in the campaign, the government accused Tsvangirai of
plotting Mugabe's assassination in December. Tsvangirai says a secretly
recorded video of a meeting on the subject was doctored to incriminate him.
       According to allegations Monday, three opposition lawmakers offered
Air Vice Marshal Perence Shiri, the air force commander, the equivalent of
$50,000 for his help in pacifying the security forces in the event of
Mugabe's removal.
       Military and police officials have said they would not work with
Tsvangirai if he wins the election.
       Speaking at a rally in western Zimbabwe, Mugabe said the Commonwealth
decision to delay any action against Zimbabwe was a victory for his country.
''African countries are telling Britain to stop behaving like a colonial
master,'' he said.
       Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Tendai Biti described his party
as ''bitterly disappointed'' by the decision, which he said undermined the
credibility of the Commonwealth.
       ''It is prevarication. Zimbabwe is constantly in breach of
international instruments of the United Nations and the Commonwealth in
particular,'' he said.
       Meanwhile, police broke up a meeting in Harare Monday between
Tsvangirai and about 35 ambassadors and members of their staffs, foreign
diplomats said.
       Police said the meeting was illegal under new security laws requiring
police permission for political gatherings. Tsvangirai called the meeting to
discuss food shortages in Zimbabwe, diplomats said.
       About 150 people have been killed over the past two years in
political violence blamed mainly on ruling party militants.
       (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Chronology of EU sanctions

Johannesburg - The following is a chronology of events over the last two
months that have culminated in the European Union (EU) withdrawing its
election monitors and imposing sanctions on leading members of the
Zimbabwean government.

20 February - Amnesty International expresses concern that the pull-out of
European Union (EU) observers will result in an escalation of human rights
violations in Zimbabwe.

20 February - Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says Commonwealth
leaders meeting in Australia next month are not expected to take any action
against Zimbabwe until after the presidential election on 9-10 March.

20 February - A Zimbabwean human rights group alleges that opponents of the
Zimbabwean government are being abducted to "torture centres" across the
country that serve as bases for ruling party militia.

19 February - Zimbabwe's Deputy High Commissioner to Pretoria rejects
allegations, contained in a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR),
that opposition supporters are denied healthcare at state institutions.

19 February - Two leading regional analysts tell IRIN that predictions for
Zimbabwe's short term economic future are dire, no matter who wins next
month's elections. Reports from Washington say the United States is to
impose sanctions in line with the EU.

18 February - It's too late for free and fair presidential elections in
Zimbabwe, but the deployment of international observers in remote areas
could help stop politically motivated violence and torture, the human rights
group Amani Trust tells IRIN. However, the expulsion of EU head observer
Pierre Schori leads the EU to impose sanctions on President Robert Mugabe
and 19 of his political associates, the remaining members of the EU observer
team are withdrawn. Sanctions include a travel ban and the freezing of
assets in Europe.

16 February - Schori is ordered to leave Zimbabwe immediately.

15 February - Zimbabwe revokes Schori's tourist visa.

14 February - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) denies that its
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had ever discussed an assassination attempt on
Mugabe. This follows a film broadcast by an Australian television station
purportedly showing Tsvangirai discussing Mugabe's "elimination".

14 February - The UN Development Programme says Zimbabwe's controversial
"fast-track" land reform programme is the cause of much of the economic,
political and social instability in the country.

11 February - Zimbabwe says it will not accredit Schori, who arrives in
Harare despite a ban on observers from Sweden and five other European
countries, from overseeing the March elections.

7 February - Zimbabwe faces a critical shortage of maize with preliminary
production figures looking gloomy, the Grain Producers Association (ZGPA)
tells IRIN. A report by Zimbabwean human rights NGO's says 16 people died in
political violence in January.

4 February - An EU representative in Harare tells IRIN that Brussels is
going ahead with preparations to monitor the March elections, despite the
lack of a formal invitation from Mugabe.

1 February - The EU joins international condemnation of Zimbabwe's new media
laws, calling them a nail in the coffin of democracy.

31 January - Zimbabwe's parliament approves a law limiting the freedoms of
the independent and foreign press ahead of presidential elections in March.

28 January - EU foreign ministers agree in principal to impose targeted
sanctions on Zimbabwe if Harare fails to allow an EU election observer
mission into the country by 3 February, and lift a ban on foreign

24 January - The first delivery of UN emergency relief supplies arrives in
Zimbabwe as food shortages bite, the World Food Programme says.

23 January - Southern African bishops call on Mugabe to step down, saying it
would benefit Africa.

22 January - A leading human rights activist tells IRIN that there are signs
that the Zimbabwean government is trying to honour commitments it made to
its neighbours at a recent Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit in Malawi. ZimRights director Bidi Munyaradzi adds that in spite of
violence reported at an opposition rally in Bulawayo at the weekend, it
seems as though the government is moving to clamp down on violence and keep
some of its promises.

21 January - South African President Thabo Mbeki calls on southern African
leaders to do all they can to help the people of Zimbabwe to ensure the
presidential election is free and fair.

21 January - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo visits Harare and says
that a Commonwealth-drafted plan to force Mugabe to end the political
turmoil in Zimbabwe was "moving at a slow pace".

18 January - Mbeki says Zimbabweans face "their greatest hour of need" in
the run-up to presidential elections and promises not to abandon them as
their economic hardships mount.

16 January - Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, tells
parliament the government may invite some EU countries to observe the

14 January - British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mbeki talk on the
telephone about the situation in Zimbabwe, and both agree that its crisis is

12 January - Mugabe calls Blair a liar and shrugs off mounting international
criticism, vowing to continue his land redistribution programme as: "God is
on our side". Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu says
Mugabe has gone "bonkers in a big way" for disregarding the rule of law and
assuming greater powers.

12 January - The EU gives Zimbabwe one week to declare, in writing, that it
will accept international observers and news media during the elections. "At
this stage, the EU is not satisfied that its concerns will be met," says a
statement issued by the 15-nation bloc after a day of consultations with
Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge.

11 January - Foreign ministers from South Africa and Botswana echo
international concerns about human rights in neighbouring Zimbabwe but warn
that EU sanctions could affect the entire region.

11 January - The South African government condemns as "unacceptable" a
warning by Zimbabwe's army that it would not accept an opposition victory.
Australia's foreign minister says he will push for Zimbabwe to be suspended
from the Commonwealth at the Heads of Government meeting in early March.

10 January - Zimbabwe's ruling party fails to push through a series of
repressive bills after a 14-hour, all-night session of parliament, but vows
to finish its work. The parliament spends 12 hours in non-stop debate on the
Public Order and Security Bill (POSB), which imposes tough curbs on freedoms
of assembly.

9 January - Zimbabwe's security chiefs imply in a statement that they will
refuse to recognise victory by anyone other than Mugabe.

8 January - Zimbabwe's justice minister says he aims to push through
parliament the Access to Information Bill that restricts press freedom
making it an offence to report from Zimbabwe unless registered by a
state-appointed commission. The media bill, critics say, is aimed at
muzzling the independent press ahead of the elections. Chinamasa also tells
journalists that the government will pass labour and security bills, which
analysts say are intended to boost Mugabe's re-election bid by clamping down
on opponents of his ruling Zanu-PF party.

8 January - The British government says it will press for Zimbabwe's
suspension from the Commonwealth if it does not tackle political violence
and human rights violations related to Mugabe's land redistribution

3 January - Malawian Foreign Minister Lilian Patel says Southern African
Development Community (SADC) heads of state will not dictate to Zimbabwe how
best to resolve the land crisis. - IRIN, Sapa-AP/AFP, Reuters
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