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

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Mugabe thugs hone their torture tactics
By a Special Correspondent in Mashonaland
(Filed: 05/03/2002)

ROBERT MUGABE's loyalists are using tactics refined during the Seventies
guerrilla war against white rule to cripple the opposition in the last days
before the presidential poll.

Operating from a network of base camps, 72 of which have been located by
human rights groups, pro-government thugs fan out across the country,
hunting down supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, for
beatings, torture and worse.

Suspected Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters are forced to
attend "pungwes" - political meetings at which they are threatened and
browbeaten into voting for Mr Mugabe. Anyone showing insufficient enthusiasm
is severely dealt with.

These brutally effective tactics are having an effect. With polling due this
weekend, one township resident, who recently attended a pungwe, said: "It is
Mugabe who is going to win. We are too afraid. We have to vote for him."

In this northern stronghold of President Mugabe's rule, there is little to
indicate that the forthcoming poll will be free or fair.

Members of the National Youth Service Force, the latest in Zimbabwe's
burgeoning array of paramilitary outfits, are visible across the region,
lounging on the pavements with machetes easily to hand, clustering outside
the supermarket or strutting along the highway.

In one small farming town, Mr Mugabe's thugs are the most visible presence.
They have taken over this corner of Zimbabwe and made it a no-go area for
the MDC.

To impose Mr Mugabe's dominance they have committed three murders and
hundreds of assaults in a single district during the past eight weeks
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Ten Minutes to Midnight in Zimbabwe:
International Action Can Still Make a Difference

Harare/Washington/Brussels, 4 March 2002: The International Crisis Group calls on the friends of Zimbabwe to take a range of steps now, in the last days before the presidential election, in order to maximise the possibility that democracy can succeed and the country be spared from a crisis that risks sparking widespread domestic unrest and regional instability. "At ten minutes to Zimbabwe's electoral midnight, it is still not too late for the international community to help achieve a democratic outcome", said Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group.

Less than a week remains until Zimbabwe's electorate goes to the polls on 9-10 March to elect the next president. The signs that the process will be sufficiently free and fair to reflect the people's will are not good. The campaign, as ICG and many others have made clear, has been marked by substantial intimidation through deadly violence and related measures on behalf of the ruling ZANU-PF Party in support of the reelection of Robert Mugabe. International monitoring and observation efforts, particularly those of the European Union, whose delegation was forced to return home, have been substantially frustrated. President Mugabe and other leading figures have reacted defiantly to the warning sanctions that the EU and the United States imposed on them personally. The Commonwealth Summit has been unable to reach a consensus on meaningful action.

"Despite the violence, intimidation and rigging, there is still a possibility that popular sentiment can be expressed through the ballot box this weekend", said John Prendergast, Co-Director of the Africa Program of the International Crisis Group. "The key will be the size of voter turnout and the degree of influence that can be exerted to ensure a reasonably accurate count. And both these factors will be affected by the extent of international action in the remaining days."

A number of measures are needed to show ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe and the country's political elite alike that the world cares and will not accept the results of a deeply flawed election. They include:


After months of painful deliberation and unsuccessful efforts at dialogue, the EU last month imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on a handful of leading government officials. The U.S. followed with similar travel restrictions. Since the abuses that called forth these actions have continued, both the scope of the sanctions and the circle of powerful individuals targeted should be widened considerably in order to deliver a message that the international community is serious -- a message intended both to give hope to individuals trying to make up their minds whether to go to the polls and to affect calculations within the ruling elite.

  1. The U.S. should match the EU by freezing the assets of those whose travel it restricts.

  2. The EU and U.S. should publicly identify additional ZANU-PF officials whose travel will be restricted and assets frozen, depending upon their actions over the coming week.

  3. The EU and U.S. should announce that the children of targeted officials who are studying in EU countries or the U.S. will have their visas revoked and be required to return home, depending upon how the election is conducted.

  4. The EU and U.S. should state that they will support an investigation into the role of Zimbabwean and foreign-owned companies directly and culpably involved in the abuse of the ZANU-PF government's economic power, with the promise that sanctions against leading shareholders and board members will rapidly follow if the election is stolen.


Influential global leaders, not only those from Western countries like President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, but also importantly Africans such as President Mbeki and President Obasanjo, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan should use the air waves to reinforce the message that this election is critical for Zimbabwe and southern Africa and that the international community is deeply concerned. Zimbabwe's citizens should be encouraged to cast secret ballots and the country's authorities left in no doubt that the results will not be recognised if the election is stolen.


Neither South Africa, nor other member states of the Southern Africa Development Community, nor influential Nigeria have yet taken public measures. They should at the very least now speak quietly but forcefully with President Mugabe and key ZANU-PF officials. They should say that while they have given them some understanding until now, they will not whitewash a stolen election.


Such international monitors and observers who have managed to obtain permission to enter and remain in the country, including the limited Commonwealth delegation, and embassies from EU member countries, the U.S. and elsewhere should provide all possible assistance to local monitoring and observation efforts. In particular, they should assist in disseminating local monitors' reports in order to counter the potential of a whitewash by some of the official observer delegations favoured by the Zimbabwe government.


With freedom of the press under heavy assault in the country, sympathetic members of the international community should expand their efforts during this week to support alternative means of providing information to Zimbabwe's citizens. An example of the kind of activity that needs such help is the alternative media project, using audiotapes and short-wave radios to disseminate information that the Zimbabwean Crisis Coordinating Committee, a network of local civil society organizations, has created.


Southern African states and the broader international community must be fully prepared for what the election brings. If citizens go to the polls and their votes are counted honestly, quick action will be needed to promote stabilisation of the collapsing economy and support the rebuilding of governing institutions and reestablishment of the rule of law. If it becomes clear that the election has been stolen, additional measures to isolate an illegitimate government and pressure it to reverse course will need to be implemented immediately. If significant political unrest, mass protest, or a major upsurge in violence follows the election, as could all too easily happen, the various components of the international community will need to have plans ready for active responses.

Regardless of which scenario unfolds, donor agencies should be ready to increase their assistance to civil society organizations as a key element in a longer-term democracy promotion strategy. The international friends of Zimbabwe should be as transparent as possible in preparing for every contingency as yet another way to demonstrate that they will stand with the country and its people, not only this week but after the election as well.

Katy Cronin (London) +44-20-86 82 93 51
Sascha Pichler (Brussels) +32-2-536 00 70
John Prendergast or Heather Hurlburt (Washington) +1 202 408 80 12
All ICG Zimbabwe and other reports are available on our website

The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a private, multinational organisation, with 75 staff members on four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and contain conflict. The ICG Board is chaired by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, and its president is former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.
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Daily News

Extortion on farms reaches alarming levels, say EFU

3/5/02 8:58:26 AM (GMT +2)

From Chris Gande in Bulawayo

THE Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) says extortion and evictions on farms
have reached alarming proportions, with more than $12 million being paid out
to war veterans in illegal transactions.

The farms are being targeted irrespective of their legal status in the
State-directed process of compulsory acquisition.

The modus operandi has been to instruct farmers to immediately lay off their
workers and for the workers to vacate their houses on the farm as soon as
they have been paid.

In four cases, the farmers have been forced to vacate their farms fearing
for their lives.

One of them is a successful black commercial farmer who recently won a court
order barring the local MP from disrupting the operations on his farms.

A CFU spokesperson said in Chivhu district alone, over 21 farmers have
reported incidents of extortion and threats or actual evictions of workers
and farmers.

The mob reportedly causing havoc in the Chivhu area operates under the
command of a war veterans leader known only as Comrade Padera, with
assistance from a CIO officer, Charles Gumbo, already on remand on a charge
of public violence unrelated to his alleged current activities.

The extortion began a fortnight ago when a war veteran known as Comrade
Madhaka, apparently operating under instructions from Padera, visited the O’
Neil family.

Madhaka decreed that the farm abattoir was to close down by Friday 15
February. He ordered that the labour force and a family resident on their
property, Vlakfontein Estate, be relocated to the home farm, Gelukverwacht.
“In a blatant move to disenfranchise farmers and farm workers ahead of the
presidential election, over 100 farmers countrywide and many hundreds of
farm workers have been forced off commercial farms in the last few weeks,”
said the CFU spokesperson.

All incidents have been reported to the police but there has been a marked
reluctance on the part of the police to intervene, the spokesperson said.

On 27 February, 22 Zanu PF supporters, armed with sticks and axes, arrived
at 6:45am on Ashton Farm.
“They demanded that we pay our farm labourers gratuities and pensions and
that we should leave the farm, never to return.

“We were forced to drive a delegation to collect other workers where they
had been assigned to herd cattle.
“We requested police assistance, but by the time we returned to Ashton, they
had still not arrived,” the farm owner, K Whitfield, said.

He said he was asked to sign a written agreement to the demands but declined
and was later warned by the group not to consider reporting the matter to
the police as they had “higher authority”.

Negotiations ended on a tense note and the group withdrew, only to return
within an hour in a remarkably more militant mood under the new leadership
of two women who apparently report to a Comrade Dhera, a war veteran from
the Mhondoro communal area.

They dismantled the security fence, surrounded the house and after several
attempts, were able to smash the locks on the front door and gain entry into
the house, he said.

“Since they were armed with axes and sticks and since there was still no
response from the police, I was forced, single-handedly, to defend my
family. I discharged a firearm into the ceiling to frighten them away,” said

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Daily News

Bid to rig election

3/5/02 8:49:35 AM (GMT +2)

By John Gambanga and Sandra Nyaira

Although the government has officially denied it, several members of the
police and army have stated that they have already cast their votes for the
ruling Zanu PF party ahead of next weekend’s presidential poll.

The Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, said yesterday that it was not
true that members of the army and the police had voted. The recent
withdrawal of some troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was in
no way linked to the presidential election, he added.

Several members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe
National Army (ZNA) have telephoned this paper over the last few days,
saying they have already cast their votes, raising fears that the election
could be rigged.

At least seven soldiers and policemen stated that they had cast their
ballots in front of their bosses yesterday.
Several soldiers and policemen have telephoned The Daily News alleging that
they were instructed to cast their vote by the postal system.

A Bulawayo soldier said last week that he was ordered to vote in front of
his superior after being made to sign
a form in which he swore that he would not be in his constituency on 8 and 9

“I honestly feel this matter should be investigated as it could lead to
rigging of the elections,” said the soldier, who cannot be identified for
his own safety.

Another soldier, from Harare, said last week that although he did not
support the ruling party, he had to vote for it because he was commanded to
cast his vote in front of his senior.

Two Harare policemen said they have already cast their vote in favour of the
ruling party even though they did not support it.

“That’s just disinformation. They haven’t voted. Right now I am in the bush
campaigning,” Sekeramayi said.
“The withdrawal of Zimbabwean troops from the DRC was part of the Lusaka
Peace Agreement and not in any way linked to the presidential election,”
Sekeramayi said.

“We can’t stop withdrawing the soldiers from the DRC because there is an

The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, yesterday said his party had received
many reports that members of the army and police had already voted in front
of their bosses who are war veterans.

Tsvangirai said he had it on high authority that the officers had been
intimidated into voting for Mugabe and there was a big possibility that they
will vote again over the weekend.

“They did not vote with their free conscience and nothing is going to stop
them from voting again over the weekend. We estimate that over 70 000 people
have already voted,” he said.

Tsvangirai said the government’s excuse would be that the officers have to
be deployed to various areas during the two-day polling period.

“We have got irrefutable evidence that even the soldiers in the DRC have
already voted. The members of the armed forces can obviously not vote for
anyone else other than Mugabe because someone will be witnessing their vote
casting,” he said.

Two police officers in the Midlands province on Sunday called The Daily News
complaining that police officers were forced to fill application forms for
postal ballot papers.

“We were made to indicate that we will be out of our constituencies during
the voting days this weekend,” one officer said.

Another one said it would be difficult to freely exercise his freedom of
expression to vote for the presidential candidate of his choice.
“We have been advised that we will vote in the presence of our
officer-in-charge. He is a war veteran and it will be suicidal to vote
against Zanu PF. Can you, please, expose this because we want to exercise
our vote secretly without undue influence,” he said.

The ZNA has between 40 000 and 45 000 soldiers while the ZRP has between 35
000 and 40 000 full-time members and at least 10 000 part-time members
employed in the constabulary.

The Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, and Gatsheni Mbonisi, the army
spokesman, could not be reached, while Wayne Bvudzijena, the ZRP spokesman,
predictably refused to comment, as has long been his habit, when contacted

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Business Report

Zimbabweans to vote with their stomachs
March 05 2002 at 06:12AM
Harare - Zimbabwe's crumbling economy will be the key issue for voters in
this week's crucial presidential election.

"I will vote for the guy who can assure me of plenty of mealie meal, cooking
oil and sugar in my house," said Tongai Musanhu of Harare.

Analysts say that despite President Robert Mugabe's attempts to cast his
land reforms at the centre of the election stage, the real issue is an
economy on the brink of collapse.

"The authorities have taken aim at the heart of the intricate commercial
farming machine and deliberately thrown their heaviest spanners into the
works," independent analyst John Robertson says of the land seizure

Tony Hawkins, an economics professor at the University of Zimbabwe, adds:
"In any democratic society you'd expect that the economy is of major concern
during such elections.

"In Zimbabwe's case the situation has been exacerbated by a food crisis,
very high inflation and high unemployment."

Zimbabwe is in its fourth year of recession, with official estimates
predicting the economy will shrink by 5.3 percent this year after a 7.3
percent contraction last year.

Economists say the economy may deteriorate further this year if the
socio-political environment worsens after the election. Some foresee a 10
percent contraction.

"The economy can only be moved back on to a stable growth path if sound and
credible macro-economic policies are undertaken," one of Zimbabwe's largest
commercial banks, Financial Holdings, said in its latest monthly bulletin.

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Zimbabwe strikes a deal

As if out of the blue, Zimbabwe has suddenly and unexpectedly promised to
halt illegal land seizures, after more than 18 months of violent

Special report: Zimbabwe

Ashley Davies
Friday September 7, 2001

Exactly what has Zimbabwe promised?
Following months of condoning so-called war veterans' attempts to take over
white-owned farms, President Mugabe has signed an agreement saying there
will be no more land seizures. He agreed to take "firm action against
violence and intimidation". In other words, he appears to be bowing to
international pressure to prevent the already volatile situation in Zimbabwe
He has resisted this for some time. Why has he suddenly changed his mind?
In return for Mugabe enforcing law and order, Britain has agreed to pay £36m
towards a programme to compensate white farmers who transfer land back to
poor black settlers. Britain also agreed to try encourage other countries to
give financial help. Economic and political turmoil has crushed Zimbabwe's
agricultural output, and the country now desperately needs money to buy food
from abroad.

Tough opposition from abroad may also have been an important factor. Members
of the international community have been threatening to impose sanctions on
Zimbabwe, freeze Mugabe's personal assets and suspend the country's
membership from the Commonwealth.

On top of this, Mugabe values support from neighbouring countries, many of
which have condemned the recent land seizures and his unwillingness to
prevent violence from spreading.

But Mugabe has an uneasy relationship with Britain, seeing it as an
untrustworthy former colonial power. Does he not fear this deal will make
him look like he's kow-towing to his former coloniser?
This has been skilfully avoided. The joint statement between Britain and
Zimbabwe puts the onus for reform on the UN development programme, which is
respected in Africa.

How did this seemingly miraculous deal come about?
Foreign secretary Jack Straw has been in Nigeria as part of a Commonwealth
delegation. He spent 10 hours thrashing through a deal with his Zimbabwean
counterpart, Stan Mudenge, who spoke regularly on the phone to Mugabe
throughout. Nigerian president Olusegun Obasango played an important part in
getting the two sides together.

It all sounds a bit too good to be true. What are the chances of Mugabe
keeping to his end of the bargain? Sadly, his record on these matters is not
good, and he has frequently backtracked on agreements made by his ministers.
The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is sceptical. But
if Mugabe reneges on his promises, the chances of sanctions will increase

So what happens to people illegally occupying land now?
The Zimbabwe government will force them to give it up until other, legally
acquired, land is found for them.

How many farms have been taken over so far?
More than 1,700 white-owned farms have been occupied since March last year.
The government's target was to have 4,600 farms taken over

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Daily News

Two seriously hurt after attack by Zanu PF mob

3/5/02 9:02:15 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

Two members of the opposition MDC are in a critical condition in hospitals
in Harare after attacks by Zanu PF supporters.

Sylvester Kuveya was severely beaten and burnt with firewood and plastic
near the Chegutu beerhall around 8pm last week on Tuesday.

Staff at a hospital in Harare at the weekend said he was in the intensive
care unit.

A source in Chegutu, who requested anonymity, said: “Kuveya sometimes sells
The Daily News here and supports the MDC. They beat him up and took him
across to a vendor who sells roast maize and burnt him with firewood and

Justin Mutendadzamera, the Member of Parliament for Mabvuku, said a group of
Zanu PF supporters beat up and stabbed Tunga Mozalani, last Monday.

He said: “He was left unconscious and sustained several wounds, including a
deep cut in the neck. He was rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital where he is
still in a serious condition.”

In Banket, farm workers were being forced to attend Zanu PF rallies.

One worker was reportedly severely whipped, while Gerald Banda was beaten
for “drinking tea with the white man”.

Yotamu Matopa, a foreman, was beaten with bicycle chains. Biggie Chigonero,
the MDC vice-chairman for Mashonaland Central Province, said more than 1 000
Zanu PF supporters stoned his garage in Mvurwi on Thursday, when President
Mugabe held his rally in the town.

Chigonero said Zanu PF supporters uprooted about five acres of cotton
belonging to Andrew Mureya while $37 000 in cash was stolen from Kennedy
Musheka. Musheka’s house and maize crop were also burnt in another attack.

In Tafara, Harare, suspected Zanu PF supporters attacked the home of Sami
Nyamukuhwa, 72, at around 2am on Thursday.

In Murehwa at Gosha village, Abel Gogodo, 22, was severely beaten and
suffered serious facial and body injuries

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Daily News

Zanu PF supporters burn down Chiweshe woman’s home

3/5/02 8:57:35 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

ZANU PF supporters on Saturday burnt down two houses belonging to Rose
Chinyemba, 52, the Mashonaland Central MDC chairperson in Chiweshe.

Property worth about $259 000 was destroyed in the fire. Chinyemba said 500
Zanu PF supporters descended on her house at around 8pm and burned two
thatched kitchen huts while they were asleep.

She said the Zanu PF supporters have been coming to her homestead nearly
every day singing songs which condemned her for supporting the MDC.

“Simba Chikasha, Daisy Mutengwa, Tafadzwa Masimbiti, Innocent Nyanyiwa,
Fortunate Mutengwa and Remember Manomano are some of the Zanu PF supporters
who were part of the group which burned my huts,” Chinyemba said.

The distressed Chinyemba said her motor vehicle which was parked at the
homestead was punctured by the Zanu PF supporters who accused her of
carrying people to attend MDC rallies.

She accused the police of not taking action after she had reported the case
to them.

“I gave them the names of the people who have been terrorising me, but the
police are taking their time,” Chinyemba said.

She said the same group broke into her shop at Nyaturu township but did not
manage to steal anything because there were lots of people at the township
who fought running battles with the Zanu PF supporters.

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Daily News

60 Zanu PF supporters loot shop

3/5/02 8:12:48 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

ABOUT 60 Zanu PF supporters on Sunday looted goods worth more than $150 000
at a supermarket belonging to Falls Nhari, the MDC candidate for Mabvuku’s
ward 20 in the forthcoming Harare municipal election to be held concurrently
with the presidential and mayoral polls at the weekend.

Nhari said the unruly youths pounced on his supermarket at around 11am
demanding to see him.

Upon noticing that the youths wanted to harm him, he made an escape and went
to call the police.

The police at Mabvuku said they could not come because they had no

He then proceeded to Chikurubi where the police responded immediately.

When the police eventually arrived, the hooligans had already disappeared.

However, a group of the local Zanu PF leaders came and started shouting
abusive words in the presence of the police who did not do anything to
restrain them.

The Zanu PF supporters threatened to kill the businessman.

Nhari said it was surprising that the attack had occurred just a day after
he took the initiative to call for a meeting of both MDC and Zanu PF
leaders, where he condemned violence and urged all youths to stop engaging
in violence.

Nhari said: “Our people are now living in fear of Zanu PF thugs and I am now
afraid of opening my shop.

“We can’t even campaign peacefully and this cannot be called a free and fair

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Daily News

Political climate hinders distribution of food aid

3/5/02 9:01:38 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

THE current political environment prevailing in the country ahead of this
weekend’s presidential election is hampering the smooth distribution of
relief aid, a representative of the World Food Programme (WFP) said on

Pedro Figueredo, head of WFP logistics and planning in Zimbabwe, was
speaking after receiving a US$89 208 (Z$4,9 million) grant from the Japanese

“There are a lot of political activities taking place in the rural areas as
the election draws nearer,” Figueredo said. “We are planning an increased
and fully-fledged food distribution to be there by the end of March. We
believe that then there will be enough security and the local authorities
will concentrate on food distribution.”
WFP needs at least US$60 million (Z$3,3 billion) to import 5 200 metric
tonnes of maize and other foodstuffs to feed more than half a million
starving Zimbabweans.

Figueredo said the WFP had so far managed to raise more than 25 percent of
the required money.

At least two people have died so far as starvation takes its toll in
drought-prone areas such as Matabeleland South and North provinces.

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Daily News

MDC dismisses Sunday Mail story on defections

3/5/02 9:01:00 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

THE MDC has dismissed as false a story in The Sunday Mail alleging that its
top officials were thinking of leaving the party while others intended to
join Zanu PF because their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was going to lose this
weekend’s election.

Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC’s spokesperson, described the story by Munyaradzi
Huni, the paper’s political editor, as “baseless and mischievous”.

The paper, quoting unnamed sources in the MDC, claimed Professor Welshman
Ncube, the party’s secretary-general, wanted to quit politics after the
election because there was no hope of winning.

Others said to be contemplating quitting politics are Members of Parliament
Thokozani Khupe for Makokoba, Hilda Mafudze (Mhondoro), Esaph Mdlongwa
(Pumula-Luveve), Fletcher Dulini-Ncube (Lobengula-Magwegwe) and George
Ndlovu (Insiza).

MPs Job Sikhala for St Mary’s, Tafadzwa Musekiwa for Zengeza, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Glen Norah) and Tapiwa Mashakada (Hatfield) were
purported to be contemplating joining Zanu PF.

None of these parliamentarians was given an opportunity to respond.

Jongwe said: “The Sunday Mail’s story is a figment of Huni’s imagination.
This is not the first time Huni has been playing such silly games.

“The public recalls that Huni recently wrote dozens of stories in which he
said the MDC was going to split over the presidential candidate and, as is
now clear, this was false.”

Jongwe said the State-controlled paper also wrote other stories saying that
Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice-president, and Tsvangirai were fighting for the
presidency “and sometimes in Huni’s fiction it was Tsvangirai and Ncube who
were fighting for the party’s presidency. This was all false and cheap
government-driven propaganda”.

Jongwe said the MDC remains “solid, intact and no storm will ever wither it
away because it has its roots in the people. The party has mayors,
councillors and MPs throughout the nation and will soon install Zimbabwe’s
next President. To suggest that Tsvangirai will lose is mere fantasy and the
MDC has no time to discuss impossibilities.

“We are heading for a landslide victory,” Jongwe said.

He said the people of Zimbabwe will vote for Tsvangirai because he is a
candidate with clear plans to revive the economy and, “most importantly, to
immediately import huge quantities of maize and food to feed starving
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Daily News

Catholic priests assaulted in Zaka

3/5/02 8:13:59 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

THREE Catholic priests and three other church members from St Anthony’s
Mission in Zaka district were last week tortured by suspected Zanu PF

The incident happened after they met two officials from the United States
Embassy in Harare.

The priest-in-charge at the mission, Father Joseph Odermatt, Father Joseph
Wyss, Father Peter Chimombe, Philip Wuersch, Theresa Gweto and Afra Mukandwa
sustained injuries following the attacks by the youths.

The Masvingo diocese of the Catholic Church yesterday described the incident
as unfortunate as political violence continues to haunt the province ahead
of the presidential poll over the weekend.

According to Reverend MacDonald Masvosva, the Vicar-General of Masvingo
Diocese, the attack took place after the departure of the two officials from
the US Embassy.

The officials had visited St Anthony’s Mission and hospital to inquire about
the performance of the hospital and the general situation at the

After a tour of the mission, they met Odermatt.

They inquired about the situation in the area and the plight of people in
Zaka who have been plagued by hunger and politically motivated violence.

Odermatt told the two visitors there were still clashes between Zanu PF and
MDC supporters, resulting in the suffering of innocent people.

Following the meeting, Zanu PF supporters besieged the mission demanding to
know who the visitors were.

The angry youths started slapping the priests on the cheeks without
listening to their explanations.

Musvosva said: “It was so dramatic an event that it happened in a very short
period of time. Just after their departure, the group of youths gathered and
started interrogating the priest-in-charge. Hardly did they accord him time
to explain.”

The youths then beat them up.

The six were forced into a truck packed with Zanu PF youths. The beatings
continued even in the car. They were taken to a Zanu PF base at Jerera
growth point where they were severely tortured and later taken to the

The six were questioned by the police for two hours before their release.

Police in Zaka on Sunday confirmed the incident, but said investigations
were still in progress.

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe defies age, hits out at foes

HARARE, March 5 — Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe defies his 78 years on
Tuesday by hitting the election campaign trail hard after boasting he could
punch his much younger challenger to the ground with one blow.

       After 22 years in office, Mugabe takes on opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in two days of voting at the weekend which the opposition says
will not be free and fair.
       ''This fist is 78 years old and has 78 horsepower that could send Mr
Tsvangirai to the ground if we were to get into the ring,'' Mugabe told a
rally of his ruling ZANU-PF on Monday.
       Speaking in the town of Gokwe, Mugabe said ZANU-PF's complacency had
allowed Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to make big gains
in the 2000 parliamentary polls.
       ''But now we are wide awake. We won't let MDC win in the presidential
election,'' he said in a speech quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper
on Tuesday.
       Mugabe uses an executive helicopter to shuttle around the southern
African country and was scheduled to address at least three provincial
rallies on Tuesday.
       The March 9-10 polls are expected to be the closest since
independence from Britain in 1980.
       They are also set to be the bitterest. The MDC said on Monday that 34
of its supporters had been killed in state-sponsored violence since January
       The alleged death toll is almost impossible to verify independently
but the United States and Britain have led international protests against
violence and intimidation, blaming ZANU-PF supporters in and out of
       The United States' annual Human Rights Report released in Washington
on Monday blasted the Zimbabwe government for what it said were a string of
abuses leading up to the 2000 parliamentary elections, interim by-elections
and this year's presidential poll.
       ''The government's very poor human rights record continued to worsen
during the year and it committed numerous, serious abuses.
       ''The political process remained heavily tilted in favour of the
ruling party,'' the report said.
       Last month, the United States and the European Union slapped personal
sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle.

       But Mugabe's camp claimed a major diplomatic victory on Monday when
the 54-member Commonwealth decided not to slap sanctions against him.
African states blocked pressure from Britain, Australia and New Zealand to
do so.
       Tuesday's Herald headlined one story ''Why UK lost Battle of
       But New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark criticised the
Commonwealth compromise to look at the sanctions and suspension issue again
after the elections.
       ''I think the Commonwealth has to get its act together for the
future. It has failed to wrestle effectively with Zimbabwe,'' she said on
the last day of the summit in Australia.
       ZANU-PF is campaigning on the platform that the MDC and Tsvangirai
are mere stooges of Britain and Zimbabwe's tiny white minority of around
70,000 in a population of 13 million.
       ''We are not fighting Mr Tsvangirai but Britain's Tony Blair,''
Mugabe told a rally on Monday.
       Meanwhile Tsvangirai's campaign faces a host of problems.
       On Monday, police halted a meeting with 30 foreign diplomats that he
was addressing in a five-star Harare hotel.
       He 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.
       The few pre-election polls show that he has a real chance of
unseating Mugabe, although researchers are hampered by small samples and the
reluctance of most voters to declare their intentions.
       Many analysts predict that Mugabe has done enough -- in every
sense -- to extend his long rule.
       ''If Mugabe wins -- you can stand there as much as you like and say
it was not free and fair -- he is going to remain in government,'' Jesmond B
lumenfeld of Britain's Royal Institute for International Affairs told
Reuters on Monday.

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Business Day

DA will assist Zimbabweans during election

YOU correctly point out how difficult it will be for our team of election
observers to maintain a rational perspective on events as they unfold in
Zimbabwe. But your columnist seems to have difficulty maintaining a rational
perspective on the Democratic Alliance (Insight, February 28).

The DA is deeply concerned about reports that the minimum criteria for free
and fair elections have already been grossly violated, but it is not true to
suggest that we have prejudged the outcome of the election and cannot
conceive of an outcome which reflects Zimbabweans' will.

In fact, prior to the departure of the observer team, Tony Leon said DA
members of the observer teams would go to Zimbabwe with open minds and firm
democratic principles. In addition, they would measure events in Zimbabwe
against the following universally accepted criteria for free and fair

For the election to be considered free, before polling day, there must be:

Freedom of movement;

Freedom of speech for political parties and the media;

Freedom of assembly; and

Freedom from fear in connection with the election campaign.

For the election to be considered fair, there must be:

An impartial electoral commission;

Impartial treatment of candidates by the police, army and courts;

Impartial voter education programmes; and

Equal access to the public broadcaster and state-owned media.

By participating in the Southern African Development Community observer
mission and SA parliamentary mission, the DA will do everything in its power
to assist the people of Zimbabwe to express their free will.

David MaynierOffice of the Leader of the Opposition

Mar 05 2002 12:00:00:000AM  Business Day 1st Edition

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Daily News

EU over Zimbabwe: why we did what we did

3/5/02 8:38:31 AM (GMT +2)

THE European Union (EU) has always been a good friend of Zimbabwe since

EU aid accounts for about two-thirds of aid going to Zimbabwe and the EU
imports over 750 million euros (Z$38 billion) of Zimbabwean goods each year.

It has been a friendship based on shared values and faith in democracy and
determination to fight against poverty.

But the events of the last couple of weeks have left me sad: sad for the
people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is gearing up for a crucial election.

Like voters everywhere, Zimbabweans have a right to hear all the arguments
and make up their minds on polling day.

They have a right to a free Press, and to a campaign waged through words,
not violence.

This is what democracy means the world over. And I still hope that the
people of Zimbabwe will have their say in this election, free from

Some people have said that the EU has no business to take a view of
elections in Zimbabwe.

That it has not right to impose its views on another country.
However, electoral observation is not about imposing views.

Rather, it aims at strengthening a democratic process, through confidence
building, conflict prevention measures and technical support.

When the EU, Zimbabwe and the other African, Caribbean and Pacific countries
signed the Cotonou Agreement in 2000, we all said in Article 9 that respect
for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law should underpin
all our policies.

We were reaffirming shared beliefs that are the basis of our friendship. And
we took these shared beliefs seriously.

That’s why we all also said in Article 96 that any party that did not
respect these shared beliefs could face sanctions. But this was no

This was an agreement between friends, a free covenant between sovereign
states reaffirming the basis of our friendship.

Furthermore, the standards by which the election in Zimbabwe would have been
assessed ­ and which we were using in our own election observation mission ­
are not European rules, but universal norms also adopted by the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc).

The EU wanted to provide election observers because it wanted to give
Zimbabwe the chance to show that it took its democratic obligations under
the Cotonou Agreement seriously.

Political violence had been escalating. New laws to curb civil rights and
Press freedom were deeply worrying.

We consulted with the government of Zimbabwe, but heard nothing to put our
minds at rest. Election observation was, and still is, Zimbabwe’s chance to
reassure the EU and the world that democracy in this wonderful country is
still in good health.

We have the greatest respect for those who now remain to observe the
election and indeed, we will continue to support both the Sadc mission, and
the local observers.

So why did our observers leave?

The last straw was the expulsion of our chief observer, Pierre Schori. But
the government of Zimbabwe had also tried to exclude over a third of the
countries in the EU from the observation mission.

The EU doesn’t work like that. We are a single entity, not something to be
cut up and divided. Saying that some EU countries could not come would be
like saying that players from Kwazulu-Natal could not play in the South
African soccer team!

The attempt to pick and choose between our members was another sign that the
government of Zimbabwe was not acting in good faith.

The Zimbabwean government has said that Pierre Schori entered Zimbabwe under
false pretences, claiming a tourist visa rather than presenting himself as
an election observer.

That was the pretext for expelling him. This is completely untrue. The
Zimbabwean Embassy in the US issued Schori a six-month, multiple entry visa.
The European Commission clearly told the Zimbabwean government in writing in
advance of his arrival that Schori would be the EU’s chief observer.

Schori presented himself as a member of the EU observation mission to the
Immigration Department at Harare International Airport.

Schori’s visitor visa was no different from the visas issued to all the
other observers that later received accreditation. But these
misunderstandings are symptoms of a bigger problem.

The EU has decided to impose sanctions not because of these unhappy details,
but because of what these events showed about the government’s approach to
the shared values that underpin our Cotonou partnership.

Over several months, the EU has been asking the government of Zimbabwe to
prove us wrong: to show us that it is willing to abide by the principles of
democracy and human rights that it signed up to in Cotonou.

Unfortunately, it has chosen not to do so and this is clearly
evidenced by the continued degradation of the political and economic

Those who continue to suggest that we have acted in this matter as though we
considered ourselves in some way superior, as though we wished to push
Zimbabwe around, are missing a crucial point.

We enter into agreements with our partners as equals. The rules of Cotonou
apply to us as much as to any of the African signatories. If they have
concerns about our conduct, they can use the same procedures to voice them.

Many people from Africa have been invited to observe elections in Europe ­
including in Sweden, where Schori comes from. All sides have to keep their

The sanctions that will now come into force have been specifically designed
to avoid hurting the people of Zimbabwe whom we will continue to directly
support where possible.

These sanctions specifically impose travel restrictions and freeze the
assets of those persons considered to be mainly responsible for the present
government policies.

They have also been accompanied by a ban on the sale of any kind of weapons
or equipment from Europe, that could be used to suppress dissent in

Meanwhile we will be doing everything we can to make sure that EU aid
continues to reach the ordinary Zimbabweans who are facing ever-increasing
social challenges.

What matters today is how the election takes place and how the country will
be led in the future for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe.

Patten is the European Commissioner for External Relations

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Daily News

Bindura police arrest eight MDC activists over posters

3/5/02 9:00:22 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

TAPERA Macheka, the MDC chairman for Mashonaland Central province, said
yesterday the police in Bindura arrested eight MDC supporters on Saturday on
allegations of taking part in voter education campaigns and putting up MDC
campaign posters without their authority.

Macheka said of the eight, six were released on Sunday while Peter Sofa
Tapfumaneyi and Wonder Makaza, the vice-chairman and organising secretary
for Bindura district respectively, were still in police custody yesterday.

A policeman at Bindura Police Station yesterday confirmed Tapfumaneyi and
Makaza were arrested but refused to say when they would appear in court.

Macheka said Tapfumaneyi was arrested for possessing spray paint used by MDC
supporters to write party symbols in public places for the election

He said six of his supporters were arrested for carrying out voter education
campaigns, including teaching their polling agents what to do during the
weekend presidential poll.

Macheka reported that Gerald Mayor, an MDC supporter in Mvurwi, was
assaulted by alleged Zanu PF supporters for refusing to defect to their

“We are worried by these arrests. We suspect that the police want to arrest
all MDC leaders in the province so we cannot organise our polling agents,”
he said.

Meanwhile, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the MP for Glen Norah, said
yesterday two people, one claiming to be an army colonel, and another an
officer from the Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station,
wanted to search her constituency office on Saturday.

“The two threatened to kill the office workers. But when some of our party
youths called the police, they left,” she said.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga called on all security agents to produce lawful search
warrants if they intend to search MDC properties.

She said: “The MDC is a lawful political organisation. It respects the laws
of this country and should be treated in a lawful manner. We uphold all the
principles of a constitutional democracy and we should not be treated like

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Talking tough, acting weak
(Filed: 05/03/2002)

COMPOSED of far-flung nations with disparate forms of government, the
Commonwealth has long had problems in dealing with political delinquency.

The end of the Cold War, during which East and West had supported unsavoury
Third World regimes as part of their ideological struggle, led to the
establishment of new norms of acceptable behaviour. Meeting in Harare in
1991, Commonwealth leaders declared their commitment to "democracy . . . the
rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest
government" and to "equal rights and opportunities for all citizens,
regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief".

Application of those criteria led to the readmittance of South Africa in
1994 and the suspension of Pakistan in 1999. Yet in meeting the latest
challenge to its authority, Robert Mugabe's gross misrule in Zimbabwe, the
organisation has shown itself as weak-kneed as ever.

Yesterday, at their meeting in Coolum, Queensland, heads of government
decided not to suspend Zimbabwe until after the presidential elections on
March 9 and 10. Instead, a troika of leaders, from Australia, Nigeria and
South Africa, will decide what to do after they have received a report from
Commonwealth observers.

Despite a two-year reign of terror, Mr Mugabe has been given another chance.
This failure to confront his tyranny makes a mockery of the declaration
signed in his capital 11 years ago. Once again, a Commonwealth summit stands
exposed as a talking-shop.

Tony Blair tried to dissociate himself from the consensus by saying he would
have preferred the instant suspension of Zimbabwe from Commonwealth
councils. Yet the Government has been notoriously reluctant to punish Mr
Mugabe, preferring instead to punt the problem into the amorphous fora of
the European Union and the Commonwealth. It was only last month that the
former imposed sanctions targeting the president and his henchmen.

Talking tough, Mr Blair said: "There can be no question of Mugabe being
allowed to stay in power with a rigged election. If Africa wants a decisive
future, this is the type of behaviour that has to stop."

But what is he going to do to remove the Zimbabwean president? And if, as we
suspect, nothing, what will become of the African renaissance that he and
his friend, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, proclaim? In the confrontation with
Mr Mugabe, the Prime Minister has blinked first, and no amount of bluster
can disguise the fact.

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Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth has refused to suspend Zimbabwe over a campaign of
political violence ahead of presidential elections. Sunder Katwala and Mark
Oliver explain

Monday March 4, 2002

What is the latest?
After a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Australia highlighted
splits in attitudes to Zimbabwe, the organisation has decided to put off
making a decision on the country until after the March 9-10 presidential
vote. The leaders of Australia, South Africa and Nigeria will then await a
report from election observers before taking any action. If the vote is not
ruled to be free and fair, Zimbabwe could be suspended from the
Why is the Commonwealth involved?
The Commonwealth, an organisation of 54 countries which arose out of the
gradual dissolution of the British empire, prides itself on being one of
very few international organisations which is prepared to throw members out
for violating democratic norms. Ironically, the Commonwealth's values are
contained in the Harare Declaration, agreed in the Zimbabwean capital in
1991, which sets out democracy, fundamental human rights and the rule of law
as the basis of membership.

What can the Commonwealth do?
It has little practical or financial leverage over Zimbabwe. Suspension, or
expulsion, would be a largely symbolic move, showing increasing
international pressure on the Harare regime and sending a message that the
Zimbabwean government's actions were viewed as illegitimate.

This would make it more difficult for international institutions, such as
the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, to deal with the country
as normal. The move would hamper Zimbabwe's efforts to raise funds on the
international money markets.

Commonwealth action could also add to momentum for increased pressure from
the European union and the South African development community, and from
individual governments.

Do the Commonwealth often suspend members?
To date, the Commonwealth has only suspended military regimes (such as
Pakistan) but CMAG - an eight-strong committee of Commonwealth foreign
ministers set up to police the Harare declaration - has proposed that it
should be given terms of reference which enable it to act earlier on major
violations of democratic values, such as the freedom of the media. If
Zimbabwe's position does not change - and, as expected, it does not allow
free and fair elections - then it is difficult to see how the Commonwealth
could retain any credibility without suspending Zimbabwe.

How has the crisis developed?
Earlier this year, Britain proposed active sanctions against Zimbabwe for
the first time, which were taken on by the EU. Critics believe that the new
laws being pushed through the parliament by the government - which allow
full control of the media and make all criticism of the state or president a
public order offence - make a mockery of the democratic process.

President Robert Mugabe's strategy throughout the two-year crisis has been
to blame the country's collapsing economy on a sinister alliance of Britain,
white farmers and assorted "traitors" who are conspiring to reverse the
country's independence and prevent his tackling the historic injustices of
Zimbabwe's highly unequal land distribution.

This strategy has had limited success, escalating Zimbabwe's economic crisis
while failing to silence an increasingly vocal opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change, which denies the claims of conspiracy and blames the
country's plight on the mismanagement and corruption of the Mugabe

Would Mr Mugabe care about being suspended from the Commonwealth?
The Commonwealth's views are not Mr Mugabe's highest priority, and he will
seek to use Commonwealth pressure as part of his strategy of presenting
opposition to his regime as a British-organised conspiracy against
Zimbabwean independence, claiming that all internal opposition is being paid
for and organised by the former colonial power.

That is why the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has stressed the importance
of Britain being part of an international coalition pressuring Zimbabwe,
even though the UK has been the main proponent of sanctions and Commonwealth
suspension. Britain and the EU are hoping that other African governments
will help to lead pressure on Zimbabwe to legitimise international action
and undercut Mr Mugabe's charges of a "new colonialism".

African Commonwealth members - especially South Africa and Nigeria, who were
instrumental in winning assurances of good behaviour from Zimbabwe last
autumn - also have more political and economic leverage over Zimbabwe. Its
neighbours are deeply concerned about both the knock-on economic effects of
the Zimbabwe crisis, both by directly damaging trade and by decreasing
investors' confidence in the region.

President Thabo Mbeki's increasing criticism of Zimbabwe has led to
Zimbabwe's state-run newspapers calling the South African president "a
traitor" who is "in bed with the architects of apartheid", suggesting that
Mr Mugabe is prepared to risk a clash with South Africa despite the
potential economic costs to Zimbabwe.

* Sunder Katwala is the editor of and author of Reinventing
the Commonwealth (The Foreign Policy Centre)

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Zimbabwe Decision Reveals Deep Rift

Tuesday March 5, 2002 6:10 AM

COOLUM, Australia (AP) - Commonwealth leaders on Tuesday wrapped up a summit
overshadowed by deep divisions over election violence in Zimbabwe.

Some said a compromise deal to delay taking action against Zimbabwe - where
President Robert Mugabe is trying to maintain power - failed to heal rifts
within the group, made up of Britain and its former colonies. Others
insisted the debate strengthened the group, whose 54 member states hold
one-third of the world's population.

Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa said the Commonwealth had withstood a
``bombardment for an alliance against Mugabe, allegedly on racial grounds.''
He said the organization ``emerged really as a united Commonwealth not
divided on the basis of race.''

A defiant bloc of African nations, Malaysia and some Caribbean states on
Monday resisted concerted efforts by Britain, Australia and New Zealand to
have Zimbabwe immediately suspended from the Commonwealth.

``The Commonwealth has to get its act together. It has failed to wrestle
effectively with Zimbabwe,'' New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said.
``I think there is some frustration among the smaller states.''

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that at such large meetings ``there
is a tendency for the lowest common denominator to prevail.''

Leaders agreed to await a report by 64 Commonwealth election monitors on
whether the coming weekend's presidential election is free and fair. The
group also boosted the power of its secretary-general to negotiate with
countries that violate democratic principles.

Suspending Zimbabwe would cut it off from Commonwealth aid.

``This has been an important and challenging meeting. The issue of Zimbabwe
was not easy,'' Australian Prime Minister John Howard said. ``I do believe
that we have provided a mechanism, a framework for dealing with that issue
that represents the consensus within the Commonwealth.''

At a rally in Zimbabwe, Mugabe said the decision was a victory for his

``African countries are telling Britain to stop behaving like a colonial
master,'' he said.

The Commonwealth also agreed to continue Pakistan's suspension until after
elections scheduled for later this year. Pakistan was suspended following
the 1999 coup that ended democratic rule.

A seven-page closing communique also committed the group to tackle terrorism
and understand its root causes.

More than 4,000 police attended the four-day summit, which included a visit
by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

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March 05, 2002

Blair furious over compromise on Harare sanctions
From David Charter, Chief Political Correspondent in Coolum, Australia

TONY BLAIR said that the credibility of the Commonwealth was on the line
yesterday after angrily accusing its leaders of reaching “the lowest common
denominator” in a compromise over Zimbabwe.
Mr Blair broke with convention to distance himself from the customary
end-of-summit consensus and said that the 54-nation organisation had made
the wrong move by postponing a decision on sanctions.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Queensland agreed to
set up a council of three leaders, from South Africa, Australia and Nigeria,
to decide how to deal with Zimbabwe after observing the conduct of voting
there during the presidential election over the weekend.

The group was chosen because the countries were past, present and future
hosts of CHOGMs. There were, however, concerns that the council was
unbalanced after the meeting was dogged by claims from Alexander Downer, the
Australian Foreign Minister, that African countries were banding together to
protect President Mugabe.

Mr Blair did not conceal his dismay that Britain’s call for immediate
sanctions against the Mugabe regime, backed by New Zealand and Australia,
was rejected by African leaders. Instead, he had to settle for a bland
Commonwealth statement, after four days of wrangling, which concluded that
should there be an “adverse” report from its 45 election observers, possible
action “ranges from collective disapproval to suspension”.

The official statement expressed “deep concern about incidents of violence
and intimidation surrounding the election campaign (and) called on all
parties to refrain from such violence”. It did not seek to identify the
perpetrators of the violence.

Mr Blair said: “We should have provided a far stronger statement and backed
it up with action. We have postponed the day of judgment on Zimbabwe and I
think that is the wrong thing to do.

“The statement is not the statement I would have drafted. There is no point
in using diplomatic language about this. The statement that has appeared is
in effect the lowest common denominator.”

He said he thought that the Commonwealth would eventually “do the right
thing” and censure Mr Mugabe. “If it does not, its credibility is at issue;
if it does not act in circumstances where it is plain that a member country
has held an election which has not been fair.”

New Zealand, which also wanted immediate sanctions, rejected the terms of
the compromise. Helen Clark, the Prime Minister, said: “The communiqué reads
a little like everyone is responsible for the violence and intimidation.
That is not the case.”

John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, said he thought the compromise
was bona fide and effective. He denied the suggestion that the two African
leaders who will join him in judging Zimbabwe — President Obasanjo of
Nigeria and President Mbeki of South Africa — would be biased in favour of
Mr Mugabe.

Asked if he could pass judgment on Zimbabwe without prejudice, having
campaigned against immediate sanctions, Mr Obasanjo said: “We all agree it
would be wrong to be pre-judgmental.” He added: “Until you get the actual
voting, you cannot announce an election is free and fair or not free and
fair. I am a fair man and I believe that anybody who believed that Zimbabwe
should be suspended before the election is not fair.”

Canada’s Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, said the agreement was the best that
could be reached given the deep divisions with the ranks of the 54-nation

“We have observers there and it was quite premature to conclude before the
elections and that position prevailed eventually,” he said.

“Being a realist, I thought it (sanctions) would be impractical before the
elections." F. P. Sekai Holland, foreign affairs secretary of the Movement
for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwean opposition, said she felt let down by
the entire Commonwealth. She said: “It is too slow, as with all things of
the Commonwealth. It will come too late with too little and be really

She added: “The mechanisms of violence are in place in Zimbabwe. There is a
militia of 10,000 youths that have been put in place . . . the Zimbabwean
Army is supervising this militia and these are the people who are killing,
maiming, beating up the Opposition. We have been let down by everybody.

“If Mugabe is defeated and steals the election, there will be a bloodbath.
According to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, there are going to be nine
days (after voting) before anything can be done, if you calculate it. It is
this crucial nine days when Zimbabwe could descend into a catastrophe.”

However, Mr Obasanjo said: “If the election is reasonably fair and free,
whoever loses will accept his loss and whoever wins will win with
magnanimity. I do not see a bloodbath.”

Asked whether he had been speaking to Mr Mugabe about the Zimbabwean leader
standing down after the elections, Mr Obasanjo replied: “I was in Zimbabwe
and I met President Mugabe and Morgan (Tsvangirai, the MDC leader) and both
sides were raising issues. But I did not discuss how anyone was going to go
into a self-imposed exile.”

Blair dismayed by Zimbabwe compromise

Commonwealth credibility sinks after African members block tough action
against Mugabe regime

Ewen MacAskill in Coolum
Tuesday March 5, 2002
The Guardian

The prime minister, Tony Blair, expressed disappointment yesterday after the
Commonwealth summit fudged the issue of whether to suspend Zimbabwe for
abuses of the democratic process.

A compromise statement, unanimously adopted by the summit, means that a
decision on suspension is to be delayed until after Zimbabwe holds its
presidential election this weekend.

The president, Robert Mugabe, is fighting for his political survival against
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr
Mugabe's supporters have been involved in acts of violence and intimidation
during the election campaign.

Mr Blair, backed by Australia, Canada and New Zealand, pushed for immediate
suspension at the summit in Australia but was opposed by a bloc of African

The prime minister, who flies home today, said: "We should have provided a
far stronger statement and backed it up with action. We have postponed the
day of judgment of Zimbabwe. I think that is the wrong thing to do."

He added: "The statement is not the statement I would have drafted. There is
no point in using diplomatic language about this. The statement that appears
is, in effect, the lowest common denominator."

The statement said a three-man team would be established to decide on
suspension, consisting of the Australian prime minister, John Howard, who
sided with Britain in pushing for immediate suspension; the Nigerian
president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who opposed immediate suspension; and the
South African president, Thabo Mbeki, who was also opposed.

The statement said they were to base their decision on a report by the
60-odd Commonwealth observers monitoring the election.

The team will "determine appropriate Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe in the
event the report is adverse": the action "ranges from collective disapproval
to suspension".

Mr Blair said he hoped that when the trio came to make their decision, they
would opt for suspension. He warned: "I think the Commonwealth will do the
right thing here but if it does not, well, its credibility is at issue."

The MDC also criticised the delay, warning that it could lead to a bloodbath
in the days after the poll closes. Sekai Holland, an MDC spokeswoman, told
reporters at the summit the statement was an insult. "We are not happy
because it is more talk and no action."

African leaders justified their refusal to support immediate suspension on
the grounds that it would be unfair to Mr Mugabe to prejudge the conduct of
the election. Ms Holland expressed concern about the inclusion of Mr Mbeki
and Mr Obasanjo on the team, given their reluctance to move against Mr
Mugabe in the past.

Mr Obasanjo was adamant he would take the necessary steps: "Whatever has to
be done will be done. There is no question of that." The Nigerian leader
played a positive role last September in getting Britain and Zimbabwe to sit
down together, even though the deal they thrashed out subsequently

The team was chosen on the basis that Australia holds the chair of the
Commonwealth at present, South Africa was the last holder and Nigeria will
be the next.

The observers' report will be handed to the three leaders about four days
after the polls close.

The Commonwealth's unwillingness over the last year to act against Zimbabwe
has resulted in its reputation dropping to levels last seen almost a decade
ago when it dithered over suspending Nigeria after a series of human rights
abuses. It suspended Nigeria in 1995 only when the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa was

The Commonwealth secretary-general, Don McKinnon, defending the summit's
decision, argued that if Zimbabwe had been suspended two years ago, there
would be no Commonwealth observers now

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