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

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US stresses the need for free polls in Harare
          March 05 2005 at 03:48PM

      Washington - American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her
South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma held talks here on Friday
and stressed the need for fair and free polls in Zimbabwe at the end of this

      Zimbabwean presidential elections in 2002 and the last parliamentary
vote five years ago were marred by allegations of rampant rigging, violence
and intimidation.

      Rice and Dlamini-Zuma on Friday "talked about the need for those
elections to be open, free and fair, and for hopefully the monitors to
contribute to that process," State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher
told reporters.

      Zimbabwe's long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe - whose regime has been
accused of making a farce of democracy and elections - has led his country
since independence from Britain in 1980.

      He has invited observers from the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community among 32 observer missions for the vote, which will be
seen as a litmus test of Harare's commitment to the regional bloc to hold a
blemish-free poll.

      Boucher said the United States had expressed concerns that the
conditions in Zimbabwe "make it difficult" to have free and fair elections
"but we certainly hope it can be.

      "And we welcome South Africa's effort in that regard," he said.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki has said the crunch parliamentary
vote in Zimbabwe on March 31 would be free and fair, underlining that it was
the only country in southern Africa with proper electoral laws.

      Mbeki has drawn flak for his "supportive" approach to Mugabe. -
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Everyone is sket
Saturday 5th March 2005

Dear Family and Friends,
"Everyone here is sket, coz last time they chaya'd us all." This little
sentence said to me by a local shop worker, says it all for the atmosphere
in Marondera just 26 days before parliamentary elections. Everyone in the
town is scared because we are all waiting for the beatings, stonings and
burnings that have characterized every single election here in the last five
years. Our town is full to bursting with strangers, luxury cars, vehicles
with no number plates and people with pockets full of money. There are burly
youths swaggering four abreast on the main roads, men in dark glasses
sitting in the sun just watching and every day literally hundreds of people
queuing outside the passport offices. The atmosphere in the town is
extremely tense. Most days I have to go past the house which was petrol
bombed in the last elections; the house that I watched burn for hours
through the night but which the fire brigade said they could not come and
attend to. Every week I see friends, both black and white, men and women,
who have been beaten and tortured in the last five years, lost their homes,
possessions and jobs and had to literally run for their lives. None of us
have seen justice done, yet, and the memories are still fresh.

Memories in Marondera are still very real, not only of burnings, beatings
and even human branding carved into men's backs at the last election, but of
a litany of abuse and decay that has become every day life. Less than a year
ago our schools were closed down and the head teachers arrested. As I write
our government hospitals and clinics do not even have phenobarb to control
epilepsy, patients have to take their own food and outpatients queue outside
in the open, sitting on the ground, for up to four hours before they are
seen. Many of our suburban roads are now almost unusable; the edges steeply
eroded, wide gullies ripped across the centres and literally scores of pot
holes. In a 2 kilometre stretch of road leading to my home only two street
lights still work, none of the storm drains have been cleared for over a
year and grass is growing in the middle of tarred roads. I don't know anyone
in the town who doesn't boil their drinking water, more often than not it
has a brown or green colour, almost always it has specks floating in it and
always it smells bad. So, having to tolerate all these things every day, we
are all smiling at the mad flurry of activity in the last few days, and we
are all, equally, not being fooled.

This week, suddenly, our town is being cleaned up. Just 26 days before
elections, local officials have appeared out of the woodwork. Suburban roads
which have not had pot holes filled or edges repaired for the entire rainy
season, are being graded. Across the road from the main Marondera hospital
this week all the fruit and vegetable vendors' home-made shacks have been
pulled down and replaced with treated timber structures. In 2000 I used to
stop there and buy a banana for four dollars. Now, the bananas are one
thousand dollars each and on the lamp post there, next to the women who sell
bananas, is an election poster. On every fourth or fifth street light,
regardless of the fact that the bulbs and tubes dont work anymore, posters
of the Zanu PF candidate have been erected. The pictures are very familiar
to me, they show the same face that "war veterans" put up on the trees on
our farm in 2000 when they set up their headquarters and "re-education camp"
in our cattle paddocks.

It is five years later, everything else has changed, but that face on the
election poster is still the same. There are no opposition posters on trees
or lamp posts in Marondera yet. There are no people wearing opposition hats
or T shirts and the reason is because " here everyone is sket because last
time we all got chaya'd."
Until next week, with love, cathy
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      S.Africa unions defy govt over Zimbabwe protest

      Sat March 5, 2005 5:12 PM GMT+02:00
      By Alfonce Mbizwo

      JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's main union movement defied the
government on Saturday and said it would press ahead with plans for protests
against the Zimbabwe government it says aims to rig general elections this

      The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has taken a
hawkish line over the crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe which has at times
caused tensions with its political partners in the South Africa's ruling
African National Congress (ANC).

      COSATU would picket Zimbabwe's embassy, demonstrate at South Africa's
main land crossing to Zimbabwe and wind up its campaign with a march to the

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Mail and Guardian

      'Cosatu not a political party'


      05 March 2005 06:32

            The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has no intention of
becoming a political party or of turning its leaders into politicians, its
general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Saturday.

            "We have no ambition of turning Cosatu into a political party.
We are happy as trade unionists," Vavi said in a 32-page speech he delivered
at a conference to mark South Africa's 10 years of democracy.

            "We have no business whatsoever of being ambitious to become
politicians. We have no political ambitions," Vavi said.

            Cosatu has been engaged in a bitter public spat over the past
few months over its visit to Zimbabwe.

            Among others, it has been accused of harbouring political
aspirations and of being an agent of Western powers over its criticism of
the government's handling of the Zimbabwe issue.

            Vavi said it would be a fundamental mistake "if we can't
criticise our government or side with the opposition even if we represent
our constituency".

            "That culture must be challenged," he said.

            Earlier on Saturday, Deputy President Jacob Zuma told the
conference the tripartite alliance between Cosatu, the African National
Congress (ANC) and SA Communist Party (SACP) was strong.

            "The alliance continues to be strong and this augurs well for
the consolidation of our democracy," Zuma said.

            "The alliance must be careful not to undo the success that we
have scored over the decade," he cautioned.

            The Cosatu-organised conference, in Midrand, was attended by
Zuma, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, and representatives of the SACP
and ANC.

            Zuma urged delegates at the conference to discuss their
differences as there would always be people who disagreed.

            "The alliance is not just there for fun, it is there for a
fundamental reason. I urge you to discuss the importance of the alliance as
your last item of the conference," he said.

            The conference ends on Monday. - Sapa
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Mail and Guardian

      Traditional leaders 'pleased' with Zim land reform

      05 March 2005 12:01

            Traditional leaders invited to Zimbabwe this week came back
impressed with the outcome of that country's land reform programme, they
said on Saturday. However, they are not advocating that South Africa follow
a similar route.

            On arrival at Johannesburg International Airport on Saturday
morning, Mpiyezintombi Nzimela, chairman of the National House of
Traditional Leaders said his delegation had travelled around the country
visiting settlements.

            "We were pleased. The land was given back to its rightful
owners," he said.

            The group had seen problems, Nzimela said.

            He mentioned the drought, the fact that no crops had been
planted on some of the farms, and excessive bush clearance.

            But the Zimbabwean government was "doing everything it could to
come to the rescue," he said.

            "If land is degraded it is not Government's fault."

            The six member delegation had been invited to the country by
local government minister Ignatius Chombo, and had met personally with
President Robert Mugabe.

            "He (Mugabe) explained how it came to a point where people were
saying they could not wait any more, and pushing government take matter into
their own hands," said Nzimela, speaking of the take-overs of white-owned
farms in that country.

            This sort of action was not necessary in South Africa, Nzimela

            "Our programme is going a bit too slowly, but we have not
reached a point where we say enough is enough."

            The delegation had also met with Zimbabwean chiefs and
traditional leaders.

            "Our mission was to discuss the possibility of establishing a
continental house of traditional leaders in Africa. They welcomed the idea,"
he said.

            Traditional leaders could be more influential in matters
threatening the continent, like HIV-Aids and conflict, if they had a
regional body, he said.

            The visit was marred by the death of Malungisa Gobe in a car
accident on Thursday.

            "Even now we are still struggling to recover from the shock,"
Nzimande said.

            Gobe was the chief executive officer in the National House of
Traditional Leaders. A Zimbabwean and two other South Africans were also
injured in the accident which occurred between Bulawayo and Masvingo.

            Expressing is condolences, Zimbabwean Ambassador to SA Simon
Moyo said he wished Gobe's family strength and staying power.

            "We mourn with the family. Their grief is ours as well," Moyo
said. - Sapa

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Mbeki remarks 'deceitful'

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabweans feel President Thabo Mbeki has betrayed them,
compromised his efforts to lead the search for a solution to their political
crisis and openly sided with their dictatorial president.

The sharp criticism came on Thursday, a day after Mbeki told reporters
Zimbabwe had complied with all the regional protocols meant to ensure
fairness in its March 31 parliamentary elections.

"I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe will act in a way that
will militate against elections being free and fair," said Mbeki.

Arnold Tsunga, the director of Lawyers for Human Rights in Zimbabwe, said in
a telephone interview that Mbeki's comments "disregard the suffering of
ordinary Zimbabweans in the face of a dictatorship".

"It is deceitful and unworthy of the president of such an important country
on the African continent."

Tsunga said ordinary Zimbabweans who had endured hardships and sacrificed as
Zimbabwe helped finance the anti-apartheid movement in SA feel betrayed by
South Africa, especially Mbeki.

"His comments seriously discredit the leadership of Thabo Mbeki. Zimbabweans
have become increasingly exasperated with Mbeki's inability to act as a bona
fide mediator." - Sapa-AP
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Sunday Times (SA)

Zim checking nationalities of mercenaries

Saturday March 05, 2005 13:32 - (SA)

HARARE - Immigration authorities in Zimbabwe are verifying the true
nationalities of more than 60 mercenaries accused of planning a coup in
Equatorial Guinea before deporting them, the state-run daily Herald said

The men, who were incarcerated in a top security jail outside Harare for
nearly a year after their arrest last March on charges of plotting a coup in
the central African country, were set free last week by the country's High

But immigration officials said they will have to stay in prison a little
longer while it verifies their true countries of origin, as neighbouring
South Africa waited for the mercenaries to be sent there. Alwyn Griebenow, a
South African lawyer for them, said Saturday that "nothing is happening...
We are waiting for Zimbabwean foreign affairs to inform the South African
embassy." "We hope that, at the latest Tuesday, the men will be out of
Zimbabwe," Griebenow said.

Zimbabwean sources have put the number due for release at 62, but lawyers
have said 64. Although they were all travelling on South African passports
when they were arrested on March 7 last year, they claimed to have been from
different countries including Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Originally, 70 men were nabbed at Harare international airport when their
plane stopped over to collect firearms allegedly to be used for guarding
diamond mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Zimbabwe's chief
immigration officer Elasto Mugwadi told the Herald that immigration laws
stipulate that a country to which a person is to be deported has to be
informed in advance of a pending expulsion. "And these people seemed to be
of different or mixed nationalities so we want to verify who belongs to
which country," said the chief immigration officer.

Without hinting on a possible date of their departure, Mugwadi said his
department was also working on the purchasing of their flight tickets. "We
are trying to determine their itineraries because all these airlines now
want to be paid in hard currency and Zimbabwe as the deporting country has
an obligation to foot the costs and a need might arise to go to treasury to
request for the foreign currency and all that requires time," said Mugwadi.
Foreign currency is in short supply in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe tried and
convicted the men of plotting to stage a coup and topple long-time
Equatorial Guinea leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

They included their alleged leader Simon Mann, a former member of Britain's
crack Special Air Services (SAS) force, who is serving a four year prison
term. Of the 70 first detained, two were released without charge, two pilots
still remain in jail until around May, two men were freed late last year due
to failing health while one died of meningitis. One of the alleged
financiers of the coup plot, British businessman Mark Thatcher, was recently
fined by a South African court for violating its anti-mercenary laws and
paid a three-million-rand fine.


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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Charges against MDC MPs dropped

Clemence Manyukwe
issue date :2005-Mar-05

THE State on Tuesday withdrew charges against two MDC legislators and
thirteen women the police arrested during a prayer meeting on the
International women's day - May 8, 2004. Lawmakers Thokozani Khupe
(Makokoba) and Nomalanga Khumalo (Umzingwane) were nabbed alongside the
opposition party's national executive, Getrude Mtombe and charged under Posa
for not seeking clearance from the police to hold a prayer meeting.
Their lawyer, Nicholas Mathonsi of Bulawayo law firm, Coglan and Welsh
yesterday said the State withdrew the charges before provincial magistrate,
Cephas Sibanda because they had no case to answer.
"The prosecutor withdrew charges against the legislators saying they had no
case to
"He indicated that he would inform the Attorney General (AG)'s office about
it in writing," said Mathonsi.
"If you look at the schedule for Posa, it has exceptions of gatherings where
one does not have to notify the police.
"These include funerals, weddings, and theatrical gatherings, musical and
religious gatherings. Theirs was a prayer meeting, it was not a gathering of
a political nature."
Contacted on whether the AG's office was aware of the development, Joseph
Musakwa, the director of public prosecutions,  said: "We have not yet been
informed, probably the notification is on its way."
Last month, the MDC won a case in the Bulawayo High Court barring the police
from interfering with the opposition party's voter registration verification
exercise that was being conducted in Bulawayo South.
The judgment was passed with the consent of the State and the voter
registration exercise is still ongoing in the constituency in which David
Coltart is the legislator.

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