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 month.
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
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.
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
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.
welcome South Africa's effort in that regard," he said.
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.
has drawn flak for his "supportive" approach to Mugabe. - Sapa-AFP
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
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.
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
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,
Sat March 5, 2005 5:12 PM GMT+02:00 By Alfonce
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 month.
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
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.
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
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
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
"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.
conference, in Midrand, was attended by Zuma, Labour Minister Membathisi
Mdladlana, and representatives of the SACP and ANC.
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,"
Traditional leaders 'pleased' with Zim land
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
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
"We were pleased. The land was
given back to its rightful owners," he said.
had seen problems, Nzimela said.
He mentioned the drought,
the fact that no crops had been planted on some of the farms, and excessive
But the Zimbabwean government was "doing
everything it could to come to the rescue," he said.
land is degraded it is not Government's fault."
member delegation had been invited to the country by local government
minister Ignatius Chombo, and had met personally with President Robert
"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 said.
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.
was to discuss the possibility of establishing a continental house of
traditional leaders in Africa. They welcomed the idea," he
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.
now we are still struggling to recover from the shock," Nzimande
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
Expressing is condolences, Zimbabwean Ambassador to
SA Simon Moyo said he wished Gobe's family strength and staying
"We mourn with the family. Their grief is ours as
well," Moyo said. - Sapa
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
"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
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".
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.
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
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 Saturday.
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.
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
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 answer. "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.