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

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The Times

March 05, 2002

White youth hailed as unlikely thorn in Mugabe's side
From Jane Flanagan in Harare

A WHITE middle-class teenager has emerged as an unlikely hero of the black
opposition in the Zimbabwean presidential election.
Tom Spicer has been kidnapped, tortured and stabbed by thugs loyal to Robert
Mugabe. He has also spent 17 nights in jail since joining the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change in 2000.

Mr Spicer, 17, who comes from one of Harare’s oldest and most respected
white families, has become the darling of the MDC’s rallies, enthralling
crowds of up to 45,000 in effortless Shona, one of Zimbabwe’s two main
African languages, which few whites command. To his black fans he is known
as Tawanda, the Shona for “We are many”, but to his rivals in the ruling
Zanu (PF), he has become an obstacle to efforts to portray whites as
arrogant racists, and a dangerous political foe.

Tom Spicer admitted giving his parents “a few extra grey hairs” since
joining the MDC, but said he would not be intimidated into stopping
campaigning against Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.

“It isn’t great being arrested and put in jail, but at least they let you
out sooner or later. Other people have faced worse. My darkest moments have
not been in jail, but when I have found out the good friend I was laughing
with yesterday has today been beaten to death. I have experienced that four
times and no doubt will experience it many times again,” he said, speaking
outside court in Harare after his latest appearance.

Despite his close-cropped haircut — “courtesy of the prison authorities” —
and flanked by his British-born mother, Edwina, he seemed an unlikely
revolutionary. Mrs Spicer is one of the country’s best known documentary
makers, his father, Newton, is a leading environmentalist and a
fourth-generation Zimbabwean whose family’s standing in the country is
reflected in the name of a Harare street, Newton Spicer Drive.

Mr Spicer was taught Shona by the family’s maid and her children, and even
his spoken English has a strong black African accent, the legacy of days and
nights spent talking politics with friends in the townships of Harare.
Although obviously proud of their son’s commitment, Mr and Mrs Spicer have
agonised over the risks that he is prepared to undertake in pursuit of his

Last month the teenager was campaigning with other MDC youths in a
government stronghold 50 miles from Harare when their car broke down, just
as a dozen thugs chanting pro-Mugabe slogans appeared on the road. Mr Spicer
told his friends to run, choosing to face the men alone, hoping to pass
himself off as a farmer’s son. The plan failed and Mr Spicer was dragged
back to the mob’s camp, where he was bound, gagged, beaten and stabbed in
the face.

Police arrived at the camp the next day, but rather than tackling the thugs,
the officers charged Mr Spicer with kidnapping and attempted murder and
locked him up for a further six nights.

More than 150 MDC members and supporters have been killed in the past two
years and a reward of Z$35,000 (£450) is the price on Mr Spicer’s head in a
wanted list circulated between militia supporting the Government.

Last December Mr and Mrs Spicer forbade their son from joining a group from
the MDC’s youth wing campaigning in a by-election. “He didn’t speak to us
for three weeks after that”, Mr Spicer recalled. The next month they took
him to England and considered ripping up his return ticket to keep him out
of harm’s way, “but we knew he would find his way back somehow, so thought
it would be easier to support him instead.”

Mrs Spicer said: “As a mother it is obviously not easy, but Tom is
exercising his democratic right, not committing any crime. I feel absolutely
dreadful when he is in jail, but I am encouraged by the strength of his
spirit, and we have to stand up for our rights.”

Tendai Viti, an MDC MP and a lawyer who has represented the teenager in
court, was full of praise for his “unique” contribution, but admitted that
he had become a target for Zanu (PF) aggression. He said: “Tawanda defies
the perception Mugabe has tried to create, that whites are all arrogant,
unpatriotic, racist parasites. But he is one of us.”

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World may have to come to terms with Mugabe

LONDON, March 4 — The world may have to get used to dealing with Robert
Mugabe for a while longer even if foreign observers find flaws with this
weekend's poll, which he aims to win to extend his 22-year rule over
Zimbabwe, analysts say.
       ''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
Blumenfeld, Associate fellow of the Royal Institute for International
Affairs think-tank, told Reuters on Monday.
       ''If Mugabe remains in power because of rigging the election...then
the world is going to have to find some way of dealing with him, and I don't
think anybody has the faintest idea of how to do that,'' said Blumenfeld, a
southern Africa specialist.
       Jonathan Stevenson, research fellow at the International Institute
for Strategic Studies, agreed.
       ''Mugabe's own instincts are to stay around whatever the numerical
outcome of the election. Clearly the Commonwealth is divided and SADC (the
Southern African Development Community) is leaderless. There is a void. It
is a real quandary,'' he said.
       Britain, Australia and New Zealand had demanded Zimbabwe be suspended
from the Commonwealth. But their efforts were defeated by African states who
make up a third of the group.
       Jan van Eck, a regional specialist at the Cape Town-based Centre for
Conflict Resolution, said he believed a face-saving compromise had been
worked out with Mugabe to allow him to retire a short time after winning the
March 9-10 presidential poll unless it was too transparently rigged.
       ''The sense I get is there is a consensus in the region that Mugabe
should go. The difficult bit is to make it work. If he is forced to lose too
much face he is not going to do it.''
       Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo made Mugabe's attitude
abundantly clear during the Commonwealth summit when he said Zimbabweans,
not election observers, would determine the election outcome.
       Zimbabwe's own neighbours have done little more than call for calm,
and the Commonwealth's chief weapon is suspension, which Mugabe might even
choose to flaunt.
       ''I can't see comprehensive sanctions being introduced. There is no
external military solution, and it is not clear that there is a political
one either,'' Blumenfeld said.
       ''The optimistic view is that he will win the election and name a
successor very quickly so he can step down in a few months. But I don't
think that is very likely. In that case, the only way out is a palace coup
of some kind,'' he added.
       Mugabe's exiled opponents fear his winning a rigged election could
trigger a popular uprising and that if he loses he will refuse to go.
       By the same token, no one seems to know quite what will happen if his
main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), wins and Mugabe quietly bows out.
``The MDC is not a government in waiting,'' Blumenfeld said.

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The Times

Mugabe has benefited from friends in low places
michael gove
Zimbabwe is, alas, far from the only corrupt dictatorship in modern Africa

Criminals know that their chances of acquittal depend as much on the court
where they are tried and the jury which hears their case as the level of
their guilt. Which is why Robert Mugabe is a happy man this morning.
The President of Zimbabwe has been conspiring to steal his country’s
elections for months now. Opposition leaders have been charged with treason,
their movements interdicted by the secret police and their supporters
beaten. The elections themselves will be run by Mugabe’s henchmen in the
army, voters will be monitored in the polling booth by the paramilitary
thugs who call themselves “war veterans” and an armed coup has been
threatened should this intimidation fail to secure the desired result.
Democracy is being mugged. But the criminal has already been acquitted by a
jury which is, in every sense, made up of his peers.

The statement on Zimbabwe produced yesterday by the Commonwealth Heads of
Government is a get out of jail free card for the Butcher of Harare. Rather
than condemn Mugabe for his state terrorism, it brackets the peaceful and
democratic opposition alongside the tyrant as equally culpable for
intimidation by calling “on all parties to refrain . . . from violence”.

Rather than focus on the outrageous dismantling of democratic freedoms, or
the Marxist-inspired impoverishment of a once-rich nation, or the criminal
adventurism of Zimbabwe’s diamond-fuelled intervention in Congo, the
statement claims that “land” is the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe. Which is
precisely Mugabe’s formulation. He claims that the real stumbling block to
progress is the refusal of wealthy farmers to have their property forcibly
nationalised and handed over to his cronies for despoliation.

The Commonwealth statement is a political victory for tyranny. But it could
have been worse. For this text is a compromise. It goes further than many
Commonwealth, especially African, nations want.

We should be shocked. But not surprised. For the jury which pronounced on
Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth summit was packed with serial offenders whose
crimes against democracy and human rights should put them in the dock
alongside Mugabe.

The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, bans all political parties and held
on to power last year, against opponents given no freedom to organise
politically, in rigged elections which the Foreign Office notes were
characterised by “intimidation, misadministration, malpractice and violence”

His neighbour Daniel arap Moi, the Kenyan President, has held on to power
for 24 years by having soldiers fire on opposition rallies and assassinating
critics, including his former Foreign Minister.

Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon, who has been in power for 20 years,
won his last election in 1997 claiming a 92.5 per cent share of the vote in
an election the Foreign Office describes as “deeply flawed”. The United
Nations has noted that Biya’s hold on power is sustained by “extrajudicial
executions, protracted detention without trial and torture of detainees”.

In The Gambia, President Jammeh, who has been in power for eight years, won
his last election after denying the opposition access to the media and
intimidating its supporters. He celebrated victory by torturing opposition
figures and human rights activists.

Togo’s President Eyadema has jailed the opposition leader prior to elections
planned for this year. Eyadema is being considered for investigation by the
UNHCR after a spate of extra-judicial killings in the last election year,
1998, when the army was engaged in the systematic theft of ballot boxes.

Human rights abuses are commonplace in other African Commonwealth nations,
from Zambia, where journalists were arrested before the 2001 elections, to
Namibia where President Nujoma has called for homosexuals to be “condemned
and rejected” and deployed a paramilitary unit, the Special Field Force,
against opposition figures.

Given the spectacular record of ballot-rigging, corruption, political
violence and contempt for human rights displayed by so many of Africa’s
Commonwealth leaders, it is no surprise that they declined to condemn Mugabe
yesterday. They would have been punishing one of their own for applying the
techniques they have pioneered.

What is particularly regrettable, however, is the failure of Thabo Mbeki,
the South African President, to bear witness against Mugabe. As an old
comrade from the days of the liberation struggle he might find it hard to
turn on Mugabe now. But as a democrat, he owes it to Africa to spell out the
extent to which Mugabe has betrayed all his countrymen.

The pressure which the West can bring to bear on Mbeki, and in turn on
Mugabe, is however compromised by our own moral myopia towards Africa. It
pains me to say that British attention, and the particular focus of
conservative commentators, on Zimbabwe to the exclusion of other African
atrocities, diminishes our ethical authority. Because Mugabe has, among his
targets, the 60,000 or so whites who still live in Zimbabwe, that nation’s
plight receives disproportionate notice compared with the many other
democratic and human rights abuses, only some of which I had space to list

One does not need to be Mrs Jellyby to find something morally skewed about
those who condemn crimes against democracy when our “kith and kin” are among
the victims, while maintaining a shoulder-shrugging silence when hundreds of
thousands of black Africans are beaten, broken and butchered by their
rulers. Thirty-seven years after Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of
Independence for Rhodesia we now have another UDI — the British Unique
Devotion of Interest to Zimbabwe. Neither has been a service to democracy.

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Mugabe brings back harsh election laws

AP - Just days before hard-fought presidential elections, Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe has unilaterally reinstated controversial election
laws that had been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Opposition lawmakers had complained the laws disenfranchised many of their
supporters and would make it easier to rig voting in this weekend's

The reinstated laws give state election officers sweeping powers and
restrict vote monitoring, identity requirements for voters, campaigning and
voter education.

Mugabe's decree also restores a ban on absentee voting by as many as half a
million Zimbabweans living abroad.

The Supreme Court ruled on February 27 the election laws were improperly
forced through Parliament in January after they were initially defeated.

 In a notice in the official Government Gazette, Mugabe overruled the court
order, saying the laws had been validly enacted and "shall be deemed to have
been lawfully" adopted ahead of the presidential vote.

Mugabe's decree dealt a harsh blow to the authority of the judiciary,
already the target of threats and intimidation by the government and by
ruling party militants.

Adrian de Bourbon, an attorney for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, said the decree was illegal and unconstitutional.

"It is a total disgrace. One of the candidates has changed the rules. That
is breaking the law and is clearly designed to help one candidate against
the other," he said.

The opposition planned to file an urgent appeal against the decree to the
Supreme Court on Wednesday "but it's a moot point that in the time left
we'll get anywhere", he said.

The High Court, the country's second-highest court, last week deferred new
citizenship rules that had disqualified tens of thousands of voters,
including longtime labourers from neighbouring countries and many among the
country's white minority.

The government was scheduled to appeal that ruling on Tuesday.

The court decisions had been seen as a blow to Mugabe, 78, who is fighting
for his political survival after 22 years in office. He has led the African
country since independence from Britain in 1980.

As his popularity has waned, Mugabe has imposed curbs on the judiciary, the
media and opposition parties and many of his critics have been attacked or

The US State Department released a human rights report on Zimbabwe on Monday
that accused the government of extrajudicial killings, undermining the
independence of the courts and waging a "systematic campaign of violence
targeting supporters and potential supporters of the opposition".

Earlier on Tuesday, state radio quoted Mugabe as telling a rally that his
party had lost ground to the opposition through complacency, but would win
the elections.

The fledgling MDC won 57 of 120 elected seats in June 2000 parliamentary
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Indepedent (UK)

Mary Dejevsky: Give the voters in Zimbabwe their chance to vote

'So when the polling stations close and the ballot boxes are sealed, resist
the rush to cynicism'
06 March 2002

"The people of Zimbabwe go to the polls this weekend." To anyone who has
been even half-following developments in southern Africa, this simple
statement suggests one response: loud, hollow laughter.

The main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been hounded and charged
with treason. Gangs of government-sponsored thugs are roaming the
countryside threatening his suspected supporters. Journalists have been
branded as terrorists, driven into exile or gagged. And the army, having
warned that it would seize power itself if President Robert Mugabe failed to
regain power, has been entrusted with running the elections.

The Zimbabwe government's insistence that it is entirely competent to run a
democratic election looks like special pleading of a particularly dishonest
kind. So, officials in Harare know how to run an election, we scoff; sure
they do – and we all know who will win – and how.

All this may come to pass. There are many ways to fix an election, and even
if violence and intimidation do not have the intended effect, there is
always the count. The longer the counting goes on after the voting on
Saturday and Sunday, the greater the probability that the election has been
(a) close and (b) rigged. But for those of us ensconced in safety outside
Zimbabwe to forecast the result in advance with such certainty is to
patronise and demean the voters.

The past 15 years have been distinguished by a spread of democracy that may
be without precedent. One dictatorial regime after another has collapsed. In
advance, however, the predictions from the First World were invariably
pessimistic. Few believed that power would pass in such relative peace. When
the first semi-democratic elections were held in the former Soviet Union in
the late Eighties, the early reports of intimidation and rigging were
legion. From the electoral registers to the material inducements provided at
polling stations, everything was arranged to favour the monopoly Communist
Party and its protégés.

Offered even half a choice, however, voters displayed extraordinary
determination, common sense and, yes, idealism. Before successive elections
in Russia, doom-watchers have forecast sweeping victories for extremists,
mostly from the right. But the "red-brown" communist-fascist alliance has
never come near taking power in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter. In
those eastern and central European countries with a past tradition of
democracy, the embrace of democracy was even swifter and more comprehensive.

The enthusiasm for even inadequate versions of democracy is hardly unique to
Russia and central Europe. You have only to recall those pictures of the
first post-apartheid election in South Africa, those hundreds of thousands
of people queuing patiently to vote, to appreciate the appeal of elections.
And if a one-party system effectively excludes choice at the top, local
elections or candidate selection meetings are often hotly and genuinely
contested. China and Libya may not immediately come to mind as paragons of
democracy, but in the lower ranks of representation not everything there is

It may be true that the less accustomed voters are to elections, the greater
the respect they accord to their vote. In 1991, when Ukrainians voted in
their referendum on independence, I watched parents and grandparents
carrying their children to the ballot-box to cast their vote, taking
photographs and telling their three-, four- or five-year-olds dressed in
their Sunday best that they should remember this day for the rest of their
lives: they were deciding their country's future.

But even when elections fall short of "free and fair", voters are still
capable of defying the odds. Having reported on all manner of elections, I
have one overriding impression: amid rank dishonesty, political blackmail
and nasty, targeted violence, voters can show admirable courage, resilience
and discernment. Surrounded by a cacophony of extremism, they can exercise a
remarkable degree of moderation.

In any election where 100 per cent of the votes have not been vetted in
advance, the closure of the polls and the sealing of the ballot boxes is a
magical moment. However much of a sham such formalities may be, from then
until the announcement of the result, there is that element of doubt, that
frisson of excitement, that is unique to elections. The uncertainty may be
over in minutes – French television builds a portrait of the new President
on screen within minutes of the polls closing – or hours. It may last for
days, or, as in the United States in 2000, it may drag on for weeks. But it
is an enchanted period when no one knows for certain what will come next.

So when the polling stations in Zimbabwe close on Sunday night and the
ballot boxes are sealed, resist that rush to cynicism and give the country's
hard-pressed voters a chance. If repression prevails, there is time for
anger. But don't write off Zimbabweans before they have voted. They may yet
surprise us.
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Groups: Zimbabwe Vote To Be Unfair

Tuesday March 5, 2002 7:40 PM

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The political violence in Zimbabwe and new
security and election laws have made it nearly impossible for this weekend's
presidential vote to be free and fair, human rights groups and foreign
officials say.

About 150 people have been killed, thousands tortured and at least 70,000
rendered homeless in political attacks in the last two years, according to
the Human Rights Forum, a consortium of Zimbabwe rights groups.

The ruling party of President Robert Mugabe, the police and the military
were behind more than 90 percent of those attacks, but attacks by opposition
supporters are increasing, the forum said.

``The campaign of repression orchestrated by the government of Zimbabwe has
gone on for too long, and it has been too profound and too pervasive, to
allow for an untainted election,'' U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for
African Affairs Walter Kansteiner told Congress last week.

The Human Rights Forum also said the ruling party has set up at least 22
militia bases around Zimbabwe where militants torture supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and gather for attacks on
opposition strongholds.

Opposition campaigners have complained that much of the countryside is now
off-limits to them.

The violence is so widespread ``the no-go area is called Zimbabwe,'' said
Tony Reeler of the human rights group The Amani Trust in Zimbabwe.

When the opposition tried to hold a rally Friday in Marondera, 45 miles east
of Harare, ruling party militants hurled burning tires at some of them and
assaulted others, opposition officials said. Police did not intervene, the
opposition leaders said.

Police have used new security laws to ban 77 opposition rallies as ``threats
to the public safety,'' opposition officials said. There have been no
reported cases of ruling party rallies being banned, even after a march by
10,000 people ended with an attack on the opposition headquarters.

Other rallies were called off when ruling party militants, escorted by
police, attacked opposition supporters.

On Monday, police broke up a meeting between foreign diplomats and
opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, saying it was an
illegal political gathering. They entered the room, took Tsvangirai out and
told him the session must end immediately.

Authorities last week charged Tsvangirai with treason for allegedly plotting
to have Mugabe assassinated. He denied the charge.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the situation in Zimbabwe ``an
outrage in terms of democracy.'' And the European Union said Zimbabwe's
restrictive election framework ``contradicts the international standards for
free and fair elections.''

Zimbabwe's government has denied any connection to the violence.

``Zimbabwe is a democratic state that upholds democracy, the rule of law and
human rights,'' said the country's deputy justice minister, Munyaradzi
Mangwana. ``The government is committed to the holding of free and fair

New laws passed by the ruling-party dominated Parliament have raised
concerns about the integrity of the election.

Recent amendments to the election law forbid civic and religious
organizations from monitoring the poll and from running voter education

Military officers have been appointed to the election directorate, and only
civil servants - dependent on government jobs - will be allowed to monitor
the vote.

Seals will no longer be placed around the whole ballot box when it is moved
to the counting station, but only around the opening. Since the new law
allows the ballots to be transported in the absence of party
representatives, many fear the boxes can be disassembled in transit.

``That gives the ruling party ample opportunity to stuff the ballot box. If
that is not the case, why introduce such a law anyway?'' asked Eliphas
Mukonoweshuro, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

The Supreme Court last week struck down some of the new election laws. The
government reinstated them Tuesday with a presidential decree.

State-run television and radio stations, the main news source for most
Zimbabweans, have given glowing coverage to Mugabe's campaign and called
Tsvangirai a terrorist, an assassin and a servant of white interests.

The government has also refused to allow some foreign journalists, whose
coverage it considers unfavorable, to cover the election.

Opposition party officials say they will contest the election anyway,
because the alternative is a violent revolt, which southern African leaders
fear would destabilize the entire region.

``We're simply not prepared to go that route,'' parliamentarian David
Coltart said.

Besides, party leaders are convinced they can achieve an overwhelming
victory that will overwhelm any attempts at foul play.

``We still believe that we can win this,'' Coltart said.
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CIO disinformation

A mail is currently doing the rounds "Disturbing News" telling people there
will be massive attacks against MDC, whites, etc immediately after the
elections, to leave the country etc, etc - this is a CIO-type message,
OBVIOUSLY, meant to scare people and preferably send them away for the
election - so they don't vote!  There are also messages telling people
various meetings and rallies have either been cancelled or else that there
will be violence ....

There will be many more such messages, rumours and strategies - ZanuPF know
they have already lost the election, but are desperate to cling onto power

The change will be as peaceful as we can make it, and then we can start to
heal our nation - and feed it!  People are more and more determined to vote
for change.  There is going to be a massive turnout at the polling stations,
and it looks like being a very festive occasion!



Trudy Stevenson, MP

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ZIMBABWE: Focus on forced disenfranchisement

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 5 March (IRIN) - The outcome of Zimbabwe's presidential election this coming weekend could rest on how many people are prevented from voting, civil rights groups warn.

They believe that the government's election strategy is based on disenfranchisement of the urban areas - perceived as pro-opposition - and control of the voting process in the rural areas, which holds the majority of the constituencies.

"The rate of voter turnaways - that could be the secret of (the ruling party) ZANU-PFs victory," lawyer Taiwanda Hondora told IRIN.
The legal window for potential gerrymandering was introduced on Friday by Justice Minister Patrick Chianamasa. Using emergency powers, he reintroduced the General Law Amendment Act that was set aside by the Supreme Court in a 4-1 ruling last week.

Among those regulations are stiff residency qualifications linked to the right to vote. When people turn out to cast their ballots on 9 and 10 March, in addition to their identification cards, they will be asked to produce proof of residency such as an electricity or rates bill.

The great majority of urban people are poor, living in "illegal structures", and renting their accommodation. Bills are not in their names, explained Hondora.

He added that residency could be verified by an affidavit, "but that hasn't been made public". As a result, "a lot of people will be disenfranchised".

A Supreme Court decision also reaffirmed that people must vote in the constituency in which they registered. That means people who have been displaced by political violence are expected to return to the homes they fled to cast their ballots.

According to the Amani Trust, which provides counselling services to people affected by political violence, there were more than 42,000 reported cases of displacement in 2001. Other estimates, which include the violence surrounding the 2000 legislative election, put the figure much higher.

Ambigious "citizenship" requirements would also remove people's right to vote if their parents were not born in Zimbabwe. This could affect tens of thousands of farm labourers whose families originally came from neighbouring countries and have been hard hit by land reform. An estimated one million Zimbabweans living abroad are also to be excluded.

In the rural areas, local chiefs and headmen are expected to vouch for a person's place of residence. But the traditional authorities are the base of the government's influence in the countryside, political scientist Janah Ncube told IRIN.
"Residency is proved through the chiefs, at the same time there is the politicisation of the chiefs," said Hondora. "It is an obvious attempt to influence the election result."

Media reports of the election campaign have been about the political violence in Zimbabwe. Much of it has been rural-based, and overwhelmingly committed by government supporters, pro-democracy activists have alleged. However, according to Ncube, the violence has been "strategic". Rather than being aimed at changing the way people intend to vote, "it's been about intimidation, to encourage voter apathy", he said.

Brian Kagora of the Zimbabwe Crisis Group said there were many forms of disenfranchisement. One aspect would be intimidation, preventing "sectors seen as sympathetic to the opposition from voting", he told IRIN. But the other approach would be the "very lawful" use of the residency and citizenship clauses, and the draconian security law.

The Public Order and Security Act requires that the police are notified before any meeting of more than two people that is deemed "political" is held. What defines a political meeting is not clearly defined.

Reginald Machaba-Hove of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) explained that the legislation was not only "oppressive", but was being misinterpreted by the police. "It says notification, not clearance", but the police have used the new law as justification to arbitrarily close meetings that they do not wish to see take place.

President Robert Mugabe, 78, faces his stiffest political challenge since independence in the burly form of ex-trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai. But with just days to go to the polls, key aspects of the electoral process remain unclear.

It is not known for certain whether 12,000 domestic election monitors ZESN has organized will be accredited and deployed. The government has said it has trained public servants from the ministries of defence, home affairs and education to monitor the polls.

Few people have seen the list of the estimated 5,600 polling stations, crucial to allow observers to effectively deploy, activists have noted. Confusion is also likely in Harare, Chitungwiza and Gweru, where presidential, mayoral and council elections are to take place simultaneously, but with little voter education.

Commenting on the electoral process, Hondora concluded: "It's legal, but not free and fair. The only way to get around this is if people vote in overwhelming numbers."

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Misery drives a desire for change in Zimbabwe

   Jon Jeter The Washington Post  Tuesday, March 5, 2002

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe The line outside the OK grocery store near here forms at
dawn, and by noon it stretches the length of the brick building and into the
street. It is not uncommon, said Albert Mungazi, the store's manager, for
customers to wait in line until dusk for sugar, cooking oil or a bag of
mealie meal, the all-purpose staple food used in southern Africa to make
"It's been like this for four months now," Mungazi said as he watched the
shoulder-to-shoulder crowd surge suddenly in the midday heat as a woman
tried to cut into the line. "With these food shortages, there's just not
enough of the basic foods to go around. People are starving.
"In Africa, we say that when the children go hungry, we don't blame the
mother; we blame the father because he is the head of the household. So it
stands to reason that people are blaming President Robert Mugabe for their
hunger because he is the head of state. I don't think any level-headed
person will vote for the man."
As Zimbabwe closes in on the presidential election on Saturday and Sunday,
the most contested since independence from Britain in 1980, the central
issue that has put Mugabe's 22-year rule up for grabs is not the
government's land grab from wealthy white farmers or its two-year campaign
of intimidation and violence against opponents that has resulted in nearly
100 deaths. This country of 12 million people is now poised to possibly vote
out Mugabe because of what is widely seen as his government's woeful
mishandling of an economy that was once as promising as any on the
"People don't have any jobs, and people don't have any food; it's as simple
as that," said Nelson Chamisa, head of the youth league for the leading
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, whose candidate,
Morgan Tsvangirai, threatens to unseat Mugabe. "Security is definitely an
issue. People do want to feel safe in their homes. But the most important
thing that Mugabe got wrong is the economy. People will vote their stomach
if nothing else."
Annual per capita income in Zimbabwe has declined by half since
independence. Mugabe's deployment of nearly 11,000 soldiers to help
neighboring Congo fight an unpopular civil war cost taxpayers as much as $3
million per week, by some estimates. The government's land reform program,
begun two years ago after voters rejected a referendum to consolidate
Mugabe's power, has driven thousands of commercial farmers and their workers
from viable farms, leaving crops rotting in the field as squatters replace
them. That, combined with drought, has sent food prices soaring. Mugabe, a
Marxist who turned reluctantly to free-market economics after the Soviet
bloc collapsed, has implemented price controls, further straining the food
crisis. Rather than sell products at a loss, farmers stopped planting
price-controlled crops. With property rights threatened, international
donors and investors fled. Revenues from tourism and foreign exchange dried
up, leaving the government unable to buy enough food from abroad. Stores
have run out of basic foods, pushing prices even higher.
The result is an economy in free fall. Nearly 60 percent of the work force
is jobless, and the annual rate of inflation is 116 percent. With shelves
empty, more than 500,000 people - mostly in the countryside - are at risk of
With nearly a third of adults infected with the virus that causes AIDS,
state-run hospitals often run out of basic medicines such as painkillers.
Nearly 60,000 physicians and other professionals have fled Zimbabwe since
The widespread perception is that Mugabe and officials of his ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front are looting the public
treasury through sweetheart deals with contractors and other schemes.
An economist estimated last year that corruption is so rampant it amounts to
a surtax of as much as 5 percent annually to taxpayers. And many Zimbabweans
and Western diplomats suspect that Zimbabwe's involvement in Congo is a ruse
to enable Mugabe and top military officials to win lucrative secret
concessions to sell diamonds and other minerals mined in that country.
"People's basic needs are going unmet, and the government doesn't seem to
care about anything other than their own enrichment and staying in power,"
said Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo. "There is no
good reason that half a million people should be close to starving to death
in Zimbabwe right now."
Mugabe, 78, has portrayed the Movement for Democratic Change and Tsvangirai
as pawns of white farmers, Western business interests and British
imperialists intent on subjugating Zimbabwe once again.
At a rally held here by his party, Tsvangirai told supporters the primary
focus of his government would be to create jobs and rebuild the economy.
"At the age of 78, Mugabe still needs six more years?" Tsvangirai said to a
throng of nearly 7,000. "Do you need six more years to destroy what little
has been left?"

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Abuja Will Bail UsOut - Harare Minister

Daily Trust (Abuja)

March 5, 2002
Posted to the web March 5, 2002

Zimbabwean Minister of Information, Mr. Jonathan Moyo, on Sunday in Coolum,
Australia, said that Nigeria would bail his country out of its present
difficulties with the Commonwealth.

Answering questions from a swarm of journalists in Coolum, venue of CHOGM
2002, Moyo said that he believe that Nigeria, along with other friendly
African countries, would not let his country down in its time of dire need.

He said that it was most unfortunate that Britain, Australia, Canada and to
some extent, New Zealand were lobbying strongly to get his country suspended
from the Commonwealth, adding that his country did not commit any wrong to
warrant a suspension.

Moyo said that it was wrong perception of democracy for Britain and other
European members of the Commonwealth to say that unless the opposition won
an election, it could not be said to be free and fair.

He said that the Commonwealth leaders should not allow Britain to get away
with what it wanted against Zimbabwe, stressing that the Commonwealth was a
honourable group of member nations that must not be dictated to by the beck
and call of Britain.

The minister said that he was proud that the declaration on good governance,
human rights and democracy was arrived at in Harare in 1991 and alleged that
the violence in his country was largely being sponsored by Britain.

"We are talking about Zimbabwe and not heaven," the minister said, adding
that he was aware that the violence in his counry could not measure up to
the level of mayhem being perpetrated in northern Island.

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The Real Crisis May Come Only Once the Verdict is in

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 5, 2002
Posted to the web March 5, 2002

Vuyo Mvoko

Reports offer no immediate hope for social, economic future

THE real Zimbabwean crisis is the one set to explode in front of us only
after the weekend's presidential election, concedes a senior SA foreign
affairs official, not even slightly perturbed by the "unfounded" allegation
that the SA government's handling of the situation has been as confusing as
its approach to the HIV/AIDS issue.

Yet reports said to be in front of government offer no immediate hope for
the social, economic and political future of Zimbabwe. What is worse is that
the mess is bound to hurt the economy of Zimbabwe's main trading partner,

There is no reason to panic, says the official, his confidence apparently
boosted by the scenario- planning exercise the SA government is performing
on Zimbabwe the stuff usually cobbled together by spooks, government foreign
policy gurus and the president's political and state security advisers.

This exercise has been comprehensive and forward looking, the official
insists. Nothing that will emerge from the Zimbabwean presidential election,
he is adamant, will catch the SA government unawares.

What the media does not understand, he says, is that at stake are "highly
sensitive" matters, "not the kind of stuff the media expects us to talk
about freely in press conferences". Any alternative to the socalled quiet
diplomacy is "worse", the official says.

The scenario-planning exercise apparently arrives at a conclusion that there
are strong seeds of instability in Zimbabwe, irrespective of whether Robert
Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai wins the election.

It also concludes that a Mugabe victory may lead to the international
isolation of Zimbabwe, which would aggravate the anarchy as the country's
ruler of 22 years seeks to divert attention from his failings.

A Tsvangirai win, on the other hand, is something Zimbabwe's security
apparatus is not equipped to deal with in the likely event that Zanu (PF)
does not accept him.

Even in the more optimistic scenario assuming, for example, that the
situation gets contained and the elected leader assumes power the situation
would remain volatile.

The economic crisis is so dire, says another SA government official, that
the elected president will have to make such unpopular decisions as cannot
endear any leader to the Zimbabwean masses.

The SA government can therefore not be interested in "short-term public
victories", the official insists. "We then said, okay, what do we do now?"
SA has discovered that while there was "incredible quality leadership"
within the ruling Zanu (PF), such people couldn't challenge Mugabe's tight
rein on the party.

Some of the capable candidates have been recipients of Mugabe's patronage,
and therefore cannot bite the hand that feeds them. Others, however, feel
isolation would be much greater if they presented themselves as alternatives
while the ruthless incumbent leader was still there. Mugabe, meanwhile, was
not moving an inch.

SA had to look at alternatives, among which was to bring together the
neighbouring country's key role players and get them to agree on the steps
the country would have to take to save it from more ruin.

The plan was to include the possibility of a government of national unity,
or a pledge from the losing party that it would not exploit the situation
but co-operate with the winner. The envisaged forum would have looked at a
post-presidential election "new agenda for reconstruction", and both Zanu
(PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would have had to buy into
it, as would business, churches, nongovernmental organisations and other

What has now become only "a fuzzy dream", according to a former foreign
affairs senior official, was killed by Zanu (PF) and the MDC's apparent
refusal to refrain from exploiting the socioeconomic reality in the scramble
for votes. The situation was worsened , the former official says, by the
ruling party's intransigence as it embarked on "all sorts of crazy

To have pulled the plug on Zimbabwe was "not realistic" and therefore never
a consideration, the foreign affairs official insists. The Zimbabwean media
would have focussed on the humanitarian disaster that would have followed
electricity cuts and other forms of sanctions that SA may have imposed.

It should be remembered, the official says, that Zimbabwe, Namibia and
Angola have never taken kindly to SA's increasing assumption of a leading
regional role. "What would have been the point of doing something we knew
would backfire?

There are Southern African Development Community countries that would love
to see us down," the official says, and if SA was backing Mugabe "as the
media suggests" the Zimbabwean president would be having SA President Thabo
Mbeki as his confidante and not Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo.

It may be argued, the official concedes, that technically the run-up to the
election cannot be said to be leading to an absolutely free and fair poll.
But under the circumstances, the official says, the situation is probably as
good as it can get.

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The Straits Times

Mugabe funds: I wouldn't know, says Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday
that he did not know whether there was any truth to a claim that Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe secretly sent £10 million (S$26 million) to
Malaysia through Channel Island banks.

'I wouldn't know. Don't ask me,' he said.

Dr Mahathir was commenting on a report by Britain's Sunday Telegraph
newspaper that British government investigators had discovered that Mr
Mugabe moved the money through financial institutions in Jersey and Guernsey
in recent months without bankers knowing it was his.

He said he did not know why Malaysia was mentioned in the report.

The much-travelled Mugabe has visited Malaysia several times in his 22-year
rule, most recently for a five-day trip in October after the Commonwealth
heads of state summit in Australia was postponed.

The Sunday Telegraph, which did not identify its sources, said investigators
had uncovered a 'complex network' of up to £60 million pounds that had
left Zimbabwe in recent months. --AP

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ASC Australia

Wed, Mar 6 2002 6:53 AM AEDT

Zimbabwean electoral officers deny vote rigging allegations

Zimbabwean electoral officials have denied soldiers and police officers have
been ordered to vote for President Robert Mugabe in this weekend's
presidential election.

Several soldiers claim they have been forced to cast postal votes in favour
of the President.

The government and senior electoral officials have rejected the allegations
of vote rigging.

Presidential spokesman George Charumba says the claims, which have been made
by independent newspaper, The Daily News, are gibberish.

But several soldiers have told the paper that they were forced lodge postal
votes for President Mugabe.

The soldiers, from the southern city of Bulawayo, say their ballot papers
were checked by their commanding officer.

The allegations have been made only three days before the presidential

The lead up to the poll has already been disrupted by violence and political

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Aid worker tell of chaos in Zimbabwe
An Irish aid worker who has defied Robert Mugabe to stay in Zimbabwe in the
run-up to its general election has said the country is in chaos.


Mary Sweeney, who works for Trocaire, arrived in the capital Harare to
monitor the polls and to advise local human rights groups amid reports of
beatings, torture and murder.

She has told the Irish charity that the Mugabe regime was trying to limit
the number of polling stations and was preventing suspected opposition
supporters from voting.
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Zimbabwe rejects new South African observer team

JOHANNESBURG, March 5 — Zimbabwe refused to accredit a South African
non-government observer team on Tuesday and told them to leave the country
four days before a close-fought presidential election, a spokesman said.

       The South African National Non-Government Organisation (SANGOCO)
mission was the latest in a series to be refused permission to follow the
presidential election on March 9-10.
       Mark Weinberg, one of SANGOCO's observers, said members of the
23-member team flew out of Harare when their 48-hour visas expired on
       ''A very clear message is being sent out by both the South African
and the Zimbabwean governments that they don't see a role for civil society
in observing this election,'' he told Reuters.
       Weinberg said the team met repeatedly with South African and
Zimbabwean officials in Harare.
       ''The fact that our own government did so little to advance our
interest does point to a problem within the region,'' he said.
       SANGOCO grew out of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as an
umbrella body representing organisations fighting for human rights.
       It is widely regarded as a close ally of the ruling African National
       Weinberg said the team were told some of them could join the
50-member South African observer mission sent by President Thabo Mbeki.
       ''We felt it would have been too much of a political compromise. We
would have become part of the Thabo Mbeki report,'' he said.
       Mbeki and South African cabinet ministers have been criticised for
failure to strongly condemn violence in the runup to the elections, but have
insisted it is too early to declare the poll fatally flawed.
       Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe faces the biggest challenge to his
22 years in power from main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at this weekend's election.
       The European Union last month pulled out its election monitoring team
after Harare refused to accredit its leader.
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Tsvangirai, Diplomats Meeting Broken Up

The Herald (Harare)

March 5, 2002
Posted to the web March 5, 2002

Herald Reporter

POLICE yesterday broke up a meeting between MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai
and diplomats at a Harare hotel after the opposition party breached one of
the conditions for holding the meeting.

Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzi-jena, confirmed the
incident saying police had authorised the holding of the meeting but one of
the conditions was that police officers would attend the meeting.

"When the meeting between the MDC and the ambassadors and high commissioners
accredited to Zimbabwe commenced, the police officers in plain clothes and
in attendance were chased from attending the meeting.

"The police then ordered the meeting not to proceed as MDC had breached one
of the conditions for holding the meeting," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Bvudzijena said that the conditions put to the MDC to
cover the meeting were within the provisions of the Public Order and
Security Act.


"Whereas the MDC had agreed that the meeting be covered by the police, the
police felt that it was a prerogative of diplomats to be provided with
adequate security.

"The fact that the MDC chased the police came as a surprise. The MDC
masquerade themselves as the rule of law and maintenance of law and order,"
said the police spokesman.

An MDC official said the meeting, which had gone on for some 30 minutes, was
discussing the food shortages faced by the country.

"There was a briefing with the ambassadors and while Mr Tsvangirai was
addressing, the police came and disrupted the meeting," Mr Percy Makombe, a
Press officer of the MDC told AFP.

At least 30 people attended the meeting, including foreign diplomats and
election observers to the presidential election set for this Saturday and

The Spanish ambassador to Harare, Mr Javier Sandomingo, who was attending
the meeting said: "It's totally ridiculous that foreign diplomats can't meet
with political leaders of a country. They were just explaining to us the
food situation and their plans for the transition (in case of a victory),"
he said.

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Museveni Opposed to Sanctions

The Monitor (Kampala)

March 5, 2002
Posted to the web March 5, 2002

Julius Mucunguzi

President Yoweri Museveni has said the controversy surrounding Zimbabwe is
characterised by a lot of prejudice and lack of information.

Speaking to the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) World Service Monday
morning, Museveni said the question of whether to impose sanctions on
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been mis- handled by both the West and
African diplomats. He said he doesn't subscribe to the view that "there is a
feeling that if Mugabe doesn't lose elections, then there is no democracy in

"Of course that is not true," Museveni said.

"Mugabe is somebody who has done good things for the Zimbabweans," he added.

There was mounting pressure from Britain to persuade heads of state
attending the commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Brisbane Australia
to have some form of action slapped on Mugabe. One of the reasons they gave
was that Mugabe has refused Europeans Union observers to monitor the
forthcoming presidential elections in Zimbabwe.

Museveni said that he was not happy with the European Union's unilateral
position of clamping sanctions on Zimbabwe without consulting African

"The European Union has no condominium powers over Africa. They should have
consulted us," he said.

He added: "African issues are addressed in a superficial way by the west."

He said the case of Zimbabwe is a political problem, which could have been
handled amicably with each side-the white farmers and Africans going home in
"win-win situation."

Asked whether the decision on the course of action on Zimbabwe was being
overshadowed by racial tendencies, Museveni said: "I don't have to conspire
with anybody before hand so that I can make up my views about Zimbabwe."

Museveni said that the colonial period in Zimbabwe was partly responsible
for the current crisis, reasoning that the colonial system disfranchised
Africans by leaving them under privileged.

He compared what is happening to Zimbabwe to the Uganda question of Asians
who were expelled by former president Idi Amin.

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Pretoria Hails Commonwealth Decision On Harare

BuaNews (Pretoria)

March 5, 2002
Posted to the web March 5, 2002

Matome Sebelebele And Sapa

South African officials yesterday hailed the Commonwealth compromise that
has spared Zimbabwe from punitive action - at least for now - as a
vindication of President Thabo Mbeki's position on the matter.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said: 'This is indeed a
vindication of the president's approach and vision on Zimbabwe.' President
Mbeki, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo, were mandated by Commonwealth leaders to decide
Zimbabwe's status in the 54-member body, should Commonwealth observers
declare the March 9 and 10 election not free and fair.

Presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said the government welcomed 'this
expression of confidence by the Commonwealth in our president and South

'We will discharge our responsibilities in the interest of the people of
Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth community of nations,' he said.

Meanwhile, President Thabo Mbeki has urged the leaders from Commonwealth
nations to focus their energies in fighting all forms of discrimination,
poverty, underdevelopment as well as terrorism following the devastating 11
September attacks on the US.

President Mbeki was speaking at the weekend during the opening of the
three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting currently underway in
Coolum, Australia,

The meeting, which is attended by presidents of mostly the least development
nations, continues to be overshadowed by socio-political developments in the
trouble-torn Zimbabwe ahead of the historic presidential elections.

President Mbeki, who is the outgoing CHOGM chair, told the delegates that
the body needs to intensify its work in promoting democracy, sustainable
development as well as been in the frontline in fighting racism.

'Perhaps because of the diverse nature of the Commonwealth, we are better
placed than many to lead the struggle against racism, racial and gender
discrimination and xenophobia,' stressed President Mbeki.

He also called for introspection about the role of the body.

'We have the opportunity at this meeting, to chart a specific, decisive
course and provide fresh impetus for the upliftment of the living conditions
and fulfillment of the dreams and aspirations of the ordinary masses of our
people,' he emphasised.

The meeting, which ends today, honoured the Queen Elizabeth II for her
majestic role she played during her 50 years as head of the Commonwealth.

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Zimbabwe 'bloodbath' predicted

Agreement to delay sanctions dissolves in bickering between rich nations,

Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief
National Post, with files from news services

COOLUM, Australia - After three days of heated debate, Commonwealth leaders
openly split yesterday over the question of sanctions against Zimbabwe, with
warnings that the organization's inaction could lead to a bloodbath.

At the end of the meeting of Commonwealth leaders, an apparent compromise
was reached to avoid immediately suspending Zimbabwe from the organization
and imposing punitive sanctions against Robert Mugabe, the country's
President, for human rights abuses and alleged vote-rigging.

However, the common front fell apart almost immediately.

"We have postponed the day of judgment on Zimbabwe and I think that is the
wrong thing to do," said Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister. "We should
have provided a far stronger statement and backed it up with action."

The Commonwealth leaders issued a one-page statement expressing "deep
concern" over the Zimbabwean election campaign and urging "all parties" in
Zimbabwe to desist from violence.

That left Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, visibly
frustrated. "The communiqué reads a little like everyone is responsible for
the violence and intimidation. That is not the case," she said.

A spokesman for Zimbabwe's main opposition party condemned the
Commonwealth's inaction.

"This is more talk and no action," said Sekai Holland of Zimbabwe's Movement
for Democratic Change. "Mugabe has no respect for the international
community, or the Zimbabwe people. The Commonwealth leaders have misread the
situation. This delay gives Mugabe more time to kill. It encourages him to
do that.

"If Mugabe is defeated and steals the election, there will be a bloodbath.
If he steals the election, there will be a bloodbath because in Zimbabwe, he
has been trying to get rid of the opposition."

The reaction of Mr. Blair and Ms. Clark widened the chasm that has opened up
between developed nations and African states during the summit.

Canada had attempted to broker a compromise between the two sides.

Leaders from the 54 Commonwealth nations, most of them former British
colonies, had agreed to set up a three-nation task force to decide on action
ranging from "collective disapproval" to suspension if the March 9-10
presidential elections are not democratic.

Britain, Australia and New Zealand had demanded Zimbabwe be suspended from
the Commonwealth, but African states -- which make up one third of the
group -- insisted no action be taken until after the election despite
widespread reports of pre-election violence.

Canada has tried to occupy the middle ground between the two sides, and Jean
Chrétien, the Prime Minister, had claimed most of the credit for the
short-lived compromise on Zimbabwe.

However, even that became cause for contention after John Howard, the
Australian Prime Minister, said the credit belonged to the leaders of
Britain, Nigeria and South Africa.

Mr. Howard made no mention of Mr. Chrétien, who claimed he was responsible
for "80%" of the communique on Zimbabwe.

"As to whose idea it was ... I particularly appreciated the contribution of
General [Olusegun] Obasanjo [of Nigeria] but also the President of South
Africa [Thabo Mbeki] and the British Prime Minister," Mr. Howard told a news

Mr. Obasanjo of Nigeria said "it was the idea of all of us" but later noted
Mr. Chrétien "played a complementary role."

At his news conference, Mr. Chrétien insisted he wrote most of the
communiqué and also broached the idea at the leaders' retreat on Sunday that
led to wide-ranging and often acrimonious talks.

The Prime Minister has insisted from the beginning that no action should be
taken against Zimbabwe until after the election was over and the
Commonwealth had received an analysis from its observers.

Mr. Chrétien denied the final statement was a weak reaction by the
Commonwealth and said it is a warning to Mr. Mugabe that there will be
action taken if the elections are fixed.

"We said in the communiqué we want to have fair elections. They are on a
warning that if it is not a fair election, there will be consequences," he

Under the plan, a team of about 50 observers in Zimbabwe will report back
within days of the voting to Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth
Secretary-General. The nations of the Commonwealth represent 1.7 billion
people and a third of the world's nations.

He will consult with a special committee formed of the leaders of Australia,
South Africa and Nigeria -- the past, present and future chairmen of a
Commonwealth leaders group.

Ms. Holland said she was concerned by the inclusion of Nigeria and South
Africa on the three-nation panel. Both have been reluctant to move against
Mr. Mugabe.

And Mr. Obasanjo, who is considered a friend of Mr. Mugabe, has already
ruled out economic sanctions against Zimbabwe if the elections are judged to
be unfair.

"It will range from collective disapproval to suspension," he said. "I don't
see economic sanctions is included in that."

Mr. Chrétien said he favours the largely symbolic step of suspending
Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, but noted individual countries could impose
economic sanctions following the lead of the European Union and the United

Mr. Mugabe, who did not attend the summit, has told Mr. Blair to "go to
hell" and has decried the attempt by the Commonwealth's white members to
impose sanctions on him as racism.

Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said the divisions over
Zimbabwe were undermining the credibility of the Commonwealth.

"I hope we do not have another [meeting] like this one where,
notwithstanding the evidence of a failure to observe the fundamental
principles of the Commonwealth, a member state still has a seat around the
table," Ms. Clark said.

"I think the Commonwealth has to get its act together for the future. It has
failed to wrestle effectively with Zimbabwe."

She noted the Commonwealth was quick to suspend the South Pacific nation of
Fiji in 2000 when the democratically elected government led by the country's
first ethnic Indian prime minister was overthrown in a nationalist coup.
Fiji's suspension was lifted following elections last September.

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Mugabe says ruling party 'wide awake' for Zimbabwe elections


HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 5 — President Robert Mugabe said his ruling party
had lost ground to the opposition through complacency, but would win this
weekend's presidential election because it was ''now wide awake,'' state
radio reported Tuesday.
        Mugabe also described the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
as ''a donkey being controlled by the British,'' the former colonial power
that tried to suspend Zimbabwe from the 54-nation Commonwealth organization.
       ''We are now wide awake,'' Mugabe, referring to his ruling ZANU-PF,
said at a rally Monday. ''We won't let the (Movement for Democratic Change)
       Mugabe, 78, is fighting for political survival after 22 years as
president. His main rival in the March 9-10 election is MDC leader Morgan
       The fledgling MDC won 57 of 120 elected seats in the June 2000
parliamentary elections as Mugabe's popularity plunged amid economic
devastation and chaos.
       The opposition accuses the government of using violence, intimidation
and new security laws to cow its voters and to prevent it from campaigning
       About 150 people have been killed over the past two years in violence
blamed mainly on ruling party militants.
       A State Department human rights report issued Monday accused Zimbabwe
of killings, undermining the judiciary's independence and waging a
''systematic campaign of violence'' against the opposition.
       Freedom of the press and freedom of assembly also were severely
restricted, it said.
       On Monday, Mugabe thanked African leaders for refusing to suspend
Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, an organization of Britain and its former
territories, at the recent Australia summit.
       Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand demanded Zimbabwe's
suspension to protest the violence and human rights abuses.
       Leaders instead agreed to await a report by 64 Commonwealth monitors
on whether the presidential election is free and fair.
       Mugabe said that decision was ''a victory against Britain's attempts
to introduce a new form of apartheid'' to serve Western interests in
developing countries.
       Tendai Biti, the MDC's foreign affairs spokesman, said Mugabe was
trying to hide the violence and intimidation behind his rift with Britain.
       ''It is not a Zimbabwe-Britain crisis. Our people are being
brutalized by fellow black Zimbabweans. This is the issue we would want our
African brothers to have understood,'' he said.
       African leaders closed ranks at the Commonwealth summit out of fear
for their own power, he said.
       ''The problems of human rights and good governance are mirrored in
their countries,'' Biti said.
       The state-run Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said Tuesday
that British Prime Minister Tony Blair showed personal arrogance, an
obsession with Mugabe and ''the shallowness of his commitment to democracy''
by pushing for Zimbabwe's suspension.
       Foreign diplomats based in Harare said police prevented them from
finishing a Monday meeting with Tsvangirai to discuss food shortages.
       Police declared the meeting illegal under new security laws requiring
police permission for political gatherings.
       State radio also reported Monday that three opposition lawmakers
tried to bribe Zimbabwe's air force commander to help calm security forces
if Mugabe were removed. Opposition officials said that claim was a
government smear.

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