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

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Why Mugabe's neighbours stay silent
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, Britain's Tony Blair, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Canada's Jean Chrétien
African leaders have resisted sanctions against Mugabe
test hello test
Richard Dowden
Africa analyst
Last year several African governments committed themselves to a political and economic plan called the New Programme for African Development.

It commits African governments to governing well, ending wars and corruption, following free market policies, and trying to improve the lives of Africans.

But Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been governing badly, spurning the law, harassing the opposition and allowing farmland to be invaded by squatters.

I do not like the assumption that unless Mugabe or ZANU-PF loses the election there then this election will not be free or fair

Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa, 3 March

The country's economy will shrink by some 7% this year and many Zimbabweans will be dependent on food aid in a country that normally exports food.

Zimbabwe's neighbours are suffering: Trade has diminished and refugees are fleeing across their borders.

South Africa has lost millions of dollars-worth of foreign investment because of its troublesome neighbour.

Closing ranks

Why then have African leaders been so reluctant to do anything about Mr Mugabe or even criticise him?

At the Commonwealth meeting the Africans protected Mr Mugabe while Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia demanded Zimbabwe's suspension.

Zanu-PF supporters at a rally
Mugabe is seeking to secure re-election at the weekend

It looks like a racial split but it is only the African leaders who support Mr Mugabe.

Many of Africa's professionals and intellectuals are as critical of Mr Mugabe as Western countries.

They know that Mr Mugabe is damaging their interests and Africa's chances of pulling itself out of poverty.

Africa's rulers are inclined to defend Mr Mugabe firstly because they usually close ranks when one of them is under pressure from outside.

None of them have completely clean records on democracy and human rights, so there is a natural solidarity between them.

Secondly Mr Mugabe is a very distinguished member of the club.

He is one of the "Fathers of the Nation", those who overturned colonial rule.

War allies

Thirdly he is an old man and in Africa the elderly are respected.


We don't discuss politics because you're never sure who might be listening.

Comfort, a student
arrow Read her full testimony
It is hard for Thabo Mbeki, nearly 20 years Mr Mugabe's junior, to criticise him, especially when he has ruled for only a quarter the time that Mr Mugabe has.

Mr Mbeki also has to worry about a radical element in South Africa that approves of Mr Mugabe's land seizures, anti-white tirades and denunciations of western governments.

In Southern Africa, Angola and Namibia are allies of Zimbabwe and they fight on the same side in the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect President Joseph Kabila.

Only Botswana and Mozambique, the most vulnerable to catastrophe in Zimbabwe, have spoken out about Zimbabwe.

The rest stay quiet to await the outcome of next weekend's election.

Quiet persuasion

An election in Africa has never been declared absolutely unfree and unfair but if this one is, African leaders would be forced to act.

Their most likely sanction would be to refuse to recognise Mr Mugabe.

For African rulers to unite against one of their number and expel him from the club would also be unprecedented.

If the election is not declared illegitimate by observers, South Africa, Nigeria and other African states will accept Mr Mugabe as Zimbabwe's president and try to persuade him to moderate his policies or even to step down.

Privately, the South Africans are talking about moderates in Zanu-PF toppling Mr Mugabe and establishing a government of national unity - but this may be wishful thinking.

If Mr Mugabe was deposed by his party there would have to be another presidential election. The stakes would be even higher and the country more unstable.

But accepting Mr Mugabe back in the fold would make a mockery of Africa's commitment to "good governance".

It would alienate western governments and donors and make it difficult for them to persuade their electorates that Africa should be given more aid and debt relief.

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‘The Grievance of All Grievances’
Exclusive: Facing his toughest election, Mugabe hotly denounces Zimbabwe’s
white landowners

By Tom Masland and Newton Kanhema

      March 11 issue —  His press secretary tried to cut off the interview,
but Robert Mugabe would not be silenced. Back home in Harare after a
campaign swing last week, the 78-year-old president seemed tired and
touchy—and fed up with Zimbabwe’s white inhabitants. “I am a proud African.
I don’t want insults from anybody,” he told NEWSWEEK. He said he had
“extended the hand of reconciliation” but claimed that “the whites have
stood aloof. Maintaining their racist superiority, so called; not wanting to
be integrated into our society, really,” he continued. “Wanting their little
schools, wanting their little sporting activities.” Mugabe said the white
man cares only about his own interests. “Deep down he remains a racist,” the
president said. “I would rather the lot left this country. The lot of

     AS A FREEDOM FIGHTER a generation ago, Mugabe battled both the white
rulers of colonial Rhodesia and African rivals for political power in what
became independent Zimbabwe. He won the presidency in 1980 and has clung to
power ever since, through economic decline, corruption and ugly violence
against both white farmers and African political opponents. This weekend,
Mugabe faces a presidential election he probably cannot win if he fights
fairly. With his support in opinion polls at 30 percent or less, he has long
since reverted to strong-arm tactics.

        The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
charges that at least 107 of its supporters have been killed by Mugabe’s
thugs over the past year. The regime also has cracked down hard on
independent journalists. And last week the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
said he was detained briefly by police, who questioned him on potential
treason charges. “The actions of Robert Mugabe are completely undemocratic
and wrong and dictatorial,” said Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, the
country’s former colonial power. On his way to a Commonwealth conference in
Australia, where action was expected against Zimbabwe, Blair told reporters
Tsvangirai could still win the election. At a rally in northern Zimbabwe,
Mugabe fired back at the British. “Go to hell,” he said, asking, “Why should
they poke their pink noses in our business?”

        Another old tactic revived by Mugabe is a promise he made three
decades ago: to give the country’s rich farmland—most of which was owned by
about 6,000 white farmers—back to its native people. Over the past two
years, groups of pro-Mugabe “war veterans” have invaded about 1,500
white-owned farms, forcing the owners out and sometimes killing them. The
violent disruptions combined with severe drought have sent agricultural
output into sharp decline; food has become scarce and living standards have
fallen. Zimbabwe’s war of independence ended with a negotiated agreement
that protected white property rights, but now Mugabe wishes he had not
compromised. “We were fools,” he told NEWSWEEK. “I would have rather we
finished it through the barrel of a gun.” Even today, he said, land is “the
grievance of all grievances.” He thinks he can finish the redistribution “in
two years’ time.”
        Decades ago, Mugabe was a pillar of the black liberation struggle;
for 11 years, Rhodesia’s white rulers kept him in prison, where he earned
advanced degrees in law and economics. South Africa’s black leaders remember
him as an intellectual beacon, a man supremely confident in his own powers
and unbending in his purpose. His policy of reconciliation inspired a
continent that was still shocked by the bloody excesses of Uganda’s Idi
Amin. From then on, most of black Africa refused to listen to any criticism
of Mugabe—even as his forces were starving or executing some 8,000 civilians
loyal to his former ally, Joshua Nkomo. “We have degrees in violence,”
Mugabe once observed.

       The habit persisted. Now, outside the cities, pro-Mugabe youths at
unofficial roadblocks terrorize people at night. “There’s no way I’m going
to vote,” says a poor craftsman in Mutare. “We’re all afraid of getting
hurt.” Last month a Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front mob
smashed down the home of an opposition leader and cut off his head. “Many of
us think there will be a civil war, whatever the election outcome,” says a
house painter in Ruwa, near the capital, Harare. (Mugabe says his opponents
started the campaign violence.) “Neither Mugabe nor the MDC will accept the
other’s victory, and then what?” Chronic political violence could turn out
to be a gifted leader’s legacy to a country that deserves better.

With Karen MacGregor and Jan Raath in Harare

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Violence against observers.

The media reported consternation amongst observers at violence perpetrated
by ZANU(PF) against their personnel. The point is being entirely missed.
The evil is not violence against observers, that was a mistake, it is
political violence in general. The observers have merely had a tiny taste of
the satanic brew that has been served on all Zimbabweans over the past two
years and more.
Don't decry violence against observers, denounce all violence and understand
that it is nothing new. It is ongoing and omnipresent, it is instigated and
generally perpetrated by only one political party - ZANU(PF).
Get real, believe what you are hearing and seeing, report it honestly and
act on it. There is no way that anyone, however poor their hearing and
eyesight, can say, in good conscience, that this election is going to be
free and fair.

T. E., Mwenezi.
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Zimbabwe's government curbs independent monitoring of presidential election

Fears of vote rigging and chaos in Zimbabwe's presidential race deepened
after the government barred thousands of independent poll observers.

The state-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission accredited only 300 of
the 12,500 local independent observers for the elections.

President Robert Mugabe plans to send 22,000 of his own monitors including
police officers and soldiers.

About 560 foreign election observers are in the country. Many have
complained their access to certain areas has been blocked and several have
been injured in campaign trail violence blamed on ruling party militants.

Mr Mugabe, is fighting for his political survival after almost 22 years of
rule since leading this southern African country to independence from

His apparent attempts to stifle opposition have cast doubt on whether the
vote will be free and fair.

"There have been systematic attempts to deprive people of their right to
vote, much more so than in the past. The whole process is flawed," said
Reginald Match aba-Hove, who heads an umbrella organization of church and
civic groups sponsoring the local independent monitors.

Also, the government has banned voter education by anyone other than the
state electoral commission. Those who violate the rule could face up to six
months in jail.

The government has put in place electoral rules that give sweeping powers to
electoral officers and tightened identification requirements for voters. The
Supreme Court had struck down the rules as unconstitutional, but the
government has restored them.

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ABC News

Zimbabwe Government Gives Scant Details of Poll

March 6
— By Nicholas Kotch and Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government on Wednesday failed to provide
international observers with basic details of how a bitterly-contested
presidential election will be conducted in three days time.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and foreign critics led
by former colonial power Britain and the United States, accuse President
Robert Mugabe, 78, of trying to rig the vote to beat the biggest challenge
to his 22-year rule.

At a briefing for foreign election observers and the media the Electoral
Supervisory Commission (ESC) gave out scant information. It could not say
how many ballot papers had been printed, the exact location of 4,548 polling
stations or when voters lists would be made public.

Nor could ESC chairman Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, a retired army colonel, and his
officials say why only 23 local observers had been accredited out of 12,000

"I have a problem. I don't think as the supervisor of an election that is
only a couple of days away you can tell people 'I don't know,"' said
observer Martha Sayed of Botswana's Independent Electoral Commission.


The MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, vowed on Wednesday to mount a legal
challenge to election rules reimposed by President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday
in defiance of his own Supreme Court.

The controversial General Laws Amendment Act struck down by the court and
reinstated by Mugabe gives state-appointed election officers powers to bar
independent monitors from polling stations, to introduce strict voter
identity requirements and to ban private voter education.

"This is a clear demonstration that Mugabe is determined to hang on to power
by all means, but mostly foul," said political analyst Masipula Sithole.

Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, accuses Tsvangirai
of being a stooge of Britain and the country's white minority.

At the electoral commission briefing, chief elections officer Douglas
Nyakayaramba said the ESC had received information that there was a "third
force, bent on creating chaos and confusion designed to discredit the whole
electoral process by fanning violence."

The MDC, which is hoping to turn public anger over a crumbling economy and
severe food shortages into victory at the polls, accuses ZANU-PF of using a
militia disguised as a youth training service to terrorize the opposition.

Mugabe and his party have denied orchestrating a campaign of intimidation
and rejected allegations that it is trying to fix the polls, blaming
pre-election violence on the MDC.


Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) which is sponsored by non-governmental organizations said their
12,000 election monitors had been waiting for accreditation for weeks.

"It has been very frustrating process. We don't want to suggest that the
government doesn't want monitors because it has something to hide, but it's
very clear that the process needs to be run more smoothly and transparently
to kill any suspicions," he told Reuters.

A 23-strong South African non-governmental observer team was refused
accreditation on Tuesday and told to leave the country.

The European Union last month pulled out its observer team after Harare
refused to accredit its leader. The EU and the United States slapped
selective sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle in protest.

Diplomats in Brussels said on Wednesday the EU was likely to harden up its
sanctions if the elections were not free and fair.

Some 5.6 million Zimbabweans will go to the polls at a time of severe food
shortages caused by drought and the state-sanctioned invasions of
white-owned farms which have slashed maize output.

The United Nations has warned that half a million Zimbabweans face food

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SOUTH AFRICA-ZIMBABWE: Crisis threatens African recovery

JOHANNESBURG, 6 March (IRIN) - South Africa's president cannot ignore British Prime Minister Tony Blair's warning that support for Africa's recovery plan could be jeopardised, a debt-relief lobbyist told IRIN on Wednesday.

Jubilee 2000 South Africa's secretary-general, George Dor, told IRIN that President Thabo Mbeki could not afford to ignore Blair's warning as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) programme relies heavily on the support of the developed world. "He (Mbeki) is going to have to listen to the threats that (a leader such as) Blair puts to him ... he will have to take it into account when he decides South Africa's position in relation to Zimbabwe," Dor said.

The response by regional leaders, particularly that of regional powerhouse South Africa, to Zimbabwe's deepening political and humanitarian crisis has come under close scrutiny.

The chasm between African leaders, who have been considered soft on Zimbabwe, and western leaders such as Blair, who have called for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, widened at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia last week.

Blair has denounced the CHOGM statement on Zimbabwe - which sought to take no action until after the election on 9-10 March, and then only if the report from the Commonwealth's election observer team is adverse. He called the compromise statement "the lowest common denominator".

He has now gone a step further. The Financial Times reported the British leader as warning that the Nepad plan could be undermined by the crisis in Zimbabwe. Blair said: "The credibility of my country (Britain) - investment in my country - does not depend on Zimbabwe. But for Africa it is a major issue on which their credibility and the possibility of investment flows depends."

"The reason I feel strongly about Zimbabwe is I know that if there is any sense in which African countries appear to be ambivalent towards good governance, that is the one thing that will undermine the confidence of the developed world in helping them," he was quoted as saying.

Nepad was drafted by President Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegan Obasanjo, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. The plan aims for the continent to move away from its broad reliance on loans and aid towards self-sustaining development and economic advancement. 

Nepad priorities include: "Creating peace, security and stability and democratic governance without which it would be impossible to engage in meaningful economic activity; investing in Africa's people through a comprehensive human resource strategy; harnessing and developing Africa's strategic and comparative advantages in the resource-based sectors to lead the development of an industrial strategy; increasing investments in the information and communication technology sector; and developing infrastructure ... and financing mechanisms."

Support for the plan was sought, and largely won, from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the G8 group of industrialised nations.

Blair has now suggested that the G8 would be reluctant to support Nepad if President Robert Mugabe is allowed to retain power through a fraudulent election.

Dor said: "The whole Nepad process has ... looked for northern endorsement." Jubilee is critical of Nepad, alleging it perpetuates the leverage the developed north and institutions such as the World Bank and IMF have over African economies.

He said: "The World Bank and IMF leverage is very direct and odious in that countries are so entrenched in debt they have to get new loans to repay that debt and meet certain conditions in terms of cutting social expenditure and the like. That's hands-on interference in economies of countries in the south. With something like Nepad it's a little more complex than that, the leverage is more on the basis of the way in which Mbeki and other African leaders have chosen to run their economies.

"It is a policy of cutting down on the public sector and what government can do, and relying instead on the private sector for growth and foreign direct investment to boost that growth.  They've effectively handed the large governments of the north the leverage to start to manipulate (African countries) according to their needs."

Mbeki could therefore not afford to ignore Blair's statements, Dor said.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is mounting a legal challenge to last-minute changes in the election laws, the BBC reported.
The party said it hoped to file an appeal at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, after President Robert Mugabe re-introduced regulations thrown out by the court last week.

Among other things, the decree bans local election monitors other than state employees - which includes the armed forces - for this weekend's critical poll and revives a ban on voting by people with dual citizenship.
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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 16:49 GMT
Zimbabwe votes: Matabeleland

test hello test
By Thabo Kunene
3 March, Bulawayo

Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, is peaceful today following two days of street battles in the volatile townships.

  • Main town: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city
  • 21/23 MPs from MDC - only region where most rural areas voted for MDC
  • Victoria Falls in far north
  • Mugabe unpopular because of 1980s massacres
  • Zapu's Paul Siwela is running on federalist programme
  • Less developed than other regions
  • Droughts common
  • Ethnicity: Ndebele
  • Registered voters in 2000: one million

      More background

The clashes between the opposition MDC and the Zanu-PF supporters followed the death on Thursday of a Zanu-PF activist in Phumula township.

The militia member died after he was run over by a car driven by a member of the opposition.

The MDC member said the death was an accident and did not have any intention of killing the militia member.

The deceased was part of a group of more than 100 pro-government militias who have set 23 bases in the townships of Bulawayo.

Yesterday the two main presidential election candidates, Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC and Robert Mugabe of the ruling party, Zanu-PF, addressed crucial rallies in Bulawayo. The two rallies passed off peacefully despite fears of violence.

The MDC leader attracted large crowds at the white city stadium while Mr Mugabe's venue in Babourfields was almost empty before residents were bussed in from different places.

Mr Tsvangirai addressed an estimated 20,000 cheering multi-racial crowd, mostly civil servants and youths.

The rally was stopped for some minutes after an army helicopter flew past the stadium while Mr Tsvangirai was still speaking.

He spoke mainly about bread and butter issues and warned the current army commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe that if he did not want to salute him if he won the election, he would be fired from the army.

I know that most of you here had left the party to go to MDC, but I want you come back home where you belong

President Robert Mugabe
He said nobody would be dismissed from the army or police service if he came to power.

"What we want is a professional police force and army. We will not tolerate a partisan army and police when the MDC comes into power", said the MDC leader.

At Babourfields, Mr Mugabe made his customary attacks on the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his black puppets in the MDC.

He said he made a mistake in 1980 by forgiving people like Ian Smith and allowing whites to run the economy, especially agriculture which is the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy.

"No policeman will evict war veterans from the farms they have occupied," said the president.

Mr Mugabe begged the people of Bulawayo to vote for him and not to betray the late veteran nationalist, Joshua Nkomo, by voting for Mr Tsvangirai whom he described as a "tea-boy".

"I know that most of you here had left the party to go to MDC, but I want you come back home where you belong. Zanu-PF is your permanent home", Mr Mugabe told his supporters - who were made up mostly of the elderly who were bussed into the stadium from different townships and from outside Bulawayo.

There were about 7,000 people at Mugabe's rally.

2 March

About 200 Zimbabwean villagers in the southern district of Beitbridge have fled into South Africa to escape increasing attacks and daily beatings by pro-government mobs.

According to villagers in the district, the mobs which included youth militias and veterans of the independence war, were deployed in Beitbridge town two weeks ago.

Yesterday I spent the whole day speaking to villagers who decided to remain despite increasing violence.

One old man, Godfrey Muleya said he would not leave because the mobs would steal his livestock.

He said scores of villagers, especially young active members of the opposition, were leaving the district on a daily basis.

"I have a lot of wealth here. I would rather die than abandon my cattle," said Mr Muleya.

Police in the South African border town of Messina, about 10 km away, confirmed that large groups of Zimbabwean villagers started arriving in South Africa last week.

According to the spokesman, all the fleeing Zimbabweans spoke of daily harassment by government supporters and war veterans.

Zimbabwean police refused to comment when I asked them.

The fleeing Zimbabweans entering South Africa are being taken to an abandoned apartheid-era military camp.

The camp was set up to receive fleeing Zimbabweans as presidential election draw near.

26 February

More than 200 residents of Bulawayo who say they are fed up of being harassed and beaten up by pro-Zanu-PF militias on Monday night attacked them in their base in Njube township, forcing them to abandon it.

The residents, who were backed by some youths from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change raided the base at about 10pm local time.

The militants were taken by surprise and many fled in different directions but seven of them were unlucky. They were captured by the residents and severely beaten.

According to eyewitnesses, the residents took advantage of the absence of the police who usually provide back up for the militias. The residents were reportedly armed with axes, spears and sticks.

Police in Bulawayo refused to talk to me about the alleged attack.

Hospital officials confirmed treating two members of the militia.

On Sunday, the militias were also forced to abandon their base at Matsotsi in Njube when they were attacked by commuters who are fed up of being attacked by Zanu PF supporters.

Matabeleland background

The people of Matabeleland have not forgiven President Robert Mugabe for unleashing his notorious North Korean-trained Five Brigade on them in the 1980s.

The brigade, which massacred about 20,000 ethnic Ndebeles in the province, was exclusively composed of recruits from Mr Mugabe's Shona ethnic group.

Self-styled war veterans have been rounding up villagers and forced them to attend Mr Mugabe's rallies in Matabeleland.

The "war veterans" threatened the villagers with death if they refused.

One villager said Mr Mugabe would be fooling himself if he believed that the Ndebele people would vote for him next month.

"We will never vote for Mugabe because of what he did in the 80s," he said.

"We are being discriminated against in government and employment," said another villager.

Food aid has already started to arrive in Matabeleland, as the harvests have once again failed in this drought-prone region.

Hundreds of thousands of Ndebeles have already voted with their feet and gone to South Africa in search of jobs.

The Ndebeles originally came from South Africa in the 19th century and the language is similar to Zulu.

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Zanu-PF will win - analyst

Johannesburg - President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is poised to win this
weekend's presidential elections by a minimum 60%, an analyst told a
gathering in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Addressing a Zanu-PF rally at Joubert Park, political and socio-economic
analyst, Udo Froese, said this scenario had been agreed to by the British
Foreign and Commonwealth office in a private conversation early in February.

Froese, who described himself as private analyst based in South Africa, said
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had already failed to
project itself as an alternative government to the ruling Zanu-PF.

"Had it not been for Mugabe, the MDC would not have been where it is today.
Mugabe is dealing with the land question which is fundamental to agriculture
and mining; the MDC, on the other hand, is being used by Britain to oppose
this as they are fearful of losing the land they are currently occupying,"
he said.

Amid applause, he said the redistribution of land in Zimbabwe had been
delayed over many years to ensure the freedom of South Africans.

Zanu-PF, Froese said, had given assurances in the early 1980's that until
and unless the African National Congress (ANC) took power, it would not deal
with the land issue.

"That would have had serious repercussions since the British and Americans
would have collaborated with [PW] Botha's Pretoria to ensure the ANC gets
nowhere near power and that Zimbabwe gets hit," he said.

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Chicago Sun Times

Voter rolls purged in Zimbabwe

March 6, 2002


HARARE, Zimbabwe--President Robert Mugabe struck thousands of white or
mixed-race voters off Zimbabwe's electoral roll Tuesday, and added to it
tens of thousands of people from his rural strongholds.

In a presidential decree, Mugabe reinstated election laws that had been
ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last week, as the bills had been
forced through Parliament improperly after being defeated.

The restored laws gave state election officers sweeping powers and
restricted vote monitoring, identity requirements for voters, campaigning
and voter education, other than that provided by the government.

Mugabe also added new regulations to allow a supplementary electoral roll,
which the opposition said has been stuffed with his supporters, and
reinstated a ban on absentee voting by Zimbabweans living abroad.

Many Zimbabweans living outside the country are believed to be against
Mugabe's government.

The opposition will launch an urgent Supreme Court action today to seek to
have Mugabe's decree overturned, and will claim that ballot boxes have
already been filled with thousands of votes for Mugabe.

David Coltart, the opposition group's justice spokesman said Tuesday:
"Mugabe's regulations are obscene. A candidate in the presidential election,
four days before the poll, has struck off voters, presumed to be white, or
of mixed race with white-sounding surnames.

"He has also allowed thousands of people from his political strongholds to
be included on the electoral roll after registration ended."

Coltart said the lists of the newly disenfranchised and those who would now
be allowed to vote had not been made public.
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The Daily Star


Mugabe's moment of truth

Conduct of polls to provide the acid-test

ZIMBABWE'S legendary leader President Robert Mugabe is swiftly turning
himself and his politics into a dismal story. Not only has he turned the
electoral process into a dreadful joke but seems bent on inventing new ways
to humiliate his own people. As the events unfold his admirers can only gasp
in disgust.

Mugabe's problems began in his sense of autocracy and inability to find the
skills to lead his people out of the economic woods. He had little concern
from the very start for democratic norms and ultimately succumbed to rule by
threat. The weaker the economy grew, greater was his denial of democracy.

Part of the problem lay in his past success as a liberation war leader. He
had led his people to freedom against the apartheid regime and was a world
hero. This probably filled him with a sense of invincibility and the idea
that he could do no wrong. From the very beginning, he and Zimbabwe became
one to himself. While this may have allowed Mugabe to rule on and on, his
people suffered from on and on.

His management of the electoral scene is proving to be a farce at the grand
scale. It transpires from evidence that a million dead people had been
"voting" regularly and there is no need to elaborate to whom these votes had
been going. This in itself is a high act of betrayal. He has also brought
about changes in the voting rules and regulations which has been universally
criticized. Now to cap it all, he has had the main opposition leader face
interrogation on suspected grounds of treason. One isn't sure what his next
irresponsible act will be.

Still his last chance to prove his staying power in a civilised way lies in
an acceptable conduct of the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe. Having lost
global confidence in his regime, nearly all international support, lacking
strategic importance which would let him be the king in his own turf on his
own terms, Mugabe's time may be over.
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Fiery face of Mugabe shock troops

March 6, 2002 Posted: 7:39 AM EST (1239 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe calls them loyal war veterans, patriotic Zimbabweans who have risen up spontaneously to fight those who would betray the revolution that brought independence.

Most other Zimbabweans see them as violent foot soldiers in a state-sponsored war on their own countrymen, part of an effort by Mugabe to crush his political opponents before next weekend's presidential election.

Often escorted by a protective phalanx of police, militants have firebombed opposition party offices and white-owned farms. They have attacked homes and businesses. They allegedly have killed, kidnapped, tortured or simply beaten those seen as Mugabe's opponents.

Few militants have been arrested. Fewer have been prosecuted. And some have been rewarded handsomely by an increasingly unpopular and autocratic president who is facing his severest political test against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the March 9-10 election.

"They are doing exactly what Mugabe wants. Every day of violence is more votes lost for the MDC," said Shari Eppel, an official with the Amani Trust, a Zimbabwean human rights group.

In fiery speeches, the president has encouraged and defended his shock troops. After parliamentary elections in 2000, he gave a blanket amnesty to those who waged a violent intimidation campaign against opposition groups.

"This is a betrayal of what we fought for," said Wilfred Mhanda, a former officer in the high command of the liberation army that ended white rule in 1980.

"We fought most importantly for freedom and social justice and there is no political freedom right now," said Mhanda, director of the Zimbabwe Liberation Platform, a group of war veterans that lobbies for good governance and human rights.

Joseph Chinotimba, who describes himself as a field commander of the pro-Mugabe militants, denied in a telephone interview that the militants have done anything wrong.

"We are totally peaceful," said Chinotimba, who accused the MDC and its presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, of being behind the political violence sweeping the country.

However, Chinotimba himself has led violent raids on farms, and he has been charged with the attempted murder of a female neighbour he accused of supporting the opposition. He also was convicted of possessing an illegal firearm, but remains free pending appeal.

He once stormed the Supreme Court yelling, "Kill the judges." With no interference from police guards, he entered the chambers of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, whose court had begun striking down as unconstitutional new laws aimed at strengthening Mugabe's hold on power, and threatened him.

Gubbay, who had been appointed by Mugabe, resigned after the government said it would not protect him.

Chinotimba calls Gubbay "an agent of Ian Smith," who was the defiant leader of the minority white government in the nation then called Rhodesia.

But it was Mugabe who appointed Gubbay chief justice.

Mugabe rewarded Chinotimba with a large farm.

The militants say they are helping redistribute white-owned farms to landless blacks. But many farms have gone to ruling party lawmakers, Mugabe's ministers and loyalists like Chinotimba.

Five years ago, after their pension fund was drained by corrupt officials, war veterans took to the streets to demand Mugabe's resignation.

He gave them a huge payout financed by planned new taxes. When court rulings and strikes destroyed the tax plan, the payouts helped sink the economy, taking Mugabe's popularity with it.

Over the past two years, ruling party militants led by the war veterans have attacked opposition supporters all over the country. They occupied hundreds of white-owned farms, burned the houses of black farm workers and then used the land as bases for intimidating the country's rural voters, human rights activists say.

More than 100 people have been killed. Human rights organisations say nearly all the dead have been black opposition supporters.

Foreign governments have pressed Mugabe to restore the rule of law. The president promised he would, but the violence has escalated, with dozens killed in February.

Many of the militants are far too young to have had any role in the nation's liberation war. Yet nearly all call themselves war veterans.

"Mugabe is taking advantage of the war vets and our youth," Mhanda said.

Most of the militants hope that like Chinotimba they will be rewarded for unswerving loyalty.

Mugabe has called his campaign a new liberation fight and told his supporters to "wage war" on the opposition.

At youth militia training camps, the younger recruits are indoctrinated by war veterans in what they are told is their generation's battle against imperialism and foreign influence, human rights groups say.

The rhetoric "gives young people the feeling that they are taking part in a war... an ideological linkage to our forefathers fighting colonial occupation," said Brian Kagoro, a human rights lawyer.

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  Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai at door of presidency

HARARE, March 6 — Morgan Tsvangirai rose through the ranks of a once tame
trade union to become the first Zimbabwe opposition leader with a credible
chance of unseating veteran president Robert Mugabe.

       By the time he turns 50 on Sunday, Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), should have a sense of whether Zimbabwe's
voters are ready to dump the man who led them to liberation from Britain in
1980 and elect a younger man.
       The few opinion polls published in Zimbabwe show Tsvangirai well
ahead of the 78-year-old Mugabe, but in a highly charged environment most
voters refuse to answer pollsters' questions.
       The outcome of the March 9-10 presidential election, marred by
political killings, intimidation and judicial constraints on the opposition,
is impossible to predict.
       ''Unless Mugabe rigs furiously, the MDC will come in with a big
majority,'' South African-based analyst Richard Cornwell of the Institute
for Security Studies told Reuters.
       In an echo of concerns voiced around the world, he added: ''Of
course, there is no reason to believe that the votes cast will be the result
actually announced.''
       The United States said in its annual Human Rights Report on Monday
that the deck was heavily stacked against Tsvangirai.

       Tsvangirai's background could scarcely be more different to his
       While Mugabe led the dominant military force in the long war against
white rule, Tsvangirai was home supporting his family.
       While Mugabe boasts a string of university degrees, Tsvangirai, now a
father of six, is self-taught beyond a basic high school education.
       Tsvangirai, the son of a bricklayer, cut his political teeth in the
labour movement while working as a foreman at the Trojan Nickel Mine in
rural Bindura for 10 years.
       In 1988, he became full-time secretary general of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, leading the federation from an alliance with
Mugabe's dominant ZANU-PF to independence.
       He was jailed by Mugabe's government for six weeks in 1989 on charges
of spying for South Africa and the MDC claims he has survived three
state-sponsored assassination attempts.
       In December 1997, Tsvangirai delivered his first serious challenge
and Mugabe's first significant political defeat.
       He led a series of strikes against tax increases and twice forced
Mugabe to withdraw announced hikes. He also made Mugabe abandon a planned
special tax to fund grants to veterans of the liberation war against
       Taking much of the labour movement with him, Tsvangirai helped to
found the MDC in 1999.
       In February 2000, the movement showed its strength by engineering
Mugabe's first poll defeat -- the rejection in a national referendum of
proposed constitutional changes that would further have entrenched Mugabe's
       In June of that year, despite killings and intense police harassment,
the MDC stunned the ruling party by winning 57 of the 120 seats at stake in
a parliamentary election.

       Now Tsvangirai is going for the big prize, but political analysts say
policy and detail is where the man who captivates the public with powerful
speeches is weakest.
       During a tour of European capitals after the MDC was born, Tsvangirai
failed to impress. His judgment has also been questioned in the wake of last
month's videotape controversy.
       Tsvangirai stands accused of treason after the airing of a secretly
recorded video purporting to show him discussing Mugabe's assassination with
security consultants in Canada.
       The Montreal firm, headed by a man who says he is a former Israeli
security agent, was working for the Mugabe government.
       Tsvangirai has complained that the murky video was ''contrived'' to
manipulate comments taken out of context.
       ''People say I was naive,'' Tsvangirai told the Guardian newspaper
last week. ''But I've got another 30,000 votes in my cap as a result of this
       If he wins the presidency despite intimidation and legal ploys to
keep opposition voters away from the polls, Tsvangirai should be able to use
presidential powers to appoint legislators to take control of the 150-seat
       His party's economic stabilisation and recovery plan, which includes
a 100-day programme to halt the country's plunge into deeper recession,
should kick in almost immediately.
       The programme includes commitments to most of the macro-economic
mantras of the globalising world -- debt reduction, tightly controlled state
expenditure, liberalised foreign exchange controls and free market
       It commits the party to restore the rule of law, continue land reform
in a non-partisan way, create jobs, expand infrastructure and tackle the
massive domestic and foreign debt.
       Tsvangirai has declined to commit himself on the future of Mugabe and
the country's current rulers if he wins.
       ''We have to look positively beyond Mugabe. Mugabe is history,'' he
said in a typical response to a question on whether he would prosecute the
man who has led Zimbabwe for 22 years.

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Fears mount over Zimbabwe ballot chaos and rigging

Fears are growing of chaos and vote rigging in the most bitter and closely
contested presidential race in Zimbabwe's history.

With only three days until the nation votes, the government has still not
published full lists and locations of polling stations.

In parliamentary elections in June 2000 those details were available weeks
ahead of the vote.

Notices made public by the state-appointed election supervisory commission
contained incorrect details. But the commission tried to allay fears that
confusion would allow vote rigging at the weekend.

"Only a blind person can think there will be any confusion," said Douglas
Nyikayaramba, the commission's chief election officer.

Residents of the capital, Harare, protested at being allocated a reduced
number of polling stations,135, down from more than 200 in 2000.

Opposition activists said the reduction by the commission is a ploy to
discourage voters in urban strongholds of the Movement for Democratic

Under new election rules, 22,000 government employees have been appointed
official monitors. In the past monitors were mostly from independent church
and civic groups.

Zimbabwe has been torn apart by political violence for the past two years
that opposition supporters, human rights activists and many international
officials blame on Mugabe's ruling party's efforts to intimidate voters.

Robert Mugabe,78, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 22 years, faces his biggest
challenge to date from Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.

Story filed: 12:58 Wednesday 6th March 2002

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Yahoo News

White Zimbabweans fight for right to vote
By Emelia Sithole

BULAWAYO (Reuters) - More than 600 whites have gone to court in the second
city of Bulawayo seeking the right to vote in Zimbabwe's March 9-10
presidential election.

"I want to vote and I have a right to vote because I have always been a
citizen of this country", one grey-haired woman told Reuters on Wednesday
outside the courthouse, packed with mostly elderly whites.

A lawyer representing some of the group told Commonwealth Observer Group
chairman Abdulsalami Abubakar that authorities had struck the 650 whites off
the voters' roll.

He said they were told earlier this year that their Zimbabwean citizenship
had been revoked under a law introduced last year barring dual nationality.

The lawyer said the whites immediately challenged the orders revoking their
citizenship, but were told their appeals could not be heard until Wednesday,
three days before the polls open.

Abubakar, whose report on the elections will determine Commonwealth action
on Zimbabwe after the poll, declined to comment on conditions in the run-up
to the elections, saying he was still receiving reports from observers in
the field.

"The notices to these people were done in great haste and improperly and we
are trying to organise a speedy resolution to this matter," Advocate Tim
Cherry told Reuters.

"We are trying to get the magistrate to hear preliminary points and
hopefully dismiss this move, failing which we will go to the high court," he


Many of those at the courts said they had complied with new rules passed at
the end of 2001 and renounced their other citizenship rights.

"I have a certificate from the government of Zimbabwe issued in 1985 that I
am a permanent resident of Zimbabwe. I also have a certificate from South
Africa that I renounced my South African citizenship," a 68-year-old man
told reporters.

A woman said she had lived in the country since 1943 and had no citizenship
or residence claim elsewhere.

"I have no other passport except a Zimbabwean one. Why should I be
disenfranchised?" she asked.

"I think this is all a ploy for us not to vote and it's hard to understand
why because there are only 70,000 whites in this country.

"What can we do to change the result of the election? We are a drop in the
ocean," she added, as five others waiting for the case to be heard nodded in

Zimbabwe's whites comprise less than one percent of its 13 million people,
but Mugabe has blamed them for sabotaging the economy, which critics say he
has brought to its knees through mismanagement during his 22-year rule.

On a last campaign lap before the vote, Mugabe said it had been a mistake to
extend a hand of reconciliation to whites after independence in 1980.

Mugabe is campaigning largely on the platform that the opposition MDC and
its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his toughest challenger since assuming power
at independence in 1980, are stooges of the white minority and former
colonial master Britain.

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Blair warning over Zimbabwe elections

Staff and agencies
Wednesday March 6, 2002

The prime minister warned today that Commonwealth "fudging" over Zimbabwe
would have to stop if widespread evidence of intimidation and violence in
the run-up to the presidential elections there was discovered.
Mr Blair told the Commons: "The credibility of the Commonwealth itself is at

He spoke out in a statement on the Commonwealth heads of government meeting
in Coolum, Queensland, from which he has just returned.

In Australia, Mr Blair did not disguise his disappointment that the heads of
government did not take a tougher line but he conceded today there was "no
realistic prospect of a consensus for suspending Zimbabwe from Commonwealth
membership in advance of the elections".

Mr Blair said although "there was a strong current of criticism running" at
the summit "decisions need to be unanimous".

"In a body representing over 50 separate nations there was no realistic
prospect of a consensus for suspending Zimbabwe from Commonwealth membership
in advance of the elections this coming weekend," he said.

He also warned president Robert Mugabe that he must hand over power if he
loses this weekend's election in Zimbabwe.

The prime minister faced Conservative criticism that the government's "weak
and ineffectual" approach to the situation in the country had allowed the
situation to reach crisis point.

Mr Blair told MPs: "The violence and intimidation unleashed by President
Mugabe in his desperation to prevent an opposition victory ... is totally

"So is the way in which he made it impossible for EU observers to monitor
next weekend's elections, obliging them to withdraw from Zimbabwe so they
could not document the abuses of the election campaign.

"And there is no doubt about those abuses. Those who are witnessing the
campaign and who are still in Zimbabwe, detail horrific acts of violence and

Blair to attack inaction over Zimbabwe
TONY Blair is today due to vent his anger at the Commonwealth's lack of
action over Zimbabwe when he makes a statement to MPs on the Brisbane

As he flew home yesterday, the prime minister made it clear that if
international observers concluded that this weekend's election was rigged,
then the Commonwealth would have "no option" but to suspend Zimbabwe. It was
important the global body "passes this test of its credibility", he

In a stark warning to African states, Mr Blair pointed out that if they
appeared "ambivalent towards good governance" then that would "undermine the
willingness of the developed world to help them" with aid.

The four-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) proved a
fraught affair because of the leaders' failure to resolve the Zimbabwe
question to everyone's satisfaction.

Helen Clark, the prime minister of New Zealand, who supported immediate
suspension, said: "I hope we don't have another Chogm like this one. The
Commonwealth has to get its act together for the future."

As Mr Blair addresses MPs this afternoon, Zimbabwe will be a hot topic of
discussion in the Lords where Lord Blaker, a former Conservative foreign
affairs minister, will lead a debate on the former British colony.

In contrast to British exasperation over the Commonwealth's inaction,
Mugabe's government trumpeted the Australian summit as a diplomatic triumph.
The main headline in the state-run Herald newspaper declared: "Why UK lost
Battle of Brisbane", and claimed Mr Blair had displayed arrogance, an
obsession with Mr Mugabe.

- March 6th

Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 19:29 GMT
Blair warns Mugabe to let go
Government officials demonstrate a sample polling station
The government claims the elections will be fair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, not to cling to power if he is defeated in this weekend's election.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Blair: Failed to persuade the Commonwealth to act
Renewing his criticism of Mr Mugabe, Mr Blair called on the Commonwealth to take strong action if there is evidence of intimidation and violence in the run-up to the presidential election.

Mr Blair was addressing parliament on his return from the Commonwealth summit in Australia, where he failed to persuade delegates that they should suspend Zimbabwe from the body.

He said Mr Mugabe's government was violating the core Commonwealth values of good government, tolerance and racial harmony.

"Let us be clear, if they (the opposition) do win, President Mugabe must accept the result and hand over power," Mr Blair said.

There have been widespread reports of violence and intimidation by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party against opposition activists.

Mr Blair said the victims of Mr Mugabe's actions were ordinary black citizens fed up with years of decline and corruption.

It is expected to be Zimbabwe's closest election in Mr Mugabe's 22 years in power.

Legal challenge

Mr Blair said that the Commonwealth would be putting its credibility on the line if abuses were discovered in the campaign and it failed to take action.

But he conceded that there was no realistic prospect of a consensus for suspending Zimbabwe before the elections.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is contending with changes in election rules introduced by President Mugabe despite their rejection by the Supreme Court last week.

The MDC said it hoped to file an appeal against the new regulations on Wednesday.

Mr Mugabe's decree bans all local election monitors except state employees - which includes the armed forces.

It also introduces strict identification requirements for voters, and revives a ban on voting by people with dual citizenship.

MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube told the French news agency AFP that the legislation had also added an unknown number of Zanu-PF supporters to the voters' roll.

"It simply allows them to act in terms of a non-existent law," he said.


Political violence has blighted the run-up to the election.

MDC's vote-rigging fears
Some poll station locations not announced yet
Non-state-appointed local monitors banned
Strict voter identity requirements
Dual citizens banned from voting
Police and soldiers 'forced to vote Mugabe'
Signs urban polling stations decreased at expense of rural ones

A police spokesman told AFP on Wednesday that 16 people had been killed since 1 Jan - more than half the figure of 31 reported by a Zimbabwean human rights group, Zimrights.

Mr Mugabe's decree and other moves have prompted fears of widespread voting irregularities, analysts said.

The state-appointed election commission insists that 22,000 government employees who are to monitor the election will be impartial.

But election observers say they are concerned that the government has failed to finalise details such as the location or number of voting stations, which is being seen as a possible attempt to disenfranchise opposition supporters.

The MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, says the government wants to increase the number of polling stations in its rural heartland while reducing them in urban areas which traditionally vote for the opposition.

'Forced' votes

Police and soldiers say they are being forced to vote for Mr Mugabe in secret polls before the election.

Opposition supporter with initials MDC carved into his back, allegedly by Mugabe supporters
The MDC has accused the government of using violence and intimidation

Members of the security forces told BBC News Online that they had been ordered by their commanding officers to vote by post in support of Mr Mugabe.

"We are busy casting our votes. The ballot papers were sent to individuals in envelopes and our bosses were presiding officers," said a policeman in Masvingo Province, who wished to remain anonymous.

He said police officers had been presented with envelopes bearing their names and the serial number of the ballot paper inside - to make it easier to find out how they had voted.

On Monday, Zimbabwe's Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, denied that police and army members had already voted.

"That's just disinformation. They haven't voted," he told the Daily News.

A team of 23 non-governmental South African election observers flew out of Harare on Tuesday after they were refused accreditation.

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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 15:09 GMT
Q&A: Zimbabwe election

This weekend Zimbabweans will vote in presidential elections. The campaign
has been marred by political violence and accusations that the vote will be
Who are the candidates?

This is a two-horse race between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan

Mr Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. At first he was
praised for providing free education and health care but his record is now
tarnished by economic meltdown and the political violence of recent years.

Mr Tsvangirai is the candidates of the opposition Movement for Democratic

He is a charismatic former trade unionist. The MDC is a coalition of groups
united more by their opposition to Mr Mugabe than anything else.

There are three other candidates who have no chance of winning.

When is the vote and how does it work?

Polling stations are expected to be open from 0700 to 1900 on Saturday and
Sunday, 9-10 March.

Out of a population of more than 12 million, about 5.6 million are
registered to vote; half a million more than in the 2000 elections. Some
800,000 are from the capital, Harare. However, the electoral roll has still
not been published.

Latest figures suggest that there will be over 4,548 polling stations within
the 120 constituencies.

Their exact locations remain unclear - though there are believed to be more
in rural areas and less in urban areas than last time - which should favour
President Mugabe.

There are 22,000 government employees who will be the official monitors.
There are 560 foreign observers - but none from the European Union.

It is unclear how many ballot papers have been printed.

Many details are still to be confirmed by the election commision. Will the
election be free and fair?

Opposition supporters have been beaten up and killed and the security forces
have broken up MDC meetings.

Laws have been passed which have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of
potential voters and police officers are now saying that they are being
forced to vote for Mr Mugabe.

Nevertheless, the result is not a foregone conclusion.

Election observers and representatives of the candidates may well be allowed
to witness the count - as in previous elections - and so we should know if
the results reflect the will of the electorate.

So Mr Tsvangirai could still win?

It cannot be ruled out. Despite everything, he has hundreds of thousands of
supporters who will vote for him.

So does Mr Mugabe and it may well be a close call.

Mr Mugabe accepted defeat in a referendum in February 2000 and the MDC won
almost as many seats as Zanu-PF in June 2000 parliamentary elections,
despite similar levels of political violence.

And what would happen if Mr Tsvangirai did win?

All eyes would then be on Mr Mugabe.

His military chiefs have said they would refuse to recognise Mr Tsvangirai
but if Mr Mugabe accepted defeat gracefully, they would no doubt follow his

Some leading war veterans have also warned that an opposition victory would
mean civil war but they could easily be controlled by the security forces -
if they so desired.

The man seen by many as Mr Mugabe's chosen heir, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has
said that Zanu-PF would respect the verdict of the people.

What if Mr Tsvangirai won the vote but lost the count?

Then Zimbabwe's future would look grim indeed.

There is the possibility of a popular uprising - then everything would
depend on whether soldiers and police were willing to shoot at opposition

Or the population and Mr Tsvangirai might decide to back down on the basis
that a civil war would be even worse than the present situation.

Zimbabwe could expect to be suspended from the Commonwealth, following the
imposition of targetted sanctions by the European Union and the United

Wider trade sanctions are unlikely to be used as these would hurt ordinary

Mr Mugabe has already said that he does not care if Zimbabwe is suspended
from the Commonwealth.

Could Mr Mugabe win the election fairly?

That is possible, however the opposition would certainly complain that even
if the counting was fair, the intimidation, official harassment and new
electoral laws stacked the cards in Mr Mugabe's favour.

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Swiss to Hold Chefs' $23b

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

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

Trevor Muhonde

PRESIDENT Mugabe and his top lieutenants stand to lose over oe55 million
($4,56 billion, or $22,8 billion at the parallel market rate), stashed in
Swiss bank accounts if Zanu PF cheats its way to victory in next week's
presidential election.

A senior Swiss government official told The Standard on Friday that his
country had decided to join the 14-member European Union and the United
States in taking decisive action against the Mugabe regime for crimes
against humanity.

The official said Switzerland's decision to punish Mugabe was taken last
week by the country's cabinet.

"The cabinet agreed it would be appropriate to impose sanctions after the
polls as a way of dealing with Mugabe and Zanu PF who are sure to rig the
elections and cling on to power. The meeting resolved that the outcome of
the elections will determine their decision on Zimbabwe," the official said.

"Our government has for a long time been looking at the situation in
Zimbabwe and this has not been pleasant. What our cabinet resolved was to
wait and see the outcome of the election and then we would impose the

Daniela Stoffel-Fatzer, the Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman, confirmed to
The Standard that her government was poised to swoop on accounts held by
Mugabe and his officials, and that last week's decision would have to be
ratified by parliament. "The decision on whether to block bank accounts,
impose trade restrictions and ban travel by Zimbabwean officials would have
to be taken by the federal cabinet," she told The Standard from Switzerland.

She added that her government was expected to convey its decision to the
Zimbabwean ambassador in Bern.

The action will see the freezing of secret bank accounts that Mugabe and his
cabinet officials are reported to have in Switzerland. The European country
has historically been a favourite destination for the world's dictators who
see it as a safe haven for stashing ill-gotten wealth because of its
secretive banking policy.

However, since the controversy surrounding the millions of US dollars which
the late Phillipine president, Ferdinand Marcos, had stored in Swiss banks,
the country has since reviewed its ultra-secret policy and now allows looted
funds to be recovered.

A spokesperson for the Swiss embassy told The Standard that, like the rest
of the international community, their government was worried with the
current situation in the country which was pointing to a flawed presidential

Revelations of the billions that Zanu PF leaders have stored in Switzerland
come at a time when the country is facing an acute food shortage, with the
government barely able to import enough grain to feed the nation. It also
comes against an acute shortage of foreign currency which has seen national
reserves run dry.

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The Times

Zimbabwe's economy shipwrecked
By John Robertson

ZIMBABWE is not bankrupt — countries cannot go bankrupt — but its economy
today is on the rocks.
Manufacturing is in decline and it has lost more than a quarter of its
capacity in the past four years.

Mining output volumes have slipped by almost a fifth in the past three years
and earnings from tourism have been cut by more than half in the same

As for agriculture, since the Government announced its plans to nationalise
most of the commercial farms, Zimbabwe has slipped from being a dependable
exporter of surplus staple foods to dependence on charity.

Other economic performance measures are equally disturbing. Inflation
increased from 15.8 per cent in January 1997 to 116.7 per cent in January
2002, wiping out 90 per cent of the buying power of the local currency.

In denial over its disastrous stewardship, the Government has imposed a
fixed Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate that has no arithmetic validity. The
rate at Z$55 to one US dollar (70p) has been held since October 2000,
despite inflation accumulating to 136 per cent over that period.

Many exporters watched costs more than double while revenues stayed the same
and had to reduce operations or close. The loss of their earnings, plus the
withdrawal of credit and the dissipation of reserves, caused such foreign
exchange scarcity that on the black market more than Z$300 are now needed to
buy one US dollar.

Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product has dropped from US$8.4 billion in 1997 to
about US$5 billion in 2001, a fall of around 40 per cent.

But whether the ruling party retains power, or the first credible opposition
party to survive in the past 20 years captures power, the economy will have
to be rescued.

The already immense challenge became much bigger in the first two months of
this year because the rains stopped in January. Most of the already
inadequate food crops have since been wiped out by the drought. Zimbabwe has
also lost significant volumes of export crops that might have helped to pay
for the food it has failed to grow.

Zimbabweans are poorer than at any time in the past 50 years and more
oppressed than at any time since the days of tribal warfare before the
country was colonised in 1890.

Zimbabwe has never confronted a more dreadful situation and the country has
never felt a more desperate need of friends. Daunting challenges will face
whichever candidate wins the presidential race, but the presence or absence
of friends will mean that the two principal contenders will face different
prospects of success.

Without friends, Zimbabwe can expect no direct assistance in the form of aid
or concessional loans, no inflows of new investment, no respite in its
foreign exchange shortage and no relief from lower inflation. It will not
enjoy any easing of the food and commodity shortages and will see none of
the desperately needed improvements in health, education and welfare

As it watches tax revenues dwindle, the Government will be forced to resort
to printing money to maintain the increasingly important police and army.
Inflation of more than 1,000 per cent and an exchange rate of more than
Z$1,000 to US$1 would be merely a matter of time.

After a change of management, much more promising prospects could emerge
quickly. Medium to long-term foreign loans to settle the Government’s
domestic debt could release Z$250 billion to institutional, corporate and
individual savers to fund the economy’s recovery. By paying off this debt,
tax revenues could be directed into restoring the social services.

Investment inflows would be more easily encouraged and the adoption of
supportive policy choices would combine with domestic and foreign investment
to generate more jobs, more goods, more exports and more tax revenues.
Reduced spending on the police and army would permit reductions in tax
rates, while increased stability would encourage higher tourist inflows as
well as falls in inflation.

With the help of friends, the Zimbabwe economy could be quickly pulled off
the rocks and refloated. The country’s challenge is to become deserving of
that help.

Mr Robertson is an independent economist with Robertson Economic Information

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The Times

Mugabe's law bans votes for opposition
From Jan Raath in Harare

ZIMBABWE’S opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civic groups
have launched a last-minute bid to stop what they say is a full-scale
attempt by President Mugabe’s regime to “steal” presidential elections this
At the same time, Mr Mugabe issued an edict yesterday to reinstate laws that
will simplify vote-rigging by authorities and restrict scrutiny by monitors
of the voting and counting procedures.

The law was struck down by a court last week because it had been bulldozed
illegally through Parliament.

Another court ruling, to stop authorities from stripping non-citizens of the
vote, was also overthrown by the edict.

“It is a disgrace,” advocate Adrian de Bourbon, the head of the Zimbabwe Bar
Association, said. “It overrules the Supreme Court. The President is one of
the candidates and he is changing the rules. It is breaking the law.”

David Coltart, the MDC legal director, said: “The aim is to rig the poll, it
’s as simple as that.”

Amid new signs of a strong surge of support for Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC
leader, particularly as food shortages bite, a barrage of confusing new
electoral regulations has been rushed through by the Government.

“The process is opaque,” Michael Davies, a civic leader, said. “It exposes
how corrupt and venal the RegistrarGeneral’s office is. They have no
intention of facilitating the democratic process, but only of undermining

Diplomats say that Mr Mugabe is effecting a strategy to prevent a high
turnout of voters in areas where Mr Tsvangirai is heavily supported,
particularly in cities and towns. It is also targeting specific groups
likely to support Mr Tsvangirai, such as whites and refugees, by denying
them their right to vote.

Authorities are refusing to issue a copy of the voters’ roll, while
continuing to register new voters in strongholds of the ruling Zanu (PF)
party, according to opposition officials.

Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar-General, ordered voter registration to close
in October. “The reports came in that they were still registering people,”
Mr Coltart said. “Suddenly we see there is a proclamation last week that
voter registration had been extended to March 3. Of course they are
registering Zanu (PF). It’s been going on in the northeast of the country
(the ruling party’s heartland). No one is being registered in the south.”

Soldiers and police all over the country are being ordered to vote by postal
ballots, even though most of them are serving in areas where they are
registered to vote, he said.

“We have affidavits from officers that each police station in the country
has been given a list of all police officers on the voters’ roll,” Mr
Coltart said. “They are being called in and told to apply for a postal
ballot and they then have to vote in the presence of their commanding
officer, without any secrecy. It’s exactly the same in the army.”

An appeal against these moves was made in the Supreme Court yesterday. The
action was also attempting to block the office of the Registrar-General from
effecting a radical redistribution of polling stations that will heavily
favour Mr Mugabe.

The number of polling stations in urban areas, where Mr Tsvangirai draws
most of his support, have been drastically reduced to the point where they
will be incapable of handling a heavy turnout. The number of rural polling
stations have been increased.

Mr Mudede said on state television last week that the new distribution
provided 40-50 polling stations in each constituency. Yet in the Harare
constituency of Hatfield, there are only four. The most any constituency in
the capital has is 13.

“In many instances its going to be physically impossible to process voting
for the people who turn up,” said Bev Clark, head of a charity that has been
lobbying for voters’ rights.

There is also evidence of widespread removal of likely MDC voters from the
roll. Last month an MDC council candidate collected the signatures of ten
supporters, needed to endorse his nomination. All of them had previously
checked their names were on the voters’ roll. When the list was handed in,
the names of all ten had been removed from the Registrar-General’s copy of
the new, and unpublished, voters’ roll.
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Mugabe tightens laws, heads east for poll campaign

HARARE, March 5 — Robert Mugabe, fresh from overriding his Supreme Court in
what critics called his latest move to retain power, heads to east Zimbabwe
on Wednesday as campaigning for a bitter presidential election nears an end.
       Followers of challenger Morgan Tsvangirai said on Tuesday Mugabe
could only win this weekend's poll by stealing it -- and vowed to fight on
through the courts if that happened.
       The vote on Saturday and Sunday is set to be Zimbabwe's closest and
has exposed the deep political and economic crisis gripping the southern
African state that Mugabe has led since independence from Britain in 1980.
       Mugabe, 78, has vowed to win the poll, accusing his opponents of
being stooges of the former colonial power and a vehicle for a return to
white rule.
       He used presidential powers on Tuesday to reinstate election rules
which the Supreme Court declared illegal last week and which critics say
favour his re-election bid.
       The controversial General Laws Amendments Act gives state-appointed
election officers powers to bar independent vote monitors, to introduce
strict identity requirements for voters and ban private organisations from
voter education.
       ''This is a clear demonstration that Mugabe is determined to hang on
to power by all means, but mostly foul,'' said political analyst Masipula
       Zimbabwe's Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), whose members are
Mugabe appointees, is expected to brief observers and the media on Wednesday
on just how the vote will be run.
       The role of independent observers has turned into a key issue, with
some foreign countries complaining of restrictions.

       A 23-strong South Africa non-governmental observer team was refused
accreditation on Tuesday and told to leave the country.
       The European Union last month pulled out its observer team after
Harare refused to accredit its leader. The EU and the United States imposed
selective sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle in protest.
       The U.S. State Department this week blasted the government for recent
human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and security-force
involvement in acts of political violence.
       Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday the poll was
already seriously flawed but urged Zimbabweans to vote.
       His pro-democracy Carter Center said it was ''deeply concerned about
continued reports of political violence, internal displacement of the
population, the activities of armed militias unchecked by the government and
police action that have violated basic political rights and freedoms.''
       Law and order bills pushed through parliament by the ruling ZANU-PF
party had prevented free campaigning, the Center said.
       The MDC, which is hoping to turn public anger over a crumbling
economy and severe food shortages into victory at the polls, accuses ZANU-PF
of using a militia disguised as a youth training service to terrorise the
       Mugabe and his party have denied orchestrating a campaign of
intimidation and rejected allegations that it is trying to fix the polls,
and blamed pre-election violence on the MDC.
       Some 5.6 million Zimbabweans will go to the polls at a time of severe
food shortages caused by drought and the state-sanctioned invasions of
white-owned farms which have slashed maize output.
       The United Nations has warned half a million Zimbabweans face food
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