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

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 If you look at the instructions below there is a catch.   Once you have checked the ward roll (local government) you then dip your hand in the Fraud Ink. If you are not careful, this is done before you check your constituency roll (Presidential).
In other words if you now find you are not on the constituency roll you have already dipped your hand in the ink and can no longer vote for President.

It is vital to insist on voting for the President first. Before the mayor.

All the Constituencies are different from the Wards and there is going to be confusion.

You are not going to see the Constituency roll before dipping your hand.

You have a choice - so rather vote for the President rather than Mayor.......

Tripartite Elections in Harare
(Presidential, Mayoral, Council Elections)

Vote in Your Ward

In Harare, there will be three ballot papers.
This is how the voting procedure will take place:
You will enter the polling station, and they will check your hands to ensure you have not already voted.
They will check your name on the Ward Voters' Roll.
You will dip your hands in the fraud ink.
You will collect one ballot paper for the mayoral vote, and one for the councillor vote.
They will check your name on the Constituency Voters' Roll.
You will collect your Presidential ballot paper.
Proceed to the polling booths, and vote according to your wishes - your vote is secret.
Place your ballot papers in the correct ballot boxes - Presidential paper in the Presidential box, Mayoral paper in the Mayoral box, and Council paper in the Council box.
This is how the polling station will be laid out.

Police Fraud Ward Fraud Mayor/ Constituency Presidential
 check Roll Ink Councillors Ballot Roll Ballot Paper (1)
    Papers (2)


 Assistant  Presiding Officer Polling Booths
 Presiding Officer
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Rough ride ahead for Zimbabwe

               The following essay is by Eddie Cross, secretary for economic affairs in Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change. It reflects her views as an individual and not necessarily the MDC's position.
     BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — Pundits say that we have the best white-water rafting conditions in the world at the Victoria Falls and into the Devil's Gorge on the Zambezi River. I have done the run, with a white-water rafting guide from the Colorado River in the U.S., and she thought it was the best in the world. She was a geologist who did nothing else but guide people through the white-water experience all over the world.
     If you have not done it, it's a wonderful and exhilarating experience. The river is huge, a mile wide at the falls, which plunges 1,000 feet into the pools below and then runs through gorges that at times are less than 165 feet across.
     Here the water is deep and fast, and the existence of huge boulders in the riverbed creates conditions like you have never seen. Some of the rougher areas are best traversed by foot along the water's edge. It's just too dangerous for most mortals. When I rafted, I was thrown out a couple of times and received a huge bruise across my torso and face from an encounter with an oar. I also saw the odd crocodile but [had] no encounters of that kind while in the water. It was stimulating, fast and unforgettable, and at the end, the ride was too short. Climbing out of the gorges was the worst part.
     The present political campaign in Zimbabwe is much the same sort of experience. It's fast, exhilarating, dangerous and a never-to-be-forgotten experience. The water rushes on, unscathed by boulders and deep drops, and emerges at the end unaffected.
     So it is going to be here with the vote.
     The voters are running the gantlet of ZANU-PF (President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Force) obstacles and violence, but will emerge intact. And when they vote it will change everything. Suddenly we will be out in open country again, into silent pools and the sunshine, out of the darkness of the gorges.
     Climbing out of the hole we are in is going to be the tough part — one where we will need help. In the gorges, nobody can really help except those in the water with us.
     We are all in different rubber dinghies for this trip — one for the lawyers, another for the actual politicians, another for the economists.
     I sit in the latter, with as fine a team of economists [as] have been assembled anywhere. David Coltart — who leads the lawyers' raft — and I agreed that we are having such fun, it's almost a sin to be enjoying the ride so much. Sure it's rough and dangerous, and the risks are great — even life-threatening at times.
     In Dave's raft are some of the best legal minds in the country: Adrian de Bourbon, Brian Elliott, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and ream of others — all of whom are working for a quarter of what they would charge otherwise or, in Dave's case, working for free. The lawyers are engaged in their own struggle within this campaign — and what a fight they are putting up. The electoral act is bombarded every day. We have the registrar general on the ropes and even threatened with jail for contempt of court. Edison Zvobgo, not a member of the team but a helpful bystander, single-handedly ran roughshod over the Media Bill [in January], damaging egos all over the place.
     The fight in the courts is for justice and for the basic rights — daily struggles in the courts, bail hearings and worse. We can be justly proud of our legal profession, and at the end of this all we will have something even better: a country that appreciates the value of the rule of law and the need to protect, with our lives if required, our basic human rights. Never again will we take lightly the principles of equality before the law, the rights to freedom of speech and association.
     In the political raft are collections of former trade unionists who have worked and struggled together for the past 20 years. Led by [MDC leader] Morgan [Tsvangirai], their work is dangerous, and the water is as rough as it gets anywhere in the world.
     They hold onto each other, support each other and laugh a lot. That's important — prayer and laughter whilst we are in the struggle. What do they face? Gunfire from the sides of the river, impediments in the form of the draconian new media and security legislation, arbitrary arrests, the prospect of one's homes being burned down and a [state-owned] media that screams abuse at every turn.
     If they fall into the water and struggle to the shore, people there simply push them back into the river with the injunction that they must find their own way out. When this raft gets to the end of the gorge, they will know they have been in a fight. Bruised but exhilarated, we will have a sense of loss for the casualties and grief for their families, but an understanding that it was all in the pursuit of a better life. This will be one crew of political leaders who will know what is important and what is irrelevant, what works and what does not work, what to do and what to stop doing.
     In my raft, our main concern has been to plot the gorge ahead and warn the other rafts of what lies ahead: joblessness, hunger, lower life expectancies, corrupt practices and the failure of current strategies.
     Our other job is to prepare the way out of the gorge. We know the crews will be exhausted when we get there. They will need a clear route to the top. They will need to know what has to be done and by whom.
     I can tell you, there has never been in Africa a political movement or party that has been as well prepared as the MDC is to take power and climb out of this gorge we are in. It's deep and hot and dry, but there are lots of people who will help, and they need to know what sort of help we will need.
     In the media raft, there are some really fine people with excellent minds: Trevor Ncube at the Independent, Geoff Nyarota at the Daily News, Mdlongwa at the Gazette. To this list we must now add Georgina Godwin and the blond bombshell, Jerry Jackson at SW Radio Africa in London, not to mention the Voice of the People out of Holland.
     Then there are the dozens of journalists who defy the odds every day to tell the truth and to cover the expedition. We respect these guys very much, and will never again take lightly the issue of the freedom of the press and the right to impartial information as a foundation stone of democracy.
     The raft that attracts a lot of attention and has more than its share of characters is the farmers' raft — full of guys who know the water well and wear strange things like veldskoens without socks and floppy hats on brown heads. They are deeply bruised and have taken some tragic casualties but exhibit great determination and courage at every bend. There is Roy Bennett in full sail, bellowing orders in fluent Shona.
     Their raft is full of tough guys. Not able to farm at present, they have thrown themselves into the challenge of the white water in the hope that there will be some sort of future for them.
     When we get out of the gorge, hopefully, we will then be able to stand on our own 2 feet again and perhaps help others who are in the river or on their own way out, just as we have been for the past two years.

* Distributed by Associated Press

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'War veterans' do dirty work for Mugabe
By Dina Kraft

     JOHANNESBURG — 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 to crush Mr. Mugabe's political opponents before this 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 are said to have killed, kidnapped, tortured or simply beaten those seen as Mr. Mugabe's opponents.
     Few militants have been arrested. Fewer still 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 [Mr. 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 granted 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 Mr. Mhanda, director of the Zimbabwe Liberation Platform, a group of war veterans that lobbies for fair 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 Mr. Chinotimba, who accused the MDC and its presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, of being behind the political violence sweeping the country.
     However, Mr. Chinotimba himself has led violent raids on farms, and he has been charged with the murder of a female neighbor he accused of supporting the opposition. He was also 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 unconstitutional laws aimed at strengthening Mr. Mugabe's hold on power, and threatened him.
     Justice Gubbay, who had been appointed by Mr. Mugabe, resigned after the government said it would not protect him.
     Mr. Chinotimba calls Justice Gubbay "an agent of Ian Smith" — the defiant leader of the minority white government in the nation then called Rhodesia (1965-1980).
     But it was Mr. Mugabe who appointed Mr. Gubbay chief justice.
     Mr. Mugabe rewarded Mr. 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, Mr. Mugabe's ministers and loyalists like Mr. Chinotimba.
     Five years ago, after their pension fund was drained by corrupt officials, war veterans took to the streets to demand Mr. 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 Mr. 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 organizations say nearly all the dead have been black opposition supporters.
     Foreign governments have pressed Mr. 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," Mr. Mhanda said.
     Most of the militants hope that, like Mr. Chinotimba, they will be rewarded for their loyalty.
     Mr. 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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New Zealand Herald
Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change show the open-handed party sign. Picture / Reuters

Poll triggers treason threat


HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe warned yesterday that he would pursue his challenger once the voting in the presidential election was over.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been accused of treason over a secretly recorded video purporting to show him discussing Mugabe's assassination with Canadian consultants who were actually working for Mugabe.

"No murderer will go unpunished.

"Nobody we know to have planned such deeds will escape," said Mugabe, promising post-election retribution against those he said had committed crimes against Zimbabwe, though he mentioned no names.

"We'll see this issue to its conclusions once this [election] is out of the way," he said at a rally.

Zimbabweans vote this weekend after the most bitter and closely fought campaign in 22 years of independence under Mugabe.

A private Zimbabwean newspaper reported yesterday that the Army had been placed on high alert, soldiers recalled from leave and those who live outside military barracks ordered to stay home, ready to deal with possible trouble after the elections.

The weekly Financial Gazette also said the Government had withdrawn some troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to beef up security and repeated remarks made by one of Mugabe's senior officials early this week that the Zanu-PF party would support a military coup if Mugabe lost power.

In his address to the rally, Mugabe accused Tsvangirai, the head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), of being a stooge of Britain and the country's white minority, which waged a bush war to hold on to power in the 1970s.

"You suffered for this country while the Tsvangirais fled the war ... Now he is licking the white man's boots," Mugabe said.

The leader of the Zanu-PF party said local whites and Britain were eager to get rid of all former liberation movements in Africa.

"If Zanu-PF is removed from power now, they will proceed to Frelimo, to the ANC and then to Swapo," Mugabe said, referring to the guerrilla movements turned ruling parties of neighbouring Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia.

Tsvangirai's party and foreign critics, led by Britain and the United States, accuse Mugabe, 78, of trying to rig the vote.

At a briefing for foreign election observers and the media yesterday, the official Electoral Supervisory Commission gave out scant information.

It would not say how many ballot papers had been printed, give the exact location of the 4548 polling stations or say when voter lists would be made public.

Nor could commission chairman Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, a retired Army colonel, say why only 23 local observers had been accredited out of 12,000 nominees.

"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.

Tsvangirai's party has vowed to mount a legal challenge to election rules reimposed by Mugabe this week in defiance of his own Supreme Court.

The MDC, hoping to turn public anger over a crumbling economy and severe food shortages into victory, accuses Zanu-PF of using a militia disguised as a youth training service to terrorise 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 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.

State-controlled television is focusing on Mugabe.

According to news bulletins at his "biggest rallies" so far, he told the masses, who were not shown on screen, that land reform must be taken to its conclusion for the sake of the thousands who sacrificed their lives to shed "the shackles of imperialism".

Next up on bulletin was good news for seven families near Masvingo in the south, to whom the Zanu-PF Government has "given" a commercial farm. The headman was profusely thankful.

There was also a report of accelerated state maize delivery to starving Manicaland peasants, and one on Government donations to the disabled and disadvantaged women traders.

Between programmes, happy people dance amid fields of lush maize - but they look nothing like those next to the roads of a country suffering drought, the destruction of farming and a growing food crisis.

But just as the state-controlled media gives favourable coverage to the ruling party, the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe reports, private newspapers and Shortwave Radio Africa support the MDC.

Such is the polarisation of the media in Zimbabwe that it is hard to believe they are covering the same country.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Zimbabwe's poll station sites a well kept secret

By Ed O'Loughlin, Herald Correspondent in Harare and agencies

With only two days to go until a bitterly contested presidential poll
Zimbabwe's government-appointed electoral commission was still declining to
provide the opposition and independent monitors with basic information on
the ballot.

The evasion came amid mounting accusations that President Robert Mugabe is
preparing to rig the poll after a campaign that human rights groups say has
already been marked by widespread violence and intimidation.
At a special forum for independent and foreign poll monitors on Wednesday
the head of the electoral supervisory commission said he did not know the
locations of the 4548 polling stations.

Sobuza Gala-Ndebele, a military officer described variously as retired or on
leave, told the monitors that he did not know how many ballot papers had
been printed and could not say when the voter's roll would be made available
to the public,or to the opposition and the monitors.

Nor did he know why the commission had only accredited 23 local independent
monitors when 12000 people had applied.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is the main contender for the presidency, has said the ruling
party is trying to manipulate the election to protect the increasingly
unpopular Mr Mugabe.

Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF won a 20,000 majority in parliamentary elections
in June 2000 that rights groups and EU monitors said were also marredby
widespread governmentintimidation.

Since then Zimbabwe's economic decline has accelerated and the country is
now suffering from severe food shortages. While ZANU-PF is predicting
another six-year term for the ruler of 22 years, many of Mr Mugabe's critics
say he would have little chance of winning a free election.

In Washington, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, drew a harsh
contrast between Mr Mugabe and other African leaders who had left office
voluntarily when their terms expired or they lost elections.

"Mr Mugabe is an anachronism in the way he's going about the running of his
country," he told members of Congress on Wednesday.

On Tuesday Mr Mugabe used his powers of decree to reintroduce voting laws
that had been struck down by the Supreme Court a week before.

Independent democracy groups say that the new law will ban independent
monitors and disenfranchise the great majority of the country's 70,000
whites, as well as many black Zimbabweans with foreign ancestors. There are
over 5.5 million Zimbabweans of voting age.

On the campaign trail, meanwhile, Mr Mugabe has hinted that if he is
re-elected he will pursue treason charges against Mr Tsvangirai. The MDC
leader has already been arrested and, his lawyers say, charged over his
alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Mr Mugabe.

Footage first aired in Australia on SBS and Mr Mugabe's own state media
purported to show Mr Tsvangirai discussing the "elimination" of the
President with a Canadian consultancy firm which, it later emerged, was
employed by Zimbabwean intelligence.

At a campaign rally in the eastern city of Mutare Mr Mugabe said that after
his re-election "no murderer will go unpunished; no-one we know to have
planned such deeds will escape".

On the same day a planned MDC rally in Bulawayo was called off after it was
banned by police. The MDC says that authorities have banned more than 80 of
its rallies on public order grounds, while no government rally has been

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Mugabe rails against his opponent and Britain in last day of campaigning


CHINHOYI, Zimbabwe, March 7 — President Robert Mugabe belittled his opponent
Thursday and promised new government aid to his impoverished people in one
of his final campaign appearances before weekend elections.

       The elections Saturday and Sunday are the most competitive since
Mugabe led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980. His popularity has crashed amid
economic chaos and political violence mainly blamed on the ruling party.
       Mugabe's opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, said he would win the vote
despite what his party says is a government campaign against it, and he
promised to work to heal the southern African nation's divisions.
       Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
said Thursday he would be willing to consider forming a government of
national unity with the ruling party if he won the election.
       ''In the interest of fostering national healing and taking the
country forward, the MDC will keep on open mind on the issue,'' he told
       Mugabe said the government would reopen the hundreds of businesses
closed during the country's economic crisis and give them to the workers.
       ''We will take them over if the owners don't want to open them up,''
he told a rally of about 10,000 people in the town of Chinhoyi, 75 miles
north of Harare. ''We have the money to run them.''
       He also promised to build a dam in every district to provide farmers
with water during droughts, a pledge he has made in previous elections.
       Fears that the vote would be rigged were high. Opposition party
officials said the voter rolls are badly tainted. More than 80 percent of
the people who had died in the last two years remained on the rolls in some
areas. In other places more than a third of the people who voted in the last
election have been dropped from the rolls.
       Bases of ruling party militias are located next to polling places in
some of the districts, officials said. On Wednesday, the government denied
accreditation to most local independent poll observers.
       The MDC has accused the government of waging a campaign of violence
against opposition voters and of using new security laws to hinder the
opposition campaign. Party officials said in the last few days 22 MDC
polling agents had been abducted by ruling party militia.
       Under the new laws, police at first forced the MDC to cancel its news
conference Thursday, saying it was an illegal gathering. The MDC later moved
it from a downtown hotel to party headquarters.
       Tsvangirai said his party would win despite the difficulties and his
government would then tackle lawlessness and the country's economic decline
and would work to give land to poor people.
       ''The people are now crying for peace and national healing,'' said
       At the rally in Chinhoyi, Mugabe painted Tsvangirai as a slave to the
interests of Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler and a frequent target
for the president's barbs.
       ''How can a true son of Zimbabwe offer himself as a stooge (to
Britain) to be manipulated against himself, against his people,'' said
Mugabe, who wore a yellow cap and shirt with his face printed on them.
       He promised to push forward with his controversial program of seizing
white-owned farmland despite Western opposition, calling it the ''last phase
of the struggle for liberation.''
       While Mugabe spoke, scores of people quietly got up to catch buses
home, despite pleas for them to stay until the end of his speech.
       The MDC filed court papers Thursday challenging a presidential decree
that overturned a Supreme Court ruling invalidating a controversial election
       Param Cumaraswamy, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on the Independence
of Judges and Lawyers, denounced the decree in a statement issued in Geneva
on Thursday, saying developments indicated the government had ''no regard
whatsoever for the independence of the judiciary.''
       Zimbabwe has been wracked 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.
       Mugabe, 78, is fighting for political survival. He has imposed curbs
on journalists and opposition parties and many of his critics have been
attacked and threatened with prosecution.
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They signed a code two days before the election, agreeing to campaign

HARARE, March 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and National Alliance for
Good Governance (NAGG) signed an election code of conduct on
Thursday aimed at holding free and fair elections this weekend.
   Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minster Patrick
Chinamasa signed the code on behalf of ZANU-PF, while NAGG was
represented by national coordinator Iloyd Douglas Chihambakwe.
   The code, drafted by the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC),
was signed in the presence of the commission's chairman Sobhuza
Gula-Ndebele and other senior officials.
   Gula-Ndebele told journalists that the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) was yet to sign as it had failed to
attend the ceremony due to other business commitments.
   He said the code had made a provision for other political
parties which would be interested in being part of it in future.
   "The code will regulate political parties on how to conduct
themselves during campaiging, polling and post-election period,"
the chairman said.
   "We hope by doing this we are now starting to cultivate a
culture of tolerance among political parties," he added.
   Chinamasa said ZANU-PF was committed to implementing the
provisions of the code.
   "This is not a ZANU-PF document but for the whole nation since
it is the first time we have come up with this issue of the code
of conduct," he said.
   Chinamasa said he was prepared to promulgate the code in terms
of the Electoral Act and to regulate for the establishment of a
multi-party liaison committee which might address and resolve
disputes as required by the code.
   The minister said he had tasked the ESC to further consult
labor experts on the legal implications of the code and seek ways
of how it could best be implemented.
   According to the code, the parties would be expected to accept
the result of an election or challenge the result through the law
   The High Court shall have jurisdiction in respect of breaches
of the code of conduct and any political party which contravenes
the provisions of the code shall be guilty of an offence.
   The ESC shall, at the request of political parties, establish a
panel of mediators who may assist in the resolution of electoral
disputes while the commission or a member from the panel may
mediate in the disputes.
   According to the police, 14 people have so far been killed in
politically motivated violence countrywide since the beginning of
this year.  Enditem
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Independent (UK)

Troops rolled out as Zimbabweans prepare for poll
By Karen McGregor in Harare
08 March 2002
In a show of the military force supporting President Robert Mugabe,
Zimbabwe's army began deploying countrywide yesterday, two days before the
most fiercely fought presidential contest in the country's history.

Organisation for the elections is shambolic. Zimbabwe's 5.6 million voters
have yet to learn when the 4,500 polling stations will be open or even where
they are, and the electoral roll has not been made public. The Electoral
Supervisory Commission has not said how many ballot papers have been

At his final pre-election press conference yesterday, the opposition
contender, Morgan Tsvangirai – accused by the government of plotting to
assassinate Mr Mugabe – said the electoral process in Zimbabwe had been
"blatantly and outrageously distorted in favour of the ruling party".

Accusing Mr Mugabe of using "state terrorism" to steal the election, he
claimed that in the past few days members of a ruling party youth militia
known locally as the "Talibobs" had abducted 22 opposition polling agents.

Mr Tsvangirai said: "The violence we have experienced in this country is
state terrorism against its own citizens. [Mr Mugabe] is using state
agencies, state institutions that have been built specifically to terrorise
the population."

But he said he would still defeat Mr Mugabe. "As we come to the final moment
of what has been a very long and difficult journey towards democratic change
in Zimbabwe, I wish to send a loud and clear message – the people's victory
at the weekend poll is now certain."

Meanwhile, the independent media in Zimbabwe reported yesterday that the
government had placed its armed forces, which number more than 70,000, on
high alert and cancelled all leave in anticipation of instability after the
elections. It has also reportedly withdrawn some troops from the Democratic
Republic of Congo, where they are helping the country's government fight a
civil war.

Michael Quintana, editor of the Harare-based online African Defence Journal,
told The Independent that around two-thirds of the army appeared to have
been deployed. He said: "This is unprecedented. They're being spread around
like pieces on a chess board."

Even the army's mechanised battalion – its most heavily armoured force, with
more than 3,000 troops plus tanks, armoured vehicles and mobile rocket
units – was observed leaving its barracks yesterday morning, he added.

"From my observations, the army and airforce have been rearming ahead of the
election, conducting war games, and starting on Thursday, they started
countrywide deployment of up to two-thirds of their forces. There have been
reports of troops receiving special training in the south-eastern highlands,
where tear gas canisters were being dropped from the air and soldiers were
given lessons in crowd control."

Fears of a military coup in the event of an opposition victory have been
high since senior military officers said they would not stand by and see the
ruling party defeated.

On Tuesday, a senior figure in the ruling Zanu-PF and a close associate of
Mr Mugabe, Didymus Mutasa, said on South African television that there would
be mayhem in the entire southern Africa region if Zimbabweans voted Mr
Tsvangirai into power. He said: "Under these circumstances, if there were to
be a coup, we would support it very definitely."

Brian Raftopoulos, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, told the
Financial Gazette that there was a real chance the country could slide into
chaos. "Whoever wins, there is going to be problems after this election. It
is going to be very dangerous," he said.

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Politics skews race relations

Harare - Relations between Zimbabwe's majority blacks and its shrinking
white minority have soured since early 2000 when the government of President
Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms and settling them with
landless blacks.

Race relations had been surprisingly good considering that two decades after
independence whites, making up less than one percent of the population,
still hogged 70% of the prime farmland in the former Rhodesia, despite early
efforts to correct the inequities.

But in February 2000, Mugabe was stung by the failure of a constitutional
referendum that would have allowed him to seek two more terms, as well as
measures enabling the seizure of white farmland without paying compensation
to the owners.

Race card

With elections looming in June, Mugabe played the race card.

Promising to take back the land from the "Rhodesians" - the word he uses for
whites - Mugabe actively encouraged his supporters to invade the farms.

Though many of the invaders were too young to have fought in the 1970s
guerrilla war, they were referred to as war veterans, and their colourful
leader Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, who has since died, added his
revolutionary rhetoric to the cause.

At the same time Mugabe painted the fledgling opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), set up by former labour leader Morgan Tsvangirai in
September 1999, as a front for white Zimbabweans.

Blacks attracted to the MDC's pledges to rescue a failing economy and rid
the country of corruption soon became targeted in politically motivated

While seven white farmers died in the land seizures, scores of black
supporters of the MDC have been killed in a violent intimidation programme
that has continued through to this year's presidential campaign.

The MDC says 107 supporters have been killed since 2000.

Whites the scapegoats

A white opposition MP, David Coltart, said: "Racial tensions were largely
created by Mugabe, who uses whites as scapegoats. White and black
Zimbabweans are unified in their desire for change."

A black businessman who requested anonymity said racism had nothing to do
with the current situation: "Gerontocracy, kleptocracy, autocracy is what
it's all about."

In the presidential vote, which is playing out under intense international
scrutiny, the 78-year-old Mugabe's 22-year grip on power is at stake in the
face of Tsvangirai's inexorable rise to prominence.

The former guerrilla leader's rhetoric is bellicose and laden with racial
and colonial allusions.

The battle for Mugabe's re-election for another six years is the "third
chimurenga," or uprising, the first having been in the 1890s against early
European settlers, and the second, the 1970s liberation war. Mugabe refers
to Tsvangirai as Prime Minister Tony Blair's "boy" and accuses Britain of
trying to recolonise Zimbabwe through the MDC, whose leadership is mainly
black but includes four white members of parliament.

The racial dimension was inescapable at last week's Commonwealth summit,
when the leaders of Britain and its former colonies agonised over a response
to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

'Pink nose'

Blair, by leading a drive to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, was
sticking his "pink nose" into internal affairs, Mugabe said at campaign
rallies, his anti-British exhortations drawing the loudest cheers.

At the Commonwealth summit, the 54-member body split along black-white lines
as African leaders rallied around Zimbabwe against Britain and its allies,
the other "white" members, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Campaigning last Saturday, Mugabe said he regretted accommodating the whites
who wanted to remain in the new Zimbabwe following the liberation war that
ended Ian Smith's white racist regime after some 27 000 people died.

The new black prime minister allowed them to retain a good deal of economic
power in exchange for forgoing a political role.

"We came with reconciliation. We said to Smith, as long as you stay under
our rule and respect us, stay in Zimbabwe. ... Deep down I say it was a
mistake," he said.

In the event, the violence, as well as the severe economic downturn, have
persuaded thousands of whites to leave the country, and the white community
is now estimated at 40 000, with some 25 000 people of mixed race in an
overall population of 12 million.

Even among that paltry number in an electorate of 5.6 million, thousands are
thought to have been stripped from the voters' roll because they retain the
right to a foreign nationality or in fact have a second passport.

The legal manoeuvring that achieved this disenfranchisement occurred last
month, too late for court challenges. - Sapa-AFP
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Torture rife on eve of poll

Harare - A young Zimbabwean opposition supporter, showing deep wounds on his
wrists and lashings on his back, has said he was tortured for 17 days by
supporters of President Robert Mugabe until he managed to escape.

Like hundreds of other Zimbabweans who say they have been tortured as the
country prepares to hold a hotly contested presidential election at the
weekend, this victim will not give his name.

He said he was abducted near Goromonzi, 65km east of Harare on February 14
and taken to a "torture base" by about 20 youths belonging to Mugabe's
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

His abductors "woke me up in the middle of the night ... (ten) force-marched
me to their base", said the man, a supporter of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

At night "young people from the camp kept drinking and used to become more
and more violent", recounted the man, staring out of bloodshot eyes.

"They forced me to lie down on my stomach and used to hit me with sticks,
iron bars or with boots, telling me to sing MDC slogans. I often lost
consciousness," he added.

Electric charges

Bound at the wrists with barbed wire, the man said he was regularly beaten
until he managed to escape on Sunday when, emaciated from lack of food, he
walked to Harare, where he took refuge at MDC offices.

Mugabe will be fighting for his political survival when he takes on former
union leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the election this weekend.

Political violence has claimed 31 lives since January 1, including 18 MDC
supporters, five Zanu-PF supporters, one liberation war veteran and seven of
unknown political affiliation, according to the human rights umbrella
organisation Zimrights.

The group, which includes the local sections of Amnesty International and
Transparency International, has recorded 366 cases of torture in the period.

"In most cases, victims are abducted to bases where they are tortured and
then released," Zimrights said in its latest report.

The group said "internationally recognised methods of torture" were used
including electric charges, beating the soles of the feet, the ears, the
shinbones and the genitals.

The perpetrators are "militias" made up mostly of young ruling party
supporters trained by members of the intelligence services at about 100
camps across the country, Zimrights said.


Torturers also torch their victims, the report said, citing the case of "SG"
who says he was attacked on February 27 and burned with a flaming torch on
the chest, face and arms.

Zimbabwe police say 16 people have been killed in political violence, and
spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena says "isolated cases of torture" have been
reported "from both sides".

Ruling party supporters, especially liberation war veterans, were accused of
carrying out a systematic torture campaign ahead of legislative elections in

In May 2001, the Danish-based International Rehabilitation Council for
Torture Victims carried out a fact-finding mission in Zimbabwe and reported
widespread psychological and physical torture perpetrated by security
forces, including routine beatings.

Mugabe's government has repeatedly denied the allegations, dismissing the
report as the work of "quacks".

Some cases, however, seem flagrant. On February 25, for example, six youths
were slashed with knives in the farming town of Marondera east of here, the
pro-opposition Daily News reported. The paper ran a front-page photograph of
a young man's back with the initials MDC crudely engraved on it. - Sapa-AFP
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The Times

Knitting for votes
by Jan Raath

A widowed mother-of-three is leading an urban stealth campaign to prise
votes from President Mugabe in this weekend's elections

The most important item in Lucia Matibenga’s rally gear is a plastic
construction worker’s helmet. She started wearing it after her head was
gashed by a machete wielded by a Zanu (PF) war veteran while she was
campaigning in a by-election in December 2000. She shows me the 3in scar.
“It was seven stitches,” she says.
The helmet is one of many hard lessons the head of women’s affairs in the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has had to learn since she took to
politics with the party’s founding in September 1999.

The presence of President Mugabe’s violent youth militia — whose green
uniforms have earned them the nickname of “green bombers” after a species of
persistent, large dung fly — has led to an unconventional campaign by the
MDC’s women for this weekend’s presidential election in Zimbabwe. “It’s
ending the cultural order if a young person of 14 can raise his hand to slap
an older woman in the face,” she says of these gangs.

In urban areas, the “chatter-chatter” campaign, which Matibenga is
spearheading, has boomed. Women, armed with knitting needles and wool, move
in pairs to collect small groups around them and knit and crochet while they
secretly distribute pamphlets and talk about democracy and voting.

Another urban tactic is to pose as roadside vegetable-sellers. “People
always talk to these ladies, and the talk is always about how hard life is
now, and what to do about it. When the people go off they’ve got a flier in
their hands, which they can read on their own.” In rural areas women often
move at night, placing pamphlets in villagers’ gardens where the women will
be the first to find them. “Whenever a situation gets hard, people will work
out an alternative,” she says.

“Mai (mother) Mati”, as she is known, exudes earth-motherliness. Short,
chubby, comfy, she smiles big and engages easily. My heart went out to the
48-year-old widowed mother of three when I heard her introduce herself to a
crowd last month as “national chairperson of mummy, daddy and all the

Matibenga has managed to remain compassionate, despite armed war veterans
smashing their way into the home of her daughter, a schoolteacher. “They
wanted me to withdraw by killing my daughter,” she says. Fortunately her
daughter had already fled.

Soon afterwards, Matibenga found her name at number four on a Zanu (PF)
hitlist. It took her months to cope with the machete attack, where she was
also hit all over her body with sticks. “Each time I thought about it I
would cry, the tears would roll down. It still sticks in my mind. I felt
like hitting back. It took courage to talk about it to my friends, but I
eventually decided I should behave like a mother, like a Christian.”

It would be a mistake to accuse her of foolish ingenuousness. Matibenga left
school — with nine first grades in her O-levels — because her father, who
worked in a gentlemen’s outfitters, could not afford to see her through
A-levels. Instead, like many young people of the time, she slipped across
the border into neighbouring Botswana, swept along by the idealism of the
struggle against Ian Smith’s white Rhodesian Government.

She taught there in a refugee camp run by Zanu, the predecessor to Mugabe’s
ruling party, and spent much of the rest of the war fighting against Smith’s
Government, raising funds for guerrillas and smuggling arms, clothing and
rations to them.

Independence in 1980 was the end of her connection with Zanu (PF). “I never
went to a meeting after that,” she says. “It was time to get on with my
life, to raise children and to make up for lost time.” She got a job as a
stockroom clerk in a major clothing retail chain and later found her route
into the MDC through the labour movement.

The relentless thuggery by Zanu (PF) has brought her hard changes. Her
daughter, aged 25, is in Britain and her youngest son is in a “safe house”
outside Harare, which she cannot visit for fear of attracting attention to
him. Nor can she return to her home during the election.She drives a
battered four-wheel-drive with tinted windows and travels to meetings with a
group of party youths for protection.

Matibenga is in the advance guard of a generation of Zimbabwean women who
have rejected the tribal-based system of absolute male domination, where
women shuffle on their knees to bring a glass of beer to their husbands,
endure their endless mistresses and accept regular beatings as their lot.
She is also among a small number of middle-aged women who were born and grew
up in urban areas, with the benefits of schooling and independence. On her
own, she worked her way up into senior positions in business, the Commercial
Workers’ Union and finally the MDC. She picked up useful qualifications
along the way and broadened her world with NGO-sponsored trips overseas.
Like many modern Zimbabwean women, she prefers being single. She hasn’t
remarried since her husband, a former Zanu (PF) MP, died of a heart attack
in the mid-1990s. “My marriage was not a happy one. I had no incentive to go

The contrast between the women’s movement that Matibenga is helping to form
and the Zanu (PF) women’s league is stark. The latter’s mission seems little
more than to sing and dance for Mugabe at rallies and welcome him at Harare
airport, wearing cotton-print dresses adorned with his face.

Some years ago I asked Joyce Mujuru, then the Minister of Women’s Affairs,
about a baby she had just had. “I have to ask my husband before I can speak
to you,” she said.

“Lucia won’t have people wearing the party leader’s face,” says a colleague.
“She’s into respect and real empowerment.”

Matibenga has a simple hope for Zimbabwe. “It’s my dream to help create a
political order in this country which will enable us to say, right, people
can ask as many questions as they want, can form as many political parties
as they want. Where a party will survive an election because it allows
people to speak.” But will the elections bring this dream any closer?
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Liberation war revisited

Harare - "Power, power," shouts Zimbabwe's aging President Robert Mugabe to
a crowd of 10 000, who respond by shaking their fists in unison from the
stands in a Bulawayo stadium.

Walking through the stadium's gates is like passing through a time warp into
revolutionary rhetoric and communist-leaning policies straight from the
1970s, with little sign that history may have already moved on.

Supporters were given new t-shirts that read "The third chimurenga," or
uprising, which is how Mugabe describes his land reforms and his re-election

The phrase harkens to his 1970s bush war against white-minority rule, and to
an earlier uprising in the 1890s against the first European settlers.

It is an apt metaphor for an election campaign that has claimed at least 31
lives this year, with hundreds more beaten or tortured, leaving many
Zimbabweans afraid to leave their homes after dark.

The revolutionary rhetoric of the liberation war propelled Mugabe into power
in 1980.

Resumed original language and style

Now, faced with the first major threat to his presidency, he has returned to
his original language and style, and borrowed a few tactics from the
white-minority government he had worked to defeat.

In January, Mugabe gave police sweeping powers to break up political
meetings and criminalised all criticism of him and his government. The law
restored and even toughened colonial-era measures that the post-independence
Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional.

Mugabe's government also forced through parliament stringent limits on press
freedoms, but he has not signed this bill into law.

His campaign speeches have tended to ramble, with long history lessons on
the struggle for independence and relatively little on Zimbabwe's current

After 22 years under his rule, the nation that had been held up as an
African success story now needs international food aid to avert a hunger
crisis, with about 80% of the population living in poverty.

Ethnic scapegoating

Rather than tackle those issues, usually Mugabe lashes out at his enemies of
the moment - Britain and the United States for criticising his rule, or
white Zimbabweans for owning too much land or too many businesses.

"I think you all know now that every white person wants to keep the blacks
down," he told a rally last weekend in Harare's populous Mbare township.

"They close businesses, factories, so you will protest against the
government. We are going to give the workers all the factories closed for
political reasons," he said.

The ethnic scapegoating is not new for Mugabe. Faced with dissent in the
southern regions of Matabeleland in the 1980s, he brought in North Korean
military experts to train his now notorious Fifth Brigade.

The Fifth Brigade dealt with Mugabe's political problem by massacring
suspected dissidents from the minority Ndebele, in a campaign that left an
estimated 20 000 dead between 1983 and 1988.

Less deadly, more disruptive

His current campaign has proved less deadly but more disruptive to the
nation, worsened by the steady attacks on basic democratic principles, such
as the independence of the judiciary and freedom of the press.

The violence began in February 2000, days after Mugabe lost a referendum on
a new constitution.

In response, he deployed veterans of the liberation war who began invading
and occupying white-owned farms, and from there began attacking the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

At first Mugabe denied any role in organising the invasions, but in the last
week has begun freely admitting that he ordered police not to interfere.

The question Zimbabweans will answer at the polls this Saturday and Sunday
is whether the intimidation has worked to beat them into accepting six more
years with their 78-year-old liberation leader. - Sapa-AFP

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Republic of fear

Once novelist Christopher Hope used to visit Zimbabwe to escape the
brutality and insanity of apartheid South Africa. When he returned to
Matabeleland in the run up to this weekend's election, he instead entered an
Alice in Wonderland world of terror, delusion and violence

Thursday March 7, 2002
The Guardian

I crossed the Limpopo at Beitbridge, on South Africa's northern border with
Zimbabwe. A police officer took a last look at my passport and wondered if I
knew what I was doing. Most of the traffic was heading south; only fools and
truckers go the other way. "That old man up there is causing so much
trouble! Be careful." His female colleague patted my shoulder. "Please come
back to us safely."
I'm too old a South African to have anything but mixed feelings about the
kindness of constables. It didn't matter that these were new South African
police, and that they were black. It's a bad old habit I can't shrug off.
But I knew they meant well, and it gave me pause as I drove across the
ramshackle raft of steel that spans the Limpopo.

I used to come this way in the 70s, riding a motor scooter with a sticker on
the mudguard reading "Smithy is a Paw-paw". Then Ian Smith gave way to
Robert Mugabe and, in the early 80s, I visited Zimbabwe for sheer relief.
The place was sane, normal. After the airtight tyranny of South Africa, Zim
was a rest-cure.

In 1992, a hundred miles north of Harare in Mount Darwin, I noticed a
change. I was visiting the local brothel with a hero of mine called Stavros.
A Cypriot immigrant at 14, Stavros had embraced Zimbabwe, spoke beautiful
Shona, joined the ruling Zanu-PF party and rose to become comrade mayor of
Mount Darwin. The brothel had once been the town club and Stavros had
founded it. Then the army took it over and put in the girls. Stavros had
come up against what I call the Mugabe paradox: "All Zimbabweans are
indigenous - but some are more indigenous than others." Stavros was the last
white man in Mount Darwin, but no one was counting any more. The comrade
mayor needed permission from the army to enter his old club. We waited while
they cleared the girls off the squash court.

That year the drought was bad and, again and again, I heard what was to me
the shocking remark by black peasant farmers of Masvingo: "Things were
better under Smith." White farmers were also in the line of fire.
"Hard-hearted people," Mugabe called them, "you'd think they were Jews."

I wrote about the racism and Stalinism I'd seen in Zim. Times were changing.
Mugabe was being called "Kim Il Bob", a reference to his affection for the
North Koreans, who taught his Fifth Brigade how to murder political
dissidents in Matabeleland. I was roundly attacked for saying so by white
Zimbabweans who said I was wrong: Zim was a lovely, happy place and they
were lucky people.

When I crossed the Limpopo this week, the water was well down. Dryness ate
at the land. Only the stream of people crossing the bridge from Zimbabwe
does not slacken. Legal travellers come this way. Refugees - "border
jumpers" - take their chances against crocs in the river and leopards in the
bush. Patrols have been stepped up by the South Africans and the
Mozambicans. Election season is boom time for jumpers.

Beitbridge is in every way central to the Zimbabwean agony. Inflation has
destroyed the currency and there is no foreign exchange. Aids alone is
everywhere available, and the truckers of Beitbridge are its dispatch
riders. The road runs up a hill, out of town and into the heat haze. I drove
past the steakhouse, the duty-free shop and the sexually transmitted
infections clinic. Several men ran into the road waving those great bricks
of banknotes that moneychangers flash on every corner; after them came the
pimps, offering women. Zimbabweans have nothing anyone wants to buy, except
their currency and themselves.

These are scary times, but this is not a country at war, as some reports
might suggest. It is too baffled, too hungry, too uncertain for that.
Overhead, the eagles lift on the warm air currents. Otherwise, nothing
moves; you have the feeling that this is a country in hiding. I drove for
about two hours along the road to Bulawayo without seeing a soul. Just the
occasional wrecked car rusting under the thorn trees, and a dead donkey in a
ditch, its legs pointing stiffly at the high blue sky.

Tied to trees and fences are election posters showing the face of the
president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in military green shirt, right fist
raised. The posters stand against the skyline like paper gravestones. Anyone
driving through southern Matabeleland might think Mugabe was alone in the
presidential race. The president is the party, is the people, is the power,
and he combines in his earnest, trim person, in the careful moustache, the
rose-tinted glasses, omnipresent power in this dry land. Ozymandias in

It was a relief, then, to meet Sam. He was walking; he was very thin. Sam
was on his way to Bulawayo because the president was to speak in a nearby
town, and Sam was a fan. He had not been eating well; no one in his village
was eating well. There was no maize meal, the staple food; there was no
cooking oil, no sugar; and when they did get some, it cost too much. He
blamed "the British", who were working with certain farmers and others "to
keep maize for themselves".

"British?" I asked Sam.

He looked slightly unsure. "Well - whites," he said.

That was the line being taken by people such as Philip Chiyangwa back in
1995. A former wrestling promoter, he was starting something called the
Affirmative Action Group. He wanted "indigenisation" and land reform. What
this meant in plain words was booting out Europeans. First white farms, then
white firms. "Our" whites, he told me, were simply too damn dim. "Put them
in London and most wouldn't be able to cross the road."

The land grab is well advanced. The two pages of farm confiscations
sandwiched between ads for the ruling party in the government newspapers
make sober reading: 185 farms listed for compulsory takeover under the
anodyne title Deed of Transfer.

I once asked Chiyangwa, "What happens if you get your way and all whites
hand over their businesses, pack up and leave? Would that solve the
problem?" Not quite, he said. "Then we go after the Indians [as Asians are
known around here]." Chiyangwa was on the extreme edge of Zanu-PF; today he
holds the constituency of Chinhoyi for the party, and his views are pretty
much shared by everyone in a party T-shirt. "Indian" transport operators are
being accused of hoarding foodstuffs. Again you get this surreal use of
words that masks everyday violence in Zimbabwe: "We asked the government to
look into companies engaged in economic sabotage with a view to taking them
over," Chiyangwa said recently, "and we are happy it is now responding to
our call."

Conspiracy is in the air. Zimbabwe is in the grip of gay-gang hysteria. The
godfather behind the plot to sabotage Zimbabwe is Tony Blair - the "gay
gangster". I talked to an official from Zanu-PF I shall call Matthew, and he
told me about a network of former white settlers who planned the overthrow
of Mugabe, operating in masonic secrecy in "pubs and boardrooms" in foreign
countries. "What we think is that the colonial powers and elements of the
old South African regime, the Boers, Boss [the former South African security
service] and many old Rhodesians - old Rhodesians are the glue that hold the
thing together - want to drag us back into the past. They can't stand to see
a sovereign African state. They can't abide Mugabe because he won't toe the

"What old Rhodesians are you talking about?" I asked. "It's a well-known
fact that old Rhodesians occupy positions of power across the world," he
said. It seems the people who Chiyangwa believes have trouble crossing a
London street are running the new world order.

In Zimbabwe today words mean what people choose them to mean, and the
election-to-be is conducted like the trial in Alice in Wonderland - first
the verdict, then the vote.

I know Alice; she organises for Zanu-PF outside Bulawayo. Alice said she
didn't buy the gay-gang theory. It is a dream of "those Harare headbangers!"
Alice is a teacher and a pragmatist who supports Mugabe because he
represents continuity, and because, she says, the opposition are hopeless:
"Look at [the opposition leader] Morgan Tsvangirai! Meeting with
public-relations people about toppling Mugabe - when those people already
worked for us! How do you think he's going to run a country?"

It's a good question, but this election isn't about who you vote in, it's
about getting Mugabe out. With the army, the police and armed gangs of
militia on the country roads - spies, informers and commissars behind them -
the ruling party should walk this poll. Yet you feel they have trouble
convincing even themselves. The mood in the land is one of state-run

I talked to Washington Sansole, one of the subtlest of observers in
Bulawayo. He was once a judge; these days he backs the opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He has known and watched Mugabe for
many years, and sums him up as "an accomplished fraud". He is withering on
Mugabe's intellectual capacities. "I was never disappointed by him because I
never expected very much. He was never expected to be anything more than a
good schoolteacher, a headmaster perhaps... The two sides of his head are at
war: the boy trained by Jesuits and the Marxist theoretician." It is as a
manipulator that Sansole rates him highly: "When he's down you will never
meet anyone more humble. But ruthless when events go his way. A man who
takes things very personally."

On Mugabe's 78th birthday, the leader, in customary grey suit, began the day
by running across a meadow holding a big bunch of balloons. Behind him,
Stevie Wonder sang a happy little song. The president went skipping through
the field, releasing his balloons: Happy Hour in the Great Leap Forward
Disco; Mao meets Mary Poppins.

For the rest of his birthday, the president ate cake. He ate cake in State
House, his official residence, in the company of visiting executives from
Lever Brothers, who sometimes appear to be co-sponsors of this election. He
ate cake on the campaign trail, he ate cake on podiums and platforms, his
generals ate cake, the first lady ate cake. There has been no more mistimed
consumption of cake in a hungry country since Marie Antoinette made the
mistake of recommending it.

The cult of the leader as saviour in dictatorial societies has a small
repertoire. A love of uniforms, on yourself or your attendants, a tendency
to talk of yourself in the third person, the use of the police and the
courts as instruments of terror, and a sober simplicity, at least in public,
in matters of taste, and tunics. One thinks of Stalin or Mao, both of whom
Mugabe slightly resembles: Stalin for his destruction of the landed kulaks,
who are doubled in Mugabeland by the commercial farmers; Mao for his great
leaps forward into starvation. But neither, I think, was ever pictured
cavorting in a meadow with a fistful of balloons.

But words and pictures are not what drive this election. Fear is the real
force. Figures of those killed or injured are very loose. The MDC reckons
more than a hundred people have been killed, and reports thousands of cases
of torture, abduction, rape and assault.

Action endangers. Zimbabwe's last independent supreme court judge, Ahmed
Ebrahim, recently struck down a new law that would have taken the right to
vote away from two million Zimbabweans who hold second passports. Having
thrown out the law, the judge resigned. The government announced that they
would be back in court soon with the same law.

As it gets closer to polling day, the ballot is increasingly cast in
apocalyptic, pseudo-religious terms: those who make the right choice, who
vote for the right man, are assured of continuing miracles: the blind will
see and the deaf hear. Tsvangirai is compared in party propaganda to Judas
Iscariot. Those who vote MDC are "traitors" and "deserters" in a "war" -
this is Mugabe's constant phrase - a war of "liberation", what he calls "the
third chimurenga". A liberation is to be fought against Britain - "that
miserable little country" - the west and, increasingly, the world.

You need to step outside the demented circle. I went walking in the Matopos.
This is an area of rough country south of Bulawayo where huge, round, rocky
hills rise from the bush like newly baked loaves. I walked with Goodwill. He
is a woodcarver, but the tourists who bought his sculptures have stopped
coming to the Matopos, so he guides people to some of the lesser-known rock
paintings left by the San bushmen who once lived here.

I went to the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. The irrepressible rogue is buried
on a great boulder, and he will perhaps still be there when all the whites
have gone. The last of those scheming Rhodesians in high places. The Matopos
put paid to the nonsense of who was here first. The lithe and lovely hunters
that were painted in ochre on the cave walls thousands of years ago tell you
clearly that the first people in Zimbabwe were not black or white but red.

Goodwill wore a new white T-shirt with "The Third Chimurenga", the Zanu-PF
anti-settler slogan, stamped upon it in green letters. In fact, I think
politics bores Goodwill, as I suspect it bores many young people in
Zimbabwe, especially the politics of land grab and peasant serfdom. They
want jobs, bread, sugar. They're too young to remember the war against
Smith's regime, the first chimurenga.

Driving west to Victoria Falls, I ran into the roadblocks. This is when
things get tough. You don't know till you're in it who has set the
roadblock. Sometimes it's police; sometimes it is a veterinary roadblock,
checking on movements of livestock; it may be young men with T-shirts and
very short tempers who stop people, threaten or sometimes beat them,
sometimes drag them off, not to be seen again. Country roads are especially

The roadblocks loom suddenly in the horizon, they look and feel like traps;
there is no way round them. I was pulled over and, as it turned out, this
was lucky. Because I got a distant glimpse of the man himself. It was at a
place called Lupane. The Mugabe rallies have taken on a ritualistic aspect:
the leader on the podium, backed by officers in uniform; troops stand
between the podium and the supporters, facing into the crowd. Behind the
crowd stand the police, heavily armed.

What people at the rallies expect from the president is evident. Like Sam,
they want him to address their empty stomachs, empty shelves, empty maize
bins. What they get is a rambling polemic on the sexual orientation of the
British leadership, the deceit of the white man, and the primacy of the
land. As if Zimbabwe were a nation of peasants and Mugabe the number-one
peasant dangerously disappointed by the people of Matabeleland who voted
against him in the last elections. His message is: "Don't do it again." His
promise is: "Look at what I've done for you - controlled prices, kicked
whites off their farms, defied the British."

Victoria Falls is a shrine out of season. The moneychangers in the high
street outnumber the tourists. The gadarene foaming flow over the gorge is
mesmerising. Mosi-oa-Tunya, "the smoke that thunders", is as baffling in its
indifferent energy as the pressures building up in this election. Of its
importance no one is in doubt, but not a soul I spoke to seemed to know
where it was going, how it would end, or what it meant. People are literally
dying for a change. But there is no great faith in the opposition, who have
been maladroit; next to none at all in the government. The long disaster of
Ian Smith followed by the longer disaster of Robert Mugabe and - now what?
Smoke and thunder.

Baptistina is a nurse by training, a healthcare professional. She knows
everyone in town, or at least she used to. Today Victoria Falls is a town
full of strangers. She can't go into the supermarket or the filling station
and pick out a familiar face: "I live in a country of strangers." Aids is
the problem and, for Baptistina, a far more pressing danger than anything
else. "Young people especially - they're dying like flies. People are
reeling. Every family has someone dying."

Leaving Vic Falls, I went to the coalmining town of Hwange, an MDC
stronghold. On Coronation Drive I got held up by Dolores. She was about 15
and wore a green gymslip, white socks and brown shoes; she and about a
hundred of her schoolmates were clogging the road. "You can't come through,"
said Dolores, "until after our demonstration."

I asked her what they were protesting about. "We're demonstrating against
sexual harassment." A hundred schoolgirls in crocodile file marched slowly
down Coronation Drive, escorted by a police Land Rover taller than the kids.
They sang, they chanted and they held placards: "If you're my sugar daddy -
why don't you protect me?" Good question about rape - about politics, too.

Everywhere I went, I got this eerie sense of dislocation. It is not only MDC
people who are being beaten up. In opposition strongholds such as Hwange,
the Zanu-PF supporters cannot canvass freely. Everyone here talks peace -
it's one of those codewords that strike a chill. It means "do as we say, or
we kick your head in".

Travel over hundreds of miles through southern Zimbabwe and you see that
everything is controlled. It needs to be said clearly: Zimbabwe is a tyranny
cloaked in the rule of law. Neither the MDC nor Zanu-PF are free in each
other's areas. Young men with knives or sticks may beat up the opposition,
but it is the police and the army who govern all. Mugabe runs his country
the way his detested enemies of old, the white nationalists, ran South
Africa - as an elected dictatorship, using their police, their army, their
courts, as servants of the ruling party, which is wholly identified with the
good of the state. You feel that Mugabe will win because he must. He is a
defunct president, but who will tell him?

The South Africans sent in their first team of official observers and they
were promptly assaulted. The South Africans declined to notice. A second
South African team arrived and were stoned. They preferred not to object. A
third team is expected soon. That will bring the South African observer
mission up to full strength. They are becoming known here as "the three wise
monitors" whose job appears to be to preside over a rigged election and
encourage people to make the best of it.

Perhaps that is why commonsense measures seem inadequate. What is the point
of observing a charade? Where police, army and president have refused to
accept any verdict but their own victory? Nothing I saw gave me the feeling
that what was unfolding in Zimbabwe was a question of votes, choice,
franchise, freedom. It is a violent puppet show run by one man.

Mugabe has been campaigning in Matabeleland, where he is loathed, by
purloining the memory of the late Ndbele leader Joshua Nkomo. The man he
sidelined in life, he is suborning in death: "Father Zimbabwe", as Mugabe
likes to call his old rival. Much of Matabeleland is opposition territory.
Huge ads in government papers carry an increasingly plaintive note. "Don't
sell out your country," they demand. "Quit the MDC and return to the people.
Do not listen to the enemy." And the enemy is: "Some white people, the
British government and all traitors." This is particularly galling to people
in Matabeleland who remember the killings carried out by the Fifth Brigade,
whose hundreds of victims are still unrecorded.

On the other side of the Matopos, at Kezi, is a place called Antelope Mine.
I was here back in 1995 when miners were fishing bits of bone and old
buttons and scraps of clothing from the mineshaft. Remains of people who
died in Fifth Brigade terror. On that occasion, I was chased away by the men
from the CIO, the Central Intelligence Organisation, those indefatigable
spooks who spy on Zimbabweans. This time no one bothered me. Ghosts don't
vote. But they walk, and no one in Matabeleland has forgotten or forgiven.
Mugabe likes to say that Zimbabweans will die for their principles. The
question is - how many more will die for his?
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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Zimbabwe election rules still unclear
A woman casts her ballot during the 2000 Zimbabwean election
The government points to previous peaceful elections

Zimbabweans go to the polls on Saturday and Sunday to elect a president with many of the details still to be revealed.

Three days before voting, the voters' rolls had not been published and the number of ballot papers printed was unknown.

Nor had the authorities officially confirmed the location or number of polling stations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change - whose candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to mount a strong challenge to President Mugabe - fears that polling stations will be reduced in urban areas, where it draws its main support.

The Election Support Network, which brings together nearly 40 non-governmental organisations, is also concerned.

"There can no excuse for leaving publication of the election details so late," said the network head, Reginald Matchaba-Hove.

He is particularly troubled that just 300 of the network's 12,000 local observers have been offered accreditation.

The government insists that previous elections since Zimbabwe became independent 22 years ago have been well-organised, and this weekend's presidential poll will be no different.


"It will be calm, and the result will be positive for President Mugabe," said Nathan Shamuyarira, information spokesman for the ruling party, Zanu-PF.

Some of the election details are certain:

  • Polling will be held over two days, from 7am to 7pm each day

  • There are 5.6 million eligible voters

  • There will be 4,500 polling stations

  • Voters cast their ballots in whichever of the 120 constituencies they are registered

  • Each party can have one agent at each polling station

  • Postal ballots are only allowed for some government employees (such as members of the armed forces, diplomats)

  • Party agents may accompany ballot boxes between polling stations and counting centres, but not in the same vehicle

  • Counting begins 8am, Monday 11 March

  • Results will be announced constituency by constituency at election headquarters in Harare

Officials demonstrate how ballot boxes will be sealed for the 2002 presidential election
Zimbabwean officials are proud of their ballot-box security

Zimbabwean officials are proud of the elaborate process of securing the ballot boxes after voting.

Each has a wax seal, as well as tape which is signed by party representatives.

The seals are supposed to be inspected before being opened.

The opposition says that after months of violence, it is not possible to talk of a free and fair election.

Whether the polling procedures will be observed will soon become clear.

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe now widely reviled
March 6, 2002 Posted: 6:42 PM EST (2342 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, once
revered as a model African democrat, enters a weekend presidential election
reviled by many of his former admirers as an example of the worst African

In power for 22 years, the former Marxist guerrilla has seen the vast
majority at his first election win in 1980 dwindle to the real prospect of
defeat in voting Saturday and Sunday.

"Mugabe seems to have gone bonkers in a big way," South African Archbishop
Desmond Tutu said in January.

"When you disregard the rule of law, when you do not allow space for dissent
and when you use violence to silence your critics ... you are on the
slippery slope toward dictatorship with the trappings of a multi-party
democracy," the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

Few other African leaders have been so vocal in their public criticism of
the man who led the former Rhodesia to independence from Britain, to
prosperity and then to penury.

But South African government sources make it clear in private briefings that
they and other African leaders have tried again and again to guide Mugabe
back to democracy and the rule of law.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 78, is seeking a third six-year term as president and
a fifth term as leader of Zimbabwe's 13 million people, of whom just 70,000
are white.

As unemployment and inflation have soared to record levels, he has
repeatedly blamed an alleged British-led Western conspiracy for his
country's economic woes.

Brushing aside the punitive withdrawal of almost all foreign funding, he has
refused to rein in war-veteran supporters or to slow the seizure of the huge
white-owned commercial farms that generate most of the country's foreign

Whites built their wealth on the backs of black labor, he says, and it is
time to repay the debt.

When Britain imposed personal sanctions on Mugabe to curb his travel and
foreign banking privileges, he fired back: "What do I have to go to Britain
for? A wretched country, dreadful."

Admired in liberal international circles 40 years ago as the thinking man's
guerrilla, Mugabe was jailed for 10 years in 1964 for fighting white
minority rule.

After a negotiated settlement with London and Zimbabwe's white leader Ian
Smith, Mugabe was elected overwhelmingly as the first black prime minister
and offered forgiveness and reconciliation.

He built schools, upgraded infrastructure for blacks left trailing under
white rule and presided over a booming economy fueled by heavy international

After two terms as prime minister, he rewrote the constitution and won
election as president in 1990.

The change was possible after he had crushed a seven-year armed rebellion in
Matabeleland province and humbled his only rival for power, Joshua Nkomo,
the leader of the opposition ZAPU party.

There was a world outcry over alleged atrocities against civilians in
Matabeleland, where mass graves were found.

Later, as the debt burden began to weigh and a younger generation of voters
responded less enthusiastically to his liberation war record, Mugabe moved
to shore up his support with patronage.

Farms bought from whites for landless peasants were given to cabinet
ministers and soldiers, cronies won lucrative military contracts and Mugabe
offered support to regional leaders no more popular at home than he had

An increasingly independent trade union movement defeated his attempts to
raise fuel and food prices and rejected a proposed tax to fund war-veteran

In February 2000, Mugabe tasted defeat for the first time when voters in a
referendum rejected a new constitution that would have given him even more

He turned on the small white minority, blaming them for the referendum
defeat, and urged them to go back to Britain.

"We made a mistake when we showed mercy to those who are hard-hearted,
permanently hard-hearted," he said last week. "When you show nonracialism to
die-hard racists ... people with ... a false culture of superiority based on
their are acting as a fool."

He called his black political foes in the Movement for Democratic Change
puppets of the whites and their British masters and set about limiting their
commercial and political influence.

He rammed legislation through parliament allowing his government to seize
more than half their farms and did nothing to stop self-styled veterans of
the liberation war from occupying other farms, often with violence.

He ignored court orders to halt the farm seizures, used presidential powers
to override the courts and replaced independent judges with cronies.

Mugabe repeatedly rejected public and private guidance from Western and
African leaders who urged him to halt the farm violence and tackle the
unraveling economy.

Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, on the Kutama Mission northwest of
Harare and educated by Catholic Jesuit monks.

He worked first as a primary school teacher, but continued to study,
stacking up seven university degrees -- three of them while in prison -- to
bolster his intellectual image.

In 1995, after the death of his Ghanaian-born first wife, Sally, he married
Grace Marufu, his former secretary and mother of two of his children. Their
third child was born in 1997.

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CNN has a poll on their website, asking "Will Zimbabwe's election be free
and fair?"  
The results at the moment stand at :
6% Yes,    94% No


Mugabe: Africa's 'lasting connection'?
March 7, 2002 Posted: 5:02 AM EST (1002 GMT)

This election will decide if Mugabe is a man for all seasons or if his time
has come and gone

By CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Robert Gabriel Mugabe earned his "struggle
credentials" fighting a white minority regime he and his comrades insisted
was illegitimate.

They had occupied his people's land, and in his words made them a "race of
no rights beyond those of chattel."

The white regime threw him in prison for 10 years.

After being released in 1974, Mugabe launched the so-called "Second
Chimurenga," or fight for freedom -- the first being against the British in
the late 1800s. From Mozambique, he coordinated a guerilla war against Ian
Smith's white minority regime.
In 1979, talks in London produced the Lancaster agreement, ending the war.

At independence in April 1980, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. In 1987 Mugabe
became Zimbabwe's first elected president.

From then until recently, Mugabe called for reconciliation with the whites
who had fought him inside and outside the country.

"The historical links between the UK and Zimbabwe which date from far back
in history have grown from strength to strength over the years," Mugabe once

But his primary focus was on improving the lives of the black majority -- he
built schools and hospitals and promoted agriculture aimed at the small
peasant farmer.

Mugabe has been accused of dealing harshly with his opponents, killing some
20,000 ethnic Ndebeles in southwest Zimbabwe whom he saw as supporting an
opposition party.

But his minister of information, Jonathan Moyo sees Mugabe differently,
calling him "someone who accommodates, someone who listens (and) will
naturally treat their enemies with understanding."

In the 1990s, the country's economy began a downward spiral as charges of
elitism, cronyism and corruption plagued Mugabe's government. Today, half of
the workforce is jobless.

In late 1999, Mugabe endorsed often-violent seizures of white-owned farms.
He calls this the Third Chimurenga.

Mugabe blames whites -- especially the British -- for Zimbabwe's economic
woes. Others blame Mugabe himself. His supporters disagree.

"You know, you find in him the lasting connection between the struggle which
the African fought to liberate themselves and the African way into the
future, especially now as they are struggling for economic emancipation,"
says Moyo.

If this election is about anything, it is just that: whether Mugabe is a man
for all seasons or if, at 78, he is a man whose time has come and gone.
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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 16:44 GMT
Zimbabwe border diary - Day One
The BBC's Grant Ferrett
The BBC's former Zimbabwe correspondent, Grant Ferrett, is on the border watching the presidential elections from the South African side. Banned from reporting in Zimbabwe itself, he will be sending regular diary updates from the border.

Day One - Thursday 7 March

Awoken at 6am by The Ride of the Valkyries, Nokia-style. Must remember to change the ring tone on my South African mobile phone.

And no, it wasn't a contact in Zimbabwe passing on information about the latest political violence or allegations of poll rigging. It was a wrong number.

Trying to cover the Zimbabwean elections from the South African border has numerous disadvantages:

  • We're in the wrong country
  • Beitbridge, which crosses the Limpopo river separating Zimbabwe and South Africa is very hot - at 7am it's already well above 30C
  • Setting up a television and radio operation from scratch requires vast amounts of time and equipment

The two portable buidlings which serve as offices are stuffed with technology, generating yet more heat.

The air conditioning is just about holding up - for the moment.

The equipment serves an important function, besides allowing us to broadcast - it also allows us to take in material gathered in Zimbabwe itself.

The system needs some refinement. Last night's "feed" started not long before midnight.

I've just read a good quotation from Robert Mugabe during the independence celebrations of 1980:

"Oppression and racism are inequalities that must never find scope in our political and social system. An evil remains an evil whether practised by white against black, or black against white."

Wonder if he'd say the same today?

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100 farmers evicted ahead of poll

Staff Reporter
3/7/02 1:24:20 AM (GMT +2)

MORE than 100 Zimbabwean commercial farmers and their workers countrywide
have been forcibly evicted from their properties in the past six weeks by
ruling ZANU PF militants in a campaign aimed at disenfranchising them ahead
of this weekend’s presidential election, the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU)
said this week.

The CFU, the main body representing Zimbabwe’s mostly white commercial
farmers, said the pro-government militants were also forcing farmers to pay
their workers "emergency" retrenchment packages.

"In a blatant move to disenfranchise farmers and farm workers ahead of the
imminent presidential election, over 100 farmers countrywide and many
hundreds of farm workers have been forced off commercial farms in the last
six weeks," a CFU spokeswoman said.

Illegal eviction

She said most of the cases of illegal eviction had been reported to the
police but that the law enforcement agency had shown unwillingness to deal
with the criminal ruling party mobs.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said election observers in the country to
witness the ballot on Saturday and Sunday had also raised the issue of
forced evictions from farms but he said the reports were false.


In fact, according to Bvudzijena, no farmers had reported being forced off
their properties or being asked to pay workers the so-called emergency
retrenchment packages.

"These accusations are not true. They have also been raised by foreign
election observers, but we have not received any information on that from
the farmers," he told the Financial Gazette.

But the CFU spokeswoman said extortion had been most rife in Mashonaland
East province’s Chivhu district. More than 21 farmers there had been forced
by the militias to pay their workers more than $12 million in retrenchment
packages and then ordered to leave their land in the last few days.

Observer mission

Only last Saturday, a gang of government supporters gave white farmer Rob
Edgar two hours within which to vacate his Igudu Farm in Wedza district in
Mashonaland East or face unspecified action, the spokeswoman said.

The CFU official said two members of South Africa’s election observer
mission who were in the area when the incident happened witnessed it.

A fortnight ago another Mashonaland East farmer, Boetie O’Neil, was ordered
by the pro-government militants to retrench the entire workforce at his
Vlankfontein Estate and to pay them gratuities.

O’Neil said in a statement this week: "They advised us that all our
employees were to be retrenched immediately and paid. If we did not have
enough cash, then we were to give them cattle in lieu of money due. We were
forced to pay out a total of $9 million and all employees that had been paid
had to be off the property on the same day."

Political violence and intimidation have continued unabated across the
country, even in the presence of international election observer missions
who are in Zimbabwe to witness the presidential election.

White farmers and their workforce have been targeted for harassment by the
government and its supporters who accuse them of backing its chief rival
Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change.

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Zimbabwe media lists British 'plots'

Chris McGreal in Harare
Thursday March 7, 2002
The Guardian

You may not have heard of Britain's masterplan to "do a Milosevic" on Robert
Mugabe, but Zimbabwe's state press claims it is all part of the plot.

The crucial clue to this dastardly scheme, if you are in the minority who
believe Zimbabwe's television news and the imaginative government
newspapers, is the background of the British high commissioner, Brian

Before he arrived in Zimbabwe last July, Mr Donnelly was ambassador to
Belgrade for two years. It has not gone unnoticed that the bombing of
Yugoslavia started during his tenure, and that he was still embroiled in the
Balkans when Slobodan Milosevic was driven from power.

Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail sees Mr Donnelly's hand in the Yugoslav president's
downfall, and cannot imagine why else he would be in Harare if not to do the
same to Mr Mugabe.

"Donnelly was brought to Zimbabwe 'to do a Milosevic' to President Robert
Mugabe," the paper warns. "It is understood that British intelligence is
working closely with elements in the [opposition] Movement for Democratic
Change, surviving Rhodesian Selous Scouts and former apartheid military
officers to fuel post-election violence to torpedo President Mugabe's widely
expected victory."

You might not believe it, and millions of Zimbabweans certainly do not. But
every day, a barrage of highly creative stories, clever manipulations and
downright lies is thrown at the public.

If people are hungry it is not because the seizures of white farms have
dealt a devastating blow to food production, but because whites are hoarding
grain or burning it to discredit Mr Mugabe. If there is political violence,
it is all the fault of the opposition, even though it is the MDC's
supporters who end up dead or in hospital.

According to the state press, Mr Donnelly made an early start in his
campaign to destabilise the president by secretly coordinating the mass
looting and burning of white-owned farms by their owners to discredit the
"war veterans" who had seized the land.

The state newspapers have also kept their readers abreast of the MDC's role
in South Africa's biggest robbery, although the police in Pretoria know
nothing of this.

But the core of the propaganda is to portray this weekend's presidential
election as a "titanic fight" to maintain Zimbabwe's independence in the
face of British attempts to recolonise it.

"Say no to Tony Bliar's colonial call", says an advert by the ruling
Zanu-PF, deliberately misspelling his name because Mr Mugabe refers to him
as Tony-B-Liar.

One newspaper calls the election a "do or die tussle" between the president
and Britain, never mind that the opinion polls show that most people are
more worried about inflation, food shortages and unemployment.

Everywhere there are reminders of the liberation war. Music videos, popular
for their suggestive dancing, have been replaced by "war songs" and grainy
film of the struggle for independence.

The papers claim that if Mr Donnelly's plot to prompt a popular uprising
fails, Britain is planning to set up bases in Zambia, Botswana and
Mozambique from which its army can invade Zimbabwe.

"The MDC has requested British military intervention if it loses the
election and many right-thinking Zimbabweans are worried to the bone," the
Sunday Mail says.

Mr Mugabe is, of course, more than up to the task of leading the fight, even
at 78.

"He has since independence turned the people of Zimbabwe into an anvil upon
which British imperial perfidy has painfully knocked its head in repeated
failures," the paper declares.

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Mugabe dangles old carrot in Matabeleland

From Njabulo Ncube Bureau Chief
3/7/02 3:33:04 AM (GMT +2)

BULAWAYO — President Robert Mugabe at the weekend dangled an old carrot
before Matabeleland’s voters, including promising them once again that his
government would launch the long-mooted project to tap water from the
Zambezi river to the arid region.

But analysts and residents said Mugabe was simply wasting his time and
energy in a region expected to vote resoundingly in favour of his chief
opponent in the crucial weekend presidential election, Morgan Tsvangirai.

A grim-looking and tired Mugabe, surrounded by tight security, recycled his
Christmas gift list for Bulawayo and the surrounding Matabeleland region to
his supporters gathered at a Bulawayo football pitch.

Most of them had been brought into Bulawayo from outside in several buses.

With two Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopters noisily hovering above the
football pitch, Mugabe said he would place greater emphasis on developing
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city whose residents say has been deliberately
left to lag behind development of Harare and even some smaller centres.

He said his new government would finally build the 430-kilometre pipeline to
draw water from the mighty Zambezi river to Bulawayo and the surrounding dry

The multi-billion-dollar Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project has been on the
cards for more than a decade but has not been implemented. The government
only brings it up at election time in what residents here say is a
vote-catching tool.

In the run-up to the June 2000 parliamentary election, Mugabe and his
government had again made the same promise, telling voters here an agreement
had already been struck with some Malaysian investors to develop the water

As if not quite convinced his listeners would believe him, Mugabe hauled
former Cabinet minister Dumiso Dabengwa, who is from Matabeleland, from the
terraces to help him sell the project to the electorate.

Dabengwa dutifully confirmed that the water project was on course and
claimed that a Malaysian team involved in the scheme was now scheduled to
arrive in Zimbabwe after the presidential election.

And as has become a ritual at his campaign rallies, Mugabe also attacked
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, accusing him and Zimbabwe’s white farmers
of wanting to install what he claims to be a puppet government in the

"They (the MDC) are murderers by instinct, absolutely callous and bloody.
They may as well be called the Movement of Dangerous Change. Don’t join the
ranks of traitors, those betraying our oneness, our revolution and our
independence gains," Mugabe thundered.

The crowd appeared to like what it was hearing. Most of Mugabe’s supporters
at the meeting had been brought from outside Bulawayo in state-owned buses
of the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company and Kukura Kurerwa, a private firm.

But residents and political analysts here had a different view of the
promises made by Mugabe and his ministers.

"It’s just a cheap shot at our intelligence," said Bulawayo human rights
lawyer and political commentator Daniel Molokela.

"We have heard all these promises before and I think the electorate is very
tired of them," he said, echoing the views of many interviewed by this
newspaper after the rally.

Charles Mpofu, a councillor here, said it was too late to promise to settle
Bulawayo’s long-outstanding municipal debt of $512 million owed by the

This had been promised by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo during
the rally.

"The government had all the time to settle the debt, which has affected
delivery of basic services in the city. The man (Mugabe) is running scared,"
he said.

Tsvangirai, who earlier in the day had patiently negotiated his passage
through a series of police roadblocks to meet his supporters at White City
Stadium on the other side of town, appealed to the electorate not to betray
the people killed by Mugabe’s militia in the past two years by voting for
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