READ VERY CAREFULLY - AND THEN PASS ONTO EVERYOHE YOU KNOW THAT IS VOTING
IN HARARE - EVERYONE OVERSEAS PASS ONTO EVERYONE YOU KNOW WHO IS VOTING
THIS IS IMPORTANT!PLEASE PASS ON TO EVERYONE IN
YOUR ADDRESS BOOK and ASK THEM TO PASS IT ON TO EVERYONE WHO WILL BE VOTING IN
HARARE AS THERE IS REAL CONFUSION.
WHY YOU MUST ....FIRST VOTE FOR
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
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)
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)
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.
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.
'War veterans' do dirty work
for Mugabe By Dina Kraft ASSOCIATED PRESS
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.
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.
Supporters of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change show the open-handed party sign. Picture /
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
"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
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
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.
By Ed O'Loughlin, Herald Correspondent in Harare and
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.
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
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
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
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
"Mr Mugabe is an anachronism in the way he's going about the
running of his country," he told members of Congress on Wednesday.
Tuesday Mr Mugabe used his powers of decree to reintroduce voting laws that
had been struck down by the Supreme Court a week before.
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
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
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
Mugabe rails against his opponent and Britain in last day of
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 reporters. 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 Tsvangirai.
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 law. 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.
They signed a code two days before the election, agreeing to
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 process. 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
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 printed.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Blacks attracted to the MDC's pledges to rescue a
failing economy and rid the country of corruption soon became targeted in
politically motivated attacks.
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
The MDC says 107 supporters have been killed since
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"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.
manoeuvring that achieved this disenfranchisement occurred last month, too
late for court challenges. - Sapa-AFP
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
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
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.
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
Mugabe will be fighting for his political survival when he takes
on former union leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the election this
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
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
Ruling party supporters, especially liberation war veterans, were
accused of carrying out a systematic torture campaign ahead of legislative
elections in 2000.
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.
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
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.
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.
(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
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
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
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 back.”
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
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
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
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
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
Supporters were given new t-shirts that read "The third chimurenga,"
or uprising, which is how Mugabe describes his land reforms and his
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
The revolutionary rhetoric of the liberation war propelled Mugabe
into power in 1980.
Resumed original language and style
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.
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 crisis.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 specs.
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".
I asked Sam.
He looked slightly unsure. "Well - whites," he
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."
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
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 line."
"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
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 insanity.
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."
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
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.
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
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
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
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 menacing.
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
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
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
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
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?
The government points to previous peaceful
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
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
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
Zimbabwean officials are proud of their ballot-box
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
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.
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 traditions.
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
"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
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
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 earnings.
Whites built their wealth on the backs of
black labor, he says, and it is time to repay the debt.
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
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
He built schools, upgraded infrastructure for blacks left
trailing under white rule and presided over a booming economy fueled by heavy
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
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 become.
increasingly independent trade union movement defeated his attempts to raise
fuel and food prices and rejected a proposed tax to fund
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 powers.
He turned on the small white
minority, blaming them for the referendum defeat, and urged them to go back
"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 skin...you are acting as a fool."
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
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
He ignored court orders to halt the farm seizures, used
presidential powers to override the courts and replaced independent judges
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
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
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)
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
(CNN) -- Robert Gabriel Mugabe earned his "struggle credentials" fighting a
white minority regime he and his comrades insisted was
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.
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 said.
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.
been accused of dealing harshly with his opponents, killing some 20,000
ethnic Ndebeles in southwest Zimbabwe whom he saw as supporting an opposition
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
In late 1999, Mugabe endorsed often-violent seizures of
white-owned farms. He calls this the Third Chimurenga.
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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 Donnelly.
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
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
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.
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
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.
MDC has requested British military intervention if it loses the election and
many right-thinking Zimbabweans are worried to the bone," the Sunday Mail
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.
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
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
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
Most of them had been brought into Bulawayo from outside in
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
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 region.
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.
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
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
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.
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
"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.
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.
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
"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
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 Mugabe.