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

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Alexander Legault and Ari Ben-Menashe
CBC News: Disclosure
Broadcast March 5, 2002
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Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, is seeking re-election.

There's an historic election in Zimbabwe later this week. President Robert Mugabe -a controversial figure worldwide- is seeking re-election.

Now, his main opponent has been accused of trying to have him killed. At the centre of that explosive charge are two shadowy Montreal businessmen who we first told you about on Disclosure earlier this season.

The men in the spotlight are Ari Ben-Menashe, a one-time Isreali spy and arms dealer, and his partner Alexander Legault. Last fall, Disclosure revealed Legault is a U.S. fugitive, wanted in Florida, Texas and Louisiana for fraud.

Ari Ben-Menashe (left) and Alexander Legault
Ari Ben-Menashe (left) and Alexander Legault

Our story showed that Legault and Ben-Menashe were busy brokering deals around the world for commodities like grain and rice. But there were allegations of fraud.

Olivier Damiron, a former employee, says customers would pay a deposit, but the goods would never be shipped.

"It's just a scam, basically," says Damiron. "[They] take the ten percent and run."

Now a grainy videotape has shown up. It was recently broadcast on Australian television, causing an international storm of controversy.

It shows a meeting secretly taped in Montreal last December by Ben-Menashe.

The video purports to show him being approached by Zimbabwe's opposition leader to arrange the assassination of the country's president, Robert Mugabe.

Ben-Menashe later told CBC News that he was only playing along to expose the plot:

"They wanted to hire us straight forward to eliminate the president and help them organize a coup d'etat in Zimbabwe against the president."

Morgan Tsvangirai
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he was framed.

But the man who's fingered for the plan, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, says he was framed. He says Ben-Menashe approached him, offering himself and Legault as lobbyists, and then suggesting the assassination.

"It's of course intended to divert people," says Tsvangirai of the video. "To confuse people. But people aren't confused. They see through this whole ploy. It's a conspiracy they've concocted."

But, the heavily edited tape is enough for President Mugabe. He's had Tsvangirai charged with treason because of the tape. He faces life in prison.

Canada's minister of Foreign Affairs has asked the RCMP to investigate the supposed plot. But his department can hardly claim to know little about Ben-Menashe or his dealings with controversial African regimes.

Note: You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the documents linked to below (they're in Adobe PDF file format). If you don't have it installed on your computer, you can download it at

In fact, government documents obtained by Disclosure show the department has a long and curious history with Ben-Menashe.

Through an Access to Information request, we received over 400 pages showing Ben-Menashe was regularly de-briefed by Canadian intelligence officers, plumbed about what he knew of the inner workings of the governments he was involved with.


Ben-Menashe's offer to set up a meeting between (then) Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and "Secretary One" of Burma:

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Note: The hand-written numbers at the side of the documents refer to the exemption sections of the Access to Information Act under which the documents were censored.
For more information about the exemptions, see the Act's official website.

The documents are heavily censored, but what's left reveals that Ottawa has known for years about Ben-Menashe's trips to Zimbabwe's capital and his association with Robert Mugabe.

But, even as they were using him a resource, Ben-Menashe was pitching Ottawa on his clients -offering to arrange meetings between Canada and the regimes he represented.

Such as: a military leader in Burma -a country which Canada has shunned for its human rights abuses; and a government minister in Sudan -a man Canada has investigated for war crimes.

The documents show Ottawa seriously considered both requests, taking them to the minister's office for consideration before taking a pass.

Keith Martin is Foreign Affairs critic for the Alliance. "You have a company who with highly questionable activities abroad," he says, "that is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs, that has been asked for the Department of Foreign Affairs for information and the relationship is highly suspect and it just, quite frankly -it stinks."


The Department of Foreign Affairs takes a pass on Ben-Menashe's offer regarding Burma:

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But, even as Foreign Affairs was relying on Ben-Menashe to help build Canada's intelligence files, trade officials in the same department were issuing strong warnings he couldn't be trusted.

The commercial disputes from soured business deals were stacking up -from Hungary to Zambia- prompting a senior trade commissioner to the Baltics to warn that Ben-Menashe and Legault's company, Carlington Sales, had done:


Ben-Menashe offers to set up a meeting with Qutbi Al-Mahdi, then Sudanese Minister for Foreign Intelligence:

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"Very serious damage to the commercial relationship between Canada and Estonia, by what could only be termed unethical conduct."

And a warning issued back in 1996:

"…That any Canadian government official deal with extreme caution with Carlington."

But, there's no indication Canada passed that warning on to foreign companies inquiring about Carlington.


Senior Trade Commissioner H. Jacob Kunzer's memo warning about Carlington Sales:

version one
version two
(the two are versions of the same document, but they have been censored differently by DFAIT)

Zambian banker Raj Mahtani, burned in a multi-million dollar deal for maize, says Canada let him down:

"I am totally disappointed and disillusioned," he says. "For me, to be honest with you, I would not enter into any contract with Canadians."

Last fall, a British arbitration court ordered Carlington to pay $10-million on the Zambian deal. But Carlington filed bankruptcy saying there's no money left.

The lawyer in the Zambian case is Neil Sampson.

"The most important thing we have to do is find the money," says the lawyer in the Zambian case, Neil Sampson. "I would ask anybody who knows anything, the affairs of Carlington Sales, of Alexander Legault or Ari Ben-Menashe, to contact us and hopefully help us find the money."

Foreign Affairs officials refused to talk on camera about Ben-Menashe or Carlington. Nor would they talk about why the intelligence officer who conducted many of those briefings, retired in 1999 to work for Carlington.

With the company now bankrupt, Ben-Menashe and Legault are working under a different name, Dickens and Madson. Their new lobbying firm is now at the centre of the Zimbabwe assassination plot.

"The company has a long, storied and questionable history," says Alliance MP Keith Martin. "Not only within Canada, but in other parts of the world. I think it's up to the RCMP to investigate that because I'm sure that the Canadian public has absolutely no interest whatsoever in having companies in Canada engaging in destabilizing activity abroad."

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Focus-Mugabe could win but will it be fair?

07 March, 2002 16:24 GMT

By Nicholas Kotch

HARARE (Reuters) - Robert Mugabe may well be declared the winner of
Zimbabwe's presidential election but such a victory will be met with
widespread suspicion both at home and abroad.

"Mugabe is likely to be declared the winner. Not because of a fair election
but because of violence and intimidation," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman
of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly, a coalition of civic groups.

Mugabe accuses the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of
stoking the violence and says the campaign has been free and fair, telling
foreign critics to mind their own business.

But the recent catalogue of events, including intimidation and laws aimed at
boosting the government's chances, hardly reinforce its claim that this is a
fair fight.

The MDC says more than 100 of its members have been murdered by militants
from the ruling ZANU-PF in the last two years.

Army and security chiefs say they will have a major problem working with the
MDC candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, if he manages to win.

Even if he does, despite the odds, he could be arrested at once since a
treason charge hangs over him.

Zimbabwe has banished foreign electoral observers from countries like
Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, not just from former colonial ruler

At the 11th hour on Wednesday, the Mugabe-appointed Electoral Supervisory
Commission was still unable to say how many ballot papers had been printed,
how many soldiers and police had voted by post, and why only a few score
local observers are accredited to keep an eye on 4,000 polling stations.


"The issue about local observers is a particular cause of concern," said
Kare Vollan, head of the 25-strong Norwegian observer mission.

"I think the MDC would win 60-40 in a truly free and fair election. But what
has been the impact of all the confusion, last-minute registration of voters
and intimidation?" asked one Western diplomat.

Mugabe has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 when negotiations
ended a bitter bush war with white settlers.

Now, at 78, he wants another six-year term.

But some commentators believe Tsvangirai can win despite all the banana
skins strewn in his path.

"Mugabe is going to be assessed over his 22-year record and people will ask
what can he do now that he didn't do in those 22 years?" said Masipula
Sithole, a leading political scientist.

Tsvangirai's campaign suffered a damaging setback when he was secretly
filmed allegedly discussing the president's assassination. He denies any
guilt and said the film was a set-up, but the episode left him looking

The government says the West, and major media, are simply biased against

"An African ruling party is not allowed to win an election. Unless the
opposition wins it means the vote was rigged," Information Minister Jonathan
Moyo said on Wednesday.


Officials say they expect to begin announcing the results late on Monday,
March 11, after counting in 120 centres. There are 5.6 million registered
voters out of a population of 13 million.

Mugabe's mantra during nearly 50 campaign rallies is that Tsvangirai is a
puppet of Britain and the white community, whose number has shrunk to 70,000
or a quarter of the number in 1980.

He has told Prime Minister Tony Blair and the whites to "keep their pink
noses" out of Zimbabwe's business, specifically concerning the violent
campaign to seize white-owned land and restore it to landless blacks.

But the reality is that Mugabe is now badly isolated in the corridors of
world power. He and his inner circle are already under sanctions by the
United States and the European Union.

Zimbabwe does have friends, in Africa and the developing world, as was shown
when it avoided suspension from the Commonwealth at this week's summit in

But Mugabe has run out of friends at the top table.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called Mugabe an "anachronism" on

The Bush administration says it will tighten sanctions if Mugabe is deemed
to have stolen the election or refuses to leave office after a Tsvangirai

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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 16:34 GMT
Commonwealth: the Zimbabwe dilemma
Britain, backed by Australia and New Zealand, is pushing for tough action against Zimbabwe if Robert Mugabe is found to have used intimidation and violence to win the presidential elections. Commonwealth leaders have set up a body to consider suspending Zimbabwe, but it will not act before the elections. BBC News Online looks back at recent events.

4 March 2002

Government officials demonstrate a sample polling station
The government claims the elections will be fair

Commonwealth leaders agree not to take immediate punitive action against Zimbabwe - leaving some members disappointed. Under a deal reached at talks in Australia, the leaders will set up a three-member committee to decide possible action, based on the findings of the group's election observers deployed in the country.

 The BBC's Michael Peschardt reports

3 March 2002

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
Commonwealth leaders reached a compromise

Zimbabwe accuses Tony Blair of "disgraceful colonialism" for trying to have the country suspended from the Commonwealth. The attack by Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, came after Mr Blair warned the Commonwealth's reputation could be damaged if it did not take tough action against President Robert Mugabe.

 The BBC's James Robbins reports

18 February 2002

EU observers in Zimbabwe
Observers were prevented from doing their job

After a meeting in Brussels the European Union imposes sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite and pulls its election observers out of the country. The measures come just weeks ahead of hotly contested presidential elections and rising political violence.

 The BBC's Rob Smith reports

17 February 2002

MDC poster
Mugabe faces a tough challenge from the MDC

The Zimbabwean Government forces the head of the European Union's election observer mission, Pierre Schori, to leave the country, raising the prospect of EU sanctions against President Mugabe's regime.

 The BBC's Claire Marshall reports

14 February 2002

Political rally in Zimbabwe
The opposition says intimidation will stop them winning
Thirty observers from the European Union are accredited to observe next month's presidential elections in Zimbabwe. But they only come from countries which Zimbabwe says are not biased and hostile to them - suggesting the row with the EU is not yet resolved.

 The BBC's Rachel Harvey reports

11 February 2002

Pierre Schori
The EU threatens sanctions if its monitors are not granted full access
The leader of a team of European Union election monitors arrives in Zimbabwe to observe the Presidential election due in March. Pierre Schori, a former Swedish Government minister, says he is confident of being accredited despite warnings from Zimbabwe that officials from some EU countries, including Sweden, would not be welcome.

 The BBC's Christen Thomson reports

31 January 2002

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
The UK pushed for Zimbabwe to be suspended
Commonwealth foreign ministers decide not to recommend that Zimbabwe be suspended from the organisation, but urge President Mugabe to end the political violence ravaging the country. The ministers also call on Zimbabwe to allow the immediate deployment of international observers ahead of presidential elections in March.

 The BBC's Bridget Kendall reports

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Zimbabwe's ties with EU: from bad to worse
by Stephane Barbier

HARARE, March 6 (AFP) - Relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union
have gone from bad to worse, hitting rock bottom last month when the EU
slapped sanctions against President Robert Mugabe following the withdrawal
of their electoral observer mission.

In late January when the row began in earnest, the EU pushed for
unconditional access for its observers to the presidential election set for
this coming weekend.

The EU has accused Zimbabwe for the past two years of human rights abuses,
both on white-owned farms occupied by supporters of Mugabe and during
campaigning ahead of legislative elections in June 2000 as well as this
year's presidential vote.

Mugabe faces the first real challenge to his 22-year grip on power in the
Saturday-Sunday vote, against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai following
a violence-wracked campaign period.

By deciding on February 18 to impose "targetted sanctions" against Mugabe
and 19 of his aides -- who cannot travel to any of the EU states, where
their assets have been frozen -- the EU considered that the government had
gone too far by expelling Swedish diplomat Pierre Schori, the head of the EU
observer mission to Zimbabwe.

Schori, Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, had arrived here on
February 10 knowing that he was unwelcome in the country, at least as the
head of the EU observer mission.

Schori had also headed the EU team for the 2000 parliamentary elections,
which he deemed had not been free and fair on the basis of widespread
violence against the opposition, a scenario similar to the one unfolding

Sweden is one of the six EU countries Mugabe had accused of supporting the
main opposition party here. The other five are Britain, Germany, the
Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

By sending Schori, the EU tried to call Mugabe's bluff, but unsurprisingly
he was not fazed.

So the EU pulled out all 30 of its observers, including those from the nine
member states that Harare had specifically invited.

The EU and Zimbabwe are linked by the June 2000 Cotonou Agreement governing
relations between the EU and former colonies in the African, Caribbean and
Pacific (ACP) countries.

The accord was designed as a partnership to help ACP countries compete in
the global marketplace.

Through the Cotonou Agreement, the EU is a top trading partner with
Zimbabwe, and is the source of two-thirds of the international aid that
comes into the country.

EU member states import an average of 750 million euros of goods each year
from Zimbabwe.

But the Cotonou accord also has a fundamental political underpinning, from
the European point of view, in terms of respect for democracy, human rights,
the rule of law and good governance.

Failure to respect these principles can lead to sanctions if consultations

Norway, which does not belong to the EU, will be the only European country
with observers here; most others are from African countries considered
sympathetic to Mugabe.

The decision by the EU to impose sanctions, followed a few days later by a
similar US move, was criticized by African countries, as well as a few EU
diplomats in Harare, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

Accusing Brussels of having been unduly influenced by Britain, the former
colonial power with more interests in Zimbabwe than any other EU state, one
of the diplomats said the total pullout had been a mistake.

He said that given repeated reports of government-sanctioned violence and
electoral fraud the vote need as many observers as possible

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US Donates Maize for Starving Masses

Financial Gazette (Harare)

March 7, 2002
Posted to the web March 7, 2002

Staff Reporter

THE United States of America has announced a contribution of 34 430 tonnes
of maize worth over $1 billion to a World Food Programme (WFP) campaign to
feed more than 500 000 Zimbabweans facing starvation.

World Vision International, a partner in the WFP's food aid scheme in
Zimbabwe, has been allocated 14 310 tonnes of maize to feed the vulnerable
provinces of Matabeleland South and the Midlands.

The WFP will receive an initial 8 470 tonnes, worth $253 million, which will
arrive in Zimbabwe from Tanzania between this week and next week and will
assist the United Nations organisation to feed 558 000 people in 19
districts who are facing a severe food crisis.

It will receive a further 11 650 between this year and early 2003.

WFP country office director Pierre Saillez said distribution of food had
begun in Matabeleland North and South, although the pace of disbursement was
slow because of the number of recipients involved and because of a check
system established to ensure that the most vulnerable groups received aid.

"We have so far distributed about 400 tonnes of food to the Matabeleland
region," he said. "We hope that as the Afghanistan situation improves, more
donor organisations will help the thousands of Zimbabweans in desperate need
of food over the next year.

"In total, WFP needs 116 000 tonnes of food worth US$60 million to feed
Zimbabweans until early next year."

However, only 30 percent of this has been raised so far.

Meanwhile, United States ambassador to Harare Joseph Sullivan said despite
the tension between Zimbabwe and his government, which two weeks ago slapped
targeted sanctions against ruling ZANU PF officials, his country would not
abandon the people of Zimbabwe.

He said: "We will not abandon the people of Zimbabwe who are going hungry.
WFP have assured us this food will be distributed in a non-partisan way and
will reach the intended recipients. This is to ensure that the food is not
hijacked for political mileage."

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Mugabe offers the earth if he is re-elected

Robert Mugabe is belittling his presidential opponent by promising new
government aid to Zimbabwe's impoverished people.

It is one of his final campaign appearances before this weekend's elections.

Mr Mugabe's popularity has crashed amid economic chaos and political
violence mainly blamed on his ruling party.

He says the government will 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, "We have the money to
run them."

He also promises to build a dam in every district to provide farmers with
water during droughts, a pledge he has made in previous elections.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
said 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 a news

MDC officials said the voter rolls remained badly tainted just two days
before the election. More than 80% 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 registrar.

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ZIMBABWE: Human Rights Watch slams land grab

JOHANNESBURG, 7 March (IRIN) - Human Rights Watch (HRW) has placed the blame for Zimbabwe's ongoing political and social instability squarely on President Robert Mugabe's "fast track" land reform programme, claiming it has harmed the very people it was designed to assist.

In a statement released on Thursday Human Rights Watch slammed Mugabe's handling of the land question and the violence and human rights abuses that have accompanied it.  A report on its findings was to be released Friday, on the eve of Zimbabwe's critical presidential elections on 9-10 March.

"Militia groups affiliated with the party of President Robert Mugabe have carried out serious acts of violence against rural dwellers and landless workers on commercial farms," the organisation said. It also said it received reports of discrimination, on political grounds, in the distribution of land.

"Many of the people who were supposed to benefit from this reform have actually been targets of the violence," Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying.

While the organisation acknowledged the "unjust situation which saw colonial policies of expropriation giving white farmers huge, free tracts of fertile land in what is now Zimbabwe, while rural black people were restricted to crowded tribal reserves of little agricultural value". It said little had been done to change the situation from independence in 1980 up to 2000.

In 2000, President Mugabe's government passed new laws allowing expropriation of land without compensation, and encouraging landless peasants to occupy commercial farmland.

In the 40-page report, "Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe", HRW provides testimonies from people who said that many of those who wanted land under the government programme had to show support for the ruling ZANU-PF party and that those who supported the opposition were denied land.

"The landless labourers who live and work on the commercial farms have been largely excluded from land redistribution. Among the most disadvantaged Zimbabweans, they have also been particular targets of state-sponsored violence.

"The government also failed to ensure that women, particularly married women, benefited from the land reform, despite its stated commitment to gender balance," said the HRW report.

It called for the post-election government in Zimbabwe to bring to justice those responsible for abuses, and to take steps to ensure that the violence does not recur.  Additionally, any
government-sponsored land reform must respect the rule of law.
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ZIMBABWE: Independent radio shows its mettle

JOHANNESBURG, 7 March (IRIN) - When the Zimbabwe government refused to grant them a broadcasting licence, Radio Dialogue moved out of the studio and into the community in an innovative bid to reach the people.

Each weekend Radio Dialogue "road shows" perform live at shopping
centres in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, mixing music, drama and poetry with messages on human rights and community empowerment. The station also hands out tapes of its programmes to taxi drivers to play to their passengers.

"We are taking the station to the people," Jethro Mpofu, head of
Radio Dialogue, told IRIN. "We want to play a developmental and
democratisation role. We want to be a platform for the community where ideas around democracy can circulate freely."

There is not one licensed independent radio station in Zimbabwe. After the Supreme Court ruled against the legal monopoly of the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in 2000, the government introduced new regulations that have effectively barred private and community radio.

"It's clearly undemocratic. Licences are subject to approval by the minister [of state for information] and ZBC's monopoly has remained as a result of that," explained Takura Zhangazha of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). "Basically they are using it to stall any liberalisation of the air waves."

The regulations do not allow foreign funding for private broadcasters. Without that, "community radio is not able to exist", said Mpofu. "Bulawayo is economically and politically marginalised and we cannot afford to buy the equipment."
Zhangazha suggested that Radio Dialogue, which was set up last year, would not escape the government's attention for much longer. "Inevitably the government will clamp down on them," he told IRIN.

Another radio initiative in Zimbabwe is Voice of the People, aimed at a rural audience. The programmes are produced in Zimbabwe, but broadcast by Radio Netherlands on short wave back into the country.

Programme editor Ish Mafundikwa said the role of the station was: "An exercise in empowerment, especially for rural people as they don't have access to information. We are giving a voice to people who would never have a platform on ZBC."

Voice of the People broadcasts two-and-a-half hours each day in English and in Zimbabwe's two main vernacular languages, Shona and Ndebele. The key to reaching its rural constituency is the use of short wave. FM signals do not extend beyond the cities.   

Minister of State for Information Jonathan Moyo has accused Voice of the People of being a "pirate" station. However, some officials from the ruling ZANU-PF party have agreed to be interviewed.

"In a democratic country we would be a community radio station," said Mafundikwa. "We are doing social issues, some political stuff, voter education, the environment, consumer rights."

Instead, the station has been denied accreditation to cover this weekend's presidential election, and has felt the "psychological"
pressure of Moyo's disapproval, Mafundikwa said.
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ZIMBABWE: Independent radio shows its mettle

JOHANNESBURG, 7 March (IRIN) - When the Zimbabwe government refused to grant them a broadcasting licence, Radio Dialogue moved out of the studio and into the community in an innovative bid to reach the people.

Each weekend Radio Dialogue "road shows" perform live at shopping
centres in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, mixing music, drama and poetry with messages on human rights and community empowerment. The station also hands out tapes of its programmes to taxi drivers to play to their passengers.

"We are taking the station to the people," Jethro Mpofu, head of
Radio Dialogue, told IRIN. "We want to play a developmental and
democratisation role. We want to be a platform for the community where ideas around democracy can circulate freely."

There is not one licensed independent radio station in Zimbabwe. After the Supreme Court ruled against the legal monopoly of the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in 2000, the government introduced new regulations that have effectively barred private and community radio.

"It's clearly undemocratic. Licences are subject to approval by the minister [of state for information] and ZBC's monopoly has remained as a result of that," explained Takura Zhangazha of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). "Basically they are using it to stall any liberalisation of the air waves."

The regulations do not allow foreign funding for private broadcasters. Without that, "community radio is not able to exist", said Mpofu. "Bulawayo is economically and politically marginalised and we cannot afford to buy the equipment."
Zhangazha suggested that Radio Dialogue, which was set up last year, would not escape the government's attention for much longer. "Inevitably the government will clamp down on them," he told IRIN.

Another radio initiative in Zimbabwe is Voice of the People, aimed at a rural audience. The programmes are produced in Zimbabwe, but broadcast by Radio Netherlands on short wave back into the country.

Programme editor Ish Mafundikwa said the role of the station was: "An exercise in empowerment, especially for rural people as they don't have access to information. We are giving a voice to people who would never have a platform on ZBC."

Voice of the People broadcasts two-and-a-half hours each day in English and in Zimbabwe's two main vernacular languages, Shona and Ndebele. The key to reaching its rural constituency is the use of short wave. FM signals do not extend beyond the cities.   

Minister of State for Information Jonathan Moyo has accused Voice of the People of being a "pirate" station. However, some officials from the ruling ZANU-PF party have agreed to be interviewed.

"In a democratic country we would be a community radio station," said Mafundikwa. "We are doing social issues, some political stuff, voter education, the environment, consumer rights."

Instead, the station has been denied accreditation to cover this weekend's presidential election, and has felt the "psychological"
pressure of Moyo's disapproval, Mafundikwa said.
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Mugabe vows to pursue challenger
March 7, 2002 Posted: 2:54 AM EST (0754 GMT)

Challenger Tsvangirai is facing trial for treason after the voting

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Just over two days before Zimbabwe's controversial
presidential election, Robert Mugabe warned he would pursue his challenger
once the voting was over.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been charged with treason over a
secretly recorded video showing him discussing Mugabe's "elimination" with
Canadian lobbyists who turned out to be working for Mugabe.

This was alleged by Zimbabwean government officials to be evidence of an
assassination plot.

"No murderer will go unpunished. No one 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.

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African sanctions will hit Mugabe hardest

By George BN Ayittey
3/7/02 3:34:41 AM (GMT +2)

IN 1996, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe followed Nelson Mandela, the
then President of South Africa, who led the effort to expel Nigeria from the
Common-wealth at the Auckland summit, and to condemn Nigeria’s brutal
military regime of General Sani Abacha.

Mugabe then said "Nigeria is a disgrace" and called for punitive sanctions
against the country. The call came after the brutal hanging of Ogoni human
rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others on November 10 1995, despite
a chorus of international pleas for clemency.

Barely six years later, it is now Mugabe who, impervious to reason and
common sense, is resorting to Abacha-like tactics in a desperate bid to
cling to power as the economy collapses around him.

In its 22 years of existence, Zimbabwe has had only one president, Mugabe.
After a successful guerrilla campaign against British colonialists and a
white minority regime in the 1970s, Mugabe was hailed as a hero and swept
into office as the country’s first president in 1980. He vowed to make
Zimbabwe a one-party nation and his Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) party "a truly Marxist-Leninist party to ensure
the charting of an irreversible social course and create a socialist

In the beginning, his expansion of education, policy of reconciliation
toward the white minority and willingness to resolve inequitable
distribution of land between whites and blacks through peaceful negotiation
won him plaudits and Zimbabwe was regarded as "a role model for Africa." But
there was a darker, sinister political side: his megalomaniac lust for

He successfully "re-elected" himself in what angry Africans deride as
"coconut elections" in 1985, 1990 and 1996. Essentially, "coconut elections"
are farcical elections in which the incumbent writes the rules and then
serves both as a player and the referee.

The deck is hideously stacked against the opposition candidates, who are
starved of funds, denied access to the state-controlled media and brutalised
by government-hired thugs while the police watch. By contrast, the incumbent
enjoys access to enormous state resources: state media, vehicles, the
police, the military and civil servants are all commandeered to ensure his

Further, the entire electoral process itself is rigged: voters’ rolls are
padded with ruling party supporters and phantom voters, while opposition
supporters are purged.

The electoral commissioner is in the pocket of the ruling party, as are the
judges who might settle any election disputes.

In the July 1985 elections, for example, thugs from Mugabe’s youth brigade
rampaged through the suburbs of Harare, brutalising supporters of the
opposition. Homes were raided and furniture and household possessions were
thrown out into the streets.

Victims were beaten and pummelled to the point of unconsciousness, their
belongings were stolen and houses set on fire.

A defeated opposition candidate, Simon Chauruka, was gruesomely hacked to
death with axes when a mob of ZANU PF supporters attacked his home in
Dzivaresekwa suburb. Another opposition candidate, Kenneth Mano, who had
just been released from detention, was stabbed three times. And five
officials of another opposition party were shot to death in the western
coal-mining town of Hwange by members of Mugabe’s youth brigade.

The 1990 elections were also marred by intimidation, violence and
assassination. In Gweru, Patrick Kombayi and five other opposition members
were shot.

After similarly blood-drenched elections in March 1996, Mugabe promised he
would transfer land to landless peasants, even if it meant confiscating
white-owned farms. He also promised to force through black economic
empowerment (indigenisation).

On March 9 2002, the 78-year-old Mugabe is running again for re-election.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), is popular and can unseat Mugabe in a free and fair election.
An opinion poll by the independent research agency Target Research in
November showed Tsvangirai winning at least 52.9 percent of the vote against
Mugabe’s 47.1 percent.

Another poll, conducted in January by the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Institute led by political scientist Masipula Sithole, showed Tsvangirai
running away with the vote in most provinces and especially in urban areas.

Mugabe is running scared — afraid of his own record of broken promises,
brutal repression, economic mismanagement and venal cronyism.

Contracts for public works went to cronies. The state bureaucracy swelled as
the system of patronage spiralled out of control. Ministers amassed great
wealth and even the military became tainted with corruption. After Captain
Edwin Nleya alleged in March 1989 that corruption was serious in the army’s
signals directorate in Harare and in the elite Sixth Brigade, he "was
brutally killed and his decomposed body later found on a mountain near the
coal-mining town of Hwange" (New African, July 1989; page 16).

By the late 1990s, the economy was on the verge of collapse and the country
rocked by a wave of strikes by workers, nurses, teachers to protest rising
food and fuel price hikes. In 1998, even doctors went on strike to protest
shortages of such basic supplies as soap and painkillers.

And while the urban poor were rioting about food prices, the Mugabe
government ordered a fleet of new Mercedes cars for the 50-odd Cabinet
ministers while 77-year-old Mugabe himself and his 36-year-old wife, Grace,
attended lavish parties and conferences abroad. In 1999, Mugabe further
angered voters by tripling and quadrupling the salaries of his ministers.

Rampant shortages of basic commodities — such as mealie-meal, which is the
national staple diet, bread, rice, potatoes, cooking oil and even soap — now
keep inflation raging at more than 116 percent. With the flight of investors
and closure of businesses due to attacks by militants — more than 30
businesses were attacked in May 2001 alone — jobs are scarce, pushing
Zimbabwe’s unemployment to nearly 60 percent.

At independence in 1980, per capita income was US$950 and had fallen to $530
at the time of writing — a 44 percent drop — and more than 70 percent of the
population now lives below the poverty line. The Zimbabwean dollar, worth
US$2 at independence in 1980, crashed in 1999 and is now worth only three US

A quarter of the population is infected with HIV, the virus which causes
AIDS. The United Nations says more than half a million of Zimbabwe’s 11
million people need emergency food aid.

The state treasury is empty, pillaged by kamikaze kleptocrats and drained at
the rate of $3 million a month by a mercenary involvement in a war in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cabinet ministers, army generals,
relatives of Mugabe, prominent figures in the ruling party and scores of the
well-connected have allegedly launched lucrative business ventures to
plunder Congo’s rich resources: diamonds, cobalt and gold.

 Plunder of the Congo’s mineral riches and lucrative deals keep Zimbabwe’s
army generals fat and happy. Accordingly, the commander of the defence
forces, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, warned last month that the country’s
military, police and intelligence chiefs would not accept a "Morgan
Tsvangirai" as a national leader if he wins the March 9 election since he
was not a veteran of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle.

Mugabe angrily rejects criticism of his government for the economic crisis.
He blames British colonialists, greedy Western powers, the racist white
minority and the International Monetary Fund, which he denounced as that
"monstrous creature".

But Zimbabwean voters know better. When Mugabe asked them in a February 15
2000 referendum for draconian emergency powers to seize white farms for
distribution to landless peasants, they resoundingly rejected the
constitutional revisions by 55 percent to 45 percent.

Paranoid and desperate, Mugabe played his trump card. He sent his "war
veterans" to seize white commercial farmland anyway.

To be sure, there is basic inequity in the distribution of land in Zimbabwe.
Whites account for only about one percent of Zimbabwe’s population of 12.5
million, yet 4 500 white farmers continue to own nearly a third of the
country’s most fertile farmland. But the land issue has become a political
tool, ruthlessly exploited by Mugabe at election time to fan racial hatred,
solidify his vote among landless rural voters, maintain his grip on power
and divert attention from his disastrous Marxist-Leninist policies and
ill-fated misadventures in the Congo.

As part of the deal negotiated at Lancaster House in London in 1979, a land
reform programme was established under which land was to be purchased from
white farmers for redistribution to landless peasants on a "willing-buyer
willing-seller" basis. Australia, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Norway,
Sweden, the United States of America and the World Bank signed on to provide
funds for this programme.

But the programme was so grotesquely mismanaged that Britain withdrew
financial support in 1992, after contributing more than US$64 million. The
current crisis has prompted the donors to suspend about US$10 million in
land reform aid.

On March 28 2000, Mugabe’s own parliament, in a written answer on the land
issue to Margaret Dongo, leader of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of
Democrats, acknowledged that the government had distributed more than one
million acres bought from white farmers under legal compulsion to 400
wealthy Zimbabweans, most of whom were Mugabe cronies. In fact, back in
1994, 20 such farms seized from white farmers were immediately grabbed by
high-ranking government officials.

According to New African (September 1994): "The local Press revealed that
the Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Charles Utete, the Deputy
Secretary for Commerce and Industry, James Chininga, and Harare’s first
black mayor, Dr Tizirai Gwata, are among those involved" (page 32).

Again in 1998, 24 additional farms of the Marula Estate in Matabeleland were
acquired, ostensibly for resettlement. But the land, totalling 300 square
miles, was divided among 47 government officials while 40 000 impoverished
Zimbabweans remained crammed in the neighbouring Semukwe communal area. Army
chief General Solomon Majuru is allegedly now known as the country’s largest

Government minister Elliot Manyika has vowed that if Mugabe is re-elected at
the weekend, the government would expropriate businesses not owned by
blacks — reminiscent of Idi Amin’s seizure of Asian businesses in Uganda in
the late 1970s.

Some 20 000 people of Indian subcontinent descent live in Zimbabwe along
with about 40 000 whites in the country. Together they make up less than one
percent of the population.

Mugabe’s newly formed militia rampages through the countryside, terrorising
and murdering perceived opposition supporters. At least 26 Mugabe opponents
have been killed and more than 70 000 others have been displaced since
January 1, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum.

The activities of this militia is eerily reminiscent of the Hutu Interahamwe
of Rwanda that slaughtered more than 800 000 Tutsis in 1994 to avoid sharing
political power with them.

Draconian new Press and security laws ensure that criticism of Mugabe, the
police and the army is illegal. The office of The Daily News, which has been
critical of Mugabe’s handling of the economy, has repeatedly been
fire-bombed and its black editor, William Saidi, has received numerous death
threats, warning him to stop criticising the government.

Distribution of election pamphlets is banned and even non-governmental
organisations cannot teach voters that their ballots are secret.

The opposition MDC must give police four days’ advance notice of a political
rally — sufficient time for Mugabe’s thugs to be dispatched to disrupt it.
Over 65 of Tsvangirai’s rallies have been banned or disrupted. On February
22 2002, a police surveillance team trailing the convoy of Tsvangirai on his
way to a campaign rally in Masvingo, a rural district in the south of the
country, opened fire. Tsvangirai escaped unhurt.

On the same day, two South African election observers were injured, along
with five opposition supporters, during an attack on MDC offices in the town
of Kwekwe, 200 km west of Harare, by ZANU thugs armed with stones and iron

Mugabe has barred foreign election observers from the country; only those
approved by the government have been allowed in. After Mugabe’s government
expelled the Swedish head of the European election observer mission, Pierre
Schori, the European Union voted on February 18 to impose tough sanctions
Mugabe and more than a dozen of his top aides. The sanctions will bar Mugabe
and 19 others from travelling to European Union nations. They will also
freeze any European assets held by Mugabe and about 20 advisers, including
the commander of the armed forces and the ministers of security, justice,
land and information.

Washington followed suit on February 22 by barring Mugabe and his inner
circle from travelling to the US, to protest an election campaign that the
administration of President George W Bush has said has been "marred by
political violence and intimidation".

Zimbabwe lambasted the sanctions as "economic terrorism." But Representative
Ed Royce, chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on
Africa, had revealed on January 16 that Zimbabwean officials were
transferring money, thought to be millions of dollars, to safe havens in
Europe and the United States ahead of the country’s presidential elections.

While these measures might help put pressure on Mugabe and his cronies, what
Zimbabwe needs first and foremost are African sanctions. They would be far
more potent and they hit Abacha the hardest.

lTo be continued next week.

lGeorge Ayittey, a native of Ghana, is a distinguished economist at American
University and president of the Free Africa Foundation, both in Washington
DC. He is the author of a forthcoming book, The African Predicament (St
Martin’s Press).

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Fears of retribution have poisoned poll

3/7/02 3:47:32 AM (GMT +2)

AS many readers would have gathered by now, a big anti-Mugabe demonstration
was held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London last Saturday. As government
authorities would also have gathered by now through "intelligence sour-ces",
yours truly was there — no big deal.

I learnt about the planned demonstration on the Internet but somehow got the
times wrong. As a result I was the first man on the scene of this planned
legal gathering (the Metropolitan Police even seconded a couple of Bobbies
to make sure everyone was safe!) The man setting up the public address
system was quite impressed with my enthusiasm and cheerfully told me I was
an hour early.

Big crowd

I decided to while up time checking out new publications at the nearby
Africa Centre bookshop. I got so engrossed and so lost in the shelves that
when I eventually checked my watch the demonstration had been underway for
some 15 or so minutes. I rushed back to Zimbabwe House (not to be confused
with an old people’s home of the same name somewhere in Africa).

Some 50 yards from the scene I could already hear Oliver Mtukudzi belting
out Bvuma Wasakara — and for whatever reason, my adrenaline started pumping!
There was a big but very good-natured crowd.

I was handed a flyer which read: "Citizens of Zimbabwe living abroad, even
though you cannot vote, all is not lost. You can influence the outcome of
the result by contacting friends and relatives to exercise their right.

"Urge them to encourage everyone to please, please go and vote. Please
reassure them that their vote matters and is secret. A big turnout is
essential to democracy."


I mingled and chatted with a number of strangers — fellow Zimbabweans. I
could not help but notice that the majority of demonstrators where whites.
Many of the blacks who came to participate where clearly uncomfortable,
especially with the presence of television cameras.

Two students I spoke to said they had agonised before deciding to come to
the demo because they feared that there might be intelligence officers
lurking in the background. In fact, until they established that I was a
journalist, they were uncomfortable with me too!

I noticed that when a diplomat parked his four-wheeler at the front door of
the embassy, just yards from the demonstrating gathering, a number of blacks
immediately left the scene.

The demonstration was organised by Washing Ali, who described himself as a
human rights activist and also a member of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

Intelligence officers

Ali told me that it was difficult to organise political gatherings in
London, as most people feared alleged recent deployment of Zimbabwean
intelligence officers to check on the activities of MDC members. He added,
however, that the situation was improving all the time.

Asked by a Reuters reporter if he was not worried that the visual image that
would be seen would be that of mostly whites, Ali said as most of those
targeted by the Zimbabwean authorities were mostly blacks, their fear was
therefore understandable. In any case, he added, those whites present were
Zimbabweans and also had a right to have their views heard.

If there is one word that defines and characterises politics in Africa in
general and Zimbabwe in particular, it is "retribution". The threat and
fear — whether real or implied — of retribution is driving the momentum and
direction of the current political campaign. It is not unrealistic to
suggest that should the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai lose the presidential
election he will remain fairly safe from retribution.

However, the same cannot be said for all the ordinary men and women who have
supported or campaigned for him. They know there will be hell to pay. Their
fear of retribution at the hands of a victorious and rampant ZANU PF is
real, perhaps judging by what has already transpired.

Bloody hands

On the other side of the coin are those aligned to the ruling party — those
with cushy jobs in the government, those who have been given farms that they
do not deserve, those who have terrorised other Zimbabweans, raped and even

There must be many whose hands are so bloodied that even deep down within
their troubled souls, they know that should there be a change of guard, they
will certainly be called to account for their sins of commission or

It is this fear of retribution that has made Zimbabwe’s presidential
election such a deadly event. On the one hand you have some whose only hope
of survival and a better tomorrow are through "change". On the other hand
there are those who see any change of the status quo as nothing short of a
death sentence.

No middle ground

It looks like in all this politicking there is no middle ground, nothing to
bind us as a nation. So much hatred has been allowed to flow and so many
crimes against humanity have been allowed to go unpunished that come March
11 if the winner of the election should call for reconciliation, it will
sound so hollow and unconvincing. The public can rightly ask: "Haven’t we
heard it all before?"

Elections do not always have to be a matter of life and death, an excuse for
rabid youths to go on a spree of looting, destruction of property and raping

Elections should not mean that it is time for elderly villagers to go and
hide in caves and hills. Surely it should be a crime to force anyone to
attend a political meeting regardless of whether one uses direct or implied
threats of retribution.

Last Saturday I took time to read all the 104 names of Zimbabweans who have
died in the run-up to the presidential election. Together with others I
bowed my head in memory of those whose lives have been cruelly taken away.

Of course these listed 104 are not the only ones who have died — but how
many more have to die before we can learn to accept and regard an election
to public office as a peaceful and necessary routine in the life of a

Andrew Mutandwa is a Zimbabwean journalist based in the United Kingdom.

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What it means if it is Tsvangirai or Mugabe

By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor
3/7/02 3:32:11 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWEANS have arrived at the crossroads as they prepare to cast their
votes this weekend in a presidential election whose outcome will either
plunge the country deeper into turmoil or set it on the path to
international acceptance and economic recovery.

Five candidates are contesting this weekend’s presidential poll, the most
crucial since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980. But the battle
is primarily between the incumbent, President Robert Mugabe of the governing
ZANU PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Analysts this week said Mugabe, in power for the past 22 years, was very
much the "devil voters know" and, with his control over the top ranks of the
Zimbabwean army, could ensure stability in the potentially volatile
post-election period.

But these are his only advantages, they said.

Mugabe, who has flirted with both socialism and Western-backed economic
reforms, is widely blamed for Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis since

The economy is plagued by severe foreign currency shortages, soaring
inflation that reached a record 116.7 percent in January, dwindling
investment, company closures, record high unemployment of 60-plus percent
and poverty of 80 percent of the population.

Government-sanctioned seizures of commercial farms by ruling party
supporters have created widespread instability in the key agricultural
sector. This has combined with a severe drought to leave the country
desperately short of food and millions of people facing starvation.

Political violence and human rights abuses, mainly blamed on government
supporters, especially its so-called war veterans who occupy farms and youth
militia being trained by the government under the guise of national service,
have left Zimbabwe agonisingly isolated by the international community.

"The isolation and pariah status that the country has achieved will worsen
(if Mugabe retains power)," University of Zimbabwe political scientist
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro told the Financial Gazette.

"Out of that isolation will come total economic collapse."

A victory for Mugabe is likely to kill international food aid for Zimbabwe,
which needs at least US$450 million to import basic food in the next 16
months to avert starvation.

It is also likely to keep the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World
Bank away from the country, which lost their assistance in 1999 because of
the government’s refusal to implement economic reforms.

This will deny Zimbabwe crucial balance of payments support and the vote of
confidence from the Bretton Woods institutions that is necessary to trigger
foreign capital inflows into the country.

"This government doesn’t have the capacity to revive the economy,"
Mukonoweshuro said. "It’s not a government that can meaningfully engage the
international community to attract investment and expand employment.

"So there would be an increase in the rate of company closures and there
would be unprecedented levels of unemployment."

Independent consultant economist John Roberson said: "If Mugabe was to win,
a great many people would feel that there is no way they can carry on and
they would leave.

"This includes people whose businesses are being threatened directly (by
ZANU PF’s publicly stated intentions to take over foreign-owned companies)."

Mass starvation and rising unemployment would trigger social unrest.

Commentators say the war veterans and youth brigades who have been promised
employment and a better life by ZANU PF are likely to be behind some of the
unrest when Mugabe fails to live up to his promises.

Although the scenario is more positive if Tsvangirai comes into power, the
future does not look completely rosy under an MDC government.

A former trade union leader, Tsvangirai is not the seasoned politician that
his main rival is. But analysts say this is unlikely to hamper his chances
of successfully tackling Zimbabwe’s crisis.

"The idea that one has to have experience is just nonsense. It’s not an
indication of anyone’s capabilities," Mukonoweshuro said.

"What one needs is a clear and implementable package of policies that is
designed to deal with problems.

"One has to be a good manager. Morgan Tsvangirai seems to have all this. His
package of policies is quite comprehensive and he has men and women who can
steer through the murky waters that will be inherited from ZANU PF."

Tsvangirai also has international goodwill on his side, which is expected to
attract financial assistance for food aid and Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.

Assistance is expected to come not just from multilateral agencies such as
the IMF and the World Bank but Western countries and foreign investors.

But an MDC government would inherit a troubled economy that will require
unpopular decisions to put it on the path to recovery.

Analysts said this would prevent a "honeymoon period" between the new
government and the electorate, which would expect to see signs that its
problems were being tackled.

Decisions to be taken would include those on the exchange rate, which would
have to be depreciated significantly from its present fixed rate of $55
against the United States dollar, which does not reflect market shortages.

Action would also have to be taken on soft, unsustainable interest rates and
to end chaos on the commercial farms, where output will plunge by at least
40 percent this year.

"Most of these decisions will hurt one group or another," an economist with
a Harare commercial bank said.

"Dealing with the situation on the commercial farms will anger war veterans,
depreciating the exchange rate will hurt importers and consumers and
increasing interest rates will do little good to many companies.

"But these decisions will have to be made or else the international
community will doubt the government’s seriousness and this will hurt our
chances of recovery."

Robertson added: "We are on the brink of what might become a complete
disaster or a slow recovery. This is a vastly difficult situation, with one
road leading to disaster and another to recovery.

"But this is only if there is a clear victory for either side. What is
really frightening is what will happen if we have a messy win that is
disputed by either side. A messy win would most destabilise the whole

Commentators said a disputed win, one in which ZANU PF attained victory by
rigging the election or in which an MDC victory was rejected by the ruling
party, would see Zimbabwe engulfed by mass uprisings that would compound its
deepening problems.

"We would have what is tantamount to a civil war and we won’t see the IMF
within a mile of Zimbabwe for a very long time," the commercial bank analyst

"Companies will close, those people who can will leave the country, many
others will become refugees.

"It would take years to reverse the damage and we could become just another
Third World basket case that no investor wants to hear about."
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State media ups propaganda

Staff Reporter
3/7/02 3:38:49 AM (GMT +2)

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s government has intensified a propaganda blitz
against chief opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of a tricky
presidential election at the weekend.

Breaking commitments given by Mugabe to Southern Africa Development
Community leaders to allow Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) equal access on all public media, the government has turned its
massive media empire into a ferocious propaganda tool against the opposition

The television arm of state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has
been devoting more than half of airtime on its daily one-hour news bulletins
to covering Mugabe’s long speeches, all of which are a vitriolic attack on
Tsvangirai and his MDC.

Mugabe variously calls Tsvangirai a sell-out, a stooge of Britain and the
whites, a tea boy and a thoroughly evil man.

In a well-orchestrated campaign, ZBC reporters repeatedly distort Tsvangirai
’s speeches on the few occasions they cover his meetings, saying he is
making a U-turn on key policies such as the yet-to-be-resolved land

Zimbabwe’s sole broadcaster repeatedly plays down Tsvangirai’s well-attended
rallies, often showing only close-up pictures of a handful supporters
instead of the large crowds at the rallies.

The worst example was last Sunday when Tsvangirai addressed the largest
rally in the country at Harare’s Zimbabwe Grounds, which was attended by
about 40 000 people.

Instead, ZBC’s cameras only showed Tsvangirai delivering his speech and a
few faces, most of them white, to reinforce Mugabe’s campaign charge that
the opposition leader is a front for whites.

In contrast, the corporation’s cameras always seek to give a false
impression that large crowds attend Mugabe’s rallies by taking long-distance
pictures of a small crowd deliberately spread over a large area.

In other instances, ZBC’s news items lead with the government’s response to
MDC-linked events which the broadcaster would not have previously reported

Among the pledges made by Mugabe to fellow SADC leaders at a January summit
in Malawi was that he would allow the ZBC and the government-owned
newspapers to give equal coverage to his ZANU PF party and the MDC.

Bakili Muluzi, the SADC chairman and Malawi’s President, at that time told
doubting journalists he was confident Mugabe would make good his promises
because of the assurance he had given.

The state-owned newspapers, led by the Herald daily, have instead maintained
a steady campaign to deliberately tarnish the image of the MDC and its
leader, often accusing Tsvangirai and his followers of involvement in crime
and terrorism.

For example, the newspapers have accused the opposition of recruiting youths
for military training and of sending anthrax-laced letters to senior
government officials. All these charges have been found to be false.

The papers have also sought to convict Tsvangirai before trial on
allegations that he plotted to kill Mugabe, as alleged by disgraced former
Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe.

Meanwhile ZANU PF’s militia has taken the propaganda campaign further by
forcing public commuter bus operators to pin up posters of Mugabe on
virtually all vehicles or risk being assaulted or worse.

Some bus operators have had to withdraw their buses from rural routes
because they refused to display Mugabe’s portrait, which ZANU PF’s
supporters mounting illegal roadblocks in the countryside always demand
before allowing a bus to go through.

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Militias force re-deployment of MDC pollsters

Staff Reporter
3/7/02 3:36:29 AM (GMT +2)

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week said it has
been forced to transfer 5 000 of its polling agents from rural areas, where
they have been undergoing training, to urban areas because of constant
harassment and attacks by ruling ZANU PF militias.

MDC’s elections director Paul Themba Nyathi said the 5 000 were part of a
huge group of 17 000 agents which the opposition party had been training to
monitor the presidential election this weekend.

He said police had also used the draconian Public Order and Security Act
(POSA) to break up training sessions of the MDC’s pollsters, saying their
gatherings were illegal.

"In all three Masho-naland provinces, all our training events have been
moved to Harare because of disruptions by war veterans and ZANU PF
supporters," Nyathi told the Financial Gazette.

"Also in Lupane, Binga, Nkayi and Plumtree most of our training programmes
have been suspended and we have had to move to more secure areas in the
urban areas."

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware that the MDC’s
training programmes for polling agents had been disrupted by the police.

But he said if such training had turned out to be political meetings, then
the police could have intervened if prior permission to stage the meetings
had not been obtained from the police.

"I can’t say whether they were disrupted or not because these meetings could
have been held as training meetings but what happened there could have been
something totally different," Bvudzijena said.

"Maybe the behaviour of the participants was not consistent with the agenda
of the meeting, which would have posed a problem," he added.

Under POSA any gathering of a political nature of more than three people
needs police clearance before it can go ahead.

Nyathi said the police had on several occasions refused to sanction the
training sessions because the police claimed the meetings were a threat to
public order.

The forced switching of venues for the training programmes has put a huge
financial burden on the MDC, which has to fork out more money for the upkeep
of the agents and to dispatch them to their polling stations, Nyathi said.

The MDC officials said they were even more concerned about the safety and
security of the polling agents during the two-day poll.

"We have the numbers (of polling agents) but what we don’t have is the
security of the polling agents, which is the state’s responsibility. The
state is playing truant on the issue of security for these guys," Nyathi

lOur Bulawayo Correspondent reports that about 20 MDC election agents in
Lupane in Matabeleland North were this week forced to flee their villages
for Bulawayo following death threats from war veterans and ZANU PF
supporters there.

The flight of the agents coincided with an upsurge in political violence in
and around Bulawayo, blamed by most residents on ZANU PF’s militia who on
Sunday burnt 26 homesteads at St Peter’s Village, a peri-urban settlement
for the elderly.

In most high-density suburbs of Bulawayo, the militia are going around the
townships harassing residents and threatening them to vote for President

The MDC’s Nyathi said yesterday that political violence in Lupane and Nkayi
districts had reached alarming proportions, with several international
observers understood to have expressed concern over the deteriorating
situation there.

"Our polling agents are being hunted down," said Nyathi, as he showed this
reporter party members who have sought refuge at the MDC regional offices in

"We have about 20 who arrived here on Monday after being chased out of their
villages by the war veterans and the youth brigades. But we will not be
deterred because victory is within sight," he said.

Nkosinesisa Mkhwananzi, one of the polling agents who fled her home in fear
of ZANU PF’s storm troopers, said she would be returning to her area to take
up her post as an election agent despite the violence.

"I will be betraying the people if I don’t go back. We need to finish off
ZANU PF once and for all. The hour is now," she said, barely concealing her

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Zimbabwe expels SA union boss

3/7/02 3:27:08 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWEAN immigration officials on Monday refused entry into the country of
the coordinator of the Southern African Journalists’ Association, Tuwani
Gumani, whose organisation wants to challenge in court a Bill that hampers
the operations of Zimbabwe’s independent media.

Gumani told the Financial Gazette that immigration officials turned him away
at Harare International Airport on Monday evening and declared him a
prohibited person, although they did not indicate why.

"I wasn’t there to monitor the presidential elections because I’m no longer
a practising journalist, but when I got to the airport I was told that
anything to do with journalists had to be accredited," he said.

"I was told I was a prohibited person in Zimbabwe but I was not given the
reasons why. I did make a statement on the 11th of February pertaining to
two Bills that had been passed, particularly the media Bill. I’m not sure if
that forms the basis of my being declared a prohibited person in Zimbabwe."

He said he was not sure if the prohibition banned him from entering Zimbabwe
for life or if it would extend only until after this weekend’s presidential

Gumani, whose organisation last month said it was considering challenging
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill passed by
Parliament, said he had travelled to Zimbabwe to meet officials of the
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ).

He said his discussions with ZUJ would have centred on the suspension from
the union of former Financial Gazette Special Projects Editor Basildon Peta,
who resigned last month after controversy following a story he wrote for a
British publication.

"I was supposed to do an investigation to get the facts," Gumani said,
adding that progress on his organisation’s plans to challenge Zimbabwe’s
information Bill could only be made after face-to-face meetings with local

"Part of my discussions with ZUJ and with other stakeholders were to look at
the implications of this Bill. There will be progress once we are able to
interact with all the interested parties," he said.

"This has nothing to do with electioneering. The Bill will outlive the
elections and whoever wins the elections will have to live with the
implications of the Bill. That’s why we feel we have to look into its
implications on the operations of journalists."

The Immigration Department had by yesterday not responded to questions from
this newspaper on Gumani’s deportation sent to it earlier.

— Staff Reporter

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Army on high alert

By David Masunda Deputy Editor-in-Chief
3/7/02 3:28:20 AM (GMT +2)

ALL armed forces have been placed on alert, their leave cancelled and those
living outside the barracks ordered to stay at home as Zimbabwean
authorities prepare for trouble after this weekend’s explosive vote, it was
learnt this week.

President Robert Mugabe, the supreme commander of the armed forces, has also
recalled some soldiers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to
beef up security as the country gears up for the most fiercely contested
presidential election since independence from Britain in 1980, official
sources said.

Mugabe squares up against Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in a tricky two-day election over the

Unprecedented levels of violence, intimidation and vitriol — largely blamed
on Mugabe and his supporters — have raised the country’s political
temperature ahead of the ballot.

The MDC this week said 34 of its supporters had been killed in
state-sanctioned violence since electioneering began in earnest in January.

Sources in the army said the majority of the soldiers had been ordered to
remain in the barracks as from last month while those who live in towns have
been told to be on alert at home and warned not to travel out of town.

The sources said many serving former black members of the Rhodesian army,
suspected by the army’s ZANU PF-dominated high command of supporting the
MDC, were transferred from the restive Matabeleland provinces during the
last few months.

Residents of the two provinces and the nearby Midlands have already
complained that thousands of soldiers deployed in the areas as replacements
are harassing them.

Among the soldiers hastily withdrawn from the DRC under the pretext of
adhering to the Lusaka peace plan signed between the belligerent forces in
July 1999 is a battalion from the Mutare-based 3 Brigade, the sources said.

Brian Raftopoulos, an independent analyst, said there was real concern that
Zimbabwe could slide into anarchy after the highly contested weekend vote.

"Whoever wins, there is going to be problems after this election. It is
going to be very dangerous," Raftopoulos, a lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, told the Financial Gazette.

"If Mugabe loses, people in his party are going to make trouble and he will
certainly encourage that," Raftopoulos noted.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 22 years and has repeatedly
warned that he will never allow Tsvangirai to take over power.

"I hope that for once the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) will
take a firm position to get some calm in the country if Tsvangirai wins,"
Raftopoulos said.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeremayi this week however denied that the
withdrawal of the troops from the DRC was linked to the weekend poll.

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Vote scam exposed

By Abel Mutsakani News Editor
3/7/02 3:24:27 AM (GMT +2)

THE government has quietly — some say illegally — been registering voters
well after the publicly announced official closure of the voters’ roll, a
development that has cast serious doubt on the validity of the weekend
presidential election.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday said it will
today seek nullification by the High Court of a supplementary voters’roll
prepared after the January 27 deadline for voter registration, adding high
drama to an election already marred by violence and countless accusations of

Several lawyers told the Financial Gazette yesterday the MDC had a strong
case against the government.

After several extensions from the initial December 9 2001 deadline, the
final date for voters to register for the weekend ballot was set for January
27 2002.

But government loyalist Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar-general in charge of
the voters’ registration and conduct of the poll, continued registering
voters ¾ only closing the rolls on March 3 2002.

Mudede and the government did not advertise the extension of the voter
registration nor did they enact a law legalising the exercise.

Mugabe, using his sweeping presidential powers, only decreed Statutory
Instrument 41D on March 5 2002 to allow for the extension of the
registration after this newspaper had received numerous calls from members
of the public that thousands of voters in mostly Mashonaland, Mugabe’s
stronghold, were still registering.

Both Mudede and Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who controls the
registrar-general’s office, could not be reached for comment up to the time
of going to print last night. Their offices said they were engaged in

The Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the body which under the
constitution is supposed to supervise the registration of voters and the
conduct of elections, could only admit yesterday that voter registration had
been extended to March 3.

The ESC, whose admission came only after inquiries checking on why the
voters’ roll had been kept open, said in a statement:

"The registrar-general had to extend the closure of the voters’ roll to the
3rd of March to accommodate voters who registered after the 27th January
2002 in terms of Section 5 of statutory Instrument 41 D of 2002."

The ESC, decried by its critics as a toothless bulldog, could not say how
many voters were on the controversial supplementary roll prepared by Mudede
after January 27.

Nor could it explain why the extension of voter registration was never
advertised and why enabling legislation was only enacted after the extension
had been made.

The ESC yesterday referred all questions to Mudede.

Many Zimbabweans, especially in the opposition’s urban strongholds, did not
know that the registration was still open up to March 3.

Many who could have benefited were left out in the extended exercise which
sources say was carried out mainly in rural areas, where Mugabe believes he
still has strong support.

Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, a coalition of local non-governmental organisations involved in
voter education, said: "To be honest, we did not know that the voters’ roll
was still open."

Paul Themba Nyathi, the elections director of the MDC, said the opposition
party was never told that the government had extended voter registration.

At a later stage when the MDC became aware that Mudede had continued
registering voters, the party wrote to Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
urging him to intervene and stop the illegal exercise, Nyathi said. But
Chihuri did not act.

"This thing was not gazetted. We were never told about it and we are
challenging it in the courts. We want the courts to declare that
supplementary roll null and void," Nyathi said.

Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said: "What the government did is
not legal and it could be challenged in court."

Leading advocate Adrian de Bourbon concurred, saying: "No one knew the
voters’ roll was still open. There is a strong case there for (the MDC)."

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Mugabe gives himself pay rise

Staff Reporter
3/7/02 3:23:43 AM (GMT +2)

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who faces the toughest election of his presidency
at the weekend, has awarded himself a salary increment, it has been

Although a notice in last week’s Government Gazette did not mention Mugabe’s
previous pay, it says he will now take home an untaxed $1.3 million a year,
far more than what he earns now.

The salary and allowance increases are backdated to January and include a
Cabinet allowance of $537 600, a general allowance of $336 000 and a housing
allowance of $470 268.

Many analysts however say opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is
expected to trounce Mugabe if the weekend poll is free and fair, could be
the one to enjoy the new pay increase.

Independent polls have shown Tsvangirai leading the veteran ZANU PF leader,
in power for 22 years, if a free and fair ballot is conducted. — Staff


Shock Mugabe

3/7/02 3:35:20 AM (GMT +2)

MARTIN Luther King Junior, the slain American civil rights icon, had this to
say in 1963, the height of the struggle for freedom by United States civil
rights groups:
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given
by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Zimbabwe’s long-promised moment of reckoning has finally come.

It beckons all patriotic and valiant citizens to stand up with one voice to
tell one Robert Mugabe: Mr President, please go and go now.

The presidential vote on Saturday and Sunday gives all of you, victims of
tyranny and madness of two decades, an historic and very last chance to free
yourselves from modern history’s worst dictatorship and to reclaim your lost

Please show Mugabe and his cronies that your long suffering, coupled with
the murder of 20 000 other Zimbabweans who dared to challenge him, has been
your best teacher and no one will ever forget.

Show the mandarins of Mugabe’s governing ZANU PF that you know better. That
all the naked lies and half-truths they have thrown at you every day and at
every hour cannot and will never break the free human spirit.

Shock the Old Man of Zimbabwean politics into his long-delayed retirement.
Whether he retires to his home village of Zvimba or Malaysia or Thailand is
not an issue.

Shock him by voting overwhelmingly for a new era that is firmly anchored in
palpable peace, justice and prosperity — and not in the murder, rape,
torture and starvation of so many innocents in the land.

Shock him by massively rejecting the poverty and squalor that have become
your daily lives in this brave 21st century and in a country so rich with
both man-made and God’s resources.

Shock him by demonstrating that ZANU PF’s death threats to force you to
attend his many rallies in the past month cannot and will not alter your

In short, reclaim your fundamental right to choose and all the other
freedoms that you have lost under Mugabe’s iron-fisted regime.

Vote in a resounding way so that Mugabe does not only learn the hard lessons
of history but that no other Zimbabwean will ever again subject his or her
countrymen to such intolerable arrogance and madness.

Your destiny is entirely in your hands. No one else — no matter what ZANU PF
and its war veterans and militia tell you — will ever know how you voted.

Your vote is totally secret and is your biggest weapon to usher in a new and
peaceful revolution in the motherland, which has yearned for years to join
the rest of the world in humanity’s hurried march towards a better life for

The ballot gives you the very last opportunity to banish Mugabe to the
political wilderness, where he should be, and to deprive him of a political
office which he has sadly turned into a professional job.

Don’t be afraid, don’t be intimidated and don’t lose heart. Your vote, all
of you Zimbabweans, will sink Mugabe forever and there is nothing he can do
about this.

Don’t let your children and Zimbabwe’s future generations condemn you for
gross cowardice and dereliction of duty by failing to do the right thing
just because the going was too hard at the time.

Reject ZANU PF’s cheap propaganda which treats you like children by telling
you that Morgan Tsvangirai, who represents a new beginning and hope for the
nation, wants Britain and its leader Tony Blair to re-colonise Zimbabwe.

This absolute nonsense is being peddled by desperate men and women who have
willy-nilly abused you over the years but are now too terrified of being
thrown out of power — power which only you can give and take away from them.

These are the same people who have abused your hard-earned taxes — record
high taxes you have willingly paid every year while foregoing a normal life
that you are entitled to — to fan mindless violence against you, your
children and your families.

Because the authors of violence and intimidation now want your vote, they
are predictably promising you heaven on earth so late in the day. Tell them
thanks but no.

These are the same bullies who have threatened to seize power should
Tsvangirai win the vote. But be assured that they will not do that because
they will be crushed by people power, no doubt aided by a world horrified by
this Taliban-style regime.

These are the same people who have taken extraordinary measures to try to
rig the ballot, but you can bury the plot by voting overwhelmingly for

Please show them that you have been taken for granted and lied to for too
long. Show them that Zimbabwe is bigger than Mugabe or Tsvangirai or anyone

May God bless Zimbabwe.
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--> FinGaz

ZANU PF threatens coup

By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor
3/7/02 3:22:53 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE’S ruling ZANU PF party this week said it will support a seizure of
power by the army if President Robert Mugabe loses this weekend’s landmark
presidential election to his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).

In an interview televised by the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s
Special Assignment programme on Tuesday night, ZANU PF’s external affairs
chief Didymus Mutasa warned that there would be mayhem in the entire
southern Africa region if Zimbabweans voted Tsvangirai into power.

Tsvangirai poses the deadliest challenge to Mugabe’s 22-year rule, which has
been marked by a deepening economic and political crisis which threatens to
trigger social upheaval in the country.

Mutasa told SABC that for many Zimbabweans, an MDC government would be
anathema — the same as that of Ian Smith, the last premier of Rhodesia, the
British colony that became independent Zimbabwe in 1980.

Mutasa, who last July also warned that his party would take up arms if his
party lost the weekend ballot, said: "I do not think that the majority of
our people want to live under an MDC government. People have said being
ruled by the MDC is being ruled by Ian Smith.

"Many, many of us did not go to fight the settler regime in order to install
a British puppet like Tsvangirai. Under these circumstances, if there were
to be a coup, we would support it very definitely."

Mutsa’s comments immediately drew condemnation from the MDC and raised the
political temperature in the country, already buffeted by a series of crises
which include shortages of the staple food and surging political violence.

Analysts and civil society groups attacked Mutasa’s statements as
"irresponsible" and said they indicated the ruling party’s contempt for
democratic processes and were aimed at intimidating voters on the eve of the
country’s most crucial ballot in two decades.

MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said: "Mutasa’s statement stands in sharp
contrast and appears to override the undertaking given to foreign observers
by ZANU PF’s secretary for administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week
that ZANU PF will respect the people’s will and accept the party’s impending
defeat at the hands of the people in the forthcoming poll."

Andrew Nongogo, a spokesman for Crisis in Zimbabwe civic rights group, said:
"That (statement) is supposed to be an intimidatory tactic. We, as the
people of Zimbabwe, will not support a coup and ZANU PF must accept the will
of the people.

"ZANU PF doesn’t have the right to rule in Zimbabwe if the people say they
want someone else to form the next government."

Mutasa’s comments follows a stunning intervention in Zimbabwean politics by
the country’s generals, who in January issued a rare statement saying they
would not support any president who had not fought in Zimbabwe’s 1970s
independence war.

This was interpreted as meaning that they would not support Tsvangirai’s
poll win.

Commentators yesterday said ZANU PF’s repeated threats of war and coups were
aimed at instilling fear into voters, already troubled by runway political
violence and intimidation blamed on ZANU PF’s supporters, the so-called war

The violence, which has killed more than 31 people since January and
displaced at least 70 000 from their homes, has contributed to widespread
tension and trepidation among Zimbabweans as they wait to cast their votes
at the weekend.

Analysts said the violence and instability following a coup would not only
force thousands more Zimbabweans from their homes and out of the country as
refugees, but would also worsen the country’s already dire economic woes.

Zimbabwe is battling its worst economic crisis since independence and is
facing severe hunger which can only be alleviated by significant foreign
funding. A military coup would only discourage any foreign assistance for
Zimbabwe, the analysts said.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe said: "The
commission wishes to appeal to the winner to celebrate peacefully and the
loser to accept the news gracefully and to remember that there is always a
next time."

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