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

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Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 7:43 AM

News Release


Exiled Zimbabweans and human rights activists are to present a petition to the House of Lords on Wednesday, 9th March, urging action to try to ensure that the parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe on 31st March are free and fair.

The petition will be handed to Baroness Park, who is to lead a debate on Zimbabwe at 3 pm. Baroness Park served in the diplomatic service in Africa and has taken a close interest in Zimbabwe. She is a former principal of Somerville College, Oxford, and an ex-governor of the BBC.

The petition was signed by more than 10,000 people at the Zimbabwe Vigil, which is held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy every Saturday in support of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The original signatures are being submitted to the Prime Minister of Mauritius, the current chair of the Southern African Development Community and therefore overseer of the election protocol agreed by SADC last year to which Zimbabwe was a signatory.

The Zimbabwe Vigil says it is already clear that Zimbabwe has flouted the election guidelines. It is urging SADC, which is to send an observer mission to Zimbabwe, to do everything it can, even at this late stage, to try to make the elections as free and fair as possible.

Western powers, including the United Kingdom, have not been invited to observe the elections.

Contact details

Dennis Benton, 07932 193 467

Wiz Bishop, 07963 521 160



Vigil co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London,takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil whichstarted in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide

Josef Stalin.


- Tobacco - Joe Whaley
- TESCO's Update - John Hickson
- Of MF, Bumper Harvests, and Polls - Stu Taylor
- Voting, or Roll over and Die - Simply Simon
- Voting in OZ - Another ZIMBO
- Voting - Ann Hein
- Beware - More Con Men - A friend of JAG
- Note - Scam RE: Maria Stevens - Lorraine
- Thanks JAG - Nev & Edite Pearce
- Looking for Friends - Jane Deary
- Warwick Birth - Warwick + Dick families


LETTER 1: TOBACCO, received 6.3.2005

Dear JAG

I am very concerned at the number of reports I am getting of tobacco
production being sponsored by tobacco multi-national companies on our farms
that have not as yet been legally acquired and nor has the equipment been
paid for or compensated. My farm is one in question and I am currently "in
discussion" with ZLT, I put this in inverted commas as I have not as yet
had the courtesy of a reply to my letter of the 14th December 2004.

I feel very strongly that we need to address this anomaly, it is bad enough
being robbed of our livlihood and property by our own government, but when
multinational companies become an integral part of this we must seek

I have a few contacts of people who feel the same as I do, I request anyone
else out there who has knowledge of similar practices on their own or
neighbouring farms to contact me so that we can collate for an action
against these international thieves.

Yours sincerely
Joe Whaley


LETTER 2: RE: TESCO'S UPDATE, received 5.3.2005

by John Hickson

Dear JAG

Further to the concern, described in JAG OLF, that Tesco have been buying
vegetables grown on stolen farms in Zimbabwe I wrote to Tesco on 8 December
2004. In my letter I noted that a Sue Shearer of Tesco Customer Services
had replied in an astonishing matter to earlier concerns: she had for
example written: 'we work with four suppliers who are all involved with the
government at the highest level.' She went on to say: 'If we ever decided
to pull out, it would cause a major deficit to the income of the area,
causing it to revert to a Third World State..our growers in Zimbabwe
provide much-needed jobs for many people.we work extensively with the ETI
to ensure worker' welfare is maintained and regular meetings are held to
discuss the wider political situation.'

A subsequent letter from one Jillian Burns of Tesco took a different line
and noted that Tesco was 'working with' growers who were 'working under
constant threats.'

In my letter I asked which position Tesco actually embraced and whether
they would disassociate themselves from the earlier Shearer letter. I went
on to note:

'There is but one statement that Tesco can make to resolve this matter and
it goes as follows:

'We are able to confirm that all Tesco products from Zimbabwe are produced
on land which is owned by the producer or upon which the owner has freely
and without pressure agreed that the crops might be produced. Tesco
officers, visiting Zimbabwe, have visited the growers and have either:

Confirmed that they are in fact the registered owners of the land through
scrutiny of original title deeds or

Confirmed that those who the title deeds show to be the owners of the land
have given formal and legal agreement, obtained without any inappropriate
pressure of any kind, that the product may be produced on that land.

The properties upon which a Tesco product is grown are: X farm, Y farm, Z

If you can do that, or something like it, then I would suggest you do so at
the earliest possible opportunity. If you cannot I would be grateful for
an appropriate explanation. Should I not receive such an explanation I
will write to your board of directors until such an explanation is
forthcoming. Should such also prove unproductive then I will be obliged to
assume that your operations in Zimbabwe are essentially indefensible and
will seek, with others, to organize the maximum possible public exposure of


In response I received an e mail telling me that a reply would be delayed
for seven days. It took, in fact, two chasers, and over two months for
Tesco to reply which they have now done as follows:


Thank you for your reply.

As a company, we source products only from approved farms, which comply
with our stringent standards. None of the farms that supply Tesco, have
undergone a change of ownership.

We will continue to maintain contact with the current supply base under the
present owners, with whom we have developed good business relationships
over the past few years.

We are committed to sourcing product from Zimbabwe, as significant
investments, with Tesco in mind, have been made over the past 10 years.

I trust this has addressed your concerns.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at quoting TES368194X.


Sue Shearer
Tesco Customer Service

I have replied as follows:

Dear Sue Shearer,

Thank you for your message of 28 November.

Whilst we are glad to note that none of the Zimbabwean farms that supply
Tesco have undergone a change of ownership your communication does not
adopt, or even come close to adopting, the uncomplicated and undemanding
formula that I suggested in my earlier correspondence. Nor does it
disassociate Tesco from, or withdraw, the comments made in your first
letter on this subject ('we work with four suppliers who are all involved
with the government at the highest level.'etc) You do not go nearly far

The farms that supply Tesco have not undergone a change of ownership..since
when? Ownership now counts for only so much in Zimbabwean agriculture. Are
the farms wholly occupied by the original owners? Are those producing your
products able to do so without inappropriate political pressure or
concession? Are they obliged to work with, or contribute to, Mugabe's
regime in a manner that the ordinary person would find unpalatable? Is
their identity a secret of some kind? If so, why? Your colleague Jillian
Burns described growers working under constant threat. Do they continue to
resist these threats?

You will understand by now that the connection of a reputable and
successful British company with Mugabe's land grab would be an extremely
worrying one. And people are worried. We would all welcome with the
greatest enthusiasm, relief and good will an assurance that your dealings
with Zimbabwe are wholly above the board, decent and honourable. But so far
such an assurance has not been forthcoming.

Please could you now offer such a reassurance?

Yours faithfully

John Hickson

We will let JAG know what happens next.


LETTER 3: Of MF, BUMBER HARVESTS, and POLLS, received 4.3.2005

by Stu Taylor

Dear JAG

So what if Massey Ferguson want to supply the Zimbabwe government with
tractors? They won't get paid for them (not with legal tender anyway), so
that will be their loss at the end of the day; and then the world's
moralists can boycott Massey-Ferguson out of business - end of story!!!

Zimbabwe, according to one Robert Gabriel, has experienced a bumper harvest
- of maize one would presume - why then did my workers ask me to bring some
of the staple back with me from a recent trip to Mozambique (who, until not
too long ago, depended on Zimbabwe for food)? You see, they are (my
workers) not "party" card holders, so cannot even buy maize locally - which
leads us to the polls: on 31st March those of you who have not been
disenfranchised have a chance to rid the country of those who have betrayed
us. If the majority of you put a little thought to it, vote with your
hearts and not your trembling knees, you could turn the tables on these
guys who have bullied us for so long.

The chances are slim, but remember David and Goliath - go well, all you
good Zimbabweans out there, it is only a minority that holds us to ransom.

Stu Taylor.


LETTER 4: VOTING or ROLL OVER AND DIE, received 7.3.2005

by Simply Simon

Dear Zimboz

Well then, why don't we just roll over and die?

It doesn't matter, its too far, its too expensive, its too difficult, our
vote wont count anyway, the election is rigged.

Ok, well then roll over.....

But if Zimbabwe is important to you....

get up and do something about what is happening to you. Call your local MP,
lobby the Australian government, get a group of friends together and come
home and vote.

But don't give up on your home country. Its beautiful. Its worth fighting

Simply Simon


LETTER 5: VOTING IN OZ, received 5.3.2005

by another ZIMBO

Dear Zimboz

I am sure a lot of us from Zim now living in Australia have made the same
enquiries as you about casting our vote.

We, after enquiring, were lead to believe that our votes could be cast via
visiting Canberra. Perhaps this is wrong?

However, if this is true, then flying to Canberra even on the very little
money that we earn in Australia, is by no ways an impossible expense and in
fact, with the 3 internal airlines in desperate competition with each other
here, the flight can be made from many places in Australia at an affordable
cost.. Flying back to Zim. - well that is an expense that most of us will
never be able to afford being over $2000 00AUD. It does not compare.

We earn very little but have managed to fly often to different places in
Australia due to the extremely cheap sale prices and "Rush hour" fares on

Flying to Canberra to cast ones vote if allowed, should be looked at as not
only helping Zim.and our people back there but could count as a cheap quick
visit to yet another wonderful part of Australia. Enjoy it for two

another ZIMBO


LETTER 6: VOTING, received 7.3.2005

by Ann Hein

Dear JAG

I see all the letters re voting - I suggest that all out of here send their
votes either singly or in bundles of those getting together, with a
numbered list for their country of present residence, as proof, al to the
local consulate. If nothing else they will get an idea of how many people
wanted to vote, and what they wanted to say.

Best wishes.
Ann Hein


LETTER 7: BEWARE - MORE CON MEN!, received 4.3.2005

by A friend of JAG

Dear JAG

We strenuously support the warning given by C Taylor concerning the
activities of Ronald Marufe. We suspect he is also known as Ronald Makombe.
The description of his modus operandi is exactly how we were conned; his
credibility he enhanced by being ' well connected ' to important people in
Government, the party and the Attorney Generals office. By arrangement
with others on the ground, he made early minor recoveries, which ensured
ones hope and support for bigger success. Then, at greater cost, more
stories told which gave more hope, and again minor recoveries which were
worthless anyway. BEWARE !

A friend of JAG


LETTER 8: NOTE - SCAM RE: MARIA STEVENS, received 5.3.2005

by Lorraine

Dear JAG staff

I know Maria Stevens and Lorraine who wrote this letter. Maria was my next
door neighbour and I feel that it is important that you pass this on.

Geraldine Melrose.

----- Original Message -----
To: "John & Geraldine Melrose"
Sent: Saturday, March 05, 2005 2:32 PM
Subject: Identity theft

Hi Geraldine,

I hope you are well, l will send some news soon, right now we have a bit
of a problem which needs to be networked out to every Zimbabwean we can

A group of unscrupulous people are appealing for help on Marias' behalf,
Maria and I have not seen the e-mails we have only spoken to people who
have had them and been concerned enough to check. Maria is not involved at
all and is very upset by it.

What is happening is the appeal for help is going to Zimbabweans all over
the world, it seems very authentic, quoting lawyers, giving numbers to call
etc etc etc. The bottom line is that it is a scam to steal peoples
identites and bank information. These e-mails should be deleted on sight.
The British, Canadian and South African Police have all been contacted.

We would appreciate it if you could ask everyone on your mailing list to
network to their friends so that no-one can be harmed by this scam. Marias
e-mail is not working at present so she could not send this request to you

Will be in touch again soon, if you would like any more details please do
not hesitate to contact either of us.

Bye for now


LETTER 9: THANKS JAG, received 4.3.2005

by Nev & Edite Pearce

Dear JAG

Nev & I just want you to know how much we appreciate your continual
correspondence and always letting us know up to date news. Honestly, we
would be lost without you.

Keep up the good work and thank you once again.

Nev & Edite Pearce


LETTER 10: LOOKING FOR FRIENDS, received 5.3.2005

by Jane Deary


I have lost touch with my friends Carol Millar and Robyn Searson, can
anyone in your office help me either with contact to them, or can send me
Duncan Millar's e mail address, so that I can communicate with him.


Jane Deary


LETTER 11: WARWICK BIRTH, received 7.3.2005

by Warwick+Dick families

WARWICK. To Tirzah (nee Dick, ex Karoi) and Troy, a son Luke Benjamin
weighing in at 8 lbs. 5 ozs., 21 and a quarter inches long, at 3 mins. past
12 the morning of the 7th March, 2005 in Lafayette, Colorado, U.S.A.
Brother to Rachel (born Nov., '01). Grandson to Ron and Antoinette Dick
(now Kentucky).

Warwick+Dick families


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
please don't hesitate to contact us -
we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines

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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Bulawayo Waits for Change

Young voters in an opposition stronghold express a mix of idealism and

By Chiedza Simbi in Bulawayo (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 13,

Young people in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, are filled with a strange
mixture of high hopes, gloom and indifference ahead of the country's sixth
parliamentary elections in three weeks time.

Faced with an unemployment level approaching 80 per cent, many Zimbabwean
youths are leaving by the hundreds to join the estimated two million
political and economic refugees already looking for work in neighbouring
South Africa.

One of the optimists is 19-year-old Nompilo Ncube, who currently earns a
pittance as a part-time disc-jockey at parties in Magwegwe township. He has
an almost nave belief that the March 31 ballot will provide the ticket to
achieving his dream of becoming a teacher.

Ncube, a dreadlocked activist for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, which enjoys wide support in the city, told IWPR, "I just want
a job, to buy my own house and property, and live like our parents used to
before the country got so hard to live in.

"I am just keeping my fingers crossed that we win the parliamentary
elections and get our members to fill at least two-thirds of the seats so
that they can solve this issue of jobs for us."

This is an unduly optimistic belief. His namesake Pius Ncube, the Roman
Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, has said that the election is already been
heavily rigged in favour of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

"If there was a free and fair election, ZANU PF would get 30 per cent or
less of the vote," said the cleric, who has been likened to his
fellow-archbishop Desmond Tutu, who resolutely fought apartheid in South

Archbishop Ncube, a fierce critic of Mugabe, alleges that the vote-rigging
has probably already bagged two million of the possible five and a half
million ballots for ZANU PF. Ncube predicts that the MDC will end up with no
more than 30 to 40 of the 120 directly elected parliamentary seats, against
around 90 for ZANU PF.

Amid Zimbabwe's burgeoning unemployment and poverty, many thousands of young
people have been forced to abandon their studies midstream because they
cannot pay their tuition fees.

Shepherd Chingunduru has six Ordinary-level passes but is unable to step up
to the pre-university Advanced level because his widowed mother can't afford
the bills. The 22-year-old MDC supporter says that he is now praying that
the elections will usher in a change of government.

"I will be voting for change, and if it comes then I am sure things will get
better for me," he said.

"I hope to have money to take my A-levels and then study medicine. I hope
also that jobs will increase and health facilities be improved."

Mthulisi Moyo, a final year journalism student at the National University of
Science and Technology in Bulawayo, showed a certain amount of cynicism -
admitting that he would vote for any candidate who takes student concerns

Currently, a university undergraduate receives less than 200,000 Zimbabwe
dollars - around 33 US dollars - a month from the government, and Moyo wants
that sum tripled to help him cope with constant increases in the cost of
living fuelled by runaway inflation which last year reached 623 per cent.

"I think I will vote for progress, development and empowerment," said Moyo.
"Any candidate that will promise these will have my support. I don't care
what party they represent."

Ncube, Chingunduru and Moyo are unusual inasmuch they do intend to vote.
Many of their fellow students say that they won't bother, believing that
politicians of all stripes are intent only on winning power for themselves
rather than empowering the electorate.

But both voters and non-voters among the student community are appalled by
the advanced ages of many candidates. "Most of them are way past their
sell-by date," commented polytechnic student Dumisani Moyo.

"They won't do much for us, so why go and vote? There is little room for
young Zimbabweans to enter politics because of the patriarchal set-up of
both ZANU PF and MDC."

Chiedza Simbi is the pseudonym for an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe

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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Comment: Southern Africa Must Show its Teeth

Unfair elections in Zimbabwe may damage the reputations of southern African
states that look the other way.

By Allister Sparks in Johannesburg (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No
13, 08-Mar-05)

Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections are fast becoming less a test of
President Robert Mugabe's credibility, which is already in tatters, but that
of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, the region's premier
political grouping.

The 14-nation organisation expended energy six months ago drafting
guidelines for free and fair elections at a summit in Mauritius, a document
that won worldwide acclaim.

It was even signed by President Mugabe. Yet the SADC is showing a painful
lack of political will to apply it in Zimbabwe.

The organisation has all the teeth it needs to enforce compliance. The
guidelines are embedded in the 1992 SADC Treaty and are binding on member

Sanctions can be applied against a member country which violates the
guidelines or "implements policies which undermine the principles and
objectives of SADC".

Zimbabwe has done both, yet SADC remains silent and Mugabe continues to
treat the guidelines with contempt.

A little real pressure - such as a stern warning that unless the guidelines
are complied with, the SADC observer team will have to declare the elections
illegitimate - would surely have brought Mugabe to heel. He may not give a
damn about condemnation from British prime minister Tony Blair, United
States president George Bush or the European Union, but he certainly would
not want to be censured by his fellow Africans.

Of course, any such warning would have to carry a credible threat of
implementation - and this is where SADC falls down. Mugabe counts on his
regional partners not having the stomach to act against him, and so he leads
them a merry dance.

In the end, it is SADC more than the Zimbabwean leader that will pay the
price in terms of lost credibility in the developed world, where it has an
important role to play in negotiating a better deal for the struggling
nations of Africa.

South African president Thabo Mbeki's doctrine of delivering good governance
in Africa in exchange for better trading opportunities in the developed
world will be the prime victim.

Incredibly, Mbeki has provoked astonishment and anger by saying Zimbabwe's
March 31 elections - already heavily rigged by Mugabe - will be free and

Pius Ncube, the outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, has
observed that Mbeki "would be booed in the streets" if he was to speak to
Zimbabwe's ordinary people and ask them what they thought about his view of
their country.

The archbishop, who said he had refused an offer from Mugabe of a
confiscated white farm in exchange for keeping silent, said, "The people
don't know why Mbeki is supporting Mugabe. They don't understand it. The
people of Zimbabwe have no respect for Mbeki."

By contrast, Zwelinzima Vavi, the leader of the Congress of South African
Trade Unions, Cosatu - the key partner of Mbeki's ruling African National
Congress - has said it is already too late to save Zimbabwe's electoral
process, and that the political dice are so irretrievably stacked against
the opposition that, with only three weeks to go, the election cannot
possibly be free and fair.

And George Bizos, the renowned South African human rights lawyer who
defended Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia trial 40 years ago, said in a recent
interview in London, "Mr Mugabe would like this election to be certified as
free and fair in the hope of getting some relief from the terrible situation
which he has led his country to.

"I don't think that he should get such a certificate, because in order to
have a free and fair election you have to have the rule of law, an impartial
and independent judiciary., prosecuting authority and competent police
force. None of these things exist, nor can they be put in place before
election day."

In a recent radio interview, Mbeki spoke positively about the appointment of
an independent electoral commission in Zimbabwe. He also expressed
confidence that an SADC observer team would be invited to the country, as
required by SADC guidelines. His foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,
said she also believed the elections would be free and fair, and pointed out
that President Mugabe had called for a violence-free election.

There are gaping holes in these assertions. Mugabe's call for a peaceful
election is meaningless, since it is his government that instigated the
violent repression of opponents which has been going on for years. The ZANU
PF youth militia - the so-called Green Bombers - along with the police and
army, are still intimidating and beating up opposition supporters, while the
government is blatantly using food distribution in the starving rural areas
to secure support for the ruling party.

Free electioneering is impossible. Under the notorious Public Order and
Security Act - resembling similar repressive legislation in the old
apartheid South Africa - the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC,
must apply for police permission to hold meetings, and this is frequently
turned down.

Nor does the opposition have fair access to the state-owned media, as SADC
guidelines require. When the MDC launched its election campaign it was, for
the first time, given airtime on state television in the form of a
four-minute report. But this was immediately followed by a two-hour
interview with President Mugabe. State-owned newspapers - and so serious has
been the crackdown on the media that there is no longer an independent daily
press - refuse to accept paid MDC election advertisements while publishing
reams of free ZANU PF propaganda.

The most important independent newspaper, the Daily News, remains banned.
The Supreme Court was to deliver judgement on an appeal against the ban on
February 7, and rumour has it the ruling is in the paper's favour, but
nothing has yet appeared.

Last month, three leading Zimbabwe-based journalists - Jan Raath, Angus Shaw
and Brian Latham - fled the country after heavy-handed police raids and the
seizure of their equipment.

As for the "independent" electoral body, it is nothing of the sort. The
opposition was presented with a short-list of candidates, none of whom was
acceptable to them. "All we could do was choose the least bad," they said.
To cap that, the president made one of his most controversial appointments
by naming a judge who is one of his loyalists to chair the election

Moreover, and crucially, this new commission is pure window-dressing. It is
not the supreme body in charge of the election, but is subordinate to
another body, the Electoral Supervisory Commission, made up entirely of
staunch ZANU PF loyalists.

But worst of all is the absence of independent observer teams to take note
of these delinquencies and to pressure the Mugabe government into complying
with SADC guidelines. Observer teams from Britain, the Commonwealth, the US
and the EU have been banned by Mugabe. The SADC's own observer team should
have been allowed into the country 90 days before polling day, but it is yet
to arrive.

The reason for all this obfuscation is blindingly obvious. The critical
rigging is being done in advance and the regime wants no truly independent
observers around to see what is happening. Carefully selected observers will
be allowed in only once the nefarious work is completed.

Will these observers ignore what went on prior to their arrival, and blandly
proclaim the election to have been free and fair? That is what the Mugabe
regime is counting on them doing. It will be a travesty if they play ball.

As for the SADC, any such connivance would be a monumental blunder. Its
reputation is far more important in the southern Africa region than any
futile attempt to save face for Mugabe. It needs to speak up and show that
it has the courage of its own stated principles.

Allister Sparks is a distinguished author and international prize-winning
journalist, who was editor of the Rand Daily Mail before becoming Africa
correspondent of the Washington Post and the London Observer.

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Business Day

Zimbabwe Attorney-General files appeal against release of mercenaries

The Zimbabwean Attorney-General has filed an appeal against the early
release of 62 alleged South African mercenaries, SABC radio news reported on
Tuesday night.

The Zimbabwean High Court last week reduced their sentences with four
months, meaning that they could be released immediately.

The Attorney-General, however, asked his country's Supreme Court to overturn
the High Court decision.

He told the SABC the suspension of a sentence for early release of a
prisoner only applied to Zimbabwean citizens. That legal provision was
"superfluous" for foreigners, because they were not controlled by Zimbabwe.

The men were expected to be released and bussed back to South Africa on
either Monday or Tuesday. By late Tuesday afternoon there

was no sign of them at the Beit Bridge border post where their attorney
Alwyn Griebenow and a small contingent of journalists were


Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa knew nothing about the new twist in
the mercenary saga.

"I spoke to our ambassador in Zimbabwe and he has not been officially
informed of this," Mamoepa told Sapa.

Griebenow could not be located for comment on Tuesday night.

Seventy men were originally arrested in March last year in connection with
an alleged coup d'etat in Equatorial Guinea were still in Zimbabwe.

Two were acquitted, two more freed for medical reasons, and one died in

Of the remaining 65, 62 would have been free to come home. Two pilots and
alleged coup leader Simon Mann would have to remain in Zimbabwe to serve the
remainder of their longer sentences, according to Griebenow.

The pilots got 16 month sentences, and Mann was sentenced to seven years'
imprisonment later reduced to four years.

The group was arrested at Harare International Airport when they apparently
landed to refuel and pick up military equipment. They were all travelling on
South African passports.

Zimbabwean authorities said they were on their way to join 15 other
suspected mercenaries - including eight South Africans - arrested in
Equatorial Guinea around the same time.

They were accused of planning to overthrow Equatorial Guinea's leader
Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The men denied the charges, claiming they were on their way to the
Democratic Republic of Congo to guard mines. They were convicted of
breaching Zimbabwe's aviation, immigration, firearms and security laws.

British businessman Mark Thatcher, accused of partly financing the alleged
coup plot, was fined R3 million in January after pleading guilty to
contravening South African anti-mercenary laws.
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Why South Africa does not criticise Mugabe
By Joseph Winter
BBC News

South Africa is seen as the key international player in efforts to
find a way out of Zimbabwe's political impasse, but in the run-up to
parliamentary elections it is coming under increased pressure from all

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki last week shocked Zimbabwe's
opposition by saying the elections would be free and fair.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has long accused Mr Mbeki of
being too soft on President Robert Mugabe through his policy of "quiet
diplomacy", and has urged him to get tough.

And the Zimbabwe government has not made life easy for South Africa by
accusing it of spying.

Three prominent Zimbabweans, including two senior officials of Mr
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, were jailed last month after being convicted of
passing intelligence to a South African secret agent.


Last year, US President George W Bush said Mr Mbeki was the "point
man" on Zimbabwe, and so his verdict on the elections will be studied

But the MDC says that by declaring the results in advance, Mr Mbeki
has lost an opportunity to keep the pressure on Zimbabwe during the election

Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos from the University of Zimbabwe
says that Zimbabwe was always confident that its neighbours would not
criticise the conduct of its elections whatever happened - and this was why
it felt able to arrest the spies.

Indeed, South African observers gave a clean bill of health to the
2000 and 2002 elections, which most other monitors said were marred by
widespread violence and fraud.

South Africa's refusal to publicly criticise Mr Mugabe has often been
explained as solidarity stemming from a common struggle against white
minority rule.

Wrong faction

But Chris Maroleng, from South Africa's Institute of Security Studies,
says that is too simplistic, because the ANC and Zanu-PF were never allies
during the struggle against colonialism; each backed rival parties in the
other country.

And South Africa's trade union federation, Cosatu, an ally of the ANC
government, has been a vocal critic of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Two of its delegations to Zimbabwe have been sent back home.

"South Africa has had to tread a very careful path around the
minefield of being portrayed as a Western puppet by Mugabe," he told the BBC
News website.

South Africa has always believed that its national interest lies in
avoiding civil war in Zimbabwe, which would lead to the flow of economic
refugees across the River Limpopo becoming a political flood.

Mr Maroleng says the Zimbabwean spies belonged to a faction within
Zanu-PF, favoured by South Africa, which has recently lost ground in the
battle for control of the party.

The newly dominant group, led by retired General Solomon Mujuru, views
South Africa with suspicion, he says.


So will the elections be free and fair?

The MDC says that recent changes to comply with new regional electoral
guidelines are superficial.

For example, to satisfy the "fair access to state media" clause, the
MDC is now allowed to pay enormous fees to air short campaign adverts on
state television, while news broadcasts fawn over Zanu-PF rallies and ignore
the opposition.

Police continue to turn a blind eye to election violence perpetrated
by the ruling party and refuse the opposition permission to hold rallies,
the MDC says.

Mr Mugabe has always denied rigging previous elections and says the
opposition cries foul to mask its lack of popular support.

On this point, Mr Maroleng agrees with the MDC.

"It is quite clear that Zimbabwe has not adhered to the SADC [Southern
African Development Community] protocols."

But he, too, does not expect any public criticism, because of regional
realpolitik and a hope that the polls will offer a way forward.

He sees the most likely outcome of the election as being an
overwhelming Zanu-PF victory, which "unfortunately" offers the most
optimistic scenario for Zimbabwe's future.

This is why South Africa is reluctant to criticise Mr Mugabe's
handling of the election.

Fresh start?

The Mujuru faction is more pragmatic and moderate than the deposed
group led by Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, he says.

With a two-thirds majority in parliament, this group would move to
change the constitution and create an executive prime minister, with
President Mugabe taking a more ceremonial role as "father of the nation".

Taking advantage of this relatively fresh start, this new prime
minister might then be able to form a government of national unity with the
MDC and change economic policies, attracting a return of donor funding and
starting to turn round the economy.

An MDC victory, which appears unlikely given the way the rules favour
Zanu-PF, would only lead to more of the same, damaging stand-off the country
has experienced for the past five years, he says.

An MDC parliament would not be able or willing to work with a Zanu-PF
government and the pro-Mugabe army might even be tempted to stage a coup.

Similar scenarios, relying on a moderate Zanu-PF faction, have been
painted in the past and have not come to pass on the ground.

South African efforts to set up direct talks between the parties and
possibly work together to solve Zimbabwe's economic problems came to naught.

But if Mr Maroleng's predictions do come true, South Africa will be
able to feel that its policy of "quiet diplomacy" has been vindicated,
whatever the feelings of Zimbabwe's hard-pressed opposition activists.

If not, Zimbabweans will probably have to get used to the idea that
their current hardships are likely to last until 2008, when presidential
elections are due.
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New Zimbabwe

The rise of Morgan Tsvangirai

By Lance Guma
Last updated: 03/09/2005 10:08:46
THE leader of Zimbabwe's largest and strongest opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, has in the space of a short time
catapulted himself from ordinary trade unionist to a national icon, however
much Zanu PF chooses to malign him in their monopolised and sometimes
mediocre media.

While Zanu PF has forwarded the argument that his simple background reflects
a lack of sophistication to deal with the intricate demands of running a
country, they have opted to forget this is exactly what endears him to the
majority of people in Zimbabwe. People do not want leaders who are
complicated, aloof and stubborn since the ability to get representation
rides on the simplicity and approachability of their leader.

The eldest of nine children and son to a bricklayer, the MDC president was
born in Gutu, Masvingo in 1952. He left secondary school after his O-levels
to become a textile weaver to support his family. In the current economic
environment that is what most people are having to do and they can relate to
it easily. As fate would have it he ended up working at Trojan Nickel Mine
in Bindura, northeast of Harare.

In the 10 years he spent there he rose from plant operator to general
foreman culminating in his election as branch chairman of the Associated
Mine Workers' Union. It was not long before he made the national executive
of the union. In 1988 Tsvangirai became the secretar-general of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). This kind of progression in the unions says
a lot about his charisma and ability as a solid administrator. The MDC owes
a lot of its organisational capacity to his human resource management
skills. This element has only been appreciated by staff in the MDC offices.

In 1989 he was imprisoned for six weeks on charges that he was a South
African spy, all because he had led the ZCTU to break away from its alliance
with Zanu PF. In the period 1997 and 1998 he led a series of successful
strikes dubbed "stayaways" to protest tax increases by Mugabe's regime which
was eager to shore up resources to appease ex-combatants with gratuity and
pension payments. The nationwide strikes were so successful that even
Mugabe, well-known for his stubbornness, backed down. Tsvangirai's political
clothes were thus sewn, ironed and ready to be worn.

Riding on his new-found success, the unofficial opposition leader took the
next logical step in the political process. It was very clear workers'
problems were mainly emanating from political decisions and hence a
permanent solution meant a change of government. Another plus for the
opposition leader is that he is a product of political and social movements
in the country that thrust him into the role when he himself seemed
unwilling. A clear indicator he never deliberately sought power.

Tsvangirai does not seem to need the presidency as desperately as Mugabe
needs to keep hanging on to it. His mandate is clear. It's hard to think of
Mugabe outside the presidency since he has lost much of the respect people
had for him. Through ruling like a dictator, besieged by imaginary forces
while in power, he would just be another has-been outside it. It's thus easy
to see why the current head of state can't let the word "retirement" part
from his lips.

In 1999 the Tsvangirai-led labour body (ZCTU) created the Movement for
Democratic Change, a political party meant to challenge Zanu PF in the June
2000 parliamentary election. Just before this election there was the matter
of a referendum on a new constitution that deliberately had a clause on
seizing white-owned farms without compensation just to ensure a "yes" vote
by the majority blacks. The tactic backfired miserably and government lost
the referendum in a clear vote of no confidence.

The organisation that led the "no" vote campaign, the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), had Tsvangirai as its founding chairperson.
This was the most dramatic political setback for Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF
since Independence. A visibly embarrassed and dejected Mugabe appeared on
national television to tell the people of Zimbabwe his government would
accept the "no" vote. The humility Mugabe displayed on television masked the
seething anger he felt and events later showed how he would get his revenge.
Revenge-seeking is not a good leadership trait.

In the June 2000 parliamentary election, the MDC won 57 seats compared to
Zanu PF's 62, a major shock considering the MDC was only a few months old.
To further highlight the enormity of the victory, the referendum loss had
led to the ruling party engaging in unprecedented acts of violence to
intimidate the young party's supporters. Zanu PF had used the referendum as
an opinion poll and knew clearly they were heading for defeat if they did
not cook the electoral registers and turn up the heat on the opposition.

The Zanu PF media has tried to portray Tsvangirai and his MDC as
British-funded puppets eager to reverse the land-grabbing exercise. What
shows you this tactic is not working is the regularity with which it is
repeated, jingle after jingle. They will never mention how in the
presidential election a "puppet" party garnered over 1,2 million votes.

The MDC leader has clearly stated his party's policy on the land issue is to
see an equitable, fair and transparent reform programme. However, those
opposed to this apply selective comprehension and tell the electorate the
opposition wants to give land back to the British. Their arguments are
sometimes so childish you could laugh your head off. But then you begin to
realise the majority of their remaining supporters are not so sophisticated
and more easily swayed by delivery than by content. This is where you get
Mugabe punching the air and swearing by his mother's grave - he knows his

We are regularly told Tsvangirai has a simple educational background. They
will never mention he is a graduate of Harvard University's John F Kennedy
School of Government where he holds a diploma from the school's Executive
Leaders In Development programme. We are also curious as to what Mugabe's
degrees from prison have accomplished besides attracting high degrees of
suffering and violence?

Do the millions of Zimbabweans who don't have degrees represent the
unelectable community? Whose standard is it that all world leaders should
hold degrees? The best example of education and commonsense being mutually
exclusive is Jonathan Moyo whose sole lesson to Zimbabwe is that political
opportunism is the fastest route to wealth and power.

The MDC leader turned down the opportunity to contest in the easily won
urban constituencies, preferring instead to contest in his rural home of
Buhera. Predictably, it was won by Zanu PF courtesy of a violent campaign.
This ability to align himself to his grassroots constituency has been
overlooked by most commentators who focus on the defeat itself while
ignoring his political astuteness in leading by example and not words.
Despite his growing stature he remains aligned to his roots.

Tsvangirai's driver was assassinated by state security agents in a petrol
bomb attack on his vehicle while on the campaign trail. One of the alleged
killers, Joseph Mwale, is reportedly heavily involved in current "military"
operations at Roy Bennett's Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani.

There have been three assassination attempts on Morgan Tsvangirai so far
despite the regime trying to downplay them. Notably 1997 when unknown
assailants burst into his office and tried to throw him out of a tenth floor
window. If Zanu PF wanted people not to take him seriously they were
certainly going about it the wrong way. Their actions clearly announced fear
of the inevitable. That he has soldiered on in spite of regular arrests on
trumped up charges, harassment and intimidation is a remarkable feat of
courage when you consider how fleet-footed others put in similar
circumstances have become.

Does a trade union background then ensure someone will become a good leader?
The question has no fixed template answer as this depends on the personal
attributes of each leader. Former Zambian president, Frederick Chiluba, who
ousted Kenneth Kaunda in the 1991 polls is often used as an example by the
state media to rubbish the track record of trade unionists who ascend to
power. The problem with the analogy is that Chiluba's MMD grew out of a
break up of Kaunda's governing party while in Zimbabwe the MDC built itself
from scratch.

No one can underestimate the enormity of the challenge the MDC leader faces.
Every aspect of the political landscape, the media, judiciary, law
enforcement, legislation is heavily lopsided in favour of the incumbent.
Tsvangirai has come to symbolise the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe more
than those who sought to perpetually feed off the liberation war. Those from
the opposite side can bark all they want about puppetry, re-colonisation and
sovereignty. The truth I believe is stark naked. Their problem is they want
it dressed.
N.B. The writer works as a Producer/Presenter for Swradioafrica. The views
expressed here are his own. SW Radio Africa is launching a new programme,
'Behind the headlines' produced and presented by Lance Guma. Every week on
Thursday 6:00pm-6:30pm (Zim time) and 4:00pm-4:30pm (UK time) 'Behind the
headlines' will go behind the headlines and debate the issues or the
individuals making the most news. The first edition of BTH features an
explosive tele-conference debate between former Chronicle Chief Reporter,
Admore Tshuma and Pedzisai Ruhanya, former Deputy News Editor at the Daily
News and current Head of Information for Crisis in Zimbabwe
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Zim Online

Labour leaders fear for their lives
Wed 9 March 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders yesterday
said they were living in fear for their lives following revelations that the
state's secret service Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) wanted a new
leadership at the union by June this year.

ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe told ZimOnline that
"things were coming to a head" between the union and the government after
several attempts by the CIO to use money to sway key ZCTU affiliates and
members against the umbrella union's leadership failed.

"The government never forgave the ZCTU for the role it played in the
formation of the MDC (main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party).
But our information now is that things are coming to a head," Chibhebhe

"What we are concerned about now is the elimination factor. We are
praying that they will not resort to elimination because we all value our
lives and for us to continue with the struggle, we need to be alive that is
why we are all concerned," the trade unionist added.

The CIO refused to speak on the matter yesterday saying they do not
discuss their work in the Press as a matter of policy. State Security
Minister Nicholas Goche, in charge of the intelligence organ, could not be
reached on his phone.

Sources within the intelligence organisation who did not want to be
named however told ZimOnline that the plan to destabilise the ZCTU and
replace its existing leadership was hatched about two years ago after CIO
operatives stumbled on information that the Zimbabwean labour union had for
the last three years attempted to use its labour ally, the Congress of South
Trade Unions (COSATU), to rock cozy relations between Pretoria and

COSATU, which will today march in Pretoria and picket at Zimbabwe's
embassy in the city to protest President Robert Mugabe's repressive rule, is
part of South Africa's ruling alliance that also includes President Thabo
Mbeki's African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist

The union will follow up today's protests with a blockade next week of
Zimbabwe's lifeline Beitbridge border with South Africa, its main trading

COSATU's open condemnation and protests against Mugabe and his
government have not gone down well with Mbeki and the ANC who favour their
yet-to-be-effective "quiet diplomacy" in dealing with Harare.

According to the CIO sources, information unearthed by the Zimbabwean
intelligence organ indicated that COSATU's head-on approach towards Harare
was largely a result of lobbying by the ZCTU.

One CIO senior official said: "Strong lobbying by the ZCTU culminated
in a COSATU congress resolution to confront the Zimbabwean situation head

"The idea was to initiate a clash between COSATU and ZANU PF thereby
drawing in the ANC. This is exactly why we are seeing an intensification of
COSATU protest against the Zimbabwe government."

The intelligence official said when Goche briefed Mugabe and his
Cabinet of the CIO's findings, it was decided that the spy organ infiltrate
the ZCTU and try to ignite an ouster of Chibhebhe and union president
Lovemore Matombo from office.

The plan was to clandestinely pay leaders of some of the union's
affiliates to demand an extraordinary congress where a resolution to remove
the present leadership, before expiry of its term next February, would be

The plan has not succeeded and the CIO was now under pressure to
engineer a leadership change at the ZCTU by June this year, raising fears
the dreaded organ might resort to eliminating some of the union leaders. -

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Zim Online

Outrage over SADC Forum's exclusion from Zimbabwe poll
Wed 9 March 2005
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's ruling African National Congress says it is
surprised by the Zimbabwe government's decision to bar the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum from observing the March 31
parliamentary election.

Although not officially aware of the decision to bar the Forum, ANC
secretary general Kgalame Motlanthe said he could not see any reason why the
Forum should not be invited if reports to that effect were true.

Zimbabwe's foreign affairs spokesperson Pavelyn Musaka told ZimOnline
on Monday that the Forum was not among Zimbabwe's list of invitees. She did
not give reasons but it is widely believed the Forum is being victimised for
not giving Zimbabwe's 2002 presidential election the thumbs up.

It detailed reports of violence, intimidation and a plethora of other
irregularities which it said rendered the 2002 election not free and fair.

Mothlanthe was quoted as saying that the ANC would have expected the
Forum to be invited and did not see any reason for excluding it.

South African opposition parties also slammed the decision with the
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) saying the Zimbabwean authorities had "shot
themselves in the foot" with the decision.

The IFP said the Forum's verdict of the election could have gone
either way. IFP MP Peter Smith was due to represent South Africa on the
Forum. He said he believed representations were underway to get Zimbabwe
authorities to allow the Forum in.

"It would be very unfortunate if, based on the SADC Parliamentary
Forum's last finding that the 2002 election was not free and fair, that they
prohibit us from observing this election. There is absolutely no reason why
the Forum could not have gone there and found that all was in order. They
have effectively shot themselves in the foot," Smith said.

The African Christian Democratic party said the decision was "very
unfortunate" and was probably brought on by the Forum's finding on the 2002

The party's spokesperson on foreign affairs Mighty Madasa said: "This
is a huge setback and it's sending a wrong message. It's intimidatory to
those who are going there - it sends a message that they have to toe the
line, that they have to disregard whatever they see on the ground on the
fear that if they do not support ZANU PF's feelings on these elections, they
will not be invited again." - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Police propping up ZANU PF campaign, charges MDC
Wed 9 March 2005
MATABELELAND SOUTH - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party has accused the police here of giving transport and logistical support
to ruling ZANU PF party candidates in the upcoming general election.

MDC officials said police vehicles were being used to ferry ZANU PF
candidates and their campaign teams to rallies and meetings with supporters
and claimed that the police have stood by at such meetings while ruling
party militants threatened villagers with severe retribution if they vote
for the opposition party in the March 31 poll.

Three MDC candidates for Matobo, Mzingwane and Insiza constituencies,
all in the province, told ZimOnline yesterday that in addition to actively
supporting the ruling party's campaign, the police were also using state
security laws to bar them from holding rallies and meetings with their

"We have seen this (police vehicles ferrying ZANU PF officials to
meetings) happening. There is also favouritism from the police in dealing
with applications to hold rallies and arresting offenders responsible for
political violence," said Siyabonga
Malandu, who is standing for the MDC in Insiza.

But the police at Gwanda town, the provincial capital, denied charges
that they were helping ZANU PF candidates with transport and that they were
also selectively applying state security laws requiring police approval for
political meetings to hamper the MDC's campaign in Matabeleland South.

A police chief superintendent Martin Mawunga, in charge of the police
at Gwanda, said: "The only time that I know of politicians being ferried by
police vehicles was in early February when we had called all candidates to a
meeting here in Gwanda.

"We had instructed our officers at stations to provide transport to
all candidates to the venue so that they would all attend. In fact, the
meeting was called to explain our zero tolerance stance on political

Sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for Insiza and ZANU PF candidate for
the constituency Andrew Langa also dismissed claims that he and other ruling
party candidates were getting logistical support from the police.

He said as MP for the area, he had built a good working relationship
with the local police and that his association with them should not be
misconstrued to mean they were assisting him with his campaign.

Human rights and pro-democracy activists have in the past accused the
police of bias in favour of ZANU PF and the government. The activists, for
example, cite frequent cancellation of the opposition party's meetings by
the police while the law enforcement agency is yet to bar a meeting by
President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

SADC official says election protocol still in formative years
Wed 9 March 2005
GABORONE - A top Southern African Development Community (SADC) official
says the international community must not expect much from the regional bloc's
election observers for the crunch Zimbabwe poll as the Mauritius protocol
was still in its formative stages.

SADC deputy executive secretary, Albert Muchanga, told ZimOnline
yesterday that the regional group's electoral standards and norms agreed by
regional leaders in Mauritius last August, will only be used during the
March 31 election "to observe and formulate judgments" for future polls in
the region.

He said: "The deployment of SADC election observers will not only
assist the 14-member organisation in formulating a framework for the
monitoring of future elections. People should not expect much from the
exercise," he said.

The remarks, three weeks before the election, dashes opposition hopes
that SADC would whip Harare into line in ensuring that the country fully
complies with the organisation's guidelines and standards for democratic

President Robert Mugabe, together with other regional leaders last
August, agreed to a set of guidelines to ensure democratic elections in the

The SADC guidelines, among other things, require the setting up of
independent electoral commissions to run elections, ensuring full
participation of citizens in the political process and equal access to the
media for contesting political parties.

The MDC has accused Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party of
half-heartedly implementing the Mauritius protocol to give a semblance of
reform. Mugabe insists he has reformed Zimbabwe's electoral laws in full
compliance with the SADC demands. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Civic groups to hold protest mock election
Wed 9 March 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabweans living in South Africa will vote in a mock
election being organised by civic groups from that country to protest Harare's
decision to bar exiled citizens from voting in a crucial election at the
month end.

Polling will take place in Johannesburg and Pretoria on March 31 the
same day Zimbabweans at home will be choosing a new Parliament. But the mock
election will be open to all Zimbabweans based in South Africa able to
travel to the two cities to cast their ballot.

Among the groups helping organise the mock ballot are, Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Political Victims Association, Concerned
Zimbabweans Abroad and the Southern African Women Immigration Association.

A spokesman for the groups, Daniel Molokele, said: "It (mock election)
will be an expression of disappointment with the way President Robert Mugabe
is dealing with citizens outside the country.

"It is ridiculous to note that the government spent so much money
mobilising the diaspora to send money home and revive the economy, yet the
same people are not needed when national decisions are taken."

According to Molokele, a voter registration exercise will be carried
out with a voters' roll expected to be ready by March 28. Five mock
constituencies have already been drawn up and these are: Braamfontein,
Hillbrow (covering Yeoville and Berea), Thembisa, Mabopane (covering
Soshanguve) and Diepsloot.

"We are looking for at least 1 000 voters per constituency. Voting
will be limited to Zimbabweans only. After the election, there will be an
announcement of the results and a press conference to explain the way
forward," said Molokele.

Molokele, aka, Fortune Mguni, a lawyer and former University of
Zimbabwe student leader who is now living in Johannesburg, said the mock
vote was part of efforts to alert the more than three million Zimbabweans
living in South Africa and other countries that they had a right to
participate in elections in the country.

He said after the election the organisers will help mobilise
Zimbabweans here and in Britain, United States, New Zealand, Canada,
Botswana and several other countries to demand their right to vote in any
future elections including a presidential election scheduled for 2008.

Harare, which has since last year been running an international
campaign to encourage Zimbabweans living and working abroad to send money
home to help end foreign currency shortages there, surprisingly barred the
same exiled citizens from voting in this month's election.

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has reserved judgment in an appeal by some
exiled Zimbabweans seeking the court to force the government to allow them
to vote this month. - ZimOnline
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Pretoria News

ANC surprised at Zim's ban on SADC
March 9, 2005

By Jeremy Michaels

The ruling African National Congress has expressed surprise at the
Zimbabwean government's decision to deny the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum access to observe the elections there
at the end of March.

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said he was not aware that the
Parliamentary Forum had not been invited to Zimbabwe and could see no reason
why it should not have been.

"Yes, we would have expected that the forum be invited - I don't know
what the reason would be for excluding them," Motlanthe said yesterday.

Opposition parties were equally taken aback by the decision .

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said the Zimbabwean authorities had
"shot themselves in the foot" with the decision because the Parliamentary
Forum's decision on the outcome of the election could have gone either way.

IFP MP Peter Smith - who was meant to represent his party in the South
African delegation - said parliamentary officials in Cape Town had assured
parties that there were "high-level discussions" taking place to ensure that
they would indeed be going to observe the elections.

"We were told to work on the assumption that we are going and we were
anticipating that that would happen," said Smith.

"It would be very unfortunate if, based on the SADC Parliamentary
Forum's last finding that the 2000 election was not free and fair, they
prohibit us from observing this election. There is absolutely no reason why
the Forum could not have gone there and found that all was in order. They
have effectively shot themselves in the foot."

African Christian Democratic Party MP Mighty Madasa said the decision
was "very unfortunate" and was probably brought on by the Forum's finding on
the 2000 elections.

Said Madasa: "This is a huge setback and it's sending a wrong message.
It's intimidatory to those who are going there - it sends a message that
they have to toe the line, that they have to disregard whatever they see on
the ground in the fear that if they do not support Zanu-PF's feelings on
these elections, they will not be invited again."

The SA Parliament was not immediately available for comment. -
Political Bureau.
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Petition supports asylum seeker

A petition is being presented to the Home Office in support of an
asylum seeker who says she fears for her life if she has to return to
Edneth Gotora fled the country after her husband and young daughter
were killed by President Mugabe's regime.

She settled on Teesside, but her application for asylum was refused,
and she now faces deportation.

Her local church organised a petition, which has been signed by 17,500
people and will be handed in on Wednesday.

Rehabilitation camp

Mrs Gotora's husband, a critic of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party, and
the couple's four-year-old daughter were killed in March 2002.

Mrs Gotora was taken to a rehabilitation camp, and raped so badly that
she had to be taken to hospital, from where she made her escape.

She settled in Stockton, but her application for asylum was refused on
the grounds that it was her husband who was the activist. As he was dead she
would be in no danger and must return to Zimbabwe.

However, Mrs Gotora disputes this. She said: "I was raped. We are
being tortured. So really I fear for my life if I am to be returned to
Zimbabwe right now."

Frank Cook, Labour MP for Stockton North, and the leader of the United
Reformed Church, Rev Sheila Maxey, will present the petition on Wednesday.
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The Herald

'Panners to receive $2bn to formalise operations'

Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Panners' Association (ZPA), a new association representing gold
panners, will receive at least $2 billion from the Government to enhance and
formalise its operations, an official with the association has said.

The president of ZPA, Mr Evans Ruzvidzo, said the Government - through the
Ministry of Mines and Mining Development - had promised the association $2
billion which would be channelled for the purchase of equipment.

Over the years, panners have been unlawfully extracting the mineral using
rudimentary equipment and chemicals, posing a danger to the environment.

"We are expecting to receive $2 billion from the Government any time soon
and we are very pleased to announce that our organisation is closely working
with all stakeholders.

"The response we have been getting from our parent ministry is excellent,"
said Mr Ruzvidzo.

Speaking at a function to mark the beginning of a land reclamation exercise
in Kadoma last week, Mr Ruzvidzo also added that members of the association
could graduate from being small-scale panners into fully-fledged miners.

"We are happy with the formation of the association and it is our hope that
we are going to work together in order to see a korokoza-free Kadoma urban
community," said an official from Kadoma Town Council.

Illegal gold panners are known in popular lingo as makorokoza.

The panners have been registered into syndicates and the association has of
late been conducting outreach programmes in such areas as Kadoma, Zvishavane
and Karoi.

The creation of ZPA is set to empower the panners who have in the past
suffered at the hands of unscrupulous middlemen and corrupt police. ZPA is
working with the police force and relevant Government ministries such as the
Ministry of Environment and Tourism towards creating a positive image for
the panners who have always been seen in a negative light.

The association hinted that they planned to expand their membership to
include every mining region in the country.

ZPA is an association of gold panners who are now expected to boost gold
deliveries to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The creation of ZPA would also complement the RBZ's efforts to channel the
precious metal onto the formal market, further depressing the parallel
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Business Day

09 March 2005
Zimbabwe warns Cosatu against border poll protest
Hopewell Radebe


Deputy Political Editor

ZIMBABWEAN Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi has warned the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) that neither Zimbabwe nor the South
African government would allow its planned protests at Beitbridge to disrupt
trade between the countries.

In a move apparently aimed at putting pressure on government to discourage
Cosatu from going ahead with its border blockade, Mohadi said the labour
federation would be "treading on dangerous ground" if it went ahead with its
protests against the Zimbabwean government.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has vowed that the protests, for
which government's permission has been obtained, will go ahead and target
Beitbridge and the Zimbabwean high commission's offices in Pretoria twice a
week for the next three weeks.

He said Cosatu received permits to protest at both areas on Wednesdays and
Fridays respectively, starting with Pretoria today, followed by a border
blockade on March 11, March 18 and culminating with an all-night vigil on
the eve of Zimbabwe's poll.

Cosatu decided to go ahead with plans to blockade the Beitbridge border in
protest against the violations of human and labour rights after the
government of President Robert Mugabe twice kicked its fact-finding mission
out of the country.

A Democratic Alliance fact- finding mission, led by deputy leader Joe
Seremane, was also turfed out of Zimbabwe recently.

Cosatu's planned demonstrations are also in defiance of Foreign Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has warned that government will not tolerate
such disruptive activities.

The federation accused her of trying to discourage South Africans workers
from engaging in acts of solidarity in a bid to defend workers rights in the

Unions have emphasised that SA owed its liberation to similar actions
undertaken by millions of the working class people around Africa and the
world who paraded and picketed against the apartheid regime.

Vavi reminded Dlamini-Zuma that she was not so long ago involved in similar
"border pickets and blockades against the apartheid government".

Cosatu has also lashed out at the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) secretariat for failing "stand up" to Mugabe.

The federation was commenting on Zimbabwe's failure to allow a SADC team of
assessors to come into the country to investigate whether Harare had
complied with the body's election guidelines.

The team was expected to get there at least 90 days before the elections.

The SADC team has run out of time and critics have argued that it could no
longer make a positive impact in getting Zimbabwe to correct whatever was
necessary to ensure that the political climate was conducive to free and
fair elections.

According to Cosatu, the focus on Zimbabwe was prompted by the outcry from
Zimbabwean workers who lobbied the federation to undertake protest action in
solidarity with struggling, harassed and persecuted workers' leadership.

They are not allowed to assembly freely and to organise for a political
party of their choice.

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