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Zimbabwe opposition leads in early poll results


      Sun Nov 27, 2005 2:26 AM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party took an early lead in an
election for the Senate, early results showed, despite a split over whether
it should contest the poll that has thrown the party into crisis.

In results announced on state television on Sunday, the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) swept all five seats in the Bulawayo
metropolitan province although figures showed a majority had stayed at home.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for a boycott of the poll, saying that
to contest would lend legitimacy to a process designed to entrench the power
of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party.

But senior MDC leaders rejected his demand and a faction led by
Secretary-General Welshman Ncube fielded 26 candidates, mostly in the
southwestern Matabeleland provinces.

The average voter turn-out was less than 10 percent in the province but
observers said the national average could be around 20 percent of the 3.2
million registered voters.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a local group that fights for free
and fair elections, said most people had stayed away because they were not
aware of the role of the senate.

"This re-emphasises ZESN's concerns on the ill-timing of the senatorial
elections which comes on the backdrop of an imploding economy and a
political crisis," the group said in a statement seen by Reuters on Sunday.

Sunday's results showed that ZANU-PF had won two of the five seats in Harare
province, a traditional opposition stronghold. More results are expected
throughout the day.

ZANU-PF went into Saturday's elections a certain winner, with 35 of the 66
seats already in hand, thanks to laws that guarantee seats to ruling party
loyalists. An opposition stay-away call that has seriously weakened Mugabe's
only real political challengers virtually assures a ruling party win.

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Hunger trumps democracy in Zimbabwe vote

Globe and Mail, Canada


Saturday, November 26, 2005 Posted at 3:56 PM EST

Associated Press

Harare - Embattled Zimbabweans showed little enthusiasm Saturday for a new
Senate, forming longer lines in some areas to buy scarce food supplies than
to vote for a body criticized as a costly ploy to strengthen President
Robert Mugabe's grip on power.
The election has divided the main opposition party, threatening to destroy
the only group to have seriously challenged Mr. Mugabe's 25-year rule.

State radio and independent observers reported low a turnout countrywide but
did not specify figures. The radio said polls closed on schedule at 7 p.m.,
local time, with no reports of political violence or intimidation during the

There were more electoral officials than voters at many polling stations in
the capital, Harare. Scores of people lined up to buy sugar at supermarkets
in northern and eastern parts of the city - dispersing angrily when stocks
ran out at one store, witnesses said. In an adjacent polling station, 13
electoral officials and police officers supervised a single voter.


Previous polls were declared public holidays, but shops and other businesses
opened as usual Saturday. Asked if they would be participating in the
election, several people lined up at a cash machine responded: "What

"It is a nonevent," said a patrolling policeman who demanded not to be
identified. Only senior officers are permitted to speak to journalists.

Voting was brisker in the southwestern Harare township of Mbare, where
observers from the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network said about
100 people lined up to cast ballots in the first hours of the poll.

But the monitoring group said a controversial boycott call by opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai appeared to be mostly holding in his urban

"It is more than apathy and ignorance. People are actively not going to
vote," said Reginald Matchaba-Hove, head of the network.

Mr. Tsvangirai argued that participation Saturday would lend credibility to
a vote that was certain to be flawed. But senior members of his Movement for
Democratic change rejected his boycott call and fielded 26 candidates.

The split in the party assured Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front control of the chamber.

The ruling party's candidates were unopposed for 19 of the Senate's 50
elected seats. Mr. Mugabe appoints six other seats, and 10 are reserved for
traditional leaders, selected by the fiercely pro-government Council of

Mr. Tsvangirai's party opposed the Senate's creation by constitutional
amendment earlier this year, saying it would serve only to increase Mr.
Mugabe's power to dole out jobs and perks in the ailing economy. The new
house has no veto powers over legislation passed by the ruling
party-dominated lower house.

"It's irrelevant. It does nothing for me," said vendor Rodrique Bhasera,
explaining why he wasn't bothering to vote.

Many also questioned the cost of adding a second chamber at a time of acute
shortages of food, gasoline and other essentials. The government estimates
the Senate's annual costs at about $6-million (U.S.) in a country suffering
its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.

The often violent seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms,
coupled with erratic rains, has crippled Zimbabwe's agriculture-based

Campaigning for the Senate was muted compared with previous elections, which
independent observers said were marred by intimidation and fraud.

Some 3.2 million of Zimbabwe's 12 million population were registered to vote
Saturday. Mr. Mugabe did not vote because the ruling-party candidate in his
constituency was unopposed.

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Controversial Zimbabwe polls get off to sluggish start

Turkish Press
11-26-2005, 07h51

A man sits in front of a poster in Harare featuring a candidate put forward by the Movement for Democratic Change for upcoming senate polls. Elections to choose members of Zimbabwe's new upper house of parliament got off to a lacklustre start amid opposition disarray and voter apathy

Elections to pick members of Zimbabwe's new upper house of parliament have got off to a slow start amid opposition disarray and voter apathy with the polls looking set to reinforce President Robert Mugabe's grip on power.

There were more people queuing up outside banks for money than at polling booths in many parts of the capital Harare, an AFP correspondent reported Saturday, despite the polling booths opening on time at 7:00 am (0500 GMT).

Polling stations are due to close at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT).

The vote to choose members of a new upper house, which Mugabe's ruling party pushed through after it gained a two-thirds parliamentary majority following legislative elections earlier this year, has been mired in controversy.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has split in two over whether to contest the polls and voter apathy against a backdrop of economic crises and food shortages are set to hand victory to the governing party.

Arguing that the senate election would be irrelevant and insensitive in the midst of an economic crisis, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai overrode his party's decision to participate in the vote.

The move spelt the beginning of the end for the party which many victims of Zimbabwe's crises had looked to in the poll to unseat Mugabe's years in power.

At a polling station in Harare's upmarket Borrowdale suburb, fewer than 12 people had queued up minutes before polls opened.

Most of those in the queue said they had travelled from the neighbouring working class township of Hatcliffe to avoid long queues in their populous neighbourhood.

But even in the densely populated suburbs, voter turnout was low in the morning with most people going about their daily business.

Asked whether he had cast his vote, a newspaper vendor Tobias Chari quipped: "To do what? To vote? Vote for who? Nobody is worth voting for."

A locksmith said he did not understand the purpose of a senate.

"I am not getting excited about something I do not quite understand. I would rather be at work and fend for my family," said Ronald Chakanetsa.

However, dozens of people had queued outside almost all the commercial banks in Harare as cash usually runs short in the hyperinflational environment when people rush to withdraw their monthly salaries to pay for bills.

The polls have attracted little attention among ordinary Zimbabweans, reeling under a triple digit rate of inflation, unemployment of more than 70 percent and shortages of basics including food.

But those who did cast ballots were upbeat.

"I am looking forward to having the best laws for the country after this election," said Dennis Mutiwere, a computer technician.

"I am just hoping that after this, both winners and losers can co-exist in peace. We don't want violence," said a nursery school teacher waiting to cast her ballot.

The run-up to the elections has been free of the bloodshed that marred previous votes in 2000 and 2002.

But disagreements in the opposition on whether to participate have resulted in minor intra-party clashes.

The confusion in the main opposition MDC has handed the ruling party 19 seats in advance out of the 50 contested seats after the divided party only managed to field candidates in 26 constituencies.

Independent candidates or those from other smaller parties are standing in the other five constituencies where there is no MDC candidate.

The senate will comprise 10 traditional chiefs, 50 elected senators and six directly appointed by President Robert Mugabe.

Some 3.3 million voters are eligible to vote.


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Retracing ancient mariners' wake from Indonesia to Madagascar

Chisato Hara, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Many armchair historians may be familiar with the established theory that
mariners of ancient Indonesia -- or Austronesians -- were among the first
settlers who arrived on the shores of Madagascar, but even for the
uninitiate (like this reviewer), The Phantom Voyagers: Evidence of
Indonesian Settlement in Africa in Ancient Times is a fascinating,
multifaceted illustration of this thread that connects peoples across the
Indian Ocean.

Its author, Robert Dick-Read, admits he is no professional academic -- his
brush with formal scholarship in this area appears only to have been an
extended seminar in 1959 at London University's School of Oriental and
African Studies -- but he is no stranger to Africa.

Born in 1930, Dick-Read's first exposure to the African continent came at
the age of 21, when he traveled through South Africa. Over the next two
years, he worked in the tobacco industry in Zimbabwe and founded African Art
in Kenya, dealing in local curios and art, and in 1959, established an
ethnographic museum for the colonial Nigerian government. In the early
1960s, Dick-Read produced documentaries for the BBC on Ethiopia and for
Encyclopaedia Britannica Films on Sudan and Egypt.

It was on an art-collecting safari through the northern regions of the
continent, he relates in the Preface, that he first heard of the outrigger
seamen of Madagascar who spoke an Austronesian language, which gave breath
to his "life-long hobby" -- as Dick-Read dubs his quest to uncover the
Indonesian-Madagascan connection.

The Phantom Voyagers may span a mere 209 pages in actual text, but it is a
dense volume that traverses the fields of marine ethnography, maritime
history, anthropomusicology, archeology, etymology and toponymy, among other
specializations. At the same time, it travels across thousands of years
through the civilizations of Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, the Middle
East, the Mediterranean and South America, and back again.

Dick-Read's revelations of the "footprints and fingerprints" these unknown
mariners left behind are surprising in the variety of tangible evidence
unearthed, from cinnamon to plantains, from xylophones to bronze ware, from
glass beads to cowrie shells and from phallic worship to divination
systems -- even the trans-oceanic transmission of elephantiasis.

Those familiar with Indonesian culture will take delight in mention of
congklak, the popular shell game, and its presence in African culture. In
addition, one of the keys to unlocking this mystery is engraved at the
Borobudur temple, in a bas-relief of a ship -- a replica of which was built
and sailed to Ghana in 2004.

Dick-Read thus maps a fine web of evidence that spreads out from Indonesia,
and he posits, through a comparative study of double-outrigger designs on
both sides of the Indian Ocean, that this web was spun by the nomadic,
ancient sea-faring tribes of Sulawesi.

More astonishingly, Dick-Read suggests that, instead of the commonly
accepted estimation that the Austronesian influence arrived in Africa in the
first millennium A.D., this occurred in the first millennium B.C.;
furthermore, that this was not restricted to Madagascar and the coastal
settlements of eastern Africa, and that these voyagers sailed around the
Cape of Good Hope to land in western Africa.

As to the quality of his research and analysis, while Stephen Ellis, editor
of African Affairs -- the journal of the London-based Royal African
Society -- notes some academic oversights and omissions, he acknowledges
unequivocally the necessity of interdisciplinary study in this area. "A
challenge has been issued," Ellis concludes.

This self-published title could certainly be improved upon with the
assistance of a copyeditor and the inclusion of a comprehensive
bibliography, a more detailed index and a comparative time line of
civilizations it explores.

More than this, however, the lack of a separate concluding chapter leaves an
anticlimactic aftertaste that does not do justice to Dick-Read's work, which
not only addresses, but also attempts to bridge, the "apparent ... gulf of
understanding between specialists on Africa ... and specialists on Southeast
Asia and Oceania," as implied by Ellis.

Even so, it is clear that The Phantom Voyagers is driven by a passionate,
intuitive and generous mind that can venture beyond the bounds of
"established" scholarship; and it is this that lures readers to follow the
ghostly trail, perhaps toward further proof of our intersecting origins and
thus, a reassurance that "no man is an island".

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'This man will turn our country into another Zimbabwe'

The Telegraph

By Tristan McConnell in Kampala and Melissa Kite
(Filed: 27/11/2005)

Opposition leaders in Uganda accused President Yoweri Museveni of plunging
the country into a Zimbabwe-like crisis yesterday after his defiance towards
Britain at the Commonwealth summit in Malta.

They spoke out after Mr Museveni attacked Britain for criticising him over
the jailing of his main political rival on terrorism charges.

Mr Museveni said Britain had no right to lecture Uganda on democracy after
"70 years of colonial rule" - comments similar to Robert Mugabe's despotic

His remarks caused dismay among opposition leaders and human rights
activists in Kampala, the capital, who took it as further proof that Mr
Museveni may be turning into yet another "big man" dictator.

Winnie Byanyima, the wife of the arrested presidential hopeful, Kizza
Besigye, told the Sunday Telegraph: "He is behaving like a typical dictator
invoking sovereignty whenever there is criticism of his behaviour. It is not
surprising. It has been his typical response when taken on by our
international partners. He says they should mind their own business, which
is absurd as half the budget is funded by foreign governments. He is
spending money to repress Ugandans."

Mohles Segululigamba, a spokesman for the Democracy Monitoring Group, raised
the spectre of Uganda following Zimbabwe's route to international

"My concern is there should be a sign to show that we are not headed the
Mugabe way and that can only come from government," he said. "But so far we
have not seen such a sign. The judiciary is under siege and we are very

The growing spat between Mr Museveni and the rest of the Commonwealth has
led to hints from Mr Blair and other Commonwealth figures that the
organisation's 2007 summit - scheduled to be held in Kampala - could be
moved elsewhere if Mr Museveni does not take steps to prove himself a fit

Such a move would be economically disastrous for Uganda, which has pressed
ahead with expensive preparations for the summit.

Corrugated iron fences surround the vast muddy holes and rickety wooden
scaffolding that will, in the months ahead, become Kampala's newest
five-star hotels. Outside town, luxurious resorts and sprawling housing
estates are paving over the wetlands and banana trees. It is not just
private investors who are keen to reap the benefits of holding the summit by
filling their hotel rooms and apartments with all-expenses paid delegates.

The government is in on the act too and is already spending taxpayers' money
on upgrading state facilities.

In this year's national budget around 15 billion Ugandan shillings (£4.8
million) was set aside to spruce up a presidential house in Entebbe while an
extra 10 billion shillings (£3.2 million) was added to the foreign affairs
budget to be spent on securing the prestigious meeting. Privately, British
officials fear a public relations disaster if the meeting is held in Uganda.
It would give the seal of approval to Mr Museveni at a time when he appears
to be changing from model leader to dictator.

Much of the criticism Mr Museveni is facing in Malta at this weekend's heads
of government meeting stems from the arrest and imprisonment of Dr Besigye,
his strongest political opponent. Last week, Dr Besigye appeared before a
military court accused of terrorism and illegal possession of arms and was
then whisked to the High Court to face charges of treason and rape. He now
languishes in prison.

Dr Besigye and Mr Museveni have a long and intriguing history. The doctor
was his rival's personal physician when the two fought a five-year bush war
to oust the previous president, Milton Obote, a despot similar to the
notorious Idi Amin.

As Mr Museveni took power, however, he became increasingly resentful of Dr
Besigye's own ambitions. An additional frisson may have been that Dr
Besigye's wife was previously a girlfriend of Mr Museveni, who was reputedly
forced to drop her at the insistence of his own wife, Janet.

Dr Besigye's arrest came only weeks after Western governments had greeted
his safe return from self-imposed exile as a clear sign of increasing
democracy. He had fled to South Africa after opposing Mr Museveni in
presidential elections in 2001.

Until now Mr Museveni has been the golden boy of Africa. He is often cited
as a leading campaigner against HIV/Aids and applauded for his ABC approach
to prevention - Abstain, Be faithful and use Condoms.

He was hailed by Bill Clinton as one of a new breed of African leaders
alongside Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi, both of whom are
also now displaying authoritarian reflexes. Mr Museveni had the ear of New
Labour thanks to his close relationship with Clare Short, but when she lost
her job he lost his strongest supporter.

But recently his path has become rocky. Last year parliamentarians were each
offered the equivalent of £1,700 for their support of the removal of
presidential term limits in the constitution, opening the possibility that
he would extend his rule by five years.

One senior diplomat described this as, "a red line which the government is
crossing towards overt bribery". But enough MPs took the money, the Bill was
passed and to no one's surprise Mr Museveni announced earlier this month
that he would indeed seek a third term in State House.

Last night, Commonwealth leaders appeared to be backing away from their
threat to remove Kampala's chance of hosting them in 2007. A Downing Street
spokesman said the summit would probably still go ahead, but would depend in
part on Mr Museveni's future conduct.

The man himself remained up-beat throughout the conference, laughing and
telling guests at a reception in Valletta: "Tony Blair is a great friend of

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Death in the Bush

Zimbabwe's animals are dying, which means its people are suffering, too.
Survival of the Fittest: Drought and mismanagement of have been fatal to Zimbabwe’s animals
Gary Knight / VII for Newsweek
Survival of the Fittest: Drought and mismanagement of have been fatal to Zimbabwe’s animals
By Joshua Hammer

Dec. 5, 2005 issue - The stench of decay rises from the bush just outside of Main Camp, the dilapidated, near-deserted head-quarters at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Only a few months ago, the acacia groves, savanna grass and mopane scrub ran thick with wildlife. But now a visitor can drive for miles without seeing anything alive. There's plenty of death, though. A few miles beyond headquarters, the corpses of two male elephants rot in the heat, not far from a watering hole that dried up in October. Farther along, at the empty Musuma tourist camp, the desiccated remains of two kudu and two more elephants lie beside a muddy reservoir. "We think these ones died from disease," says the camp's attendant, who gave his name only as George. "The legs swell up and burst. Then they fall down."

They have fallen by the hundreds. Across Hwange, a world-renowned wildlife reserve half the size of Belgium, impala, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, leopard and elephant have been roaming the bush this season on a desperate—and often futile—search for sustenance. The worst drought to hit southern Africa in years is partly responsible for their plight. But the real problem can be traced to the neglect of men. Over the decades, Zimbabwe has built dozens of artificial pans, or ponds, to sustain wildlife in Hwange through hard times. But the whole country now is destitute. Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Authority, long criticized for mismanagement, indifference and corruption, has been unable—or unwilling—to supply diesel fuel and pumps to keep the watering holes full.

The scale of the devastation is disputed. According to environmental activists, 250 elephants and hundreds of other animals have died from starvation, thirst and blackleg—an infectious disease caused by unusually arid conditions and stress—over the past two months. Zimbabwe's minister of Tourism, Francis Nehma, acknowledges a problem in Hwange, but says that only 40 elephants and 53 buffalo have died. Virtually everyone agrees that more needs to be done to stave off a larger catastrophe. Over the last month, a few private individuals have been making emergency runs to supply the park with needed fuel and spare parts. The first heavy rains fell last week, alleviating thirst but creating new problems: many of the dry pans have turned into mud holes, trapping sick and weakened animals in the sticky muck. Barry Wolhuter, who manages a Hwange safari camp called The Hide, says: " [The] national parks [department] just doesn't have its act together."

The neglect means more misery for Zimbabwe's human population, too. Hwange National Park was once a major employer in a country that attracted about 1 million visitors a year. But that was before President Robert Mugabe began forcibly expropriating thousands of white-owned farms, replacing their owners with cronies and Zimbabwean civil-war veterans. The radical land-redistribution program destroyed Zimbabwe's agricultural base, scared off tourists and sent the economy into free fall. Gross domestic product has declined from $8.4 billion to $4.3 billion in seven years; farm output has dropped by 80 percent. The annual inflation rate rose last month above 400 percent, and life expectancy has fallen to 33 years. Hwange's tourist revenues, meanwhile, have plunged from a high of $18 million a decade ago to about$2 million last year, according to conservationists. Most of the park's lodges and safari camps have closed.

Mugabe says that Zimbabwe's troubles have been caused by drought—and by a U.S.- and British-led campaign of targeted sanctions against high-level members of his regime. That has fueled a growing diplomatic row. The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, recently dispensed with diplomatic niceties and blamed the crisis on "gross mismanagement of the economy and corrupt rule." Mugabe, who recently compared George W. Bush and Tony Blair to Hitler and Mussolini, shot back: "Tell him that I can't even spell Dell. But I can spell H-E-L-L, and he might be there one of these days."

Zimbabwe's wildlife is already there. Hwange National Park, carved out of arid bush in the 1920s, is an artificial ecosystem whose animals depend on 56 boreholes, or wells, to pump groundwater from hundreds of feet below the surface into man-made ponds and concrete troughs. Over the years, this tinkering with nature has encouraged the growth of large herds of elephants—the number is believed to be between 30,000 and 40,000 in Hwange—as well as other wildlife concentrations that cannot be sustained without constant monitoring and care. Although the park perimeter isn't fenced, the human population at the edge of Hwange has grown rapidly, cutting off the animals' traditional migration routes to the Zambezi River and the swamps of Botswana. In effect, Hwange's wildlife is imprisoned inside the park.

Story continues below ↓

Hwange needs about 2,000 gallons of diesel per month to keep all its pumps operating during the dry season, and 1,000 gallons to supply its antipoaching patrols, according to Johnny Rodrigues, who heads a private agency called the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. But according to pump operators, the last time the Parks and Wildlife Authority delivered fuel was four months ago. In October the pumps began breaking. And the rains, which normally begin to fall on or around Oct. 15, didn't come. "The elephants drink 50 gallons of water a day. That doesn't leave anything for the other animals. It has become survival of the fittest," says one park ranger who didn't want his name used for fear of losing his job.

Environmentalists say that poaching inside the park is also worsening. Hungry Zimbabweans are killing increasing numbers of impala and kudu for meat. Unscrupulous safari operators reportedly shoot elephants, buffalo and other big game on the park's edges, then drag them into the hunting concessions that border the national reserve to make it appear that the animals were hunted legally. Zimbabwe's wildlife-management program was once considered among the best-equipped and well run in Africa. But that was a decade ago. Today, the antipoaching patrols scattered across Hwange lack tents, uniforms, radios and reliable supplies of food.

A few private safari operators and conservationists are trying to keep the park staff on their feet. Rodrigues, 56, a war veteran who battled Mugabe's guerrillas in the 1970s, has recently supplied Hwange with 4,000 gallons of diesel, eight new pump engines, 40 new tires for rangers' vehicles and dozens of spare parts to keep aging fuel pumps running. He brings the supplies from Johannesburg, a grueling two-day trip over decaying roads. "If I could get $50,000, I could solve all the problems in this place," Rodrigues says. That's an exaggeration. But by investing more in wildlife, Zimbabwe's government could help its people to thrive, too.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

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