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

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Zim Online

Mon 18 October 2004

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government paid Canada-based political
consultant Ari Ben Menashe nearly US$2 million to frame up opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai for treason, ZimOnline has established.

      The bid to incriminate Tsvangirai collapsed last Friday when Judge
President Paddington Garwe ruled that the state had failed to prove that the
opposition leader plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of
the 2002 presidential election.

      According to figures shown to ZimOnline, the government in early 2000
paid Menashe's Montreal-based political consultancy firm, Dickens and
Madson, US$1 615 000, which is enough to build five primary schools in

      The money was paid through the government's secret service, the
Central Intelligence Organisation, and was ostensibly for public relations
work which Dickens and Madson was to do for the government in Canada and the
United States.

      But intelligence sources yesterday said the money was for Menashe and
his company to entrap Tsvangirai.

      "The payment was for Menashe to work out and implement a solid trap
that would ensure Tsvangirai could be successfully tried and convicted of
high treason," said one intelligence official, who did not want to be named.

      The state paid out another US$200 000 in early 2002 to Menashe for his
role as the prosecution's star witness in the trial of Tsvangirai.

      The government also paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars more
on the upkeep of Menashe while in Harare and for his travels to and from
Canada during the year-long trial.

      Menashe, who is accused of conning the Zambian government of millions
of dollars and was described in one US Congress report as a "talented liar,"
was treated like a head of state during his stay in Harare.

      He was provided with five bodyguards who watched over him round the
clock. The government also hired the Harare Sheraton hotel's presidential
suite for Menashe.

      The suite located on the hotel's 17th floor costs about US$900 a night
and boasts of two spacious lounges, separate dining areas and a kitchenette.

      The suite has individually-controlled air conditioning, sound proof
windows, an international direct dial phone with voice mail as well as the
customary satellite television.

      It also offers free internet surfing, private check in and check out,
free massaging, free tea and coffee throughout the day among other services.

      The government coughed up US$39 600 to cover Menashe's stay and other
costs at the Sheraton.

      Menashe, whom Tsvangirai had also attempted to hire as a political
consultant for his Movement for Democratic Change party, video-taped a
meeting he held with the opposition leader where he allegedly sought help to
murder Mugabe.

      Garwe, who described Menashe as "rude and unreliable," said the tape
did not show any evidence that Tsvangirai had sought help to assassinate
Mugabe. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Church-run farm seized
Mon 18 October 2004

      HARARE - The government has seized the church-run Driefontein farm in
Masvingo in clear violation of its earlier promises not to take over farms
run by religious organisations.

      The farm where one of the country's biggest infectious diseases
hospitals, Driefontein Mission Hospital is built is owned by the Catholic

      The hospital is the main referral centre for tuberculosis patients in
Masvingo, parts of Midlands and Mashonaland east provinces.

      The government issued a Section 8 order against the farm last Friday.
Under the government's Land Acquisition Act, the order is a formal notice on
the church to wind up operations and vacate the property within 90 days from
the date of issue.

      Lands Minister Joseph Made, in charge of the land acquisition
programme, could not be reached yesterday to establish whether the
government also planned to take over the hospital.

      An official at the Catholic Diocese of Gweru under which Driefontein
falls said the church had not yet been officially informed of plans by the
state to take over the farm.

      He said: "We have not been advised of the intention by the government
to compulsorily take over the farm. However, we will discuss the matter this
coming week and see how we can respond."

      Before Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the Catholic Church built
schools and hospitals at farms it owned across the country to provide
education and health care services to blacks who were marginalised by the
country's former white rulers.

      President Robert Mugabe himself was educated at the Catholic-run
Kutama Mission in his Zvimba rural home.

      Out of Zimbabwe's 124 mission hospitals, 47 are run by the Catholic
Church making it the country's second biggest provider of health care
services after the government.

      Also listed for seizure last Friday were two of the country's biggest
tea and coffee estates, Aberfoyle Estate and Eastern Highlands Plantations.

      The two properties, measuring 2 363 353 hectares, produce tea and
washed Arabica coffee mainly for export. They are owned by London Stock
Exchange-listed Plantation & General plc.

      The government also ordered the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed
plantation firm, Border Timbers, to surrender five timber estates measuring
more than 34 154 066 hectares.

      The government had said it would not seize land owned by churches,
agro-firms and plantation and estate companies.

      But the state has since backtracked on its word grabbing land from
companies in the last three months. Most of the land has ended up in the
hands of companies owned by ruling ZANU PF party politicians. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Tsvangirai mulls suing ZANU PF officials
Mon 18 October 2004

      HARARE - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is considering
suing ruling ZANU PF party officials and others for defaming him when he was
charged with treason, his spokesman said yesterday.

      The opposition leader was on Friday found not guilty of plotting to
assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of the 2002 presidential election.

      Tsvangirai, who had always insisted he was innocent and that he had
been framed by government agents, could have faced the death penalty had he
been convicted.

      His spokesman William Bango said the party was now compiling documents
and information about ZANU PF officials, local and international media he
said had defamed Tsvangirai. The information will be sent to lawyers next
week to decide what legal action to take.

      Australia's Special Broadcasting Services television was the first to
air a video showing Tsvangirai at a meeting with the shadowy Canada-based
political consultant, Ari Ben Menashe, where he allegedly sought help to
kill Mugabe.

      The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings picked up the story and
used it to de-campaign Tsvangirai in the run-up to the March 2002
presidential election.

      High Court Judge President however dismissed the poorly recorded video
saying it failed to prove "beyond doubt" that Tsvangirai had plotted
Mugabe's murder.

      Tsvangirai and his opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
have emerged as the biggest threat to Mugabe and his ZANU PF's 24-year hold
on power. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Book offers fresh perspectives on Mugabe's land seizures
Mon 18 October 2004

      Blood and Soil: Land, Politics and Conflict Prevention In Zimbabwe,
International Crisis Group, 2004

      HARARE - When historians finally sit down to record the brief but
turbulent events of the past four years in Zimbabwe, Blood and Soil: Land,
Politics and Conflict Prevention in Zimbabwe and South Africa, shall provide
flashes of light in the reconstruction
      of that sad phase of our history.

      The title, 'Blood and Soil' conjures up images of conflict and
bloodshed over the land issue. The 221-page book was published by the
International Crisis Group (ICG), an international organisation that seeks
to prevent and resolve conflicts in the world.

      In February 2000, veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s bush war spearheaded
the invasion of farms countrywide, with President Mugabe's tacit approval.

      Mugabe said what was happening then were mere demonstrations by
land-hungry Zimbabweans eager to see government quickly redress a historical
injustice in land allocation.

      The often violent farm seizures, and Mugabe's reaction to the emerging
voices of dissent on the political front in the form of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, triggered an economic and
political meltdown from whose effects the country is still to recover.

      This book is an attempt to interrogate these recent events and suggest
a way forward.

      The seminal book provides a detailed analysis of the controversial
issue of land in Zimbabwe and South Africa, using a simple, linear approach.

      But behind the simplicity are serious issues worthy of every serious
reader's close attention.

      The book begins by tracing the issue of land from the white settlers
in the 1890s, the colonial pieces of legislation of the 1930s and 1950s,
which were used to dispossess blacks of their land and push them to the dry
arid regions, named Tribal Trust Lands.

      To its credit, the book acknowledges the wrongs of the colonial

      It then moves on to the liberation struggle when land was the rallying
cry, leading up to a political settlement at Lancaster, in Britain. Its
incisive comments on the Lancaster House Conference and its compromise
constitution with reference to land are revealing.

      The book then tackles the post-independence 1980s, when President
Robert Mugabe lost what they say was a glorious opportunity to redress the
land imbalances when there was so much international goodwill to assist his

      It then analyses the emergence of a strong opposition, the Movement
for Democratic Change in September 1999.

      It also offers insight into what could be expressed as Mugabe's
psychological reflex action for political self-preservation when he
unleashed a massive campaign of terror to cow his own people into submission
ahead of the June 2000 parliamentary election.

      Blood and Soil brilliantly explores how Mugabe, facing defeat at the
polls appropriated the emotive land issue to hang on to power through the
fast-track land reform programme.

      That programme which has been criticised as haphazard and devoid of
any semblance of planning has been blamed for plunging the country into the
mess that it finds itself in today.

      Even the late outspoken ZANU PF legislator Eddison Zvobgo attacked the
fast-track land reform programme.

      A year after the farm invasions, Zvobgo is quoted as having said: "We
have tainted what was a glorious revolution, reducing it to some agrarian
racist enterprise. We have behaved as if the world owes us a living. It does
not. We have blamed other people for each and every ill that befell us. As
every peasant, worker, businessman or woman now stares at the precipice of
doom, let us wake up and draw back." (p.86)

      The book correctly points out that Mugabe's land policies turned a
nation which had been a major producer of food into a major consumer of
emergency food aid.

      Zimbabwe has in the past four years relied on emergency food aid to
avert starvation in the country. This has largely been blamed on Mugabe's
land seizures. Mugabe denies the charge and blames the crisis on drought and
his Western enemies.

      The style though academic, is simple and easy to follow. Backed by
numerous footnotes gleaned from primary sources of history, newspaper
articles and direct interviews, the book makes compelling reading.

      While one may not agree with the suggestions proffered to resolve the
crisis in Zimbabwe, there is no doubt that this book is a product of serious

      My only disappointment was that most of the sharp, revealing comments
which make up the wealth of the text in footnotes are attributed to faceless
individuals, whom it can be presumed chose to hide behind the thick veneer
of anonymity, without any explanation from the authors.

      While the need to protect sources is appreciated, it would have done
more to the cause of academia and transparency to have these individuals
named, given the strong sentiments they express in the text.

      It could also have been better to break the grey matter by using
pictures and graphics to capture Zimbabwe's recent descent into chaos. As
the cliché goes, a good picture tells a thousand words.

      This comment does not take away anything from the brilliant cover
picture of war veterans erecting a sign at a farm they have "liberated" and
renamed Tongogara Farm. The wry sign provides comic relief to an otherwise
sad episode of the country's history. It says: "Well come to J. M. Tongogara
Farm - Reduce speed, war vets ahead." (sic)

      Josiah Tongogara was the revered commander of ZANLA, the military wing
of the ruling ZANU PF party during the bloody 1970s liberation war. He died
in a mysterious car crash on the eve of Zimbabwe's independence.

      In conclusion, the book says there cannot be a lasting solution to the
present crisis with Mugabe at the helm. It therefore advocates regime change
as a starting point if Zimbabwe is to emerge from its current crisis.

      It also seeks to provide possible scenarios in the post-Mugabe era.
Among the most controversial proposals relate to seized commercial farms
which are now substantially underutilised and whose leases were acquired
substantially below market rates. The book says:

      "These distributions should be declared unlawful and of no effect.
These properties should be seized either for return to their previous owner
or for further redistribution if the original owner is unwilling or unable
to return." (p. 124)

      However, to their credit the authors acknowledge that there won't be
easy solutions to resolve the ZANU PF-inspired chaos on the farms. The MDC
has publicly said there won't be a return to the pre-2000 status quo but the
party will set up a land commission to
      settle the contentious land issue.

      With a new political dispensation in charge, the book says, it will be
easier to mobilise the international community to bankroll a new, properly
planned land reform programme. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Cricket racism allegations dismissed
Mon 18 October 2004

      LAHORE, Pakistan - The International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday
said it had found no evidence of racism in Zimbabwe cricket bringing to an
end a long drawn saga that had thrown the sport into turmoil.

      The sport's supreme body met in Lahore over the weekend to discuss a
73-page report compiled by India's Solicitor General Goolam Vahanvati and
South African High Court Judge Steven Majiedt probing the allegations of
racism in Zimbabwe cricket.

      "The ICC conducted an inquiry to probe racism, allegations of racism,
in Zimbabwe cricket and the two-member panel found absolutely no evidence of
racism in Zimbabwe cricket," ICC president Ehsan Mani told a Press
conference in Lahore.

      The authors of the report said there was a "complete breakdown in the
relationship between the white players and the (Zimbabwe Cricket) board"
following the allegations.

      The rebel players submitted written statements to the inquiry in which
they alleged that Zimbabwe officials had failed to communicate and listen to
their complaints.

      "In the final analysis we are unable to find in these written
statements any direct or credible evidence of racism on the part of the ZCU
as an institution," the authors wrote in their report.

      Zimbabwe Cricket Union boss Peter Chingoka hailed the findings and
said the union would welcome back the fifteen rebel players.

      "I am delighted at the outcome of the report and over being cleared of
baseless allegations," he said. "We had refuted the allegations and had
always welcomed the rebel players to come back and we maintain that stance."

      Fifteen white players led by former captain Heath Streak went on
strike in April alleging racism in the selection process.

      The Zimbabwe Cricket Council denied the allegations and after a
stand-off, sacked the rebel players throwing Zimbabwe cricket into
turmoil. - ZimOnline
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Police raze war veterans' farms as fresh land evictions rock Zimbabwe

President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party accused of cronyism after invasion of

Rory Carroll in Trelawney
Monday October 18, 2004
The Guardian

They were feted by Robert Mugabe as patriots and pioneers in a radical
redistribution of land to redress colonial injustice. But the war veterans
who ousted white farmers have now themselves been invaded.
Last month, police units fanned across Trelawney, a rural district outside
the capital, Harare, and erased settlements with matches and mallets.

The devastation starts just north of Harare and stretches for mile after
mile with hundreds of homes wrecked, fields scorched and families gone,
leaving the landscape silent and empty. "Now we are in the position the
white farmer was. The authorities used us," Richard Mapuringa, 33, said last
week, sifting through the ruins of his house.

Across Trelawney and other districts there were thousands like him, angry
and confused over livelihoods reduced to ashes and a promise betrayed.

No official explanation was given for the evictions, but the suspicion was
that senior figures in the ruling Zanu-PF party wanted to claim the farms,
which had names such as Little England, for themselves.

"You can't accept a government that does this," said Mr Mapuringa.

But it seems Zimbabweans do accept a government that does this and worse.

Inflation exceeds 300%, unemployment tops 70%, decent food is unaffordable
for many, freedom of speech and assembly have been crushed and a repressive
law muzzling civil society is on the way.

Parliamentary elections are due next March but instead of fighting for
survival, the party that has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980
is expected to coast to victory.

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Last year's general strike has not been repeated and protest rallies have
not materialised. "Mugabe is more secure in power now than before," said one
western diplomat, referring to the country's president.

A sullen, resigned mood reigns in Zimbabwe. Since narrowly losing elections
in 2000 and 2002, which international observers deemed rigged, the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has floundered.

Broke, exhausted and traduced by the media, the party has no way of
combating the government's ability to pay the forgers and bully opponents.
"We are cracking under the strain," said one MP.

Non-governmental organisations used to challenge the regime but several have
started winding down operations since being targeted by a new bill likely
soon to become law. "People are disillusioned, they can't see a way
forward," said one United Nations official.

What happened at Trelawney shows how the government can keep a tight grip on
power despite chaotic policies and deep internal divisions.

Having mobilised the settlers in 2000 to chase away the white farmers and
their black labourers the government failed to supply feed, training or
equipment, prompting a national collapse in production which has fuelled
food shortages.

"At least here we still coped. I was able to grow maize, sorghum, ground
nuts, paprika, and enough to feed my family," said James Hodzi, 58, a local
Zanu-PF party chairman.

But in mid-September the police destroyed everything.

Who gave the order is a mystery, since no minister has publicly endorsed the
policy. Earlier this month a high court halted the evictions, prompting Mr
Hodzi and others to return and try to rebuild.

But as commercial farmers learned four years ago, a court ruling is no
protection from the ruling party.

Peasants in Trelawney accused Mr Mugabe's sister Sabina and his nephew Joe
of coveting their land. Others said it had been earmarked for army officers.
Another theory was of a machiavellian plot to discredit a faction within the
party. Whatever the motive, invaders were no longer wanted.

"There is some poetic justice in their eviction but you have to sympathise.
They have been used. The small fry making way for the bigger fry," said John
Worsley-Worswick, of the white farmers' group Justice for Agriculture.

Not all sympathised. John Jones, one of the last white farmers in Trelawney,
welcomed the expulsion of neighbours he accused of theft. "It's the way
forward if we are to get commercial production back on an even keel."

However, a few miles further down a dirt track his neighbour Mr Hodzi, a
self-styled invader, said he was determined to stay and rebuild the burnt
shell of his home. A member of Zanu-PF since 1980, he declined at first to
blame the party for his troubles but later suggested there was cronyism in
the leadership. Gesturing to his scorched fields he said: "All this
destruction, just so someone can give his girlfriend a present."

Eliciting praise from a white farmer and anger from erstwhile Zanu-PF
supporters, the evictions appear an aberration but one that is unlikely to
threaten the party's re-election.

With a near monopoly of the media and food stocks, and with a population
cowed by security forces, the regime feels assured of victory.

On a recent trip to Mozambique Mr Mugabe had a spring in his step. "We are
now, day by day, regaining a noteworthy political and economic stability,"
he told journalists. In other words, the possibility of his overthrow had

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'Democratic forces cannot sleep easily'

The papers consider the opposition leader's acquittal

Monday October 18, 2004
The Guardian

Sunday Mirror Editorial, Zimbabwe, October 17

"The judgment [in] the treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will go a long way in remoulding the way in which both the local and international communities regard matters of governance in Zimbabwe. Against many's expectations, and despite much vitriolic media hype, Mr Tsvangirai was acquitted on Friday. How the case was handled symbolises that there is the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

"There are checks and balances and therefore there was no need for fear that the executive, or the ruling Zanu-PF for that matter, would interfere with the justice delivery system."

Standard Editorial, Zimbabwe, October 17

"It was abundantly clear that international fraudster and fortune-hunter Ari Ben Menashe had framed the rather naive Mr Tsvangirai and the charges were trumped-up and politically motivated. Mr Tsvangirai's victory this first round is as charged with sorrow and doubt as it is with joy and gratitude. A second treason charge is hanging over his head and democratic forces everywhere cannot sleep easily. The battle is not over yet. Zimbabweans are in for a long haul."

Daily News Editorial, Zimbabwe, October 16

"Most analysts called this a political trial, part of Zanu-PF's sinister plot to enfeeble the most formidable opposition political party since independence. The judgment suggests strongly that justice is still alive and well in Zimbabwe, that in spite of attempts by Zanu-PF there are still men and women of conscience who will act in accordance with the law, and not out of warped party loyalty."

Sunday Mail Editorial, Zimbabwe, October 17
"The fact that people can sit down and discuss the elimination of a sitting president smacks of conspiracy and to argue that Mr Tsvangirai should not have been on trial is being mischievous. Mr Tsvangirai had himself said it was not him who was on trial but democracy. So if democracy was under trial has it now been acquitted?"

Nathaniel Manheru Herald, Zimbabwe, October 16

"Mr Tsvangirai is a man the courts have saved from the gallows, only to be delivered to the guillotine of popular vote, come March 2005."

"Skilfully, Zanu-PF has already dubbed the March 2005 election the anti-Blair election, in the process keeping MDC's troubled linkage with the west under a spotlight. The vast western media availed to Mr Tsvangirai soon after his acquittal; the loud sigh of relief that rang loud in the hallways of No 10, the White House and other corridors of the west, only serves to reinforce Zanu-PF's campaign, while firmly nailing the MDC mast high on the pole of empire where it flutters to an ill political wind."

Daily Telegraph Editorial, October 16

"The prospects for the opposition are of continued brutal harassment by an old tyrant, who appears to have concluded that it would be self-defeating to imprison or execute Mr Tsvangirai. Robert Mugabe would thereby make a martyr of a man who no longer poses any immediate threat to his rule.

"In the meantime, the economy continues to unravel. Zimbabweans go hungry while their president makes absurdly optimistic claims about the size of the grain harvest. This is a country going steadily downhill. The acquittal of Mr Tsvangirai, though cheering in itself, will not halt that melancholy slide."

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Independent (UK)

Morgan Tsvangirai: 'You can't expect me to be on cloud nine over an
acquittal on a fabricated case'
The Monday Interview: Leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
By Basildon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent
18 October 2004

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader is relaxing today in his bungalow in
Harare, having just escaped a death sentence for treason.

But despite his surprise at his sudden and unexpected acquittal at the High
Court in Harare on Friday, Morgan Tsvangirai is not celebrating. He still
sees no grounds for optimism in his country which is preparing for a general
election early next year.

"This [treason acquittal] is more of an exception than the rule as far as
the conduct of the judiciary is concerned," he says. "It was all political
persecution. They never had a case against me. I never did any wrong. So you
cannot expect me to be on cloud nine over an acquittal on a fabricated case
which should not have reached the courts in the first place."

Mr Tsvangirai, 52, was cleared of plotting to assassinate President Robert
Mugabe, at the end of a case which had silenced the opposition leader for
two years. But he returns to court on 3 November to answer a new set of
treason charges: that he "plotted" to violently overthrow the President
through mass protests. These charges arise from demonstrations that Mr
Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), called for last year to protest against Mr Mugabe's rule.

Mr Tsvangirai says the situation in Zimbabwe remains grave. The rights of
citizens continue to be trampled on. Draconian media and security laws at
the heart of Mr Mugabe's strategy to keep in power are still very much in
place after being upheld by the judges.

The claims by Mugabe supporters that the verdict against Mr Tsvangirai last
week was the fruit of an "independent judiciary" is far from the truth, the
MDC leader says.

He points to the 37 court appeals lodged by his party against constituency
results in the 2000 parliamentary elections. At the time, Zimbabwe had an
independent judiciary headed by Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay. Of the 12
petitions heard by the High Court, the MDC won eight, and the court
nullified Mr Mugabe's victories in all the eight constituencies after it
found his Zanu-PF had used violence to win.

Had the courts adjudicated all the 37 challenges and ruled in favour of the
MDC as had been widely expected, Mr Mugabe would probably have been long
forced out of power. But the President immediately begun purging the
judiciary and Mr Gubbay was forced off the bench. Three fiercely independent
judges who had ruled in favour of the MDC in the court petitions were also

It became a practice of Mr Mugabe's militant supporters to storm into
offices of judges perceived to be independent and threaten them with death.
The judges begun to leave the bench in droves and many undistinguished
pro-Mugabe judges came into the High Court.

The entire Supreme Court was purged and Godfrey Chidyausiku, a former
minister in Mr Mugabe's government, was elevated to become chief justice in
place of Mr Gubbay.

With the next parliamentary elections only six months away, the opposition's
37 petitions have still not been scheduled for a hearing. Zanu-PF appealed
to the Supreme Court against the eight won by the MDC, and Mr Chidyausiku
quashed them four years later.

"There can be no greater injustice to the people of Zimbabwe than the manner
in which these electoral petitions have been handled," says Mr Tsvangirai,
who seems extremely careful in his choice of words, mindful that he has
another treason case to answer. "Justice delayed is justice denied. We are
now facing a new election and our electoral petitions, which should have set
important precedents on the conduct of elections in this country and
probably shaped the course of events after the 2000 elections, are now of
academic interest only."

Faced with many other bizarre judgments, like the one which upheld as
constitutional a law requiring all journalists to be licensed by the
government, and Supreme Court judgments upholding chaotic land reforms as
well as others depriving thousands of Zimbabweans of their citizenship, Mr
Tsvangirai is unhappy with suggestions that his acquittal heralds the dawn
of a new era.

But despite two wasted years as he fought what he describes as trumped-up
charges, Mr Tsvangirai says the verdict enables the people of Zimbabwe to
look forward to a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning.

"On a positive note this judgment may have set a good basis for national
reconciliation and a national solution for the crisis in Zimbabwe," he says.

But he remains worried about President Mugabe's commitment to dialogue to
resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. "The Mugabe regime is not interested in any
rational steps to resolve the crisis in this country. It would rather wish
the opposition and many of its opponents away. Unfortunately, that is not
going to achieve anything."

Mr Tsvangirai's acquittal will now allow him to focus on revitalising his
party. "Our programme of action remains hinged on achieving a change of
government in this country through constitutional and democratic means at
the ballot box. We are a non-violent party and we preach no violence,
contrary to what the Mugabe regime would want to have the world believe."

He aims to pile pressure on the government to level the political playing
field for the next elections. But the government has shown no interest in
implementing a new regional protocol on the conduct of free and fair

Mr Tsvangirai dismisses proposed electoral reforms as merely cosmetic. He
says they fail to address the core of the electoral problem in Zimbabwe
which centres on a flawed voters' roll which has an estimated 2.5 million
"ghost" voters.

Mr Mugabe has proposed setting up an "independent" electoral commission but
he would appoint it himself under proposed amendments. He has also proposed
reducing voting to one day instead of two, and using transparent ballot

But the voters' roll remains untouched. Mr Tsvangirai's party is also barred
from the public media in a country where the state enjoys a monopoly on

His party has suspended participating in elections until they can compete on
a equal basis. "That position remains," he says. "We will assess the
situation [before the 2005 elections] because we cannot partake in a flawed
electoral process and legitimise its outcome."

Mr Tsvangirai insists that the only solution to Zimbabwe's problems -
including nearly 400 per cent inflation, the highest in the world, 80 per
cent unemployment, chronic fuel and power shortages, and mass starvation -
is to return the country to legitimacy through a free and fair election.

But what happens if his MDC boycotts the polls? "It means the Zimbabwe
crisis continues with no end or solution in sight." He rebuffs criticism
that his party is flawed on policy and has no clear-cut programme to return
Zimbabwe to prosperity even if it wins the election.

"Such criticisms come from people who have never bothered to read all our
policy documents and party programmes. That is criticism for the sake of

From humble beginnings as a textile factory worker, Mr Tsvangirai emerged
from obscurity to become Mr Mugabe's most serious challenger since
independence from Britain in 1980. He narrowly lost to Mr Mugabe in the 2002
presidential election, dismissed by many poll observers as rigged.

The election caused Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth before Mr
Mugabe pulled it out at the last Commonwealth leaders' meeting in Nigeria.

Before Mr Tsvangirai's somewhat meteoric rise, Mr Mugabe had ruled
unchallenged for close to 20 years. That ended when Mr Tsvangirai, then
leader of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions founded the MDC in 1999.

The affable Mr Tsvangirai, of stocky build and charismatic manner, is an
articulate and powerful orator, much admired across Zimbabwe.

Though he has often faced criticism for sometimes "talking before thinking
of the consequences", causing himself unnecessary political problems, many
believe he has grown into a solid leader who would defeat Mr Mugabe in any
free and fair election. Which is why Mr Mugabe is not expected to allow a
free and fair election.

Mr Mugabe has also vowed never to allow Mr Tsvangirai to rule Zimbabwe,
describing him as a British puppet. But Mr Tsvangirai is not worried. "Even
Ian Smith [the Rhodesian leader] used to declare that there would never be
black majority rule in Zimbabwe in a thousand years."
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The Star

      The headaches of tackling a jumbo problem

      As officials gather to discuss elephant over-population, culling will
be a substantial ingredient in a 'cocktail of growth control'
      October 18, 2004

      By Leon Marshall

      It is a tough choice: Let southern Africa's burgeoning elephant
population be and watch parks get destroyed, or resume culling.

      But there are other ways. Elephants' population growth can be slowed
through contraception and sterilisation.

      It is also possible to reduce their destruction of some reserves
through translocations to less populated parks and by expanding their
roaming areas through the creation of transfrontier reserves and connecting
corridors that allow them to move freely between parks.

      But these are costly and cumbersome. On their own they cannot make a
significant dent in a problem that has been allowed to assume crisis
proportions since a moratorium was placed on elephant culling in 1995 in
response to pressure from international environmental organisations .

      Culling remains the surest answer if the elephant dilemma is to be
contained, but this remains a seriously emotional matter.

      Anti-culling lobbyists want the habitat-changing ways of the
sub-continent's great elephant herds to be seen as part of nature. They
argue that the answer is to create bigger reserves for elephants.

      The pro-culling lobby says the creation of corridors linking parks and
the expansion of reserves are long-term options that need to be pursued.
Meanwhile, however, culling is unavoidable if the situation is to be made
manageable in the short term.

      It has to be accepted that, having fenced in wild animals, their
numbers also have to be controlled accordingly.

      The whole issue of elephant management will this week come before a
conference that has been called by South African National Parks (SANParks).
It will take place at Berg-en-Dal camp on Wednesday and Thursday and will
include conservation bodies, academics, community representatives and
national government and provincial officials.

      Elephant over-population is a problem in other parts of southern
Africa, but Dr David Mabunda, chief executive of SANParks, says the
conference is primarily aimed at thrashing out a strategy for South Africa.

      "We have invited officials and community members from other member
states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but it is the
elephant question in our own national parks like Kruger, Marakele and
Mapungubwe that is at issue. Addo is not yet critical, but, left unchecked,
it, too, could become a problem."

      "We cannot presume to discuss anybody else's elephants, but we hope
the conference's recommendations will be of use to others," he says.

      Mabunda has been discreetly avoiding disclosing his own preferences.

      "We want people to give us their ideas," he says of the upcoming
conference. But his mention of a "cocktail of options" suggests culling
cannot but be a substantial ingredient.

      It is obviously for the very reason that culling is such a
controversial and emotional issue that a conference of such diverse experts
and representatives has been called to advise SANParks.

      It should take at least some of the edge off a decision that is bound
to have considerable repercussions.

      Most animal rights groups will, as a matter of course, take serious
issue with culling. But making it even more explosive is the special place
which elephants tend generally to have in people's hearts.

      Be it their size and shape, the way they move and behave, in fact
their whole being, there is something particularly stately and ancient about
them. Thought and sensitivities get ascribed to them which go far beyond
such senses in other wild animals.

      But the practicalities are sobering. If left unchecked, the elephant
herds of southern Africa will keep multiplying, with devastating
consequences for the vegetation in reserves and for other animals relying on
these habitats.

      From being endangered not so many decades ago, the elephant population
of southern Africa (Nambia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi,
Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa) is now put roughly at 300 000.

      More than a third of these are in the northern part of Botswana, which
has been notable for its policy of letting nature take its course rather
than cull.

      South Africa's population stands at about 17 000.

      Its worst affected park is Kruger and its adjacent private reserves.
Their elephant count has gone from less than 7 000 to more than 13 000 since
the 1995 moratorium on culling.

      With the 20 000 square kilometre park's maximum carrying capacity put
at 7 500, the effects are becoming increasingly visible in the form of
destroyed trees.

      Kruger's link-up two years ago with Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou and
Mozambique's Limpopo Park to form the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park will
not be of much use either.

      The Zimbabwean link exists in name only, and it seems it will be some
time before Kruger elephants will find an outlet in that direction.

      The border fence with the Mozambican park has been dropped in places
and some of Kruger's elephants have started moving across into the largely
denuded area. But this will only offer marginal relief. The 10 000 square
kilometre Limpopo Park is mostly not ideal elephant habitat and is said to
be only able to take up to about 3 000 elephants. So, soon it too will be

      The recently opened Mapungubwe National Park against the Limpopo River
border with Botswana and Mozambique has also become vulnerable to elephant
intrusions from Botswana's Tuli Block side, which has about 1 300 elephants.
They have already destroyed two of Mapungubwe's three palm forests.

      The elephants are a major complicating factor in negotiations to link
the South African park into a transfrontier conservation area with the
reserves on the Zimbabwean and Botswana sides of the Limpopo River.

      Marakele National Park in Limpopo Province, too, is developing an
elephant problem, with a count of 93 last year.

      Of the provincial parks, KwaZulu Natal's Hluhluwe Umfolozi and
Northwest Province's Madikwe, both have populations set at well over 300,
which already is beyond the carrying capacity of both parks.

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Green Left

Police block Zimbabwe Social Forum

Zimbabwean anti-globalisation activists, social movements, NGOs,
community-based organisations, faith-based groups and unions opposed to
neo-liberalism and corporate-led globalisation which were scheduled to hold
the second Zimbabwe Social Forum from October 14 have been barred by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police from holding their meeting in the Harare Gardens.

Instead of appreciating the political significance of the event whose
overall theme is ''A people's forum against poverty, gender inequality and
oppression", the police have sought to portray the meeting as one that will
cause public disorder.

In an October 12 letter signed by Chief Superintendent S. Pondo, officer
commanding Harare Central District, and addressed to the Zimbabwe Social
Forum, it is noted that the "meeting is hereby not sanctioned by this
office. Harare Gardens is in the Central Business District (CBD) and from
information available, the public gathering will occasion public disorder
and may cause damage in the CBD".

The deliberate misreading of the Social Forum and what it stands for
reinforces the observation that the government of Zimbabwe uses populist
rhetoric to articulate left-wing demands, but has an array of draconian
legislation which it has progressively deployed against pro-democracy
forces, consequently causing some unprecedented shrinking of democratic
space and intolerance, especially of those challenging the right-wing
tendencies embedded in most of its economic programs.

The Zimbabwe Social Forum was meant to prepare for the country's
participation in the forthcoming Africa and World Social Forums scheduled to
be held in December 2004 (Zambia) and January 2005 (Brazil) respectively.

The Social Forum has constantly articulated that the current globalisation
process and its local manifestations, are dominated by the giant
transnational corporations from the North, and is impacting negatively on
the people in Zimbabwe.

Its activists have rejected the neoliberal paradigm and have singled out the
World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation - key
instruments for imposing the agenda of the governments and corporations of
the North.

We therefore call on the Zimbabwean government to facilitate that the event
be held in the country at a date to be announced by the organisers, and most
importantly at Harare Gardens, a venue they used last year without any
public disorder.

Advice offered by the police that the event be organised away from the CBD
is not justified. This is meant to take away visibility and political
significance of African anti-globalisation activists who have strengthened
the resistance mounted by governments from the developing world struggling
against the unjust World Trade Organisation and other similarly destructive
global hegemonic forces.

Meanwhile, the national organising committee of the Zimbabwe Social Forum
has been forced to postpone the event.

[Abridged from statement issued by the Media and Information Working Group,
Zimbabwe Social Forum.]

From Green Left Weekly, October 20, 2004.
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The Times

            'Colonial' Britain put in its place
            by Richard Beeston
            The Commonwealth snubs the Foreign Office over plans to rank it
with a French cultural group

            THE Commonwealth has been involved in a testy diplomatic spat
with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with accusations that Britain is
acting as if it were still a colonial power.
            According to diplomatic sources, the two sides were engaged in a
heated dispute over plans for the visit to London next month of President
Chirac, of France, who will be a guest of the Queen in the last major event
of this year's centenary celebration of the Entente Cordiale.

            British diplomats preparing the visit proposed that one of the
main features should be a meeting hosted by Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth
Secretary-General, with Tony Blair, M Chirac and Abdou Diouf, the former
Senegalese leader and Secretary-General of la Francophonie, the organisation
representing French-speaking nations.

            "The FCO hatched a plan for them all to meet at Marlborough
House for a back-scratching session," said one official. "The FCO were very
excited about the idea, but the answer from the Commonwealth was an emphatic
'no way'."

            The Commonwealth prides itself on being an independent
partnership of 53 member states. Although most are former British colonies,
and Britain makes the largest contribution to the organisation's budget,
Britain does not enjoy any special status. Indeed, the Commonwealth has
openly clashed with successive British governments, notably over Margaret
Thatcher's relations with the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

            More recently, London has been engaged in fierce debates with
African nations over how to deal with President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who
terminated Zimbabwe's Commonwealth membership last December.

            While the Commonwealth aims to uphold standards of democracy and
human rights among its members, its French counterpart is essentially a
cultural organisation supported completely by the French Government which
aims to protect French language and culture.

            The idea of drawing a comparison between the two during an
Anglo-French summit clearly offended the Commonwealth Secretariat, which
felt that it was being treated in a patronising manner by British diplomats.

            According to officials involved in the discussions, the
disagreement turned heated with veiled threats made against the Commonwealth
and Mr McKinnon by senior figures at the Foreign Office.

            Mr McKinnon has not referred to the issue directly, but last
week in a speech at the Royal Society of Arts in Glasgow he made it very
clear that he was fed up with Britain's attitude and demanded a bit more
respect for his organisation.

            "Let me begin by telling you something startling about the
Commonwealth," he said to the Scottish audience on Thursday night. "It doesn't
exist. It is anachronistic. It is dead. It will be uncomfortable for those
who still view the organisation through the comforting prism of what it used
to be. What I mean is that the British Commonwealth was left behind with the
last century, even if the terms still lingers on. Today we are no more the
British Commonwealth than the United States is the British USA," said the
former New Zealand Foreign Minister.

            Although he conceded that Britain had a special historical role
in the Commonwealth, he insisted that the organisation today was a "global
partnership of governments and citizens where everyone is equal in the eyes
of everyone else".

            "None are more equal than others," he said. "These are the sorts
of reasons why governments and individuals seek to join it."

            Mr McKinnon's remarks were described by officials as a direct
response to the Foreign Office's high-handed manner. "In effect he was
telling the FCO to get their tanks off his lawn," said one source.

            A Foreign Office spokeswoman said she was unaware of any
disagreement with the Commonwealth and insisted that plans for M Chirac's
visit to London next month were still being finalised.
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Scoop, New Zealand

      Zimbabwe: Violations of the right to food
      Monday, 18 October 2004, 9:00 am
      Press Release: Amnesty International

  Zimbabwe: Violations of the right to food
  Policies and practices of the Government of Zimbabwe are undermining
peoples' access to food, and violate Zimbabwe's obligations under
international human rights law a new report released by Amnesty
International on the eve of World Food Day concluded.

  The report, "Zimbabwe: Power and Hunger, Violations of the Right to Food",
examines a number of government policies and how their implementation has
resulted in the violation of basic rights. These include the controversial
"fast track land reform programme", and the operations of the
government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB). (View the full report
online at )

  "Implementation of the 'fast track land reform programme' has been marred
by violence, corruption and a blatant disregard for the rule of law.
Hundreds have lost their lives; tens of thousands have lost their
livelihoods and, with it, their ability to have access to adequate food,"
Amnesty International said.

  As a result of the way in which the land reform programme has been
implemented agriculture has been disrupted, fertile land has gone unplanted
and thousands of agricultural jobs have been lost. All this at a time when
poverty and food insecurity meant millions of people in Zimbabwe were
dependent on food aid.

  "Land reform can be vital to realizing human rights, including the right
to food," Amnesty International's report says. "However, any program of land
reform should not result in violations of human rights."

  The report also criticizes the government's response to the food crisis in
Zimbabwe. The near-monopoly of the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) on trade in and distribution of maize - the staple food for millions
of people in Zimbabwe has been used by the government to control food
supplies and to manipulate food for political purposes.

  "The GMB distribution system has been used to discriminate against
supporters of the political opposition. In numerous cases only those who can
prove membership of ZANU-PF have been allowed to access maize distributed by
the GMB. During election campaigns voters' access to food has been
threatened unless they vote for ZANU-PF," says the report. "Farm workers
have also been discriminated against by the GMB distribution system,
reportedly in an attempt to force them to work for the newly resettled farms
at low rates of pay."

  Discrimination has also been a problem in the international food aid
programme. While donors have sought to prevent manipulation of international
food aid by the government and its supporters, they have themselves been
unwilling to provide food aid to newly resettled farms in need, reportedly
because they believe this would legitimise the land reform process.

  "By allowing political motives to interfere with the provision of
assistance to those in need, donors may also have undermined the efforts of
those humanitarian actors who distribute assistance without discrimination,
thus further denying the population of Zimbabwe badly needed help," Amnesty
International said.

  There is mounting evidence that people in Zimbabwe continue to suffer from
hunger. Although the government has claimed that the 2004 harvest was a
"bumper crop", many independent monitors, including the UN and local and
international non-governmental organizations involved in food security,
dispute the government's figures. However, the government has insisted it
does not need international food aid and, since mid 2004, most food aid
distribution in Zimbabwe has ceased.

  Amnesty International is concerned that the cessation of most
international food aid distribution is leaving millions of people dependent
on grain distributed via the GMB. It is unclear whether the GMB has
sufficient resources to meet needs.

  The organization is further concerned about potential further violations
of the rights to adequate food and freedom from hunger in the context of the
2005 elections, given the GMB's history of discriminatory distribution of
grain it controls and the pattern of abuse of access to food at times of
elections over the past two years.

  "The government must allow independent monitoring of the food security
situation in Zimbabwe and ensure transparency and accountability in the
operations of the GMB," says the report.

  Amnesty International is calling on the Zimbabwe government, as a party to
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICSECR),
the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) and other
international treaties under which it is obliged to uphold the right to
food, to take immediate steps to fulfil its obligations without
discrimination of any kind.

  The organization also calls on international donors to ensure that both
development and humanitarian aid policies are based on human rights
principles, including ensuring non-discrimination.

  Full report online at
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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!


A Review of Election Petitions following the Parliamentary Elections of 2000

15 October 2004

Violence, intimidation and procedural irregularities have been features of Zimbabwean elections since the pre-independence election of March 1980. Doubtless they have always produced a flawed outcome. Possibly we have had members of parliament throughout the life of the nation who were never genuinely elected by the people.  But the elections of June 2000 reached a new low on the credibility scale.  And what has happened since then shows us that there is no longer any legal protection for the process of ensuring that elections are honestly conducted and the declared winners fairly represent the peoples’ choice.


The 2000 elections were held in an atmosphere of extreme tension.  Four months earlier the constitutional referendum had handed ZANU PF  their first loss at the ballot box and for the first time they felt their hold on state power seriously threatened by a nation-wide, organised and popular opposition party, the MDC.  Before the end of February they had responded to the defeat by launching a programme of violent land invasions, which rapidly revealed itself as part of a violent election strategy.  A governing party which was determined to retain its grip on power lifted the levels of violence, intimidation and deliberate subversion of the electoral process to far higher levels than had ever been experienced before.


In view of the campaigning environment, MDC’s success in winning 57 seats to ZANU PF’s 62 was remarkable.  But they felt they had been cheated out of several more victories and should rightly have gained a substantial majority of the 120 parliamentary constituencies.  The Zimbabwe Electoral Act provides for a judicial petition against an election result by any candidate who feels he or she has been prejudiced.  Such a challenge had been made by the spirited Margaret Dongo who contested a Harare constituency as an independent in 1995.  She challenged her defeat by ZANU PF in the High Court, the result was nullified, and in the ensuing by-election she won the seat.  The MDC thus had every reason to put faith in successful court challenges to the ZANU PF wins in constituencies where violence and intimidation and electoral malpractices could be proven.


The Electoral Act lays down required electoral procedures.  Parts XX and XXI describe Corrupt Practices and Illegal Practices which are offences and which attract fines and prison terms.  Part XXII outlines when an election can be voided as a result of these practices, while Part XXIII lays down the procedure for election petitions by any aggrieved parties.



The Act is quite specific in describing what constitutes corrupt and illegal practices.  Corrupt practices include treating (providing food, drink, entertainment or lodging in exchange for a vote), undue influence (violence and threats of violence), bribery (some overlap with treating but includes payment of election officials to influence the outcome), personation (voting in the name of another person or voting more than once), illegal transport (carrying a person to vote in a constituency where they are not registered).  Illegal practices are many, but those featuring in the MDC election petitions include distributing misleading facsimile ballot papers, carrying on campaigning activities on polling day within 200 metres of a polling station, publishing a false statement about the death or withdrawal of a candidate, obstructing a voter at or on the way to or from a polling station. All of these practices attract a fine and/or a period of imprisonment;  the High Court may also deprive a person convicted of an illegal practice of his or her vote for a period of five years, or from holding public office.


How much corruption or illegality is required for an election result to be invalidated?   To a certain extent this is left to the discretion of the court, but the Act does lay down guidelines.  Section 24 states that if the High Court rules that where “any corrupt or illegal practice” has been committed, by the candidate or any of his agents, or with their knowledge and consent, the election will be declared void.  However, where the offence is treating or undue influence or any illegal practice, it will not invalidate the election if the candidate or his agent did not agree to the practice, took all reasonable precautions to prevent the corrupt and illegal practices, and the offences were of a trivial, unimportant or limited character.


Between July 17 and 27, MDC losing candidates in 40 constituencies filed petitions challenging the ZANU PF victories.  In many of these contests, the margin of votes cast for the two candidates was relatively small, while in others it was very wide.  However, the closeness of the contest is not an issue in the petitions.  The issue is the fairness of the election.  One incident of violence might intimidate hundreds or even thousands of voters, causing them to stay away from the polls or to change their vote.  One polling agent prevented from entering the polling station could mean that hundreds of people not on the voters roll were allowed to vote without anyone observing the malpractice.


Given the level of violence surrounding the election campaign and the large scale of irregularities on polling day, it should have been very easy for the MDC to gain High Court rulings voiding virtually all the election victories of ZANU PF.  However, this was not necessary.  A victory in only 4 would deprive ZANU PF of their majority of elected seats and a victory in 18 would deprive them of the overall majority in Parliament, even considering the 30 non-elected members who were all likely to be ZANU PF supporters.  Anything in between would render the ruling party’s hold on Parliament tenuous at best.


The evidence gathered, documented and presented in support of the petitions makes chilling reading – murders, torture, serious assaults, burning of property, and thousands of cases of threats of the above.  Examples from only two constituencies will make it clear:  in Gokwe East, one MDC activist was murdered by ZANU PF supporters; 17 assaults were proven, including two people beaten unconscious and two others abducted and forced to jump into a dam; burning and damaging of houses forced whole families to flee.  In Chiredzi North fifteen documented assaults included assaults on children as young as two years old, houses of MDC supporters were burned, others had windows smashed, a store of an MDC supporter had the windows smashed and was looted more than once. The owner was threatened with decapitation, village heads were threatened, MDC supporters were threatened with being killed, and a teacher was threatened with removal, had the windows of his house smashed, and stones thrown at him.  In virtually all of the incidents cited in the petitions, the perpetrators of the actions are named or are identified by their use of ZANU PF paraphernalia, slogans, or vehicles.  In many constituencies cases of torture were documented, including torture of the candidate himself by CIO (Chikomba). 


Two points must be made about the evidence presented in the petitions.  Firstly, the incidents documented are in all cases only a fraction of those that took place.  Many were never reported while many other victims did not make statements in affidavits for fear of future reprisals.  Secondly, where such actions take place, the demonstration effect of a single brutal act does its work on tens, hundreds or thousands of others, which is of course the intention in the first place.


In addition to the violence and threat of violence (described antiseptically in the Act as “undue influence”) virtually all of the election petitions include allegations of illegal and irregular practices at the polling stations and irregularities in counting.  Frequent practices mentioned are: various forms of prohibited campaigning within 100 metres of the polling station, MDC polling agents prevented from entering the station and prevented from accompanying the ballot boxes, missing ballot boxes, sample ballots with a large X next to ZANU PF, voters being instructed to vote for ZANU PF as they entered the polling station, ink detectors not working, voters being allowed to vote again even though ink showed on their hands, irregularities in the voters roll, ZANU PF torture bases being used as polling stations, and perpetrators of torture being polling officers.


Of the forty petitions filed, eighteen have been heard by the High Court; in two of these the MDC petitioners did not turn up at the court, so the cases were dismissed.  Sixteen of the petitions originally filed were not proceeded with, three because the holder of the seat died before the case could be heard.  Some were withdrawn because of threats by ZANU PF, either against the candidate himself, or against witnesses.  In one case the candidate had his farm invaded and taken away, in another the candidate cannot be located, in still others the candidates decided not to proceed because there had been such long delays in bringing the matter to court.  Five petitions are still waiting to be heard by the High Court. 


Of the sixteen petitions contested, seven were judged in favour of the MDC, nullifying the election result.  Nine were given in favour of ZANU PF. In Buhera North, where Morgan Tsvangirai was the candidate, the judge ruled that corrupt practices in the form of undue influence which was not of a “trivial, unimportant and limited character” forced him to declare the election result void.  In Chiredzi North, the judge said that corrupt practices had not been proved, but the widespread violence and intimidation of the electorate negatived the concept of a free election, and she therefore declared the election void.  In Gokwe North, the judge ruled that the candidate had not taken precautions to prevent corrupt practices and the ones that took place were not trivial, unimportant or of a limited character.  In Gokwe South the candidate was severely assaulted and a rumour spread that he had died; ZANU PF was declared to be guilty of corrupt practices and the result declared void.  Hurungwe East and Makoni East were also voided on account of widespread intimidation.  In the Mutoko South constituency, the judge noted that the MDC candidate had been kidnapped by war veterans and brought to a meeting where the ZANU PF candidate was present and forced to contribute to the ruling party’s campaign.  The judge also noted that the law did not permit him to take into consideration whether the violence and intimidation affected the result; the fact that such activities took place prevents a colluding beneficiary from being declared a winner.


In nine  constituencies the election petition was rejected.  In Chiredzi South, although the MDC candidate led evidence of widespread  serious intimidation, prevention of campaigning, threats of assaults and killing, as well as irregularities and illegalities at polling stations, the judge ruled that there were only a few incidents and they were not of a general nature.  The case in Chinhoyi  rested mainly on bribery and treating, which the judge dismissed as unproven.  The ruling against the MDC in Goromonzi has not been supported by any written explanation by the judge.  In other cases, similar explanations were given for rejection, even though violence was proven.  One judge commented that “Senseless political violence that seeks to punish the victim for belonging to a different political party is not undue influence under the Act…since the violence was targeted at the MDC as a party and not at a particular person the first element of the offence of undue influence is not proved.”  Another, rejecting the petition for Murehwa North, said that the violence was only in the business centres and the south-west corner of constituency, therefore it was not widespread, even though nearly twenty witnesses testified to abductions, beatings and destruction of property affecting many more people.  The judge went on to disregard the Act’s provisions when he referred to an English judgment which allows the judge to consider whether the corrupt practices in fact could have affected the result.  He held that the intimidation could not have affected the outcome because only 5 out of 12 witnesses said they had failed to vote the way they wanted due to intimidation.  This is nearly half, and half of those who were brave enough to stand up in a court and testify to ZANU PF violence! 


ZANU PF raised one petition against the MDC winner on the sole grounds that some pages of the voters roll were missing.  The court then voided this election.  However, numerous irregularities claimed in the MDC petitions were disregarded when judgment was being given.  No one could be blamed for concluding that many of the judgments given were not impartial.


One might expect that a Member of Parliament whose election was voided by the High Court would be required to step down.  However, that is not what the Electoral Act provides for.  It rightly allows an appeal to the Supreme Court, but more controversially allows the declared winner to remain in place until an appeal is heard.  Thus none of the defeated candidates whose election was voided stepped down, and all who are still alive remain as Members of Parliament up to today.


However, ZANU PF must have been disturbed by the prospect of results being overturned and their supporters and candidates convicted of corrupt and illegal practices, because they developed new tactics to prevent the electoral law from running its course.


·        In October 2000, the President issued a Clemency Order granting

amnesty to anyone who had committed crimes in the process of campaigning.  Only the crimes of murder and rape were excluded.  Thus all those who committed common law offences or offences included as corrupt practices were to be exonerated without even being brought to court, and the sections of the Electoral Act providing for their punishment or the withdrawal of their right to vote and to hold public office were rendered inoperative.  The law could not punish criminals.


·         In December 2000, before the first petitions were to be heard, the President issued a statutory instrument, stating that the election had been free and fair and that any corrupt or illegal practices were not violations of the Electoral Act.  The MDC successfully challenged this absurdity as unconstitutional and proceeded with the petitions.  But this was before ZANU PF drew its next poisoned arrow.


·        As the first judgments were being handed down in 2001, some of them overturning ZANU PF victories, ZANU PF already had an attack on the judiciary under way.  This resulted in most of the senior judges being forced to retire or resign, some to leave the country.  Within two years almost the entire Supreme Court had been replaced, and those judges who remain or are newly appointed know that what has happened before can happen again, and they will be wise not to aggravate ZANU PF.  Others are openly ZANU PF supporters, some even having received illegally acquired farms, and one having himself defied a court order.


·        But perhaps even more significant, those who administer the courts were now firmly in the pockets of ZANU PF.  Although the Electoral Act requires an election petition to be submitted within 30 days of the announcement of an election result, no time limit is given for the hearing of a petition or of an appeal. But the rules governing petitions state that the matters should be dealt with “as quickly as possible”.  The administrators of the courts have simply failed to allocate sufficient judges and to set down petitions and appeals for trial.   


Thus there are still five petitions which have never been heard, and only three appeals have been heard; those filed in 2001 began to be heard in 2004, but by October the Supreme Court is yet to give any judgment.  The strategy  of delaying the judicial process has effectively nullified the right of petition provided for in the Electoral Act, as well as the protection of the law enshrined in the Constitution.  More than four years after the election, when the life of the Parliament is about to expire, not a single petition has been finalised. 


In spite of the large number of election petitions filed, the voluminous amount of evidence of serious corrupt and illegal practices and procedural irregularities, not a single ZANU PF M.P. has been forced to vacate a seat won through violence and corruption.  Rather, the perpetrators of violence and other criminal acts have been pardoned, and the ability of the courts to provide justice to the candidates and the electorate has been erased.


It is an important aspect of a free and fair election that the participants have the right to challenge the result in an impartial court of law; the fate of the MDC election petitions shows clearly that this right has been denied in Zimbabwe in respect of the 2000 parliamentary election.  A similar fate has befallen the legal challenge to the 2002 presidential election, which is still tied up in a judicial spider web two and a half years on. 


There should be no need to further demonstrate the determination of the present regime to subvert the processes by which the electorate select their representatives to govern them.    For the past four years we have had parliamentarians sitting smugly in their seats, knowing full well that they have in fact been rejected by the people.  When an electoral system fails this badly it can no longer be graced with the adjective democratic; it is rather a means for a dictatorship to retain a façade with which it attempts to persuade the naïve that it holds some form of legitimacy.



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By Eddie Cross

The Bushveld.

Africa has a bug. Its never been identified, has no name but all who have
lived in Africa know it exists and that they might have it. Somehow it
never leaves you once you're infected and no matter where you go - it never
lets you go altogether.

At this time of the year I just love the wild open spaces that are called
the bushveld. It is difficult to describe to someone who has never seen
but all who have can instantly recall what it is like. Its October -
yesterday it was 40 degrees Celsius in the shade and everything is dry and
bleached. The tall grass is either burnt or white and the trees are either
carrying a full flush of new leaves or are bare and still. Arriving at the
edge of an escarpment, you crest a rise and there it is - stretching out
the horizon. Grey, harsh, beautiful.

It is not an easy land - it's full of strong contrasts and it is not
forgiving. The soils are varied and are both rich and poor, rainfall is
limited and then only for about 4 or 5 months a year. Nights are cool,
early mornings fresh and crisp and the days hot with deep blue skies
stretching as far as the eye can see. The long dry winter is followed by
the violent storms of summer, rain on parched ground, that smell of the
first rains on the dry earth, the flights of flying ants.

The nights are very special - the Milky Way blazing across the sky lit by
millions of stars. The yellow moon rising above the earth and the
springtime roar of the frogs, crickets and night birds. The flowering trees
- the Knob Thorn with its mop of dense yellow flowers and thick scent. The
new leaves of the Mountain Acacia and Msasa colored from deep burgundy to
light green, the splash of green as the wild figs and the Pod Mahogany
comes out. The cicada beetles in the Mopani veld.

The anticipation of the rains and with it new life make this landscape very
special as it teems with all sorts of life. Hundreds of different species
of trees and shrubs, birds and animals - not forgetting the insect life.
The spectacles we often see - millions of Rose Beetles coming out at night.
The splashes of red from the many varieties of aloes and the Erythrina.
comparison, the countryside in more gentle climes may be green and lush,
but they have little of the character and lure of the African Bushveld.
rivers, raging torrents in the summer, slow hot streams in the winter on
wide beds of sand and stone. The long deep pools that hold all sort of
threats - crocodiles, hippo and disease. The splash of the many varieties
of fish from the famous Tiger to the grey Vundu.

Such country also breeds different kinds of people; perhaps Namibia is the
best example of this with the proud Herero, the tall German/Afrikaners,
Sen and the people of the Namib. But in Zimbabwe we have the Tonga,
wonderful people who have lived on the flood plains of the Zambesi for
centuries, The Venda of the Limpopo Valley - gentle people with great
wisdom and a penchant for laughter. I have a special place for the older
people in the Bushveld, the deep furrows of time and the wisdom and humor
in their eyes. Somehow the cynicism and shallowness of the modern world
missed them. They are deeply embedded in their land - unlike many of us
are just tourists and bystanders. To be among them is to be instantly at
home, welcome and free and respected, always to come away with a small gift
- no matter how poor your hosts might be. Their dignity in rags, the hats
with no crowns, the rough hands callused by years of hard manual work. The
clinking of the cow bells on the oxen and donkeys as they forage for
something to eat.

Some years ago I visited a Zimbabwean, who had reached the pinnacle of
success in Germany, married a German girl and had settled in Munich. He
told me that he had been to see the film "Jock of the Bushveld" and had
felt deep emotions when he had heard the call of the Emeraldspotted Dove
and had seen the dust rising from the feet of the cattle in the film. He
said, after 20 years in Europe he could still smell the Lowveld and many
times longed to feel the hot African sun on his arms and head.

Many look at us and ask why we stay?  No fuel, high prices, corrupt
government, no freedom of speech and a daily diet of racism directed at
who are not drawn from the ruling elite and the tribe. Why do we battle
- fighting a cause which many say is not ours? Are we not aliens in a
hostile world? Then we travel to Europe and we discover that that is in
fact where we are alien, to the US and find that we are strangers. We come
home and find that we have more affinity to the people here than anywhere

This is our home in every way and we are right to fight for a better life
for all the people who live here. Africa is only the "hopeless continent"
because of leadership. We can help change that and so we fight on. This
week we see that Blair's "African Commission" is meeting in Ethiopia. I
sigh with despair as I hear them talk about debt relief and aid. These are
not solutions - they may in fact simply make the situation worse.

Do you want to know why we Africans are poorer than we were 25 years ago?
Just look at Zimbabwe. Give us aid - you might as well pour water on the
desert sand. Erase our debt - You achieve little except to secure the
balance sheets of the multilateral institutions that in many respects are
partially responsible for our troubles and then invite a fresh round of
State borrowing for all the wrong things.

No what we need is real democracy. The freedom to vote for who we think
will solve our problems best and if they don't - freedom to throw them out
when they fail. What we need is responsible and accountable leadership -
our villages, towns and cities and in our State House. We look at the
failure this week of the Asian countries to agree on a plan of action to
force the Military Junta in Burma to give the people their rights and we
sigh with frustration. How long must we wait for the world to wake up to
the real nature of such regimes and the plight of those who live under such

But for those of us who live under Mugabe - we have the Bushveld into which
we flee when the atmosphere in the political jungle becomes just too
oppressive or the problems in our factories cloud our horizons. After a
week on the Zambesi river or the lake, or a few days of hunting or simply
break away to a national park, we come back refreshed and with a renewed
determination to see that we eventually win this war and see our beloved
country given a fresh start.

Eddie Cross Bulawayo, 9th October 2004
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