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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!




Sokwanele comment

29 October 2004

The high water mark of lawlessness

There are some acts which, even coming from a regime notorious for its brutal disregard of human rights, still cause a sense of shock and outrage in the nation. Such an act is the sentencing of Roy Bennett  by Parliament to an effective term of imprisonment of 12 months with hard labour.  It is grossly disproportionate. It offends every civilized standard of law and morality.  It is outrageous and should be condemned in the strongest terms by all who have any concern for justice and the rule of law.


However this monstrous injustice is dressed up it remains just that, a monstrous injustice - a calculated act of racial bigotry, an act of political revenge by a hugely unpopular regime carried out on one of the most popular opposition members of parliament.


For make no mistake Roy Bennett, member of parliament for Chimanimani, enjoys massive support in his constituency and way beyond.  He is not – NOT – an unreformed “Rhodie” as the Mugabe regime would like to paint him.  In fact he is one of the most culturally-sensitive, enlightened and progressive white-skinned Africans among the present leadership of the region.  A politician who won his seat in an almost entirely black constituency by a resounding majority, a man of the people who has contributed substantially to the spirit of ubuntu in this country.


Nor is by chance that Bennett who epitomizes this wonderful spirit, has been singled out for an extreme form of victimization by the clique of  small-minded, intolerant,  racist and xenophobic politicians who now constitute the ruling elite.  If there is one kind of person this clique fears, and has good reason to fear, it is the bridge-builder in the community, the person who stands for unity rather than division, and the common good rather than personal gain – and such a man is Roy Bennett.  Hence the vicious assault upon his Charleswood Estate farm in total disregard of several High Court orders, the violent attacks upon his loyal farm workers, the destruction of his coffee plantation, and the daylight robbery of his coffee crop by ZANU PF chefs.  Hence the sustained hate campaign against him by the state-controlled propaganda machine, and hence the latest, and most despicable, abuse of parliamentary procedure to send him to prison.


During a parliamentary debate in May this year Bennett was subjected to intolerable abuse when justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa persistently called him “mabhunu” – a term of derogatory racial abuse – and accused his ancestors of being thieves. The supreme irony of course was that the man abusing Bennett himself presided over an administration that not only permitted but encouraged the illegal seizure of properties such as Bennett’s Charleswood Estate.  The provocation was more than most mortals could take.


So Bennett pushed Chinamasa to the floor. Yes, he did go over the top and such behaviour cannot be condoned, though in the circumstances it is hardly to be wondered at.  Also to be considered is the fact that in this undignified scuffle Bennett himself was pushed to the floor by other MP’s and kicked while down by none other than senior ZANU PF politician Didymus Mutasa.


It is understood that Chinamasa had not a bruise to show for this altercation but obviously his pride was offended mightily.  So he and others in the ZANU PF circle plotted their revenge, and they achieved that revenge yesterday in Parliament.


An effective term of 12 months imprisonment with hard labour.  For the offence committed, and taking into account the severe provocation, the sentence was grossly excessive and totally disproportionate.  One lawyer consulted said that on similar facts in a case some years ago a fine of Z$ 80,000 was imposed (or 50 days in prison in default).  The more normal outcome would surely be a caution and discharge. And bearing in mind that Bennett has no recourse to appeal to the courts because Parliament has independent judicial powers, the need for a proper judicial approach to the case was all the greater. 


To achieve this result the ruling party used its built-in majority in the Parliamentary Select Committee (3 to 2) and in the vote in Parliament itself (52 to 42).  In short ZANU PF steam-rollered its way to this pre-determined conclusion.  It did so in blatant disregard of every norm of civilized government and every tenet of human decency. And what, one might ask, is to stop the ruling party from using this as a precedent to hand out long custodial sentences to any other members of the opposition with whom they are displeased – on the most flimsy pretext ?  The door is wide open to further abuse of the same kind.


Offended pride and personal vengeance no doubt featured strongly in the decision to hit Bennett with this Parliamentary equivalent of a lynching party.  But there was a measure of cynical calculation in it too, for at one stroke ZANU PF have further reduced the MDC caucus in Parliament, rid themselves of an embarrassing political opponent in the run-up to the 2005 elections, and removed an opponent from a seat they could not otherwise have hoped to win.  (As a “bonus” they have also removed any cause for restraint in the continued plundering of Charleswood Estate by the local ZANU PF mafia)  All of which are more than convenient to a beleaguered regime which has virtually no prospect of ever again winning the hearts and minds of the people it purports to represent.


On the pretext of upholding the law, ZANU PF have perpetrated the most cynical and calculating act of lawlessness.  They cannot be allowed to get away with it.  Let lawyers and legislators around the world condemn this barbaric act.  Let the Church and civil society protest in the strongest terms. And let Zimbabweans of every racial hue, tribal or party allegiance, finally say to this fascist regime  “NO !”  You have gone one step too far.    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!  

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From The Vancouver Sun, 28 October

China trades guns for market access in Zimbabwe

By Jonathan Manthorpe

For three days at the end of last week trains loaded with new military
vehicles were seen travelling from the Mozambican port city of Beira to the
Zimbabwean border point at Mutare. The vehicles, which eye witnesses say
included trucks and personnel carriers mounted with cannon, appear to be
part of a US$240 million deal between China and the besieged and
impoverished Zimbabwean regime of Robert Mugabe. China has latched on to
Zimbabwe as one of the resource-rich African states open to deals because of
its international pariah status. Mugabe and his government are subject to
United States, European Union and Commonwealth sanctions because of
repression of the country's 11 million people.

Beijing's willingness to trade guns for market access in Zimbabwe troubles
neighbouring South Africa which is playing unwilling host to tens of
thousands of Zimbabweans who have fled across the Limpopo River border.
Authoritative U.S. sources say the South Africa minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma in 2000 even made a direct but unsuccessful appeal to Beijing
to stop supplying arms to African regimes, especially Zimbabwe. The South
African government of president Thabo Mbeki has been widely criticized for
his softly-softly approach to pressuring Mugabe to come to an accord with
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. But China's arms delivery and
the expulsion from Zimbabwe on Tuesday of a delegation of South African
trade unionists allied to the Mbeki government threaten to bring relations
across the Limpopo to a boil.

A 13-member fact-finding mission from the Congress of South African Trade
Unions (Cosatu) arrived in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Monday.
According to one of the members of the group, on arrival Zimbabwean
government officials ordered them not to talk to human rights or church
groups. When they defied the order they were detained by Zimbabwean police
on Tuesday night and taken to the Harare airport. But there was no plane
available to take them to South Africa and after seven hours in the airport
the group was put on a bus and driven to the main border cross point at Beit
Bridge. South Africa's current defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota described the
incident as "a bit embarrassing". But he added that the Cosatu affair has
not yet poisoned relations between the two countries. "There has to be
sustained ill-will before we can say relations will be bedevilled." The
problem for Mbeki is the close relationship between his African National
Congress party and Cosatu. During the prolonged campaign against the white
minority apartheid regime in South Africa, which ended in 1994, Cosatu
formed the core of the internal resistance movement while most ANC leaders
were in prison or in exile.

China's arms shipment to Zimbabwe has raised many eyebrows. The economy is
in tatters after years of violent requisitioning by Mugabe's police and
hired thugs of land owned by white Zimbabwean farmers. There are questions
how Mugabe can pay the US$240 million US for the Chinese weapons, which
Zimbabwe's defence minister told parliamentarians in June include a dozen
jet fighter aircraft and 100 military vehicles. Inflation in Zimbabwe is
around 600 per cent a year and unemployment is about 70 per cent of the
adult male population. There are food shortages and the United Nations'
World Food Program is feeding about 600,000 Zimbabweans. Investment from
traditional Western sources has dried up. When Mugabe needed new AK-47
assault rifles for his soldiers in 2000 in the run-up to the last
presidential elections he had to pay China the $1 million US price tag in
elephant ivory. There is well-founded speculation that Mugabe has now
bartered economic access to Zimbabwe in exchange for Chinese arms.

For months Zimbabwean industries and retail outlets have been complaining
that they are being buried under a tide of Chinese cheap, poor quality
imported goods and competition from Chinese-owned commercial outlets.
Zimbabwe, as well as being an exporter of agricultural products until a few
years ago, is rich in mineral resources, some of them of strategic
industrial importance such as chrome and platinum. The Mugabe government
recently introduced restrictive mining investment laws, but a minister told
a South African newspaper Zimbabwe would "find a way to accommodate the
Chinese". "Zimbabwe needs the Chinese, but because earlier loans are still
outstanding, they have put forward their demands which we will consider in
due course."
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Daily News online edition

      Bennet not alone in feeling like hitting things

      Date:29-Oct, 2004

      THERE must be many Zimbabweans today whose frustration with Zanu PF
policies boils over into violence.

      Some take it out on their wives, their children, other relatives or
even total strangers in supermarkets or at football matches.

      People, in general, are on tenterhooks every day: the struggle to
survive on a salary totally unrelated to the cost of living can turn a
person with the disposition of a pussycat into a raging Bengali tiger.

      Zanu PF's inflammatory language against all its perceived enemies has
also transformed many men and women from law-abiding citizens into
foul-mouthed antisocial pariahs.

      People who would normally have defended their country to the hilt in
foreign countries now hesitate to have strangers identify them as

      Even if they do, they will try to isolate themselves from what the
government is doing or has done. In brief, more people are prepared to speak
ill of their government today than at independence.

      Roy Bennet's mistake was to let his anger boil over in Parliament. But
the language Patrick Chinamasa used before he was pummelled by the furious
Chimanimani MP was personal and extremely provocative.

      Some people said they detected a racist element in Chinamasa's taunt.
Others wonder how Bennet might have reacted if Chinamasa had been less
inflammatory in his speech.

      This is probably all water under the bridge, but there are lessons for
us all here. Whenever political rivalry degenerates into fisticuffs, there
is no telling where it will end.

      Zanu PF, as a party, can be said to have authored the original
handbook on political violence in Zimbabwe. The party has virtually bashed
its way to victory in every election.

      Since 2000, there has been a racist element to Zanu PF's political
rhetoric. The party's defeat in the constitutional referendum and its loss
of 57 seats to the MDC - four of them to white candidates - heightened its
racist interpretation of every setback it has suffered since then.

      There seems to be no end in sight to Zanu PF's Western-bashing,
although this week's meeting between the new British ambassador and a
Cabinet Minister could herald an accommodation of sorts.

      But there could be a new target for the bashing - the South African
government. Cosatu's ill-fated visit to Harare could be transformed into an
attempt by President Thabo Mbeki's government to use a proxy to arm-twist
President Robert Mugabe into giving Morgan Tsvangirai and the

      MDC a fair political deal.

      If Zanu PF decides it has nothing to lose by remaining stubbornly
resolute in telling everybody to "go to hell", more and more people in
Zimbabwe could end up letting off steam by bashing something...or someone.

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Sunday Times (SA)

MDC MPs jail sentence biased: lawyers

Friday October 29, 2004 14:34 - (SA)

HARARE - Lawyers for a white Zimbabwean opposition MP who was served a
one-year jail term by parliament late Thursday for shoving the justice
minister, are seeking a review of the ruling on the ground that it was

The lawyers told AFP they would argue that the special parliamentary
committee that probed Roy Bennett's alleged breach of
privilege in May, was prejudiced.

"We are seeking a review of the case," said Beatrice Mtetwa, one of the

She said a review is being sought before the High Court on grounds of
prejudice and a "failure to comply with the requirements
of basic justice".

The five-member parliamentary committee that heard the case comprised three
ruling Zanu-PF parliamentarians and two opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) deputies.

The lawyers also plan to argue that when parliament made the decision after
it sat as a court Thursday following five hours of
debate it voted along political lines.

Under Zimbabwean law, parliament has the authority to sit as a court and
impose penalties, legal experts say it may infringe on
the constitutional rights of the accused to receive a fair trial.

"If the High Court judge agrees that there was bias... then the court can
re-constitute its own sentence, what it considers as just
and fair," she said.

Bennett, a commercial farmer and a leading MDC member, was accused of
violating his parliamentary privileges when he lost his temper and pushed
Chinamasa to the floor after the minister said his ancestors were "thieves"
during a debate in May.

Bennett was sent to prison straight after the parliamentary vote on Thursday

The parliament, in which President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) enjoys a
comfortable majority, voted in favour of an effective one year sentence
proposed by the investigating committee.

The committee recommended a 15-month jail term with hard labour but said
three months would be suspended on condition he did not commit a similar
offence within five years.

This is the first time the legislature has ever jailed a sitting MP for
contempt of parliament.


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Mail and Guardian

India to send farmers to till African soil


      29 October 2004 09:42

Indian bureaucrats have come up with an unusual solution to aid farmers
driven to suicide after years of droughts and crop failure.

With East Africa lacking experienced manpower to till the soil of fertile
land, officials in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh spotted a
happy coincidence.

A delegation has been dispatched for talks with Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

"Our farmers have been suffering from drought, while these countries have
excellent infrastructure and land, but don't have people to farm these
lands, said state agriculture minister N Raghuveera Reddy.

"This arrangement can be mutually beneficial."

Six successive years of drought in Andhra Pradesh have reportedly driven
about 6 000 farmers to commit suicide, as the technology-savvy southern
state struggled to cope with the human tragedy.

The regional Telegu Desam party was swept out of power in state polls in May
as anger boiled over the mounting suicides, which far overshadowed a string
of successes in the information technology industry. United States giant
Microsoft has joined the rush and is set to open a research centre here.

Reddy said the plan to export farmers offered a window to badly-needed
employment as East African countries are willing to lease their fertile
lands for up to 90 years at cheap rates.

"We have a lot of vacant land and the people of Andhra have expertise in
agriculture which can be shared," high commissioner of Kenya, Mutuma
Katurima, told reporters in Hyderabad.

Under the scheme, Indian farmers will, with the help of national
governments, set up co-operative farms across East Africa to grow crops such
as tobacco, sugar cane and groundnuts.

"For years now, our engineers and doctors have been going abroad and doing
well. Why shouldn't our farmers get opportunities,?" asked Peddireddy
Chengala Reddy, chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Farmers

No one expects a shortage of volunteers, however, he warned that this could
not be a long-term solution to the agricultural crisis haunting the state.

Low prices for farm produces, high input costs and the shortage of water are
the main reasons behind rising agriculture debt in the state he added. -
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ANC backing Zanu-PF, claims DA
29/10/2004 17:44  - (SA)

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance on Friday said the African National
Congress wanted to maintain close ties with Zimbabwe's ruling party,
Zanu-PF, not with the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the ANC's alliance

DA chief whip Douglas Gibson said the ANC had "a well-documented history of
close fraternal ties with Zanu-PF".

"It is abundantly clear from the government's weak reaction to the shocking
treatment of Cosatu by the Zimbabwean government that it is intent on
maintaining these close relations with Zanu-PF at any cost," he said.

Gibson, who is also the DA's deputy spokesman on Africa, said the
government's inability to defend the rights of Cosatu members "suggests that
it is even less likely to support the rights of the MDC", Zimbabwe's
opposition party.

A 13-member Cosatu delegation on a fact-finding mission was thrown out of
Zimbabwe earlier this week.

Mbeki wanted explanation

Foreign sffairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa drew criticism from Bheki
Ntshalintshali, Cosatu's deputy general-secretary, for saying the Zimbabwean
government had a right to apply its immigration legislation as it deemed

During the ANC's weekly caucus on Thursday, President Thabo Mbeki apparently
demanded that Cosatu explain its visit to Zimbabwe.

Gibson said Mbeki's demand "raises the question of whether the ANC's
solidarity with Zanu-PF is stronger than its ties with its own alliance

"The president is apparently more concerned with protecting his cosy
relations with Zanu-PF than he is with standing up for fundamental
democratic principles.

"This is nothing new; he has been making excuses for the Mugabe regime's
anti-democratic behaviour for some time now," said Gibson.
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City dwellers try urban farming to fill gaps in the foodbasket
29 Oct 2004 14:26:22 GMT

Source: IRIN
BULAWAYO, 29 October (IRIN) - As Zimbabwe's urban population struggles to
cope with the high cost of living, residents in the country's second largest
city, Bulawayo, have embarked on subsistence farming to alleviate economic

Several hundred urban dwellers, especially those living in high-density
areas, have already cleared small patches of land as the planting season

Dingilizwe Siziba, a resident of Sizinda, one of the Bulawayo's oldest
suburbs, said supporting his family had become increasingly difficult over
the past few years as food prices continued to climb.

Although inflation in Zimbabwe has declined in recent months, at Zim $1.4
million (about US $250) the average food basket remains out of reach for
many households.

"Subsistence farming has largely been practiced in rural areas where there
is enough land and labour - but things have changed. I don't know whether
it's just a liking of farming that has gripped the urban populace, but
personally I'm doing it so that I may harvest some maize to supplement my
earnings," said Siziba, a truck driver who earns Zim $700,000 (about US
$124) per month.

"Maize-meal is so expensive these days; sugar and bread have become pure
luxuries. So if one gets a few pumpkins from his 'fields' and some cobs, you
may breath a sigh of relief for some time," Siziba remarked.

Last year urban residents clashed with municipal authorities over tilling
undesignated land and their crops were destroyed.

Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, the mayor of Bulawayo, told IRIN: "Urban agriculture
is indeed allowed, but there are certain council by-laws that have to be
strictly adhered to. For instance, we don't allow people to clear land
haphazardly, as this may impact negatively on our town planning. We also
don't allow a situation whereby people cultivate crops near streams, as this
may cause soil erosion."

According to a recent report by Habakkuk Trust, a local NGO, most households
in Bulawayo faced food shortages mainly because they could not afford the
price of goods at the stores. Low-income earnings were continuously eroded
by soaring inflation, the report added.

Habakkuk Trust director Dumisani Nkomo said the interest in urban farming
revealed the economic hardships households were facing.

"Many urbanites are now trying their hands at urban farming," Nkomo noted,
"but the problem is that their land is just too small to yield any
reasonable harvests, and they don't even have land rights."
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Cape Argus

Extract from OPINION

      A Bit of Skelm - October 29, 2004

Zim logic
The world would be a duller place without Zimbabwe.

Where else would an unpopular regime, in defiance of a court order, boot out
a delegation of visitors closely linked to a ruling party that has been one
of its staunchest apologists?

Oxymoronically, the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. If Enid Blyton
were alive, she'd be forgiven for adding Zimbabwe to the wild and wacky
countries that arrive at the top of The Faraway Tree.

The ANC, meanwhile, still thinks a quiet chat with Mad Bob is the
appropriate response. "We will consult with the Zimbabwean authorities and
Cosatu to avoid a reoccurrence," purred Department of Foreign Affairs
spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa.

What can he possibly know that the rest of us can't even imagine?

Coup, anyone?
If Zimbabwe had oil someone might coup the damn place and cut short the

Michael Donen, the state's lead counsel during Mark Thatcher's bid this week
to overturn a subpoena ordering him to answer questions about an alleged
coup bid in Equatorial Guinea, put it succinctly during proceedings in the
Cape High Court: "There is a trend in central Africa where cheque-book
colonialists hire small groups of former SA Defence Force members and buy
themselves a small country that has oil," he said.

In another memorable soundbite, Thatcher's advocate Peter Hodes made it
clear to Judge Deon van Zyl that he didn't think much of the Equatorial
Guinea justice officials who want to question Thatcher. "You are dealing
here with thugs m'lord," he said.

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New Zimbabwe

SA soldier demands bribe, then shoots border jumper

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 10/29/2004 21:01:06
A SOUTH African soldier was being quizzed on Friday after shooting a
Zimbabwean border jumper who failed to raise a bribe demanded by the

The man had crossed the Limpopo River from Zimbabwe on Thursday night, South
Africa's News24 reported.

Captain Ailwei Mushavhanamadi said the 30-year-old soldier was arrested on a
charge of attempted murder after he and a colleague confronted two river
crossers and allegedly attempted to extort a bribe.

The soldier apparently wanted R100 from the men who only had R50.

He then allegedly shot the man in the back while he was lying on the ground.

The soldier was later arrested and the wounded man taken to the Musina

The incident comes just months after undercover investigators arrested an
army captain and four soldiers in Limpopo for apparently systematically
ambushing, stripping, and robbing illegal Zimbabwean immigrants.

The soldiers also allegedly raped a number of Zimbabwean women before making
them swim the crocodile-infested Limpopo River back to Zimbabwe.
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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday October 18th- Sunday October 24th 2004

Weekly Media Update 2004-42









1. General comment


DESPITE the government media regurgitating claims by the authorities that the country had reaped enough crops to feed the nation through its land reforms, The Financial Gazette (21/10) revealed that there was still confusion, even within government circles, on the exact amount of grain the country has produced.

The paper revealed that the parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture would summon Agriculture Minister Joseph Made to explain the country’s food situation.

The weekly also alleged that even ZANU-PF’s Politburo and the Cabinet had cast doubts on Made’s projections that the country would produce more than 2,4 million tonnes of cereal.


Lending credence to fears of food shortages, the paper also cited reports from the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) and Amnesty International (AI) disputing government’s projections of a bumper harvest saying millions of people were in need of food aid.

The government media remained silent on the issue.

As a result, most Zimbabweans who are now obliged to rely on these media following the forced closure of alternative sources of information, were left no wiser on the matter.

In fact, the government media’s habit of remaining silent over issues that expose government mismanagement (thereby denying their audiences important information on pertinent issues affecting their livelihoods) also manifested itself in the way they reported problems besetting preparations for the current farming season.

Although these media reported shortages of farming inputs and implements, they treated the issues in isolation and failed to view them as symptomatic of the chaos in the agricultural sector following government’s controversial land reforms.

Neither did they fully discuss the underlying implications of the problems on the country’s food security next year.


As has become the norm, the responsibility was left to the private media.

For example, the Zimbabwe Independent (22/10) columnist Eric Bloch contended that as long as farmers had problems accessing the necessary inputs “there is no realistic prospect of Zimbabwe producing sufficient food to sustain itself next year”.

The Gazette also reiterated fears that the maize seed deficit would have an adverse impact on the country’s ability to produce adequate food in the coming year.



2. Electoral Issues


THE government-controlled media’s role as slavish defenders of government policies further found expression in the way they passively allowed authorities to misrepresent the spirit of the SADC Charter on democratic elections in a bid to justify their cosmetic electoral reforms ahead of the 2005 parliamentary polls.

While they propagated every excuse the authorities offered for not fully subscribing to the regional electoral guidelines, they simultaneously dismissed all other voices that dared question government’s stance as being unpatriotic and fronts of foreign interests.

These media continued to allow government officials free rein to extol the supposed virtues of repressive laws such as AIPPA and POSA as consistent with the SADC principles and guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections, despite the fact that these laws are anathema to elementary standards of democracy. 

Only the private media exposed this fallacy by measuring the government claims against the SADC Charter.


For example, while The Daily Mirror (22/10) highlighted worries by the Zimbabwe Liberators’ Peace Initiative (ZLPI) over government’s reluctance to fully implement SADC’s electoral guides, ZTV (21/10, 6pm), Radio Zimbabwe & Power FM (21/10, 8pm) and The Herald (22/10) were busy diverting attention from government’s non-reformist attitude by counter-accusing the West of trying to discredit the country’s pending polls.

For example, The Herald quoted Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge alleging that “some western countries and organisations” had not only begun producing documents intended to tarnish the Zimbabwe polls, but were also scheming to influence “the composition of the African Union and SADC observer teams for the elections so that the teams’ reports could reflect their preconceived opinions and not the actual facts.”

Thus, added Mudenge, “they were now devising a scheme to measure Zimbabwean elections using the SADC ambassadors”, a development that he said would compel Zimbabwe to “bar” these diplomats from observing the election “despite the fact that they are already accredited in the country”. But instead of challenging Mudenge to substantiate his claims, ZTV (21/10, 6 & 8pm) simply sided with him and gave the impression that there would be nothing unusual in Zimbabwe barring foreign observers because the US too, had not invited observers for its forthcoming elections.

ZANU PF apologists Tafataona Mahoso and William Nhara, who were presented masquerading as analysts, were quoted saying “the refusal by the Republican Party to allow foreign observers for the forthcoming elections is hypocritical”, adding that this “has characterised (US President George W) Bush’s domestic and foreign policies”.


The station then used the controversy surrounding the US 2000 election to discredit that country’s electoral conduct as flawed and not worth drawing lessons from.

One of ZTV’s favourite analysts, Claude Maredza, contended: “America is ruled by wasps (White Anglo Saxon Protestants).  Basically, these are satanic freemasonic white people who hegemonically rule America… As Zimbabweans we are wasting our time trying to explain ourselves to America and the West. Let’s forget about America.”

Similarly, the Chronicle (23/10) comment, Of the West and its double standards, lambasted the West for its alleged hypocritical approach to the Zimbabwean elections. But like its counterparts, the paper did not provide any evidence to support its claims let alone carry comparative analyses of the set of electoral rules the West wanted to evaluate Zimbabwe’s elections with against those by SADC.

However, the private media challenged the government media’s notion that Zimbabwe’s electoral problems emanated solely from Western interference in the country’s affairs. They argued that these were largely self-inflicted.

For example, The Standard (24/10) columnist Pius Wakatama blamed the ruling ZANU PF for tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe beyond “recognition” because of its dislike for the truth.

Said Wakatama: “Even in Africa our real friends are now few and far between. We can’t stand them because they tell us the truth, which we don’t like to hear…we see them as agents of imperialist Western countries who want to ‘take away the gains of our independence.’”   

In fact, despite the Chronicle’s (23/10) observations that the country had a “stated position of respecting the SADC guidelines”, The Zimbabwe Independent (22/10) contradicted these assertions when it quoted MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai raising fears that the ruling ZANU PF may have already started “rigging” next year’s elections using the latest “fictitious” voters roll.


The paper cited Tsvangirai alleging that an analysis of the hard copy of the new voters’ roll recently availed to his party by the Registrar General’s office showed that hundreds of thousands of voters had been removed from his party’s strongholds while massively boosting numbers in rural areas, support bases for the ruling ZANU PF. This was surprising, said Tsvangirai, considering that the 2002 population census depicted population increases in urban centres than in rural areas. Consequently, added the MDC leader, urban areas were likely to lose some seats during the ongoing delimitation exercise.

Studio 7 carried a similar report the following day.


Government’s electoral reforms further suffered more credibility problems as the private media continued to expose the fallacy behind the authorities’ drive to democratise the conduct of the country’s elections. For instance, The Standard and Sunday Mirror (24/10) carried critical reports on government plans to deny at least two million Zimbabweans working abroad from voting in next year’s polls, at a time when countries such as Mozambique had registered their citizens living in Zimbabwe to vote.

Moreover, The Daily Mirror (19 & 21/10), The Standard and SW Radio Africa carried nine reports of fresh incidents of rights abuses perpetrated against MDC supporters, independent journalists and members of civic society by ZANU PF activists and state security agents.

The government media censored such incidents.  Instead, ZTV (20/10, 6 and 8pm) tried to present the opposition as the instigator of the violence saying the MDC has recently “been urging people to be violent and then blame ZANU- PF for violence”. However, there were no concrete examples cited to substantiate the claims.


While the official media tried to gloss over the country’s electoral problems by giving the impression that government was fully complying with the regional charter on elections, The Daily Mirror on Saturday (23/10) revealed that SADC was not impressed by the situation in the country. The paper reported that a SADC troika, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, would soon be in the country to help resolve the political impasse between ZANU PF and the MDC by urging the ruling party government to implement the region’s electoral norms.

The government media ignored these developments.

Rather, The Sunday Mail (24/10) columnist, Lowani Ndlovu, deliberately obliterated the crux of the Saturday Mirror’s “diabolic” revelations by carrying personal vitriolic attacks on the author of the story, including its sources. The columnist even added more confusion to the matter by suffocating his audiences with semantics over the difference between the SADC electoral “norms” as reported by the Mirror as compared to the SADC “guidelines and principles”, which he contended were not “binding” because they had “no force of law”.

And contrary to previous government claims that Zimbabwe was instituting its electoral reforms in the “spirit and letter” of the SADC Charter, Ndlovu revealed that Zimbabwe had “in fact, adopted its own principles well ahead of the SADC Summit in Mauritius”, which gave birth to the electoral agreement. 


Meanwhile, fears that the country’s state security agencies would not handle election related cases professionally because of their inclination towards ZANU PF were given credibility by reports in The Herald (21/10) and on Radio Zimbabwe (21/10, 6am), ZTV (21/10, 7am) and Power FM (21/10, 1pm), which unwittingly exposed the agencies’ partisanship. The Herald quoted Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri almost echoing the bigoted language of the ruling party when he allegedly noted that, “the elections posed a challenge to all police officers and beckons the need for well thought out tactical plans to counter enemies of the state, whose fortunes thrive on bashing the image of the country”.

Not to be outdone, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, Constantine Chiwenga, was quoted on ZBC telling his visiting Malawian counterpart that “ZDF supports Mugabe” adding that, “the current challenges being faced by the country are a passing phase.”

Echoing ZANU PF’s rhetoric he further contended: “Zimbabwe will not apologise for reclaiming its heritage, land, from colonial masters” and told the Malawian commander that he “will be better informed after his visit and clear misrepresentations and onslaught of our country to the international community by detractors”.


The Daily Mirror (18/10) reported MDC MP Willias Madzimure objecting to such partisanship when moving a motion in Parliament on how the law enforcement agencies were discharging their duties. Madzimure accused the State of “interfering” and “usurping” the powers granted to the police by the Police Act, a situation he said had resulted in the force dropping its ranking from Africa’s best police force to one that “is repressive and driven by partisanship”.



3. Defence of AIPPA


IF the government media were not glossing over the country’s flawed electoral reforms, they were unquestioningly endorsing government’s moves to further curtail the citizenry’s right to receive and impart information without hindrance.

They cheered the authorities’ lie that the amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) were consistent with the SADC principles and guidelines on democratic elections.


This was illustrated by the manner in which they exclusively reported on Information Minister Jonathan Moyo’s Parliamentary defence of the proposed amendments, which purportedly seeks to “clarify” or “improve” some sections of AIPPA, but downplayed MDC MPs’ contribution on the matter.

The MPs’ concerns were only reasonably highlighted in the private media.

In their report on the debate ZTV (19/10, 8pm) and Power FM (20/10, 6am), allowed Moyo to mislead the public by claiming that the amendments and other clauses of AIPPA were “based on an Act, which is consistent with principles of good governance enshrined in SADC principle and guidelines governing democratic elections.


None of the government media measured such claims against the SADC electoral principles, one of which calls on member States to guarantee media freedom and equitable access to the public media of contesting political parties.

Instead, The Herald and Chronicle (20/10) simply followed their broadcasting counterparts and severely restricted the MDC’s objections to the AIPPA amendment. In fact, The Herald only gave prominence to the ejection from Parliament of two MDC MPs for disobeying orders. The two were reportedly ejected from the chamber after they allegedly “continuously demanded” that the House be divided during the second reading of AIPPA.

In contrast, the private media gave fair exposure to the MDC MPs’ strong opposition to the provisions of AIPPA. The Daily Mirror (20/10) and the Independent (22/10), for example, revealed that Moyo had actually been subjected to “withering attack” from MDC MPs for “abusing the public media to further his political ambitions” during Parliamentary debate on the AIPPA amendment Bill.

The Independent reported the MDC MPs as arguing that Moyo had become an “ambitious” and “dangerous” politician who should actually be reined in by both ZANU PF and MDC legislators because no one was safe from his machinations to entrench his control on the media for “personal political gain”. 

Gonese reportedly told Parliament: “We know the minister wants complete control…In the Sunday Mail he calls himself ‘Under the Surface’. He also calls himself…(Lowani) Ndlovu or Mzala Joe or Nathaniel Manheru…He even writes stories in The Sunday Mail under the by-line of Munyaradzi Huni.”


But despite such observations, The Daily Mirror (21/10) revealed that the authorities’ defence of AIPPA had reached ludicrous and blasphemous levels after the head of the government-appointed Media Information Commission, Tafataona Mahoso, projected the impression that the repressive law, just like the Bible, was modelled to guard against the peddling of falsehoods. He thus claimed Zimbabwe was “not caught between the free flow of information and the so-called draconian laws” but that the issue was about “embedded journalists promoting harmful relations on behalf of Western countries”.

While Mahoso was glorifying the virtues of AIPPA, the Independent reported that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had taken government to the African Commission on Human Rights and People’s Rights over its closure of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday under the same law. The Independent cited the papers’ lawyer, Professor Michello Hansungule, as saying he believed that his clients’ case had merit because they were denied their basic right to have their dispute with the Zimbabwe government over the constitutionality of AIPPA determined by the Supreme Court.


Meanwhile, SW Radio Africa (19/10) reported that two more journalists working for the private media had been arrested in Gweru and Kwekwe and charged under AIPPA.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at

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Media Urged to Give Aids Stories a Human Face

The Daily News (Harare)

October 29, 2004
Posted to the web October 29, 2004

IT is imperative for policy-makers in Zimbabwe, health workers and the media
to work closely together to create awareness about the dangers of HIV and
AIDS which have become the biggest threat to the future of the nation.

This is one of the issues that emerged from the one day training programme
for local editors held in Harare this week. The workshop was organised by
the Public Affairs section of the US embassy in Harare.

The editors, drawn from both the privately-owned and state owned media,
spent a busy day with experts on HIV and AIDS from the Centre for Disease
Control (CDC) looking at some of the critical issues about the virus which
claims thousands of lives every week.

It was clear that the mass media practitioners must have a good grasp of the
major issues related to HIV and AIDS before they could disseminate it to
their readers.

There was agreement that both editors and reporters should give the HIV and
AIDS stories a human face for them to appeal to the readers.

Experts estimate that between 34 million and 46 million people worldwide
were living with HIV and Aids as of December last year. Southern Africa,
which includes Zimbabwe has the highest number of between 25 million and 28

In her lively presentation, Dr Shannon Hader from the CDC pointed out that
while everyone with the Acquired Immune Deficincy Syndrome (AIDS) has the
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), not everyone with HIV has AIDS.

She said people with HIV could live for up to 10 years during which time the
HIV might develop into AIDS.

Eileen Burke noted that since the HIV virus had been discovered in 1984 and
identified as the causative agent of AIDS, there has been an increase of
late of laboratory testing all over the world.

She said that there are two types of HIV which are HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1
has eight subtypes from A to J and in Zimbabwe the HIV-1 sub type C is the
most common.

The purpose of testing, said Burke, was to detect the HIV virus, diagnosis
and treatment of opportunistic infections and to treat and monitor the
disease itself. Burke told the editors that the first stage of most cases of
HIV infection was usually a flu-like symptom lasting up to four weeks.

From there it could take up to 10 years before this develops into fully
blown AIDS. She said people should have a balanced diet that ensures a high
count of the CD4 white blood cells that can effectively fight the HIV and
AIDS virus.

Dr Sue Laver said the media had a key role to play to bring about behaviour
change in people as one way of preventiong the spread of HIV and AIDS.

She gave several examples of what could be done by people to bring about
this behaviour change. These include talking to one's partner about the risk
of HIV and AIDS, avoiding risky situations, use of condoms and getting
tested for HIV.

"Changing behaviour means changing the way we think, feel, speak, act and
accessing goods and services," said Dr Laver.

Dr Charity Alfredo, who spoke on Care and Treatment of HIV and AIDS patients
noted that tuberculosis (TB) was the most common opportunistic infection in

"At least 70 percent of TB patients have HIV," she said.

But she added that TB could occur at any stage of the HIV disease and that
it can be treated even without anti-retroviral drugs.

She said effective anti-retroviral drug (ARV) treatment requires life long
therapy with at least three different drugs and strict adherence to

The use of ARVs suppressed the replication of HIV in the human body, said

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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's inflation seen dipping to 160%

By Agencies
Last updated: 10/29/2004 20:25:40
ZIMBABWE'S annual inflation figure should decline to 160% by the year end in
line with government efforts to tame hyper-inflation in the southern African
country, the central bank governor said on Thursday.

"Reserve Bank now estimates that a 2004 year-end inflation out-turn of
between 150% and 160% which would be shedding 463 percentage points,"
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono said.

Last year Gono pledged to bring inflation down to 200% by the end of 2004.
Inflation reached a peak in January of 622.8%, but has been falling steadily
to reach 251.5% in September.

Presenting an analysis of a new monetary policy launched in December last
year, Gono warned that the new inflation target would only be achieved if
the government avoided supplementary budgets and gratuity pay-outs.

"It is critical that the fiscal side remains vigilant to consolidate the
dis-inflation gains made so far," Gono said.

He said it was important to avoid "unplanned benevolent or gratuity payments
that are unrelated to current production activities for real economic

The warning comes as parliament is set to pass a bill to pay some 6 000
former political prisoners and detainees gratuities for being incarcerated
or detained by former white governments before Zimbabwe's independence in

It was not clear if Gono was directly referring to the bill, under which the
former prisoners are to be given as yet unspecified amounts of money.
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Anchorage Daily News

In search of freedom
Teenager from Zimbabwe shocked by the safety of Alaska

Perfect World

(Published: October 29, 2004)
I am a 19-year-old Zimbabwean girl. For the past week I've been staying in
Alaska. It was my first time in the United States and something I'll never

I lived in Zimbabwe for 17 years and have seen some very serious political
problems in my country. Our president, Robert Mugabe, has been in power for
30 years, destroying the country the whole time. Most of my life I lived on
a farm, and in the past five years we've have had to face a big problem:
white farmers are not wanted in the country anymore.

It is extremely hard being a teenager because we have no freedom. Most of my
friends live on farms as well, and we have all had groups of 200-300 black
Zimbabweans coming to our front gate singing and chanting, demanding to use
our farm equipment. The mob threatens to kill our whole family if we do not
give or lend it to them for free.

Other groups will come to a farmer's gates just for supporting the
opposition of the president and many families have to evacuate their home to
keep their lives. Some of my neighbors have been very unfortunate, loosing
their fathers because the mobs have beaten them to death.

Who will stop them? The police do nothing; there is no law or order in our

I saw as I was driving with my friend in Alaska that it is safe to drive on
your own even if you are a young girl. In Zimbabwe I could never think of
doing this.

I never drive without at least two of my guy friends in the car; if I was on
my own I could easily get car-jacked. We can't even stop at stoplights when
it's dark outside. In Zimbabwe, if I was driving alone someone would pull me
out of the car at a stoplight to beat me up and steal whatever they could.

One day I went to a boarding school to visit some of my friends, and at the
time the political situation was very tense. There had been mobs in the area
stopping cars and throwing stones at those that passed by. I found this out
the hard way and had to follow an adult home. I have never been so scared as
I was from this experience, which was very traumatizing.

I never saw anything like this in Alaska. Young people have so much freedom
to go where they want and don't have to plan ahead of time to see if an area
is safe or not. They are very lucky to have that freedom.

It is very frustrating and traumatizing being a teenager in Zimbabwe. Not
being able to do what you want or go where you want without having to think
twice about endangering your life is difficult. More than anything, though,
knowing that your family's lives are constantly in danger has scarred many
teenagers in Zimbabwe.

Melissa Berketoft now lives in Denmark. If you have questions for Melissa
about her experiences as a Zimbabwean teenager, e-mail them to and we'll forward them to her.

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