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World Press Review

The Fragile Lives and the Dictator

Eugene Soros contributing editor
Harare, Zimbabwe
September 16, 2004

The Zimbabwean National army moved into the sprawling town of Chitungwiza at
dusk. Heavily armored vehicles and soldiers with automatic rifles lumbered
through the streets. As they passed through Mavis Chirombe's homestead, a
child called out: "Soldiers are coming!" The cry was met with silence from
the 50-year-old grandmother.

For some Zimbabweans, the coming of the soldiers means a diminished ability
to be really happy. For others, it brings recurring nightmares with images
of torture lurking in their minds again and again. For everyone involved,
the experience greatly reduces one's faith in humanity and raises serious
moral questions.

In the days that followed the mass protests and stay-aways of last June,
bitter memories of previous protests shot up into Mavis Chirombe's life.

"I fought death 20 years ago," said Chirombe. "I am still trying to and I
still need some pills to put me to sleep. I lost a son in 1982. He was
beaten to death. The reason being that we then were supporters of Zimbabwe
African People's Union [the late Joshua Nkomo's Zapu-PF, the strongest
opposition party in 1980 to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF] of which we
were members and weapons of war had been found on its farms."

Soon she breaks down, and every word is told in tears.

"I do not think things will be the same again," she says with much disdain.

Mugabe's rule has become perilous for women, who are frequently raped,
forced into marriage because of food shortages and economic hardships, or
subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment. A case in point was when
soldiers ordered unknown couples to engage in sexual intercourse at a public
nightclub in one of Chitungwiza's shopping centers.

Barbara, who says we cannot use her full name, recounted an incident when
soldiers were ordered to search her: "They literally touched every part of
my body. I felt like screaming, but I was afraid of being beaten-up. I
wonder if the armed forces have any women members these days."

Julia Muskwe, 39, was forcibly stripped of her shirt at gunpoint before
sympathizers jumped to her rescue and questioned why the soldiers were
undressing her. Julia now hardly moves away from her home in unit G

Mavis Tapera's (UMP District) assailants ordered her out of her house at
night and used a knife to cut off her petticoat, leaving her clad in only
her underwear. Her assailants brutally assaulted her sexually, and ordered
her to imitate demeaning sexual maneuvers. Later, her assailants returned
her to her home.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a local Member of Parliament (MP) and
gender activist said violence over the past two years and the economic
situation have left many women vulnerable and homebound: "Even in parliament
we have now stopped raising gender issues until we have addressed the issue
of bread and butter and the people's security."

Amani Trust, a local non-governmental organisation that assists survivors of
political violence, revealed that more than a thousand people have sought
shelter with them since 2000. A majority of these victims of violence and
displacement were women.

"Research shows that women are the easiest targets of political violence,
but because of their resilience most women remain indoors and rarely report
the matters to the police," said Amani Trust Advocacy Officer Joseph
Nherera. In rural areas most women who speak to journalists are consciously
risking their lives. "Mwanangu! Tinosara thichiona ndondo (we will see fire
when you are gone)."

Since coming to power in 1980, Mugabe has made it clear that people who do
not subscribe to his ideologies and party, the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), will be persecuted in one way or another.

In 1982, under the guise of a clamp down on rebels, Mugabe sent in a special
army brigade trained by the North Koreans. But its real purpose was to deal
with the Ndebele opposition Zimbabwe African People's Union-Patriotic Front
(Zapu-PF). The brigade's activities were secret but 20 years later, human
rights investigators reported that more than 20,000 Ndebeles had been
slaughtered - some raped, many shot and bayoneted in random public

Although some of the victims of Mugabe's whims have fought their cases in
court and won, they still live in constant fear and apprehension.

"The fact that Mugabe is still at the helm of things in Zimbabwe does not
help matters," said Dareni Tomu, an opposition activist and Muskwe's friend.
"His thugs are still immune from the full wrath of the law."
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Zim protesters 'want freedom'
16/09/2004 13:17  - (SA)

Midrand - Police pulled a security cordon around the Pan African Parliament
(PAP) opening ceremony in Midrand on Thursday morning when protesters
arrived to press for democratic reform in Zimbabwe.

About 300 protesters carrying placards reading "We need food not violence",
"Democracy Now", and "Restore our basic freedom", toyi-toyied outside the
hall at Gallagher Estate where delegates and guests attended the opening

A spokesperson said the group was made up of Zimbabweans who fled their
country for South Africa because of bad conditions.

They came to plead with the PAP to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe
to restore the rule of law and human rights in his country, said Jabu

Stripped of freedom

A petition handed out by the group spoke of a "chronic democratic deficit"
in Zimbabwe.

"We have been stripped of our basic freedoms: freedoms we fought a
liberation war for," the document read.

It called for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, saying conditions were
currently not conducive to this.

"Zimbabwe is our home, we want to go back, but we are prevented from doing
so by the criminal failings of a government which has lost touch with the
people and abandoned the principals which guided our liberation agenda," the
petition read.

"We are calling on our fellow Africans to help us move toward a new
beginning and create a new Zimbabwe which is a true reflection of the one we
envisaged when we were fighting for independence."

Meanwhile, in Harare, about 50 women from the pressure group Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) demonstrated outside the South African embassy in
Harare on Thursday, calling for an end to human rights abuses in the

Singing protest songs and carrying banners calling for an end to harsh press
and public order laws, the women tied red ribbons on the embassy's perimeter
fence in "memory of those killed and starved to death by the Zimbabwe
regime," said Woza head Jenni Williams.

Williams told Sapa the demonstration was timed to coincide with the opening
of South Africa's parliament.

"We're here to tell (South African President Thabo) Mbeki that we are going
to end his quiet diplomacy in this country. We want more fire."

The demonstration, which lasted for half an hour, ended peacefully when the
women dispersed before police arrived.
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16 September 2004







The appointments to the Delimitation Commission, that were announced by Robert Mugabe yesterday, represent yet another breach of the SADC protocol on elections and further vindicates the MDC’s decision to suspend participation in elections. The majority those appointed have long and close ties to Zanu PF and have no history of independence and fairness.



The protocol is very clear on the need to build transparency and fairness in electoral processes by creating institutional and administrative frameworks that are safeguarded from political manipulation.



This is simply not happening in Zimbabwe. We are going in the opposite direction.



The appointments that have been announced will ensure that the Delimitation Commission (a body tasked with re-drawing constituency boundaries ahead of elections to reflect shifting population patterns) is loaded with individuals who because of their close historical and present ties to Zanu PF can be relied upon to do the bidding of Zanu PF. This is particularly worrying if one has regard to the fact that the MDC has documentary evidence that the process of re-drawing constituency boundaries, ahead of the March 2005 parliamentary elections, has already been carried out, under the instructions and guidance of officers from the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).



By appointing new personnel to the Delimitation Commission, in order to provide it with a veneer of independence, and tasking them to carry out the process of amending constituency boundaries ahead of the parliamentary elections, the government is clearly attempting to legitimize and rubber-stamp the discriminatory boundary changes that it has already carried out unlawfully.



This is not in the spirit of the Mauritius agreement. Yet again the Zimbabwe government is demonstrating how out of touch it is with the goals of the African renaissance.



Similarly, the appointments procedure for the new ‘independent’ Electoral Commission, that were outlined in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bill gazetted on Friday 10 September, will ensure that the government retains a controlling hand over its operations and activities.



This latest ‘reform’ measure demonstrates that the government is being deeply disingenuous with its pronouncements on electoral reform. What is clear is that the government’s package of cosmetic reforms is a deliberate attempt to mislead the nation and the region. The government is trying to create a smokescreen of ‘legitimacy’ behind which it can continue its strategy of consolidating its coercive grip on the electoral processes and ensure pre-determined outcomes.



Professor Welshman Ncube

MDC Secretary General


Notes to Editors:


The new Commission includes the following members:






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Roadblocks set-up to search for maize

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 16 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - Police in Zimbabwe have set up roadblocks on
major roads in a bid to prevent privately acquired maize from reaching urban

Farmers are required to sell all their maize stocks to the state's Grain
Marketing Board (GMB), which, by law, is the sole purchaser of maize and
wheat grown in the country. The GMB also has a monopoly on the distribution
of maize.

The police, in conjunction with officials from the GMB, began conducting
maize searches at roadblocks at the start of the harvest season in the
middle of the year.

All commuters from rural areas are ordered to disembark and their
possessions searched. Any bags of maize confiscated at roadblocks are
forfeit to the state.

Despite the slow-down in official inflation - the annualised inflation rate
stood at 314 percent in August, down from 362 percent in July - prices of
basic commodities have not stopped rising.

This has prompted urban residents to try to purchase maize from rural areas,
rather than pay the higher prices demanded in city shops. However, they must
run the gauntlet of police checks.

"The police took all my bags of maize. It is expensive to buy mealie-meal
[maize-meal] in Harare, and I decided to take maize bags from my rural
area," a disgruntled James Shumba told IRIN.

Another Harare resident, civil servant John Daudi, said he could not afford
to buy maize-meal from the shops. "At the end of every month I visit my
village and collect maize from there, but I travel at night to avoid the
police," he said.

Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka refused to comment on the issue.

A GMB official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the GMB
had asked the police to set up roadblocks in order catch "illegal marketers"
of maize, as this could "sabotage" government efforts to feed the country.

The Minister of Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana, told IRIN the government was
distributing food in needy areas and would make sure nobody starved.
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Cereal availability uncertain

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 16 Sep 2004 (IRIN) - National cereal availability in Zimbabwe
remains uncertain, with rural dwellers in maize-deficit areas bartering or
relying on friends and family to supplement their supply, the Famine Early
Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said in its latest report.

Government spokesman Steyn Berejena told IRIN on Thursday that the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) had so far received 298,000 mt of maize from farmers,
against a national demand for 1.8 million mt. He said the government
remained hopeful that its predicted grain harvest of 2.4 million mt would

Berejena noted that "deliveries are still going on - part of the maize crop
is still in the fields". He added that "some [commercial] farmers even
smuggled their machinery and equipment out of the country, which has
affected the rate at which crops are harvested".

FEWS NET observed that "information on GMB imports has not been made
available, [making] conclusions on cereal availability in coming months
difficult to assess", but on-farm stocks were declining.

While "food-insecure households are still able to rely on neighbours,
friends and relatives within their areas and adjacent districts to
supplement their grain needs", those in deficit producing areas, mainly in
the eastern and southern parts of the country, have had to "purchase or
barter for their cereal", FEWS NET said.

The report said that "although basic commodities like maize meal, cooking
oil, flour and sugar are currently available in urban markets, affordability
is a problem". Hyperinflation, high rates of unemployment and low wages were
contributing to food insecurity in urban areas.

"As more households rely on the market to obtain their cereal needs, food
security will depend more and more on the GMB, which controls the formal
grain supply system. [However,] the quantity of grain collected by the GMB,
as of mid-August, is insufficient to meet the needs in urban centres and
rural areas with deficit production. There are concerns as to how well the
parastatal will be able to play its grain redistribution role," FEWS NET

Berejena, meanwhile, noted that "even if we do not reach the target of 2.4
million mt of maize, we do have other cereal crops which are also staple
foods in Zimbabwe. So the food security [of the country] really is not

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Disease Outbreak Feared At Waterless Hopley

Financial Gazette (Harare)

September 16, 2004
Posted to the web September 16, 2004

Property Reporter

A SERIOUS health hazard is looming if no urgent steps are taken to address
the critical water and sewer problems affecting residents of Hopley Township
in Waterfalls.

The new low-income housing suburb does not have water and sewer facilities
because it is not connected to the city council's mains, and the more than
50 families residing there are in danger of a major disease outbreak.

Health experts said the plot-turned-residential area was now a fertile
ground for diseases such as cholera and dysentery, which thrive in such

Residents are being forced to scrounge for water in surrounding areas and
some even go to far-away areas such as Glen Norah in search of the resource.

Hopley Township has more than 300 housing units, 270 of which have been
completed. A company called Morepod Investments is developing the suburb.

Residents say they were forced to live in the township because of
desperation. They said incessant rental hikes had forced them to come and
occupy houses in the suburb although there were no water and sewer

"We go to nearby plots to fetch water for laundry and other household chores
and sometimes we have to buy the water," said Memory Chibodzwa, one of the

She said the residents were using pit latrines as toilets because there are
no toilet facilities and some of the residents were defecating in bushes.

Residents said they have been promised to be connected to the city's water
mains before the end of this month.

They said some pipes and hydrants have been laid down and an inspector
identified only as Kuzvidza from the city's water and sewer department has
been coming to inspect the works with a view of connecting the township.

Efforts to contact Kuzvidza and the property developer proved fruitless.

Construction of the suburb began in 2000 and it was embroiled in controversy
as the city fathers said they had not approved the project and all
construction work was stopped.

The developer then sought regularisation of the building project and got the
greenlight from the city fathers for the commencement of construction

Employees of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Standard Chartered and the
National Social Security Authority are some of the beneficiaries of the
housing scheme.

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Mail and Guardian

Women protest at SA embassy in Harare

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      16 September 2004 14:18

About 50 women from the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza)
demonstrated outside the South African embassy in Harare on Thursday,
calling for an end to human rights abuses in the country.

Singing protest songs and carrying banners calling for an end to harsh press
and public-order laws, the women tied red ribbons on the embassy's perimeter
fence in "memory of those killed and starved to death by the Zimbabwe
regime", said Woza head Jenni Williams.

Williams said the demonstration was timed to coincide with the opening of
the Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

"We're here to tell [South African President Thabo] Mbeki that we are going
to end his quiet diplomacy in this country. We want more fire."

The demonstration, which lasted for half an hour, ended peacefully when the
women dispersed before police arrived. -- Sapa
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San Francisco Chronicle

      'Democracy' in Zimbabwe -- Another reason to vote here

      Farai Chideya

      Thursday, September 16, 2004


      IN SHONA, THE WORD for aunt is "tete." Eight years ago, on my first
visit to Zimbabwe since I was a child, my relatives carted me around the
countryside in a truck normally used to haul eggs to market, visiting the
old tetes -- or great aunts -- who had lived through colonialism, war and
hard- won freedom. One auntie lived in a gorgeous green valley at the base
of a mountain, in a tight-knit village without running water, paved roads or
electricity. My tete's life must have been, in some ways, unbelievably hard.
But her smile was electric, her laughter unrestrained.

      She is gone now, as is my father, who died this year. And so, in many
ways, is the land I first visited -- a nation that, despite poverty,
sparkled with promise. I was last in Zimbabwe three years ago, after ruler
Robert Mugabe began using the issue of land redistribution to placate
disgruntled citizens. Zimbabwe's farms lay fallow; international trade
slackened; shopkeepers stood glum near their windows. I took a photograph of
the money I got in exchange for three hundred measly U.S. dollars. It was a
thick, unruly pile of colorful bills, each worth about as much as toilet

      While the U.S. election makes the news here in the states, Zimbabwe's
future is making international headlines. A few weeks ago, the opposition
party announced it would not stand for election. It's understandable -- 
party leaders and supporters have been harassed and tortured -- but

      Like many political observers, I can be a stern taskmaster when it
comes to American democracy. We're the land of fiery partisan attacks,
pregnant chads and unreliable electronic voting machines. But as I was
talking to my brother the other day, I realized how lucky I am.

      Munyaradzi is 22, just graduated from college and looking for a job.
There's little chance he'll find one. Unlike me -- born and raised in the
States -- he has spent his life in Zimbabwe, where the promise of democracy
has withered on the vine. Mugabe "could have been another Nelson Mandela,"
one Zimbabwean said to me. Instead he took another path, one familiar to too
many residents of African nations.

      Mugabe decided he liked the taste of unlimited power, the feel of
exiling, intimidating and even torturing opposition party members and
critical journalists. He decided that stealing from the treasury was his
right, and perverting the real needs of Zimbabweans for land reform was a
cheap way to stay in power. He mirrored the failures of fledgling
democracies around the world. And he has a lesson for us in the United

      Democracy, when it dies, sometimes goes quickly. Other times it is a
slow and lingering death, as greed and the lust for power eat away at the
vital organs of a democratic state: a free, critical and unfettered press;
at least one strong opposition party; and, last but not least, hope that
every citizen's vote counts.

      That hope is missing in Zimbabwe. And yet it's our nation, America,
where half of citizens don't bother to vote. Maybe we just don't know how
much liberty, choice and power we really have. Maybe we just don't know how
lucky we are.

      Farai Chideya is editor of, host of Your Call on
KALW and author of "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters" (Soft
Skull Press, 2004).
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'Proceeds From Peacekeeping Missions Bought Defence Vehicles'

The Herald (Harare)

September 16, 2004
Posted to the web September 16, 2004


THE funds used to purchase the latest consignment of motor vehicles by the
Ministry of Defence were sourced from the proceeds of the United Nation
peacekeeping missions in the region, the ministry's deputy secretary for
policy and procurement, Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai, said yesterday.

Addressing journalists at a Press conference in Harare, Air Comm Karakadzai
said the Government did not use taxpayers' money to buy the Toyota Prados
for service chiefs as claimed by the The Standard newspaper recently.

Air Comm Karakadzai justified the purchase by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
(ZDF) of the vehicles and other equipment, saying the decision was made
after wide consultations within the force.

"The fact is that the Ministry of Defence acquired 30 Toyota Prados meant
for use by one-star generals in the army and air force," he said.

"We resolved to adopt a two-in-one concept that is buying multi-purpose
vehicles which are suitable in the day-to-day operations of the force given
our limited financial resources."

He said the Toyota Prados were appropriate because of their versatility in
that they were office and outdoor vehicles and can even be used in hard
terrain as the officers spent most of their time in outdoor training of
their troops in the field.

Apart from buying the Prados, the ZDF had also bought an assortment of other
vehicles in line with its policy where vehicles should be replaced after a
certain period of time.

The replacement of these vehicles, he said, was long overdue as that should
have been done three years ago.

Air Comm Karakadzai said the ZDF was committed to providing the best service
for its members, and that that was the reason they bought 35 Marcopolo and
Star buses to alleviate the transport problems facing its officers.

He said the force was striving to "make-do" with the available resources
following the imposition of sanctions by Western countries.

He said the sanctions were imposed at the Government level and local
companies which used to supply and service ZDF equipment were incapacitated
because most of the equipment was imported from the West.

"But we have taught ourselves to make-do with what is available," he said.
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