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Zimbabwe - Our plea for help!!
10 days to go!!


June 14, 10am  at Quality Hotel, Leopold Takawira St, Harare:   PRESS CONFERENCE, Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leadership - Defence and Police Policies; Foreign Policy;  constituency evaluations; violence report; candidates profiles, other matters

DIARY: Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC President... rallies and functions to be ledby Tsvangirai and/or other key MDC leaders: Tsvangirai will also do occasional walkabouts or visits to those affected by violence, please let us have your phone numbers in Zimbabwe so we can contact you urgently when this takes place:

June 14 : Murehwa South, Masambi Murehwa Centre

June 14 : Mutoko North Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe

June 15/16 : Rusape, Vengere Stadium

June 17 : Guruve North and South, Ciheve Centre Growth Point

June 18 : MAJOR RALLY, Zimbabwe grounds

June 19/20:  Midlands


Considerable intimidation is being reported:

June 18 : Chegutu stadium, at 2pm, contact Philemon Matibe 091.331.156

June 17 : Chinhoyi at Chinhoyi grounds, contact Silas Matamisa 011.802.726

June 18 : Goromonzi - rally at 2pm at Shumba Domoshwa (contact Leonard Mapiranga 011.716.625

June 15 : Mazoe East, Duke Mine at 10am or 011.400.119

Mazoe East  10am at Glendale  0r 011.400.119

June 18 : Mazoe East 10am, contact Shepherd Mushonga 011.400.119

June14 : Mount Darwin North - Ephraim Pfebve Hondo on 14 June at noon 011.601.438

June 17 : Shamva, Shamva Mine  2pm rally (contact Joseph Mashinga 023-893-955)

June 15 : Bindura - Detito GP - Elliott Pfebve 011.601.438

June 16 : Bindura -Elliott Pfebve Mt Darwin town, Mt Darwin St 011.406.438

June 17 : Bindura - Elliott Pfebve Shava Gold mine   011.406.438

June 18 : Bindura - Elliott Pfebve, Ashanti gold fields 011.601.438

Marondera West rally planned for Saturday, 17 June at 10am at Mazusekwa - however, there is acute intimidation   Shadrack Chipangura 011.402.799

Mudzi, is planning a rally at Ntoko on Wednesday, 14 June at 2pm Israel Karonga 011.732.461

Mutoko South, Wednesday 14 June at 2pm rally - they also give out posters and leaflets at night (Derick Muzira 011-409-226)

Rushinga, rally on 17 June at Nyakasiekams in the morning tel. Joel Mugariri

Hurungwe East, door to door campaigning only, general intimidation, no rallies planned

Murehwa North, handing out leaflets and posters but camapiging is very difficult, ongoing intimidation by war veterans

Kadoma Central are issuing flyers and having small gatherings because of general intimidation

Hwedza have called for observers to move into their area, they are finding campaigning very difficult, general beatings of MDC supporters. They are distributing pamphlets at night.

Marondera East, too dangerous to campaign


June 17 :   2pm rally led by Learnmore Jongwe at Kuwadzana


For events In Bulawayo South contact  JOSPHAT TSHUMA   091-232395 or Simon
Spooner: 091-202319 ... a few activities:

June 13 at 7pm,- Petra Junior School, Bulawayo

June14 at 6.30pm, Large City Hall:  Welshman Ncube (MDC sec-gen), David Coltart (head legal committee); Thokozani Khupe (woman candidate)

June 17: to townships

June :  7pm: Bulawayo Ampitheatre, Welshman Ncube and David Coltart

Your vote, is your secret.


HARARE, JUNE 18th - MAJOR RALLY addressed by MORGAN TSVANGIRAI at Zimbabwe grounds

MDC leader, MORGAN TSVANGIRAI will vote in his home constituency Buhera at 10am on June 24.

Is your name on the voter's roll?  You have until June 13 to check and to make any changes or appeal.

Comment from The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Election observers as catalyst for change

THERE is no doubt that the government, cooking up its usual brew of subverting the already flawed electoral process, is alarmed at the presence of so many international observers.

An example is the pull-out of the United Nations (UN) team, which has accused President Mugabe of reneging on a mutual arrangement which would have given them the vital role of co-ordinating all the other observer teams. Mugabe says he never made such an undertaking and only agreed to the UN joining the others as an ordinary observer team. The British have been barred as observers, the result of Mugabe allowing his personal pique with Peter Hain's constant sniping to get the better of him.

Once again, Zimbabweans need to ask themselves whether the government is acting in the interests of the country, or in the interests of Zanu PF or even of Mugabe himself. There are other observers who will not have the wool pulled over their eyes and will be determined to complete what may be an impossible mission: to ensure Zanu PF does not sabotage genuinely free and fair elections on 24-25 June.

The hurried introduction of a law requiring that the observers be accredited is another example of the naughty child afraid of being caught with their finger in the cookie jar. Some of the observers have no proper appreciation of the extent of the violence being perpetrated against the opposition, especially on the occupied farms. They are urged seriously not to take for granted the government's assertion that the farm occupations are peaceful. Leaders of the marauding war veterans have said the observers will not be allowed into the farms. The reason is obvious: this is where some of the most hideous violence against the opposition is being perpetrated.

The observers are urged not to take for granted Zanu PF's assurances that the party does not condone violence. The police are barred from entering the occupied farms and have no idea what is going on there. The rule of law does not apply on the farms. Every day, people are flocking into the cities and towns from their rural homes, fleeing the terror of Zanu PF and its war veteran hirelings. Teachers are hiding in the bush in some areas because they will not pay $6 000 as "protection money" to war veterans threatening to kill them for supporting the opposition.

The observers will be forgiven for suspecting that some of these reports are based on emotion rather than fact. Again, they are urged not to take anything for granted. Twenty-eight people have died in election campaign-related violence since February. These people did not invite violence upon themselves by provoking it in any way, unless joining a political party is now an internationally accepted reason for deliberately placing your life in danger.

The observers must know that their role as catalysts for change in Zimbabwean politics is enormous. Mugabe says only he and his party can legitimise the conduct of the election as free and fair, or otherwise. A meeting between all the observers and the President seems logical at this stage of the pre-election hype from the political parties. The people in the rural areas are being brow-beaten by the war veterans and Zanu PF into submission. There is no way that any elections could be free and fair for them in these circumstances. The observers must insist that the war veterans leave the farms immediately, or they be allowed to visit them without let or hindrance or the observers will pack their bags and go back home. The observers must make this a condition of continuing their work of observing the election campaign, the polling itself and the aftermath.

Even those observers who seem determined to give the government a clean bill of health for reasons of their political alliance with Zanu PF are urged to consider the legacy of an election in which most of the voters are brutalised into voting for something they would rather not vote for. Would they justify that legacy in their own countries?

From the US Department of State, 12 June 2000

U.S. Calls For End To Political Intimidation In Zimbabwe

By Philip T. Reeker, Acting Spokesman

Washington, DC - Given the long-standing U.S. friendship for the people of Zimbabwe, we are deeply troubled that Zimbabwe's previous reputation as a law-abiding, democratic society is in jeopardy. Violence and intimidation are undermining the rule of law and the very foundation of democracy in Zimbabwe.

The United States calls on the government of Zimbabwe to make the right choices to lead Zimbabwe to genuine democracy and prosperity. We condemn the ongoing campaign of violence and intimidation being waged by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU- PF). We are dismayed that the ruling party has expanded its violent campaign beyond the occupation of farms to include the beating and rape of teachers, city workers, election monitors, and other professionals. We deplore the forced relocation of farm workers to "re-education" camps and the murder of opposition political candidates. We call on the government of Zimbabwe to immediately take the necessary steps so that all Zimbabweans can vote freely and without fear in this month's parliamentary election. The legitimacy of the elections will be in serious doubt unless the government of Zimbabwe acts now to restrain the forces of violence it has unleashed and reassure voters of the secrecy of the ballot.

The United States government supports the development of a vibrant democracy in Zimbabwe. Democracy cannot flourish, and indeed will be hindered for years to come, unless the Government of Zimbabwe ends the occupation of farms, allows the police to investigate political crimes, and recalls the supporters it has directed to intimidate the population at large.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 13 June 2000

Bar lifted on election observers

By David Blair in Harare

INTERNATIONAL observers in Zimbabwe for the forthcoming elections were finally allowed to apply for accreditation yesterday, just 12 days before polling begins. Teams of European Union and Commonwealth observers have been frustrated in their attempts to start work formally because of delays in providing them with paperwork, and there is growing evidence that President Robert Mugabe and his government are orchestrating a campaign of obstruction against them.

As they began queuing for accreditation forms, news emerged of the abduction, torture and murder of a supporter of the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party, bringing the number killed in the campaign so far to 29. Although 105 EU observers had arrived by Monday last week and 91 dispersed around Zimbabwe on Friday, they had been prevented from starting work in earnest because official passes had not been issued. A United Nations team that had offered to co-ordinate the observers announced on Friday that it was withdrawing its help after Mr Mugabe attempted to change their official role.

The EU team, together with 40 Commonwealth observers, hopes to begin work tomorrow. But this is the first time that election observers have been required to pay an accreditation fee. Tana de Zulueta, the deputy leader of the EU mission, described their task as "to familiarise themselves at provincial and local levels with the electoral process". But the opposition parties are becoming increasingly frustrated. Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the MDC, said: "Most of them are staying in the hotels of Harare where they are of very little use to us."

Many EU observers share this sentiment. One said: "I have been here for a week and I still have no accreditation. They have been talking about this mission since April, but we are still delayed. We are not here because we think that everything is fine." The observers' freedom of movement may also be limited by squatters who occupy 1,080 white farms. The squatters have become the shock troops of Mr Mugabe's government, spearheading the intimidation of the opposition. Their leaders have warned observers to steer clear of occupied farms, where gangs from the ruling Zanu-PF party have intimidated and murdered opponents of Mr Mugabe.

It is uncertain whether EU observers will bow to this demand. Mashonaland Central has been worst hit by the land invasions and 149 farms are occupied. Asked if his team would visit them, Edward Horgan, co-ordinator of the province's eight EU observers, said: "We have no specific plans to visit occupied farms."

Finos Zhou, 20, an MDC member, was kidnapped by squatters on Sunday last week and imprisoned at Texas ranch, an occupied white farm in Mberengwa district. Sekai Holland, the MDC candidate for the constituency, said Mr Zhou was "continuously tortured for 72 hours". He was released on Wednesday but died of his wounds on Friday.

From The Times (UK), 13 June 2000

Mugabe sets limit on EU polling monitors


FRESH doubts were cast on the credibility of Zimbabwe's imminent parliamentary elections yesterday after the ruling Zanu (PF) party arbitrarily cut the number of European Union observers who are to be allowed in. Representatives of the EU mission have been told that they will be allowed to deploy only 120 observers during the poll on June 24 and 25 instead of the 150 they had planned. Harare's decision, which comes days after a United Nations team was withdrawn because of a row over its role, has prompted urgent consultations by the EU team with Brussels. "This is the first we have heard about this decision," Tana de Zulueta, the EU's deputy head of mission, and a member of the Italian Senate, said. "It is not part of the electoral law."

The UN team was withdrawn after President Mugabe accused it of trying to hijack the elections by co-ordinating the various international observer teams. It is understood that he had earlier verbally agreed with Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, that the UN team would be allowed to carry out just such a co-ordinating role.

At least 31 people, mostly members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, have been killed since the Government lost the referendum in February that was designed to grant Mr Mugabe the power to seize white-owned commercial farms without compensation. Zanu (PF) has been accused of unleashing a campaign of rural violence to terrorise and intimidate Zimbabwe's five million voters into supporting President Mugabe's party, prompting warnings that a free and fair vote is impossible.

The EU mission is by far the largest of the international observer teams, including those from the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community and the Organisation of African Unity. Local observers suspect that Mr Mugabe was taken aback by the speed and efficiency with which the first 91 EU observers left Harare in teams of two over the weekend, taking up positions across the country. They have been given a warning to stay away from the 1,400 white commercial farms occupied by so-called war veterans, where most of the violence and intimidation is taking place.

Some 300 international observers are expected to arrive in the two weeks before voting begins. All of them, and every representative of the international media, are required by law to pay a US $100 (£66) accreditation fee. The estimated 16,000 local observers will provide the backbone of the monitoring operation.

Maputo: A group of white Zimbabwean farmers will move to Mozambique to take up its offer of large farm plots, an official said yesterday. The Zimbabweans and a group of South African farmers will start to arrive in the central province of Manica this month to raise crops and cattle on unused farmland.

From The Independent (UK), 13 June 2000

Elections must be fair, Mbeki warns Mugabe

By Rich Mkhondoand Zubeida Jaffer in Pretoria

The South African government will not accept rigged elections in Zimbabwe, President Thabo Mbeki warned yesterday. "We want free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. We are against stolen elections," Mr Mbeki said in an interview in Pretoria with Independent Newspapers.

Mr Mbeki commented after Britain signalled it was ready to reject a victory by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe because of state-sponsored intimidation of the opposition. The South African President said he did not know whether the 24 and 25 June elections would be free and fair. He was also reluctant to comment on the withdrawal at the weekend of a UN team co-ordinating international observers, saying he was waiting to be fully briefed by the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan.

The political violence has claimed more than 30 lives, mostly those of opposition party members. More than 100 people have been seriously injured while thousands have fled. The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, whose members have most often been the victims, has ruled out the possibility of free and fair elections under the present conditions.

From News24 (SA), 13 June 2000

Media, monitors must pay to observe

Harare - Election officials in Zimbabwe began accrediting hundreds of international observers and foreign journalists on Monday at a fee of $100 each. This is the first time that election observers have been required to pay an accreditation fee. The accreditation fee for journalists was not officially announced, but the payment for the observers was added as an amendment to the Electoral Act on Friday. Electoral officials said the fee was to cover the costs incurred in the registration process. Only journalists from foreign media are being charged.

A political analyst, John Makumbe, described the fee as a means of discouraging foreign observers and an embarrassing way of trying to raise foreign currency. "How can you ask someone to pay $100 for observing your elections? It is unconstitutional," said Makumbe. "This is not going to solve our foreign exchange shortages," he said.

The accreditation process for observers and monitors - previously a responsibility of the government-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) - has now been shifted to the home affairs ministry in a move seen as asserting control over the large numbers of observers who have descended on this southern African country. The role of the ESC has largely been usurped after it was sidelined from supervising the registration of voters early this year. The ESC last month issued a statement expressing concern at widespread pre-polling violence which has resulted in some 30 deaths so far.

More than 300 foreign observers from the European Union, Commonwealth, Southern African Development Community (SADC), the International Republican Institute, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and individual countries are to observe the June 24 and 25 polling. The United Nations pulled its observers out of the electoral process on Friday after the Harare government reneged on an agreement letting the world body co-ordinate the international observer groups.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, met Commonwealth, South African and OAU observers on Monday ahead of their deployment around the country. Asked whether the presence of foreign observers would make much difference to the elections, MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said it was difficult to predict. "I can't say definitely, but we hope that it makes a difference," Ncube said.

From News24 (SA), 13 June 2000

Voters get last chance to register

Harare - Voters left off the roll for parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe had their last chance on Monday to register for a supplementary list amid accusations of rigging. Small queues formed at tents and schools around Harare, with a disproportionate number of white Zimbabweans checking to see if their names were on the main roll. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association expressed concern on Monday over the state of the roll, saying names of dead people were on it while other names were missing.

ZimRights director Munyaradzi Bidi told the state-run Ziana news agency that the names of people who died in 1994 were still on it. "Names of some people who have voted during the previous elections are not appearing on the voters' roll," he added. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and British shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude both charged last week that the government had rigged the list. "We are receiving increasing reports from whites and young black people - mostly aged 20 to 28 - that they are not on the voters' roll," said MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai. "They have deliberately left off thousands of young people, precisely the sort of people who are the MDC's most ardent supporters."

Maude, the Conservative Party's foreign affairs spokesman, told reporters at the end of a 36-hour trip to Zimbabwe: "There is a lot of systematic rigging of the electoral roll. There has been a lot of gerrymandering of the constituency boundaries." One voter told AFP that he had spotted the name of a woman who had been dead for 80 years on the roll, and that of a man who died eight years ago.

Voting officials have told many people that registering now will allow them to vote in presidential elections in 2002, but not the parliamentary elections on June 24-25. However, President Robert Mugabe told a rally at the weekend that those on the supplementary roll would indeed be able to vote in these elections.

Mariyawanda Nzuwah, the chairman of the election directorate, told a press conference: "Everything that is humanly possible" will be done to ensure elections are carried out in a "proper, free and fair manner". Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said that six police officers would be present at each of the 4 000 polling stations. Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede has said that 5.1 million people are currently registered to vote and that 566 parliamentary candidates - 92 of them independents - will stand in the country's fifth general election since independence from Britain in 1980.

Zimbabwe will use traditional wooden ballot boxes because they are still credible and readily available, he said at the weekend, adding that transparent ballot boxes used in other countries to guard against fraud would be a burden to taxpayers. Election officials were meanwhile starting to accredit foreign observers and journalists on Monday - at a cost of $100 each.

The United Nations pulled out of the electoral process on Friday after accusing the government of reneging on an agreement letting it co-ordinate the international observer groups. Mugabe countered that he had asked the United Nations to send observers, not co-ordinators. "That role which the United Nations wanted to assume is an illegitimate role in my view," he told some 10 000 enthusiastic supporters at Marondera, 75km south east of Harare. "The legitimacy of the elections will depend on us and our own judgment," the president declared.

Some 16 000 international and local observers will monitor the elections after a campaign that has seen around 30 people killed in political violence and the occupation of some 1 500 white-owned farms by squatters led by veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war.

From The Star (SA), 12 Jun 2000

Zim opposition threatens violence

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change has warned that if it does not win the June 24 and 25 parliamentary elections, violence could ensue. On Sunday, Grace Kwinje, an MDC national executive member told about 1 000 supporters at a rowdy rally in Donnypark, Harare East constituency, that if the MDC did not win 100 of the 120 available seats this would confirm that the elections had been rigged. "Zimbabweans are generally a peaceful people. Their only hope for change is the ballot box. And if their will is subverted, they will have no choice but start to organise themselves in a different manner that will not be peaceful," she said.

Kwinje also vowed that an MDC government would immediately set up a truth and justice commission to expose corruption in the Mugabe government as well as past atrocities. MDC candidate for Harare East, Tendai Biti, a human rights lawyer, promised that an MDC government would, within five days of coming to power, recall Zimbabwean soldiers currently fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo's "misadventure". The proposed truth and justice commission would investigate President Robert Mugabe and anyone else who might have been involved in the decision to send the troops to the DRC.

The death toll in the violent run-up to elections this month reached 31 after the fatal assault and torture of an opposition campaign worker in a Zanu-PF detention camp, opposition officials said on Sunday. Fainos Zhou, 21, died on Friday in the Mberengwa district about 300km south-west of Harare and would be buried in the area on Monday, said Sekai Holland, MDC candidate in the area.

Robert Mugabe, now 76, told an election rally on Saturday that he would retire from office only after his party voted him out.

From BBC News, 12 June 2000

Zimbabwe minister accuses US, Britain

The Zimbabwean foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, has accused the United States and Britain of trying to destabilise the country before parliamentary elections later this month. He said both countries supported opposition parties in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the region. President Mugabe has already accused Britain of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations committee in the United States approved a bill to suspend bilateral American assistance to Zimbabwe until democracy and the rule of law was restored. The bill, which still must be approved by the full senate, would help opposition groups mount possible legal challenges to election results.

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Mugabe threatens fresh invasions

Tarcey Munaku, Political Editor

PRESIDENT MUGABE says there will be an intensification of the wave of farm occupations after the 24 and 25 June parliamentary election. He told campaign meetings in the Chikomba District of Mashonaland East at the weekend: "We would like the war veterans on the farms to remain there peacefully with no violence. This is not for the purposes of the election. In fact, soon after the election, the farm occupations will be carried out more vigorously."

Mugabe said he has ordered war veterans to stay put on all the white-owned commercial farms they have occupied countrywide and said he alone has the power to move them out. Mugabe, who is the patron of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, apparently did not have any regrets over the violent deaths of five white commercial farmers at the hands of war veterans, saying the farmers had it coming.

He was addressing a rally attended by about 5 000 people, mostly young children in school uniforms, at Sadza Growth Point, 210 km south-east of Harare. He said he and Zanu PF were outraged that the white community teamed up with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to campaign for the rejection of the government-sponsored draft constitution in February because of the inclusion of the land clause. Worse still, Mugabe said, white industrialists and farmers had openly backed the MDC financially and "regimented" the labour force on the farms to support and vote for the MDC in the parliamentary election.

Referring to David Stevens, a commercial farmer from Macheke, Marondera, who was shot dead by war veterans on 15 April, Mugabe said in Shona: "Stevens was the one who started the war. He is the one who started firing and he is the one whostarted the fight. But when it is shown on BBC and CNN it is put as if we are the ones who started the war." He said war veterans should remain on the 1 500 commercial farms they occupy until land redistribution to blacks is completed. "There is no one who has the power to remove them. It is us the Presidency who know the time when we will say the comrades should move off the farms," he said.

Mugabe said his party and the government was not using the farm occupations as an election strategy to canvass for votes from the land-hungry black majority. At Zanu PF rallies at Sadza and later at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, party activists led by Mugabe told supporters that the "enemy" was the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and everyone and everything around him. "Down with Tsvangirai, down with his wife, down with his children, down with his totem, down with his dogs, down with even the cup that he drinks his tea from" were the slogans the crowds were asked to repeat at the rallies in Chikomba and Marondera.

Mugabe was accompanied by, among others, his wife, Grace, who is a native of Chikomba, Hunzvi, the Zanu PF candidate for Chikomba, Aeneas Chigwedere, Zanu PF candidate for the Hwedza parliamentary seat and Sydney Sekeramayi, Zanu PF parliamentary candidate for Marondera East. Introducing Mugabe to the crowd at Chikomba, Sekeramayi pointed out that those attending the rally had done so of their own free will and not forced "as some local newspapers that do not like us will report".

As he spoke, all the general dealer shops, grinding mills, restaurants, bottle stores, bars and beerhalls at Sadza Growth Point were closed. They only opened after Mugabe's departure in the afternoon. Members of the white farming community near Marondera also attended the rallies. On Saturday from Bromley to Marondera, 30 kms away, all the shops, butcheries and bottle stores on farming properties along the Harare to Mutare highway were closed for business until after the Zanu PF rally at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera. Some farm workers who spoke to The Daily News said they had been brought to the rally by their employers.

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

War vets unleash new reign of terror

Staff Reporter

WAR veterans and suspected Zanu PF supporters terrorising their opponents in rural Mashonaland and Midlands, are now targeting the families of people who have fled from violence in their constituencies. Hordes of war veterans and Zanu PF supporters ran amok, following the results of the 12-13 February referendum, attacking supporters of the opposition and white commercial farmers whom they blamed for the rejection of the Constitutional Commission's draft constitution.

At least 6 100 villagers have fled from the violence by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters since April. About 300 of these are living in safe houses provided in Harare by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, National Constitutional Assembly, United Parties and some well-wishers.

From Business Day (SA), 12 June 2000

Envoy 'would also have taken farm'

WASHINGTON - Zimbabwe's US ambassador, Simbi Veke Mubako, a former high court judge, defended his government's policies by saying that were he back home he would personally have seized a white-owned farm. Speaking on Friday at the Freedom Forum, a Washington-based organisation which promotes press freedom, Mubako vehemently denied that President Robert Mugabe was whipping up resentment and violence against white farmers as an election ploy.

Zimbabweans had simply "lost patience" with white land owners who, while publicly acknowledging the need for land reform, were privately unwilling to part with their "very high standard of living" and incomes that, in some cases, topped Z$20m a year. "If I were there myself, I would have gone (onto) one of those farms and taken it," Mubako said. He also pronounced as "evil" white farmers' efforts to produce crops like tobacco and flowers for export, even while admitting there was no shortage of domestically grown food staples.

His stance was applauded by a reporter from the Final Call, a publication handed out on street corners by followers of Louis Farrakhan, who is regarded across the US political spectrum as a race-baiter. Mubako acknowledged that SA President Thabo Mbeki had been trying to raise money from Saudi Arabia and Nordic countries to enable the Zimbabwe government to buy land for resettlement.

Mbeki, under fire for seeming to sympathise with Mugabe, told US officials and the Washington Post editorial board during his recent state visit that he was seeking to defuse the crisis by arranging money to buy 118 farms without visible strings attached. Mbeki's plan, as understood and endorsed by his US interlocutors, was to short-circuit Mugabe's feud with the UK government.

Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Stanley Mudenge told his Organisation of African Unity counterparts on May 9, according to the minutes of the meeting, that London was reneging on an unconditional promise to fund land redistribution to overthrow Mugabe. On that basis, Mbeki sought to raise funds elsewhere. On May 25, a senior Mbeki adviser said in Austin, Texas, that Mugabe was expected to signal his acceptance of Mbeki's arrangement the following Monday, May 29, by calling a halt to land invasions and demanding a return to rule of law.

Mubako was asked last Friday whether Mugabe's failure to issue such a statement on May 29 or subsequently signalled a rejection of Mbeki's mediation and demonstrated that Mugabe was less interested in resettling rural Zimbabweans than exploiting the land issue for political effect. He replied that Mbeki's diplomatic efforts were "ongoing" and had not been rejected by Harare. However, the funding Mbeki had promised was not "actually there".

The ambassador also accused a reporter of racism for seeking to confirm whether he and his colleagues at Zimbabwe's US embassy had not recently been paid, as reported, due to the government's shortage of foreign exchange. Mubako went on to say his government was justified in refusing its opposition access to the state-owned airwaves in the run-up to elections since the media coverage of the government was "totally unfair".

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Gross human rights violations unearthed

Conrad Nyamutata

THE International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) based in Denmark has unearthed several cases of gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe during the run-up to the election. The IRCT undertook a fact-finding visit to Zimbabwe between 29 May and 6 June before compiling the report. The organisation concluded: "The current situation indicates that organised violence and torture are taking place on a very large scale..." The IRCT delegation included Maria Piniou-Kalli, the president of the organisation and Soraya Usmani Martinez, the secretary-general. In the report, the organisation said it found cases of physical and psychological torture and disruption of communities through intimidation and violence. The international body made recommendations following interviews and testimony from 10 victims of violence. In all the cases, the persecution resulted in anxiety, depression and pain. Most of them were members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"Objective findings of physical and psychological torture were found in all 10 cases," said the IRCT. "There is evidence that mass psychological torture is occurring. Three cases illustrate torture being used to renounce political party affiliations. There is evidence of community disruption through intimidation and violence against health workers and teachers."

The visit by IRCT follows a terror crusade launched by suspected Zanu PF supporters against members of the MDC since the rejection of the draft constitution in the referendum held in February this year. At least 28 people have died, and 6 500 people, mostly villagers in the rural areas, have fled their homes in fear of persecution. The IRCT delegation came to Zimbabwe following a request by Amani Trust, local violence monitors, to conduct research. Amani acts as IRCT's regional co-ordinating centre for Africa.

The organisation made some recommendations. "It is imperative that the Zimbabwe government sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment as soon as possible," said IRCT. "There should be independent judicial commissions appointed to investigate all gross human rights violations. A policy of reparations should be developed and implemented. The policy should include restitution, compensation and rehabilitation."

The organisation said mass psychological torture came in the form of forced attendance of pungwes (overnight meetings), beatings and humiliation of people in front of their communities. Attendance at these events was clearly under duress for many, the organisation said. References to "re-education" gave the impression of mass psychological torture. IRCT said violence had caused disruptions. Through interviews of victims, the organisation had noticed health services had been disrupted after hospitals were closed and ambulances stopped from carrying victims. Some places were being used for torture. In Mashonaland East, the Zexcom office at Murehwa Growth Point was known as a torture house, the organisation noted. Chipesa Farm in Marondera was also a centre for the planning and implementation of violence. The farm, owned by Iain Kay, was invaded by war veterans. In Karoi, the Zanu PF offices in the high-density suburb of Chikangwe were being used to house a militia. The group chanted slogans and sang all night, bringing opposition members for beatings at the offices.

IRCT said there had also been serious allegations that the surgery belonging to Chenjerai Hunzvi, the war veterans leader, has been used as a torture centre. Rape has been reported, and at least 12 cases have been attended to by non-governmental organisations. There were also reports of mass rapes. Some nurses had allegedly been raped at Nyadire Mission Hospital.

IRCT said Zimbabwe has had a history of gross human rights violations over the past three decades, including violations during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle in the 70s. The violations included extra-judicial killings, physical and psychological torture, rape, mass terror, and disappearances. While pungwes during that time were characterised by song and dance, they were also occasions for "political education". Sell-outs and political opponents were tortured and frequently executed at such meetings. IRCT noted that the violations witnessed in the 70s were seen after independence when the North-Korean trained Five Brigade was unleashed in Matabeleland and the Midlands regions.

The violations are well documented in: Breaking the Silence, a report produced by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Legal Resources Foundation. The government produced its own report but the findings were not published. The organisation also cited the food riots in 1998, when the police and the army assaulted demonstrators. The organisation also noted the kidnapping and torture of journalists Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto of The Standard by the army.

Comment from The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Mbeki does not back illegal farm invasions

Pius Wakatama

OF late there has been a lot of hullabaloo, in the government Press, about how the region is supporting Zimbabwe’s land policy. The headlines are blazoned in such large type as though the support of this or that country makes our despicable acts righteous. The so-called support of South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia and Namibia is nothing but cold comfort. It will not change the fact that our country, which was a first class republic with unlimited potential is now a broke pariah state, which is the laughing stock of the civilised world.

After carefully reading the reports of the so-called support, I came to the conclusion that our neighbours support the policy of land redistribution but not the lawless way we are going about it. Not one regional leader has said that they support the illegal farm invasions. Regional leaders should indeed support land reform because, like us, they have land imbalances in their own countries.

All self-respecting Africans support the policy of land reform. Without it the liberation war would have been fought in vain. In Zimbabwe opposition parties, civil society and ordinary citizens have made it clear that there is need for land redistribution. However, they are aware that the government’s opportunistic and populist way of handling the land issue will not lead to land reform.

Our economy hinges on agriculture. The land issue should, therefore be handled in an intelligent and deliberate manner, and not haphazardly as a political ploy to win the votes of the uneducated, land hungry rural folk. The approval of violence and lawlessness by the government, which is supposed to be the custodian and enforcer of the law, is abhorrent to most Zimbabweans.

Regional leaders too, realise the danger of encouraging lawlessness. They would not like the anarchy that is taking place in Zimbabwe to spill over into their own countries. They would like to see land redistributed in an orderly, peaceful and just way, which will not harm their fragile economies.

President Mbeki is no fool. It is most unlikely that a man like Nelson Mandela could have made a mistake in his choice of a successor. He realises that nothing will be gained by antagonising our rather irrational and belligerent President Robert Mugabe. He, therefore, embarked on a soft diplomatic approach to diffuse the already volatile situation in Zimbabwe. Denouncing Mugabe directly, as a despot and tyrant, would put him in a corner and all hell might break loose.

This is why he quietly raised $560 million to buy farms for redistribution in Zimbabwe, on a willing-seller, willing-buyer basis. This money will be channelled through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This is good thinking on the part of Mbeki because, then our Zanu PF kleptomaniacs will not be able to get their fingers on it. The UNDP will certainly make sure that the acquired land will be distributed in such a manner as to be productive and in an equitable and transparent way designed to benefit the poor.

Much as I appreciate Mbeki's soft diplomatic approach, I am still rather sceptical. I know my president. He is full of guile, cunning and intrigue. The land issue was not a serious matter to him at all, otherwise he would have dealt with it ten years ago. It was a devious scheme to put Chenjerai Hunzvi and his murderous thugs on white-owned farms to terrorise the farmers and their workers who had come out en masse in support of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Right now white farmers and their workers are being "re-educated" to support a party they detest. Those who showed any resistance were tortured or murdered in cold blood.

Mbeki has put Mugabe in a quandary. Accepting the offer means accepting what he regards as "foreign interference" in the form of the UNDP. Not accepting it might mean losing the only real friend he has. He is at the same time afraid of accepting the offer because it will mean removing the war veterans from occupied farms, thus losing his trump card in the elections. He is, therefore now stalling by accusing the UNDP of trying to derail the land acquisition process. He also says he does not want the 841 already designated farms only but all white owned farms.

President Njoma of Namibia also publicly supported Zimbabwe. He recently enthusiastically joined Mugabe in shouting out-dated communistic slogans against so-called imperialism and neo-colonialism. He is respected for his role in freeing his country from white oppression, but he is no intellectual or moral giant. Instead of retiring so that someone else could take the lead, he shamelessly changed the constitution to make it possible for him to remain in power. He also let Mugabe fast talk him into going into the Democratic Republic of Congo when South Africa had sensibly refused to go. However, lets give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he is on the soft diplomatic approach.

I love the Sotho people. They are some of the most beautiful people on earth. I have been to their mountain kingdom and have enjoyed their unstinting hospitality and their care-free approach to life. However, their leaders' support of Zimbabwe does not mean much. The recent political history of the tiny impoverished state leaves much to be desired. Had it not been for the intervention of South Africa and neighbouring states, Lesotho would have gone up in flames. One hopes that peace can be maintained there for the people are so impoverished that they need all their energies just to eke out a living.

Zambia recently joined the chorus in support of Zimbabwe's land policy. However, one has to view their enthusiastic support with suspicion for they are busy courting Zimbabwe's disgruntled white farmers to their own country. Unlike Zimbabwe, Zambia has investor-friendly laws which allow government to offer land for free or at a minimal fee to investors who promise to invest in the country's long-neglected agriculture industry.

Even though Mbeki might not succeed with Mugabe, his philosophy and diplomacy have to be applauded. With leaders like him, there is hope for Africa, yet. The idealistic and philosophical African Personality and negritude are still alive on the continent even though wounded and limping. His vision of an "African Rennaisance" has rekindled hope in the hearts of those of us who look beyond the mundane. Let us give the man who has put on Madiba’s mantle a chance.

Comment from The Sunday Times (SA), 11 June 2000

Mad Bob creating the Marxist land of his dreams

Stephen Mulholland - Another Voice

It is ironic that events in another country have caused so much fear and anxiety among those South Africans who worry about their futures and those of their families. These people are not all white and are not all property-owners, although many are. People of colour wouldn't want what is happening in Zimbabwe to happen here. Only those who would benefit, through the abuse of power, would wish to be run by an egomaniacal dictator whose response to political reverse is to terrorise, torture and kill not only his opposition but anyone he perceives to be even a potential threat.

And some are victimised merely to discourage others. Thus Indian merchants and property-owners have been pushed around in much the same manner that the crazed Idi Amin treated these law-abiding citizens whose only sin seems to be achieving success through hard work. Mugabe's murderous thugs have targeted black teachers and health workers simply
because, being educated, they can discern what is going on. This reminds one of Pol Pot's mass murder of his own people, and the Russian and Chinese habit of sending intellectuals for re-education, as collectivist brainwashing was known. Simple people are warned that the vote is not secret and that voting for the opposition is a certain death sentence. Good luck to
the international monitors who will try to convince them otherwise.

No one can accuse London's left-wing Guardian newspaper of sympathising with colonialism or propertied whites and Indians. Last week, its reporter wrote: "In the run-up to the elections on June 24-25, Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has unleashed a widespread campaign of violence against the opposition which has taken at least 30 lives. Thousands more opposition supporters have been beaten, raped and tortured." Zimbabwean police were apparently helpless to act against Mugabe's anarchic mobs of so-called war veterans as they ignored court orders, wantonly destroyed property, terrorised and killed farmers, their families and their workers and illegally occupied farms.

But the police quickly discovered teargas and their courage when riots broke out this week at petrol stations as the fuel crisis intensified. Mad Bob blamed the Brits for not delivering oil for which Zimbabwe cannot pay because it is spending what is left of its foreign exchange on its forces in the Congo, there to protect the diamond interests of Mugabe and his criminal

It was former President Nelson Mandela who remarked that tyrants are often loathe to give up power because it means that their successors may well go after them for the crimes they committed while in office. And it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who charged Mugabe with being a caricature of the likes of Idi Amin, Milton Obote, Mobutu Sese Seko and other dictators who have damaged the image of African leadership.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean businesses, forced by economic and political turmoil to either shut down or cut back, have been identified by Mugabe's hit men to be dealt with after the election. In Mugabe's tortured imagination, a tourist operator who shuts down because there are no tourists is a traitor and, even worse, someone who wants to put Zanu-PF in a bad light because of losses of jobs and foreign exchange earnings.

As election fever rises, Mad Bob took to the hustings this week to proclaim that his government would seize all white-owned land and that any whites with land in Zimbabwe would be the beneficiaries of our charity. After the choice bits have been dished out to his cronies, the landless will be given commercial farms to squat which, of course, will ruin the country's
agronomy. Mad Bob will then have what he has always pined for, a Marxist enclave in which his word is law and God help anyone who steps out of line.

From Reuters, 12 June 2000

Zimbabwe Farmers Report Fresh Land Invasion, Attacks

By Darren Schuettler

HARARE - Zimbabwean farmers Monday reported fresh land invasions and attacks by liberation war veterans, and foreign observers finalized plans to monitor parliamentary elections next week. The latest invasions occurred as Zimbabwe's foreign minister accused the United States and Britain at a weekend rally of teaming up to destabilize the country before the June 24-25 poll.

The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said a farmer had suffered cuts and bruises when he was attacked by a dozen men who had set up a roadblock outside his Poltimore farm in the Wedza area southeast of Harare. ``One of them hit him over the back of the head with a chain. He had some stitches but he is doing fine,'' a CFU spokesman said. Two more farms in the eastern Manicaland area were occupied over the weekend. It happened without incident, the CFU said, but added that intimidation of opposition supporters in rural areas continued.

At least 28 people, mainly supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have died and hundreds have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes in the last few months. In the latest incident, MDC activist Finos Zhau, 23, died on Friday after he and his brother were abducted and beaten by suspected supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party, the MDC said in a statement Sunday.

Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge warned the United States and Britain not to support opposition parties in Zimbabwe and other countries in southern Africa, saying the region was ready to repulse their ``evil attempts.'' ``Today they have targeted Comrade (President Robert) Mugabe and the ZANU-PF government,'' Mudenge told a rally Sunday, according to the state-owned Herald newspaper.

``Tomorrow it is going to be Comrade (President Sam) Nujoma and his SWAPO in Namibia, then Comrade (President Thabo) Mbeki and his African National Congress in South Africa, and then the whole region,'' he told 8,000 supporters in the Masvingo area. Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party is facing a stiff challenge from the MDC, has accused Britain of backing the opposition party. In the United States, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week approved a bill to suspend bilateral U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe until democracy and the rule of law are restored. The bill, which must still be approved by the full Senate, would help opposition groups to mount possible legal challenges to the election results or repressive practices.

``We are saying no to this whole evil system and Africa is prepared to fight back,'' Mudenge said. ``We condemn everything they are doing and if it is going to be a war between blacks and whites, so let it be.''

MDC officials told the Commonwealth Observer Group Monday that their efforts to ensure a free and fair election were too little and too late. ``Conditions for free and fair elections do not exist here,'' MDC director of elections Paul Nyathi told the Commonwealth team. ``Thousands of young people are missing from the election roll and have therefore been disenfranchised. The violence supported by ZANU-PF has been another major factor,'' he said. Former Nigerian President Abdulsalami Abubakar, who is heading the Commonwealth observer delegation, declined to respond to Nyathi's comments.

Representatives of the European Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Organization of African Unity are among the thousands of foreign and local observers monitoring the campaign and the elections themselves. The United Nations said Friday it had pulled out of the election process after the government rejected its offer to co-ordinate the international observers.

``If they (the United Nations) wanted to send observers, they were free to do so, but they cannot appoint themselves co-ordinators of sovereign observer missions,'' Jonathan Moyo, a senior member of the party's campaign directorate, told Reuters.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the withdrawal of the U.N. team confirmed the MDC's argument that the process was fundamentally flawed and a free and fair vote was impossible. ``For an African secretary-general of the U.N. (Kofi Annan) to show his displeasure in this way is a serious commentary on the actions of an African despot,'' Tsvangirai said Sunday. Tsvangirai urged all other international groups of observers to stay "to bear witness to the appalling human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe today'' and ``to give our people the sense of security to...cast their votes.''

The 160-member EU mission has offered other foreign missions ``assistance and support'' in the wake of the United Nations' departure. Government opponents blame ZANU-PF supporters and self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war for the violence that followed the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by pro-government militants.

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

MDC chairman flees Murehwa

Staff Reporter

FIDELIS Madziva, the chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Murehwa, fled last week after his homestead was set on fire by suspected Zanu PF supporters. Madziva, of Chidawaya Village, was seriously assaulted before his property was set ablaze. A relative, who refused to be named, said Madziva was receiving treatment at the Avenues Clinic in Harare. The MDC is paying for his medical expenses. The relative said 12 Zanu PF supporters led by a youth leader in Murehwa found Madziva preparing his harvested maize at his homestead. The group demanded MDC membership cards and money he was using for campaigning.

Madziwa told them he did not have the cards and money. "They immediately started assaulting him with sticks and iron bars," he said. "He fell unconscious." The gang went on to burn his hut, a bedroom and a granary. His harvested maize stored in a granary was destroyed. The relative said the Zanu PF supporters destroyed Madziwa's mattress. They took MDC cards and some food. Madziva reported the matter to Musami Police, who could not act. He said Madziva did not go to Musami Hospital, fearing the Zanu PF militants would pursue him and "finish him off."

Madziva brought his two grandsons to Harare. His wife, who had gone to hospital, returned to find the homestead burnt. She has sought accommodation elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Etwell Gumbo, the campaign manager for Jasael Chimbendure, the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) candidate for Gokwe North, has also fled from the Midlands area after threats from suspected Zanu PF supporters. Gumbo said he had to leave because the police were not taking any action against the culprits. "We cannot campaign because of the threats," he said. "We had a meeting with the police but they are not helping." Some ZUD supporters were abducted by suspected Zanu PF members and forced to buy Zanu PF party membership cards at $26 each, said Gumbo. Chimbendure fled Gokwe last Monday but decided to return on Wednesday.

Meanwhile three members of the MDC say police officers watched helplessly while a gang of suspected war veterans and Zanu PF supporters tortured them about eight kilometres from Mataga Growth Point in Mberengwa East. The three were among five MDC youth leaders who went to Mberengwa on 3 June to campaign for Sekai Holland, the party's candidate for Mberengwa East. Simbarashe Muchemwa, 25, one of the victims, was still in pain as he related their ordeal to The Daily News on Friday. He sustained bruises and burns to the back, the crotch and the belly after their tormentors burnt him with plastic. They also whipped him. His torturers are still at large.

Muchemwa said their truck ran out of diesel while they were going to Zvishavane. They went back to Mberengwa to buy diesel. Upon their return, they were suddenly surrounded by a gang of strangers. "There were more than 20 men who were very friendly at first. We were surprised when they turned hostile, tied our hands and feet and began kicking and whipping us all over and calling us "traitors." Muchemwa said they asked him about his rural home and when he said that he came from Buhera, they said everyone from Buhera supported the MDC. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, comes from Buhera.

"Some members of the gang undressed me, lit plastic paper and took turns to torture me, Muchemwa said, still in agony. "It was the most painful experience I have ever had. I screamed and pleaded with them to release me but they would not listen. What hurt me most is that some policemen stopped in a truck while we were being tortured. They did not do anything. "They told us that their leader, Big Chitoro, was coming the following morning to gouge out our eyes and I began planning to escape." Muchemwa managed to escape during the night.

Meanwhile, their torturers released Muchemwa's colleagues and set their truck, a Toyota Hilux, on fire. A Good Samaritan gave Muchemwa a lift to Zvishavane General Hospital. He said he asked to be discharged on Thursday last week after some people came to the hospital looking for him.

From The Star(SA), 12 June 2000

Free polls in Zim 'a mission impossible'

The Zimbawe election was beyond the point where it could be remotely free and fair, an observer mission from the Democrat Union of Africa (DUA) has concluded. In a report released on Monday in Cape Town, the DUA called for the intensification of Zimbabwe's isolation by the international community, to pressure President Robert Mugabe into levelling the playing field. "The atmosphere of fear favours the ruling party, to the disadvantage of the opposition," it said.

The DUA, a forum for 22 centre-right Christian democrat parties, sent observers to Zimbabwe in May, who spoke to representatives of civil society, business figures, opposition parties and the government. The report said the election campaign in the urban areas had so far been free enough. However, in the rural areas - especially in or near occupied farms - intimidation and intolerant behaviour made for substantially unfree conditions.

"The DUA delegation concluded that despite the relative calm that has been restored in some areas, the impact of recent events and intimidation, even the mere presence of farm invaders, has already had its impact and will influence voting behaviour in favour of the ruling party," the report said.

"The election campaign and process is beyond the point where it could be remotely free and fair." The single most unfair aspect of the current political system was the Lancaster House constitution, which allowed President Robert Mugabe to appoint 30 MPs, meaning in effect that Zanu-PF needed to win only 46 of the 120 elected seats to stay in power. It said evidence had emerged of widespread misuse of state assets, including public transport, by the ruling party in the campaign. The delimitation of constiutencies showed evidence of gerrymandering in that some urban areas, where opposition parties were strong, were now combined with rural ruling party strongholds.

Free political activity and organisation were undermined by the requirement that forced party leaders to apply to the police commissioner for permission to hold rallies or public meetings. In a number of cases this permission was delayed long enough to disrupt free political activity. The only way to create a more level playing field would be to secure more independent observers, implement a voter education programme emphasising the secrecy of the ballot, and removing Mugabe's power to appoint the 30 seats.

New National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk, whose party is a member of the DUA, said though Zimbabwe would go through the motions of an election, the poll could not be called free or fair. All that could be hoped was that loss of life and intimidation were kept at a minimum. He challenged President Thabo Mbeki, when he adresses Parliament on Tuesday, to have the courage to distance himself unambiguously from Mugabe and Zanu-PF, and stand up for his own vision of an African renaissance. DUA chairman David Malatsi, who is also the NNP's leader in Mpumalanga, said the DUA would have a ten-member delegation in Zimbabwe during the polls.

From The Star (SA), 12 June 2000

SA's decision awaits Zim poll - Pahad

South Africa would only take a stand on election conditions in Zimbabwe after the poll, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said on Monday. Meanwhile, South Africa should seek to help ensure that tension abated in that country so that the elections could go ahead, he told reporters in Pretoria. "Our main objective has to be to meet all groups to try to ensure that conditions are created for the easing of tensions, (and) that the election does take place."

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon at the weekend expressed doubt on whether the June 24-25 elections in Zimbabwe could be free and fair. Last week, the United Nations withdrew its election monitors from Zimbabwe after being barred from co-ordinating the monitoring operations from the Commonwealth, the European Union and other organisations. Violent occupations of white-owned Zimbabwean farms by militants of the ruling Zanu-PF party have claimed at least 30 lives since February. Most of the victims were supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Pahad on Monday said South Africa's own observers would only report back after the elections. "I have to wait for (them) ... to inform me what their analysis is. I can't sit here and analyse whatis going on there," he said. "We will wait for... the reports about the situation there, on basis of which we will also have to make some judgement."

Pahad reiterated that a return to stability in Zimbabwe was vital for South Africa and the Southern African region. "Our two economies are relatively competitive. Those two economies must be the bedrock on which we carry out the economic transformation in the Southern African Development Community," Pahad said.

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Conflicting statements over fate of missing voters

Staff Reporter

THERE are conflicting statements from the Registrar-General's office and different political parties on whether or not registered voters whose names have been omitted from the roll can vote in the 24 and 25 June parliamentary election. Zanu PF spokesperson, Chen Chimutengwende, this week said names of people who registered before 16 April but were missing from the roll would be inserted on a supplementary roll. People whose names appear in the supplementary roll can either vote or be candidates, he said.

"My name was omitted so I filled in another form and was told it would be included in the supplementary roll," said Chimutengwende. "I was told the name would appear in a final roll at the end of the inspection. I enquired from the Registrar-General, and he explained to me that people with names appearing on the supplementary roll would be able to vote. There is no difference between the main and the supplementary roll, so people are just making a lot of noise about nothing."

Paul Themba Nyathi, of the MDC, said he was not very clear on the procedure and would seek clarification from Mudede. He said Mudede last week gave him the impression that names missing from the roll would be included in the supplementary roll. While under normal circumstances people whose names appeared in the additional roll should be able to vote, said Nyathi, this depended on whether or not there was time to inspect the supplementary roll. He said: "I am not very clear on whether or not they would be able to vote, but I will try to get clarification because we need to assure people whose names are missing about what is going to happen."

On the other hand, two registration officers, one at David Livingstone School in Harare Central constituency and the other at Ellis Robins School in Harare North, yesterday said that people whose names appeared on the supplementary roll would not be able to vote. They could only vote in the presidential elections in 2002, they said. They said it was highly unlikely that someone's name could be omitted. Mudede refused to comment.

Scores of people have called The Daily News saying they had been turned away without being offered recourse after failing to find their names on the voters' roll. Registration of voters is still open up to tomorrow.

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Zimbabweans seek divine intervention

Sandra Nyaira, Political Reporter

Zimbabwe is a nation at prayer. As the country faces its toughest challenges since independence, thousands of its 13 million citizens are turning to prayer for salvation. The harsh economic times, compounded by fuel shortages and the violent socio-political climate, are among some of the major problems the people are enduring as they brace for the 24-25 June parliamentary election.

On 25 May Christian churches in Zimbabwe converged at the City Sports Centre where they dedicated the day to prayer, seeking divine intervention on the socio-economic and political problems facing Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary-general Densen Mafinyane said churches have resorted to prayer when times are harsh. Citing traditional areas of prayer such as Matopos and Great Zimbabwe for rains, peace and good harvests, Mafinyane said: "The ZCC and other Christian churches are simply emphasising that life is sacred and it belongs to God. It must be maintained and saved according to God's will."

He said the problems facing the country were of major concern to the churches, especially the political violence that has killed more than 30 people, including five commercial farmers, a farm manager and mostly opposition party members. "Zimbabwe belongs to God and He is the owner of the country and its resources. That is why the churches are saying we need to call for divine intervention by calling for national prayers," said Mafinyane. "As churches, we have no other source of peace except that given by God."

At most gatherings now, devotions at the beginning revolve mainly around the economic hardships. Most of the prayers focus on national leadership shortcomings, corruption, political violence and police inaction in dealing with the widespread lawlessness. Zimbabweans are now appealing for divine intervention for lasting solutions to their problems. Hope is not lost. Those at prayer meetings draw inspiration from biblical teachings that where there is faith, the Lord will eventually ease the pain, suffering, brutality and deprivation of His children.

Examples are being cited from the Book of Exodus where the children of Israel were delivered from the autocracy, oppression and brutality of Egyptian rule to the promised land of Canaan after intense prayers. In another example in the Book of Daniel, three men Shadreck, Misheck and Abednigo were saved from the jaws of death after they had been thrown into an inferno by the oppressive King Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian autocrat forced all his subjects to worship an idol, but the three Jewish exiles flatly refused to comply with the pagan order and insisted that salvation could only come from God.

"There are a lot of biblical references which are finding new importance and significance in the continued social and political struggle of Zimbabweans. As a result, the nation has taken to prayer to seek deliverance," said Tongai Dziva, a staunch Christian with the United Methodist Church.

About 75 percent of the population in Zimbabwe is Christian. "The whole nation is in a state of prayer and looking up to examples provided in the Old Testament and New Testament for spiritual guidance," said Dziva.

Some sections of the church say Zimbabwe is facing a kairos (Greek for a moment of decision or truth) amid heightened calls for the church to preach and practise the theology of liberation. "There is now this collision and harmonisation of various theological and Christian experiences," said another Christian, Tichaona Hove, "which Zimbabweans are looking up to for solutions to their problems, particularly in the wake of government inaction in the face of political violence."

Prayers at National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) meetings aptly capture the concern and near hopelessness of the people. "Lord, we behest You to instil in President Mugabe, love and compassion for his citizens. We appeal to him through You to soften his heart by making him desist from the path of dictatorship," cried one leader during an NCA prayer meeting, to thunderous echoes of "Amen!"

NCA spokesman and human rights lawyer, Brian Kagoro, in his prayer, asked for divine intervention and God's guidance as the country goes through its roughest patch. He asked the Creator to strengthen the will of those seeking to remove the Zanu PF government from power. "The nation is facing a crisis of expectation at all levels, be it in companies, business organisations, soccer teams or the judiciary," said Hove. "We have reached an overheated level of expectation to a point where people feel only the spiritual world can liberate them and fulfil the nation's cherished expectations for peace, freedom, tolerance, harmony and unity."

Kagoro says the series of prayers should be looked at in four ways. "The first one is the belief by some people that our problems are insurmountable and that hope lies in divine intervention. People think that things have become so bad that it is beyond human remedy and that God alone can transform the present state of affairs," says Kagoro. Resorting to prayer, he says, is an indication of patriotism. "Usually people pray over things that are of great personal importance to them, but now they are beginning to value their nation so much."

Kagoro says turning to prayer could be an escape route for those who cannot be seen to be actively advocating for change. "Whatever reason, it works for the country. It is positive in that people have not become so despondent that they have lost all hope. You do not pray over a situation you want to run away from. The people treasure Zimbabwe."

In light of the State-sanctioned violence, which has resulted in many deaths, turning to prayer is an awakening of moral consciousness on the sanctity of human life, says Kagoro. "The evil that has occurred has awakened people to the awareness of human life and because of the racial undertones of some of the things, this has forced the nation to begin to discuss again nationhood, oolitical relevance and participation."

But, adds Kagoro, the people should rise up from the prayer mode and deliver themselves from their suffering. "The economic and political problems we are facing have forced us to our knees, but from our knees we should stand up and move into action and do the things we believe in. God Himself is not going to walk from heaven and vote for us. If God is going to do anything on this earth, He is going to use men and women."

Adds Dziva: "There should be clarity in our hearts and minds as to what we need to do as people who believe in God as we face this bleak situation where we have a ruling party that celebrates its violent tendencies and the total collapse of the rule of law."

From The Daily News, 12 June 2000

Banana's sentence too short: Galz

Staff Reporter

KEITH Goddard, the programmes manager for the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe says the sentence imposed on former President, Canaan Sodindo Banana, is inappropriate. Goddard said in a statement: "Heterosexual rape carries a sentence of seven years. Justice Chidyausiku is on record as saying that no distinction should be made between homosexual and heterosexual rape. It is strange then to see that he has made an obvious exception in this case and that the Supreme Court has upheld this glaring discrepancy."

Banana was sentenced to seven years and one month in prison accompanied by a $500 fine. Two years were for six counts of indecent assault. The $500 fine and six years and one month of the jail sentence were suspended on condition that Banana pays Jefta Dube, one of his victims, $250 000 compensation and does not commit similar offences within the next three years.

The Supreme Court made a ruling on 29 May that Banana should serve a one-year jail term for 11 counts of sexual offences, including two of sodomy. It set aside the sentence imposed on Banana last year including $500 000 restitution and imposed its own which considered that in modern times, a jail term was not proper in cases where consensual sodomy is practised in privacy.

Goddard said the issue of compensating Dube was "nonsensical." Banana began serving his sentence at Connemara Prison, near Kwekwe, on Friday. Goddard was critical of Justice Nicholas McNally, who handed down the judgement, saying he spoke from a position of ignorance. "Justice McNally's judgement demonstrates, at the very least, abysmal ignorance of equality jurisprudence and at worst it is merely a piece of sophistry," Goddard said. "McNally speaks from a position of total ignorance. Quoting Gelfand as a religious source invites scorn. The man is totally discredited as an anthropologist and his single comment on homosexuality being rare amongst the Shona has been proven totally wrong by more recent professionally conducted research," he said.

The full Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, Justices Nicholas McNally, Ali Ebrahim, Simbarashe Muchechetere and Wilson Sandura, upheld Banana's conviction and sentence in the High Court.

From BBC News, 12 June 2000-06-12

Cycles seized in Harare

The authorities in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, are reported to have seized hundreds of bicycles from commuters who failed to pay their annual registration fee of one dollar.

The government-owned Herald newspaper says scores of people had to walk home after work when their cycles were seized.

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