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Sydney Morning Herald
Goodbye, Mr Mugabe
April 19, 2005
Prisoners  ... Toby Harnden, left, and Julian Simmonds two days before their release.

Prisoners ... Toby Harnden, left, and Julian Simmonds two days before their release.

Two men spent 10 days in a cockroach-infested Harare jail. One of them, Toby Harnden, recounts his experience of "hell on earth".

The iron gate swung open and we were prodded, shuffling in our leg-irons, into a darkened concrete yard. Above us was the sound of more than 2000 African prisoners crammed into cells, shouting, singing and beating their feet. As the leg-irons were unlocked and we were pushed up the stairs, the stench of Harare's central remand jail hit me for the first time.

A mixture of sweat, excrement and rotting sadza - a white, doughy stodge made from maize - made me gag, the reflex colliding with the fear that seemed to be rising from my bowels and spreading upwards through my chest.

Our feet were bare, our toes squelching on the cold, damp steps. Dressed in regulation green canvas prison shorts and shirts, filthy and reeking of body odour, we had been assigned to category D for Delta (B) - murderers, armed robbers, rapists, kidnappers, sodomites and political "offenders" such me and my colleague Julian Simmonds from The Sunday Telegraph in London.

There were more than a dozen prison officers surrounding us, cackling and cracking jokes about the two white men they were about to lock up. We reached the dank corridor outside Cell B1 on the first floor, the cacophony from its occupants almost drowning out the jibes of the officers. The senior one pulled out a bunch of keys from the belt beneath his paunch and opened the door. "Meet the guys," he announced. Prisoners surged towards us and the door slammed shut.

I felt hands all over me, grabbing my arms, patting my back, even touching my hair. Some cried their names, others demanded cigarettes as we moved involuntarily towards the far end of the cell, some 23 metres long and 7.6 metres wide. "Welcome to Zimbabwe," one prisoner shouted in my ear. "Welcome to hell on earth."

The evening rollcall had just confirmed there were 105 inmates present in a cell designed to hold 25. Colin, a tautly muscular young man with "China Black" tattooed clumsily on his chest, came forward as we slumped on the concrete floor to tell us he was the prisoner "commanding" the cell. There was not much room, he said, telling us we had two blankets each to sleep in.

We lay down, our arms touching each other and the prisoners either side. This was where we were to rest, the lights on constantly and our every movement keenly watched. I looked up at the wall above me: 2.5-centimetre cockroaches were scuttling along it. The blanket I clasped was infested with lice.

The youth who was stretched out to my right spoke out. "I'm in here on six counts of armed robbery. I've been here for 21 months without trial. Can you help me? I want to go to London."

I turned to Julian and for a minute we looked at each other, neither daring to speak. For four days in a police cell, we had supported each other, sometimes laughing out loud at the situation we had found ourselves in. Already, we had formed a deep bond. "It could be worse," we had said. We were not being buggered or beaten. We would soon be released. Hot baths and cold beers awaited us. Now, however, there seemed nothing positive to say.

"We can survive this," I began uncertainly. "We may be here for a week, a month, or a year, but one day it will be over. We are both strong and one day we shall be free."

Three hours earlier, we had been bundled out of court in the rural town of Norton, 48 kilometres outside Zimbabwe's capital, and loaded into a battered green Bedford prison bus. As we drove north to Harare, a young prison officer - one of the "Green Bomber" recruits from youth militia and indoctrination camps - had recorded our details. I was now Prisoner 3190/05, he informed me.

"What is your tribe?" he asked us. "Who is your headman?" Julian and I conferred. Our tribe was English, we decided, and our headman and tribal chief was the Queen of England.

The reality of what was happening had still not hit us. We had just faced two charges in the Norton court: overstaying our visas and "practising journalism without accreditation" under Zimbabwe's notorious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Although we had been awarded bail by the Norton magistrate, the state prosecutor had invoked section 122, a clause that meant Robert Mugabe's Government could appeal against the decision. We had to be held in jail for seven working days while papers were filed.

We were allowed soap, a small towel and a toothbrush and were to address the guards as "Mambo" - Shona for "king", said the officer in charge. Any reading material we wanted had first to be examined by the prison censor, and we were forbidden a pen or paper. "You are in here for committing journalism," he said. "If you have a pen, you might commit journalism again."

We were there - officially - as tourists, nothing more. But we both felt that this tourist status permitted us to take a lively interest in all things Zimbabwean. We would gaze at Victoria Falls and enjoy the sights of Matobo National Park. But since our visit coincided with Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, we would also take a good look at the queues outside the polling stations.

On election day, March 31, we headed south of Harare to the constituency of Manyame, where Hilda Mafudze, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was being challenged by the Zanu-PF's Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe's nephew. Our presence was glaring and, to Zanu-PF, unwelcome. "Go back to Tony Blair," one youth spat at me when I asked what the election meant to him. "What are your kind doing here?" he asked, pointing to the pale skin on my forearm.

At Chiedza Primary School polling station in Norton, things started to go wrong. Max Makowe, a local Zanu-PF apparatchik, seized his chance to strike a blow for Mugabe. "You are intimidating voters and interfering with the election," he shouted. He was joined by another Zanu-PF loyalist, and a young female constable was beckoned over.

We protested that we had done nothing wrong and attempted to leave. But Makowe barked an order to the policewoman and in an instant, a pair of handcuffs clicked shut around Julian's wrists. It was clear this was not something we could talk our way out of. Within an hour we were in Norton police station being interrogated.

That night we were marched off to the Norton police cell where we were to remain for four days, sleeping on urine-soaked blankets and unable to exercise, wash, or read. That cell, however, was nothing compared with the horrors of prison.

Our survival depended on items such as cigarettes and toothpaste, brought to us by supporters in Harare. These were traded for protection, provided by Henry, on remand for armed robbery, and Moses, charged with murdering a white couple he had worked for. They stood guard as we took cold communal showers and crouched over the latrines.

On the eighth day, I was ordered to report to a prison officer by the usual hiss and a click of the fingers. I was handcuffed and led into the outer courtyard, where a senior officer sat nonchalantly on a bench. I was ordered to sit at his feet while he lectured me about Zimbabwe. "There is no violence here," he said. "Zimbabwe is a democracy and people live freely here."

On the ninth day we were granted bail again, but we were taken back to the jail and told that "procedures" dictated we remain there. The next day, April 15, it was over.

As we walked out of prison, I whispered to myself the words I had learnt in Shona. "Ndakasununguka," I said, as Julian and I hugged each other in relief. "I am free."

The Telegraph, London

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Daily News online edition

      Mugabe defends democratic record

      Date: 18-Apr, 2005

      HARARE - Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, accused by his
critics of rigging three successive elections, has defended his democratic
record and his management of an economy in its worst crisis in decades.

      At a ceremony celebrating 25 years of independence from Britain,
Mugabe also defended his controversial land reform programme, which seized
white-owned property for landless blacks, saying it was part of a process of
empowering Zimbabweans impoverished by nearly a century under British rule.

      "In Zimbabwe land governs the ballot. It is a symbol of sovereignty.
It is the economy. It remains the core social question of our time," the
81-year-old veteran leader told about 40 000 people who thronged a sports
stadium in Harare.

      In power since independence in 1980, Mugabe is largely isolated by
Western powers who back opposition charges that he has rigged major polls in
2000, 2002 and last month's parliamentary elections.

      Critics say Mugabe has ruined one of Africa's most promising economies
in his fight to retain power, leading to shortages of food, fuel and foreign
exchange, an unemployment rate of some 70 percent and triple-digit
inflation. Mugabe blamed the crisis on World Bank and International Monetary
Fund-sponsored programmes in the 1990s.

      Mugabe recounted his government's investments in education and health
over the past 25 years, but said the country still face a big challenge in
tackling the HIV and Aids pandemic, estimated to kill more than 2 500
Zimbabweans each week.

      Mugabe delivered his speech from a podium draped with posters hailing
the land reforms, including one urging Zimbabweans to "Work the land, create
jobs and shame our detractors".

      At a party he hosted last night, as part of independence celebrations,
Mugabe said sacrifices made by many for Zimbabwe's struggle had laid the
foundation for a strong and resilient nation prepared to defend its

      Mugabe said many nations, especially the "Frontline States" of Angola,
Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, had paid a heavy price to advance
Zimbabwe's freedom struggle in the 1970s.

      Mugabe bestowed Zimbabwe's highest national awards posthumously on the
late founder presidents of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania, and
Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, for stoutly backing
Zimbabwe's independence war.

      Political analysts say Mugabe's small guest list for today's party,
limited largely to African leaders who have offered him political solidarity
in the face of Western criticism, demonstrates his isolation.

      The party has been overshadowed by opposition charges that Mugabe's
Zanu(PF) cheated in last month's polls. The ruling party claimed a
two-thirds majority in parliament giving it sweeping powers to change the
constitution at will.

      The poll prompted a chorus of condemnation from the opposition and
Western powers that political analysts said had further dented Mugabe's
international credibility.

      Mugabe denies Zanu(PF) has rigged polls and today said Zimbabwe did
not need lessons on democracy from the West. - Reuters

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Zim Online

Protesters demand repeal of repressive laws
Tue 19 April 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - South African, Zimbabwean civic society organisations and
student unions yesterday demonstrated in Johannesburg against repression by
President Robert Mugabe and his government as Zimbabwe marked 25 years of

      The demonstrators called on Mugabe to repeal tough press and security
laws that they said shackled Zimbabweans rendering the country's 25 years of
freedom empty and meaningless.

      The protestors also called on Mugabe to scrap a controversial youth
national service training programme blamed by churches and human rights
groups for turning innocent youngsters into killer machines that hunt down
and murder opposition supporters.

      "In 1980, we said we were free. But 25 years on, we have a black Smith
in Mugabe, oppressing the masses in the same way as the white Ian Smith did
and using the same repressive legislation to keep the people silent," the
leader of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) Brian Kagoro told the
demonstrators. Kagoro, whose CZC brings together the biggest pro-democracy
and human rights groups in Zimbabwe, added: "We have a government that
steals elections; we have a government that actively promotes a culture of
impunity among its members who murder those who oppose it.

      "We have a country where more than 3 million exiled citizens cannot
vote. The people are starving. The process of liberation is still unfinished
business and all Zimbabweans, not ZANU PF alone, must share the economic and
political gains of freedom."

      Zimbabweans working and living outside the country, who constitute a
quarter of the country's population, were barred from voting in last month's
parliamentary election controversially won by Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

      South Africa and Southern African Development Community observers gave
the disputed poll the thumbs up but the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party, a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network and key Western states condemned the poll as having been
neither free nor fair.

      South African Congress of Non-governmental Organisations (SANGOCO)
executive director Zanele Twala called on South Africans to join Zimbabweans'
push for an end to repression against civic society, labour unions and women's
groups attempting to resist dictatorship in that country.

      Young Communists League secretary general Buti Manamela said Zimbabwe
had become a one party dictatorship under Mugabe and ZANU PF which South
African must help end.

      "Zimbabweans are celebrating 25 years of freedom without freedom.
Independence means nothing without basic freedoms. We shall not rest until
the situation is corrected to give back all the freedoms currently reserved
for the political elite and their relatives," said Manamela. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Mugabe bash fails to placate people's anger
Tue 19 April 2005
  HARARE - While President Robert Mugabe threw a lavish bash to diplomats
and regional leaders to mark the country's 25 years of self-rule yesterday,
Orchie Sithole marked five years of living as a refugee in his own

      With 70 percent of Zimbabweans out of formal employment, Sithole is
among the multitudes of citizens battling to find a steady job to feed his

      The 41-year old former government school teacher fled his rural home
in Chipinge, in the eastern province of Manicaland in the run-up to the
violent 2000 parliamentary election pitting Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party
and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      He says he had to flee after veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war,
normally used by ZANU PF to oil its election machinery, threatened to
"severely deal" with him. Sithole did not need any further clarification on
what the warning meant.

      About 1 000 opposition supporters lost their lives between that
election and the 2002 presidential poll both won by ZANU PF but dismissed by
the major western countries as deeply flawed.

      "The war veterans proceeded to burn down my homestead in the area when
they realised they couldn't get hold of me. I cannot go back there again
because they would kill me," says Sithole, his voice shaking with raw anger.

      "For five years, I have been living like a refugee, hopping from one
part-time job to another," said Sithole, now safely ensconced in the border
town of Mutare with his family, 200 km away north of Chipinge.

      But what angers Sithole most is that he actively participated in
Zimbabwe's war of liberation in the 1970s against Rhodesian supremacist
leader Ian Smith.

      "I was a collaborator, helping guerillas with logistics, food and
information on the enemy's movements. But I never ran away from my home
during that difficult time.

      "Never did I imagine that one day, I would be chased away from my home
because of my political affiliation by a black government that fought for
democracy and independence. But it is happening," he says, disappointment
written all over his face.

      Zimbabweans, battered by economic hardships and an intolerant
political system, feel they are yet to see and enjoy the fruits of their
fight against colonialism despite breaking the yoke of the oppressor 25
years ago.

      Over three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's population
have fled the country's economic and political crisis critics blame on
Mugabe's policies.

      For those who have remained behind, life is one tough slog.

      The economy is in the doldrums with inflation at 123.7 percent, the
highest in the world. Food is in short supply with the majority depending on
handouts from the international community. The health delivery system is in
the intensive care unit following years of neglect.

      "We lived a better life during Ian Smith's time. It is sad to say but
that is the truth. When the black government came, we thought heaven had
descended on Zimbabwe, alas, how mistaken we were!

      "The present government is more cruel that the settler regime and does
not care about the welfare of its citizens. Mugabe is worse politically as
well. He killed 20 000 ZAPU supporters in Matebeleland as soon as he got
into power and now it is the MDC's turn to be harassed and butchered," says
Efrinah Matemba, a 59-year-old widower.

      Matemba witnessed first hand Mugabe's ruthlessness when he crushed an
uprising by the Ndebeles in the early 1980s. Mugabe unleashed the army on
innocent civilians, killing over 20 000 Ndebeles in a bid to crush the

      Harare lawyer and political commentator Archibald Gijima reckons not
many Zimbabweans would celebrate the much vaunted silver jubilee.

      "This country has become a country of despair. The government has
failed to provide the people with basic needs and we have become a country
of shortages, and this includes a shortage of democracy, freedom and
independence. It is as if Zimbabweans are in servitude," he said.

      Gabriel Shumba, the co-ordinator of the South African-based Zimbabwe
Exiles Forum says: "More people have left Zimbabwe to seek refuge under
Mugabe's rule that they did before independence when there was a fully
fledged war. And we anticipate that half the population would have left
Zimbabwe in five years if the current situation continues.

      "Zimbabwe's drama has been a sad one and unfortunately the main actors
in the drama, Mugabe and company, are not keen on leaving the stage yet,"
said Shumba, who himself fled the country in 2003 after being severely
tortured by state security agents.

      But as pomp and fanfare marked Zimbabwe's independence celebrations
yesterday, Sithole agonises over when he would be able to return to his home
area and rebuild a life that has been shattered by a government he helped
create. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Tobacco farmers still holding on to crop
Tue 19 April 2005
  HARARE - Tobacco farmers are still holding on to their crop in protest
against low prices on the market with a paltry 1.06 million kilogrammes
having been sold since the beginning of the selling season two weeks ago.

      About 6.9 million kgs of tobacco worth US$12.3 million were sold
during the same period last year.

      The selling season got off to a low start two weeks ago after farmers
held on to their crop in protest against what they deemed "ridiculously" low
prices. The tobacco crop is currently selling at US$0.93 per kilogramme, way
below last year's US$1.79 a kilo during the same period.

      The farmers are demanding at least US$3 per kilo citing an increase in
input costs.

      Sources in the tobacco sector, which is the country's biggest foreign
currency earner, say Zimbabwe expects between 40 and 50 million kilogrammes
of the crop this year, way below the 220 million kilogramme benchmark set in
1999 before the farm invasions.

      Tobacco production has plummeted in the last five years after
President Robert Mugabe seized most commercial farms for redistribution to
landless blacks. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Mugabe concedes economy in a mess
Mon 18 April 2005

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe today conceded that the economy was
in a mess but said Zimbabwe has gained more than it has lost after 25 years
under his charge.

      Addressing Zimbabweans during celebrations to mark 25 years of
independence from Britain, Mugabe lauded his government's achievements in
the social sector citing the phenomenal expansion of the health and
education sectors in the early years of independence.

      The government had also opened up development in rural areas long
neglected by past colonial regimes, Mugabe said.

      But the Zimbabwean leader, who rarely admits failure, conceded the
impressive gains in the social sector were increasingly being swept away
with the economy contracting, unemployment rising and inflation spiralling
up to erode the incomes of the few able to get a job.

      Mugabe said: "It is true business has not grown as fast as we have
liked, some businesses closed, some contracted, and wages have been eroded
while punitive interest rates have discouraged investments. Inflation has
become our worst enemy."

      Zimbabwe's inflation is at 123.7 percent, one of the highest in the
world. Unemployment is pegged at 80 percent while the country, once a net
food exporter, has for the past four years survived famine only because
international donor groups chipped in with food handouts.

      Gains in the health sector are also being rapidly whittled away as a
burgeoning HIV/AIDS crisis kills at least 2 000 Zimbabweans every week, at a
time the country's public health sector is collapsing due to years of under
funding and mismanagement.

      Although Mugabe conceded his violent land reforms failed to keep
irrigation systems on former white farms running, he however defended the
chaotic land redistribution exercise blamed by most economic analysts for
triggering economic recession after destabilising the mainstay agricultural

      The looted irrigation systems were also critical in producing some
food during drought years.

      Ever unwilling to apologise for violence and gross human rights abuses
during seizure of farmland from whites for redistribution to blacks, Mugabe
said "grief and bitterness" in the West over his land reforms should "heal
on its own and in its own time." - ZimOnline

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NGO urges unity to counter socioeconomic emergency

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

JOHANNESBURG, 18 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - As Zimbabwe marked 25 years of
independence on Monday, Actionaid International urged the government,
opposition and civil society to unite in confronting an economic crisis that
has hit the poorest hardest.

With the 31 March election over, the advocacy group called for national
attention to be focused on the rights of the vulnerable, especially women,
bruised by the ever-rising cost of living, food shortages and an HIV/AIDS
epidemic that has infected one in four Zimbabweans.

"Until Zimbabwe's socioeconomic crisis is resolved, the country will
continue on its current downward spiral and further entrenchment of poverty
and marginalisation. The need to resolve the crisis is much more urgent than
before, regardless of who won or lost the election," said Ian Mashingaidze,
ActionAid International's Zimbabwe country programme manager.

More than 80 percent of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty line. The
development agency called for a "governance system" that would provide the
most vulnerable with jobs, food security, and access to quality health

After the ruling ZANU-PF won the March legislative election by a landslide,
President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence, said
rescuing the economy would be the priority of his new government.

Zimbabwe posted impressive development gains in the 1980s, but by the
mid-90s the economy was in trouble, with donors critical of the government's
inability to stick to agreed reform targets. A violent land reform programme
and controversial elections in 2000 and 2002 led to a freeze on western aid.

In a speech marking independence day, Mugabe blamed the economic crisis on
"ruinous" World Bank and IMF programmes during the 1990s.

One Zimbabwean in 10 has a formal sector job, half the figure in 1980,
according to ActionAid. "Even optimistic growth projections suggest that it
will take 15-20 years to regain the living standards of the mid-1990s
because of the breakdown of the country's economic backbone - agriculture."

Prices of basic goods were capped prior to the elections, with industry
agreeing not to raise them. However, the cost of basic commodities began to
increase immediately after the 31 March poll, while the availability of
goods contracted.

When available, the price of maize per kilogram ranges from the equivalent
of US 27-38 cents, which is "well above the casual daily wage equivalent of
$0.25", according to the latest situation report by the World Food

Zimbabwe's health system, once one of the best on the continent, has
crumbled due to a shortage of funding. Of the estimated 260,000 HIV-positive
people requiring antiretroviral therapy, only about 5,000 are receiving it.

"ActionAid International is a willing and able partner to those who seek
social justice for the poorest and most marginalised. The agency calls on
the Zimbabwean government, the opposition and civil society movements to
come together and seek a lasting solution to the current multifaceted crisis
in Zimbabwe," the NGO said.
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      Mugabe is 'wiser' after 25 years

      Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has said he is "a lot wiser now"
and has no need of Western help, in a speech marking 25 years of
      Mr Mugabe blamed Zimbabwe's economic crisis on "ruinous" World Bank
and IMF programmes during the 1990s.

      His critics blame it on the land reform programme which saw
white-owned farms handed to landless black people and has resulted in food

      Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 but is expected to step down
in 2008.

      The celebrations at a sports stadium were attended by several African
current and former leaders - critics say the short guest list illustrated Mr
Mugabe's international isolation.

      He is banned from the US and the European Union after being accused of
rigging elections.


      He also defended recent polls which Western critics and the opposition
said were rigged.

      "We never agitate to observe their elections and therefore let them
keep away from our affairs," Mr Mugabe said.

      President Mugabe again defended his land reform programme saying the
issue "remains the core social question of our time as it was the main
grievance on which our whole liberation struggle was built".

      "Let the grief and bitterness that has visited Europe following the
repossession of our land heal on its own, in its own time. Zimbabwe is in
Africa not Europe," Mr Mugabe said.

      "The 25 years that have gone by have taught us democracy cannot grow
well on the soil of racial poverty and inequality. Genuine democracy cannot
co-exist with structural depravation and racial inequality," Mugabe said.

      In the 31 March poll, the opposition won just 41 of parliament's 120
elected seats.

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ABC Australia

Mugabe marks milestone with anti-western defiance
President Robert Mugabe has marked 25 years of independence by telling the
West to mind their own elections and leave Zimbabwe alone.

"Our elections have not needed Anglo-American validation. They are validated
by fellow Africans, and friendly countries from the Third World," Mr Mugabe
told thousands gathered at a sports stadium for the independence

"That is where we get justice, not from Europe, neither indeed from

"We never agitate to observe their elections and therefore let them keep
away from our affairs."

Mr Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) party won victory in elections last month that the Opposition said
was rigged while the United States, Britain and other Western governments
declared that the parliamentary vote was neither free nor fair.

Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since independence 25 years ago, also
defended his land reform program launched five years ago that saw some 4,000
commercial farms seized and handed over to landless blacks.

"The 25 years that have gone by have taught us democracy cannot grow well on
the soil of racial poverty and inequality. Genuine democracy cannot co-exist
with structural depravation and racial inequality.

"In Zimbabwe land governs the ballot, it is a sympbol of sovereignty, it is
the economy, indeed the source of our wealth as Africans," he declared
before a coterie of African leaders including Namibia's Hifikepunye Pohamba
and Botswana's President Festus Mogae.

Mr Mugabe said the land issue "remains the core social question of our time
as it was the main grievance on which our whole liberation struggle was

He said he was unperturbed by the West's reaction to the reforms that have
been partly blamed for the worsening economic woes and hunger.

"Let the grief and bitterness that has visited Europe following the
repossession of our land heal on its own, in its own time. Zimbabwe is in
Africa not Europe," Mr Mugabe said.

The West's hostility over the land reforms and the political crisis over the
2000 and 2002 elections that the opposition maintains were also rigged has
forced Mr Mugabe to look to Asia for new allies.

"We have turned east where the sun rises and given our back to the west
where the sun sets, we have turned to our region, the region of Africa," he

Joining in the celebrations along with Mogae and Pohamba were regional
leaders Presidents Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi and Prime Ministers
of Angola, Mozambique and Lesotho.

South Africa and other regional countries were represented by cabinet

Former president of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda was also present at the ceremony,
held at the 60,000-seater giant Chinese-built National Stadium in the

Mr Mugabe scoffed at critics of his economic management saying "we are happy
that it (the economy) has delivered spectacularly on our social goals,
therefore laying firm foundation for our future growth policy."

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The Guardian

Mugabe looks to the east

Monday April 18, 2005

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, told a crowd at independence day
celebrations today that he and the "contented" people of Zimbabwe had no
need of western help or western-style democracy.
With the country facing its worst economic crisis in decades, Mr Mugabe told
a crowd gathered at the Chinese-built national sports stadium: "We have
turned east, where the sun rises, and given our back to the west, where the
sun sets." He also referred to efforts to seek new economic partners among
the "Asian tigers".

Article continues



Mr Mugabe delivered a 35-minute, nationally televised address. Reports on
the size of the crowd differed wildly, with Reuters reporting that 40,000
had gathered for the speech while the Associated Press put the figure at
Newly acquired Chinese jet fighters and older Russian aircraft flew overhead
in salute. Hawk jets bought from Britain in the 1980s have been grounded
because Zimbabwe has been unable to get spare parts since an embargo was
imposed in 2000.

Mr Mugabe, 81, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, but has been
accused by the west of rigging major elections in the last five years,
including last month's parliamentary election.

He spoke emotionally of the legacy of British rule, referring to the
"strangled shrieks of brave guerrilla fighters facing execution".

"To this day we bear the lasting scars of that dark encounter with
colonialism, often described in the west as civilising," Mr Mugabe said.

The war for independence killed 30,000 people in the years before the former
British colony of Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.

Scorning accusations that parliamentary elections held on March 31 had been
rigged, he said: "We made our own democracy and we owe it to no one, least
of all the Europeans. Let it be forever remembered - it was the bullet that
brought the ballot. Our ballots have not needed Anglo-American validation."

The US embassy led those voicing doubts about the March 31 results,
according to which Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won 78 of parliament's 120
elected seats. Forty-one seats went to the main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, which claims the election was stolen. One
seat went to an independent candidate.

Under Zimbabwean law, Mr Mugabe appoints 30 more members of parliament, and
now controls the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

Today, Mr Mugabe thanked friendly African states for endorsing the election
results. The celebrations included the awarding of state honours to past
presidents of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

"We proclaim our pan-African spirit, stressing we shall never be a colony
again," Mr Mugabe said as he announced the awards.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela was conspicuously absent from
the ceremony. He has repeatedly criticised Mr Mugabe's human rights record
during the last five years, though the current government in Pretoria
endorsed the March elections as free and fair.

In his speech, Mr Mugabe also said that the recent redistribution of 5,000
white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans was one of the major achievements of
his rule.

"We have resolved the long outstanding land question, and the land has now
come to its rightful owners, and with it, our sovereignty as well," he said.
"Our people are happy and contented and that is all that matters."

Agriculture - the mainstay in a country once known as the breadbasket of
southern Africa - has collapsed, and the economy has shrunk 50% since 2000,
when ruling party militants began invading white-owned farms. Unemployment
is at least 70% and the same percentage of the population lives in poverty.

Only some 20,000 whites live in Zimbabwe today, compared with 293,000 in
1974, when the country was still known as Rhodesia, and Mr Mugabe attributed
economic problems to "induced skills flight." Today, 3.6 million of
Zimbabwe's 15 million people live abroad, most of them economic refugees in
South Africa and Britain.

Mr Mugabe said AIDS constituted the young nation's biggest challenge. The
epidemic has "really strained our health delivery system as well as our
financial resources."

He did not cite statistics, but health workers say at least 3,000 people a
week are dying of HIV-related complaints. Many of the dead are the most
economically productive, in the 18-55 age range.

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From Time, 4 April

No place like home

Zimbabwe's expats keep their country's economy afloat, but they can't take
part in this week's vote

By Simon Robinson and Megan Lindow

Bulawayo/Johannesburg - For Zimbabwean Mike Maseko, the journey home is a
bitter reminder of his country's decline. It's a trip Maseko makes almost
every week, driving the 800 km from Johannesburg to Bulawayo in his blue
Toyota minibus. Before setting out, he packs the van with groceries and
televisions, furniture and children's toys, carefully concealing envelopes
filled with South African rand so the corrupt border guards who inspect his
vehicle won't confiscate the money. The cash and consumer goods are gifts
from Zimbabwean expatriates in South Africa to their desperate families at
home. Maseko, 32, makes roughly $700 from each trip; but for the families in
Zimbabwe, where food is scarce and jobs are even scarcer, his cargo can mean
the difference between life and death. More than 3 million Zimbabweans -
about a quarter of the entire population - have left their country, many in
the past five years, as President Robert Mugabe has tightened his grip on
power. In the first decade of independence from white rule, Zimbabwe boasted
a vibrant developing economy and one of the best education systems in
Africa. Those achievements have turned to dust. The economy is the
fastest-shrinking in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have
fled - across the borders to Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia, or to
Australia, Britain, Canada and the U.S. But the vast majority - perhaps as
many as 2 million - now make South Africa their home.

Maseko's story is typical. He moved to Johannesburg in 1993 in search of
work. After taking odd jobs, he started his transport business four years
ago. But he won't be voting in this week's parliamentary elections. Last
year, Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party barred all expats, except for diplomats,
from casting a ballot; a Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago confirmed the
ban. That decision rankles with the millions of Zimbabweans, up to half the
voting-age population, living in exile. If Zanu PF wins - or fixes - a
two-thirds majority, it will be able to change the constitution, making it
easier for Mugabe to stay on or handpick his successor. "Of course, [Mugabe]
doesn't want us to vote," Maseko says. "Most of us have left because of him,
so he knows we will vote against him. But in a democratic country, all of us
should have the right to choose our leaders." That right has proved
unpalatable to Mugabe. In 2000, the Zimbabwean President was shocked when
changes to the constitution he wanted were rejected in a national
referendum. During parliamentary elections a few months later and the
presidential campaign in 2002, Zanu PF used police and trained thugs to
attack the opposition MDC, bullying, beating up and even murdering
opposition supporters to ensure victory. The MDC, led by former union boss
Morgan Tsvangirai, struggles on.

While violence in the run-up to this week's vote has been only sporadic,
independent observers, human-rights groups and MDC officials say that's
because Mugabe is now using more subtle means to ensure victory. Zanu PF
controls the electoral commission, and has closed most of the independent
media outlets in Zimbabwe. The party also oversees the electoral count and
voter rolls - which opponents allege are swollen with "ghost" voters.
Ironically, even reforms urged by the MDC are being turned by Zanu PF to its
own advantage. Translucent ballot boxes, for instance, meant to symbolize an
open voting system, will instead enable observers to see how people vote,
warn Zanu PF officials. After the last few years of state-sponsored
thuggery, the threat is clear. "You don't have to murder now," says MDC M.P.
David Coltart. "The mere presence [of those behind past violence] is enough
to intimidate." The massive exodus from Zimbabwe is both symptom and cause
of the country's decline. Beset by drought and food shortages, runaway
inflation and 80% unemployment, Zimbabwe's economy is just two-thirds the
size it was in 1999. The country's best and brightest - medics, accountants,
teachers, engineers and other skilled workers - are leaving in droves. The
U.S. State Department says that 1,200 doctors trained in Zimbabwe in the
1990s, but by 2001, only 360 remained; some 18,000 nurses departed, too. The
situation is now even worse. "It's no longer just a brain drain; it's much
broader," says human-rights lawyer Daniel Molokele, who left Bulawayo for
Johannesburg two years ago. "This is not just a question of leaving for
greener pastures. This is a direct result of the lack of confidence in the
future of Zimbabwe."

For Dr. Samukeliso Dube, the futility of writing out prescriptions for
patients who could not afford to have them filled became too much. She left
in 2003 after watching the health-care system deteriorate and her own living
standards plummet. "The health system has been ravaged by hiv/aids," says
Dube, who is now studying for a masters degree in public health in
Johannesburg. "Almost everyone I knew working there had a strategy to
leave." Zimbabwe can ill afford to lose so many skilled workers, but those
who do leave become crucial supports for families and friends back home.
Expats send an estimated $100 million a year to relatives, money that many
poor Zimbabweans depend on to survive. John Nzira left Zimbabwe in 2002
after the purchasing power of his salary, worth roughly $100 at the time,
was devoured by double-digit monthly inflation. When three of his brothers
died of aids, he found himself responsible for their eight children and
other needy relatives. Nzira now lives in Johannesburg, where he works for
an environmental group. But every three months he fills his truck with
groceries for a trip to his mother's village, where a total of 11 family
members rely on him for support. "We are not here because we want to be
here, but because we have to be here," he says. "I love Zimbabwe, but the
way things are now, we wouldn't survive."

Ironically, the expat community is helping to sustain Mugabe's regime. "What
keeps Zimbabwe from total economic collapse is the Zimbabwean diaspora,"
says Elinor Sisulu, who is a co-ordinator of the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition,
an advocacy group for the expat community in Johannesburg. "Mugabe's
investment in education is paying off now. The diaspora is providing
something of a buffer against the real anger of the people, because they are
being kept from total poverty." The diaspora also funds opposition groups
and organizes protests against Mugabe's misrule in Johannesburg, London and
other expat centers. In London, a gaggle of protesters gathers every
Saturday outside the Zimbabwean embassy. Britain is also the base for SW
Radio Africa, which beams news into Zimbabwe, and the recently launched
weekly newspaper The Zimbabwean. Activists plan to stage mock polls on
election day in Johannesburg, London and Sydney to highlight the ban on
expat voting. Still, most Zimbabweans abroad would rather be at home, but
few seem likely to make that journey anytime soon. On his return trips from
Zimbabwe, minibus driver Maseko carries a different freight: Zimbabweans
headed for Johannesburg and the possibility of jobs, money and something to
eat. "There is nothing to bring from Zimbabwe except those who want to
leave," he says. "My country exports only people now. It breaks my heart."
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New Zimbabwe

Riots in Bulawayo as Highlanders go down

By Nkanyiso Moyo
Zimbabwe Corr
Last updated: 04/19/2005 04:16:48
Highlanders --- 0
Motor Action -- 2
VIOLENT scenes erupted in Bulawayo late Monday when too many fans turned up
to watch the free-entry Independence Cup final clash between Highlanders and
Motor Action.

With a capacity crowd already in the stadium, thousands of fans were locked

Tempers boiled over, and overzealous police officers fired tear-gas to
disperse the crowds outside the stadium. But only a pea-brained force can
use tear-gas and expect it to circulate in one place, and so it proved with
the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The tear-gas smoke soon found its way into the stadium where an estimated 40
000 people had taken their seats to watch the match. Play was stopped for
close to seven minutes early in the second half as the smoke wafted through
the crowds, and onto the pitch.

Tear-gas is most effective in sweat, and the players suffered the full brunt
of the tear-gas smoke -- the favoured option for African police forces for
crowd control.

Outside the stadium, vandals went to work, destroying almost all the traffic
lights on the Luveve Road, stoning a Zimbabwe Prison Services Truck and
looting shops.

"The damage is extensive, shops were looted and many others forced to close
as a result. Buses were stoned and police officers attacked, it was total
chaos, just what you don't expect on Independence Day," a local journalist
told New

Put simply, the events on the pitch became a side show to the mayhem

Clide Musengu gave Motor Action the lead on the hour, getting at the end of
a quick counter-attack by Rahman Gumbo's men. Salim Milanzi applied the coup
de grace to the floundering former league champions six minutes before the

The defeat means Highlanders have only scored one goal -- a free kick
against Railstars -- in FIVE games this season. Prior to conceding two
against Motor Action, Bosso had not conceded a single goal -- a case of a
mean defence and a woeful strikeforce. CONTACT NKANYISO:

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New Zimbabwe


      Zimbabwe hijacked by yesteryear nationalists

      Last updated: 04/19/2005 00:34:07
      HAPPY Birthday Zimbabwe! Congratulations are in order for attaining
the age of 25 years. Amhlophe athe nke! Makorokoto!

      Oh how I wish I could spill myself into the streets and jump all over
the avenues and joyously celebrate the nation's Jubilee Anniversary. Indeed,
how I wish I could do that in my adopted home city of Bulawayo.

      The royal city of kings
      Umthwakazi kandaba omuhle

      Or even more, how I wish I could celebrate this big day in Hwange.
That is, the coal mining town that is neatly tucked on the south-west part
of Zimbabwe. Hwange is special to me because it is not only the place of my
birth but also the town I spent my entire childhood. I was born and bred in
Hwange, so to speak.

      But as fate would have it, my wishes of either celebrating my nation's
big birthday mega bash either at Bulawayo or Hwange will just be in vain.
They will at the very best remain a pipedream. The reality I have to face is
that I will celebrate the 25th anniversary far away from both Bulawayo and

      The reality I have to face is that I will have to celebrate our
independence day far away from Zimbabwe. I will have to spend the entire day
of 18th April 2005 in Johannesburg, right in the heart of South Africa.

      Honestly, it is so sad for me not be part of the celebrations at home.
Whichever way one may look at it, it is just so unfortunate that I am not in
Zimbabwe at the moment. As a very proud and passionate Zimbabwean I really
would have wanted to not to miss out on the festive activities at home. I
really feel left out in the cold.

      But I guess the issue at the end of the day should not be on my wishes
to be part of the celebrations back at home. The real point of focus should
be on why I am not at home at this crucial moment of history for my people.
I need to explore the reason why I find myself in Johannesburg when I should
be somewhere in Zimbabwe.

      The real reason why I find myself in South Africa today is the same
reason why I should doubt that there is indeed, any palpable reasons for me
to fully celebrate Independence Day.

      In fact to be honest with myself, even if I was to be at home I would
have struggled to amass emotions of joy and elations over the big day. The
truth is that I left Zimbabwe with a heavy heart. I left as soon I realized
that the country was no longer a sweet home for me. As a young Zimbabwean, I
always wished to stay in my country for my entire life. I always wished to
be part of the hopes and aspirations of my people.

      But as fate would have it sometime in 2003, I realized that because of
the manner in which government was running the country I had no choice but
to accept that I had no bright future in Zimbabwe. I realized that unless
and until the regime stopped to monopolize and mortgage the gains of 18th
April 1980, there would be no hope for young people like me. I realized that
my future belonged elsewhere until further notification.

      The honest truth is that it is so hard for the majority of people both
at home and abroad, to genuinely say they are a happy nation. The truth is
that many of them could have wished for a different situation like we find
today. Many of them feel left out in the cold. They feel left out from the
gravy train that has ensured only the participation of a selected few in the
25 years of sojourn.

      The truth is that Zimbabwe has been hijacked by an elite group of
yesteryear nationalists and opportunists. These pseudo-revolutionaries have
over the years allocated themselves a huge slice of the small national cake.
While the nation starves, they gorge themselves of most of the gains of the
nation's independence.

      Some like Robert Mugabe have ensured that not only do their sister
Sabina have a big slice but also her two sons. As it is, the Mugabes have
every reason to celebrate the nation's independence. But that is not so with
the rest of the long suffering majorities.

      They have stolen the country from the masses. They have usurped the
nation's hopes and aspirations. They have taken over all the nation's
opportunities. Zimbabwe now belongs to them. It is now their private limited
company. As the assumed majority shareholders, they feel entitled to a huge
chuck of the profits of independence.

      For the rest of us. It is the same old story as in the days of Ian
Smith. An elite group of people have assumed total control of our country.
They have taken away all our freedoms and selectively reallocated them back
to us. They have used repressive laws to shut up all dissenting voices. They
are now our rulers. In fact, they are our new oppressors.

      The truth is that in spite of all the hullabaloo about the need to
celebrate the nation's independence, there is really nothing much to write
home about. The reality we all have to face is that it is not yet 'uhuru' in

      We need to start to organize ourselves and ensure that we restore
Zimbabwe to its rightful owners, its forgotten masses. History will judge us
harshly if we do nothing about the sad situation in Zimbabwe.
      Daniel Molokele is a lawyer and a former student leader. He is
currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His column appears here every

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SA poised to assist Harare in food crisis
          April 18 2005 at 06:57AM

      By Peta Thornycroft

      Zimbabwe's food crisis is worsening and millers are poised to lay off
staff if 50 000 tons of maize from South Africa isn't off-loaded and
distributed shortly.

      Just before the March 31 election, the Grain Marketing Board,
Zimbabwe's only legal grain trader, discovered that it had only 88 000 tons
of stored maize, 54 000 tons less than it had on its books.

      It ordered 150 000 tons from South Africa at up to R600 a ton, "the
cheapest maize in the world" said one miller, before cartage costs. A third
of this has been despatched by road.

      But congested wheat deliveries have slowed distribution of this
initial shipment of maize, according to well-placed sources in the cereal's

      Zimbabwe will need to import another 700 000 tons before the next
harvest a year from now.

       A spokesperson for the Grain Marketing Board said this week that
security minister Nicholas Goche has been appointed to head up an emergency
"task force" to ensure President Robert Mugabe's pre election promise that
"no one would starve" is kept.

      He did not respond to written questions put to him early this week
about the grain statistics and plans to alleviate the crisis, which has seen
the staple food mealie meal missing from most supermarkets around the
country since the election.

      Although there has been patchy rain and drought in some parts of the
country, little maize was planted this summer season, and much of it was
still being planted in late January which would mean yields of less than 50
percent of normal.

            Little maize was planted this summer season
      Planting delays, according to the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union which
represents more than 100 000 small scale farmers, were caused by the lack of
seed maize, late availability of fertiliser and lack of power for ploughing.

      Well-placed sources in the non-governmental sector said they expected
the Zimbabwe government to authorise an international appeal for food aid in

      "We cannot move until the government says so. It is still estimating
this year's crop. We are not even sure whether the statistics they provide
will be reliable as it will probably be embarrassing, again," said a
Harare-based NGO.

      Last year President Robert Mugabe told international donors and NGOs
distributing grain to send their aid elsewhere. He said in an interview with
Sky News that Zimbabweans had grown 2,4-million tons of maize and would
"choke" if donors continued to provide food.

      In neighbouring Zambia a grain bag manufacturing company in Lusaka is
working around the clock producing for the anticipated movement of large
amounts of food aid bought from South Africa.

      Since the collapse of commercial agriculture in 2001, which impacted
heavily on peasant farmers, Western countries, through the World Food
Programme and USAid, provided food for up to
      5,5-million people, or nearly half the population until late last

.. This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria
News on April 18, 2005

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New Zimbabwe

      Do the Zezurus control Zimbabwe? Your shouts!

      Writing for New last week, Ndaba Mabhena argues that "as
different tribal groupings, we should acknowledge that our separate futures
are intertwined" adding that "any tribalist formation can rest assured that
it will fail. Zanu PF sponsored tribalism is responsible for the mess that
the country finds itself in. With that recognition, we should then proceed
and fashion our future." Below are some of your further reactions

      Last updated: 04/18/2005 08:50:23
      Editor - Ndaba is right in his assessment. Some of the contributors
are afraid to face reality. They are making the Zimbabwean situation worse.
      Ah Nxaaaaaaaaaa!!!

      Editor - I have always trusted and respected this site as an
independent vehicle for the dissemination of news. However, much as I accept
the leanings of this site towards the MDC (which i happen to support) , I
actually feel that articles such as the one on the Zezuru issue actually
polarises and destroys already fragile relationships between the different
ethnic groups in Zimbabwe. I don't know and I don't care (except for
historical and identity interests) what a Zezuru, Manyika, Karanga, Ndebele
is, I am Zimbabwean. I don't think it is an issue in as far as the way the
country is being run is concerned.

      All we should know is that the economy is mismanaged and people are
disgruntled and that can happen REGARDLESS of which clan the leadership of a
party come from. I think (this site) as a body that espouses democratic
principles including free speech, tolerance and justice, you should be
careful what you publish and how you publish it because at this rate you are
no different to the Herald or Chronicle. I belong to a balanced group of
friends from a number of different tribal backgrounds and we all agree that
the Mabhena article was at best poorly researched and poorly written, and at
worst ethnically devisive, tribalist and works very well in dividing and not
uniting the opposition against the current state of tyranny in Zimbabwe!!!
      Humphrey Moyo

      Editor - what angers the shonas is the fact that mabhena has hammered
the nail on the head. if he had said that unity has brought success in
zimbabwe then the shonas will think that the ndebeles are daft and cant even
see to it that their own people are suffering. if they think that ndebeles
can't rule the country, why are they refusing to devolution of power. let
them agree to devolution of power then they will be in a position to realise
that we can cope without these self centered shonas.
      Khumalo (Ndebele lo qobo)

      Editor - Government of national unity, government of the people and by
the people.U nity should not cater for the interest of another at the
expense of the other. The unity I know is a marriage made in hell because it
obscures, confuses, compromises and distorts every effort to introduce what
is just. Justice is what appears right and proper to a fair minded person,
if one group is throwing away food and the other is dying of hunger, do not
tell me that is equality. If you talk of equality, then no man should be a
servant of another, spread there for love and start the spark in every

      I sense so much hate and displaced anger. I suggest all should seek
out the true source of anger. I am believing the issues raised by the writer
are not to be swept under the carpet, this has been an issue before and
after the unity accord, an individuals greatest enemy appears to be their
own government. Let's not close our eyes and pretend the problem is not
there, by highlighting the problem a solution will be found.

      So we learn freedom is not obtained by begging, by appeals political
power is not won, yet l practise non-violence i am for peace, equality to
      Lovemore Jones from BULAWAYO

      Editor- Ndaba' has said the truth as it stands. One of your
correspondents, Mamhende, even wishes Ndaba locked up or hanged why? Is it
because of tribalism or misplaced patriotism? I think it is rather because
Ndaba is threatening the existence of an institution Mamhende has been
unfairly and selfishly benefiting from. It could still be that he thinks he
is benefiting a lot from the system yet the opposite is true. Any Zimbabwean
knows that there is a lot of tribalism in Zimbabwe and some tribes are more
equal than others and in this case the Zezurus are most equal. The less
Shona tribes are bad in his view in all sectors of of life e.g in politics,
education, scholarships, employment etc. I ask my brother Mamhende to be
aware that no one will be prepared to cheer him on as he keeps allocating
himself, his close relatives and some of his tribesmen only a larger portion
of the national cake. Once he does that he must then not complain when we
start asking ourselves why we allow him to always cut out the cake for
others. As for the South african guy, Xhosas have no choice but play it fair
as the majority tribes such as the Zulus will not be ubused by a minority
tribe. Founding members of the ANC are mainly Zulu. SA will not have one
segregative Xhosa leader for 25 years, never! The scenarios are different.
In any case has SA democracy been put under pressure by a credible
opposition? If no, then stop hallowing about your leaders and your ANC
Armstrong until it starts panicking.

      I am against a situation where there is unity but on condition that
the minority tribes do not complain against injustices that are perpertrated
against them. I favour a situation where the head of state will make his
possition clear that those who deliberately disadvantage members of the
minority tribes will be punished by 'hanging' or 'locking up' and have the
keys thrown away. I write from Zimbabwe and tribalism is a humane
castastrophe only second to Aids. Let us tackle it head-on instead of
putting it in refridgerator because it will remain fresh. Strictly speaking,
if all of us start going back the way we came to Zimbabwe the bushmen would
remain or be the last to leave. Anyone who thinks his/her tribe is more
Zimbabwean than others is living in a would of dreams instead of that of

      I also believe that ethnicism as a means of tribal identification is
not a problem. Our leaders can only effectively fight tribalism by first
acknowledging that it exists big time and being seen not to practise it and
dealing with those who practise it. Today in our beloved country many well
known members of minority tribes who are shameless enough to stand up and
say their tribesmen are lying that there is tribalism, are more often that
not rewarded for that in one way or the other. Look at the governors and
government political appointees in Matabeleland as a case study. How popular
are they with the people? Do they win election? Some are rewarded for having
crossed the floor against the electorate in the 80's. For the sake of unity
why reward the hated? Is that not defeating, obstracting and inhibiting the
growth of unity and democracy? Any able Zimbabwean must rule this country
regardless of whether he is Ndebele, Venda or Ndau.

      The best political arrangement for Zimbabwe to counter this imagined
or real oppression by Zezuru is to stare the truth in the eyes and replace
this mechanical Zanu/Zapu unity by the formation of tribal political parties
e.g all Matabeleland and Midlands provinces must have one political party as
they showed true unity in the past, the Karangas their own party, Manyikas
etc. Under this setup you will need the support of two or more tribes to
form a government. Playing tribalism will only ensure you do not win the
next election without rigging as the ruling party would then become a victim
of hostile alliances. Independents will check the loyalty of Tribal leaders
as the will be tribal political opponents. Under this setup, true
nationalists will emerge and still win elections for the highest office
without aligning himself to anytribe. Why pretend? I advocate for this
because elected leaders of minority tribes have shown a very high degree of
hypocritism. They talk of being in government to kapula only! They know that
they are better off serving the interests of the executive instead of those
of the electorate. Their quality of leadership is judged by their ability to
keep those who elected them silent over injustices perpertrated against them
by government. If their quality is deemed very high they are then rewarded
with cabinet positions. Such leaders are used as examples of the abandunce
of members of the minority tribes in government. Sellouts!

      If another correspondent Matanzima Nkomo thinks this is venom, he
ought to tell us first where his bread is buttered. We want a Zimbabwe where
one can support an opposition party without being unpatriotic, complain
against trialism and some social injustices without being labelled a
tribalist, express himself without being hanged or told to go back where he
came from, for we all came from somewhere!
      Silent Observer

      Editor - There is a lot of anger from the tone of Ndaba Mabhena's
report. While I do not fully agree with his view, I can recognise where he
is coming from, a Ndebele President is still wish full thinking in Zimbabwe.
However, during the last election I could not help being embarrassed by the
Zanu PF campaign strategy. Are we to believe that the ruling party has
nothing to offer Zimbabweans. All they said was they will stop Blair, I do
not know was Blair contesting the election? It's been 25 years after
Independence, this liberation struggle rhetoric should be made redundant.
The colonial hangover which the ruling party still suffers from should stop.
Enough is enough!

      They have been riding this horse through five elections. Can they
start being serious? Zimbabwe has problems namely 80 percent unemployment,
HIV/Aids resulting in high death rates, drought, fuel shortages
hyperinflation, poor education system, poor health delivery system, economic
meltdown, and a poor standard of living for most citizens.

      We shall never walk alone or forget
      S Ndiweni

      Editor - What a candid observation Ndaba Mabhena!

      Call a spade a spade my brother! Of course there are people who rather
"see no evil and hear no evil", but go ahead brother expose Zanu PF for what
it is. If we are to be honest with ourselves, the under-development in
Matebeleland can ONLY be explained by TRIBALISM really. I am Shona myself,
though I prefer to be called Mbire. Didn't Mugabe say "we will isolate
Tsholotsho if you vote Jonathan Moyo". Some areas in Zimbabwe are
under-developed because of who they vote to Parliament. Did I hear someone

      You did hit some home-truth and that is why some people feel offended,
but it is not your fault Mr Mabhena.

      Let us ditch our parochial tendencies and build up ZIMBABWE!
      No Name

      Editor - Some of us we applaud you for introducing such an interesting
debate, hence some people beg to disagree with you, but a fully explained
problem is half solved. It's better this issue is addressed now rather than
later. I don't care where Zezurus originated from, all I know is that they
are being a menace to our society. There are too many bullies in the Zezuru
Party (ZANU PF), who did not even go to school. (Kasukuweres, Mujurus just
to name a few).

      It is malicious for some people to think or suggest that politics in
Zimbabwe does not favour one tribe. This is a national problem which must be
addressed and all tribes must be brought together, and plan the way forward
to resolve the imbalances of political power. The deeply worrying issue is
that the foundations of the stable, viable, modern statehood based on the
rule of law we all seek for Zimbabwe may have to give way for some time yet
to the ancient forces of tribalism and ethnicity.

      A better alternative was for Zimbabwe to redefine itself after the
just ended elections as a state based on law, not blood, and a society based
on the strength of one's constitutionalism, not one's cousins. Like it or
not Zezurus are tribalists!!
      Shumba (Wezhira huya unzvionere)

      Editor - I am a Shona born and bred in Bulawayo. Tribalism and ethnic
groups will always be there the world over. Even under their white skins
they group themselves accordingly and so this should just be seen as a part
of our life. To God, we are all the same and He would want us to treat each
other likewise. However, to the Devil, who unfortunately is the master of
most of our leaders, both black and white, etc. we are different, hence the
never ending wars in the world. It is sad to note that Mabhena has decided
to dwell on the Zimbabwean issue so strongly on tribal lines. I differ with
him when he says that the MDC is predominantly Karanga and Ndebele. Why don't
you come home and see for yourself. I do appreciate your observation that
the government is now mainly Zezuru. Like I mentioned, the Devil is at play
here and you want to play with him, do so but do not drag us into it.

      Tribalism stinks and you really sound like you want to be one if you
are not already one. My advise is - NEVER ENTERTAIN SUCH THOUGHTS. They are
destructive to the mind and well being of a person. It is worse than
racialism. Let us not promote such ideas. Mabhena should look at issues in a
realistic manner. I look at MDC as a party that embraces all the people of
Zimbabwe irrespective of colour, creed, tribe, ethnic group, etc. I would
also want to believe that Harare is heavily populated with Zezuru who happen
to embrace the MDC. For interest sake is Mabhena aware that Mash Central,
East and West where Zanu wants us to believe that they have the popularity
is heavily populated with Mozambicans, Malawians etc who have been in this
country for ages. Go there and find out for yourself. Most Zezuru are quite
enterprising and love lavish lives. As such they have moved to the cities
and towns. You can even find them in Tsholotsho. I think Mabhena hates the
Zezuru instead of hating Mugabe. Get that tribalism out of you and tell the
Devil to dwell in the minds of the likes of Bob, Obert Mpofu, even Jonathan
Moyo. Our country cannot prosper once we have that kind of thinking.
      Gwese Eunice

      Editor - I think Ndaba has received unfair bashing. Most of his
observations are very correct. History shows that during the liberation war
Manicaland was the most affected province .Come independence how many of the
people from Manicaland have assumed any meaningful top positions? A case in
point is the late Rev Ndabaningi Sithole who is clearly the father of the
struggle. The man was bundled out his position due to tribal politics and up
to this day we have a government made up of people with doubtful political
backgrounds. Apart from the fact that they come from Zezuruland what has
been done by the following: Nicholas Goche, Augustine Chihuri, Ignatius
Chombo, Shamuyarira and many others? Recent appointments to the presidium
indeed point out that the northern tribe wants to rule us forever. Ndaba has
a strong point which the affected parties must seriously consider.
      Baba vaCoherence (Mlambo)

      Editor - We know the CVs of most of your regular contributors to this
newspaper eg Daniel is Lawyer, Misihairambwi is an MP etc by the way I am a
Teacher/Psycho-social Counsellor. Now the big question is who is this fool
called Mabhena who seems to get it all wrong? I think we need to forgive
this chap because he sounds academically challenged hence the idea of
putting across his tribalistic perceptions as facts. How can he expect a
ZANU PF without Ndebeles, Shona or people of migrant origins as puts it,
when that is the true demography of Zimbabwe? Even in MDC it will be foolish
to expect a particular tribe only to lead. This chap is tribalistic but
wants to talk against tribalism. Mabhena exposes his ignorance when he
refers to a certain group as outsiders by migration forgetting that even the
Mabhenas migrated from the south as assimilados of the Ndebeles they are of
Sotho-Tswana origin if i am not mistaken. The Nkomos, Dabengwas are Kalangas
not Ndebeles, the Nkalas, Lesabes and Sigolas are Sothos not Ndebeles, the
Sitholes are not Ndebeles. There are no pure VaShona or AmaNdebele but we
are all pure Zimbabweans.

      Ndaba should never speak for either Ndebeles or MDC because few people
will join him in his quest for the so called true freedom because to him
freedom is when a Ndebeles is the president. Simple logic says Ndebeles are
not the majority in Zimbabwe. If we do politics of tribes as Ndaba is
preaching, then our Ndebele cousins will be nowhere in the echelons of
power. Fortunately real Ndebeles don't think like Ndaba the fool. Mr Editor
please don't disgrace yourself by publishing such display of illiteracy.
Zimbabwe needs to move forward not a reversa jive. Whether you are ZANU PF
or MDC it matters not the important fact is you are a ZIMBABWEAN. I don't
believe in tribal nonsense, my mother is a Mukorekore from Dande Kwa
Nyandoro my father is Mumanyika ku Nyautare Nyanga. It is real that I was
born by both so I am a pure what? I can only be a pure Zimbo bro.
      Fanuel Nhamo Musarira
      Post Office Box 301350

      Editor - This is quite intriguing. I have always insisted that Zanu PF
is a tribal
      grouping straight from its formation. The Zezuru has taken over the
reigns of Zanu PF and even murders in Zanu PF were to purge the other tribal
groupings. I know some will not like it but how many Zezurus died in
mysterious circumstances as compared to Karangas or Manyikas in Zanu PF
during the war?

      Look when they were looking for a Vice President, a position I believe
      be left to the people to choose, the politiburo whose majority is
      decided they wanted a woman vice president to block a Karanga from
      elevated! So who are we not to judge Zanu PF on tribal lines when they
      heavily doing it in the party?

      Now almost all powerful positions are held by Zezurus, and no Karanga
or Manyika, just spicing in John Nkomo for the Ndebele. We may try to hide
it but this has created a lot of problems elsewhere in the world. To show
how tribal Zanu PF thinks, they have pushed an agenda to push out Tsvangirai
out of MDC. They have even internationalised it, quoting some obscure
writers as voices of even Blair and Bush, yet their mission is to influence
MDC to choose Welshman Ncube as the president of MDC and then they secretly
move around their Zezuruland saying a Ndebele cannot be President of
Zimbabwe by so doing killing off the challenge of MDC in the Zezuruland.

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New Zimbabwe

Happy birthday to an unfinished revolution

By Grace Kwinjeh
Last updated: 04/18/2005 11:07:24
"RIDICULOUS, rigged and rubbish", responded an angry opposition to a 100
percent election victory by incumbent President Ismael Omar Guelleh of
Djibouti, in the horn of Africa, after the just ended General Election.
Francophone and Arab League observers commended the 'improved' operations at
polling stations, as well as the peaceful environment during voting days, as
compared to previous elections. The opposition was forced to shun this
election on the grounds that the electoral playing field was uneven. Not
even pre-election demonstrations could force the government to reform.

Sounds familiar?

Further down South in Zimbabwe, 'President' Robert Mugabe 'won' himself a
two thirds majority in an election again lauded by his friends as having
been free and fair. We are told by the South African Observer Mission, the
rest of Africa can 'learn' from the Zimbabwe experience.

Learning they are!

In Zanzibar, the main opposition candidate, Seif Shariff Hamad, does not
qualify to contest in the next election, set for October. He is disqualified
because he has not stayed in his constituency for more than three years, as
stipulated in a recently passed law. Hah!

The opposition is miffed.

Who cares? After all we are a continent 'celebrating' so many years of
independence and self determination. Why should the continental leadership
give in to neo-liberal or conservative demands on democracy and human
rights, forces determined to reverse the gains of independence? No Africa
has to do it her way!

Her way? Just recently in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa, an opposition Member of
Parliament and National Youth Chairman for the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), spent four nights in police custody on trumped up charges. The
youngest MP in Zimbabwe was abused mentally and also forced to walk
barefooted and in leg irons at one stage when he was being transferred by
police to another prison. His crime? The police suspected that he may have
been involved in post election demonstrations in the centre of Harare. The
MDC has just released a damning report "STOLEN," on how that election was

Ethiopia has elections too next May. Is the story any different? No. We can
almost go over the above situation with eyes closed. Already there are
reports of harassment, imprisonment and victimisation of the opposition.

Surprised? Why worry, these are just few countries still lagging behind, the
continent is moving on. What with the reformed African Union, the adoption
of the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development and its peer review
mechanism. Both promise prosperity democracy and more human rights for us
struggling citizens. The African leadership is keen to steer the continent
towards the path of development and democracy. Well only if problems of
resources and capacity can be overcome.

Be happy. Peace is on the horizon in the Ivory Coast after President Thabo
Mbeki successfully brokered a truce between government and rebel forces,
that will see an end to two years of conflict and holding of a 'peaceful
election' in October this year. Well hopefully the main opposition candidate
Alassane Ouattara, will be able to prove both his parents are Ivorian,
failure of which he cannot stand.

Be happy. The Democratic Republic of Congo will soon be holding the first
elections, in 40 years. Have you read Adam Hochschild's, King Leopold's
Ghost? You will be revolted. But be happy all that is behind us.

Surely Morgan Tsvangirai the leader of the MDC must understand that in
Africa, the way to the state house is through prison. Can he not learn from
others? Abdoulaye Wade had to wait a good 27 years of detention and exile
before getting there. Others, Ghanaian John Kufour of Ghana, eventually got

Oh good, Gilchrist Olympio, Togo's main opposition leader of the Union of
Forces for Change (UFC) party, is back after over a decade in exile. He is
about to get there. Only that he can not represent his party in next week's
election, he has been away for too long.

Oh but even if they do get there look at Kenya in the end they got rid of
Moi, ah - but where is she now? The new democratic government has not lived
up to its election promises; alas no new constitution in the horizon and
corruption - well just the way Moi left it. Only recently a member of
parliament, Reuben Ndolo was detained for ridiculing President Mwai Kibaki.
Who needs a change of Government if nothing will change?

Stuff the imperialists, we are told, why should the world be worrying about
Zimbabwe? After all only four hundred people have died in political violence
in just four years, what of Darfur where hundreds can die in a day? You want
figures? How many died in Rwanda? Ah - Rwanda look at the whole Great Lakes
region if you WANT a real 'African' crisis.

After all the AU has increased its capacity in mediation and conflict
resolution. Look at its efforts in Burundi, DRC and the Ivory Coast. More
recently the regional body ECOWAS took a principled stance on Togo, stopping
a military coup d'etat there and demanding fresh elections. Well Sierra
Leone is on the road to peace and prosperity. Applaud.

Come off it, they say, you talk of Zimbabwean women being raped? In South
Africa every other hour a woman is being raped. Have you even seen the
figures from Darfur?

Arbitrary arrests and detentions, in Zimbabwe? Have you visited the prisons,
of Togo, Gabon and the rest?

Zimbabwe simply deserves a big applause for transferring land from minority
whites to majority blacks. The biggest land transfer programme on the
continent should be celebrated. Ah, well the opposition in the country is
just a neo -colonial response to Mugabe's good policies. He has snubbed
international finance institutions and European imperialistic governments.

Two million faced with starvation in Zimbabwe? They ask. Have you been to
Ethiopia and Somalia? The rest of the SADC region?

High unemployment, malformed education and health systems, corruption- are
some of the normal characteristics of the post colonial Africa state.
Results of which are a restive population, leading to conflict in some
cases. What with the adverse effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes
forced on many of the Governments by International Finance Institutions.
Watch out conservative Paul Wolfowitz, has just been appointed President of
the World Bank.

What of the Millennium Development Goals? Yeah but what of the never ending
debt crisis? Debt trap. How much goes to debt servicing for every dollar
earned on the continent? Unfair trading regimes? HIV/AIDS threatening to
wipe out the whole continent. No way forget those.

What of the Moral leadership? International community? No.

If the Americans and the Europeans are not getting it right why should

The Republicans rig elections, who does what to them? As for the Europeans
first they colonised us, now they want to teach us about human rights and
democracy? Force values they do not even adhere to down our throats. Look at
their drive at free market economies.

What moral leadership can come from the Americans when they refuse to ratify
the International Criminal Court Treaty? What of the fate of USA prisoners
at Guantanamo Camp? Or unilateral decisions to go to war? Iraq?

If they cannot respect United Nations rules why should any African
Government be forced to?

So why should anyone worry if Mugabe has decided to give himself another ten
or more years in power?

You can cry! Watch Hotel Rwanda. Or laugh. Read Amadou Kourouma's 'Waiting
for the Wild Beasts to Vote'.

I despair. Happy birthday Zimbabwe. To a very unfinished revolution.
Grace Kwinjeh is a journalist and a regular columnist on New
She writes from Belgium

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Zim Online

MDC supporters denied food in witch hunt
Mon 18 April 2005
  GWANDA - Deputy Foreign Minister and ruling ZANU PF Member of Parliament
for Gwanda constituency, Abednico Ncube, has ordered traditional leaders in
the area to compile lists of people who voted for the opposition in last
month's election so they can be barred from receiving food aid.

      Ncube is said to have last week told headmen from the villages of
Ntepe, Guyu, Garanyemba, and from Oakley, Jannie, Jonesly, Dwala and
Tshabezi, all former white farms where black farmers have been resettled by
the government, that he wanted them to explain how the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party won more votes in those areas.

      The government official is said to have vowed to prevent the Grain
Marketing Board, which provides cheaper priced maize to hungry villagers
from distributing the key staple in the targeted areas until headmen and
their subjects say who among them voted for the opposition.

      According to MDC deputy spokesman for Matabeleland South province,
under which Gwanda falls, Petros Mukwena, ZANU PF officials deployed in the
constituency during the March 31 poll as election officials were able to
record specific wards and villages where the ruling party lost to the MDC
and supplied the statistics to Ncube.

      He said: "ZANU PF officials were deployed in the farms as election
officials. Their presence during the counting process enabled them to take
note of areas where ZANU PF lost. They are now using that information to
follow up on such areas."

      But Ncube, who beat MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi to take the
Gwanda parliamentary seat, vehemently denied engaging on a witch hunt to
punish villagers suspected of having voted against him.

      The parliamentarian, accused of personally committing political
violence during the run-up to the controversial poll, admitted meeting
traditional leaders but said the meetings were, "merely post-election
consultation meetings (focusing) on development programmes."

      He said there was no reason for him to persecute people when he won
the seat.

      Mukwena said the MDC had reported Ncube's alleged threats to starve
the opposition party's supporters to the police. But police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena said he did not have information on such reports by the
opposition party.

      Hundreds of villagers in many parts of the country particularly in
Manicaland and Mashonaland West provinces have reported that they are being
denied food if suspected of having voted for the opposition in the just
ended election won by ZANU PF with 78 seats against the MDC's 41.

      The MDC has refused to accept the poll results saying ZANU PF secured
victory through fraud. The European Union, United States, Germany, Britain
and Australia have also condemned the election as having been neither free
nor fair.

      But South African and Southern African Development Community observers
gave the election the thumps up. -ZimOnline.
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Zim Online

Army put on alert
Mon 18 April 2005

      HARARE - The government has put the army on standby after state
intelligence reported that the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party might this week call for mass protests against last month's
poll result.

      Government sources last night told ZimOnline that the state's spy
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has reported that there might be
plans by the MDC to disrupt independence silver jubilee celebrations this
week by calling mass demonstrations by its multitudes of supporters in urban

      Zimbabwe marks 25 years of independence from Britain today.

      A joint security command comprising army police and CIO commanders
decided to step up security measures following the intelligence reports with
the police ordered to maintain a visible presence this week while the army
was put on high alert to crush any protests, according to the sources.

      "The army was put on standby last Friday. The police will maintain a
visible presence while the army will only come in if there are any
disturbances," said a senior government official, who did not want to be

      Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi would not be drawn to say whether
the army was specifically on high alert this week because of fears the MDC
might call street protests. But he vowed that the army was ready to crush
what he called "warmongers" out to disturb peace in the country.

      He said: "The army is there to defend the country and is always
available to safeguard the peace we enjoy. We are not going to stand by and
watch war mongers disturb peace."

      The MDC has hinted it might opt for civil protests and unrest against
alleged vote rigging by ZANU PF during the disputed March 31 poll in which
the ruling party won 78 seats against the MDC's 41.

      But MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube told journalists in Harare
last week that the opposition party, which is also challenging results of 13
constituencies in court, was still to decide on what form of "political
resistance action" it was going to take and when to do so. Ncube could not
be reached last night to establish whether the MDC was planning calling
street protests this week.

      President Robert Mugabe two weeks ago told a gathering at Zimbabwe's
embassy in Italy, where he had gone to attend the pope's funeral that the
government would crush any demonstrations by the MDC against the poll

      Just before the election, army commanders recalled all soldiers who
were off duty or on leave and those recently retired from service back to
the barracks to beef up manpower in case of any eventuality during or after
the poll. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Mugabe out to turn 'Silver Jubilee' into regional endorsement of poll
Mon 18 April 2005
  HARARE - At least five southern African presidents or their emissaries
will attend Zimbabwe's 25th independence celebrations today as President
Robert Mugabe seeks to turn the silver jubilee into an opportunity for
crucial regional endorsement of his government.

      After his ruling ZANU PF party's controversial landslide victory in
last month's parliamentary election, the presence of Southern African
Development Community (SADC) leaders in Harare today is critical to
portraying his government as legitimate and acceptable to its regional

      According to an official programme of events released by the
Department of Information and Publicity, Botswana President Festus Mogae,
Angolan Prime Minister, Fernando Dos Santos and newly elected Namibian
President, Hifikipunye Pohamba, are expected at today's celebrations.

      Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila,
Lesotho Prime Minister Pakhalitha Mosisili, Tanzanian President Benjamin
Mkapa, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and Malawian President Bingu
wa Mutharika are also expected at the anniversary.

      Mozambique President Amando Guebuza, who omitted Harare when he toured
the region last week is said to have spurned the invitation and will instead
be represented by his Prime Minister Luisa Diogo.

      There shall also be a delegation from the African Union, United
Nations and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

      It was however not clear last night whether regional power broker,
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki will send a representative or will be
in Harare for the silver jubilee.

      South Africa and several other friendly countries and organisations
invited to observe the disputed March 31 poll said the election was free and

      But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and a
local non-governmental organisation, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network,
accuse Mugabe and ZANU PF of using fraud to secure victory.

      The United States, European Union, Germany, Britain and Australia have
also condemned the poll as having been neither free nor fair.

      The Western countries have said they will maintain targeted sanctions
against Mugabe and his top officials imposed three years ago to force the
Zimbabwean leader to uphold the rule of law, democracy and human rights. -

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      Political crisis overshadows Zimbabwe freedom party

      Mon April 18, 2005 10:15 AM GMT+02:00
      By Cris Chinaka

      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe threw a party marking a quarter of a
century's independence on Monday but celebrations were overshadowed by a
long-running political and economic crisis that many blame on President
Robert Mugabe.

      In power since independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe is largely
isolated by Western powers who back opposition charges that he has rigged
major elections in the last five years, including last month's parliamentary

      But the veteran leader, 81, says he has become the target of Western
anger for his radical nationalist policies, mainly his controversial
seizures of white-owned farms for blacks, and hails both the independence
silver jubilee and his tenure in office as a victory against Western

      At a huge glittering party he hosted late on Sunday night as part of
celebrations, Mugabe said sacrifices made by many for Zimbabwe's
independence struggle had laid the foundation for a strong and resilient
nation prepared to defend its resources.

      "Perhaps this is why the British find us a very proud, determined,
solid and very stubborn and unyielding people, especially where it involves
our birthright, the land," he said.

      "It is why we say Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again."

      Mugabe said many nations, especially the so-called "Frontline States"
of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, had paid a heavy
economic and political price to advance Zimbabwe's independence struggle in
the 1970s.

      "All these countries were aggressed by the racist Rhodesian regime and
by apartheid South Africa ... and the costs were stupendous," he said.

      Mugabe bestowed Zimbabwe's highest national awards posthumously on the
late founder presidents of Angola, Agostinho Neto, Botswana, Sir Seretse
Khama, Mozambique, Samora Machel, and Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, and former
Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda for stoutly backing Zimbabwe's independence


      Sunday's party at a Harare hotel -- which included music and
fireworks -- spilled into Monday, when celebrations continue at Harare's
National Sports Stadium where Mugabe is scheduled to give an address later
in the day.

      At least half a dozen African leaders are expected, but the event has
been overshadowed by opposition charges that Mugabe's ZANU-PF party cheated
in last month's parliamentary polls.

      The ruling party claimed a two-thirds majority in parliament giving it
sweeping powers to change the constitution at will.

      Critics say Mugabe, who led the 1970s independence war and in his
early years in office invested heavily in health, education, and
infrastructure, has since ruined one Africa's most promising economies in
his fight to retain power.

      Mugabe rejects accusations that ZANU-PF rigged the March 31 elections
in the face of an unprecedented opposition challenge.

      The poll prompted a chorus of condemnation from the opposition and
Western powers that political analysts said had further dented Mugabe's
international credibility.

      The European Union imposed travel and financial sanctions on Mugabe
and officials it accused of undermining democracy after his 2002
re-election, which the opposition rejected as rigged.

      Political analysts say Mugabe's small guest list for Monday's party -- 
limited largely to African leaders who have offered him political solidarity
in the face of Western criticism -- demonstrates his isolation

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Mugabe thanks freedom fighters
18/04/2005 08:29  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Sunday night presented
special awards to former heads of states from five African countries for
supporting his nation during its liberation struggle in the 1970s.

On the eve of Zimbabwe's 25th anniversary of independence, Mugabe conferred
decorations on the founding president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, and
posthumously on Mozambique's Samora Machel, whose countries provided
military bases for the black liberation movements fighting British colonial
rule in what was then Rhodesia.

He also honoured the late Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, for his role in
providing military training for the guerrillas, as well as Agostinho Neto of
Angola and Seretse Khama of Botswana.

Mugabe referred to the five as "luminaries of southern Africa, indeed...
luminaries of the whole of Africa".

"We are free, thanks to these gallant men, thanks too to the gallant people
they led for the duration of our liberation struggles in southern Africa.

"All these countries were repeatedly aggressed by the racist Rhodesians and
their Boer friends then running apartheid South Africa..," said Mugabe.

"The five men could have simply given up on us, and there were real
compelling political economic and military reasons for that stance, but they
did not," he said.

He said, while well aware that the struggle was going to be protracted, the
five leaders instead went on to set up the "military grouping known as the
Frontline states" to support countries still under colonial or apartheid
rule in the region.

Old freedom fighter

Zimbabweans who received also awards included the pioneers of the liberation
struggle, former and late vice presidents Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda.

Kaunda, in remarks at the end of the ceremony, said the successful political
liberation should translate into the economic well-being of the continent.

"As an old freedom fighter I know that we can look back with pride that the
aspirations of our people have largely been realised," he said.

"This impressive record in the decolonisation of Africa should in my view,
inspire us to strive for the attainment of sustainable economic and social
development," Kaunda said at the ceremony, which culminated with a
spectacular fireworks display shortly after midnight.

The colourful ceremony was witnessed by Presidents Joseph Kabila of the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Hifikepunye
Pohamba of Namibia and Festus Mogae of Botswana and the prime ministers of
Angola and Mozambique.

The main celebrations on Monday will include an address by Mugabe, the
release of 25 pigeons and a football match between Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
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Business Day

Posted to the web on: 18 April 2005
Mugabe not solely to blame
David Monyae and Godfrey Chesang

MUCH of the debate in the media about the Zimbabwe elections has focused on
whether they were free and fair. This debate reflects a broader
predisposition to framing debates on Zimbabwe in normative terms. The result
has been to pass a vindictive judgment on President Robert Mugabe and his
Zanu (PF) as the cause of all the problems in Zimbabwe.

It is hard to defend a dissenting view without creating unforgiving enemies,
or at the very least being labelled a Mugabe apologist. This is not our
intention. There is no denying that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe. Our
intention here is to show that the crisis is not one that can be entirely
framed in terms of wrong and right; rather, that a very important aspect of
this crisis is a profound political paralysis in the country resulting from
Mugabe's authoritarian tendencies, as well as the opposition's strategic

First, there is a succession vacuum in the country. To remove Mugabe through
a democratic election, you would need a candidate who could beat him at the
elections using the rules of the game that have already been set by Mugabe.
You would need a resourceful, charismatic and untainted leader to beat him
at his own game.

Since he came to power in 1980, Mugabe has demonstrated a chilling
Machiavellian ruthlessness in co-opting and/or neutralising potential and
actual opponents within his party and outside.

Today, there is an acute lack of serious replacements for Mugabe, except for
the rather uninspiring and boring Morgan Tsvangirai. What is tragic is that
whatever hopes he offered, Tsvangirai is no longer a worthy horse to bet on.
The man appears effectively checkmated so that even his continued leadership
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) might be at stake. If
Mugabe resigned today, there is not a leader who could smoothly assume his

Second, it is worth looking at the strategies of the key players in Zimbabwe's
politics - the ability of political players to articulate a vision
sufficiently aspirational to evoke popular support.

Part of the problem is ideological. Whereas there is no clear ideological
polarisation in SA, buzzwords such as black empowerment, African
renaissance, rainbow nation, Batho Pele, human rights and racial equality
(or racism) have been instrumentally used by political players to evoke
ideological and identity sympathies among different constituencies. In
contrast, political players in Zimbabwe are not showing any creativity in
this direction.

Instead, Mugabe seems to have successfully deployed a (literal) black and
white divide. In Mugabe's rhetorical world, the contest is between black
Zimbabweans and white Anglo-Saxons. The former are the good guys and the
latter the bad guys. He leads the good guys and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair leads the bad guys. Tsvangirai and the MDC gain relevance in this
scheme only as Blair's foot soldiers. In this context, such "trivialities",
in Mugabe's world, as human rights and famine are necessary evils to achieve
the greater good.

For its part, the MDC has failed to respond to this distortion effectively.
It has focused on harping on the wrongs of Zanu (PF). This is as pointless
as it is counterproductive. First, no one needs to be convinced that Mugabe's
is not a democratic regime. The media is doing a better job at this than the
MDC. Second, by focusing on the wrongs of Zanu (PF), the MDC allows the
party to hog media coverage. In politics, any publicity is good publicity.
Most disturbing is that by focusing on the sins of the Mugabe regime, in the
same language as the international media, the MDC vindicates Mugabe's
contention that it is a puppet of an external enemy. It is unclear how the
price of potatoes will change were Tsvangirai and the MDC to assume power
today. The MDC has failed to articulate a clear alternative vision for the

Third, the playing field in Zimbabwe today is extremely uneven.

The constitution gives the president so much power that in any political
contest he has a head start. For example, the constitution allows the
president to nominate 30 out of 150 MPs to the national assembly. This means
that there are only 120 seats to be contested through elections. If the
president's party won 46 seats, and the opposition won the remaining 74
seats, by nominating 30 of his cronies, the president's party would still
have a majority of 76.

When opposing a regime that has few qualms about using strong-arm tactics to
get its way, it was stupendously naive for the MDC to expect electoral
victory. In such circumstances, the clever thing to do is to try to change
the rules of the game, or entirely refuse to play. And here lies the
chicken-and-egg impasse. To change the constitution, the MDC needs to
control a majority in parliament; to get a majority in parliament, the
constitution has to be changed.

Zimbabwe's constitution - authored at Lancaster House and amended by
Mugabe - is inherently dictatorial and can never be compatible with the
envisioned democratic norms and values for the southern African subregion.

What other options did the MDC have? Let us focus on the safest and most
plausible, civil disobedience. For civil disobedience to work, it should be
well organised, overwhelming and cataclysmic enough to bring the functioning
of government to a standstill.

The MDC leadership, however, does not come out as radical and bold enough to
plan for, and accept responsibility for, ugly outcomes such as violence and
dead people. It is striking that after its electoral loss in 2002,
Tsvangirai actually accepted being bogged down in drawn-out court battles.
This not only sapped the MDC's energy and resources, but exposed its
weakness. If it had had the wherewithal, the MDC could have easily prevailed
on its leader to ignore court summons, and used his arrest to precipitate
civil disobedience.

Unfortunately for the MDC, Zanu (PF) was already leading a bizarre form of
state-sponsored civil disobedience in the form of farm invasions.
Importantly, it unabashedly employed all available political resources,
including state-sanctioned violence. The police, the National Youth Services
and "war veterans" in their teens were used to unleash wholesale violence in
the country. The genius of Zanu (PF)'s strategy was in harnessing latent
desperation among Zimbabwe's population, and whipping it up to nationalistic
fervour. Besides, this violence was rewarded, thereby attaching a political
economy to it.

The MDC chose to play the nice guy. This was, of course, a clever strategy.
It gave the MDC the moral high ground among international constituencies.
But, along the way, the MDC seemed to have lost the plot. It seemed to have
taken the strategy for the truth, a highly amorphous thing in high-octane
politics. The next thing was that the MDC lost political initiative and
became captured by external actors with interests in Zimbabwe.

Is it a surprise that even Zimbabweans who think that the Zanu (PF) is the
worst thing after the slave trade doubt the MDC's credibility, let alone its

It would seem that a bright future for Zimbabwe can be born only out of an
implosion of Zanu (PF) as factions become enveloped in a succession battle.
Maybe the edifice is already decaying.

Monyae teaches international relations at Wits; Chesang is a PhD fellow at
the Centre on Africa's International Relations at Wits.
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