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

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      First win to Zimbabwe opposition

      Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has won nine out
of the 10 seats in early results after Thursday's parliamentary election.
      The elections passed off peacefully, but the opposition and observers
said it was not free or fair.

      As he cast his ballot, President Robert Mugabe dismissed as "nonsense"
claims that the poll would be rigged.

      A total of 120 seats are being contested, with another 30 MPs
appointed by the president.

      The early results show the MDC retaining seats in its strongholds of
Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo.

      Turnout was weak at between 30% and 40%, said chief elections officer
Lovemore Sekeramai.

      No doubt

      Human rights groups say the poll cannot be free and fair and suggest
that thousands of dead people are listed on the electoral roll.

      Reginald Matchaba-Hove of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which
has some 6,000 observers in the 8,000 polling stations, told the BBC's Focus
on Africa programme that the atmosphere had changed in the past few weeks,
when foreign observers started arriving.

      He said that previously, the opposition had little access to state
media and were not free to campaign.

      On Thursday, police arrested two British journalists working for the
Sunday Telegraph on charges of reporting on the country's election without
state accreditation, police said.

      Mr Mugabe was confident as he turned up to vote in the capital,
Harare, accompanied by his wife Grace and young son Chatunga.

      "It's going to be a victory for us - by how much, well, that is what
we will see."

      As he cast his vote in Harare, opposition Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai also said he was confident of victory,
although he said the poll was not free and fair.

      "The people will speak today and I am hoping that the outcome will be
an MDC victory, I have no doubts about that," he said.

      During the campaigning, Mr Mugabe accused the MDC of being a stooge
for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has opposed his policy of seizing
white-owned land for redistribution to black families.

      Critics say the land seizures ruined the farming industry and
triggered food shortages, inflation and unemployment.

      The president says the economic crisis is the result of efforts by
Washington and Europe, led by former colonial power Britain, to unseat him.

      A small selection of foreign election monitors have been invited. Many
of those critical in the past have been excluded.

      President Mugabe, 81, has led his party's campaign, although he has
said he will not seek re-election in the 2008 presidential election.
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Zim Online

25 percent of voters barred from poll, says NGO
Fri 1 April 2005
      HARARE - Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) yesterday said about
25 percent of registered and potential voters countrywide were barred from
voting in yesterday's ballot.

      ZESN, which is a coalition of pro-democracy civic and non-governmental
organisations, cited confusion of new constituent boundaries with several
voters barred from voting after turning up at wrong polling stations. A
significant number of voters were also turned away because they did not have
required identification papers to vote, according to ZESN.

      The coalition's chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove told journalists in
Harare last night: "ZESN notes . . .that an average 25 percent of voters
were turned away nationwide, the highest being recorded in Midlands and

      "Of those turned away, a significant number were either not aware of
the new constituency boundaries or were turned away for failing to produce
proper identification."

      There are more than five million registered voters in Zimbabwe. The
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in charge of elections in the country, said 1
420 784 had voted countrywide by 2pm yesterday.

      Matchaba-Hove also attributed the failure to vote to inadequate voter
education as well as little time allowed voters to inspect the voters' roll
to ensure their names were properly listed. The ZESN boss said the election
was generally calm, although the coalition was yet to determine what
security and logistical measures the Zimbabwean authorities had put in place
to "ensure transparent and secure" counting.

      There were very isolated incidences of electoral misconduct, except
where a small number of observers were turned away at polling stations and
one or two occasions where ballot box lids were not "entirely sealed".

      Matchaba-Hove said his group was yet unable to ascertain the number of
people who had cast their votes at the close of polling by 7pm last night.

      The ZESN chairman also raised concern over some of their observers who
were denied entry into polling stations in some constituencies in Harare,
Masvingo, Mashonaland West and East provinces.

      Meanwhile, there were unconfirmed reports that indelible ink was being
wiped off using lemon which resulted in a number of people voting more than
once. - ZimOnline

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Independent (UK)

Zimbabwe: 'It's a little scary voting MDC - I'm not sure about the future'
By Christopher Thompson in Bulawayo
01 April 2005

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city and the stronghold of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party, the queues
had formed by 7am.

Unlike five years ago, the lead-up to these elections has not been dominated
by reports of violence and intimidation from supporters of President Robert
Mugabe. Anti-Mugabe voters here were out in force, although few expect
anything but a Zanu-PF victory.

The city's controversial Archbishop, Pius Ncube, who has called for a
"Ukrainian-style uprising" against Mr Mugabe, patiently queued in the
morning sun outside the white pillars of the Town Hall polling station in
Bulawayo East. Elizabeth, a cleaner, was determined to cast her vote and,
despite the risks, happy to tell a foreign reporter why it was for the MDC:

"We are suffering all the time," she said. "There is no food. Things are too
expensive. Like the bus fares that have gone up again. Now there's no money
to pay the rent."

Michael Patsika, an IT consultant, was in the same queue. "I got up to vote
MDC at 5.30am because I was anticipating a big line. Politicians are like
diapers - they need to be changed regularly. I am voting MDC because their
policies are workable and because Zanu has too much power.

"My grandparents live in the rural areas and now they are given no food
because they do not have a Zanu card. I am voting for change and for new

Mr Patsika was scathing over Mr Mugabe's attempt to portray the MDC as a
vehicle for Tony Blair. "Blair is a diversion; he has nothing to do with the
Zimbabwean people."

In this city, Mugabe supporters were hard to find. "Patrick", who wouldn't
give his real name, was in two minds. "I was divided 50-50 between Zanu and
MDC. I want the party that gives me the best product. It's a little scary
voting for the MDC - I'm not sure about the future."
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      Friday April 1, 03:09 AM

      Zimbabwe to deport two UK journalists

      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will deport two British journalists
detained on charges of covering the country's elections without
accreditation, an offence punishable by up to two years in jail, a
government official has said.

      Zimbabwe's Secretary for Information George Charamba told Friday's
official Herald newspaper that Toby Harnden and Julian Simmonds had acted in
defiance of local laws.

      "All that goes to show that the British media borrow its attitude and
politics from the British government," he said.

      "It is clear that they have breached the law and they will be
deported," he said, adding that they needed to be reminded that Zimbabwe was
no longer a British colony.

      A spokesman for the Sunday Telegraph told Reuters in London on
Thursday that its chief foreign correspondent Harnden and photographer
Simmonds had been arrested at a polling station near Harare on Thursday.

      The spokesman declined to comment on the Zimbabwean charges that they
had been working without appropriate accreditation, but said the newspaper
group had had no communication with the two men for several hours and was
trying to secure their freedom.

      On Thursday, Zimbabwe's Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
said the pair had been arrested while travelling with an opposition
candidate in the parliamentary elections.

      Mugabe's government has tough media laws barring foreign journalists
from working in Zimbabwe on long contracts. All journalists and media
organisations must be accredited by a state-appointed commission.

      Bvudzijena said Harnden and Simmonds had come into Zimbabwe through
Zambia, and were being charged under the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act for practising as journalists without

      Zimbabwe has arrested or deported dozens of journalists and denied
others entry under the media laws, adopted by President Robert Mugabe's
government three years ago in the face of a political and economic crisis
and international criticism.

      Government officials say more than 200 journalists have been
accredited to cover the elections, but dozens of others have had their
applications rejected.
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New Zimbabwe

Calls for re-run as Zimbabwe voters turned away

By Staff Reporters
Last updated: 04/01/2005 09:56:53
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) - a grouping of 35
non-governmental organisations, said voting appeared peaceful, but an
average of 25 percent of would-be voters were turned away from polling

"Of those turned away, a significant number were either not aware of new
constituency boundaries or were turned away for failing to produce proper
identification," ZESN chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said that in eight of Zimbabwe's 10
provinces almost 1.2 million people had cast votes by 2pm. But more than
94,000 were turned away in 7 provinces. The reasons were not given.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change shadow minister for foreign
affairs Priscilla Misihairabwi told New in the early hours of
Friday that her party was alarmed at the number of people turned away.

"This is proof that the voters' roll is in a mess," she said. "The
delimitation commission which drew up the new constituency boundaries is
also to blame for this of my workers in fact failed to vote and
was told to go to Norton."

A prominent Zimbabwean lawyer Gugulethu Moyo who works for the Bar
Association in London said there was a case for a re-run of the elections.

"If you consider the number of people turned away, you can hardly call this
an election. We know or knew the voters' roll is a sham, it was also clear
there was no voter education and this election fails the two fundamental
tests of a free and fair election," she said.

Voting ended around 7pm in all Zimbabwe's 120 parliamentary constituencies
on Thursday and the counting of votes immediately began.

But concerns were raised when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission headed by
Justice George Chiweshe delayed announcing votes, although the counting had
been finished in some constituencies.

Zimbabwe's opposition MDC which nearly won a simple majority of the 120
contested seats in 2000, with 57 seats, has hinted that it would mobilise
widespread street protests should it lose the elections.

"We are not going to court this time -- that proved futile in 2000 and
2002," the MDC's secretary general Welshman Ncube said. "It is clear to us
that the answer lies in the mobilisation of the masses."

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The Times

            April 01, 2005

            From Harare to Bulawayo, voters open their hands and their
            From Xan Rice in Bulawayo

            DAWN had barely broken when I saw my first open- handed salute
of the day. On a road outside Harare a man stood like a statue on the back
of a pickup truck, his left arm raised and fingers splayed in the salute of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
            On the roadside a woman waved back. Then another. And another.

            I left Zimbabwe's capital at 5.30am yesterday to drive the 300
miles to Bulawayo, the second city. By stopping at urban and rural polling
stations along the way, I hoped to gauge the mood of the people as they
voted in the crucial parliamentary elections.

            This was no scientific exercise, but what I saw and heard
convinced me that if this is a free and fair election, only one party can
possibly win. In interviews with dozens of voters at eight polling stations,
rural and urban, in three provinces, I found not a single supporter of
President Mugabe's regime.

            Shortly after 7am, when polling stations opened, a few dozen
voters queued silently outside Hatley One Primary School in Chegutu, a small
town 60 miles from Harare that fell to the ruling Zanu (PF) in the 2000

            Rebecca Dhliwayo, 53, emerged from the school hall with the
little finger on her left hand stained purple to prevent duplicate voting.
"I did not sleep last night," she said with a smile. "We were praying
through the night for change."

            Ms Dhliwayo, a single mother of four children, used to work in
tourism, but today there are few tourists and fewer jobs. "Our kids don't
have work," she said. "People are desperate for food. We are in a desert
country, even though we don't have a desert."

            Thirty miles down the road I stopped at Oddbit Farm, in the
Ngezi constituency. A handful of election officials sat in a small tent
waiting for people to arrive. In two hours only 50 had turned up. A dozen of
those had been turned away because they were not on the electoral roll.

            There was a similar situation at a polling station in Zhombe,
five miles further on. Clothes hung on a line next to the tent and a pot of
tea boiled on a fire. However, at Kwe Kwe, a town of 75,000 people in the
middle of the country, there were long queues.

            This year, for the first time, voters are being asked to
separate into three lines - A to L, M (many names in Zimbabwe begin with M),
and N to Z - which has speeded up the process dramatically.

            Near the front of the M line, a man in a black suit and a
trilby, who had been queueing since the polling station opened, said: "Down
with that man (Mugabe)." His neighbours joined in, denouncing the President
and his party. The destination of their crosses was in no doubt.

            At Gweru I left the main road for Somabhula, a tiny rural
village in a constituency that fell to the MDC in 2000. A woman carrying a
pile of firewood on her head walked along dirt road. She spoke little
English but showed with her finger that she had voted. "MDC," she said.

            Lovemore Ndlovu, 47, a railway worker, was riding his bicycle
away from the primary school after casting his vote. "We are suffering in
this country," he said. "Fuel and food are scarce." But yesterday his
spirits were high. "I'm so happy. The MDC is going to win."

            Cutting back across the main road I made for Insiza, a Zanu (PF)
seat in the southwest of the country. As the rain poured down the dirt road
became nearly impassable. But George Sibanda, wearing a leather hat and blue
overall, seemed unaffected, riding his old black bi- cycle slowly along the
track. He had just voted at the Ensango Resettlement School. "Zanu (PF)?" I
asked, hoping for my first hit. "Ah, no," said Mr Sibanda, 69, firmly.

            I reached Bulawayo at 4pm. There were no queues at the City
Hall. David and Mary, a black couple in their thirties, walked towards their
car after casting their ballots. "If there is no cheating, the MDC will
 win," they said.

            From Harare to Bulawayo the polling stations seemed organised
and well-staffed. Election monitors with luminous yellow or orange bibs were
in attendance. I did not meet anyone who complained about intimidation, or
who appeared scared to talk about their vote.

            But neither did I meet a single voter, even in constituencies
held by Zanu (PF), who admitted casting their ballot for the President's
ruling party. As I checked into the hotel, the porter dropped off my bags
before hurrying away. "I am going to vote," he said, holding up an
outstretched hand.

            "We are sick and tired of this government."

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Group arrested while praying in Harare

March 31, 2005, 23:15

About 120 people have allegedly been arrested at the Africa Unity Square in
the Harare CBD, in Zimbabwe, while attending a prayer vigil.

The gathering was organised by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza), an NGO,
ahead of the release of the parliamentary election results. Zimbabweans went
to the polls today in that country's sixth parliamentary elections since

Newton Spicer, a journalist, was among a group of more than 100 people,
mostly women, who were arrested by the authorities. Spicer has told SABC
news that the police apprehended them because they did not have the
authorisation to host the gathering.

Under the Zimbabwean media and public order legislation, public meetings
held by more than three people should be authorised. Jenny Williams, the
chairperson of Woza, and several media people, have allegedly also been
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Voting for Hope
Zimbabwe’s latest election was more peaceful than usual. But was it fair?
As Zimbabweans waited in long lines to vote on Thursday, one woman showed off her ink-stained finger as proof that she had cast her ballot
By Henk Rossouw
Updated: 4:16 p.m. ET March 31, 2005

March 31 - When Vincent finished his night shift at 7 this morning, he went straight to the polling station in the Zimbabwean township of Emakandeni. He hadn’t eaten or slept since the previous afternoon. “I won’t sleep today,” he said. “I just want to vote.” Three hours later, faint from hunger and exhaustion, he did.

Vincent was especially optimistic about his ballot this time around. Unlike other elections in this southern African nation, most observers agree that today’s poll was not marred by widespread state-sponsored violence that left scores of government opponents dead in 2000 and 2002. “This is by far the most peaceful election witnessed in this country,” said Sikhumbuzo Ndireni, a spokesperson for the independent electoral candidates running against President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party.

Nonetheless, opposition candidates charged that while the day of the ballot may have been relatively peaceful, the elections were still far from fair. Victor Moyo, a spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change, the largest opposition party, reported some voting irregularities in the countryside around Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. About 50 youths wearing ZANU-PF T shirts, he said, had gathered at the Mandalay Farm polling station, violating a regulation that party supporters keep at least 250 yards from the polling stations. This intimidated voters, he said, because the youth wing of ZANU-PF was often at the forefront of violence in previous elections. More seriously, the MDC’s candidate for Insiza went missing, along with the chief official who had to monitor the elections in the remote region. They reportedly went into hiding after being attacked by ruling party militants.

Equally telling, Vincent, who voted against Mugabe’s party, was too afraid to tell NEWSWEEK his full name. Like many Zimbabweans voting for the opposition party or for the new wave of independent candidates who are mainly disillusioned former government officials, he says he is tired of a string of companies in Bulawayo closing down, tired of worrying about whether there will be food in the stores, tired of being tear-gassed when he attends rallies opposing the ruling party, tired of retrenchments—he lost his job as a clerk last year and now struggles to make ends meet as a hospital orderly. “Our country has been isolated for its bad governance,” he says. “We need total change.”

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Mugabe has eased up on some election rules to avoid the international opprobrium that followed previous polls—votes are now counted on site, rather than taken off to a central depot—but nobody expects the despotic ruler to lose control of the country he has controlled for the last 25 years.

Constitutional experts say that Zimbabwe’s electoral system is deeply flawed, with the International Bar Association reporting that Mugabe has ensured a “military presence in key electoral institutions.” The government committee that announces the election results is not open to observers or opposition party members. In addition, Mugabe can personally appoint 30 of the 150 seats in Parliament, and even if the opposition party wins a majority the Constitution allows him to appoint all of his own government ministers. “No election makes sense under the current Constitution,” the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku, said on the eve of election, “because it won’t change the government.” Indeed, says Ndireni, Mugabe can even nullify the election results if he so chooses.

The opposition spokesman, who toured several polling stations in western Zimbabwe, said voter turnout was low, especially among young people. This could be disastrous for the opposition, which needs youthful support to overcome Mugabe’s 30-seat advantage. One 18-year-old woman who asked not be identified expressed the sentiments of many people her age: She couldn’t be bothered to vote because both the ruling party and the main opposition party have flawed policies and are making promises of an instant economic turnaround that they can’t keep, she said.

Some Zimbabweans are hoping that if enough of the independent candidates win seats in parliament, they will form a third political party. One of the strongest independent candidates is Moyo, who was once one of the powerful young Turks amongst the aging members of the Harare politburo. As Mugabe’s former minister of information, Moyo authored the tough media laws that closed down Zimbabwe’s main independent newspaper. Last year, he was fired from ZANU-FP after he disagreed with Mugabe‘s choice of vice president. 

Moyo stills garners huge support in his impoverished home constituency of Tsholodzo, where he built a grain-marketing depot and installed city lighting. But by running as an independent in this election, Moyo’s reach is limited to this area. Lovemore Ncube, a 33-year old accountant who works for Zimbabwe’s electricity company in Bulawayo, admires Moyo for using his power while in government to help the rural poor. If Moyo had started a new political party, Ncube says he would have voted for him today. “We need someone with compassion,” he says. 

Independents are also hampered by their lack of financing. By the time voting began this morning, three of the 15 independent candidates had withdrawn from the race. Ndireni, the spokesman for the independents, confirmed newspaper reports that government intelligence agents were hunting down the financial backers of candidates like Moyo to try and thwart the formation of a new party.

For voters at the polls, there were other concerns. When Vincent finally cast his vote in Emakandeni, he was surprised to find a glass-clear ballot box. Before the election, the opposition had lobbied for translucent voting boxes that would ensure that there was no ballot-stuffing before the elections began. But the fully transparent versions frightened many in rural areas. “[The ruling party] is putting the word out, ‘Now we’re going to know how your village voted. And if you as a village want food, you’re going to vote for us,” Vincent Coltart, an MDC candidate in Bulawayo told Voice of America.

With the distribution of Zimbabwe’s entire corn crop, its staple diet, controlled by the government’s Grain Board, the availability of food plays an enormous role in Zimbabwean politics. “People have been suffering from food insecurity caused by drought, land reform, and the country's economic demise for several years,” says Michael Huggins, a spokesman for the World Food Program who was in Zimbabwe this week. “Clearly anyone who has been benefiting from food supplied by the government will probably continue to swear their allegiance to the party during the election and beyond.”

Still, voter Vincent was glad he’d taken the trouble to go to the polls. “I am positive my vote will be counted,” he says. “I did the right thing.” Then he headed home to sleep, ignoring the headlines from the state-owned newspapers already proclaiming victory for Mugabe—even though the votes are yet to be counted.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
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'Zombie' Voters Key to Poll Outcome

Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

March 31, 2005
Posted to the web March 31, 2005

Josephine Ushe

As Zimbabweans went to polls, authorities' expected manipulation of votes of
people registered twice or known to be dead likely to secure ZANU PF

Zimbabweans waited in long lines on March 31 to vote in their country's
sixth parliamentary election, knowing that two factors beyond their control
could decide the nation's fate - the so-called "zombie vote" and President
Robert Mugabe's personal power to appoint one in every five members of
parliament without an electoral test.

Some 5.7 million adults in a total population of 11.5 million people -
excluding 3.5 million political and economic refugees outside Zimbabwe's
borders - are registered to vote. But between one and two million of those
voters, according to different estimates, are zombie voters, people known to
be dead or who have been registered twice.

Opposition politicians and human rights organisations, who were denied the
right to inspect the voter registration lists by the ruling ZANU PF
government, believe it is these phantom ballots that will be most
spectacularly manipulated by Mugabe's officials to secure a ZANU PF victory.

Among those registered to vote on March 31 are Richard Tichaona Chiminya,
Talent Mabika and David Stevens. But all three are dead, and their terrible
deaths were widely reported in the international media. The opposition, for
certain, will not be able to cast Chiminya's, Mabika's and Stevens' votes
because all the election officials are ZANU PF and military loyalists
appointed by Mugabe.

Amnesty International reported that Chiminya and Mabika were activists for
the opposition MDC killed by top ZANU PF officials in 2002 during a
presidential election campaign.

The Amnesty report, entitled "The toll of impunity", said the red Mazda
truck in which the two MDC men were traveling near the town of Buhera was
waved down by an official of the Central Intelligence Organisation and a
leader of the ZANU PF-orientated War Veterans Association. The Mazda truck
was doused in petrol and set ablaze: Chiminya and Mabika were burned to
death. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa quashed the prosecution of the two
assailants. "The CIO officer alleged to be one of the killers remains on
active duty," said the human rights organisation.

Stevens was one of the first white farmers to die at the hands of ZANU PF
activists when Mugabe authorised by decree the invasion of white-owned farms
throughout Zimbabwe. Stevens' "Arizona Farm" outside the small town of
Marondera was invaded by Mugabe's war veterans who drove the farmer's
workers from their homes on the property. Stevens was then taken into deep
bush where he was beaten with rocks, sticks and metal rods before being
executed with a bullet through the back of his head.

The MDC estimates that there are only 3.2 million genuine voters on the
electoral rolls - which means, if true, that, besides Stevens, Mabika and
Chiminya, there are another 2.5 million zombie voters. A more conservative
estimate, by political scientists at the University of Zimbabwe, is that
they total just over one million - enough, if votes are cast for them, to
swing the election decisively.

FreeZim Support Group, an Harare-based democracy advocacy organisation, won
a court action last October which enabled its officials to remove three
truckloads of pages containing voters' names. An analysis of 7000 names of
dead people in 14 constituencies discovered that nearly 5,500 were still on
the rolls.

In the two major cities voting on March 31 proceeded peacefully compared
with the last parliamentary election in 2000 when there was widespread
violence in which many people died or were maimed for life. The situation in
the countryside is unclear, but there was one confirmed serious attack by
ZANU PF activists on a young woman election observer from a South African
church group.

South African parliamentary observer Roy Jankielson, an MP for the
opposition Democratic Alliance, said the woman, whose name is known to the
DA, was indecently assaulted and robbed by six ZANU PF men who boarded a bus
carrying observers and other passengers between Harare and Marondera. "They
forced everyone on the bus to chant ZANU PF slogans," said Jankielson. "The
South African woman was singled out as she does not speak the local [Shona]
language . She was assaulted and robbed by the young men. The matter has
been reported to the South African embassy in Harare."

Although violence is hugely reduced compared with previous elections,
Zimbabweans were still casting their votes in an atmosphere of sufficient
fear that exit polls typical of most modern democratic elections were

The outcome is so uncertain that diplomats and analysts are predicting
multiple post-election scenarios - from only 35 of the 120 elected seats for
the MDC to 85. To secure a majority, the MDC needs to win 76 of the 120
elected seats, because Mugabe appoints 30 people directly as MPs.

In 2000, the MDC won 57 seats, a surprisingly strong showing in its first
election contest.

"This is an election where I think any result is possible," said Brian
Kogoro, chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a network of civil
society organisations.

But a western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "If this
was a free and fair process, there would be an MDC tidal wave. The biggest
concern is a manipulation of the voter rolls. A lot of tombstones will be

Josephine Ushe is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
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Farm Workers Disenfranchised

Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

March 31, 2005
Posted to the web March 31, 2005

Chipo Sithole

Victims of Mugabe's land seizures lacked the official documents necessary to
vote in ballot.

Tens of thousands of former workers on white-owned farms were deprived of
their votes in the March 31 parliamentary election.

Some 350,000 black workers and their families were rendered homeless from
2000 onwards when President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF government embarked on a
chaotic programme of forcible expulsion of white owners from some 4500
commercial farms.

The workers, who were expelled from their homes on farms along with their
employers, have been living in dire poverty in makeshift camps across the
country. Because of the way they were summarily uprooted, they did not have
the necessary wad of official documents required to register as voters. In
addition, many could not afford to travel to their original farm
constituencies to verify their details on voters' rolls.

The government demands that potential voters provide proof of residence
before they can register. Rural Zimbabweans either produce letters from
their headman or chief or from their farm employer as proof of residence.

Of the 350,000 farm workers and their families, only about 10,000 were given
land in the post-expulsion redistribution programme. MPs, civil servants,
party officials, army and police officers and judges were the main
recipients of confiscated farms.

The former labourers who received nothing are scattered in squatter camps or
low-paid town jobs. Some are living on paltry wages paid by the new elite
black farmers who took over from commercial farmers.

Moses Chembe, 45, was displaced from a farm at Beatrice, 80 kilometres south
of Harare, where he was a tractor driver. "My wife and I will not vote
because we were unable to register," he told IWPR. "The officers from the
registrar's office told us to go back to our original constituency. But how
could we go back when we were chased from the farm? The war veterans
[Mugabe's main occupation force] told us vacate the farm."

The Chembes now live in a squatter camp near Arcturus Mine, a mining town 35
km east of Harare.

"When I protested to the registrar that we had been displaced, his officers
told me to bring my proof of new residence or a letter from the chief," said

Documents regarded as proof of residence include water, electricity or phone
bills. Unfortunately, Chembe has not been able to produce any such documents
because he lives at a squatter camp where there are no municipal amenities.

Chembe now works for a new black farmer on a contract basis.

He is paid 15, 000 Zimbabwe dollars (about two US dollars) for an 8 hour
shift, with no perks or accommodation. In Zimbabwe, his salary can only buy
three loafs of bread. During the off-season, when there is no contract word,
Chembe sells wild fruits at the roadside to try to keep his family.

Countless thousands of other farm workers have been similarly
disenfranchised and impoverished.

Ganizani Phiri, 68, told IWPR he lost his job when a senior army officer
expelled his white employer from his farm at Macheke, 160 km southeast of
Harare. "I have voted in every election since Independence in 1980," he said
angrily. "This is the first time I will not be able vote. And it's all
because I was forcibly moved from my constituency."

Phiri is now also a contract worker with "new farmers". "I would have liked
to go back to Macheke to try to register, but I just can't afford it. The
new farmers are paying me only 15,000 Zimbabwe dollars a shift. That can't
get me anywhere. I can't even feed my wife and six children and
grandchildren properly," he added.

The General and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe,GAPWUZ, said it is
difficult to place an exact figure on the number of displaced farm workers
who have been disenfranchised. GAPWUZ deputy secretary general Gift Muti
told IWPR that the number was likely to be just under 400, 000.

He said the union's biggest immediate challenge was to make sure that the
few workers who were lucky enough to be allocated land get title deeds so
that they can at least vote in the next election.

The ZANU PF government has repeatedly accused the farm workers of siding
with commercial farmers during the land reform invasion process.

In 2000, the government lost its bid to change the constitution in a
referendum. The new constitution sought to legalise the takeover of land
from the white commercial farmers. Zimbabweans rejected the new proposal
with an ovewhelming "No" vote that shocked Mugabe.

He blamed the commercial farmers and their workers for the defeat. Instead,
he launched the farm invasions which robbed the white farmers of their land
and their workers of their homes.

"The government believes that the farm employees voted against the proposed
constitution in 2000," said Paul Themba-Nyathi, spokesman for the opposition
MDC. "Mugabe also believes the workers voted for the MDC in the last two
elections. That is why they were determined not to allow them to vote this
time around."

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
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The Times

            April 01, 2005

            Two British journalists held at polling station
            From Jan Raath in Harare

            TWO British journalists were arrested while interviewing voters
in Zimbabwe yesterday and charged with violating media laws, a police
spokesman said.
            Toby Harden, 37, and Julian Simmonds, 46, a photographer, who
were working for The Sunday Telegraph, were arrested near a polling station
in the small town of Norton, 25 miles west of the capital, Harare. They had
entered the country as journalists and were working without accreditation,
Wayne Bvudzhijena said.

            The Sunday Telegraph said that it had heard from neither
journalist nor the Zimbabwean authorities. It was concerned for their
welfare and was working to secure their release. Last night police detained
120 women who were holding a vigil in central Harare. They were accused of
violating the ban on unlicensed political gatherings.

            The arrests came after a suprisingly peaceful election day, by
Zimbabwe's recent standards, but the trouble could begin when the results
are announced today or tomorrow. The independent Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, which had 6,000 observers deployed across the country, claimed that
up to a quarter of those trying to vote had been turned away because their
names did not appear on the roll or because they lacked proper

            President Mugabe declared himself "entirely, completely, totally
optimistic" of victory and dismissed widespread charges that the election
has been rigged as "nonsense". He added: "Everybody is seeing that these are
free and fair elections."

            But Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), said he believed his party had won up to 65 of
the 120 contested seats, and a majority of the popular vote.
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Zim Online

ELECTION ROUND-UP: Voter intimidation, chaos mar election
Fri 1 April 2005
      HARARE - Voters braved a grating morning drizzle in the capital to
cast their ballots at 210 polling stations dotted round the capital.
Optimism was in the air on the eve of the poll with supporters from both
parties predicting victory for their party.

      ZANU PF and opposition MDC members in party regalia mingled in a rare
show of tolerance in last ditch efforts to steel themselves on the task

      While ZANU PF supporters premised their prediction on past victories
and exuded confidence of a repeat performance or even better, those from the
opposition based it on their desire and longing for a better and more secure

      A ZANU PF supporter Timothy Chapereka expressed confidence of his
party victory arguing that the 2000 poll verdict was an emotional protest
vote for the opposition. "Government's land distribution programme has
strengthened ZANU PF and enhanced its chances for an emphatic victory,"
Chapereka said.

      In contrast, Roina Mushure who lost her job when her employer scaled
down operations because of economic hardships says the opposition MDC should
and will romp to victory. "I have opted for vegetable vending to survive. It
is a hand-to-mouth type of survival which one cannot peg a secure future on.
For people like, us hope lies in voting for the MDC," she says.

      A security guard who declined to be named echoed Roina's sentiments.
"What I know and feel is that the MDC will win. Who does not need a better
life? The tried and tested have failed us," he said.

      Poverty turned thousands of Zimbabweans into subsistence traders
struggling to eke out a living daily on the streets in most urban centres.
Pervasive poverty has taken a similar toll in rural areas as well where
trading centres are now cluttered with informal traders.

      Former combatant and lawyer, Vasco Shamu whose brother Webster is
contesting the Chegutu constituency predicted victory for ZANU PF. "The
ruling party is going to win 80 seats this time against the opposition's
 20," he predicted.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said: "We are hoping the outcome will be
in the MDC's favour," after casting his vote today.

      By midday today, the capital had registered the highest number with
286 999 voters out of a possible 832 571 registered voters in 19

      In Bulawayo, the second largest city, 77 292 out of 339 990 registered
voters had cast their ballots by midday today according to figures released
by the election supervisory body the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission last

      There are more than 5.7 registered voters in the 120 contested
constituencies in the sixth election to be held since independence in 1980.

      Harare and Bulawayo are opposition MDC strongholds.

      In major ZANU PF strongholds of rural Mashonaland West, East and
Central, 367 000 had cast their votes, a trend which would see the election
tilt somewhat in the opposition's favour which has in the past done well
when more voters turn out to vote.

      But as voting started amid intermittent drizzle that failed to dampen
the electorate's spirit, several incidents marred the elections in various
parts of the country, as the opposition had feared weeks before the actual

      Tsvangirai said of the elections: "We are not happy with the way the
electoral playing field has been organised. We all agree that on all the
benchmarks that this is not going to be a free and fair election. But I am
sure the people will overcome the obstacles."

      On Wednesday, Andrew Langa, ZANU PF candidate for Insiza and Transport
and Communications deputy minister fired the first salvo in a litany of
dirty tricks campaign by the ruling party when he threatened to shoot MDC
polling agents at Silalatshani business centre in the constituency as they
were being deployed in readiness for yesterday's election. The matter was
reported to Gwanda Police Station.

      During campaigning in the by-election that thrust him into Parliament,
the gun-totting Langa abducted an opposition candidate in a style that seems
to have become his trademark.

      An alert MDC team on the ground in Mabvuku apprehended 11 ZANU PF
supporters who had cards to issue to voters as a way of controlling queues
at Simudzai Primary School yesterday morning. The ZANU PF supporters had
allocated themselves numbers for them to occupy first positions on the

      In a poll alert, the MDC said: "We are told that polling officers have
been instructed to slow down the voting process when all ZANU PF supporters
with cards have voted.

      "The group was in the queue by 2am, with hundreds of cards, which were
meant to be given only to ZANU PF supporters so that they have first
opportunity to vote, and once they had done so, the officers would slow down
the process so that non-ZANU PF supporters are disenfranchised."

      The 11 were handed over to the police manning the polling station
although one later escaped.

      The opposition party also said its team in Murehwa South Constituency
had discovered an additional polling station in the early hours of voting
day while carrying out surveillance.

      "It is surprising how the MDC was expected to know about this polling
station without having been informed, and we believe this could have been
one of the various methods by which the regime would have wanted to steal
the election. Our team is checking the area for more additional polling
stations," the party said in the alert.

      In Masvingo, ballot votes have been received at polling stations,
instead of constituency offices while at least 1 000 Harare ballot papers
were dispatched to Bulawayo. This too, said the poll alert, could be another
ploy to rig the election.

      After casting his ballot at Cecil Jenkins Hall in Highfield, President
Mugabe bristled with confidence of bagging the plebiscite by a wide argin.
"Everybody has seen that the elections are free and fair. There can never be
anywhere else where elections can be as free as they have been here. We are
going to win. By how much is what we are going to see," he enthused.

      But away from the bravado, Patrick Zhuwawo, President Robert Mugabe's
nephew who is battling it out with MDC's Hilda Mafudze in the Manyame
constituency, seemed to have instructed his supporters to cause havoc at
polling stations in the constituency.

      At Porta Farm where government recently evicted hundreds of families,
ZANU PF supporters were chasing away local observers. ZANU PF supporters
were taking down people's names, addresses and national identification
numbers after they had voted, asking them for whom they had cast their

      "We managed to alert one observer mission group, who said they will
make a special effort to visit Porta Farm polling station," the poll alert

      On the eve of the election, polling agents who had made an overnight
stop at Murombedzi growth point en route to various parts of Mashonaland
West were attacked by ZANU PF youths.

      A similar tactic was used in Kadoma Central constituency where a ZANU
PF district chairperson and a local councillor at Eiffel Flats polling
station, was taking down names of the people who had voted. Zimbabwe
Election Commission officials were alerted and stopped him.

      Early in the week, 900 polling officers were chased away from Mudzi
East constituency where they had been deployed. The local district
administrator said the constituency had enough manpower. One of the poll
contestants and sitting MP, Ray Kaukonde is said to have accused the polling
officers of being MDC agents.

      In Harare East and North constituencies, scores of voters who had
checked their names and confirmed their eligibility discovered that they no
longer appeared on the voters' roll.

      A white couple had been informed by the Registrar General's Office
that they were no longer eligible to vote for failing to renounce their
citizenship took a gamble, went to the voting queues and found their names
on the voters' register. Others who had received similar letters were not so

      In a statement, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said an observer noted
that voters in Glen Norah were being asked to come and register for
residential stands either before or after voting by ZANU PF functionaries.

      Utloile Silayigwala, the ZEC spokesperson said his commission had not
received any reports of complaints from contesting parties. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Charging buffaloes send polling officers scurrying for safety
Fri 1 April 2005
      HARARE - Four unwelcome visitors turned up presumably to vote at
Sikumbi Polling Station in the wild in Matabeleland North while a polling
officer collapsed and died in Nyanga as he discharged his duties.

      Four buffaloes charged at polling officers at 0900hrs disrupting the
voting process as voters and polling officers scurried for safety.

      National Parks officers later brought the situation under control. In
the Zambezi Valley area, polling officers had to battle a communication
scare while in Gokwe, transport problems posed serious challenges for the
election officials as some roads are inaccessible.

      These were some of the challenges the Zimbabwe Election Commission
(ZEC) had to put up with in running the sixth parliamentary election

      Other problems included the disappearance of MDC candidate for Insiza
Siyabonga Malandu Ncube who was found later in the day. He said he had
outwitted his attackers in a movie style cat and mouse chase.

      Independent candidate for Tsholotsho and former government propaganda
tsar, Jonathan Moyo, summed up the mood saying the problems being faced by
Zimbabweans were a ZANU PF creation which has failed to meet the people's
basic needs.

      "I am happy that my participation as an independent forced ZANU PF to
realise that there is no development in Tsholotsho. President Mugabe is
always preaching about sovereignty but people do not understand this if
their basic needs are not met," Moyo said.

      "ZANU PF caused lots of problems including my standing as an
independent because ZANU PF is insensitive to the people," he summed up.

      Less than half of the 5.7 million registered voters cast their votes
at 8 265 polling stations yesterday in an election characterised by apathy
and lack of interest.

      Both MDC and ruling ZANU PF are buoyant, each expecting to grab the
majority of the 120 contested seats.

      The most optimistic within the MDC rank and file believe their party
will, win close to 100 seats leaving only 20 for the ruling ZANU PF and
other minority parties. They expect to win not less than 60 seats, meaning
that the MDC will better the 57 seats it won in the 2000 elections.

      MDC secretary for foreign affairs, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga,
insists there will be a constitutional crisis after the election. She also
insists the MDC will have a majority in the next Parliament but would not be
specific on the number of constituencies the party expected to win.

      "People will vote for us as they have always done," she said. Asked
why she had such high expectations when the party had always complained the
electoral process has not been fair, Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said this year
the party would not "sit and watch while our vote is being stolen."

      "It is not only about voting but about voting and defending our vote.
We will guard it jealously and we will also claim our right to form a
government as the majority," she said.

      Misihairabwi-Mushonga would however not disclose what the MDC means by
"defend our vote" neither was she at liberty to disclose what her party
would do if the election was rigged as it claims.

      But political analysts believe the MDC is asking for "too much" to
expect such a result given the limited democratic space available. They say
it is naïve for the MDC leadership to expect such a "miracle" after
complaining about the anomalies in almost every facet of the electoral
process. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Mugabe leaves door for talks wide open
Fri 1 April 2005
      HARARE - Predicting a landslide victory for his ZANU PF party after
casting his ballot, President Robert Mugabe left the door open for talks
with the opposition MDC but ruled out a government of national unity.

      Mugabe said his party had always been ready to talk to the MDC but
faulted the opposition party for the breakdown in attempts at dialogue
saying it preferred to talk to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's
government instead of ZANU PF.

      "That is taken for granted, there is room for talks, why not. As
members of the same family we must be talking, outside parliament and we
were doing that, albeit in a small way," said Mugabe.

      "The MDC would rather talk with Mr Blair and others in London than
talk to us," he said.

      Mugabe's remarks were in sharp contrast with his comments last year
ruling out talks with the MDC after he accused it of being a "stooge" of
Western interests.

      He said he was confident of clinching a two thirds majority in
Parliament and immediately re-introduce the senate. He said his party had
always wanted to re-introduce the senate but had been frustrated by the MDC
after it won 57 seats in the 2000 parliamentary election.

      He dismissed suggestions that he also needed a two thirds majority to
change the law and prepare for his departure after anointing a successor who
can rule till the next presidential poll in 2008 without being constrained
by current constitutional requirements for an election within 90 days of
Mugabe's departure from power.

      "It (a two thirds majority) is a victory that ZANU PF will need all
the time, with me or without me, no party can campaign for defeat.

      "No, it isn't in order to prepare for my retirement, my retirement
comes at its own pace and it will come certainly whether ZANU PF has a
majority or does not have a majority," said Mugabe.

      Smiling and looking cheerful, Mugabe, who was accompanied by his wife
Grace and son Chatunga to his usual polling station in Highfield, dismissed
allegations of election fraud as "nonsense".

      "Everybody is seeing that these are free and fair elections," he said.

      But an equally confident MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai predicted an MDC

      Tsvangirai also cast his ballot in Harare with his wife Susan amid
long queues of early morning voters who braved the drizzling rain to cast
their ballot.

      "This is not going to be a free and fair election," said Tsvangirai,
vowing that his party would nonetheless win it.

      "The people will speak today and I am hoping that the outcome will be
an MDC victory, I have no doubts about that." - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

South African Communist Party raps Archbishop Ncube
Fri 1 April 2005
      JOHANNESBURG - The South African Communist Party (SACP) has slammed
Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube's call for a peaceful Ukranian-style
revolution to oust President Mugabe if he stole yesterday's parliamentary

      The SACP, which is an ally of President Thabo Mbeki's ruling party,
spoke as another member of Mbeki's ruling tripartite alliance, the Congress
of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), hailed its protest at the Zimbabwe
border as a major success.

      Describing the call as "reckless and irresponsible populism", the SACP
said it feared Mugabe might use it as an excuse to target the opposition.

      "This kind of rhetoric plays straight into the hands of the most
reactionary of forces in the current ruling party who will seek to use it as
a reason to launch a wave of post-election repression," said the SACP.

      Ncube this week said Mugabe was unlikely to be removed from power via
the ballot box because he rigs elections. Ncube suggested a peaceful
Ukranian-style revolution as the only way out for Zimbabweans seeking relief
from 25 years of repression.

      But the SACP begged to differ with the Archbishop saying his call did
nothing to advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe. The SACP
said it also feared that a two thirds majority for ZANU PF could be used by
Mugabe to obliterate the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

      Such a two thirds majority would also be highly disputable because
Zimbabwe's electoral playing field is very uneven, said the SACP.

      "In the rhetoric of a number of leading ZANU PF politicians, these
elections are seen as a stepping-stone to the 'final solution', - the total
eradication of the MDC and other opposition forces," said the SACP in a

      "With the assistance of one-fifth of presidentially nominated seats,
those who are speaking like this, anticipate a ZANU PF two-thirds majority.
A 'democratic mandate' of this kind will be taken as a green light to deal
with the opposition."

      The SACP said it did not believe that a solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis lay in this parliamentary poll. There were several dangers that lay
ahead depending on who wins the poll and how they intend to use their
victory, particularly if is an overwhelming victory.

      Opposition plans to impeach Mugabe, if they got the necessary majority
and ZANU PF plans to obliterate the opposition if it wins a two thirds
majority were not good signs for the future.

      "The SACP calls on ZANU PF, the MDC and all other key social and
political forces to remain committed to ongoing democratisation and national
dialogue, and to appreciate that tide of public opinion in South Africa is
shifting more and more against their reckless obduracy," said the statement.

      "We call on all progressive forces in Zimbabwe, whatever their
political affiliation, including the trade union movement, to focus on
building popular power around mobilisation not for short-term political
gains, but for real social and economic transformation."

      The SACP re-iterated its position that the poll had been seriously
flawed in ways that had been well-recorded including the persistence of
repressive legislation, a voters roll that was seriously inaccurate and
inaccessible, the preceding repression and closure of media, the abuse of
food aid, and a constant undertow of harassment and repression.

      But it said dialogue to foster nation building after the poll was the
best way forward. While the parliamentary poll could prove to be the
beginning of a new beginning, it could equally be another sad chapter in the
deepening nightmare afflicting our neighbouring country, said the SACP.

      Meanwhile, Cosatu said it was happy that its protest at the Beitbridge
border had highlighted human rights concerns in Zimbabwe.

      "We are happy that we achieved our objective of highlighting problems
facing workers and the lack of human rights in Zimbabwe," Jan Tsiane, a
COSATU spokesman told the media.

      A few hundred COSATU marchers demonstrated at the border on the eve of
parliamentary elections and staged a night vigil which ended yesterday
morning. - ZimOnline
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The Scotsman

Mugabe's cynical charade

ZIMBABWE went to the polls yesterday in a sham election whose result is
known before any vote is counted. Even if, despite the wholesale
intimidation and misuse of the state-controlled media, some democratic
miracle should occur, and the candidates of the ruling ZANU-PF party do not
steal a majority, then 81-year-old President Robert Mugabe will not be out
of a job. For under the carefully gerrymandered Zimbabwean constitution,
"Comrade Bob" can simply appoint another 30 MPs of his choice.

The real question in this charade is why President Mugabe feels the need to
go through these sham elections every few years.

Of course, Mugabe hotly disputes the fact that elections in Zimbabwe are
corrupt. Though it is anyone's guess how that squares with the fact that the
BBC is banned from Zimbabwe, or that on Thursday two British journalists
working for the Sunday Telegraph were arrested on charges of reporting on
the country's election "without state accreditation". The offence carries a
fine and up to two years in prison.

Mr Mugabe has retained the outward form of elections because his rule, which
has reduced the rich farming country of Zimbabwe to the brink of starvation,
remains fragile. A considerable opposition exists, headed by Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. Rather than risk
civil war, the ageing Mugabe continues to hide behind the fig-leaf of a
flawed democracy. This, in turn, allows him to retain the public support of
South Africa, on which what is left of Zimbabwe's economy still depends.

It is very likely that this is President Mugabe's last stand. South Africa,
which has blazed a trail for democratic reform, racial tolerance and
economic progress, is now the key to rescuing Zimbabwe from chaos. South
Africa has the economic clout and political influence to persuade the
post-Mugabe regime to return to democratic norms. No-one denies Zimbabwe the
right to land reform: but South Africa is an example of how to do it
peacefully, and without wrecking the farming industry. A stable, democratic
Zimbabwe is in South Africa's interests - politically and economically. A
continuation of the Mugabe style of dictatorship is not.

The true heroes in this sad affair are the democratic opposition in
Zimbabwe, who, despite great provocation, have eschewed any resort to
violence, which would only make things far worse. Their resolute commitment
to the ballot box exposes Robert Mugabe for the demagogue he has become.
Someday, they will have their reward. Zimbabwe will have its equivalent of
the recent Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and see a return to genuine
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The Scotsman

Fear stalks Zimbabwe elections


WRAPPED in blankets against the chilly morning weather, Zimbabweans went to
the polls yesterday to pick a new parliament, despite fears of vote rigging
by president Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

As day dawned in Harare, queues began forming outside dozens of polling
stations. Riot police in blue and grey uniforms were a menacing presence,
walking up and down the lines of people.

Outside a large white tent set up as a polling station at Kamfinsa Shopping
Centre, to the east of the capital, voters whispered their surprise at the
turnout. There had been fears that months of intimidation could deter
supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from
casting their ballots.

"I was up at five," said one man waiting to vote. "I went for a drive and
saw queues. Then I woke my wife up to vote."

In many places there was a grim determination in the air, in sharp contrast
to the hopeful exuberance of presidential polls three years ago.

"Let's hope it's over quickly," whispered an elderly voter.

The MDC says Mr Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) "stole" the last two elections in 2000 and 2002.
Casting his vote in the suburb of Highfield, Mr Mugabe, 81, said: "It's
going to be a victory for us." Yesterday's polls were likely to be the last
the elderly Zimbabwean president will preside over.

By mid-morning, queues had swelled. Hundreds waited in front of the
red-painted Mai Musodzi Hall, in Harare's oldest suburb of Mbare.

"Queues are a Zimbabwean tradition," joked opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai as he cast his vote with his wife Susan at Avondale Primary

"I'm hoping that the outcome will be an MDC victory," he said. But he
expressed his dissatisfaction with the government's preparations for the

"This is not going to be a free and fair election," he said. State radio,
which ran live election coverage throughout the day, said the voting process
had been massively speeded up.

During the presidential polls, thousands of voters waited for up to 12 hours
at polling stations. By mid-afternoon yesterday most polling stations across
the capital were deserted.

More than 5.6 million Zimbabweans were eligible to vote.

Speaking from Bulawayo, former opposition MP David Coltart said he estimated
turnout in the city to be "about 50 per cent".

"There's a lot of scepticism about the democratic process," he told The
Scotsman. "There was more apathy in middle-class areas, which we

While voting was mostly peaceful, threats of violence were never far away.
In Manyame constituency, Mr Mugabe's nephew and ruling party candidate
Patrick Zhuwawo was reported to have instructed his supporters to chase away
local observers.

An opposition candidate briefly went missing in the politically volatile
rural constituency of Insiza after his polling agents were allegedly
threatened by a gun-wielding government minister - claims which the police
described as "scurrilous".

Elsewhere, two British journalists, Toby John Harden, 37, and Julian Paul
Simmonds, 46, of the Sunday Telegraph were arrested on charges of covering
the election without accreditation, an offence that carries a fine and up to
two years in jail.

The first results from the election are expected tomorrow.
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The Scotsman

:18am (UK)
Zimbabwe Election Opposition Hopes to Beat Fraud


Opposition leaders and independent observers said Zimbabwe's parliamentary
election was neither free nor fair.

But after an unusually peaceful campaign, they were hopeful that their
supporters had come out in large enough numbers yesterday to overwhelm fraud
and allow it to claim power from a ruling party seen as increasingly

 Charges in recent days that intimidation was rife, that the electoral roll
had been tampered with and that large numbers were unable to cast ballots
had set the stage for a fierce debate over the results, expected to become
clear today and tomorrow.

"We are not happy with the way the electoral playing field has been
organised, and I think we all agree, on all benchmarks, this is not going to
be a free and fair election," opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said as he
cast his ballot at a primary school in an upmarket Harare suburb yesterday.

Under international pressure to produce a credible result, Mugabe's
government and party ratcheted down the bloodletting that has plagued
previous elections. For the first time in years, Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change party was able to campaign openly, even in the government's
rural strongholds.

Mugabe was confident yesterday that the gamble would pay off, saying he was
"entirely, completely, totally optimistic" of victory for his Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front.

However, encouraged by the drop in violence, Tsvangirai held out hope his
party could muster enough support to claim Parliament.

The MDC won 57 of Parliament's 120 elected seats in the last parliamentary
election in 2000, despite what Western observers called widespread violence,
intimidation and vote rigging. But it lost six seats in subsequent
by-elections. Mugabe appoints an additional 30 seats, virtually guaranteeing
his party a majority.

In 2002, Tsvangirai was narrowly declared loser of an equally flawed
presidential poll.

Mugabe accuses British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other Western leaders
of backing the six-year-old MDC, the first party to seriously challenge his
rule since he lead Zimbabwe to independence in 1980. He dubbed yesterday's
vote the "anti-Blair election," and MDC supporters "traitors."

The opposition countered that Blair didn't run, and the poll was about
Mugabe's own failings.

Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk 50% over the past five years. Unemployment is
at least 70%. Agriculture - the country's economic base - has collapsed, and
at least 70% of the population live in poverty.

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New York Times

Turnout Is Heavy for Zimbabwe's Heady Election

Published: April 1, 2005

HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 31 - Zimbabwe's closely watched national legislative
election drew a huge throng of generally peaceful voters on Thursday, a
turnout that some here said bodes well for the opposition forces' campaign
to challenge President Robert G. Mugabe's 25-year grip on political power.

But while officials of both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
and Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front predicted
sweeping victories, definitive results were not expected until Friday at the
earliest. Nor was it clear whether the opposition's predictions of wholesale
election fraud by Mr. Mugabe's forces, repeated again Thursday, would be
borne out as vote counting proceeded.

The tally was moving slowly in many areas late Thursday night, a delay that
opposition officials said could increases the opportunity for tampering.

In sharp contrast to legislative and presidential campaigns in 2000 and
2002, when Mr. Mugabe's supporters were accused of killing more than 300
opponents, Thursday's vote for 120 of the 150 seats in Zimbabwe's Parliament
was peaceful. Mr. Mugabe, 81, had called for an end to election-related
violence as part of an effort to depict this election - which could lay the
groundwork for an orderly succession to his rule - as legitimate.

More than 6,000 election observers, including a small foreign contingent
mostly from nations friendly to Mr. Mugabe, monitored the voting at 8,265
polling stations. Nongovernmental election watchdogs cited several troubling
issues, led by the fact that one in every four voters was apparently turned
away from the polls, ostensibly because they were not properly registered.

Mr. Mugabe has long predicted that the ballot would deliver his party, known
as ZANU-PF, a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which would allow him to
revise the nation's constitution and cement his party's control. In recent
days, however, his party's flaccid campaign and a wave of support for the
opposition, known by its initials, M.D.C., have led some politicians to
suggest that an upset was in the making.

As the polls closed, one top M.D.C. official said that the opposition party
would very likely wrest control of Parliament from Mr. Mugabe when the votes
are counted - even if the accusations of fraud by ZANU-PF and government
election officials prove true.

That official, Eddie Cross, said in an interview in Bulawayo that the party
appeared likely to claim 80 of the 120 seats up for grabs, more than the 76
it needs to control Parliament - and half again as much as the 51 seats it
now controls.

The M.D.C. deployed 34,000 election monitors today, or four for each polling
station, although candidates complained that some were turned away. It
deployed virtually no monitors in the two preceding elections.

Mr. Cross, who sits on his party's executive committee, said that Mr. Mugabe
had made a fatal mistake by curbing election-related violence in what he
said was an attempt to impress international observers of Thursday's vote.

"The moment M.D.C. was able to campaign without violence in place, it gave
people courage," he said. "It's like being let out - you release the cows in
spring, and there's all this fresh grass, and the cows just go crazy."

Yet should Mr. Mugabe's party win a convincing victory, that loosening of
the reins on Zimbabwean's freedoms could be viewed as a masterstroke for
ZANU-PF. And independent analysts suggested that M.D.C. officials'
predictions of big gains were for public consumption only.

"If they get over 50 seats, it will interpreted by many people as a
victory," said one analyst, Reginald Matchaba-Hove.

Mr. Cross charged Thursday that ZANU-PF officials had plotted a massive
campaign of voting fraud, led by the printing of two million false ballots
that he said were to be stuffed as needed into boxes at polling stations
across the nation. He and some other critics say that Zimbabwe's voting
rolls are inflated with up to 2.7 million names of voters who have died or
fled the country. Mr. Cross refused to disclose the sources on which his
allegations of voter fraud by ZANU-PF were based, and there is no way to
independently verify them.

ZANU-PF's political commissar, Elliot Manyika, laughed when told of Mr.
Cross's statement. "They're desperate now. It's an act of desperation," he
said in a telephone interview from Harare. "You can go anywhere tonight and
you will find that they are counting the ballots. It's nonsensical. Lies,
lies. Lies."

Still, there were complaints of irregularities. At a polling place in
Ntabazinduna township, about 15 miles north of Bulawayo, an election monitor
for the M.D.C. complained to a reporter that ZANU-PF allies had brought 200
guards from a nearby prison to vote there, although few if any were on the

"They say if you don't like it, make a report," the monitor, Collen Tshuma,

Some voters were reassured enough by the peaceful atmosphere at polling
booths that they said they avoided in 2002, when Mr. Mugabe narrowly
defeated his opponent for president, the M.D.C. leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

"I tell you then, it was so scary," said Josephine Mutongij, 26, prominently
dressed in an election monitor T-shirt at a polling station in the town of
Chinhoyi, a 90 minute drive northwest of Harare, the capital. "You could not
even wear a T-shirt like this. You couldn't wear it because they would beat

In Chinhoyi, a commercial center northwest of Harare, many M.D.C. supporters
shied away from reporters, while supporters of Mr. Mugabe's party were
boldly outspoken. Edna Chambwe, a 30-year-old barmaid, held her striped
umbrella raised high as she picked her way down a stony, muddy path to vote
here. She praised Mr. Mugabe for seizing land from white farmers and
awarding it to blacks.

Her parents lived on a stony patch of land, more suited to goats than
people, she said. "They were given land, and now they can support
themselves. They even bought TV sets."

Sharon LaFraniere reported from Harare for this article, and Michael Wines
from Bulawayo.
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Australian Broadcasting Corporation



      Broadcast: 31/03/2005

      Allegations overshadow Zimbabwe election
      Reporter: Zoe Daniel

      TONY JONES: As we go to air, Zimbabweans are voting in an election
that's been overshadowed by allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation.
The government of President Robert Mugabe has also been accused of
withholding food aid from opposition supporters. Against that backdrop, the
ruling party is still expected to win the poll with a majority as high as 80
per cent. The ABC was refused entry to Zimbabwe to cover the election. Our
Africa correspondent Zoe Daniel compiled this report from neighbouring South

      ZOE DANIEL: At dawn, people began queuing at polling stations across
Zimbabwe, eager to cast their ballots.

      MAN: They've been coming here earlier just because you want to vote.
My vote is my secret. No-one knows what I want, only I myself.

      ZOE DANIEL: 5.7 million are eligible to vote, but it's unclear how
many will have the courage to do so, particularly if accusations of
intimidation of opposition supporters are correct.

      MAN: No, no, no, not really. No incidents of intimidation. Everything
is going on smoothly and I'm hearing that there is no incidents of violence
at all.

      ZOE DANIEL: Observers from the southern African development community
are in Zimbabwe to make sure that's true.

see something. We can be sure by our advice the election will be fair and

      ZOE DANIEL: At the RG Mugabe polling station near Harare, officials
were hard at work before the doors opened to the public, covering gaps in
booths for the sake of privacy and safety in a country where political
violence has been rife.

happy with the way the electoral playing field has been organised and I
think we all agree on all benchmarks this is not going to be a free and fair

      ZOE DANIEL: President Mugabe has dubbed all supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change 'traitors'. His Zanu PF ruling
party is accused of threatening them and withholding food aid in a country
where sections of the population are facing starvation. Zimbabwe's political
system is loaded to prevent a change of government. The opposition would
have to win 76 seats to the government's 46 to force a change because the
president directly appoints 30 members of parliament. But many people are
voting anyway.

      WOMAN: Yes, I want to vote. Things are very tough, so I want life to
be better.

      ZOE DANIEL: Some suggest the community is ready for a peaceful
revolution, if not through the election, then after it.

week, if people feel that the elections have been rigged, there might be
what we call a revolution in Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe might be forced to
flee the country.

      ZOE DANIEL: The ABC is one of a handful of international media
organisations refused access to Zimbabwe to cover the election. The BBC was
also refused entry because of what Robert Mugabe's government says is bias
against the regime. And while election observers are in the country,
monitors from Australia, Britain, Europe and the United States were refused
entry. Counting will begin shortly, and the first results are expected in
about 48 hours. Zoe Daniel, Lateline.

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Cape Times

      Rural apathy in Zimbabwe poll

      Peaceful day of voting
      April 1, 2005

      By Christelle Terreblanche, Moshoeshoe Monare, Beauregard Tromp, and

      Harare: Urban Zimbabweans turned out to vote in large numbers in
largely peaceful parliamentary elections yesterday. But many of their
country cousins stayed away from the polls, in apathy or fear.

      The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) a coalition of local
NGOs, said last night that voting had generally been peaceful and fair
although there had been isolated incidents of violence and other problems
throughout the country.

      The ZESN deployed 6 000 local observers, covering about 87% of the 8
265 polling stations across the country.

      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Morgan
Tsvangirai is challenging President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF in a
bitter contest that could change the face of the troubled country's

      First results were expected to begin coming in late last night from
the 120 constituencies to the central command post in Harare where they were
to be announced.

      Talking to journalists after voting in Harare, Mugabe said "Zanu-PF is
completely and totally optimistic about the victory" and said it could win
the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution.

      He said he wanted this result to create a second, upper house in

      The MDC suspects Mugabe wants to allow himself to step down and
appoint a successor without another presidential election.
      "Everyone can see that these are free and fair elections," Mugabe said

      Tsvangirai insisted the election campaign had not been free and fair.

      "But I am sure that people will overcome the obstacles."

      Lovemore Sekeremai, head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
dismissed MDC accusations that Zanu-PF intended to stuff ballot boxes with
fictitious votes last night.

      "I don't see how the elections can be rigged... Counting is done at
the polling stations and ballot boxes will not be moved to any other
points," he said. Cheating "is not part of our mandate".

      Voters in Harare's townships braved wet weather, creating a colourful
snake of umbrella-headed queues. But in the dry and hungry countryside -
especially the Matabeleland heartland of the MDC - the enthusiastic queues
of the 2000 and 2002 elections were gone.

      By late evening the numbers started picking up, but the trend of
dwindling voters was evident in some highly contested areas.

      Voters stayed away even in parts of sacked information minister
Jonathan Moyo's Tsholotsho district, where Moyo was running as an

      The MDC attributed the apathy to Zanu-PF's threats to withhold food
aid from those who voted MDC and to the lack of voter education.

      SA minister Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, head of the SADC observer mission,
also expressed concern about the low voter turnout.

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Cape Times

      Voter apathy seen as due to intimidation over food
      April 1, 2005

      By Christelle Terreblanche

      Bulawayo: In Matabeleland no incidents of on-site intimidation or
violence were found on election day in Zimbabwe yesterday. The exception was
a bit of drama when an MDC candidate was thought to be missing.

      Shortly before midnight on the evening before election day, SMS
messages started doing the rounds that the MDC candidate for Insiza had gone
missing after a violent rampage.

      When the Cape Times arrived there the next morning the issue was still
a mystery.

      The candidate, Siyabonga Malandu, was later found at about 11am safe
and unharmed after spending a night in hiding.

      He said he had been threatened the previous night by the Zanu-PF
candidate Andrew Langa, who came to power in a 2002 by-election during a
severe food crisis.

      During the past three weeks scores of complaints about food
intimidation by the ruling Zanu- PF's Langa and local headmen against
perceived opposition supporters emanated from this drought-stricken

      Observers who visited during the last three days before voting noted a
drop in complaints. But the alleged threats of withholding food after the
elections should the MDC win, seemed to have done the trick.

      The head of a large women's NGO in Insiza (who was too scared to be
named) put the apparent apathy down to lack of voter education about the
importance of this vote.

      "People are saying that whoever they vote for there will be problems
after the elections and they don't want to be part of it," she said.

      At Gongo village, Sipho Mphosa proudly proclaimed she had just voted
MDC and said the lack of queues were due to two days of fierce intimidation
by kraal heads and officials, who allegedly threatened to withhold maize "if
we don't vote right".

      In a "white" wine-growing area, Warrington outside Bulawayo, there
were no queues at midday but, as in other areas, groups of unidentified
youths were keeping watch behind the bushes outside polling stations.

      About 20km further down the road, in Mangwe constituency's Figtree,
election agents were sitting outside with no one coming to vote.

      A nearby shopkeeper said farmers trucked in loads of workers earlier
on, but later the police invoked the Public Order and Safety Act, by barring
more than 12 people from the polling station grounds.

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East African Standard

      Whatever the result, economy remains in a crisis

      HARARE, Thursday

      Whatever the outcome of today's parliamentary election, few
Zimbabweans believe it will do much to reverse their dire economic problems.

      Inflation is running at 127 percent, one of the highest in the world,
while the economy has shrunk by about 30 percent in the last five years.

      Over 400 companies have shut down since 2000, leaving four in every
five Zimbabweans unemployed.

      Critics say 25 years of mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF governments have brought the once-thriving agricultural economy to
its knees.

      Many blame Mugabe's forcible seizure of white-owned commercial farms
which began in 2000. His international isolation has soured relations with
donors. Two thirds of Zimbabwe's workforce, or 3.4 million people, are
believed to have left the country over the last five years, depriving the
country of skilled labour, especially vital in the health and education

      Although still seen as Mugabe's main power base, the rural poor have
increasingly borne the brunt of the worst economic and political crisis
since independence.

      "Life has become really difficult. Everything, particularly food, is
very expensive. We want a better life, but I don't think that will come with
the elections. I am just going to vote because I have a duty," said former
bank employee John Mawire.

      An air of despondency hangs over some rural areas and few residents
believe the vote will herald a change in fortunes.

      "The government was doing fine, but they have lost the plot. The
(Zimbabwe) dollar continues to fall, we are not even sure it's still there
because we now have these bearer cheques which also don't buy much," said
Mawire who ekes out a living growing tomatoes in Chinamhora, north of
Harare, since losing his job.

      Zimbabwe introduced bearer cheques two years ago after the country ran
out of bank notes.

      The Zimbabwe dollar has fallen to around 6,200 to the US currency from
a fixed rate of 37 in 2000, but trades at twice the official rate on the
black market.

      Villagers in Chinamhora said a drought had worsened their plight,
claiming that some people were going to bed hungry. Many spend every day
lining up on the main road linking Chinamhora and the capital Harare selling
guavas, tomatoes and sugar cane.

      "For three days now, I have not sold anything. People don't have
money," said Roparashe Nyare.

      - Reuters
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Khaleej Times

Mugabe hails Zimbabwe poll, West calls it a sham

1 April 2005

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe proclaimed Zimbabwe's parliamentary
elections as fair as any in the world, but the United States said they had
been conducted in an atmosphere of intimidation.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accused 81-year-old
Mugabe -- in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980 -- of
using repressive laws, intimidation and even of manipulating food supplies
to engineer victory.

Releasing partial voting details, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials
said on Friday that 133,155 people -- around 10 percent of those who showed
up on Thursday -- had been turned away from polling stations in six of
Zimbabwe's 10 provinces. They gave no specific reasons.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), grouping 35 non-governmental
organisations, put the figure much higher, saying an average of 25 percent
of would-be voters had been turned away from polling stations.

"Of those turned away, a significant number were either not aware of new
constituency boundaries or were turned away for failing to produce proper
identification," ZESN chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove told a news

Many analysts expect ZANU-PF to beat an opposition battered by years of
government pressure. The MDC came close to victory in parliamentary polls in
2000 and a presidential election in 2002, blaming fraud for its defeats.

The party, which emerged from urban trade unions, accuses Mugabe of bringing
a once prosperous economy to its knees through mismanagement that has
triggered rocketing inflation, high unemployment and food shortages.

Mugabe, who dismisses the MDC as a stooge of Western powers opposed to his
seizures of white-owned farms to hand over to landless black Zimbabweans,
predicted the election would deliver a clear mandate for ZANU-PF.

"There can never be anywhere else where elections can be as free as they
have been here," Mugabe said after voting in a poor township of the capital

Election called a sham

Foreign critics led by the United States and the European Union -- who blame
Mugabe for a political and economic crisis in the southern African nation -- 
dismissed the elections as a sham, although violence was sharply down on
previous polls.

"Generally we'd say that the campaigning took place in an atmosphere of
intimidation," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters
in Washington.

Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper praised the elections as
"extraordinarily peaceful and exceptionally well organised" in an editorial,
calling on all parties to respect the will of the electorate.

Electoral Commission officials said they expected first results within hours
but the final vote tally might take up to 48 hours. Some 1.34 million had
cast their votes in six provinces by the close of polls at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT)
but there was no conclusive data for the remaining four provinces.

A total of 5.78 million of Zimbabwe's 12.6 million people are on the voters'
roll, but the MDC says the figure has been inflated by about 1 million
"ghost voters" to help ZANU-PF.

The MDC remained optimistic, despite saying the poll was fundamentally

"We are happy because our supporters heeded our call to go early to vote ...
We also expect a massive rural turnout," said the MDC's acting director of
elections, Lucia Matibenga.

But she said some places in the eastern Manicaland Province had run out of
ballot papers and expressed concern that at some polling stations in central
Masvingo province 90 percent of people were assisted to vote. Electoral
officials usually help only the illiterate, blind and elderly.

A total of 120 parliamentary seats are being contested but Mugabe appoints a
further 30 MPs. ZANU-PF has said it is hoping for a two-thirds majority that
will enable it to change the constitution at will.

Police arrested two British journalists from London's Sunday Telegraph for
working without accreditation, required by strict media laws introduced
three years ago by Mugabe's government and a government official said the
men would be deported.

A spokesman for the paper told Reuters in London on Thursday its chief
foreign correspondent Toby Harnden and photographer Julian Simmonds had been
arrested at a polling station near Harare on Thursday but declined to
comment on the charges.

Zimbabwe's Secretary for Information George Charamba told Friday's official
Herald newspaper Harnden and Simmonds had acted in defiance of local laws
because the British media shared its government's attitude towards Zimbabwe.

"It is clear that they have breached the law and they will be deported," he
said, adding that they needed to be reminded that Zimbabwe was no longer a
British colony.
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Arab News

      Editorial: Zimbabwe Elections
      1 April 2005

      IF anyone had been ruler of a country for a quarter of a century,
during which the once prosperous economy had collapsed, inflation had become
one of the world's highest and the rural poor were on the edge of
starvation, you might expect that national elections would spell the end of
their rule. However Zimbabwe's 81-year-old President Robert Mugabe is
unlikely to be packing his bags and preparing to move out of the
presidential office. His ZANU-PF party will once again have fixed the vote.
Mugabe's government, despite its consistent incompetence and corruption,
insists that it is not to blame for the substantial economic misfortunes
that have befallen the country in its 25 years of rule - and will not allow
anyone to put the blame on it.

      Zimbabweans came late to freedom because the white minority declared
independence from Britain and maintained their rule with help of white-ruled
South Africa and the Portuguese territories of Angola and Mozambique. The
collapse of the white Smith government ought to have heralded a brave new
world. White farmers, who controlled most of the prime agricultural land and
generated the majority of Zimbabwe's healthy export earnings, called
themselves Zimbabweans and appeared happy with the new Mugabe government.
They even accepted in principle the need to hand back some of their land to
the blacks from whom it had been taken by Victorian settlers.

      Unfortunately as the economically illiterate regime drove the economy
into the ground, Mugabe needed someone else to blame. The most obvious
candidates were the white farmers. Tragically the mayhem that ZANU-PF
unleashed upon the farming community, the one remaining support of the
country's already ravaged finances, has proven catastrophic. However strong
the moral case for taking back white-owned land, the timing and the
destructive manner in which the seizures happened destroyed the jobs and
prosperity of hundreds of thousands of black workers.

      Were Zimbabwe a truly democratic country, the election results due to
be declared later today would probably see an end of Mugabe's rule. There
is, however, general anticipation that they will once again be rigged.
Nevertheless, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has seen fit to take part in the vote and his
decision deserves respect. The alternative to peaceful change via elections
is civil strife which he has rightly deplored. Since the results are almost
certain to reconfirm ZANU-PF in power, the question must be what will
opponents of this bankrupt and dishonest regime do next. Many of Zimbabwe's
brightest and best, by some accounts an astonishing 3.4 million people, have
already quit the country. Those that remain are more likely to be Mugabe
supporters who may swing the vote legitimately in the old leader's favor.

      But however honest the vote, nothing is going to change the economic
mess that is Zimbabwe short of a complete reversal of the inept and corrupt
policies that have driven the country onto the economic rocks.
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Sokwanele blog

Friday, April 01, 2005

Nothing to report yet

Nothing to report just yet... and some of us need to get some sleep! We'll continue to keep you posted tomorrow morning. Election results will be available from our website:

Sokwanele Update #7

Reports are starting to roll in over the situation in Polling Stations. At least two polling stations in Lupane constituency are carrying out the vote count with no MDC polling agents present as they have been forced out by bands of zanupf hooligans.

Counting in most stations is well underway, but communications have been cut off with the Election Agents as they are confined within the Polling Stations and banned from making outside contact.

In some polling stations the count is now complete but Election Agents are being kept inside the stations and continue to be barred from communicating with the outside world.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Thanks to our fellow countrymen

Thank you to all our fellow countrymen who turned out in their numbers to vote in South Africa and London. Soon we will be reunited.

Bubi Umguza Constituency : Sokwanele Update #6

First hand information has just come in from Bubi Umguza Constituency in Northern Matabeleland. Jacob Thabani, the MDC candidate is pitched against zanupf's infamous Obert Mpofu.

Early this afternoon, a polling station was visited by a zanupf supporter with a bundle of ballots which he proclaimed were postal ballots. Postal ballots were meant to have been submitted prior to the start of the regular vote. He walked in and started to record the ballots in the Polling Station book when the MDC Election Agent stood his ground and refused to sign the book. The Zimbabwe Election Commission agent acted in accordance with his responsibility and contacted a member of the Constituency support group.

Support arrived at the station with experienced individuals and the Presiding Officer was informed that should he accept the postal ballots they would ensure the results from the polling station would be disqualified in the final constituency count.

In other districts in this area voters have been told to stay at home unless they have ZANU PF cards, as they will have to produce those before they can vote.

Obert Mpofu was also reported to have moved a polling station to his home about 10 kms away, but after pressure from voters he was forced to move it back.

This constituency serves 54 000 voters with a total of 104 polling stations. This incident is surely the tip of the iceberg.

Sokwanele Update #5

In Kwekwe, there are reports that the MDC MP Mr Chebundo has discovered that zanupf were insisting that youths who are not registered join the queues after the closure of polling stations at 7pm and that they be allowed to vote. Apparently the situation is very tense and police fear they may lose control.

In Shangani constituency in Matabeleland North two zanupf vehicles arrived after polling closed and an unknown numbers of persons entered the polling station. The counting is continuing with these persons having remained inside the polling station.

At Victoria Falls Primary school a ballot box has been taken into the polling station purportedly containing 99 postal votes. The agents queried this activity and were told to mind their own business. Apparently 15 police officers were installed at this polling station prior to the count.

Another SADC standard about to be ignored? : Sokwanele Update #4

We can confirm that in Bulawayo the ballot boxes are still sealed and presiding officers are waiting for instruction to count. The Electoral Law states that counting must start within three hours of the polling station closing. We have less than half an hour to go. Let's see if zanupf can meet this SADC Electoral Standard.
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The Zimbabwean

1 April 2005

New political party in the offing?
The results of elections in Zimbabwe, due to be announced today, are likely
to be a damp squib. The results have been pre-determined by the ruling
party. And even if the MDC wins, it still will not be able to form the next
government. What is likely to happen, however, is a change in the political
landscape as Zanu (PF) malcontents break away.
The new political alignment, driven by former information minister Jonathan
Moyo on behalf of the speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, is likely to
emerge within the next few weeks. However, Moyo is handicapped - being
arguably the most hated person in Zimbabwe. His name will forever be
associated with AIPPA. Despite the fact that he has a brain and is a hard
worker, he will be a liability. Mnangagwa is also hated and feared. Under
his command the CIO was responsible for many political assassinations and
disappearances. Mastermind of the Gukurahundi, he is widely known as
Chinyavada (the scorpion).

The six Zanu (PF) provincial chairmen, sacked for siding with Moyo against
Mugabe's choice of Joyce Mujuru for vice President instead of Mnangagwa, are
expected to galvanise support within the provinces for the new party.

There are also those who see themselves marginalized by Mugabe's
'Zezurocracy', which has made it evident that he doesn't trust anyone
outside his own tribal sub-group. Both vice presidents as well as the
minister of defence and the commanders of the police, CIO, army and airforce
are Zezuru. In his own province, no less than three Mugabes stood in the
elections - his sister Sabina, and her two sons, Leo Mugabe and Patrick

Members of the largest Shona sub-group, the Karanga, feel that with the
deaths of vice president Simon Muzenda and the powerful Eddison Zvobgo, they
have been side-lined. Yet this tribe provided the bulk of guerilla fighters
during the war. Since 1980 Masvingo province, the home of most Karangas, has
consistently voted for Zanu (PF) - but Morgan Tsvangirai has recently drawn
large crowds in the province.

A south-south alliance between disillusioned Karangas and Ndebele supporters
is not unthinkable. Significantly, the new grouping would undoubtedly
attract support from South Africa, whose President Thabo Mbeki is reported
to feel comfortable with Mnangagwa. The recent spy saga was clearly aimed at
finding out more about the dynamics within the ruling party.

The serious money in Zimbabwe - from white and Asian businessmen currently
being harassed by the CIO in Bulawayo - is suspected to be behind Mnangagwa.
John Bredenkamp has denied accusations that he provided the aircraft that
took the dissenting chairmen to Moyo's secret meeting in Tsholotsho.

It is also likely that the new group will attract those from the MDC ranks
who failed in the primary elections. Already there are accusations being
voiced that MDC has no capacity or potential to promote economic and social
development in a new Zimbabwe, no experience in running the country and is
dominated by trade unionists. Others say the party has marginalized
Ndebeles - despite the fact that both the vice president and secretary
general are from Matabeleland. This rhetoric, which has received much play
recently, is obviously aimed at preparing the ground for the emergence of
the third force, which would damage Zanu (PF) more than the MDC.
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The Zimbabwean

1 April 2005

A bucket of maize selling for Z$60,000
BULAWAYO - The food crisis and the hording associated with it has resurfaced
as mealie meal is fast running out in the city's retail shops with shop
owners expressing uncertainty over future supplies.
Hordes of desperate shoppers have been hording the commodity as news
trickled out that the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) maize stocks are
dwindling. The silos are expected to continue running low following another
poor rainy season that was punctuated by the banishment of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) who offered relief aid.

Officials from the Bulawayo GMB depot confirmed that their stocks were
deteriorating and that they were not getting enough supplies to boost their
reserves. The erratic rainfall that dominated most of Matabeleland
contributed to the low levels of maize, the stable food for the majority of

"Our maize stocks have been dwindling since November last year and the
situation is getting worse as we realize another poor harvest. The maize we
have been selling is not equivalent to the stocks we are receiving and as a
result we are falling short. We will not be able to meet the incredible
demand for maize," said a GMB official who preferred to remain anonymous for
obvious reasons.

In Bulawayo, a bucket of maize is currently selling for $40,000 while rural
areas in the vicinity of the city are selling the same bucket for $60,000.
But the price is set to balloon as people manipulate the situation. In
Nkayi, one of the drought-prone areas, the same maize bucket is now being
sold for $60,000 and vendors there expect a surge in prices after the
harvest season.

Retail shop owners interviewed said they were fast running out of mealie
meal stocks as their suppliers, the millers, were not getting enough
supplies. A manager for a leading hypermarket confirmed that the commodity
was fast disappearing from their shelves, as worried customers are now
hording the scarce commodity. He said, "I am afraid that we are in that
situation again where supermarkets are failing to stock the staple
commodity. Our customers are now hording the little we have but
unfortunately mealie meal has to be consumed within a specified time as it
expires. Most of the horded mealie meal will go bad."

In the high-density suburbs, the commodity is no longer available in most
retail shops but is now being sold at tuck shops and residential homes at
highly inflated prices. A 10 kg pack of mealie meal is normally sold at $15
000 but as the crisis unfolds the same pack now costs $25 000.

The Minister of Lands, Dr Joseph Made, is on record for lampooning the
private media over its coverage of looming food shortages. However with the
situation in Bulawayo the private press will be vindicated. The maize stocks
in the country started to dwindle soon after the Zanu (PF) government
embarked on the chaotic and haphazard land reform that saw the evection of
white farmers.

After both the 2000 parliamentary and the 2002 presidential elections there
were serious droughts and food shortages.
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The Zimbabwean

1 April 2005

Tertiary education reduced to a parody
HARARE - The state of our universities is appalling, deplorable, and
disgusting, to say the least. Students are starving, our young sisters have
been reduced to prostituting themselves, and the buildings are
For example, at the University of Zimbabwe, just visit Swinton Hall and you
will see that the window panes are broken and there are no doors on some of
the rooms. In some places there are no floor or roof tiles, walls are
decaying, roofs are leaking, drains are blocked. There is an outdated
library and the millenium computerisation programme has flopped. It is an
exasperating, endless list.

Our president is the Chancellor of this wreck, and his Reserve Bank Governor
is the chairman, or deposed chairman, of the University Council. What a
disastrous combination. How can high profile individuals preside over an
institution they have infected with terminal illness? Is it because these
politicians believe there are no other solid administrators out there? It's
just simple and plain greed for power: the unquenchable desire for
omnipresence, and a passion to petrify their heretical and erroneous
notions, which they think are infallible.

What used to be a symbol of intellectual capital has been reduced to a
parody of education. Even the quality of the degrees is now questionable,
given the proliferation of national universities and the shrinking budget
allocated to them in real terms. This just explains the chaos and lack of
rationality to which the misguided Minister of Education, Sports and
Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, has been party.

Since his installation as a minister, nothing sensible has come out of his
mouth. We have had the national dress, a national uniform, a controlled
school fees policy, and many more of his hallucinations. No one takes him
seriously anymore including his fellow ministers, and I suggest that he be
dubbed "The Cabinet Playboy". However, he is good at appearing on national
television rattling off a load of garbage.

Predictably enough, none of our leaders' children attend any Zimbabwean
university. Their own children know about their fathers' and mothers'
misrule, and cannot stand it. Could this be the reason they run these
institutions so recklessly? If they are proud of their achievements at these
institutions, then why do their offspring rush off to the countries, which
they daily accuse of imperialist and meddling tendencies, like South Africa,
UK and the USA? It's high time their children were forced to return to
experience what their fathers have done to our heritage. THIS MUST BE DONE

If our president was a morally just individual, laying aside his monumental
economic catastrophe, would he not have taken the "donations" from China,
Malaysia etc. to repair our universities, instead of building yet another
extravagant mansion for a family which is rarely in Zimbabwe but always on

If our Reserve Bank Governor was a clever man, should he not have allocated
resources to upgrade these institutions instead of doing a money dumping
exercise in an effort to jump-start the heavily-milked parastatals, which
are staffed with his cronies? If the Chinese and Malaysians had the
Zimbabweans at heart, why did they fail to donate productive resources to
improve our standard of living?

This clearly shows these countries have nothing to offer other than
exaggerated historical and political ties based on fallacious ideologies,
which even they have failed to comprehend or implement. Who does not know
that the Chinese wear communist garments but they have started practising
capitalist rituals at their major ceremonies? So, should we follow these
failed idealists and desert realism?
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The Zimbabwean

1 April 2005

Govt attacks on judiciary now endemic
For the past few years the legal profession in Zimbabwe and internationally
has been concerned at the sustained attack on the judiciary by the executive
organ of the state. This attack has had severe consequences for the rule of
law. The resultant anarchy has led to the loss of both local and foreign
investor confidence.
Even the African Union (AU) at its Assembly of Heads in Nigeria in January
2005 expressed concern at the significant levels of political manipulation
of the judiciary in Zimbabwe. The AU said:
'The judiciary has been under pressure in recent times. It appears that
their conditions of service do not protect them from political pressure;
appointments to the bench could be done in such a way that they could be
insulated from the stigma of political patronage. Security at Magistrates'
and High Court should ensure the protection of presiding officers.

"The independence of the judiciary should be assured in practice and
judicial orders must be obeyed. Government and the media have a
responsibility to ensure the high regard and esteem due to members of the
judiciary by refraining from political attacks or the use of inciting
language against judges and magistrates. We commend to the Government of the
Republic of Zimbabwe for serious consideration and application of the
Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in
Africa adopted by the African Commission at its 33rd Ordinary Session in
Niamey, Niger in May 2000."

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) notes with grave concern that the
executive has once again attacked the judiciary using the
government-controlled media for passing a judgment it disliked. This
followed the nullification of the results by the nomination court for the
Chimanimani Constituency in the case of Roy Leslie Bennett vs. Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, Samuel Udenge and Heather Bennett.

In particular, ZLHR were concerned at the reports in The Herald where it was
reported as follows:
"Speaking at a briefing with provincial, government and party leaders at
Gaza High School in Chipinge, Cde Mugabe described the ruling as madness . I
don't understand described the ruling as madness, I don't understand the
court's decision. We can't be held to ransom by a man who is in prison. That
is absolute nonsense. We will study the decision and appeal against it. He
has a case to answer Rambai muchienderera mberi. Proceed as if nothing has

The lawyers were concerned that this unwarranted outburst by the president
was likely to be taken as an instruction by the President to the officials
involved in the electoral processes to disregard a valid order of court and
to appeal.

What disturbed the lawyers was that the President was not party to the
proceedings and therefore had no legal standing to appeal. In addition, the
provisions of the Act stipulate that the ZEC is an independent body and
shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority
in the exercise of its function. Any attempts by the president or any other
state official to impose or usurp the functions of ZEC are unlawful and
constitute a serious undermining of its independence.

The president should not be seen to be arm-twisting a supposedly independent
ZEC to appeal a case where clearly there has been gross injustice: Roy
Bennett finds himself in jail merely because Zanu (PF) parliamentarians
called themselves a Parliamentary Court and imprisoned him out of political

If Zimbabwe is to recover economically, it needs to guarantee the
independence of the judiciary. The executive must refrain from interfering
with the judiciary in line with recommendations by the African Union. The
Executive should be creating an environment in which the courts exercise
their duties without fear or favour.
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UK Zimbabweans vote MDC


Overwhelming support for the MDC.  That was the result of the the parliamentary elections – at least at the one polling station where a free and fair internationally-monitored ballot took place, namely the mock election outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. 


Scores of exiled Zimbabweans cast their symbolic vote in London and 94.2% of them backed the MDC.  (For the record, 2.7% voted for independents, 1.3% for ZANU and only 0.9% for ZANU-PF; the other 0.9% were spoilt ballots.)  The mock polling station was manned from 6 am to 6 pm (BST), mirroring the voting time of 7am to 7 pm in Zimbabwe, and drew hundreds of passers-by to sign the Zimbabwe Vigil’s petition calling for genuine elections in Zimbabwe, including voting for half the electorate now in exile.


Many people showed great interest in the situation in Zimbabwe.  Among people dropping by – in fact he spent quite some time with us –  was Professor Terence Ranger, the distinguished historian, who has taught at the University of Zimbabwe.  He was upstaged only by a Town Crier in full eighteenth century regalia. 


The media showed keen interest, not only in the mock voting but also in the overnight Vigil from 8 pm the previous day to express support for a similar protest at Beit Bridge by the Congress of South African Trades Union (COSATU). 


A stalwart group kept the Vigil alive throughout the night, drumming and singing, and even in the heart of darkness turnout never dropped below 16.  Many – sleepy and exhausted – kept up their support during polling day – a total of 22 hours!  Even then it was not over for several of them: they were needed in television and radio studios to explain why the world should not give up on Zimbabwe.  (We were able to fill all requests from the media: one station wanted Zimbabwean exiles under 24 and another wanted Asian Zimbabweans!)

Vigil co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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