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

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Zim Online

MDC cements lead
Fri 1 April 2005

  HARARE - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is now
leading with 28 seats out of the 33 whose
      results have been announced so far.

      But the opposition party lost Harare South and Mhondoro constituencies
which the party won in the 2000 parliamenatry ballot.

      ZANU PF's Magadzire Hubert Nyanhongo garnered 11 545 votes to wrestle
Harare South from the MDC's James Mushonga who polled 10 716, while in
Mhondoro Sylvester Nguni polled 13 966 to take the seat away from MDC's
Shakespeare Maya, who recorded 4 015 votes.

      The following constituencies have been won by the MDC so far: Mutare
Central, Nkulumane, Lobengula/Magwegwe, Harare Central, Harare East,
Bulawayo South, Pelandaba, St Mary's, Zengeza, Glen View, Glen Norah,
Dzivarasekwa, Hatfield, Chitungwiza, Mufakose, Highfield, Masvingo Central,
Kambuzuma, Mkoba, Budiriro Kuwadzana, Makokoba, Mbare, Mutare North and
Pumula, Gweru Urban and Bulawayo East.

      ZANU PF has won in the following constituencies: Mhondoro, Harare
South, Manyame and Marondera West, Zvimba North. - ZimOnline
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Sitrep 2. 02.00 hrs.

Polling died in the afternoon at most poling stations in Zimbabwe. Only in
the urban high-density areas did the queues persist into the evening and
even them most were cleared by 19.00 hrs when the official period for voting

The counting at all stations has taken much longer than expected - with only
an anticipated 300 or so votes per station, it was anticipated that
verification and counting would be over in an hour or two at most. In fact
the process has taken much longer - for reasons that are not clear at this

Then when the counting was complete - instead of declaring the result and
posting on the door of the stations as required by the law, the people who
did the counting were locked in and held incommunicado until the results
were carried to the constituency control center and only then were the
results released. Some have come out early - for different reasons, leaks
and sneaked out in some cases, other just officials doing what they were
told not to do. But these are in a minority at this stage.

So here we are at 2 am and very little to tell. We have had many instances
of minor rigging - double voting, the use of false ID's and so on but only
after we have had a close look at the results by polling station will we be
able to zero in on those where serious rigging was implemented. In the
station where I voted the staffing structure was very interesting - 11
teachers, 4 policemen and one police woman, one CIO operative who was
labeled a Poll Observer, with a name tag with her photo on it. She sat with
the returning officer all day and the Police did the special clearances of
voters. 295 votes cast with 11 people turned away. Pretty typical I thought.

At 01.00 hrs we had the first result - Zengeza (Harare) was won by the MDC -
first blood. Otherwise at this stage it looks pretty similar to 2000 - heavy
wins for the MDC in the south and in the cities and Zanu a strong showing in
rural constituencies and in Mashonaland. But that apart it also looks as if
fewer people voted overall than in 2000 and that the MDC is doing better
across the country than in 2000. Still too close to call, but I still think
Zanu will have a headache in the morning.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 1st April 2005
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Sitrep 3.

It is now 07.30 hrs and the final results have begun to trickle in - not a
real indictor at this stage because most are for urban seats where the MDC
was expected to do well.

So far out of 14 seats announced the MDC has won 12, the only loss being
Manyame - a new constituency created in the last delimitation exercise and
Marondera West. Harare Central was again taken by the MDC with a large
majority with Margaret Dongo knocked into third place behind Zanu PF.

MDC took back Zengeza - lost in a bi-election last year and also took
Masvingo Central - but by a small majority. Terrible Tendai Biti is back!!
With a big majority.

In other contests that might be of interest Jonathan Moyo was ahead this
morning by 700 votes - not as a big a majority as I expected and it looks as
if Kembo Moghadi took Beitbridge - I was surprised at this and we may have
to challenge the result.

This electoral struggle is far from over. It is clear that there have been
many attempts to tamper with the results - at one polling station photocopy
ballots were admitted to the count. In many places - as we suspected, out
polling agents were chased away from the poll when the verification and
counting took place. In these instances we will have to challenge the
process and redo the verification and counting.

All day yesterday a desperate battle was fought between Munangagwa and
Chibundu in Kwe Kwe - all sorts of things going on with the Munangagwa camp
determined at any cost to reverse the humiliation he was handed in 2000 by

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo 1st April 2005

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Financial Times

Mugabe on course to win Zimbabwe's election
By Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: April 1 2005 09:16 | Last updated: April 1 2005 09:16

With almost a quarter of the results in Zimbabwe's parliamentary election
declared, President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party is on course to win
a two-thirds majority in the 150-seat assembly.

Although the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has won 26 of the
first 29 results to be declared, all of these are in its urban strongholds,
with only two rural results having bee declared, both of them won by the
governing party.

Although, in a low percentage poll of around 40 percent, the MDC has
retained 26 of the 50 seats it held when the previous parliament was
dissolved, its share of the vote is down across the board, while that of
Zanu-PF has increased significantly.

Two of the seats won by the ruling party were taken from the MDC, leading
analysts to conclude that Zanu could win as many as 75 to 80 of the
120-contested seats with the MDC's representation slipping to between 40 and
45 seats.

President Mugabe nominates 30 members of parliament which means that Zanu
needs to win 71 of the 120 contested seats to secure the two-thirds majority
it is seeking so that it can amend the constitution to allow Mr Mugabe to
select his own successor when he steps down, probably in 2008.

The election has been condemned as seriously flawed by international and
local observers and human rights organisations but election observers from
Zimbabwe's political allies in Africa, spearheaded by South Africa, are
thought certain to rule that the poll was free and fair. Zimbabwe refused to
allow teams from any western country to observe the elections.

The MDC has cried foul highlighting a number of voting irregularities - the
most serious of which appears to be the fact that some 10 percent of people
who turned out to vote were refused access top the polls for unspecified
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Opposition extends early lead in Zimbabwe polls

April 01, 2005, 09:30

Zimbabwe's opposition extended its early lead in parliamentary elections on
Friday, taking 26 out of 29 declared seats with almost a quarter of the
total results announced, officials said. But the early official results were
mostly from urban areas, the opposition MDC's traditional support base.

Results were still awaited from rural areas where the ruling Zanu(PF)
usually polls strongly. A total of 120 seats were contested in yesterday's
parliamentary election, which the MDC and western countries have already
labelled as unfairly tilted toward President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu(PF)

Mugabe will appoint an additional 30 MPs. He has said he hopes the party
will emerge with a two-thirds majority in parliament, which would allow it
to change the constitution. - Reuters

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Zim Independent

Thousands turned away
Staff Writers
A HANDFUL of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidates and
the controversial Tsholotsho maverick Jonathan Moyo took initial leads in
the early hours of this morning after yesterday's hotly contested general

MDC candidates for Bulawayo East (Welshman Ncube), Bulawayo South (David
Coltart), Gweru Rural (Renson Gasela) and Masvingo Central (Tongai Mathuthu)
were reportedly in front after the first vote counts. Ncube was leading by a
wide margin of 4 000 votes to 500 for Zanu PF's Joshua Malinga after
counting at about 10 polling stations. This trend was said to be similar for
all constituencies in Bulawayo.

In Harare, the MDC's Priscillah Misihairabwi was said to be galloping in
front in Glen Norah against Zanu PF's Victoria Chitepo. Murisi Zvizwai was
also said to be charging ahead in Harare Central where he locked horns with
Zanu PF's Florence Chideya and independent candidate Margaret Dongo.

Moyo, former Information minister, quickly surged ahead after counting at
six polling stations. The ex-minister had grabbed 965 votes, while his
rivals were trailing behind. MDC candidate Mtoliki Sibanda had 322 votes and
Zanu PF's Musa Ncube was struggling at the back with 280.

However, there were worries about the number of voters turned away from
polling stations yesterday as Zimbabweans participated in their first
one-day election. In some constituencies as many as 10% of prospective
voters were told their names did not appear on the voters' roll.

Opposition and civic leaders have described the state of the voters' roll as
the regime's "heart of darkness" as its contents have remained a closely
guarded secret and were only made available as late as last week in some

Preliminary results were expected early this morning after voting ended
nationwide without the violence that characterised the 2000 parliamentary
and 2002 presidential polls.

The first results were expected to trickle in from all the 120
constituencies in the early hours of this morning. Counting of votes was
reportedly going on without hitches except lighting problems in some areas.

There was a power cut in Mbare last night just before the close of voting at
7.00pm. MDC youths protested loudly at Stodart Hall against what they saw as
a deliberate move by authorities to rig the result. When the Zimbabwe
Independent visited the polling station at the Netball Court in Mbare
polling officers had lit candles and were waiting for power to be restored.
Power was finally restored after forty minutes.

Voting ended at 7pm without any remaining potential voters in the queues and
the electoral officers took a break before coming back to start verifying
the ballots. By 10pm last night the electoral officers were still verifying
and balancing the ballots. Totals of voters in some provinces and those
turned away were provided by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) at
12.20am (see table).

Voting started slowly at 7am - some people had been queuing as early as
5am - and picked up at around 10am before peaking around midday.

Queues became shorter and by midday most polling stations were deserted.

Independent reporters who visited different areas in the three Mashonaland
provinces reported the turnout was moderate in most areas and queues had
almost disappeared by noon. Some polling stations had literally no one to
process in the afternoon.

However, the high number of polling stations undoubtedly contributed to the
absence of long queues.

The ZEC said at 9.30 pm 1 340 073 had voted in six provinces out of 5,6
million registered voters, while 133 155 were turned away for various
reasons. This represented an almost 10% rejection rate of prospective

The highest number of voters turned away was recorded in Mashonaland West
with 35 267 failing to cast their vote.

Makonde in the province had 6 037 turned away while 20 720 managed to vote.

In 2000 2 493 925 people voted in the parliamentary poll. The Zimbabwe
Election Support Network, an independent electoral body which provided a
number of local observers, said about a quarter of the total people who
wanted to vote were turned away in some areas.

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

It will become clearer today whether President Mugabe's call for the
electorate to send an unambiguous message to British Prime Minister Tony
Blair has been heeded. -
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People's Daily

      Zimbabwean presiding officer dies of collapse during polling day

      A presiding officer at one of the polling stations in Nyanga
constituency collapsed and died during the course of his duties on Thursday

      Chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Justice George
Chiweshe said the commission regretted to announce the presiding officer's

      In another incident, at Sikumbi polling station in Binga, Matabeleland
North, province polling started almost two hours late after four charging
buffaloes invaded the polling station.

      Justice Chiweshe said the situation only calmed after officers from
the National Parks and Wildlife Authority were called to drive the wild
animals away.

      In Bulawayo, a polling station at Iselby farm opened at 8:30 a.m.
instead of the normal time because there were no polling agents for the
contesting parties had arrived then.

      However, they later arrived and voting kicked off peacefully.

      Chiweshe said most polling stations opened at 7 (0500 GMT) in the
morning as scheduled and closed again on time at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT).

      He said according to the Electoral Act, people who would be in the
queue as at 7 p.m. would be allowed to vote.

      Source: Xinhua

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Zim Independent

MDC rejects observers' assessment
Dumisani Muleya
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is locked in a
war of words with foreign observers, has officially rejected in advance
widely-anticipated declarations by South African and other observers that
yesterday's general election was free and fair.

In a statement, released yesterday and titled "MDC's preliminary report on
the 2005 parliamentary election", the opposition says the poll was neither
free nor fair.

The report says the election could not be genuine given that the voters'
roll was flawed, administrative arrangements were chaotic, media access was
restricted, and a hostile political climate prevailed.

It also says gerrymandering in favour of Zanu PF further tilted the already
skewed playing field.

"It is the MDC's view that the findings in this report demonstrate in
unequivocal terms that the election cannot be judged free and fair," the
report says

"If the MDC does win it will be because the will of the people has prevailed
over attempts by Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF to rig the ballot."

It says the MDC was awaiting with "keen interest the findings and
conclusions of the observer missions".

The MDC statement came hard on the heels of the party's secretary-general
Welshman Ncube's stinging comments about observers, mostly South Africans,
whom he described as "tourists".

"The MDC received assurances from all the observer missions that they would
conduct their duties in a fair, impartial and transparent manner," the
report says.

"We were assured that their final reports would be based on an objective
assessment and analysis of the situation on the ground."

However, the MDC says statements by South African observers indicated that
their reports would be a whitewash.

"Comments by senior South African election observers have, however, raised
suspicions that the South African mission are deliberately preparing the
ground to declare the elections free and fair. We hope this is not the
 case," it says.

"We trust that all observer missions will be cognisant of the findings in
this (MDC) report and factor them into their own analysis of whether or not
the election was free and fair."

It further says: "Periodic and genuine democratic elections are the
cornerstone of any functioning democracy. Zimbabwe does have periodic
elections but they are not democratic."

The report says whatever the outcome of the poll, "it cannot be judged to be
free and fair".

"The distorted nature of the pre-election playing field and the failure to
address core democratic deficits precluded a free and fair election," it

The MDC only agreed to contest the election under protest, the report says,
because its supporters wanted to exercise their democratic right to vote.

"We agreed to participate on the basis that the prevailing view amongst our
structures and supporters on the ground was in favour of participation," it
says. "The issue of our participation, however, does not confer legitimacy
on the result."
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Zim Independent

Observers commend poll process
Grace Kombora
YESTERDAY'S parliamentary election differed from the 2000 and 2002 polls as
observers said that the political environment was peaceful and hoped that it
would remain like that.

The deputy leader of the South African Observer Mission Ngoako Ramatlhodi
said the situation was peaceful and stable.

"The situation is peaceful at the moment and we are expecting everyone in
Zimbabwe to exercise his /her democratic right by going out and voting,"
said Ramatlhodi.

"Everything is in good condition. As observers we are praying that the
elections will be free and fair," Ramathlhodi added. "The South African
Observer Mission commits itself to fulfilling its mandate without fear or

"The mission is determined to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe exercise
their right to choose their leadership without hindrance," he said.

Ramatlhodi said his team noted relatively smooth progress but had still
stepped in at times to prevent political clashes.

In an interview with Reuters, SA mission head, Labour Minister Membathisi
Mdladlana, said his team had to intervene in tense situations.

"We know what is happening on the ground. We have had to intervene to deal
with tense situations that could undermine the process," Mdladlana said
without elaborating.

South Africa's observers, who angered MDC leaders in recent weeks with
statements appearing to endorse the poll, have said they will not pre-judge
the outcome.

"We have a mandate to intervene when there is a situation that might work
against a free and fair election and we have done that several times. This
message is understood by both President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai," Mdladlana said.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Judge George Chiweshe told poll
observers in a separate briefing last week that his body was ready to see
that voting will go smoothly.

Five hundred international observers including delegations from the South
African government, parliament and ruling ANC, the Southern African
Development Community and the African Union were deployed across Zimbabwe to
monitor the poll.

Zimbabwe did not invite the Commonwealth, the United States, or the European
Union, which it says are biased against Harare.
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Zim Independent

No solution to Zim crisis in sight
Conrad Dube
A SOLUTION to Zimbabwe's multifaceted crisis is difficult to achieve given
the current rift between the two main political parties, the ruling Zanu PF
and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition (CZC) has said.

CZC is a collective of civil society organisations whose mandates range from
human rights and workers' rights to students' rights, women's rights,
advocacy work and information sharing.

"This rift is exacerbated by the US and SA stand-offs," CZC said in its 2005
parliamentary election report titled Things Fall Apart.

"It seems Zimbabwe has become the test case of the tension between global
governance and sovereignty, and the various north/south divides that have
emerged have added to, rather than reached a solution for those tensions."

Crisis said in spite of the presence of the Sadc principles and guidelines
governing democratic elections, the Zanu PF government remains defiant about
enforcing the material changes to Zimbabwe's electoral system.

"The right of Zimbabweans to choose their political leadership has not been
guaranteed and protected through the removal of repressive legislation and
scrupulous enforcement of the Sadc principles and guidelines," CZC says.

The political reforms within Zanu PF, according to the CZC, and the

government's current monetary and fiscal policy reforms and general apathy
may result in many Zimbabweans accepting the electoral outcome as legitimate
despite reports of pre-election irregularities and Harare's non-compliance
with the Sadc guidelines.

"Zanu PF reforms may reduce the legitimacy crisis internally, but at a
regional and international level, the electoral outcome should remain
illegitimate judged on the Sadc principles for democratic elections," CZC

It also stated that challenges for the new Zanu PF government will include
the bringing of the perpetrators of violence to justice and restoring sanity
to Zimbabwe's financial sector and the economy.

"These factors plus a strong showing by the MDC in the elections might
persuade Zanu PF to invite MDC into a government of national unity. This
scenario would assist in returning confidence in the government's legal and
social systems if political independence is maintained," CZC further argued.

The current political and social crisis will remain an existing feature in
Zimbabwe up to the presidential elections in 2008, or until such time those
democratic elections are held.

"Until the people of Zimbabwe are able to choose their representatives in a
fair and democratic election, the country will continue to suffer the host
of socio-economic difficulties. This problem will continue to damage
Zimbabwe's capacity for self-sufficiency and will continue to impact
negatively on her neighbours and Africa as a whole," CZC says.
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Zim Independent

Government takes out begging bowl
Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT has started approaching donor countries to lay the ground for the
2005 Consolidated Appeal Process set to be formally presented early next

Information reaching the Zimbabwe Independent says government emissaries
have approached key donor countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan
and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with proposals in
various areas of need. Food is the top priority and accounts for over 60% of
the appeal.

The development comes at a time when Social Welfare minister Paul Mangwana
conceded that Zimbabwe will appeal to the UN and "friendly countries" for
food assistance after the parliamentary poll which took place yesterday.

Mangwana said government would approach friendly countries and the UN for
assistance following allegations that government was abusing food to gain
political mileage.

"We will ask our friends if we think we cannot handle the situation on our
own," Mangwana said. "We are part of the international community and the UN
and they have helped us in times we had food shortages. We will approach
them at the appropriate moment, taking into consideration our capabilities
and incapabilities."

At the same time MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai is urging government to
allow NGOs to resume drought relief supplies if mass starvation is to be

Mangwana indicated that 400 000 households had insufficient food supplies
since September last year. The figure translates to about 2,4 million people
considering that an average family consists of six people.

Diplomatic sources said indications are that the appeal will be formally
presented before the end of April.

"Government has stepped up their discussions with the UNDP and donors," one
diplomat said. "Ministries coordinated by the Public Service Labour and
Social Welfare ministry have already submitted their proposals. The
proposals show that government is seeking assistance in all facets of the
economy ranging from food, health, social services and agricultural

Since the inception of the land reform programme, Zimbabwe plunged into a
food crisis that grew into a major humanitarian emergency in 2003, with
people suffering the effects of a deteriorating economy, depleted social
services and policy constraints.

The crisis forced Zimbabwe to make two humanitarian appeals within five

In July 2003 government launched an appeal for US$114 million.

Government then asked for the renewal of the same appeal last year.

Sources said this year's appeal could be slightly higher than the previous
appeals considering the continued depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar.

They said just like the previous appeals, this year's document was developed
concentrating on three main areas: preventing loss of life through food,
nutrition and health interventions; mitigating the impact of the crisis on
vulnerable groups by supporting household livelihoods with basic services;
and developing a productive dialogue among humanitarian stakeholders to
strengthen coordination in order to protect the most vulnerable.

Sources said the UNDP has also received appeal proposals from the
Agriculture ministry seeking to kick-start food production on the resettled

Production has plummeted by over 70% over the past five years as a direct
result of the chaotic land reform programme which reduced the once vibrant
commercial farming sector into subsistence farming.

Government had until the end of November last year insisted that its farmers
produced a bumper maize harvest of 2,4 millions tonnes and would not require

A report by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands and Agriculture
in October revealed that the Grain Marketing Board had received only 388 558
tonnes of grain from farmers.
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Zim Independent

Zimbabweans robbed of chance to resolve crisis
By Welshman Ncube
WHATEVER the outcome of the 2005 parliamentary elections, there can be
little doubt that they provided an historic opportunity for Zimbabwe to
begin laying the foundation for resolving the multi-faceted crisis which has
bedevilled the country for the last six years. Unfortunately, this
opportunity has been lost because the Zanu PF government refused to fully
embrace democratic traditions which would have seen the complete rolling
back of the frontiers of tyranny and dictatorship which the Zanu PF
government systematically rolled out since its defeat in the constitutional
referendum in February 2000.

The instruments of repression include not only the plethora of legislation
such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) which severely curtail
freedoms of association and expression, but also Zanu PF's own mindset which
is highly intolerant and denies the sovereign right of the people of
Zimbabwe to elect a government of their own choice.

Indeed, the principal problem in Zimbabwe today is the fact that we have a
ruling party which does not believe that the people of Zimbabwe have the
right to elect into power any political party which is not Zanu PF. The
relentless, systematic and sustained attack on our democratic freedoms over
the last five years have been driven by Zanu PF's conviction that it has a
divine right to rule Zimbabwe forever and elections are necessary only for
then purpose of confirming this divine right and not for affording the
people an opportunity to freely elect a government of their choice.

It is hardly surprising therefore that the legal and political reforms
effected to Zimbabwe's political system have been half-hearted, cosmetic and
grudging and intended to create a façade of democracy rather than reality of

Because of Zanu PF's failure to adequately address the fundamental flaws of
our election system which have led to a profound loss of public confidence
in not just the electoral system but in democracy itself, Zimbabweans will
have to wait until 2008 for the possibility of a truly free and fair

The 2005 parliamentary elections, not withstanding all the noises we will
hear from Sadc and other Mugabe-friendly observer missions specifically
handpicked on the basis of their support for his regime, have been
fundamentally unfree and unfair.

We know that the only purpose of most of the observer missions is to
legitimise the Mugabe regime at all costs. Thus it does not surprise us that
they only started their observation process barely a week before polling and
even then they spent more of their time meeting Mugabe and dining at hotels
in Harare and Bulawayo than on the ground where the election contest was
taking place. Their absence at practically all our rallies and activities in
the rural areas where much of the intimidation and vote-buying through
traditional leaders, councillors and council officials and other government
functionaries, was taking place was so conspicuous that they should be
ashamed to make any announcements on the elections.

We take particular pride in the fact that it is not them but the people of
Zimbabwe who can accord legitimacy to the outcome of the elections.

The fact that the Mugabe regime largely withdrew direct political violence
as an instrument of coercion to secure votes in the last five weeks before
the election and instructed the police for the first time in five years to
deal with perpetrators of violence, while significantly contributing to the
largely peaceful five week campaign period cannot fully make up for five
years the electorate was subjected to such severe brutality designed to
coerce them into voting for Zanu PF and indeed calculated to destroy the
MDC. Only when Zanu PF believed that the MDC was dead and ready for burial
at the elections did it withdraw, albeit halfheartedly, the use of beatings,
torture, destruction of property and even killings as an instrument of

We maintain that the withdrawal of political violence after five years of
its systematic application does not make a free and fair election.
Similarly, granting the opposition the right to meet and thereby canvass for
votes only during the "official" campaign period of some five weeks, does
not make up for years of denial of the right to hold meetings and thereby
interact with voters, for an election is not an event but a process which
begins from the conclusion of one election and ends on the day of the next
succeeding election.

Thus the fact that the police allowed most of our campaign meetings to take
place during the five-week official campaign period cannot make up for years
of closed political space during which the police brazenly asserted not just
the authority to ban MDC meetings but also the "right" to sit in on our
strategic planning meetings particularly at district and provincial levels.

*Welshman Ncube is the MDC Secretary General.
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Zim Independent

Moyo not brains behind Aippa - Charamba

SECRETARY for Information and Publicity George Charamba has said his
department was the brains behind the research which culminated in the
drafting and eventual enactment of the controversial Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).

Addressing journalists in Harare this week, Charamba said contrary to
widespread speculation that his former boss, Professor Jonathan Moyo, had
masterminded the crafting of Aippa, it was actually the result of
initiatives and extensive research conducted by officers in the department
of information in the President's Office.

Charamba boasted that he was proud to be associated with Aippa, especially
after the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the
sections that were being challenged by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), publishers of the banned Daily News and Daily News on Sunday.

The enactment of Aippa, which has been condemned as impinging on media
freedom and freedom of expression, has seen the closure of the independent
Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and Weekly Times by the
government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC).

Zanu PF's secretary for information and publicity and veteran journalist, Dr
Nathan Shamuyarira, and former Zanu MP for Makonde, Kindness Paradza, are,
however, on record saying Aippa is a bad law.

Charamba was speaking at a press discussion in Harare organised by
Misa-Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the executive of the
Quill Club, which is the national press club for journalists.

The discussion under the topic: "The Zimbabwe question: where did the media
get it wrong and where did it get it right", was attended by close to 100
local and international journalists.

In his presentation, Charamba said the private and international media had
ganged up to discredit the government of President Robert Mugabe over the
land reform programme.

He said that it was necessary to enact laws such as Aippa and the
Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) as Zimbabwe was under threat.

He said laws such as the BSA were informed by laws in other jurisdictions,
especially Australia. Pressed by journalists on the selective application of
these laws, Charamba says there had been "overshoots" in the manner in which
the law was being applied.

He explained that his department had not thrown out any foreign
correspondents based in Zimbabwe but that their work permits had expired and
in the case of local journalists like Lewis Machipisa (now in Britain), he
says he was never hounded out of the country and is free to return.

On the closure of the Daily News, he said the paper could return anytime
soon if it complies with the registration requirements under Aippa as
administered by the MIC "as there is no paper that can be banned for life".

The Daily News has since applied for a licence and its application is being
considered by the MIC.

On whether there was no conflict of interest arising from the fact that Dr
Rino Zhuwarara sits on the MIC board when he is also the chief executive
officer of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings as is also the case with Herald
editor Pikirayi Deketeke who sits on the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
board, he said those issues would be looked into.

Charamba also briefed journalists on events leading to the sacking of
Professor Moyo saying the departure of the former minister had been
precipitated by his frequent clashes with the presidency.

He said as a result the department had to choose between supporting an
individual's political ambitions and loyalty to the presidency. This was the
untenable situation which had led to the subsequent firing of Moyo after
Charamba had warned his officers that they were to remain loyal to the

Charamba said he even phoned editors at the state media and told them to
desist from being used by "one person". Most editors, according to Charamba,
agreed to toe the line with the exception of Chronicle editor, Stephen

Ndlovu was subsequently fired.

On developments at ZBH, he said the public broadcaster was implementing new
technological advancements but that progress was being hampered by the lack
of skilled personnel. This situation had seen former Newsnet editor-in-chief
Chris Chivinge being recalled from Namibia.

He dismissed as untrue reports that incumbent editor-in-chief Tazzen
Mandizvidza would be fired as he has failed in his job as editor-in-chief to
make way for Chivinge.

He said Chivinge was only assisting in the implementation of the
digitalisation process until Mandizvidza masters the new technological

Misa-Zimbabwe, however, has it on good authority that Mandizvidza has
already been demoted and Chivinge is back in his post as editor-in-chief.

Apart from failing to utilise the new digital technology installed by the
Iranians, Mandizvidza stands accused of giving too much space to the MDC in
the run-up to the election.

On reports that the government is jamming SW Radio Africa based in London,
Charamba said that was not true.

He, however, wished that the station be jammed saying SW Radio Africa "is a
Western-backed propaganda radio station set up to destabilise Zimbabwe".

SW Radio Africa has been experiencing transmission problems which experts
have attributed to interference.

Charamba told the media that well over 100 foreign journalists had been
accredited and these were mostly from African states and some Western media
houses which he said were not hostile to Zimbabwe.

He added that foreign media houses that want to operate from Zimbabwe would
be asked to employ local journalists.

Asked whether he believed in media freedom, he said there were many
interpretations of press freedom, but that the government would not watch
and allow the media to "destroy" the country.

This, Charamba says, had come about because some Western countries have
claimed that they were working with opposition parties and journalists
working for the private press to "effect regime change".

He pledged that he would meet regularly with media practitioners to improve
relations between journalists, especially those working with the independent
press and his department. - Misa-Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent

MDC exposes poll fraud
Staff Writer
IN WHAT could be an indication of electoral fraud employed in yesterday's
election, the opposition MDC has exposed methods used by Zanu PF supporters
to erase the indelible ink used in the voting process.

The MDC was alerted by voters that Zanu PF youths in Bulawayo's Western
areas were using a combination of brake fluid, scouring powder and lemon
juice to cleanse themselves of the indelible ink before voting again.

The revelation could mean that a single person from a constituency with 30
polling centres could vote 30 times.

MDC officials in the Information department told this newspaper that they
were notified of the incident by concerned voters who noticed Zanu PF
supporters using the trick in the city's high-density areas.

Several voters who had successfully cleansed themselves explained to the
Independent how they managed to remove the ink from their hands.

On the strength of the demonstrations by the voters the MDC then invited
international observers to the Bulawayo city hall car park to observe a
voter cleansing the ink using a combination of all three scouring materials.

However, the South African observer team and the Sadc team refused to
observe the process being done.

British embassy officials and opposition officials who included the MDC
candidate for Bulawayo North East, Welshman Ncube, waited while a voter went
to cast his vote and then proceeded to cleanse himself using brake fluid and
the scouring powder.

The whole process took seven minutes to the shock of a group of observers
and opposition officials and members of the media who were invited to see
the act for themselves.

Ncube said the latest revelations were shocking and allayed the opposition's
claims of electoral fraud.

"From such incidents what guarantee do we have that the elections would be
free and fair?" said Ncube. It is either the government is inefficient or
contemptuous (in claiming) that they are using indelible ink when they are
in actual fact using a liquid that can be easily removed and if anyone
believes that this election can be free and fair they should have their
heads examined," Ncube said.

Turning to the refusal by the SA observer team and the Sadc observer mission
to witness the incident, Ncube said South Africa was bent on turning a blind
eye to the fraudulent election.

He said what was further disturbing was the refusal of the South African
Broadcasting Corporation to come and cover the story.

"Why should you have a credible broadcasting station refuse to cover an
incident of interest? All this goes to show that all organisations invited
by Mugabe were carefully selected to turn a blind eye to the electoral fraud
taking place in Zimbabwe," Ncube said.

He said the MDC leadership will consult and see what action to take on the
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Zim Independent

6 arrested for election crimes
Ndamu Sandu
SIX people were arrested while others - including a number of journalists -
were held and questioned across the country as the sixth parliamentary
election took place yesterday.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said last night that the six were
arrested for various offences.

In Gweru a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporter was arrested for
campaigning near the polling station. A Zanu PF supporter was arrested for
the same offence.

Bvudzijena said police were keen to interview MDC candidate for Chinhoyi
Silas Matamise who is alleged to have assaulted a voter who was in a queue.

Two farmers were arrested in Tengwe, Karoi, for disruptive behaviour at a
polling station.

Bvudzijena said two journalists from the Sunday Telegraph, Toby Harnden and
Julian Simmonds, were arrested in Norton for reporting without

The journalists' lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said last night the correspondents
were still held at Norton police station and were being charged under the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) for practising
without a licence.

Renowned former CNN broadcaster Charlayne Hunter-Gault, now freelance, was
detained for four hours after being nabbed at a polling station. Two French
journalists were also temporarily detained while covering a Woza prayer
meeting in Africa Unity Square yesterday.

Five other foreign journalists who were also covering the prayer meeting
were questioned but not detained.

Police broke up the prayer meeting in front of a number of foreign
correspondents, some staying at Meikles.

Most of the foreign correspondents questioned or temporarily detained were
in fact accredited, their colleagues said.

The MDC contends that it effected a citizen's arrest on five officials from
Trima Printers caught printing fliers informing the public that the
opposition party had pulled out of the election. The MDC said the five
arrested were handed over to the police.

Bvudzijena said police questioned two people after they were caught printing
material but nothing had been distributed.

When asked if the two people had been charged Bvudzijena said: "We will have
to look at what law to charge them under. It is not just a matter of
charging them but charging them under what?"

Bvudzijena said police had not received information pertaining to 11 Zanu PF
supporters the MDC say were issuing numbered cards to voters as a way of
controlling queues at Simudzai Primary School at 2.00am yesterday morning.

The MDC says deputy minister of Transport and Communication Andrew Langa
threatened to shoot MDC polling agents at Silalatshani Business Centre in
Insiza as they were being deployed in readiness for yesterday's election.
The opposition party said the matter has been reported to Gwanda police.

Bvudzijena said police were not aware of that incident but "were aware of
misinformation the MDC had reported saying that their candidate was missing".
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Zim Independent

Mugabe says yes to talks, rules out coalition
Dumisani Muleya
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said yesterday his ruling Zanu PF was open to talks
with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), although he has
ruled out a government of national unity after the election.

Mugabe told journalists after voting in Highfield that it was possible to
talk to the MDC in and out of parliament even though they had a number of

Zanu PF and the MDC had been engaged in on and off talks since the hotly
disputed presidential election in 2002. Zanu PF's former politburo member
Patrick Chinamasa and MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube have been engaged
in face-to-face talks since 2003 but the overtures invariably collapsed
during the process.

South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun
Obasanjo kick-started the rapprochement in April 2002 but failed to move it

Mugabe's revival of hopes of talks came as a local civic organisation warned
that resolving Zimbabwe's crisis after yesterday's parliamentary election
would be an arduous task as long as Zanu PF and the MDC remain poles apart.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the divergent position of Zanu PF and the
MDC, which militated against a negotiated settlement three years ago, would
block attempts to bring back the two parties to the negotiating table.

"A solution to Zimbabwe's multifaceted crisis is difficult to achieve given
the current rift between the two main political parties, Zanu PF and the
MDC," the group said.

The group, which claims to represent 350 civic organisations, said the
standoff between the United States and South Africa over how to resolve the
Zimbabwe crisis did not help matters.

"The rift is exacerbated by the US and SA standoff. It seems Zimbabwe has
become the test case of the tension between global governance and

In a report, Things Fall Apart, the civic group says the North/South divide
further compounded the situation.

Despite the fact that Mugabe has dismissed possibilities of a government of
national unity, the civic organisation said a good MDC performance in the
poll might compel Zanu PF to change its mind.

"A strong showing by the MDC might persuade Zanu PF to invite the MDC into a
government of national unity. This scenario would assist in returning
confidence in the government's legal and social systems."

However, the group said given Zanu PF's swallowing of former opposition PF
Zapu under the guise of a merger, the MDC would be reluctant.

"Given the likelihood of the second scenario (failure to achieve a
coalition), the current political and social crisis will remain an existing
feature in Zimbabwe up until the 2008 presidential election."

The organisation said yesterday's election would not be free and fair due to
political and logistical problems.
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Zim Independent

NCA stings again
Gift Phiri
HARDLY two weeks after police summoned combative lawyer Lovemore Madhuku,
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), over a report
implicating the police in incidents seen as undermining free parliamentary
elections, the defiant group yesterday released another damning report
implicating security agents in political violence.

The report, "Consolidated Election Climate Report No 2", said there was no
province that had shown a satisfactory election climate. It charges that
hate speech, intimidation and threats characterised the campaign for
yesterday's election.

"According to the data received for March, 96% of constituencies reported
forms of political violence and 63% of the reports alleged that torture took
place," the report said. "Most of the victims are MDC supporters (41%), with
Zanu PF supporters (14%), ordinary citizens (11%), and civics (3%). The
perpetrators are alleged to be Zanu PF supporters (52%), the militia (17%),
the police (17%), the Central Intelligence Office (12%), and the army (8%).
The MDC and war veterans were also mentioned, but their figures were

The report comes amid threats by Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to
arrest Madhuku over the first report. The NCA said it had sampled eight of
Zimbabwe's 10 provinces between March 1 and 24.

"No data had been submitted from Manicaland or Masvingo by the time of
writing, but it is submitted that the (existing) data nonetheless do give a
good overview of the national picture in March," the report said. "A total
of 209 reports were submitted, with an average of three to a constituency."

The incidence of political violence was worst in Harare province and seemed
least in the Midlands.

"It is evident that the trend... accords with the observations of previous
elections," the report said. "Harare and the Mashonaland provinces have
shown more frequent instances of election irregularities than other
provinces. Harare was particularly bad ... this shows that the battle is
really in the urban areas where the MDC has been the stronger of the two
main parties since 2000. Zanu PF is confident that it has the rural votes in
the bag."

Last week Madhuku was questioned for about four hours but not charged over
the initial report.

Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said Madhuku was
needed to assist in investigations into allegations in the NCA report.

The initial report suggested that police and other state security agents
were involved in "the commission of pre-election crimes including assault,
murder, the closure of schools (and) unlawful arrests".

"In our view these are very serious crimes and any Zimbabwean citizen has an
obligation to ensure that those crimes are thoroughly investigated. We
called Mr Madhuku into my office ... and we had a meeting with him,"
Bvudzijena was quoted as saying last week.

The new report also charges that President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF
party is using food as a political tool by demanding party cards from hungry
voters before the election.

The ruling party faced the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in yesterday's parliamentary poll.

The NCA said it obtained its information from community monitors in eight of
the country's 10 provinces and that they backed the allegations of food
supply manipulation.

It said while the political violence that characterised Zimbabwe's last two
polls in 2000 and 2002 had declined, hate speech, threats and intimidation
were rife.

The police have previously denied charges of bias in favour of the ruling
party when dealing with politically related legal matters.

The NCA is a loose coalition of churches, student and labour unions,
business and rights groups that has lobbied for a new constitution to
replace one it says entrenches Mugabe's power. The NCA denies charges that
it is anti-government.
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Zim Independent

Bloody finger, killed a cock?
Vincent Kahiya
THERE is a new fashion craze in town - the little red finger.

Yesterday people held them up with pride to show they had voted.

But voters were caught by surprise when they were asked to dip their little
fingers in the small bottle of red ink - the colour is actually magenta -
instead of the usual colourless indelible ink used in past elections. This
could however only be seen through a special light. That is not required
with the new ink. It is there for all to see.

Imagine chiefs - who often carry registers to polling stations to ensure
their subjects have voted - calling a dare this weekend to weed out the
sell-outs who stayed at home on voting day.

Crafty Harare wordsmiths did not take long to craft jokes around the red
finger. I liked this one: Ko mawoko akatsvukei? Asi wauraya jongwe? (Why do
you have blood on your hands? Have you killed the cock?)

Yesterday evening there were people with blood on their hands who claimed
they could wash it off with all sorts of detergents and chemicals including
ordinary bath soap, turpentine - and even urine!

A voter called me in the afternoon to say that he had managed to wash off
the ink and voted twice. I did not immediately believe him because the dye
on my fingers looks set to remain there for days to come and I am worried
about ever getting it off.

At the polling station where I voted yesterday, the ink desk was a terrible
mess. The liquid was everywhere, on the floor, on the desk and all over
clothes of the electoral officer who unfortunately appeared unable to
control the small bottles in front of her.

She was not alone in her clumsiness. I managed to get some ink onto my ring
finger and trouser pocket - indelible scars for what?

When election results have been announced and we have all sobered up,
hopefully we should still be brandishing our little red fingers which to
some could be a lingering reminder of failure to change things through the
ballot box. The little finger would be an illustration of a bloodied soul
which would need to wait another five years to receive total healing.

To the victors it's a warrior's tattoo of valour and an emblem of
self-fulfillment. They would like this identity to stay on forever. Because
the ink will be there longer, especially on some of us who have it on our
clothes, it should provide the trigger for us to keep reminding ourselves of
the electoral promises by politicians.

Like a jilted newlywed, we will soon be looking at the little red finger as
a reminder of the brief bliss which only produced frustration.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo


CONGRATULATIONS Dr Agostinho Zacarias on your appointment as the new United
Nations Development Programme resident representative to Zimbabwe. I hope
you will find the stay at your well-appointed offices at Takura House

I believe that you have started to settle in and are evaluating the tasks
you have to execute. It is good to note that you are positive in your quest
to see things done. The release sent from your office this week says if,
together with your staff, you "remain committed to our principles, our
programmes and our mandates, remain within the law and work to defend our
principles, we are likely to succeed".

It is also heartening to note that you are keen to fight the HIV and Aids
scourge. You have come at an opportune moment when the country is in real
need of international assistance. Unlike your predecessor Dr Victor Angelo,
who was European and therefore unacceptable to the ruling order here, the
Zimbabwe leadership will give you a warmer welcome because you are an
African brother. Better still, you hail from a very friendly country just on
the other side of the mountain.

On the day you meet our dear leader, be prepared to be reminded that
relations between Zimbabwe and Mozambique date back to the days of the
liberation struggle - or indeed Munhumutapa. This is notwithstanding the
fact that you are here as a representative of the UN secretary-general Kofi
Annan and not President Armando Guebuza.

Dr Zacarias, you are therefore expected to behave like a true African
brother and not what the state media calls the "discredited" Dr Angelo.

I found nothing wrong in his conduct but he was pilloried by government
functionaries for simply telling the truth.

On the eve of his departure, the Sunday Mail and Herald took turns to fire
potshots at him with one columnist branding him a "devillo". He was accused
of working with the opposition to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. He was
accused of initiating a project to export dispossessed white farmers to
other African countries. In short, he had become an inconvenient diplomat.

But I recall him warning of serious food shortages last year and censuring
government for barring a food assessment team and preventing aid agencies
from distributing food. Let me quote what he said in an interview with AFP.

"We are concerned that the government's decision to scrap a mission to
assess food stocks could complicate emergency aid deliveries that may be
needed later."

At the time the government was telling all and sundry that it would produce
2,4 million tonnes of maize of which it needed 1,8 million tonnes to feed
all of us and our livestock.

That was a bare-faced lie because we are scraping the bottoms of our silos
and the highest office has finally admitted that there is no food. When
Angelo sounded the warning, he was accused of meddling in the country's
politics. He was told: hands off.

But Dr Zacarias, the government will be coming to the UNDP soon to ask you
to co-ordinate relief efforts. The country needs food, medicine and support
to the agrarian reform which I am sure our rulers will tell you was a major
success. They will still require you to mobilise assistance all the same!

There is also the unenviable task of convincing donors to support the
government. The relationship between them and government has soured in the
past few weeks after some of their co-operating partners were accused of
supporting the opposition MDC. I do not see international donors being as
forthcoming as they were in 2003 when the country faced its worst
humanitarian crisis. You have to convince them on President Mugabe's behalf.
As a brother, you are expected to deliver.

Then there is the problem of the agrarian reform. Part of the reason why
there is no food is the sector has been ruined. You will be told that
irrigation cannot take place on farms because retreating white farmers
looted and vandalised important gear. You will also be told that
international sanctions have deferred the completion of dams and key
irrigation infrastructure. There will be explanations for all the failures.

International donors have not fallen for this subterfuge hence they have not
moved an inch since the international conference called in 1998 to discuss
possible funding for land reform.

Angelo stuck to that position up to the time he left which was very simply
that land reform should include all stakeholders in planning to boost
production rather than diminish it. Only that way would donors come on

"Donors would be very supportive of a well-designed and properlyimplemented
survey of the agricultural situation," he said. "Before this has been
achieved we can't even talk about the next step."

One other crucial role of the resident representative is to promote and
support effective dialogue and interaction between the different UN agencies
and government. Under this brief Angelo had set in motion a process to
promote national dialogue between the opposition and the Zanu PF government.
I understand that he intended to achieve this indirectly - through the
National Economic Consultative Forum. There was not much progress on that

This is unfinished business for the office of the resident rep. In
post-election Zimbabwe, accomplishment on this score would be a huge
achievement. But first of all Dr Zacarias, we need food urgently, not
spurious solidarity.

Good luck,

Vincent Kahiya.
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Zim Independent

No respite for Zim despite poll
Godfrey Marawanyika/ Chris Goko
ALTHOUGH Zimbabwe held its sixth parliamentary election yesterday, the
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has ruled out any immediate end to the
country's economic woes and international isolation.

In its Zimbabwe at a glance: 2005-06 report, the EIU said that there will
not be an immediate economic respite because of inconsistent policies such
as that for the platinum sector that bars the holding of foreign currency
accounts. This, the reports says, undermines confidence in the sector.

"It appears increasingly unlikely that the parliamentary election will lead
to a resolution of the country's ongoing economic crisis," the report said.

"Even if they (elections) are endorsed by Sadc, we do not expect the EU or
US to accept the results. In fact, if, as seems likely, the elections fail
to resolve matters in Zimbabwe, the US and EU are likely to step up the
pressure on the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to try and find a
solution to the impasse."

Since 2002, Zimbabwe has been slapped with EU and US sanctions.

The EIU is a specialist publication serving business companies and managing
operations across national borders.

EIU has been operating for over 50 years and has been a source of
information on business developments, economic and political trends,
government regulations and corporate practice worldwide.

Between 1999 and 2003 Zimbabwe has experienced a cumulative decline in real
Gross Domestic Product of 28,4% although the government now feels that the
economic decline has been arrested.

Last year, Acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa anticipated that GDP for
2004 would decline 2,5% from the 8,5 % recorded in 2003.

Murerwa also said that he was expecting the economy would record a 3,5 to 5%
positive growth rate this year.

Murerwa said agriculture, which contributes about 16% towards GDP, was
expected to register a marginal decline of 3,3% last year but projected to
grow by 28% this year.

Mining, which contributes about 4% of GDP is also projected to register a
7,5% growth this year, after posting an 11,6% drop last year.

But government expects the manufacturing sector, which contributes 18% to
GDP, to decline by 8,5% in 2004.

The EIU said that only in 2006, as the government tries to improve economic
management, will the budget deficit be brought slowly under control, at a
forecast of 4,2% of GDP.

"As it has no access to international funding, the government will continue
to fund the deficits from domestic sources, although the cost of this will
rise as real interest rates become positive again in 2005/6," the report

The report said that throughout 2004, it became apparent that central bank
governor Gideon Gono was now the main "force" shaping overall economic
policy in the country, although his position is still constrained by the
views of President Mugabe.

"As a result, although Mr Gono will continue to push for changes, it is
likely that there will be constant tinkering with the current exchange rate
and interest rate policies rather than any fundamental reform," the EIU
report said.

"The key measures of progress with reform will be whether Mr Gono can
convince Mr Mugabe of the need to make a major devaluation of the auction
rate after the election and completely eliminate the dual interest rate."

In an interview with a local paper, Gono this week said he was not tinkering
with the auction system.

The system was introduced on January 12 last year by the central bank at the
behest of industrialists.

The EIU said the economic decline is set to slow down in the second half of
the year as the economy starts to "settle at a new equilibrium with a much
lower level of income compared with the level prior to 2000".
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Zim Independent

Tobacco sales no panacea to forex woes
Eric Chiriga
THE sale of tobacco this season will not help improve the shortage of
foreign currency, Finhold says.

"This year's crop size of about 100 million kg is unlikely to have much of a
positive impact on foreign currency inflows, given the extent of shortages
on the foreign currency auction," Finhold says in its economic update for

Traditionally tobacco, the major foreign currency earner in the country,
helps to stabilise the Zimbabwe dollar.

In 1996 actual shipments and free funds of tobacco were US$702,1 million, in
2004 they were US$184,6 million and the target for this year is only US$250

Finhold added that pressure for a significant devaluation is mounting given
the fact that only 3% of bids on the auction market were successful.The
shortage of foreign currency on the auction market has been worsening. In
the auction of January 5-17, 867 bids were rejected out of 967 while in the
auction of January 6-20, 2 466 bids were rejected out of 2 554.

The average rejection rate rose from 93% in January to 97% in February. The
total amount of bids surpassed the US$100 million mark on February 10 and 14
auctions, translating into demand of nine times more than the fixed supply
of US$11 million per auction.

Due to the continued excess demand of foreign currency over supply, the
Zimbabwe dollar depreciated further against major currencies on the foreign
currency auction market during the month of February.

"The Zimbabwe dollar fell by 6%, 5%, 5% and 3% on the month against the
South African rand, Botswana pula, euro and the British pound, respectively.
It also fell by 1% against both the Japanese yen and the US dollar," Finhold

The financial institution said money market liquidity conditions eased
temporarily during the first two weeks of February, with shortages improving
from $316 billion on February 1 to $9,5 billion on February 11.

This was mainly due to an injection of about $1,1 trillion in the form of
Treasury Bill maturities and government deposits of civil servants' salaries
around February 10.

A further injection of more than $1,1 trillion in the form of more Treasury
Bill maturities between February 14 and 28 failed to neutralise withdrawals
from the market arising from corporate tax payments.
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Zim Independent

TIMB sees tobacco output declining
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has warned that the country's
expected tobacco output may not be realised as growers faced a number of
input problems especially the shortage of fertilisers.

Output for this year is expected at 110 million kg up from last year's
production of 64 million kg. This is however short of the envisaged 160
million kg set by growers and the central bank before onset of the planting
season last year.

TIMB represents the country's major buyers and to date the organisation has
19 "A" class merchants licensed to buy flue-cured tobacco this season, down
from 27 last selling season.

"Whilst constraints were experienced in accessing ideal tobacco seedlings as
well as timely availability of other tobacco inputs such as fertilisers and
crop protection chemicals, a slightly bigger crop size is expected this year
compared to last year, due to a significant increase in the numbers of
farmers growing the crop," TIMB said in its Crop Assessment Report for

"However, most farmers interviewed are facing labour shortages to reap and
cure the crop in time, since labour is demanding much higher wages than what
is recommended. "Other constraints experienced are (shortages) of coal to
cure the crop as well as an acute shortage of topdressing fertilisers. Due
to these constraints, the full potential of the crop that has been planted
may not be realised."

The tobacco selling season is set to start on Tuesday.

The latest report comes at a time when tobacco growers and the central bank
have come up with a blueprint known as Vision 160.

The policy was launched last year with the view to see tobacco output rising
to 160 million kg this year from a paltry 64 million kg last year.

Vision 160 was implemented by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in
conjunction with tobacco growers with the aim of boosting tobacco production
in the country.

TIMB said from the early crop that was seen during the assessment, there has
been a significant decrease in the area under irrigated crop when compared
to previous years.

"However, crops that were assessed are at the 5th to 6th reaping stage and
are heavy bodied. Cured lower reapings are predominantly standard lemon,
with small proportions of desirable mahogany "R" grade. Some leaf displaying
off colour "K" and dry nature "D" styles were also sampled.

Expected yield from this planting is within the range 3000 to 3500kg/ha."

One of the country's largest foreign currency earners, the golden leaf
production has been on a free-fall since the beginning of the chaotic land
reform programme.

From a peak of 237 million kg in 1999, Zimbabwe produced only 64 million kg
last year.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Tobacco Development Corporation, through the
facilitation of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, signed a US$25 million
agreement with ABSA Bank of South Africa for tobacco input facility for the
2005/6 season.
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Zim Independent

Election winner must deal with economic crisis
Gift Phiri

WHICHEVER party wins yesterday's legislative poll will have to immediately
find ways of resolving Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
Analysts are unanimous that the biggest job will be undoing the damage that
the 25 years of Zanu PF rule has inflicted on the economy. Resuscitating the
ailing economy and embarking on a new reconstruction and development
programme reminiscent of the South African initiative in the mid-1990s and
Zimbabwe's own post-war efforts when Mugabe came to power in 1980 will in
part mitigate the political problems.
The rampant high inflation, currently at 127%, and related skyrocketing
prices of basic commodities will have to be brought down as soon as possible
to bring some relief to long-suffering Zimbabweans. This will require
outsiders, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, who
have abandoned Zimbabwe, to come aboard and help. It remains doubtful, of
course, whether these institutions will come back without a political
settlement. Analysts criticise Mugabe, who this month publicly acknowledged
hunger problems for the first time, for sidestepping the issue of the
crumbling economy in the election campaign.

The 81-year-old strongman has denied his policies are to blame for the
country's economic woes, instead focusing Zanu PF's campaign on attacking
British Prime Minister Tony Blair - whom he accuses of economic sabotage and
of trying to recolonise Zimbabwe through the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
"Few will disagree that the single greatest need of Zimbabwe is to reverse
economic decline," economic commentator Eric Bloch said. The leading
economist estimates that over 70% of Zimbabwe's 12,5 million population are
struggling to survive on incomes below the poverty datum line. "Instead of
addressing substantive issues of national concern, the target is an
immature, childish personal attack that can only further worsen Zimbabwe's
relationships with key elements of the international community," Bloch said.

Analysts point out that the winner will have to face some tough economic
decisions, most urgently over the exchange rate, which bankers say is skewed
and threatening exporters' viability.
Last year, Zimbabwe's real exchange rate has appreciated by around 50% at
the twice-weekly foreign currency auction, reflecting one of the world's
highest inflation rates of 127 % in the year to February. The Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) manages the auction as part of its anti-inflationary
stance, but the result is that a yawning gap has opened between the official
rate of $6 080 to the US dollar and the parallel market rate of around $13

In March, the central bank could meet only 8% of companies' bids for foreign
currency. Bids currently run at around US$140 million per auction, but the
RBZ can only meet US$11 million per auction. Analysts now expect the
Zimbabwe dollar to devalue to between $8 500 and $10 000 to the US dollar
within the next month.
Economists also predict that the prolonged decline in inflation, from 622%
at the start of 2004 to 127 % last month, is ending. They expect steep rises
in the prices of food, fuel and electricity, all held down by the government
before the election.

Leading University of Zimbabwe economist Tony Hawkins states that price
rises also seem certain given the apparently inevitable devaluation of the
Zimbabwe dollar. The central bank's interest rate and borrowing policies are
also unravelling, according to bankers.

Hawkins said government's domestic debt surged by 140% in the last month to
$5, 8 trillion.
"Meanwhile the government is trying to raise a further $10 trillion to
finance an ambitious restructuring programme for state-owned companies and
local government," he said. "But the first local bond issue, to raise $500
billion, raised just $124 billion." Market analysts say the government's $10
trillion target is out of reach, and it will have to scale down its
investment plans and raise interest rates.

With a budget deficit target of $45 trillion, or 7,5 % of gross domestic
product, and off-budget subsidies estimated at $3 trillion, the state's
total borrowing requirement, including the reinvestment plan for state-owned
companies, is $17,5 trillion or 30% of forecast GDP. Hawkins said such
borrowings were simply not feasible with the Zimbabwe economy in its present
With prices having risen almost 18 % in the first two months of the year,
the official inflation target of 35% by December is already out of reach, he
said. Hawkins said equally unachievable is the RBZ's plan to merge the
market and officially subsidised bank-lending rates at 50% by the middle of
this year.

"The government is forecasting an economic recovery this year, saying it
expects real GDP growth of at least 3,5%, driven largely by 28% expansion in
agriculture," Hawkins said. "But poor rains and the sustained effects of the
government's bungled land reform programme point to little if any economic
growth this year."
The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit recently forecast a further 3%
decline in GDP in 2005.

Hawkins foresees three potential outcomes for the economy after the
elections. He said the ruling party could win, receive international
recognition and access to funding, which he thinks is unlikely. The
opposition could win and embark on economic policies that are likely to have
support from the West. Or, he said, the ruling party could win and fail to
get international recognition.
"If the Mugabe government wins and it is not recognised then I fear the sort
of gradual stagnation of the economy continues and conditions will get
slowly worse," he said.

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Zim Independent

When patronage takes away your freedoms
By Charles Frizell
DURING the height of the land grab in 2000 I received a call from a local
district administrator asking me to put forward the names of 50 people who
would be allocated land on "seized" farms in my area. When I asked whether I
qualified as well (I was landless and lived in rented accommodation, and was
also a councillor), the lady said yes and that I could put my name down as

I must admit that I gave this serious consideration because I had wanted to
buy some land and build myself a small house but could not afford it. Who
would turn down such an opportunity?

Of course I knew that it was morally wrong, as did every other beneficiary
of the land grab, but surely I could come up with some justification to ease
my conscience? In my case I could tell myself that I was working for the
good of the people, so why should I not benefit by receiving some land?

However, I did not do it. I neither took up the offer of land myself nor
gave the administrator the 50 names. I discussed it with my workers and
friends who at first were very keen - who wouldn't be? But then when we
discussed it further the disadvantages became too great.

Had we agreed to accept land, we knew that we would not own it in any real
and legal way. We knew that there was no way we would ever receive legal
title. And besides, what good had legal title been to the rightful owners
who had been thrown off their land?

Thrown off for no other reason than being the wrong colour, though they were
citizens of Zimbabwe and had bought and paid for their property. Of course
what is not widely known or publicised is that non-white farmers who were
believed to oppose the government were dispossessed as well. This did not
fit in with the general thrust of propaganda.

Naturally a great number did accept the offer, and then found themselves
trapped. Once you had accepted, there was no way that you could go against
or disagree with those whose patronage you had accepted. You could not vote
to choose who you wanted to represent you, because then you would lose your

You could not criticise those from whose patronage you had benefited,
because then you would lose your land. You found that you were now no better
than a slave, stripped of all your rights and freedom of choice. You found
that someone else controlled you totally.

In the middle ages there were many folk stories of people who had sold their
souls to the devil in order to achieve some immediate goal or advantage.

However, the end was always terrible when the devil came to claim his dues,
and the people always bitterly regretted having cut their deals with the
devil. And so it is with accepting patronage; it may seem so sweet at the
time, but the payback is inevitable and usually terrible.

All people have a sense of right and wrong, a sense of natural justice that
has been an essential part of all human societies since time began.

Therefore some excuse was needed so that people could square their
consciences with their actions. That was how the mantra of "they stole our
land" was conceived. It was obviously ridiculous in the present time because
at least 80% of farms had been bought since Independence, subject to
certificates of no interest for resettlement by the government.

Also the racism and envy inherent in all people was used for all it was
worth. This made it easier for people to bury their knowledge that it is
manifestly unjust to take from others what was never yours in the first
place. Righting historical injustices was yet another empty slogan used to
ease troubled consciences.

But patronage is not confined to the land grab. Many, many businesses in
Zimbabwe prosper only because of patronage - they could never survive
otherwise. We have seen in recent months, without naming names, how easy it
is to pull the rug out from under the feet of these people when they are
thought to be getting out of hand.

Patronage is a very insidious method of disempowering and enslaving a whole
nation. When 15 High Court judges are themselves beneficiaries of patronage,
what happens to the rule of law? Can the average citizen expect justice when
those whose job it is to dispense justice are themselves beholden and
enslaved to others?

This was specifically written with the Zanu PF hierarchy in mind. These
people might say: "Okay, you know how it works. So what? We hold the power
of patronage and you do not."

That's true, but the first step in fighting a lie is to expose that lie as
widely as possible. Once a lie becomes widely known as a lie it is far
harder to defend.

Which is of course why Zanu PF are so desperate to control all information
coming into or leaving the country, because that way the party can hide the
lies and continue to perpetrate those lies.

And each one of you must be trapped in the web of the politics of patronage.
Patronage is the ultimate pyramid scheme, each layer owing allegiance to a
smaller number above and so on right up to the peak of the pyramid. No doubt
that loss of freedom, loss of independence must worry you? It would worry
me, which is why I am happy to be beholden to no man.

*Charles Frizell is a Zimbabwean based in the United Kingdom
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Zim Independent

All Zanu PF wanted was 'legitimacy'
Rashweat Mukundu
THE so-called "access to the media" that has been granted opposition
parties, chief among the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has widely
been hailed as a move in the right direction.

What unfortunately has not been discussed is that direction when Zimbabwe's
independent media has endured over the last five years cumulative repression
under some of the worst media laws in the world.

The direction that is being called right has so far not included debate on

need to remove laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa), the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and the
Broadcasting Services Act in the proper context of entrenching democracy in
Zimbabwe. Instead debate has been that these laws should not have been used
to ban newspapers and not whether they need to exist at all.

The granting of access to the media, that even the opposition itself seems
to have swallowed as a move in the right direction, is merely a cleansing
exercise by the ruling party and government in which the opposition parties
are being called upon as participants.

There is no doubt that what Zanu PF wanted was not a free and fair election
but a result that would be "legitimate". This is the position of not only
Zanu PF but even the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and South
African observer teams who came to witness the self-cleansing of Zanu PF and
indeed build a case in support of the party that it must be readmitted into
the international community.

The statements by South African observer teams and Thabo Mbeki himself point
to a new discourse in Sadc on what constitutes democracy in Africa and what
the definition of democracy itself is. The South African president has been
at the forefront telling the rest of the world that all is well in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki's statements have been buttressed by images of the MDC's Tendai Biti
and Welshman Ncube battling it out on television with war veterans, new
farmers and businesspersons-cum-journalists in the form of Happison
Muchechetere and Supa Mandiwandzira. These images in which Zanu PF, through
its control of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), determines the
parameters within which the debate takes place undermines and, in fact,
hampers the so-called access to the media that has been granted the MDC and
other small parties.

Zanu PF through its apparatus at the ZBH determined what was to be debated
on and this, unfortunately, for the MDC included its alleged relationship
with the British government and its alleged conspiracy with the West to
impose sanctions on Zimbabwe; how Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is doing
a wonderful job; and the MDC's position on land.

Apart from a few voice-overs on radio in which the MDC wasn't heard speaking
on how things had gone bad in Zimbabwe, substantial debate on real issues
affecting the lives of Zimbabweans was largely lost in this circus. Debate
was narrowed to where Zanu PF thought it had strength - fighting

What Zanu PF had been doing with the so-called access to media is largely
authenticating and legitimising its beliefs and using the media to seek
national consensus on what the problems in Zimbabwe are and also who the
problem is. Anyone who said the elections would not be free and fair was
labelled an enemy of the state and strangely, by Zimbabwe's standards, an
enemy of democracy.

Zanu PF and Mbeki's democracy tells us that half-a-loaf is better than
nothing; we are constantly being told that this is Africa and more so
Zimbabwe and what Zanu PF gives you take.

The MDC and other parties' participation in the media circus gave credence
to the Zanu PF ideology, an ideology that had largely lost touch with people
but now has new energy after four years of intense repression using brute
force. The Zanu PF ideology now seeks to survive, renew and reproduce itself
although through means other than beating up people, bombing printing
presses and arresting journalists.

It seeks legitimacy; it sought to win peaceful and democratic elections.

In any case we have to ask ourselves what really has changed to allow the
talk of "right direction" when repressive legislation is still there and
being used, when independent newspapers such as the Daily News remain
banned. I contend that neither the MDC nor any other opposition political
party was granted access to the media.

The MDC and other parties who were being "covered" by the ZBH are largely
pawns in a larger game that involves not only Zanu PF but the South Africans
and their so-called observers, a game in which the people of Zimbabwe must
be put to sleep and accept that Posa, Aippa and many other laws inherited
from Ian Smith are okay as long as the MDC appears on national television
and as long as the opposition wins a few seats - that is democracy in
southern Africa.

The point is that this election, like many others that have come and gone,
will not and has not addressed any issues affecting the people of Zimbabwe.
Debate by the MDC and Zanu PF on national television was largely on symptoms
of issues that are affecting us. Debate nationally and in the region has not
forcefully focused on the need to remove repressive laws, engage the
government on the need for national dialogue on a new constitution.

Whether the MDC wins 90 seats, the failure by the people of Zimbabwe to take
debate beyond parochial issues will haunt us forever. The so-called access
to the media that has been granted to the opposition apart from showing us
unfamiliar faces on the boring screens has not enriched our understanding of
the national crisis, but will in fact be used to legitimise repression.

The question that has to be asked is: what will happen the day after the
"access to the media"? Will the MDC, having its 50,60 or 70 seats in
parliament be granted the chance to articulate its policies further?

After the elections we are set to find ourself in the darker part of our
lives, when Aippa, Posa and the NGO Act will be used against us. Access to
the media goes beyond and is not about elections but a national philosophy
that is guided and rooted in democratic beliefs and attitudes; none of these
exist in Zimbabwe and will not after the elections.

*Rashweat Mukundu is the director for Misa Zimbabwe, but writes in his
personal capacity.
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Zim Independent

There's still a dream in Zimbabwe
By Masimba Biriwasha
THE dream and hope of a new nation glows like a flame lily in every
Zimbabwean's heart. But the resolution of the country's multifaceted crisis
could take a number of different turns and pathways. The pathway the country
travels will be largely determined by the outcome of political developments
that lie at the heart of current problems in our country.

One of the main problems defining and sustaining the crisis has been the
partisan approach to issues of national significance. This has forestalled
peace, progress and prosperity.

In the absence of an all-inclusive political settlement, the nation of
Zimbabwe will continue down the road of further disintegration and decline
characterised by a disunity of vision and purpose. The decline will
inevitably infect all sectors of our society. There will be an increase in
lawlessness, brain drain, corruption, poverty and disease.

It is now apparent that a historicised and racialist approach to resolving
the land question and other national questions has failed to yield results
that promote the common good in our country. The war of liberation psychosis
remains a major obstacle.

As it is, Zimbabwe can only extricate itself from the current crisis with a
political settlement, which will bring the much-needed stability to the
country. There's need for a process of national healing in which all
outstanding national issues will be brought out in the open without fear or
favour. Thus, the question is not whether there will be a transition in the
country, but when it will happen.

However, that transition will be a brainchild of political change and
confidence-building measures both locally and internationally. The
transition will likely involve initial moderate reforms to get the economy
back on track while the political details are being worked out.

To be successful, the process of transition must reflect the hopes and
aspirations of the people as well as receive the blessings of the
international community. Zimbabwe must not regard herself as an island in
today's interconnected world. Immediate turnaround should not be expected.
Besides there is a danger that such a turnaround can result in superficial

Even when hopeful signs of recovery begin to appear, the economy would still
continue to decline over the short term until the reform process kicks in.
The transition process may be further delayed by the rise of populist
demagoguery on the part of political actors who have the most to lose from
the way the political space is conducted today.

The transition period could last from six months to more than two years. The
more protracted the transition period, the greater will be the degree of
polarisation and generalised social and political conflict.

While the transition period will be mainly aimed toward stabilisation, the
reform era will involve the move towards a more vibrant democratic society
and the opening of the politico-economic system, creating new opportunities
for investors and entrepreneurs. In effect, the revival of the Zimbabwean
economy lies in the development of entrepreneurial skills in all business

There's still a dream in Zimbabwe but it will only be made real through a
paradigm shift - a change in attitude - characterised by tolerance of
diversity and respect for fairness, freedom and justice.

*Masimba Biriwasha is a writer and publisher based in Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent


Bad boy tag blocks economic rebound

ELECTION results will start trickling in today and, bar a few surprises here
and there, there are not likely to be any major shocks. Whatever the surge
in popularity of the opposition over the past two weeks, President Mugabe
has fixed the electoral system to ensure his party's retention of power.
All the dead voters, the military personnel, those who registered after the
closure of the voters' roll last month, together with the gerrymandering of
constituency boundaries and disenfranchisement of thousands of MDC
supporters will ensure victory for political corruption. It is likely to be
the same old stale Zanu PF government again for the next five years. Even if
they lost the popular vote, as they did in 2000 but kept their seats thanks
to a supine judiciary, they would still face Zanu PF's built-in majority of
30 nominated seats.

After all the excitement wrought by the polls has evaporated and the results
have been confirmed, Zimbabweans will be going back to their woeful lives of
poverty, unemployment, food shortages and all the other ills associated with
this dying regime that won't let go despite its manifest inability to solve
a single one of the country's problems.

The most worrying home truth about the Zimbabwean tragedy is that there is
no white knight riding in to save the situation. The Zanu PF government
which has been in power for the past 25 years has remained encrusted in
liberation war dogma which has blinded President Mugabe to the realities of
changing world politics. His election campaign was steeped in the mantras of
the 1970s - the last time he was successful at anything!

For, make no mistake, Mugabe has been an unmitigated failure as a
post-liberation leader.
Mugabe has resorted to the most extraordinary pettiness in his campaign
against Tony Blair - arguably a successful leader whose country's GDP has
grown to place it as the world's fourth largest economy at a time when
Zimbabwe's has shrunk by 30%.

Blaming Blair for our problems simply draws attention to Mugabe's failure to
manage a modern economy and implies the British premier should occupy State
House if Mugabe loses!
If he wins, one would expect Mugabe to consolidate his anti-Blair victory to
pull the country out of its current morass. This week Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, an undisguised imbed of the Zanu PF ruling
order, was quoted in the state media as saying the country was on the path
to good times. He forecast foreign currency inflows of US$3 billion, a
further retreat in inflation and a revival of the export sector. The
targeted inflows for this year stood at US$2 billion but it is doubtful if
half of that amount will be achieved, especially in the absence of
balance-of-payments support.

Gono has been on the path to Nirvana since he took over as central bank
governor in October 2003 but there are many who doubt whether that road will
take the country to its promised land. There is a major food deficit due to
crop failure this year. It is estimated that US$70 million is required for
food imports. The manufacturing sector which relies heavily on yields from
agriculture will witness massive job cuts due to the scaling down of

By its own admission the government does not have the capacity to deal with
the crisis in the health sector where poorly equipped hospitals are teeming
with patients who in some instances cannot even get a simple Aspirin. The
HIV and Aids scourge which has lowered life expectancy to a mere 33 years
has exposed the reversal of one of the great achievements of the
post-Independence era - a properly funded healthcare system.

The drought this year and a poorly co-ordinated and funded ARVs programme
are likely to exacerbate the conditions of those afflicted with the scourge.
Look out for a dramatic increase in the numbers of the homeless.

Humanitarian assistance has started to dry up as NGOs and international
donor agencies with offices in Harare have been harassed by the government
which accuses them of using aid money to fund the opposition.

And we can be sure that as soon as the last observers have left the country
the police will be quick to return to their bad habits of arbitrary arrest
and detention without trial.

The current state of affairs in Zimbabwe is illustrative of a country crying
out for international help in solving its myriad problems. The
"we-can-go-it-alone" attitude or the Look East policy - in which Mugabe
believes Zimbabwe's salvation lies - have not helped deal with the country's
immediate needs: jobs, food on the table, affordable healthcare, and
All these things depend upon effective governance, something Mugabe and his
delinquent party are evidently incapable of delivering.
The international community, especially those with deep pockets, will not be
coming in to rescue Zimbabwe as long as Mugabe elects to remain the
international bad boy. That quest to be another Fidel Castro is hopelessly
redundant and is making Zimbabweans poorer by the day.

Mugabe's arthritic mindset which sees anyone who differs with him as an
enemy is a major threat to any economic rebound.

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

The election and Homelink

IT is very understandable and justifiable that many, if not most, of the
over three million Zimbabweans abroad are bitter and angry that they were
precluded from voting in yesterday's election. Although they are presently
not living in Zimbabwe, they have proudly retained their Zimbabwean
citizenship, and especially so as the overwhelming majority of them have a
pronounced interest to return to Zimbabwe at a future date.
While some are away from Zimbabwe as self-imposed political exiles and a few
because they are perceived to have committed economic crimes and are
desirous of defending themselves, they are unconvinced that they will be
accorded justice and an opportunity of such defence, fearing that instead
they will be incarcerated for prolonged periods without trial.

However, the bulk of the Zimbabweans abroad have been driven there by
economic circumstances. Either they have been unable to achieve acceptable
employment in Zimbabwe - thanks to the extent that the government has
destroyed the economy - with a resultant level of unemployment of almost
80%, or they have had to seek employment in countries where currency has a
meaningful value in order to support destitute families at home, or to
accumulate capital to fund future Zimbabwean enterprise development.

In essence, their being abroad is a direct consequence of the manner whereby
the government has brought the Zimbabwean economy to the edge of the
precipice of collapse.
However, whatsoever the reason for the Zimbabweans to be abroad, it is near
impossible to justify that, as Zimbabweans, they shall not be able to cast a
vote in parliamentary elections. The only exception is that those in the
armed and uniformed forces on duty beyond Zimbabwe's borders are entitled to
postal votes. Other Zimbabweans are not!

This is blatantly discriminatory and effectively treating the Zimbabweans
abroad as second-class citizens. Undoubtedly the sole motivation behind that
discrimination is an awareness on the part of the government that most
Zimbabweans abroad would not vote for the ruling party.
So much for the governmental contentions of a free and fair election and
that Zimbabwe is a democracy! The facts speak otherwise, for virtually all
democracies respect the right of all citizens, wherever they may be, to
vote, albeit by recourse to postal votes.

Be that as it may be, and as justifiable as the fury and ire of the
Zimbabweans abroad is in the light of the injustice to which they are
subjected, by depriving them of their vote, nevertheless they are misguided
when they seek revenge by avoiding the Homelink in remitting monies home,
and by their scathing allegations that Homelink is an arm of government and,
therefore, should not be supported.

The facts are radically in conflict with the contention. In fact, by
resorting to alternative avenues to use their foreign currency earnings to
assist their families in Zimbabwe, or to accumulate capital in Zimbabwe,
they are actually doing a disservice to their families, themselves and the
Zimbabwean economy as a whole.
In the first instance, although it cannot be denied that the Reserve Bank is
owned by the state, nevertheless it is very substantially an independent
central bank. It does not operate as an arm of the government, as a tool of
government in economic matters, or as a vehicle for the implementation of
the policies of the ruling party.

It operates in a manner so as to stimulate economic stability and growth,
ensure effective and constructive monetary policies, establish and maintain
good and sound corporate governance in a financial sector where many were
previously lacking in that attribute, and to fulfil the obligations and
duties of an independent central bank. Inevitably some of its policies will,
from time to time, accord with those of the government, and equally
inevitably some of its policies will be misguided, albeit in good faith.

But that does not justify the contempt for the Reserve Bank demonstrated by
some Zimbabweans abroad. Moreover, it certainly does not justify tarnishing
Homelink with the brush of hatred that most Zimbabweans abroad have for the
government. Instead of supporting Homelink unreservedly as a safe, secure,
fast and reliable vehicle for internalising funds into the country, many
Zimbabweans resort repeatedly to the unlawful parallel and black markets.
Predominantly, there are two motives for doing so.

First and foremost is that of maximising the exchange rate. At the present
time, the parallel and black markets are offering rates of exchange more
than twice that attainable through remittances through official channels.
While the diaspora rate payable by Homelink is US$1: $6 200, the parallel
market is offering a rate in excess of US$1: $14 000. This is understandably
attractive to the Zimbabwean abroad seeking to give as much assistance as
possible to family and dependants at home.
The second is in order not to support Homelink.
However, the Zimbabwean abroad needs to be conscious of three key factors
which militate against attaining the parallel and black market exchange
rate, as against the rate realised from inward remittances through official
channels. Firstly, there is a steadily increasing number of reports of
parallel market dealers absconding with the foreign currency sold to them by
their clients, and failing to effect the agreed payment in Zimbabwe dollars.

In almost the same way, other dealers do pay out to the intended Zimbabwean
recipients but do so at a lesser exchange rate than had been agreed. Many of
the black market dealers resort to equally, or even greater, frauds, paying
for foreign currency with bundles of supposed bank notes, whereas in
practice genuine notes are only near the top and bottom of the bundles, and
newsprint is placed inside the banknote "sandwich". Thus, there are
recurrent instances of Zimbabweans abroad being swindled and losing much, if
not all, of their hard-earned foreign exchange. Their anxiety to maximise on
exchange rates turns them into victims of dealers in the illicit parallel

Yet another risk is faced by those who trade in the parallel and black
markets. The authorities have been vigorously intensifying their efforts to
contain the operation of those markets.
They are becoming increasingly successful at exposing and arresting illegal
currency dealers and, when they do so, any foreign currency found in their
possession is confiscated, whereupon the dealers fail to honour their
commitments to make payment for the foreign currency that they have

The third and very significant factor that the Zimbabweans abroad need to be
conscious of is that, in fuelling the parallel and black markets, they are
severely harming the Zimbabwean economy, to the prejudice of all Zimbabweans
at home, including the families and dependants which the Zimbabweans abroad
are seeking to help.
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Zim Independent


Gono, brief Joyce Mujuru please!

JOYCE Mujuru has been demonstrating all those qualities we would expect from
a Zanu PF vice-president. Don't worry about assistance from the IMF and
World Bank, she says. The government will use "local resources" instead for
development. Government had its "own plan", she confided, which would get
around sanctions to build dams and irrigation schemes.

Sanctions had prevented all these things happening in the past. Now, with a
little help from friendly countries in the East the future was bright. For
instance, the "major problem facing the country was food reliance". So
government was "planning to harness the country's irrigation potential",
Mujuru told villagers in Zaka.
That would be a good place to feed unsuspecting rural folk this hogwash
because it wouldn't get airtime anywhere else!

What has happened to all the irrigation schemes over the past five years?
Were they not pillaged or destroyed by members of her party? If government
had a plan for dams development why didn't it tell us before? Was it
sanctions that wrecked Tokwe Mukorsi or political interference and sheer
incompetence? Why did the Italians run away? Joyce should grow up and tell
people the facts. Nothing is going to work so long as Zanu PF steals the
country's resources. Zimbabwe has gone begging to the IMF precisely because
it doesn't have any "local resources" left.
Could Gideon Gono please brief her!

It is no longer apocryphal. The truth is out. President Mugabe made his
intentions clear as a whistle in Tsholotsho last week. Either the electorate
vote for his party or a whole generation will remain forgotten.
Unfortunately the people of Tsholotsho and other areas in Matabeleland have
learnt to live with being forgotten. There is absolutely nothing new in that
statement unless it was meant as a camouflaged threat.

He repeated the argument in a similar vein when he told a rally in
Chitungwiza that residents had to confess their sins and repent for having
voted for the opposition in 2000 before government could do something about
the splurges of sewage effluent in the dusty working class suburb.
This is exactly why people in Matabeleland voted for the opposition in the
2000 general election. They felt forgotten and wanted to express their
resentment at this type of deliberate, institutionalised neglect.

It is a political gimmick akin to the scorched earth policy when one region
is left to the ravages of dereliction to coerce the electorate to support a
ruling party. Kenneth Kaunda tried it in Zambia to penalise opposition
supporters but the plan backfired many years later when he needed crucial
votes from the south of the country to beat Frederick Chiluba's nascent MMD.
That mentality seems to have ingrained itself deep in the ruling party
because even Vice-President Joseph Msika put in his penny's worth when he
told a rally: "Akula umuntu weopposition ozabuya eqoqoda emnyango
kahulumende nxa livothele iMDC. "Akula sibili!" he thundered. (There is no
opposition members who will come knocking at government's door looking for
development funds if you vote for the MDC.) Another surreptitious threat.

The Sunday Mail seems predictably ill-informed about some of the foreign
journalists visiting the country for the just-finished general election. The
story headed "Several international scribes given greenlight to cover
elections" was based on remarks made by presidential spokesmen George
Charamba and should be used in media training institutes to illustrate how
the intrusion of commentary completely discredits a news report.
For instance the writer reports that CNN has been accredited and proceeds
from there to note that its South African-based correspondent Charlayne
Hunter-Gault "has in the past constantly churned out rabid anti-Zimbabwe
pieces". The example given is that of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants to South
Africa escaping from the train returning them to Zimbabwe.

We seem to recall other TV stations doing that story. But whatever the case,
how is it "anti-Zimbabwe"? Charlayne, by the way, has stepped down from CNN
because she wants to remain in South Africa with her husband rather than
pursue promotion by returning to Atlanta. She has always been a favourite of
Zanu PF's old guard such as John Nkomo who don't regard her at all as

The Sunday Mail report tells us the BBC was refused accreditation "because
of their close allegiance to the British government".
The writer has evidently not been following the messy fight between Tony
Blair's office and the BBC which saw the departure of the broadcaster's
director-general who, while a friend of Blair, declined to be his
Just because that is inconceivable in Zimbabwe doesn't mean it doesn't
happen elsewhere!
The writer also cannot have been listening to Focus on Africa or Network
where any Zimbabwean opposition or civic spokesperson is given a rough ride
by their Bush House interviewer while government spokesmen such as Charamba
go virtually unchallenged when rubbishing their critics in organisations
such as Cosatu.
The Telegraph's David Blair and the BBC's Grant Ferret were disallowed on
the grounds of having broken media law, we were told, "hence their
subsequent deportations".

In fact neither Blair nor Ferret were deported. And it would be useful to
know what media law they broke. "Surprise applicants were the BBC's Hilary
Anderson," the Sunday Mail reports, "who had the audacity to apply for
accreditation despite her having run the notorious fabricated story of the
National Service Camps."

What surprises us is that a journalist - for whom audacity is evidently a
sin - could express such obviously personal and hostile views in what is
supposed to be a news report.
Who said Anderson's report was "fabricated" apart from the government?
Certainly none of the people who gave evidence to her. And for the record
she never "dissociated" herself from her documentary. That is a myth
propagated by the regime.

The writer says Australian news organisations were denied entry because of
their "Crown illusion" in following British prejudices.
Most Australian journalists would consider it laughable that they receive
their marching orders from London - or that they were monarchists. It
illustrates the ignorance of the Sunday Mail writer - or his government
informant - that he could make such a daft allegation. And why are the words
"Crown illusion" placed in quotation marks when nobody apart from the Sunday
Mail writer used that expression? This reminds us of other Sunday Mail
writers who are in the habit of putting their own expressions in quotation

Who is responsible for such unprofessional training at our media
institutions that turn out journalists like this who write reports packed
with prejudice and ignorance which have all the hallmarks of having been fed
to them by government spokesmen?

In this context Muckraker had the misfortune last week to watch a ZTV
programme called National Agenda. It was chaired by Claude Mararike and had
as its studio guests Tafataona Mahoso, Ngugi wa Miri, and Sheunesu Mpepereki
from the UZ departure of agriculture.

It was all about research agendas being set by people who don't have
Zimbabwe's true interests at heart. If anybody wanted to listen to redundant
and misguided nationalist waffle then this was an opportunity to do so. Each
of the self-important participants hinted darkly that foreign forces were at
work. But they took ages to get to the point, inspired no interest
whatsoever in the viewing public. In fact it was what any panel discussion
should never be - downright boring.

Why were other voices not present who could tackle the shibboleths of these
stale apologists for the old order and perhaps provoke some interesting
debate? There was needless to say no attempt to get to the root of the
problem: the subversion of democratic institutions by a ruling political
class, the best example being the University of Zimbabwe where senior
academics have been reduced to the role of eunuchs in the service of the

UZ is a classic case of how a once self-respecting institution has been
suborned so that it no longer plays a useful role in society. National
Agenda's team of intellectual prima donnas should try discussing that. But
please don't bore us to death!

Did anyone see a funny little story in the Sunday Mail titled "MDC hijacks
AU poll observers"? The two African Union observers, the Sunday Mail told
us, were whisked off to the Sheraton from Harare International Airport by
opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's special assistant Gandi Mudzingwa.
More shocking though was not the benevolence of Mudzinga but the disclosure
by the two officials that they didn't have a clue who had driven them from
the airport.

"Yes we were picked up this morning from the airport by a certain
 gentleman," one of the observers, Rev Jephthah Gathaka, told the Sunday
Mail. "But to tell you the truth, I do not know who that man was. We only
saw him carrying a placard with our names and we just went straight to him."
This is a classic case of pliant foreign observers being led by the nose.
They will follow anyone with a placard bearing their names!

Does ZEC chair Justice George Chiweshe really want everyone to think he is
partisan? We ask because when asked by an observer why Zimbabweans abroad
couldn't vote, he trotted out the party line: Government officials who were
slapped with sanctions could not travel abroad to set up the necessary
logistics, he lamely said. At the same time Zanu PF officials on the
sanctions list would not be able to campaign abroad.
This looks suspiciously like a poor excuse rather than an adequate
explanation. Are all Zanu PF officials on the sanctions list? What about
lower-ranking civil servants? Or George Shire and other apologists for Zanu
PF's misrule based in the UK? Isn't it about time they showed us how
effective their propaganda has been? Why is it necessary for Zimbabwean
ministers to travel abroad to set up something as simple as a postal vote?
All the embassy staff in London have one without the visit of a minister.

If anybody visiting Zimbabwe for the election had any doubt that this
country is a police state they had only to look at two articles in the
Herald on Wednesday.

The first was an instruction by police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena that
people should go home after voting. Proposed vigils to prevent cheating
would "disturb the peace", he said.
In other words people may not exercise the freedom of movement and
association to which they are entitled.

The second was headed "Subversive literature lands youth in court". And how
subversive was this literature? A book found on the youth at the Beitbridge
border post entitled "Is Zimbabwe a democracy?" said "the problems
bedevilling the country were a result of bad governance and that the country
was being run 'like (President) Mugabe's back pocket'".

Now we don't know what Mugabe keeps in his back pocket. But a reasonable
person reading those remarks would be inclined to say they are fair comment.
In these cases the Legal Resources Foundation and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights should rush in pro bono to uphold the right to free speech under
threat from colonial laws. Remember the man in the back of a taxi who got a
suspended sentence when he should have been acquitted for merely stating
what many believe to be obvious about Mugabe?
And what about the language Mugabe uses at rallies; his attacks on
minorities and individuals? Why is civil society not reacting to these gross
abuses of power by a malevolent head of state?

Speaking of which, we liked the picture of Adolf Hitler in the Herald last
Friday which accompanied an article by barmy contributor Udo Froese who has
difficulty getting his copy into the South African newspapers so he dumps it
on the Herald instead.

There was only one problem. It wasn't Hitler. It was an actor playing the
part. There was an editorial above it saying "Let's make Easter
accident-free". That didn't apply to the subs desk it would seem!

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Harare election blog II: Voting day
In the run-up to Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections on 31 March, 22-year-old receptionist Lucy Gomo (not her real name) is keeping a diary about life in Harare.

Thursday 31 March 1645 GMT

I've seen several people after their trip to the polling station and they've all got pink ink on their fingers to mark that they've voted.

People in Zimbabwe waiting to vote under umbrellas
The radio have been encouraging people to go out and vote

A lady - who dropped in at my house to ask if one of my housemates could style her hair - was complaining that she couldn't remove the stain and it was ruining her nails.

Other people have just been enjoying the holiday. At lunchtime, before the rain started, I passed a group of men hanging out by the butchers, where they were drinking beer and barbecuing their meat.

At home I've been listening to Radio 3 - an FM music station which usually plays music.

But today it's been all election talk - encouraging people to go out and vote.

Now that polling stations are about to close, the music has started up again.

I haven't been able to get through to my family in Kwekwe to find out about voting there - the landlines may be down. At work yesterday there were no phone lines all day.

Thursday 31 March 0845 GMT

Well I didn't make it to my family's home in Kwekwe last night because when I finished work just after 5 o'clock, the heavens opened and I got drenched in the queue for the bus.

And with all the accidents on the roads it's not really safe to travel - there was a nasty crash outside my work this week.

A woman voting in Zimbabwe
The process, as far as I could see, was orderly

I'm registered to vote in Kwekwe, but this morning I set off for my local polling station at a Harare school to see if it might be possible to cast my ballot here instead.

Signs to the station were hung on nearby trees.

As I suspected, the election officials said no.

I'm disappointed that I didn't get to vote, as this is the first time I've had the opportunity.

But people at the polling station had turned up in numbers to vote here, lining up quietly.

The process, as far as I could see, was orderly: When you arrive at the station you are given a number for your place in the queue.

Then people wander off and come back later to join the line.

Afterwards I went to the shops.

It's a public holiday here so people are busy getting on with their business.

The streets along the way were strewn with ruling party Zanu-PF pamphlets.

I've just arranged to meet up with a friend this afternoon, after she's voted.

Tuesday 29 March

I set off by bus for Kwekwe (180km south-west of Harare) on Friday to spend the Easter weekend with my family.

Police in Zimbabwe and a man holding up a poster of President Robert Mugabe
There is a larger police presence at the moment

Our journey, which usually takes about three hours, was drawn out by another couple of hours as our conductor got arrested for touting, which is illegal here.

He wasn't actually touting at all; he jumped off the bus in Kadoma, a town before Kwekwe, to get some change and was asked by waiting passengers where the bus was going.

As soon as he responded, policemen pounced on him and arrested him for touting and he was taken down to the police station.

The bus driver refused to leave without him, so we all went along to the police station too, where a fine of $25,000 Zimbabwean dollars (US$4) was paid and the conductor eventually released.

Fined for being late

There is a heavier presence than usual of policeman about because of the elections - but there are usually loads on the roads anyway, manning road blocks.

I notice the regional election observers have arrived in town

There they diligently search cars and buses, in search of misdemeanours for which they can levy fines.

For example, police at road blocks keep copies of the bus timetables and if a bus arrives late, the driver will be fined for not keeping to its schedule.

When I got to Kwekwe it was quiet, like Harare, on the election front and I didn't see any campaigning in the town centre.


I spent Saturday with my cousins preparing for a family wedding: Looking at venues and in the evening we held a bridal shower - or a kitchen tea as we call it - for the bride.

Woman in front of an opposition vehicle in Zimbabwe
Vehicles carrying supporters to rallies can be seen around Harare

The rest of my family got up early to go to the Easter sunrise church service on Sunday morning, but after the festivities of the night before I stayed in bed.

When I got up I helped with the preparations for lunch, which is always a big affair at my aunt's house.

I arrived back in Harare on Sunday night, where I noticed the regional Sadc election observers had arrived in town.

When I passed by the Sheraton hotel I saw their cars parked outside with big stickers declaring their observer status.

And today I've seen lots of big buses full of people wearing T-shirts supporting the ruling Zanu-PF and a car with some opposition supporters inside. They looked like they were on their way to campaign meetings.

But apart from these vehicles, it doesn't really feel any different to any other day. The skies are overcast - it's very hot and looks like rain.

I have the day off work on Thursday - the day we go to the polls - and I'm going to go down to Kwekwe to vote.

Tuesday 22 March

I've got a cold - like everybody else. The overcast weather seems to have brought along flu with it. But it hasn't dampened people's spirits too much as there is a hint now of election excitement.

Ruling party Zanu-PF supporters in Zimbabwe, March 2005
The concert was a trap, as it turned out to be a Zanu-PF rally

I've seen a lot more people wearing T-shirts supporting both the ruling party and opposition; while radio stations keep playing a song in support of the ruling Zanu-PF.

Before the weekend everyone in Harare was talking about a free music concert to take place on Saturday afternoon - it sounded as if it was going to be big with loads of local artists billed.

I was meant to be going, but one of my friends got too drunk and we didn't bother in the end.

So I was surprised to hear afterwards that it had all been a trap, as it turned out to be a Zanu-PF campaign rally.

Loads of those who did go said they'd been misled and one of my colleagues was saying it had nothing to do with music.

Not advertised

Otherwise, life in Harare goes on as usual. I find it tiring fitting in work with night school.

Opposition MDC supporters in Zimbabwe, March 2005
Many more people are wearing election T-shirts around Harare now

I spent time on Sunday trying to find new accommodation and went to have a look at a small cottage, but it was too expensive.

Some monthly cottage rents are as high as $2.5m Zimbabwean dollars (US$415). My limit is Z$600,000 (US$100) but it's proving tough to find something - and I've been searching since January.

Last night the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had an interview on state-run television at 9 o'clock. I missed it as I was out at college - and it wasn't advertised.

My friend, who was watching TV at the time, rang to tell me it was on.

I haven't spoken to her since, so I don't know what it was like and nobody at work today seems to have watched it either.

National dress

The ruling party, meanwhile, calls its campaign an "Anti-Blair" campaign - in reference to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Are we going to be able to eat that?

Most days when I read the state-run Herald newspapers it lists on its inside pages what anti-Blair means: "getting back your land; an end to racist factory closures; an end to politically motivated price increases; an end to sanctions; no safe havens for corrupt bankers; no disruption of fuel supplies; no to political interference; an end to Blair's MDC; keeping our Zimbabwe".

While I was reading the paper this morning, I was looking at a photograph of a new national dress that's been launched.

It's a long robe with horizontal stripes - I think in the colour of the national flag, although this was a black and white picture.

Anyway, we were having a giggle about it, when a customer came in, leaned over to look at the article and said: "Are we going to be able to eat that?"

Will you be voting in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections? Please send us your comments on this blog and your own experiences using the form below.

A selection of your comments will be posted below.

The assumption is that all those outside the country are opposition supporters which is not only unguided but very untrue
Ken, England
I wish the government would allow every Zimbabwean to express his/her democratic right of choosing those who govern them irrespective of where they are. The assumption is that all those outside the country are opposition supporters which is not only unguided but very untrue. We want to support our integrity and let's grow up and respect each other irrespective of our political differences. At the end of the day we are all equally Zimbabweans, no one is more important than the other.
Ken, England

We really need help from Britain and the US otherwise we can never dream of change in this country. All you people outside the country, please help us to remove this regime. Oppression is on the increase. Never think there is no violence, intimidation is at its peak. Surely this will never be a free and fair election
Tawanda Gutu, Harare, Zimbabwe

I feel Zimbabwe is very much OK right now. There is no violence that's worth fussing about and elections are going to be very free and fair. All contesting parties have been and are being given adequate airtime on the television and radio. That's good news.
Justin von Mahlahla, Zimbabwe

I know this is slightly off the point, but thought it worth mentioning considering South Africa is Zimbabwe's key friend. As a South African citizen in New Zealand on a work permit I am not entitled to vote in a South African election. Does this qualify South Africa as being undemocratic?
Jonathan Lord, Wellington, New Zealand

I have not been to Zimbabwe since 1998. I always found the people of this beautiful country to be friendly, enthusiastic and vibrant. However, you could see the decay beginning around the edges. Certain foods were becoming scarce. The exchange rates were beginning to change at a rapid pace and modern materials such as computers and such were becoming exceedingly rare to see in modern cities like Bulawayo. The game parks which I loved were becoming empty because of the uncertainty and the fact that no foreigners were coming to this country. Today the animals are gone, the people are hungry and Mugabe is still there. Desperate measures must be taken by the Zimbabweans and remove Mugabe and his cronies at any cost. When this occurs, all of the nations of the world must aid in rebuilding this beautiful nation and bring dignity to its people.
Jim Redmond, Nictaux, Nova Scotia, Canada

Compared to most African countries, I see a thriving democracy in Zimbabwe contrary to western countries and media positions. Yes the land issue could have been handle better by the ruling party but everything else has been democratic so far. Since when did it became an issue that Africans abroad did or did not vote? Can you tell me about any other African country that facilitate this? The land issue have been dealt with and folks around the world should learn to accept and respect the democratic will of the majority which in this case did not favour the affluent white farmers!
Alan Ik, Canada

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