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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

New York Times

Mugabe Threatens to Meet Street Protests of Election Count in Zimbabwe With

Published: April 3, 2005

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 2 - President Robert G. Mugabe warned Zimbabwe's
political opposition on Saturday against taking to the streets to protest
its defeat in parliamentary elections this week, saying that his government
"can also raise mass action against mass action, and there would naturally
be conflicts, serious conflicts," as a result.

Mr. Mugabe delivered the warning as fliers circulated in Harare urging
citizens to reject the results of Thursday's elections, which gutted the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or M.D.C., of what little
political clout it had enjoyed.

But there was little evidence that Zimbabweans were prepared to protest the
elections, which the M.D.C. has repeatedly called fraudulent. And the
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Saturday that his party still had
no strategy to respond to the outcome, which it has called invalid.

With all 120 legislative races decided, Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, won 78 seats, versus 41 for the
M.D.C. One seat was won by an independent.

The outcome was a blow to the opposition, which won 57 seats in the last
election, in 2000, and had been predicting gains in this week's balloting.
Because Mr. Mugabe personally fills 30 other seats in the 150-member
Parliament, the election results mean that his party has gained the
two-thirds majority it needs to change Zimbabwe's Constitution as it

Western governments and human rights groups had joined the opposition in
denouncing the elections as rigged even before the vote was held. Many
reports have accused Mr. Mugabe's government of using a sheaf of tactics,
from threats to deny food to opposition voters to gerrymandered legislative
districts, to ensure its victory.

The opposition party said again on Saturday that the government had condoned
fraud both during Thursday's vote and in the counting afterward. But two
days after the elections, it has yet to detail those charges, and so the
complaints remain difficult to verify or refute.

As the last results trickled in on Saturday afternoon, a delegation of
election observers from South Africa declared that the elections reflected
Zimbabweans' preferences, and said it had seen no evidence of fraud during
its two weeks here.

That conclusion was not unexpected; South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki,
had said the vote would be fair even before he dispatched observers. But the
declaration added a veneer of credibility to Mr. Mugabe's claims that he had
run an honest election before the world's press and outside observers,
albeit ones largely friendly to his rule.

A more impartial measure may come in when the nongovernmental Zimbabwe
Election Support Network, which dispatched 6,000 unofficial observers to
monitor the elections, releases its first assessment of the vote.

In the meantime, Mr. Mugabe, the nation's leader for 25 years, on Saturday
savored his party's victory with a show of serene confidence in front of
perhaps 100 foreign journalists invited to Zimbabwe's State House, the
massive, colonial-style residence near central Harare.

Sitting on the mansion's verandah, flanked by two immense stuffed,
amber-eyed lionesses, Mr. Mugabe offered a slightly surreal report on the
week's events to journalists whom his government has frequently castigated,
and who have often sneaked here under the threat of imprisonment to evade a
virtual ban on foreign reporting on Zimbabwe's problems.

All appeared to be forgiven. Aides offered the journalists a free jet ride
to Victoria Falls, on the other side of the country, and enthusiastic hands
shot up to accept.

Greeting the reporters, Mr. Mugabe asked with a smile, "Are you afraid?" He
later added a quip about his stuffed bookends. "You are well protected
against my two lions," he said. "They are very friendly lions, in the nature
of their master."

In off-the-cuff remarks, Mr. Mugabe complimented the opposition for what he
called a tolerant and orderly campaign, and compared its drubbing to a
defeat in sports. "The losing side, although it gets disappointed, must not
look on it as the end of the world," he said, "and must be sporting enough
to accept defeat and not look for excuses."

Indeed, he said, ZANU-PF was prepared to work with the opposition in
Parliament to deal with Zimbabwe's difficulties, which include a collapsed
economy to near-nationwide hunger.

But Mr. Mugabe's demeanor changed when the question of protests against the
vote was raised. Any protest that might lead to violence would be met with
"law and order instruments," he said, an apparent reference to police and
military forces that have crushed other protests, notably a June 2002
national strike called by the M.D.C. He also called the opposition's
supporters "a very violent people" whose protests have destroyed businesses
and damaged innocent people's vehicles.

In short order, Mr. Mugabe rejected accusations of election fraud as sour
grapes from his opponents, said his party had yet to decide how to change
the Constitution, and denied the nation was short of food, despite many
international reports and news accounts to the contrary. And he said that
there was no need for anyone to debate who would succeed him as president.
Asked when he might retire, Mr. Mugabe, who is 81, replied, "When I'm a
century old."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (UK)

            Fury grows at Mugabe's rigged poll
            Christina Lamb, Harare

            PRESSURE was mounting on the leadership of the Zimbabwean
opposition yesterday to call on supporters to take to the streets to remove
President Robert Mugabe after a third rigged election in succession.
            Final results from Thursday's parliamentary election gave the
ruling Zanu-PF a sweeping two-thirds majority, despite huge outdoor rallies
for the opposition and what had seemed like a new mood of defiance across
the country. After the announcement, Mugabe, 81, joked that he would quit
only "when I am a century old".

            Losing candidates from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
arrived from all corners of the country at Harvest House, the party
headquarters in Harare, clutching dossiers with details of electoral fraud
in their constituencies.

            Looking stunned, they hugged each other. Some wept as they
recounted tales of the military being bussed in to their constituencies,
their voters being turned away from polling stations and attempts to bribe
their election agents as the party was almost wiped out in rural areas.

            "We can't believe this," said Prosper Muchyami, the MDC chairman
in Manicaland province, where the party won only two out of 15 seats in
spite of an apparent upsurge in public support.

            "This is the work of a sophisticated dictator. We will never
beat Zanu-PF while it is in power. We need other means."

            One of the most surprising defeats for the MDC came at
Chimanimani, in southeastern Zimbabwe, where Roy Bennett, a white farmer,
won the second-largest majority in the 2000 election. Heather, his wife,
stood in his place after he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for
pushing the justice minister in parliament.

            "We clearly had huge support," she said yesterday. "But many of
my people went to vote and found they were not on the list. It was just so

            "It's a total disappointment," said Ian Kay, a white farmer who
was badly beaten when his farm was taken and who contested the seat of
Marondera. "The critical thing is for the leadership now to provide

            After collating the reports from its candidates, the MDC held an
emergency meeting of its national executive committee to decide how to
respond. The idea of mounting legal challenges, as was done after the 2000
parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections, was discarded. So were
suggestions of an armed struggle.

            "We have to re-strategise from the grassroots," said Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC president. "Given our experience of the past five years,
with 39 cases against the last elections still pending, we have no
confidence in the judicial process. We were in parliament the past five
years and the legislative process hasn't helped us either. The only way
forward now is political."

            He did not rule out mass action, though aides said he was
thinking in terms of a one-day strike rather than a movement to bring down
the government. MDC candidates were instructed to go back to their
constituencies and consult supporters before returning for a final decision
tomorrow. Many of them left disappointed.

            "We discovered the leadership has no plan B," said one from
Manicaland who, like many MDC activists, has suffered imprisonment, torture
and has lost his job because of his political affiliation. "We are going
away empty handed. All this sitting around at tables achieves nothing. We
should be talking regime change".

            Welshman Ncube, the party's secretary-general, admitted the
results had come as a huge shock. "We knew they were going to do it, but we
still hoped," he said. "We had such amazing attendance at rallies with
thousands of people that we started to think we could win."

            Journalists and diplomats who travelled across the country last
week found people openly criticising the government, emboldened by a lack of

The destruction of commercial farming - combined with Mugabe's decision to
outlaw international food aid so all distribution remained under party
control - has left about half of the country on the verge of starvation and
created a new mood of anger. Yet the MDC won just 41 out of the 120 seats,
16 fewer than in the last election.
"Obviously we now need to go back to the drawing board," said Ncube. "The
majority of Zimbabweans are beaten, desperate and think it's beyond their
capacity to defeat this dictatorship. We have to decide how to react."

He ruled out mass action, pointing out that the party is committed to
peaceful means.

"This is a completely different situation to Ukraine," said David Coltart,
the party's legal affairs spokesman, referring to the "orange revolution" in
which rigged election results were overturned by mass protests in Kiev.

"We don't have independent radio stations that can call people out. We don't
have sympathetic neighbouring states to provide bases. The design of our
major cities, with most of the population living in satellites outside,
makes it easy to block arterial roads in and stop any massing of people."

The party's main fear is that supporters who take to the streets will be
fired on by a military still loyal to Mugabe, who has given senior officers
farms and diamond mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"This stolen victory won't buy him a single grain of maize. What we need to
do is maintain the morale of our supporters and wait for this edifice to
crumble," said Coltart.

Such a restrained attitude was attacked by Pius Ncube, the Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo, who has been one of the bravest critics of Mugabe.

"The MDC should have had a plan B," he said. "Instead of going on being
oppressed by the same dictator, why can't the MDC think of a plan to get him
out, to tell him, 'We won't let you bully us any more, shoot us if you want'.
The MDC must act. They can't expect people to act by themselves."

However, the archbishop said he believed nothing would happen. "Here in
Zimbabwe people are so pushed around by Mugabe they usually just take the
results and say, 'Ah, ah, what a pity'.

"They want to leave it up to God. What I say is God helps those who help
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Independent (UK)

'We never got the money they promised'
Anne Wayne meets some of Zanu-PF's former enforcers who switched sides - and
now fear for their lives
03 April 2005

By his own admission, he had committed arson, tortured grandmothers and led
the invasions of white-owned properties, but it was the results of
Thursday's parliamentary elections that devastated the former Zimbabwean
secret policeman.

Paradoxically, the man once employed as an enforcer for the ruling party had
ended up one of the most ardent supporters of a former white farmer's bid
for Parliament. The incumbent MP, Roy Bennett, was imprisoned last year
after a scuffle with the Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa. Mr Bennett's
wife, Heather, decided to stand in his place.

"I am so disappointed," said Lazarus Shave. "I am so much sympathy for Mrs
Bennett ... I did work for the CIO when Roy was MP. I supported Mutezo in
the [Zanu-PF primary] election. He was not the candidate that the government
wanted so five men came to me and beat me three weeks ago. Now I want to
work for the MDC and I will not beat anyone any more." His refusal to join
in the campaign of intimidation against MDC activists had led to threats on
his own life, he said.

In the run-up to Thursday's controversial elections, The Independent on
Sunday conducted clandestine interviews with secret policemen, ex-youth
militia and war veterans. All said that the continued hunger, lack of jobs
and the infighting resulting from the imposition of Joyce Mujuru over a more
popular candidate as vice-president meant they were no longer willing to
fight for the government. Ms Mujuru's appointment led to the suspension of
six provincial party chairmen last December, and the expulsion of the
Information Minister, Jonathon Moyo, from the government.

According to Mr Shave, Zanu-PF tried to reassert control with beatings,
rigged elections and denial of food. One member of the notorious youth
militia known as the Green Bombers recalled: "They used to give us pills
before we went to beat people, but never food. We beat up one old man, he
must have been in his 60s, Moses Mpande, for criticising the lack of
development in the area. He kept apologising but none of us stopped."

The ex-militia member, who begged to remain anonymous, was terrified of
retribution. He said that many thousands of young Zimbabweans who had been
forced into the militia training camps had fled the country; others remained
outwardly loyal but had voted for the MDC.

"They promised us jobs if we went through Border Gezi [camps], but we never
got anything," he said. "I registered to vote last year and I am going to
vote MDC."

Another youth, who asked only to be identified as Sikhumbuzo, agreed. "[In
2002] Zanu used to get us to stay outside polling stations to frighten away
the opposition. If the MDC came, we would chase them away. But we never got
the money or jobs that they promised us; all we got was beer."

After he was seen talking to election monitors this month, Sikhumbuzo was
told that he would be unable to buy maize in his village because he was an
MDC supporter. The incident severed his links with the ruling party and now,
he says, he has been campaigning for an MDC victory.

Ben Ncube, 42, a veteran of the liberation struggle during the 1970s, said
he was also voting for the MDC in his Matebeleland constituency. "I used to
support the government and they made a lot of promises about land and money
during the 2000 elections, which were repeated in 2002. Now I know because
of my tribe I will never get land," he said in a Bulawayo safe house.

However, all the ex-enforcers agreed on one thing. "The government will
never have a shortage of people to do its dirty work," said the furtive
Green Bomber. "Look how many people are hungry. Look how many people have no
jobs. All they have to offer is a little bit and people here will do
anything they want."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Scotsman

Seeds of Mugabe victory sowed 40 years ago


THE one agreeable aspect of a Zimbabwean election, from a selfish
journalistic point of view, is that it is safely predictable. No hack is
going to end up with egg on his face by forecasting victory for Robert
Mugabe, who won his sixth term in office last Thursday.

The Zimbabwean electoral system is elaborately calibrated to ensure such
predictability, including the right of the president to nominate 30 of the
country's 150 MPs - a less democratic arrangement than in most parliamentary
systems, but more democratic than Scotland, where party leaders nominate 56
of our 129 MSPs.

Who said post-colonial Africa was full of unstable régimes? Executive
President Mugabe, who is both head of state and head of government, is as
solidly and unchallengeably in control as Labour in Lanarkshire. It goes
without saying that this steel template of personal absolutism did not
accidentally evolve: someone must deserve the credit for forging it. And it's
another triumph for Britain, as the commentators used to shout excitedly, on
grainy black-and-white Pathe newsreels: the midwives of Mugabe's Zimbabwe
were the same sweetie wives in the Foreign Office who gave us Suez and every
other geopolitical car crash that the limp-wristed Wykehamist psyche could

In the case of Rhodesia, the King Charles Street clowns were matched in
fatuity by their masters. Harold Wilson, whose insight into foreign affairs
could have been inscribed on a grain of rice and still left room for the Old
Testament, turned Britain's unnecessary confrontation with Southern Rhodesia
into a virility symbol. He did so partly out of pique at being defied,
partly because it was a useful opportunity to posture in front of his party
as the champion of decolonisation and scourge of what had recently emerged
as the British Left's pet preoccupation: "racialism" - later abbreviated to

This obsession, which quickly blossomed into full-blown hysteria, had
nothing to do with the welfare of black people in Africa but everything to
do with the prejudices of white lefties residing in Hampstead (in those days
Islington had not yet emerged as the capital of Utopia). To them it was a
matter of indifference that millions of Africans were being terrorised by
communist guerrilla movements: any black African who hankered after a
multi-party state and parliamentary democracy was "outwith his frame of
reference", in the moronic Marxist semantics of the brain-dead academics who
were the backbone of Britain's armchair revolution.

Nor was Labour the sole culprit. The Tories were equally to blame. Harold
Macmillan's "wind of change" speech was a gratuitous piece of rhetoric which
committed the inexcusably unstatesmanlike folly of arousing vast
expectations in advance of what was bound to be an extremely difficult
disengagement from empire. Combined with Iain Macleod's precipitate rush to
decolonisation and American pressure in the same direction, any hope of a
stable post-colonial Africa vanished. Even blatant Soviet ambitions to
control the strategically vital Cape route did not deter dogmatic British

It was small wonder Ian Smith and his supporters, after the collapse of the
Central African Federation, opted for unilateral independence from Britain.
They were aware of the communist threat to their continent and the support
of the then economically gigantic South Africa made their move viable. Under
sanctions, the Rhodesian economy thrived in response to enforced
diversification, giving the black population a standard of living they could
never dream of now. Unfortunately, this was not matched by an equally paced
advance towards power sharing. Although the final elections under the old
government in 1979 were racially equitable, Smith had moved too slowly, just
as his British opponents had moved too fast.

What brought down Rhodesia was the Portuguese domestic coup of 1974 which
gave Marxist régimes power in Mozambique and Angola. Such allies greatly
enhanced the prospects of the Zanu and Zapu movements, united as the
Patriotic Front (PF) and admitted to the notorious conference at Lancaster
House in 1979. To this day, Ian Smith swears that Lord Carrington, British
foreign secretary, gave him a guarantee that the conference would not result
in Mugabe coming to power. The rest is history. By the late 1980s there were
8,850 Soviet advisers, 53,900 Cuban troops and a large number of East
Germans swarming over the African continent. Only the collapse of the Soviet
Union saved Africa from the immediate consequences of western delusion and

In 2000, Mugabe lost a referendum on proposals to alter the constitution,
giving him extra powers. That reversal was seen by star-gazers in the west
as a significant setback. They did not know their man. He simply resolved
never to lose any vote again.

His attitude to objective truth is of the Goebbels school: "We will not
seize land from anyone who has a use for it," a euphoric BBC reported him as
promising on the day he returned from exile in 1980. "Farmers who are able
to be productive and prove useful to society will find us cooperative." The
problem is, it is difficult to be productive and useful to society when you
are in plaster, after being beaten up by Zanu (PF) thugs.

Predictions for this season's maize crop are that it will be the smallest in
decades. Last year Mugabe rejected food aid, declaring a record maize crop
of 2.4 million tons; the reality turned out to be one-sixth of that
estimate. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet),
food-price inflation was at 143% last November; but between December 22 and
January 10, mealie meal increased in price by almost 50% and meat by 10%.

At almost any point between 1964 and 1979, Britain could have come to an
accommodation with Rhodesia, to prevent the creation of a socialist tyranny;
but vanity and deference to the crass demands of the doctrinaire Left led to
the present crisis. More seriously, Zimbabwe epitomises post-colonial
Africa. Behind the windy UN rhetoric, a continent is slipping remorselessly
back into the Stone Age.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Scotsman

Zimbabwe uprising in face of 'sham' election fails to materialise


DESPAIRING Zimbabweans yesterday resigned themselves to the continuing rule
of president Robert Mugabe.

While opposition leaders had called for a Ukraine-style popular uprising in
the face of elections which have been condemned as unfair, street protests
failed to materialise yesterday.

On the busy streets of the capital, Harare, there was little sign that
Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party had maintained its 25-year grip on power in
parliamentary elections condemned worldwide as a sham.

In a country whose economy is in tatters with more than 80% unemployed, and
where the 30,000 police and army officers drafted in for election day
maintain a threatening presence on every street corner, there is little
visible protest.

From the businessmen to the banana sellers to the beggars, the people of
Zimbabwe have had little choice but return to work.

Wellington Gasela, 24, a bus conductor in Harare, said: "I had hoped that
this time there might have been change, and Mugabe might have listened to
the message to leave.

"But now I realise that was just a dream. I may as well wait for a horse to
grow horns as to hope that Zanu-PF would go."

Although a few rural constituencies had still yesterday to return their
results from the voting on Thursday, Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union - Patriotic Front party had secured 71 of the contested 120 seats.

The 81-year-old president also automatically appoints a further 30 posts of
his own choosing, meaning Zanu-PF has secured the two-thirds majority needed
to push through constitutional reform.

With counting in progress, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party had only won 39 seats.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has accused the ruling party of stealing
the election, saying he was "deeply disturbed" at fraudulent activities his
party has discovered. The UK, Germany and the USA have also called the
election "flawed".

Supporters of Zanu-PF are accused of using violence and intimidation to
secure votes, in addition to denying food aid in drought-hit areas.

Complaints also focus on the electoral register. While thousands were turned
away as their names were not listed, others claim that the names of their
dead relatives had not been removed - "ghost voters" used fraudulently to
boost numbers.

Mugabe has dismissed the claims as "nonsense", while his supporters point to
the surprise defeat of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu-PF parliament speaker,
or to the victory of the recently sacked information minister Jonathan Moyo,
now an independent MP, as a sign that the polls were not rigged.

Criticism of the election comes as two British journalists working for the
Sunday Telegraph remain under arrest after they were caught reporting
without permission, since Mugabe's draconian media restrictions denied them
access. The pair face a possible two-year prison sentence.

Mugabe had banned more than three million exiled Zimbabweans from the poll.
Exiled leaders said yesterday that most of the 400,000 Zimbabweans who live
in the UK would stay put for the next few years.

"If Zimbabweans in the diaspora had the vote, the results of the farcical
election might have been different," veteran nationalist Arthur Molife told
Scotland on Sunday. "Most of us are here for the foreseeable future, maybe
for ever."

He added: "I think the days of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
being led by Morgan Tsvangirai are over. The MDC should never have contested
this election and now they are talking about a peaceful uprising. Fat chance
that has of succeeding.

"Mugabe would put thousands of soldiers, police and riot squads on to the
streets and order them to kill ringleaders.

"The real result of this election is that Zimbabweans who care about their
country will be forced to leave and help form a government in waiting.

"We will restructure the old Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), which
was the original freedom movement in Zimbabwe. My bet is that the new party's
first congress will be held in Britain."

Dr Brighton Chireka, leader of the MDC in Britain, added: "I hope to God
that we do not take up our seats in parliament. That would give Mugabe
credibility. We must stick together. Division is what Mugabe wants."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

MDC refuses to throw in towel

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

HARARE, 2 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party's resounding
poll victory, clinching two-thirds of seats in parliament, has been
condemned as a sham by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change

ZANU-PF has so far taken 71 of the 120 contested seats, while the MDC
slumped to 40 - down from the 58 seats it captured in 2000 in its maiden

President Robert Mugabe appoints a further 30 deputies in the 150-seat
parliament, giving him the numbers required to introduce constitutional

MDC leader and former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai said on Saturday the
election was flawed and the party would be consulting its members on the way

"The MDC is a mass political movement that cannot die simply because it has
lost a flawed election. We are considering many forms of action ... We have
a genuine cause to act upon and we shall do just that," Tsvangirai told

The police warned last week, ahead of the election on Thursday, that they
would not tolerate any post-poll disturbances.

The United States and Britain have also described the ballot as unfair,
pointing out that although it was generally peaceful on polling day, the
electoral process was heavily skewed in the government's favour.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice summed up the concerns: "The election
process was not free and fair. The electoral playing field was heavily
tilted in the government's favour. The independent press was muzzled;
freedom of assembly was constrained; food was used as a weapon to sway
hungry voters; and millions of Zimbabweans who have been forced by the
nation's economic collapse to emigrate were disenfranchised."

A South African observer team said on Saturday the elections reflected the
"free will" of Zimbabweans but stopped short of calling them fair.

ZANU-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika dismissed claims of
vote-rigging and voter coercion as "absolute nonsense". He told IRIN the
alleged politicisation of food aid was a lie aimed at tarnishing the image
of the country and government.

President Mugabe, who throughout the election portrayed the MDC as a puppet
of former colonial power Britain, was reported as saying ZANU-PF's victory
confirmed the confidence Zimbabweans had in his party, which has ruled for

"We enjoy the support of our people based on the fact that we brought
independence to the country," he told a press conference.

Having achieved a two-thirds majority, Mugabe, 81, said he would push
forward with plans to amend the constitution and introduce a second chamber
of traditional leaders, retired politicians and other eminent Zimbabweans.

Critics have alleged the new senate would be packed with loyalists ahead of
his retirement: Mugabe is also reportedly likely to alter the law allowing
him to pick a successor without having to hold fresh elections.

While ZANU-PF has consolidated its political position, Mugabe has not won
the endorsement of western governments - key to ending his country's
isolation and restarting the financial aid Zimbabwe desperately needs to
help ease its economic plight.

"The major problem is that the result will not change Zimbabwe's relations
with the rest of the world. African observers will declare the elections
free and fair but western countries and trading blocs, all crucial partners
in the country's donor-driven development programmes, have already declared
the election a sham," noted economist and political analyst Erich Bloch.

"Economic problems will undoubtedly get worse. Inflation will rise to
unprecedented levels as the country needs to import food, fuel and many
other basic necessities. Industrial production has declined to its lowest
levels, there is nothing to stimulate growth," commented Bloch.

Pro-democracy activist Brian Kagoro said the government was aware of the
need to shift gears on the economy, and tackle the current food shortage
following yet another poor harvest.

"Key in their minds is no longer [their political] survival, but reversal of
the economic crisis - which if it continues could be their undoing - and
engagement with the international community."

The leadership of the MDC, however, faces searching questions over its
inability to score with the ballot box - when seemingly presented with an
open goal in the form of the government's economic record.

"The MDC has lost its relevance. It needs to replace its top leadership,
especially the presidency, if it is to turn its fortunes around. There is
also a high likelihood of some MDC officials defecting ... to ZANU-PF,"
suggested Bloch.

In mitigation, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF) - a grouping of local
NGOs - alleged that a ZANU-PF victory was a foregone conclusion given the
built-in advantages the party enjoyed in the electoral process.

It noted the drafting of loyal security force personnel into the electoral
bodies running the poll, and the increase in constituencies in ZANU-PF
dominated regions and their reduction in MDC strongholds.

The ZHRF also suggested that a culture of impunity had played a role in
influencing voting patterns.

"Although it was not as endemic as in previous elections, the sporadic
violence disrupted opposition campaigns, lowered the visibility of the
opposition and its supporters, discouraged potential candidates from
standing and scared voters away from the opposition."

It also said over three million Zimbabweans living in mainly Britain and
South Africa, who were likely to be sympathetic to the opposition, were
disenfranchised through the government's decision to reject postal votes.

In response to the ZHRF's allegations that Zimbabwe had failed to comply
with Southern African Development Community electoral protocols, ZANU-PF
commissar Manyika said they were mere guidelines which no country was
compelled to follow.

"Those guidelines are not the laws of Zimbabwe. We still have
[electoral]observers in the country and I believe they are better placed to
say if the guidelines were violated," said Manyika.

He described ZHRF as a western-funded, anti-Zimbabwe appendage of the MDC.

Kagoro said that given the severe constraints the MDC faced, the
labour-backed party could be congratulated for making inroads into rural
areas, traditionally ZANU-PF territory, and winning back some constituencies
it had previously lost. "It's an indication of what could have happened in a
genuinely free election".

Tsvangirai said the party had fresh evidence of government rigging which
would be released on Sunday.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Independent (UK)

'I have more freedom here than in Iraq'
With the ban on the BBC, reporting from Zimbabwe is at best problematic. In
an election week diary, Sky's David Chater explains how he went about it
03 April 2005


"Zanu-PF blasts Sky News", reads the banner headline on the front page of
The Herald. The government was launching a counter-attack against our report
that opposition supporters in Matabeleland were being denied supplies of
maize to force them to vote for the ruling party.

The package, screened on Easter Sunday, was based on an interview with the
Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube. He backed up his claim by
bringing a selection of his parishioners to describe at first hand how
they'd been turned away by Zanu-PF officials from food stores because they
were known members of the Movement for Democratic Change.

The secretary for information and publicity, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, called a
press conference to expose what he called "Sky News lies'', demanding
concrete proof of the allegations and labelling the story as "completely
unsubstantiated and untrue''. He went on to describe the Archbishop of
Bulawayo as "a mad inveterate liar'' and well-known rabid opponent of the

The Sky News team, producer Ben de Pear and cameraman Garwen McLeckie were
old Africa hands and had long experience of coping with the problems of
broadcasting from Zimbabwe. We light-heartedly talked the night before about
the possible repercussions of our report - a midnight knock at the door, a
prison cell or deportation. But we decided that the facts spoke for
themselves and the report was worth the risk. We were all too aware that our
BBC colleagues in Johannesburg had been denied entry into Zimbabwe, but we
were determined this should not affect the tone of our reports or the rigour
of our journalism.


We broadcast a report that repeated the allegations that food was being used
as a weapon of political cohesion by government officials. This time the
claim was made by Heather Bennett, standing as a candidate for the Movement
for Democratic Change in Chimanimani. It was a seat held by her husband Roy,
now doing a year's hard labour in a prison cell for getting too physical
with the justice minister in parliament. The Bennetts' farm was taken from
them a year ago. Heather was offered a bribe: defect to the Zanu-PF and the
farm would be returned.

The report was balanced by an interview with a government party activist who
is running a former white-owned farm in Bindura, south of Harare. The
eloquently outspoken Remigious Matangira has made a thriving business out of
his 400 hectares of arable land growing maize and bananas. His passion for
that land was infectious - land he said, which has now been returned to its
rightful owners.

He denied that food was being withheld from MDC supporters, and he claimed
that there were no shortages despite the drought. We tempered his enthusiasm
by adding in our report that the South African-based Famine Early Warning
System Network estimated that nearly six million people in Zimbabwe will be
in need of food aid before the year is out.

We know that all our reports are being monitored by the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Authority, but no restrictions have been placed on us, and no
official minder forced on us. The freedom to report here is remarkable in
comparison to my time in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.


The day before the election, President Mugabe holds his last rally in an
opposition stronghold in Harare. After four hours reddening in the sun, we
managed to doorstep him as he came off the podium. I asked him why he'd
turned the election into a "bury Tony Blair" campaign rather than defending
the competence of his government. I asked him about the irregularities in
the voters' roll which the MDC claims contains the names of 800,000
so-called ghost votes. His responses were curt and angry. But at least he
was prepared to allow access to him and answer the questions.

To balance the report I added interviews of the grieving family and friends
of an MDC supporter they claimed was beaten to death by Zanu-PF thugs, and
found a woman officially registered as dead hanging up the washing of her
six children. She's an MDC activist.


Election day is spent rooted next to a polling station giving live updates
for Sky News every hour. A brief respite to investigate reports that Zanu-PF
are bussing voters from rural areas into Harare. The story doesn't stand up.
We get soaked in a tropical downpour. News spreads about the arrest of the
Sunday Telegraph team found outside a polling station without accreditation.


The Pope is receiving the last rites. As the first election results start to
come in, calls to the foreign desk go unanswered.

David Chater is Sky News' Africa Correspondent
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Yahoo News

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Scoffs at Vote Doubters

      2 hours, 51 minutes ago

By RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe - President Robert Mugabe said Saturday that he hoped to
stay in power until he was 100 as he celebrated an overwhelming victory in
parliamentary elections that all but his supporters and a few African
neighbors said were rigged.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, refused to accept the
election results, saying Thursday's vote was flawed - a view shared by the
United States and Britain. The MDC held talks with southern African
observers to point out huge discrepancies in the results but made no attempt
to organize mass protests.

"This is a moment of victory for my party and the victory of my party
translates itself, naturally, into a victory for our country," the
81-year-old Mugabe declared as results showed that he had cleared the
two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution.

His ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, won
78 seats, while the MDC got 41, according to final results issued Saturday
by the chief election officer. An independent candidate picked up one seat.
Under Zimbabwean law, Mugabe has the power to appoint an additional 30
lawmakers in the 150-seat chamber.

The results clear the way for Mugabe to set up a second parliamentary
chamber representing traditional chiefs, retired politicians and other
eminent Zimbabweans without holding a referendum. Critics charge the
autocratic Mugabe wants to pack the senate with cronies to cement his
influence and to pick a successor without elections.

But Mugabe made it plain that he didn't plan on stepping down any time soon.

"When I am a century old," he laughed, responding to a question about his
retirement plans.

He was only half joking.

Mugabe, one of Africa's longest serving rulers, has no obvious heir
apparent. His appointment of Joyce Mujuru as the country's first female vice
president - and thus a potential successor - sparked a power struggle last

Parliament speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, once tipped to take over from Mugabe,
lost his seat in Thursday's elections. Jonathan Moyo, the former information
minister and architect of Zimbabwe's repressive media laws who was sacked
after he challenged Mujuru's appointment, was elected as an independent in a
rebuff to Mugabe.

The MDC held crisis talks but came up with no clear plan of action.

"Today the world has seen the extent to which Mugabe is determined to hold
on to power without due regard to the people," MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
said at a news conference after the meeting of the party's executive

"This election cannot be accepted as a reflection of Zimbabwe's will," he

At his news conference, Mugabe called on the opposition to accept defeat
gracefully and said he would be willing to work with it inside and outside
parliament. But he made it clear that he would not tolerate even peaceful
protests by MDC supporters.

"They are not a peaceful people," Mugabe said. "Law and order instruments
will be used to prevent any mass action that is likely to lead to
lawlessness in the country."

Mugabe shunned the colorful traditional attire he wore on the campaign trail
in favor of a sports jacket and tie but revealed his eccentric traits by
standing between two life-sized stuffed lions in front of the state palace.

Police set up checkpoints on the roads leading to Harare to contain any
trouble. Streets bustled with people shopping and going to work, reflecting
a mood of widespread weariness with politics in a nation beset with
crippling unemployment and inflation.

Norbert Ncube, a roadside cigarettes and phone card vendor, said the results
did not seem credible.

"ZANU-PF had a majority in parliament in the past five years, but during
that time we have seen factories shut down, jobs disappear and economic
hardships increase. It will be worse now that they have more than the
two-thirds majority," Ncube said.

Nearby ZANU-PF supporters sang, beat drums and danced in celebration.

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

Mugabe tried to rally support after the opposition's strong showing in 2000
with a land reform program aimed at righting racial imbalances in ownership
inherited from British rule. Thousands of white-owned commercial farms were
redistributed to black Zimbabweans in an often violent campaign that has
crippled the economy.

Back to the Top
Back to Index Pakistan

Observers question Zimbabwe election results

HARARE: A Southern African observer mission has found discrepancies with the
official results in 32 of the 120 contested seats in Zimbabwe's
parliamentary elections, a spokeswoman said on Saturday. President Robert
Mugabe's ruling party won a two-thirds majority in the elections that the
opposition slammed as a "massive fraud" and refused to recognize the

"There are major queries at 32 constituencies, that's more than 25 per
cent," said Nomfanelo Kota, spokeswoman for the observers from the 14-nation
Southern African Development Community (SADC). "The results that the
candidates themselves signed at the polling stations were not the same as
the results announced on national television," she said. "This doesn't mean
that there are necessarily huge discrepancies in the figures," she

A news conference by the SADC delegation scheduled for Saturday was delayed
while the observers sought clarifications. But a spokesman from the Zimbabwe
Elections Commission (ZEC) denied that there were problems with the results.
"The commission has not received any queries from anywhere," said ZEC
spokesman Utloile Silaigwana.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Telegraph

Mugabe vows to eradicate opposition after observers endorse election victory
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 03/04/2005)

South African government observers yesterday gave President Robert Mugabe's
victory in Zimbabwe's election a clean bill of health, endorsing his Zanu-PF
party's grip on power which will enable him radically to alter the country's

The decision of Mr Mugabe's most important regional ally to endorse the
results of Thursday's parliamentary election - in which Zanu-PF won an
overwhelming majority of seats - came despite widespread complaints of
electoral fraud and the opposition's total rejection of the outcome.

The group's leader, labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who weeks earlier
predicted that it would be free and fair, declared that the landslide win by
the Zanu-PF "reflected the will of the people".

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the defeated Movement for Democratic
Change, disputed the outcome. "We have rejected the results because we don't
believe they reflect the will of the people," he said. "I don't think any
sane person would endorse these elections. Today the world has seen the
extent to which Mugabe is determined to hold on to power without due regard
to the people."

According to final results released yesterday, the ruling party won 78 seats
compared with 41 for the opposition MDC. One seat went to an independent

Mr Mugabe has the power to appoint another 30 MPs to the 150-seat chamber.

With a two-thirds majority, Mr Mugabe is set to change the constitution to
ensure that the MDC never again fights a presidential election.

At the age of 81 and with his term in office due to expire in 2008, Mr
Mugabe and his lieutenants want the constitution altered so that should he
step down, or die, one of his Zanu-PF deputies would take the post of
president, instead of an election being required.

Before the poll, a senior Zanu-PF leader told The Telegraph on condition of
anonymity: "We don't want to have to fight Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008."

However, this newspaper has learnt that the MDC leader has decided against
mounting a legal challenge to the result, since the High Court refused even
to consider clear evidence of vote-rigging and electoral fraud in the
equally disputed 2002 presidential poll.

With the higher courts overwhelmingly staffed by judges bribed by gifts of
the most fertile white-owned farms, Mr Tsvangirai did not expect justice
then or now, allies said.

The near-demolition of the MDC will make it possible for the Zanu-PF regime
to keep its machine of repression in place, continuing to deploy tens of
thousands of intelligence operatives, policemen and Zanu-PF militants within
party security structures to prevent spontaneous or planned opposition

In spite of this, MDC polling agents have begun providing details of
breaches of the election laws after a peaceful polling day and only limited
violence before the poll.

A repeated complaint is that local officials were not allowed to release
results from polling stations as the Electoral Act requires. Instead,
policemen used radios to pass results to the secretive National Logistics
Committee in Harare, a body staffed by Mr Mugabe's cronies, where they were
supposedly being collated.

This led to delays of up to 12 hours before results were released and it is
here that Mr Tsvangirai believes most of the manipulation took place.

"We had no access to that committee, nor did the observers," he said. South
African observers admitted at their media briefing that they did not visit
the committee - and that they did not know it existed.

The extent of Mr Mugabe's victory has left the MDC with few practical
options and there was increasing despair among the party's senior leaders.

Mr Tsvangirai is in an unenviable position. He knows the evidence of his
victory in 2002 is in box files gathering dust on shelves in his lawyer's
library and that he will not be given a chance to fight again in 2008.

For five years he has struggled to keep a lid on groups of youths, mostly in
urban areas, who believe that the ballot box has failed them and see
violence as their only option. He also knows that the MDC is heavily in

Some hard-core veterans of five years of detentions and torture are
discussing, among themselves, whether to break ranks with MDC policy and go
for targeted acts of violence.

Some are unwilling to wait for Mr Mugabe either to die or step aside for his
chosen and obedient successor - the vice president, Joyce Mujuru - and see
what happens. "The MDC failed us although we know it was impossible to
defeat Zanu-PF as they control everything," said a man in his early 20s who
has seen the inside of more police cells than any of the party's leadership.

"We know we cannot even discuss this with the leaders because they are
determined to keep to non-violence, but we have nothing to lose."

Such opposition activists have no faith that the MDC could or would organise
the peaceful "uprising" that was suggested by Zimbabwe's outspoken Catholic
Bishop Pius Ncube, if Mr Mugabe won last week.

Topper Whitehead, an activist and veteran of the two previous violent
elections said yesterday: "If I had access to the ballot boxes it would take
me five days to find out how Zanu-PF manipulated the numbers.

"If they allowed the MDC the electronic version of the voters' roll I would
uncover it in 24 hours."

Statisticians at the University of Zimbabwe say the voters' roll of 5.8
million, or almost half the population, may be overstated by more than a

Police set up checkpoints on the roads leading to Harare to contain possible
trouble, but in the capital there were no signs of demonstrations - or
celebrations - over the outcome.

Streets bustled with people shopping and going to work, reflecting a mood of
widespread weariness with politics in a nation that is beset by crippling
unemployment and inflation.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Telegraph

Wife of imprisoned MP defeated by 'rigged vote'
By Peta Thornycroft
(Filed: 03/04/2005)

The wife of a white Zimbabwean MP who was jailed last year has accused the
election authorities of rigging the result after she stood in his

Heather Bennett, 43, campaigned in place of her husband Roy in the
Chimanimani area of eastern Zimbabwe after his attempt to run for office
from behind bars was ruled illegal.

She was defeated by 4,000 votes, but said that the constituency, a rural
area populated mainly by poverty-stricken peasants, appeared to have "grown"
by 6,000 voters overnight.

"I am sure it was rigged but I don't know how, and I don't mind except for
the people down there who were devastated after we lost," she said.

Mrs Bennett, who said she was "fed up and annoyed" at not winning, added:
"Personally, I am glad I don't have to go to parliament, but I am upset for
people who worked so hard and believe that the results did not reflect the
numbers who voted for us."

Mr Bennett was sentenced to a year's hard labour last October for pushing
over the former justice minister Patrick Chinamasa during a parliamentary

Mr Chinamasa, who has helped himself to three commercial farms since Robert
Mugabe began his purge of white farmers in 2000, had incensed Mr Bennett by
accusing him of being "descended from thieves and murderers".

Critics say that his conviction, handed down by a Zanu-PF-dominated
parliamentary committee that found him guilty of "contempt", was an act of
revenge against Mr Bennett for his prominent role in the opposition MDC

Mr Mugabe first launched a vendetta against Mr Bennett after he took office
in the Zanu-PF stronghold in 2000, sending in thugs to attack his coffee
farm in Charleswood. The stress of the first attack led to Mrs Bennett
suffering a miscarriage. Two of their farm workers were killed, while her
husband was repeatedly arrested and beaten by police. The family was finally
evicted from Charleswood last year.

Mrs Bennett, who has two teenage children, expressed her determination to
carry on with her political fight. She said: "I will go back and maybe try
again in local government elections until Roy gets out of prison."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Sunday Times - Books

                        April 03, 2005

                        The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

                        Africa: A reality check on aid
                        African poverty has been called 'the greatest
tragedy of the present civilisation'. Christina Lamb reports on what is
being done about it

                        Anyone who doubts that Britain still carries
influence in Africa needed only to pay a visit to Zimbabwe during the run-up
to last week's elections. Half the country is on the verge of starvation;
life expectancy has fallen to 33; 80% of the population is unemployed. Yet
far from addressing these issues, President Robert Mugabe ranted about
Britain at every single rally, accusing Tony Blair of "spending sleepless
nights plotting to bring down the Zimbabwe government".

                        Throughout the campaign, the state-owned Herald
newspaper carried full-page advertisements headed, "2005 Anti-Blair
 Campaign", and ending "Bury Blair, Vote Zanu-PF!" Even in non-electoral
times, it runs a daily UK Watch on its front page. To most Zimbabweans,
struggling to feed their families after Mugabe banned foreign food aid,
blaming it all on Blair does not seem an obvious vote winner.

                        Like many African leaders, Mugabe seems to have a
love-hate relationship with its former colonial power, denouncing Britain
yet proudly opening parliament in his gleaming Bentley. His wife Grace was
one of Harrods's biggest customers until the European Union imposed a travel
ban. Many of his ministers send their children to school in the UK.

                        While Mugabe claims to see British interference
behind everything from stealing fish in Lake Kariba to the country's fuel
crisis, others in Zimbabwe believe Whitehall has been too quick to wash its
hands of its former colony. John Worsley-Worsick, the chain-smoking head of
Justice for Agriculture, a pressure group for white farmers who have been
expelled from their land in the past five years, argues that the British
government reneged on the Lancaster House Agreement signed at independence,
under which it agreed to underwrite land reform. "By doing that, the British
government threw us to the wolves," he said. "They need to re-engage with
Zimbabwe. Mugabe is right - the land was stolen, but not by us."

                        Zimbabwe encapsulates the "damned if you, damned if
you don't" problem of dealing with Africa. In Kenya, too, Britain seems to
take up more column inches than its own opposition since the British high
commissioner started criticising the corruption of the new government.
Classic western literature about Africa by authors such as Graham Greene and
Joseph Conrad has stereotyped it as a Heart of Darkness or the Dark
Continent, a place of disease, venality and the white man drinking gin and
tonics in fly-ridden bars. Equally, Britain's image on the continent has not
been helped by the spectacle of public-school coup-plotter Simon Mann, now
in jail in Harare, trying to take over Equatorial Guinea.

                        It is against this backdrop that Blair has bravely
made a call for new international action over Africa, the centrepiece of
Britain's agenda as head of the Group of Eight rich nations this year.
"There can be no excuse, no defence, no justification for the plight of
millions of our fellow beings in Africa today," he said last month at the
launching of the report of the Commission for Africa that he set up in
February 2004, to study how the continent can be helped.

                        The 493-page report called for an extra $25 billion
a year in aid, rising to $50 billion later on. Launched with great fanfare,
the report was seen by many on the continent as a public-relations stunt by
a western leader discredited for his enthusiastic support of the war in
Iraq. But for more than half the population of Africa, surviving on less
than $1 a day, the commission may be the best hope in years.

                        The 17-member group contained eight Africans,
including President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi of Ethiopia, and apparently consulted with a wide number of ordinary
Africans. Their report called African poverty "the greatest tragedy of the
present civilisation", and states that Africa must accelerate reforms while
the developed world has a responsibility to both provide aid and stop doing
things that hinder the continent's growth.

                        If $25 billion seems an enormous amount of money, it
is only a third of what is being spent in Iraq. Bob Geldof, whose favourite
tune these days is western injustice towards Africa, claims that all that is
needed from the rich to save Africa is the price of "half a stick of chewing
gum a day from everyone". America has already balked at the $12 billion it
is expected to cough up, but it sounds a lot less when compared to the $9
billion a year spent by Americans on going to the cinema. Apart from
doubling current levels of aid, the commission called on America and Europe
to abolish the trade barriers and agricultural subsidies that give their
farmers a hugely unfair advantage over producers in Africa. The West pays
out $350 billion a year in agricultural subsidies. Every cow in Europe
receives almost $2 a day in subsidies, double the average African's income.

                        There is a tendency to find Africa's problems so
overwhelming as to be insurmountable. War and disease, particularly HIV,
stalk the continent. The past three decades have seen a fall in life
expectancy and per-capita income. The numbers are intimidating. In the
Democratic Republic of Congo, 4m people were killed between 1998 and 2002.
In 1960, there was the same pessimism about Asia. Yet since then, life
expectancy in South Asia has increased from the age of 44 to 63, and in East
Asia it has leapt from 39 to 69. Turning Africa around is possible, and some
economists believe the turning point might even be now.

                        In the decade ending in 2002, 16 sub-Saharan African
countries sustained average annual-growth rates of 4% or higher. Ethiopia
notched up average growth of 6%, while Mozambique sustained growth of 7%,
partly as a result of aid flows of more than $100 per citizen per year. The
number of civil wars dropped from 15 to 9 between 2002 and 2003. More than
two-thirds of the countries have had some sort of multi-party election in
the past five years.

                        Although Africa is not going to turn around without
outside help, the commission also focused on the corruption of its leaders.
Sadly, the generation taking over is offering little hope. The president of
Kenya has taken to his bed rather than deal with his country's problems; the
president of Malawi fled the palace because of ghosts, then locked up
journalists who wrote about it. As the report notes: "Africa has suffered
from governments that have looted the resources of the state; that could not
or would not deliver services to their people . . . that maintained control
through violence and bribery; and that squandered or stole aid."

                        That should not be an excuse to turn our faces away
from the suffering of millions of ordinary Africans trying to feed and
educate their children. But it is a description the people of Zimbabwe would

                        Christina Lamb's The Africa House is published by

                        Christina Lamb takes part in the Africa 2005 debate
at the festival on Saturday, April 16 at 10.30am

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Herald (UK)

Comedy of errors

Zimbabwe is destroying itself, other African leaders stand accused of
complicity, and the West moralises over aid and debt. Time, says Fred
Bridgland in Johannesburg, for some painful decisions

Africa passed through a threshold this weekend, replete with huge dangers
for the continent after Robert Mugabe rigged massively, with devilish
cunning and ruthlessness, a Zimbabwean parliamentary election that has given
him a huge majority and carte blanche to continue the destruction of his
country that he began more than five years ago.
Mugabe won a two-thirds majority, which permits him to change the
constitution however he wants, in spite of having engineered an economy that
is the fastest collapsing in the world with the world's top inflation rate -
in excess of 600%. He won despite having given his people 80% unemployment,
famine, and a collapsed health service which has seen life expectancy fall
to 33 from 63 at independence, and which is unable to help a population so
widely infected with HIV that 500 Zimbabweans die each day from Aids.

The fraudulent poll spells disaster for ordinary Zimbabweans and enhances
the riches of the avaricious military men, corrupt civil servants and bent
judges he has gathered into his inner coterie.

If the poison unleashed by Mugabe were only to destroy his own beautiful
country, it could perhaps be dismissed with an unfortunate, helpless shrug.
But the poison has flowed beyond Zimbabwe. It has infected such men as South
African President Thabo Mbeki and Tanzanian President Ben Mkapa, who both
validated the Zimbabwe poll as free and fair before it had taken place. It
is Mkapa's view that Mugabe is a "champion of democracy".

Mbeki's and Mkapa's substantiations have infinitely more international
bearing than Mugabe's predicted election swindle. Both Mbeki and Mkapa are
point-men in Africa's projection of itself to the world beyond, and
particularly to international financiers, of a new, squeaky clean Africa
where transparently good governance prevails. Mbeki calls it the African

Mbeki is the leader of this rebirth through the reconstituted African
Union - which replaced the moribund Organisation of African Unity - and his
Nepad brainchild, the entirely laudable New Partnership for Africa's
Development, a Marshall Plan under which African states commit themselves to
good governance and democracy.

Mkapa is one of 17 members of Tony Blair's Commission for Africa, which
calls for the rich West to give an extra £26 billion in aid to Africa each
year, plus a bonus of lower tariff barriers in exchange for improved African
governance and liberalisation of markets.

The 453-page tome that is the Commission for Africa's blueprint will be near
the top of agenda when the G8 meets for its annual summit at Gleneagles in

Mbeki and Mkapa will be guests at discussions on matters relating to Africa.
The theatrics can be forecast almost to the last syllable and stage
movement. They will argue - despite all evidence to the contrary - that the
Zimbabwe election was free and fair; that Mugabe now wants to re-engage with
the West; and that since his people are starving as a result of prolonged
drought, international food aid should be resumed as a matter of
humanitarian duty.

The only truth will be that Zimbabwe's people are starving. But not from
drought, rather as a result of Mugabe's deliberate destruction of the
commercial agriculture system that was the backbone of the economy. This
will confront the G8 and its citizens with the most painful of moral
dilemmas. Do they respond to the appeal and pour in food aid that saves
people, particularly children, from starvation, knowing that Mugabe will
take all the credit and consolidate his iron rule?

After all, despite the many short comings of Westerners, stinginess when it
comes to appeals to help the wretched of the Earth is not one of them. Or do
they say no to Mbeki and Mkapa; that it is necessary to let Zimbabweans
starve in order to hasten the downfall of the monster Mugabe, perhaps in the
form of a people's uprising or a military coup, and thus accelerate the

The debate will be intense and right will not be the entire prerogative of
one side. Mbeki and Mkapa could, of course, by July have eased the dilemma
by unequivocally condemning the human rights abuses of Mugabe and, in Mbeki's
case, have hastened his downfall by severing Zimbabwe's oil and electricity
supplies which come from South Africa.

The latter is a mere pipe dream. Which raises the following question: what
is the point of the Commission for Africa if its two African point-men prate
about good governance while supporting the very opposite in practice? There
are other big questions to be asked anyway about the commission, quite apart
from the moral dilemmas raised by the Mbeki, Mkapa and Mugabe act.

Few of the commission's ideas are new. Most have been tried before,
including throwing money at Africa, with questionable results. Unfortunately
much of that money has been given to regimes whose favourite pastimes
include grand larceny. This, one knows, is a favourite refrain of
right-wingers who care little for Africans; but, unfortunately for others
who do love what is good and vibrant about Africa and the warmth of so many
of its ordinary people, it happens to be true.

General Sani Abacha, the late Nigerian military dictator, managed to steal
as much as £3bn in fewer than five years and siphon it back to Europe, where
it accumulated interest in a Swiss bank account. In total, it is estimated
that Nigerian politicians have spirited £56bn to banks in Europe and the
Cayman Islands.

In Malawi, finance minister Friday Jumbe recently sold off the country's
grain reserves, which created famine, and pocketed £2.1 million which he
used to build an upmarket hotel in Blantyre, his country's commercial

And as a rising young politician, Mkapa will clearly remember the billions
of pounds that the West showered on Tanzania from the 1960s to the 1980s for
a succession of favourite projects of the late President Julius Nyerere that
nearly all proved disastrous. The African political scientist Ali Mazrui
described the cult of uncritical adulation of Nyerere, accompanied by
outpourings of foreign aid, as "Tanzaphilia". Good-natured but slightly
crazy British Fabians, whose ideas had been laughed out of court by their
fellow Britons back home, were hired by Nyerere as advisers to foist their
sociological musings on Tanzanian villagers.

One consequence was the ujamaa programme, almost entirely financed by
British aid money, in which 11 million peasants were forcibly removed from
their home villages into huge collective villages where they were to be
given roads, schools, clinics and water supplies. They were not consulted
and were subjected to orders by bureaucrats. The whole experiment ended in
near- catastrophe. Food production fell severely, raising the spectre of
widespread famine. The shortfall had to be made up with expensive imports of
food which exhausted the government's foreign exchange reserves and forced
the country to rely on foreign food donations. The great irony of the huge
injection of foreign aid into the project was that it ended up creating
greater dependence on foreign aid than ever before.

The possibility that Tanzania's strategy might itself be deeply flawed was
never raised in Nyerere's lifetime, during which the aid continued to flow
in. Nobody questioned the course on which Tanzania had launched itself. It
was held to be a matter of ideological faith.

The Tanzanian example is just one that shows that Blair's blueprint for
"saving" Africa is nothing new. It might not be the answer to some highly
complex problems which differ greatly from region to region, from state to
state. Despite more than £280bn in aid transfers to Africa in the past five
decades - the equivalent of six Marshall Plans - Africans are poorer on
average than they were 30 years ago.

In other words, the problem is not one of shortage of aid but the more
elusive problem of "bad governance". And how do we take seriously, without
making fools of ourselves, the pledges by Mbeki and Mkapa to transparent
governance when they so readily rubber stamp the spectacularly bad and
corrupt government of Mugabe?

What game is being played here? Astonishingly, one important word cannot be
found in the Commission for Africa's recommendations on "governance": the
word "democracy". Five decades of bitter experience since African states
began achieving independence demonstrate that authoritarianism rather than
lack of aid money is the real enemy of development.

Money poured now into Mugabe's failed state would evaporate, although one
day when the tyrant falls or dies, Zimbabwe will certainly need lots of
targeted money over a period of 20 to 30 years to help restore schools,
hospitals, farms and factories that have either been destroyed or allowed to
rot. Solving Africa's problems will be a long, patient haul, not a quick
fix. The Commission for Africa could provide momentum at Gleneagles,
although the lifting of first-world trade barriers which cost African
countries £55bn each year - twice what they currently receive in aid - would
be a bigger shot in the arm than yet more aid money.

"Western kindness and generosity out of humanitarian concern will not save
Africa from its corrupt elites," asserts Andrew Mwenda, the combative star
columnist of Uganda's leading daily newspaper, The Monitor. "But tough and
pragmatic action will."

Mwenda, in spectacularly politically incorrect vein, attacks the Commission
for Africa's arguments for debt forgiveness of up to 100%, a repeat of
familiar refrains from organisations such as Oxfam and Christian Aid.

"Debt forgiveness creates a problem of moral hazard," Mwenda argues. "One
country borrows and invests the loan wisely and repays. Another borrows and
squanders the loan, is unable to pay back and is forgiven. Such a scheme
rewards incompetence and penalises good performance, and therefore creates a
disincentive to better loan management."

He points out that in 1998 Uganda was the first African beneficiary of debt
forgiveness when £1.1bn of its £1.7bn international debt was wiped off the
slate. But the law of unintended consequences followed. "Having gotten debt
relief, the government went not only on a renewed borrowing spree, but also
indulged itself in profligate public expenditure. It launched military
adventures at home and abroad and rapidly expanded its patronage networks.
Military expenditure doubled and by 2004 Uganda's debts had grown to £2.7bn
in spite of, but also because of, debt relief."

Mwenda asserts that debt relief rarely does anything for Africa's poor. "It
tends to save incompetent regimes from collapse, and therefore sustains
thieving elites in power."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

OP-ED COLUMNIST: Another Kind of Racism
NY Times ^ | April 2, 2005 | NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Posted on 04/02/2005 1:24:46 PM PST by Pharmboy

UBIMBI, Zimbabwe

The hardest place in the world to be an optimist is Africa.

Much of Africa is a mess, and no country more so than Robert Mugabe's
Zimbabwe. The continent has been held back by everything from malaria to its
nonsensical colonial boundaries, but the two biggest problems have been
lousy leaders and lousy economic policies - and Zimbabwe epitomizes both.

What makes Robert Mugabe a worse oppressor of ordinary Zimbabweans than the
white racist rulers who preceded him is not just the way he turned a
breadbasket of Africa into a basket case in which half the population is
undernourished. It's also the fact that he's refusing to let aid
organizations provide food to most of his people. He prefers to let them

In one western Zimbabwean village, I found a woman, Thandiwe Sibanda, who is
trying desperately to keep her family alive. "I'm the only one left to care
for the children," she said. "My husband died, along with his other wife."

So now she is trying to provide for her own four rail-thin children as well
as the two children of the other wife (who presumably died of AIDS along
with the husband - so Mrs. Sibanda will very likely die of it as well). "All
we can eat is corn porridge," she said, "and there isn't nearly enough even
of that."

Mrs. Sibanda is adopting the same survival strategies as nearly every other
peasant family I spoke to - they are down to one or two meals a day. She
pulled her children out of school last fall to save the $2.25 in annual
school fees, as are many other families. Her daughter just had a baby a few
days ago but has no milk to feed it. The infant may be the first to die.

Jealous Sansole, a member of Parliament who opposes Mr. Mugabe, told me that
in his district, people are already beginning to die of hunger. I didn't see
that, but malnutrition is probably speeding up deaths from malaria, diarrhea
and certainly AIDS.

The only reason more haven't died is food aid. Mrs. Sibanda's village, for
example, until recently received regular food distributions from the World
Food Program and the Save the Children Federation.

But last year, President Mugabe declared that Zimbabwe did not need food
assistance. This was a lie, but Mr. Mugabe ordered the World Food Program
and the aid groups it works with to stop handing out food to the general

Some groups continued to distribute food that was in the pipeline, and I
visited some villages that received food until January. But now the food aid
has all ended. At an elementary school I visited, the principal said that
three-quarters of the pupils could not afford breakfast and came to school
hungry. Along the border with Mozambique, poor families are marrying off
their daughters at very young ages so they will no longer have to feed them.

If the old white regime here was deliberately starving its people, the world
would be in an uproar. And while President Bush should be more forceful in
opposing Mr. Mugabe's tyranny, it's the neighboring countries that are most
shameful in looking the other way.

There's a liberal tendency in America to blame ourselves for Africa's
problems, and surely there's far more that we should do to help. We should
encourage trade, forgive debts, do research on tropical diseases and
distribute mosquito nets that protect against malaria. But some problems,
such as Mr. Mugabe, are homegrown and need local solutions, like an effort
by South Africa to nudge him into retirement.

One of Africa's biggest problems is the perception that the entire continent
is a hopeless cesspool of corruption and decline. Africa's leaders need to
lead the way in pushing aside the clowns and thugs so their continent can be
defined by its many successes - in Ghana, Mali, Cape Verde, Mauritius,
Uganda and Botswana - rather than by the likes of Idi Amin, Emperor Bokassa
and Robert Mugabe.

There's a twinkle of hope, for Nigeria and other West African countries have
shown the gumption to denounce seizures of power in Togo and São Tomé. But
South Africa is still allowing Mr. Mugabe to cast a pall over the entire
continent out of deference for his past fight against white oppression.

Frankly, Zimbabweans have already suffered so much from racism over the last
century that the last thing they need is excuses for Mr. Mugabe's misrule
because of the color of his skin.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Gulf today

SADC questions Mugabe results


HARARE: A Southern African observer mission has found discrepancies with the
official results in 32 of the 120 contested seats in Zimbabwe's
parliamentary elections that showed President Robert Mugabe's ruling party
won a two-thirds majority that is enough to enable it to change the

The opposition Movement for Democractic Change (MDC) has slammed the
elections as a "massive fraud" and refused to recognise the outcome. It has
called on its members and supporters to pile pressure on Mugabe to organise
an election re-run.

According to official results, Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF won 78 seats, compared with 41 for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). One seat went to an
independent candidate.

"There are major queries at 32 constituencies -- that's more than 25
percent," said Nomfanelo Kota, spokeswoman for the observers from the
14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"The results that the candidates themselves signed at the polling stations
were not the same as the results announced on national television," she

"This doesn't mean that there are necessarily huge discrepancies in the
figures," she cautioned.

A news conference by the SADC delegation scheduled for on Saturday was
delayed while the observers sought clarifications.

But a spokesman from the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) denied that
there were problems with the results.

Mugabe meanwhile urged the country's main opposition to accept defeat after
his party scored a massive win in elections.

Mugabesaid the opposition MDC its loss was not "the end of the world".

He also warned the party not to opt for conflict after the poll.

"In any fight, in any game for that matter, only one emerges as a winner and
the losing side, although it gets disappointed, must not look at it as the
end of the world," Mugabe told a news conference.

"It must be sporting enough to accept defeat and must not look for all kinds
of excuses which might complicate relationships."          "We have handled
this stage in a very peaceful way and would want this to become in the
future the basis on which we operate," he said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index