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Streak's departure could signal mass exodus

It's now in the open - politicians are the ZCU's masters

Martin Williamson

April 3, 2004

Heath Streak: finally paid for standing up to the Zimbabwe board
Getty Images

The resignation of Heath Streak as Zimbabwe's captain could well signal the
start of a mass exodus of the dwindling number of senior players who have
stayed loyal to the side. Streak did much to hold the remnants of the team
together, and to give it respectability both on and off the field. But it
seems that he paid the price for trying to stand up to the increasing
politicisation of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU).

Within hours of the news that Streak had stepped down, the ZCU, courtesy of
the government-controlled Herald newspaper, was claiming that he had been
sacked. It is likely that in the coming days the authorities will start
dishing the dirt on Streak, one of Zimbabwe cricket's most loyal servants.
Such is the way of life under Robert Mugabe's regime.

A source close to the ZCU explained that while the board had in the past
done all it could to remain independent, it had now all but abandoned that
stance and was prepared to slavishly follow the policies of Mugabe. Only
last week it banned Bryan Strang from playing after he expressed views which
clashed with those of the board.

"It's just another example of how the racial element in ZCU is beginning to
rule with the corruption and incompetence of our government," the source
said. "The government destroys the economy and ZCU destroys the cricket."

He added that the situation was deteriorating because the people who acted
for the good of the game, and were trying to protect it, were being driven
out. "It's the old story - the more good guys pull out or give up, the
easier it is for the bad guys to get their own way. But they all have their
own excuses for giving up the struggle."

Streak has clashed with the board in the past, usually over selection
matters. During the 2003 World Cup there were disagreements over the make-up
of the team, with the ZCU increasingly at odds with those close to the side.
"You don't always get the teams you want," admitted a weary Streak at the
time. "It's been tough. There have been a lot of political insinuations."

In 2001 Streak quit the captaincy minutes before the start of a one-dayer
against West Indies after a row over - surprise, surprise - selection. His
passion for Zimbabwe and its cricket meant that when he was offered the job
again he took it, even though, shortly before, his father had been arrested
by the government for refusing to surrender the family farm. It was claimed
that they only kept the land because of Streak's high-profile position.

But at last the point came when unerring loyalty and nationalism no longer
counted, and the faceless puppets inside the ZCU felt strong enough to cast
aside one of the symbols of normality in the crisis-torn country.

Zimbabwe cricket, like the country itself, will continue to limp along, in
remorseless decline and in desperate need of something dramatic to save it.
The trouble is, it has just lost one of the few individuals who could help
it do that.

Wisden Cricinfo Ltd
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Excerpt from The Scotsman

Robert Guest

Why is Africa the continent that keeps failing?

You could argue that the collapse of, say, Zimbabwe's economy has its roots
in colonial injustice. British settlers took much of the good land in
Zimbabwe, so the president, Robert Mugabe, was rectifying an old wrong when
he took it back and gave it to black Zimbabweans. His land redistribution
policy will be good for the country in the long run, say his apologists.

Practically no-one in Zimbabwe believes this. They know that much of the
land confiscated from whites has been grabbed by colonels and cabinet
ministers, not by the poor who were supposed to benefit.

On one farm I visited, the new owner, a friend of Mr Mugabe's wife, had not
only evicted hundreds of black farm workers, he had also ransacked their
huts to steal the severance payments their white employer had been forced to
give them before he was driven off.

When one looks at other aspects of Mr Mugabe's record, his insistence that
Zimbabwe's troubles are all Britain's fault seems even less plausible. It is
hard to see, for example, how the wicked imperialists forced him to print
money until hyperinflation made all his subjects' savings worthless.

I once changed a couple of American hundred-dollar bills in Zimbabwe and was
given a plastic sackful of currency in exchange. The Zimbabwean notes came
in neat bundles of 100, with consecutive serial numbers. They were clearly
fresh off the press.

Mugabe prints money because he has to keep paying the army to stay in power.
He finds it hard to raise money in more conventional ways, because he has
killed off so many of the industries that used to generate profits that
could be taxed. No other African country (besides those at war) has
collapsed as fast as Zimbabwe in recent years, but most share at least some
of characteristics that brought Zimbabwe low.

. Robert Guest is the Africa editor of the Economist. His new book,
The Shackled Continent: Africa's past, present and future, will be published
by Macmillan on 16 April.

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From The Herald, 3 April

Knives out for Prof Moyo

Daggers are out for the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in
the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo, with some
detractors frantically trying to soil him ahead of next year's parliamentary
elections. Zanu PF last month named Prof Moyo as its candidate for
Tsholotsho in the 2005 general elections. In the latest stunt in the smear
campaign, some politicians have found an "illegitimate child" for him. Now
22 years old, the youth was dumped in Tsholotsho, Prof Moyo's rural home,
last week. Prof Moyo has denied fathering the youth. Some people, at the
behest of a named senior politician, assisted the youth, Isaac Ntuthuko
Mwedini, who is based in Kadoma, to go to Tsholotsho on Monday. Political
analysts say this is part of a spirited attempt to derail Prof Moyo's
campaign in Tsholotsho. The youth said he was assisted by a senior member of
a Government department to travel all over the country. Isaac said the
person helped him travel from Kadoma to Harare, then to Jotsholo in Lupane
and finally to Tsholotsho in a space of three weeks by organising warrants
through the Department of Social Welfare. He also confirmed that the man
also gave him money on several occasions to travel from one province to the
other in his alleged quest to find his "father". A senior official in the
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said he could not
understand why it had been easy for the youth to get travel warrants to
travel "all over the country". "We only give warrants to destitutes and the
elderly people who are deserving cases. This boy certainly did not deserve
any warrants,'' he said.

When Isaac arrived in Tsholotsho on Friday, he was met by another man who
helped him locate Prof Moyo's uncle, Mr Joram Ndlovu who was attending a
Zanu PF meeting at Mvundlana. The Tsholotsho-based accomplice dragged a girl
from the uncle's house to help point out Mr Ndlovu to the youth. The
involvement of the Government department has raised eyebrows and there was
panic at its headquarters in Harare over the matter. Sources said it was
hard to understand why the youth had to go to Tsholotsho instead of Harare
where Prof Moyo spends most of his time. "Those assisting him have direct
access to Prof Moyo and could have just walked into his office with the boy
whom they have been running for the past month. Why come to Tsholotsho? This
is just a smear campaign against Prof Moyo. Someone is trying to be funny
somewhere and I am sure his/her motive is to tarnish his image and derail
his campaign in Tsholotsho,'' he said. However, sources said there was panic
in Harare over the matter with senior officials claiming that the junior
officials in that department had conducted the operation without their
superiors' approval. It is believed that an enquiry over the matter may soon
be launched as the Government was worried about the developments.

The Chronicle tracked down the boy's mother, Ms Irene Ali (41) at a house in
Rimuka, Kadoma, who claimed in an interview that she met Prof Moyo in 1981
at Gobo Army Barracks in Silobela near Kwekwe. She said at that time Prof
Moyo was a private in the army based at the barracks. Gobo Barracks was a
facility for former freedom fighters formed soon after independence. The
barracks were destroyed in 1983. Contacted for comment, Prof Moyo dismissed
her story saying whoever is running the woman should have come up with a son
"who looks like me", in the United States and not Silobela "as I have never
lived in Silobela." "The time they are talking about I was in America. They
should go to Los Angles and come up with some woman who will claim that I
fathered her child, not Silobela or any part of Zimbabwe. They must find a
barrack near Disney Land," Prof Moyo said. Despite the many inconsistencies
in her story, the woman said she met Prof Moyo when she had gone to attend
her grandmother's funeral in Silobela. "Two months after dating I got
pregnant. It was then that I moved from my uncle's home where I was staying,
to his uncle's place. The uncle's name was a Tshuma,'' she said. Ms Ali
alleged that she stayed there for about seven months while Prof Moyo was
staying at the barrack.

When this reporter told her that Prof Moyo was never a soldier as she is
alleging, she said she was not aware of that but admitted, however, that she
never saw him putting on an army uniform. "During that time, one of his
family members, a Mrs Moyo went to my parents in Kwekwe to pay ukangaziwe
(money paid by the son-in-law to be known officially by his in-laws).
Unfortunately, when I was seven months pregnant, he disappeared and we never
heard from him until today. I then went back to my home in Kwekwe. Though I
wanted to go back after giving birth, my parents barred me from doing so
saying since he was now officially known he would obviously come for us,''
said Ms Ali. She however, said when her child was about five years old, Prof
Moyo wrote her a letter which was posted to Kwekwe but unfortunately she
never saw it as she had moved to Kadoma. Ms Ali said according to her
sisters who opened the letter, Prof Moyo was saying he was preparing to come
and get her together with the son so that they could stay together as a
family. But, she never laid her hands on this letter. Ms Ali said she raised
Isaac with the help of her late husband. However, when Isaac was in Form 2
in 2000 they could no longer afford to pay for his education, a development
which prompted him (Isaac) to demand the identity of his real father.

"Initially, I was reluctant to tell him, though I was going to at some later
stage. I ended up telling him because some of my family members had hinted
to him that Prof Moyo was his father. It was then that he started the
search,'' she said. Asked why her son was using Mwedini instead of Ali as
his surname since she had acquired the birth certificate using her
identification particulars, she said Mwedini was her totem though she does
not use it. Isaac had initially said Mwedini was his stepfather's surname.
When the Chronicle news crew caught up with the young man in Tsholotsho on
Monday evening, he admitted that he had been assisted by a Government
official (name supplied) to get to Tsholotsho. He chronicled how the man had
helped him get travel warrants and even given him money as bus fare and for
food. He could not say why he was doing that, but it is believed the man was
working in cahoots with Prof Moyo's political detractors. "I have been
wanting to talk to him since 2000 without success. I then thought of seeking
help as I am here (in Tsholotsho) today because of them. I have been told
that he is my father and I want him to assist me get a birth certificate and
send me to school as well,'' he said.

He said he dropped out of school when he was in Form 2 as his stepfather,
who was constantly ill-treating him said he could no longer educate another
man's son. He said his stepfather's behaviour had forced him to run away
from home and stay with his mother's friend. Ironically, his mother denied
these allegations from her son saying her husband, who was working for a
textile company in Kadoma died in February. Prof Moyo's uncle, Mr Ndlovu,
said Isaac's issue was a mystery as the information he was giving was
inconsistent and therefore hard to believe. He said his story was totally
false especially considering the fact that he was conceived and born at a
time when Prof Moyo was out of the country. "Jonathan (Prof) left the
country with his mother in the mid 70s and only came back in 1983. How then
did he father this child? Secondly, he was never in the army as alleged by
the boy's mother, so you see there is not a single element of truth in this
whole story,'' he said. He also said Prof Moyo's mother is a Ndlovu not a
Tshuma as alleged by the boy's mother and that they do not have relatives
who stay in Silobela. "My sister's totem is Ndlovu just like I am and we don
't have any relatives of the Tshuma totem. I don't know what this woman is
up to. She must sit down and think properly about her son's father because
it is definitely not Prof Moyo,'' he said. Sources said when asked what he
would do if Prof Moyo turned out not to be his father, the boy said: "Then
my search will be over".
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From The Daily News (Botswana), 2 April

BR reviews its deal with Zim

Gaborone - Botswana Railways (BR) is pondering an arrangement that will
relieve the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NZR) of the debt it owes BR.
Reginald Ketshabile, acting BR general manager, told BOPA that the two
organisations have agreed that BR should collect all freight charges for
joint customers based in Botswana and Zimbabwe. In addition, BR will use NZR
workshop facilities for major repairs of its wagons and locomotives.
"Charges for such services will be used to relieve NZR of any indebtedness
to BR," Ketshabile said. He, however, declined to disclose how much NZR owe
BR "for business relations' reasons". "Prior to the new arrangement, the
situation was such that the railways administration where freight originates
collects all charges, and thereafter reconciliation carried out and any
outstanding amounts paid by the owing railways." Ketshabile said Zimbabwe
approached Botswana recently to re-introduce the passenger service between
Francistown and Bulawayo. The two met in February and agreed that details of
the proposal would be worked out during subsequent meetings. He explained
that business between the two has never stopped.

"What happened is that after the opening of a new railway line between
Bulawayo and Beitbridge in 1999, a lot of transit traffic that used to move
through Botswana was diverted to that line. "This led to a drastic reduction
in the business volumes moving between Botswana and Zimbabwe. The main
reason for discontinuing (passenger service between Francistown and
Bulawayo) was that it was not viable for both organisations." BR recorded an
operating loss of P11.05 million in 2000/2001, P1.59 million in 2001/2002,
and P4.6 million in 2002/2003. BR management continues to hold regular
meetings with NRZ officials to discuss strategies to improve the performance
of the two organisations, as well as operational issues that have an impact
on service delivery. Ketshabile said it "makes business sense to do business
in Zimbabwe because BR is a transport logistics provider," which depends on
local importers and exporters for its business. "Some of the importers get
their supplies from companies in Zimbabwe and some of the exporters sell
their products to Zimbabwe-based companies," he said.
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I didn't want to quit like this, says Zimbabwe's Streak

Sun April 4, 2004 12:06 AM By Telford Vice
DURBAN (Reuters) - Pace bowler Heath Streak has disputed Zimbabwe's
version of his resignation as team captain although his international career
appears to be over.

"I don't want to say anything until matters have been cleared, because
things aren't exactly as they have come out," Streak told Reuters from
Bulawayo on Saturday.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) announced on Friday that Streak had
called for an overhaul of the selectors, saying he had no confidence in
them. The board added it had refused his demands and accepted his offer to

The ZCU appeared to rule out ever picking Streak again by saying he
had retired "from all forms of cricket", although he is currently captaining
Matabeleland against Mashonaland in a first-class match in Bulawayo.

Asked if his decision was to be announced jointly later, Streak added:
"Something like that, what has happened so far is not my wish."

Streak, a fine bowler and very useful lower-order batsman, played 59
tests and 183 one-day internationals. He took 202 wickets at 27.58 in a
struggling team, while averaging 23.55 with the bat.

He captained Zimbabwe in 21 tests, in which they achieved four of
their eight victories, drew six and lost 11 matches.

Zimbabwe won 18 of 68 one-day internationals under him.

The ZCU has appointed wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu, Streak's
vice-captain, to the captaincy. The 20-year-old is the country's first black
captain and will become the youngest captain in test history when he leads
Zimbabwe in the first test against Sri Lanka in Harare on May 6.
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Mugabe says opposition ready for burial

April 03, 2004, 18:47

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, has predicted the main opposition
party will disappear from the political landscape after next's year's
general election, the Herald reports.

Mugabe's ruling Zanu(PF) beat the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in a by-election last weekend. In power since independence in 1980,
Zanu(PF) is close to the two-thirds majority it needs to push through
constitutional changes.

The state-owned Herald quoted Mugabe as telling the Zanu(PF) Central
Committee the MDC was ready for burial. "They now fear elections and are
giving all sorts of lame excuses for boycotting elections," Mugabe said.

"We dare them. Boycott or no boycott, well you are ripe for burial and we
will put you to eternal sleep in March next year and not at the Heroes
Acre," he said, referring to a national shrine where leaders of the
independence struggle are buried.

The MDC has hinted it might boycott parliamentary elections next March
because of what it said were flaws in electoral laws which favoured the
ruling party. Parliamentary elections are held every five years.

The ruling party needs two more seats to get the two-thirds majority it
needs to make constitutional changes without the support of the opposition.
Mugabe urged his party to mobilise voters for the two-thirds majority in
next year's poll. - Reuters
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South Africans tell of nightmare in Zim

April 02 2004 at 08:10PM

By Helen Bamford

Seven members of a South African expedition on the Zambezi river were
arrested in Zimbabwe this week and spent two terrifying nights being
interrogated by police on suspicion of terrorism.

They were released only on Friday after intervention by a Cape Town law firm
which was contacted by one of the nine expedition members. He had smuggled a
cellphone in his shoe after they were arrested by Zimbabwean police at Mana
Pools and taken about 250km to Karoi.

The river expedition sponsored by Old Mutual, was supposed to be a safari
adventure of a lifetime, plus a bid to bring attention to the devastating
effects of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.

Moult told her the group had been deprived of food and water
The seven taken to Karoi were Old Mutual executives Andrew Weinberg and
Brent Wiltshire, entrepreneur William George, commercial attorney Bob
Groeneveld, company director Mark di Nicola, neurosurgeon Patrick Semple and
graphic designer Athol Moult.

All the men are from Cape Town, with the exception of Di Nicola, who is
based in Johannesburg.

Di Botha of Cape Town, a friend of three of the expedition members, said she
spoke by phone to one of them, Athol Moult, moments after the group had been
released on Friday.

Moult told her the group had been deprived of food and water and had been
separated and interrogated individually.

Botha said Moult had told her the police believed they were either part of,
or had escaped from, the suspected mercenary group led by Simon Mann, who
were arrested in Zimbabwe last month and were said to be planning a coup in
Equatorial Guinea.

'It wasn't much fun being interrogated at 4am'
At one stage police indicated they wanted to take the seven men to Harare to
continue the interrogation.

Botha said one of the arrested men, Groeneveld, of the law firm Fairbridge,
Arderne, Lawton Inc, had smuggled the cellphone in his shoe and phoned Old
Mutual in Cape Town, which had contacted the law firm.

The firm then apparently sent a lawyer to represent the seven men - the two
other expedition members had been left at their three motorised inflatable
boats under armed guard.

They were Old Mutual executive Tim Cumming and company director Simon

The seven men were released from the police station in Karoi only once the
lawyer presented a letter from the SA Department of Health, confirming that
the expedition had been sanctioned.

Botha said Moult told her that once they had been released, their guards
changed their attitude completely.

"They were told 'please come back to Zimbabwe, it's so good to have

Lynne Semple, whose husband Patrick is an associate professor of
neurosurgery at Groote Schuur Hospital, said she was extremely worried about
the men. They had gone to a lot of trouble before the trip to make sure all
their paperwork and permits were in order.

"I spoke very briefly to my husband but he told me it wasn't much fun being
interrogated at 4am."

But she said he had indicated he was keen to finish the trip.

In a statement, Old Mutual said the men had been detained by Zimbabwean
police as a result of a misunderstanding about their permits.

Chief communication officer of Old Mutual, Stephen Bowey, said they were
working with the SA High Commission in Harare, which was in constant contact
with the Zimbabwean authorities in an effort to resolve the matter speedily.

Bowey said the team obtained permits from the Parks Board in Kariba to enter
the protected area of Mana Pools, but there had been a dispute about the
validity of the permits, as no motorised transport was permitted in Mana

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Players to get choice on Zimbabwe

Paul Kelso and Matthew Engel in Barbados
Saturday April 3, 2004
The Guardian

The England and Wales Cricket Board will consider allowing players to opt
out of this autumn's proposed tour of Zimbabwe if the ECB decides to go


with the controversial fixtures.
The opt-out is one of a range of measures being considered by senior
management in an attempt to limit the damage if they decide to go ahead with
the scheduled tour.

ECB executives are also considering removing advertising logos from the
players' kit, after the team's sponsor Vodafone expressed its opposition to
the tour, and offering only minimal cooperation with official commitments on
the tour.

Under new International Cricket Council regulations approved at its annual
meeting in Auckland last month, the ECB faces suspension from international
cricket and a minimum 1.1m fine if England fail to fulfil their commitment
to tour.

ECB officials estimate that a one-year suspension could cost the game 50m,
and the threat of such severe sanctions has led Lord's to consider
undertaking the tour despite widespread public opposition.

Many of the players likely to be selected for the autumn tour were party to
the shambles that surrounded last year's World Cup, when the bulk of the
squad were reluctant to visit Harare for both moral and safety reasons. The
then England captain Nasser Hussain made it clear after the squad withdrew
that he did not wish to be seen to give succour to Robert Mugabe's regime.

Many players are understood to remain opposed to touring the troubled
country and , though the players' union is unlikely to strike, the opt-out
could mean England sending a team of club cricketers to play Test matches.

To avoid a potentially ruinous split with the squad, the ECB chairman David
Morgan may decide not to make the tour a condition of the new central
contracts which will be negotiated this summer. The current contracts are
due to expire at the end of the summer.

Prior to their departure for the Caribbean the players were briefed on the
board's position on Zimbabwe by Des Wilson, chairman of the ECB's corporate
affairs and marketing subcommittee.

Wilson, who this year compiled a report proposing that the ECB take moral
considerations into account when deciding where to tour, told the players
that the ECB was opposed to touring.

The international players are represented in negotiations with the board by
Richard Bevan of the Professional Cricketers' Association.

Yesterday Bevan said he would wait for the outcome of the ECB's next
management board meeting on April 20 before making a definitive statement on
behalf of the players. "The players have not met to discuss the position
since the latest developments, and as such there is no definitive player
position," he said.

The threat of crippling financial sanctions has con centrated minds at
Lord's and the majority of the 15-strong management board are now thought to
favour touring, despite the public condemnation such a move would bring.

"I would say opinion is now probably in favour of going," said one
well-placed source. "A lot of people feel we've now got no choice."

The ICC says only independently-assessed security fears or government decree
are excuses it will accept for countries failing to fulfil commitments and
refusing to undertake a scheduled tour. Moral reasons, including distaste
for the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, are unacceptable.
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On April 10th a team of volunteer runners from Bulawayo will be running the
2 Oceans race on our behalf in an effort to raise money to replace two of
the Hospice cars which are becoming increasingly unroadworthy. These amazing
people have already begun getting sponsorship this end but what we need now
is to boost the Cape Town end too if we are to achieve our target. Thanks to
Sue Kaufman and Tony and Merle Weissenbacher ( of Brookes fame) who now run
the Peace River Trading Store at Greenpoint, we have begun to ask the many
people now living in the Cape who either grew up here, have relatives and
friends still living here or simply want to help our many people
do express through prayer and messages their continuing support of our
battle to keep either give a donation or sponsor one of the
runners participating.

The names of the runners are ; Charlie Trollope, Pete Tipler, Sean Day,
Andre Zietsman, Trev Thompson, Ann Walder,Sharon Stead, Phil Stead, Cedric
Wilder, Kieron Walsh, Lori Reynolds, Cedric Van Der Horne, Bridget from
Gweru and Cliff Fourie.

So what can you do?

Ask your Cape Town e-mail friend to contact Sue Kaufman 4397238 and either
offer to help with the organisation or sponsorship; and also ,of course, go
along to the race and give our guys and gals a big cheer. They will be
wearing Hospice blue T shirts with our logo at the commencement of the
race.And of course they can pass this message on to any other Bulawayo
sympathisers living in Cape Town too.

18 months ago it was costing us about $250 000 max. per month to keep 4
nurses on the road, supply the drugs, run training sessions and etc. And
this amount was raised from the generosity of the people in Bulawayo
themselves with Christmas card recycling, bridge drives, cake sales and so
forth. This month our costs rose to $ 6.2 million per month to maintain the
same standards the public have the right to expect. And you must remember
that we serve all of the community...the young as well as the old, all
creeds, all races; this is truly an all encompassing, all caring
organisation.But we Bulawayo people are all stretched to our limits now,
coping with our own economic hardships as well as trying to shore up all the
other charities which so desperately need help.

So if you have happy memories of the sunny carefree days you spent growing
up in this still beautiful city and you want to join us in our ongoing fight
to show the rest of Africa that we still truly care for each other, then
please assist us in any way that you can.

Thank you and May God Bless you all.

Jeannie Pritchard

Chairperson, Bulawayo Island Hospice.
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Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 11:01 PM
Subject: Romping

Dear Family and Friends,

On Monday night Zimbabwe television announced that the candidate for the
ruling party in the Zengeza by-election had "romped to victory." What a
romp it had indeed been with numerous reports of violence, intimidation
and harassment in the weeks prior to the poll. Hospital officials said
that they treated at least 50 people for injuries immediately prior to and
during the 2 days of voting. Other reports told of 200 people being
attacked and chased away from a voting queue by a "riotous" group of
ruling party youths.  In one violent incident on the first day of voting
the opposition said 4 truck loads of ruling party youths stormed the house
of the MDC candidate. 22 year old opposition supporter Francis Chinozvinya
was shot in the chest and pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. In the
same incident another man, Arthur Gunzvenzve was shot and injured. The
Zimbabwe Electoral Support network said the atmosphere was extremely tense
and intimidatory and said there is "not a chance this can be called a free
and fair election." Only 32% of registered voters exercised their right to
cast a ballot in the Zengeza by-election which the opposition called
"daylight robbery" and it was an election that has made all Zimbabweans
start thinking about national parliamentary elections due in March next

There is already much debate about whether or not the opposition should
boycott next year's elections. If a by election in one small constituency
can leave people being shot in broad daylight and scores injured in
violent incidents where perpetrators are not arrested, we cannot help but
wonder how many hundreds of people will be hurt in a countrywide election
and how many thousands will simply be too scared to go and vote in the
first place. The most depressing thing about Zimbabwean elections now is
the tired resignation with which people here accept the results and the
almost non existent outrage. Police, government and the state owned media
say the election was "peaceful" or that there were "minor skirmishes",
they don't talk about cold blooded murder, terror and perpetrators walking
free, There is no local radio station where you can phone in and express
your views, there is no daily independent newspaper where you can write
letters of protest, there are no public meetings at which it is safe to
stand up and say: this is a disgrace and has to be stopped. Night after
night the only way ordinary Zimbabweans can hear what others are saying
and thinking and find out what's really going on in Zimbabwe is through
the static laden voice of Short Wave Radio Africa which broadcasts from
London. On Thursday night it was agonising to listen to the father of
murdered opposition supporter Francis Chinozvinya speaking on Radio
Africa. The grieving father described how Zanu PF officials had come and
offered to pay for the funeral expenses of Francis but the family
declined, saying they would not accept money from the party whose
followers had murdered his son

If you ask any Zimbabwean what they think can end Zimbabwe's chaotic
crisis they say: free and fair elections run by the world. But the problem
is we don't know what to do to insist on a democratic election and instead
keep meekly agreeing to whatever rules our government make up as they go
along. With almost every local and national election, the ruling party
move the goal posts and change the rules.This week electoral amendments
were gazetted prior to being debated in parliament. These amendments will
forbid anyone but governmental organisations from conducting or funding
voter education. They will take postal ballots away from everyone except
people on military and diplomatic duty and will make the chance of a free
and fair election nothing more than a mirage on the hot African horizon.

Perhaps I'm just being particularly dense on this issue but I simply can't
see how another romping victory for Zanu PF, either in a by election or a
national parliamentary election will change anything at all. It will still
leave us with a government which is not recognised by the world, a
population in which 8 out of 10 people can't get a job and a country where
more than half of us haven't got enough food to eat and almost 4000 people
die of Aids every week. It will surely take leaders of great vision and
selfless dedication to save Zimbabwe, not a violent romp to victory. I
write this letter in memory of Francis Chinozvinya who made the ultimate
sacrifice for his country.  Until next week, with love, cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle 3rd April 2004
My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are
available outside Africa  from: ; ; ;  in Australia and New Zealand: ;  Africa:
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