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

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Arrest Mugabe "Pinochet style", human rights lawyers demand in Canada
Fri 20 August 2004

      JOHANNESBURG - A group of Zimbabweans claiming to be victims of
torture have asked the government of Canada to indict President Robert
Mugabe for crimes against humanity.

      If Canada's Attorney General, Irwin Cotler, approves the indictment,
Mugabe and officials of his government named in the order would be liable
for arrest and extradition to Canada in any country that has an extradition
agreement with Ottawa.

      Canadian human rights lawyer Amir Attaran, who is representing the 98
Zimbabweans, told ZimOnline he filed papers earlier this year with Cotler's
office, charging Mugabe with 20 counts of crimes against humanity.

      Some of Mugabe's ministers, police, military and intelligence officers
are also named as perpetrators of various crimes including persecution,
enforced disappearance of persons, torture and extermination by denying
people food. The charges carry life imprisonment under Ottawa¹s Crimes
against Humanity and War Crimes Act (CHWCA).

      Attaran, who is working on the case with fellow human rights lawyer
Craig Jones, said: "We have filed a draft indictment so that Mugabe can be
charged under the CHWCA. There are no immunity laws in Canada so he is fair
game. We need the attorney-general's approval though for the indictment to
go ahead. If the indictment is successful, then Mugabe can be arrested

      Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator,  was arrested in 1998
while on a visit to London, after a Spanish judge had issued a warrant of
arrest against him for crimes against humanity.

      Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and his counterpart at
Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comment yesterday.

      The draft indictment against Mugabe reads in part: "Robert Gabriel
Mugabe stands charged that he did, between 1987 and 2004 while serving as
President of Zimbabwe, commit crimes against humanity within the territory
of Zimbabwe S as part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against
the civilian population of Zimbabwe."

      Attaran said he had collected evidence from Zimbabweans who he said
were tortured by Mugabe's government or its agents. He said the victims
included people who claim they had been physically tortured by state
security agents or by militants of Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party or had been
denied food on political grounds, as well as some who had been forced to
flee the country for fear of victimisation by agents of the government.

      An Extradition Bid Committee comprising victims of torture, human
rights activists and lawyers has also been formed to collect more evidence
to be used against Mugabe.

      The committee is headed by human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, who
himself had to flee Zimbabwe after being tortured by state agents.

      Shumba said yesterday, "we have realised that Mugabe and his acolytes
will not relent in their bloodletting unless an example is made that they
are not above the law, at least in jurisdictions outside their influence.
The Canadian statute was framed in line with the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court and does not recognise absolute immunity for
sitting presidents."

      An attempt to indict Mugabe in the United Kingdom last year by some
Zimbabweans also claiming to have been tortured failed after the courts
ruled that he enjoyed absolute immunity as a head of state.

      But another group of Zimbabweans, which included opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party legislator Evelyn Masaiti, successfully sued
Mugabe for damages in the United States of America in 2001.

      Shumba said the latest effort to indict Mugabe was different in that
the victims were not seeking civil remedies but wanted to obtain a warrant
of arrest against Mugabe.

      Cotler, who must approve or turn down the proposed indictment, himself
once called for the indictment of the Zimbabwean leader before his appointme
nt as attorney general. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe to introduce new banknotes?
Fri 20 August 2004

      BULAWAYO - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is understood to be
considering introducing new Z $5 000,  Z$10 000 and Z$20 000 notes to
replace its "bearer's cheques" because of widespread abuse of the cheques,
ZimOnline has learnt.

      Bearer's cheques are a type of paper money introduced by the RBZ when
Zimbabwe ran out of banknotes last year.  The cheques are printed on paper
and lack quality security features. They expire after a given period.

      Fraudsters and counterfeiters have printed millions of the cheap
quality cheques and offloaded them on to the banking system. Banks,
including the RBZ itself, have been left holding several millions worth of
the fake cheques.

      RBZ governor Gideon Gono confirmed the bearer's cheques were being
abused but would not deny or confirm that the central bank was now printing
new and higher value bank notes to curb the problem.

      Gono said, "We are currently doing our internal investigations. The
public will be told in due course when we come up with something."

      In the latest incident involving fake bearer's cheques, a Bulawayo
branch of the partly state-owned Zimbank last week intercepted more than Z$2
million worth of fake cheques from a client who wanted to deposit them at
the bank.

      The bank's chief teller said, "We come across such incidents very
often these days from our clients. It is very difficult to say who is behind
all this because even from the RBZ itself we get the money at times."

      Another Bulawayo bank, Time Bank, last month reportedly discovered
Z$1.9 billion worth of fake cheques among a batch of $10 billion worth of
cheques supplied by the central bank. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Hungry youth programme trainees steal cattle and fish, villagers claim
Fri 20 August 2004

      BULAWAYO  -  Hungry trainees at a government National Youth Service
Training Centre in Matabeleland North province have allegedly resorted to
cattle rustling and stealing food from surrounding villages to survive,
ZimOnline has learnt.

      In one case the youths at the Kamativi Centre, which is understood to
have run out of food, are said to have stolen 15 head of cattle from a
nearby village.

      The youths are said to have slaughtered one of the beasts and roasted
some of the meat, before ferrying the rest to their centre.

      A villager, whose cattle were among those stolen and who identified
himself only as Moyo, said "Like most of the villagers I reported the theft
at Kamativi police station but up to now nothing has been done. They
(youths) are just doing as they wish because the police are not responding
to our pleas. We do not know what to do anymore."

      Some fishermen, who earn a living by selling fish from a dam nearby,
said they had also fallen victim to the youths who they said regularly
robbed them of their catch. The fishermen also said police have not acted on
reports against the youths.

      Provincial police spokesman Casper Nhepera denied claims by villagers
that police were ignoring such reports: "It is true that we received such
reports and as police we have done our part and taken the docket to court.
It is now the court's duty to bring them to book and I understand they would
be appearing in court soon."

      Youth Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri could not be reached for comment.
Mutinhiri has in the past rejected claims that the national youth service
trainees commit crimes including political violence. He said the youth
programme trains youths to be patriotic, well behaved and law-abiding

      Human rights groups and churches accuse the youths of political
violence and human rights abuses against the government¹s political
opponents. ZimOnline
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'Mercenary' trial moves towards closure
          August 19 2004 at 05:50PM

      Harare - The trial of 70 men held in Zimbabwe on charges of plotting a
coup in Equatorial Guinea moved towards closure Thursday, with both defence
and state lawyers wrapping up their cases.

      Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe ordered the men to be brought back to
court on Friday to hear the final arguments from the two sides.

      "We're coming here for (closing) addresses only," Guvamombe told the
court, before adjourning the case to Friday.

      The 70 men were arrested in March, most of them aboard a Boeing 727
that stopped off at Harare International Airport to collect a consignment of

      Three other men, including the alleged ringleader, Briton Simon Mann
and two weapons inspectors, were arrested at Harare International Airport
where they were allegedly due to inspect a consignment of arms to be picked
up by the plane.

      Zimbabwean authorities said the men were on their way to overthrow the
government of longtime leader of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, but they
deny the charges, saying they were on their way to guard diamond mines in
the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Economic gloom deepens despair

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

      ©  Zimbabwe's Daily Mirror

      Zimbabweans have seen their living conditions rapidly deteriorate

JOHANNESBURG, 19 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Four in five Zimbabweans went without
food at least once last year, according to a new survey.

The results of the Afrobarometer survey, released on Wednesday, said more
than half of all adult Zimbabweans (54 percent) thought current living
conditions were "bad", and the present generation thought they were worse
off than their parents (52 percent).

The Afrobarometer is an independent survey conducted by the Institute for
Democracy in South Africa, the Centre for Democratic Development of Ghana
and US-based Michigan State University. An estimated 1,200 Zimbabweans
across the country were polled in May 2004 on how they felt about prevailing
economic conditions and the performance of political leaders.

About 82 percent of respondents said they had been short of food at least
once in the past year, a figure much higher than in any of the 15 other
African countries covered by the survey.

The report also confirmed a recent finding by the International Monetary
Fund: Zimbabwe had the fastest shrinking economy in the world, causing
citizens to become "one-third poorer in the last five years".

Once the breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe has now become the worst
food-deficit country in Southern Africa.

In 2003 food aid was distributed to over 5.2 million people - more than half
the population - and in April this year the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organisation forecast that the country would produce only half its food
needs for 2004/5.

"Only a decade ago, Zimbabwe's healthcare system was among the best in
Africa. Today, severe shortages of drugs and medical equipment are pushing
hospitals and clinics close to ruin. Between 1999 and 2002, while infant
mortality rates held steady in South Africa and declined in Malawi, they
jumped by 15 percent in Zimbabwe," the survey said.

The "very rapid deterioration" in food security and medical care had
"coincided with the period of land seizures, drought, and the manipulation
of food relief supplies as an instrument of political control".

Inflation climbed to 620 percent in November 2003. Unemployment currently
stood at just over 60 percent and 91 percent of respondents in 2004 said
their families had been short of cash at some point during the previous

After four years of political upheaval Zimbabweans were losing faith in
democracy, the survey found.

Whereas in 1999, many Zimbabweans firmly opposed the idea of one party rule
(74 percent), by 2004 they were much less certain (58 percent).

There was also growing wariness of multiparty competiton as respondents said
it "often or always ... leads to conflict".

According to Afrobarometer, two-thirds of adult Zimbabweans thought
"problems in this country can only be solved if [opposition] Movement for
Democratic Change and ZANU-PF sit down and talk with one another". They
preferred reconciliation to either continued ZANU-PF resistance to talks (19
percent) or MDC's call for new elections (8 percent).

Just four percent of ordinary Zimbabweans mentioned land reform as a
priority national problem, while 76 percent said land acquisitions should be
done by legal means, with compensation for owners.

Full survey:

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Yahoo News
Thursday August 19, 01:39 PM

Weapons in focus at "mercenary" trial

HARARE (Reuters) - A police investigator has told Zimbabwe's trial of 70
suspected mercenaries, including several Britons, that much of the group's
equipment could be used by security guards, but arms such as artillery were
only used by the military.

Most of the 70 suspects on trial in Harare pleaded not guilty on Wednesday
to charges of conspiring to possess dangerous weapons in connection with an
alleged plot to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea.

Zimbabwe has held the men since March 7 when their plane landed in Harare en
route for what Zimbabwe officials said was a coup against the oil-rich West
African state's leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

The group are all South African passports holders but include men from
Angola, Namibia and Britain. They say they were headed to the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) to guard mining operations.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange on Thursday cross-examined police
investigator Clemence Madzingo on equipment seized with the men, said to
include maps, uniforms and other items.

"Can you tell this court which items could not be used by a security company
especially in the DRC, where you are expected to fight all sorts of people,"
Samkange asked.

Madzingo conceded much of the equipment could be used by security guards.
But he added that other items the men are said to have sought to purchase,
including artillery, hand grenades, anti-tank missile launchers and mortar
bombs, were only used by military forces.

"Security companies cannot use artillery, even in the DRC," he told a
special court convened in the Harare maximum-security prison where the men
are being held.

Last month, 67 of the 70 suspects detained in Harare pleaded guilty on
lesser charges of contravening Zimbabwe's immigration and aviation laws.

Simon Mann, a former member of Britain's special forces regarded as the
group's leader, pleaded guilty to attempting to possess dangerous weapons,
but rejected a charge of purchasing weapons in Zimbabwe, saying the deal
never went through.

A further 15 men are being held by Equatorial Guinea, awaiting trial on
charges of involvement in the coup plot.

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Mugabe: Blair is arrogant
19/08/2004 09:12  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said on Wednesday new "political
systems" adopted at a regional summit in Mauritius will prevent Western
nations like Britain "interfering in the affairs" of Southern African

The long-time leader accused Zimbabwe's former master Britain of harbouring
colonial and neo-colonial tendencies, as well as a desire to change regimes.

"I'm glad that we now have come up with our own... guidelines," Mugabe told
state television shortly after his return from a two-day summit of the
13-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), held on the Indian
Ocean island state.

"How can we ever expect them (former colonisers) to have rules for us
governing our systems, which are equitable, which are in our favour?" he

MDC: It's not enough

"That's not going to happen, especially when you have characters like
(British Prime Minister Tony) Blair who are very arrogant... and pronounce
themselves as ordained ones in charge of African systems and ordained ones
who have a divine role to change regimes."

At the summit 13 Southern African leaders approved a new regional charter on
free and fair elections that specifies how they should be conducted to
guarantee democracy.

Incoming SADC chairman and Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Berenger said the
adoption of the charter would help the SADC to normalise relations with the
United States and European Union, which have imposed targeted sanctions
against Mugabe and his close associates for alleged electoral and human
rights abuses.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change has however
said that electoral reforms announced by Mugabe's government recently do not
enough to provide a level playing field ahead of next year's polls.

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We have just received an extremely disturbing report from someone who has
just returned from the Matetsi area. The details are a bit sketchy at this
stage but we are waiting for updates and photos.

  Our informant has been working up in the Matetsi for the past few weeks
and he met up with some South African hunters while he was there. He
started speaking to them and was told that they were engaged in a massive
hunting expedition on a game ranch or conservancy which he thinks
previously belonged to Bill Cummings and has now been taken over by
settlers. He was invited to go and see their "kills" which he did. When he
arrived on the property, he saw a large number of Landcruiser type vehicles
with South African number plates and several tents pitched up. He says
these people are literally on a killing spree. Amongst the carcasses he saw
were lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, kudu, sable, impala and even baboon.
He says there are dead impala hanging from the trees to attract the
leopard. He was invited to the abattoirs which was full of game meat.

Our informant was told that one of the A2 settlers, a PTC worker was paid
USD 50 000 by the hunters.

We are extremely concerned about this story because it could very well be
happening in other places as well. Due to the absence of Law and Order in
Zimbabwe, hunting quotas are not being adhered to and in any case, the
quotas are based on fictitious numbers because it is not known how many
animals are left here.

We intend to report this matter to the "authorities" for what it is worth
and to propose banning South African hunters from coming into Zimbabwe
altogether because they seem to be making money out of our desperate

Under normal circumstances, we would immediately go up to Matetsi,
accompanied by National Parks officials to ensure that something is done
but our funds are completely exhausted after our last game relocation and
we are now helpless.


There has been a lot of controversy recently since National Parks announced
that Zimbabwe has 100 000 elephants, a number which the country can't
sustain and hence the need to cull.

Allegedly, 50 000 of these elephants are in the Hwange National Park but we
have been receiving reports for the past 9 months that it is quite rare to
see an elephant in Hwange. The tourists have been complaining about the
lack of elephants, so where are the 50 000 elephants? The authorities have
now explained that they are hiding in the "thick bush". One of the reasons
they give for want to cull is that the elephants have destroyed the
vegetation in Hwange so where then is the bush thick enough to hide 50 000


Katshana Lodge in Hwange, previously owned by Touch the Wild and which
operated for decades as a photographic safari camp only, will now operate
as a hunting lodge under the new ownership of Governor Orbert Mpofu.


It has recently been reported that an extremely wealthy white tycoon in
Zimbabwe intends to export sable to Dubai next month. It is alleged that
the sable are to be used to persuade the Dubai government to allow Zimbabwe
to open a diplomatic mission there.


Finally, we do have some good news. We regularly check on the zebra which
we relocated to a safe area earlier on this year and the last time we went
there, we were delighted to discover that they are all very happy and
healthy and the zebra that had a snare wrapped around her leg has given
birth to a beautiful baby.

The ZCTF is no longer able to continue with relocation of animals under
threat due to lack of funds and the slaughter of wildlife here continues
unabated. Please take the time to read the horrifying article attached and
if anyone can assist us with funds so we can continue our work, we will be
extremely grateful.

Johnny Rodrigues
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Phone 263 4 336710
Fax 263 4 339065
Mobile 263 11 603 213
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Public Meeting
Sadc principles on Free and Fair Elections: Can Zimbabwe Deliver?

· Eldred Masunungure-Chairperson-Dept of Politics & Administration (UZ).

· Dzikamai Mavhaire-Veteran politician.

· Job “Wiwa” Sikhala-MP St Mary’s

· Lucia Matibenga-Chairperson-MDC Women’s Assembly.

Chairing:   Isabella Matambanadzo-Crisis Spokesperson
Date:  Wednesday, 25 August 2004

Time:    5:30 – 8:00 pm
Venue:        Crowne Plaza Hotel-
                          Great Indaba Room (Harare)
Date:   Wednesday 25 August 2004

Everyone is invited. Come and discuss the future of Zimbabwe.
Faciltated by:Crisis Coalition

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Sanity Prevails At Chimanimani Gold Spot

New Era (Windhoek)

August 19, 2004
Posted to the web August 19, 2004

New Ziana

THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Minister said on Tuesday it has
dispatched a team of geologists, metallurgists and mining engineers to the
Forestry Commission-owned Tarka Farm in Chimanimani to establish the extent
of the gold deposits in the area.

"I expect the team of experts to present me with a preli-minary report in
the next two weeks," Mines and Mining Development Minister, Amos Midzi, told
New Ziana.

Hundreds of illegal gold panners have descended on the farm in the past few
months following news of the discovery of the precious stone late last year.

The small town of Chi-manimani has suddenly been transformed into a hive of
activity as business people also descended on it to sell their wares to the
high spending gold panners. Chi-manimani Rural District Council issued
licences to at least 500 locals who in turn invited their more expe-rienced
colleagues from other centres to extract the precious metal. It later
emerged that there were irregularities in issuing of the licences and that
the gold deposits could be the richest in the country.

Most of the gold that was being extracted was also not finding its way to
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, whose purchasing arm, Fidelity Printers had
set up shop at the farm. The presence of foreign registered vehicles at the
farm suggested that some of the gold was being smuggled out of the country.

The government had to intervene to bring sanity to the situation as it
threatened to get out of control with some of the panners engaging in
criminal activities such as robbery and rape.

Minister Midzi and his Environment and Tourism counterpart Francis Nhema
visited the farm towards the end of last month to assess the situation.

The two ministers recom-mended that the extent of the gold belt be verified
and that mining activities be con-ducted in a systematic man-ner.

Midzi returned to the farm on August 4, in the company of Manicaland
Governor retired Major General Mike Nyambuya and held meetings with the
local community and its leadership as well as representatives of the illegal
gold panners.

It was at that meeting that he ordered operations to cease and all illegal
gold panners to vacate the area.

The police immediately launched an operation code named 'Operation Flush Out
Gold Panners' as some of the panners went into hiding in the mountains while
local villagers harboured some.

At least 41 illegal gold panners were arrested during the second week of the
operation and 2,3 kg of gold worth Z$16,4 million re-covered.

Police spokesperson for Manicaland province, In-spector Edmund Maingire,
confirmed to New Ziana that the operation to flush out gold panners from the
farm had been successful and had seen all gold panning activities stop and
all panners leaving.

Maingire said police were still present at the farm to ensure that the
panners did not return.

"All operations of panning within Tarka Estate in Chima-nimani have
stopped," he said.

He said all the panners left the area when they realised that the police
were serious in their task to stop illegal gold panning at the farm.

The police were aware that some of the illegal gold panners would make
attempts to return to the farm and carry on with their activities, he said.

The police are providing protection to members of the team of experts while
they perform their duties, he said.

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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe to introduce poll reforms in by-election

By Agencies
Last updated: 08/20/2004 01:24:06
ZIMBABWE will introduce some electoral reforms in a by-election this year to
fill a parliamentary seat left vacant by the death of an opposition
legislator, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said on Thursday.

President Robert Mugabe, under pressure from the opposition and his southern
African neighbours, last month pledged wide-ranging electoral reforms before
next March's parliamentary elections.

The reforms, backed at a regional level by this week's summit of Southern
African Development Community (SADC) in Mauritius, follow widespread
criticism of Mugabe's re-election in 2002, which both the opposition and
some Western powers claim was rigged.

Chinamasa said the new reforms to be introduced on a trial basis in the Seke
constituency just outside Harare did not require ratification by parliament.
The seat fell vacant with the death of MP Tumbare Mutasa.

He said in the poll, expected before the end of the year, voting would be
conducted in one day instead of the traditional two days and ballot papers
would be counted at separate voting centres rather than one centralised

"There are other electoral reforms which we cannot introduce but there are
those we can introduce without any legislative intervention," Chinamasa was
quoted by state television as saying.

"I have communicated this to electoral officials and I have indicated that
we will have as a trial run some of the election reforms we have proposed
during the by-election in Seke," Chinamasa said.

Other proposed reforms including the establishment of an independent
election body need parliamentary approval.

The reforms have been largely welcomed by the opposition Movment for
Democratic Change (MDC) as a step toward free and fair elections, although
Mugabe's critics say the long-time ruler has often resorted to other means,
including intimidating voters, to secure victory at the polls.

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Zimbabwe delegation seeks Israeli business cooperation

      The Zimbabwean delegation includes representative of the country's
agricultural, vehicle, clothing and plastics sectors.

      Hadas Manor    19 Aug 04   14:40

      The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute is hosting a
delegation of Zimbabwean businesspeople seeking cooperative ventures with
Israeli companies.
      Zimbabwe Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water principal director
of agricultural services Dr. Ntombana Regina Gata is heading the 36-member
delegation, which landed yesterday.

      The Zimbabwean delegation includes representative of the country's
agricultural, vehicle, clothing and plastics sectors. They will be briefed
on possible cooperative ventures and meet representatives of Israeli

      Published by Globes [online] - - on August 19, 2004
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Zim Online

Fri 20 August 2004

      CAPE TOWN ­ Zimbabweans are deeply concerned about eroding standards
of living but, paradoxically, increasingly resigned to the dominance of the
incumbent government. Political fear is "rampant". ­ These are some of the
results of an independent opinion survey released this week.

      The survey was conducted by the Cape Town-based Institute for
Democracy in South Africa and two US- and Ghana-based research centres and
published under the title "The Power of Propaganda".

      The conclusion of the study is: "Public opinion in Zimbabwe in 2004 is
a paradox."

      Zimbabweans  "regard economic conditions in a generally negative light
and worry ­ in the face of hunger, joblessness, and inflation ­ that their
families are slipping into poverty.  And they hold the government¹s economic
mismanagement responsible for perceived declines in public welfare.  On the
political front, however, Zimbabweans are acquiescing to ZANU-PF's
      dominance.  Even as they continue to reject one-man dictatorship, they
are losing faith in multiparty democracy as a solution to the country's woes
and are increasingly tempted, perhaps out of weariness, to try a
single-party alternative.  While ZANU-PF has not established itself as a
widely trusted institution, Robert Mugabe's popularity as president has
gradually increased, especially when compared to low overt support for the
opposition MDC and its leader."

      The researchers ascribe the "paradox" mainly to "the government's
squeeze on the media, which in recent years has denied citizens access to
most sources of information except official propaganda".

      Zimbabweans, the study says,  "seem inclined to trust the incumbent
national president". 46 percent of respondents, when asked whether they
trusted the president, answered "a very great deal/ a lot". 41 percent trust
Mugabe "a little bit" or "not at all", and 13 percent "don't know". Five
years ago, when a similar survey was conducted, only 20 percent expressed
their trust
      in Mugabe.

      The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
manages  a trust rate of 18 percent, 70 percent trust him "a little bit" or
"not at all", and 12 percent "don't know".

      "While the electorate is far from fully trustful of the political
status quo under ZANU-PF, they are apparently resigned to accept it when
compared with an unknown and untested opposition alternative."

      Support for the concept of democracy is decreasing, according to the
survey.. While in 1999, 71 percent of Zimbabweans "preferred democracy to
any other form of government", this percentage has "plummeted" to 48 percent
in 2004, the lowest figure in all 16 African countries surveyed by the

      "But democracy's loss does not automatically mean autocracy's gain.
As popular support for democracy has fallen, acceptance of non-democratic
government has not risen.  Instead, Zimbabweans are now more inclined to say
that the form of government "doesn't matter"' (18 percent), or that they
"don't know" or "don't understand" the difference between democracy and
other forms of government (24 percent)."

      The high number of people who "don't understand", say the researchers,
"does not signal an under-educated populace unversed in the meaning of
democracy. Instead, we see other possibilities.  Some citizens may be
genuinely confused when trying to reconcile an observed gap between
Zimbabwe's formal multiparty constitution and ZANU-PF practices of
suppressing all viable opposition.  Other people may be concerned that
multiparty competition in Zimbabwe is leading in a violent direction, which
they do not welcome. Finally, in a heated political atmosphere, many people
may seek safe positions on controversial questions by opting for
noncommittal responses."

      "Zimbabweans apparently do not confuse a tightly controlled
dominant-party system with a fully functioning liberal democracy.  They are
able to recognize that all is not well with the operation of their political
system.. For example, respondents express very low levels of satisfaction
with "the way democracy actually works in this country' (37 percent)".

      "In short, people seem to recognize that the regime that is
consolidating in Zimbabwe is either a sham democracy or something other than
a democracy."

      60 percent of respondents declare themselves "independent, undecided,
or apolitical.  In an election, their allegiance would be up for grabs by
either of the main political parties."

      "Among the minority who declare a partisan identity in Zimbabwe, which
parties do they follow?  In April 2004, more survey respondents were willing
to say that they identify with ZANU-PF (30 percent) than with MDC (10
percent).  (Thus) overt support for the ruling party has not increased since
1999 (when 29 percent felt close), whereas MDC support has doubled (from a
barely perceptible 5 percent)."

      Sympathy for political parties varies according to population group:
"First is age:  while ZANU-PF tends to draw older voters, MDC is more
attractive to the young. Second is residential location:  while ZANU-PF has
established its base in the countryside, the urban areas are more likely to
lean to opposition parties.  Third is region SWhereas ZANU-PF has a firm
grip on the three Mashonaland provinces, MDC controls Bulawayo and has made
significant inroads into Midlands, Manicaland and Matabeleland South."

      The researchers caution: "It is essential to bear in mind, however,
that the majority of interviewees preferred to keep secret their partisan
attachments.  This was especially true in Harare, Bulawayo, and the
Matabeleland provinces, where recent election results suggest that many MDC
supporters concealed their true preferences in the survey."

      The study says the "paradox" between the widespread perception of an
eroding economy and standards of living and the approval rate for the
president is due to  a mix of fear and propaganda.

      "There is no doubt that political fear is rampant in Zimbabwe.  More
than four out of five of the country's citizens (83 percent) say that, often
or always, "people have to be careful what they say about politics". This is
a shameful record on a continent that has undergone a flowering of political
openness since 1990.  S  To put the same point another way, only one out of
twenty Zimbabweans (5 percent) feels free enough to say that he or she
"never" has to be careful about open political expression."

      The researchers concede that this fear of speaking openly on political
matters may also have influenced the results of their survey.

      "The younger people are, and the longer they have stayed in school,
the more likely they feel that 'you have to be very careful what you say
about politics.' In other words, the brightest young minds in Zimbabwe feel
the tightest pinch of speech restrictions.  If these individuals have
marketable skills, they tend to leave the country, which only contributes to
      mediocrity and stagnation."

      The study shows that "those who trust government media are almost four
times as likely to rate the president positively as those who are
distrustful (65 percent versus 17 percent).  This huge difference strongly
suggests that an individual citizen's uncritical consumption of ZBC news
bulletins will induce him or her to support Mr. Mugabe. The government media
outlets in Zimbabwe concentrate heavily on news about the president, contain
editorials that trumpet the ZANU-PF line, run regular features celebrating
Zimbabwe's nationalist history, and display commercials promoting land
invasion and other revolutionary policies.  To the extent that people trust
the quality of this information, they are apparently induced to become
disciples of the
      ZANU-PF leader.  In short, for the segment of the population that is
willing to suspend disbelief and trust the government media, propaganda
apparently works."

      "Daily consumption of radio news has dropped (since 1999) by a third
(from 60 to 41 percent) and, stunningly, daily newspaper readership is down
by half (from 24 percent to 12 percent).  These trends can be explained both
by a deepening economic crisis (newspapers and radio batteries are now too
expensive for many people to afford) and by the government's forced closure
of important independent print outlets like the Daily News.  Yet access to
the single official channel of television news, the content of which is
closely controlled by government, has remained steady.  As a result, urban
dwellers are now more than twice as likely to get their news from television
rather than from newspapers and, as such, to face a restricted diet of

      On the economic front, "in the opinion of ordinary Zimbabweans, daily
life is a hard economic grind.  More than half of all adults (54 percent)
consider that their own living conditions in 2004 are 'bad.'  Only 27
percent consider them 'good'.  Indeed, only three out of every one hundred
Zimbabweans can find it within themselves to pronounce their everyday
      standards of living as 'very good'."

      "As food production has slumped, so hunger has grown.  Only one out of
four adult Zimbabweans (18 percent) report that they and their families
"never" went hungry during the previous year.  Instead, some 41 percent
experienced a shortage of food at least 'once or twice' or 'several times',
with a further 41 percent going without food 'many times' or 'always'."

      The survey was conducted in April 2004 and is based on 1200 interviews
in all provinces of Zimbabwe. ZimOnline
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