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

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The Times

            Shameful silence
            Will no African leader side with Zimbabwe's democrats?

            Robert Mugabe has set the date of March 31 for parliamentary
elections that he has no intention of allowing to be remotely free or fair.
The Zimbabwean President intends not merely to defeat but to "bury" the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the opposition party courageously led
by Morgan Tsvangirai, a former union leader whom he tried and failed to get
convicted of treason and now outlandishly accuses of being a Blair "puppet".
            So heavily have the electoral odds been stacked - even more
shamelessly than they were in the rigged contests of 2000 and 2002 - that
the MDC thought long and hard about a campaign boycott, before deciding to
participate even at the risk of lending these elections a spurious

            It is the right decision. A boycott would have allowed Zanu (PF)
to sweep the field, gaining enough seats to change the Constitution,
repealing the clause requiring speedy elections if the President dies or
resigns. That would have handed Mr Mugabe what he wants, the elimination of
the last obstacles to the perpetuation of his regime. But each MDC
candidate, and each MDC voter, will be taking grave personal risks.

            In theory these elections should be more open. Zimbabwe has
accepted election rules agreed by all 14 nations of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC). These include: no violence or intimidation,
freedom of assembly, equal access to state media, independent electoral
commissions, and vetting by SADC monitors.

            The reality is, instead: such mortal fear of Zanu (PF)'s 50,000
youth militia and "veterans" squads that people dare not talk openly; a
Public Order Security Act that bars free assembly; ruthlessly muzzled media
and an "independent" electoral commission entirely appointed by Mr Mugabe.
Zimbabwe should have invited in SADC monitors 90 days before the election;
the SADC is still waiting.

            In a country where perhaps half the people now go hungry, food
aid will, as in the past, be used as a political weapon. Some three million
Zimbabweans in exile have been denied the right to vote; and the electoral
roll itself is a sick joke. It contains as many as 800,000 "dead souls"
(unlikely to vote for the MDC) and double-enters at least 300,000 Zanu (PF)

            Amazingly, Zimbabweans refuse to give up. For Valentine's Day,
an organisation called Women of Zimbabwe Arise handed out red roses and the
slogan: "The power of love conquers the love of power". Even for this, many
were arrested. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the few Africans to have
spoken out against the regime their courage challenges, calling it a "huge
blot" on Africa. For that, he was denounced by Mr Mugabe as a "vassal of
imperialism" in thrall to the "false gods Bush and Blair". Africa's leaders
are shamefully mute. They have made much of Nepad, the New Partnership for
Africa's Development that seeks yet more Western aid in exchange for
political and economic reforms. Their silence in the face of Zimbabwe's
agony discredits their pledges and betrays their citizens' hopes.
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Bush's democratic bandwagon hits a roadblock in Harare

Simon Tisdall
Wednesday February 16, 2005
The Guardian

Groundbreaking elections in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine and Iraq,
extolled in President Bush's "dawn of freedom" inaugural address, have
encouraged western hopes that democratic values are gaining universal
But this winning streak, if that is what it is, will come to a shuddering
halt next month in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party look poised to steal
parliamentary elections on March 31 in the same violently fraudulent way
that, say Zimbabwe's opposition and international observers, they stole past
polls in 2000 and 2002.

"All the indications so far are that the elections will be stolen," Michael
Ancram, the shadow foreign secretary, said yesterday. "I hope this time we
will respond with more than rhetoric."

Mr Mugabe launched a three-pronged strategy on Friday in a speech to
handpicked party candidates. As in the past, he ridiculed the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as
colonialism's toadies.

He accused the MDC of taking instructions from Britain and the US. Banners
in the Harare convention hall where he spoke declared it was "Time to bury
Blair and his puppets".

Mr Mugabe, 81 this month, was particularly rude about Condoleezza Rice, the
African-American new US secretary of state, calling her a "girl" who should
know that "the white man is not a friend". Ms Rice described his regime last
month as one of six international "outposts of tyranny".

The second prong of Mr Mugabe's campaign strategy is repression on a scale
surpassing previous polls.

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New regulations have banned unlicensed meetings of more than 10 people,
further restricted independent election monitoring and human rights groups,
banned MDC newspaper advertising, tightened press curbs, and given Mr Mugabe
control of the electoral commission.

Voting rolls are reportedly out of date and at least 3 million Zimbabweans
who have left the country for political or economic reasons cannot vote.
Intimidation and violence by youth militias is continuing unchecked.
Meanwhile, Mr Tsvangirai faces a second, specious treason charge in May.

Especially troubling for Mr Mugabe's neighbours is his failure to adopt
electoral standards agreed last August with his peers in the 13-country
Southern African Development Community.

This has embarrassed South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, who has
maintained that "quiet diplomacy" by African countries is the best route to
reform. The Commonwealth wields even less influence than before, following
Mr Mugabe's decision to quit the organisation in 2003.

Mr Mugabe's other tactic concerns food. Agricultural output has collapsed in
the five years since the seizure of white-owned farms began, although the
official reason is drought. According to a US-funded report last month,
almost half Zimbabwe's 12.5 million-strong population now faces imminent
food shortages, the biggest emergency in Africa after Ethiopia.

Having claimed last May that Zimbabwe could feed itself and told UN and
other donors to take their food aid elsewhere, Harare admitted last week
that 1.5 million were in immediate need.

But rather than ask for resumed outside aid, officials said staple corn meal
rations and cash would be distributed to needy households. Limits have been
imposed on individuals' purchase and transportation of corn meal,
reinforcing the state monopoly.

The MDC and church critics say food handouts are being used as an electoral
weapon, as in previous polls. Mr Ancram said food was a "political lever"
and accused the British and regional governments of betraying Zimbabweans,
black and white, through inaction.

"Quiet diplomacy has become a synonym for doing nothing. Our government is
somehow embarrassed by Zimbabwe. But there's nothing colonialist about
fighting oppression.

"When Gordon Brown went to Africa, his map had a big hole which is
Zimbabwe," Mr Ancram said. "Condoleezza Rice's comments about outposts of
tyranny may mean the US is going to internationalise it.

"But I want Britain to take the lead. It would be a disgrace to leave it to
the US. The government has effectively walked by on the other side."
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JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE COMMUNIQUÉ - Schools Litigation Update - 11th
February 2005


Association Of Trust Schools Press Release


In December 2003/January 2004 official indicators revealed that the
inflation rate in Zimbabwe had reached the unprecedented level of 600% p.a.

In response to this, and after applying to the Ministry of Education in
terms of the Education Act - usually without response - to increase fees in
order to remain solvent and effective, most Private Schools were compelled
to increase their fees at the beginning of the first term, and subsequently
at the beginning of the second term.

In the meantime the Permanent Secretary for Education had issued a
directive specifying what fee each school was permitted to charge for the
whole year. The fee specified was considerably lower than financial
viability advised, and specifying a fee in this circumstance went beyond
the powers of the Permanent Secretary as provided for in the Education Act.

Attempts to seek dialogue with the Ministry were largely spurned; to
survive, Private Schools were compelled to disregard the Permanent
Secretary's illegal fee specification.

The Zanu PF Minister of Education, Aeneas Chigwedere, responded by ordering
the police to blockade school gates at the beginning of the second term to
prevent pupils from entering and to arrest certain Heads of Schools and
Board Members, and to charge them with illegally raising fees. (At the same
time he suspended about 80 Heads of Government and Church schools who, with
parental approval, felt it necessary to raise their school levies.)

Some Private Schools were only able to reopen by successfully seeking a
Court Order to permit them to do so: the Education Act does not empower the
Minister of Education to act in the way he did.

Continuing illegal interference and harassment has forced schools, both
individually and collectively, and also the Association which represents
them, the A.T.S., to seek relief through the Courts. The following press
release was issued on 4 February, 2005:-


PRESS RELEASE : 4 February 2005

A great day and victory for Zimbabwean education was achieved with the
confirmation of the final court order sought by members of the Association
of Trust Schools in September 2004 (H.C 3286/04 ref case no H.C 1628/04) in
response to the closures of schools and arrests of Heads and Chairpersons
in May 2004 as a result of an alleged violation of the Education Act
through the increase of fees beyond a prescribed amount without the
approval of the Secretary for Education.

A High Court judge, Justice Chiweshe, sitting in Bulawayo on January 14
2005 confirmed the order sought by the applicants which was unopposed and
declared that:

"1.1 In respect of the Applicants there is not in existence a prescribed
amount of fees as provided for in section 21 of the Education Act (Chapter
25:04) relating to any increase in fees or levies.

1.2 Section 4 of the Education (Control of fees and levies, Government and
Non-Government Schools) Regulations, 2003, Statutory Instrument 28A of 2003
is null and void and of no force or effect, or alternatively remained of
force and effect until the end of 3rd school term in 2003."

In light of the above, the Judge ordered that:

"2.1 First Respondent (Minister of Education) and Second Respondent
(Secretary for Education), are hereby restrained from closing down or
ordering or threatening the closure of Non-Government Schools or Schools
run by Applicants by reason of any perceived or alleged contravention of
either Section 21 of the Education Act or Section 4 of Statutory Instrument
28A of 2003."

The essence of this order is to confirm what everyone else except the
Ministry of Education knew, that the actions of the Ministry of Education,
and the Police on the instructions of the Ministry, to close Private
Schools and arrest Heads and Chairpersons were illegal. It also follows
that all pending cases before the courts in respect of the May 2004 fee
issue are dead rubbers. In this respect, I have no doubt in my mind that
our new Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele who has made an unequivocal
statement on the need for everyone to respect the Law, will ensure that the
relevant instructions are given to various Provincial Prosecutors to avoid
the continued unnecessary harassment of our members and the waste of our
limited state resources. In addition, the order also means that the only
legal school fees in existence in January and May 2004 were those set by
the Responsible Authorities of the respective schools. If someone had taken
time to read and understand the empowering Statutory Instrument, 28A of
2003, then this sad chapter in our country's Education history could have
been avoided and hopefully will never be repeated.

Jameson Timba



JAG Hotlines:
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"There is a point, of course, where a man must take the isolated peak and
break with all his associates for clear principle; but until that time
comes he must work, if he would be of use, with men as they are. As long as
the good in them overbalances the evil, let him work with them for the best
that can be obtained."

Theodore Roosevelt.


- Massey Ferguson - Traffic 2000
- RE: Reply to Steve's Comments on MF from Charles - Charlie Warren
- RE: Massey Ferguson Deals in Zimbabwe - Trevor Midlane
- RE: Concern over MF Reply to Charles - John Hickson
- Everyone Stays Quiety - Cathy Buckle


LETTER 1: Massey Ferguson, received 11.2.2005

by Traffic 2000

Dear Sir

I have recently read the article concerning your company with regards your
willingness to assist the "Farmers" in Zimbabwe and have also read your
response to Charles Fritzell's letter.

You may have found it easier to tell the truth which is that all British
Companies are compelled to ensure that their shareholders receive a decent
financial return on their investment, even if it is to the detriment of
their own citizens. When the blatant theft of land began in 2001 there were
over 25 000 registered British Citizens in Zimbabwe compared to the 30
British Citizens in Iraq at the time of the allied forces invasion into
that country. The reason for the invasion into the latter, Oil and nothing
else, contrary to what the spin doctors of Downing Street may want us all
to believe. In the same way Massey Ferguson do not care that their own
Citizens have been forcibly removed, deprived of a livelihood and
physically abused as long as they sell units of equipment.

Your Company, Mr.Wood, is as morally bankrupt as your own Government and
one can assume that you sleep well once your salary is placed in your
account. British Citizens, like myself, have had to return here to our "
Motherland" and await a six month period to prove our Right of Residency
before any benefits are awarded whilst your company continues to earn their
profit share regardless.

I remain,

(due to family still residing in Zimbabwe).


LETTER 2: RE: Reply to Steve's Comments on MF from Charles, received

by Charlie Warren

Dear Steve

I have just read your reply to Charles re your comments on the meeting with
MF and Joseph Made, you people sicken me that you still continue a regime
that has done and still doing business with the mugabe regime, I suppose
capitalists like you agree with the brutality, murder, starvation and
misery in Zimbabwe and feel appeased that it is OK to supply the Zimbabwe
regime with these farming implements to "feed themselves". They are
starving and these farming implements cant be used by them as there is
hardly any fuel in the country. How do you think???? Do you have any logic
at all.????

I suppose it is alright for your company to make money off the deaths and
misery of other people .... as you have stated in not so many words.... you
are there to make money. To hell with what humanity has to get through for
you to make money.

Bear in mind, you and your top echelon will eventually have to answer to
the almighty, and think of those that go to bed with empty stomachs at
night, not only in Zimbabwe but the World.

Mugabe's regime has stolen most of these farms and handed them over to most
of his sidekicks in government in order to stay in power, not to feed the
nation as his propoganda machine puts out. You are a very gullible person
Steve, and remember what you sow, so shall you reap.

Charlie Warren


LETTER 3: RE: Massey Ferguson Deals in Zimbabwe, received 14.2.2005

by Trevor Midlane

Dear Jag and Charles

Just a quick note to let you know I have responded to all 3 gentleman
concerned with the Massey Ferguson involvement in Zimbabwe. I responded via
my own email address as the tongue lashing I gave them can not be printed
on a formal web site such as this. Trust me it leaves them in no doubt my
opinion of them and their company.

Trevor Midlane


LETTER 4: RE: Concern over MF Reply to Charles (OLF 336 10.2.2005),
received 13.2.2005

by John Hickson

Dear JAG

I read with concern the reply to 'Charles' (OLF 10.2.2005) from Massey

Charles had, admirably in my view, challenged Massey Ferguson over an
article in the Herald which implied that Massey Ferguson was reinforcing
Mugabe's theft of land and destruction of Zimbabwean agriculture. Of course
the Herald is not a reliable source of information about anything. But the
response from one Steve Wood of Massey Ferguson was utterly unsatisfactory.
It had all the neat emptiness that one associates with the public relations
industry and condescended not at all to address Charles's point.  On the
reckoning so far it would seem that Massey Ferguson may well be guilty as

Keith Chubb (OLF 8 February) undertook to contact Nick Wright, the Massey
Ferguson executive mentioned in the Herald article. I would be interested
to know if he has received an answer.  If he does not receive an answer, or
if it is as vacuous as that sent by Steve Wood, then I, for one, will join
Mr Chubb and have nothing more to do with Massey Ferguson. Furthermore , in
the absence of any explanation or clarification, I will do all possible to
publicise their apparently vigorous .endorsement of Mugabe's vicious and
racist policies.

In parallel I continue to seek a clear answer from Tescos as to their
dealings in Zimbabwe. So far they too have steered clear of any straight

John Hickson


LETTER 5: Everyone Stays Quiet, received 12.2.2005

by Cathy Buckle

Dear Family and Friends,

Over the last few months there has been much talk about Zimbabwe's food
security. Despite a number of local, regional and international
organisations saying that Zimbabwe would run out of maize meal before the
next harvest, our government insists that there is more than enough. For
the past two weeks the food situation in Marondera has been getting worse
and worse with piles on shelves getting smaller until this week they ran
out altogether. In all of the town's four major supermarkets there is no
maize meal at all this weekend, just great long empty shelves.

Sugar has also suddenly disappeared and the shelves are instead filled with
rice that few people can afford to buy. I knew something must be happening
as I got to one big supermarket this weekend because suddenly people
started running and shouting all around me. There was no maize meal but a
delivery of sugar had just come in and people were grabbing bags as fast as
they could. There were no orderly queues or limits per customer and people
were taking as much as they could carry. I saw at least a dozen men
literally filling entire shopping trolleys with sugar and this is
undoubtedly bound for the now familiar black market that springs up at
every Zimbabwean election.

The fact that there is no maize meal in our shops makes no sense at all as
there are huge mountains of grain bags easily visible from the road at the
local grain marketing depot in the town. When I asked shop keepers where
the maize meal was they all just shrugged their shoulders and said "no
deliveries." This crazy situation where there are mountains of food in
storage and yet none to buy is typical of the stark contrasts here.
Abandoning my search for maize meal I spent half an hour just looking at
the crazy kaleidoscope of my home town.

At 9.30 in the morning a barefoot man in ragged trousers was digging in a
dustbin outside the post office and parked in front of him was one of the
many new cars that are suddenly all over our town six weeks before an
election. This one was a dark blue Mercedes with no number plates and
plastic still on the seats and wing mirrors. In the supermarket there was
no maize meal or sugar and a woman wearing broken plastic sandals stood
with a baby on her back counting filthy one hundred dollar notes trying to
see if she had enough for a three and half thousand dollar loaf of bread.

Next to her was a big display of Valentines gifts. I looked at the prices
and shook my head in wonder; cards that ranged from nineteen to seventy
thousand dollars; a three inch high white teddy sitting in a red straw
filled basket for a hundred thousand dollars; a 5 litre box of South
African wine for two hundred thousand dollars. Outside another shop two
policemen, in uniform, loading 4 dozen beers and three tins of floor polish
into a police landrover watched by a little scruffy beggar boy who was
given nothing when he proffered his hand to them.

Driving out of town the filling stations have blackboards which say "Petrol
Yes, Diesel No" and everyone notices that the town is filled with vehicles
sporting white government number plates. They are parked and double parked
outside the hotel and the banks. For some unknown reason the owners don't
find it necessary to park in parking bays, lock their doors or even close
their windows but everyone stays quiet because an election is coming.

Until next week, with love,

Cathy Buckle


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
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Zim Online

ZANU PF election manifesto unmasks land reform lies
Wed 16 February 2005
  HARARE - The ruling ZANU PF election manifesto for next month's election
contradicts key statistics widely quoted by the government on what it has
achieved on land reform, the economy and the tourism sector.

      Inadvertently admitting that its chaotic and often violent land reform
programme is not the resounding success it claims it to be, the party
manifesto says only 140 866 families have been resettled under the A1 scheme
on farmland seized from white farmers.

      The figure is far less than the plus 300 000 families out of a
population of 12 million that President Robert Mugabe and Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made have publicly said were resettled since 2000.

      A1 is the village model resettlement scheme under which the majority
of poor peasant families are resettled on 4 236 076 hectares of land. The
commercial farm scheme is known as A2 and a mere 14 500 families have been
resettled on 2 329 285 hectares
      of land under the second plan, according to the manifesto.

      Although party lands secretary, Enos Chikowore, also told ZANU PF's
congress last December that fewer people had been resettled, the manifesto
is the first time that the party is formally and officially admitting in
public it has resettled far less people
      than its propagandists claim.

      In yet another rare admission of failure of its policies, the ZANU PF
document shows that tourism earnings have plummeted over the past five years
from US$201.6 million in 1999 to US$152.3 million in 2004. Arrivals have
fallen by almost half from 2.24 million in 1999 to 1.27 million in 2004.

      Tourism and horticulture were the country's fastest growing sectors
before political violence, human rights abuses and chaos on farms scared
away visitors from traditional Western markets, bringing down the sector to
its knees.

      But the government has always insisted that the sector was already out
of the woods with its new 'Look-East' policy adopted after Mugabe's
controversial re-election in 2002 bringing in hundreds of thousands of
visitors mainly from China, Malaysia and other Asian countries.

      But the authors of the manifesto resume the party doctrine when giving
the reasons behind the glaring shortcomings on tourism, land and economic
reform attributing these to Britain, the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party and
      non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

      London, MDC and NGOs, hiding behind the banner of human rights and
democracy, have waged a campaign to derail recovery of Zimbabwe's economy
while also demonising the country to scare away tourists and potential
investors, the party manifesto says. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

We got it wrong!
Wed 16 February 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - ZimOnline yesterday erroneously quoted lawyer Ms
Beatrice Mtetwa confirming that three journalists, Brian Latham, Angus Shaw
and Jaan Raath had been arrested by the police for allegedly practising
without being registered by the state Media and Information Commission.

      It has since been brought to our attention by Ms Mtetwa, who acts for
the trio, that they were never arrested, charged or detained by the police.
The police only visited the journalists' offices on Monday and questioned
them about by their registration status
      and some of the communications equipment they use at their offices.

      The police also went back to the trio's offices yesterday but again no
one was arrested.

      We apologise to Ms Mtetwa for attributing wrong information obtained
from one of our sources to her. We also apologise to the police, our
colleagues, Shaw, Raath and Latham for the inconvenience our incorrect story
obviously caused.

      Disciplinary action is being taken against the correspondent who filed
the story. - Editor

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Zim Online

Supreme Court postpones indefinitely ruling in jailed minister's application
Wed 16 February 2005

      HARARE - Supreme Court postpones indefinitely ruling on an application
by jailed Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri to seek permanent stay of

      Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku together with Herbert Malaba and
Elizabeth Gwaunza presided over the case.

      Kuruneri's lawyer George Chikumbirike in an appeal to the Supreme
Court said that there had been an infringement of his client's rights to a
fair hearing "within reasonable time".

      Chikumbirike argued that his client has not been afforded a fair
hearing within a reasonable time and"thus his constitutional right to the
protection of the law has been infringed and that because of that
infringement, this court should order a permanent stay
      of prosecution."

      Responding to Chikumbirike's submissions, the state argued that delays
in bringing the finance minister and ZANU PF parliamentarian to trial were
because of difficulties investigators were facing getting all the
documentary evidence they require for a successful prosecution.

      Kuruneri, who was jailed last April, is accused of siphoning out of
the country 5.2 million rand, 34 371 pounds, 30 000 euros and US$582 611.99.

      He is also being accused of possessing a Canadian passport in breach
of the Citizenship Act which bars Zimbabweans from holding passports of
other countries.

      He denies the allegations. - ZimOnline
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Chief cries before Mugabe

From Nkululeko Sibanda
issue date :2005-Feb-16

THERE was drama in Nkayi, Matebeleland North, last Friday after Chief
Sikhobokhobo of that area, uncontrollably wept in front of President Robert
Mugabe after he was reportedly accused by a "verification team" of forging
liberation war credentials to enable him to receive gratuities from the war
veterans compensation fund.

President Mugabe was evidently taken aback by the chief's sobbing, prompting
the Head of State to warn  against the harassment of chiefs.
Eyewitnesses said the traditional leader wept like a child which provoked
the President's sympathy who was reportedly heard calming down the chief and
promised to look into the matter in detail.
The President was in Matabeleland North where together with the First Lady,
donated dozens of computers at several high schools and Solusi University
near Bulawayo.
Witnesses said Chief Sikhobokhobo  openly wept before President Mugabe as he
related his ordeal at the hands of unidentified investigators accusing him
of misrepresenting his war credentials to enable him to benefit from the war
veterans compensation fund.
President Mugabe did the expected, promptly consoled the chief and
immediately lashed out at the people harassing the chief unilaterally.
He blasted the people who had taken it upon themselves to investigate such a
matter without the government's consent. He said the move was wrong and
"When dealing with such matters you will have to inform the ministry
responsible (Local Government and National Housing) and they will then
inform us (the Presidency). We will then take up the matter and investigate
it so that we find whether there is merit in the case. We will inform you
when we are through with the investigations, " President Mugabe said.
Investigations by The Daily Mirror have since revealed that neither members
of the taskforce on war veterans set up by the President last year, nor the
police were aware of Chief Sikhobokhobo's vetting.
Dumiso Dabengwa, a member of the taskforce said he was unaware of any
investigations ordered by the committee set up to look into the behaviour of
war veterans and the association's structures, let alone confront Chief

Nyoni's ambitions were, however, thwarted by the Zanu PF Matabeleland North
provincial co-ordinating committee chaired by provincial Governor Obert
Mpofu which rejected her candidature.
"What is however, striking about the whole saga is that the chief's
interrogation came soon after the Zanu PF primaries. Chief's Sikhobokhobo
had thrown his weight behind the candidature of Nyoni who however failed to
get the green light to contest the elections as a result of meddling by the
provincial coordinating committee while the rest for the party supported the
new candidate, Obediah Moyo," said a source.
The source added: "The issue here is that the Chief is now being made to
suffer for refusing to toe the line of a certain faction of the party's
provincial leadership. That is why all these allegations are being dug up
and brought against him so that his name is rubbished and his image is also
Sikhobokhobo is understood to be a former member of the Zimbabwe National
Army with authoritative sources saying the chief left the force in the
In his area, the chief is a known veteran of Zimbabwe's war of liberation
and his people think he should never have regrets for the monetary rewards
he received as they are
commensurate with the role he played in the struggle.
Said Dabengwa: "I am not aware of the investigations that you are talking
about. I am also not aware of an order that has been given out to other
people to carry out the exercise. I have also to mention the fact that I do
not even know the people who went to investigate or vet the chief and from
which department they are from."
Contacted for comment, Matabeleland North police spokesperson, Casper
Nhepera said by phone from Hwange that the issue of the chief being
investigated for
allegedly lying about his war credentials was news to him.  Nhepera said if
there were to be any investigations at all, then the war veterans taskforce
and not the police, would be the right people to comment.
"On the part of the police, I have not heard of any investigations into the
chief's war credentials. I have tried to check with other senior officials
and they have no idea of the said investigations, " Nhepera said.
The Daily Mirror, however, gathered from sources yesterday that the chief's
predicament could have been a result of the power politics that surrounded
the nomination of candidates who contested Zanu PF primaries.
Sources disclosed that prior
 to the primaries, there had been deep-seated problems within the party in
the area as factions battled to push forward their own candidates.
The situation, according to sources, was further precipitated by the
emergence of Small to Medium Scale Enterprises Minister Sithembiso Nyoni as
the hot favourite to land the party's ticket for the March 31 parliamentary
Chief Sikhobokhobo allegedly backed Nyoni - much to the chagrin of her

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

For $60 000, man digs up grave, robs corpse

Fortune Mbele
issue date :2005-Feb-16

IN A bizarre incident, a homeless Harare man yesterday confessed to digging
up graves at Mabvuku Cemetery and stealing garments from a corpse of a
toddler on the instructions of a Greendale resident for a fee.
Clever Mushongandebvu (26) pleaded guilty to two counts of contravening the
Cemetery Act before provincial magistrate Omega Mugumbate and was remanded
in custody to today for mitigation.
Also appearing before the same magistrate was Alex Zikwature, the man who
allegedly hired Mushongandebvu to dig up the graves for $60 000.
Zikwature pleaded not guilty to the same charge and was remanded in custody
to today when he is likely to be furnished with a trial date or just further
The court heard that about a fortnight ago, Maria Karura and other close
relatives went to the cemetery and buried the two-year-old girl (name
On February 5, Mushongandebvu, in the company of a street kid only
identified as Dread allegedly went to the graveyard and exhumed the body,
removed her garments and "sold" them to Zikwature for $40 000.
The child's relatives visited the gravesite and discovered that the grave
had been tampered, with prompting them to make a police report.
Following continued reports of graves being defaced and destroyed at Mabvuku
Cemetery; the City of Harare assaigned guards at the gravesite.
On February 11, Mushongandebvu again allegedly went to the cemetery at night
to dig another grave this time for $20 000, but his luck ran out after he
was arrested by a guard at the cemetery.
Mushongandebvu then led the police to Zikwature's house where he too was
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Institute of War and Peace Reporting

Voter Apathy a Major Factor in Ballot

Even long-time Mugabe and ZANU PF loyalists are turning their back on the
election campaign, as poverty and despair sweep Zimbabwe.

By Marceline Ndoro in Chiweshe (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 07,

Widespread voter apathy mixed with a sense of despair and revulsion -
especially among the rural and urban poor - will be a major factor in
Zimbabwe's looming parliamentary elections.

"Life has become unbearable," 73-year-old Christine Rwanga, a card-carrying
member of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, told IWPR.

"When we last went to vote [in parliamentary elections in 2000], we expected
change, but nothing happened. So why should we go to vote again when we know
that nothing will change for the better? Our leaders don't want to let go."

Rwanga, a barely literate widow who lives with her 16-year-old orphaned
granddaughter in the Chiweshe communal tribal lands some 90 kilometres north
of Harare, said she had lost faith in the party she has supported since
independence in 1980 because it has failed to improve the lives of ordinary

"Our lives have become extremely difficult," she said. "Yes, [the
government] gives us seed and fertiliser, especially now at election time,
but that really does nothing to improve our lives."

The high cost of living - Zimbabwe's official inflation rate hit 620 per
cent last year - also causes problems for the population.

"We cannot get money to send our children and grandchildren to school," said
Rwanga. "Fees and uniforms are expensive and day-to-day basic needs such as
groceries have become unaffordable."

This old lady's views are shared by many in Zimbabwe today. Thousands of
Mugabe and ZANU PF loyalists do not intend to vote in the March 31 poll
because they believe that the result is a foregone conclusion - victory for
the president and his party.

"The rulers always win, so what is the point of voting?" asked Tamburai
Garikai, a 53-year-old unemployed mother in Harare's Chitungwiza township.

"In the old days, I was working at the family planning department and my
family had food on the table. But then I was laid off after independence,
and it's a miracle how I and my family are surviving."

Her neighbour Margie Chadzera earns enough from charity handouts to feed her
family of five grandchildren - whose parents have all died from AIDS - once
a day.

"Back then," she said, referring to some time in the past, "money was
strong. You could use it. Can we hope the elections will change anything? I
think we can say that the same people will win."

Apathy levels have increased dramatically since the last parliamentary
elections in 2000, when the newly formed opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, won 57 of the 120 directly elected National Assembly seats.
This galvanised Mugabe and the ZANU PF, who suddenly realised they could be
toppled from power in a free and fair election.

Since then, they have introduced a series of oppressive laws and other
restrictions that hobble opponents, who have also been cowed by widespread
violence emanating from the ruling party and executed through the army,
police and youth militia.

Nowhere is the apathy more acute than in areas where the annual summer rains
have failed.

"This year we will surely starve to death," said Daniel Munzara in the
village of Tsuwa in the eastern province of Manicaland. As he watches his
meagre maize crop wilt in a dried-out field, he told IWPR that the tragedy
had been exacerbated by Mugabe's decision to expel the international aid
organisations which distributed emergency food aid in the past. The
president said Zimbabwe could feed itself without foreign help.

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, former ZANU PF local spokesman
Sikhumbozo Ndiweni, who left the party to become an independent commentator,
said, "I'm among those who are not voting this year.

"What is there to vote for? All the political parties that are participating
are not ready for the polls and have little to offer voters."

At the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Brian Raftopoulos, professor of
Development Studies, observed, "While Zimbabweans are deeply concerned about
their eroding standards of living, they are - paradoxically - increasingly
resigned to the dominance of the incumbent government.

"Zimbabweans are losing faith in democracy. Many prefer to remain outside of
either of the major political parties, due to the belief that party
competition leads to social conflict."

At an interdenominational national prayer meeting held in Harare on February
13, to promote a peaceful election, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manicaland,
Patrick Mutume, asked, "Why do we allow those we give power to in turn use
that power to suppress us?

"We are at fault because we put evil people into power. Why are we rewarding

Lamenting that the country had fallen from being a beacon of hope at
independence in 1980, to becoming cowed without the freedom, justice or
peace that thousands died fighting for during the bitter Seventies war of
liberation, Bishop Mutume added, "We thought that by finishing the struggle
for independence we will get peace.

"Then why are we still praying for peace and justice?"

Marceline Ndoro is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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Institute of War and Peace Reporting

Initial Mugabe Successes Turn Sour

Early achievements in fields such as education and health are rapidly

By Ben Takawira in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 07,

Although the government of President Robert Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe
attained independence from Britain in 1980, has been roundly accused of
repression, lack of democracy and running down the once booming economy, it
initially achieved significant successes.

These were in health and education fields and in economically empowering a
small number of the majority black population.

The major success was in the field of education, where Mugabe and his ruling
ZANU PF party introduced a policy of education for all in 1980. There were
2,411 primary schools in the country at independence, but within four years
the figure rose to 4,161. By last year, the figure had reached 5,007. The
number of secondary schools, of which there were fewer than 900 in 1980,
rose to 1,548 by 1999 and to 1,680 by the year 2004.

Enrolment in primary schools stood at 800,000 in 1980 and rose to 2.4
million inside four years. Secondary school enrolment rose from 66,000
students in 1980 to 313,000 by 1984 and to 1,502,000 by the year 2004, a
major achievement by any standards.

This increase in the number of schools also meant that the number of teacher
training colleges had to be increased by a similar margin to provide the
necessary teaching strength. There were four teacher training colleges at
independence - now there are 15.

Whereas secondary education before independence was reserved for only 12 per
cent of primary school leavers, mainly white. By 2004, the former was open
to all the latter.

The number of technical colleges rose from two, one each in Harare and
Bulawayo, in 1980 with an enrolment of only 2,000 to ten in 2005 with an
enrolment of 15,000. The government also paid grants to mission and private
schools to make sure these continued operating viably.

University education, which was confined to one University of Zimbabwe
campus in Harare in 1980, was spread to twelve others, including three run
by various churches. Enrolment has risen from 1,000 in 1980 to more than
54,000 this year.

Mugabe, who began his working life as a school teacher and later became a
lecturer at a teacher training college in Ghana, has boasted that Zimbabwe's
education is the best within the southern African region.

He supports this by pointing to the fact that university graduates from
Zimbabwe are highly sought in neighbouring countries like Zambia, South
Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Namibia, where some have been given high posts
both in government and the private sector.

However, despite all these early achievements, the past five years of
economic collapse, political oppression and rampant lawlessness, compounded
by the scourge of AIDS, is rapidly unravelling all the good work.

In 2000, when the upheavals began, primary school enrolment was 93 per cent,
the highest in Africa. But the figure has slumped now to less than 60 per
cent, according to the United Nations childrens' agency UNICEF.

Literacy among schoolchildren, once 86 per cent, is plummeting and drop-out
rates are soaring.

Additionally, after seven successive years in which the gross national
product has been reduced, the government can barely pay its 109,000 teachers
and has abandoned the maintenance and development of urban state schools,
let alone those in the bush. The impact of AIDS is increasingly felt in the

UNICEF says that more than 25 per cent of teachers are HIV-positive and
predicts that in five years' time 38,000 will have died. Teachers have been
blamed for infecting pupils as young as 11 and 12 with HIV, while heavy
drinking and serial absenteeism have become widespread in the profession.

Mugabe and his team initially chalked up considerable successes in the field
of health. But it has become a story of two steps forward, three steps

At independence, there were very few hospitals for the black majority. This
was quickly addressed as Mugabe sought assistance from the international
donor community, mainly the UN, and built health centres right across the
country, which made medical services available to the majority of people.

Within ten years of independence, the government had built 246 rural health
centres and upgraded 450 while building seventeen entirely new hospitals.
Success could be measured by a fall in the infant mortality rate from 83 per
1,000 live births in 1980 to 60 per 1,000 live births in 1990.

Life expectancy rose from 55 years in 1980 to 61 in 1988. However, this has
fallen drastically to less than 37 now because of AIDS, the resurgence of
malaria and growing hunger. More than a quarter of the adult population is
HIV-positive. Gains made in the health sector have also been severely eroded
in the past decade by the government's mismanagement of the economy.

Lack of foreign currency has increasingly seen the government dependent on
foreign aid handouts to provide a minimum of essential drugs to hospitals
and clinics.

Mugabe can claim some success in transferring wealth from the minority
whites to the majority blacks - a success more recognised in Africa than the
world beyond. The government has extended soft loans from its national
budget to black entrepreneurs and some of them have achieved real success in
the fields of transport, fuel, mining and chemicals and plastic manufacture.

Mugabe's controversial land redistribution programme is undoubtedly an area
where blacks have benefited, albeit unevenly. However, in recent years the
redistribution has been poorly planned. Many people given fertile land do
not have the necessary skills to utilise the resource properly. Agricultural
production has consequently dropped drastically.

In the early years of independence, white commercial farmers had begun
referring to "Good old Bob (Mugabe)" after he urged them to persevere with
their profession. "No one doubts that the fortunes of seven and a half
million people [the Zimbabwe population size at independence] rest in your
hands," he said.

As the nation gears up for the March 31 ballot, the land issue is a tool
that is certain to be used by Mugabe for political purposes again.

Ben Takawira is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.
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The Herald

Plans afoot to revive tourism

Business Reporters
PLANS to revive the local tourism industry under the Tourism Development
Zones (TDZ) have reached an advanced stage.

Herald Business understands that the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has
finished drafting the proposal on potential tourist attractions, but have
been performing below par due to lack of proper development to meet required

The research findings on the proposals have since been completed and a
prepared document has been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and
Tourism for review before the proposals are gazetted.

Mr Simba Mandinyenya, ZTA research officer, said preparatory work for the
designation of proposed sites would commence as soon as a formal declaration
was made.

"The details of the proposals made by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority have
been documented and lodged with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism
which now has the onus to push the Attorney-General's Office for the
gazetting of the proposals and for public declaration," said Mr Mandinyenya.

He said the areas that they had proposed were those with immense potential
to attract tourists but had not been performing to expectations.

"Such areas will then have their infrastructure revamped to add gloss to
them as efforts to reinvigorate the tourism industry continue," he said.

Prime sites that have been earmarked for the projects under the TDZs include
the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and a conservation site, the Shashe
Limpopo area, Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Lake Mutirikwi, the area around
Beitbridge which in all probability should include the breath-takingly
beautiful Dulibadzimu Gorge and selected areas in Chiredzi.

He said the drive was meant to uplift these areas' attractiveness and make
them compete against local prime tourist destinations like Victoria Falls.

These efforts are only a minute part of the comprehensive initiatives
Zimbabwe has put forward to restore old glory to the industry whose fortunes
have been on the wane over the years.

However, Zimbabwe is lagging behind schedule on the development of the
requisite infrastructure for the joint Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
project involving Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.

Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe entered into a strategic alliance in
which the three countries intend to pool resources and efforts to jointly
develop the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park which would see tourists
enjoying the three giant parks' facilities for the price of one. South
Africa's Kruger National Park, Mozambique's Gaza National Park and Zimbabwe's
own Gonarezhou National Park form the transfrontier park.

While the other two parties in the ambitious project have covered
significant ground with regard to fulfilling the requisite conditions for
the project, Zimbabwe was still to meet the necessary preconditions.

The Minister of Tourism and Environment, Mr Francis Nhema, confirmed that
Zimbabwe was still behind the development of the Gonarezhou part but said
more resources would be channelled through Zimbabwe Wildlife and National
Parks Authority.

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park will be a world-class eco-tourism
destination, with extensive private sector involvement, but will be managed
to optimise benefits through sustainable economic development of local
communities and biodiversity conservation.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Stop abrupt farm evictions State told

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Feb-16

THE government should come up with a permanent binding plan for resettling
people so that beneficiaries do not find themselves being moved again over
and over, sometimes by force, analysts have said. Responding to the
impending mass movement of new farmers following government notices for them
to vacate the properties they occupied mostly after 2000, analysts were
unanimous that if the evictions were improperly carried out a vicious circle
would be created. The analysts advised that all evictions must be halted
until such a plan was developed as anything less would sow seeds of more
problems in the future.
Political commentator Claude Maredza said: "Admittedly we took the land as a
reaction to the British intransigency, and these are signs and symptoms of
the absence of a master plan.
"But I must add that it was necessary to carry out the reform. I suggest
that the people should be left until such a plan is in place so that where
they would be put, they won't be moved again."
Maredza said the guiding principle for the plan would be food security.
The sentiments follows wide spread speculation that several families would
be moved in Mashonaland West to pave way for the Zimbabwe Prison Services,
Chinhoyi council and the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
According to provincial governor Nelson Samkange, Pendenis Farm in Karoi has
been given to the corrections services department, while the Air Force will
take over Shuri Shuri in Chegutu.
Chinhoyi Town Council has also indicated that it requires 14 farms
surrounding the provincial capital for expansion purposes.
At little England Farm, made up of seven separate entities, more than 430
families face eviction after the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, John Nkomo, said offer letters for the properties have already
been given to State House employees.
That matter has since spilled into the courts
Another case that has gone to the courts involves Porta Farm residents
challenging government's order to vacate the property.
They are arguing that they had built infrastructure such as schools, yet the
authorities want to remove them to areas without these basic necessities.
Samkange said the relocation of people to suitable areas was part of
"government policy."
Nicholas Ndebele, a human rights activist, said it was right to give people
land, but moving them again and again, would be costly emotionally, and in
terms of labour and resources available.
He said for the affected people to feel that they were not being used as
"guinea pigs" by chefs who later take over their new land, a policy must be
put in place to allay fears of future evictions.
"Obviously these people used a lot of energy and resources when they settled
on those properties. If they move again children would also be disturbed in
terms of education. The government must sit down and come up with a policy
that is transparent and is not seen as favouring certain sections of
society," said Ndebele.
Former Grain Marketing Board (GMB) general manager and MDC Gweru Rural
legislator Renson Gasela said relocating people during the agricultural
season was unreasonable.
Gasela, also a member of the legislative assembly's Portfolio Committee on
Lands and Agriculture said: " As a principle, you do not move people this
time. How do you move people during the agriculture season?"
Most new farmers throughout the country are being evicted under the pretext
that they had been wrongfully resettled.
Some of the evictions have since been challenged in the courts.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Goche manager convicted

Court Reporter
issue date :2005-Feb-16

NICKIE Karima, farm manager to State Security Minister Nicholas Goche's
property in Shamva, was yesterday ordered to restitute more than $300 000
and fined a further $400 000 for scrap metal he stole from the government
official's Ceres Farm almost two years ago. Karima was yesterday convicted
and fined by Harare provincial magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa. Gofa said the
fine should be paid before February 23 2005 or alternatively Karima could
spend the next three months in prison if he failed to do so.
On restitution, Gofa suspended two months on condition the convict pays back
the $303 800 before February 20 this year.
The magistrate then suspended six months for five years on condition Karima
does not commit a similar offence.
Passing judgment, Gofa said Karima erred by not getting Goche's consent to
sell the junk metal whose proceeds he later converted into his use.
"You failed to prove that the scrap metal was yours and the people you claim
to have bought it from do not exist," Gofa ruled. "You did not bring any
witness, even your wife who is a crucial witness. The accused's defence is
incomplete and unreliable. You are found guilty as charged."
Between April and May 2003, Karima stole the scrap metal - off cuts of
irrigation pipes - from the Minister's farm and sold it to Torondor
Irrigation (Pvt) Limited based in Msasa, Harare.
He received $303 800 by cheque and cash from the underhand deal.
A whistle-blower tipped the Minister leading to Karima's arrest.
Investigations showed that Karima was indeed paid $303 800 by Torondor for
the aluminum pieces.
Meanwhile, the trial of two Herald court reporters charged with defaming
senior regional magistrate Betty Chidziva was postponed to February 21
because the State's fourth witness, a prosecutor, was off-sick. The
reporters Chakanetsa Chidyamatiyo and Peter Matambanadzo have since pleaded
not guilty to seven counts of criminal defamation.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

PGI in troubled waters

Munyaradzi Ushehwekunze
issue date :2005-Feb-16

PG INDUSTRIES (PGI), a premier player in the construction industry wriggling
on a financial death-bed to which it has been flung by a ballooning debt,
might fail to meet the terms of one of its creditors, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ).
PGI, one of the firms which jostled for the productive sector facility
(PSF), a financial medicine administered by the RBZ to nurse ailing
companies, might become the first company to approach the central bank for
debt rescheduling.
Sources close to the company told the Business Mirror that a spate of
politically-inflamed finger-pointing in PGI's new-look board was defeating
consensus on whether to seek debt rescheduling with the monetary authorities
or give up a sizeable equity of one of its subsidiaries, PG Glass.
The boardroom tug-of-war sparked by the dramatic deposing of Gerald Mujaji
by Nyasha Zhou, a former finance director, from the executive chambers, has
been haunting the troubled firm for three months in a row.
Nyasha Zhou, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company yesterday
grimly snapped at the Business Mirror in a telephone interview: "Why do you
ask me about my (PGI) accounts? If I asked you, would you, yourself reveal
your overdraft to me? I cannot tell you how much PGI owes who and how that
debt will be settled. If you want that information wait for our financial
results. Understand young man?"
At the end of September, the half-yearly financial reporting period for the
diversified manufacturing concern incurred $46.7 billion shrinkage.
The loss, which betrothed itself to a spiralling debt, buoyant interest
payments and runaway production costs, effectively put a dent on Zhou's
curriculum vitae, immediately stirring questions about his merit.
Zhou was the cash flow watchdog of the company when the fortunes of the firm
went on a tailspin.
PGI, which dipped its hands into the PSF last year in order to replenish its
books in a bid to restore viability, has since then been left with fingers
An economist this week said its was highly improbable that the RBZ would
absolve management of maladministration and purge the firm's boardroom,
given that the central bank burglar-proofed firms with risky cash positions
from the PSF.
Consequently, the news of boardroom shuffling could yet take another twist
as a clique of unnamed board members disillusioned with the rot, are
understood to be packing their bags.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

MDC hails move to open air waves

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Feb-16

ZIMBABWE'S main opposition political party, the MDC, has hailed the
government's plan to open up airwaves for all political parties ahead of the
March 31 parliamentary polls, saying it was a step in the right direction-in
an apparent departure from their usual vitriol against the State's actions.
But MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi was quick to warn that the
government's real test was on how it planned to implement the regulations.
The ruling Zanu PF enjoys tremendous coverage from the State-controlled
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' radio and television stations.
"The announcement by the Minister of State for Information and Publicity
(Jonathan Moyo), that the Government will next week publish regulations
allowing all political parties 'reasonable' access to the electronic media,
is theoretically a step in the right direction.
 "The real test for the government's sincerity on this issue, however, will
be how the new regulations work in practice and the time-frame allowed for
opposition parties to access the electronic media," Nyathi said in a
The opposition party said access to the State-controlled media was one of
the MDC's key minimum requirements for a credible election to be conducted,
which Nyathi noted, was enshrined in the Sadc guidelines on free and fair
Nyathi added: "At this stage we are cautiously optimistic. However, whilst
we are encouraged that the government has finally bowed to pressure from the
people and acknowledged, in principle, the right of all political parties to
access the electronic media, we are yet to be fully convinced of the
sincerity behind this latest reform measure.
The government remains intransigent on the issue of equal access to the
state controlled print media, which continues to reject adverts from
opposition parties and misrepresents comments by opposition leaders and
The MDC said it needed ample time on airwaves to communicate its manifesto
to the electorate.
"If the government is playing games and only planning to allow opposition
parties airtime in the final two weeks of the election campaign then the new
regulations, whatever their merits, will be dismissed as another exercise in
obfuscation and political expediency," warned Nyathi.
He claimed that the government had been under intense pressure from the MDC
and people to open up the State media to a broad spectrum of views and
opinions that exist in the society.
Moyo was quoted last week as saying government would this week gazette
regulations to be followed by all political parties willing to have
reasonable access to the electronic media to campaign for next month's
As part of democratising Zimbabwe's electoral space, the government
introduced an independent electoral commission, voting in one day, the use
of translucent ballot boxes and counting of votes at polling stations.
However, the MDC had since questioned the impartiality of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission headed by High Court Judge Justice George Chiweshe and
the continued involvement of the Registrar General's Office in the country's
electoral process.
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Cosatu Gets Go Ahead to Blockade Zimbabwe

The Daily News (Harare)

February 15, 2005
Posted to the web February 15, 2005


The Congress of Trade Unions (Cosatu) has secured the support of South
Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) for its plan to stage mass
action in solidarity with its Zimbabwean counterparts.

Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu's general secretary, said this means South African
and other regional workers could soon be blockading Zimbabwean border posts
such as Beitbridge.

Cosatu, whose leaders have twice been booted out of Harare without going
past the airport security check points, said its Zimbabwean counterpart had
complained that a number of conditions for free and fair elections were not
being met and there was harassment and repression of trade unionists in

The Nigerian labour movement has already expressed support for Cosatu's
intervention in Zimbabwe's crisis. It sent a stinging letter to Mugabe
accusing him of oppressing the country's workers and population in general.

When Cosatu first announced its planned mass action, following its second
expulsion from Zimbabwe on February 2, this was met with some resistance
from the ANC and the government.

Membathisi Mdlalana, the Minister of Labour, at the time said Cosatu's
second attempted visit was without the blessing of government, but the ANC
later went on to endorse the visit. It had condemned the first visit, which
took place in October.

While it appears that the ANC will not actively support mass action, it has
agreed not to stand in the way of its alliance partners' solidarity mass
action programmes.

"The ANC has said Cosatu has a right to have fraternal relationships with
any other workers," Vavi told the Sunday Independent. "The Communist Party
openly said it would support efforts by workers to pledge active solidarity
with another union."

Mazibuko Jara, the South African Communist Party's spokesperson, confirmed
that the alliance secretariat had given Cosatu the go ahead for its planned

Cosatu's central executive committee was due to meet yesterday to discuss
its options for mass action. These include intensified pickets and
demonstrations, such as blockades of all border crossings with Zimbabwe, and
the setting up of a legal aid fund to help the ZCTU by mobilising "millions
of workers" in the region.

One week later, Cosatu plans to finalise joint action with other regional
union federations at a meeting of the co-ordinating council.

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