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

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Zim Online

MDC pledges to restore rule of law
Fri 18 February 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party says it will restore the rule of law, embark on a comprehensive
economic and
      agricultural recovery programme within the first 100 days in office if
it is elected next month.

      In its election manifesto for the March poll, which will be officially
presented to voters on Sunday, the opposition party says it is not promising
any quick-fix solution. But the party says its plan is the best to return
Zimbabwe to normality within a "bearable time frame."

      "The stabilisation period will have to be long enough to ensure the
achievement of desirable macro-economic targets (inflation and budget
deficit) while also allowing a reasonable time for adjustment from the
disastrous policies of the previous regime," the
      manifesto reads in part

      .Party president Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to formally present the
manifesto to supporters at a rally in Masvingo city.

      Besides promising honest and competent leadership, peace, jobs, food,
and affordable medical drugs among other necessities, the MDC vows to
entrench democracy in Zimbabwe through a people-driven process to rewrite
the country's flawed Constitution.

      "An MDC government will ensure that the people have an opportunity to
make a new constitution through a transparent, accountable and inclusive
constitution-making process.

      "That constitution should result in a government accountable to
parliament, an independent judiciary, respect for human rights and equality
of all citizens," the opposition election document says.

      The international community that has shunned Zimbabwe because of its
poor human rights record, lawlessness and political violence will be courted
back under an MDC government to help feed hungry Zimbabweans and support the
country's revival.

      An MDC government will set up an "independent anti-corruption
commission" to ensure national resources are only used for the benefit of

      The labour-backed opposition party promises to uphold workers' rights.
It says it will also provide inputs and financial support to farmers, in
particular those in communal and resettlement areas in order to revive and
increase food production.

      The MDC is the biggest threat to President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party's 24-year grip on power. The opposition party nearly
defeated the ruling ZANU PF party in the last parliamentary election five
years ago.

      However, if the MDC wins on March 31, Zimbabwe will most likely be
plunged into a constitutional crisis with an opposition parliament tussling
for power against Mugabe and his executive drawn from ZANU PF.

      Meanwhile, the nomination court sits in provincial centres today to
register candidates for next month's poll.

      The ruling ZANU PF and MDC parties are the only ones expected to field
candidates in all the 120 constituencies while other smaller parties are
expected to field candidates in fewer constituencies.

      Only one independent candidate, former Harare South constituency
legislator and Zimbabwe Union of Democrats President, Margaret Dongo, has so
far declared she will stand in Harare Central constituency.

      Several more independent candidates are however expected to register
today with speculation rife that information minister and government
propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo might stand as an independent in his rural
home Tsholotsho constituency.

      Moyo was barred from contesting the election by his ZANU PF party.
Several sitting opposition parliamentarians might also contest as
independents after failing to win the party ticket.

      To qualify as a candidate for the parliamentary election, one must be
a registered voter, have attained the age of twenty-one and have been
ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe in the last five years.

      A prospective candidate's nomination papers must also be signed by at
least 10 voters registered in the respective constituency. Candidates will
be required to pay $2 million for registration. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Opposition MP wins restraining order against police
Fri 18 February 2005

      BULAWAYO - The High Court here yesterday ordered the police not to
prevent or interfere with any exercise by opposition legislator David
Coltart to verify whether supporters in his Bulawayo South constituency were
properly registered on the constituency voters' roll.

      The police earlier this week arrested Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) activists, Coltart's party, who were on a door-to-door campaign in the
constituency checking whether party members appeared on the roll.

      In a ruling delivered in his chambers, Justice Misheck Cheda said:
"The Zimbabwe Republic Police be and is hereby interdicted from preventing,
barring or in any way interfering with the voters' roll verification and
analysis process being conducted by the Applicant.

      "It is also ordered that the voters' roll analysis and verification
process be and is hereby authorised and allowed to continue; and the costs
of this application shall be borne by the third respondents."

      A Bulawayo police chief superintendent Jonah Muzambi, Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs
      Minister Kembo Mohadi are cited as first, second and third
respondents, respectively.

      The MDC accuses the police of selectively applying the law to
victimise its activists and hamstring its campaign ahead of next month's
election. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Government media watchman threatens new paper
Fri 18 February 2005

      HARARE - The state's Media and Information Commission yesterday
threatened to ban the country's latest newspaper, The Zimbabwean, accusing
the paper of being financed from "slush funds" from American and European

      President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party accuse Western
countries of using international and local independent media to demonise
their government as punishment for seizing white farmland for redistribution
to landless blacks.

      In a press statement late yesterday afternoon, commission chairman,
Tafataona Mahoso, queried how the paper, which is produced by exiled
Zimbabweans in London and sold in Britain, South Africa and Zimbabwe, could
sell at about 40 percent cheaper than locally produced titles.

      The Zimbabwean, which hit the streets a week ago, is sold in Harare
for Z$4 000.

      Mahoso said: "A locally published weekly paper of a similar size is
selling in Harare at about $10 000, even with adequate advertiser support .
. . the Sunday Times of South Africa retails in Harare at $15 000, after
being shipped just from Johannesburg. It is heavily supported by

      Claiming The Zimbabwean was even cheaper than "manna from heaven",
Mahoso said the paper was financed from"slush funds . . . intended to
undermine national, duly registered and truly sovereign publishers who are
making an honest living."

      The government media watchman said: "Even the World Trade Organisation
would not allow a product concocted in Britain and produced in Ireland to be
dumped in a country ten thousand miles away at a price which is only 40
percent of the comparable product. That is far cheaper than manna from
heaven, and here we suspect an imperialist and racist godfather."

      Mahoso said his commission, which has powers to ban the paper and
order the arrest of its local distributors, shall move against The
Zimbabwean to stop it from "abusing basic business practices" and also in
order to "protect our national and sovereign print media industry."

      The commission chairman did not specify what action he was considering
but sources said the paper could be stopped from circulating in Zimbabwe.

      Mahoso has in the last two years banned three newspapers including
Zimbabwe's biggest and only non-government owned daily paper, the Daily
News. Hundreds of journalists have also been arrested at the instigation of
Mahoso's commission. - ZimOnline

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Business Report

      Dlamini-Zuma has nailed her colours to Zanu-PF ship

      By Terry Bell

      "It's amazing how short are the memories of some former exiles," a
middle-aged trade unionist mused this week when he heard Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma, the foreign minister, warn against a trade union blockade of

      She maintained such an action would be illegal; that "nowhere in the
world" was it permissible to impose such sanctions.

      But as a number of generally older unionists are fully aware,
Dlamini-Zuma was in exile in England at the time the Liverpool dockers
refused to unload South African merchandise. This was a classic blockade and
it was hailed by an ANC of which Dlamini-Zuma was very much a part
            "Many of us here now feel your government is guilty of gross

      The blockades mounted by longshoremen in the US, and waterside workers
in New Zealand and Australia, were also hailed. Then, of course, there were
the many retail boycotts, epitomised by the famous strike at Dunnes store in
Dublin by 11 shop assistants.

      During many of those exile years, a formal blockade was also mounted
against the Rhodesian colony that, under its colonial pigmentocracy, had
unilaterally declared independence.

      In that case, it was the British government that called for and
authorised the sanctions. The Rhodesia Front regime of Ian Smith was only
able to survive because South Africa and Portugal, which controlled
Mozambique until 1974, did not observe the blockade.

      They decided, in their racist and anti-democratic interests, to
support the Front.

      Companies such as Lonrho, which owned the oil pipeline that runs from
the Mozambique coast to Zimbabwe, also broke the blockade.

      When they did so, it was on the basis that profit was the ultimate
principle. But Lonrho was in contravention of international law in doing so.

      Obviously, governments have the right to impose whatever laws they
wish within their national boundaries. This is covered by the concept of

      But the laws and how they are applied have to be seen and judged in a
political context.

      There are, today, various standards, including the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, to which states are held accountable.

      Zimbabwe is in clear breach of a number of these standards, including
the recent ones set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Sanctions may therefore be legitimately called for and applied.

      So for Dlamini-Zuma to imply that there is some kind of international
statute prohibiting blockades as part of union solidarity is nonsense

      However, she was perfectly within her rights to warn Cosatu that "the
full weight of the law" could be brought to bear if the union federation
dared to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

      Laws covering obstruction, breach of the peace or even riotous
behaviour can all be trundled out for such occasions. The decision to apply
them is political.

      By warning that laws would be used, Dlamini-Zuma firmly nailed her
colours to the mast of the Zanu-PF ship of state and its wily and
controversial skipper, President Robert Mugabe.

      Her statement this week that there would be free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe in accordance with the protocols laid down by SADC reinforced this.

      One of the rules the SADC heads of state drew up is that observers
from the region should be permitted to investigate the situation on the
ground in Zimbabwe, 90 days before any election.

      It is now only 39 days before the scheduled poll and the SADC is still
waiting to be invited.

      All of these points have been made by various unionists over the past
week. But there are also a great many who express confusion or who feel that
Cosatu should pay more attention to the situation on the home front rather
than "interfere" in Zimbabwe.

      "That is a misunderstanding of what trade unionism is all about," says
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

      "Never forget, Cosatu's motto is 'An injury to one is an injury to

      In the early struggle days of Cosatu, it was unions around the world
that provided solidarity. They often formed the core of various
anti-apartheid movements.

      Ironically, in the case of Zimbabwe, the triumphant liberation
movement faction, Zanu, was hostile to the ANC, which had a long-standing
alliance with the Zapu movement led by Joshua Nkomo.

      But from the time of the formation of Cosatu in 1985, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), formed in 1981, and the local federation
maintained close contact.

      One reason the ZCTU has been restrained in its criticism of President
Thabo Mbeki's controversial "quiet diplomacy approach" to Zimbabwe has been
respect for Cosatu as part of the governing and ANC-led alliance. This has
now changed.

      "Given what has been said and done over recent months, many of us here
now feel your government is guilty of gross hypocrisy," says Bright
Chibvuri, editor of the ZCTU newspaper, The Worker.

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The Telegraph

Blair's African ally supports Mugabe
By David Blair in Johannesburg
(Filed: 18/02/2005)

The African leader favoured with more British aid than any other and
selected by Tony Blair to promote Africa around the world provoked outrage
yesterday by championing President Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania exonerated Mr Mugabe of any blame for
the political violence, economic crisis and food shortages that have cost
hundreds of lives and impoverished millions of Zimbabweans.

Instead, Mr Mkapa implied that Mr Mugabe's beleaguered opponents were behind
the violence. Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change responded
by denouncing Mr Mkapa as "ignorant".

His comments will be highly embarrassing to Mr Blair, who chose Mr Mkapa to
play a central role in championing Africa during Britain's presidency of the
G8 group of industrialised countries.

The Prime Minister chose him personally to sit on a 17-strong "Commission
for Africa", charged with promoting the continent's interests, and Mr
Mkapa's government also received more than £80 million of British aid last

African leaders have promised the West that they will embrace democracy and
"good governance" in return for more support. But in a BBC World Service
interview, to be broadcast tomorrow, Mr Mkapa will reject any suggestion
that Zimbabwe has failed to live up to these principles.

"I don't see Zimbabwe as an illustration of bad governance, I don't buy it,"
Mr Mkapa told the BBC. He claimed that western criticism of Mr Mugabe was
motivated solely by fury over the seizure of land from white farmers.

Zimbabwe's economy has been the fastest-shrinking in the world for the last
four years in a row. About 40 per cent of the entire economy has been lost
since 2000 and inflation, also the highest in the world, runs at 130 per
cent. Some 5.8 million Zimbabweans - half the population - were dependent on
western food aid last year.

But Mr Mkapa cleared Mr Mugabe of any blame. "It was the cost of
transformation," he said. "Everything has a price."

As for repression of Mr Mugabe's critics, Mr Mkapa said the onus was on the
opposition to avoid this. "If they are being harried of course I don't
support that. But you see, whenever there is trouble in the governance of
African countries the blame is put totally on the conduct of government, no
one really spotlights the conduct of the opposition," he said.

"But mayhem can be started by opposition parties, especially when they've
decided to get into state house by hook or by crook as the main pillar of
their policy."

Mr Mkapa's words infuriated Zimbabwe's opposition. "It's the talk of a
geriatric intoxicated by his own ignorance of the situation here," said
Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary for economic affairs. "How can he speak of
good governance when people are being arrested here, when newspapers are
being closed and when laws which are as repressive as those in apartheid
South Africa are being passed on a daily basis? So how can he defend the
governance of Zimbabwe?"

Mr Biti went on: "Compared to the likes of Mugabe, Mkapa is a saint, but
he's not a good choice for the commission."

Mr Mkapa's views on Zimbabwe would have been well known to the British
before he was appointed to the Commission for Africa. After Zimbabwe's
bitterly controversial presidential election in 2002, Mr Mkapa was among the
first African leaders to congratulate Mr Mugabe on his "victory" and hailed
him as "a champion of democracy".

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AU Endorses Report of Abuses, Intimidation in 2002 Zimbabwe Poll By VOA News
      17 February 2005

The African Union has endorsed a report that says political violence,
arbitrary arrests and police torture occurred in the run-up to the 2002
Zimbabwe presidential elections.

The report was compiled by the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights during a fact-finding mission in 2002.  It said evidence gathered
during the review period showed that human rights violations occurred in

The mission said it received testimony from witnesses who were victims of
political violence and torture while in police custody.

It said the Zimbabwe government cannot wash its hands of responsibility.

The report was first made public during last year's AU summit in July.  It
was not endorsed at the time, in order to allow for the Zimbabwe
government's response to be included.

In July, the government denounced the report.
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Cape Times

      Riddle wrapped in an enigma
      February 18, 2005

      by the Editor

      Impossible as it may seem, the South African government's approach to
the crisis in Zimbabwe is becoming even more difficult to understand.

      There was a time when a rationale could have been threaded out of the
softly-softly approach, one that factored in Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe's sensitivity to criticism and recognition of his historical role.

      That time is long past and the Zimbabwean leader has spent the last
few years making his African counterparts look, at best, ineffectual and
indecisive. At worst they have seemed to sympathise with his undemocratic

      Some critics of South Africa's approach have even suggested that the
government's strategy is shaped more by its resistance to criticism than any
ideological sentiment.

      This week foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma added fuel
to the conspiracy theorists' fire with the bizarre assertion that the March
election in that country would be free and fair.

      Any rational analysis of events in that country would surely suggest
that is highly unlikely.

      Years and years of undemocratic activity by Mugabe and his thuggish
cronies, often blatantly violent, has made opposition politicking a highly
risky business.

      This week, for instance, a meeting of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) was disrupted and the party's election director arrested.

      And, as Dlamini-Zuma acknowledged, Zimbabwe has not met the Southern
African Development Community's guidelines for a free and fair election.

      So why then her strange comments?

      And the South African government's apparent reluctance to confront

      Or is its strategy only premised on the feeble - and faint, one might
add - hope that the problem may go away one day?
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The Telegraph

Mugabe throws poll into turmoil
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 18/02/2005)

First, find 10 voters whose names appear on a non-existent electoral roll.
Then hand twice your monthly salary to an official whose identity remains a

Those are the first hurdles that Zimbabwe's opposition candidates must
complete by today if they wish to contest next month's parliamentary

President Robert Mugabe's regime has thrown the electoral machinery into
turmoil, which critics say is a deliberate attempt to prevent the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change from fielding candidates in all 120

The last presidential election in 2002 was denounced by Commonwealth
observers as a violation of every democratic standard.

For this election, every MDC candidate must first be nominated by 10
registered voters. Despite years of intimidation, finding the names is not
difficult. Checking that they appear on the electoral roll is the hard part.
The latest register is virtually impossible to obtain and can be issued by
only one government office in the capital, Harare. All candidates must apply
for it in person and are often fobbed off with old copies.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, an opposition MP, spent eight days trying
to obtain a copy.

"I went from office to office and kept being sent somewhere else," she said.

"I tried to buy copies for other MPs but was told they have to come in
person, even if they live very far away."

The list costs £100, equivalent to an MP's monthly salary. All candidates
must then present their credentials to the electoral officer responsible for
their constituency. But these officials have not been named, let alone
publicly appointed.

Even if the unknown officials can be found, a prospective candidate must
hand over a fee of £200.

As a result, the MDC acknowledges that it may be unable to put up candidates
in every seat and that some MPs from Mugabe's Zanu-PF party could win

"These are deliberate obstacles," a spokesman said.
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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!



“Mauritius Watch”


The Zimbabwean Elections:

(Monitoring SADC Protocol Violations)


Issue 16.   14 February 2005


On 17 August 2004, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders meeting in Mauritius adopted the SADC Protocol – Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.  Zimbabwe, as a member of SADC, also signed the Protocol and committed itself to implementing its standards.


“Mauritius Watch” provides a regular, objective and non-partisan assessment of Zimbabwe’s compliance with the Protocol.  In the run-up to the 2005 Parliamentary Elections we note any significant failures to adhere to the SADC standards.


This special weekly feature assumes an even greater significance now that the date of the Parliamentary Elections has been announced – 31 March.  Less than 7 weeks remain before this crucial poll.






SADC standards breached





Less than seven weeks before the date of the parliamentary elections and well beyond the minimum of 90 days stipulated in the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections, the Mugabe regime has still not issued any invitations to observe or monitor the Poll, either to SADC or any other group.  The SADC Protocol requires the host country to issue such an invitation at least 90 days before the voting day “in order to allow an adequate preparation for the deployment of the Electoral  Observation Mission”.


Meanwhile Luphumzo Kebeni, spokesperson for the South African Parliament, has said that South Africa will “definitely” send a multi-party team of parliamentary observers.  Kebeni confirmed that the South African Parliament will also send a representative to join the SADC observer team.


Dr Kasuka Mutukwa, secretary general of the SADC parliamentary forum (SADC-PF) which criticised the 2002 presidential elections in Zimbabwe, said from Windhoek the forum was expecting an invitation” and would like to send a team of 35 members of parliament.


The Election Institute of Southern Africa (Eisa), which monitors all elections in the region, will decide this week who is to lead its team of 40 observers.  However none of the would-be observer missions has received an invitation from Harare yet. Miss Sa Ngidi of Eisa said an invitation was a pre-requisite and if they did not receive one they would definitely complain to Zimbabwe’s  electoral commission.


Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said that the refusal to invite observers in time showed that Mugabe has “skeletons in the closet”.   Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, shadow minister of foreign affairs, said in Harare that the African Union has also not been invited yet and “it is clear that the (Zimbabwean) government is not at all serious about observers”.


(See the report in New24 (SA): 10.02.05, also carried on ZWNEWS:


Note – under Section 14 of the recently enacted Electoral Act, an “Observers’ Accreditation Committee” is set up whose members are appointed by Mugabe and his ministers.  This entirely partisan body is given absolute discretion in respect of who to authorise to observe the election.  Therefore, apart from the late issuing of invitations to regional and other observer missions, it remains to be seen whether Harare will accept the members appointed to these missions by the regional bodies concerned.




7.10        (Host government responsible for)  issuing invitation … to SADC 90 (ninety) days before the voting day in order to allow an adequate preparation for the deployment of the Electoral Observation Mission

































7.12  (Host government responsible for) accreditation of the members of  SADC Electoral Observation Mission on a non-discriminatory basis








Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders who planned to assess electoral conditions in Zimbabwe last month were unable to proceed with their mission when authorities in Harare proved reluctant hosts.


Diplomatic sources disclosed that a SADC troika comprising South African President Thabo Mbeki, Lesotho Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili, and outgoing Namibian President Sam Nujoma had been expected to meet Robert Mugabe on January 17 in Harare in connection with the election, but were unable to fulfil their mission.  The trip was aborted when the leaders failed to secure a confirmation from Harare.


After the failure of the SADC troika leaders to secure an appointment with Mugabe, SADC then decided to send a technical team, including legal experts, to assess the situation. However this team is also still awaiting clearance from Harare. All the signs are that Mugabe is extremely uncomfortable with the most unwelcome spotlight now being focused on the skewed political landscape and profoundly flawed electoral process in Zimbabwe. 


(See the report in Zimbabwe Independent: 11.02.05)




7.5    (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process, in order to maintain peace and security


7.8      (Government to) ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process by facilitating the deployment of representatives of political parties … at polling and counting stations and by accrediting national and/other observers/monitors







Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party officials in Matabeleland South have accused traditional chiefs of forcing their subjects to back the ruling ZANU-PF party, threatening to deny government-supplied maize to those who refuse.


To be allowed to buy cheaper-priced maize from the ZANU-PF-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB), starving villagers must have their names on a food assistance register kept by the chief.  Chiefs also issue letters authorising the GMB to sell maize to their subjects.  The GMB is the only company permitted to trade in maize and is the only institution supplying subsidized maize to the majority of hungry Zimbabweans after the government barred international food agencies from doing so. 


According to opposition officials, chiefs in Tsholotsho, Umzingwane, Insiza and other constituencies in the province have told their subjects to attend ZANU-PF campaign rallies only, with those who defy their orders having their names removed from the food register.  Mtloliki Sibanda, MDC member of parliament for Tsholotsho, said villagers had little option but to abide by the chiefs’ orders or they starve.


(See the report on Zim Online:   08.02.05)

 (Also see pay hike story on page 5 of this report)


2.1.3    Political tolerance


4.1.1.      Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens


4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


7.5            (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of  fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process …










Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government has barred opposition and independent candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections from canvassing for support among uniformed forces – long recognized as the bedrock of ZANU-PF’s 25-year grip on power.


Commanders at army, police and prison camps have in the past few weeks refused the candidates permission to hold meetings or to distribute flyers in the camps where thousands of service personnel live with their families.  ZANU-PF candidates on the other hand can enter the camps freely to campaign for their party.


An example of the blatantly partisan stance of the military in Zimbabwe is provided by the refusal of the police authorities to permit independent candidate Margaret Dongo from entering the Tomlinson Depot in the Harare Central constituency where she is standing.   Tomlinson Depot is one of no less than five large camps and barracks in Harare Central constituency.  Residents of the camps make up close to 50 per cent of the registered voters in the constituency.


Harare Lawyer and MDC legislator Tendai Biti was refused entry to Chikurubi Prison Complex east of the capital.  He said: “It is unconstitutional and immoral to bar the opposition from campaigning in camps and barracks.”


Just before the 2002 presidential election controversially won by Mugabe, the top commanders of Zimbabwe’s army, air force, police, prison and secret service declared in a joint statement that they were not going to back the winner in that poll if that person did not fight in Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war.  The statement was seen as a clear threat to stage a coup if MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who did not fight the war, won.

(See the report in Zim Online: 11.02.05)



2.1.1        Full participation of citizens in the political process


2.1.2        Freedom of association


2.1.3        Political tolerance


2.1.6        Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for


4.1.2          Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


7.4               (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens, including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning …














Less than two months ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31, Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government has awarded huge pay increases – up to 1 400 per cent – to the war veteran’s militia, ex-political prisoners and traditional chiefs.


These moves immediately drew accusations that Mugabe was paying off key political groups with a critical role in the ZANU-PF election strategy of intimidating opposition voters.


In the last parliamentary elections in 2000 and presidential ballot of 2002, so-called war veterans and the youth militia led a countrywide reign of terror against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and are considered responsible for most of the murders of about 300 people in the campaigns.  Chiefs and their hierarchy of village headmen are accused of using their powerful influence over impoverished rural communities to force people to vote for Mugabe’s  ZANU-PF.


Ironically Mugabe accuses the MDC of soliciting Western finance “to buy votes”.     The ZWNEWS headline for the report on Mugabe’s attack on the MDC reads:   “’Zimbabwe can’t be bought’, says vote buyer”.


(Reported from News24 (SA): 06.02.05 and in ZWNEWS 08.02.05)


4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections








More than 2 000 youth militia have been deployed at Kamativi in the opposition stronghold Matabeleland North province ahead of the March elections.


The youths, accused by churches and human rights groups of hunting down, torturing and raping opposition supporters, have already begun patrolling villages in Binga, Hwange, near the tourist resort of Victoria Falls and other parts of the province.


Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member of parliament for Hwange West constituency, Jealous Sansole, said that people in his area were now afraid to attend meetings called by his party since the deployment of the youths. 

Sansole also revealed that many of these youths, who have been trained in violence and indoctrinated with ZANU-PF propaganda to the point at which they recognize no other authority in Zimbabwe apart from Robert Mugabe and his party, have been illegally registered to vote in his constituency under which Kamativi falls.


Under the new Electoral Act, voters are registered in the constituency in which they live, and in a parliamentary election should cast their ballot only in that constituency.


In a damning report on human rights abuses in the country, the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights singled out the youth militias as among the chief human rights abusers and called for their disbandment.  The report was formally adopted by the African Union last week.


(Reported in Zim Online: 10.02.05)



4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


7.4              (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning …


7.5              (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process, in order to maintain peace and security






A wave of political violence in Zimbabwe, highlighted by an attack on people leaving an opposition rally in Nyanga last week, is expected to intensify in the final seven weeks of an already bitter and violent election campaign.


Members of the Zimbabwe National Army are reported to have assaulted 15 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members attending a campaign rally addressed by a party candidate, Douglas Mwonzora, in Nyanga on February 6.


Hundreds of followers of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party ambushed the opposition supporters after the rally, where the incumbent opposition candidate vowed the MDC would end the “reign of terror” if it came to power.


The incident capped a week in which police arrested Zengeza MDC candidate Godrich Chimbaira, militants attacked an opposition office in Bulawayo and self-styled liberation war veterans killed a white farmer near Banket and forced his family to flee their farm.


(See the report in the Zimbabwe Independent: 11.02.05)



2.1.2        Freedom of association


2.1.3    Political tolerance


4.1.1        Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens


4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


7.4      (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning …


7.7      (Government to) ensure that adequate security  is provided to all parties participating in the elections







Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has accused Robert Mugabe’s government of trying to subvert democracy through a 20-fold increase in the deposit fees for candidates contesting the March 31 parliamentary polls.


“This is a clear attempt to use money to prevent democracy,” the MDC secretary general, Welshman Ncube, said.   Twenty-four hours after his party had announced it would be contesting the election the government issued a notice hiking the registration fee for a candidate from Z$100 000 to Z$2 million.  At the same time candidates wishing to obtain a copy of the voters’ roll will now have to pay Z$1 million against Z$200 000 previously.  Ncube said the MDC would need to raise Z$260 million by March 8 in order to contest in all the 120 constituencies.


(See the report in the Sunday Argus (SA): February 6, also carried on ZWNEWS:


NOTE:  Under Zimbabwean law, political parties cannot receive foreign funding.  While there are no non-partisan law enforcement agencies to enforce this provision with respect to the ruling ZANU-PF party, the opposition parties are rigorously scrutinized by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) and other state agents.  The MDC’s financial resources are severely strained after contesting a number of cases involving the legal harassment of their members and challenging in the courts the results of both the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections – cases which have still not been determined by the country’s top judges, most of whom have demonstrated a clear bias in favour of the interests of the ruling ZANU-PF.



2.1.1        Full participation of citizens in the political process


2.1.6    Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for


2.1.7        Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions


7.3                (Government to) establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable electoral bodies …. as well as competent legal entities including effective constitutional courts to arbitrate in the event of disputes arising from the conduct of elections







It is now official.  Zimbabwe has a poor human rights record, its police force is politicized, and its security and media legislation are at odds with the freedom of expression and association.  For the first time member states of the African Union have officially sanctioned criticism of Robert Mugabe’s human rights record. 


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has confirmed that the executive council of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has adopted a three-year-old report on Zimbabwe’s human rights record, and it has now become a part of the official record of the African Union.


The ACHPR recommended in its executive summary that the Zimbabwe government should ensure the following:


·        the Judiciary is independent of executive control or influence

·        youth militia are dismantled and their camps closed

·        sections of security and media legislation are reviewed

·        the establishment of an independent electoral commission

·        police are freed of political control

·        NGOs involved with human rights  and governance are permitted to operate freely


“We hope that the Zimbabwe government takes notice of the recommendations from the AU,” said Arnold Tsunga, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.


(Reported in the Cape Times (SA): 8.02.05 and quoted in ZWNEWS:





















2.1.7        Independence of the Judiciary

4.1.2        Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

2.1.5        Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media

7.3              Establish impartial, all inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies …







SOKWANELE has also now produced a detailed analysis of the Zimbabwean statutes that are in breach of the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections and the policy breaches by the ZANU-PF government. 


Entitled “ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL LEGISLATION : SADC CHECK LIST”, the document can be seen on our website at



Note:  The fraudulent and violence-ridden elections of 2000 and 2002 were narrowly “won” by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, who have maintained their iron grip on the country by using strategies designed to annihilate all forms of opposition.


As many independent commentators have already pointed out, there is no prospect that the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31 will be fair and free.  Equally, given the magnitude of the task and the few weeks remaining before the poll, there is no prospect of the regime’s compliance with the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections.   Indeed, in recent months we have witnessed a steady movement by the regime away from compliance with any international norms for democratic elections.    Behind the façade of democracy which the regime likes to put on all their activities, we have seen a deliberate and systematic attempt to subvert every institution of government in order to secure in the forthcoming poll a pre-determined result favouring ZANU-PF.


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New Zimbabwe

Full text of statement by Mahoso on The Zimbabwean

Statement by Media and Information Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso
(Thursday 17/02/05)
Last updated: 02/18/2005 07:34:31
THE Media and Information Commission is shocked by former daily news
co-founder Wilf Banga's (sic) misrepresentation in the latest media fraud
with his The Zimbabwean representing "the voice of the voiceless".

One of the most sacred principles of professional journalism concerns the
acceptance and handling of funds and any other forms of subsidy by a
supposedly "independent" and "objective" mass media.

It is a matter of public and professional concern who the funds or subsidies
are from; what the funds or subsidies are for; how the funds or subsidies
are accounted for and audited; by whom the funds and subsidies are to be
audited and what the funders intend the provision of the funds and subsidies
to have in the destiny of Zimbabwe to justify the sponsorship of a
propaganda outlet for themselves named The Zimbabwean on the eve of a
national election.

Purporting to be published in London the Zimbabwean is printed in Ireland
and given away at $4000 on the streets of Harare after being flown all the
way from Ireland. $4000 does not even pay for combi ride in Harare. A
locally published weekly paper of similar size is selling in Harare at Z$10
000 even with adequate advertising support. The Sunday Times of South Africa
retails in Harare at Z$15 000 after being shipped just from Johannesburg. It
too is heavily supported by advertising.

The Media and Information Commission therefore concludes that the Z$4000
being charged for The Zimbabwean is enough only for a stipend for the
vendor. All the other players have already been paid from a clandestine
slush fund. That is neither journalism nor is it the way "the voiceless"
find voices. It is the way "the purchased" earn their keep.

Such a paper is no better than a missionary tract prepaid in Germany, the
USA or Britain, which is brought into the country for free distribution to
faithful catechists. Obviously the local couriers must be paid just enough
for one combi ride to dish out the tracts. A missionary tract is even better
than the so-called The Zimbabwean because it has no need to hide where its
real headquarters are situated and who the key bishops are. Mbanga instead
wants Zimbabwean readers to believe that he is pope, bishop, editor and the
World Bank at once, but there is a clear commercial outrage as well.

Even the reactionary World Trade Organisation would not allow a product
concocted in Britain and produced in Ireland to be dumped on a country 10
000 miles away which is only 40% of comparable local product. That is far
cheaper than manna form heaven. Here we suspect an imperialist and racist
godfather. Therefore the sort of media dumping being perpetrated by Mr Wilf
Mbanga with the assistance of European and North American slush funds is
wrong on three counts:

. it violates the most sacred media ethics,
. it contravenes basic business practice,
. it abuses and threatens freedom of the press and freedom of expression by
using secret slush funds to produce a product intended to undermine
national, duly registered and truly sovereign publishers who are making an
honest and transparent living by informing their audiences.

The MIC will therefore not hesitate to take the necessary steps to stop
those three abuses and to protect our national and sovereign print media

End of statement. Stamp: Executive Chairman, Media and Information
To get a copy of The Zimbabwean delivered to your doorstep call
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Zim Independent

Ghost voters unearthed
Conrad Dube/Loughty Dube
THE voters' roll has glaring errors that are likely to disenfranchise
thousands of voters, especially in urban constituencies, in the March 31
parliamentary election.

A voters' roll audit conducted this week unearthed hundreds of ghost voters,
with some entered more than once. There are also incomplete addresses and
dubious entries.

This came out as the High Court in Bulawayo yesterday barred police from
interfering with the voters' roll inspection being conducted by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) countrywide.

The MDC filed the application after police arrested seven of its activists
who were conducting a voters' roll audit in the city.

High Court Judge Maphios Cheda granted the opposition an interim relief to
conduct its voter verification exercise without interference.

The MDC's application, filed through the party's lawyers Coghlan Welsh and
Guest, attacked the police for overzealousness.

"The conduct of the first respondent and the police in general is
reprehensible and retrogressive, especially against the backdrop of positive
efforts being made by government in correcting the bad image that has been
painted on the conduct of elections in this country," read the application.

"It is this kind of overzealous turpitude which is completely incongruent to
the general trend of not only levelling the political playing field but also
clearing the democratic complexion of our country in order to portray a
legacy of political tolerance and maturity."

The opposition says it has identified anomalies on the Harare Central and
Mbare voters' rolls. There are also alleged discrepancies on the Harare
North roll. The MDC is carrying out audits in all urban areas.

Anomalies include the appearance of names of people in constituencies in
which they don't reside. For instance, one Spiwe Muchazviona of 54-4th
Street, Newlines, Mbare and Batisai James of 31 Ardbennie Road, Mbare appear
in the Harare Central voters' roll. Also in the Harare Central roll is one
Museve Silas of 7 Dumbe Road, Mufakose. It also has a significant number of
Sunningdale 2 addresses.

Double entries are prevalent on the roll. For instance, one Dires Ngwendeka,
identity number 63-492865H-63, whose address has been given as 6 Five
Avenue, Earls Court, Harare also appears as having another identity number
63-492863M-63 and residing at the same address.

Independent candidate for Harare Central and former member of parliament for
Harare South, Margaret Dongo, claims the discrepancies are a deliberate tool
to be used by Zanu PF to rig the March election.

Dongo in 1995 won the Harare South seat in a re-run against Vivian Mwashita
of Zanu PF after the court confirmed the elections had been rigged.

"This is a tool Zanu PF has always used to rig elections and if the
opposition is not critical of this process, we are likely to see a
two-thirds majority for Zanu PF.

"If the Zanu PF government was serious about conducting democratic elections
it should have rectified these problems after they were uncovered in the
1995 election. This shows that Zimbabwe does not have the capacity to
produce a perfect voters' roll."

Responding to written questions on behalf of the Registrar-General, Tobaiwa
Mudede, a CA Goredema said capturing of data was still in progress.

He said multiple entries would be picked up during the computerisation of
the data.

"However, we do thank you for your notifying us that we can deal with this
matter with ease," he said. "Although such entries may appear on the roll
due to error by data capturers, the person votes once. The person cannot
vote more than once. If he/she does so, it will be a statutory offence
tantamount to prosecution."

Dongo has also been barred from distributing campaign material at Zimbabwe
Republic Police's Tomlinson depot. In a written letter to Dongo, police
superintendent A Mpofu, said: "Be advised that your application (to
distribute campaign materials in ZRP Tomlison Camp) dated February 5 has not
been approved. Such activities are not allowed in camp and may you please
appreciate our position."

Dongo has however written to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, arguing that the
police decision is in contravention of the Electoral Act.

MDC Harare North MP, Trudy Stevenson, has discovered 82 incorrect entries at
the Institute of Agricultural Engineering - part of Block 60409 - and 52 at
Pomona Stone Quarries.

She said: "We are informed the people were all moved off by the employer
early last year. In Hatcliffe Extension there are 1 773 incorrect entries,
including insufficient addresses - even if they are known.

"There is a big variation! Zanu PF is constantly trying to 'control' the two
Hatcliffe areas and I think that is where we will have problems on polling
day," Stevenson said.

She said intimidation of voters has also started. "Voters are being told
they will lose their houses in Harare North Co-operatives and Hatcliffe
Extension if they don't vote Zanu PF. We are reporting all that to the ZEC,"
she said.

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Zim Independent

Sadc edgy over poll observers
Dumisani Muleya
SERIOUS trouble is brewing within the Southern African Development Community
(Sadc) over Zimbabwe's refusal to allow a regional team to assess the
country's preparedness for the general election next month.

Diplomatic sources said Sadc leaders are also becoming increasingly agitated
by Zimbabwe's undue delay in inviting regional election observers.

It is said there is further anxiety overseas, as Harare is understood to be
planning to bar observers, especially from the European Union and the United

Sadc Parliamentary Forum secretary-general Kasuka Mutukwa said this week his
organisation was expecting an invitation soon. He said election observers
would need to be in the country "at least two weeks" before the election,
"but the election is still six weeks away, and it is still possible to
receive the invitation".

Sources said most Sadc leaders, including South African President Thabo
Mbeki, were getting edgy about Zimbabwe's "uncooperative attitude" on the
election issue.

Mbeki said early this week there was an urgent need to deploy observers "to
go there and observe, to be able to intervene, to help, to create a
situation for fair elections".

Zimbabwe is said to have refused a Sadc team of lawyers clearance to assess
its legal and institutional frameworks before its general election.

Sources said President Robert Mugabe's government had told the Sadc that the
team could come into the country only as part of the regional bloc's
election observer mission.

South African foreign affairs director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba said last
week the team of lawyers was still awaiting permission from Harare and his
government was "a bit concerned" about the delay.

The lawyers were expected to assess whether Zimbabwe had adequately complied
with the Sadc election guidelines.

Government claims it is complying with the rules, but the MDC says official
measures are woefully inadequate to ensure a free and fair election.

Mugabe is said to be worried about a possible Sadc backlash and has sent
emissaries to the region to explain his position. Special Affairs minister
for Land Reform John Nkomo met Botswana President Festus Mogae last week,
while Anti-Corruption minister Didymus Mutasa met outgoing Namibian
President Sam Nujoma on Monday.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday refused to explain the Sadc
issue, referring questions to Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge.

"I have an opinion on the issue but I won't express it until Mudenge gives
the government position on the issue," he said.

Chinamasa, who administers electoral laws, said he did not understand what
the hype was all about when no similar noises were made during recent
elections in Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.

"No one went to Mozambique or Botswana during elections to see if there was
compliance. The fact is Zimbabwe is the first country to comply with the
Sadc principles," Chinamasa said.

"What is important to us is that we run the election to the satisfaction of
Zimbabweans and contesting parties."

South African Foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma this week appeared
worried about Zimbabwe's delay in inviting Sadc.

"According to the spirit of the region, we need to be there to observe those
elections. As Sadc, we have an agreement that we can observe each other ...
we will be very concerned if we are not invited," Dlamini-Zuma added.

Dlamini-Zuma said she had asked the Sadc secretariat in Botswana, in her
capacity as chair of the Sadc organ on defence, security and politics, to
put together a team of election monitors to come to Zimbabwe.

Sadc deputy executive secretary Albert Muchanga said on Tuesday that
Zimbabwe had invited lawyers to assess its compliance with the regional
body's election guidelines. However, he did not explain why the team had
allegedly been refused entry.

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF issues 'traitors' list
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE ruling Zanu PF has compiled a list of politicians and journalists
perceived as traitors and sell-outs being influenced by Western countries to
peddle anti-Zimbabwe propaganda.

The list comprises politicians, journalists, civil rights activists, the
clergy and deceased persons drawn from three phases - the First and Second
Chimurenga and the post-Independence era.

In a booklet titled Traitors Do Much Damage to National Goals, Zanu PF said
the worst type of traitor was the one who operates from within the party. It
does not have a date of publication or what prompted its release just before
the crucial March 31 election.

The booklet was produced by Zanu PF's Department of Information and

The party describes the first phase of traitors as those who helped the
enemy at the expense of others, saying the problems for Africa started when
England under its monarchy "decided to offload the trash of its overgrown
population on a docile Africa around the 17th Century".

"In fact, the epicentre of hell is in Britain and the Queen or King in power
at that moment, is the devil himself or herself," Zanu PF said.

Zanu PF said traitors of the First Chimurenga phase "came from all walks of
life - professors, clergymen, business people, chiefs, headmen, teachers,
nurses, doctors, lawyers; in fact men and women whose educational persuasion
made them think that anything British, European, American and so on, made
them better humans than their fellow men".

It said the Second Chimurenga had its own phase of traitors who include
Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole of Zanu Ndonga, Morris
Nyati who betrayed the liberation war.

The list of "traitors" who are part of the post-Independence phase is made
up of President Robert Mugabe's critic Archbishop Pius Ncube and
journalist-cum-entrepreneur Trevor Ncube, Basildon Peta and Geoffrey
Nyarota. Trevor Ncube is the publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent, The
Standard and the Mail & Guardian in South Africa

Politicians on the list are drawn from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and include Job Sikhala, Sekai Holland, Morgan
Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, Gibson Sibanda, Fidelis Mhashu, Paul Themba
Nyathi, and Fletcher Dulini Ncube. The late activist Lupi Mushayakarara is
also mentioned as a traitor of the post-Independence phase.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku, academic
John Makumbe, Dzinashe Machingura, a war veteran, Gugulethu Moyo, former
legal advisor to the ANZ, Everjoice Win, a civic activist and Bulawayo mayor
Japhet Ndabeni Ncube complete the list.

Zanu PF said there were numerous traitors who could not be contained in the

"This has become the new breed of traitors to have teamed up with enemies of
Zimbabwe's survival as they continue to churn out falsehood after falsehood
in their bid to see the return of our beautiful country to the hands of our
former colonial masters," the party said.

"They have gone to create a media whose hatred of Zimbabwe's revolution
surpasses the smell from a thousand dead donkies (sic). They tell the world
that anyone who has died in Zimbabwean hospitals, road accidents, from
criminal activities, HIV and Aids and naturally, are as a result of Zanu PF's
persecution of opposition members."

It said the "Ncube clan name" has been greatly tarnished of late by
sell-outs such as Pius Ncube, Welshman Ncube, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube and
Fletcher Dhlamini (sic) Ncube "who all seem to have decided to turn the
Ncube name into an acronym for turncoats against the Zimbabwean revolution".

"The clan should look at themselves more closely from within and help rid
their clan of a pattern that seems to be manifesting itself very
 negatively," it said.

Steve Chidawanyika, Zanu PF's director of Information and Publicity,
defended the book saying it has been in demand, especially in South Africa.

"The book is a prophecy of what was going to happen. A lot of people in
South Africa are really impressed with that book. The book tries kuudza vana
veZimbabwe kuti kutengesa nyika nenyaya yegreenback hazvibatsiri. Kutengesa
nyika kunoita Africa irasike. Sanctions which other people were advocating
hurt the unborn African child," he said.

Trevor Ncube, in a statement yesterday, shot back sharply at the Zanu PF

"Zanu PF sees traitors everywhere," said Ncube. "But it is the authors of
this scurrilous document who have betrayed the liberation struggle by
imposing their brutal dictatorship on Zimbabwe."

He added: "All the names held up for abuse have made a significant
contribution to Zimbabwe's struggle for democracy. Nobody will be fooled by
the bankrupt language of this latest attack.

"The media we have created has exposed the charlatans who have colonised
this country so effectively since 2000. That's why they are so bitter. This
document has 'losers' written all over it."

Madhuku of the NCA described the identification of individuals as traitors
as madness.

"That's madness. They want to monopolise and categorise patriots. Anyone

who fights against dictatorship and brutality is a traitor. But it is a
complement to be viewed like that by Zanu PF," he said.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube dismissed the traitors' list as the
work of old men who are clueless on how to run an economy.

"It is a privilege to be called a traitor by a party that has failed the
people of Zimbabwe," he said.

He said it was unfortunate that Zanu PF was maligning those who fight for
the rights of the people as traitors.

"Zanu PF is running a criminal state and it has a government run by thugs,"
Ncube said.

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Zim Independent

Museveni snubs Zim
Shakeman Mugari
DAIRIBORD Zimbabwe Ltd has lost a bid to acquire Uganda's biggest milk
producer despite the vaunted bilateral trade agreements signed between
Zimbabwe and Uganda last year.

The two countries signed a number of agreements, after President Yoweri
Museveni visited Zimbabwe last year and invited Dairibord to tender for the

takeover of Dairy Corporation Ltd (DCL). Museveni also invited Zimbabwean
companies to invest in Uganda.

Dairibord bid to take over DCL, Uganda's leading milk producer, which was
put on sale as part of Uganda's privatisation drive.

However, Dairibord lost out when the Ugandan government made a last-minute
decision to sell the company to a Thai firm, which had not put in a bid

Reports from Uganda said Museveni personally directed his Minister of State
for finance in charge of privatisation to sell the company to Malee Sampran
Factory Ltd of Thailand for US$1 million.

Other losing bidders are two Kenyan firms - Brookside Dairy Ltd and Spin
Knit Dairy, and a consortium of milk processors under the name Holding
Company (FA) of Luxemburg.

The three companies have since written protest letters demanding an
explanation on why Malee Sampran Factory was sold the company without a

The last-minute decision cost Dairibord Zimbabwe thousands of United States
dollars, which were spent on preparing the bid documents and visits to

Dairibord chief executive Anthony Mandiwanza said he was not prepared to
comment on the issue.

"I have nothing to say on that issue," Mandiwanza said.

"The comment that we were going into Uganda was premature. You know that the
company was taken by the Thai guys then what?" he said. "As for the details
I really can't comment."

Museveni visited Zimbabwe last year in a rare state visit that was hailed by
the government as the beginning of better trade relations between the two

He brought a strong business delegation with him and toured Dairibord as
part of his familiarisation plan.
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Zim Independent

Commission headed for clash with Gono
Augustine Mukaro
THE commission running the affairs of Harare City Council is headed for a
clash with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono over increases in rates in the
2005 budget.

The Sekesai Makwavarara-chaired commission wants to increase rates by
between 300 and 600% against Gono's directive that local authorities and
parastatals may not raise their charges by more than 70%.

Gono gave the directive when he presented his fourth quarter monetary policy
in January.

Budget proposals being presented by Makwavarara and her team at consultative
meetings in the capital show that rates for council services could shoot by
a minimum 300%.

Proposals for refuse collection will shoot from $1 363 per bin collected to
$7 000 per month. The price of graves will rise from $65 000 to $250 000.

Harare acting city treasurer Cosmas Zvikaramba said Gono's 70% benchmark was
not sustainable given the state of council infrastructure and demand for

"We look at the reality on the ground," Zvikaramba said. "The 70% would not
make an impact on the current state of council infrastructure."

The council sewerage system and water reticulation need a complete overhaul.
An estimated 30% of Harare's treated water is lost through leakages while
high-density residential areas are plagued with burst sewer pipes. Mountains
of uncollected garbage have become a common sight at every corner of the
central business district.

The Makwavarara commission is seeking to legitimise a $1,4 trillion budget
it crafted without consulting ratepayers and other stakeholders.

Zvikaramba said the budget would be presented in April.

"The month of March will be for advertising," Zvikaramba said, adding;
"Presentation will be done in April. Thereafter, charges which do not
require central government approval will be implemented right away while
other charges would be submitted to the parent ministry."

Zvikaramba also said the delay in the budget presentation was likely to
prejudice council of more that $400 billion.

"Implementation of the 2005 budget would raise council revenue collection
from the current $30 billion a month to $100 billion. So any delay means we
will be losing the same amounts," he said.

Under normal circumstances, the budget consultation process shou-ld be held
at least six months before presentation so that the final proposals
incorporate stakeholders' contributions.

Council ties with stakeholders were severed when Makwavarara wrestled power
from the now dismissed Engineer Elias Mudzuri.

Harare was supposed to submit its budget proposals to the ministry by

October 30 last year.

Bulawayo last December unveiled a $1,1 trillion budget that will see tariffs
rising by 250% by July.

The Harare City Council has for the second year running missed the deadline
to submit its budget to the Local Government ministry for approval.
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Zim Independent

Boost for Hwange Colliery
Staff Writer
HWANGE Colliery Mine is set to increase its production by over 100 000
tonnes following the delivery of a US$ 2,5 million continuous miner machine
from South Africa earlier this month.

The new mining machine arrived in the country three weeks ago and will boost
production levels at the country's sole coal mine.

The new machine will see Hwange Colliery Company opening an underground mine
after the closure of another last year in October.

The company currently produces 50 000 tonnes in its open cast mines.

HCC managing director, Godfrey Dzinomwa, said the acquisition of the
continuous miner was set to boost coal production in the country.

"We are looking at surpassing domestic demand. We are hoping by June this
year we will start exporting coal to the region," Dzinomwa told journalists
at the end of a strategic turnaround workshop.

The opening of the new underground mine is likely to improve the coal supply
situation as most industry customers have complained in the past of
inadequate supplies.

Questioned on reports that power utility Zesa was venturing into coal
mining, Dzinomwa said this was not a threat to them at all.

"The development will be a good challenge for Hwange Colliery and we will
take it as a challenge. We are not scared of losing a major customer but we
have enough reserves to accommodate another player on the market," he said.

Dzinomwa said the country had enough reserves to last Zimbabwe over 25

Addressing journalists at the same function, a company board member, Tinaye
Chigudu, said HCC was currently operating at 70 % capacity from a machine
availability of 54%.

Chigudu dispelled allegations that there was bad blood between HCC and the

"There is definitely no bad blood between the RBZ and the HCC. I am in
constant touch with Gideon Gono and there is absolutely no problem between
HCC and the RBZ," he said.

The RBZ recently froze all tariff increases that the HCC was mulling and
later ordered an investigation into the operations of the coal mine.
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Zim Independent

Police quiz new paper's agents
Loughty Dube
POLICE on Wednesday stormed the offices of a newspaper distribution company
in Bulawayo and demanded details of the distribution and the registration of
The Zimbabwean, a new newspaper published in South Africa and the United
Kingdom by Zimbabwean journalists in exile.

Two police details from the law and order section visited the offices of New
Distribution and demanded to know who was responsible for distributing the
new paper.

New Distribution handles subscriptions for the Zimbabwe Independent and the
Standard and also distributes regional newspapers that include South African
papers such as the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian, and The Times and the
Independent of Britain.

The police officers further questioned the workers on the registration of
the newspaper and the place where it is printed. They said the paper was not
registered in Zimbabwe and therefore should not be distributed in the

"The police came here and wanted to know who was responsible for
distributing The Zimbabwean to vendors. They left after ordering the person
in charge of the office to come to Bulawayo central police station for
further questioning," said a worker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

However, an official comment could not be obtained from New Distribution
since the director of the company, Justin Seed, was said to be away in South
Africa on business.

Copies of the first edition of The Zimbabwean appeared on the streets on
Monday after the paper was officially launched in the United Kingdom on
Friday last week.

The paper is written and edited by Zimbabweans in exile in the UK while some
of the correspondents are based inside Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent

Election a boon for Matabeleland?
Loughty Dube/Ray Matikinye
THE ruling Zanu PF party has shown a sudden spurt of interest in the
industrial revival of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, disbursing
billions of dollars from the central bank ahead of next month's election to
prove that it has never been selective in its development thrust.

"This goes to prove government critics wrong. The region has never been a
forgotten part of Zimbabwe as some people thought, judging by the amounts
that government has provided to this part of the country although it is true
that Bulawayo experienced the worst economic distress," Bulawayo
metropolitan governor, Cain Mathema says.

Recently Zanu PF deployed top banker Gideon Gono, ostensibly to audit
progress in industrial revival under the Distressed Companies Facility to
add weight to its fresh posture of concern for development in the
Matabeleland region where the populace had resigned itself to years of

A bakery in the city received $14 billion to revamp its operations after it
had floundered due to economic stress while a woodworking firm got a shot in
the arm for its export-oriented products.

But Bulawayo executive mayor Japheth Ndabeni Ncube is not impressed by the
sudden interest in the industrial revival of the city although this could
help it regain its status as the nation's industrial hub. He says the
Central Statistical Office (CSO) has been deliberately understating the city's
population and its growth rate over the years, thus denying it adequate
funding from central government for social services.

"Our population has remained at between 600 000 and 800 000, according to
the CSO, but we know the figure is way above that from records of individual
homeowners. We know we serve more than 1,5 million residents in this city
and dispute the CSO figures," Ncube says, noting that the city would always
get the resources that do not reflect its true population from government
unless the CSO revises its figures.

Gono, the central bank governor, says his approach to development stagnation
in the region is unique. "You cannot drive an economic turnaround programme
sitting on the 23rd floor of the central bank. One has to adopt unorthodox
ways of dealing with unorthodox problems," he says in justifying his
involvement in the ruling party's bid to endear itself with voters in the

Bulawayo, which used to be the country's industrial hub, has suffered a
deliberate de-industrialisation process with major companies relocating to
Harare over the years despite having operated in the city because of
comparative advantages. Major companies such as Dairibord relocated to the
capital while the Cold Storage Company moved its prime operations from the
city to Marondera.

Zanu PF's trump card in wooing the electorate that overwhelmingly rejected
it in the 2000 and 2002 elections has been the Matabeleland Zambezi Water
Project - a multibillion pipeline scheme meant to solve the city and most of
the arid rural Matabeleland's perennial water problems. The project,
starting off with construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, has remained
stalled in the planning stages since 1997, close to 85 years after initial
project blueprints were unveiled.

Last year the central bank released $25 billion to the MZWT but the money
was exhausted in setting up infrastructure and on the initial excavation
work on the dam. Last week, Gono who toured the site of the dam, promised to
release a further $65 billion to fund work to be done in the first half of
the year.

The first phase of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) is now
expected to cost a whopping $310 billion as delays in implementing the
three-phased project have nudged the total construction bill into trillions
of dollars.

Revelations this week indicate that the first stage of the project, which is
the construction of the dam, is set to cost US$50 million ($310 billion at
the diaspora rate of US$1: $6 200) while the cost of the second phase has
not yet been quantified.

The second phase of the project entails the construction of a pipeline from
the dam along the railway line to Bulawayo, while the final stage will
involve laying a pipeline from the confluence of Mlibizi and Zambezi Rivers
to reticulate water into the dam.

Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) chairman Dumiso Dabengwa confirmed
the new cost of the first phase and said excavation on the dam is expected
to be complete by the end of the year. "In two years we expect to 'break a
bottle of champagne' to commission the dam wall," he says. "The total cost
of the Gwayi/Shangani dam is expected to be US$50 million but we can not
make estimation for the cost of the whole project at the moment."

Huge sums are required to finance the laying of the pipeline from the
Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Shangani dam and ultimately to Bulawayo. Funding
controversies and control problems that led the city council to withdraw
from the project have dogged the project.

Bulawayo executive mayor Japheth Ncube distanced himself from the project
saying his council has shed all responsibility.

"We have absolutely nothing to do with the project now. We know that the

water is meant to benefit Bulawayo residents and we wonder how MZWT will
sell the water to council when they do not want to involve us," said Ncube.
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Zim Independent

MDC takes Zanu PF by the horns
Augustine Mukaro/ Ray Matikinye
THE ruling Zanu PF's 25 year-rule faces its stiffest challenge as its main
political rival in the March 31 parliamentary election, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), adopts a populist and delivery-centred manifesto
dubbed "Our promise to the people of Zimbabwe".

The battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate starts in earnest this
Sunday when the MDC launches its manifesto that promises a rebirth of

A draft manifesto in the hands of the Zimbabwe Independent shows that the
MDC is set to restore the country's former status through creating a
rational economic environment that will restore stability and growth in the
manufacturing, mining and agricultural sectors. The manifesto will be
launched in Masvingo on Sunday.

The manifesto, largely drawn from an earlier publication released in January
last year titled Restart, emphasises reconstruction of the social fabric and
economic infrastructure. It seeks to transform the economy as well as
society to achieve equitable, inclusive national development.

The MDC says the revival of key productive sectors will ensure the
maintenance and creation of jobs in which workers would be paid a living
wage above the poverty datum line.

According to the manifesto, the MDC will seek international financial
support and engage the donor community in its bid to reduce inflation and
stabilise the foreign exchange by generating greater inflows.

"An MDC government will engage the international community and negotiate
debt relief and debt re-scheduling," reads the document.

But the opposition party says it will audit the national debt first with a
view to

repudiating dubious obligations. It will renegotiate a rational repayment

The MDC says it will facilitate comprehensive programmes of rehabilitation
and development of the national road network - bridges, railways - power
stations, hospitals and clinics, schools, boreholes and dams as a priority.

"Rehabilitating the nation's infrastructure will provide jobs and skills
training to over 250 000 people as well as reopen our rural areas whose
roads have been neglected during the 25 years of Zanu PF rule," the
manifesto says.

In a policy similar to its major election rival, the MDC is also preaching
the gospel of access to land by all those who need it and the development of
a vibrant agricultural sector to ensure food self-sufficiency. But the
opposition party says it will rationalise land redistribution and
immediately implement a well-executed, comprehensive programme.

"An MDC government will ensure the recovery of the agricultural sector as a
major component of the national economy so as to once again make the country
the breadbasket of the region," reads the manifesto, adding that this will
be achieved through "providing all farmers with access to agricultural
inputs, technical and financial support and extension services particularly
to improve the livelihoods of those in communal and resettlement areas".

Zanu PF has promised to resettle 400 000 people in the next five years, a
target it has dismally failed to achieve in the past five years under its
often violent fast-track programme. It achieved a mere 154 000 under both A1
and A2 resettlement models. The ruling party's much-touted land reform
programme has seen agricultural production plummeting by over 80% since

The MDC says it will promote security of tenure to promote investment in
farming to stimulate productivity.

The MDC promises to stimulate tourism through the restoration of the rule of
law and providing security to both locals and foreigners in every corner of
the country. "Our aim is to restore the number of tourists to 1999 levels
within two years, thereby creating 200 000 jobs," the manifesto says.
Tourism has witnessed a major slump in arrivals as the international
community declared Zimbabwe an unsafe destination.

And although the two major protagonists in the forthcoming election promise
the electorate near identical ideals in social services such as housing,
health and education, the MDC seems to have an edge of credibility over its
opponent. Its manifesto appears to ride on the back of past failures by the
ruling party while the incumbent seeks scapegoats to justify blunders of the
past two decades.

While the MDC promises to transform the lives of Zimbabweans through
pro-people policies, Zanu PF tries to win supporters by peddling cheap
anti-Tony Blair mantras.

While the MDC promises to restore the collapsed social, health and education
sectors, ensuring access to affordable services, Zanu PF has blamed its
failure to deliver housing on people in the opposition who took control of
most major cities and urban centres in local government elections only five
years ago.

"An MDC government will provide free primary education for all, allocate
significant subsidies for secondary and tertiary education as well as
respect freedom of choice and fully protect the rights of private schools to
operate without hindrance and interference from the state," the manifesto

On the issue of governance, the MDC promises to set up an anti-corruption
commission in a drive to expose and eradicate all forms of corruption. It
also promises to restore the rule of law, personal security and that of
individual property.

The MDC promises to restore the rule of law in all dimensions as a
fundamental requirement for the envisaged growth of the national economy, a
return to political legitimacy and personal liberty.

The opposition admits restoring normalcy is not an easy task. "We in the MDC
are not promising any quick-fix solution. The crisis is too severe and
deep-seated to allow for instant recovery. What the MDC is offering is
Zimbabwe's best chance to return to normality within a bearable time-frame,"
says MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai.

Inequalities in access to resources as well as income-generating
opportunities and redistribution of national resources, the MDC manifesto
says, have seen a tiny minority aggressively enriching itself at the nation's
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Zim Independent

New candidates grace MDC
Ray Matikinye
NEW faces grace the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) posters as the
opposition party officially kicks off its campaign trail with a road show at
Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo this weekend.

Out of the 120 candidates who contested the 2000 parliamentary election and
are still around, the MDC has retained 41 candidates.

Prominent among new faces is former National Alliance for Good Governance
president Shakespeare Maya who will stand as the opposition candidate for
Mhondoro in place of Hilda Mafudze.

Maya will battle it out with former Zupco boss and newcomer, Bright Matonga.

University of Zimbabwe professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, National
Constitutional Assembly vice-chairman and lawyer, Douglas Mwonzora, are some
of the new faces.

In seven of Bulawayo province's seats being contested, the MDC has retained
those candidates who took the wind out of the ruling Zanu PF sails but has
added new faces in Harare's 15 constituencies.

Among the losers in the MDC primary elections in Harare province are
incumbent Mabvuku legislator Justin Mutendadzamera, Dunmore Makuwaza (Mbare
East), and Tichaona Munyanyi (Mbare West). Munyanyi and Makuwaza lost the
amalgamated Mbare constituency to the party's deputy secretary-general and
trade unionist, Gift Chimanikire.

Unlike the ruling Zanu PF party, the MDC has not set a quota for women
candidates. Less than 15 women are standing for the party whereas their
opponent has 36.

Instead, the MDC has allowed some losers in the 2000 general election to
have a second bite of the cherry.

Bernard Chiwondegwa, who lost to Samuel Mumbengegwi in the last general
election, tries his political luck against schoolteacher Enita Muzariri in
Chivi North.

One of its clutch of female candidates, Editor Matamisa, who lost a mayoral
by-election in Kadoma in 2003, has revived her ambition to represent Kadoma
Central, while Sekai Holland makes a second attempt to wrest control of
Mberengwa East from Rugare Gumbo.

In Chivi South, the incumbent Charles Majange of Zanu PF will battle it out
with long-time colleague and playmate, Steven Chengeta.

The constituency that the late Eddison Zvobgo bequeathed to agro-business
dealer Walter Muzembi will witness a second attempt by Zacharia Rioga.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF's well-beaten path with no gold coins
Ray Matikinye

THE Zanu PF election manifesto released on Friday last week appears to be a
well-beaten path that offers the electorate no gold coins along way. It only
serves to prove the ageless adage that every political party will forever
remain wedded to policies that won it office in the first place.

Other than sounding like a scratched record stuck in a groove, the manifesto
harps stridently on the party's credentials as a liberation movement,
claiming sole credit for bringing about national independence.
It also sounds like a wish-list for its litany of missed targets that the
ruling party promised the electorate five years ago. It promises to make
good these unfulfilled promises that the party blames squarely on the
Blair-Bush Anglo-Saxon axis.

"Zimbabwe," the party president says in his message to internationalise the
nation's crisis around a message of Pan-Africanism, "has been chosen as the
battle ground for a concerted effort on the part of the West to push back
the clock of the African revolution in Southern Africa to perpetuate white
dominance. We dare not fall or fail millions of indigenous people of
Southern Africa whose sovereignty stand gravely threatened."

It glosses over evident failures such as the deterioration in service
delivery in health, education, housing and other social amenities, the
stubborn economic crisis which the ruling party has been tinkering with
without much success, as well as the deterioration in the people's standard
of living in the past two decades. The party's panacea for the current
Zimbabwean crisis is the land reform programme.

In many instances, the manifesto has resorted to comparative statistics over
a five-year period to embellish Zanu PF's rate of success.
The 52-page pamphlet shows enrolment figures at primary schools doubled and
tenfold in secondary schools but evidence on the ground shows the quality
has deteriorated with some pupils reaching Grade Seven still

It is difficult though to reconcile tourism indicators which show that in
1999 just before the farm invasions 2,24 million people came to Zimbabwe
earning the country US$201,6 million and in 2003 about 2,25 million tourist
arrivals brought in a mere US$44,2 million while the figure of 1,27 million
arrivals in 2004 brought in US$152,3 million.
Promising to improve the quality of life by reducing rural and urban poverty
without quite saying why it has failed to do so over the past two decades
and when the country's gross domestic product has dipped significantly, the
manifesto offers no more innovative plans than pinning hopes on an expected
economic resurgence driven by "the vibrancy of the party and record of good
delivery over the past 25 years".

And the party president, Robert Mugabe, has cautioned candidates not to set
unrealistic targets and putting timeframes to those targets. Success or
failure of any endeavour can only be judged when targets are time-framed.
Mugabe knows only too well the dangers of time-framing targets from a welter
of projects and programmes that have either missed their mark, remained
fixated in the planning stage or gathered moss on the drawing boards. For
instance, the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam supposed to have been completed in March
2002 after construction started seven years ago is still uncompleted.
The campaign booklet, hastily put together to meet a launch deadline,
exhorts Zanu PF candidates to hammer on the success of the land
redistribution and resettlement programme. Critics have often labelled the
programme chaotic because it has been marred by intermittent waves of
eviction to make way for party heavyweights. Genuinely land-short peasants
still await resettlement almost a quarter of a century after independence.

Zanu PF says it will resettle 400 000 families in the next five years
contradicting earlier pronouncements that the land reform programme has been
concluded. So far the programme has managed to settle about 140 800 families
under the A1 on 4,2 million hectares and 14 500 people on A2 farms covering
2,3 million hectares, prompting questions whether the party is set to create
a landed aristocracy from among the ruling elite to replace the white
commercial farmers violently evicted from their properties in the past five

Mugabe himself admits there has been "gomandisers" who have corruptly taken
an unfair share of the land ahead of the landless. But his party has so far
failed to resolve multiple-ownership for lack of commitment among its top
leadership who themselves are beneficiaries. It is this kind of corruption
that the electorate view with cynicism.

It projects an election battle to be fought on the premises of blame
shifting for government's failure to stamp out corruption "The Blair
government remains the biggest impediment in this fight against corruption.
It has granted refuge to corrupt individuals facing charges and will not
repatriate them," the manifesto says.
Failure to deliver adequate housing to the urban population is blamed on the
opposition MDC for taking over most urban centres after what authors
describe as "a freak performance in local government elections in 2002 when
disaster struck with housing delivery coming to a standstill".

The manifesto brags about the democratic nature of governance by Zanu PF
that it benchmarks on the holding of free and fair elections whose standards
rank second to none on the continent. But it omits telling the voter that
the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the NGO Bill are unique in
abridging the civil rights that should be enjoyed by everyone.

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Zim Independent


Agrarian reform: waiting for a miracle

THE chickens are coming home to roost for the Zanu PF mandarins who have
raped the economy through the so-called agrarian reform programme. If there
is anything threatening the well-being of our economy at the moment it has
to be failures which have been registered in the land reform process.

Five years after the violent seizure of commercial farmland, the government
is still keen to advertise this as a success despite widespread evidence to
the contrary. Yields from the fields are not a cause for celebration. In
fact the agricultural sector, where the government has pumped so much money,
is performing badly. The sector is going down and is taking the whole
economy with it.

The government solution to this has been to pump in more money and wait for
a miracle to happen - that is production figures commensurate with capital
invested in the sector. This is the folly which characterises all government's
implementation of agricultural policies. No one seems to be focused on how
the decline in production is impacting on the economy.

Two stories carried by the state media this week are instructive in as far
as they point out the catastrophic impact of the agrarian reform on the
economy. The Sunday Mail reported that power utility Zesa was threatening to
cut supplies to farmers who are failing to pay their bills. Then on
Wednesday, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, a state agency that sells
water to farmers, also said that it had had enough of farmers failing to pay
for water. Zinwa says it is owed $30 billion by farmers while individual
farmers owe Zesa as much as $10 million each.
We wonder what they were using the power for if they can't pay!

We heard the usual threats from indigenous farmers' organisations that the
intended moves by Zinwa and Zesa would impact negatively on the agrarian
reform programme. We were told that this would affect the winter wheat
programme. They fell short of branding Zesa a saboteur.
"New farmers need nurturing since expensive water bills make their farming
business prohibitive if authorities like Zinwa do not assist them with the
development of their irrigation facilities," said Zimbabwe Commercial
Farmers Union president Davison Mugabe.

But that is not the issue. The new farmers are simply seeking state
protection to maximise profits without contributing anything to the national
economy. They want the state to provide them with inputs, tillage, free
electricity and water while many of them have run down the infrastructure on
the farms. A large number of them are neither paying land nor corporate tax
and continue to make demands on government for more freebies.

It is not their fault alone. They were brought up on government largesse and
they believe the fiscus is a bottomless source of cheap funds which they don't
have to account for. On Wednesday this week lawyer Johannes Tomana and two
fellow senior attorneys occupying a farm in Trelawney joined the chorus of
beggers for free inputs on land they seized without paying a cent. The
farmers have to realise that the land they occupy has to be run on a
commercial basis with them contributing meaningfully to productivity.
The state-inspired chaos in agriculture has been a boon for many who have
access to state loans but never put a seed in the ground. There are many who
were given free seed and fertiliser but diverted them onto the black market.
The legion of felons also includes those who invaded conservancies to
satisfy their lust for game meat and to chop down the nearest tree on sight.
We also witnessed criminals - some of them well-placed officials - stripping
farms of key irrigation equipment like pumps, motors and pipes.
Amid this morass, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa last year told us the
economy would grow by between 3,5% and 5% on the back of a massive 28%
rebound in the agricultural sector.
He was dreaming and he will not be repeating that figure soon. There will
not be growth in agriculture just because government and the Reserve Bank
have poured in some $2 trillion.
There is need for a proper audit on who is doing what on the land. This does
not need to be an expensive scientific assessment. The evidence is there for
anyone travelling on the country's trunk roads to see. We are waiting for
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono to follow through on his threat to deal
ruthlessly with those
who abuse farming loans.

Someone in government - in particular Agriculture minister Joseph Made -
must wake up and try to reconcile what has been invested in agriculture
against output.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Sorting out the parastatal chaos

WHEN the government launched its Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
(Esap) at the start of the last decade, an element of the programme was the
privatisation of parastatals. But the launch was, for a prolonged period,
wholly theoretical in nature, for the government had no real inclination to
implement that programme and embarked upon it without any substantial sense
of commitment.

That was not surprising, for the mainstay of Esap was deregulation of the
economy, which was highly unpalatable to the government. An entrenched
element of governmental thinking was that the government must be omnipotent,
in absolute control of anything and everything. Therefore, the concept of
economic deregulation was anathema to the upper echelons of the government.

Only when the economic decline was of such magnitude that it had to be
confronted, even if by measures of variance with the government's
fundamental beliefs, was Esap pursued with any real substance. That brought
about a very marked upturn of the economy from 1994 to 1997, when the
government once again allowed its craving for authoritarianism to override
economic need.

When the government belatedly began to carry out the measures which were the
key factors of Esap, one of its actions was to commence an exercise of
parastatals privatisation, and several highly successful disinvestments by
the government were achieved. They included the effective and fruitful
privatisations of Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Ltd, Dairibord Zimbabwe
Ltd, Rainbow Tourism Group Ltd and Zimbabwe Reinsurance Company Ltd.
However, although impressively successful and evidence of how beneficial
privatisation could be, the government gained no satisfaction from the
outcome of those privatisations, for they represented a considerable
contraction of the "empires" of various ministers and of their permanent

In 1997, determined to dole out gargantuan payments to veterans of the
liberation struggle of 1965 to 1979 - in order to preserve the support of
those veterans, who had many among their numbers who had not even been part
of the struggle - the government negated all the economic gains of Esap. It
further counteracted those gains with its dictatorial, racial and
destructive land reform programme, instead of following constructive and
equitable land reforms.
The government did not mind its obliteration of the benefits of Esap, for it
revelled in pursuit of re-establishing a command economy. Authoritarian and
bureaucratic controls could reign supreme once more!

However, some in the government are now reluctantly acknowledging that all
is not well in the plethora of parastatals that feature in almost every
economic sector. In fact, many are proving to be such disasters that they
are becoming an embarrassment to the government as a whole, and to the
relevant ministers in particular.
Almost every parastatal is sustaining massive, unmanageable debt, and
virtually all are operating with vast losses. Few have any acceptable levels
of service delivery, and the term "customer care" is an almost unknown
within the parastatal environment. Incompetence is the order of the day for
the greater majority of the parastatals, with cataclysmic economic
The number of examples that can be cited is massive, but suffice for
purposes of example is Arda and its virtual implosion of the previously
highly successful Kondozi Estate. There is also the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority, which can do very little other than hiking tariffs in
inverse proportion to availability of reliable supplies.

Most Zimbabweans can recount innumerable other examples of deficient service
on the part of almost all other parastatals, inclusive of Tel*One, National
Railways of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, the Mass
Media Trust, Cold Storage Company Ltd, Grain Marketing Board, the Tobacco
Research Board and all too many others. In his 2005 monetary policy
statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono was very outspoken
on the catastrophic state of parastatals. In no uncertain terms, he said:
"Radical restructuring and re-orientation of the country's parastatals ...
sector is an indispensable prerequisite for achievement of the objectives of
monetary policy."

Gono recognised the "pervasiveness and far-reaching tentacles of major
parastatals", and that there is a need for "deployment of a focused, swift
and decisive shake-up programme" to key parastatal areas.

He continued: "Operational inefficiencies, generally run-down conditions,
and burdens of huge debt overhangs at the country's major parastatals... are
causes of the critical missing link in enhancing quick productive sector
supply response to fiscal and monetary policy incentives." The governor said
that decisive interventions must be implemented to steer the parastatals
into solid efficiency frontiers.

In the light of the government's indisputable adherence to relax the reins
on parastatals, it is significant that it has issued a statement of policy
and guidelines for what it terms "Public Private Partnerships" (PPP). At the
outset of the statement, Acting Finance and Economic Development minister
Herbert Murerwa says: "Government recognises the critical role of the
private sector in the provision of the country's public infrastructure."

But as the statement progresses it becomes very evident that primarily all
that the government is seeking from the private sector is funding, instead
of technological and comprehensive managerial inputs. Certainly there is no
detailed indication of an intent to privatise once again, with the emphasis
of the statement being upon the
government's retention of ownership.
Nevertheless, there is some move in the direction of greater private sector
involvement, for it is contemplated that the PPP would embrace concessions;
management contracts; joint ventures; design, build, finance, and operate
schemes; build, operate and transfer; and build, own, operate and transfer
As a general rule, the government rejects experiences in other countries as
guides to possible policies and actions in Zimbabwe, but in this instance it
makes an exception, for the minister states that "experience elsewhere can
make a significant contribution towards enhancing public infrastructure

What is of great importance, if there is proper follow-through, is the
minister's contention that the guidelines "offer assurance to potential
private investors, current service providers, empowerment groups, labour and
other interested groups of government's commitment to a transparent and
predictable Public Private Partnership policy".

It remains to be seen whether PPP will become a reality, or whether it is
yet another governmental delusion of economic deregulation and interaction
between public and private sectors. If the intentions are genuine, Zimbabwe
may finally witness some resolution of the prevailing parastatal chaos. If
not, the chaos will continue and intensify.
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Zim Independent


Going way back in time with Zanu PF

WE have entered the period of hyperbole again. Election fever is upon us and
Zanu PF is taking us back to the trenches. On Friday the party launched its
election campaign by unveiling a manifesto that is inspiring more for its
nostalgia than reality. President Mugabe talked of the party's achievements
in education, health and now land reform.

Much could have been achieved in the area of education in the early 1980s
when literacy levels rose to a claimed 80%, but is that still true today
when most of those schools have collapsed and teachers have been forced to
run away by war veterans and party militia? Only two weeks ago the Herald
led with a story about Harare central hospital being in the intensive care
unit because it lacked basic infrastructure and resources. Most council
clinics have no medicines, that is if they have qualified medical staff
left. The brain drain has hit most sectors of society so that whatever gains
Independence may have brought have been undermined by years of mismanagement
and widespread corruption. All this has happened under Zanu PF's
uninterrupted rule of nearly 25 years. They have no one but themselves to
blame if the public see them as responsible for the destitution all around

A Sunday Mail reporter who covered the campaign launch described it as
"colourful and electric". The picture of the president sporting a doek and
looking like Sabina on a bad day told it all. The reporter said thousands of
people had gathered at the Harare International Conference Centre "to unveil
a package" that could be decisive in the March 31 election. The "package"
turned out to be a huge disappointment.

"With music from party national political commissar Cde Elliot Manyika and
placards denouncing the opposition MDC, its leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
British prime minister Tony Blair, one got the clear message that the ruling
party is sensing victory," gushed the reporter-cum-Zanu PF supporter. So the
party has nothing to offer other than denounce the opposition? And that is
expected to motivate hungry voters? We shall see. Meanwhile, Mugabe himself
was less flattering of aspiring Zanu PF candidates. Doing what he always
does best in front of the cameras, that is name and shame, he denounced
"charlatans and witches" in the party who want to use money to get elected.
He said an election was not a purchasing game.

In Zimbabwe, he said, "we do not accept leaders who come through the
marketing route, who pay people in order to be leaders". Unfortunately he
didn't draw the line between a donation and a bribe. How do we classify his
computer donations to schools? Was Jonathan Moyo buying votes when he
donated computers in Tsholotsho? We also note that the Matabeleland Zambezi
Water Project is high up on the agenda once again. Could that be a

On Monday Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' Newsnet joined in the attack on
the MDC for allegedly supporting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who
called Zimbabwe "an outpost of tyranny". It was accused of being anti-people
and against all "independent-minded countries" such as Belarus, Burma, Cuba
and North Korea. It looks like we are in pretty good company indeed, and one
must ask: Why are we so blessed?

Mzala Joe of the Sunday News is an angry man. He accuses his party, Zanu PF,
of conducting "a senseless witch-hunt" and purging individuals following the
so-called Tsholotsho Declaration. He says nobody has explained what happened
on that fateful day at Dinyane secondary school except the "sickening
fiction" that has been peddled in the state media.

Of course Mzala Joe should be able to explain what happened in Tsholotsho.
What has not been convincing is the claim that it was a simple prize-giving
function. Only the very simple-minded would buy the notion that six
provincial chairmen would travel all the way from Manicaland, Midlands,
Masvingo and Matabeleland South to present $10 million to a remote rural
school for no political gain. It also turned out that those involved were
not amused by Joyce Mujuru's elevation to the Zanu PF presidium. And why
would Jonathan Moyo spend $10 million on hiring a plane to go and attend a
$10 million function? Keep talking Cde Mzala. The truth will out some day.

In another heresy he also attacked Mugabe's idea that the March election be
dubbed "anti-Blair". He says lots of Zanu PF candidates feel there has been
"too much propaganda against Blair" and that he should be left alone. He
didn't say which candidates these are.

Unfortunately Mzala Joe's article got lost while being carried over to Page
9 so it was not possible to know what platform he would have preferred for
the election. Similarly, there was no answer to the heading of the article:
"Who is the worse enemy in Zimbabwe today: external or internal?" None had
been identified when the article came to its abrupt end. Mzala scoffs at
suggestions that an anti-Blair platform would win the ruling party a two
thirds majority in the House. "The two thirds would be of what nationalist
idea, purpose or programme? And what would the two thirds be used for after
the elections and for whose benefit in view of the ongoing succession
debate?" asks Mzala Joe.
It's his party and he should know, whatever the recent ructions.

Miss Tourism World contestants are in town. No, they have since moved on to
Victoria Falls. A lot is being said about how the contestants will boost
tourism in the country. What is not said is what caused the decline in the
first place and whether the situation has dramatically changed.
According to the Herald, the pageant on Monday toured greater Harare.
President of the pageant John Singh reportedly described Zimbabwe as a
"peaceful" country, contrary to reports in certain sections of the media.

What he doesn't know is that there is a difference between a guided tour and
living in a particular environment. He doesn't even know that it is illegal
for more than three people to gather without notifying the police. He doesn't
know that the pageant organisers could have been lawfully arrested for an
illegal gathering when the contestants paraded in Africa Unity Square.
Harare is certainly not what it used to be when it was called the Sunshine
city. The pageant didn't need a "hostile media" to grasp this painful
reality. Herald photographer Tawanda Mudimu captured the girls standing on
delapidated structures in front of Herald House where a few years back these
would have been beautiful fountains and a photographer's paradise. Now it is
dry and barren concrete and bricks.

Justice Lawrence Kamocha has joined the call for zero-tolerance for violence
in the forthcoming election. He said people should not ride on the blood of
voters into parliament.
He urged the police to arrest all those who perpetrate or incite violence
irrespective of their political affiliation or standing in life "to avoid
the perception that the law is being selectively or arbitrarily" applied. We
are happy that the bench has finally acknowledged that there is such a
perception. It is now up to the police to make sure that it is just that - a
perception and nothing more. The reality cannot be wished away by Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena's claim that all political parties are
subjected to the same conditions when they want to hold rallies. How come
Zanu PF has never been denied such permission when there are widespread
reports of infighting in the party? Anyway, it was good to hear from
Bvudzijena that the force will "deal with culprits who incite violence". The
police had a duty to maintain public order, he said.

It will be instructive to see what steps are taken to enforce the six court
orders Roy Bennett obtained to prevent disorder on his Chimanimani farm.
Bvudzijena may also care to explain why, in addressing issues of political
violence, an employee of the President's Office, Joseph Mwale, continues to
roam free despite being implicated in the murders of MDC officials Talent
Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in 2000.

Nothing more clearly illustrates the delusional thinking at the top of Zanu
PF than the preposterous claims made in the party's manifesto released last

The Sunday Mail reported as follows: "Turning to the next five years, the
manifesto says following the successful conclusion of the land reform
programme and a massive turnaround of the economy reinforced by the 'Look
East' policy, Zanu PF has been placed at an advantageous position to fight
poverty and improve the living standards of the general populace."
It is difficult to know who is committing the worst offence here: a party
that lies about the economy or a newspaper that gullibly repeats those lies?

How could the land reform programme have been "successfully concluded" when
the country, which before 2000 was self-sufficient in agricultural
production, is now having to import maize?
What "turnaround" is Zanu PF talking about when the economy remains stagnant
and companies continue to close their doors? What significant investment has
there been from the Far East? Why are the Malaysians no longer involved in
the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project?
What sort of a fight against poverty is it that leaves Zimbabweans poorer
than they were in 2000? The economy has shrunk by 30% since Zanu PF last
claimed it was fighting poverty!
Please, no more lies!

Muckraker recalls Stan Mudenge last year berating the UN for allowing one of
its security officers to describe parts of Zimbabwe as unsafe. They are
"deliberately demonising this country and its leadership through a campaign
of lies and misinformation", he said. The officer, a Malawian working for
the World Food Programme, was removed from the country in response to
Mudenge's raving. But last month when a Dutch official working for the World
Health Programme was murdered during a hijacking attempt in
Harare, the Zimbabwe authorities didn't say a thing. It wasn't even reported
in the Herald. Why the silence?
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Zim Independent

S America takes over Zim's EU beef market
Ndamu Sandu
SOUTH American beef producers have filled the void left by Zimbabwe after
its beef exports were banned by the European Union (EU), the businessdigest
heard this week.

Zimbabwe's beef exports to the EU were banned in 2001 following an outbreak
of the foot-and-mouth disease.

The outbreak is suspected to have been caused by uncontrolled movement of
animals during the chaotic land reform.

Though details of the countries servicing Zimbabwe's beef quota were not
available this week, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico have been exporting beef
to the EU market.

Zimbabwe's annual quota to the EU remains unchanged at 9100 tonnes and the
country can take up the quota once the disease is fully under control.

EU spokesman Josiah Kusena said Zimbabwe's quota remains unchanged "despite
the fact that it is only partly used or not used at all, as was the case in
the last couple of years.

"The fact that Zimbabwe is no longer exporting beef gives no benefit to
other beef exporters in the Beef Protocol as those countries are not filling
their quotas," he said.

"Indirectly, the quantities exported out of Zimbabwe some years ago may now
have been replaced by suppliers from South America."

Before the ban, Zimbabwe was earning US$38 million annually from beef
exports to the European Union (EU). Head of the EU delegation in Harare,
Francesca Mosca, said last year that "three years after the ban Zimbabwe is
yet to invite Brussels to come and verify whether Harare had implemented
EU-recommended disease control measures that could see the ban lifted".

The measures included complying with veterinary regulations of the EU.
Analysts say even if the ban was lifted it would take the country a long
time to meet the quota as the beef herd has been decimated by the chaotic
land reform. Zimbabwe's herd has plummeted by a staggering 82% to 250 000
from a peak of 1,4 million.
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Zim Independent

Elections and the economy
Dr Alex T Magaisa
AS the nation approaches the general election in March, it is important to
make a few reflections on the connection between politics and the economy.

This election is as much an exercise in determining the future leadership of
the country as it is about mapping its economic future.

I have previously argued in this column that a necessary pre-condition for
the revival of the economy is to sort out the political problems that have
affected the country for the last five years. There is a close connection
between politics and the economy and failure in one area is likely to
negatively affect the other. Indeed, even the success of corporate
governance is closely connected to success of good governance on the
political front.

I argue that the forthcoming elections present a significant opportunity for
the demonstration of the necessary political will that is needed to change
the negative perceptions about Zimbabwe's politics that has had such
debilitating effects on the economy.

Firstly, there is no doubt that over the last five years the economy has
declined sharply and people are worse off than they were in 2000. There are
various reasons for this decline but two key factors with which this article
is concerned, are the negative image associated with the country and the
effective isolation of Zimbabwe by the international community.

Whether or not the US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice is right about
Zimbabwe being an "outpost of tyranny", the single undeniable fact is that
the image of the country in the international context is largely negative.
In turn, this negative reputation arises largely from the fact that the
political process has not been seen to be fair. In particular, the last two
elections since 2000 have been tainted to the extent that the legitimacy of
the incumbent government has been questioned.

The perceived lack of fairness of the political process has meant that the
tag of illegitimacy has always been labelled on the current government.
Lacking the necessary goodwill, Zimbabwe has been excluded in most
initiatives on Africa's economic development. This has also had a negative
impact on the business sector and is likely to continue and felt more in
future than is being witnessed today.

The process of globalisation has brought states and individuals into closer
interaction both in time and space. In addition, technological advances make
it easier, cheaper and quicker to collect and distribute information about
events in any part of the world. Everything in any part of the world
attracts attention and intense scrutiny. It is impossible to carry on in
isolation. The multiple sources of information are relied upon by investors,
tourists and other key groups that countries often wish to attract for
economic advancement.

More than ever before, it is vital to ensure that every country develops and
maintains a positive image. Countries that receive negative publicity are
unlikely to attract these key players.

Zimbabwe has suffered greatly in this respect and despite various attempts
to present a different picture the negative image has persisted over the
years. Rightly or wrongly, Zimbabwe is considered to be a country
characterised by political uncertainty and instability.

Political events in Africa often receive intense scrutiny because of the
general perception that it is unpredictable and unstable. Countries that
subscribe to norms that are generally accepted by the community of nations
are capable of creating the necessary goodwill. Therefore, the best
marketing strategy is to ensure that the political process is not only
conducted properly, but is seen to be so.

The elections are a key part of this political process. The question of
which party wins is subsidiary to the principal goal of ensuring that the
process itself is conducted according to generally accepted standards. This
includes giving political space to all contestants, refraining from
unnecessary violence and creating an environment in which persons can freely
express their will.

If the electoral process were to proceed in the same fashion as the previous
elections that have generally been discredited by large sections of the
international community, the tag of illegitimacy will remain attached to
whoever wins. Consequently, the same problems that Zimbabwe faces today will
become worse for the next five years.

One commendable feature about Zimbabwe is despite the difficulties and
desperate conditions, the situation has not descended into armed conflict.
This distinguishes Zimbabwe from a number of countries facing similar
problems such as the Ivory Coast, DRC, etc.

The docile character of the people, which some choose to call cowardice has
ensured that people generally refrain from taking desperate measures. If it
had been otherwise, then Zimbabwe would be in a worse off position. The
people deserve credit, and ought to be honoured by allowing them free
political space to exercise their political judgement by the process that is
generally accepted the world over.

This characteristic is a good selling point for the country and I strongly
believe that should things become normal, Zimbabwe will receive a huge
influx of investors, tourists, etc who have, but for the last five years,
always regarded the country highly.

Many Zimbabweans in the diaspora have distinguished themselves in
professional and business circles and even those who work in manual jobs are
highly regarded for their good work ethic. These qualities have helped to
paint a good picture to other communities whose only problem about the
country is that the politics is not properly managed. The knowledge and
experience acquired by the Zimbabweans in the diaspora is also likely to
benefit the country in the long-run either directly if they return home or
indirectly by participating in different ways from their host countries.

The attempts by the RBZ to source foreign currency through the Homelink
scheme demonstrates the recognition of the value represented by the
Zimbabweans abroad. However, what continues to hamper many people's
participation in these and other schemes is the disagreement over the
political process.

Many people cannot be persuaded to place their trust and confidence in the
schemes because of lingering fears about the security of their property
rights, whether their personal information will be exploited and indeed as
some have argued, whether they can also be allowed to vote in the elections.
In short, unless the political framework is seen to be fair and just,
participation in the national project will be severely limited, both among
Zimbabweans and foreigners that may otherwise have an interest in Zimbabwe.

In my view, the key is to ensure that the political process is fair, just
and reasonable. The economic fortunes of the country depend on political
stability and the generation of a more positive image is necessary for
purposes of creating economic activity that will enhance the country's
economy. Indeed, if people see that political governance is proper and
ethical, it is likely that their personal and business affairs will also be
conducted in similar fashion.

The days of measuring economic prosperity by simply pointing to figures of
inflation, gross domestic product, etc are over. It is equally important to
measure prosperity by evaluating the extent to which people enjoy civil and
political rights in addition to socio-economic entitlements.

A good political image will go a long way towards improving the economic

fortunes of the country, which will help to enhance the living conditions
and lifestyle of the people.

Proponents of the economic turnaround thesis will need to emphasise the
importance of this political process at this stage. The chances of achieving
this turnaround will be vastly-improved if the political process is fair,
just and reasonable.

*Dr Alex T Magaisa if the Baker & McKenzie lecturer in corporate law at the
University of Nottingham Contact at:

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Zim Independent

Wrongly assaulted by CIO agents

ALLOW me space to address this open letter to the Minister for Security
Nicholas Goche and the CIO boss in Mutare.

Two rogue and irresponsible CIO officers in Mutare recently assaulted me at
what turned out to be their offices.

I was looking for the passport office when the incident happened. Not
knowing that I was at their office, I looked at their reception and noticing
that there was nothing suggesting it was a passport office, I decided to try
the next entrance in the government buildings.

Two officers that I had not noticed called me back and asked who I was to be
looking at their offices. They did not wait for me to reply as they started
assaulting me.

Not knowing who they were, I thought of flooring them both as they did not
look like good fighters but something at the back of my mind urged caution.

The one who looked obese was more enthusiastic in his self-imposed duties of
assaulting me. The other slight and light boy seemed not sure that they were
doing the right thing.

During the commotion and noise a lot more officers came from the offices to
the reception area to witness the spectacle. No one intervened or made
efforts to restrain the two officers.

I am sure to the spectators that scene was normal in their lives. I had my
national identity card and passport but they sought no positive
identification. I reported the incident to Mutare central police station:
case number RRB 0524183 dated January 21.

When I went back to the CIO offices with a young and naïve police officer,
he expected me to identify the perpetrators at the reception area.

When I protested that my attackers were hiding in the offices and sought to
speak to the CIO boss to lodge a complaint, the police officer said the CIO
boss was above the police officers' own rank so he could not talk to him
without seeking clearance from police chiefs at the central station.

I would like to pay tribute to the police officer that had the courage to
write a docket despite what I could sense were efforts to discourage him by
colleagues. I would like the responsible minister and the CIO boss in Mutare
to know that their officers assaulted an innocent member of the public.

What they did was a cowardly act that can only be done by rogue people of
low self-esteem and zero professional conduct. Obviously feeling brave with
guns in their jackets and the full wrath of the government behind them, they
felt zealous in defending their territory.

Their actions are neither the standard method of debriefing an enemy nor the
best way to endear your agency to an informer.

I was neither an enemy nor an informer but a defenceless member of the
public. There is nothing at the offices to show that it is a restricted area
or private property. I am sure the two officers felt good after the incident
and might even get a promotion.

I would like them to know that what they did was wrong. I know they will
never be identified and the case will never be brought before the courts but
I want Zimbabweans to know that such things happen in a Zimbabwe we cherish
as free and fair.

I hope the Mutare CIO boss will do something to rearrange the entrance to
their offices so that members of the public cannot easily access the place.

I would like to believe that the two officers are sour grapes in an
otherwise professional agency.

If a great number of officers in the agency are sour grapes then God help
Zimbabweans and surely we are damned as a country!

Obey Mhondera,


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Zim Independent

Time to bury Hunzvi's legacy

THE 2005 March parliamentary election has given the people of Chikomba an
opportune time to bury the tainted legacy of the late eccentric Chenjerai
Hitler Hunzvi.

Hunzvi was, prior to his death, a political warlord who visited misery upon
the people of Chikomba with violence whose scars can still be seen and
witnessed today.

Villagers were terrorised into submission by Zanu PF-hired thugs. Brother
was turned against brother, sister against sister.

We in the MDC are saying March 31 is D-day. Hunzvi's legacy of violence,
Zanu PF and its imposed candidate Tichaona Jokonya will be buried forever,
never to rise again.


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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Seeing through it all

IN 1999 Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede invited journalists to his office's
computer bank adjacent to KGVI barracks to show the media how ready he was
to host the 2000 polls.

Like most things Mudede, despite meticulous planning to impress the
assembled scribes, there were glitches here and there which spoilt the show
for the bureaucrat. The last thing Mudede wanted was to be asked
uncomfortable questions.

During a brief question and answer session, I asked Mudede why Zimbabwe was
not using translucent ballot boxes in the election. His response was sharp:
"What for? Why would we want to waste money? I know that someone is just
trying to make money out of our elections."

There was more from Mudede. In a television interview towards the end of
that year, he said that ballot boxes should be made from local materials
like scrap wood in order to save resources. His sentiments were supported by
political analysts who were wheeled in to attack those advocating the use of
translucent ballot boxes.

The Zimbabwe government was taking a leaf from the book of the Kenyan
government which in the 1992 and 1997 general elections rejected an offer of
transparent ballot boxes from Norway. This was viewed by the opposition as
indicative of a plot to rig the polls in favour of Kanu.

There has been a change of heart here and government has agreed to use
translucent boxes in the March 31 election. The boxes are important because
Mugabe's government would like to be seen to be transparent; or is it

A consignment arrived in the country on Monday and Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa went on TV in the evening to enthuse about the boxes. He told us
that the government wanted to be transparent. He said the boxes were not
exactly transparent like a "mirror" but were translucent. He said interested
persons could see that the box is empty, or full, without necessarily seeing
what's written on the ballot papers. That's transparency!

Can I remind Chinamasa that in December 2001 in the run-up to the 2002
presidential poll he told us that there was "no problem" in accepting
transparent boxes as long as they were donated.

Interestingly, in the 2000 election government turned down an offer by
Denmark to donate translucent boxes to replace the wooden ones.

Chinamasa later changed his mind about government accepting donated boxes
saying Zimbabwe was "a timber-producing country" and that the British
themselves refused to use transparent boxes as voters could see ballots
which had unfolded.

In January 2002, he denied that any offer of the free translucent boxes had
been made by the UNDP.

This was the government line of thinking according to Chinamasa: "I believe

that there is no prejudice whatsoever to the democratic process in
continuing to use opaque ballot boxes. The recommendation of the Sadc
Parliamentary Forum is (only) a recommendation."

The Sadc Parliamentary Forum, which observed the 2000 parliamentary
election, had as one of its recommendations the use of translucent ballot
boxes and not wooden ones. Like all recommendations which were critical of
the conduct of the election, the report from the Sadc forum was ridiculed.
But our government, in its quest for regional acceptance, has now taken on
board long-rejected recommendations. It's suddenly a doyen of transparency -
or more appropriately translucency.

There is a reason for this. A translucent physical material shows objects
behind it, but those objects are obscured by the translucent material. In
short, the real picture is obscured.

The Zimbabwe government has decided to hide behind the translucent material
to mask its shortcomings and lack of compliance with best electoral
practice. We now have translucent ballot boxes, so our electoral system is
transparent, the Zanu PF government will argue.

We must not be fooled by this subterfuge. A transparent system is when those
outside are allowed to look inside. Transparency does not involve barring
critical observer missions and only bringing in cheerleaders. A transparent
physical material shows objects behind it as unobscured.

What is behind Zanu PF's decision that election observers from Western
countries are unfriendly and should therefore not be invited to observe the
poll? It is this quest to be opaque, to mask and obscure the conduct of the

It is clear that the government's mindset has not changed at all. There has
not been an attempt by the party to reform itself to embrace transparency. A
party built on the foundation of democracy and openness does not bring to
parliament repressive legislation like the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act.

Zanu PF seems content to remain in its wooden box. As it is constantly
talking about burying people, perhaps that's where it belongs!
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Zim Independent

Beginning of the end for Mugabe?
By Charles Frizell
THINGS are not going well for President Mugabe and Zanu at this time. There
is confusion and infighting within the party. Six out of the ten district
chairmen have been dismissed. MP's and cabinet ministers are accused of
spying on the country on behalf of South Africa. The economy continues to
crumble and the spectre of starvation once more rears its ugly head.

Well-known fighters for democracy and human rights such as Desmond Tutu are
openly critical of Mugabe, as are church leaders within the country.

Land reform has been a disaster and has exposed the naked greed and
corruption of many senior party members. Despite pleas by Mugabe, multiple
farm owners refuse to give them back and are openly defying him.

On top of all this, the AU has adopted a report critical of human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe, despite strenuous efforts by the government to suppress
it. This must be a particularly bitter blow, coming as it does from those
Mugabe thought he could rely on to shield and protect him from international
condemnation. And then there is the Sadc election protocol tabled in

As with Abuja, Mugabe happily signed up to this with absolutely no intention
at all of abiding by the letter, let alone the spirit, of the document. It
has come as a nasty shock that this time he actually is expected to do as he
promised. We have therefore seen a number of spurious "reforms" rushed
through parliament that do nothing to cure the underlying sickness.

Mugabe and Zanu PF have a deep emotional antipathy of all forms of
democratic expression, and even more so when a democratic election would see
a fall from power, a loss of looting privileges and in many cases could also
mean being hauled before the courts for past transgressions.

Unfortunately, I believe that Mugabe has in many ways lost touch with
reality. The "Anti-Blair" election campaign is an example of this. It is all
very well to work up emotions at a public meeting by shaking one's fist and
frothing against so many real and imaginary enemies, but when people go home
and the emotional hysteria dies away they are still faced with a collapsing
economy, a shortage of food and jobs and endemic corruption.

The so-called land reform that has been such a reliable promise in the past
has come to nothing. Everything lootable has already been looted; what can
now be given to buy loyalty and the vote?

The carrot has failed; or to be more accurate the carrot has been eaten and
there are no more carrots. So only the stick remains. Food is and will be
used to buy votes. Headmen have been bribed to coerce the villagers and
rural people. And finally there remains outright violence, which I believe
we will see more and more of. The rural people also have long memories and
are well aware of what Mugabe's supporters are capable of doing.

What will happen in the forthcoming elections? They will certainly be
violent and bitterly fought. I was at first against the MDC participating,
but have since changed my mind because I believe that circumstances have
changed. Mugabe has shown himself to be extremely reluctant to let anyone,
even Sadc members, observe the elections and the run-up to the elections.

This obviously raises serious suspicions as to the honesty of the so-called
electoral reforms. I predict that the outcome will be somewhat similar to
last general election, with the MDC possibly losing a few more seats due to
rampant violence and intimidation. However, once more they will hold the
urban areas where intimidation is not so easy and where the electorate are
better informed about current affairs and the many failures of the present

The big crunch will come after the elections have been held. Mugabe will
protest that they were "free, fair and democratic". There will be widespread
disbelief at this statement. In the past he could drum up enough support
from other African countries to save himself, but will that happen this
time? He has steadily "used up" his friends on the continent. When we look
at the various countries, this is what we see:

South Africa is becoming increasingly critical, Botswana is no friend, nor
are Ghana or Nigeria. Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and the DRC
do not want to get involved. Tanzania and Namibia may show some lukewarm

Even Libya has distanced itself because of increasing rapprochement with the
West, and also maybe they would like to be paid for their oil? Iran's
friendship is a negative quantity.

So, after the elections are over pressure will steadily mount on the regime.

Zimbabwe's leaders will become even more isolated and there may even be
moves to arraign Mugabe and other close associates for crimes against
humanity. One must also assume that there will be mounting pressure on South
Africa and Nigeria to "do something" about Zimbabwe if they are to benefit
from Nepad.

The Americans too will be applying increasing pressure and holding out an
economic carrot to those countries able to bring an end to the regime. It
would be very unwise to take Condoleezza Rice's "outpost of tyranny"
statement as mere empty rhetoric.

The real danger to Mugabe comes of course from South Africa. They are
capable of closing the border and bringing down the government in a matter
of weeks. We should remember that it was South Africa, under pressure from
America that forced the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table.
Though the bush war was economically debilitating, it was in the end
economic pressure from South Africa that succeeded.

The more democratic states will increasingly distance themselves from
Mugabe, and will also apply increasing pressure on his government. Zimbabwe
is becoming an ever growing embarrassment to a continent that is trying hard
to shed its image as corrupt and lawless.

Finally, we should remember that the question of moral right and wrong
hardly ever influences a country's foreign policy. What always guides and
drives foreign policy is what is in that country's best self-interest.
Zimbabwe has become more and more of an embarrassment to the AU and South
Africa in particular. The US and the EU will ensure that dropping support
for the current regime in Zimbabwe is in the best interest of all the
critical African nations.

*Charles Frizell is a Zimbabwean based in the UK.

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