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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News
Madlela urges opposition to field one candidate 
1/31/02 8:43:06 AM (GMT +2)
From Mduduzi Mathuthu in Bulawayo
AGRIPPA Madlela, the Zapu leader, whose party has splintered into two factions, yesterday called on opposition parties to go into the presidential election in March as a united force in order to avoid splitting the vote.
Madlela said although his party had been infiltrated by Zanu PF, it remained committed to its pledge to pull out of the presidential elections on 9-10 March and to support the MDC candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zapu secretary-general Paul Siwela’s faction will field a candidate, probably Siwela himself.
Madlela says Siwela cannot legally stand as a presidential candidate under a Zapu ticket or use the party’s name, symbol or logo.
He said: “As the country moves closer to the presidential election, Zanu PF is perfecting the art of political deceit, violence, infiltration and subversion of opposition parties.”
Siwela led a breakaway clique with a few senior members of the party amid growing accusations that he had been paid by Zanu PF to divide the MDC vote in Matabeleland.
Although Siwela has denied the accusations, his recent abortive bid to use Highlanders Football Club to win support in the region with an $8 million cash injection, and the wide coverage he has enjoyed from the State media have tended to vindicate his detractors.
“Zanu PF’s attempt to hoist Siwela to the leadership of Zapu is the most irresponsible and desperate political act since Roman emperor Caligula attempted to appoint a horse from his stable to be his accomplice and adviser,” said Madlela.
He cited the recent presidential election in Zambia, where an unpopular candidate, Levy Mwanawasa, won with less than 30 percent of the votes, because of the disunity of 11 opposition parties.
“ I appeal to other opposition parties to unite their anti-Zanu PF campaign and not split the votes,” he said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News
MDC messenger kidnapped at court 
1/31/02 8:43:48 AM (GMT +2)
Staff Reporter
MARK Patarau, 23, an MDC messenger in Mashonaland Central, was on Tuesday morning kidnapped by Zanu PF supporters at the Guruve magistrates’ court, where he had gone to pay bail for six MDC members facing charges of public violence.
Tapera Macheka, the MDC provincial chairman, said yesterday: “He later managed to escape and fled to Mvurwi, where he sought refuge at a party colleague’s house. But the police raided the house at 3am today (Wednesday) and arrested him and others. He is being held in Guruve.”
Mvurwi is about 50km south of Guruve.
Guruve police refused to comment.
Macheka alleged there was a plot by Zanu PF to have all the MDC leaders at district and provincial level arrested ahead of the 9-10 March presidential election.
Meanwhile, Edson Muvingi of Harare said he and his brother escaped a beating when they ran into a roadblock set up by Zanu PF supporters about 40km from Chivhu on the Gutu road around 9pm on Saturday.
He said: “There was a huge mob, armed mostly with sticks but I managed to quickly turn around and sped back to Chivhu.”
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News
Harare lawyer condemns police raid on MDC rally 
1/31/02 7:45:04 AM (GMT +2)
Court Reporter
HARARE lawyer Thomas Masendeke yesterday deplored the manner in which the police broke an MDC campaign rally at Primrose shopping centre in Msasa on Sunday.
An MDC driver, Jonathan Banda and Noah Zhuwawo, a party supporter were seriously injured during the disturbances.
Zhuwawo is fighting for his life in the neuro-surgical ward at Parirenyatwa Hospital while Banda is being treated for “severe multiple haematoma, swollen testicles and an occipital scalp”.
“The action was heavy-handed to say the least,” Masendeke told Harare magistrate, Shelton Jura, in a case in which Banda and Zhuwawo are being charged with breaching a section of the newly-gazetted Public Order and Security Act. “In fact the accused persons are victims of police brutality” said Masendeke. “There were only two of them against two truckloads of police officers.” Masendeke complained that the only witnesses in the cases the State was relying on were police officers.
He said he would challenge the State’s decision to place the pair on remand. Prosecutor Allan Mabande said on Sunday, the MDC intended to hold a rally at the shopping centre, without clearance from “a regulatory authority.” Supporters and officials who had gathered for the rally were allegedly dispersed by the police from Rhodesville.
Part of the group fled but Banda and Zhuwawo allegedly resisted. The police claimed the two were arrested by a reinforcement team led by an assistant inspector Mafuta.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News
Denmark to cut all development aid 
1/31/02 8:44:22 AM (GMT +2)
By Conrad Nyamutata Chief Reporter
THE Danish government on Tuesday announced it would stop all development aid to Zimbabwe because President Mugabe was “greedy for power” and had caused economic chaos in the country.
The total cut in aid to Zimbabwe was announced in a report assessing Danish assistance.
Per Stig Muller, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Denmark would review the bilateral assistance “if the country obtains a new leadership after the presidential elections in March”.
Danish development co-operation with Zimbabwe had already been sharply reduced, and was now implemented outside government channels.
“These activities will now also be phased out as quickly as possible and have already been reduced by Danish Kroners (DKK) 75 million (Z$487,5 million),” said the report quoted by Afrol News. The desperate attempts of President Mugabe to remain in power and consolidate his power have resulted in a further escalation of the political crisis now before the presidential election . . .“Under the cover of the international struggle to fight terrorism, the Zimbabwean government is planning to approve legislation targeting the political opposition in
The report said there were no prospects of an improvement of the political situation in Zimbabwe before the presidential election.
The report said Zimbabwe should immediately lose its status as a programme country.
The information is contained in a 164-page report, titled The Danish
Government’s review of Denmark’s official development assistance and environmental assistance to the developing countries.The Danish government said it aimed at pursuing an assistance policy with a higher degree of consistency.
“Systematic, constant violations of human rights and democratic rules will no longer be accepted,” said the report.
The Danish government also stopped all aid to Malawi and Eritrea, saying their status as programme countries would also cease.
The report said Malawi would lose aid because of the systematic intimidation of the opposition and corruption, while Eritrea was struck off the aid list for suppressing the opposition and the media.
Aid to Burkina Faso, Uganda, Kenya and Egypt was reduced.
The Danish government would distribute the aid to other countries.
The report said Danish assistance from now on would be given to countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Ghana, Bangladesh and Vietnam, all of which will receive more than DKK 200 million (Z$1,3 billion) annually.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Egypt, Nepal, Nicaragua and Bolivia would have annual programmes in the range of DKK 150-175 million (Z$9,75-11,3 billion). Zimbabwe, which is increasingly being isolated, faces possible sanctions from the European Union. Already, several countries have withdrawn aid to Zimbabwe. 
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News
Mugabe on the wrong side of history, says US's Royce 
1/31/02 8:45:05 AM (GMT +2)
By Jim Fisher-Thompson
THE chairman of the United States House Africa Subcommittee, Ed Royce says Zimbabwe lags behind other southern African countries politically and economically.
Royce, who has long been a champion of democracy and free markets in sub-Saharan Africa, made the remarks after a recent fact-finding trip to Africa during which he visited South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia.
Royce, a Republican from California, led a congressional delegation from 13 to 20 January to gauge the effects of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, (AGOA) on the three countries.
The US trading relationship with the three countries has been strengthened, he said in Washington recently, partly because of reforms by the governments that have spread political pluralism and opened markets.
It is in this respect, he noted, that Zimbabwe lags behind other sub-Saharan countries.
AGOA, the first-ever US-African trade pact, was passed by Congress and signed into law in May 2000 to stimulate sub-Saharan economies through export-led growth.
Royce said Zimbabwe has become a politically repressive state whose economy has been wrecked by cronyism and a return to unworkable socialist practices.
President Mugabe, he said, “is definitely on the wrong side of history” in terms of the trend toward democracy that is sweeping much of the rest of Africa.
More than 30 sub-Saharan African nations have been deemed eligible for
AGOA’s favourable trade benefits, which offer duty-free entry of many
African products, including textiles, into the US market.

Daily News - Feature
Government thriving on contradictions these days 
1/31/02 8:18:23 AM (GMT +2)

CONTRADICTIONS seem to characterise much of the government’s pronouncements and conduct these days.
The government says it is committed to ensuring education for all children of school-going age, yet in Masvingo province alone 35 schools have been closed due to violence, largely carried out by supporters of the ruling party and government.
There are also many other schools that are not fully functional because most of the teachers are afraid to return to their stations, fearing for their lives. Preparations for students writing their final examinations have been compromised. It means that a vast number of them are likely to miss their examinations because of the terror that has shut down their schools.
There is also the likelihood of congestion as most of them may find themselves repeating. After the closure of their schools they find themselves being herded into the youth brigade. Here, instead of imbibing knowledge to improve their lives, they are taught the deadly skills in violence.
Apartheid South Africa made certain the majority of black children were not in schools, or if they were, they would be taught to know who was the boss, which later spawned the violent Soweto uprising of 1976. The students acquired the skills of violence to defend themselves and survive under apartheid. This is one of the reasons why there is so much violence in that country even today.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the closure of schools and the youth brigade training programme will only empower the young people with knowledge of violence. They will pose a serious security risk. The role of the security agents during the past 24 bloody months does not inspire confidence in their ability to react and bring the situation under control.
The second contradiction is found in the government’s efforts to persuade the organisers of the Kora Music Awards/Miss Malaika beauty pageant to stage the events in Zimbabwe. The idea is, of course, to piggyback on these activities and promote Zimbabwe in the process. The government conveniently forgets that it is the author of the problem it now seeks to redress by inviting the organisers of these star-studded events.
The fundamental problem in Zimbabwe is that of political instability, and as long as the government refuses to acknowledge this reality, no amount of courting the Kora awards/Miss Malaika organisers will change the perception of the outside world.
But herein lies another perplexing contradiction: Kora/Miss Malaika, by comparison has a limited international audience than the Harare
International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), whose audience includes the international visitors Zimbabwe says it is seeking to attract. The government’s strategy would be far more effective if they supported Hifa too, although unless the core problems are addressed, it would all be an exercise in futility.
The interest in the Kora/Malaika organisers strikes interesting parallels with that in Coltrane Chimurenga’s 12 September Movement, whose results and effect are ambiguous. The only rational explanation for the government’s disinterest in Hifa would be because of the largely European factor in it.
With the imminent imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe by the European Union, the government has become anti-everything European.
This week it announced that anti-retroviral drugs would become available to HIV/Aids sufferers from next month. But it is evident from the budget that the allocation to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare was marginally more than the previous year. So, where is the funding coming from? Either the government is trivialising a national crisis or this is yet another of its electioneering gimmicks.
But there are real prospects for tackling the scourge. The global anti-Aids fund, intended to spearhead the world’s war on the pandemic, swung into action this week with a call to countries to suggest projects needing to be financed.
For once, the government should start being serious and tap into the US$1,9 billion (Z$104,5 billion) fund in order to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

Daily News
Heads roll again at ZBC 
1/31/02 7:52:27 AM (GMT +2)
Entertainment Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, (ZBC), long plagued by administrative woes, has been hit by fresh problems.
Another series of changes has affected senior journalists who were promoted last year in October, during a restructuring exercise which claimed many scalps at Pockets Hill.
The latest casualties are Reuben Barwe, who has been relegated to the reporters’ pool despite being the first ever, presidential correspondent at ZBC, and Freedom Moyo, who has been recalled from his Gwanda base.
Moyo was promoted to Matabeleland South bureau chief last year but was recalled to Harare, where he is now a reporter.
He is said to have refused to be bullied by Zanu PF Member of Parliament for Gwanda South, Abednico Ncube, who is alleged to have pressed for coverage centred only on him in the province.
Barwe as chief correspondent, covered all presidential trips and assigned reporters to their duties but has since ceded his office to Faith Zaba, formerly with the Zimbabwe Inter-African News Agency, Ziana.
This week, Gideon Gono, the ZBC board chairman, referred all questions to Alum Mpofu, chief executive officer, who could not be reached for a comment.
Gono said: “As a board we deal with policy issues. We do not interfere with management’s work. The day-to-day running is done by management, led by Mr Alum Mpofu. He is the best person to ask.”
A lady in the public relations department at ZBC refused to answer questions and referred the paper to the affected journalists, who refused to speak to The Daily News.
Tapfuma Machakaire is tipped to take over from Moyo as Matabeleland South bureau chief and Makosini Hlongwane, who has been the Midlands bureau chief, is set to replace Machakaire in Bulawayo, as chief.
But it is the elevation of Zvikomborero Sibanda, a former stringer with The Chronicle, to the post of Midlands bureau chief, that stirred emotions at Pockets Hill.
Sibanda joined ZBC last year during the restructuring exercise and was a reporter in Bulawayo before her latest controversial promotion.
It was not clear whether she had finished her probation or not.
In another development, two disc jockeys, Bridget “Bubbling B” Gavanga and Witness “The Chuman” Matema, have bounced back on 3FM after a dramatic U-turn by ZBC management which had “fired” them.
The pair returned to the airwaves last week on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively, sparking celebrations among the thousands of fans who had been missing their silky voices on the air.
Ironically, Tsitsi Mawarire, former 3FM boss who had allegedly instigated the duo’s removal from the station, was re-assigned to Consumer Services.
Musician and lecturer Joseph Nhare aka Man SoulJah is now head of 3FM.
For the record, since Mpofu took over from Luke Munyawarara, in August 2001 as head at ZBC, a number of loyal and dedicated journalists have been fired, demoted or resigned.
These include Lovemore Banda, Happison “Commander” Muchechetere, Timothy Makoni, Medeline Dube, John Masuku, Ben Mugabe, Anani Maruta, Tommy Mandigora, Chris Somo, Musi Khumalo and Munyawarara himself, among a host of others.
Those who have been “promoted twice” are Munyama Ngangura and Mawarire.
Ngangura was appointed head of radio services last year during the restructuring programme but has now been promoted to an obscure position.
His position has been taken over by Abigail Mvududu who, prior to her new position, had been promoted to executive producer of Current Affairs.

Canada halts deportations to Zimbabwe
Canada is to temporarily halt deportations to Zimbabwe to review the situation in the country.
The move comes after a woman and her child took refuge in a Montreal church to hide from immigration officials.
Immigration Minister Denis Coderre said in Parliament he needed to study the issue of human rights and Canada's relations with Zimbabwe.
He made no mention of the case of Dorothy Dube, who went to the Union United Church on Tuesday, saying she preferred jail in Canada to a death squad in Zimbabwe.
Immigration officials had ordered Ms Dube, her 10-year-old son Basil, and her 18-year-old niece, Nompilo Ncube, to meet with them at Montreal's Dorval airport.
Ms Dube and her family went to the church of the Rev Darryl Gray instead.
Ms Ncube says she was raped by Zimbabwean government thugs, and Ms Dube says she faced death for political dissent.
She said she could not understand how Canada could deport refugees back to Zimbabwe in the face of confirmed reports of torture, beatings and political killings.

ABC Australia
New Zealand wants Zimbabwe out of Commonwealth

New Zealand's foreign minister Phil Goff says Zimbabwe should face "smart sanctions" and be expelled from the Commonwealth.
He says a decision by Commonwealth foreign ministers to send observers to oversee Zimbabwe's election rather than suspend its membership from the organisation, was disappointing.
Mr Goff welcomed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group call for President Robert Mugabe to end the violence and breaches of human rights in his country, but said the group had not gone far enough.
Eight Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting in London stopped short of recommending Zimbabwe's suspension from the organisation but voiced "deep concern" over president Mugabe's crackdown on opposition ahead of the March elections.

31/01/2002 6:40:08 PM | ABC Radio Australia News

Business Report
Mbeki rallies civil society to aid Zimbabwe
Lynda Loxton
January 31 2002 at 07:04AM
Cape Town - Various sectors of society had been mobilised to work flat out to deal with any possible negative fallout from disturbances in the run-up to Zimbabwe's elections in March, the presidency said yesterday.
President Thabo Mbeki's office issued a statement saying that he and "a few cabinet ministers" had held a meeting on Tuesday with leaders of the business, religious, trade union and commercial agriculture sectors to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.
Tasneem Carrim, a spokesperson for Mbeki, said the meetings had been attended by, among others, Nail chief executive Saki Macozoma, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and representatives from Anglo American, farmers' group AgriSA and churches.
As most business leaders were on their way to the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in New York, representatives from the business chambers did not attend. They will probably be briefed by Mbeki at the WEF meeting tomorrow.
The ministers at the meeting were Membathisi Mdladlana, the minister of labour and head of the task team dealing with Zimbabwe, Aziz Pahad, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, and Essop Pahad, the deputy minister in Mbeki's office.
Most other key ministers had also left for New York.
Carrim said the meeting had mainly dealt with matters of principle and details would be released as soon as possible.
A key focus had been on efforts to ensure enough food supplies reached Zimbabwe, which would fit in with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative to keep food, trade and transport going.
Japie Grobler, the president of AgriSA, said he had come away from the meeting with the impression that more was being done behind the scenes to limit the fallout from Zimbabwe than most people realised.
Ensuring adequate food supplies, especially of maize, would be difficult given shortages in South Africa, but it appeared every effort was being made to secure supplies for Zimbabwe.
The statement from Mbeki's office said the president had "briefed the meeting on the initiatives that the South African government has already taken, both within the SADC context and as a neighbouring country, to help ensure that the forthcoming presidential elections in Zimbabwe are conducted in a climate of peace and tolerance by all parties and that they are free and fair".
The statement said there had been "consensus that South Africa must do all it can to act in the best long-term interests of the people of Zimbabwe and the SADC region" at the meeting.
It added that, to help ensure a free and fair election "the government and other sectors of South African society will provide election observers to Zimbabwe over the coming election period", among other things.
"The meeting agreed that the government would remain in regular contact with all the participants to ensure a common national effort as we do what we can to assist the people of Zimbabwe," the statement concluded.
On Monday a network of non-governmental organisations, including Cosatu, Amnesty International and Lawyers for Human Rights, had met separately to discuss the Zimbabwean situation, particularly the fact that "democracy is under threat and [we] remain highly concerned regarding ongoing human rights abuses".


Mugabe stays in Commonwealth
By David Blair, Foreign Staff
(Filed: 31/01/2002)

BRITAIN failed to secure Zimbabwe's expulsion from the Commonwealth yesterday when foreign ministers from eight member states chose instead to repeat demands that President Robert Mugabe must hold free and fair elections.

Journalists protest outiside the Zimbabwean parliament building over unconstitutional legislation

However, Australia said it would impose "targeted sanctions" on Mr Mugabe and his allies - the toughest action yet taken against the Harare government by a Commonwealth state.

Supported by Australia and Canada, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has declared Britain's intention to remove Zimbabwe from the organisation. The failure by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to agree on this course during its meeting in London amounted to a reprieve for Mr Mugabe.

Despite a brutal campaign waged against his opponents, which has claimed over 100 lives since February 2000, Britain's move was blocked by Nigeria, Botswana, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Barbados was the sole developing country to back Mr Straw.

Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister, said his government would impose sanctions along the lines agreed in principal by the European Union on Monday. This would take the form of imposing travel bans and freezing assets held overseas.

While stopping short of the ultimate penalty of expulsion, the ministers condemned Mr Mugabe for breaking "the Commonwealth fundamental political values" by pushing a raft of repressive legislation through Parliament, including the Public Order and Security Act which criminalises criticism of the president.

It was a "further direct curb on freedom of speech, of the press and association", the ministers said.

Mr Straw insisted that he was not disappointed by the outcome. "It is less than we hoped but also more than we expected," he said.

Mr Straw stressed that a Commonwealth observer team would soon arrive in Zimbabwe to cover the presidential election due on March 9 and 10.

"We have set down the clearest benchmarks within which the election takes place to try and ensure, as far as is possible, a free election," he said.

Although Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has been forced to abandon campaigning because of incessant violence, Mr Straw claimed it was still "just possible" for a free and fair poll to take place.

The MDC has called for Zimbabwe to be expelled and for Mr Mugabe to face total international isolation. Despite the support of both of the African countries represented, Mr Straw dismissed suggestions that Commonwealth opinion was divided along racial lines.

"Cultural differences have boundaries but fairness [in an election] has no boundaries," he said.

Although Mr Mugabe will draw comfort from the reprieve, Foreign Office sources have said that international pressure on his regime was producing results.

"Mugabe, because he's a bully, is only responding to firm pressure. The very intense international pressure is already causing ructions within Zanu-PF," said one.

However, yesterday's meeting ensured that Mr Mugabe is unlikely to feel any more international pressure before election day.

Extract from the statement following the CMAG meeting in London



The Group reviewed the situation in Zimbabwe in the light of developments since its last meeting on 20 December 2001. It expressed its deep concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against the freedom and independence of the media. The Group also condemned the recently enacted Public Order and Security Act and the General Laws Amendment Act, as well as the proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, as further direct curbs on the freedom of speech, of the press, and association in Zimbabwe and contrary to the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values as enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The Group expressed the strongest concern that the statement by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief and the recent and foreshadowed legislation constituted a direct threat to the conduct of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

CMAG noted that President Mugabe had publicly issued an invitation to the Commonwealth, amongst other international and regional organisations, to send observers to the forthcoming Presidential Election. It called for the immediate deployment of such observers by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and for the full co-operation of the Government of Zimbabwe in facilitating the operation of the Commonwealth and other international and domestic observers during the election period, which had already begun. The Group expressed its full support for the process established by the Abuja Agreement, reached at the initiative of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, including the President’s ongoing mediation efforts and expressed its great appreciation to President Obasanjo. The Group looked forward to the publication of the United Nations Development Programme report on equitable and sustainable land reform in Zimbabwe and expressed support for the involvement of the UNDP in this process, as agreed at Abuja. The Group expressed support for the initiative by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in encouraging a peaceful outcome to the situation in Zimbabwe in accordance with the rule of law and respect for human rights.

CMAG further called on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that: There is an immediate end to violence and intimidation and that the police and army refrain from party political statements and activities; All parties in the election be allowed to campaign freely without intimidation or fear of recrimination; The people of Zimbabwe are able to make an unfettered and informed choice in the elections, inter alia through full access to information from the media. The Group decided that Zimbabwe would remain on its formal agenda and agreed to draw up its recommendations to CHOGM at its next meeting, taking into account the Government of Zimbabwe’s response to these concerns, in the light of information received from the Secretary-General. The Group noted that the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme provides for a range of measures from Commonwealth disapproval to suspension.

Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, London

From News24 (SA), 30 January

SA to send 'diverse observer team' to Zim

Cape Town - South Africa will send a diverse team of election observers to Zimbabwe, including politicians, business people, trade unionists and clerics, to help ensure a free and fair presidential poll, the presidency said on Wednesday. The initiative follows talks between President Thabo Mbeki and South African business, labour union and agricultural leaders in Pretoria on Tuesday. A presidential spokesperson said Mbeki had briefed the leaders about initiatives by the South African government, both bilaterally and as part of the Southern African Development Community, to help ensure that the elections on March 9 and 10 were free and fair. Details of the proposed observer team were still being ironed out and it was not yet clear how it would fit in with other initiatives, such as those of SADC and the South African Parliament, which are sending separate monitoring teams. "It has been agreed in principle that it will be a multi-sector team, co-ordinated by the government," the spokesperson said.

Mbeki had also outlined steps taken by SADC to address food shortages in Zimbabwe. "There was consensus that South Africa must do all it can to act in the best long-term interests of the people of Zimbabwe and the SADC region," a statement from the presidency said. Meanwhile, SADC foreign ministers gathered in Harare on Wednesday for a two-day meeting to follow-up on resolutions on Zimbabwe taken at the regional heads of state summit in Malawi earlier this month. Zimbabwe was also on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which is to meet in London on Wednesday. Britain's foreign secretary Jack Straw said his government would push for Zimbabwe's suspension from the 54-member Commonwealth when its heads of state meet in Coolum, Australia, from March 2 to 5.

Zimbabwe hails Commonwealth over rebuff to Britain  
HARARE, Jan. 31 — Zimbabwe applauded the Commonwealth on Thursday for rejecting a British call to suspend the country from the 54-nation group, claiming a diplomatic victory over the former colonial power.  ''Zimbabwe pulled yet another diplomatic coup on the ''mighty British Empire'' when their proposal to suspend Zimbabwe from an organisation led by their Queen was thrown out of the window,'' the official Herald newspaper said in an editorial.
       Commonwealth foreign ministers rejected British-led calls on Wednesday for Zimbabwe's suspension from the organisation because of attacks on the opposition and the media.
       They pressed instead for the immediate deployment of election observers for a presidential poll due on March 9-10.
       A Commonwealth statement also called for ''an immediate end to violence and intimidation and that the police and army refrain from party political statements and activities.''
       British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had sought Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth's main decision-making bodies and a recommendation from the ministers for its complete suspension at a March 2-5 Commonwealth summit in Australia.
       Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said engagement, not isolation, was the best course and that cutting Zimbabwe off would have left the international community even fewer levers of influence over President Robert Mugabe.
       The Herald newspaper, which reflects government policy, said the bid to isolate Zimbabwe by Britain and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had been a flop.
       ''For the umpteenth time the former colonialists, the British, have been beaten by Zimbabwe on the diplomatic front. It is always a difficult thing for a master to ever regard their former subject as an equal and this prejudice has confined the British diplomats to international embarrassment,'' it said.
       The Commonwealth decision came after three reporters were arrested outside Zimbabwe's parliament when riot police broke up a media protest against new legislation which seeks to impose tight controls on local and foreign media.
       The proposed bill media is expected to be debated in parliament later on Thursday. Critics say it aims to suppress criticism of Mugabe in the run-up to the elections, in which he faces the biggest threat to his 22-year rule.
       It is part of a raft of laws that have drawn international condemnation and a threat of European Union sanctions.
       EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to impose a travel ban on the top 20 individuals in Mugabe's inner circle and their families and to freeze their foreign assets if Zimbabwe prevented the deployment of EU election observers.
       Mugabe, who has accused Britain of orchestrating a campaign to demonise his country, said he would accept foreign election observers -- except for Britons.

January 31, 2002

SA preparing for influx of refugees from Zimbabwe
from IPS
South African civil society and trade unions have called on the government and organisations to be ready to help Zimbabwean refugees who may be fleeing the economic and political crises that has gripped the country ahead of its presidential election.
''We realise that democracy - in Zimbabwe - is under threat and remain highly concerned regarding ongoing human rights abuses,'' said a network of South African human rights, labour and civil societies.
The network says it plans to send a delegation to observe the presidential election and check that it is free and fair.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has, under pressure from the world community, invited several regional and international organisations to observe his country's presidential election, scheduled for Mar 9-10.
Mugabe and his party, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), have been accused of resorting to violence and intimidation to prevent the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from winning the presidential election.
Despite a great deal of cynicism from the international community, Mugabe has promised the election will be free and fair and that he will put an end to the violence gripping his country.
The South African network includes the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation, which works to rehabilitate victims of violence; the Network of Independent Monitors, which watches political violence; the South African NGO Coalition (Sangoco) and the 1.2-million strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Cosatu is the country's largest labour federation.
In a statement, the network says its aim is to ''marshal resources in South Africa to deal with the impending humanitarian and refugee crisis in Zimbabwe, and to ensure an appropriate response from NGOs, governments and civil society, especially those in South African provinces neighbouring Zimbabwe.''
The network also aims to support South African government initiatives to defend democracy and rule of law in Zimbabwe and to pool resources and to build partnerships with Zimbabwean civil society.
''NGOs, organisations of civil society and professional bodies are urged to contact the network should they wish to participate in expressing solidarity and support for the people of Zimbabwe,'' says the network.
Sangoco especially called for volunteers who could help provide health services and the skills necessary to ensure a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.
Cosatu International Secretary, Simon Boshielo, says the political instability in Zimbabwe may result in a humanitarian crisis and proposes that refugee camps should be set up in South Africa's Northern Province.
The South African government has already indicated that it has earmarked disused military bases for this purpose.
The calls come amid reports that at least 500 Zimbabweans are leaving weekly for greener pastures to neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana. Others are heading for Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia.
The network made it clear that it did not want to pressure the South African government into taking a hard-line against the Zimbabwean government. Its main aim will be to help ensure the election in Zimbabwe was free and fair.
Sangoco chairperson, Abie Ditlhake, who is also the chairperson of the SADC NGO forum, says: ''When basic human rights are challenged, it becomes the duty of all of us in the SADC NGO community to stand together in ensuring that these rights are returned to all Zimbabweans.''
SADC is the Southern African Development Community, which groups 14 countries.
A delegation from one of South Africa's relatively small opposition parties, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) is also heading across the border on a fact-finding mission.
The mission, led by PAC president, Stanley Mogoba, will conduct wide-ranging talks with politicians - including representatives of Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC - civil society organisations, business people, clerics and farmers unions.
Historically, the PAC has been close to Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF since the years of the liberation struggles in Zimbabwe and South Africa. In South Africa today, the PAC's main political plank is a call for the land in the country to be redistributed to Black people who lost their properties under apartheid.
However, Mogoba says his organisation will support any party that is democratically elected to the government of Zimbabwe.
The South African Parliament also wants to send an all-party observer mission to monitor the presidential elections in Zimbabwe, says the Speaker of the National Assembly Frene Ginwala.
Plans for the observer mission would be discussed, later this week, she announced.
In the meantime, it has been reported that there are plans for at least 39 representatives from the Southern African Development Community to monitor Zimbabwe's presidential election.
The monitors will be deployed in Zimbabwe at least a month ahead of presidential elections.

Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 11:35 GMT
Zimbabwe declares 'diplomatic victory'
Nigeria Foreign Minister Sule Lamido and UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
The Commonwealth was divided along racial lines
The official Zimbabwe media says Wednesday's decision not to suspend it from the Commonwealth was a humiliating defeat for the "mighty British empire".

In an editorial, The Herald said Britain had been "slapped in the face" and with its record of colonialism, was in no position to lecture anyone about respecting human rights.

But the secretary general of the 54-member grouping denied the decision by Commonwealth foreign ministers was "a moral victory" for President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe pulled yet another diplomatic coup against the 'mighty British Empire'

The Herald
Zimbabwe's parliament is again due to debate a controversial media law after reports that it has been altered to take account of criticism from within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Zimbabwe's foreign minister has also reacted for the first time to the European Union's threat to impose sanctions, accusing it of trying to "perpetuate an archaic colonial relationship".

Legitimate elections

Both Commonwealth secretary general Don McKinnon and Nigeria's Foreign Minister Sule Lamido told the BBC that the most important thing with five weeks to go before presidential elections was to get observers into Zimbabwe.

The secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Welshman Ncube, agreed:

Don McKinnon
McKinnon condemned recent laws

"What we want is a climate that will deliver a reasonably legitimate electoral process. Suspending Zimbabwe in itself will not necessarily deliver that," he said.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says the Commonwealth meeting was split on broadly racial lines: the old white Commonwealth represented by Britain, Australia and Canada, urged Zimbabwe's suspension; the new Commonwealth of African and Asian countries preferred words of condemnation.

Mr Lamido said that the election observers would be allowed to go wherever they want and this would help ensure that the elections are free and fair.

'Little changed'

Mr McKinnon said that the Commonwealth had urged Zimbabwe to end the political violence and condemned recent laws.

It was clear that if the situation did not improve, Zimbabwe could face suspension when Commonwealth heads of government meet in Australia a week before the March election.

Journalists protesting outside Zimbabwe parliament
Journalists risk prison if they break any of the new laws

The EU has said that targeted sanctions against the Zimbabwe leadership would be imposed if their observers were not allowed in this weekend.

Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge on Thursday condemned this ultimatum and said Zimbabwe's concerns about external influence on its politics had gone unheeded.

Reuters news agency reports that it has seen a copy of the revised media bill and says it "appeared little changed from the previous version and would still restrict access for foreign reporters and force local journalists to get yearly accreditation from a state commission".

Journalists have said they will ask the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional as soon as it is passed.

Earlier this week, a Zanu-PF MP, Eddison Zvobgo said that many clauses contravened the constitution and urged parliament to reject it.

The government had originally wanted to pass the bill last year and debate has been delayed on several occasions following criticism from journalists, the international community and southern African leaders.

Press Gazette
BBC sets up new bureau to beat Zimbabwe ban
By Julie Tomlin
Posted 31 January 2002 00:00 GMT

The BBC plans to set up a temporary bureau on the Zimbabwe border if President Robert Mugabe’s ban on the corporation continues.
BBC journalists have been refused entry to the country since its correspondent Joseph Winter was thrown out last February.
With Zimbabwe’s election set for 9 March, the BBC is planning to base a team of journalists on its border with South Africa to gain better access, while continuing to report from Johannesburg and London.
The BBC’s Africa correspondents, Rageh Omaar and Hilary Andersson, along with diplomatic correspondents James Robbins, Brian Hanrahan and Bridget Kendall, are among those who will be working on the story.
“The most important thing is that there is a free and fair election, and we believe that a free and fair media is essential to that process,” said Vin Ray, BBC deputy head of newsgathering.
“We would be extremely disappointed if the Government continued to exclude us. We are working on plans to cover the election from Johannesburg and London, as well from the border, if they do.”
The BBC has been caught up in a political row over whether the European Union’s general affairs council has accepted that the ban can continue without sanctions being imposed. Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram has asked Jack Straw if sanctions would be triggered if monitors were not in place by 3 February and the international media given access.
Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Chris McGreal and The Daily Telegraph’s Philip Sherwell have left Zimbabwe after reports that President Mugabe’s Government was hunting for foreign journalists posing as tourists.

The Guardian
The good, the bad, and Mugabe
The crisis surrounding Zimbabwe's forthcoming presidential election is increasingly like a scene from an old Hollywood western, says Simon Tisdall
Thursday January 31, 2002
A locomotive pulling numerous carriages is speeding down the track. A helpless heroine - symbolising in this case, the Zimbabwean electorate - has been roped to the railway line.
A shootout is under way between the "bad" guys - President Robert Mugabe, Zanu-PF hardliners and hand-picked army generals, and the so-called war veterans - and the good guys - the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the trade unions, and what remains of the independent judiciary and media.
The train comes racing round the bend and bears down on the struggling victim. Its whistle blows. The engineer slams on the brakes but it is far too late to stop.
Will her gallant would-be rescuers be able to cut the distressed damsel free in time? Or will her cruel abductors succeed in getting their wicked way?
For those who can bear the suspense, all will be revealed in the polls due on March 9-10. But many in Britain, the former colonial power in what was once Rhodesia, in the chancelleries of western Europe and in the US state department and Congress already think they know the ending.
Barring some big, unforeseen upset, Mugabe will fiddle and intimidate and bully his way to another presidential term - in just the same way as he secured victory in the last parliamentary elections two years ago despite a big swing to the opposition.
If grasping that victory means a further increase in violence and torture, Mugabe is apparently quite prepared to take that step. If it means yet more seed and grain seizures on white-owned farms, at a time when famine already threatens large swathes of the country, he will do that, too.
If the price of victory is shutting down the free press, barring foreign journalists, excluding international election monitors, and defying critics within his own party who say he has gone too far, Mugabe is ready to pay it.
And there is, it seems, precious little that a watching world can do to stop him.
Perhaps the train wreck can somehow be averted. Some kind of last minute reprieve is certainly to be hoped for. But it is just a hope - for Zimbabwe has become, in one sense, a salutary and sobering reminder that the powers of the "international community" can be vastly overestimated.
Among those likely to be left with egg on their faces are the following:
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook and his junior minister, Peter Hain, tried berating Mugabe, cutting off arms sales, and curtailing government-to-government aid. Mugabe said they had a colonial era complex and ignored them.
Cook's successor, Jack Straw, tried negotiation in Abuja, Nigeria last year but was subsequently fobbed off. This week he vowed to put Mugabe "on the spot". But his efforts to date have done little or nothing to head off the impending theft of the election.
The Commonwealth
Despite its commitment to uphold democracy embodied in the 1991 Harare Declaration and despite several meetings of the Commonwealth ministerial action group and its organisation of the Abuja talks, the Commonwealth has been exposed as largely powerless to act.
At a meeting in London this week, CMAG snubbed Straw by ignoring his appeal to suspend Zimbabwe from Commonwealth councils, preferring instead to deliver yet another verbal slap on the wrist.
The European Union
Much is made these days of the EU's common foreign and security policy - but Zimbabwe has demonstrated that such a joint policy exists in theory more than in practice.
Last year, Mugabe was received at the European commission in Brussels and by President Jacques Chirac of France, much to Britain's disgust. Earlier this week, EU foreign ministers finally agreed to impose collective sanctions if Mugabe did not allow elections monitors to enter the country.
But the sanctions relate only to foreign travel and assets held abroad by Zimbabwe's ruling elite - and they have had plenty of time to forestall and minimise their impact. Even if enacted, the sanctions will make no difference to the conduct of the polls.
South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki has in theory the most to lose if Zimbabwe implodes into civil war, with resulting mass movements southwards of hungry refugees. Yet despite Zimbabwe's huge debts to South Africa and his country's control of Zimbabwe's power supplies, Mbeki has consistently failed to exert decisive pressure on Mugabe.
Although the two leaders are said not to like each other, Mbeki appears loath to put the squeeze on a man who was once an icon of the African liberation movements. In similar vein, neighbouring countries of the Southern Africa Development Community have proved to be both toothless and divided when it comes to bringing Mugabe into line.
The United States
Over the years the US has spent millions of dollars in aid to encourage developing country democracies, including Zimbabwe. But as a recent Carnegie Endowment study points out, progress has been painfully slow. In Zimbabwe, the process has clearly gone into reverse.
But other than some sharp remarks by secretary of state Colin Powell during a recent visit to South Africa, and apart from threatening sanctions similar to those envisaged by the EU, the US has also been forced to look on impotently.
The United Nations
No effective pressure has been brought to bear on Mugabe via the UN, even though it is the UN's World Food Programme that may have to pick up the pieces if, as expected, food shortages following the farm seizures become endemic. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, who hails from West Africa and has championed good governance in the continent, has good reason for despondency.
Looked at all round, it is a sorry record of failure. And even if, somehow, the damsel on the railway line springs free from her shackles at the last moment and the "good guys" win the day, Zimbabwe over the past two years has become a memorable object lesson.
The lesson is that when it comes to taking on a canny, stubborn and ruthless old autocrat like Bob Mugabe, the "international community" is still more of a diplomatic concept than an active force for change.

Election race kicks off in Zimbabwe with opposition crying foul 
HARARE, Zimbabwe, Jan. 31 — Zimbabwe's presidential race officially began Thursday, and the main opposition candidate accused President Robert Mugabe's supporters of impeding his campaigners and blocking media access.
       Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai both registered Thursday to contest the March 9-10 vote. 
 Officials said Mugabe, 77, will hold his first two campaign rallies Friday. His moves against the opposition and white farmers have generated international criticism and he is now fighting for his political survival.
       As he filed his registration in a Harare court, Tsvangirai said militants from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were acting to stop opposition campaigning in the countryside. He also complained that the opposition has no access to the dominant state media, including the sole television and radio broadcaster.
       ''This is not in the spirit of maintaining law and order and a spirit of free campaigning,'' he said.
       Tsvangirai said repressive security laws passed earlier this month were being used by police to hinder his party's campaigning, and opposition officials were warned not to allow chanting of slogans or display of party posters at a rally scheduled Sunday or face arrest.
       Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who filed Mugabe's nomination papers at the same court denied any ruling party militants were active. ''There are no militias. You are putting out false information just to mislead the international community,'' he told Tsvangirai.
       Mugabe has accused the opposition of receiving the support of foreign countries and the country's small minority of whites, who ruled the nation, then known as Rhodesia, before independence.
       He said the ruling party would ''overcome attempts by Britain, the European Union, the United States and white Rhodesians who want to install (their chosen) government,'' he said.
       Foreign ministers of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community were in Harare for a two-day meeting to review progress made after Mugabe had assured them that nearly two years of political violence had been curtailed and the polls would be free and fair.
       Later Thursday, lawmakers were scheduled to debate revisions of a sweeping media bill critics say is aimed at muzzling independent journalists before the elections.
       Riot police arrested three journalists outside Parliament Wednesday during a demonstration protesting the bill.
       The three were released and told to report to police Thursday to face possible charges under the Public Order and Security Act that became law Jan. 18 and gave police sweeping powers of search and arrest.
       The government's proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill has met rare opposition both inside and outside Parliament.
       The proposed measures would give the government broad powers to license journalists, register media organizations and impose severe penalties for infringements.
       Zimbabwe has come under intense international pressure to ensure free elections and restore the rule of law after nearly two years of chaos and violent seizures of white-owned farms.
       The European Union and the United States are proposing targeted sanctions against government leaders.

Head to head: Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth
Amid a Commonwealth split over possible suspension of Zimbabwe from the organisation, BBC News Online presents opposing viewpoints from Mompati Merafhe, Botswana's Foreign Minister and chairman of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), and Glenys Kinnock, a UK member of the European parliament.

Botswana's Foreign Minister and CMAG chairman Mompati Merafhe

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group is of the considered view that the international community, including the Commonwealth, should remain constructively engaged with the Government of Zimbabwe.

The intention is to secure an amicable resolution to the problems faced by the country for the good of the people of Zimbabwe.

The forthcoming presidential elections offer an opportunity for the international community to support and encourage the government and people of Zimbabwe in the task of building an atmosphere in which there will be a free and fair electoral process.

Yesterday's meeting of CMAG was unanimous in this understanding.

UK's MEP Glenys Kinnock

Now it is time for African leaders to - at last - break ranks with President Mugabe. The sensitivities of a tyrannical regime should not be as important as responding to the suffering of the people of the country, which has been brought to economic ruin and is tragically beleaguered by state-sponsored repression.

The world's perception of the whole African continent is tainted as people watch Zimbabwe's descent into a situation which makes the prospect of a fair and open election difficult to imagine.

They think it is typical, whereas in reality there is so much that is hopeful, positive and optimistic in Africa.

African governments are naturally and understandably loyal to those who played such an important part in the liberation struggle.

However, they also know, especially as they work to implement their new Africa initiative, that this is a defining moment in history. It is a moment which should not be lost.

Too much is at stake when the values of democracy and social justice are being challenged on their own doorsteps.

Many African leaders, and their people, have heroically spent their lives fighting for freedom, tolerance and the right to vote.

That is why they, and other Commonwealth leaders, should now join with those who believe that expressing concern is simply not enough.

Zimbabweans made to practice voting for Bob
January 30 2002 at 09:10PM
By Basildon Peta (The Star)
Harare - Fears have deepened that Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential election will be far from free and fair.
This follows the arrest of more journalists and the apparent distribution of fake ballot papers in parts of the country.

Police arrested three journalists and dispersed others gathered outside parliament to protest against a bill that will suppress press freedom.

And the ruling Zanu-PF party scaled new lows in its election campaign as officials allegedly assaulted citizens who did not put their mark next to President Robert Mugabe's slot on unauthorised ballot papers that party officials were distributing in rural areas.

Several people said the ballots were not copies for practice purposes, but were genuine.
The ballots were not destroyed afterwards, but were neatly packed into boxes, raising fears that they will be used to rig the election on March 9 and 10.
In Harare, the passage of a media bill, which has raised an international chorus of outrage, was postponed yet again as the government gave notice it intended to introduce a third amendment today.
The three arrested reporters - Foster Dongozi and Rhodah Mashavare of the privately owned Daily News and Cornelius Nduna of The Standard - were still in custody at the time of going to press.

They were protesting against the government's sustained attempts to ram the media bill through parliament despite a report against it by the Zanu-PF-dominated parliamentary legal committee.

The journalists marched to parliament with placards saying "We agree with Zvobgo", in reference to the chairman of the committee, MP Eddison Zvobgo, who has dismissed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill as unconstitutional.
Zvobgo said the media bill would give frightening powers to the government to control the media. He described it as the most calculated and determined assault on the freedoms of Zimbabweans since independence from Britain in 1980.
A number of MPs from within Zanu-PF oppose the media bill, saying it would tarnish the image of the ruling party if passed.
Electoral Supervisory Commission chairman Sobuza Gula-Ndebele promised to probe the alleged ballot-rigging. Zanu-PF said the claims were a bid to discredit the party. - Independent Foreign Service