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

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Zim Online

Voting not a fundamental right: Supreme Court judges
Thur 24 February 2005
      HARARE - Voting is not a fundamental right, Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku and another Supreme Court judge said yesterday, while hearing an
application by Zimbabweans living abroad who want to be allowed to vote in
next month's election.

      Chidyausiku and Justice Luke Malaba, who were hearing the matter with
three other judges, insisted that voting could not be regarded as a
fundamental right that the court had to protect even though it was enshrined
in Zimbabwe's Constitution.

      The court reserved judgment in the matter in which a group of seven
Zimbabweans living in Britain want the court to order the government to set
up a mechanism to enable them to vote in the March 31 election and any polls

      But lawyer Happias Zhou had a tough time yesterday trying to convince
the two senior judges that voting should be considered a fundamental and
basic right that the court must protect.

      Zhou told the court that the government's refusal to permit his
clients to vote infringed their rights and freedoms of expression, choice,
association and movement all guaranteed by the country's Constitution.

      He said: "Voting is an expression of opinion and where one is hindered
on the right to vote, then their right of expression and association is also
hindered. Interference with applicants' rights is not justifiable in a
democratic society."

      But Malaba told Zhou: "The right to vote is not a fundamental right,
neither is it under common law. It is constitutional yes, but not a
fundamental right. Even if we were to agree that voting is a freedom of
expression, does it say that this freedom should be
      enjoyed wherever one is?"

      Chidyausiku concurred saying that Zhou should instead have challenged
provisions of the Electoral Act that were being used to bar his clients from
participating in the forthcoming poll than presenting the case as one where
the applicants' fundamental rights had been breached.

      The government has said it will not allow an estimated three million
Zimbabweans or about a quarter of the country's total population living
abroad to vote because doing so would prejudice the ruling ZANU PF party
whose leaders cannot visit Western countries to campaign for support among
the exiled Zimbabweans living there.

      President Robert Mugabe and his top officials are banned from European
Union countries, United States, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and
Australia because of their poor human rights record and failure to embrace

      The government also says it is too late to set up a mechanism to allow
the exiled voters to vote in the March 31 poll. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Jailed MP says continued imprisonment illegal
Thur 24 February 2005

      HARARE - Jailed opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
parliamentarian Roy Bennett this week appealed to the High Court to declare
his continued imprisonment illegal and order his immediate release.

      In another application also filed this week to the Electoral Court,
Bennett wants the court to overturn a decision by the nomination court to
bar him from standing as a candidate in his Chimanimani constituency in next
month's election.

      Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who is representing Bennett yesterday
told ZimOnline that she was pushing for the High Court to hear his appeal as
an urgent matter.

      In his affidavit, Bennett argues that although Parliament had
committed him to an effective 12 months in jail, the sentence automatically
expires at the expiry of the life of the Fifth Parliament according to the
Parliamentary Immunities and Privileges Act.

      President Robert Mugabe has ordered the Fifth Parliament to dissolve
on March 30 to pave way for a new House to be elected on March 31.

      Bennett further argues that because his sentence can only be up to
March 30 or a total of about 153 days from the date he was committed to jail
last October, he should therefore have been released earlier this month
because of good behavior.

      Under the Prisons Act, inmates who behave well are entitled to a
remission of one third of their sentence which Bennett says means he should
have been released on February 7 had a third of his 153-day sentence been
knocked off as is required by law.

      The legislator wrote in his affidavit: "Section 32 (2) of the
Parliamentary and Immunities Privileges Act make it clear that the committal
to prison can only be during the current term of Parliament which leaves no
doubt that the sentence imposed on me can only remain valid up to 30 March.

      "This means that the sentence imposed on me can only be a maximum of
up to 30 March, which translates to just under 5 months or 153 days.

      "In terms of the Prisons Act, a prisoner like myself who has earned by
satisfactory industry and good behavior a clean record, is entitled to a
remission of the sentence by one third. According to my calculations, I
ought to have been released on 7

      The only white legislator for a rural constituency, Bennett was put in
jail without going to court after ruling ZANU PF party parliamentarians used
their superiority in numbers to vote for the legislator to be imprisoned for
violently shoving Justice inister
      Patrick Chinamasa during debate.

      An earlier appeal by Bennett against his imprisonment is still pending
at the courts.

      In the other matter before the Electoral Court, Bennett argues that
the nomination officers' decision to bar him from standing was wrong and
could not be justified under Zimbabwe's electoral laws. - ZimOnline
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Customs Seizes Shipment Of Elephant Body Parts
Officials Find 22 Feet, 8 Tusks, Entire Hide In Cargo

POSTED: 4:15 pm PST February 23, 2005
UPDATED: 4:43 pm PST February 23, 2005

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Dutch customs police have seized a shipment of
African elephant body parts, including 22 feet, eight tusks, eight ears,
three tails, a skull and an entire hide, officials said Wednesday.

The cargo, originating in Zimbabwe and bound for Germany, was halted at
Schiphol airport in October without proper licenses. The find was announced
this week following an investigation and will be permanently confiscated,
spokeswoman Anita Douven said.

African elephants are an endangered species and can only be shipped with
special licenses, but activists noted that illegal trade in animal parts is
a huge industry.

"This is unusual -- that there would be such a large find -- but trade in
ivory is sadly not at all rare," Rosa Hill of the International Fund for
Animal Welfare said.

The parts may have been intended for a collector who planned to use them as
part of an exhibit, she said. Elephant feet also are used to make footstools
as a "gruesome collectible" and elephant skin purses are sold at open air
markets in London and other cities, she said.

The parts were intended for buyers in Spain, Portugal and the Czech
Republic, police said. No arrests have been made, though German authorities
are still investigating.

"It's pretty disgusting," Douven said. "We hope the publicity will
discourage people from doing this. At least the dealers have lost their

She said the parts would likely be destroyed.

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Zim Online

Pressure group holds all-female demo against poll
Thur 24 February 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) group
yesterday staged an all-female demonstration in Harare against the holding
of a general election in the country on March 31.

      The NCA brings together churches, opposition parties, women's rights
groups, human rights organisations, and the student and labour movements.
The coalition campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for the
country and wants next month's parliamentary poll rescheduled until a new
constitution is written.

      The group has protested before against the March poll and yesterday
about 300 female coalition members marched through the capital waving
placards and chanting slogans denouncing plans to hold an election when the
constitutional framework precludes a fair and democratic contest.

      NCA gender committee chairwoman Thabita Khumalo, who led yesterday's
protest, said: "We feel that there is a lot of work that needs to be done if
we are really serious about having a fair election. We have made this
message clear (through the protest) today and we shall continue doing so."

      There were no arrests during the protest after the police only arrived
after the women had already dispersed. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe govt says EU has hostile agenda against Zimbabwe

February 23, 2005, 23:00

President Robert Mugabe's government today slammed the European Union for
extending sanctions on Zimbabwe for a year, saying the EU had a hostile
agenda against the state. EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels extended
the sanctions to February 20, 2006, on Monday, but said they would review
the decision in the light of parliamentary elections due in Zimbabwe on
March 31.

Foreign critics have backed a charge by the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change's (MDC) that Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF rigged parliamentary
elections in 2000 and a 2002 presidential poll, and accuse the government of
widespread human rights abuses. Harare denies the charges.

Today, Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, said the EU had no
justification for imposing sanctions in the first place, saying they were
based on "lies and propaganda against Zimbabwe. Their decision to continue
with the sanctions clearly bears no relation to the reality on the ground.
We are conducting our elections in the most peaceful conditions. You have
the feeling that the EU is harbouring hostile intentions against our
country," Chinamasa said in remarks broadcast on state television.

The sanctions include a ban on the sale, supply or transfer of arms to
Zimbabwe, on any assistance concerning military activities, and on the
supply of any equipment capable of being used for internal repression. The
EU also included a visa ban and an asset freeze on people who have committed
human rights violations, and violations of freedom of speech and assembly in

Mugabe said at the weekend he wanted the parliamentary elections to be a
peaceful victory that would be a lesson for his critics at home and abroad.
The veteran leader, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, said
he hoped Zanu(PF) would win a massive victory over the MDC. Mugabe says the
MDC is a puppet used by Britain against his government over its seizure of
white-owned farms in Zimbabwe for redistribution among landless blacks. -
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Independent (UK)

Arms deal raises fears of coup if Mugabe loses vote
By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
24 February 2005

Zimbabwe has received a large consignment of arms from China and recalled
all reservists ahead of a general election on 31 March, prompting fears that
the army is planning to stage a coup in the event of a poll defeat for
President Robert Mugabe.

The shipment, moved in secret via the port of Beira in Mozambique, includes
heavy assault rifles, military vehicles called Dongfengs, riot equipment and
teargas. Defence sources said the materiel would ensure the army is well
equipped in case Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party loses the ballot and needs
military help to hold on to power.

Just before Zimbabwe's last presidential election in 2002, the commander of
the defence forces, Constantine Chiwengwa, and his predecessor, Vitalis
Zvinavashe, warned that the army would stage a coup if Mr Mugabe were voted
out of power in favour of his main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Chiwenga and other senior generals have since repeated these warnings,
saying they could never defer to anyone who did not fight in the 1970s
independence war from Britain - a reference to Mr Tsvangirai. But the army's
ability to take power and keep order has been severely curtailed by a United
States and European Union arms embargo imposed in 2002 to protest at the
regime's use of the army to crush dissent. The embargo has curbed Mr
Mugabe's ability to replenish his armoury, already depleted by a deployment
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's civil war. Hence his need to turn
to Asia and the Middle East for supplies.

Sources say that Mr Mugabe is also trying to entice the Chinese with mining
and farming concessions in exchange for more arms. Zimbabwe has the world's
second-largest reserves of platinum. Until recently it was the third-largest
exporter of gold on the continent. However, many established mining
companies have scaled down operations or closed because of an uneconomic,
government-imposed exchange rate.

Army officials and the Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, have declined to
comment on the arms purchase. Although Mr Mugabe has beaten the opposition
into submission over the years and is likely to win the elections, sources
say he is not taking any chances. Mr Mugabe's own post is not up for
election until 2008, but he would have to resign were he to lose
parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's top court heard a bid yesterday by a group of citizens
abroad seeking to vote, a move the government fears could lead to more
ballots for the opposition. Only citizens outside their home constituencies
on official national duty can cast postal votes - a requirement which
critics say has disenfranchised more than three million Zimbabweans living
abroad. A lawyer for a group living in Britain told the Supreme Court that,
by denying those abroad the right to vote, Mr Mugabe's government was
denying citizens a fundamental constitutional right.
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            23rd February
            Malaria: Biting Back In Zimbabwe

            Despite impressive advances made against malaria in Zimbabwe
during the mid and late 1990s, UNICEF today warned that the country's
children are once more under threat from the disease.

            At the same time, the UN Children's Fund welcomed a critical
donation of US$3million from the UK's Department for International
Development (DFID). The funds will provide for 400,000 insecticide treated
nets (ITNs) for children under five years and pregnant women.

            Half of all Zimbabweans live in malarial areas, and malaria is
the second highest killer of children in Zimbabwe. And yet only seven
percent of children (under five years) sleep under treated nets. As such,
the DFID funds will allow for a life-saving expansion of long lasting
insecticide treated nets.

            "These funds from DFID come at a crucial time for Zimbabwean
children," said UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo Kavishe. "If
we are to counter rising malaria and still reach globally accepted targets
of 60% ITN coverage among children and pregnant women (by 2005), then this
is exactly the sort of large scale action needed.

            On behalf of the children and pregnant women of Zimbabwe, I
would like to thank DFID for this support"

            In the past five years in Zimbabwe, increased resistance of
malaria parasites to drugs has been coupled with the significant movement of
people (either due to resettlement or economic emigration).

            This has resulted in people relocating from non-endemic to
malaria endemic areas. Because these people have no built-in immunity to
malaria, epidemics are occurring with increasing frequency and fatalities,
especially amongst children and pregnant women.

            In response UNICEF will use the DFID funds to massively boost
coverage of treated nets, while enhancing education and awareness about
preventing malaria.

            "Malaria not only kills, it also damages productivity and halts
development," said the head of DFID in Zimbabwe, John Barrett.

            "A malaria-stricken family spends an average of over one quarter
of its income on treatment. Thus malaria has far reaching effects on health
and economic productivity.

            Through UNICEF we therefore hope to save lives and assist

            Vector control and spraying initiatives are well established in
Zimbabwe, however, due to the high cost of chemicals, limited availability
of resources and Zimbabwe's challenges in importing supplies (which are paid
with foreign currency), coverage is declining.

            "There is no single way of preventing malaria," said UNICEF's Dr
Kavishe. "Increasingly malaria parasites are becoming resistant to existing
drugs such as chloroquine, and an effective vaccine is considered years

            The answer is prevention, or more specifically, insecticide
treated nets. The perennial question is: Who pays? Now DFID have provided a
critical answer to that."

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IPS News

Will the Opposition's Campaign Trip Up on Purse Strings?

Wilson Johwa

BULAWAYO, Feb 23 (IPS) - The topic of campaign finance is rarely far from
the minds of politicians or pundits in the run-up to elections - and
Zimbabwe is no exception to this rule. With the country in the midst of a
political and economic crisis, it may even be a hotter topic of discussion
here than elsewhere.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in Zimbabwe in six weeks

The previous two polls, parliamentary and presidential elections held in
2000 and 2002 respectively, were marred by violence that was mostly directed
against the opposition. Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party was also accused of
monopolizing the state media and rigging the voters' roll to ensure victory
over its main competitor - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

After initially declaring that it would boycott the upcoming vote, the MDC
reversed its position earlier this month.

Concerns about a repeat of electoral violence aside, the party now faces the
challenge of mounting a campaign at a time when the world's highest
inflation rate and widespread unemployment are said to have dealt a blow to
MDC finances - and even as the financial situation in ZANU-PF is probably
somewhat different.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi says local donations have dwindled under
the weight of these economic difficulties.

But, "The position has always been that those in the state have access to
resources they can abuse which the opposition, no matter how much you can
raise from your friends, cannot match," adds political analyst Lovemore

After winning almost half of the contested seats in the last parliamentary
election, the MDC does qualify for state funding. However, party officials
say this money does not go very far.

According to Secretary-General Wlshman Ncube, about 55,000 U.S. dollars were
allocated to the MDC last year - while the party's monthly salary bill alone
came to about 18,000 U.S. dollars.

In a move that surprised many, government announced that it would also
disburse just over 560,000 U.S. dollars to the MDC this year (and almost
600,000 U.S. dollars to ZANU-PF) as part of the annual party grant.

Eddie Cross, the MDC's economic adviser, welcomes this development. But, he
adds, "To deploy and help our election agents to all the thousands of
polling stations will cost us more than the total grant from the state - in
one day."

Airtime on state radio and television, the only broadcasters permitted in
Zimbabwe, will cost parties 700 U.S. dollars a minute for prime time slots.
There has also been a 20-fold increase in the deposit payable by candidates
in each of the 120 parliamentary constituencies - and a 1,000 percent rise
in the cost of the voters' register. It now costs an astonishing 1,300 U.S.
dollars for a copy of the register.

For its part, government accuses the MDC of getting money from British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and American President George Bush. These two leaders
became the principal targets of Harare's ire after they condemned Zimbabwe's
controversial land reform programme, allegedly instituted to correct racial
imbalances in land ownership, and human rights abuse in the country.

Claims that the opposition group is benefiting from foreign funding may grow
louder with the launch of an appeal this month by self-described "concerned
individuals" who say they are seeking to raise funds, in- and outside
Zimbabwe, for what they term "support of the democratic process".

Distributed via a selective mailing list, the appeal gives an account number
in neighbouring South Africa where people outside Zimbabwe can deposit
donations. For those in Zimbabwe, the correspondence gives a mailing address
where cheques and money orders are to be sent in the name of ZIMFUND.

Aside from money, the organisers of this appeal are also asking for 2,400
vehicles and drivers to be made available for election day, to transport
monitors to polling stations amongst other duties.

"US$30 will fill the tank of a vehicle; a gift of R50 000 (50,000 South
African rand, about 8,700 U.S. dollars) will fund the campaign in a single
constituency," the appeal notes.

Fiery opposition politician Margaret Dongo, founder of the Zimbabwe Union of
Democrats, alleges that both ZANU-PF and the MDC are tapping into foreign

In another electoral development, four journalists who work for foreign news
organisations have fled Zimbabwe in recent days, this after the secret
police reportedly accused them of spying and producing reports that
slandered the state.

This incident appears to fly in the face of electoral guidelines adopted by
the Southern African Development Community during a summit held in
Mauritius, in August 2004: under these rules, member states are obliged to
ensure press freedom, to provide an environment conducive for a fair
campaign. (END/2005)
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