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


US Urges Southern Africa to Condemn Political Repression in Zimbabwe  By
Serena Parker
      24 February 2005

The United States and other democratic nations are closely following events
in Zimbabwe, as that country gears up for parliamentary elections scheduled
for March 31. The last election in Zimbabwe was marred by widespread
violence and allegations of fraud. Observers say they fear this election
will be no different.

There are clear warning signs that Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections
scheduled for March 31 will fall far short of free and fair. Over the past
five years President Robert Mugabe has been accused of widespread
intimidation of the democratic opposition, oppression of the country's civil
society and a campaign against independent media.

President Mugabe says the elections will be free and fair and he blames
foreign powers, particularly Britain, for Zimbabwe's economic problems and
isolation from the world.

Democracy advocates disagree. According to Wellington Chibebe,
secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, those who go to
the polls on March 31 will face threats and acts of violence.

"Over the next few weeks we want to state very clearly that as much as the
politicians are saying the elections will be 'violent-free,' the reality on
the ground is that ordinary men, ordinary women and children are going to be
subject to untold violence," he said. "The fact that our government is
refusing or hesitant to invite political observers from the international
community is a sign that they are not open to democratic scrutiny."

U.S. officials will be closely watching events in Zimbabwe. The United
States has applied targeted sanctions and has cut off all non-humanitarian
aid to the country. The European Union has also expressed concern about the
regime's undemocratic tendencies and has applied so-called 'smart sanctions'
that target Zimbabwe's leaders.

Thomas Woods, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of southern
African affairs, says the United States will continue to pressure President
Mugabe on reported human rights abuses. However, he says the most effective
approach is for regional African leaders to make public their concerns.

"The key to the future of democracy in Zimbabwe is in the region," he said.
"Regional governments and public opinion have more potential to influence
events in Zimbabwe than anything done in far away countries, such as the
United States."

Mr. Woods notes that when the United States or Britain condemn the
government in Harare, this plays into President Mugabe's hands and allows
him to pose as a champion of the anti-colonial movement.

"But regional pressure is another thing altogether," he said. "The
government in Harare cares about its standing in the region. ZANU-PF
officials care about their reputation in neighboring countries."

To date, regional leaders such as South African President Thabo Mbeki have
been reluctant to publicly criticize the Mugabe government, instead opting
for quiet diplomacy.

George Ayittey, professor of economics at American University in Washington
and president of the Free Africa Foundation, says this approach isn't
working. He wants to see the regional leaders take a tougher stance, much
like the leaders in West Africa condemned the recent events in Togo as a
coup d'etat. Togo's new president was installed by the military after the
death of his father and is refusing to step down.

"West Africa has shown the way," he said. "ECOWAS has taken a very strong
stance on Togo. President Obasanjo of Nigeria has also taken a very tough
stance against Togo. South Africa and the regional organization in southern
Africa, SADC, also need to take a strong stance on Zimbabwe. Africa cannot
make progress if their leaders apply one standard on Togo and a different
standard in Zimbabwe."

The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), drafted
guidelines for free and fair elections at a summit in Mauritius six months
ago. Annabel Hughes with the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust notes that President
Mugabe signed the agreement. In spite of Harare's violations of the
agreement, she says SADC has refused to condemn the Mugabe government.

"There's no political space," he said. "The media are all getting chased out
of town because they don't want them there to report what's going on and
what has SADC said? What has SADC said to date? They've said nothing."

Although southern African governments have been reluctant to criticize one
of their own, democracy advocates say one heartening development in recent
months is the way religious groups and labor unions in South Africa have
spoken out against the abuses of the Mugabe regime.

State Department official Thomas Woods says that forging links between civil
society in Zimbabwe and civil society in the region holds the most potential
for democratic transformation in the long run.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe's economic situation is getting better: Gono

February 24, 2005, 20:15

Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe's reserve bank governor, says Zimbabwe has gone
through a rough patch over the last seven years but the situation is getting
much better. This, despite reports of food shortages and massive

Gono acknowledges that indiscipline in the economy and not in the financial
sector such as banking was the main cause of the country's economic fall.
Five years ago foreign currency was scarce and production was at its lowest.
Black market trade was increasing, which has led to a high inflation rate.
The government clamped down on black marketer's and introduced what it
called productive sector facility, it borrowed money from companies at low
interest rates.

"We now have witnessed a six fold growth in our foreign currency reserves in
our country" said Dr Gono. Gono also says about one point seven billion US
dollars came into the country last year. The target for this year is
$3-billion US dollars. "Zimbabwe has gone from a food exporter to a food
importer. All of a sudden we have moved from a bread basket of this region
to a basket case." said Morgan Tsvangarayi, the MDC leader.

On the ground feelings are mixed. "We have a problem of money everything is
expensive," said one disgruntled citizen. "The situation is now ok because
there's rain everything is affordable," disagreed another one. Gono says the
government understands the situation much better now. He says Zimbabweans
and foreigners alike now have confidence in the economy and are beginning to
invest in it.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zim workers beaten and maimed - Cosatu
          February 24 2005 at 05:17PM

      By Thomas Hartleb

      Workers in Zimbabwe are beaten, maimed, and in some cases even
castrated, Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Willie Madisha
said at this year's Solidarity trade union congress on Thursday.

      "Workers are beaten, maimed and killed. We know of instances were
workers have been castrated," Madisha said to the congress outside

      He said there was a "very serious problem" with the Zanu-PF ruling
party calling itself a "party of liberation" when workers were killed and

      If the Zanu-PF elite came to South Africa, he said, workers needed to
make sure that they were not comfortable in their beds and did not enjoy the
country's food.

      "Otherwise history will not forgive us," he reasoned.

       Referring to Zimbabwe's upcoming elections, Madisha said it was
obvious President Robert Mugabe would win, thereby legitimising his

      Madisha stressed that Cosatu did not support the Movement for
Democratic Change, Zanu-PF or any other party.

      "What we support are the working class and the poor."

      There was a need to focus on the "hundreds of thousands" of farm
workers who had been displaced as a result of Mugabe's land reform program,
rather than one or two farm owners, Madisha said.

      "Cosatu supports land redistribution in Zimbabwe, but we do not
support the way it is done."

      The fact that two Cosatu delegations had been "chased away" from
Zimbabwe did not mean that the union federation would not go back.

      He said that pickets and demonstrations at the Zimbabwean High
Commission in Pretoria and Beit Bridge would be intensified.

      He then threw down the gauntlet to Solidarity: "Are we going to Beit
Bridge?" he asked.

      This was followed by murmurs of "yes", and applause from the audience.

      Solidarity spokesperson Dirk Hermann stood up after Madisha's speech
and said: "Beit Bridge here we come".

      In his speech Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions spokesperson
Mlamleli Sibanda said it was difficult for trade unions in Zimbabwe to carry
out their activities in a free and fair manner.

      "The situation for workers is horrible," he said.

      He lamented that a rival Zimbabwean trade union organisation, the
Zimbabwean Federation of Trade Unions was allowed free reign due to its
support of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

      "With that kind of scenario industrial relations in Zimbabwe are in a
sorry state," he said.

      The ZCTU on the other hand, in its defiant role of watchdog of the
Zimbabwean government, had seen the arrest of 455 of its members in 2003
during various meetings, demonstrations and strikes.

      Draconian laws such as the Public Order and Security Act had been used
to curtail the activities of civil society groups and trade unions.

      The solution lay in changing the country's constitution, he said.

      "We need to go back to the constitution to normalise the situation."

      Sibanda estimated that 80 percent of the country's workers lived below
the poverty line and, as a result, came to South Africa to find work. The
output of the country's economy had dropped by 19,3 percent in the past four
years, he said.

      A mere quarter of Zimbabwe's once-productive commercial farms were
still productive.

      "It's not a situation we are proud of". - Sapa
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Country risks
Feb 24th 2005
From The Economist print edition

Iraq is a riskier destination for foreign investment than any of the emerging markets tracked on this page, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister firm of The Economist. The EIU's country-risk ratings, which take account of 77 indicators of political stability and other measures of credit quality, show that the heavily indebted Philippines has become more risky thanks to the sluggish pace of reform. Zimbabwe is almost as risky as Iraq. By contrast, Singapore and Hong Kong continue to be among the safest bets.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Smaller parties hamstrung by lack of funds

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

HARARE, 24 Feb 2005 (IRIN) - Small Zimbabwean parties and independents are
complaining that 'unfair legislation' is freezing them out of the
forthcoming elections by denying them access to government funding for
political campaigns.

The polls, to be held on 31 March, will see the ruling the ZANU-PF face off
against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), two minor opposition
parties - ZANU (Ndonga) and the Zimbabwe Youth in Alliance (ZIYA) - as well
as 14 independents, among them the former minister of information, Jonathan

Four more smaller parties failed to file nomination papers, despite their
earlier intention to run: the Democratic Party (DP), ZAPU a former
liberation movement; the National Alliance for Good Governance (NAGG); and
the Multi-racial Christian Democrats.

Wilson Kumbula, the president of ZANU (Ndonga), which has a single seat in
the outgoing parliament, told IRIN that his party's ambition to field
candidates in all 120 constituencies had been dashed by a critical shortage
of money to bankroll their campaign.

"We are now being forced to reduce the number of candidates to run in the
March elections because of the prohibitive costs of doing so - the threshold
is just too high," Kumbula said.

The party will field just nine candidates, and Kumbula blames the recently
announced hike in candidate's fees, as well as the government's failure to
cater for smaller parties when allocating money for election campaigns, as
the main reasons for this.

"All along, we had been made to believe that the fees would be low and
manageable, but we were surprised at the sudden sharp rise, with barely two
months to go to elections," he added.

In a statutory instrument published in the first week of February, the
registration fee for a candidate rose by 2,000 percent from Zim $100,000
(about US $17) to Zim $2 million ($330).

The steep rise meant ZANU (Ndonga) would have had to fork out Zim $240
million ($39,675) instead of Zim $12 million ($1,983).

In addition, parties now have to pay Zim $5 million ($826) for a copy of the
voters' roll per constituency, up from the previous Zim $200,000 ($34),
amounting to Zim $600 million ($99,200) to obtain the roll for every

"This is a gimmick to deter the opposition from contesting, because the
government knows there is nowhere we can get that kind of money, especially
given that there is hardly any time before the elections. Besides the fees
for registration and the voters' roll, we need money to feed our campaign
teams, provide transport and fuel, the printing and distribution of campaign
material as well as advertising our manifesto," Kumbula complained.

Margaret Dongo, an independent standing in the Harare central constituency,
said the Political Parties (Finance) Act, which spells out conditions under
which political parties can access funding from the government,
disadvantaged small parties.

The act states that each political party whose candidates received at least
five percent of the total number of votes cast in the most recent general
election is entitled to a proportional amount of money from a special fund.

In the last elections, only ZANU-PF and the MDC received more than five
percent, meaning that they were the only parties eligible to claim from the
fund. ZANU-PF received Zim $3.5 billion ($578,608) and the MDC got Zim $3
billion ($495,949) for their campaigns.

Under the Political Parties Act, it is illegal for a political party or any
of its members to accept foreign donations, whether directly from the donor
or indirectly through a third party.

"Clearly, the act places hurdles in the way of the opposition. It is
virtually impossible for an independent like myself to obtain any funding
from the state because I can never achieve the five percent spelt out by the
law," Dongo told IRIN.

A liberation war veteran, Dongo was Zimbabwe's lone opposition legislator
between 1995 and 2000 after splitting from ZANU-PF.

Dongo said she has been forced to dig deep into her own savings to finance
her campaign, which covers 25 Harare suburbs. Businesspeople and companies
she has approached have not been forthcoming - they complain that the
economy is bad, but analysts say local donors are sceptical about candidates
running as independents.

ZANU-PF information secretary, Nathan Shamuyarira, has defended the
Political Parties (Finance) Act, saying those who were attacking it were
doing so to gain "undeserved attention".

"There is no way in which those small parties can be given money, because
they hardly command any following," Shamuyarira told IRIN. "These parties
should grow big first, before they can start claiming any money."

Back to the Top
Back to Index


ICRC Denies Recruiting Zimbabwean Youths By Tendai Maphosa
      24 February 2005

The International Committee of the Red Cross has denied recruiting graduates
of Zimbabwe's controversial National Youth Service for international duties.
The ICRC has held sessions on International Humanitarian Law in National
Youth Service camps at the request of the Ministry of Youth.

The denial was a response to a story in the government-owned daily newspaper
The Herald claiming the organization had "embraced" the National Youth
Service. The paper said the ICRC had trained and recruited more than 4,000
graduates of the program for international humanitarian operations.

Dana Lissy the ICRC communications delegate in Zimbabwe admitted conducting
sessions in the camps, but denied recruiting the youths or having plans to
send them anywhere.

Ms. Lissy says her organization has been running the International
Humanitarian Law program for the Zimbabwe defense forces and the national
university for a long time, but this is the first time they have been asked
into the youth camps established in 2001. She said while the program
prepares participants on how to conduct themselves in times of conflict, it
is best to teach the basics of International Humanitarian Law in peace time.

"The age of the youth that we visited this February was between 18 and 25
and these youths, some of them, will join the army, some of them will join
perhaps the police, some of them will study law will become leaders,
politicians, so it is important that at all level they know a at least a
little based on humanitarian law," said Ms. Lissy.

The Zimbabwe National Youth Training Program has attracted negative
publicity as its critics accuse the government of training the youths, known
as The Green Bombers because of the color of their uniforms, to become
militias used by the ruling party to intimidate and abuse its opponents.

The government says the program, which is voluntary, aims to impart
patriotism in the participants. The graduates get preferential treatment for
civil service posts or entry into other education and job training programs.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Rebels set for dramatic comeback?

Cricinfo staff

February 24, 2005

Cricinfo has learnt that four of Zimbabwe's rebels - Heath Streak, Stuart
Carlisle, Ray Price and Trevor Gripper - are on the verge of making a
dramatic comeback.

It seems that talks aimed at brokering a deal to bring the remaining
striking players back into the fold have progressed well, and the four could
well travel to Kwekwe overnight to play in the final A-team Test between
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. If they do play, then it is quite likely that one
or more of them will be drafted into the squad already in South Africa.

A spokesman for Zimbabwe Cricket said that negotiations were still ongoing
and, therefore, it would be premature to comment.

It would seem that the main stumbling block in the way of a settlement - the
criteria under which selectors are chosen - has been overcome, and it is
thought that Zimbabwe Cricket has agreed to review this. That could mean
that Max Ebrahim, the head of selectors and the man identified by the rebels
as being the main source of contention, would step down.

All four rebels have been playing local cricket, and so while they might be
lacking first-class practice, all of them are thought to be ready to resume
straight away.

© Cricinfo
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Harare raps EU over sanctions

Thursday February 24, 2005 10:22 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwe has rapped the European Union for extending sanctions for
another year and dismissed Brussels' contention that there were rights
abuses in the southern African nation.

EU foreign ministers met in Brussels this week and agreed to extend
sanctions, including an arms embargo, against Zimbabwe for another year in
protest against human rights violations in the country.

"There was never a justification, a valid reason for instituting the
sanctions in the first place," state radio quoted Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa as saying.

"There is no abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe."

The EU imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe following its last
presidential poll in 2002 controversially won by President Robert Mugabe, in
power since 1980 when the country gained independence from Britain.

Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party claimed the
election was fraught with irregularities and that it was robbed of victory.

The EU ministers are to review their latest decision - which marks the
fourth year in a row of sanctions against Harare - after Zimbabwe's
legislative elections on March 31.

Zimbabwean foreign affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha said the EU had "a
fixed opinion on Zimbabwe" and was not prepared to change it.

"This is why as government we did not find it necessary to invite the
European Union to observe the elections..." Bimha said of the polls, which
will be closely watched as a test of Harare's commitment to southern Africa
to hold a free and fair election.

Russia is the only European country invited by Zimbabwe to observe the
crunch March parliamentary ballot.

The sanctions consist of an arms embargo as well as a travel ban and a
freeze on funds of people suspected to have committed human rights
violations in the country.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News online edition

      Cosatu sets date for Zimbabwe blockade

      Date: 24-Feb, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - The powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu) has set March 9 as the date on which it will start its mass action
against the Zimbabwe government .

      Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu's secretary general, announced this in an
interview with Sapa, a South African news agency, on Thursday.

      Cosatu's planned blockade of the border post at Beitbridge and
picketing of other Zimbabwean interests are in protest against the refusal
by Harare authorities to allow a delegation from the labour union to enter
Zimbabwe last month.

      Cosatu sent a 20-member delegation to Harare on a fact finding mission
after allegations that the Zimbabwean government was violating human and
workers' rights, harassing supporters of opposition political parties and
suppressing freedom of the press.

      The delegation was unceremoniously kicked out of the country moments
after touching down at Harare International Airport.

      Angered by the ill-treatment by the Zimbabwean government, Cosatu
promised to launch a blockade against President Mugabe's regime.

      Vavi told a Zimbabwe solidarity conference held in Pretoria on
Thursday that the aim of the picket would be to tell the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) it had to act to enforce its own guidelines.

      This included ensuring that its observer mission to the Zimbabwe
election on 31 March was invited to the county three months in advance. "It
is now only five weeks away," he said.

      The picket will start at the Zimbabwe High Commission in Pretoria and
will continue until the election, Vavi said. "We invite all who are fighting
to highlight the Zimbabwe plight to participate."

      The Democratic Alliance (DA), an opposition political party in South
Africa, also sent its own delegation on a fact finding mission to Harare,
only to be sent back at the airport.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News online edition

      Zimbabwe urged to allow foreign journalists

      Date: 24-Feb, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - Authorities in Harare should allow international
journalists to operate freely inside the country, if Zimbabwe's elections
are to be seen to be free and fair, the head of Rhodes University's
Department of Journalism in South Africa has said.

      Professor Guy Berger said allowing foreign journalists to operate
freely was crucial as this would bring respect and acceptance of next month's
election results by the international community.

      Prof Berger was quoted in the South African media criticising the
ill-treatment of foreign correspondents by Harare authorities.

      Prof Berger spoke as four Zimbabwean journalists, who were
corresponding for international news organisations from Harare, were
reported to have fled the country.

      Angus Shaw, who wrote for AP news agency, Brian Latham who contributed
to the Bloomberg financial wire service, Jan Raath of the London newspaper
The Times and Zimbabwean freelance television producer Cornelius Nduna fled
Zimbabwe amid reports security agents were on the verge of arresting them.
Their whereabouts have not yet been ascertained.

      The harassment of the journalists has attracted sharp criticism from
the United States administration and media organizations, both at home and

      The US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the
administration noted a pattern in Zimbabwe where the opposition feared for
its safety, restrictions were being placed on civil society and newspapers
were being shut down.

      The harassment of foreign journalists is seen as a wider campaign by
President Mugabe's Zanu PF government to prevent the outside world from
accessing information about Zimbabwe ahead of crucial elections to be held
on 31 March.

      Political analysts say the political play field is tilted heavily in
Zanu PF's favour. The ruling party faces the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in the poll.

      However, Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has vowed his party will
defeat Zanu PF at the poll despite the unbalanced play field.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News online edition

      Moyo is a coward, says MDC

      Date: 24-Feb, 2005

      HARARE - The recent move by disgraced former Minister of Information
and Publicity in the President's Office and Cabinet, Prof. Jonathan Moyo, to
stand as an independent in the 31 March parliamentary poll, has been
described as an act of cowardice.

      Movement for Democratic Change spokesman and secretary for
information, Paul Themba Nyathi, in an interview with The Daily News Online,
said Moyo's conduct was a clear indication of his cowardice. He said there
was nowhere in Africa and the world over, where the politics of independents

      "The guy is running away from responsibility. His move is a clear
indication that he does not want to be held accountable. This has never
worked the world over and I hope the people of Tsholotsho will realize
 that," said Nyathi.

      Nyathi said within the MDC too, a number of aspiring candidates who
lost during the party's primaries had decided to go independent. He said
most of them had never been faithful party supporters and that they only
wanted positions in the party.

      Weighing in on Nyathi's comment was Zanu PF national chairman and
Minister for Special Affairs, John Nkomo, who said Moyo's action displayed
outright cowardice and a clear testimony of indiscipline.

      Speaking in rural Matebeleland over the weekend, Nkomo, who has always
had a rough ride with Moyo, said Zanu PF would not miss him and that Moyo
had started to dig his own polical grave by going independent and refusing
to be disciplined by the party.

      Vice President Joyce Mujuru, speaking at a Zanu PF rally in
Matebeleland province at the weekend, also referred to the conduct of Moyo
when she said: "There are some amongst us who are like wolves dressed in a
sheep skin. We have to inspect ourselves and know who are our friends and
who are our foes as this will help us weed out impostors in the party."

      She said the party had been infiltrated by people who pretended to be
loyal but ended up rebelling.

      "Let us be cautious in our affairs as these people will pretend that
they are with us yet they want to get information they will use to destroy
us," she said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News online edition

      Zimbabwe: Outpost of tyranny or democracy?

      Date: 24-Feb, 2005

      THE argument has raged for some time now: can Zimbabwe under Zanu PF
be described as a democracy or, as the United States Secretary of State has
called it "an outpost of tyranny"?

      In the watershed parliamentary elections of 2000, Zanu PF lost 57
seats. Some analysts would say the elections were free and air, as called
for in a democracy.

      But that was not the whole story: the MDC, the main beneficiary of
Zanu PF's disastrous performance, claimed they could have won even more
seats, if there had been no violence and rigging. Their view was that the
elections were neither free nor fair.

      As it turned out, the country's courts, in a majority of cases,
decided that the MDC was right. If it had not been for some irregularities,
attributed mostly to Zanu PF, the opposition party would probably have won
almost 70 seats.

      But the party's challenges in the courts could not affect their
strength in the House because the Zanu PF MPs who should have vacated the
seats continued as MPs until the end of the life of the present House.

      An argument could be made about the democratic nature of this peculiar
ruling that the matters were not "urgent" enough for them to be implemented
during the life of the 2000-2005 Parliament. Justice delayed is surely
justice denied.

      A Zimbabwean who loves his country and would love to play a crucial
role in its political and economic development, and is not a member of Zanu
PF, might be inclined to hesitate to call our political system a true

      Moreover, after the MDC's stunning performance in the 2000 elections,
Zanu PF chose not to credit this change of mind on the people's free will,
but on the influence on the people of the British, the Americans and, in
general, the Western powers.

      To this day, President Robert Mugabe is categorical on this subject:
the MDC is a puppet of the West. Zimbabweans who vote for the MDC must find
this extremely insulting to their intelligence. They cannot make up their
own minds, according to the president.

      Mugabe has insulted such Zimbabweans before, calling all those who
support the MDC in Mbare suburb, for instance, "people without totems".
Mbare was the birthplace of the first nation-wide nationalist movement
against colonialism, the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress.

      His insults might be taken as part of political rhetoric, but coming
the lips of a head of state of a multi-ethnic society, it has a particularly
deplorable connotation.

      For many Zimbabweans, Mugabe conducts himself as a tyrant. He brooks
no criticism, not from his party, not from the opposition. He reacts with
venom to any and all criticism and cannot himself claim to be a true

      There is too much of his own personal character in the governance of
this country, an unyielding faith in the correctness of his own position,
and a distinct disdain for consensus and compromise.

      President Thabo Mbeki may defend him to the hilt, but he has the great
disadvantage of not having lived under Zanu PF rule for 25 years.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Support floods in from churches for asylum seeker -24/02/05

Petition forms have been flooding in from around the UK, expressing support
for a Zimbabwean asylum-seeker who is appealing against a 'callous' decision
to deport her.

The United Reformed Church called on its members and others to help in the
fight to prevent Edneth Gotora, a refugee who escaped a nightmare of
persecution in Zimbabwe, from being sent back.

The last-minute petition, originally given limited circulation, quickly
spread more widely during its two-week existence and has now attracted more
than 17,500 signatures.

It will be presented to Frank Cook, MP for Stockton on Tees where Edneth has
made her home since 2002, this Friday (25th February). Alongside the
petition will go a letter from the Revd Sheila Maxey, Moderator of the
General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, to Home Secretary Charles

The letter appeals for a reversal of the decision to deport Edneth, which it
describes as 'not only naive but grossly lacking in compassion'.

Sheila Maxey goes on to say; "This letter accompanies thousands of
signatures from church people all over the country, who are shocked by this
callous decision. It certainly brings our Immigration Service into disrepute
among many people who believe this to be a fair and free society."

Edneth fled from Zimbabwe in October 2002. Her husband had been a prominent
figure in the MDC Youth Organisation, speaking and distributing literature
against the ruling Zanu PF Party.

After a series of attacks in early 2002, a group of Zanu PF supporters came
to her house, took and killed her husband and badly injured her 4 year old

Edneth reported the incident to the police, the perpetrators were arrested
but later released on bail. On a later visit to hospital to visit her
daughter Edneth was abducted and taken to a 'rehabilitation' camp where she
was raped and became so unwell she was taken to hospital, from where she
escaped. She later learned that her daughter had died in hospital.

She now lives in Stockton where she quickly became a much-loved and valued
member of her local United Reformed Church.

The Revd Colin Offor, minister at the Stockton church said of the response;
"To say we have been bowled over is an understatement. Petition forms have
come in from all over. Many have enclosed cards and personal greetings to
Edneth, and offers of all kinds of legal and practical help. A number of
churches have raised Edneth's case with their own MPs. We hope this will
lend support to Frank Cook when he presents the petition to the Home Office
on our behalf."

The campaign comes at a time, when the main political parties have been
heavily criticised by churches from around the world over their policies and
rhetoric on Immigration and Asylum.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views
of Ekklesia
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Police Nab Corrupt Officials

BuaNews (Pretoria)

February 24, 2005
Posted to the web February 24, 2005

Matome Sebelebele

Police have nabbed three people in Limpopo, in connection with the issuing
of illegal identity documents to illegal immigrants.

The three - two Home Affairs officials and one school principal - were
caught committing the crime on camera by the SABC's Special Assignment crew.

The two Home Affairs officials, Ms Grace Mukwevho and Mr Prince Maluleka, of
the department's Elim regional office, were captured accepting bribe money
while the principal was signing citizenship declaration letters for
desperate Zimbabwe nationals.

The police arrested the two before the show was flighted on SABC3 last
night. They have since been suspended pending an internal investigation into
the matter. The principal was arrested today.

The scam also involved a local chief.

"This decisive action is a reflection of our commitment as a Department to
our zero tolerance stance on corruption in all its forms, wherever and
whenever it manifests itself," said Nkosana Sibuyi, Home Affairs

He added that authorities would continue to clamp down on fraud and
corruption, including an investigation into all the supporting documents
that were submitted by the Elim Office.

"Accordingly, we would like to call upon members of the public to report any
incidents of corruption or fraud to the National Anti-Corruption Hotline
0800 701 701," he said, praising the media for exposing corrupt elements
within the public service.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Diaspora Vote Judgment Reserved

The Herald (Harare)

February 24, 2005
Posted to the web February 24, 2005


THE Supreme Court yesterday reserved judgment in the case in which seven
Zimbabweans living abroad, who want to vote in the forthcoming general
elections, are challenging the Government's decision to prevent them from
participating in the elections.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and Justices, Wilson Sandura, Vernanda
Ziyambi, Luke Malaba and Elizabeth Gwaunza heard the case, which was brought
as a constitutional application by the seven after their lawyers abandoned a
decision to represent all the Zimbabwean living in the diaspora.

However, the court reserved judgment saying it would need time to consider
the submissions by both counsel for the seven and respondents.

The court is to determine whether Mr Madzingo and his group have been
hindered from participating in the March parliamentary elections.

If that is the case, the court is to determine whether that hindrance is
inconsistent with the provisions cited by the appellants.

Advocate Happias Zhou, who represented the group, told the court that his
clients' fundamental rights to vote had been violated by the conduct of the

But Justice Malaba queried Adv Zhou on what basis he said it was his
clients' fundamental right to vote in the elections.

"It's a statutory right extended by the Constitution as read with the
Electoral Act and the Schedule and not a fundamental right.

"It is a statutory scheme separate from the fundamental right," said Justice

The judge said it was not clear what the application was all about.

In his response Adv Zhou said voting was subsumed under the freedom of
expression, association and movement, which his clients were being denied.

He said voting was an exercise of a will to express oneself and the
respondents in their conduct were violating his clients' right.

The Chief Justice also asked Adv Zhou to explain to the principles governing
the voting exercise in the country.

However, Justice Malaba said the basic principle to vote should be exercised
physically at a polling station where there are election supervisors.

"In that context is there a violation of a fundamental right?" asked Justice

Adv Zhou said if the Government does not make available the facilities to
enable his clients to vote it would be hindering their freedom of movement.

The voters, said Justice Malaba, were required to be within the constituency
at a polling station to exercise their vote, which is a statutory

"The law has been put in place and that law is not challenged, it is there,"
said Justice Malaba asking the lawyer on what grounds he was saying "what
the law permits is a violation of freedom of expression?"

The court also took a judicial notice that the law and the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission defined the conduct in which voting is exercised except
where it was done by post.

"That exception underlines the fact that the fundamental principle is that
you should be in the constituency to vote," he said.

The court also asked the applicants' lawyers to explain how they could argue
that the applicants' rights were violated when in fact they were not
challenging the law.

"This is seemingly a non-fundamental right. It's a constitutional right "
said Justice Malaba.

But Adv Zhou argued that in a democratic society necessary arrangements
should be made to enable those living outside the country to vote citing the
example of Mozambique which allowed its citizens living outside that country
to vote.

Mr Ernest Jena of the Civil Division in the Attorney General's Office
opposed the application saying he would abide by his heads of argument
already filed in the record of proceedings.

According to his heads of argument, Mr Jena said there was nothing which
prohibited the applicants and all other registered voters in the diaspora
from voting.

He said they were free to do so if they complied with the relevant
provisions of the law.

He dismissed as baseless the claims by the applicants that the respondents
contravened the cited sections of the Constitution.

In their application Mr Madzingo and his group want the Government to set up
all necessary structures to all and enable registered voters abroad to
exercise their right in March and in all future elections.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Cde Patrick Chinamasa, the
Registrar General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede, the Electoral Supervisory Commission
and the AG were cited as respondents in the application.

Ms Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor and Immerman instructed Adv Zhou.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Region's Air Forces Urged to Be On Alert

The Herald (Harare)

February 24, 2005
Posted to the web February 24, 2005


A THREE-DAY regional meeting of the Southern African Development Community
Standing Aviation Committee opened in Harare yesterday with calls for air
forces in the region to be on their guard and prepared for any disasters.

The Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, in a
speech read on his behalf by Air Vice Marshall Elson Moyo said this was
critical in view of the recent developments in Asia.

"The importance of this effort we are putting together can never be over
emphasised if recent events in the East Asian block where the Tsunami
disaster claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and also affected some parts
of this continent are anything to go by.

"We should therefore as a region, be on guard and ensure that we are
prepared for the worst case scenario."

The meeting in Zimbabwe is a follow-up to an offer that Zimbabwe made at the
8th Standing Aviation Committee meeting in Tanzania where it offered to hold
a training

exercise without troops on staff procedures, which need to be standardised.

"Zimbabwe has already come up with the Zambezi Valley flooding disaster
relief tactical exercise scenario which was distributed to the various air
forces and the reason why we are here today is to discuss and reach a
consensus on a number of points concerning the exercise's execution.

"A number of proposals have been brought forward by different countries, so
it is my sincere belief that this forum will be able to come out with the
most appropriate guidelines for the simulation of the exercise, so that it
would be successfully carried out," said Air Marshall Shiri.

He called on the committee to include civil protection units and civilians
who are into disaster management in the training programmes to understand
how they operate.

The Zimbabwean offer comes hard on the heels of a training exercise called
"Blue Angel" held in Mufuve, Zambia in August last year.

The exercise involved the coming together of air force personnel from the
region to distribute food in Mufuve, a drought prone region in Zambia.

The 18 delegates to the meeting were drawn from air forces from Lesotho,
Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Namibia and
Zimbabwe while those from South Africa were yet to confirm their

Also participating in the meeting are members of the civil protection unit
who are key stakeholders in natural disaster management.

The SAC is a grouping of SADC air forces whose objective is to promote
co-operation of regional air forces in disaster management
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Moyo is thick-headed - Mugabe
24/02/2005 13:30  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has branded his former protege
Jonathan Moyo, who appeared untouchable during his tenure as information
minister, as "thick-headed" for defying the ruling party ahead of key polls
next month.

Mugabe said on state television late on Wednesday that he had tried to
persuade the out-of-favour Moyo to change his mind about running as an
independent candidate in next month's crucial parliamentary elections,
without any success.

He said Moyo "was adamant, he is thick-headed, we are very sorry but the
party has rules and rules must be followed. He remains ousted from the
party," said Mugabe.

Mugabe said people would do well to remember that "if you defy, remember the
party is bigger than you, you will be pushed aside like a person of no

Moyo, 48, got the sack on Saturday after he decided to run in the March 31
parliamentary vote as an independent candidate, defying the ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party which had barred
him from standing in the ballot.

His dismissal at the weekend capped a nearly six-year meteoric rise for
Moyo, who went from being one of Mugabe's harshest critics to his loudest

Critics labelled him "Mugabe's Goebbels", referring to the Nazi

Moyo made his mark as the architect of the draconian Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act passed into law in 2002, barring foreign
journalists from working in Zimbabwe for long periods and tightening
controls on domestic media.

Two independent newspapers have been shut down and several journalists
arrested under the law crafted ahead of a parliamentary election in 2000
which the opposition and many foreign observers charge was marred by fraud.

His argument for the tough media law was that it was necessary to protect
Zimbabwe from foreign journalists whom he viewed as pawns of Western
countries like Britain and the United States which have harshly criticised
the Mugabe regime.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 23 February

SADC's credibility in the balance

Much is at stake as election looms in Zimbabwe

By Allister Sparks

The Zimbabwe elections are fast becoming a test not so much of President
Robert Mugabe's credibility, which is blown anyway, but of the Southern
African Development Community's. The 14-nation Southern African Development
Community (SADC) expended a great deal of energy six months ago drafting its
guidelines for free and fair elections at a summit in Mauritius, an
excellent document that won worldwide acclaim. Yet now the SADC is showing a
painful lack of political will to apply it to Zimbabwe's election. The
organisation has all the teeth it needs to enforce compliance. The
guidelines are embedded in the 1992 SADC Treaty and are binding on member
countries. Sanctions can be applied against a member country which violates
the guidelines or "implements policies which undermine the principles and
objectives of SADC". Zimbabwe has done both, yet SADC remains silent and
Mugabe continues to treat the guidelines with contempt.

One can appreciate that the regional organisation doesn't want to rush in to
a member country with a heavy hand, but a little real pressure - such as a
stern warning that unless the guidelines are complied with the SADC observer
team will have to declare the elections illegitimate - would surely have
brought Mugabe to heel. He may not give a damn about condemnation from Tony
Blair, George Bush or the European Union, but he certainly wouldn't want to
be censured by his fellow Africans. Of course any such warning would have to
carry a credible threat of implementation, which is where the SADC falls
down. Mugabe counts on his regional partners not having the stomach to act
against him and so he leads them a merry dance. In the end it is the SADC
more than Mugabe that will pay the price in terms of lost credibility in the
developed world, where it has an important role to play in negotiating a
better deal for the struggling nations of Africa.

The Mbeki doctrine of delivering good governance in Africa in exchange for
better trading opportunities in the developed world will be the prime
victim. Incredibly, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told a media
briefing in Cape Town last week that she believed enough was being done to
ensure that the March 31 elections would be free and fair. By contrast, that
much more down-to-earth individual, Cosatu's Zwelinzima Vavi, told a private
briefing he thought it was already too late to save the election process,
that the political dice were so irretrievably loaded against the opposition
that with only five weeks to go the election could not possibly be free and
fair. This week the SA Communist Party's Blade Nzimande said much the same.
Dlamini-Zuma said her optimism was based on the fact that Mugabe had called
for a violence-free election, while the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, had said the level of political
violence in Zimbabwe had declined. In similar vein, President Thabo Mbeki
spoke positively during a radio interview on February 14 about the
appointment of an independent electoral commission in Zimbabwe, and
expressed confidence that a SADC observer team would soon be invited to
Zimbabwe, as required by the SADC guidelines.

There are gaping holes in all these assertions. Mugabe's call for a peaceful
election is meaningless, since it is his government that instigated the
violent repression of the opposition that has been ongoing for years. And
while Tsvangirai did indeed say the level of violence had declined somewhat,
it is still continuing at an unacceptable level. According to independent
sources inside the country, the Zanu PF youth militia is still active
everywhere, intimidating opposition supporters, while the government is
blatantly using food distribution in the starving rural areas to secure
support for the ruling party. Free electioneering is impossible. Under the
notorious Public Order and Security Act, the MDC must apply to the police
for permission to hold meetings, and these are frequently turned down. Last
week the police arrested the MDC's election director, Ian Makone, for
organising a meeting of party candidates to prepare for last Friday's
nomination court procedures, while in Bulawayo a team of door-to-door
canvassers were arrested while trying to check out the chaotic voters roll.

Nor does the opposition have fair access to the state-owned media, as the
SADC guidelines require. Last Sunday state television gave the MDC airtime
for the first time, with a four-minute report on its campaign launch -
promptly followed by a two-hour interview with Mugabe. Meanwhile, the
state-owned newspapers are routinely refusing to accept paid MDC election
advertisements while publishing reams of free Zanu PF propaganda. The
country's most important independent newspaper, the Daily News, remains
banned. The Zimbabwe Supreme Court was supposed to deliver judgment on an
appeal against the banning order on February 7, and rumour has it the
judgment is in the paper's favour - but nothing has yet appeared. Even the
foreign media has been effectively disabled. Last week three foreign
journalists operating in Zimbabwe, Jan Raath, Angus Shaw and Brian Latham,
all fled the country after being subjected to heavy-handed police raids and
the seizure of their computers and other essential equipment.

As for the so-called independent electoral commission, it is nothing of the
sort. The opposition was presented with a shortlist of candidates, none of
whom were acceptable to them. As one MDC leader put it: "All we could do was
choose the least bad." To cap that, Mugabe appointed as chairman a judge who
was one of his most controversial appointees to the bench. Moreover, this
new electoral commission is itself not the supreme body in charge of the
election. It is subordinate to another body, the Electoral Supervisory
Commission, made up entirely of staunch Zanu PF loyalists. Most critical of
all, however, is the absence of any observer teams to take note of these
delinquencies and to pressurise the Mugabe government into complying with
the SADC guidelines. In terms of those guidelines the Zimbabwe government
should have invited the SADC to send an observer team 90 days, or three
months, before polling day. In fact the invitation only went out last
Saturday, with polling day only five weeks away. Worse still, the Zimbabwe
government refused entry to a team of lawyers from the SADC organ on
politics, defence and security (chaired by South Africa), whose task was to
inspect the electoral legislation and assess conditions in the country ahead
of the election.

The reason for all this obfuscation is obvious. The critical rigging is
being done in advance and the regime wants no observers around to see what
is happening. No doubt it will allow some selected observer teams in once
the nefarious work is done. Will these observers then ignore what occurred
before their arrival and blandly proclaim the election to have been free and
fair? That is obviously what the Mugabe regime is counting on them doing. It
will be a travesty if they play ball. As for the SADC, any such connivance
would be a monumental blunder. Its reputation is far more important to this
region than any futile attempt to save face for Mugabe. It must speak up and
show that it has the courage of its own principles.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Weekly Media Update # 2005-7



1. General comment

THIS week the authorities intensified their crackdown on the few remaining
alternative channels of information further shrinking the media space ahead
of next month's parliamentary election.
The Daily Mirror (15/2 & 17/2) and The Standard (20/2) reported that police
had repeatedly raided - without a search warrant - the offices of three well
known veteran local journalists writing for international media
organisations on spurious allegations that they were involved in spying,
possessing illegal telecoms equipment and illegally working as journalists.
Angus Shaw of the Associated Press, Jan Raath, correspondent for The Times
of London, and Brian Latham, the correspondent for the Bloomberg news
agency, all Zimbabwean citizens, fled the country fearing for their safety
as a result of this latest bout of official intimidation. Two of the
journalists received threatening visitors at their homes in the middle of
the night.

In another related matter, The Zimbabwe Independent (18/2) reported that
police had "stormed" the offices of New Distribution, the distributor of The
Zimbabwean, a new paper published in the UK and South Africa, demanding
details on the paper's registration and printers.
These raids came hardly two days after Zim Online (12/2) reported that the
police were hunting for freelance television journalist Cornelius Nduna who
they claimed was in possession of "sensitive videotapes". The police also
resuscitated three-year-old charges of "publishing falsehoods" against
columnist Pius Wakatama.
According to Zim Online, the police wanted to arrest Nduna in connection
with the BBC's Panorama documentary, which exposed human rights abuses by
youths trained under the government's controversial national youth service
The government media ignored these issues.

This latest onslaught against the alternative media represents a
continuation of the authorities' crude and relentless efforts to stifle the
Zimbabwean story from reaching the international community, a policy they
have systematically pursued in the last five years.
The government appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC) appeared to
be following a similar agenda when The Sunday Mirror (20/2) reported the
organisation warning the Zimbabwe Independent against allowing its "staffers
moonlight for foreign media houses or risk having the newspaper's licence as
well as the staffers' accreditation revoked".
MIC also threatened to block the importation of a new weekly newspaper
entitled The Zimbabwean, published abroad by one of The Daily News'
founders, Wilf Mbanga, on the grounds that it violated media ethics and
business practice, and was probably financed by "an imperialist and racist
godfather" using European and North American "slush funds [...] to undermine
national, duly registered and truly sovereign publishers..." inside
Zimbabwe. In his statement MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso said his
organization "will...not hesitate to take the necessary steps to...protect
our national and sovereign print media industry".
Evidently, Dr Mahoso has no faith in the democratic ideal of a free
marketplace of ideas where a diverse media community compete for the
people's patronage. Nor must he rate the capacity of Zimbabweans to make
their own informed choices.
Such pathological intolerance of free media further exposes the fallacy of
government's repeated claims that it is a democracy complying with the SADC
protocol on the conduct of democratic elections.
The SADC guidelines clearly state that member States should 'safeguard the
human and civil liberties of all citizens', and media freedom is one of
those fundamental rights that should be guaranteed during an election - and
indeed at all times.

2. Election campaigns

AS preparations for the forthcoming poll intensify, the
government-controlled media continued to violate their public mandate by
giving slavish coverage to the ruling party almost to the exclusion of other
parties. For example, out of 33 campaign stories carried by the national
public broadcaster, ZBH, 24 (73%) were on ZANU PF, six (18%) were on the
MDC, one (3%) was a neutral report on the Liberty Party of Zimbabwe's
campaign launch and the remainder were announcements by the Zimbabwe
National Congress that it was withdrawing from the election.
The six reports on the MDC carried on ZTV, Spot FM, Power FM and Radio
Zimbabwe were on the party's launch of its election campaign and a rally
held by the party's candidate for St. Mary's, Job Sikhala.
Although the reports steered clear of the usual vilification of the party as
a stooge of the West, they were however tainted by the reporter's own
prejudice.  For example ZTV (20/2, 8pm) reported that the launch of the
MDC's manifesto attracted "scores" of people when its own footage and other
media put the figure at about 5,000. In addition, Sikhala's rally (ZTV 19/2
8pm) was only covered in the context of President Mugabe's calls for
peaceful campaigns. It only quoted Sikhala hailing Mugabe's call for a
peaceful election and suffocated his promises to the electorate.

Although ZTV devoted 2 minutes 35 seconds to the MDC's campaign launch and 1
minute 50 seconds to the Liberty Party (17/2, 8pm), this contrasted sharply
with the time allocated to the launch of ZANU PF's campaign on February 11.
The event was allocated 18 minutes on that day's 8pm bulletin. In addition,
the ruling party's four-hour launch was all covered live with ZTV's
presenters wearing ZANU PF T-shirts!

The pro-ZANU PF coverage was also apparent in the government Press. Of the
28 stories it carried on the topic, 19 (68/%) reported positively on ZANU PF
activities, while the remaining nine stories (32/%) were used to malign
MDC's activities.
The campaign activities of the other opposition parties were completely
Notably, of the 19 reports the government Press devoted to ZANU PF, 13 of
them either passively endorsed or amplified the ruling party's election
manifesto while the rest reported on President Mugabe's computer donations
to selected rural schools. The fact that Mugabe ultimately turned these
events into campaign platforms for the ruling party were not questioned by
these newspapers or indeed ZBH.

The official Press' blind support for the ruling party at the expense of
professional journalism was clearly illustrated by The Herald (14/2), which
brazenly misrepresented ZANU PF's candidate for Chimanimani, Samuel Undenge,
by disguising him as a "political analyst" when he was quoted hailing the
virtues of the party's manifesto.
A more balanced presentation of the campaign activities of the political
parties was apparent in the private Press, which carried 29 stories on the
matter, 17 of them on ZANU PF and 11 on the MDC. However, coverage on the
activities of the other opposition parties remained thin, with the Mirror
stable being the only one to accord them publicity twice.
Not only did the private Press give the MDC greater and more positive
coverage of its activities - including non-spiteful previews of its election
campaign launch in Masvingo -  they also critically examined some of the
ruling party claims contained in its manifesto that it had made great
strides in education and the economy.
For example, The Zimbabwe Independent (18/2) alone carried four stories,
which doubted the capacity of the ruling party to deliver on its promises.
Unlike the official Press, the private Press also categorically criticised
some of ZANU PF's unorthodox campaign tactics, such as that reported by The
Standard (20/2), which equated demands by ZANU PF to have Chitungwiza town
council surrender 1 000 stands to the ruling party's Zengeza candidate,
Christopher Chigumba, as vote buying.
Notably, the private radio stations largely ignored the parties' campaign
activities this week.

3. Administrative issues

THE mechanisms governing the electoral framework continued to attract the
attention of the media with the nomination of candidates and the gazetting
of rules regulating coverage of political parties on ZBH hogging the
For instance, of the 52 reports ZBH carried on election administration
issues, 18 were on the nomination of candidates, 15 on regulations governing
political parties' access to ZBH, eight on the invitation of observers and
five on the allocation of funds to both ZANU PF and the MDC. The remaining
six glossed over the country's flawed electoral framework.  ZTV's current
affairs programme, Face the Nation (17/2), featuring Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa, was tailor-made to give the impression that the country's
electoral environment was conducive for the holding of democratic elections.

In fact, ZBH's reluctance to honestly discuss the electoral framework
resulted, for example, in the broadcaster merely endorsing the broadcasting
services regulations on the coverage of political parties without analysis.
Neither did ZBH fully discuss the reasons behind the authorities' refusal to
register MDC's Roy Bennett and Zacharia Rioga as candidates for the
elections, nor question government's list of invited observers. Only the
private media raised such questions.
ZBH's uncritical reports were mostly hinged on government voices or on its
reporters' amplification of the ruling party's opinion. For instance, of the
53 voices the broadcaster quoted, 18 were government and 13 were reporters'
passive narration of government policies. Only three alternative voices were
quoted, two of which were supportive of government.
The remaining 22 voices constituted ZBH (4), the MDC (3), ZANU Ndonga (3),
ZANU PF (1), electoral bodies (7) and foreign diplomats (1).

The government Press adopted a similar trend in 23 reports it carried on
administrative issues. All the reports were just unquestioning endorsements
of official pronouncements.
And like their broadcasting counterparts, these papers relied more on
government and ZANU PF for comments as shown in Fig.1.

Fig 1 Sourcing pattern in the government Press on electoral administrative

ZANU PF Government MDC Other opposition Foreign diplomats
Judiciary Electoral authorities Editorials
9 9 1 3 1 4 1 3

In contrast, private radio stations were more critical in 17 stories they
carried on administrative issues. Twelve of these appeared on Studio 7, the
rest on SW Radio Africa.
However, these media failed to balance concerns over the electoral framework
raised by the MDC and alternative voices with comments from government
Although the private Press demanded accountability from electoral
authorities in the running of elections in six stories, it generally
underreported the administrative issues as shown in Fig.2.

Fig 2 Private Press coverage of electoral administrative issues

Publication Election Observers Voters' roll Parties Finance Act
Nomination Equal Access
The Daily Mirror 4 0 0 1 2
The Financial Gazette 1 0 0 0 0
Zimbabwe Independent 1 1 0 0 0
The Standard 0 1 0 1 0
Sunday Mirror 0 0 0 2 0
Total 6 2 0 4 2

In fact, the private Press' under-coverage of administrative matters
resulted in the Mirror stable, for instance, being the only one to report
the gazetting of Broadcasting Services (Access to Radio and Television
during elections) regulations.

4. Political violence and persecution of dissent

ONLY the private media recorded fresh cases of political persecution and
rights abuses of the public and opposition activists by ZANU PF officials
and state security agents in the week.
These media carried 18 stories on this topic. Thirteen appeared on private
radio stations while the rest were in the private Press. Three incidents of
assault were recorded. Two were on SW Radio Africa while one was recorded in
the Zimbabwe Independent, courtesy of a letter by the victim, Obey Mhondera
of Mutare.
SW Radio Africa's two reports were based on MDC accounts of the events,
which were not balanced with comments from relevant authorities.

Fifteen of the reports were stories on the continued political harassment of
members of the opposition, civic society and the general public by security
agents and ZANU PF activists. Of these, 11 were reported by the private
stations while the remainder were in the private Press.
The government media ignored these issues. Instead, they carried nine
general reports on official calls for violence-free elections. The
government Press stories almost always used the recent outbreak of the MDC's
intra-party violence in Masvingo to justify the authorities' pleas for
peaceful elections.

The only exception was the Chronicle's coverage (17/2) of the arrest of MDC
activists conducting door-to-door campaigns in Bulawayo.  Even then, the
paper did not portray the arrested activists as victims of intolerant and
overzealous police but as public nuisances, justifiably arrested after the
police received "numerous complaints" from residents about their activities.
Notably, the same paper and its stable-mates remained silent on the ensuing
High Court order restraining the police from interfering further in the
MDC's activity.
This was only reported in the private media.

The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702,
E-mail: <>

Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we
will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information
about the Project, please visit our website at

Back to the Top
Back to Index








‘WEEKLY UP-DATE’ – an assessment of the extent to which the Zimbabwe Government is complying with the SADC Protocol on Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.



Issue 7: 15 February – 22 February











(During the time-period stated above)

GRADING: 1 = No Compliance  2 = Very Minimal Progress  3 = Minimal Progress  4 = Good Progress  5 = Full Compliance

Full Participation of citizens in the political process


20 February: a group of MDC youth was assaulted by a group of Zanu PF youth led by Fidelis Kangwere whilst putting up posters for the MDC Makoni West candidate, Remus Mukuwaza. The MDC activists were told that Makoni West was a no-go area for the MDC.


20 February: 2 MDC youths in Hurungwe East were abducted by a group of Zanu PF youth while distributing MDC campaign material. They were taken to the local Zanu PF offices and severely assaulted.


21 February: MDC activist Tendai Matsine and his wife were severely beaten up by Zanu PF youth in Huruingwe East. They were attacked after being caught putting up MDC posters. The incident was reported to the police but police informed the MDC officials that they had been given instructions by their superiors NOT TO ARREST Zanu PF activists engaged in acts of violence.



Freedom of Association


The government has barred opposition and independent candidates from canvassing for support amongst members of the uniformed forces. Commanders at army, police and prison camps have in the past few weeks refuse candidates permission to hold meetings or to distribute flyers in the camps where thousands of personnel live with their families. Ruling party candidates are able to enter the camps and canvass for support.  


16 February: Police in Harare raided a training session of the MDC’s 120 candidates. Police claimed the meeting was illegal under POSA. Ian Makoni, the MDC’s Director of Elections, was arrested.


17 February: riot police beat up protesters, and arrested 14 of them, during a March in Harare for free and fair elections.


Political Tolerance


20 February: 3 MDC candidates were attacked by a group of soldiers whilst returning from the launch of the MDC’s election campaign in Masvingo. 2 were admitted to hospital to receive treatment for their injuries. The incident was reported to police but no arrests have been made.


22 February: MDC youth activist, Thembekile Moyo, suffered a fractured leg after being attacked by Zanu PF youth in Insiza while putting up posters.


Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media


 20 February: The launch of the MDC’s election campaign in Masvingo was not carried live by the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation (ZBC). Instead it gave the event four minutes coverage later that evening. This was followed by a two-hour live interview with President Mugabe on Zanu PF’s manifesto pledges. This does not equate with Government claims that it has allowed opposition parties ‘reasonable’ access to the state controlled electronic media.


The Government confirmed that the new regulations will not permit access to the state controlled print media which continues to refuse to carry adverts from opposition parties. 


Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens


There has been no move to repeal those aspects of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that place severe limitations on citizens’ basic civil and political rights. POSA continues to be used to ban MDC meetings and prevent free political activity.


On 14 January amendments to AIPPA were signed into law by Mugabe. The amendments tighten restrictions on journalists and under the new regulations journalists who work without a licence from the state controlled Media and Information Commission, face a two-year jail sentence or a fine or both. 

Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections


 Gordon Moyo, the chairman of the Bulawayo Agenda, a civic education group, last week told the media that political violence, intimidation and the use of food aid to coerce voters was increasing ahead of the elections. Moyo further alleged that voters were being told that the use of translucent ballot boxes would enable the authorities to trace each vote cast.

20 February: An article in the Zimbabwe Standard alleges that the government has ordered Chitungwiza municipality to surrender more than 1,000 housing stands to Christopher Chigumba, the Zanu PF candidate for neighbouring Zengeza.

Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration



Under the new electoral reforms the exercise of voter registration remains in the hands of the office of the Registrar General; an office which has a proven track record of gross manipulation of the voter registration process to the political advantage of the ruling party.  The Registrar General is openly supportive of Zanu PF.


The Registrar General’s office embarked on a mobile registration exercise in May 2004 but the exercise was discriminatory because in urban areas the RG’s office was only issuing birth certificates and identity documents. In the rural areas, a massive door-to-door voters’ registration exercise was conducted.



Existence of an up-dated and accessible voters’ roll



Voters have been arbitrarily removed from the voters’ roll. Inspections that have been carried out thus far on sections of the voters’ roll have revealed an alarming number of anomalies.


The Registrar General has consistently refused to provide the opposition with an updated electronic version of the voters’ roll which would enable them to check its accuracy in an efficient manner.


The discriminatory nature of the voter registration process that has been undertaken ahead of the parliamentary elections has raised deep concerns about the accuracy of the voters’ roll. These concerns have been increased by the recent boundary changes, carried out by the Mugabe appointed Delimitation Commission, on the basis of the voters’ roll submitted by the Registrar General.  


In areas perceived to be MDC strongholds the Delimitation Commission reduced the number of constituencies. For instance, Harare lost two constituencies on the spurious grounds that the number of voters had fallen by 46,780. This is absurd given that official census published by the Government last year confirmed that Harare’s population had grown by 500,000.


The areas of Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West, where Zanu PF is perceived to have popular support, gained three constituencies.   



Establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies


The recently established Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)  will be chaired by Justice Chiweshe whose impartiality is questionable. More importantly, the ZEC is subject to the authority of the Electoral Supervisory Commission which is entirely appointed by Mugabe. All the other electoral bodies are entirely chosen by, and beholden to, the Executive.


Ensure that adequate security is provided to all parties participating in elections


The police and other state security agents continue to discharge their respective mandates in a partisan manner and deny MDC members their right to protection under the rule of the law.


15 February: 7 MDC supporters were arrested by police in Bulawayo for distributing MDC campaign material. All campaign material was confiscated.


The increasing number of youth militia and war veterans being incorporated into the police force further erodes public confidence in the police to act impartially.


Independence of the judiciary


In a recent statement, the civic organisation, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), expressed its concern at the increasing incidences of intimidation of the justice administration officials by state security agents. ZLHR said that most of the victims were prosecutors, lawyers and judges handling human rights-related cases or those deemed politically sensitive.


            The conduct goes to the root of the independence of the judiciary. In particular, such conduct           seriously erodes the public’s confidence in the Courts and has grave consequences for the rule of law.”

Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens, including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning


 22 February: MDC candidate for Shamva, Godfrey Chimombe, was arrested along with five MDC activists while putting up posters.

Counting of votes at polling stations


The Electoral Act contains a provision expressing the need for votes to be counted at polling stations; however, the Act fails to make it clear whether or not this process will be mandatory.

Voter Education


The clauses in the ZEC Act that ban civic society from engaging in voter education and ban foreign funding for civic education are unconstitutional.

Polling stations should be in neutral places


Section 51 of the Electoral Act requires only that polling stations be established at ‘convenient’ places, determined solely by constituency election officers (section 17 of the Act allows the military to be constituency officers) and even permits a polling station outside the boundaries of the constituency.

Regular intervals as provided for by the respective National Constitutions


The constitution provides for parliamentary and presidential elections every 5 years and 6 years respectively.

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


The emasculation of the independent media, the presence of youth militia and the likelihood that members of the military will act as election officers raises the possibility of widespread incidents of electoral malpractice.


The Government has raised allowances and salaries of headmen and village heads by 150%, with effect from January. This was a blatantly political move aimed at securing the loyalty of the chiefs ahead of the parliamentary elections. In recent elections chiefs and village heads have threatened villagers with expulsion if they are suspected of having voted for anyone but Zanu PF.


The government plans to spend Z$8 million to import 15,000 tonnes of maize to feed 1.5 million people until the harvest in April. The timing of the announcement has raised concerns that the ruling party will use food aid to coerce the electorate – as it has done in previous elections.


The removal of the incumbent Registrar General would go someway towards signalling the Government’s determination to prevent electoral malpractice from occurring.


The establishment of multi-party liaison committees, as provided for in the ZEC Act, potentially provides a useful mechanism for preventing or resolving conflicts and enhancing peace and security during the entire election period.






Back to the Top
Back to Index