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

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Feb 21st 2002 | HARARE
From The Economist print edition


Robert Mugabe says that his opponents will “never, ever” rule Zimbabwe.
Voters hope to prove him wrong

SHEPHERD NGUNDU, a schoolteacher, was beaten to death for reading a
newspaper. A group of militiamen loyal to Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's
president, caught him leafing through the pages of the Daily News, a journal
whose writers are often rude about the government. The militiamen accused Mr
Ngundu of supporting Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe's rival in a presidential
poll due on March 9th and 10th. They marched him to his house and ransacked
it, searching for a badge or pamphlet that might have identified him as a
member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition
party. They found none, but decided that the newspaper in his hands was
evidence enough. They dragged him to a crossroads market where, before
startled shoppers, they hammered him with iron bars and lashed him with
chains until he died.

Mr Ngundu's death reveals something about Mr Mugabe's priorities. As his
re-election campaign enters its final fortnight, it seems that the
78-year-old autocrat would rather wreck his country than surrender control
of it. He knows he is widely hated. He knows that if Zimbabweans are allowed
to vote freely, they will prise his elegant fingers from the reins of power.
To prevent this, he has recruited a rabble of jobless youths, trained them
in terror tactics and unleashed them on the people. This new militia—dubbed
the “terror teens”—has apparently been ordered to prevent Mr Tsvangirai's
supporters from campaigning, and to scare as many as possible into staying
at home on polling day.

Mr Ngundu looked like the sort of person who might support the opposition.
He was an educated man, and educated Zimbabweans mostly loathe their
president. So the president's men dispatched him as painfully and publicly
as they could. As with so many of the hundred-odd slayings that have
accompanied Mr Mugabe's campaign, the aim was to kill one, and frighten
many. Teachers and nurses, who are among the best-known and best-educated
people in many villages, have been systematically victimised. Thousands have
been bound, beaten and threatened. Many have fled to the cities or
emigrated, forcing hundreds of schools and clinics to close. Whoever wins,
this is an election from which Zimbabwe will not easily recover.


Not much doubt what he thinks

The world is close to despairing of Zimbabwe. Neither loud condemnation from
the British government nor South Africa's “quiet diplomacy” has persuaded Mr
Mugabe to behave any better. At a series of summits and pow-wows, he has
promised to respect his own laws and to allow a free and fair election. Each
time, his thugs have carried on as before, tying MDC activists to trees and
whipping their naked bellies with barbed-wire flails. The European Union
(EU) finally lost patience on February 18th, after their chief election
observer was expelled from Zimbabwe. EU foreign ministers announced that
they would withdraw all observers from the country and impose “smart
sanctions” on Mr Mugabe and 19 top cronies, barring them from travelling to
Europe and freezing their overseas assets, if they can be traced. America
promises to follow suit, but that will make little difference. There is no
chance that the election will be free or fair.

Organising mayhem
The question is: will Mr Mugabe lose anyway? It is impossible to predict. On
the one hand, after 22 years of misrule, most Zimbabweans would love to be
rid of him. On the other hand, the old man is already cheating, chiefly
through the use of terror.

Such tactics have worked before. At independence in 1980, Mr Mugabe would
have won a fair vote. But just to make sure, the more thuggish members of
his party, ZANU-PF, prevented opposition supporters from campaigning in a
third of the country. In the mid-1980s, fearing that the Ndebele tribe might
someday thwart him, he murdered at least 10,000 of them and forced survivors
to dance on their brothers' graves singing ZANU anthems. By 2000, ZANU's
popularity had plunged, and the party would certainly have lost its majority
in parliament if Mr Mugabe's hired hoodlums had not burned down thousands of
peasants' homes and threatened to come back and kill them if they elected an
opposition candidate.

Veterans of that year's mayhem are now busy again. Readers may remember a
cowboy-hatted character named Big Chitoro, who led the intimidation of
voters in Mberengwa East, a rural constituency, in 2000. The last time your
correspondent saw him, he was driving a truckful of boisterous young men
from polling station to polling station, waving ZANU flags, knives and
crowbars. After the election, he was indicted on murder and torture charges
arising from the campaign, but he was recently released on bail and is
reportedly terrorising the citizens of Mberengwa once more.

The violence scares people, but it enrages them too. Last week, Prosper, a
young accountant who does not wish to be identified by his surname, stopped
to buy a Coke while driving home. His vehicle was surrounded by 20
militiamen. He and his four passengers were dragged out and beaten for two
hours. Prosper was handcuffed, whipped and kicked repeatedly in the face.
His passengers were thrashed with an iron bar. After visiting a hospital to
be stitched up, Prosper and his friends went to report the assault to the
police. They found their assailants in the police station, chatting to the
officers on duty. The station chief told Prosper that he had been ordered to
take no action against members of Mr Mugabe's militia, but that anyone else
involved in violence should be arrested. Prosper is incensed. Previously, he
was not planning to vote, but now he says he will back Mr Tsvangirai.

It's the economy, stupid
Mr Mugabe is unpopular because the average Zimbabwean income has fallen by
half since independence. The slide began slowly. But the longer Mr Mugabe
has been in power, the more entrenched and corrupt his regime has become.
His cronies award each other jobs, perks and public-works contracts.
Entrepreneurs who cross them are hounded into bankruptcy. Skilled
Zimbabweans have emigrated by the planeload.

In the early years, the impact of all this was cushioned by generous aid
flows from Britain and elsewhere. A successful land- reform programme in the
1980s saw 70,000 families resettled on farmland bought with donor funds from
willing sellers. But donors pulled out when they saw that a lot of their
money was being used to buy country estates for generals and cabinet

As aid dwindled, Mr Mugabe made no effort to spend within his means. From
1997, public finances went doolally. The main result was graft. ZANU bigwigs
had looted a fund intended to compensate veterans of the liberation war. Mr
Mugabe's brother-in-law, for example, wangled $70,000 for a scar on his left
knee and some ulcers that he claimed had left him 95% disabled. Destitute
and deserving veterans, meanwhile, received nothing, so they rioted. To calm
them, Mr Mugabe gave 50,000 of them fat lump sums and pensions, which bust
the budget. He also promised them land, which he said he would seize from
white commercial farmers without compensation.

Zimbabwe's courts ruled the plan illegal, but Mr Mugabe pressed ahead
regardless. His open scorn for property rights killed investment in
Zimbabwe. Undeterred, the president encouraged the war veterans to invade
white-owned farms and peg out claims. The ostensible aim was to right the
wrongs of the colonial era, when whites stole land from blacks, and to give
the poor and landless a chance to become self-sufficient. But the veterans
spent little time ploughing or sowing, finding they could earn better money
beating up opposition supporters on behalf of the security services.

Agriculture withered. Farmland became worthless as collateral, so farmers
could not raise credit for fertiliser. And they could not easily tend their
crops because the veterans kept breaking their employees' legs. Food prices
soared. Mr Mugabe responded by imposing price controls, obliging shops to
sell bread for less than it cost to bake. Shops ran out of food; Mr Mugabe
blamed “hoarders”.

Unemployment is now estimated at 60% and inflation at 116%. Fuel is in short
supply, despite help from Libya. In rural Zimbabwe, 500,000 people are now
estimated to be at risk of starvation. Recent emergency imports of South
African maize may prevent large numbers of people from dying, but most
Zimbabweans remain poor, hungry and angry. Silas, a mechanic from Harare,
says he cannot find food in the shops, cannot afford what little he does
find, and dislikes being stopped at roadblocks and roughed up by Mr Mugabe's
militia. “Living in this country is like living in jail,” he complains.

Better the devil you don't know
If re-elected, Mr Mugabe says he will build a million new homes and provide
jobs for all, free health care and education, and so on. His manifesto is a
bit hazy, however, on the details of how he will manage this. Firm proposals
include continued price controls and accelerated “land reform”—in other
words, more of the same. This is logical enough, if you accept Mr Mugabe's
premise that all Zimbabwe's problems are the fault of a conspiracy of white
racists and homosexuals.

Mr Tsvangirai, by contrast, promises radical change, most of it for the
better. For example, he promises serious efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS, which
afflicts a quarter of Zimbabwean adults but does not seem to concern Mr
Mugabe much. Some observers believe that the virus has actually helped Mr
Mugabe, by creating a class of young men who know they have nothing to lose
and so are easy to recruit into his militia. Chenjerai “Hitler” Hunzvi, Mr
Mugabe's late chief intimidator, is thought to have died of AIDS.

More broadly, Mr Tsvangirai promises a return to the rule of law and to
prudent economic management. The government will stop spending recklessly
and printing money to pay its bills. The flabby civil service will be
trimmed, and Mr Mugabe's vast patronage machine dismantled. The Zimbabwean
army will be recalled from Congo, where it is embroiled in a pointless civil
war that costs Zimbabwean taxpayers a fortune and enriches a few generals
who are looting Congo's diamond mines. Land reform will be carried out, but
in an orderly manner, starting with an audit of land ownership. Friendly
relations will be restored with the IMF, the World Bank and other donors,
all of whom are anxious to help rebuild the country after Mr Mugabe goes.

All this sounds wonderful, but there is no way of knowing whether Mr
Tsvangirai means any of it, or whether he would be able to put it into
practice. He was an effective union boss, but he has no experience in
government. His party contains all sorts, united mainly by their dislike of
Mr Mugabe. The MDC itself might, in time, turn out to be as dirty as the
current mob. Something similar happened in Zambia, Zimbabwe's northern
neighbour, after 1991. In Zambia's first free election, Frederick Chiluba, a
charismatic labour leader, defeated Kenneth Kaunda, the country's founding
father turned autocrat, by promising liberal democracy and a market economy.
But Mr Chiluba's regime turned out to be breathtakingly corrupt. A decade
later, Zambians are even poorer, and their only large industry, copper
mining, has just collapsed.

Campaigning under cover
Despite these caveats, an opposition victory is Zimbabwe's only hope. It
will be hard to achieve. Besides his monopoly of force, Mr Mugabe has
several advantages. He controls all broadcast media, which accordingly
praise his donations of

maize meal to peasants, while accusing Mr Tsvangirai of plotting to
assassinate Mr Mugabe and to hand Zimbabwe back
to its former colonial rulers. Most foreign media groups have been barred
from reporting on the election. An exception is being made for Britain's
Independent Television News, largely to spite the BBC, its rival, which the
information minister particularly hates.


One Tsvangirai rally they failed to ban

New laws favour the incumbent, too. For example, Mr Tsvangirai is barred
from publicly denigrating the president, the police or the army—which makes
campaign speeches a bit tricky. Mr Mugabe believes he can rely on the
support of rural folk from his own ethnic group, the Shona. The fewer people
from other groups vote, the better his chances of “winning”. So Mr Mugabe is
trying to disfranchise as many urban, educated and non-Shona voters as
possible. Zimbabweans living abroad may not vote, unless they are diplomats
or soldiers. That excludes several hundred thousand people, in a country
with an adult population of 6m. Those with foreign-born parents, unless they
took the trouble to prove before January 6th that they had renounced all
claims to a foreign passport, were stripped of their Zimbabwean citizenship.
Scores of thousands of people with Zambian, Malawian, Mozambican or British
ancestors thus lost their right to vote.

Among those recently informed of their disfranchisement was a 93-year-old
former prime minister, Sir Garfield Todd, who has been a Zimbabwean citizen
for 67 years. Mr Todd says he will try to vote anyway, but he may find the
officials at polling stations unsympathetic. Under a newly-amended electoral
law, only state-approved monitors may oversee voting and counting, under the
watchful eye of the army officers Mr Mugabe has chosen to direct the
proceedings. For good measure, it is illegal for non-governmental
organisations to teach voters that their ballots will be, or are meant to
be, secret.

A new security law allows the police to ban any public gathering, so MDC
supporters have little choice but to hold small, discreet meetings in each
other's houses. Campaign messages are spread by word of mouth: market women
whisper to their customers, farm workers grumble quietly to their friends.
The MDC encourages its members to attend ZANU meetings and buy ZANU
membership cards, so that they can produce them at roadblocks and avoid
being maimed. An MDC supporter in Harare admitted that he and most of his
friends pretend, when in public, to support the ruling party. But, he said:
“We know what is in our hearts, and that is where we will put our X.”

Sixty-nine of Mr Tsvangirai's rallies have been banned or disrupted by
thugs. Yet in urban areas, where his support is almost universal, he has
managed to hold some spirited gatherings. In the eastern border city of
Mutare, 15,000 people donned MDCT-shirts and welcomed him with whoops and
cheers, despite being warned not to by the terror teens, who knocked on
almost every door in town and menaced the occupants.

Mr Mugabe was also planning to hold a rally in Mutare, but cancelled it, for
fear that he would not attract such a large crowd. For the most part, he has
stuck to campaigning in the countryside, where events are easier to
stage-manage. On most mornings the sky over Harare is filled with the roar
of rotorblades as the white presidential helicopter speeds off to another
rural rally, escorted, just in case, by two well-armed military choppers.

Mr Mugabe's rallies are joyless affairs. Peasants are ferried in on the
backs of government pick-up trucks. Schoolchildren must miss lessons, if
there are any lessons to miss. Once assembled, they are subjected to one of
Mr Mugabe's raging rants, accompanied by much waving of the clenched fist
which is the ZANU symbol. No law bars Mr Mugabe from abusing his opponent,
so he calls him, among other things, a “white man masquerading as a black”,
“a puppet for his colonial master”, a “tea boy for his white baas”, “a
saboteur” and, of course, a “terrorist”.

When addressing unsophisticated audiences, Mr Mugabe makes sure to throw in
a bit of mumbo-jumbo. At a rally in eastern Zimbabwe, for example, he
threatened that “If you vote for Tsvangirai, you will be visited by
 goblins.” At another rally, he promised to rid the country of witches. And
everywhere he goes, he predicts that his programme of land seizures will
somehow make Zimbabwe prosperous.

A new start, or another beating?
In a country where dissent can spell death, no opinion poll can pretend to
be reliable. For what it is worth, unofficial surveys suggest that 70% of
voters back Mr Tsvangirai, whereas only 25-30% say they favour Mr Mugabe.
Diplomats speculate that Mr Mugabe may have already secured an extra 10% of
votes by fiddling the electoral roll, and that he may steal another 20% by
stuffing ballot boxes and through creative counting. So predictions are

If Mr Tsvangirai wins, the army may not let him assume office. The army
chief, Vitalis Zvinavashe (another beneficiary of the war veterans' fund),
hinted as much last month. On the other hand, if Mr Mugabe “wins”, neither
the outside world nor ordinary Zimbabweans will believe he did so fairly.
Cities such as Harare and Bulawayo could explode. Mass protests might force
Mr Mugabe out of office—Zimbabweans remember what happened to Slobodan
Milosevic. But they also remember what happened in Tiananmen Square, and
wonder whether Zimbabwean troops, if ordered to fire on demonstrators, would

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Witches, Warlocks and the Weather.

Just recently there has been a lot of "spiritual" activity in Zimbabwe. This
is a deeply religious country with over 60 per cent of the population
claiming some form of affiliation with Christian Churches and huge Sunday
attendance at Church - unlike many western countries. In fact on any given
Sunday you can see people with bibles walking to Church in most centres.
Africans are a deeply religious people - they have strong traditional
beliefs and these guide the way they handle many issues in daily life.
Indeed it would be most peculiar if you were to find any actual agnostics or
atheists in African societies. They are starting to emerge with the growing
influence of the decadent west, but its still an aberration, rather than the
norm as it is in France for example. In the 70's I made a good friend of a
brilliant French Marxist who was a well-known and internationally respected
commodity economist - Jacques Bellay. I shared my own faith with him on one
occasion and he laughed - "you should be in a glass case in a museum," he
said. In times of crisis people do turn to God and in the past two years
there has been intensive prayer for this country and its people - not only
here but all over the world. I am quite convinced that this is having an
influence over events here and in a number of ways we can see the work of
Gods hand in what is going on. It has been very exciting to be a part of the
process and to be able to say to people - watch this space!! But there is a
down side to this spiritual activity. President Mugabe made a speech the
other day in which he threatened the people he was talking to with
"goblins". I got a note from a good friend in London who asked what word did
Mugabe use - I asked Geoff Nyarota but to date have not had a reply. However
one source has told me that the word he used was "zvituxwani" which London
told me was a very harsh Shona curse involving "devils from hell". There is
also talk that Mugabe is claiming to being possessed by the spirit of
Murenga. Prince Edward School has just been named "Murenga High" and I
wonder how many parents understand what the significance of this word is in
our culture. Murenga was the spirit that inhabited the Nanga's who were
behind the first war against the white settlers in 1896. The growing
influence of the settlers - even though they were a handful, coincided with
a number of natural disasters - drought and Rinderpest being the worst.
Cattle, the wealth of the people, died like flies and there was terrible
hunger and deprivation.The whites are the problem the Nanga's said - kill
them and these problems will go away. The Shona and Ndebele rose up
overnight and a number of white settlements were wiped out and it took a
couple of years plus Rhodes to calm things down and get the country back to
normal. This, the first war against white control, was called
Chimurenga -because it was waged in the name of the spirit of Murenga. The
war that led to independence in 1980 was given the title the "Second
Chimurenga" and spirit mediums and Nanga's were deeply involved in that
struggle.It is therefore significant that the present conflict over land and
power is being called by Mugabe and his cohorts, the "Third Chimurenga". In
seeking to be
acknowledged as the custodian of the spirit of Murenga, Mugabe is tying his
political fortunes to the ancient beliefs of the people. It's powerful stuff
and a bold gamble. But it sharply contradicts his own position as an avowed
Catholic whose mother was a devout woman right up to her death. It also runs
contrary to the established Christian character of so many Zimbabweans
today. Whatever the position, Mugabe's threat to use this curse on people
who voted against him in the election and the association of the Zanu PF
political campaign with the spirit of war as expressed in the first and
second Chimurenga,
is simply "not cricket". It falls into the same category as his frequent
threats to use all forms of violence against his opponents - a threat he is
carrying out with ruthless intensity. But are the spirits on his side at
this time? A survey of spirit mediums and Nanga's recently came up with the
startling findings that the great majority are in fact blaming the violence,
associated closely with the land and Mugabe, for the current dry spell that
has gripped the country since the end of last year. Up to the end of
December we were having a good season - too wet in parts and below normal in
others, but by African standards, nothing to complain about. Then it just
stopped raining - first January and now, the 15th of February, and we are
still bone dry. The crops are dying in the south of the country and in the
north about 25 per cent of the potential of most crops have already been
lost and projected output is falling daily as the hot dry conditions
prevail.What non Zimbabweans need to understand is that this is most
unusual - January and February are our most reliable wet months and also the
months in which we would normally expect heavy and widespread rains. This
year - nicks! When this happens Africa goes back to its roots and the
spiritual troops are called out in numbers. Gods and Ancestors are invoked
and rituals performed.Mugabe, desperate to try and get some life out of the
blue skies, held a rain ceremony at his home in Zvimba. To no avail and the
talk now throughout the country is that maybe, just maybe; the spirits have
abandoned the Chef.Certainly he is being blamed for the lack of rain and for
the widespread hunger and suffering that is inevitably associated with the
phenomenon. Watching the satellite pictures on SA TV you can see the rain
systems at work all around us in the region - even the Limpopo was running
last week - testimony to the fact that its raining in dry Botswana - but not
here.I personally do not think that God intervenes in this way in the
affairs of men - I firmly believe that we are in control of planet earth and
if we want to we can wreck the planet or manage it responsibly so as to
conserve its limited resources and prosper the people. God leaves that to
us - that is why politics is important and people who argue that "politics
is a dirty game" and "politicians cannot be trusted" are wrong - its not
politics that is wrong in these circumstances it's the people we trust with
political power. Lets hope that as we change the guard in this particular
realm, we will also change the way things are done around here - to the
benefit of the country and its people and the region and the continent on
which we live. Right at the start of this political campaign to unseat
Mugabe, an elderly peasant farmer walked into Morgan's office in Harare.
"God has told me that your symbol in this campaign must be an open hand -
showing no threats and suggesting transparency. In addition your slogan must
be 'Chinga Maitiro' - 'change your ways'". He then left the office, caught a
bus and returned to his home 350 kilometers south of Harare. Morgan never
forgot the advice and this remains our campaign slogan until today - two
years down the track and three weeks from the election. What we hope is that
every Zimbabwean will realize that the power to change the way things are
done is not in the hands of some remote and hostilespirit - but in our
hands, in our votes. God helps, but it's our responsibility and if we fail -
we bear the consequences.

 Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 15th February 2002.

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Mugabe, Rival Campaign; New Monitor Mission Starts

Feb. 23
By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe and his main rival hit Zimbabwe's
campaign trail again Sunday as a fresh group of election observers begins
its mission amid rising domestic tension and international sanctions.

Mugabe, hoping to extend 22 years in power by beating opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai in a presidential election on March 9-10, was due to
address a rally in Lower Gweru, central Zimbabwe, while his foe was to
appear just 50 kms (33 miles) away in the town of Kwekwe.

A Commonwealth observer mission to the election also launches its work in
earnest Sunday. The European Union pulled its mission from Zimbabwe last
week, saying their observers would not be able to do their jobs.

Southern African observers in Zimbabwe have said a wave of political
violence threatens chances for a free and fair vote.

The Commonwealth mission chief, former Nigerian president General
Abdulsalami Abubakar, arrived in Harare Saturday to join a team of 32
observers from primarily former British colonies.

Spokesman Mwambu Wanendeya said Abubakar went straight into a series of
meetings with colleagues and Zimbabwean electoral authorities, and would
address a news conference Sunday.

In a rally Saturday, the 78-year-old Mugabe lambasted its former colonial
master, barely mentioning the United States, which slapped sanctions on him
late Friday.

"The war that we are in is between us and the British, their intention is to
keep their descendants on our land," Mugabe told the rally in Gwanda,
southeast of second city Bulawayo.

Mugabe has accused Britain of backtracking on a promise to fund land reform
in its former southern African colony, where he says the white minority
still owns a majority of the land.

He made no reference to the sanctions that the United States, one of
Britain's closest allies, lowered on Mugabe late Friday ahead of the

President Bush barred Mugabe and senior members of his government and their
families from entering the United States. The ban included those who through
their business dealings benefited from Mugabe's policies.

Mugabe's supporters said the U.S. sanctions were a Western maneuver to boost
his rivals, who have been mounting the biggest challenge to his rule which
began at independence from Britain in 1980.

On February 18, the European Union imposed a visa ban and asset freeze on
top Zimbabwean officials and withdrew its observers in the face of worsening
political tension and continued, often violent, invasions of farms by Mugabe

Thousands of Zimbabweans are trying to escape the growing political and
economic crisis and severe food shortages by going to neighboring South
Africa, which said Saturday it was tightening security in anticipation of
more migrants.
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From The Sunday Times (SA), 24 February

'There was nowhere to hide: We were trapped and being pelted from 360 degrees'

SA observers get first-hand experience of how Mugabe's thugs are fighting elections

'They were like an army formation. There was a back row providing the rocks and a front group who were throwing them. It was powerful." This is how a shaken member of the South African election observer mission to Zimbabwe described his terrifying experience on Friday, when the office of the Movement for Democratic Change at Kwekwe, about 200km southwest of Harare, was attacked by a mob of suspected Zanu PF youths. Economist Dr Bethuel Setai and National African Farmers' Union representative Eleazar Maahle, together with their South African driver, Elias Motswaledi, were on their way to Gweru from Harare when they stopped in Kwekwe to talk to political parties. "We went to the MDC offices because we wanted a list of their activities for the coming week - rallies, voter training and other related activities - that we needed to observe. We were there for about 45 minutes when we were told: 'They are here!'," Setai said. "Before we knew it, what seemed like 200 youths started stoning like hell. They were like an army . . . It was powerful. The building had been burnt previously, so there is no ceiling, no windows and the doors are all loose. There were about 30 of us inside. There was nowhere to hide. We just had the walls to navigate. We couldn't get out. We were trapped and being pelted from 360 degrees," he said. "It went on and on for about 15 minutes. It was like hail on top of the roof. They wanted to make sure that the roof falls in and takes care of us," Setai said.

The youth then began attacking the car, in which Motswaledi was waiting, with stones and iron bars. "Our van was clearly marked. It can't be mistaken," said Setai. "There was no reason to hit it as it was clearly away from the house." Motswaledi managed to drive to a police station - about 200m away - to seek help. "In the meantime, we had been phoning for help from inside the building. I even called Harare and told them that we were under attack," said Setai. The youths dispersed when Motswaledi returned with the police. Setai, Maahle and two MDC officials jumped into the car and sped off. Maahle was slightly injured during the incident, but four MDC officials were admitted to hospital. Setai said that when they went to the police station, they found two youths had been arrested. "But they were denying everything. They claimed they were just passing by," he said. The observers asked if they could interview the two youths. Under an agreement with the provincial commissioner, observers are allowed to do so, to establish the nature of the violence. However, the station's commanding officer refused. Setai said he was unable to reach the provincial commissioner to appeal. "We asked how long the police would hold the youths in custody. They said it would be as long as the investigation takes. But I don't believe we will get to interview them," Setai said.

The observers left Kwekwe for Gweru later that afternoon. "We will go back," said Setai. "It was no joke. We felt helpless and trapped, being stoned from all directions at high speed. But we will go back. This could easily turn out to be a setback for the mission. The situation still requires management. It ought not to happen again. The whole nation has been told to respect the observers so this should not have happened," he said, adding that the tension was thick on the ground. "You can feel it. You can pick it up from the reaction of people. They are so happy that we have come. They say we are saviours. Even now, after the attack, they are saying 'Please stay. We don't know what will happen when you leave.' " The South African government has vowed to continue its election observer mission in Zimbabwe, despite the attack. "There is no question of withdrawal of the SA observer mission," Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said. "On the contrary, the last batch of the observers leave for Harare in early March to participate in the mission." Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said President Thabo Mbeki, who is in Sweden for the Stockholm Progressive Summit, had immediately been informed about the attack. "He has welcomed the strictness of the Zimbabwean police for the immediate arrests and said he hoped the perpetrators will be punished," said Khumalo.

From The Sunday Telegraph (UK), 24 February

S African poll monitors ignore Zanu PF attack

Harare - The South African observer mission to Zimbabwe's presidential election suffered a crippling blow to its credibility yesterday after its leader refused to acknowledge that Zanu PF supporters attacked some of his monitors. About 200 chanting youths laid siege to the office of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the small mining town of Kwekwe on Friday as South African observers were inside. They also stoned the monitors' car. Sam Motsuenyane, the leader of the South African delegation, insisted however that he could not identify the attackers. "They were an amorphous mob," he said. "I can't associate them with any group, though the motive must have been political." After the withdrawal last week of European Union monitors, the Zimbabwean opposition had hoped that the presence of the South African team would temper the worst excesses of followers of Robert Mugabe. Those prospects have now been ended. "It's pathetic," said David Coltart, the MDC's justice spokesman. "You know that Zanu PF has said we've attacked our own offices before, and if there's any doubt about who is responsible for the attack in Kwekwe, one needs only to consider the history of Zanu PF. "They're certainly responsible for the violence during the last two years - and for the attack on our Kwekwe office on Friday." Dr Motsuenyane said that the protection of buildings was not a matter for the observer mission.

Meanwhile, a mission spokesman dismissed Friday's police attack on the convoy carrying Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, saying: "We have limited power and it's not for us to protect the leader of a political party. That's not our mandate." Police turned teargas and automatic weapons on Mr Tsvangirai when he stopped for refreshments at a small trading centre in Masvingo Province. He was on his way to a party rally. As Mr Mugabe's Youth Brigades terrorised two white farmers in Mutorashanga, 60 miles north of Harare, yesterday, Musi Mulela, the South African Observer Mission's spokesman, told The Telegraph that he was unaware of the incident and was not sure where his observers were. The farmers, Bob Fraser-Mackenzie and Rootle Braunstein, had been helping workers check whether they were on the voters' roll when they were detained by the Youth Brigades and accused of meddling in politics. America on Friday joined the EU in imposing travel and financial sanctions on President Mugabe and his henchmen. The departure of the EU election observers has prompted fears that the government will unleash increasing violence and terror on the country. There are also concerns that Mr Tsvangirai may be arrested on trumped up charges of plotting to assassinate the president. Although diplomats say that Mr Mugabe assured President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique that Mr Tsvangirai would not be arrested before the election, the fawning state-controlled press leads with the story of the plot every day.

From ZWNEWS, 24 February

Summary evictions spread

The latest spate of evictions of farmers and their labour, which began in Chegutu on Friday, spread yesterday to farms in the Ayreshire district near Raffingora in northern Zimbabwe. Farmers have been forced out of their homes, and their labour dispersed, with only minutes notice, in the escalating violence ahead of the presidential elections in two weeks time. James Ogden-Brown of Chegutu was given 30 minutes to pack and leave his farm on Friday. He has only received preliminary notice from the government of its intention to seize his land, and there were no settlers present on it. A volatile incident, in which a mob of Zanu PF supporters also stole his firearms, was narrowly averted by the arrival of neighbours. The police only arrived after the Ogden-Brown family had left. The mob then attacked another farm in the area.

On Saturday, a Zanu PF rally in Raffingora was addressed by Ignatius Chombo, minister of local government, and MP for the area. Reports from people who attended the meeting say Chombo issued several threats against farmers in the area, warning some that their farms, and the local social club, were to be seized this week. One farmer was driven from his farm on Saturday evening. This is not the first time that Chombo has used threats of violence. Severe violence and intimidation were rife in the area in January following the wholesale trashing of farmsteads and workers housing in the neighbouring Hunyani Valley.

It is thought that these renewed attempts to completely clear farmers and their workers from commercial farming areas is part of Zanu PF’s attempt to prevent likely opposition supporters from being able to exercise their vote on March 9 and 10. The government recently changed the electoral laws to force people to vote in their constituencies. If there are driven from the areas in which they live and work, they are effectively disenfranchised. All previous presidential elections have been held on the basis that any registered voter could vote anywhere in the country.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 24 February

Jonathan Moyo learnt his lesson

Bulawayo - The old saying, "once beaten, twice shy", might not make much sense to many Zimbabweans struggling to get elusive basic commodities such as maize meal and cooking oil, but it certainly means a lot to information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo. For the minister, who almost converted a local hotel here into his office last year while campaigning for George Mlilo, the ruling party candidate in Bulawayo mayoral elections, appears to have taken heed of it. Residents here who got accustomed to seeing Moyo on a daily basis drumming up support for Zanu PF, say his absence from the city a few weeks before the presidential poll is an indication that he has simply accepted defeat and doesn't want to get embarrassed again.

In Zanu PF, political heavyweights normally go to their grassroots in times of presidential elections to ensure that Robert Mugabe gets the maximum votes from their areas. Leaders whose provinces come up with outstanding results are normally rewarded with cabinet or politburo posts, as happened with the late minister Border Gezi, and now with Elliot Manyika, the secretary for the Zanu PF commissariat. But Bulawayo residents say this is not the same with Moyo, who after launching a high profile campaign punctuated by generous donations running into millions of dollars, had a rude awakening as opposition MDC candidate Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube trounced Zanu PF by wide margin. Ndabeni-Ncube polled 60 988 to dismiss Mlilo who got only 12 783 votes.

This defeat was a great embarrassment for Moyo who had personally taken charge of the ruling party campaign, assisted by some reporters from the state-owned Chronicle newspaper. The minister had worked tirelessly to ensure that his party, loathed by people here, most of them with relatives who perished in the Gukurahundi massacre of the early 80s, would win the election. Armed with millions of Zimbabwe dollars, he went around dishing money to co-operatives, schools and other institutions preaching the name of Zanu PF. Moyo unsuccessfully sought to sideline the local Zanu PF leadership which included local party heavyweights such as Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Dumiso Dabengwa, whose political roots are steeped in Matabeleland, raising the ire of party stalwarts.

The stunning defeat, analysts say, exposed the minister to the stark reality that he was a political novice who could simply not read that Matabeleland was a stronghold of the opposition MDC. Now the professor, who is yet to come and actively campaign for Mugabe in Matabeleland, appears to have understood this message clearly and seems eager to stay clear of the personal embarrassment he suffered last August. Zanu PF stalwarts blamed him for the party's poor showing saying Moyo, who sought to impose himself as the heir to the late vice president Joshua Nkomo, was using divisive tactics, which were not helpful. They said he had discredited the party by bringing millions of dollars a few days before the poll, a move widely seen as vote-buying.

"Jonathan must have realised that he made a mistake in last year's mayoral election which earned him more enemies than friends in his own party. He can't afford to come and get embarrassed again," says Moffat Mpofu, a Bulawayo resident. He adds: "Certainly professor is no longer day dreaming. He is too intelligent not to realise that bringing millions again would make him a very big fool. People will rush for his money but they won't vote for Mugabe." Commended a Luveve resident: "I am sure the professor is now afraid of Matabeleland. He has had enough embarrassment recently, especially from Zvobgo in parliament, and he doesn't want to be embarrassed again when his province fails to give Mugabe meaningful votes. He would rather stay in Bulawayo and blame those who campaigned for the president in Matabeleland. But sadly he will remain a leader without grassroots support."

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 22 February

Court orders RG to reinstate voter

The High Court this week reversed the Registrar-General's decision to de-register a permanent resident from the voters' roll in the forthcoming March presidential election. In a test case filed by Diana Elizabeth Feltoe against Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, Justice Paddington Garwe declared that the applicant should remain on the voters' roll until her case is determined by a magistrate's court. This effectively means she is entitled to vote in the presidential election unless her name is struck off the register after a hearing at a magistrate's court. While Feltoe was born in Zimbabwe in 1940, her parents were born in England. For years, she was a holder of a Zimbabwean passport. At the beginning of 2001, she successfully applied for a British passport and with the passing of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe (Amendment) Act last year, she renounced her Zimbabwean citizenship. In September the same year, the Department of Immigration confirmed her as a permanent resident.

She was a registered voter but following her renunciation of Zimbabwean citizenship she, like thousands of others, lost her entitlement to vote on the basis of citizenship. The Registrar-General earlier this year notified Feltoe that she was no longer registered as a voter and that she could appeal in a magistrate's court. She then made an urgent application in the High Court appealing against the Registrar-General's decision. Feltoe argued that the section of the constitution used by the Registrar-General to disenfranchise her only applied to parliamentary elections and not presidential elections. In addition, she argued that as provided for in the constitution, she was entitled to remain on the voters' roll because she had been a permanent resident in Zimbabwe since before December 31 1985 and that she was being deprived of her constitutional right to apply to register as a voter as the voters' roll had already closed. "There is no provision in the law for the name to be removed prior to such determination (by the magistrate)," said Justice Garwe, ordering the RG not to remove her.

From the MDC, 24 February

Volunteers needed

We need further volunteers to: be polling agents from 8 – 11 March; to drive polling agents; to feed polling agents; to donate fuel and the use of vehicles; to assist with administration, telephone support, radio networks, computers, etc.

The polling agents will need to be available from 8 –11 March, and be present at the polling station throughout this period for 24 hours a day, as well as making sure the box is delivered intact to the counting station. The polling agent’s role is to observe, report back to the central teams whether there are any irregularities, to physically follow the ballot box to the counting centres and to wait with the box until it is opened so that s/he can verify that there has been no rigging of the vote. Since the recent changes to the Electoral Act prevent polling agents and monitors from travelling with the ballot boxes, we also need to assist polling agents and monitors to get to and from all polling stations throughout the country.

During the last election there was no violence at all during the voting period, and no comeback on volunteers in any areas. We do not expect any violence during the voting period this year. If you feel unsafe in your area, please volunteer to go to another area. Volunteers will be linked to a central support system with access to international observers, the press and there will be a reaction ream in each constituency.

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Commonwealth Mission Starts Work in Zimbabwe
VOA News
24 Feb 2002 05:21 UTC

A new election monitor mission is expected to begin its work Sunday in
Zimbabwe amid ongoing campaign violence.

The Commonwealth observer mission brings together a team of 32 monitors
mainly from former British colonies.

An observer mission from the European Union quit last week saying it was
being prevented from doing its job.

Both the European Union and the United States slapped travel restrictions on
President Robert Mugabe and top officials last week to protest a lack of law
and order during the present election campaign. Supporters of Mr. Mugabe
have dismissed the sanctions as an alleged ploy to favor the opposition.

Mr. Mugabe and his opponent in next month's presidential election, Morgan
Tsvangirai, both have scheduled campaign stops Sunday, Mr. Mugabe in Lower
Gweru in central Zimbabwe and Mr. Tsvangirai in Kwekwe, just 50 kilometers

Mobs of government supporters have disrupted several opposition rallies in
recent days.

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Zimbabwean officials dismiss U.S. travel sanctions, threaten businesses not
owned by blacks


HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 23 — A top official for Zimbabwe's ruling party
scoffed Saturday at travel sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe by
the United States, while a top minister said the government should take over
businesses owned by whites and people of Indian origin.

       Citing a ''continued failure'' by Mugabe to maintain democratic rule,
President Bush signed a proclamation Friday that suspends U.S. entry
privileges for Mugabe, his family or senior members of his government.
       The American move follows a decision by the European Union to impose
sanctions that will deny Mugabe and senior officials visas to visit Europe
and freeze their assets there.
       Didymus Mutasa, foreign relations spokesman for Mugabe's ruling
ZANU-PF party, dismissed the new American measures as another plot by
foreign forces to help the opposition.
       ''They will not work,'' Mutasa was quoted by state radio as saying.
       Mugabe, 78, will be fighting for his political survival in the March
9-10 presidential elections after nearly 22 years in power. He is facing
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
       Government minister Elliott Manyika said that if Mugabe is
re-elected, the government would move to expropriate businesses not owned by
blacks. He said companies run by non-blacks are hoarding essential
commodities and creating artificial shortages in the country.
       ''As a government we should get into partnerships with workers and
take over these companies,'' Manyika told the weekly Zimbabwe Mirror. ''This
would be part of indigenization which is no doubt the foundation of any
successful economy in the world.''
       ''Asians, commonly referred to as Indians, would not be spared for
their role in hoarding essential commodities,'' Manyika added.
       Some 20,000 people of Indian subcontinent descent live in Zimbabwe
along with about 40,000 whites in the country. Together they make up less
than one percent of the population but have prominent roles in business and
       Zimbabwe's plunge into chaos began almost two years ago when, under
the mantle of land reform for landless blacks, Mugabe gave his tacit consent
to the violent occupations of white-owned farms. Until Saturday, the
country's small community of citizens of Indian origin had not been singled
out for blame.
       On Saturday political violence flared outside of an opposition rally
at a stadium in Shururgwe, 150 miles south of the capital of Harare.
       Opposition party spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said truckloads of youth
supporting the ruling party were brought in and threw stones, forcing the
opposition to cancel speeches. Jongwe said there were some injuries, but did
not immediately say how many.
       No comment was available from ruling party or police officials.

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UN Wire, Sun 24 Feb 2002

Annan Urges Fair Vote

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday urged the incumbent and
opposition candidates in next month's Zimbabwean presidential election to
work for a fair vote, saying the election is a "critical test" for African

"The people of Zimbabwe must be allowed to cast their votes free from
violence, intimidation and hindrance of any kind, in the presence of as wide
a range of international observers as possible," Annan said.  "For the sake
of the people of Zimbabwe, of its neighbors and the entire continent of
Africa, I appeal to the government to let the people make their choice and
to live by it."

Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has been effectively prohibited from
campaigning outside urban centers, according to United Press International
(William Reilly, UPI, Feb. 21).  Despite this, a poll published Wednesday
indicates Tsvangirai could still defeat President Robert Mugabe.

In related news, the U.S. State Department said earlier this week that it
plans to impose a travel ban on Mugabe and will consider other measures,
given reports of government intimidation and violence.  The final decision
on sanctions rests with President George W. Bush (Agence France-Press/Yahoo!
News, Feb. 21).

The U.S. announcement follows "targeted sanctions" imposed by the European
Union in reaction to restrictions placed on its election observers (UN Wire,
Feb. 19).

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Sydney Morning Herald

Labor calls for 'smart sanctions' on Mugabe

By Fia Cumming and agencies

The Labor Party has called on the Howard Government to put immediate bans on
Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe regime, including preventing the rogue president
from attending the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The move comes after US President George Bush, following the lead of the
European Union, banned Mr Mugabe, his family and senior members of his
regime from visiting America in protest at their refusal to co-operate with
European election monitors.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Mr Mugabe had left no
doubt that he did not intend to allow free and fair elections when the
country goes to the polls next month, and that Australia should also act.

Mr Rudd said Australian sanctions should include restrictions on air travel
by Mr Mugabe and members of his government, freezing any financial assets in
Australia and downgrading diplomatic contacts.

"Australian sanctions should remain in place until the international
community is satisfied that fundamental democratic rights are being
respected in Zimbabwe," he said.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, who strongly supports
targeted sanctions, believes his hands are tied while Zimbabwe remains a
member of the Commonwealth.

A spokesman for Mr Downer said Mr Mugabe could not be excluded from the
CHOGM meeting, which starts on the Sunshine Coast next Saturday. All member
states are entitled to attend the Heads of Government Meeting and Australia,
as the host nation, is obliged to accept them.

"At this stage, they haven't been suspended from the Commonwealth so
Zimbabwe is entitled to attend," Mr Downer's spokesman said. "We haven't
heard one way or the other whether Mugabe will be attending himself."

However, the spokesman said Mr Downer now believed Mr Mugabe was likely to
stay at home because of the March 9 election.

Mr Downer tried to have Zimbabwe suspended from the Commonwealth at the
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting in London last month, but was

He may renew his push for suspension at the group's pre-CHOGM meeting this
Friday, if word from election observers in Zimbabwe is bad.

In announcing the travel ban on Friday, President Bush said the order was a
protest against "political violence and intimidation" in the lead-up to the

Last Monday, the EU imposed similar targeted sanctions on travel and
financial assets and also withdrew its delegation of observers for the
elections after the Government of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party refused to
grant them accreditation.

Australia remains committed to the observer process and has sent two
delegates, Liberal MP Julie Bishop and former Australian Electoral
Commissioner Bill Gray, as part of the Commonwealth Observer team.

But Mr Downer has made it clear that Australia will impose "smart" or
targeted sanctions if, as seems likely, the elections are not free and fair.

He has ruled out economic sanctions which would hurt the Zimbabwean people,
who are already on the verge of a food crisis due to massive disruption of
their economy.

The CHOGM will be the largest gathering of international leaders in
Australia. Most of the 52 Commonwealth countries will be represented.

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Times of India

Krishnamurthy, Vinod Khanna in observer Zimbabwe group

PTI [ SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2002  11:29:18 AM ]

ONDON: Election Commission member T S Krishnamurthy and film
star-turned-politician Vinod Khanna are among the 45 observers named by the
Commonwealth for the Zimbabwe presidential election.

The observer group has been established in response to an invitation from
the Zimbabwe government and has the support of the main political parties in
the country, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said in a statement

The group will start work with immediate effect. It is chaired by Gen A A
Abubaker, former head of state of Nigeria and will include 33 eminent
Commonwealth citizens and 12 Commonwealth Secretariat staff.

Bangladeshi Election Commission member M M Munsef Ali, Chief Electoral
Officer of Solomon Islands John Babalu and Australian MP Julie Bishop are
the other members of the observer group.

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Sunday Independent (Ireland)

Time is running out for Mugabe

Conor Cruise o'Brien says the Zimbabwe leader will not last more than six

A WORD about Robert Mugabe. First a personal reminiscence. I had only one
meeting with Robert Mugabe. It was a memorable one, though hardly a pleasant
memory. This was in the last days of Ian Smith's Rhodesia. I was on a tour
of the limitrophes, the neighbouring African countries, to see who the
likely successor would turn out to be. The favourite was already Robert
Mugabe, who of course turned out to be the winner.

At the time I went to meet Mugabe I had no particular view about him, though
I was about to form a definite one. He received me with a set, heavy sneer
on his face and I knew at once that he was about to say something
unpleasant. What he said was: "Is it true, Dr O'Brien, that you are a
traitor to your country?"

I told Mugabe that the only people in Ireland who took that view of me were
the IRA and its agents. They were not representative of the Irish people.
The IRA was a proscribed organisation under the laws of the Republic.

Mugabe neither accepted nor denied what I had said. The rest of the
interview took a normal course, concerning the situation in and around what
was then Rhodesia. There was, however, an interesting sequel.

When I got back to Europe, the BBC rang and asked me whether I would be
prepared to interview Mugabe. Mugabe, they said, had already agreed to be
interviewed. I said I would be happy to interview Mugabe. After a short
while the BBC rang back apologetically. Mugabe was not prepared to be
interviewed by me. Anyone else, but certainly not Dr O'Brien.

On reflection I could see that this decision made sense from Mugabe's point
of view. Mugabe in London was trying, successfully enough, to project the
image of a responsible statesman. The question he had put to me, strongly
suggestive of approval of the aims and methods of the Provisional IRA, then
at war with Britain, would jar with his responsible image. He could not run
the risk of being remindedof that interview before a British audience.
Therefore he would not be interviewed with Dr O'Brien.

The impression I formed of Mugabe at this time was of a crafty,
cold-blooded, ruthless politician, careful to project a benign image for the
benefit of Western audiences. That impression held good for most of Mugabe's
reign, but over the past few years it changed drastically for the worse.
Mugabe started pursuing policies which ruined Zimbabwe's previously
prosperous economy, alienated most of its population and isolated him from
all the Western powers previously favourable to him.

An article in The Times (London) Thursday was headed 'Ageing Mugabe astute
but displaying signs of stroke'. I can see nothing 'astute' about the course
of action described above, but the 'signs of stroke' reference is
interesting. According to the article: "Medical sources say there is
evidence that he may have suffered a stroke recently. Visitors to his office
speak of indications of locomotive dysfunction. 'We were drinking tea and he
wanted to put his cup down,' said one visitor. 'He nearly broke the cup and

Personally, I believe Mugabe is suffering from what used to be called, and
perhaps still is, General Paralysis of the Insane, the terminal phase of

Mugabe is determined to declare himself the winner in Zimbabwe's elections,
now due in about a week's time. He obviously could not win in fair
elections, but he is trying hard to frighten likely opposition voters to
stay away, and will no doubt try not to have any votes against him counted.
In the last resort, the officers now in charge of his armed forces say they
will ignore the results of any election that goes against him.

Whatever way the election goes, it is already clear that Mugabe cannot last
much longer. With a ruined economy, the soldiers know that their own pay is
in imminent danger. If the elections go against Mugabe, officers who try to
ignore the results of the elections are likely to be ousted by those who
want to see an end of Mugabe.

If Mugabe wins the election by fraudulent means which are the only means by
which he can win them the Western powers will boycott Zimbabwe, and back
their boycott with stringent sanctions. Here again the army, in their own
economic interests, will need to get rid of Mugabe.

It is always difficult to set a time-limit in such matters, but I don't
think Mugabe can now survive for more than six months. If he loses the
elections, he will be out almost immediately, whatever his friends in the
army may now threaten. If he wins the election but his victory is classified
as fraudulent by all the most important foreign countries, he can hang on
for a little longer, but only a little.

When he falls, blacks and whites in Zimbabwe except for some young thugs
will be united in a common joy.

Conor Cruise O'Brien

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Mugabe 'not to blame'

Johannesburg - The South African branch of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe's governing
party, lambasted the "imperialistic media" on Sunday for "demonising"
President Robert Mugabe by blaming him for lawlessness in that country.

Addressing the official opening of Zanu-PF's Gauteng branch, its chairperson
Bigvai Gumede said Mugabe was not responsible for the mayhem currently
taking place there.

Gumede said whatever actions the Zimbabwean authorities were taking were in
fulfillment of the people's wishes.

"The imperialist media deliberately distorted justice as lawlessness and
created a generally bad image about Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF by blaming the war
veteran as invaders and land grabbers."

Tracing the ongoing conflict, Gumede said this started after the British
government had failed to honour its promises to fund the transfer of unused
land from "absentee British landlords" to the masses.

"Then the landless masses who had made endless sacrifices for the
repossession of land and the genuine liberation decided it was time justice

Blaming Zimbabwe's economic woes on "imperialists", he said they were
committing economic sabotage against the country.

"There is a constant concerted effort to create foreign currency shortages
in the banks by the county's enemies, while they sponsor black market
foreign exchanges in the streets."

Asked how the local Zanu-PF would ensure their members go home to vote,
Gumede said the organisation was already encouraging all its members to go

The gathering was marked with chanting of pro-Mugabe slogans and the singing
of freedom songs.

Among those who attended were some Pan Africanist Congress supporters.

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ABC News Australia

Mon, Feb 25 2002 5:41 AM AEDT

Commonwealth boosts Zimbabwe mission

The Commonwealth has beefed up its observer team two weeks ahead of
Zimbabwe's fiercely contested presidential election.

The mission's chief, former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar, says the
team of 39, with additional observers expected before the March 9-10 poll,
makes it the largest mission since South Africa's first all-race poll in

"We hope it will also give confidence to the people of this country," Mr
Abubakar told a news conference.

"We hope that our observation of both the details of the process and the
wider environment in which it takes place will help to strengthen democratic
processes, institutions and values in Zimbabwe now and for the future," he

Mr Abubakar says an attack on opposition offices that left two South African
observers injured was "unfortunate", and he hopes no future incidents will
take place.

The South Africans were hurt in the central town of Kwekwe, when about 200
ruling party supporters, armed with stones and iron bars, attacked the
offices of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

An advance team from the Commonwealth of mainly former British colonies
arrived in Zimbabwe on February 5. Mr Abubakar says the main contingent,
including himself, arrived during the last two days.

Political violence has already marred the campaign for Zimbabwe's
presidency, in which Robert Mugabe is battling to extend his 22-year grip on
power against his first significant challenger, MDC leader Morgan

At least 26 people have died in politically motivated attacks so far this
year, while hundreds more have been tortured, according to rights groups.

The European Union pulled its advance observer team out of Zimbabwe and
decided Monday to impose sanctions on Mugabe and 19 top government and
military officials, including a freeze on their overseas assets and a travel
ban to the 15-nation bloc.

The EU decision followed the expulsion last week of Pierre Schori, the
Swedish chief of the EU observer team whom Mugabe called "dishonest and

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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 18:04 GMT
Zimbabwe observers undaunted
President Robert Mugabe addressing rally
Mr Mugabe defies international criticism
Commonwealth officials say they will make a fair assessment of next month's presidential election in Zimbabwe, where campaigning has been marred by political violence.

The head of the Commonwealth team - former Nigerian head of state Abdulsalami Abubakar - said he had about 40 observers on the ground monitoring the run-up to the poll.

The Commonwealth ... seems to have been hoodwinked into believing that Mugabe would somehow listen to the voice of reason

Morgan Tsvangirai
Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon said the numbers were insufficient, but a fair assessment was possible and his organisation would remain engaged with President Robert Mugabe.

In further unrest on Sunday hundreds of supporters of President Mugabe attacked followers of his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The violence flared up in Chinhoyi, Mr Mugabe's home town. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) said some of its election monitors were in a car pelted with stones by the pro-Mugabe militants, Reuters news agency reported.

Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme, Mr McKinnon said it was not easy to find experienced people to make up for the EU observers who left the country after the EU imposed sanctions against Mr Mugabe.

The head of the Commonwealth observer mission Abdulsalami Abubakar
Mr Abubakar has about 40 observers in Zimbabwe

Invited observers

  • Southern African Development Community
  • Commonwealth (excluding UK)
  • EU (withdrawn)
  • Organisation of African Unity

    Who are the observers?

  • Mr Tsvangirai told the programme the Commonwealth was being hoodwinked by Mr Mugabe.

    The chief Commonwealth observer said he was sending 20 teams of two observers each across the country.

    "Our concern will be purely with the electoral environment and the process rather than the outcome," Mr Abubakar told a news briefing on Sunday.

    "We will be impartial and objective, we will give an honest assessment."

    Impact of sanctions

    Mr Tsvangirai said the EU sanctions had been late, but the impact of their withdrawal had already made the elections "illegitimate".

    The move had sent a strong signal to "Mugabe and his cronies that the international community will not accept any other result but the result that will reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe".

    Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
    Morgan Tsvangirai said sanctions had come too late
    He said the Commonwealth appeared to have been "hoodwinked into believing that Mugabe would somehow listen to the voice of reason".

    Last week, two South African observers were holed up in an MDC office by 200 pro-government militants.

    The pair were not injured, but Mr Abubakar said it was "unfortunate that the incident took place".

    The deployment of observers from South Africa had somewhat improved the situation, according to Mr Tsvangirai, although there were still "isolated incidents".

    The United States has joined the EU in banning Mr Mugabe and his ruling elite travelling to the their country - a move Mr Mugabe described as a "Western ploy".

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    ABC News

    Zimbabwe Rivals on Campaign Trail as Monitors Start

    Feb. 24
    By Stella Mapenzauswa and Cris Chinaka

    HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe and his main rival hit Zimbabwe's
    campaign trail again Sunday as a fresh group of election observers prepared
    to begin its mission amid rising domestic tension and international

    Mugabe, hoping to extend 22 years in power by beating opposition leader
    Morgan Tsvangirai in elections on March 9-10, was due to address a rally in
    central Zimbabwe, while his foe was appearing in Chinhoyi, both government

    Chinhoyi was the scene of fighting last August when Mugabe's supporters
    forcibly seized white-owned farms as part of the president's controversial
    land reform program.

    Tsvangirai will appear in the town of Kwekwe, just 50 km (33 miles) from
    Mugabe's rally, later in the day.

    A Commonwealth observer mission to the election launched its work in earnest
    Sunday. The European Union pulled its mission from Zimbabwe last week,
    saying its observers would not be able to do their jobs.

    The Commonwealth mission chief, former Nigerian president General
    Abdulsalami Abubakar, said he would be sending 20 teams of two observers
    throughout the country from next week.

    "Our concern will be purely with the electoral environment and the process
    rather than the outcome," he told a news briefing Sunday.

    Southern African observers in Zimbabwe have said a wave of political
    violence threatens chances for a free and fair vote.

    Last week, two South African observers were holed up in an MDC office by 200
    pro-government militants armed with stones and iron bars in the first
    incident involving election observers. The pair were not injured.

    "It is unfortunate that the incident took place," Abubakar said Sunday,
    declining to say whether he was concerned about the safety of his own team.


    The MDC said five of its supporters had been injured in the same attack and
    that more than 100 had been killed in political violence since February
    2000, when farm invasions began.

    In a rally Saturday, the 78-year-old Mugabe defended his land reform program
    and accused Britain of backtracking on a promise to help redistribute land
    in its former colony, where he says the white minority still own the greater
    part of the land.

    "The war that we are in is between us and the British. Their intention is to
    keep their descendants on our land," Mugabe told the rally in Gwanda,
    southeast of the second city Bulawayo.

    He made no reference to the sanctions that the United States imposed on
    Mugabe late Friday ahead of the election.

    President Bush barred Mugabe and senior members of his government and their
    families from entering the United States. The ban included those who
    benefited from Mugabe's policies through business dealings.

    Mugabe's supporters said the U.S. sanctions were a Western maneuver to boost
    his rivals, who are mounting the biggest challenge to his rule since
    independence from Britain in 1980.

    On February 18, the European Union imposed a visa ban and asset freeze on
    top Zimbabwean officials and withdrew its observers in the face of worsening
    political tension and continued, often violent, farm invasions by Mugabe

    Thousands of Zimbabweans are trying to escape the growing political and
    economic crisis and severe food shortages by going to neighboring South
    Africa, which said Saturday it was tightening security in anticipation of
    more migrants.

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    Growing up in Africa

    When Morgan spoke at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare recently, the TV camera
    panned the crowd and picked up a single, young, white boy, sitting in a
    group of young black men of his own generation. The camera came back to this
    scene several times - why I do not know but I knew the young man - it was
    "Tawanda" Spicer.  In recent weeks he has become quite a symbol of the young
    in this country, speaking Shona fluently and a strong and active supporter
    of the MDC. He has been arrested and kidnapped and charged with murder - I
    think we still do not know which murder he was meant to have committed.

    Often we see him in Harare outside the head office of the MDC with his
    friends, on guard and watching to see if anything might happen. Ready always
    to take off on some errand to a remote corner of the country, unpaid,
    sleeping rough and taking huge risks along with the other young people who
    make up the thousands of youngsters in our Youth Wing. This is led by a
    remarkable young man - Chamisa, who is a fine speaker and full of vibrant
    energy. It makes me tired just looking at him working away at the campaign.

    Tawanda's parents are a sophisticated and well-educated couple - his mother
    is well known in her own right as a film producer and intellectual. They let
    Tawanda have his head, as they know full well that this is the opportunity
    of a lifetime to be involved in a genuine struggle for human dignity and
    democracy in Africa. One day the world will pick him up and fling him into
    the mainstream of society where he will have to start to make a living like
    the rest of us and worry about a mortgage. Until then its freedom to do what
    he thinks is right.

    I can remember growing up in the eastern parts of the Matopos hills -
    spending the holidays roaming the hilly country that once hid the fighting
    Impis of the Amandebele. Driving cattle to and from sales - sleeping in the
    bush with the workers who were doing most of the work, I was completely at
    home in this environment - never for one minute thought that there was any
    risk of living in this way. A friend was growing up on the ranch next door
    and he spoke Ndebele as a first language - I could not although I have
    always been able to "get by" in the main languages of the country. The
    companion of my youth is now a farm
    manager somewhere in the country and I hear of him and his family from time
    to time. He was famous in the district in which we grew up for leaping into
    an arsenic dip to save a calf that was too young to have been allowed into
    the dipping system. He survived but was badly burned and was lucky not to
    have killed himself.

    We watched poachers at night and helped with the farming when needed. Our
    best friends were black youngsters growing up with us in the wilderness.
    Then separation and school, followed by work and marriage, followed by the
    mortgage. But the influence of the early days of our lives lingers on.

    When I was at University the struggle against the Smith government was in
    its infancy - but my lecturers were all arrested or fled the country. Two
    were locked up for possessing weapons of war. As students we clashed with
    the riot police and I became the organising secretary for a political group
    that challenged Smith at the Polls in the 60s and 70s. I was an angry young
    man of liberal politics in Zimbabwe, speaking at rallies in the townships
    and generally making myself a nuisance. One of the main reasons I did it was
    to make sure that the young black people of my generation knew that at least
    some whites cared about what they faced every day in their lives. I can
    remember speaking in Sakubva in the 60s and the crowd of young men singing
    and shouting "we are tired of talking, we want guns". They got their guns
    and we spent 10 years in the bush fighting a national insurgency, which
    eventually led to independence.

    I am right now sitting at my computer writing, in a shirt and shorts with
    velskoens and no socks. I can remember traveling to Munich one weekend to
    visit friends who had left Zimbabwe because of the war in the 70s. On the
    plane I changed into shorts, velskoens and no socks. When Tom spotted me I
    thought he was going to cry. He was the Chief Executive of the Boston
    Consulting Group in Europe, married to a gorgeous German girl, but still
    homesick for Africa after all these years.

    A word for Tawanda - you will never forget these years of your youth growing
    up in Africa. The richness of the relationships you will forge, the
    experiences of the struggle and the suffering. The feeling of acceptance and
    worth that no amount of money can buy. It's a special privilege to grow up
    in Africa. It's a special privilege to be part of a struggle for justice and

    The stark contrast between Morgan's rallies and those of Mugabe is becoming
    more and more apparent. While the Police and the Army make every effort to
    restrict the crowds at Morgan's rallies, people walk miles to get there on
    time and wait patiently for the main speaker. When he speaks there is much
    laughter and roars of agreement. They are great occaisions to attend and
    people doing so leave with their spirits uplifted and encouraged. Mugabe's
    meetings are preceded by threats of violence if you do not attend. Schools
    are closed and farmers instructed to bring their staff to the rally or else.
    They sit in the sun waiting for the man to arrive and when he does its in a
    helicopter or motorcade, surrounded by dozens of security staff and hangers
    on. He proceeds to the podium, adjusts his glasses and then lambastes
    everyone from Blair to Mbeki. The speeches are greeted with silence or muted
    applause, slogans are shouted and the crowd is told to react on cue to this
    activity. When it's over the people walk slowly home weary and exhausted and
    concerned about their future.

    Overhead the sun shines relentlessly - we have had little rain for over
    eight weeks now and this is having a serious effect on crops. There is
    little in the way of food in the shops and stocks at home are running low.
    The national staple food, maize is virtually unobtainable. Despite promises,
    the depot at Beitbridge is still empty and this morning the local GMB depot
    had nothing in stock and no idea of when imported supplies would arrive. In
    all of my experience, this is the worst situation we have ever faced as a
    nation. How Mugabe can dare to get up and speak to the people under these
    circumstances is arrogance beyond words.

    Just today he went to Lupane to speak to a rally - Lupane where he launched
    Gukurahundi in 1983. Lupane where the hospitals were crammed with the dead
    and dying as his 5th Brigade rampaged through the district. Lupane, where
    today, thousands have no idea of what happened to sons and fathers. The
    people hungry, denied food by the failed economy and restrictions on the
    NGOs, sitting in the sunshine and being harangued in Shona and English by a
    man they never thought they would see again. Prior to the visit he sent in
    the dreaded armored cars, just a reminder that when all else fails he still
    has the power to kill and maim.

    It's 14 days to go - the other day I stopped at a remote spot in the
    bushveld where a windmill turned slowly pumping water for the cattle. The
    sun slanted down and the evening light gave the whole a quiet glow,
    enriching the colors and the solitude. Africa, there is no place like it on
    earth. Are we about to see the people struggle to their feet and walk to
    vote, defiantly and with
    great courage, against tyranny? I think so, and then there will be a future
    for Tawanda and his friends in the land of their birth.

    Eddie Cross

    Bulawayo, 22 February 2002

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    If YOU want a free and fair election then help us make it happen.

    We need:

    4500 vehicles (with fuel and drivers) to monitor EVERY polling station in
    the country
    cell phones to assist with communications
    volunteers to feed the polling agents and monitors over election weekend and
    counting days
    donations of food and drink
    donations of cash from local Zimbabweans
    willing hands to put up election posters and distribute fliers in your area
    Email and cc. to volunteer

    Tel: 091-260951

    We need you, your friends and employees to turn out and VOTE

    Given the reduction in the number of polling stations in major centres
    across the country, we need you to be DETERMINED to VOTE. It will be worth
    the wait - rather 5 hours than 5 years for the next opportunity to vote for

    Even if you are worried that you may have been struck off the voters' roll,
    turn up and do your best to cast your vote - even if it means joining the
    queue again and AGAIN……

    Your determination to participate in our greatest opportunity in 21 years to
    bring change and prosperity to Zimbabwe will make all the difference.

    Your VOTE is our future.

    Chinja Maitiro Maitiro Chinja. Guqula Izenzo Izenzo Guqula

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    MDC Press Release:  24 February 2002

    Zanu PF reduces polling stations in MDC strongholds

    The Zanu PF government which is running these presidential elections through
    the Registrar General's Office, located in the ministry of Home Affairs,
    which ministry is headed by Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo, has
    slashed the number of polling stations in MDC strongholds and increased them
    in perceived Zanu PF strongholds.

    For instance, in Harare and Chitungwiza, which are MDC strongholds, and have
    a total of 19 constituencies, the number of polling stations has been
    slashed by 30% from 240 in the June 2000 elections to 167 in this election.
    No explanation on the issue has been tendered by this government. In
    constituencies like Harare East, Harare North and Zengeza, the polling
    stations have been reduced nearly by half. In Harare East, the numbers have
    fallen from 21 in June 2000 to 11.  In Harare North, the numbers have been
    slashed nearly by half from 17 in June 2000 to 9, while Zengeza constituency
    will get 7 polling stations as compared to 12 it had in June 2000.

    In Bulawayo, which has 8 constituencies, the polling stations have been
    reduced by 18% from 164 in June 2000 to 134 now. Constituencies like
    Bulawayo North East have lost 8 polling stations. Again the government gives
    no explanation.

    In the Midlands city of Gweru the number of polling stations has been
    slashed by 44% from 44 in June 2000 to 29 in this election. In Kwe Kwe, the
    numbers have been cut by 13 from 30 in June 2000 to 17 in 2002.

    While the urban constituencies have lost polling stations, rural areas,
    which are erroneously perceived by the ruling party as its strongholds have
    made significant gains.

    In rural Midlands for instance, the number of polling stations has increased
    by 34% from 497 in June 2000 to 669. The province has recorded a net gain of
    172 polling stations. The major beneficiaries are the Gokwe constituencies,
    which have gained 124 new polling stations.

    We had thought that with a tripartite election in Harare and Chitungwiza,
    the number of polling stations in these areas was going to significantly
    increase but what we are witnessing is an amazing decrease.

    Clearly this is another Zanu PF ploy to disfranchise that section of the
    people of Zimbabwe who are seen as opposed to Zanu PF in this election. The
    strategy is carefully designed to produce long queues in MDC strongholds,
    slow down the voting process and frustrate the people in these areas so they
    do not vote. It is for the same reason that mayoral elections in Harare and
    Chitungwiza are taking place on the same day as the presidential poll.

    Learnmore Jongwe
    Secretary, Information and Publicity
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    ABC News

    Zimbabwe Militants Attack Opposition, Observers

    Feb. 24
    By Cris Chinaka

    CHINHOYI, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Hundreds of followers of Zimbabwe's President
    Robert Mugabe ambushed people leaving an election campaign rally on Sunday
    where opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai vowed to end a "reign of terror"
    if he took power.

    The militants, armed with clubs and stones, also threw rocks at cars leaving
    Chinhoyi, Mugabe's hometown, including one that observers from the Southern
    African Development Community (SADC) said was carrying members of their
    election monitoring team.

    As soon as Tsvangirai had left the stadium in Chinhoyi, more than 500
    supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party swarmed around the exit and
    attacked sympathizers of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
    with sticks and stones as they headed home, a Reuters correspondent at the
    scene said.

    He saw no serious injuries but the attack took place in full view of foreign
    observers who are in the country to ensure that a presidential election on
    March 9-10 is free and fair.

    Tsvangirai is mounting the strongest challenge Mugabe has faced since taking
    power on independence from Britain in 1980.

    He accuses the president of intimidation and planning to rig the vote,
    criticisms echoed by the United States and European Union, which have
    imposed personal sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle. The EU pulled out
    its election monitors last week.

    Police dispersed the ZANU-PF crowd at the Chinhoyi stadium but militants
    later regrouped along the road leading out of the town toward the capital
    Harare, hurling rocks at motorists and smashing windows of at least three
    cars, the correspondent said.


    The leader of the international election observer mission from SADC, which
    groups Zimbabwe and its southern African neighbors, told Reuters Television
    in an interview that a car carrying some of his team was hit but no one was

    "We are proceeding to report to the police. We don't know who they
    (assailants) are," Duke Lefhoko said.

    Tsvangirai said the ruling party was acting like "animals," peppering his
    speech with swear words as his anger grew.

    "We will not allow (them) to run around the country like wild animals," the
    MDC leader told the rally in Chinhoyi, a ZANU-PF stronghold.

    "(Mugabe) wants to be the only choice and he wants to achieve that even
    through his reign of terror...

    "We are going to inherit a country in a mess, a country that has been raped
    by political violence."

    Chinhoyi, about 115 km (70 miles) northwest of Harare, was the scene of
    fighting last August when Mugabe's supporters forcibly seized white-owned
    farms as part of the president's controversial land reform program.

    The MDC said on Sunday that the government had slashed the number of polling
    stations that would operate next month in MDC strongholds and increased them
    in areas where ZANU-PF did well.

    It said in a statement that in the capital Harare and neighboring
    Chitungwiza there would be only 167 sites open compared to 240 during
    parliamentary elections in June 2000.

    "The strategy is carefully designed to produce long queues in MDC
    strongholds, slow down the voting process and frustrate the people in these
    areas so they do not vote," the MDC said.

    Electoral officials could not be reached for comment.

    The MDC made a near clean sweep of the urban vote in June 2000 and took all
    19 contested seats in Harare and Chitungwiza.


    Although the European Union pulled out its observers, saying they were not
    being allowed to work freely, a mission from the Commonwealth, which groups
    mainly Britain and its former colonies, began its monitoring program in
    earnest on Sunday.

    The Commonwealth mission chief, the former Nigerian president General
    Abdulsalami Abubakar, said he would be sending 20 teams of two throughout
    the country from next week.

    "Our concern will be purely with the electoral environment and the process
    rather than the outcome," he told reporters.

    Other observers from southern Africa have said a wave of political violence
    threatens chances for a free and fair vote.

    Last week, two South Africans were trapped in an MDC office by 200
    pro-government militants armed with stones and iron bars in the first
    incident involving election observers.

    They were not hurt but the MDC said five of its supporters were injured in
    the same attack and more than 100 have been killed since February 2000, when
    the farm seizures began.

    In a rally on Saturday, the 78-year-old Mugabe defended his land reform
    program and accused Britain of backtracking on a promise to help
    redistribute land in its former colony, where he says the white minority
    still owns the greater part of the land.

    "The war that we are in is between us and the British," he said. "Their
    intention is to keep their descendants on our land." (Additional reporting
    by Stella Mapenzauswa in Harare)

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