Blair: 'Mugabe's A
British Prime Minister Tony
Blair has labelled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a dictator and announced
he will lead a push for other Commonwealth nations to impose sanctions on the
Mr Blair said he would urge others to apply sanctions when he speaks at the
Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Australia this
"The actions of Robert Mugabe are completely undemocratic and wrong and
dictatorial and it is for this reason that we argued with others inside the
European Union for sanctions to be applied," Mr Blair told the House of Commons.
"What is happening in Zimbabwe is an outrage."
The intensification of British opposition to Mr Mugabe came as Zimbabwe's
Supreme Court rejected a new electoral law which his opponents said was a ploy
to help keep him in power.
The Supreme Court found that parliament, dominated by Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party, improperly passed a law in January that banned independent election
monitors from the country's March 9-10 poll and stripped millions of Zimbabweans
living abroad of voting rights.
But it was unclear what impact the decision, reported by state news agency
ZIANA, could have and observers were doubtful it would be possible in practice
for citizens living abroad to vote on March 9-10.
Mr Mugabe faces growing international pressure after his main challenger,
Morgan Tsvangirai, was charged with treason.
The rejected legislation had been criticised by Zimbabwe's opposition and
by Western governments. The European Union and United States have since imposed
personal sanctions on Mr Mugabe and the EU withdrew election observers,
complaining of intimidation.
Last Updated: 20:41 UK,
Wednesday February 27, 2002
Court Ruling Effect on Zimbabwe Election Unclear
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Supreme Court struck down an electoral law
that Robert Mugabe's opponents called a ploy to help keep him in power but it
was unclear on Thursday that the ruling would affect an election now just days
The main opposition party, whose leader was charged with treason this week,
said the ruling may make little difference since voter registration for the
March 9-10 presidential poll had already closed. It suggested that Mugabe, as
president, could even force the law through anyway under his own powers.
Passed by parliament in January, the legislation was criticized by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and by Western governments. The
European Union and United States have since imposed personal sanctions on
Mugabe. The EU also withdrew election observers, complaining of
The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that parliament, dominated by Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party, had improperly passed the law, which banned independent monitors
from the poll and stripped millions of Zimbabweans living abroad of voting
"The President does have power in terms of the Electoral Act to actually
amend the act himself, although I'm not sure if he would want to do that at this
stage," Bryant Elliot, a lawyer for the MDC, told Reuters.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament he would urge other
former colonies grouped in the Commonwealth also to impose sanctions when they
meet in Australia this weekend. He accused Mugabe, who has ruled since British
rule ended in 1980, of acting like a dictator.
"What is happening in Zimbabwe is an outrage," Blair said.
Mugabe faces the strongest challenge to his 22-year rule from the MDC's
Morgan Tsvangirai in next week's election.
Tsvangirai, who was charged with treason on Monday on the basis of a
videotape allegedly showing him plotting Mugabe's assassination, accuses ZANU-PF
of intimidating his supporters.
He said he was briefly detained by police again on Wednesday and that
ZANU-PF militants had attacked an MDC supporter's home.
Mugabe campaigned in Zimbabwe's far north on Wednesday, hoping to harness
the rural vote, which many analysts say could be the key to extending his rule
for a further six years.
His program to redistribute farmland from the dwindling white minority to
landless blacks has gone down well with some rural voters, despite international
condemnation of the violence and shortage of compensation for farmers that has
gone with it.
The Age, Melbourne
Nigerian president holds talks with PM, ALP,
CANBERRA, Feb 28 AAP|Published: Thursday February 28, 3:55 PM
Australia today heaped praise on visiting Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo for promoting peace and democracy as criticism of his record brewed in
President Obasanjo arrived at Parliament House to a 21-gun salute and guard
of honour, greeted by Governor-General Peter Hollingworth and Prime Minister
It is the first official visit to Australia for a Nigerian leader.
Mr Obasanjo is a former general who led Nigeria back to democracy in 1999
after a succession of military governments.
His visit for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) comes
amid growing criticism in Nigeria of his leadership.
Nigerian human rights activists, religious leaders, opponents and business
people are reportedly increasingly critical of his performance, given low living
But Mr Howard said Mr Obasanjo's visit was particularly important because
of his personal efforts to restore democracy to Nigeria.
"I said to him this morning that we share democratic ideals and values, but
none of us in Australia who are in politics have had to go through the fire that
the president has gone through - periods of imprisonment, persecution when many
people who were sympathetic to what he was trying to achieve feared for his
life," Mr Howard said.
"And we admire very much the restoration of democracy in Nigeria and the
personal role that he's played."
Opposition Leader Simon Crean told Mr Obasanjo that Nigeria had a special
role to play in leading Africa towards a more secure, prosperous future.
"Good leadership should be rewarded and I wish you, Mr President, every
success in your efforts to achieve a more stable democratic future for Nigeria
and for Africa as a whole," Mr Crean said.
Mr Obasanjo has been pushing for a political breakthrough on issues such as
land reform in Zimbabwe.
But today he remained quiet about his stance on Zimbabwe's place in the
Australia has threatened targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe if opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai is prevented from contesting next month's presidential
election by conspiracy allegations.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, has so far not supported sanctions,
already imposed by the European Union, instead pinning its hopes on a free and
fair election overseen by observers.
The official Australian-Nigerian communique today said both leaders
confirmed their commitment to the Commonwealth. They also denounced
Mr Obasanjo spoke of development in Africa and the need for Australia to
help Nigeria strengthen investment and mining.
But he refused to endorse moves to expel Zimbabwe or impose sanctions, with
both leaders instead saying the issues would be discussed at CHOGM on the
"When we get together we will look at the Zimbabwe issue in its entirety,"
Mr Obasanjo thanked Australia for its strong support of his people and
opposition to human rights abuses.
He was to attend a state dinner at Government House tonight, hosted by
Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, before visiting Sydney and attending
By Linda McSweeny
Thu, Feb 28 2002 3:45 PM AEDT
Howard cautions against pre-emptive sanctions against
The Prime Minister, John Howard, says it would be unwise to call for
sanctions against Zimbabwe before the issue is discussed by Commonwealth
Commonwealth leaders will be meeting in Queensland from Saturday, with a
response to anti-democratic moves by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on the
In January, Australia pushed unsuccessfully for Zimbabwe to be suspended
from the Commonwealth, and it has since called for sanctions to be
Mr Howard, who has met Nigeria's President in Canberra, is unwilling to
repeat the call, so close to CHOGM.
"I think it's appropriate we have that discussion before I start making
declarations about Australia's attitude," he said.
"Beyond stating the principle that if sanctions are necessary then they
should be supported."
Gulf Daily News
Mugabe rival slams 'campaign of terror'
Zimbabwe's opposition yesterday accused President Robert Mugabe of stepping
up a campaign of violence and intimidation, but said it will not deter voters
fed up with severe food shortages and a collapsing economy.
Police detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for a second time this
week and ruling party youths attacked the home of a supporter, as the reeling
country edged warily toward a March 9-10 vote in which Tsvangirai poses the
strongest challenge of Mugabe's 22 years in power.
The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe is accused of trying
to rig the vote, is expected to dominate the Commonwealth summit in Brisbane,
Australia, which begins on Saturday.
Yesterday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused Mugabe of acting like
a dictator and said Britain would push for action against him at the
"What is happening in Zimbabwe is an outrage," Blair told parliament, a day
before he was due to fly out to the summit in Australia.
"The actions of Mugabe are completely undemocratic and wrong and
dictatorial and it is for that reason that we argued with others inside the
European Union for sanctions to be applied. We will make the same case at the
Commonwealth," Blair said.
Britain failed to win support for Zimbabwe's suspension from the
Commonwealth at a ministerial meeting in London last month.
However, Mugabe faced a setback yesterday as the nation's Supreme Court
invalidated a law signed by him last month that was seen aimed at boosting his
chances in the elections.
Parliament, in which Mugabe's Zanu-PF party holds 93 of the 150 seats, in
January passed by 62 votes to 49 the General Laws Amendment Bill banning
independent election monitors for the poll and denying voting rights to millions
of Zimbabweans abroad.
Tsvangirai, who was charged with treason on Monday for an alleged plot
against Mugabe, was detained yesterday after what police said was an illegal
gathering with nine members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Tsvangirai later visited the home of an MDC MP that was attacked by
suspected youth brigades from Zanu-PF.
The attackers hurled stones at Tasadzwa Musekiwa's home in Chitungwiza,
20km south of Harare.
Meanwhile, Namibian President Sam Nujoma has warned that he would walk out
of the Commonwealth summit if Zimbabwe tops the
Press group urges Zimbabwe Commonwealth
SYDNEY, Feb. 27 — An
international media rights body called on the Commonwealth group of nations to
expel Zimbabwe as a ''predator of press
In a statement
distributed in Sydney on Thursday, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans
Frontieres) urged the group composed mainly of former British colonies to
suspend Zimbabwe at a summit in Australia this week.
Britain, Canada and Australia have all
indicated that the Commonwealth will not act against Zimbabwe Prime Minister
Robert Mugabe for civil rights breaches and anti-democratic policies until after
March 9-10 presidential elections.
all have hinted at action if the poll is not free.
Reporters Without Borders said it had
written to eight Commonwealth foreign ministers making up the 54-nation's
ministerial action group to remind them of Commonwealth provisions for sanctions
against member states which persistently violate human rights.
''The organisation noted that Zimbabwe
is presently one of the countries in Africa with the harshest attitude to press
freedom,'' Paris-based body said in the statement dated February 27.
''Zimbabwe no longer respects the
ideals of democracy and the rule of law on which the Commonwealth was founded.''
The March 2-5 Commonwealth summit in
Coolum in Australia's tropical Queensland state is likely to be dominated by
accusations Mugabe is trying to rig his presidential elections.
Mugabe's main opponent, Morgan
Tsvangirai, was charged with treason this week after a video was aired by an
Australian television channel allegedly showing him plotting Mugabe's
assassination and planning a coup in a meeting with Canadian consultants.
Tsvangirai has said the video was ''contrived.''
Mugabe is unlikely to attend the
Australian meeting as it falls so close to the election.
A meeting of the eight foreign
ministers who form the Commonwealth's ministerial action group will take place
on Friday, a day before the summit officially opens, to agree on a report on
Zimbabwe to be voted on by the full Commonwealth
Zimbabwe in fear, says poll monitor
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
THE leader of the Southern African observers of Zimbabwe's election
condemned the campaign yesterday as "not free".
Morgan Tsvangirai: has been detained by police again
In an unprecedented attack, he also described the country as being in a
"state of fear" after Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, was detained yet again by police.
Mr Tsvangirai was held for 30 minutes after officers raided a private house
in Harare and claimed that it was being used for an "illegal gathering".
Mr Tsvangirai was meeting Dr Rene Loewenson, a health policy consultant, at
the house in the suburb of Milton Park. Dr Loewenson is a specialist on Africa's
Aids epidemic and Mr Tsvangirai had sought her advice.
She was also arrested and taken to Harare central police station by plain
clothes officers. She was released without charge several hours later.
Duke Lefhoko, head of the Southern African Development Community's observer
mission, said after learning of the incident: "This is way out of line, that
someone can be arrested at a meeting in a private house. I am shocked by this
and some things I have seen here."
SADC, a grouping of Southern African states, has been generally supportive
of President Mugabe and its observers gave the parliamentary election of 2000 a
clean bill of health.
But Mr Lefhoko added: "The political situation in Zimbabwe, as of today, is
not free. People are nervous, reserved, there is a general state of fear, but we
have more than a week to go and are hoping for improvements."
Mr Lefhoko condemned the police, who stand accused of turning a blind eye
to atrocities committed by mobs loyal to Mr Mugabe. "We have seen the police in
action with our own eyes, and they are unresponsive, unco-operative, and won't
talk to people," he said.
That an African observer has spoken out in this way reveals a new strength
of feeling and a determination not to be misled by propaganda.
At least 24 political murders have been recorded so far this year and Mr
Mugabe's gangs are working from 60 bases scattered around Zimbabwe.
Mr Lefhoko added that his delegation had met John Nkomo, the home affairs
minister, and been given assurances that the police would be "more pro-active"
Mr Mugabe suffered a defeat at the hands of the Supreme Court last night.
The justices threw out legislation giving his regime sweeping powers over the
entire electoral process.
The court ruled that the law illegally passed through parliament in January
after being defeated at its final reading by opposition MPs.
The judgment means that postal votes will be allowed and civic groups will
be permitted to conduct programmes of voter education.
In practice, the decision comes so late that it will make no difference.
With only nine days before polling begins, there is no time to take advantage of
this easing of the draconian restrictions which critics say were designed to
favour Mr Mugabe.
Colonialism is still the enemy, says Mugabe
Zimbabweans attend an election rally addressed by Robert Mugabe
in Harare on Tuesday. The President said the opposition candidate was a front
man for white interests. Photo: AFP
By Rachel Swarns in Harare
As the political situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated further, with two more
senior opposition officials charged with treason amid protests from foreign
governments and human rights groups, President Robert Mugabe stepped up his
campaign in an impoverished Harare township.
The political banners in Epworth proclaimed "Zimbabwe will never be a
colony again" and the crowd roared its willingness to fight the old enemy. When
Mr Mugabe finally stepped behind the microphone at the rally on Tuesday, he was
ready for battle.
Mr Mugabe described the presidential elections, on March 9 and 10, as the
last round of the liberation struggle. He assailed the opposition candidate,
Morgan Tsvangirai, as a front man for whites who hoped to control the
"We must decide whether we shall be the decision-makers of Zimbabwe, or
whether the British and their settlers here, using stooges, will remain in power
over us," Mr Mugabe cried. "Imperialism must fail! We must crush it here."
The private Daily News reported yesterday that political violence had
reached "critical levels" in the southern rural district of Gutu, forcing more
than 5000 to flee and seek refuge in towns. The newspaper said two members of Mr
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were in a coma after being
assaulted by suspected government supporters.
Westerners scoff at the notion that Zimbabwe might be threatened by its
white minority or by Britain, the former colonial ruler. After all, Mr Mugabe
won his liberation struggle 22 years ago. But his message still resonates with
The Government says whites in Zimbabwe and abroad are demonising Mr Mugabe
to derail his plan to force the white minority to return land seized from blacks
during colonial rule.
Opposition supporters say the struggle with whites is largely irrelevant
when blacks control the government, and most ordinary people struggle to
But even opposition officials acknowledge that the anxiety about whites
still simmers in some places. Whites control more than half the fertile land as
well as the banks, manufacturing and mines. Whites are also financing the
This week, Mr Tsvangirai was charged with treason along with two colleagues
in what the Government described as a plot to assassinate Mr Mugabe supported by
Britain and the US. The opposition dismissed the charges as an election ploy.
In Epworth, the debate continued. "[Mugabe] fought for liberation and he
wants to leave what he fought for to the young generation," said Edward Raposa,
39. "The economy is still in the hands of the whites. That has to change."
Norman Viyora, 29, an opposition supporter who said he had been forced to
attend the rally by opposition thugs who went door to door before Mr Mugabe
arrived, disagreed. "I don't think it's going to be a colony if this opposition
party wins," he said.
The New York Times, Associated Press and agencies
International Herald Tribune
Not the way to govern Zimbabwe
Pierre Schori Thursday, February 28, 2002
Mugabe beyond the pale
STOCKHOLM Last Friday, after my
expulsion from Zimbabwe on Feb. 16 and the consequent departure of the other
observers from the European Union, two members of the South African observer
mission were attacked while meeting with members of the leading opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change.
The meeting place was
surrounded by more than 200 members of ZANU-PF Youth, a branch of President
Robert Mugabe's ruling party. The building was stoned and at least two MDC
members were taken to the hospital. The South African car was also
On Sunday three observers from the Southern African Development
Community were attacked by ZANU-PF elements in Chinhoyi. A car belonging to the
Commonwealth observer team was also stoned.
These incidents confirm one
of the elements of my report to the 15 EU foreign ministers in Brussels, namely,
that compared with the parliamentary elections of 2000, violence is greater and
has spread to urban areas.
This time various government branches are
interfering more brutally in favor of the president. Military top brass recently
declared that they would not accept an election result which went "against the
revolution." Freedom of the media and the right of citizens freely to express
their views have been drastically restrained by new laws, just in time for the
In my case, the Immigration Office was unleashed upon me four
times in order to force my signature on a document in which I would state that I
was in Zimbabwe on holiday.
The reason for this was that, according to
the government, a tourist cannot talk to the press or be employed. It was
clearly said that talking about the EU mission would be seen as a political
statement and hence a breach of law, as well as "working" in that
As I had not entered the country with a tourist visa nor ticked
"tourist" in the appropriate box of the entry form at the airport, it was
necessary for the government to get me to sign in as a tourist. They would then
feel free to restrict my speech and activity as head of the EU
I refused to do so, while expressing admiration for the
beauty of the country, so they canceled my visa and ordered me to leave the same
The government had invited the EU (with the exception of Britain)
to observe the elections. Then, when the EU had designated me as chief observer,
the authorities excluded another five states. The remaining mission would also
have to be integrated with the ACP group, which consists of 77 countries from
Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions, and come under its leadership, a
surprise also to the ACP.
Given the restrictions and harassment that we
were confronted with, I came to the sad conclusion that this was no environment
for a credible and effective EU election observer mission. The only other time I
have been expelled from a country was in October 1969, during the colonial
dictatorship in Portugal. The reasons: for meeting with the opposition leader,
Mário Soares, later the democratically elected prime minister and president, and
also, ironically, for Sweden's support of the liberation struggle in Southern
Africa, including that of Robert Mugabe.
Eight years later, at a UN
anti-apartheid conference in Lagos, Mugabe asked to meet me and Olof Palme, then
Sweden's opposition leader. Mugabe thanked us for our solidarity and expressed
admiration for Sweden. He said he wanted to send his wife Sally to study our
social welfare system.
The European Union has supported Zimbabwe ever
since its independence in 1980. Today Zimbabwe receives two-thirds of all its
foreign assistance from the EU; the aid is mainly focused on poverty alleviation
and anti-AIDS projects. Zimbabwe also has trade privileges for export of
tobacco, beef, cut flowers and ferro-alloys.
President Mugabe has been
in power since 1980. Our recommendations after the 2000 elections said that it
was imperative for the government to move swiftly to re-establish the rule of
law and to act against those who had been involved in human rights abuses.
Instead the human rights situation has worsened with increased political
violence and severe restrictions on the media and political parties. All this is
in contradiction with international standards for free and fair
The EU foreign ministers agreed on Feb. 18 that Zimbabwe was
in violation of the Cotonou Agreement, signed in June 2000, which regulates, for
the next 20 years, an integrated framework of privileged relationships between
the EU, the largest donor and trade partner of developing countries, and the 77
ACP countries. The agreement covers trade and investment policies, development
aid and the environment, gender issues and culture, institutional reforms and
political dialogue, good governance, human rights, democratic principles, the
rule of law and the involvement of civil society.
The EU wants to build
a strong partnership with a democratic Zimbabwe and has shown its commitment to
this goal for more than 20 years.
African leaders met last year in
Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss Zimbabwe. Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique and
Malawi have since voiced their concern, as has UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan
in a Jan. 15 statement.
This is not a confrontation between developed
and developing countries. It is not about "the EU being an arrogant bully with
colonial attitudes," as the government newspaper, The Herald, keeps repeating.
It is a matter of universal values, laid down in the UN Charter and the Cotonou
It is about the principles that the peasant is equal to the
president on election day, that the power of the people lies in the secret vote,
that the revolutionary legitimacy of the bullet must be replaced by the
democratic legitimacy of the ballot.
Above all, it is about how we must
work together in this increasingly unjust, highly competitive and globalized
world, where sound economic performance, good governance and international
cooperation are a must.
In Zimbabwe the Cotonou Agreement is
encountering its first major challenge. Developed and developing countries must
forge new and lasting relations in forthcoming UN conferences, in March in
Monterrey, Mexico, on financing for development, and in September in
Johannesburg, on sustainable development.
The writer, Sweden's
ambassador to the United Nations, who led the EU observer mission for the
presidential election due in Zimbabwe on March 9 and 10, was expelled from that
country last week. He contributed this comment to the International Herald
The EU and Zimbabwe: Why we did what we did
By Chris Patten
THE EU has always been a good friend of Zimbabwe since independence. EU aid
accounts for about two-thirds of aid going to Zimbabwe and the EU imports over
750 million of Zimbabwean goods (ZS38 billion) each year. It has been a
friendship based on shared values ñ faith in democracy and determination to
fight against poverty. But the events of the last couple of weeks have left me
sad: sad for the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is gearing up for election in
March. Like voters everywhere, Zimbabweans have a right to hear all the
arguments and make up their minds on polling day. They have a right to a free
press, and to a campaign waged through words, not violence. This is what
democracy means the world over. And I still hope that the people of Zimbabwe
will have their say in these elections, free from intimidation.
Some people have said that the EU has no business to take a view of
elections in Zimbabwe. That it has not right to impose its views on another
country. However electoral observation is not about imposing views. Rather it
aims at strengthening a democratic process, through confidence building,
conflict prevention measures and technical support. When the EU, Zimbabwe and
the other ACP countries signed the Cotonou Agreement in 2000, we all said in
Article 9 that respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of
law should underpin all our policies. We were reaffirming shared beliefs that
are the basis of our friendship. And we took these shared belief seriously.
That's why we all also said in Article 96 that any party that did not respect
these shared beliefs could face sanctions. But this was no imposition. This was
an agreement between friends, a free covenant between sovereign states
reaffirming the basis of our friendship.
Furthermore, the standards by which the elections in Zimbabwe would have
been assessed - and which we were using in our own election observation mission
-are not European rules, but universal norms also adopted by the South African
Development Community. The EU wanted to provide election observers because it
wanted to give Zimbabwe the chance to show that it took its democratic
obligations under the Cotonou Agreement seriously. Political violence had been
escalating. New laws to curb civil rights and press freedom were deeply
worrying. We consulted with the government of Zimbabwe, but heard nothing to put
our minds at rest. Election observation was, and still is, Zimbabwe's chance to
reassure the EU and the world that democracy in this wonderful country is still
in good health. We have the greatest respect for those who now remain to observe
the elections and indeed, we will continue to support both the SADC mission, and
the local observers.
So why did our observers leave? The last straw was the expulsion of our
Chief Observer, Pierre Schori. But the Government of Zimbabwe had also tried to
exclude over a third of the countries in the European Union from the observation
mission. The EU doesn't work like that. We are a single entity, not something to
be cut up and divided. Saying that some EU countries could not come would be
like saying that players from Kwazulu-Natal could not play in the South African
soccer team! The attempt to pick and choose between our members was another sign
that the government of Zimbabwe was not acting in good faith. The Zimbabwean
Government has said that our Chief Observer, Pierre Schori, entered Zimbabwe
under false pretences, claiming a tourist visa rather than presenting himself as
an election observer. That was the pretext for expelling him. This is completely
untrue. The Zimbabwean Embassy in the USA issued Mr Schori a six-month, multiple
entry visa. The European Commission clearly told the Zimbabwean Government in
writing in advance of his arrival that Mr Schori would be the EU's Chief
Observer. Mr Schori presented himself as a member of the EU Observation Mission
to the Immigration Department at Harare Airport. Mr. Schori's visitor visa was
no different from the visas issued to all the other observers that later
received accreditation. But these misunderstandings are symptoms of a bigger
problem. The EU has decided to impose sanctions not because of these unhappy
details, but because of what these events showed about the government's approach
to the shared values that underpin our Cotonou partnership.
Over several months, the European Union has been asking the government of
Zimbabwe to prove us wrong: to show us that it is willing to abide by the
principles of democracy and human rights that it signed up to in Cotonou.
Unfortunately, it has chosen not to do so and this is clearly evidenced by the
continued degradation of the political and economic environment. Those who
continue to suggest that we have acted in this matter as though we considered
ourselves in some way superior, as though we wished to push Zimbabwe around, are
missing a crucial point. We enter into agreements with our partners as equals.
The rules of Cotonou apply to us as much as to any of the African signatories.
If they have concerns about our conduct, they can use the same procedures to
voice them. Many people from Africa have been invited to observe elections in
Europe - including in Sweden, where Mr Schori comes from. All sides have to keep
their word. The sanctions that will now come into force have been specifically
designed to avoid hurting the people of Zimbabwe whom we will continue to
directly support where possible. These sanctions specifically impose travel
restrictions and freeze the assets of those persons considered to be mainly
responsible for the present government policies. They have also been accompanied
by a ban on the sale of any kind of weapons or equipment from Europe, that could
be used to suppress dissent in Zimbabwe. Meanwhile we will be doing everything
we can to make sure that EU aid continues to reach the ordinary Zimbabweans who
are facing ever-increasing social challenges. What matters now is that the
people of Zimbabwe rediscover peace and security in their daily lives, that
no-go areas cease to exist and that immediate steps are taken to overcome the
present dramatic economic and social problems facing the country. What matters
today is how the elections take place and how the country will be led in the
future for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe. I look forward to the day when
all Zimbabweans can enjoy a happier partnership with their friends in
Patten is the European Commissioner for External Relations.
Australia urged to go ahead with Zimbabwe tour for good of troubled
By Trevor Marshallsea
Zimbabwe's cricket administrators and players desperately hope Australia
will still tour their country as scheduled in April despite grave fears of
instability surrounding its presidential elections next month.
Australian cricket authorities have been closely monitoring events in
Zimbabwe as an international backlash grows against President Robert Mugabe and
fears mount that the country will descend into violent turmoil after the March
The Australian Cricket Board is taking advice from Canberra's Department of
Foreign Affairs, which has issued security alerts to Australians in Zimbabwe
ahead of the election, urging them to "maintain a high level of personal
security awareness" and "avoid large gatherings or public demonstrations".
Violence has been escalating ahead of the election. Hundreds of Mugabe
supporters ambushed opposition backers after a rally in Mugabe's home town of
Chinhoyi on Sunday, capping a week in which police shot at opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai's campaign convoy, militants attacked an opposition office and
self-styled liberation war veterans forced a white family to flee their
Australia's cricketers are scheduled to play in Zimbabwe for a month after
their tour of South Africa.
Three one-day matches against Zimbabwe - who are coached by former
Australian opener and coach Geoff Marsh - are scheduled for April 13, 14 and 17,
with two Tests set down for Bulawayo from April 25 and Harare from May 3.
Althought the Zimbabwe Cricket Union has promised high-level security for
the world's No1 team, Test captain Steve Waugh recently admitted the rising
tension in the country was causing himself and his teammates concern. The strong
chance exists that if Zimbabwe descends into chaos following the poll,
Australia's matches against the Africans will instead be played in South
Cricket bodies in the provincial towns of Benoni and Potchefstroom, near
Johannesburg, have reportedly been placed on stand-by to host the Tests.
However, cricket figures in Zimbabwe remain eager for the Australians to tour.
"Zimbabweans needs something different to get their minds off what's been
happening," said left-arm spinner Dirk Viljoen, who as a Test cricketer and a
white farmer is qualified to comment on two much scrutinised facets of
"It would also bolster the national self-image just to know that Zimbabwe
would be in the news overseas for something other than politics."
Sydney Morning Herald
With friends like these...
The latest crisis in Africa has cast a shadow over this weekend's
Commonwealth summit, but could also give it relevance. Michelle Grattan and
Craig Skehan report.
When Malcolm Fraser hosted the 1981 Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting in Melbourne, he was riding high on his central major role in bringing
majority rule to Zimbabwe. Fraser was a hero to African leaders. And Robert
Mugabe was at his first CHOGM, one of seven speakers at the opening
For Fraser, a Commonwealth man who made a name for himself on the big
African issues of his day, this meeting was very special, even if visiting
leaders did read headlines about their host's health (the media speculated he'd
attended a cancer clinic) and leadership troubles (the Peacock forces were
It's an irony that the Coolum CHOGM, opening on Saturday (also with some
domestic distractions, this time around the Governor-General), has the Mugabe
regime's appalling behaviour as its toughest issue, and Australia one of
Zimbabwe's harshest critics. But Mugabe, aging and ailing (now 78 after 22 years
in power), almost certainly won't be there. The Zimbabwe delegation is expected
to be led by its foreign minister.
This week, after Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was
charged with treason, Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said that
if the situation deteriorated, the Commonwealth could withdraw its group
monitoring the March 9-10 elections (which includes former Australian Electoral
Commissioner Bill Gray and Federal Liberal MP Julie Bishop). Also, Australia
would "impose a series of targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe".
Australia and Britain argued unsuccessfully at the January Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London that Zimbabwe should be
suspended from the Commonwealth. They were stymied, largely by African nations.
However, the meeting did find Zimbabwe in "serious and persistent violation" of
the Harare principles, which prescribe minimum democratic standards. Australia
settled for sending the election monitoring team.
The action group will consider Zimbabwe's position tomorrow. Yesterday,
sources believed it was most likely to give the heads of government options
rather than a firm recommendation - suspension or "wait and see". Sources said a
likely element of the "wait and see" option was a trigger mechanism under which
CMAG would implement a suspension if there were serious rights violations in the
last week of the election campaign or immediately after it.
Australia is thinking about "smart sanctions", already imposed by the US
and Europe. These centre on travel restrictions and freezing funds, although
such actions by Australia would have minimal bite compared with those of America
While there is an extremely strong case for suspending Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth, a problem is African resistance.
Zimbabwe will be debated on the conference's opening day. This puts John
Howard, as chairman and host, in a difficult position. If the CMAG group has not
recommended Zimbabwe's suspension, how hard should Howard go? Does he take the
toughest stand on principle at the risk of being rebuffed? Or does he, if he
senses the writing on the wall, go with a less confrontationist line? Sources
indicate Howard feels very strongly but Commonwealth realities are strong too.
The Commonwealth works by consensus, not votes.
CHOGMs have always been most potent when big African issues have been on
the agenda. Of course, these have been easier for the leaders when the
"villains" were white regimes which were resisting majority rule.
However, CHOGM has grappled with outrages perpetrated by black leaders.
Nigeria was suspended after human rights activists were executed by the
coup-installed military government in 1995.
Howard has never used the Commonwealth as an international stage in the way
Fraser did. Nor is Howard at home with African issues. At the last CHOGM, in
Durban, the Australian PM was not a main player.
Tony Eggleton, a former Liberal Party director who once worked for the
Commonwealth, is as much responsible as anyone for Australia hosting this CHOGM.
Eggleton, as executive director of the 2001 Centenary of Federation council,
thought having CHOGM here would be an appropriate part of that celebration. The
meeting, however, was delayed after September 11.
The venue was moved from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for security
reasons. It will be different from earlier CHOGMs because the informal "retreat"
will be at the same place as the main sessions (usually leaders are taken to
some resort - at Coolum they are already at a resort). The program has been
further compressed (Paul Keating, not much of a one for CHOGM, got it shortened
when he was prime minister).
About 800 delegates are accredited, outnumbered by media (947 as at
The Commonwealth, with its 54 members (one of them, Pakistan, is still
suspended and ineligible to attend, but this meeting welcomes back Fiji), is
simultaneously an anachronism and very modern. It is the former, because the
central link that binds it is the old British empire, and in some part the
latter because it embraces such a huge range of countries, developed and
developing, wealthy and poor, vast nations and tiny island states.
Commonwealth leaders might be in a club-like atmosphere, socialising at
their "retreat". But it's a mistake to think of this as a rich man's club. The
white, affluent countries - Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - are in
a minority. Much of the non-headline grabbing work of the Commonwealth is on
issues such as development and the problems of small states.
These, for instance, are worried about a crackdown by the World Bank and
other institutions on offshore banking, vital to some of their economies.
Countries in the Caribbean are struggling with the decline in the tourist
industry since September 11. CHOGM's discussions will include international
terrorism and it is expected to produce a strong pronouncement.
Aware that the Commonwealth as an institution has to jostle for relevance
in today's world, the Durban meeting set up a 10-leader review group, headed by
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and including Howard. Among its recommendations: that
the Commonwealth's "good offices" (intervention in trouble spots) role should be
Howard declared yesterday: "I will be encouraging leaders to agree on
clearer procedures for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the political
teeth of the Commonwealth, to follow when dealing with serious or persistent
violation of Commonwealth values, including good governance and human rights."
The main way in which the Commonwealth can stay relevant is to have the
courage to act strongly in situations when conscience requires it - such as
Until the next CHOGM meeting - next year - Howard holds the ongoing role of
chairman of the Commonwealth. It might be quite an interesting time.
From The Financial Times (UK), 28 February
Court rulings boost Zimbabwe opposition
Harare Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe suffered two potentially
serious setbacks in the courts yesterday when both the Supreme and High courts
gave judgments against his government that are likely to boost the opposition
vote at next month's presidential election. The legal challenges were mounted by
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civil rights groups. One
of the three controversial bills rushed through parliament last month - the
General Laws Amendment Act - was struck down by the Supreme Court in a
four-to-one judgment. This act contains 40 different laws covering a range of
electoral issues, including the appointment of monitors, voter education and the
security of ballot boxes after the polls close. Opposition candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai's advisers believe the judgment will boost his campaign.
The act precludes election monitors other than those appointed by the
government. Now this has been struck down, there will be demands for
international and independent domestic observers to be accorded monitor status,
which will enable them to keep a much closer watch on the actual polling process
and reduce the extent of voterigging. One of the act's provisions entitles
polling officers to demand evidence of residence or citizenship from people
already registered on the voter roll. Opposition activists feared this would be
used by government polling officers to minimise the turnout, since it is widely
believed that a large turnout on March 9-10 will favour Mr Tsvangirai. The
General Laws act has also been used to give Mr Mugabe temporary powers to take
over white-owned commercial farms without going through the courts. This too has
been struck down, which means that government land acquisition orders can again
be challenged in the courts.
Because the act was struck down by a majority in the Supreme Court, the
government cannot appeal against the judgment. Lawyers say, however, that Mr
Mugabe may use his presidential powers to override the Supreme Court, as he has
done in the past. By contrast, the High Court ruling by Judge Ismail Adam, which
extends the period during which residents with dual citizenship may renounce
foreign citizenship, is likely to be taken to appeal by the government. The
judgment is electorally important because it means thousands of Zimbabweans who
have a technical right to citizenship of another country, but who did not
renounce that right by the end of last year, will still be eligible to
From News24 (SA), 27 February
MDC polling agents attacked
Harare About 50 trainee polling agents of the opposition MDC party were
attacked and severely injured on Sunday after Zanu PF supporters raided a house
at a local mission school, 20km west of Gweru, where they were being trained.
Police confirmed the attacks and said some of the injured were still at Lower
Gweru Mission Hospital while others were at Gweru General Hospital. "We have
arrested five suspects, among them two war veterans identified as Silas
Wafawanaka and John Ntini," said an official at Gweru Rural Police Station.
Renson Gasela, the MDC Member of Parliament for Gweru Rural described the
attacks as unfortunate as they were unprovoked. The latest attack is part of a
series of disruptions on the activities of the opposition countrywide in which
police and war veterans banned 120 political rallies, especially in the rural
"Our polling agents were being trained on how to conduct themselves on
election dates March 9 and 10 when they were beaten up badly," he said. The
training was being conducted at MDC activist Livingstone Moyo's house. The
attacks occurred a few minutes before a Zanu PF campaign rally addressed by
parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, kicked off just two kilometres away.
"The ZanuPF supporters locked us inside and attacked us with stones, logs and
machetes. We only managed to force our way out when they threatened to set the
house on fire," a shaken Moyo said. The supporters later looted several
household goods and fled to their hired buses. They are believed to have been
bussed from Gweru and Kwekwe on Ziscosteel Company and Gweru Teachers' College
buses. Moyo said the police only arrived at the scene of the attack six hours
later although the police station is just two kilometres away. On Tuesday,
several groups of observers, including two South Africans visited the area and
talked to some of the survivors, he said.
President Mugabe seems determined to do everything possible to win the
election. The government has reduced polling stations in opposition party's
strongholds, while increasing the numbers in areas where the ruling Zanu PF
enjoyed support. "Many Zimbabweans will be disenfranchised by the
RegistrarGeneral's decision on the number of polling stations," said Learnmore
Jongwe, the MDC information and publicity secretary. "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 that they will not all vote." In
Harare and Chitungwiza, both MDC strongholds, the number of polling stations
have been reduced by 30% from 240 in the June 2000 parliamentary election to 167
in next month's election.
For example, in Harare East constituency, the number of polling
stations has fallen from 21 to 11. In Harare North, the polling stations have
been slashed by nearly half from 17 to nine, while the Zengeza constituency now
has seven polling stations compared to 12 in the June 2000 election. In
Bulawayo, which has eight constituencies, the polling stations have been reduced
by 18% from 164 to 134. Bulawayo North has lost eight polling stations. For
Gweru, the number of polling stations has been reduced by 34% from 44 to 29. In
Kwekwe, the polling stations are down to 13 from 17 during the last election. No
explanation for the reduction of polling stations was given. "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 to 699. The major beneficiaries are the Gokwe constituencies which
have gained 124 new polling stations," Jongwe said. The chief elections officer,
Retired Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba, said he knew nothing about these
developments. "The Electoral Supervisory Commission has not yet been presented
with the full list of polling stations by the RegistrarGeneral. We are having a
meeting on February 28 with the Registrar-General when we will know the exact
figure of the polling stations," he said.
From The News Room ZWnews, 27 February
Nine MDC activists, arrested on Saturday in Marondera appeared in the local
magistrates’ court on Wednesday morning. They are accused of planning and
executing a petrol bomb attack on a Zanu PF vehicle parked at Marondera police
station. The nine deny the charges, and in addition showed the magistrate the
injuries they claim to have received during beatings by the police while in
custody. They were remanded in custody until Thursday morning when the hearing
Tafadzwa Musekiwa, the MDC MP for Zengeza, had his house severely
damaged after an attack by Zanu PF youths from the party's base in the area. The
attack, which took place in the early hours of the morning, was carried out by
an estimated 200 youths who chanted antiMDC slogans. The roof of the house was
severely damaged while neighbouring houses had their windows broken. Police did
not attend to the incident; they termed the incident political and therefore
outside their jurisdiction. Musekiwa said he would institute legal action
against the police and government.
In Karoi on Tuesday, Biggie Murove was recovering from a stressful day
he had spent at the police station arranging for the release of eight MDC
activists jailed for the past month without trial, when a group of about 300
Zanu PF youths were dropped by council trucks a few metres from his home. At
around 10 pm, the youths started throwing stones at his house. Although police
witnessed the incident, they were unable to stop the attack. The gang later went
on the rampage in Chikangwe Township where they destroyed and burnt fruit,
vegetables and other items at Mrs Murove's open market. They also destroyed all
windows of houses belonging to the eight MDC supporters and a shop belonging to
a retired Catholic elder. Early on Wednesday morning, the police arrived at
Murove’s house claiming they were searching for "fugitives". Their search was
From ZWNEWS, 28 February
Degrees in Violence: Robert Mugabe and the Struggle for Power in
Zimbabwe by David Blair
A new book on Zimbabwe is published today. Enquire at your local bookstore.
This book is probably not available in Zimbabwe...
Robert Mugabe is a unique figure among African leaders. Having led the
struggle against colonial rule, he has held office uninterruptedly since
independence. Now, after 21 years of dominance, Mugabe is waging a bitter
struggle to hold power against an opposition born from the spiralling economic
and social collapse of Zimbabwe. This timely and compelling book tells the story
of Zimbabwe from the hopeful era of new independence to the present reality of
petrol queues, food riots and a terror campaign waged by Mugabe supporters.
David Blair is a staff foreign correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Born in
Malawi in 1973 he grew up in Lesotho and began working as a journalist in
Uganda. He was recently named Young Journalist of the Year by the Foreign Press
Association. He was forced to leave Zimbabwe in June 2001 as Robert Mugabe's
government sought to silence the media. He left a country in turmoil, gripped by
a ferocious battle for power.
Matabeleland villagers flee to South Africa as terror
2/28/02 7:39:58 AM (GMT +2)
From Sandra Mujokoro in Bulawayo
An unspecified number of Zimbabweans are reportedly fleeing to South Africa
through illegal exit points as violence mounts in Matabeleland’s rural areas
ahead of the presidential election.
Over 100 people have been killed in political violence since the 2000
At Beitbridge border post, up to 50 border jumpers are arrested daily by
South African immigration officers and the numbers are expected to increase as
the election draws nearer, an official said.
South African soldiers have set up a 24-hour checkpoint, two kilometres
from the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo province as part of the special
A border post official who declined to be named said most border jumpers
were from the politically troubled rural areas of Matabeleland.
Most cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South Africa looking
for jobs on farms while others make a living by selling hand-carved artifacts in
the northern frontier town of Messina.
A Zimbabwean immigration officer said: “They obviously will not have the
right papers and opt to leave the country illegally.
“But hundreds of others are applying for political asylum and if their
papers are in order they go through,” he said.
He said the immigration officers are overwhelmed by the flood of people
travelling to South Africa for one reason or another.
Botswana deported over 1 000 Zimbabweans last month. Most people fleeing to
Botswana and South Africa are from Bulawayo where Zanu PF youths have launched a
reign of terror in the high-density areas.
Malawian immigration officials said the flow of Zimbabweans into the
country has not changed significantly. Hudson Mankhwala, the public relations
officer for the Department of Immigration, said most of the visitors take
advantage of Malawi’s liberal immigration laws.
“In the wake of sanctions and threats of sanctions against Zimbabwe, we
have had cases of Zimbabweans coming here to try to fraudulently acquire
Malawian passports to travel to Europe,” he said.
Over 200 Zimbabweans are reportedly camped at cheap lodges and inns in
Blantyre and Lilongwe.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans are leaving daily for the United Kingdom.
Zimbabwe has recorded fully booked flights since the middle of last year despite
the deportation of many would-be asylum seekers.
Headmaster accused of victimisation
2/28/02 9:02:59 AM (GMT +2)
From Brian Mangwende in Mutare
SOME teachers at Mutare Boys High School have accused Elijah Phairah, the
headmaster, of victimising them following an article in The Eastern Star last
Friday alleging he had introduced drastic changes at the institution
A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday: “After
reading the article in your newspaper, the headmaster started a witch-hunt. In
one of our meetings, he told us all to buy the newspaper, read it, reconvene and
disclose to him the source of the story.
“About five of us have been given up to 14 days to justify why we should
still be staying in the hostel.”
Phairah confirmed he had asked the teachers to buy the newspaper, but
denied there was a witch-hunt.
He said: “During our morning conference, I asked the teachers to buy the
paper because there was an article about our school in it. I did not victimise
anyone. I believe what I am doing is in the best interests of the school.”
Among some of the far-reaching changes at the school, Phairah ordered the
closure of one students’ hostel, Soffe, reduced the annual intake for Lower Six
from 50 to 20 students, abolished English Language, History and Shona at
Advanced Level and forced teachers out of their residences.
Another teacher asked: “How can he abolish such crucial subjects? If one
wants to become a lawyer, English is a crucial requirement. How can our children
know our history, let alone our heritage, if History as a subject has been
abolished? This is insane.”
Soffe Hostel accommodates about 110 students, 30 of whom have been asked to
live in the community at Phairah’s request.
The displaced students are allegedly paying $20 000 each for meals and
The remaining students were relocated to Palmer and Crawford hostels.
Another teacher said the headmaster, teachers and members of the School
Development Association were scheduled to hold a meeting soon to discuss the
Bulawayo City Council bars Mugabe from using stadium
2/28/02 9:03:43 AM (GMT +2)
From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
THE Bulawayo City Council has barred President Mugabe from holding a rally
at White City Stadium this weekend, saying the MDC booked the venue first.
The council said this yesterday in an affidavit filed at the Bulawayo High
Court where the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is contesting a provisional order
granted last week by the court to allow the MDC to hold a rally that will be
addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai, the party’s president, at the stadium on the
Justice Maphios Cheda, a High Court judge, postponed the case to tomorrow
when the two contesting parties are expected to present their heads of argument.
Surprisingly, it is the ZRP which is contesting the order for the ruling
party to hold the rally at the stadium, while Zanu PF itself has not filed any
According to the Public Order and Security Act, police are supposed to give
consent or refuse to give permission for a gathering to be held.
Said the city council: “Third respondent (council) is the owner of White
City Stadium. It can, therefore, at its sole discretion, hire it out to
whomsoever it wishes.”
The council told the court that Zanu PF had no booking for that venue
and/or time. In fact, said the council, the stadium having been booked by the
MDC, booking by Zanu PF could not and cannot be made.
“Zanu PF was advised as such when they applied to use the stadium after the
MDC’s booking,” said the local authority.
In granting the provisional order last week, Justice Cheda directed the
Commissioner of Police, Augustine Chihuri, to allow the MDC to hold its
rally at White City Stadium this Saturday and to provide security for the
peaceful gathering of the rally.
Mugabe ridicules EU sanctions
2/28/02 9:04:17 AM (GMT +2)
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday said he was not at all pained by the targeted
sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) barring him from visiting the
United Kingdom and other EU countries, saying he had never in his life yearned
to visit “dreadful” and “ugly” Britain.
Addressing thousands of supporters in Rushinga in Mashonaland Central,
Mugabe said the EU and the US had slapped Zimbabwe’s leadership with
targeted sanctions because of his government’s land reform programme.
Most children of high-ranking government and Zanu PF officials are
currently studying abroad and may be deported as part of the targeted sanctions.
“They say I am hurt because I am not able to visit Britain. No, I am not.
Never in my life have I gone to Britain except upon invitation and only when
we were visiting other countries and were just passing through Britain, and not
“Yes we have sent our children there and to other countries to learn but
not to stay there. We have a much more beautiful country than the dreadful, ugly
Britain,” he quipped.
He said Zanu PF will govern the country for the next six years, even if the
international community rejected the outcome of next week’s presidential poll.