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

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 Ananova :   
  
Mugabe sets racial tone for Zimbabwe election
 
President Robert Mugabe has set the tone for his election campaign by lashing out against the opposition, Britain and the nation's white minority.
 
The Zimbabwean leader spoke at his first campaign rally a day after his party pushed through a stringent media bill aimed at gagging independent journalists ahead of the March election.
 
He accuses opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party of standing for all things white.
 
"What they want is to bring you under white rule and persevere the land rights of the whites," Mr Mugabe told a crowd of about 10,000 people in Mutawatawa, a remote trading center 100 miles northeast of Harare.
 
President Mugabe, is fighting for his political survival in this election after almost 22 years in power. The media bill is part of a package of legislation aimed at stifling dissent ahead of the vote.
 
The new legislation makes it illegal for journalists to operate without government accreditation. In a nod to moderate voices within the ruling party who objected to the original wording of the bill, it allows foreign correspondents into the country but only to cover specific events.
 
Mr Mugabe said the poor rural district, a traditional stronghold of his Zimbabwe National Union Patriotic Front party, had "problems of development and bad roads brought about by Britain and Tsvangirai."
 
"Britain has decided to take us on through the (opposition) MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). How can we have blacks who masquerade as whites? Whatever Britain tries to do, we will not back off," President Mugabe said.
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BBC
 
Friday, 1 February, 2002, 17:33 GMT
Mugabe launches defiant campaign
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe arrives at campaign rally
Mugabe appears undeterred by international pressure
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has launched his campaign for next month's presidential election saying the country faces 'political war' with former colonial ruler Britain.


We are in a state of political war

President Robert Mugabe

The first speech of his campaign followed the passage through parliament of a stringent new media bill, which critics say is aimed at stifling dissent ahead of the polls.

President Mugabe also vowed to finish his controversial programme of redistribution of land seized from white farmers.

As international condemnation of his government mounts, Mr Mugabe cast himself as the defender of the country's black majority.

He portrayed his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as a puppet of the British.

Defiance

"We are in a state of political war," President Mugabe was quoted by Reuters as telling a rally in the remote northeastern area of Mutawatawa.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes he will win if polling is fair

"We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the MDC," he was quoted as saying.

Britain has spearheaded international condemnation of Mr Mugabe's government, echoed by the United States and the European Union.

The 77-year-old president urged his supporters to avoid violence, but drew parallels between his campaign and the country's struggle for independence.

"Whatever (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair tries to do, we will not back down. We went to war. We went to prison," he said.

"We have suffered over the years, but we are not afraid of the struggle." he said.

International condemnation

The presidential elections are likely to be the most fiercely contested since the country's independence in 1980.

Human rights groups have reported a sharp increase in political violence in recent weeks.

Domestic and international critics say a raft of recent legislation curbing civil liberties - including the media bill - is indicative of President Mugabe's determination to stay in power, whatever the cost.

The European Union has threatened to impose sanctions if its observers are not allowed into the country by the weekend.

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MSNBC
 
Mugabe slams Britain, tells backers to stand firm  
 
MUREWA, Zimbabwe, Feb. 1 Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday launched his re-election campaign with a vitriolic attack on Britain, the former colonial ruler, and a call to his supporters to defend themselves if provoked. 
A day after parliament passed a media law that opponents said had ushered in a dictatorship, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo questioned the need for critical media and said the army would not stand for an opposition victory.
       Mugabe, in his first speech of the campaign five weeks before the election, cast himself as the defender of the black majority. He portrayed his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as a black puppet of British and local white interests.
       ''We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the MDC,'' Mugabe told 5,000 cheering supporters of his ZANU-PF party at a rally 150 km (90 miles) northeast of Harare.
       ''Whatever (British premier Tony) Blair tries to do, we will not back down...You can count on us to fight,'' Mugabe told his supporters, who chanted: ''Down with MDC, Down with Britain.''
       Britain has been Mugabe's strongest international critic. But both the United States and European Union have threatened sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle if he fails to ensure that the election -- his biggest challenge since he led then-Rhodesia to independence in 1980 -- is fair.
 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE
       The MDC says nearly 100 of its supporters have died in political violence since early 2000, when government-backed militants began often violent seizures of white-owned farms.
       But Mugabe, who will turn 78 next month and has presided over a growing economic crisis, insists the MDC is fuelling the unrest. He told his supporters:
       ''We don't condone violence, but I'm not saying you should fold your hands if you are provoked.
       ''We want peaceful elections, but...you cannot be attacked in your own homes...You must defend yourselves and your families, but we should not go around assaulting people.''
       He made no comment on the new media bill, which he is expected to sign into law shortly, but Moyo told the U.S. television network CNN:
       ''Thomas Jefferson said it was better to have newspapers without government. He was very, very wrong. It is far better to have government without newspapers.''
       He insisted most foreign journalists would still be accredited: ''There is no reason why we should not do it now, but we are very clear -- (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair and his lot will not be allowed to come here.
       ''We are saying to them, continue your colonial arrogance in London. You are not welcome here.''
       The BBC was ejected from Zimbabwe a year ago for alleged bias. The government allows a few foreign journalists to work in Zimbabwe, but has barred scores of others with no explanation.
       Moyo also told CNN the military would not tolerate an opposition election victory, casting the MDC as a front for whites yearning for a return to minority rule and opposed to those who had fought for liberation.
       ''MOCKERY OF LIBERATION FIGHTERS''
       ''It would be a mockery to them and to the cause they fought for if they were suddenly to be made to salute one of the people they fought against...We don't expect the Jews to salute the Nazis,'' he said.
       Mugabe, speaking in the local Shona language, went further:
       ''Tsvangirai has decided he must be white and he has now become 'Tsvangison', in line with his wishes to become all things white,'' he said, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
       Meanwhile the MDC and independent newspapers attacked the media bill.
       ''Through the passing of this bill, ZANU-PF has successfully completed the task of transforming the country into a full-fledged dictatorship,'' MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said.
       British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, speaking after talks in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he found it ''almost impossible to comprehend how free and fair elections can be held...when such laws have been passed.''
       The EU Commissioner for External Affairs, Chris Patten, said the law represented ''a fundamental attack on media freedom.'' and the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said it would destroy any semblance of press freedom.
       The bill requires journalists, who could face up to two years in jail for breaking the regulations, to seek a licence from a state commission.
       However, opponents claimed a partial victory with two last-minute amendments.
       One stipulates that existing foreign and local media organisations will be considered to be registered, rather than being required to seek a licence. The other allows foreigners to take non-controlling stakes in media organisations.
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BBC
 
Friday, 1 February, 2002, 16:57 GMT
African media criticises Mugabe
Africa Media Watch
Africa Media Watch this week concentrates on the tense situation between Zimbabwe and the UK.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, meeting in London, has rejected British-led moves to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth over political violence and a media clampdown ahead of March's presidential polls.

"Bid to isolate Zim flops," declares the pro-government The Herald.

"The rejection dealt a major blow to spirited diplomatic efforts by Britain and its friends in the Commonwealth," it adds.

The paper's editorial is no less triumphant.


"While it is not a mistake to make a mistake, someone needs to tell the British that repeating a mistake is a sign of being retarded,"

The Herald

"The British have relentlessly failed to learn anything in their misguided assault of this country because of our gallant effort to correct past injustices."

"It is always a difficult thing for a master to ever regard their former subject as an equal and this prejudice has confined the British diplomats to international embarrassment," it goes on.

"While it is not a mistake to make a mistake, someone needs to tell the British that repeating a mistake is a sign of being retarded," the editor charges.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw gives a press conference after the EU general affairs council meeting in Brussels, 28 January 2002. EU foreign ministers on Monday threatened the Zimbabwe governme
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is critical of Mugabe
"The British nation was once drunk with illusionary power and they have never sobered up since their might waned and they were relegated to being one of the smaller nations of Europe," the tirade against the "obnoxious island" continues.

Britain's "only claim to fame these days is basking in the shadow of the United States," The Herald remarks.

Zimbabwe's presidential elections

The independent The Financial Gazette sounds the alarm over the elections.


"The sheer magnitude of the unfolding fraud is frightening,"

The Financial Gazette
"All the gloves are finally off modern history's unprecedented sham which the government is desperately trying to sell to the world as a valid presidential ballot." Zimbabwe's election campaign has been marred by political violence and a clampdown on the independent media.

"The sheer magnitude of the unfolding fraud is frightening," the paper says.

The paper charges that the chief election officer, Douglas Nyikayaramba, "turns out to have been a brigadier in the army and a well-known ally of President Robert Mugabe". It also claims that the head of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, is a "former military intelligence chief in Mugabe's Office".

Earlier in the week EU foreign ministers threatened targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his inner circle unless he agrees by 3 February to allow EU observers at the March election. Mr Mugabe specifically excluded Britain from an invitation addressed to several countries and organisations to send in observers.

"Will long-suffering Zimbabweans, plus the international community, allow this gigantic sham to stand?," The Financial Gazette wonders.

Love him or loathe him

Nigeria's Weekly Trust is at a loss over what to make of Mr Mugabe.

"Mugabe's deliberate choice of land reform as an emotive issue to prolong his rule and obliterate his political opponents has put many Africans in a great dilemma." The paper points out that not "everybody who is opposing Mugabe today is a traitor, agent of settlers, a front for British neo-colonialism or enemy of African liberation". "It is so sad that a leader who started so promisingly and so loved has now become the problem for his own people," it laments.

"Who is he fooling about another liberation war?," the Weekly Trust wonders.

South Africa's The Sowetan says that the call by prominent southern African church leaders on Zimbabwe's president to step down "might be a signal to Mugabe that his respectability may not only have waned inside his country, but that it might be running out outside Zimbabwe".

The paper urges the Southern African Development Community leaders to "take bold steps to give assurances to the people of the region that the chaos will not spill over that country's borders".

"That assurance will also contribute to improving the likelihood of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe," The Sowetan concludes.

Kenya's East African Standard is also critical. Mr Mugabe's "reforms" in the run up to the poll "smack of dictatorship".

An independent Zimbabwean journalist holds up the Zimbabwean flag during a demonstration outside parliament in central Harare to protest the governments proposed Access to Information and Protection o
Zimbabwean journalists are restricted by a new media bill
"If the myriad allegations of campaign impropriety suggest election rigging, then the stringent conditionalities set by Mugabe are a clear testimony to the intent to cling on to power," The East African Standard concludes. "Mugabe is finally under pressure and it shows," South Africa's Business Day exclaims.

Botswana's The Reporter tries to be optimistic believing that "principled level-headedness and political order will prevail in Zimbabwe as the elections draw near". "Should Mugabe allow his country to conflagrate into civil war, not only will he go down with the flames, Botswana and other Zimbabwean neighbours will also catch fire and go down burning in a fire that we should have helped to prevent," it cautions.

 


ABC News
 
Mugabe Says 'Political War' with Britain
 

By Cris Chinaka
 
MUREWA, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Friday he faced a "political war" against former colonial ruler Britain, accusing London of backing his opponent in presidential elections next month.
 
In his first speech of the campaign, Mugabe cast himself as the defender of the black majority and portrayed his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as a puppet of British and local white interests.
 
"We are in a state of political war. We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the MDC," Mugabe told 5,000 cheering supporters at a rally 150 km northeast of Harare.
 
"Whatever (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair tries to do, we will not back down. We went to war. We went to prison. We have suffered over the years, but we are not afraid of the struggle.
 
"We will not run away. You can count on us to fight," Mugabe told his supporters, who chanted "Down with MDC, Down with Britain."
 
Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, has been the strongest international critic of Mugabe. But the United States and European Union have recently stepped up their criticism.
 
Both have threatened "smart sanctions" against Mugabe and his inner circle if he fails to ensure fair elections.
 
Mugabe, 78 next month, is facing in Tsvangirai his strongest political opponent since leading the former Rhodesia to independence from Britain in 1980.
 
Speaking in the local Shona language, Mugabe mockingly referred to the former trade union leader as a white puppet.
 
"Tsvangirai has decided he must be white and he has now become Tsvangison, in line with his wishes to become all things white," Mugabe said, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
 
The MDC says nearly 100 of its supporters have been killed in political violence since February 2000 when militants, backed by the government, began often violent seizures of white-owned farms. Mugabe's supporters accuse the MDC of fueling unrest.
 
Mugabe vowed to press ahead with plans to forcibly acquire white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks, and promised more food aid for rural areas where his support is strongest.
 
He made no comment on a tough media bill passed by parliament on Thursday. Critics say the legislation will stifle free debate in the run-up to the March 9-10 presidential poll.
 
The election comes amid a severe economic crisis, with unemployment and inflation at record highs.

CNN
 
EU anger over Mugabe press law

February 1, 2002
 
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union has joined the United Kingdom in condemning the Zimbabwe parliament's approval of a tough new media law.
 
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Zimbabwe's anti-press laws had virtually ruled out free and fair presidential elections in March.
 
Zimbabwe's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, passed by the parliament on Thursday, restricts access for foreign reporters and imposes tight controls on local media in the run-up to the elections.
 
The EU has given President Robert Mugabe until February 3 to allow in EU observers, or face targeted sanctions such as the freezing of his assets and accounts held abroad and a European visa ban on senior government figures and their families.
 
Straw said the media law would have to be considered by the EU next week when it weighed up whether to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
 
Speaking in Washington where he had talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Straw said: "I wholly condemn the passage of these press laws.
 
"I find it almost impossible to comprehend how free and fair elections can be held in Zimbabwe when such laws have been passed.
 
"That will be a matter which will have to be weighed very carefully in the balance by the European Union to decide whether the sanctions which in principle were decided upon early this week ought to be triggered."
 
European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten said in a statement: "We are profoundly disappointed that Zimbabwe's parliament has passed this law, which represents a fundamental attack on media freedom."
 
However, commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin told a daily news briefing that the new law did not make sanctions inevitable.
 
"The law does allow for internationally accredited media to operate for a limited period (during the election)."
 
Udwin added that Zimbabwe had also indicated it would allow EU election observers to deploy in the country in good time before the election, though Harare has also made clear that the team should not include British citizens.
 
Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial power, has been the strongest international critic of Mugabe, who faces the biggest opposition challenge to his rule since he led the southern African country to independence 22 years ago.
 
Britain is pushing for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which takes place near Brisbane, Australia, next month just days before Zimbabwe's elections.
 
Earlier this week, the Commonwealth rejected a British call to suspend Zimbabwe from the 54-nation group.

MSNBC
 
S.Africa working for free and fair Zimbabwe polls  
 
 PRETORIA, Feb. 1 South Africa said on Friday it was working hard with other African countries to ensure free and fair elections in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where a tough media bill threatens to curb press freedoms ahead of polls in March.  
        Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told a news conference that any alternative to free and fair polls would have damaging consequences for Zimbabwe and its neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
       ''We are now working to ensure, as South Africa and as SADC, that conditions exist for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,'' Pahad said.
       The minister said South Africa had sent a task force led by a senior minister to Zimbabwe to study the political climate on the ground and its recommendations, to be submitted on Monday, would form the basis of Pretoria's policy stand on the matter.
       He declined to give details on what President Thabo Mbeki may do should the task force conclude that free and fair elections were not possible in Zimbabwe.
       ''I do not want to preempt the team's report. Lets wait and see. We shall brief the media next week,'' he added.
       South Africa and Mbeki have been repeatedly accused by the media, opposition groups and Western nations of not doing enough to rein in President Robert Mugabe, who has brought his country to the brink of collapse.
       Zimbabwe plunged into its worst economic and political crisis in 2000 with a government-backed campaign to seize white-owned farms for re-distribution to landless blacks.
       Pahad was speaking a day after Mugabe pushed through parliament a new bill which critics say will stifle free debate in the run-up to the March 9-10 polls.
       The legislation restricts access for foreign reporters and imposes tight controls on local media. Mugabe is expected to sign it into law shortly.
       Pahad said South Africa was still studying the media bill and would not yet comment.
       He said South Africa was willing to help journalists, especially South African media, to get accreditation to cover the polls.
       Mugabe, 78 next month, faces the stiffest challenge yet to his 22 years in power from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
       Asked to comment on Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo's remarks that the military would not tolerate an opposition victory, Pahad declared:
       ''I really hope that view does not reflect the thinking in the (Zimbabwean) military. We hope that nobody will preempt the result of this election.''


The Guardian 
 
Harare raises spectre of nation without newspapers
 
Jessica Hodgson
Friday February 1, 2002
 
Zimbabwe's information minister today questioned the need for the existence of the media following condemnation of a new press bill that has raised fears that the forthcoming elections in May will not be properly scrutinised.
 
"Thomas Jefferson said it was better to have newspapers without government. He was very, very wrong. It is far better to have government without newspapers," information minister Jonathan Moyo told CNN in Harare.
 
Mr Moyo denied the bill would restrict access for foreign correspondents, saying: "We have always accredited international journalists to come.
 
"There is no reason why we should not do it now, but we are very clear Tony Blair and his lot will not be allowed to come here.
 
"We are saying to them: continue your colonial arrogance in London. You are not welcome here."
 
New legislation, passed by parliament on Thursday and expected to be signed into law shortly, restricts access for foreign reporters and imposes tight controls on local media. President Robert Mugabe is expected to sign it into law shortly.
 
Critics have claimed the legislation is designed to stifle criticism of the Mugabe regime.
 
The BBC was ejected from Zimbabwe a year ago for alleged bias and has tried in vain to persuade the government of the former British colony to lift the ban.
 
The government recently singled out several foreign correspondents - including the Guardian's Chris McGreal and the Sunday Telegraph's Philip Sherwell, saying it would hunt them down.
 
Moyo said the military would not tolerate an opposition victory at the poll, drawing parallels between his country's liberation war against white-run Rhodesia and America's war of independence against Britain.
 
"You are more than two centuries away from the actual individuals who fought for the liberation of the United States but we are only 22 years from this and the people who fought are here.
 
"It would be a mockery to them and to the cause they fought for, if they were suddenly to be made to salute one of the people they fought against...We don't expect the Jews to salute the Nazis," Moyo told CNN.
 
The government labels its opponents a front for whites yearning for a return to minority rule and says they would be puppets dancing to the whites' tune if they came to power.

SA 'Pays Price for Failure to Stop Mugabe"

Cape Argus (Cape Town)
 
February 1, 2002
 
David Yutar
Cape Town
 
THE South African government's failure to stand up to President Robert Mugabe has cost this country billions of rands, a senior Zimbabwe opposition leader says.
 
Eddie Cross, secretary for economic affairs for the Movement for Democratic Change, slated President Thabo Mbeki for not challenging Mugabe's "tyranny" over Zimbabwe.
 
As the main speaker at a meeting of the SA Institute of International Affairs last night, Cross said Mbeki was "the one man in the whole world Mugabe cannot say no to".
 
"You (South Africa) are the regional superpower.
 
If Thabo Mbeki called Mugabe and said to him, 'Enough is enough, this madness must stop', Mugabe could not say no."
 
Cross criticised South Africa's role in the crisis as "too little too late".
 
Mugabe had "violated all the principles he fought for in the liberation war" and had used every means possible to cling to power.
 
He described the crisis in Zimbabwe as "a tragedy for all those who have fought for political rights in Africa".
 
The country faced an unprecedented political and economic crisis.
 
"It might seem incomprehensible that an African country should run out of its staple food but that is exactly what has happened in Zimbabwe.
 
"We will have to import half of our food over the next two years."
 
Per capita income was lower than it was 30 years ago and industrial output was below its 1970 level, at the height of sanctions.
 
The Zimbabwe government had "consistently spent more than it earned", with the result that the national debt was 140% of gross domestic product.
 
GDP had dropped by 30% in three years and inflation was at 112% and rising.
 
Life expectancy was lower than ever, only 20% of adults were employed and the government had not paid pensions for years, he said.
 
Three million Zimbabweans had been forced to flee their country and 500 a day were crossing the border at Beit Bridge into South Africa, because they could not support their families back home.
 
Cross said the crisis had had a huge adverse impact on the South African economy, where food inflation was 30% "as a result of Robert Mugabe".
 
The South African government had suffered political fallout from the crisis in Zimbabwe in that the credibility of all African governments had taken a knock.
 
Cross vehemently denied allegations that the MDC was a front for white Zimbabweans, but said it represented all disaffected Zimbabweans.
 
Mugabe was "just the same as" Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith in that he refused to acknowledge when the time had come to step down.
 
If Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won the March elections, it would be "a catastrophe for the whole of Southern Africa", he said.
 
He predicted a "landslide victory" for the MDC in the March elections.
 
"We have been fighting tyranny and we will defeat tyranny not with AK47s but with votes in the ballot box."

BBC
 
Friday, 1 February, 2002, 13:44 GMT
Zimbabwe sanctions: What would they be?
President Robert Mugabe at an election rally in 2000
Defiant Mugabe says EU's attitude is "colonial"
BBC News Online looks at the "targeted" sanctions the European Union is considering imposing on Zimbabwe if EU observers and journalists are not given free access to cover next month's presidential elections, and their likely impact.

What "targeted sanctions" would mean:

  • European travel ban on some 20 top individuals in Mugabe's inner circle and their families

  • Freezing of assets and foreign bank accounts held by senior figures in the Mugabe regime who are believed to have sent large sums of money out of Zimbabwe

  • Ban on arms exports to Zimbabwe

When would sanctions come into force?

  • The European Union has already decided "in principle" to impose sanctions

  • But the EU would still have to make a formal decision - possibly within days after the 3 Feb deadline

What would trigger sanctions?

  • If the Mugabe government prevents the deployment of European Union election observers by Sunday 3 February, or

  • If it later prevents them from operating effectively

  • If international media are not given free access to cover the election

  • If there is a worsening of the human rights situation or attacks against the opposition

  • If the election is not considered free and fair

What impact are the sanctions likely to have?

  • Further isolate Mr Mugabe's government and hinder relations with key aid donors and trading partners

Business Day
 
Zimbabwe impoverished: win or lose
 

By Donwald Pressly
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is far deeper than it is generally understood in Southern Africa with a national debt of 10 billion US dollars or about 140% of its gross domestic product, says the opposition. State pensions have not been paid for months and the nation is hungry.
 
The economic affairs secretary for the Movement for Democratic Change, Eddie Cross, is in South Africa to urge South Africans to take the March Zimbabwean presidential elections seriously.
 
He warns that if President Robert Mugabe wins that election it will be a disaster for the sub-continent.
 
Cross argues that the international community has lost patience with Zimbabwe and a range of sanctions will be imposed if Mugabe wins another term as president after 22 years in office. It will have a serious impact on the economic stability of the sub-continent.
 
Cross believes already South Africa is paying the price - its growth rate is already lower and its currency weaker than it should be despite sensible economic policies.
 
Both he and his colleague Ian Makone, who is personal assistant to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, say that if there is a free and fair election, the former trade union leader will win easily. But they believe Mugabe is capable of anything to stay in power.
 
Cross points out that Zimbabwe is in far deeper trouble than Argentina - although that country's economic woes have sent shockwaves through the world. In that country the national debt is only 50% of GDP.
 
Much of the financial problem in Zimbabwe grew out of the Z$3.7 billion payment to thousands of war veterans who received 50,000 Zimbabwean dollars each in special payout by the Zimbabwean government.
 
Added to that Zimbabwe has since independence in 1980 consistently spent at a faster rate than its economic growth.
 
Cross believes the election is a make or break one for Zanu-PF which has ruled Zimbabwean since independence under Mugabe in 1980. Its leadership knows that if the presidential bid by Mugabe is lost, Zanu "is finished".
 
Events appear not to be working in favour of Zanu. It lost a referendum in 2000 when Mugabe wished to change the constitution to provide himself with greater powers. His party only held on to power "by the narrowest of
margins" in the parliamentary elections - with the MDC winning a majority of votes - 52% - but notching up only 58 of 120 elected seats. Mugabe appointed 30 other members of parliament, including 10 chiefs.
 
Even after the MDC's strong showing the South African government wasn't keen to confer with the MDC.
 
Cross believes the constitutional referendum was rigged "by 15%" and even then Mugabe was beaten.
 
Cross, who was in Cape Town to address the South African Institute of International Affairs, also argues that Mugabe never believed in urban commercialism and wanted a rural system of plots - a kind of agrarian
people's project similar to the vision of the Khmer Rouge.
 
Although Mugabe showed no signs of corruption in his first years in office - and he presided over strong economic growth, by 1999 he was corrupt "to the neck".
 
Now the figures were dismal. Incomes per capita were lower than they were 30 years ago, says Cross. Some estimates were that only 20% of the population is employed. About two million people were homeless, he says.
 
Both Cross and Makone say there is an upside to all of this: if there is a free and fair election the MDC will win.
 
With South Africa doing very little in their opinion to support the rule of law and democratic procedures, the
MDC may have to carry out the work alone - deploying 15,000 people at the 5,000 polling stations to check on the balloting process.
 
An MDC victory would do "wonders for the image of Africa," says Cross. "We will defeat tyranny by votes in the ballot box," he says confidently.
 
The party will also need 5,000 vehicles to allow it to oversee the security of ballot boxes on the way to the count. "We will do just that," says Makone.
 
In the event of an MDC victory, the party will ensure that power is not focused on a single individual and there would be genuine land reform. Each farmer would be given title to his or her land - rather than a prevalent
system of communal land ownership.
 
A three year programme of economic reform would be swiftly put in place to ensure sustainable food production. A huge stakeholder conference on land matters would have to be held.
 
Whatever happens it will be a tough road ahead for the MDC, the most likely party to defeat Mugabe.
 
Cross, who describes himself as a white African and who is one of four whites in the MDC national executive, warns South Africa that when the MDC wins: "You (South Africa) will have to pay".
 
He does not explain further, but it is clear that broadbased South Africa aid - be it financial, technical or food aid - will be part of the cost that Zimbabwe's neighbour will have to pay for being too quite during the erosion of its economic cake.

Telegraph
 
Straw hits at Zimbabwe anti-press laws
(Filed: 01/02/2002)
 

ZIMBABWE'S anti-press laws have virtually ruled out free and fair elections being held next month, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has declared.
 
He said the media law, which makes it illegal for journalists to operate without government accreditation, would have to be considered by the EU next week when it weighs up whether to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
 
Mr Straw, speaking in Washington where he had talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell, said: "I wholly condemn the passage of these press laws. I find it almost impossible to comprehend how free and fair elections can be held in Zimbabwe when such laws have been passed.
 
"That will be a matter which will have to be weighed very carefully in the balance by the European Union to decide whether the sanctions which in principle were decided upon early this week ought to be triggered."
 
The EU has given President Robert Mugabe until this weekend to allow in EU observers, or face targeted sanctions such as the freezing of his assets and accounts held abroad and a European visa ban on senior government figures and their families.
 
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said: "Anyone who thought that the Mugabe regime would draw back after the Commonwealth ministers' meeting has had a rude awakening.
 
"The sad but unpalatable truth is that the present government in Zimbabwe is determined to prevent any freedom on the part of the press which might allow scrutiny of the government's illegitimate efforts to ensure victory for Mugabe in the forthcoming presidential election."
 
Britain is pushing for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which takes place near Brisbane, Australia, next month just days before the March 10 Zimbabwe elections.

Daily News
 
BBC correspondent arrested 
 
2/1/02 9:18:02 AM (GMT +2)
 
 
From Mduduzi Mathuthu in Bulawayo
 
THABO Kunene, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent based in Zimbabwe was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and detained for an hour in the strife-torn Lupane district, about 100km north of Bulawayo.
 
Kunene was with a visitor from Holland and the driver of a Bulawayo
car-hire firm when they were arrested at a roadblock in the politically-charged
Insuza area of Lupane.
 
They were led to Insuza police post where they were detained on the accusation that they were a threat to security, Kunene told The Daily News yesterday.
"They separated us on arrival at the police station and we were continuously told that we were a security risk. The interrogation lasted about 30 minutes," said Kunene yesterday.
 
"They seized a recorded cassette from the car", he said.
 
The Matabeleland North police spokesman, Inspector Alfred Zvenyika confirmed the incident.
 
"After interrogation, we were made to wait for 30 minutes after being informed that the police were waiting for instructions from an undisclosed person," said Kunene.
 
Three journalists, Foster Dongozi, Rhoda Mashavave and Cornelius Nduna were arrested in Harare last Wednesday for demonstrating against a new media Bill currently before Parliament which seeks to impose an iron curtain on the public's access to information.
 

Daily News -The Mole
 
Ridiculous fiction 
 
2/1/02 9:28:39 AM (GMT +2)
 
 

The Mole is on record, on at least two occasions, for saying Eddison Zvobgo, who is not only a spell-binding orator and towering intellectual, but is also probably the most brilliant lawyer this country has ever produced, has lived his life as one big bundle of contradictions, much to the disappointment and chagrin of many of his compatriots.
 
 
 
The question has been posed in this column as to how an eminently learned lawyer and fierce advocate of good governance and democracy could have willingly assumed the role of chief craftsman in the creation of the monster called the Executive Presidency with all those diabolical powers.
 
Not only that: I have also wondered on several occasions how, being the intellectual that he obviously is, Zvobgo in a most unlikely marriage of convenience with nemesis, Jonathan Moyo, could have compounded that first mistake with his eloquent arguments in support of that fatally flawed draft constitution which, fortunately, was massively rejected by the people of Zimbabwe in February 2000.
 
I have also wondered aloud in this same column why, seeing that of late he has seen the error of his ways and is taking every opportunity to upbraid the government for its ruinous actions, he cannot have the courage of his convictions and part ways with Zanu PF once and for all.
 
This is especially so in view of that terrible, near-fatal car accident which many people thought was "organised" by Zanu PF and his subsequent humiliation by President Mugabe when he dropped him from both Cabinet and the politburo.
 
Instead, much to everyone's disbelief and dismay, he always vows he will remain in Zanu PF to his dying day - thereby denying himself the chance to run for the highest office in the land.
 
He even repeated the vow after that other mafikizolo (upstart), the late Border Gezi, had publicly insulted him by saying the MDC could have him if they so desired.
 
I am pleased to note that Zvobgo went a long way in redeeming the high esteem he had lost among Zimbabweans by his recent performance in Parliament.
 
Zvobgo must have relished every moment he was on his feet in the House defending his committee against false accusations levelled at it by Mugabe's two constantly blundering hirelings.
 
I certainly enjoyed it when he made Jonathan Moyo and, to a lesser extent, Patrick Chinamasa, look thoroughly foolish. The two men, who are the co-architects of the thoroughly obnoxious Access to Information Bill, seem to think it is their ordained duty to inflict as much suffering as they can on the people of this country before their day of reckoning comes - which day may not be far away.
 
"The chaos (in connection with the Bill)," sneered Zvobgo, "has been caused by the government and the minister in particular who has failed to put together his Bill a bit more neatly."
 
Zvobgo's thinly-veiled derision of Moyo for wanting to turn himself into "the government" must have pained Moyo much like a red-hot spear going through the heart.
 
There can be no doubt Zvobgo caused much discomfort on the government side of the House when he said: "The Bill, in its original form, was the most calculated and determined assault on our liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution, that I have ever seen in the 20 years I served as Cabinet minister and as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation for 16 of those years.
 
"What is worse, the Bill was badly drafted, and several provisions were obscure, vague, ill-conceived and dangerous. Ask yourself whether it is rational for a government in a democratic and free society to require registration, licences and ministerial certificates in order for people to speak.
 
It is a sobering thought" (a "terrifying thought" would, I think, have been even more to the point). Then came what The Mole thinks qualifies to be described as a sobering thought: "Supposing it is the government's new policy that one ministry is now the government as proposed here, the desire to review all court decision, including those of the Supreme Court, is clearly unconstitutional."
 
Somebody ought to have told all the Zanu PF zombies in Parliament and the opportunist media practitioners who support all these repressive Bills with fiendish glee that Zanu PF will certainly not be in power for ever and that when that party is no longer in power, it is just possible the cruel provisions of all these Satanic laws could be used against them before they can be repealed, as they simply will have to be, when sanity returns to our beloved motherland.
 
Perhaps then they might remember - for ever - Jesus Christ's golden rule: "That which you don't want others to do unto you, don't do to them." *A story was published in the two government-controlled dailies on Wednesday this week which I think will for ever hold the record as the ultimate monument testifying to the sick and wicked joke that Motor Mouth has turned the public media into in his bid to demonise the MDC and lionise Mugabe in the run-up to the 2002 presidential election.
 
The "story" which The Mole has no hesitation in describing as the greatest fiction ever to be passed by any editor anywhere in the world as "news" appeared in The Chronicle as the front-page lead under the screaming headline "Chronicle attacked".
 
In The Herald, it was "Suspected anthrax sent to Chronicle editor". The kindest thing anyone can say about that incredible fabrication is that, if they had waited for just two months, it would have been great stuff for 1 April.
 
I am sure quite a few people could be fooled into believing it was true. That is, of course, until they got to the details which gave the report away as fiction even to the least intelligent among the papers' readers. You didn't need to possess much brains to realise it was part of the now only too familiar hogwash from Munhumutapa Building.
 
Especially when they gave as background information the nonsensical reference that: "The incident follows another one in Harare in which mail suspected to be laced with anthrax addressed to the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office, Professor Jonathan Moyo was detected."
 
Are the two papers the only ones that have still not been told what all other newspapers were told by experts in the Department of Veterinary Services a few days after that hoax? We were all told - and diligently published that fact - that laboratory tests proved the purported "powder" was certainly not anthrax.
 
I am not given to being spiteful by nature. But anyone who read that "story" would confirm that it was palpable nonsense. I have never read such gobbledygook in my life.
 
Just try to make sense of the following: According to the "story", three anonymous letters "posted from the United Kingdom on January 18" arrived at the Chronicle offices.
 
The editor's secretary then opens them and some time later takes them to the editor - she obviously didn't take them to him immediately. Only when she was returning to her office did she "feel very itchy throughout the body, especially my hands".
 
Come off it, who did she expect to believe that clearly cock-and-bull story? We are then told: "Several people phoned to express solidarity with The Chronicle, urging the paper not to be scared."
 
People phoning even before they had read the "story"? Good gracious! I bet this level of editorial daftness is unmatchable.

Daily News
 
Zanu PF trio charged with murder of two MDC activists 
 
2/1/02 9:19:04 AM (GMT +2)
 
 
From Energy Bara in Masvingo
 
Three Zanu PF supporters allegedly murdered two MDC activists at Chigumisirwa village in Bikita two weeks ago and dumped their bodies in the bush, a Masvingo magistrate heard yesterday.
 
William Nhongo, 36, and Shadreck Musoro, 26, both Zanu PF Bikita district members, yesterday appeared in court charged with the murder of MDC members Richard Maposa and Richard Chatunga.
 
Another suspect, Mayenga Mayenga, a Zanu PF member as well, is still at large. Nhongo and Musoro were not asked to plead and were denied bail by Masvingo magistrate Musiona Shortgame.
 
They were advised to apply for bail to the High Court. The court heard that the three went to their alleged victims' homestead at Chigumisirwa village at night and force-marched them along a path before ordering them to renounce their MDC membership. They assaulted them with sticks in full view of about 140 other Zanu PF youths who sang and applauded the action.
 
It is alleged that Maposa collapsed after the beating and died. The accused then pulled his body off the road and dumped it in the bush. But Maposa's death did not deter them from beating up Chatunga who collapsed, his body being dragged into the bush as well, the court heard.
 
He later died on arrival at Chikuku Hospital in Bikita. Nhongo and Musoro were remanded in custody to 8 February.
 

Daily News
 
UK unfazed by ban from observing poll 
 
2/1/02 9:19:36 AM (GMT +2)
 
 
Political Editor
 
THE British government yesterday said it was immaterial which European Union (EU) countries came to observe Zimbabwe's toughest presidential poll next month.
 
Sophie Honey, the spokesperson for the High Commission in Harare, was commenting on President Mugabe's statement that Zimbabwe had invited the EU and the African Caribbean and Pacific (EU-ACP) countries and the Commonwealth as blocs to observe the 9 and 10 March election but without Britain.
 
She said what was important was that EU observers should be in the country before and after the election.
 
She said: "In our view, it is important that international observers, including an EU mission, should be able to come to Zimbabwe without delay. EU foreign ministers made it clear on 28 January they would like deployment of an EU observation mission to begin by 3 February."
 
Mugabe this week succumbed to international pressure and invited observers from the Commonwealth, EU, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and other groups in Africa. But he said British nationals would not be part of the EU or Commonwealth teams.
 
"What we would like is to see the deployment of an EU observation mission by 3 February," said Honey.
 
Mugabe said Sadc and Nigeria were free to send their observers as soon as possible but did not give the time-frame.
 
Meanwhile, the British High Commission yesterday said the United Kingdom had nothing to do with letters suspected to have been laced with anthrax allegedly delivered to the offices of The Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo this week.
 
A Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation report suggested some of the letters came from the UK. Honey condemned the attack on The Chronicle unreservedly.
 

Daily News
 
Maize-meal runs out 
 
2/1/02 8:30:38 AM (GMT +2)
 
 
Farming Editor
 
MAJOR supermarkets in Harare have completely run out of maize-meal as the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) tries frantically to import the 150 000 tonnes required by the country for the next month.
 
 
 
Yesterday most supermarket sales departments in the city centre said they had last received maize-meal last week.
 
Supermarkets such as OK, TM, Food Chain Group (FCG) and Jarzin did not have any stocks of maize-meal at all.
 
Even super-refined maize-meal, usually left out by most shoppers who prefer the cheaper coarse variety, was not available in all four supermarkets.
Erratic supplies of maize-meal began late last December.
 
Zimbabwe is facing shortages of maize-meal because of a poor rainfall season last year resulting in low yields. A 50 percent reduction in production in the commercial farming sector due to uncertainties caused by the violent land reform programme has caused the shortages.
 
GMB chairman Enock Kamushinda said last week the country would import maize before the stocks ran out completely but maize transporters said it would probably take a month to import the 150 000 tonnes from South Africa because there was a shortage of rail wagons.
 
While sugar supplies have improved, cooking oil and bar soap remain scarce commodities countrywide. The following table sums up prices of essential commodities as of last week at four selected supermarkets in Harare and immediately as they are this week.

Daily News - Leader Page
 
Dangerous to let Zimbabwe off the hook at this stage 
 
2/1/02 10:23:30 AM (GMT +2)
 
 

Before they start popping the champagne corks in celebration over the decision by the Commonwealth not to suspend Zimbabwe for its widespread violations of human rights, Zanu PF leaders would be well-advised to hold off the revelry.
 
They could decide that what they perceive as this victory over Britain signals the Commonwealth's willingness to let them off the hook completely, allowing them to continue to kill, maim and rape innocent citizens as we head towards the presidential election.
 
Or they could immediately abandon the violence against innocent citizens, including opposition activists, the anti-Zanu PF urban dwellers, the independent media and commercial farmers.
 
A day or two after filing their nomination papers yesterday, President Mugabe could hold a joint news conference with the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai and the leaders of the smaller parties in the presidential contest, to pledge their parties against the use of violence.
 
Mugabe could pledge to order Elliot Manyika, the man in charge of the youth brigade, held largely responsible for most of the violence, to see that they return to their barracks or whatever hole they came from.
 
If there is truly no secret Zanu PF agenda to rob the people of the vote, then there should be no problem for Mugabe to share a platform with Tsvangirai and the others and declaring publicly that, for the sake of peace in the country he loves, he will order all Zanu PF leaders to stop their violent activities immediately.
 
It would be a terrible mistake for Zanu PF to wallow in its alleged victory over the British. The Third World members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) who stood firm against suspension could soon change their minds, if they realised Zimbabwe took them for a ride, which is not inconceivable.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) takes place on 2 and 3 March in Australia, having been postponed last year after the 11 September terrorist outrage in the United States.
 
In London on Wednesday, the CMAG spelt out what it expects the government in Harare to do in exchange for holding off suspension.
There is to be an immediate end to political violence and all political parties must be allowed to campaign freely for the presidential election.
Violence against the independent media, a linchpin of Zanu PF's campaign strategy, must end. If, by the time CHOGM convenes in early March, the situation has not changed, then it is quite likely that Zimbabwe could still be suspended, only a few days from the presidential election.
 
At one level, the CMAG decision to hold off the suspension could be very dangerous, emboldening Zanu PF into a cockiness that might translate into the escalation of violence against the opposition and other detractors.
 
At another level, the decision could force Zanu PF to show its true intentions. If the party is being honest with the Commonwealth and the European Union (EU), then the violence against the opposition should end
immediately.
 
If it doesn't end, then everybody, even the Nigerians and the South Africans in the Commonwealth - the most influential African members - must know that Mugabe has once again pulled the wool over their eyes.
 
The bottom line for all this flurry of activity is that the presidential election should be absolutely free and fair.
 
Many Zimbabweans - and the EU - share the scepticism of the British on whether Mugabe's government is genuinely committed to a free and fair election.
 
The legislation they have fast-tracked and still want to fast-track through Parliament suggests they would like to use a loaded dice in this election. They are installing cast-iron guarantees that, come what may, Mugabe will win.
 
Then there is the terrible declaration of loyalty to Mugabe by the security chiefs, putting paid to any prospect of a free and fair election. Many dangers lie ahead for the Commonwealth as it pins its hopes on people whose record of honesty is dubious.

Daily News - Feature
 
EU attacks Zvinavashe's statement as a threat to the democratic process 
 
2/1/02 8:24:37 AM (GMT +2)
 
 
By Ngoni Chanakira Business Editor
 
THE European Commission (EC) says the recent statement by the chief of the armed forces of Zimbabwe, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, is a threat to overturn the democratic process if military commanders do not agree with the result of this year's presidential poll.
 
The EC is the executive arm of the European Union (EU).
 
The poll, set for 9 and 10 March, pits President Mugabe of Zanu PF against Morgan Tsvangirai, former leader of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who now heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
 
In a statement read by Zvinavashe early last month, all the armed forces and security chiefs said they would not "salute any individual who does not possess liberation struggle credentials".
 
The Minister of Defence, Dr Sydney Sekeremayi, has since thrown his weight behind the declaration.
 
The EU has ruled that the essential elements defined in Article 9 of the Cotonou Agreement are "not being respected" by Zimbabwe.
 
These concern obligations to respect democracy and governance issues by signatory countries, of which Zimbabwe is one.
 
The ministers say they regret that despite all efforts so far, the Article 96 consultations have not resulted in a healthy situation in Zimbabwe and, therefore, the EU would close consultations and begin targeted economic sanctions against the country.
 
The EC's Council of Ministers, commenting on the situation in Zimbabwe, said: "The Council expressed its serious concern about the situation in Zimbabwe, particularly the recent escalation of violence and intimidation of political opponents and the harassment of the independent Press.
 
"It noted that the Government of Zimbabwe has not taken effective measures to improve the situation as called for by the European Council in Laeken last December.
 
"The Council deplored the statement by the chief of the armed forces of Zimbabwe, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, on 9 January, 2002, as a threat to overturn the democratic process if military commanders did not agree with the result of the presidential elections."
 
President Mugabe this week barred United Kingdom observers for the presidential election, saying they were bent on sabotaging Zimbabwe which he has ruled for nearly 22 years.
The UK is, however, is an influential member of the EU.
 
The EC said: "The Council expressed serious concern about recent legislation in Zimbabwe which, if enforced, would seriously infringe on the right to freedom of speech, assembly and association, mainly the Public Order and Security Act and the General Laws Amendment Act, both of which violate the norms and standards for free and fair elections as agreed by the Southern African Development Community Parliamentarians in March, 2001, and the proposed legislation to regulate the media."
 
The ministers dismissed the lengthy letter written to them by Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Stan Mudenge, on 18 January, saying despite his promises there were still cases of "serious human rights violations in Zimbabwe" as reported by the independent media.
 
The EU said: "The Council, however, remains concerned that serious violations of human rights continue to occur and that little progress has been made in allowing access for international election observers and for media.
 
"The Council underlined that the Government of Zimbabwe is judged by its actions on the ground." 
  

Poem by a young lass, Charlene.
 
Our Zimbabwe
 
This upheaval, this unrest,
This time that has been sent to test,
My faith, my love, my rational thought,
If I let go, will sink to naught.
So Father, I ask by me you'll stand,
As I stand proud for my land.
Let not race nor class nor colour decide,
Let me stand in the gap of this divide.
Help me to stand strong, when others fall,
Let me stand firm, let me stand tall.
Let no man question my will,
Even when provoked, let me be still.
Give me calm and peace of mind,
Uncover my eyes, remove the blind.
Father place your mighty hand,
To cover the wounds of this broken land.
Wash away the blood of war,
Open the locked, closed door.
Father stand by those who weep,
And show us that colour is only skin deep.
Let us stand for what is right,
But not with anger nor with fight.
Be with those brave enough to stand,
For what they believe for this land.
Be with those who fear,
Show them your presence ever near.
And even in our darkest hour,
Remind us of your ultimate power.
Zimbabwe will be a shining light,
Not through power, nor through might,
But with forgiveness, and without greed,
 Lord raise strong people to lead.
 A new Zimbabwe will rise again,
Without the anguish and the pain.
And united, together we will stand,
Upon the ground of this our land.