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

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Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 17:47 GMT
Mugabe opponent enters fray
Morgan Tsvangirai at a previous rally
Tsvangirai urged supporters to brave election violence
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has launched his presidential election campaign with a call to oust President Robert Mugabe and return the country to the rule of law.

Mr Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was greeted with thunderous cheers at his first rally since entering the race, in the eastern border town of Mutare.

There is anarchy in our country, it will be finished on 11 March if you choose me

Morgan Tsvangirai
Police had set up roadblocks outside the town and conducted document checks on MDC supporters on their way to the rally. Some were turned away.

The rally came as international election observers prepared to enter Zimbabwe, amid optimism that Mr Mugabe would meet a European Union deadline for allowing its representatives into the country.

The EU has promised to impose sanctions on leading officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party on Wednesday if the Sunday deadline is not met.

No revenge

Mr Tsvangirai warned his supporters that Zanu-PF would try to rig the election and called on them to turn out in large numbers.

Robert Mugabe
Mugabe launched his campaign on Saturday
"There is anarchy in our country," he said. "It will be finished on 11 March if you choose me."

At the same time, he warned against a campaign of revenge on Zanu-PF if he was elected and pledged to set up a government of national unity.

"We ask you to brave Zanu-PF's campaign of violence," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai also promised more orderly land reform than exists under Mr Mugabe's controversial redistribution programme.

"We want a land reform programme that benefits the whole country, that recognises that farming is a commercial venture and not just about pieces of land for peasants," he said.

Rise in violence

Mr Mugabe launched his campaign on Saturday, for what are likely to be the most fiercely contested elections 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 a stringent new media bill passed during the week - is indicative of President Mugabe's determination to stay in power whatever the cost.

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From The Sunday Times (UK), 3 February

Mugabe lets in poll observers to fend off sanctions

Hundreds of international election observers were yesterday preparing to move into Zimbabwe as President Robert Mugabe tried to avert European Union sanctions that could start this week. Faced with the prospect of a ban on travel to Europe and the freezing of bank accounts there, the ruling Zanu PF elite appeared to be doing the minimum required to meet international demands ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for March 9. At least six EU observers are expected to be accredited tomorrow, when South Africa will send a further 41. The Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth are also ready to send hundreds of observers for an election widely expected to be far from free and fair. "We believe Zanu officials are seriously worried about having their assets frozen," said an official of Zimbabweís opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Johannesburg yesterday. "The EU has put forward benchmarks for the election, and we believe in them." A European commission spokesman in Brussels said there was optimism that Mugabe would allow both observers and journalists to report on the elections, and that the president would withdraw his Zanu militias and quell violence.

In a surprising announcement yesterday, the government newspaper, The Herald, said a draconian new media bill passed last week "may take quite some time before it becomes law, if at all". Zimbabweís information minister, Jonathan Moyo, attacked negative comments made by Jack Straw, Britainís foreign secretary, about the billís purpose, and accused him of "megaphone diplomacy" and having an "open mouth and a shut mind". There are few signs, however, that many foreign journalists will be allowed into Zimbabwe, and Mugabe himself has kicked off his campaign in a cloud of anti-colonial rhetoric. "We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people," he told a Zanu rally near Harare on Friday. "Whatever (Tony) Blair tries to do, we will not back down. You can count on us to fight. Down with MDC, down with Britain."

The European commission has promised that if its observers are impeded in any way, sanctions will be approved on Wednesday. Visa bans would be imposed on Mugabe and 19 of his party cronies, preventing all travel to the EU and blocking access to any assets there. The commission spokesman said no names had been released, because those concerned were thought likely to move their funds out of targeted bank accounts to avoid the sanctions. The Treasury has investigated Zimbabwean accounts held in British banks. The MDC is concerned, however, that the European commission may allow the elections to go unchallenged, even if gross violations are seen. Farmers in the Marondera, Mtoko and Karoi areas claim workers have been forced to vote for Zanu at secret polling stations opened more than a month early. "Itís not just about how many journalists and observers get to Harare," countered the commission spokesman. "Free and fair means complying with international norms." A third sanction to be taken by the EU would ban all exports of arms and material "likely to be used in repression" to Zimbabwe. Britain put the policy into effect two years ago. However, Foreign Office sources confirmed they were worried that some EU countries saw Britainís stance on Zimbabwe as a trading opportunity, and criticised Austria for selling armoured personnel carriers to the Mugabe regime.
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From The Sunday Times (SA), 3 February

Moyo accused of taking money from Ford Foundation, Wits University and Mbeki's brother's company

Johannesburg - Jonathan Moyo, the man who this week pushed through Zimbabwe's draconian media law, is accused of absconding with millions of rands. Moyo, who is Robert Mugabe's minister of information, is alleged to have used some of the money to buy a luxury home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. He also owes R100 000 to the TV production company Endemol in South Africa, headed by President Thabo Mbeki's brother, Moeletsi. Mbeki said yesterday his company wanted its money. "One of the things we are considering is to come together with the other people he owes money to and to attach Moyo's Johannesburg house and sell it to get our money," he said. Moyo is also facing legal action from the University of the Witwatersrand for allegedly absconding with part of a R100-million research grant. And he is being sued by the US aid agency the Ford Foundation over an alleged illegal transfer of R1-million from its Kenyan office to a trust in South Africa. Money from the trust, Talunoza, was allegedly used to buy the Saxonwold house, on Englewold Drive.

The Sunday Times tried twice yesterday to get comment from Moyo on the missing millions. Both times he said: "I do not speak to the apartheid press," and slammed down the phone. Moyo was condemned internationally on Thursday when he bulldozed through Parliament a set of tough new laws aimed at muzzling the press ahead of next month's presidential elections. The man who has made it law for journalists to abide by a set of apartheid-styled rules now finds himself on the wrong side of the law in South Africa, with allegations of fraud, misappropriation of funds and bad debts hanging over his head. Endemol advanced Moyo money to pay for the airfares of a group of Americans who were to help him produce a documentary on Pan-Africanism, called Generations. Endemol's managing director, Chantal Sturkenboom, said the programme never materialised and Moyo, who gave the company a written undertaking to repay the money, had not done so to date.

Meanwhile, Wits University has consulted lawyers about a claim against Moyo, who received money for a research project, "The Future of the African Elite", while a visiting lecturer at the institution in 1998. It was allegedly never completed. Moyo resigned from the university to take up his ministerial position in Zimbabwe. Wits registrar Derek Swenner said the money related to unaccounted-for expenditure incurred by Moyo while he was supposed to be conducting research for the university in East Africa. "He told the university that he was conducting research, but instead we found out that he was in Zimbabwe running Robert Mugabe's election campaign. When we asked Mr Moyo to explain how the money was spent, he chose to resign. The case is unresolved and currently with lawyers." And in Nairobi, Kenya, Moyo is being sued over R1-million in donor funds allegedly illegally transferred to a trust in South Africa. Moyo is one of five people being sued by the US aid agency. The Ford Foundation's New York vice-president of communications, Alex Wilde, confirmed on Friday that court documents before the Nairobi High Court say that Moyo illegally transferred $88 000 to the trust account in South Africa. He was programme officer for the foundation in Nairobi at the time. "We can confirm that the court documents state the money was transferred into a trust called Talunoza in South Africa." Wilde said a property in Saxonwold was owned by the same Talunoza Trust.
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From The Sunday Times (SA), 3 February

Ministerís kids get expensive educations

Zimbabwe's ministers, who stand accused of plundering their country's wealth, are spending fortunes on educating their children abroad. Some ministers have reportedly paid more than double their annual salaries on tuition and residence fees for children enrolled at Harvard University in the US. Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere had a child, Pride, at Harvard. Harvard fees for tuition and accommodation start at about Z2.3-million (R482 000) a year. Zimbabwean ministers earn an estimated Z977 000 (R190 000) a year. The average Zimbabwean cannot afford to send children abroad for an education. The minimum wage for domestic workers in Zimbabwe is Z2 500 (R532) a month and factory workers earn between Z3 200 (R670) and Z7 000 (R1 460) a month. Smart sanctions, which would prevent Zimbabwe's ruling elite from travelling in Europe, may force their children out of foreign schools and universities. The sanctions, if imposed, will at the very least stop parents visiting their children abroad.

The Minister in the Vice-President's Office, Tsungirirai Hungwe, has a child, Mutsai Mutambanengwe, who studied at Rhodes University in South Africa. Tuition and residence fees for a bachelor degree start at R15 000 (Z71 000) a year. Finance Minister Simba Makoni's child, Tonderai, was at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Tuition, residence and meals cost in the region of R32 000 (Z152 000) a year. Dumiso Dabengwa, Zanu PF's secretary for security affairs, has a child, Nombulelo, studying at UCT at present. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has a child at a college in Michigan, US. Ministers Sydney Sekeramayi (Defence), Stan Mudenge (Foreign Affairs), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Higher Education and Technology), Herbert Murerwa (Industry and Technology), Shuvai Mahofa (Youth, Gender and Employment) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (Speaker) all have or had children at finishing schools or universities in Britain. Mines and Energy Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga and the provincial governor of the Midlands, Cephas Msipa, enrolled their children at US schools. Rural Resources and Water Development Minister Joyce Mujuru's offspring were in Switzerland and Britain while Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister David Parirenyatwa had a son at Durham University in Britain.
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Free and fair questions remain
Cape Town - While the South African government waits for feedback from a team it has sent to Zimbabwe to assess whether free and fair elections are possible in that country, a senior local cleric has shied away from pronouncing directly on the issue.
He also says the violence plaguing South Africa's northern neighbour has deteriorated to a point where both those for and against the ruling Zanu-PF are involved, including the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Speaking on SABC's Newsmaker programme on Sunday, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, Mvume Dandala, said it was crucial the March 9 and 10 elections were free and fair.
But he side-stepped replying directly to a question on whether he thought this would be the case.
"From what the churches [in Zimbabwe] have told me, there's hardly an option.
"It is crucial that the election be made to be free and fair," he said.
Dandala, who is also president of the South African Council of Churches, recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe, where he was briefed by church leaders on the run-up to the elections.
Concern among clergy
He admitted the current situation was creating a lot of concern among the clergy that the election would not be free and fair.
"That is why the churches ... wrote a letter to the government of that country ... they felt there was a potential [the elections] would not be free and fair.
"Among other things, the concern at the level of violence there is worrisome."
Dandala said it appeared, based on what he was told by people in Zimbabwe, that all "political players" in that country were involved in the violence, including the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"But ... the churches did say quite clearly that even though all the people are involved in this violence, there is no doubt in their minds that Zanu-PF and those who are in power at the moment seem to be more involved."
"But it would be a mistake for anyone to think that the situation in Zimbabwe is one-sided.
"I can say with confidence, from what I was told, it has deteriorated to a point where everybody is involved in this violence."
Asked what he thought needed to be done to secure a free and fair election, Dandala said churches in Zimbabwe had been talking to both the government and the MDC on this issue.
Need for effective monitoring
One of the key points the churches were stressing was the need for effective monitoring of the elections, and that this should involve "bodies that can be trusted by the people".
It was important the monitoring was not perceived to be one-sided, because then the outcome of the poll would not be accepted.
"Unquestionably, all the people we met in Zimbabwe - both those for and against the government - are concerned at what they see as foreign intervention that might undermine the value of their vote."
He said there was concern among Zimbabwe's opposition voters that a vote against President Robert Mugabe might be perceived "as a British vote".
Asked if he thought the Southern African Development Community was capable of playing an observer role and passing a credible, objective assessment of the poll, Dandala said: "If SADC ensures that, in the teams they send, they do not just send government representatives ... this would carry a lot of merit."
However, there was disappointment among some church leaders in Zimbabwe over some of the positions SADC had adopted.
"It's a very delicate situation that has to be handled in an incredibly wise way," Dandala said.
On Friday last week, South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said South Africa was working hard with other African countries to ensure free and fair elections.
He said a task team, led by a senior minister, had been sent to Zimbabwe to study the political climate on the ground and to make recommendations, which would be submitted on Monday.
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From The New York Times, 2 February

New laws make mark on Zimbabwe

Johannesburg - The first casualties of a raft of new laws tightening the grip of President Robert Mugabe before March elections lay this week in a hospital in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. The two men - one left with a fractured spine, the other with swollen testicles - were beaten in clashes with the police over the weekend when they tried to hold a rally without official permission. Even as they recuperated, Zimbabwe's Parliament passed a new law on Thursday restricting the news media, a measure that some within the governing party said they succeeded in moderating. But by today there was no doubt that the media law and two others passed in recent weeks - on top of months of violent and sometimes deadly intimidation of political opponents - have dramatically tilted the political landscape in Mr. Mugabe's favor and hobbled his challengers. Under the new laws, citizens can no longer hold public meetings without giving the police four days notice. Local journalists must now be licensed by a government commission to work. Campaign workers can be arrested for handing out flyers. And the authorities can ban demonstrations for up to three months. Zimbabwe's state news agency reported that two other men were charged under the new laws this week for "having used abusive language on the person of the president," a crime that now carries a jail sentence of up to one year.

David Coltart, a senior opposition lawmaker, said he was still confident that citizens would turn out in March to vote against Mr. Mugabe, who has run the country for 22 years. With the economy collapsing and intimidation and violence flaring, this once prosperous nation is desperate for change, he said. But he acknowledged that the crowds at opposition rallies have been dwindling lately. Last month, one man was killed and more than a dozen were injured when government militants clashed with opposition party supporters at a rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. Nowadays, Mr. Coltart said, he can no longer urge his constituents to attend public meetings. "I don't want blood on my hands," he said today. "People come to me and say, `It's not that we don't support you. It's just that we want to stay alive.' " Government officials dismissed such complaints, as they dismissed criticism from the West over the new media and security laws. Today President Mugabe hit the campaign trail, greeting thousands of cheering supporters while his aides hailed passage of the media law as the end of the drumbeat of "daily lies from Zimbabwe's detractors." Mr. Mugabe's backers said the opposition was to blame for much of the violence, and they accused white critics of trying to stop Mr. Mugabe from undoing the legacy of colonialism and redistributing land from the white minority to the black majority. Officials deride the black members of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, as puppets of the British, the country's formal colonial ruler, and of the white farmers and white businessmen who finance the party.

Today, with the news media freshly under tighter government control, Mr. Mugabe's party used a full-page advertisement to depict Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition party leader, as a waiter offering up the entire country in a teacup to the British prime minister, Tony Blair. Government officials did not return phone calls today, but Jonathan Moyo, the minister of information, vigorously defended the media law, though he questioned the need for news media at all. "Thomas Jefferson said it was better to have newspapers without government," he told CNN in Harare. "He was very, very wrong. It is far better to have government without newspapers." In The Herald, the state-controlled daily newspaper, he said the media law was needed to defend the country against what he described as lies peddled by foreign journalists and local reporters who back the opposition. The government's willingness to remove contested clauses proves that officials are responsive to the concerns of the people, he added. Some in the independent news media seemed to agree. "I'm not as worried as I was two weeks ago," said Trevor Ncube, the publisher of two private newspapers, The Standard and The Independent. "The concessions that have been won are pretty significant. We can continue to operate." The law will not prevent foreign reporters from working altogether in Zimbabwe, as had been suggested in earlier drafts. It will not allow the minister of information to seize equipment from news organizations without a search warrant. And it does not require journalists to be licensed until the end of the year - well after the presidential election - after which they will have to seek new accreditation from the government-appointed commission.

Officials at the State Department acknowledged that the final media law was better than earlier drafts, but said it still curtailed civil liberties. "It's still problematic, as are the other pieces of legislation that still seriously hamper a free and fair electoral process," Walter H. Kansteiner, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said in an interview from Washington. Officials in the European Union and the United States have vowed to consider imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe - restricting the foreign travel and freezing the foreign assets of Mr. Mugabe and his deputies. "The message to the political elite is that these next six weeks will determine the rest of your life, the fate of your country and your personal fate," a Western diplomat said. Officials at the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists vowed to fight the bill, saying it was designed to muzzle the lively and often critical coverage in the country's private newspapers. "We are still totally against it," said Sydney Masamvu, a spokesman for the union. And Mr. Coltart, who is a senior member of the opposition, was equally unequivocal in his assessment. "We have all the trappings of a fascist state," he said today. "They cloak their human rights abuses in legislation. They use laws as a cover for acts that in democratic countries would be criminal."
From ZWNEWS: Shortly after President' Mugabe's opening campaign rally in Mutawatawa yesterday, an opposition MDC campaign and constituency meeting in Bulawayo was halted before it began. Police had been given four days notice of the meeting in the Bulawayo South constituency, as required by the new Public Order and Security Act. However, when constituents turned up at the Church of the Ascension hall in Bulawayo, they were met with a contingent of armed police, who stopped the meeting from taking place. Those who had attended then tried to move to the church itself, to hold a short prayer meeting to which the police were invited. That too resulted in threats of violence from the police. A local member of the MDC was arrested on charges of taking photographs, but was later released when no photographs could be found. A police spokesman later cited spurious bureaucratic rules for the banning of the meeting, saying that notice of the gathering should have been given to the provincial police rather than to the Hillside police station, which is about two minutes walk away from the church hall. Since the enactment of the Public Order law, opposition meetings and rallies have, almost without exception, been halted - often with severe violence, and often with police collusion with the perpetrators.
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From The Daily Telegraph, (UK), 2 February

EU sanctions won't stop Grace's shopping trips

If the European Union carries out its threat to impose personal sanctions on Zimbabwe's elite, President Mugabe's allies will suffer more than him. Travel bans could be imposed on Mr Mugabe and his ministers, and their overseas assets might be frozen, if Zimbabwe fails by tomorrow to admit EU observers for the election. Yet Mr Mugabe is fully prepared to take the heat. Until 1999, he made three or four private trips to London each year, usually staying in Claridges or the Hilton and shopping at Harrods. Grace Mugabe, 40 years her husband's junior, became famous for her shopping exploits. But Peter Tatchell, the homosexual rights activist, brought this to an end when he ambushed Mr Mugabe in November 1999 and attempted a citizen's arrest. The president has pointedly failed to visit Britain since. Now, he has even stopped his trips to Paris.

In Mr Mugabe's fevered mind, EU criticism of his excesses means that it has joined what he sees as Britain's global conspiracy designed to topple his regime and thwart the seizure of land from white farmers. So Mr Mugabe has chosen to shun the developed world. He now holidays in Malaysia and loses no opportunity to hob-nob with fellow African leaders at a bewildering array of regional summits. Moreover, while Mr Mugabe's government is riddled with corruption, few of the known cases can be linked to the president. Mr Mugabe has consistently turned a blind eye to the corrupt activities of his ministers and his relatives, so they are the people who would fear the consequences of EU sanctions.

Ed Royce, chairman of the US House of Representatives Africa committee, gave warning two weeks ago that Zimbabwe's ministers were moving their assets into an obscure array of overseas accounts before the March 9-10 election. Last week, Jersey became the first offshore financial centre to urge its members to steer clear of funds deposited by Zimbabwe's elite. A list issued by the Jersey Financial Services Commission named Mr Mugabe, his wife and 23 ministers and associates. The list was woefully out of date and tracing the assets held by Mr Mugabe's associates could prove an impossible task. Easier to trace are people. At least seven ministers have children who live in Britain or America. If they are forced to return home, or their parents are barred from visiting them, EU sanctions will hit home. But on all counts Mr Mugabe seems impervious to pressure.
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Blair's cabinet 'full of gays'

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe threatened to punish gay groups at a weekend campaign rally for his re-election, saying Britain was angry at him for his stance against homosexuality.
Mugabe said British Prime Minister Tony Blair should "expose" his cabinet as full of gays before criticising Zimbabwe, according to the official ZIANA news agency.
"I have people who are married in my cabinet. He has homosexuals and they make John marry Joseph and let Mary get married to Rosemary," Mugabe told thousands of people at a rally in the rural district of Wedza on Saturday.
"We are saying they do not know biology because even dogs and pigs know biology. We can form clubs, but we will never have homosexual clubs. In fact, we will punish them," he said.
Attacks on Britain are staples of Mugabe's speeches, especially as the former colonial power has moved toward imposing sanctions on his regime over his increasingly autocratic rule ahead of the March 9-10 presidential election.
Mugabe forced through parliament tough new security and press laws last month, even as the opposition and rights groups accused pro-government militants of stepping up attacks on people who oppose him.
The 77-year-old president, who has ruled since independence in 1980, is struggling for his political survival against a tough challenge from former labour leader Morgan Tsvangirai. - Sapa-AFP
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Zimbabwe police block roads to opposition rally  
MUTARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 3 ó Zimbabwe police mounted roadblocks on Sunday as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai prepared to launch his presidential election campaign, seen as the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe's 22-year rule. 
Armed police blocked the road to a stadium in Mutare, about 300 km (186 miles) east of Harare, where Tsvangirai was due to address his first Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) election rally five weeks before the March 9-10 vote.
       Cars and buses snaked more than two kilometres to the stadium as armed policemen searched vehicles, insisting that MDC supporters produce identity documents before allowing them into the stadium. Those without were turned away.
       Tsvangirai is seen as the biggest threat to Mugabe's re-election as president as Zimbabwe sinks into a crisis blamed largely on economic mismanagement and a controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms that has stunted the crucial agricultural sector.
       Britain, the United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle if he fails to ensure the election is fair.
       Zimbabwe has recently pushed through parliament a raft of legislation that opponents say sets the stage for a dictatorship. The latest, last Thursday, was a tough media bill that critics say will stifle debate in the run-up to the poll.
       There was no confirmation in Harare of a report in the Johannesburg-based Independent on Sunday newspaper that Mugabe had bowed to international pressure and had decided not to sign the bill into law.
       On Saturday, Mugabe remained defiant in the face of renewed international pressure. The European Union has threatened to impose sanctions if Zimbabwe failed to admit EU poll observers by February 3.
       Instead, Mugabe once again took up his attack on Britain, saying he'd choose war rather than allow the former colonial ruler to dictate to Zimbabwe.
       ''We can never give up Zimbabwe to a (Prime Minister Tony) Blair of Britain. We will wage another war if Britain wants to enslave us again,'' Mugabe said in a campaign speech.
       ''This country does not belong to the Blairs, the Smiths and the Van der Merwes,'' he told about 20,000 people outside the capital Harare, referring to Zimbabwe's last white ruler Ian Smith and a common South African Afrikaans surname.
       Zimbabwe has indicated that it will allow EU election observers in the country, but has made clear the team should not include British citizens. Britain has been the strongest international critic of Mugabe's rule.
       Mugabe again portrayed Tsvangirai as a black puppet of British and local white interests.
       Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told the U.S. television network CNN on Friday that the military would not tolerate an opposition election victory.
       The MDC says nearly 100 of its supporters have died in political violence since early 2000 when government-backed militants began the often violent seizure of white-owned farms.
       Mugabe vowed on Saturday that land seizures would continue, calling the policy ''the last Zimbabwe revolution.''
       ''In Zimbabwe there will be land for Zimbabweans and no-one else,'' he said
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Five Youths From Opposition Arrested in Zimbabwe
Xinhuanet 2002-02-03 01:25:35
   HARARE, February 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwe's police said here on
Sunday that they had arrested five youths who were harassing
motorists passing through the Rusike-Musvovi road in Chiredzi
district in Masvingo province.
   Police spokesman Inspector Tarwireyi Tirivavi said in a
statement that the five were part of a group of 17 youths, which
had converged on the road on Friday to harass motorists passing
through the area.
   He said police had also arrested Mabvuku Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) chairman Oscar Pemhiwa whom they had been
looking for in connection with various acts of political violence.
   He is expected to appear in court soon. In Masvingo, police
arrested an MDC youth who allegedly went around tearing down
President Robert Mugabe's campaign posters.
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Letter from Cathy

Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for your letters of concern this morning asking me if  I am alright as my letter is a day late. I am fine, thank you, but our lives are upside down and awfully chaotic at the moment as some friends are temporarily displaced from their neighbourhoods, have to leave their homes for a little while and are living out of boxes, bags and suitcases as the temperature rises, the political rallies and demands increase and the elections get closer. Some of us living in places which are relatively safe are ready to double up, open our doors and spread mattresses on the floor. Having been through this myself in June 2000 I know how this feels and the agony it causes as you try and decide what is important - your home and belongings or your safety. There is chaos as suitcases and belongings litter every conceivable surface, telephones ring incessantly and shared use of the email to let relations know that parents and children are safe.
The stage is set. The Presidential candidates are nominated. The laws are now all passed - our hands are tied, voices silenced and movements curtailed. There are now 36 days to go until the elections and on Thursday the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill was pushed through Parliament. This piece of legislation, along with others in the past couple of months now make it illegal to: go on strike; hold a public gathering without permission; move around without identification; display election posters; educate voters; criticise the President, government or uniformed officials; make reports which may cause alarm and despondency and much more.
This weekend the government officially began their campaign to retain the Presidency. The rallies have started and before the guest speakers arrive, youths go in to prepare the groundwork. For people who have never lived in Africa let me explain how election campaigns work here. It starts door to door but not with badges, smiles and kisses for the baby. Here campaigning is done with demands: show your party card, give us money, food, a cow to slaughter, milk, firewood, eggs, chicken. Saying please is not the done thing, refusing the demands is not an option. Across the country people are being forced to give whatever is demanded of them and then ordered to attend the rally or face the consequences. Door to door in the rural villages, peasants are being ordered to give a cash donation and a cup of maize each. Door to door on the farms cattle are being demanded, slaughtered and used to feed people attending rallies. Owners are ordered to give wood for cooking fires, milk, eggs and meat. They are ordered to provide transport with which to take people to rallies or "lend" their vehicles to the youths. Across the country we are counting down the days, doing whatever we can to help each other and praying for safety, sanity and democracy. Until next week, sorry for such a pathetic letter. Love from a temporarily chaotic cathy.
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