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ABC News

Zimbabwe to Face EU Censure as New Laws Passed

By Gareth Jones BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Zimbabwe faces censure from the
European Union Friday, a day after its ruling party approved new laws
criminalizing criticism of President Robert Mugabe ahead of a crucial
presidential election in March.
The European Union will tell Zimbabwe it faces economic sanctions if it
fails to curb alleged human rights abuses, but diplomats doubt the warning
will have much impact.

Mugabe is sending a high-level team to the talks, including Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo, architect of a bill critics say will stifle
opposition ahead of the March 9-10 poll.

By contrast, the EU will be represented not by ministers but by the Spanish
ambassador -- Madrid holds the bloc's rotating presidency -- and a
mid-ranking European Commission official.

Members of the European Parliament have accused the EU of moving too slowly
and cautiously against Mugabe, but diplomats say they are following legal
procedures and warn that hasty moves could harm the poorest people in

"Expectations should not be too high...(Friday) is the opening of a process
of consultations, which according to the Cotonou Agreement could last a
maximum of 60 days," said Michael Curtis, spokesman for the EU's executive

Mugabe, 77, has sparked Zimbabwe's biggest crisis since independence from
Britain in 1980 with seizures of white-owned farms and attempts to tighten
control of the media and opposition in the face of a collapsing economy.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
who is expected to pose the biggest challenge to Mugabe's 22 years in power,
appealed to the EU to be firm with the delegation.

"The EU must clearly spell out to the Zimbabwean ministerial delegation that
a government that emerges from a rigged election will receive no
international recognition," he said.


Britain said Thursday the legislation passed in Harare showed the
government's "contempt for basic democratic principles."

"It is increasingly clear that the people of Zimbabwe may be denied a free
choice in the 9th March presidential election," the Foreign Office minister
for Africa, Baroness Amos, said in a statement.

South Africa's Nobel peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said he was
saddened by events in Zimbabwe.

"I am deeply saddened. I am disappointed, I really feel ashamed in many ways
because he (Mugabe) used to be such a splendid leader," Tutu told BBC Radio
from Cape Town.

Hopes for a free poll in Zimbabwe were also dealt a blow on Wednesday when
the country's security chiefs signaled they would not accept an opposition

EU action would further isolate Mugabe, who in an historical irony faces
sanctions two decades after he won wide praise for leading the liberation
war against the white-minority regime of the reviled renegade British colony
of Rhodesia.

The white farming community there -- once branded by western liberals as
unreconstructed racists -- are now the focus of international sympathy as
veterans of the country's bush war lead the often violent invasions of their

Zimbabwe also faces possible suspension from the Commonwealth as well as
U.S. travel and investment sanctions against Mugabe and his governing elite.

Western condemnation has been matched by regional inaction, with Zimbabwe's
neighbors facing sharp criticism for failing to take stronger measures
against Harare.


South Africa, which has rejected calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe,
remained silent Thursday -- except for Tutu.

Zimbabwe's woes have often been cited as a factor behind the sliding value
of South Africa's rand, leaving analysts baffled at Pretoria's soft approach
to its government's reaction.

Zimbabwe will be on the agenda of a Monday meeting of the leaders of the
14-member Southern African Development Community in Malawi. But similar
meetings in the past have produced few concrete results on the country's
deepening crisis.

Parliament, in which Mugabe's ZANU-PF party holds 93 of the 150 seats,
passed by 62 votes to 49 the General Laws Amendment Bill banning independent
election monitors at the poll and denying voting rights to millions of
Zimbabweans abroad. Parliament also passed the Public Order and Security
Bill which criminalizes criticism of Mugabe and gives sweeping new security
powers to the government.

It gives the state powers to "protect public order and security and to deal
with acts of insurgency, banditry, sabotage, terrorism, treason and

Penalties for these offences -- which analysts say can be broadly defined to
include any suspicion by the authorities that a person is plotting against
the government -- are life imprisonment or death.

The Times

Europe gets tough with Mugabe

The EU is attempting to persuade Zimbabwe to repeal new repressive laws
enacted in the run-up to presidential elections in March, or face a cut in
aid or even sanctions. Charles Bremner reports.

What took place in Brussels today?

The EU held talks with a delegation from Zimbabwe to try to persuade them to
back down on recent laws passed in Zimbabwe's Parliament. The EU is
increasingly concerned about the lack of democratic freedoms in Zimbabwe in
the run-up to elections there in March and continuing human rights abuses.

Who was at today's meeting?

The Zimbabwean group is led by Stan Mudenge, its Foreign Minister. Javier
Conde de Saro, Spain's mbassador to the EU, is leading the EU delegation and
about ten other developing countries who were represented. We should not
read anything into the fact that there are no European Commissioners there,
as the EU does not want to give Zimbabwe a high profile.

How has Zimbabwe reacted?

Angrily. Mr Mudenge told delegates that his country was the "victim of a
British plot". However, according to some reports will allow foreign
independent observers to monitor the presidential elections, but he did not
go into detail on when they could begin their task. As a whole there appears
to be little sign of flexibility from Zimbabwe's Government.

Why are these talks taking place?

This is the EU's way, to borrow diplomatic speak, of giving Zimbabwe the
strongest possible encouragement to take another course of action, after
more laws were passed through the Zimbabwean Parliament which restrict
democratic opposition, of which the EU strongly disapproves. One law bans
independent monitors at the forthcoming election and denies voting rights to
Zimbabweans abroad. The other criminalises criticism of President Robert
Mugabe, and gives sweeping new security powers to the Government

How has the EU managed to get Zimbabwe to Brussels to talk?

The meeting has been convened under the EU's Developing Countries Aid
Agreement, which ties aid from the EU to good governance in the recipient
country. One of the key criteria for good governance is, of course human
rights, an area where Zimbabwe's record is undeniably poor.

What action can the EU take against Zimbabwe?

Under Article 96 of the aid agreement if Zimbabwe has not taken steps to
remedy the situation within 60 days it faces a cut or a suspension in EU
aid. However, Zimbabwe is coming to the end of a particular aid cycle and
there is only about £7m left in the pot. This money is going to the very
poorest in the country and is also being used to combat Aids. Because of the
vulnerability of the recipients the EU is reluctant to withdraw that money.

Is there anything else that the EU can do to bring Zimbabwe to heel?

Commissioners are talking about cutting or even suspending Zimbabwe's next
aid cycle, which is about £80m. That would be more serious. There is also
talk, and at the moment it is just talk, about imposing "smart" sanctions,
such as visa bans on Zimbabwean officials travelling within the EU, and
freezing the European assets of the Government and its leading members. The
later was used against the Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. For some
politicians in Zimbabwe it could make life uncomfortable.

How hopeful is the EU that Zimbabwe might back down?

Privately the EU never expected much from these talks, which has been borne
out by today’s proceedings. They are, however, taking them seriously,
although it has to be said that they are taking place at Britain's
insistence. EU Commissioners know that there is not much they can do to stop
Mr Mugabe from carrying on along the path that he has chosen. I don’t think
Zimbabwe is threatened by all this. Just as he was went into the talks Mr
Mudenge was asked by reporters if he was worried. He just said: "Sanctions,
what sanctions? We're having a dialogue."

Who else is putting pressure on Zimbabwe?

Europe is only one part of a concerted campaign to bring Mr Mugabe to heel.
In December America imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and its top officials. The
country is also threatened with suspension from the Commonwealth when heads
of government meet in Australia in March. On Monday there is an
extraordinary meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
the regional development body, in Blantyre, Malawi, to decide what economic
measures to take against Mr Mugabe. If, as expected, they take punitive
action, that could harm Zimbabwe more than any action from Europe.

Do Europeans care about Zimbabwe?

It really does not register on the map of most Europeans. There is scant
mention of any of this in the French press, for example. This is an issue
that is really of interest only to the British Government and press because
of the colonial history, in the same way that the French are concerned with
Algeria or Chad.

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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 23:36 GMT
Tutu sees Mugabe becoming dictator
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Tutu said Mugabe was 'on the slippery slope to dictatorship'
South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has warned that Zimbabwe is sliding into dictatorship under President Robert Mugabe.

The fact that you have been democratically elected does not give you a licence to behave in a way that subverts the rule of law

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Speaking as the Zimbabwean parliament approved legislation which appears aimed at ensuring Mr Mugabe's re-election in March, Archbishop Tutu said he was saddened by developments in the neighbouring state.

Mr Mugabe had been "one of the bright stars in the African constellation" but now he seemed bent on breaking the law, he told the BBC.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe was once a 'tremendous freedom fighter'

"When you disregard the rule of law, I think you are on the slippery slope towards a dictatorship with the trimmings of a multi-party democracy," the archbishop said.

He said that Mr Mugabe did not tolerate political dissent and used violence against his critics, seeking to "have only one political group having the upper hand".

Archbishop Tutu, who won his Nobel prize for his peaceful struggle against apartheid in South Africa, said Mr Mugabe had once shone as a "tremendous freedom fighter" - quite, quite outstanding in many ways".

I really feel ashamed in many ways because he used to be such a splendid leader

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

He had championed reconciliation at a time when Zimbabwean blacks sought retribution for the wrongs inflicted on them by their white rulers when the country was known as Rhodesia.

But Mr Mugabe had gone on to "blot his copy book", the archbishop said.

"I am deeply saddened," he said.

"I am disappointed. I really feel ashamed in many ways because he used to be such a splendid leader."

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Commonwealth must suspend Zimbabwe, NZ govt says

WELLINGTON, Jan. 10 — The Commonwealth must suspend Zimbabwe to protest
against the increasingly dictatorial and abusive regime of President Robert
Mugabe, the New Zealand government said on Friday

       Foreign Minister Phil Goff said in a statement that the Commonwealth
Heads of Government meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in March should make
clear the behaviour of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party is totally
       ''The Mugabe regime is in breach of the fundamental principles of
democracy, the rule of law and equality regardless of race, colour or creed
set out in the Commonwealth's Harare Declaration,'' Goff said.
       He was referring to a 1991 declaration which sets out a commitment to
good governance.
       Zimbabwe should be suspended at the earliest opportunity, Goff added.
       On Thursday, Zimbabwe's ruling party pushed measures through
parliament giving sweeping security powers to the government two months
ahead of a crucial presidential election.
       The poll will present Mugabe with his toughest electoral test in his
22 years in power.
       Mugabe is under growing international pressure over the violent
takeover of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks and
increasing political violence.
       Goff's statement follows a warning from Britain that it would push
for Zimbabwe's suspension from the 54-nation Commonwealth if it did not
tackle political violence and human rights violations.
       Mugabe scoffed at the threat, saying Britain, Zimbabwe's former
colonial power, had no support.
       The European Union intends to tell Zimbabwe on Friday it faces
economic sanctions unless it curbs alleged human rights abuses.
       Goff said the new security laws signalled Mugabe did not intend the
presidential elections to be fair or free.
       ''The failure to invite the international community and Commonwealth
to send election observers and the passage of law banning independent
election monitors is an additional sign that democracy no longer exists in
Zimbabwe,'' he said.
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Mugabe declares war on dissent

Repressive laws passed yesterday open Zimbabwe's election battle

Chris McGreal and Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Friday January 11, 2002
The Guardian

Zimbabwe's presidential election campaign kicked off yesterday as Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party used its parliamentary majority to pass two
controversial bills designed to stifle dissent.
The general laws amendment bill bans independent election monitors and
denies voting rights to millions of citizens abroad. The public order and
security bill criminalises criticism of Mr Mugabe and gives the government
sweeping new security powers. Both were passed by a majority of 62 votes to

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change immediately announced a legal
challenge. The MDC foreign affairs secretary, Tendai Biti, said: "We are
going to challenge this package of fascist rules in the courts. They are
trying to clothe fascism with this whole set of bills."

The laws are the first step in an election campaign which Mr Mugabe will
portray as a "war" between true black liberation and an opposition under the
control of white farmers and British neo-colonialism.

The MDC, which is widely tipped to win the vote in the unlikely event of the
election being free and fair, derided Mr Mugabe for using land and race
issues as a cover for a violent campaign to terrorise voters and rig the

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC presidential candidate who Mr Mugabe said last
month would "never, ever" come to power, called on voters yesterday not to
be swayed by intimidation.

"Zimbabweans are under siege," he said. "The government is creating a
climate of terror and hardship. I call upon all patriots to refuse to be
cowed into submission by tyranny and a dictator whose time has come.

"Those draconian measures being imposed by the present regime would not be
necessary if they believed they had the confidence and the support of the
people of Zimbabwe."

The election on March 9 and 10 is the culmination of a two-year strategy by
Mr Mugabe to cling to power in the face of rising unpopularity.

It began with the seizure of white farms but has evolved into a broad and
violent campaign against the opposition. The MDC says the assault has killed
88 of its supporters and driven its campaign largely underground.

It has ruled out election rallies in many areas for fear of violence.

Unfortunately for the opposition, Mr Mugabe has been been warned twice about
the true strength of feeling against his government.

In the past year he has lost a referendum on constitutional reform and
Zanu-PF achieved only a narrow victory in the parliamentary elections
despite widespread intimidation.

But the two ballots gave the government notice that extraordinary measures
would be required if it was to hang on to power. It has sought to manipulate
the law to keep the opposition at bay.

Zanu-PF has revived its youth brigade as a paramilitary force which is being
deployed in towns, at times sealing off whole areas in "recruitment drives",
while the self-styled war veterans who led the occupation of white-owned
farms intimidate rural voters.

At least five opposition supporters have been murdered in the past month,
and the MDC expects the violence to grow.

The army and police have been moulded into highly partisan forces in the
past year. The police routinely refuse to stop violence against the

While government supporters act with impunity, Mr Mugabe uses the law
against his opponents. Since the September 11 attacks in the US, he has
taken to calling his opponents and journalists "terrorists" and said they
would be dealt with as such.

Eddie Cross, the MDC economic spokesman, said the campaign would be
difficult. "We are in for a tough electoral battle," he said. "Zanu has
already declared war. They have deployed their troops, many in uniform paid
by the state, and are prepared to do anything to win".

Last week Mr Mugabe tried to shore up support by redistributing formerly
white-owned farmland to more than 1,000 families. The move was part of his
strategy to try to keep attention on the issues of land and race.

One Zanu-PF election advertisement portrays Mr Mugabe as an African
nationalist confronting an opposition stooge for whites and the British.

But many ordinary Zimbabweans are more preoccupied with the consequences of
Mr Mugabe's policies, which have resulted in surging unemployment, nearly
100% inflation and shortages of food staples such as maize.

The military hierarchy has added to the climate of intimidation by warning
that it will not serve a president who does not "support the objectives of
the liberation struggle". That has been widely interpreted in Zimbabwe
either as a thinly veiled threat to refuse to recognise an opposition
election victory or a warning to Mr Tsvangirai is he does take power not to
interfere with the military.

There has been talk of putting senior officers on trial for corruption and
for the role of some of them in the Matabeleland massacres 20 years ago. The
MDC responded by accusing the armed forces commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe, of
treason and a "pre-emptive military coup".

But there are reasons to doubt that the bulk of the army would back a coup.

Most soldiers are too young to be wedded to the liberation struggle, their
families are suffering the same economic deprivation as many others, and
there is unhappiness at Zimbabwe's role in the war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

Mr Mugabe promised to double the police and military pay. He tried the same
tactic with a 60% pay increase before the constitutional referendum. That
did not stop soldiers voting overwhelming against him on that occasion.

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Zimbabwe rams through despotic' bills

MDC to challenge new laws in court
HARARE Zimbabwe's ruling party rammed two Draconian bills through parliament
yesterday, laws which the opposition says are calculated to strengthen the
repressive state apparatus and shackle the opposition ahead of the
presidential election in March.

Hardly a day after President Robert Mugabe announced March 9 and 10 as the
dates of the poll, the ruling Zanu (PF) fast-tracked the Public Order and
Security Bill and amendments to the Electoral Act through the house, the
latter drawing threats of court action from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

The passing of modifications to the Electoral Act came two days after the
same bill was defeated in the house by MDC members taking advantage of the
absence of ruling party MPs. Despite it being unconstitutional to
reintroduce the amendments in the same session, Zanu (PF) forced the bill
through. The alterations, in effect, ban independent poll monitors and
disenfranchise Zimbabweans living abroad.

The MDC said yesterday it would challenge the constitutionality of the way
the law was passed in the courts.

The security legislation deals with terrorism, sabotage, insurrection,
treason, and criminalises criticism of Mugabe. It also hampers freedom of
expression and freedom of movement.

The UK stepped up criticism over the growing crisis in Zimbabwe yesterday,
with International Development Minister Clare Short warning of "a tragedy of
enormous proportions" if Mugabe's government went unchecked.

Mugabe is sending a high-level team to talks that begin today with the
European Union. The EU is expected to warn Zimbabwe it faces economic

International sanctions and suspension from the Commonwealth were brought a
step closer this week by a statement by Zimbabwe's military chiefs that it
would support only leaders who fought in the liberation war. This gives
Mugabe's government a strong military tinge.

Only military governments have been suspended by the Commonwealth. No
democratically elected governments even ones that have not ensured free and
fair elections have been suspended. With Reuters, Sapa-AFP

Jan 11 2002 06:49:55:000AM Dumisani Muleyaand Jonathan Katzenellenbogen
Business Day 1st Edition

11 January 2002

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Letters to The Times


Need to act soon on Zimbabwe


Sir, A much more assertive approach towards Zimbabwe must indeed be adopted
this time (leading article, January 7 and report, January 10).
The forthcoming presidential election is make or break for Zimbabwe. Mugabe
is now using every possible means to rig it and cling to power.

I have long been arguing that the Government must stop shying away from
tackling Mugabe and the economic disaster that threatens millions of
ordinary Zimbabweans, and other southern Africans as well. Internationally
we must continue to press for implementation of the electoral conduct
recommendations that Mugabe agreed to earlier this year, but has now
effectively consigned to the dustbin, as he did the Abuja agreement.

Through its control of Zimbabwe’s access to the sea, power supplies and
railway, South Africa has the means to force change, and free and fair
elections. The international community must show President Mbeki that if he
uses this potent weapon to counter Zimbabwe’s oppressive regime, then he
will have our total support.

In the House I have repeatedly pressed Jack Straw for action. I am glad he
is finally getting the hint. Suspension from the Commonwealth alone is not
enough; Mugabe will not lose sleep over it. We must move now to smart
sanctions, personally targeting Mugabe and his henchmen, which should be
brought into force if he excludes observers and further interferes with the
democratic process. We must act in coalition with our partners in the
Commonwealth, Africa and the international community to keep up the

America is doing its bit; why aren’t we?

Yours sincerely,
House of Commons.
January 10.

From Mr Richard Bourne

Sir, The Commonwealth can act quickly if the Ministerial Action Group
recommends suspension of the Mugabe regime on January 30. The
Secretary-General could establish a consensus among the other countries —
which would have to include the support of President Mbeki as Commonwealth
Chair — and the suspension could take place before the summit in March.
Admissions and readmissions to the Commonwealth have taken place outside
summit meetings.

The suspension of a government, which distinguishes between a regime and its
people, is not only a significant international warning but can signal
support to downtrodden citizens. This was certainly the case when the
Commonwealth suspended the Nigerian despot Abacha in 1995, and when it
sought to introduce sanctions against apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.

As a transregional body the Commonwealth has the right to exert its basic
principles even when immediate neighbours of an undemocratic state become

But the present crisis should stimulate further action by the Commonwealth
at its Australian summit. Democracy and human rights are easily betrayed,
and not only by terrorists. A far more ambitious programme of support by the
Commonwealth, going beyond election observation and involving more resources
and wider co-operation, is necessary. The UK Government could rob the Mugabe
regime of much of its propaganda if it were to put funds for equitable land
reform into a Commonwealth escrow account at once.

Yours sincerely,
(Chairman, Trustee Committee),
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative,
28 Russell Square, WC1B 5DS.
January 9.

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Glasgow Herald

Mugabe's new laws push Zimbabwe towards abyss
ZIMBABWE was "sliding into the abyss" last night after Robert Mugabe, the
country's embattled president, was handed dictatorial powers pushed through
by his ruling Zanu-PF party.

The draconian laws, aimed at suppressing all opposition in the run-up to
national elections on March 9, will mean police will be able to lock up and
detain Mr Mugabe's political opponents.

One law was passed by the Harare parliament without a vote, while another
was technically illegal.

Penalties for breaking the laws are life imprisonment or death.

More legislation due to be passed next week will hand control of the media
to the president.

The worrying developments mean Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth
later this month is now almost inevitable.

Last night, Baroness Amos, the foreign office minister, said the new
legislation showed Mr Mugabe's "contempt for basic democratic principles".

She added: "It is hard to see how free and fair elections can now be held in
a country whose government is determined to impose such severe restrictions
on the Zimbabwean people's ability to organise, campaign and express their

Glenys Kinnock, the Labour MEP, urged Mr Mugabe to "step back from the
brink", claiming it was Zimbabwe's last chance to turn away from
"state-sponsored terrorism".

European Union officials will today tell a Zimbabwean delegation visiting
Brussels that the Harare regime will face severe economic sanctions if it
fails to curb political violence and alleged human rights abuses.

Officials said Mr Mugabe had ignored appeals to restore the rule of law,
prompting Brussels to cut annual development aid for Zimbabwe.

Aid for the next five years might also be at stake unless the situation
changed, the officials warned.

Mr Mugabe is also likely to be barred from visiting any of the 15 member

Sanctions are being considered by Britain and threatened by America, yet all
such action is unlikely to have any effect on the president's thinking other
than to make it more entrenched.

Earlier yesterday, Clare Short, the international development secretary,
said Zimbabwe had become "a tragedy of enormous proportions" wrecked by
years of "brutalism".

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said:
"Slowly, but inexorably, the Mugabe government is erecting a structure of
repression and dictatorship. A country which was once a beacon of hope for
Africa is sliding into the abyss."

After hearing of the new laws, Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace laureate from
South Africa, said Zimbabwe was now "sliding towards dictatorship".

"Robert Mugabe was one of the bright stars in the African constellation,"
the former archbishop told the BBC.

"When you disregard the rule of law, when you do not allow space for dissent
and when you use violence to silence your critics and want to have only one
political group having the upper hand with all the others not being allowed
say so, then I think you are on the slippery slope towards a dictatorship
with the trimmings of a multiparty democracy."

Following a marathon session in the Harare parliament, a security bill was
passed, which gives police sweeping new powers to search and arrest
opponents of Mr Mugabe and control political activities.

The legislation was passed by acclamation, without a vote, because enough
ruling party members were present to outnumber their opponents.

A second bill restricts independent election monitors and limits the
distribution of election posters.

That piece of legislation had been voted down on Tuesday by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) because not enough government MPs
turned up.

Gibson Sibanda, the MDC's vice-president, said yesterday that Mr Mugabe's
party had nonetheless bulldozed through the bill "in a blatant contravention
of Zimbabwe's constitution", which states that once a bill has been
defeated, it cannot be reintroduced in the same parliamentary session.

Declaring that the new laws were "a curse on Zimbabwe's democracy," Mr
Sibanda said: "Clearly, there is no way in which this election can be free
and fair if held in terms of these laws in addition to other fascist pieces
of legislation being enacted by this regime."

The MDC said it would seek to legally challenge the new legislation, which
only needs the president's signature to become enforceable.

Mr Mugabe, who faces an uphill battle in the forthcoming election to stay in
power after 21 years in office, is running against opposition leader Morgan

He is the most serious competition for the presidency since independence was
won in 1980.

Military chiefs of the troubled southern African state have already said
they would only support a leader who fought in the struggle that led to the
liberation of Zimbabwe from British colonial rule in 1980.

The president, who has branded Mr Tsvangirai a traitor backed by Britain and
wealthy white Zimbabweans, was the man who led that revolution.

Legislation aimed at limiting independent media coverage would ban foreign
correspondents and require local journalists to apply for licences.

The media proposals are scheduled for debate when the parliament meets again
next Tuesday. Violations of this law would carry a two-year prison sentence.

Mr Mugabe, 77, an increasingly unpopular president, led the nation to
independence after a bitter bush war that left more than 50,000 mostly black
fighters dead.

His Zanu-PF party narrowly won parliamentary elections last June, and now
controls 93 of the 150 seats in parliament.

The MDC has constantly criticised an often violent government programme to
seize thousands of white-owned farms as a blatant ploy to bolster Mr
Mugabe's waning support.

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From News24 (SA), 10 January
Zanu PF spots own weakness

Harare - Despite the fanfare and public show of bravery at the recent Zanu
PF bosberaad in Victoria Falls, the ruling party's top brass came face to
face with the political reality on the ground: the potential for losing the
March presidential election. A confidential Zanu PF central committee report
submitted to the delegates, leaked to The Daily News, shows that the party
is in a precarious position. "We are so weak that we can lose the election
to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), if rampant corruption by top
leadership and factionalism does not stop immediately," says the report. The
party further accepted that it was unpopular in Harare and if elections for
a mayor and a council were held in February as directed by the Supreme Court
in December, Zanu PF would lose its hold on the capital city. The city has,
over the past four years, been run illegally by a government-appointed
commission. Ratepayers recently challenged this, leading to a Supreme Court
ruling that an election be held on 11 February. The ruling irked Zanu-PF
because of the tremendous psychological effect a bad Harare result could
have on the presidential election in March. The report says the party could
forget winning Harare unless rampant corruption within its ranks was curbed.
Compiled by the security department, the report says: "Corrupt leaders
within the party are seriously endangering and eroding the party's fortunes
in the forthcoming presidential election. "As the security department, we
remain seriously concerned by the allegations of rampant corruption in the
Harare provincial executive, where leaders who should lead by example now
indulge in criminal activities. The party should urgently restructure the
Harare provincial executive to redeem the party in Harare and therefore
improve its chances." The former ambassador to Cuba, Amos Midzi is the
chairperson for Harare province while the self-styled "commander of farm
invasions" and an attempted murder defendant, Joseph Chinotimba, is the
political commissar. "A very strong character should be sought to lead the
Harare province," says the report. "If Harare mayoral elections are to be
held under the current executive without something dramatic happening, we
will lose Harare to the opposition," the report said.
News of the possible loss in the election could explain why the government
is keen to reduce the registered voter population in urban areas through
various restrictions that impede voter registration and access to voting
materials, analysts said on Monday. In June 2000, Harare and Bulawayo, had a
combined voter population of 1 225 o78. The majority here support the MDC.
Mashonaland East, Central and West provinces, known as Zanu PF's rural
strongholds, had a total 1 507 022 voters, a difference of 281 944.
Matabeleland North and South, safe constituencies for the MDC registered 659
363. That clears the difference and leaves a floating figure of 377 419 in
favour of the opposition. The MDC further registered a strong showing in the
Zanu PF areas of Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Marondera, Chegutu, Kadoma,
Nyanga, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi and Bindura. Except for Bindura, where the MDC
received half the vote to Zanu PF, it won in all these towns and cities.
That leaves a thin belt for the real battle in March: the Midlands (682 882
voters, including Gweru, Kwekwe and Zvishavane) and Masvingo (612 306
voters, including Masvingo town and the Lowveld). The Zanu PF report said
the party was concerned with factionalism which was costing it membership
and support.
"This monster, if not properly addressed, would cost the party the
presidential election," said the report. "The issue of factionalism in
Masvingo needs to be addressed if Masvingo was to become a one-party
province again. The issue of factionalism in Masvingo should be resolved
before the presidential election in 2002." Zanu PF lost in the parliamentary
election in Manicaland, a province with 612 253 voters. "Looking at these
figures," said Bernard Murwira, a political scientist, "the opposition may
be right in assuming that the government is keen to cut the number of voters
by demanding affidavits from domestic workers, or lodgers' cards and
renunciation certificates from anyone whose ancestors were Afrikaner, Greek,
Indian or Malawian. That documentation was unnecessary all along."
The Zanu PF security department, in the 89-page report, said that Zanu PF
should take advantage of the growing demand for resettlement and seize the
opportunity "and make sufficient political mileage" to win the March
election. The central committee said non-performing provincial executives
should be warned, and those unrepentant should be expelled and replaced by
newly-elected people before the campaign for the presidential election
begins. "The deployment of army details and youths down to constituency
level will even enhance mass mobilisation activities," the report says. That
process has already begun. The army has been deployed in Matabeleland and
vigilante groups are causing mayhem in Harare's urban townships. The report
for Matabeleland province accused the secret service of failing to stop MDC
activities in Binga and Lupane as well as failing to stop the Catholic
Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) from distributing food
in the areas. "Whites fleeing from the farms are flocking to Binga and have
occupied most of the banks of the Zambezi, denying local fishermen access to
the lake by enforcing the law of trespassing. Party inaction to important
issues will cost the party dearly if not corrected immediately," the report
is quoted.
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Farm invasions and Security Report
Thursday 10th January, 2002

This report does not purport to cover all the incidents that are taking place in the commercial farming areas.  Communication problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers from reporting all that happens.  Farmers names, and in some cases farm names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisals.

Settlers refuse to move to farm allocated to them and increase ploughing on Versailles. Women chairperson of local Land Committee threatens to kill any cattle in her newly ploughed area, and threatens workers with death because they work for a white person. Police have been informed and owner awaits reaction. Situation is tense with settlers stating that it is now power for the people and they do not care what the PA or DA tells them, they have the power to do what they wish.
Mrs Francis Milbank is thought to have been murdered at Mazvikadei Peninsula sometime between Friday and Monday 4.1.2002 and 7.1.2002.   She was found dead on an empty stand at the Peninsula on Tuesday 8 January 2002 after a search.
Illegal occupiers are bringing in 10 to 15 year old children by the bakkie load to do their weeding for them.  
 Settlers moving onto farms claiming their plots of land.  Numerous Section 8 Orders have been allocated.
A meeting was held at Tree Tops Beerhall, which is believed to have been for recruiting under 30 year old, farm workers into the Youth Brigade.
A number of owners leaving property due to continued harassment.
General - Settlers moving onto farms claiming their plots of land.  Numerous Section 8 Orders have been allocated.

Kennilworth and Shashe Properties Agritex officials are pegging and demarcating plots. They claim they are doing this for Rio Tinto. Owner has confirmed with Rio Tinto that this is not so.
Springspruit Farm Agritex officials are pegging and demarcating plots on this property.
Palm River Ranch Owner is leaving his property due to continued harassment.
Faversham Ranch Owner is leaving his property due to continued harassment.
Saccharine Ranch Owner continues to have problems with labour striking.
Wragley / Lauder Farms Owner has had a visit from Mrs. Mahofa claiming she has ownership of these properties and the homestead.
Appin and Stratsphey Farm Owner has received section 7 Notices for these two properties.
Continuation of theft, broken pipes, gates being left open, harassment over cattle eating maize, poaching, snaring.
KWEKWE - Armed robberies continue on farms on an escalating scale. On Mooirivier, police attending the scene of an attempted burglary, did not take fingerprints, though these were quite visible on the white wall. The attack on workers, previously reported, was aimed at those who could not produce a ZanuPF party card, though some had paid and were awaiting their cards. Police did not attend the scene of this assault until the following night. On Bonsted, three "warvets" set about a rumour that the owner would be burning occupiers’ huts, which caused some unrest. Beta farms report that the 25 people on Game Park are planting maize and blocking off roads with tree branches, preventing the farmer from driving through. The occupiers keep threatening to "do something about the Eland". Poaching continues. The owner of a farm went to investigate a theft at the mining claims and was attacked by some panners. Police did not respond. Farmers have been requested to bring workers under 30 years old, to a meeting to be held in Kwekwe on Friday where the Speaker of the House is expected to address them on non-violence during the run up to the elections.
Somabhula - All cattle have been moved off Sunrise farm, some to neighbouring Goodhope while others have been scattered about. ZRP have responded and accept it is illegal but are unable to do anything about it. On Happy Valley and other farms belonging to the same owner, on which no section 8 Orders have been served, intense harassment continues, with cattle being moved about and gates left open, etc. ZRP was requested to address the occupiers but does not achieve results. Meanwhile, the farmer has discovered that his trusted foreman is keeping the occupants leader well informed on security issues, confidentially discussed with the farmer. A Primary School in the area appears to have been taken over by ZanuPF youths as a training centre. A meeting was held at Tree Tops Beerhall, which is believed to have been for recruiting under 30 year old, farm workers into the Youth Brigade.
No report
CHINHOYI/KAROI - The Daily news cannot now be purchased on the streets.  A few days ago, the vendors had their stock trashed by the youth, and effectively no distribution can now take place.
BANKET - Restaurant burnt down at the Fish Ponds (Mazvikadei Dam) Endebess Farm and Sangwa Farm War vets trying to extort $10 000 for bonuses etc. Owner has been threatened and told to get out of his house on Bickleighvale Farm because he is considered one of the "Listonshiels Farmers".   This is the second time he has had to move, and it is just a straight case of harassment.
Mrs Francis Milbank is thought to have been murdered at Mazvikadei Peninsula sometime between Friday and Monday 4.1.2002 and 7.1.2002.   She was found dead on an empty stand at the Peninsula on Tuesday 8 January 2002 after a search.
TENGWE  - Monday 31st December Solera Farm - 4 labourers had been paid off and refused to take their pay. Shortly afterwards Peter Ncube (local warvet) plus accomplices stopped all work on the farm and ordered the whole gang into the barn area. Here the gang was subjected to a lengthy political rally. After a few hours of this politicking, the owners and Ncube said work could carry on the next day (1st) and the workers would work on New Years Day to make up for this lost day. The workers then asked to be paid off.
The owner believes this whole thing was stage managed by Peter Ncube so he could have the rally, and intimidate the workers just to show his 'power'.
Chobeni Farm - At 3.30 pm the settlers on the farm started evicting people from their houses and 1 man was assaulted (not seriously) The owner and the MIC Tengwe Police met the settlers and agreed to meet on Wednesday afternoon The settlers demanded to be allowed to stay in the barn area and sheds. Labourers allowed back into houses.  A settlers house had burnt down (accidentally) on Sat 29th, but at this stage this was not made an issue.  On Tuesday 1st January - Ashida (settler chairman) broke the lock on the gate to the barn complex, as well as the lock on at least 1 shed and moved into the shed.  He locked the gates with his own lock so no one else can enter.  On Wednesday 2nd January at 11.30am, a large group of settlers/warvets from all over Tengwe arrived and started evicting the staff from their houses. (were meant to be having the agreed meeting at 2.30pm). The owner went to see what was happening and was chased by a gang of about 15 men. There was a large group in the village area.
Police arrived at 2pm, and spoke to the settlers but with no success.  The Member in Charge Tengwe Police (Inspector Mpofu) came down and asked why this was happening when they had agreed to have a meeting on Monday, but the settlers refused to give in, and said they were not prepared to discuss the matter.   The Member in Charge phoned the DA who was unavailable
At 5pm 4 warvets lead by Ncube, arrived at the Police station, and spoke to police who typed out a list of items that Ashida must be compensated for. (from the burnt house)  The owner was called into the office and accused of burning the house down and compensation demanded.  This was the first time this was mentioned, although the house had burnt down 5 days previously. They said if the compensation was paid, staff would be allowed back into their houses. The owner refused and left. On the farm, the staff was moved into the home farm barn complex for the night. They had been warned not to go back to work the next day.
Mana Farm - Cattle had been pushed into some of the settler’s maize and the settlers demanded compensation. Police intervened and a compromise was reached.
Thursday 3rd January -Chobeni farm - A mob of 150-160 people arrived at 8.30am including all the warvet leadership from the district.  Attempts were made to negotiate with Ncube, but the same demands were made. Owner met Ncube and Ashida who said they had proof that he had burnt the house and was uncooperative, as he had refused to let them live in the barn area. The Meeting broke up, everyone was chased from barn complex, and all work on farm stopped. Police came to try to negotiate, without success.  DA plus Karoi Member in Charge and other intelligence agents arrived. The owner was subjected to a 2 1/2 hour political rally\ kangaroo court but nothing was resolved. He was threatened with arrest and Section 8 Orders on both farms by DA, and just about everything else by the mob.
All staff now accommodated on home farm and will have to try and get neighbours to help cure some of the Crops, as the owner is not allowed back on Chobeni. Work continuing on the home farm at this stage.
This whole exercise was used as an election rally and also to intimidate the labour, but it got out of hand as the DA was not that comfortable with the labour being evicted from their houses as he suggested after the meeting that compensation be paid to resolve the whole issue.
Inanda Farm - Kennias (local warvet) + 8 arrived at the ex manager's widows house and said that as this farm had a section 8 Order (6/12/2001) they must move out immediately, and all the staff who stay in the farm village must also be moved.
Police refused to react. When a few farmers went to the farm the group had left but said the farmers must meet them at the settler’s houses. This was ignored. Kennias returned later and said the staff must be moved   On Tuesday 8th January Kennias sent a message that staff be moved off immediately. The DA was telephoned, who said that this was not right and until the Government decide what to do with the farm the staff must remain in their houses. We asked him to convey this to the local police.
UMBOE - Highbury Estate RRB No. 016783 Steer snared on Monday and died on Wednesday morning.  Lot of snaring in this area.
BEATRICE - Gemini an illegal settler outside the house demanded that the owner be out of the house by 6p.m. or they would be invaded. The police would not help.  The owner moved out and is negotiating, with minimal help from the police.
Several Section 7 Notices have been handed to farms.
ENTERPRISE/RUWA/BROMLEY - Zimbabwe National Youth Service are causing problems The Ruwa growth point was a target.
Enterprise -   Youths are being recruited.
Featherstone -  Kuruman Owner told he would not be permitted to milk dairy cows, until the Foreman leaves the property. Arrangements made for the foreman to return to his home area until situation quietens. Owner told that his wife, son and daughter-in-law, have to change their attitude towards the "settlers'.  The farmer was told to remove dairy and themselves by 15/01/02. DA has told owner that the farm is delisted because it is a dairy. Calais – No further progress on movement of dairy cattle off farm. Owner forced to move workers out of village, and not permitted to move equipment out of dairy. Occupier has moved into dairy and claims to be ensuring nothing is stolen
Gelukverwacht - Owner told to be off property by Sunday 6/01/02. On Monday 7/01/02, Officer in Charge, Featherstone, Inspector Matize and detail called on Dondo. They arrived on the property and demand to see permits for wildlife (Zebra, Wildebeest, Kudu and Impala lambs). The Owner was told that
the property is state land and permits are required for game. Forestdale - The workers allege that they have been told to move out of barn area into main house, because government is going to start to build toilets prior to turning barns into a clinic. Later in the day workers, say they have been told to move off the property by 08/01/02. Owner is currently away.  Sikoto - Owner advises that he has received a message to vacate his property.  Ngesi -On the 8th January, a local illegal settler claimed that cattle had eaten maize and screamed at owners wife that if the cattle were not dealt with "something terrible would happen". Settler incited +/- 30 local settlers to shout and scream outside gates and started a 'pungwe' at approx 6.30pm. DISPOL, Chivhu was informed, instructions were sent to Featherstone ZRP, who reacted, and the situation was defused. Owner removed remaining 15 head of cattle from farm. Situation is still tense with settlers demanding the owner leave by Thursday 10th January.Forsetdale -Local settlers demand that workers move from barn area to homestead and escort workers to homestead on 8th January.  The owner is away and situation remains unresolved.  Versailles -Settlers refuse to move to farm allocated to them and increase ploughing on Versailles. Women chairperson of local Land Committee threatens to kill any cattle in her newly ploughed area, and threatens workers with death because they work for a white person. Police have been informed and owner awaits reaction. Situation is tense with settlers stating that it is now power for the people and they do not care what the PA or DA tells them, they have the power to do what they wish.
HARARE SOUTH - Alsace -A worker was attacked by 2 settlers, the worker was stoned and a machete used-the worker was taken to the clinic and is now  back at work . 3 days later 2 armed “warvets” arrived looking for the 2 who assaulted the worker.  Kimcote -a group of youths have taken poles, cut by the farmer for firewood.
Dunluce- white land rover with no number plates arrived and the occupants demanded compensation for maize not planted because the farmer had planted into the lands.  Auks Nest -he situation has not been resolved the farmer is still not allowed to farm
MACHEKE/VIRGINIA -  Nyadora – Owner received a note stating that named employees should attend a training camp for 4 days re education - they were then to be deployed around the area for 2 weeks and the employer to pay them. The employer refused.  Malda: -50 Bags of maize stolen. A settler penned 4 calves in an enclosure for 4 days without food and water.
MARONDERA NORTH -  Kirndean -had electrical equipment stolen. Botha’s Rust-A bag of cut up irrigation piping was found.
WEDZA - CHAKADENGA - An all night pungwe was held and some of the labour were beaten up. They were told that anyone not registered (?) must leave the area. FELS - Gunshots were heard on Saturday and Sunday night MSASA - not listed. On Boxing Day, an unknown person arrived on the farm and told the foreman that the owner had 30 days to get off. The following day a man named Made, apparently connected to Agritex, but believed to be on Markwe, arrived in a B2200 pick-up Reg. No 543-189X. He cut the fence to get onto the farm and told the foreman he must leave the boom open.  He arrived again on the 31st and demanded that the boom be opened, the foreman refused. He arrived again on the 1st with Zinyoro and attempted to break down the boom. The foreman then opened it.  He spent the day there and got his vehicle stuck, demanded a tractor, which was refused, and finally left at about 9pm. On Friday and Saturday two more vehicles were driving around, one a Kombi full of people. On the 7th the owner got a phone call from a Caanan Matikiti who said he had been given a plot consisting of the barn area, the late tobacco crop and the paprika. He advised that he would be coming to visit on Thursday.  IMIRE - 2.5-day work stoppage - labour threatened - some have gone back to the communal areas.  RUWARE - Received a second Section 8 Order, this time for the whole property. Fencing stolen. The illegal settlers are moving cattle from paddock to paddock.  BEZUIDENHOUT - this farm is not listed but an illegal settler has built a hut in front of the main house. MBIMA - Received requests from the illegal settlers for transport to meetings, this was refused and they later told the guards they would come and hold pungwes around the fence.
NORTON - On Elladale Farm illegal occupiers are bringing in 10 to 15 year old children by the bakkie load to do their weeding for them.  On Farnley occupiers’ cattle were driven into a crop of fertilized Rhodes Grass.  General - house break-ins have increased dramatically in the last few months.
SELOUS - It is reported that 90% of crops grown by occupiers have not been weeded. 
CHEGUTU/SURI-SURI - Police have still not made any arrests regarding abductions and assaults on Farnham "A" and Concession Hill Farms over the weekend despite knowing who the perpetrators are.  Another pig was slaughtered on Farnham Farm last night.  The worker in charge of the pigs is being forced to resign due to pressure from the stock thief occupiers.
KADOMA/CHAKARI/BATTLEFIELDS - Police have still not made any arrests regarding assaults and the burning of more than 40 huts that took place last year. On Rondor Farm another bull has been slaughtered.  On Chevy Chase Farm the owner has been forced to remove his cattle despite the farm not being listed.  On Pamene Farm (the shooting of game continues unchecked.  On Alabama Farm illegal occupiers have allowed four workers to work so that the manager can move off the property.  The occupier leadership in the area has occupied the other two homesteads illegally. Chief Inspector Makaza has a plot on this farm and visits it in a police vehicle on a daily basis.  This is the command centre for all the problems on the farms listed below:  On Normandy North illegal occupiers have not allowed the workers to work, but the owner was allowed to have his domestics on condition he gave the illegal occupiers maize. Illegal occupier "Jeri" has given the owner six days to vacate his house on threat of death. He proclaims, "we are the law". On Inniskilling, another bull has gone missing and illegal occupiers are not allowing the workers to work or go and look for it.  Domestics are not allowed to work on this property either.  The owner has been given a day to vacate the property.  All remaining livestock has had to be moved off.  On Hellaby Farm none of the workers are allowed to work, and the owner has had to pay them off.  Last time the owner went to the farm, he was held hostage along with a P.T.C vehicle which illegal occupiers took the keys of.  He was away over Christmas and had a house sitter checking on the farm who was chased away by the illegal occupiers. There was a break in to the house approximately ten days ago but the owner has not been allowed to go and see what is missing until now due to police escorts not being available.  It has transpired that illegal occupiers have trashed the house.
No report.                                  Visit the CFU Website

The opinions in this message do not necessarily reflect those of the Commercial Farmers' Union which does not accept any legal responsibility for them.
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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 11 January

Farms raided by authorities as grain runs out in Zimbabwe

Harare - Olive oil is available in top supermarkets, so is imported wine, but maize meal, Zimbabwe's staple food, has run out. Such is the authorities' panic that they raided white-owned farms this week and confiscated thousands of tonnes of maize. The government nationalised the maize crop on Dec 28, and white farmers have to send their crops to the government's granaries within 14 days of harvest, even though half of them have still not been paid for wheat they delivered in October. A supermarket source said lorries have been waiting in vain for four days at the country's main millers looking for some stocks of maize meal. In the eastern town of Mutare, on the Mozambique border, and in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, most supermarkets report that they have already run out of maize meal, and stocks are only intermittently available in the biggest outlets in Harare. Such is the bleak reality of Zimbabwe after 21 years of President Mugabe's increasingly corrupt and inefficient rule.

In rural areas in the south and eastern parts of the country, tens of thousands of people are at the point of starvation according to the World Food Programme. It has identified 500,000 people in need of food immediately, and that number is expected to at least double in the next six months. The WFP launched an appeal for food for Zimbabwe late last year and has had little response, except from Britain. It said it had dug into its strategic reserves and bought 5,000 tonnes of maize from South Africa. It will arrive shortly and be distributed in the worst-hit areas within three weeks. Sources close to the WFP said yesterday it has diverted another 13,000 tonnes meant for Tanzania.

The maize crop produced by commercial farmers has dropped by almost 70 per cent since Mr Mugabe ordered invasions of white-owned land nearly two years ago, and those who were able to farm this year say they have planted only enough to feed their workers and livestock. More than half have been unable to grow a crop at all because of disruptions by Mugabe supporters. According to the Commercial Farmers' Union some farmers who could have grown maize decided not to because they feared their harvest would be stolen by newly resettled farmers facing widespread crop failure. Doug Taylor-Freeme, the CFU vice-president, said yesterday: "If the government ignores the laws of the land and goes ahead and seizes maize off commercial farms it will cause livestock to be slaughtered which will take years to rebuild."

Beef will be in short supply soon as disrupted ranchers have slaughtered up to half their cattle and price controls have seen shortages of lower grade meat. The agriculture minister, Joe Made, who was in Brussels for a European Union meeting today, denied until late last year that Zimbabwe needed to import grain, although he was warned by crop forecasters more than six months ago that invasions of white-owned farms would lead to shortages. State-controlled media and election advertisements by the ruling Zanu PF claimed that the absence of supplies was the responsibility of whites involved in economic sabotage. "The shortages of all foodstuffs was caused by invasions of commercial farms, and price controls which forced manufacturers to stop producing," a senior commodities broker, who asked not to be named, said yesterday. "We are headed for disaster."

From News24 (SA), 10 January

Zim anthrax tests negative

Harare – An envelope thought to contain anthrax intercepted at a Zimbabwe post office, has tested negative for the deadly bacteria, but is still being treated by police as an act of "terrorism", a newspaper Said on Thursday. The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that the suspicious envelope containing white powder intercepted earlier this week by health authorities was addressed to the country's information minister, Jonathan Moyo. "We are therefore viewing this as terrorism designed to cause fear in the population as well as create insecurity," police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena told the paper. "This is particularly so as it comes at a time we are gearing up for the presidential election," he added. Presidential elections have been set for March 9-10. A health official interviewed by the paper said the substance contained in the envelope was a type of bacteria, and efforts to identify it were in progress. On Wednesday home affairs minister, John Nkomo, claimed that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was behind the suspected anthrax attack, but the MDC has dismissed the allegation. Fears of global bio-terror attacks rose sharply across the world in the aftermath of the September 11 terror strikes on New York and Washington - blamed on Saudi millionaire Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda group.

From News24 (SA), 10 January

Diplomats sceptical over talks

Brussels - The European Union will tell Zimbabwe on Friday it faces economic sanctions if it fails to curb political violence and alleged human rights abuses, but diplomats doubt the threat will have much impact. President Robert Mugabe is sending a high-level team to the talks, including Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, architect of a bill which critics say will stifle the media and opposition ahead of a March 9 – 10 presidential election. By contrast, the EU will be represented not by ministers, but by the Spanish ambassador - Madrid holds the bloc's rotating presidency - and a mid-ranking European Commission official. Members of the European Parliament have accused the EU of moving too slowly and cautiously against Mugabe, but diplomats say they are following legal procedures and warn that hasty moves could harm the poorest people in Zimbabwe.

"Expectations should not be too high. Tomorrow is the opening of a process of consultations, which according to the Cotonou Agreement could last a maximum of 60 days," said Michael Curtis, spokesperson for the EU's executive Commission. Under Article 96 of the trade and aid pact with African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, the EU can eventually suspend aid to a country which fails to rectify alleged human rights abuses. Mugabe, 77, has sparked Zimbabwe's biggest crisis since independence from Britain in 1980 with violent seizures of white-owned farms and attempts to tighten control of the media and opposition. Casting fresh doubt on chances of a fair and free election, Zimbabwe's security chiefs signalled on Wednesday they would not accept a poll victory by the opposition, headed by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai.

Britain has threatened to push for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth if it continues its present course. The EU's caution, which partly reflects the need to build a consensus among the 15 member states, has infuriated some European parliamentarians. "If the EU waits until the presidential elections in March, it will simply be too late," British socialist MEP Glenys Kinnock said in a statement. "We have reached the deadline for a positive response from Zimbabwe to the EU's demand for the restoration of the rule of law, a commitment to a free press and free opposition, and to international monitoring of the presidential elections." The Paris-based press watchdog Reporters without Borders urged the EU to impose travel restrictions on Mugabe and his close associates. "The human rights and press freedom situation in Zimbabwe is catastrophic," the group said in an open letter to Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique.

The 60-day consultation period envisaged by the Cotonou accord takes the EU right up to the election date. "The whole objective of invoking Article 96 was to help ensure fair and free elections. The consultations should have begun last November. By postponing them until now, Zimbabwe won valuable time," said one EU diplomat. If Friday's talks go badly, the matter would have to go to EU ambassadors and then to the bloc's foreign ministers, whose next formal meeting is set for January 28. The last high-level contact between the EU and Zimbabwe give few grounds for optimism. After ill-tempered talks with Mugabe in Harare last November, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said relations stood "at a very critical point".

Officials said the EU could eventually suspend 128 million euros worth of development aid covering the period 2002 - 07. Complete suspension of the agreement would deprive Zimbabwe of access to lucrative European markets, though trade has fallen in recent years as the country's economic crisis has deepened. EU figures show Zimbabwe's exports to the EU totalled 256 million euros in 2000, down 26 percent from the previous year. Diplomats said sanctions often hit the weakest sections of a country's population hardest, and the EU would also be worried about the safety of Europeans living in Zimbabwe. Belgium has voiced concern at the regional implications of the crisis, especially in its ex-colony the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Harare has had troops stationed. But officials said Belgium would not stand in the way of tougher EU action against Zimbabwe if the consultations failed.

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Fri, Jan 11 2002 5:48 PM AEDT

Australia to lead push to suspend Zimbabwe from Commonwealth

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says he will be pushing for
Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth at the Heads of Government
Meeting in Brisbane.

The Mugabe Government has passed new laws in the lead up to an election,
making it an offence to criticise or undermine the President, and
authorising police to disperse public gatherings.

The wide-ranging legislation also bans independent monitors from the
elections and forces Zimbabweans to carry identity documents.

Mr Downer says Australia is at the forefront of moves to punish Zimbabwe for
the actions of its government.

"We don't want a country sitting around the table with us, or a president
sitting around the table with us, who doesn't stand for the things we stand
for," he said.

"And what has been happening and what is happening in the Zimbabwean
Parliament is clearly in breach of the standards of the Commonwealth."

Labor's acting Foreign Affairs spokesman, Wayne Swan, says Australia should
impose sanctions against Zimbabwe.

He says as host of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in
Queensland in March, Australia must press for Zimbabwe's suspension at a
preparatory meeting at the end of this month.

"We ought to be at the forefront of moves to suspend Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth because of its increasingly dictatorial behaviour," he said.

"It is now very clear that the Mugabe regime is not going to engage in free
and fair elections and as such, its behaviour is an affront to all of the
principles that the Commonwealth stands for."

Economic sanctions

Zimbabwe faces the threat of economic sanctions from the European Union.

Senior Zimbabwean ministers are due to meet EU representatives in Brussels
later today and they are expected to be told that sanctions will be imposed
unless the Government curbs alleged human rights abuses.

The Opposition Party has described Zimbabwe's new laws as fascist and

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes the meeting with the EU is a
waste of time, saying the threat of sanctions will have little impact in the
light of the new legislation.

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Zim Independent


Why news blackout on Mugabe's Thai visit?

IS the government press under strict instructions not to report on the
president's holiday activities? They omitted to mention his visit to Spain
before Christmas and they have not said a word about his visit to Thailand
last week.

Readers will recall that Thailand was included on President Mugabe's
itinerary when the Brisbane Chogm fell through in Septe- mber following
terrorist attacks on the United States. He returned from that visit with a
three-wheel "tuk-tuk".

Last week he went back to Thailand on a private visit during which he was a
guest of the Institute of Future Studies for Development in Bangkok.
We don't know what sort of future he outlined for Zimbabwe given his
depredations, but the institute held a five-course banquet for him at the Le
Royal Meridien Hotel in the Thai capital last Friday.

Mugabe, who has few friends left in the world, evidently found Thai
hospitality disarming. He said he had been "pleasantly surprised" by the
warmth of his reception. He had "least expected that it would be a visit
during which I'd be exposed to such tremendous friendship".

He didn't elaborate. But let's hope he learnt something about the connection
between tolerance, stability, tourism and jobs. But why is the state media
unable to tell the Zimbabwean public about any of this? Is there an edict
forbidding reports on a private visit even when it includes presidential
proclamations on Zimbabwe as an investment destination? Why the news

There have been some strange full-page adverts carried in the Herald and
other media recently. They showed empty supermarket shelves and urged voters
to say "No to artificial shortages". Another ad showing well-stocked shelves
carried a call for people to vote for price controls.
This is all rather puzzling. Food shortages are the direct product of price

Where manufacturers are prevented from securing a return on their
investment - in any country at any time - it is likely to result in market
distortions which lead to hoarding by middle-men and consequent shortages.
Does Zanu PF really think it can force manufacturers to produce at a loss
when the costs to them are escalating as a direct result of government's
mismanagement of the economy? And what does this tell us about their grasp
of economic fundamentals? By voting for Zanu PF you can be sure supermarket
shelves will remain empty. Their advert is prophetic.
But we should not be too surprised.

This is the same party that promised Zimbabweans 800 000 jobs at the last
election. And what of charges in the public sector? Have fuel prices, phone
bills, electricity charges or municipal rates stood still? These are prices
"controlled" directly by the govern- ment. And what has happened?

Since we remarked last week on how Stan Mudenge was obliged to step in with
a correction of sorts to Jonathan Moyo's attempts to characterise the South
African press as an "apartheid press", we note that a modus vivendi has been
established between the two which accommodates Mudenge's insistence that the
British are the real enemy. All references now are to the "British and
apartheid media", a hybrid formula which no doubt satisfies a number of Zanu
PF propagandists.

Something called the "Zanu PF Supporters Network", which we suspect operates
not too far from the Office of the President, has produced a list of things
they claim were said about President Mugabe by the beastly "British and
apartheid media" in the 1980s and '90s compared with what they say about him

It is important firstly to understand that the things they claim were said
about him then are largely fictional. Nobody called him a "terrorist leader"
in 1964 because he was languishing in detention prior to his coup which
deposed Ndaba-ningi Sithole. He wasn't anybody's leader. The commanders of
the liberation forces certainly did not at that stage regard him as their
leader and even when he attempted to foist himself upon them in 1975 he was
kept waiting for several months before being allowed to visit the camps in

We concede the media may well have called him a "Black Hitler" in 1975 - and
again in recent years because he has worked so hard to earn the title, even
cultivating that funny little moustache. But as for "Unifer (sic) of
Southern Africa", does anybody recall that accolade? Like "Africa's Greatest
Statesman" (1990), it is probably fictional or long since forgotten. Nelson
Mandela's release that year ensured a lasting eclipse of our leader's
pretensions to occupy Africa's moral high ground.

Anybody who remembers the "Africa Prize for leadership for the sustainable
end of hunger" (1988) must be suppressing an ironic groan as thousands now
face starvation. How could Zanu PF remind the country of that title at a
time like this when it has sabotaged food self-sufficiency?
As for "the Brother of South Africa's Struggle" (1994), have the South
Africans been consulted? We doubt it. Nobody down there - except perhaps for
the minuscule PAC - regards Mugabe as their brother today - if they ever
In 2000 they called him a "heartless dictator", we are told, "because he was
giving land to the masses".

Was it because he was giving land to the masses or because he was using his
supporters to inflict murder and mayhem on the innocent people of this
country under the pretext of giving land to the masses? He does indeed have
a heart problem: he hasn't got one.

Another strange little group called "People First" has been running ads
headed "A Call to Prayer". "Spare a special thought for your compatriots and
pray for a good harvest," they ask. Below is a logo looking suspiciously
like Zanu PF's.

Who are these mysterious apostles of the ruling party masquerading as angels
with hands clasped in prayer? And where are the funds coming from for their
ads? The phone numbers they supply are the same as those for the Zanu PF
media centre. What a coincidence! Could it be that the owners of the angelic
hands are the same ones directing the National Youth Service brigades in
their campaign of terror?

We all had a good chuckle over the Herald journalists who were "surprised"
that they got farms in the recent hand-outs. "Six Herald journalists could
hardly believe it when they discovered that their names were on the list,"
we were told.

Why could they "hardly believe it"? Have they not been campaigning for Zanu
PF all this time?
Cephas Chitsaka, George Chisoko, Tichaona Chifamba, Ivy Ncube, Hamandishe
Saburi and Charles Mtetwa should be ashamed, not surprised. Nobody else is
surprised that their slavish loyalty to the ruling party has been
recognised. But what does this tell us about their professionalism?
"What a wonderful way to begin the new year," Ncube chirped. "I will venture
into tobacco farming just like most commercial farmers from the West."

Let's all visit her farm in a year's time and see exactly how much she has
Meanwhile, Herald journalists, who have been making frantic attempts to link
the MDC to anthrax attacks and other crimes without a shred of evidence,
should explain to their readers what a "peeric" victory is.

New Swedish ambassador Ms Kristina Svensson must be wishing she had never
said anything during her courtsesy call on Vice-President Simon Muzenda last
week. Expressing the view that the door was still open to EU observers, she
was treated to one of Jonathan Moyo's more rabid attacks.

"We will be mad to allow such people to come and observe our elections," he
spat, claiming that government was moving "to institutionalise the gains of
our democracy and success of our struggle against European colonialists and

These are presumably the same European colonialists who supported his habit
of living comfort- ably on donor funds when at Wits university? The Swedes
lost a bundle on that project. Now he is biting the hand that fed him.
Moyo meanwhile has been pretending he doesn't know which farm he has been
allocated under the murky A2 scheme. Comparing land redistribution to a
"gold rush" for government leaders, he invited the rest of the country to
feed at the same trough.

Using an expression no doubt borrowed from his Libyan friends, Moyo
proclaimed that "God is great", as he confessed to reading the Herald and
Chronicle every morning in breathless anticipation of a land award.

"I am not even consoled by the announcement that everyone who applied will
get something," he declared. " I want to get that some- thing yesterday."

It is nice to see he hasn't lost any of his extractive impulses. But are we
really persuaded that Moyo's crony Joseph Made has not
even hinted as to where Moyo's booty might be located? They see each other
nearly every day and the subject hasn't come up? Purleez!
Moyo might be able to get that one past his devoted Sunday Mail political
editor but not past the rest of us!

We welcome Patrick Chinamasa's assurance that the Harare municipal poll will
proceed as court-ordered in February. He did add the caveat that this would
be difficult administratively. Which is obvious given the shambles at the
Registrar-General's office. But we welcome his commitment to getting it

It is obvious to everybody that a decree by Mugabe postponing the poll would
be the biggest signal of electoral fear he could give. We know from new
legislation on public order and the press that Mugabe is scared of
democracy. But postponing the Harare vote would reveal a leader unable to
face the electorate in his capital city. And it would also of course expose
the way Presidential Powers are systematically abused. So we hope
Chinamasa's word is final on this.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who appears to be studiously ignoring the
violence engulfing the country, mustn't think he can get away with taking
pot shots at his "professional detractors" without some sort of response. He
might find it necessary to puff the performance of his fellow fast-track
appointees on the bench but it is up to the public to decide whether they
have "made their mark as very able and independent judges", not him.

We were interested to see he didn't make the same claim for himself -
perhaps because he understands the importance of avoiding a credibility gap!

But we liked the reference to the late Justice Muchechetere having "the
patience to listen even to the most misconceived arguments without losing
his temper". This was presumably a personal recollection?

Chen Chimutengwende, we gather, has still not received his letter firing him
from the government. Will whoever is sitting on it at the President's Office
please do Chen the courtesy of sending him an official notification of his
removal from the cabinet. Otherwise we will be obliged to conclude that he
is still Minister of Information. Now wouldn't that be a treat!

Finally, Muckraker has received a message from a reader asking if President
Mugabe's increasingly eccentric tirades are not the product of his hair dye
seeping through into the brain. All we can say by way of reply is that we
have no evidence of him lending the stuff to Jonathan Moyo, yet the symptoms
are identical.

It could be something in the water.

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Zim Independent

Bindura MDC supporter living in fear after beating

Abeauty Mangezi
1/10/02 10:24:36 PM
 ISHMAIL Jack, a Bindura-based Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporter, is living in fear of his life after Zanu PF youths threatened to
kill him in a campaign to silence the opposition party ahead of the March
presidential election. Following the death of his colleague, Trymore Midzi,
who was killed by the same gang a few days before Christmas, Jack has been
living under constant threat from the Bindura youths.

He learnt late on Monday that his Bindura house had been burnt down the
previous day leaving him with nowhere to stay.

He told the Zimbabwe Independent that about 20 Zanu PF youths visited his
house and ordered him to leave Bindura.

The youths came back the following day wielding knobkerries, iron bars and
other weapons and assaulted him on the head, chest and limbs.

After he managed to escape, the youths thought he had taken refuge at the
house of Tapiwa Macheka, the MDC Mashonaland Central chairman. Macheka's
house was then attacked and reduced to rubble.

Although Jack had to receive treatment at Bindura Hospital, the police
charged him with public violence and he is currently on $3 000 bail while
awaiting a court hearing.

Meanwhile, the indiscriminate beating of Ruwa residents is continuing

Trainees from the state National Youth Service brigade are beating up
residents on a daily basis. On Monday afternoon they seriously beat up a
number of Ruwa residents, including a Mr Mhlanga who owns a private security
company in the town and the daughter of a Zanu PF councillor. They allegedly
damaged Mhlanga's house during the assault.

Later on, the youth brigade members attacked people at Ruwa's Maha shopping
centre. Scared women took refuge at a nearby pharmacy. After the pharmacy
employees locked the doors, the brigade smashed the plate-glass doors
demanding to get hold of the women. The damage was reported to Ruwa police.

On Sunday, the residents' association held a meeting to try and resolve the
issue of violence. The Independent understands that some councillors who
visited Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre, where the brigade is based, to try and
discuss the assaults were also threatened with violence.

Although the assailants' whereabouts are known, no arrests have been made so

Meanwhile the ongoing political violence in the country will cost the
government millions of dollars, sources within the United Nations
Development Programme have confirmed.

"After the Abuja Agreement we promised to assist the government through
lobbying donor countries to fund the land reform programme," a senior UN
source said.

"We are actually appalled by the escalation of violence and police inaction.
Many people have been murdered and others have disappeared. Violence is
actually on the increase in Zimbabwe and no donor organisation is willing to
be associated with the country," said the source.

A UNDP technical team is set to release a report on the land situation in
Zimbabwe at the end of this month. The report was intended to help in
mapping the way forward with regards to sourcing funds for the land reform

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF uses violence to raise poll funds

Blessing Zulu
1/10/02 10:27:54 PM
 ZANU PF has resorted to intimidation and brute force as a fundraising tool,
with millions of dollars being extracted from teachers and peasants in the
rural areas, the Zimbabwe Independent has established. Party secretary David
Karimanzira in his annual report to the central committee said the sale of
party cards was set to raise $7 million between January and December 2001.
Prior to the lavish conference in the resort town of Victoria Falls close to
$15 million had been raised.

Karimanzira commended Mashonaland Central, a province steeped in death and
farm wreckage, for an excellent job after having raised $5 million.

Roadblocks have been mounted in most parts of the province and a new-look
Zanu PF card could be the thin divide between life and death.

The breakdown of the funds raised so far according to the report are as
follows: Mashonaland West $651 488, Matabeleland North $253 560,
Matabeleland South $518 332, Bulawayo $295 346, Harare $991 534, Manicaland
$1 193 791 and Midlands $2 423 451.

Elton Magara, a former teacher in Rushinga, said he was forced to resign
from the profession as it had become too dangerous to work in the district.

"We were made to pay money for the Unity Day, Heroes Day and even the
Independence Day celebrations and yet the money cannot be accounted for,"
said Magara.

"We knew that failure to comply would lead to harassment by the so-called
war veterans who have scant regard for international law and human rights.
We just had to pay," he said.

The Zanu PF card had to be purchased even if one is not a member of the

"The new-look card is going for $82 and we are being forced to buy it by the
Zanu PF authorities," said a visibly shaken old man from Uzumba.

"Sometimes one is given a receipt only as demand is outstrippiing supply.
One must carry the receipt or the card all the time as failure to do so
leads to serious assaults."

Many teachers in the volatile rural areas of Mutoko, Mudzi, Murehwa, Mt
Darwin, Rushinga and Shamva are planning to go on leave as the race for the
presidency, scheduled for March 9/10, gathers momentum amid an escalation of

Bright Moyo, who teaches in Murehwa, accused Education minister Aenius
Chigwedere of refusing to protect teachers.

"Chigwedere gave the militias the go-ahead to terrorise us when he said he
will not protect teachers who engage in opposition politics," said Moyo.

"This has caused untold suffering amongst teachers as we are attacked daily
on cooked up charges. If you do not attend Zanu PF pungwes then you are
labelled an MDC supporter and an attack will be imminent," said Moyo.

The police's slow response to the violence has led to intense criticism of
its partisan operations.

One teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation
said she was going on leave as she had no confidence in the police.

"Militias in Murehwa mount roadblocks near police posts and the police
merely turn a blind eye. One is not safe anymore and it is better to go on
leave until this madness is over," she said.

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Zim Independent

Mugabe tries to woo Thai investors to Zimbabwe

Vincent Kahiya
1/10/02 10:26:20 PM
 PRESIDENT Mugabe quietly slipped out of the country at the beginning of the
month for a weeklong holiday in Thailand where he took the opportunity to
woo investors to economically-crippled Zimbabwe. As is becoming the norm
Mugabe's visit was kept a secret. Towards the end of last year he went on an
unexplained visit to Spain.

Media reports from Bangkok say the first family was on a private visit to
Thailand where Dr Kriengsak Chareonwongsak of the Institute of Future
Studies for Development held a banquet for them on January 4 at Le Royal
Meridien Hotel. Mugabe told 100 businessmen who attended the five-course
banquet that Zimbabwe was a safe investment destination.

"I want to assure you that Zimbabwe is an appropriate destination for
investing capital," he told the businessmen.

"Despite all that's said about me and my country, the fact that I am here
speaks well of what we are doing," he said. Mugabe's visit to Thailand is
his second in three months but no firm business commitments have followed.
He promised to send an official business delegation later this year.

Bangkok Post journalist Natalie Suwanprakorn this week told the Independent
that the event did not attract wide media coverage.

"The press didn't find out that President Mugabe was in town until Thursday,
January 3 when we were invited to cover the banquet hosted by the Institute
for Future Studies on the following evening," she said.

"Consequently, only one other local paper and news channel was there to
witness the event," Suwanprakorn said. "Whether this was on purpose or not,
we don't know, though we found it very odd," she said.

"When I interviewed Dr Kriengsak he said that President Mugabe had already
been in town for three days, but 'for security reasons' wouldn't say for how
long he'd be here."

Mugabe told the media that he and his family were in Thailand "to relax and
to 'contemplate the way forward' for Zimbabwe", said Suwanprakorn.

It appears Mugabe didn't meet Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during
his visit. On the day of the banquet Thaksin was in the southern province of
Songkla to hear complaints on the Thai-Malaysian pipeline project. But the
two men met during Mugabe's previous visit.

During Mugabe's visit to Thailand last year newspapers there ran letters
from readers expressing outrage at the presence of the Zimbabwean leader.

One letter headed "A meeting of like minds" said: "'Photo of the Year' for
2001? I would propose your photograph of Prime Minister Thaksin sitting in a
samlor with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe some months ago. It symbolises what has
been a dismal year for the rule of law in Thailand."

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With tension mounting, EU and Zimbabwe gear up for consulations
by Robert MacPherson

BRUSSELS, Jan 10 (AFP) - The European Union opens sensitive political
consultations with Zimbabwe on Friday that could determine whether the EU
proceeds with sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's government over
political freedoms, human rights and land reform.

The talks in Brussels, which start at 11 am (1000 GMT), will be taking place
against the backdrop of growing tension in the southern African nation as it
prepares for presidential elections in March.

Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge will lead Harare's team to the consultations
at the EU Council of Ministers' building, accompanied by Zimbabwe's justice,
information and agriculture ministers plus a minister of state, diplomatic
sources told AFP.

On the EU side will be Spain's permanent representative to the EU,
ambassador Javier Conde de Saro, joined by his Belgian and Danish
counterparts and a senior official of the European Commission.

Spain took over the rotating EU presidency from Belgium on January 1 and
will pass the baton to Denmark on July 1.

At least 12 other nations which belong, like Zimbabwe, to the ACP group of
former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and South Pacific will be
present at Harare's request, diplomats said.

Officials said the EU would issue a press statement at the end of Friday's
consultations, which a diplomat said would be "an exchange of views on
issues raised by the Europeans."

"This will be the opening of the process of consulations which according to
the (EU-ACP) Contonou Agreement could last for a maximum of 60 days," said
European Commission development spokesman Michael Curtis.

"I doubt that closure will take place on the same day. We'll have to wait
and see," he said.

Political tension was rising in Zimbabwe on Thursday, following Mugabe's
announcement the day before that a much-anticipated presidential election
would be held on March 9-10.

Despite the threat of international sanctions, Mugabe's government vowed
Wednesday to force through a battery of repressive bills which would impose
tough curbs on freedoms of assembly and speech ahead of the vote.

Besides disenfranchising Zimbabwean voters abroad, the legislation would ban
independent election monitors. Harare has already rebuffed an EU request to
dispatch a team of pollwatchers.

Last October, EU foreign ministers said they saw "no visible progress" in
Zimbabwe regarding political violence, election monitoring, press freedom,
judicial independence, and the illegal occupation of white-owned farms.

In a worse-case scenario, sources said at the time, the EU could freeze up
to 200 million euros (180 million dollars) in long-term development
assistance that has been earmarked for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe also gets 10 million euros for EU-backed health and education
programs for the nation's poorest, but those funds are channeled through
selected non-governmental organizations.

Britain, the former colonial power in what used to be called Rhodesia, has
been pushing hard for a common position among the 15 EU member states
against Mugabe's policies.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Britain would also call for
Zimbabwe to be expelled from the Commonwealth when the organization meets in
Australia in March, if the situation continues to worsen.

Strong criticism has also come from the European Parliament, which in
December adopted a resolution calling for economic sanctions. It also
proposed that assets belonging to Mugabe and his close associates be frozen.

In a statement Thursday, British Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden kept up
the pressure, saying: "The EU must show Mugabe it means business over
Zimbabwe before it is too late."

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Zim Independent

Electoral process abused as poll nears
By Dumisani Muleya

AS the ruling Zanu PF's campaign of terror and coercion begins to deliver
diminishing political returns, government has now resorted to methodical
manipulation of the electoral process to achieve its objectives.

Political analysts say the ruling party is not leaving anything to chance.
This explains the growing repression and flagrant interference with
electoral practices to fix the presidential poll.
The election will certainly be a two-horse race. Swashbuckling President
Robert Mugabe will be battling against the equally buccaneering opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the poll
slated for March.

As former US president Richard Nixon said after the defeat of Michael
Dukakis by George Bush in the 1988 presidential election: "Finishing second
in the Olympics gets one silver but finishing second in politics gets one

Mugabe and Tsvangirai know this. The only difference though is that Mugabe
is in control of the state machinery and Tsvangirai is not. Mugabe's
bureaucrats are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to reshape the
electoral landscape in their master's favour.

The official electoral manoeuvring for the impending poll started last year
with the amendment of the Citizenship Act. The move resulted in the
Registrar-General editing the voters' roll by arbitrarily expunging names of
those perceived to have an entitlement to dual citizenship. This clearly
exceeds the bounds of the Act itself which refers only to those who actually
have dual citizenship.

The High Court two weeks ago ordered the reinstatement of the unlawfully
removed names after an MDC application.

Government also embarked on a cumbersome voter registration exercise whose
requirements were stringent and restrictive. Prospective voters in urban
areas - where Mugabe is deeply unpopular - were required to produce title
deeds or utility bills to register. This proved difficult for many lodgers.

Again the courts had to intervene to relax the restrictive and arbitrary
Then there was the dates of the registration exercise and inspection of the
voters' roll. It was initially scheduled to start on November 12 and end on
December 2 but it had to be postponed twice after a public outcry that it
was leaving people out.

The MDC accused government of trying to disenfranchise its supporters. It
subsequently went to court and won yet another ruling which opened the
exercise indefinitely. But officials managing the contentious exercise are
said to be defying the court order by closing registration stations when
they feel like it.

Zanu PF wants voting in the presidential election to be on a constituency
basis as opposed to the traditional treatment of the country as one
constituency. The MDC is challenging this in the courts.

Government also annou-nced plans in November to amend the Electoral Act to
strengthen the powers of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) to
recruit, train and deploy election monitors as well as oversee all polls.

Previously the ESC relied on monitors supplied by non-governmental
organisations. For instance, during last year's parliamentary election the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) - a coalition of 36 civic groups -
trained and deployed 24 000 monitors to supervise the election under the ESC

Justice minister Patrick China- masa, who administers the Electoral Act, in
November last year decided to modify the time-tested system by banning
independent local and international monitors claiming they were partisan.
The ZESN said the minister's proposals were ridiculous.

"It would be highly irregular for civil servants to monitor themselves. It
should be noted that flawed electoral processes are often a cause of
conflict," the group noted.

Chinamasa argued: "This situation has been discovered undesirable,
considering the fact that most non-governmental organisations are partial,
foreign-funded, loyal to their funders and therefore produce monitors who
are partisan."
And his solution? "It is therefore critical that the ESC be provided with
resources, both human and financial, by government to empower it to recruit,
train and deploy monitors in any election or by-election."

But it is well-known the ESC is incapable of effectively monitoring
elections due to lack of capacity and political shackles.

Although Information minister Jonathan Moyo recently claimed assertions that
the ESC was partisan were "inherently subversive", his book, Voting for
Democracy, reveals the body's deep-rooted bias.

The proposed modifications are not new. Last year before the general
election, authorities issued a statutory instrument defining "monitors" and
"observers" and accreditation procedures in a bid to influence the process.

Political commentator Brian Raftopoulos says the current measures are
designed to secure Mugabe victory by all means.
"They are meant to disenfranchise and control as many perceived opposition
voters as possible to benefit the ruling party."
While fears of likely electoral fraud mount, analysts are hoping that the
situation in Zimbabwe will not degenerate to the chaotic level of the
Zambian presidential election two weeks ago.

The European Union observer mission to Zambia concluded after the poll: "We
are clear that the electoral process, particularly in many areas on polling
day, was badly planned and poorly-managed at the national level."

Going by the current events this could turn out to be the case during the
forthcoming Zimbabwe poll. Commentators say the last thing they expect is
for Mugabe to behave like former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, who
said to his rival who accused him of rigging the election in 1977: "Indeed
you won the election, but I won the count."
The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Parliametary Forum says
losers in free and fair elections must good-naturedly concede defeat.

It is also important, the group notes, that the legal and institutional
framework should work independently and impartially to secure the
credibility of elections.
The group says strengthening of electoral institutions, reforming outdated
legal structures and electoral practices is crucial in rein- forcing
democratic processes.

It observes "there should be continuous voter registration and an updated
voters' roll before and after elections" to unravel "cumbersome registration
and inspection requirements and unnecessary nomination technical details"
during election periods.

"There are numerous cases in our countries whereby eligible voters have been
unable or prevented from exercising their right to vote through violence,
lack of information, intimidation and misinformation," the forum points out.

"Any measures such as political violence, kidnapping, murder, torture,
threats and sanctions such as denial of development opportunities in
opposition-controlled areas that prevent eligible individuals to register to
vote and vote in secrecy, should be perpetually outlawed."
The group advocates a level electoral playing field.

"In most countries the ruling parties and their governments seek unfair
advantages over opposition parties through the use of public funds and
assets for their political activities, particularly meeting campaign
expenses," it noted.

"In the interest of creating conditions for level playing fields for all
parties and promoting the integrity of electoral processes, parties should
not use political funds to manage electoral processes," the group observed.
"The electoral laws should prohibit government to aid or abet any party
gaining unfair advantage over others."

The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa recommends the following
measures: develop a code of conduct for stakeholders, avoid wilful and last
minute electoral regulation changes, establish clear accreditation
procedures for monitors and observers, develop effective conflict management
and re-solution mechanisms, encourage inter-party dialogue, and establish
independent electoral agencies.

Observers say Zimbabwe's electoral management authorities will persist in
rigidly resisting reform measures as long as the electoral process remains
in the hands of a partisan bureaucracy which is in the pocket of the

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

People being urged to vote for economic disaster

LAST week's newspapers were proliferated with massively expensive
advertisements calling upon Zimbabweans to "Vote for price controls", and to
"Vote against artificial shortages", demonstrating yet again the extent to
which political dictates are being allowed to override economic needs.
It is an old and almost sickeningly trite saying that; "There are none so
blind as those who will not see!" but, no matter how trite, it sometimes has
considerable substance.

Certainly that is so of those who obdurately persist in their demands for
price controls, in apparently total oblivion of the devastatingly damaging
consequences. In their resolute determination to gain political advantage,
no matter how great the cost (not to themselves, but to those they allegedly
wish to aid), they are prepared to intensify the nation's economic ills by
initiating, maintaining, and intensifying foolhardy, cataclysmic, economic

And as their objectives of political gain cannot be attained if they are
held responsible for the economic ills which they inflict upon the populace,
they need vigorously to resort to distortion, misrepresentation,
misinformation, and to attribution of culpability to others.

That is so is very clearly evidenced by the endless spate of spurious
statements at political rallies by the advocates of price controls, by
deceptive explanations as to the causes of Zimbabwe's distressed economic
circumstances, by even more deceptive presentations as to the supposed
causes of Zimbabwe's hyperinflation, by the advertisements indirectly
seeking political support by impliedly suggesting benefits from price
controls, and by other actions which seek to blame the negative results of
price controls upon specious causes claimed to be maliciously occasioned by

The hard fact is that price controls can be as injurious to an economy as
can be drought, floods, earthquakes, war and like occurrences, and in the
case of Zimbabwe, they are already impacting most adversely upon an economy
which, before those controls, was already exceptionally distressed.

That many of the population hankered after price controls was not
surprising. Cost of living, as measured by the consumer price index
(generally accepted as the measure of inflation) had steadily fallen from
1994 to 1997, to a low of 13,9%, annualised, and then soared upwards at an
ever-accelerating rate, reaching 103,8% in November, 2001.

Incomes had not, and could not, keep pace with such a rapid and inordinate
increase, with a result that most found it more and more difficult to fund
the bare essentials of life, let alone anything else. They become confronted
with hardships, debt and great poverty, and a consequential sharp decline in
living standards. Being unaware of any other ways of being relieved of their
misfortunes, many clamored for a combination of compulsory increases in
wages (irrespective of the ability of employers to pay them), and for
institution of price controls assuring that prices would be markedly
lowered, and would not rise again.

Commerce and industry, economists and others, although very sympathetic to
the widespread plight of the man-on-the-street, nevertheless cautioned
against any ill-considered yielding to the demands. But neither the
economically oppressed nor those in authority were willing to hearken to the
well-intentioned warnings. Insofar as the poverty-stricken were concerned,
the desperation was (and continues to be) so great that all rationale and
reason is disregarded and dismissed.

As to the authorities, the perception is a simplistic one - what the people
want, the people must be given, irrespective of how disastrous may be the
medium to long-term repercussions: They can be addressed some time in the
future! If the demands are fulfilled, political advantage will be gained -
or so the authorities believe, and that is of greater import than any
related economic harm.

The warnings against price controls centred upon the collapse of businesses
if the prices were set at non-viable levels. If the prices were to be fixed
at levels that met consumer expectations, it was inevitable that business
enterprises would incur unsustainable losses, for those businesses had
suffered the impacts of inflation to as great an extent as had the consumer.

Unsustainable losses would necessarily provoke business closures, with
consequential substantially greater than heretofore unemployment, and very
much lesser input into the economy. Revenue flows into the fiscus would
diminish, sharply exacerbating the state's deficit. That would force
increased governmental recourse to borrowings from the Central Bank,
fuelling an already almost runaway money supply and thereby stimulating yet
greater inflation. Most of all, the loss-creating price controls would
result in considerably reduced volumes of production, as manufacturers
desperately sought to contain the losses, and hence the country would be
faced with immense shortages.

All these warnings were treated with a cavalier disregard. The determination
to pursue price controls, come what may, motivated the authorities to
contend that the warnings were wholly without foundation, and were nothing
other than self-centred, vested interest threats of capitalists, profiteers,
and political opponents. The price controls would be implemented,
willy-nilly! Pretences were made of private sector consultation, but in
practice all representations of commerce and industry were given the cold
shoulder, government having complete disinterest in anything that did not
accord with its preconceptions and vote-gathering policies.

Those who foreshadowed disaster glean no satisfaction from their dismal
prognostications materialising, but that which they feared has fast become
reality. Hastening the demise of business and the scarcity of essentials is
the blatant stupidity which has characterised most of the controls already
introduced. Introducing the pricing constraints during the last quarter of
2001, most of the price control orders fix prices at levels prevailing last

Doing so has ignored the mandatory increases in wages for most economic
sectors which became effective in October, and further increases applicable
to many from January, 2002.

Similarly ignored are the escalations in energy and telecommunication
charges, of imposts of the local authorities, fuel price increases since
last August, and general operating cost increases due to inflation.
Apparently, none of these factors were considered relevant. Similarly, a
restriction under a general price control order limiting profits as a
percentage of production costs, to a maximum of 50%, specifically excluded
rents and depreciation from those costs, notwithstanding that they are
unavoidable expenses.

Even if marketing, distribution, administration and finance costs exceed
that 50% margin, the producer may not charge more. Instead, he must just
bear the unavoidable loss! The result, yet again, is business closures and
But, as it cannot be acknowledged that the pricing policies are defective,
and as those policies are so clearly perceived to be the source of voter
support, all the prejudices of the polices must be ascribed to causes other
than the policies themselves. And who better to blame than producers in
general, and political opponents and racial minorities in particular. So
there is no hesitation in alleging, with unrestricted conviction, that
shortages are artificial.

The scenario which the consumer is supposed to believe is that industry is
deliberately hoarding its production, withholding it from the consumers. The
supposed objectives of the hoarders are to prove the unworkability of price
controls, to undermine the economy so that the populace will shift alleged
allegiances to the political opposition, and to cast government into
disrepute. (It is actually doing that remarkably well for itself, without

But the accusations are blatantly without foundation. As far back as
February last year, long before price controls, many recognised that food
shortages would be unavoidable, despite ministerial assurances to the
When, in recent weeks, supplies of maize meal ceased to be available, the
state tried to suggest that this was because of the machiavellian acts of
the millers, mainly in response to price controls. What a pity that the lies
could not, at least, be co-ordinated. On the same day as minister Joseph
Made attacked the millers, the Bulawayo depot of the state-controlled Grain
Marketing Board acknowledged that its silos had been empty for a fortnight!

Shortages of cooking oil and of sugar were due to the inability of their
producers to supply the market at controlled prices without incurring
grievous losses that would hasten their collapse. Such quantities as did
reach the shelves of the supermarkets and other retail outlets were fast
"snapped up", the greater volumes being purchased by highly entrepreneurial
informal sector traders who recognised that the market shortages provided
them opportunities of a thriving black market. Shortly, Zimbabwe can
anticipate shortages of like magnitude of many other consumer essentials, as
more and more manufacturers experience increasing difficulties in surviving.

The call for a "Vote for price controls" is a call for economic destruction.
The suggestions of artificial shortages are nothing but voter deception. The
future recovery of the economy requires recognition of fact, acceptance and
reality, and putting the needs of the nation ahead of the needs of the

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ninemsn (Australia)

Downer to push for Zimbabwe suspension

Australia would push for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth at the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on the Sunshine Coast,
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

Mr Downer made the comments after the Zimbabwean government said new laws
would make it an offence to criticise the president.

"We don't want a country sitting around the table with us, or a president
sitting around the table with us, who doesn't stand for the things we stand
for," Mr Downer told ABC radio.

"And what has been happening and what is happening in the Zimbabwean
Parliament is clearly in breach of the standards of the Commonwealth."

CHOGM is due to begin at Coolum in early March.

 The federal opposition said Australia should impose sanctions against

"We ought to be at the forefront of moves to suspend Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth because of its increasingly dictatorial behaviour," acting
opposition foreign affairs spokesman Wayne Swan told ABC radio.

"It is now very clear that the Mugabe regime is not going to engage in free
and fair elections and as such, its behaviour is an affront to all of the
principles that the Commonwealth stands for."

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U.N. body urges UK to stop deporting Zimbabweans

LONDON, Jan. 11 — The United Nations refugee agency urged Britain on Friday
to stop deporting unsuccessful Zimbabwean asylum seekers, saying their lives
could be in danger at home.

       The British government should grant asylum to those who risked
persecution in Zimbabwe, where new laws had allowed President Robert Mugabe
to tighten his grip on power ahead of elections in March, the office of the
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.
       Anne Dawson-Shepherd, the UNHCR representative in Britain, said in a
statement: ''UNHCR is gravely concerned about the serious human rights
violations in Zimbabwe.
       ''Those who have sought asylum in the UK should be offered a safe
haven and all deportations stopped. Their deportation to Zimbabwe under
current circumstances could jeopardise their physical safety, their liberty
and their life.''
       UNHCR was concerned that the Zimbabwean government was sanctioning
extra-judicial executions, hostage-taking, torture and violence in the
run-up to the presidential elections.
       It said police and law enforcement agencies were ignoring acts of
violence and torture against those opposed to Mugabe's re-election, as well
as journalists and human rights activists.
       The UNHCR call came as Zimbabwean ministers began talks with the
European Union at which they were to be told they faced sanctions if they
failed to curb human rights abuses.
       Britain, along with Australia and New Zealand, has said Zimbabwe
should be suspended from the 54-nation Commonwealth.
       But the Home Office insisted there were no grounds for it to change
the basis on which unsuccessful asylum seekers were removed from Britain.
       ''We don't accept the current situation requires the suspension of
removals,'' a Home Office spokesman said. ''The situation in Zimbabwe is
under constant review.''
       He said decisions to refuse asylum could be appealed against and
genuine activists from Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
were likely to be granted asylum.
       Of the 980 Zimbabweans who applied in 2000, nine percent were granted
asylum in Britain and a further 22 percent appealed successfully against
deportation. Latest figures showed 485 had applied in the third quarter of
last year, but no details were available on how many had succeeded.
       Earlier this month, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker deported from Britain
despite warnings about his safety told a British newspaper that government
agents were waiting to arrest him as he flew into Harare airport.
       The 31-year-old critic of the Mugabe government gave them the slip in
the airport lavatories and was now in hiding, the Sunday Telegraph said.

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