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

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Cartoon from the Cape Times
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MSNBC
 
U.S. tells Zimbabwe to change or face sanctions  
 
 
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 The United States on Tuesday told Zimbabwe's leaders they could face targeted sanctions if free elections did not take place in March and said President Robert Mugabe's policies had led the country to ''rack and ruin.'' 
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker told reporters the United States was consulting with various governments regarding ''targeted sanctions'' against Zimbabwean leaders, family members and associates, if the situation there did not improve.
       ''We continue to make our message loud and clear, as I hope I'm doing again today, that they need to take steps in Zimbabwe to reassert the rule of law and attention to the norms of a civic society,'' said Reeker.
       But he stressed no final decisions had been taken on the timing or implementation of sanctions, which could include a travel ban on Zimbabwean leaders and their families.
       ''The policies that the Mugabe government have taken have lead the country to economic and political rack and ruin, and it's time for them to think about the future of their country, the future of their people and focus on democracy,'' said Reeker.
       He added: ''And that would include establishing a system to have free and fair elections as they're scheduled in March.''
       Seeking to extend his 21-year hold on power in the elections, Mugabe pushed through tough laws last week banning independent election monitors, outlawing criticism and denying voting rights to millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
       Mugabe appeared on Monday to change his mind, however, pledging to a summit of African leaders in Malawi that the poll would be fair and that he would allow independent observers.
       European Union diplomats had also threatened sanctions if Zimbabwe refused to allow foreign observers to monitor the March elections.
       U.S. assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor, Lorne Craner, arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to make clear the U.S. position, said Reeker.
       Under a law signed by President George W. Bush last month, Reeker said the United States would oppose debt relief and vote against loan credit or guarantees to the government of Zimbabwe if it did not change its ways.
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ABC Australia
 
Wed, Jan 16 2002 9:20 AM AEDT
 
Zimbabwe opposition politician attacked
 
In Zimbabwe, an opposition politician has been abducted and stabbed, during worsening political unrest in the lead up to the March presidential election.
 
The opposition MP, was abducted from the town of Lupane, south-west of Harare.
 
David Mpala was beaten unconscious before his abdomen was slit, and he was dumped near a roadside.
 
Mr Mpala is now recovering in hospital, under police guard, amid fears that the war veterans accused of carrying out the attack, will return to kill him.
 
Eleven suspects have been arrested, but at least nine others are still at large.
 
The incident is the latest in a series of violent confrontations between opposition and ruling party supporters, in the lead up to Zimbabwe's Presidential election, which will be held in March.
 
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has accused the Government of orchestrating the violence.
 
The MDC says Government-sponsored militia groups are terrorising communities ahead of the election.
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MSNBC
 
U.N. urges Zimbabwe to fulfill free elections vow  
 
 
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 15 U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday welcomed Zimbabwe's assurances that March elections would be free and fair and urged the government to fulfill those commitments. 
Annan was ''acutely concerned'' by Zimbabwe's laws severely restricting press freedom and political campaigning and stressed that freedom of assembly, a free press and a strong and independent judiciary were ''essential building blocks of democracy,'' U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
       The U.N. leader encouraged Zimbabwe ''to implement fully and faithfully the actions it has promised to take, including ensuring freedom of speech and assembly, admitting international observers, investigating political violence and scrupulously respecting the rule of law,'' Eckhard said.
       President Robert Mugabe, in an apparent turnabout, pledged to a summit of southern African leaders in Malawi on Monday that the March poll would be fair and that he would allow independent observers.
       Seeking to extend his 21 years in power, Mugabe had only a week earlier pushed through tough laws banning independent election monitors, outlawing criticism and denying voting rights to millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
       He was also pushing for legislation banning foreign journalists and outlawing any reporting deemed to sow ''alarm and despondency,'' but Zimbabwe's parliament dropped that bill from its agenda on Tuesday after a committee found serious problems with some clauses, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said.
       The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Mugabe's policies had led Zimbabwe to ''economic and political rack and ruin'' and warned its leaders they could face targeted sanctions if the March elections were not free.
       European Union diplomats have also threatened sanctions if Zimbabwe refused to allow foreign observers to monitor the March elections.
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The Guardian
 
U.S. 'Deterioration' In Zimbabwe
 
Tuesday January 15, 2002 9:00 PM
 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States expressed dismay Tuesday at ``significant deterioration'' of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, and at the growing government-sponsored political intimidation, violence and harassment of journalists.
 
But the United States has not yet decided to impose sanctions against President Robert Mugabe, his family or any government officials, as a new law would allow, said State Department spokesman Philip Reeker.
 
``The policies that the Mugabe government has taken have led the country to economic and political rack and ruin, and it's time for them to think about the future of their country, the future of their people, and focus on democracy,'' Reeker said.
 
Last month, President Bush signed a law that would allow targeted sanctions, including travel bans, against Mugabe, members of his family or government officials, Reeker said. The United States is in the process of consulting with other governments about what those sanctions might be, but has made no decision, he said.
 
The State Department's top human rights official, Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner, arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to ``reiterate our position in terms of dismay at the political environment in Zimbabwe, which has been marked by significant deterioration,'' Reeker said.
 
The United States also worries that instability in Zimbabwe could have repercussions for all of southern Africa, officials have said.
 
Mugabe, who is fighting for his political survival, has clamped down on the opposition ahead of upcoming elections.
 
Two bills pushed through Parliament last week give the police sweeping powers of arrest and seizure ahead of the elections, and also limit independent election monitoring. Lawmakers also were scheduled to debate a bill banning foreign journalists from the country and requiring local journalists to register with the government or face jail.
 
In the latest violence, an opposition lawmaker was wounded critically in an attack by 20 ruling party militants, opposition officials said Tuesday. There also has been a new round of looting designed to force white landowners from their farms.
 
Mugabe says he is working to distribute farms to landless blacks. But his opponents and human rights groups say he is sanctioning violent land seizures to gain support.
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Melbourne Age
 
US, Britain threaten sanctions against Zimbabwe
HARARE, Jan 16 AFP
 
President Robert Mugabe's government has come under strong attack from Washington and the former colonial power Britain, with threats of sanctions against Zimbabwe over new draconian laws and "government-sponsored political intimidation".
 
The United States, the European Union and right groups have slammed Mugabe's law changes as a move to tighten his 22-year-old grip on power ahead of a presidential election in March.
 
Former colonial power Britain is considering targeted sanctions against the Zimbabwean government amid concerns at political violence and Mugabe's clampdown on the opposition, a British government minister told the BBC yesterday.
 
British junior foreign minister Baroness Valerie Amos said nothing was being ruled in or out but admitted that targeted sanctions were an option, including freezes on assets and travel bans.
 
Washington also warned Zimbabwe's leaders that they could face targeted sanctions to punish the "rack and ruin" wrought by the policies of Mugabe's government.
 
US State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said Washington was talking to "various governments" on sanctions against Zimbabwean leaders, family members and associates, measures which could include travel bans.
 
The warning came after Lorne Craner, US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, arrived in Zimbabwe, a week after the passage of new laws seen as restricting opposition politics.
 
Reeker said Craner would reiterate US "dismay" at the political environment in Zimbabwe and argued that respect for the rule of law and the judiciary had deteriorated, compounded by "government-sponsored political intimidation".
 
"We continue to make our message loud and clear, as I hope I'm doing again today, that they need to take steps in Zimbabwe to reassert the rule of law and attention to the norms of a civic society."
 
According to press reports, Britain and the United States have begun a joint effort to identify millions of dollars thought to be stashed away in foreign bank accounts by Mugabe and his inner circle.
 
The move could be a precursor to Washington and the EU imposing personal sanctions on Mugabe and leading members of his government, the Financial Times reported.
 
The so-called "smart" sanctions would involve freezing bank accounts and refusing visas so Mugabe and his circle could not visit western countries, the paper said.
 
Britain also said it would cease deporting asylum-seekers back to Zimbabwe until after the country's elections.
 
As the international pressure increased, Zimbabwe's parliament adjourned debate of a controversial new media bill, discussing instead what were described as "unconstitutional" amendments to the country's labour laws.
 
The labour bill, in addition to the proposed media bill, and two other security and electoral laws muscled through parliament last week, are seen as further clampdowns on freedoms ahead of the presidential vote.
 
Opposition lawmaker David Coltart described the adjournment as a "strategic retreat", saying the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) did not have sufficient numbers in parliament to vote on any bill.
 
The Labour Relations Amendment Bill would ban stayaway strikes, and give the labour minister authority to strike unions off the register.
 
The bill is seen as targeting urban workers -- the power base of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
 
In the past, mass job stayaways have brought the country to a virtual standstill, and cost the country's crumbling economy millions in lost revenue.
 
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, formerly secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), is President Mugabe's main challenger in the forthcoming elections.
 
The debate on the labour bill came after regional leaders on Monday endorsed Mugabe's promise to hold free, fair and peaceful presidential elections at a special summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Malawi.
 
Their endorsement came under heavy criticism last night from South Africa's Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a key ally of the ZCTU.
 
The labour body called for "the withdrawal of all the draconian laws currently being pushed through parliament".
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International hunt for Mugabe family assets
 
David Pallister
Wednesday January 16, 2002
The Guardian
 
Commonwealth, EU and US officials have begun investigating the overseas assets of Robert Mugabe, his family and close associates, in readiness for possible sanctions against Zimbabwe.
EU foreign ministers meet on January 28 to decide if Mr Mugabe genuinely intends to hold free and fair elections in March, with international observers present, and whether he has made efforts to curb violence by his supporters.
 
In October the EU invoked article 96 of the Cotonou agreement governing relations with African states, which allows for sanctions if a range of issues such as human rights and good governance are not addressed.
 
The US Congress has already agreed to consult its international partners about a collective response to the Zimbabwean crisis.
 
Although Mr Mugabe apparently gave assurances about allowing foreign observers and journalists to cover the election at the meeting of the Southern African Development Community in Malawi on Monday, formal invitations have yet to be issued.
 
Tracking assets salted away by Mr Mugabe, his family and political friends will not be easy, as the president himself has managed to avoid the scandals that have swirled around some of his ministers, top civil servants and generals.
 
Yet the Mugabes have been able to acquire a string a properties in the country, including a new 6m mansion in a quiet Harare suburb.
 
He himself has acknowledged corruption in his cabinet. In 1999 he told ministers: "I know they [international contractors] are buying you for tenders and that some of you are accepting huge bribes."
 
The Zimbabwean magazine Legal Forum has described the country as a "racketeering state" characterised by minimal economic development, stagnation leading to recession and unbridled greed by the ruling elite.
 
But unlike the crude daylight robbery of Sani Abacha and his circle in Nigeria, the money trail left by Mr Mugabe's associates is likely to be sophisticated.
 
Reports of the personal enrichment of Mr Mugabe's associates and close relations have been legion, particularly after the military intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where secretive joint ventures were set up to exploit the vast resources of diamonds and minerals.
 
His own extravagance, and that of his wife, has caused a national outcry.
 
In the 1990s Mr Mugabe was Africa's most-travelled president. According to an investigation by the Zimbabwe Independent business weekly, he spent 180m in the decade on fuel alone for commandeered Air Zimbabwe planes to fly to to more than 150 countries.
 
His party, Zanu-PF, is also an international business empire with a vast array of interests held through part ownership of a company called Zidco Holdings. Set up shortly after independence, Zidco has stakes in numerous aspect of the Zimbabwean economy, from property and duty-free shops to building materials and army supplies.
 
Run by a southern African family originally from Malaysia, its assets and profits are a secret, guarded by two key Mugabe allies on the board: the former justice and security ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sidney Sekeramayi.
 
A couple of years ago Mr Mugabe whimsically told a journalist that if he ever found himself out of a job (presidential salary around 16,000 a year), he could go back to teaching and his wife Grace could earn a crust by sewing.
 
But investigators are expecting to find rather more substantial assets.
 
Among the pleasures of life for Mr and Mrs Mugabe have been their regular shopping expeditions to London.
 
If sanctions bite, the couple may find that their credit line this spring is considerably diminished.
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IFEX _ International Freedom of Expression Exchange
 
ALERT: Zimbabwean government wants radio broadcasts stopped
Originator: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Date: 2002-01-15
Country: ZIMBABWE
 
 
(MISA/IFEX) - Zimbabwe's Minister of State for Information and Publicity Jonathan Moyo wants the European Union (EU) to urge the British and Netherlands governments to stop sponsoring short wave radio stations that broadcast in Zimbabwe.
 
On Friday 11 January 2002, Moyo was talking to "The Sunday Mail" about the current deliberations between the EU and Zimbabwe taking place in Brussels, Belgium. He said that Britain and the Netherlands are sponsoring illegal short wave radio station broadcasts in Zimbabwe. "The British are funding their citizen, Jerry Jackson, who in September 2000 ran a pirate radio station calling itself Capital Radio, working with [Movement for Democratic Change, MDC] legislator and Rhodesian war veteran David Coltart, Mike Auret Jnr. and other Rhodesians," said Moyo. "Who else is having access to the EU sponsored illegal broadcasts besides the treacherous MDC?" asked Moyo.
 
In the course of the deliberations, the EU asked the Zimbabwean government to send a letter to the EU Presidency within a week, detailing its actions on all points covered in the discussion. The EU Heads of Mission in Harare was invited to report urgently on the progress made in view of an assessment by the General Affairs Council on 28 January.
 
The "Voice of the People" and "SW" are the two radio stations to which Moyo was referring in his attack. Both are operating short-wave stations broadcasting news on the situation in Zimbabwe. Moyo accuses the two of being pro-opposition. Jackson is the former director of Capital Radio; the first station to challenge the monopoly of the state-owned and run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) at the Supreme Court. ZBC's monopoly was subsequently overthrown, deemed unconstitutional.
 

More Information
For further information, contact Zoe Titus or Kaitira Kandjii, Regional Information Coordinator, MISA, Street Address: 21 Johann Albrecht Street, Mailing Address; Private Bag 13386 Windhoek, Namibia, tel: +264 61 232975, fax: +264 61 248016, e-mail: research@misa.org.na or kkandjii@misa.org.na, Internet: http://www.misa.org/
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MSNBC

Annan ''acutely concerned'' by Zimbabwe laws restricting political campaigning 
 
ASSOCIATED PRESS
 
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 15 Secretary-General Kofi Annan is ''acutely concerned'' at Zimbabwe's new laws restricting campaigning ahead of upcoming elections, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday.  
        ''He emphasizes that freedom of assembly and association, as well as free and vigorous mass media, protected by a strong and independent judiciary, are essential building blocks of democracy,'' said U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard.
       Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is fighting for his political survival, has clamped down on the opposition ahead of presidential elections scheduled for March 9 and 10.
       Two bills pushed through Parliament last week give the police sweeping powers of arrest and seizure ahead of the elections, and also limit independent election monitoring. Lawmakers also were scheduled to debate a bill banning foreign journalists from the country and requiring local journalists to register with the government or face jail.
       Annan noted Mugabe's ''firm assurances'' given to Monday's summit of southern African leaders from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) on the free and fair conduct of the elections, Eckhard said.
       Mugabe pledged to ensure the elections were free and fair, and agreed to allow international observers and journalists to witness them.
       Annan ''encourages the government of Zimbabwe to implement fully and faithfully the actions it has promised to take, including ensuring freedom of speech and assembly, admitting international observers, investigating political violence and scrupulously respecting the rule of law,'' Eckhard said.
       As part of his fight to retain power after 21 years in power, Mugabe has cracked down on the opposition. The deteriorating human rights situation has sparked international condemnation and concern.
       Mugabe says he is working to distribute farms to landless blacks. But his opponents and human rights groups say he is sanctioning violent land seizures to gain political support.
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