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

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Zim Independent

Antithesis of democracy
By Iden Wetherell

WHAT do citizens do when parliament passes bad laws? When the majority of
MPs voting to pass those bad laws are nominated by the president and have no
popular mandate?

That is a question many of us will be asking this week. Many of the laws
passed recently are seriously flawed measures contrived by patently
delinquent rulers anxious to preserve their political shelf-life
irrespective of the popular will.

They have been nodded through by chiefs and placemen where elected MPs
proved unwilling.

The Public Order and Security Bill is little more than a distillation of all
that was bad and defective in the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act which Zanu
PF, despite its denunciation of all things colonial, found so handy.

The General Laws Amendment Bill, passed last week, removed rights upheld by
the Supreme Court after test cases. In the case of the Labour Relations
Amendment Bill parliament's legal committee has pointed out that attempts to
declare collective job action unlawful is unacceptable in terms of
constitutional provisions. So are other sections of the Bill.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, which had been due
to be debated this week but is now being panel-beaten, is not only very
poorly drafted but draconian in content. I gather the government's usual
legal draftsmen were not involved. The proposed law abrogates in almost
every clause rights to which Zimbabweans are entitled under the
constitution, according to the Legal Resources Foundation.

It will be interesting to see what the legal committee decides about these

Voters in any democracy are able to make an informed choice because they go
to the polls having heard the contending arguments of a variety of political
players. They have been exposed to a diversity of views.

Will that be the case in Zimbabwe when, not satisfied with beating the hell
out of the electorate, the ruling party has passed laws to ensure voters
remain ignorant of any view other than President Mugabe's? That is the
antithesis of democracy.

The measures passed recently are also clearly designed to have what the
specialists call a "chilling effect" on democracy.

That includes preventing NGOs from carrying out voter education.

It would be difficult to think of a more egregious violation of the right to
free expression.

Every Zimbabwean has a right to carry out voter education whatever
parliament may say.

We are guaranteed that right under the country's founding law.

But what we are seeing in all these measures is a government which doesn't
care what rights Zimbabweans are entitled to; it will remove those rights
when it wants to.

There was a similar attitude evident in General Vitalis Zvinavashe's
statement last week that the military have the right to decide for us who
our leaders should be. They will do this on the basis of "values" they
define for us. The military of course have no such right. But, like Zanu PF,
they have seized it from a powerless populace.

Constitutions are put in place precisely to prevent over-mighty rulers and
their security personnel from taking what doesn't belong to them. Whatever
its defects, Zimbabweans should defend their constitution and the rights it
gives. That includes the right to elect a government of their choice.

I was in South Africa in 1994 when that country elected its first democratic
government. Voters were full of enthusiasm and commitment to the historic
process. So were those conducting it. The Independent Electoral Commission
was scrupulous in its preparations inviting as many monitors as possible
from South African civil society and neighboring states including Zimbabwe.
They wanted everybody to see that the process was above board and that the
government which emerged would be legitimate in terms of its popular

There were flaws. Millions of non-South Africans voted. But they were mostly
residents whose future was tied up in South Africa.

Some polling stations didn't open on time. Others were late declaring. But
overall it was a triumph for Justice Kriegler and his IEC team and for those
participating. Nobody doubted the authenticity of the outcome. The 1999
election was equally impressive in terms of voter educa tion and
organisational probity.

What a contrast to our ill-prepared electoral authorities, beholden to a
government that doesn't want a popular outcome. What voter education has
there been? How many people remain unregistered because they can't overcome
the hurdles placed in their way? And how can civil servants be impartial

Repressive laws and flawed polls are the hallmarks of illegitimate regimes.
Zanu PF seems intent on proving that - even though they will end up looking
bad. Power, it seems, is preferable to legitimacy.

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Zim Independent
Unemployment rate to reach 70%

Forward Maisokwadzo
1/17/02 11:31:52 PM
 ZIMBABWE'S unemployment rate is set to reach an unprecedented 70% in 2002
due to company closures, labour economists said this week. The economic
analysts said that it was imminent that failure by the economic stakeholders
labour, business and government in creating opportunities to stimulate
industrial expansion would lead to increases in unemployment.

Zimbabwe's unemployment level currently hovers around 60%.

"While we expect unemployment to be addressed through the promotion of
opportunities to create jobs, it is apparent there have been no concerted
efforts to address the problem to the extent that, in the long term, we fear
that the rate of unemployment will escalate to over 65%," said Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions economist Godfrey Kanyenze.

Last year more than 400 companies closed operations because of the
prohibitive operational conditions characterised by high input costs, hard
currency shortages, high levels of interest rates, inflationary levels as
well as the uncompetitive export market.

Kanyenze said the increase in demand for jobs against a diminishing supply
rate showed it was vital to stimulate job creation.

The economy, said Kanyenze, was capable of stimulating productivity provided
measures to attract further expansion were effectively implemented.

According to an Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) survey, about 6
000 jobs in the different sectors of the economy were lost by the end of

Emcoz chief economist Ngoni Chibukire said the marginal increases in the
cost of living negatively impacted on the labour market.

He said youths churned out of formal schools on an annual basis had little
prospects of formal employment.

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Zim Independent

Anglicans to tackle Kunonga

Jacob Mutambara
1/18/02 12:07:49 AM
 MEMBERS of the Harare Anglican diocese are reportedly planning to hold an
informal meeting today with Bishop Nolbert Kunonga to voice their concern
over utterances he made at a recent national day of prayer meeting. The
prayer meeting was held last Saturday at the Harare International Conference
Centre and was organised by the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and
National Employment.

While giving his speech, Bishop Kunonga said President Robert Mugabe was
"more Christian" than himself or anyone else present. He also urged the
seizure and control of industry as well as agriculture by the government.

Anglican church insiders said there were moves by various interested groups
within the church to get an explanation as to what Kunonga meant by his

One senior church member, who opted for anonymity, described Saturday's
prayer meeting as a political rally.

"It's true that we are worried about Kunonga's involvement in the meeting.
We want to know his position on land and various other national issues," the
member said.

"The Anglican Harare diocese is not happy with his recent utterances," said
the member.

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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 07:50 GMT
Mugabe walks tall in Malawi
Robert Mugabe (l) with Joseph Kabila and other African leaders
Zimbabwe's neighbours avoided open criticism of Mr Mugabe
Hilary Andersson

Malawi is an African Garden of Eden. Every afternoon there are spectacular downpours, which replenish the long grasses on the lush green hills that surround Blantyre.

The streets of this tiny town are lined with giant African trees with branches that lean across entire roads giving shade.

If Mugabe is rapidly turning into an international pariah, you'd never have guessed it

Here people are armed not with guns, but umbrellas - and you can walk around the darkest street at night and still feel safe.

It is a fitting retreat for Africa's leaders to gather, and talk about the violence plaguing the region.

And the Malawians did all they could to make their neighbouring presidents feel welcome.

Presidential welcome

If Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, is rapidly turning into an international pariah, you would never have guessed it.

When he stepped off the plane, he was greeted by rows of Malawian soldiers clad in bright red dress uniforms, complete with shining silver swords.

Robert Mugabe
Will other leaders follow Mugabe's example?
They marched - as hundreds of singers and dancers sang praises and tributes. I remembered how much in Africa age and status really matter.

Robert Mugabe is seen here as one of the fathers of African politics. He has been in power for more than 20 years - and you can tell.

He walked through the crowds, his face hardened into an expression of determination and focus. His posture was straight, exuding the personality of a man who is not used to being questioned or challenged.

But this was not an easy trip for him. His problems began at the opening ceremony, held in a huge marquee. The pastor prayed for peace in Zimbabwe. Other leaders squeezed shut their eyes, but Robert Mugabe, clearly uncomfortable, kept his open and his face as expressionless as steel.

And what with all the nerves and ceremony, no-one seemed to notice that the beautifully disguised podium on which the heads of state sat was actually the edge of the hotel swimming pool - the press area gallery was built on the diving board, and the assembled guests sat more or less in the pool itself.

Sharp exit

The culture in this part of the world is to talk problems out or fight them out - you're either friends or enemies. So the question of imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe was ruled out from the beginning.

Farm worker
Many farm workers have been beaten up in Zimbabwe
But the leaders met for many long hours behind closed doors, and - undoubtedly to Mr Mugabe's horror - the situation in Zimbabwe was put on the same footing as the conflicts in Angola and the Congo.

He burst out of the summit before anyone else, with his band of security guards, and skipped up the stairs in a gesture of relief that it was over at last.

He was then mobbed by the press. The security guards grabbed the BBC cameraman by his belt, and held him firmly at arms length, whilst their elbows ploughed into our stomachs and faces.

Most of the international press, and the BBC, are banned from Zimbabwe. This was a rare chance to ask him a question.

Was Zimbabwe criticised on its human rights record, I asked? Britain was criticised by Zimbabwe, he snapped back.

Robert Mugabe has blamed his growing international isolation on a colonial-style campaign by Britain. That's why any criticism by his African brothers was so painful, even if it was mild.

'Was Zimbabwe criticised on its human rights record,' I asked? 'Britain was criticised by Zimbabwe,' he snapped back

In the end, the summit obtained assurances from Robert Mugabe of free and fair elections, and promises to respect the rule of law. But no mechanism was created to make sure the promises were kept.

These promises have been made before, and they didn't stop President Mugabe from introducing draconian legislation that effectively criminalises criticism of him in the run-up to the voting - legislation that makes it easier for him to win.

Regional concern

While the African leaders were pledging their allegiance to the principles of democracy, the Malawian security forces barged into a hotel in Blantyre, and threw four Zimbabwean pro-democracy activists into police cells. They were deported the very next morning.

A man very close to Malawi's president confided in me casually that he had great sympathy for Robert Mugabe, what with the opposition threatening to topple him and all. And he was pleased the army has weighed in on the Zimbabwean president's side.

Until recently Zimbabwe was an impressive country. It had a thriving tourism industry, and it fed its own people. Now it is plagued by violence, and threatens to disrupt the entire region.

Africa is already a region that's been left behind, as the rest of the world forges ahead with the technological revolution.

Its people suffer and its leaders know that one of the major reasons for this is political instability. But they do not seem prepared to do much about it.

The tragedy in Zimbabwe has awful implications for Zimbabweans, but it also sets a truly frightening example for the new generation of Africa's democratically-elected presidents.

If President Mugabe can get away with elections set on his own terms, then why can't they?

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Sadc leaders spineless

Duran Rapozo
1/17/02 11:05:43 PM
I WOULD like to express my disappointment with the behaviour of some Sadc members. Their support for President Mugabe is not entirely derived from their hearts but is an issue of survival for their dictatorial and corrupt regimes.

Bakili Muluzi of Malawi is the same as Mugabe. He buys Mercedes Benz vehicles worth millions of dollars for his cabinet ministers when the ordinary people of Malawi cannot obtain clean drinking water in the rural areas.

Sam Nujoma of Namibia fights his country's constitution so as to remain and die in power. The outgoing Chiluba imposes a stooge president whom he can control whenever he wants, portraying an image of democracy in Zambia.

Mugabe imposes draconian legislation in order to die at the reins, while another regional president talks about quiet diplomacy when his country is going down the drain and unemployment is skyrocketing, fuelled by an influx of immigrants running away from the terror in Zimbabwe.

The politics which African leaders have adopted in the past few years cannot work in this globalised world. African dictators like Mugabe have no intention of developing their countries but want to make sure they do everything possible to remain in power.

That is why they adopted a policy of making people poor so that they can buy votes like the militant Zanu PF does.

Sadc leaders like the presidents of Malawi and Zambia are scared that the migrants in Zimbabwe if sent back home might become an economic problem for their own countries, and have to dance behind Mugabe's skirt, rendering them completely useless. If Zanu PF leaders were man enough they could have challenged Mugabe long ago.

Africa needs leaders who respect their electorate, and by so-doing we will get international respect, as Botswana has.

Duran Rapozo,

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Mugabe a cartoon character

Peter Roda
1/17/02 11:04:57 PM
I AM always overwhelmed when I read what is going on in your country. It seems tragic that a country that has so much continues to live under constant siege. It makes me appreciate more the country I live in. One can only hope that in the future, when your country is discussed in the news here, it will be something other than what measure your president has taken to ensures that he stays in power. He comes across here as a cartoon-type dictator.

Peter Roda,



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Chaos expected in presidential, municipal polls
BY Jacob Mutambara

THE forthcoming presidential and the Harare and Chitungwiza municipal elections are most likely to be chaotic, say analysts.

A combination of political violence and recently passed pieces of legislation all point to a clumsily organised and partly predetermined poll, which favours the incumbent, they point out.

The whole process of preparation for the polls is not transparent and because of the recent amendments to the Electoral Act, the Electoral Supervisory Commission has not started its work. In addition, the training of election monitors is not in place and voter education has not started when elections are due in less than eight weeks.

While the Registrar-General's office has had problems in running single elections, it is going to be near-impossible running a three-tier poll.
Originally, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Harare and Chitungwiza municipal elections be held in February. In defiance of the court ruling, the government pushed back the elections to March, to be held jointly with the presidential election.

Before pushing back the council elections the Registrar-General had admitted he was having logistical problems preparing for the municipal polls because of the pending presidential election.

"In defying the court order, it is contempt of court on the part of the Registrar-General and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who are supposed to administer the Electoral Act," said Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer.

"This is nothing new. Government has only recognised court judgments that are in its favour, including the Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the land reform programme," he said.

He said recent amendments to the Electoral Act will disenfranchise a substantial percentage of voters. In addition, the Public Order and Security Bill, which outlaws criticism of the president, will effectively make it impossible for the opposition to campaign as they can't criticise the incumbent president.

"It's a law that is intended to force all Zimbabweans to sing Mugabe's praises," said Mukonoweshuro.

He said at the Sadc summit held in September last year, it was pointed out that there was need to set up a multi-party committee to look at all contentious issues including violence, preparations for the presidential poll and logistics during the poll.

However, when a Sadc ministerial task force met in December, this request by the heads of state was modified. The government argued that parliamentary portfolio committees were already working on what the proposed multi-party committee was mandated to do.

"This was dodging issues because the PPCs are standing committees whose specific responsibility is to monitor the performance of ministerial portfolios," said Mukonoweshuro.

"This was also dodging the critical issue of multi-party dialogue, not only on
the political violence going on but also in terms of preparations and conduct of the presidential poll.

"It's critical that a multi-party task force or crisis committee be put in place immediately to look at contentious issues during the campaign period and the conduct of the presidential poll," he said.

Some analysts voiced concern as to whether people who registered in either Harare or Chitungwiza would be allowed to vote in the presidential, mayoral, and council elections even if they transferred after registration.

The executive director of the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa, Philliat Matsheza, who monitored the recent Zambian presidential poll, said unlike Zimbabwe, civic society in Zambia was allow- ed to conduct voter education.

The failure to conduct voter education in Zimbabwe has resulted in poor turnouts, with as little as 25% of the electorate casting votes in some constituencies in the 2000 parliamentary poll.

For example, he said, one out of four people voted in the Bikita West constituency during the 2000 election because of lack of voter education.

While government has barred civic society from conducting voter education, it does not have the resources and finances to carry out the exercise on its own.

With the presidential, mayoral and council elections less than eight weeks away, voters do not have a clue what the ballot paper will look like. The office of the Registrar-General has not indicated whether voters will have to fill out three ballot papers or a single ballot sheet.

Whatever processes the Election Directorate will employ, there is still need for voter education to minimise confusion on voting days.

The government, through the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) is yet to announce its voter education plan. The cur- rent ESC advertisements are simply urging people to go out and vote but there is no mechanism in place on how the process will take place.

Matsheza said up to now no-one knows who will monitor the elections. Civil servants are not properly trained for the job and there is need to train party agents on monitoring elections, he said.

Matsheza said the government was underestimating the resources needed to conduct a proper election. In the 2000 poll, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of local NGOs funded the recruitment, training and deployment of more than 24 000 monitors who then worked under the ambit of the ESC. Under the current amendments to the Electoral Act, that would be expressly illegal.

The ESC has indicated that it will draw election monitors from the civil service and critics believe that government workers are amenable to manipulation by the Zanu PF government, hence their impartiality can be compromised.

In addition, Zimbabwe does not have an election code of conduct which governs all stakeholders to the election.

He said in Zambia, a conflict management programme was set up to defuse pre-election tension. It included educating all stake-holders and the police in handling the election. Such a crucial programme is non-existent in Zimbabwe.
While in Zambia the counting of ballots was done at the polling centres, in Zimbabwe ballots are sent to counting centres and anything, including rigging, can take place during the movement of ballot boxes. ZESN monitors played a key role in watching the movement of ballot boxes in 2000.

In a press statement, the ZESN said it was concerned about the content and manner in which Bills relating to elections, public order, labour and information were being fast-tracked through parliament. It said the Bills were retrogressive and violated the fundamental rights of Zimbabweans.

"ZESN insists that there is a real need for intensified voter education in an atmosphere which is devoid of intimidation and violence," it said.

Meanwhile, the number of polling stations in some constituencies is most likely to be reduced. This will further disenfranchise potential voters, cause delays and frustrate the democratic process.

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