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

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In June 2001 I wrote that the political tide in Zimbabwe had turned and that the process of change was inevitable. Nothing has happened since then to alter my view except that we are now only two months away from a watershed election that will enable Zimbabweans to vote into power a man who has a vision for a new non violent, peaceful, transparent, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. That man is Morgan Tsvangirai. Because of the hardships that virtually all Zimbabweans are experiencing at present there are many who find it hard to believe that Morgan Tsvangirai can become President of Zimbabwe, much as they desire that to happen. Mugabe has, after all, said that Tsvangirai will "never, ever" rule and is doing all in his power to make that prediction a reality.

2001 has been a very tough year for most Zimbabweans. We knew it would be that way, and warned of it. The last few months have been the toughest: rampant inflation, increased violence, politically motivated detentions, selective application of the "law" and the passing of new unjust laws and policies have combined to plunge many into the depths of depression.

Very little that ZANU (PF) has done has come as a surprise to us. The events of this year have not been random or unplanned. On the contrary they have been part of a deliberate campaign by Mugabe and to subdue the Zimbabwean people. Mugabe has used a combination of physical and psychological measures to crush opposition to his tyrannical rule. The physical measures are fairly obvious: bombing the Daily News, threatening the Judiciary, murdering, beating and detaining members of the MDC, forcing farmers off the land, assaulting and displacing thousands of farm workers and raiding businesses and industry.

The psychological measures are less obvious but far more effective in undermining morale. And there have been many; indeed the pervasiveness of all the measures is staggering and requires listing. The passing of the Citizenship Act mid year and its deliberate misinterpretation by the Registrar General ("requiring" people to renounce a mere entitlement to citizenship of another country) has thrown many into a frenzy. The insidious threat of immediate eviction of farmers, and the barring of them from reaping their crops already planted, posed by Statutory Instrument 338 in November caused many farmers to lose all hope. The termination of Radio 1, and its subsequent replacement by first "Sport" and then, ridiculously, "Spot" Radio was deliberately done to depress people who enjoyed their programmes. Then there are all the rumors deliberately fed into the system: "10000 Libyans in the country as part of hit squads", "arms imported to deal with the opposition" and even the pathetic "Coltart evacuates family". All of these are designed to depress and to induce a sense of panic.

One would have thought that, having introduced such a wide array of measures, he would have succeeded in crushing opposition to his rule. However the last few weeks have seen Mugabe’s regime resorting to new, and increasingly desperate, measures. They have murdered their own as a pretext to detain, and brand, the MDC as "terrorists". The Public Order and Security Bill, "POSB", has been introduced in Parliament to prevent criticism of the President, to stifle peaceful forms of protest (such as civil disobedience) and create State of Emergency conditions without actually having to declare a State of Emergency. Likewise the "no" Access to Information Bill has been introduced with the clear intention of silencing independent journalists and the media. Finally, in a complete negation of the liberation struggle cry of "one person one vote", ZANU (PF)’s proposed amendments to the Electoral Act will make it harder for Zimbabweans to register as voters and more difficult for Zimbabwean civil society to observe and monitor the elections. All of these betray Mugabe’s sense of panic – he is are no longer confident that he can win an election even if it is fought in the extremely unfair conditions, which prevailed in the 2000 Parliamentary election. As draconian as these measures are, more than anything else they constitute an admission by ZANU (PF) that their violent and unlawful strategies have failed and they are now in deep trouble in the run up to the Presidential election.

For all the depression felt by many Zimbabweans the fact remains that this regime would not be resorting to such extreme measures if Mugabe were confident of winning the election. If those committed to democracy feel depressed it is nothing compared to the desperation and paranoia prevailing in the Mugabe camp, which is due to three critical factors working against them.

In summary these are: (1) the incredible turn around and support of the international community in the course of 2001, (2) the amazing courage and determination of Zimbabweans to secure change in the face of violence and tyranny and (3) the emergence of a government in waiting, led by a charismatic and competent leader, ready to lead Zimbabwe to a peaceful and prosperous future.


It may seem trite but Zimbabwe cannot survive without the support of the international community. Zimbabwe is relatively weak, landlocked and oil-less. Correspondingly both ZANU (PF) and the MDC cannot survive without the support of the international community. ZANU (PF), because it cannot hope to restore the economy and govern in the long term without that support. The MDC, because it does not have the physical power itself to guarantee a free and fair election. The views of the International Community regarding what is happening in Zimbabwe are therefore equally important to the MDC and ZANU (PF). ZANU (PF) needed the international community to buy its argument that land is the core issue and that it is an innocent actor. The MDC needed the international community to buy its argument that good governance is the core issue.

It was with this in mind that Mugabe selected his cabinet. For example his choice of Jonathan Moyo as Information Minister was not made with Zimbabweans in mind but rather with the international community, and especially SADC, in mind. When ZANU (PF) came within a whisker of losing the June 2000 election they realized then that they would battle to win the first-past-the-post-countrywide Presidential election. To win they would have to implement the fast track land programme and increase levels of intimidation and violence. But it recognized early on that it would have to create elaborate smokescreens because it could not embark on such schemes with impunity unless ZANU (PF) could portray itself as a relatively innocent actor. Mugabe knows that he will still have to govern Zimbabwe after the election and that he will not be able to do so without international assistance. In other words not only did ZANU (PF) have to get the international community to buy its argument as to what the cause of the strife within Zimbabwe was, but also it had to get the international community to turn a blind eye to abuses of human rights so that Mugabe’s government would be recognized and aid would flow after the election. And so Jonathan Moyo’s task has been to convey to the world that ZANU (PF) is merely responding to people pressure for land and that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC are unreconstructed "terrorists". If the international community, and especially SADC, bought into ZANU (PF)’s argument, ZANU (PF) could subvert the electoral process with impunity. Mugabe cynically calculated that the West would apply a different standard to Zimbabwe ("African elections are violent") and that African nations would be sympathetic to the argument that the land invasions were uncontrollable and that in any event the MDC was just as violent as ZANU (PF). In other words he calculated that he would be able to get away with bludgeoning his way to electoral victory and that the international community would simply forgive and forget after he resumed the presidency.

The MDC has had to counter massive internal and international propaganda of ZANU (PF) that land was the core issue, that the violence was not of ZANU (PF)’s making but part of "spontaneous demonstrations" by landless people and that the MDC was a violent neo-colonial outfit designed to return Zimbabwe to Rhodesia

The MDC has faced a daunting task to overcome this strategy. Not only is Zimbabwe a tiny country with an inconsequential economy on the world’s forgotten continent, but also it had to contend with western skepticism and ignorance. Added to that it was up against a government that was prepared to use millions of taxpayers’ money to employ lobbyists. But the MDC has won this battle.

To demonstrate this it is appropriate to start with the United States of America. Both ZANU (PF) and the MDC recognized that the approach of the USA was critically important, not just because it is so powerful but in particular because it holds so much sway in South Africa. That is why ZANU (PF) employed American lobbyists Cohen and Woods and subsequently Andrew Young to do its bidding in Washington. Cohen and Woods had much fertile ground to work with when they started. Successive MDC delegations to Washington in 2000 found that many influential members of the all-important Congressional Black Caucus still viewed Mugabe as a "liberator". Others had bought into the ZANU (PF) line that the chaos was the result of an unresolved colonial, and racial, legacy.

The tragic events of September 11th initially appeared to make the MDC’s task harder. The international media turned its attention elsewhere and it seemed to many hoping for democratic change in Zimbabwe that Mugabe had the perfect cover. But our fears have not been realized for, far from it going off the radar screen, Zimbabwe has come into sharp focus in the minds of many influential Americans since the 11th September.

The first inkling of this was given when United States District Judge Victor Marrero handed down his 130 page judgment on the 30th October 2001 in the case brought against Mugabe for damages by Adella Chiminya, Maria Stevens and others who have lost loved ones at the hands of Mugabe’s thugs. Judge Marrero found that Tapfuma Chiminya, David Stevens and the other loved ones were, because of their support for the MDC, "extra judicially murdered …by operatives of ZANU (PF) operating in concert with or significantly aided by high-ranking Zimbabwe government officials acting outside the color of state law". However the Judge found that he could not grant judgment against Mugabe because he enjoyed head-of-state immunity. The Judge was clearly pained by this and as he said "the enormity of the atrocities". Accordingly he qualified his judgment by stating:

"resort to head-of-state immunity as a shield for private abuses of the sovereign’s office is wearing thinner in the eyes of the world and waning in the cover of the law. The prevailing trend teaches that the day (will) come to pass when those who violate their public trust are called upon…to render account for the wrongs they inflict on innocents."

Then significantly the Judge, who sits in New York, made a telling link between the case at hand and the events of 11th September by stating:

"Today, events around us bear witness almost daily to the destructive power of individuals whose chosen way of life is to do wrong by inflicting harms of mass proportions. With modern means, the hands of one or a few persons hold the force sufficient to wreak in moments wanton destruction and horror of a magnitude that it once took whole armies to inflict….(t)o iniquity’s purpose of propagating large-scale grief, as evidenced by the case at hand, its capacity for injustice is virtually limitless because it honors none of the self-imposed restraints that contain the conduct of the civilized world within decent bounds."

Having made that link of terror the Judge concluded by calling for the law to "stand ready to adapt as appropriate, to shape, redress and remedy so as to answer measure for measure the particular evil it pursues" and granting judgment against the only entity he could, namely ZANU (PF). I have dwelt on this judgment because it illustrates what informed ordinary apolitical Americans think about what is going on in Zimbabwe, who is responsible for terror in this country and what should be done about it. The judgment also decisively placed Mugabe on the wrong side of President Bush’s fence dividing those who oppose and those who support terrorism throughout the world.

Ironically both Mugabe and Jonathan Moyo have further compounded their predicament since the beginning of November. Mugabe, in an emotional speech given on the 18th November, said that he would not be dictated to by those "in their tall towers" in the West and accused Tony Blair of being involved in acts of terrorism in Zimbabwe. In mid November the ZBC, which falls under Moyo’s command, started mimicking CNN’s by-line "The fight against terrorism" to describe ZANU (PF)’s crack down on the MDC. These actions demean America’s legitimate fight against real terrorists and lost Mugabe any remaining friends he might have still had in America.

The first sign of this loss of support was given in the photograph of Jesse Jackson congratulating Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota (who had just received a press freedom award in Washington) on the 28th November. Jackson, it will be recalled, has been in the past a Mugabe apologist. Jackson’s action in meeting Nyarota was a harbinger of things to come. In early December the House of Representatives was called upon to vote on the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill. ZANU (PF) thought that the Congressional Black Caucus would vote against it. But in a truly historic vote the Bill passed by 369 votes to 11. Not a single member of the CBC voted against it and the 369 affirmative votes included every informed and influential member of the CBC. So much for Mugabe’s assertion that this is only a racist Jesse Helms Bill! The action of the CBC in this regard demonstrates the determination of all Americans to fight terrorism in whatever forms it appears and is a damning indictment against Mugabe. The strong language used by highly respected former Chairperson of the CBC, Donald Payne, in supporting the language must have shaken Mugabe and ZANU (PF) to the core.

The signing of the Zimbabwe Democracy Economic Recovery Bill (ZIDERA) into law by President Bush just before Christmas completed the transformation, in the minds of Americans, of Mugabe from African statesman to tyrant and marked the beginning of a new chapter. The Act in itself is graphic evidence of the failure of ZANU (PF)’s propaganda campaign and an acceptance that the lack of good governance in Zimbabwe is at the core of Zimbabwe’s crisis. More worrying for Mugabe and his henchmen is the fact that ZIDERA signals America’s determination to assist in the democratization of Zimbabwe. If Mugabe does not hold free and fair elections there will be dramatic consequences for the ZANU (PF) elite in the form of personal sanctions. Gone too is Mugabe’s argument that the Zimbabwe crisis is simply a spat with its former colonial master, Britain. Finally, America’s lead will have, and already has had, a powerful influence over the way the EU, SADC, and the Commonwealth deal with the problem.

The transformation of the EU’s approach to the Zimbabwean crisis over the last year has been equally remarkable. At the beginning of 2001 France, Belgium and, to a lesser extent Spain, were not convinced that the MDC’s version of what lay at the core of Zimbabwe’s problems was correct. That attitude was complicated by the fact that France and Belgium appeared to be reluctant to jeopardize their relationship with Mugabe because of concerns related to Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Congo. Without the support of France and Belgium, forthright action against Zimbabwe in the EU would have been difficult if not impossible. The turn around of France and Belgium on the 29th October, when they voted with the rest of the EU to invoke Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement (the precursor to sanctions against Zimbabwe) surprised many of us in the MDC and was deeply shocking to ZANU (PF) – they just never believed that their erstwhile friends would do such a thing. The depth of their shock was displayed when Mugabe walked out (in a huff) of a meeting with senior EU ambassadors in Harare on the 23rd November. This is the man who used to be able to charm world leaders and who has successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of democratically elected leaders for decades. He finally lost his cool and let his guard down because he realized that the game is up. The bottom line is the EU is now also an avowed enemy of ZANU (PF) and former supporters of the party such as Sweden are vilified. The reason: the EU also has firmly rejected ZANU (PF)’s propaganda line and is demanding that there be free and fair elections and good governance. If there are not Article 96 will be pursued vigorously.

Zimbabweans have been extremely critical, with good cause, of the Commonwealth over the last two years. It all started with Secretary General McKinnon’s disastrous assurance given just before the June 2000 election that Mugabe would act decently. Since then there have been a succession of wishy-washy Commonwealth statements and actions (or more appropriately inactions) that have discredited the organisation. It is not surprising that ZANU (PF) until recently were happy to have the Commonwealth monitor Zimbabwean elections. The strongly worded statement, that the situation constituted a "serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values", emanating from the Commonwealth Ministers’ Action Group (CMAG) on the 20th December would have shocked ZANU (PF). CMAG resolved to review the situation at its next meeting, to be held on the 30th January 2002, and Zimbabwe has been placed on the formal agenda of the meeting, in itself a statement that the Zimbabwean crisis is now sufficiently serious to merit special attention. Not even the Commonwealth now buys into ZANU (PF)’s agenda.

Accordingly by the end of 2001 a broad coalition of the United States, the EU and the Commonwealth emerged. All are determined to ensure that Zimbabwe has free and fair Presidential elections. The only apparent source of comfort to ZANU (PF) was the statement issued by some SADC Ministers on the 12th December welcoming the "improved atmosphere" in Zimbabwe. ZANU (PF) has made much of this statement, which has led many to believe that SADC is going to look the other way and allow ZANU (PF) to abuse the electoral process. Whilst there is no doubt that some SADC countries, which are themselves undemocratic, support ZANU (PF) it would be wrong to assume that the SADC Ministers’ statement represents the views of the most influential countries in the region. It is pertinent to note that Ministers from Angola and Namibia dominated the SADC meeting and that Ministers from South Africa and Botswana left the meeting prior to its conclusion.

Indeed far from SADC looking the other way there are signs that democratic leaders in the region are increasingly concerned about Zimbabwe. Festus Mogae, the President of Botswana, openly criticized Mugabe and his war veterans in an interview in the Sunday Times on the 11th November. During the week commencing the 26th November President Mbeki spoke out against what was happening in Zimbabwe on no less than 3 separate occasions. On the 20th December a high ranking ANC delegation arrived in Harare for talks with ZANU (PF) and prior to its arrival the SABC announced that part of its mission was to secure free and fair elections. It is highly significant that neither party at the conclusion of the talks made any press release and save for one article in the Herald claiming, without any supporting statement from the ANC, that the ANC was in solidarity with ZANU (PF), the ZANU (PF) propaganda machine has been remarkably quiet about the visit. If anything the government controlled media and Jonathan Moyo have spent most of December criticizing South Africa. In the December 18th edition of the Chronicle there was a vicious cartoon portraying Nelson Mandela as a lackey of Bush and Blair. In Parliament on the 18th December Jonathan Moyo said: "Those who see the likes of the BBC, CNN and SABC as voices of democracy are either naïve or plain mad". Subsequently Moyo stated in a press conference that the South African media were still under the control of apartheid forces. Throughout December there was a sustained attack on the ANC in the Herald implying that it was now being influenced by, and had sold out to, the New Nationalist Party. Clearly ZANU (PF) now perceives the ANC as an enemy because it too is insisting on a fair electoral process.

The real test of who is in control of SADC and what the most powerful States in SADC think about the Zimbabwean situation will be shown when the SADC Heads of State meet in Malawi on the 13th January. Whatever happens there however what is now clear is that a very powerful coalition comprising the United States, the European Union, an overwhelming majority of democratic Commonwealth countries and the two most powerful neighbours of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana, has emerged during the course of 2001. This coalition is determined to ensure that free and fair elections take place and has come to the conclusion that whilst the land issue is an important unresolved issue, the principal problem is the absence of good governance. The MDC now has the most powerful and influential countries on earth singing from the same hymn sheet as it and this particular hurdle is now firmly overcome. There will be no going back on the international community’s insistence that free and fair elections be held in compliance with the SADC Electoral Norms and Standards as passed by the SADC Parliamentary Forum in Windhoek in March 20001. ZANU (PF) will only snub that insistence at its peril.

One final thought: once a politician, or a political party for that matter, is marked as a pariah the stain is indelible. There is now nowhere for Mugabe to hide. Either he complies with the international community and holds elections in compliance with the SADC Standards, in which case he will lose by a mile, or he does not, in which case if he manages to win the result will not be recognized by the countries which count in the region and the world in any event.


Of course it doesn’t matter what the international community thinks if an overwhelming majority of people within the country concerned back the policies of its government. History shows us that regimes, which enjoy the backing of a significant majority of its people, can ride the storm of international opprobrium for some time, especially if they have strong economies. Zimbabwe, to put it mildly, does not have a strong economy and so if Mugabe is to fly in the face of world opinion he will need the support of a significant majority, not just to win the election but also to endure the hardship of international isolation.

In the run up to the 2000 Parliamentary election I speculated about three possible scenarios. The first, and most negative from an MDC perspective, was that the MDC would win a majority of seats in the cities but because of intimidation would only win a smattering of rural seats and as a result would only win about 30 seats countrywide. The second was that the MDC would win convincingly in the cities and in certain rural areas that were traditionally anti ZANU (PF) and would garner between 50 and 60 votes. The third was that the MDC would win the cities and all rural areas aside from ZANU (PF)’s heartland and in doing so would win a Parliamentary majority of between 80 and 90 seats. In all my talks given at the time I believed that the second scenario was the most likely. The reason I mention this is that at the time I did not make outlandish predictions. I firmly believed, from the evidence before me at the time that ZANU (PF)’s intimidation of certain areas was still effective and as a result we could not win in those areas. Furthermore it was apparent that ZANU (PF) was still sufficiently unified to retain substantial support in its heartland.

From the evidence before me now I believe that, despite intimidation, electoral fraud and dirty tricks, there could well be a landslide victory in favour of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. I say so for the following reasons:

  1. The MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai are now known and respected by both Zimbabweans and the international community (including SADC) whereas in 2000 they were not. The MDC came from ground zero to win 57 seats and 46% of the vote. That was achieved without a single elected structure in the party aside from the National Executive. The people of Zimbabwe now know there is a viable alternative government in waiting comprised of a young dynamic leadership committed to non-violence and the establishment of a genuinely democratic order.

  2. The MDC’s overwhelming support in urban areas is rock solid. The 82% majority achieved in the Bulawayo Mayoral election will be repeated in Harare, Gweru and Mutare. The recent victory in the Chegutu Mayoral election (right in ZANU (PF)’s heartland – and it is important to recall that we lost the Parliamentary seat in Chegutu in 2000, so we have gained ground) shows just how extensive our support is in urban areas.

  3. The MDC’s overwhelming support in the rural areas of Matabeleland has grown since the 2000 elections. Matabeleland North Province voted "Yes" (in favour of ZANU (PF) in the February 2000 referendum) and it was somewhat of a surprise when the MDC won every seat in the Province in June 2000. The reason for the surprise is that people in the Province suffered the brunt of the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade’s brutality in the 1980s. It is a Province still traumatized by those horrors. ZANU (PF) threatened a return of the Fifth Brigade in 2000 but it did not work. Since then ZANU (PF) has not been able to carry out its threat. Whilst ZANU (PF) has deployed army in the area to intimidate people they simply cannot afford to replicate the actions of the 5 Brigade because we live in a changed world – and the people living there know it. From information coming in to the MDC the rural people of Matabeleland will vote even more convincingly for President Tsvangirai than they did for individual MDC candidates. Let it not be forgotten as well that they also have far more reason to vote against Mugabe than they did against individual ZANU (PF) candidates. Mugabe after all is perceived by voters in the region as the architect of the 1980 atrocities.

  4. People living in the southern part of Midlands Province have a very similar outlook to those living in rural Matabeleland. That was demonstrated in the June 2000 elections when the MDC won all the Midlands seats south west of Kadoma. That support remains secure. In addition we are greatly encouraged by growing levels of support in the south east of Midlands including Zvishavane and areas bordering Masvingo Province (for reasons which will be explained later). We lost some of these constituencies heavily in 2000 and so the turn around in support has been remarkable. The only part of Midlands which remains problematic is the north west, the Gokwe area which has been heavily intimidated by ZANU (PF). But even there courageous MDC activists are holding the line and we will, at the very least, pick up the same number of votes we did in 2000, even if that is not a majority in those areas.

  5. In June 2000 we won all the seats in Manicaland along the eastern border by comfortable majorities save for Chipinge South, which was won by the ZANU Ndonga party. ZANU Ndonga, which up until his death in December 2000 was led by veteran Nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole, has held the Chipinge South seat with a large majority for over a decade. When Sithole died he should have been buried in Heroes Acre in Harare because of the major role he played in the liberation of Zimbabwe. However because of Mugabe’s vindictive and petty nature he was not and so was buried in the Chipinge district, Mugabe did not, obviously, attend the funeral but MDC President Tsvangirai did. In doing so Mugabe lost a great deal of support to Tsvangirai in this area (the two Chipinge seats have approximately 100,000 eligible voters between them). It is doubtful that ZANU Ndonga will even field a Presidential candidate. The MDC lost the western Manicaland seats by narrow majorities, including of course President Tsvangirai’s Buhera North seat (a loss subsequently set aside by the High Court due to irregularities). Since June 2000 MDC support in most of these areas has grown dramatically and, for example, President Tsvangirai is attracting massive crowds to his rallies in Buhera. In other words it now appears that the known quantity (see paragraph 1 above!) is now overwhelmingly popular. And finally who would criticize a bit of parochialism in these areas if they were to vote for a homeboy for President of Zimbabwe?! Whilst it does not always work – Al Gore lost in Tennessee – all the indications are that Manicaland Province will vote overwhelmingly for a local candidate as Texas did for George Bush.

  6. The three Mashonaland rural Provinces are ZANU (PF)’s heartland as demonstrated by their by-election victories there during 2001. It would be overly optimistic to expect President Tsvangirai to win a majority of votes in these Provinces which combined have a total of some 1,4 million registered voters. However what was significant about the 2001 by elections is that the MDC despite violence, bussing in of ZANU (PF) voters (which cannot be done as successfully in the Presidential elections) and electoral fraud, still managed to secure some 40% of the vote. Simple arithmetic shows that even if this trend continues Mugabe’s 60% of the vote in these areas, say 840000 votes, will almost be set off entirely by Tsvangirai’s vote in Harare alone (80% of the 800000 registered voters = 640000). But there are recent signs that Mugabe cannot even be assured of maintaining the margin enjoyed in 2000. The MDC victory in Chegutu must have stunned Mugabe for Chegutu is in Mashonaland West Province and only some 50 kms from Mugabe’s rural home – one can’t get much closer to the heart than that. The point is that even if Mugabe does secure a majority, even an overwhelming majority, in these areas it is simply not enough to overcome the deficit he faces in other areas.

  7. I have deliberately left the most heavily populated rural Province, Masvingo, until last. In 2000 the MDC won only 2 seats, Masvingo Central, an urban seat, and surprisingly Bikita West, a rural seat, the latter by a whisker. Bikita West was lost by the MDC to ZANU (PF) in a violent and fraudulently run by-election in January 2001 but, importantly, maintained its core support in that by-election. The MDC also won the Masvingo City Mayoral election in mid 2001. However in most of the Masvingo seats contested in 2000 the MDC lost fairly heavily. Things have however changed and once again Mugabe is his own worst enemy. Eddison Zvobgo is a veteran Nationalist politician and a ZANU (PF) stalwart. Prior to 2000 ZANU (PF) used to boast that Masvingo Province was "one party territory" and it would be fair to say that Zvobgo was the linchpin of the Province, if not its "King". Zvobgo to this day remains highly popular throughout Masvingo Province. However Mugabe inexplicably dropped Zvobgo from the cabinet and from the ZANU (PF) politburo in 2000 and since then Zvobgo has been in ZANU (PF)’s political wilderness. Zvobgo has even been ridiculed in the government-controlled press. In the Chronicle dated 7th January 2002 a ZANU (PF) cabinet minister as "an absent child of the party". These actions have clearly angered many people in Masvingo Province and it is doubtful if that they will vote for Mugabe in the same numbers as voted for individual ZANU (PF) members in June 2000. For example Zvobgo alone secured some 14000 votes to secure his Masvingo South Constituency; Mugabe is hardly likely to secure similar support, if any at all, in that Constituency given the way he has treated Zvobgo. But it gets worse for Mugabe. A Gallup poll conducted late last year showed a massive swing in support towards the MDC and Tsvangirai and the results of that poll have been borne out by the superb turn out at rallies in the Province addressed by both MDC President Tsvangirai and Vice President Gibson Sibanda. It must be stressed that this is a Province of some 600,000 registered voters. Even with its support in 2000 ZANU (PF) only secured 48% of the vote countrywide. If Masvingo changes its allegiances even slightly in favour of Tsvangirai that will give him a landslide victory countrywide.

The net result of this painstaking exercise of going through the country Province by Province is that it demonstrates that the MDC and its President Tsvangirai now enjoy majority support in some two thirds of the physical area of Zimbabwe and the support of some three quarters of the population. If one takes a map of Zimbabwe and one draws a line eastwards starting at Lake Kariba, on the north eastern boundary of Binga constituency, continuing up the eastern boundary of Gokwe in a north westerly direction to eventually encircle Harare, continuing in a southerly direction (to exclude Chikomba Constituency) and thereafter northeastwards to end at the Mozambique border north of Nyanga, one will see the extent of MDC’s support. An overwhelming majority of people who live south of that line now supports the MDC and President Tsvangirai. Everything below that line includes all the cities and most the rural areas. North of the line only includes the Gokwe area of Midlands Province and the three rural Mashonaland Provinces.

In the face of this, and only just over two months away from the Presidential election, all ZANU (PF) has to offer the people is violence. ZANU (PF)’s principal campaign platform of land to the people has been exposed for what it is, a sham. During the Christmas recess I have personally witnessed in two entirely separate areas, hundred of kilometers apart, occupiers having moved off land already occupied to plant crops in their communal land fields. Whilst that is obviously not the case countrywide even taking ZANU (PF)’s distorted figures only some 100,000 people have "benefited" from the so-called fast track land programme. Even those have simply been dumped on land without being given title, without the provision of water, schools, clinics and roads. In other words the vast majority of the some 6 million eligible voters have not benefited one iota from what is the nub of ZANU (PF)’s platform, indeed they are struggling more than ever before. In recent weeks it has emerged that many of the best farms have been reserved for Mugabe’s cronies. So much for "land to the people"!

ZANU (PF) has simply not addressed the key issue that is affecting everyone in the country, namely the collapsing economy and increasing poverty. Ironically even the ZANU (PF) campaign advertisements published in the last few days acknowledge this: "Say no to artificial shortages!" – "Vote for price controls!" The advertisements are an admission that under Mugabe’s government there are shortages and high prices which need controlling. Hardly a great reason to vote for the person responsible!

Finally violence is increasingly counter-productive for ZANU (PF). The people of Zimbabwe have simply had enough and their level of anger now far surpasses their level of fear. In short they simply want a change and a new start, not the same old man for another 6 years. And for those who agree with my assessment but who fear that the election will be rigged let me say the following. Rigging the election is undoubtedly part of Mugabe’s plan but can only succeed if the margin is only a few tens of thousand votes. There were strange figures that came out of some of the rural Mashonaland rural constituencies in 2000 where the ZANU (PF) vote appeared to have been bolstered. However even with that rigging ZANU (PF) had a deficit of some 70,000 votes against the combined total of the opposition. We are now two years on and the actual margin of defeat for Mugabe is going to be much more than 70,000 (it will be hundreds of thousands if Masvingo Province votes either for Tsvangirai or simply does not vote at all). A deficit of several hundred thousand votes makes rigging enormously difficult.

A final word is necessary regarding the mood of the Zimbabwean people. The MDC has, in the last few weeks, brought a succession of cases to the High Court to level the playing field. As a result of case we have managed to get the numbers of new prospective voters who have registered. There are some 700,000 new registrations! One of the arguments advanced by the Registrar General’s office for their inability to supply us with a copy of the voters’ roll was because they had only managed to process to date some 80,000 of the these new registrations! Rest assured that the vast majority of these 700,000 new voters are not particularly happy with the present regime and they have not registered for fun. Why else do think government has made it so difficult for people to register? The people are ready.


The people being ready is one thing; having a decent candidate to vote for is another thing entirely. Which leads me to the coup de grace in the form of Morgan Tsvangirai. Whilst I have known MDC President Tsvangirai since 1992 I have only got to know him well since being invited by him to join the MDC in 1999. Getting to know him has been a sheer pleasure. He is a man of great intellect, integrity, courage, compassion and humour. In fact I firmly believe that in Mr. Tsvangirai we have a truly great leader who will become a statesman of world renown. I have consistently impressed by his wisdom in tackling tricky issues and by his commitment to a vision of a non-racist, non-sexist, democratic Zimbabwe.

It is hard to convey why I have so much admiration for Tsvangirai. A few random examples of his character may help. When our child Bethany was born in September Tsvangirai took time off his hectic schedule to phone me to say "makorokoto" (Shona for congratulations). When I was concerned in November by the death threats I had received a meeting with him restored my equilibrium. When some of our younger members went over the top in campaigning for positions last year in Harare, bringing the MDC into disrepute, Tsvangirai dealt with the issue quickly, resolutely but fairly and put the party back on track. When he was ambushed twice last year he remained absolutely calm and focused. He does not have an ounce of racist blood in veins. He is truly a great leader and Zimbabwe will be blessed to have him as President.

Some skeptics may argue that my own experience is all very well but Tsvangirai is not known by the Zimbabwean people and we may well end up like the Zambians, lumped with a President very few people want. After all the people of Zambia were also ready for change. Over 80% of those eligible to vote turned out to vote in the recently held Parliamentary and presidential elections. Over 70% of those who voted, voted against the so-called ruling party candidate, Levy Mwanawasa. The will of the people was denied however because, despite all the opposition’s claims of rigging, even on the Zambian government’s own figures Mwanawasa won with only 28,7% of the vote. The dreaded "Kenya syndrome", namely the inability of the opposition to coalesce around a single candidate, did in the Zambian people. The "Kenya syndrome" is more likely to occur in countries where ethnicity is a major factor or where the opposition is unable to produce a single candidate who stands head and shoulders above the rest of the opposition candidates. The latter problem is exacerbated when a good opposition candidate does not have the backing of a strong party behind him or her.

Fortunately Zimbabwe does not suffer from any of these blights. Ethnicity will not be a factor in our elections as far as the MDC is concerned. The MDC team of President Tsvangirai and Vice President Sibanda attracts support countrywide and in both urban and rural settings. Ndebele people have thronged President Tsvangirai’s meetings in Matabeleland in 2001 and Shona people have done the same for Vice President Sibanda in meetings held recently in, for example, Zaka in Masvingo. If anyone will have a problem attracting support from specific ethnic groups it will be Mugabe whose chickens are coming home to roost. Mugabe will battle to attract support in regions he has alienated such as Matabeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland. Indeed Mugabe was the MDC best candidate ZANU (PF) could have offered because he is so intensely disliked by various ethnic groups throughout the country. We were absolutely delighted that the ZANU (PF) Congress decided to stick with the soon-to-be-78 year old Mugabe. The problem for ZANU (PF) is compounded in Matabeleland in that his only possible Ndebele Vice President running mates, Msika or John Nkomo, did not even dare to contest seats in Matabeleland in the 2000 elections cognizant of their inability to win. Both are deeply unpopular in Matabeleland in stark contrast to Vice President Gibson Sibanda who won his seat with a majority of over 80%.

What then of the prospect of multiple candidates from other parties as happened in Zambia? In the 2000 elections ZANU (PF) secured 48% of the vote, the MDC 46% and the balance went to a variety of small opposition parties, the main one being ZANU Ndonga which secured the only other opposition seat of Chipinge South. There are only three other political parties of any consequence namely, the UANC led by Bishop Muzorewa, ZAPU and the Liberty Party (both regional parties based in Bulawayo). All three attracted minimal votes and many of their candidates lost their deposits in the 2000 elections. ZANU (PF) has been desperately trying to promote candidates from these parties and it has been intriguing to see how, for example, the government controlled Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo has been promoting the fortunes of Paul Siwela, the Secretary General of ZAPU who appears to have desires to contest the Presidential election. His plans to contest were dealt a bit of a blow when the ZAPU Central Committee recently decided that it would not field a candidate in the election. Since that decision was taken the Chronicle has done its utmost to discredit Agrippa Madlela, the ZAPU President who, one would have thought, would be ZAPU’s logical candidate, but who believes that ZAPU should not contest the election.

The same tactic is being employed, with similar lack of success, to get Wilson Khumbula MP to stand as ZANU Ndonga’s Presidential candidate. Khumbula until recently was the President of ZANU Ndonga. He has been suspended from the party and there are strong indications that ZANU Ndonga will not want to field a candidate. So despite ZANU (PF)’s best efforts to split the opposition vote by assisting the campaigns of a multiplicity of opposition candidates they will not succeed. If anything President Tsvangirai will pick up votes from the supporters of these small parties, especially from the largest of them all, ZANU Ndonga. In sum this will in essence be a two horse race. In any event our electoral laws are different to Zambia in that in Zimbabwe the winning candidate has to win a majority of votes cast and if a majority is not achieved in the first ballot then the two top candidates have to contest a second ballot against each other. So at the end of the day this will be a straight contest between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

Another important reason why the opposition vote will not be split sufficiently to usher Mugabe back into power by default is because in MDC President Tsvangirai Zimbabwe has got a charismatic candidate the opposition and civil society can coalesce around. Having been a highly successful Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) prior to his election as President of the MDC, Tsvangirai has a very high and positive profile that transcends the ethnic, class, racial and gender divide. My personal experience of Tsvangirai is shared by hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans countrywide. In a word he is Presidential and it is not hard for Zimbabweans to conceive that he would be a good President. Even if other opposition candidates do stand none will have the presence or profile of Tsvangirai.

But it is the backing of an effective party that is the most compelling reason why our election will be different to the Zambian election. The MDC since its formation in September 1999 has been subjected to a literal baptism of fire at the hands of ZANU (PF) and its surrogate police force and CIO. We have now had over 90 of our supporters murdered by ZANU (PF) thugs; virtually every single MDC MP has been either detained, or assaulted, or had his or her house searched, or received death threats. The MDC has been subjected to the most bizarre selective application of the law. Charges have been fabricated against MDC leaders and prosecuted vigorously whereas ZANU (PF) leaders who openly advocate murder are not even arrested. The electronic media is brazenly the mouthpiece of ZANU (PF). And so it goes on. But the reality is that, despite all of this harassment (in fact perhaps because of the harassment) the MDC is now stronger than it was in June 2000. Not only do we now have elected structures countrywide but also we now have the capacity and ability to govern.

Unlike ZANU (PF) which is trapped in its one-track mind of its disastrous "fast track land programme" the MDC has developed comprehensive policies to turn Zimbabwe around. President Tsvangirai has spent the last six months progressively unveiling the MDC’s economic, health, education and labour policies (to mention a few). All these policies have been formulated in consultation with experts from the relevant sectors of Zimbabwean society and have been hailed by serious commentators within Zimbabwe. The MDC has unveiled a three-year recovery plan that President Tsvangirai will start to implement as soon as he has been inaugurated in April.

But the MDC is more than just a body with good structures and policies - most importantly it has spirit! I have just had the pleasure of attending the MDC’s Annual Conference that was held in Gweru on the 22nd December. I have three words to describe the Conference: joyous, hilarious and constructive! There was absolute (and heartfelt) agreement that Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda shall comprise our Presidential team unlike the deep divisions within the ZANU (PF) camp regarding Mugabe’s candidacy. Most of the meeting was devoted to debating and agreeing on key policy issues such as tackling the economy, dealing effectively with the Aids pandemic and restoring the rule of law unlike the ZANU (PF) Congress which only seemed to discuss Mugabe’s declaration of war on the Zimbabwean people. In stark contrast to the tone of the ZANU (PF) meeting prayer and a recommitment to the principle of non-violence marked the MDC Conference. As a white Zimbabwean I felt profoundly privileged to be part of the proceedings of a movement that is non-racist and has a vision for not only a new democratic Zimbabwe but also a new beginning for Africa. I feel excited about the prospect of serving under Morgan Tsvangirai’s Presidency.


I have always said that this battle to bring genuine democracy to Zimbabwe would not be easy and that the more cornered Mugabe and ZANU (PF) felt the more vicious they would become. That holds true now more than ever before and we are under no illusions how tough this final stretch will be. But we are now on the final lap. Before the end of this week Mugabe is obliged, in terms of the Electoral Act, to announce the date of the election. The election has to be held by the 17th March and Mugabe’s present term of office expires, come what may, State of Emergency or none, at midnight on the 31st March. In other words as I write the election is less than 70 days, or 10 weeks away.

Anyone who has run a marathon will tell you that the final few kilometers are the hardest; every joint aches and one cannot believe that one will finish, but finish we will, and that is all we have to do now. The international community now understands clearly what is going on in Zimbabwe and will do all in its power to assist the transition to democracy. The people are ready, silently and patiently waiting to cast their ballots. And finally the next President of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, is ready. All we have to be make sure that we are registered and ready and able to vote in March.

Many people ask in meetings whether Mugabe will allow President Tsvangirai to take office once he wins pointing to Mugabe’s oft repeated statement that the MDC and President Tsvangirai will "never, ever" govern. Not only has Mugabe not learnt from Zimbabwe’s own recent history (Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith said there would "never be majority rule in a thousand years only to be proved wrong a short time after making that statement), but he also commits the terrible mistake of assuming that he is god and able to guide the course of history. History is replete with examples of dictators who believe that they will rule forever. In just the last 60 years Mussolini, Hitler, Idi Amin, Ceuscescu, Mobutu and Milsovic spring to mind. All had grand plans, all were extremely vicious and irrational at the end, but all were swept from power. Mugabe can plan as much as he likes but ultimately he has to deal with the people and God.

I will conclude by quoting verses from my favourite book of the Bible. These verses from Isaiah 40 have sustained me for many years:






"Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind

sweeps them away like chaff.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."



It is not easy being in the middle of a whirlwind as this dictatorship is swept away and I understand fully how many in Zimbabwe, especially those in the farming community, feel completely at the end of their tether. But I believe with all my being that if we remain steadfast, do what is right and trust in the good Lord we will be sustained and our strength will be renewed sufficiently to see us through this transition to democracy. God bless you and keep you all this New Year.

David Coltart MP

7th January 2002.

The views expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect the views of the MDC.



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Dear Family and Friends,
I woke up with a start this morning to screaming. It was a hammerkop sitting on a dead tree in the garden and I watched the bird for a little while, desperately holding on to one of the few normal things in life. Within half an hour my view was not of trees and birds but of men walking in single file, many carrying sticks. At first a dozen men, then fifty and then well over a hundred. It bought back a lot of memories for me and a lot of fear too. We all know what to do now and the gates, doors, windows and curtains are closed The political rallies have started and the atmosphere everywhere is very bloody, very frightening and very tense.
This week the new school year started in Zimbabwe and nothing is normal anymore. While the newspapers carried reports that teachers in Rusape were being vetted by police and other security agents before being given new teaching posts, I was doing what thousands of other mums were doing - sewing on name tapes and covering books. Opening one of my son's new exercise books I read his first piece of work. His teacher had told the class to write a prayer about anything that they needed help with. My 9 year sold had written: "Dear God, please help Zimbabwe. All of us don't like what is going on now so will you please help Zimbabwe and my family and all my friends and teachers. Armen." This situation in Zimbabwe has touched us all and I am blessed that my child is still able to go to school. Last week it was reported by GAPWUZ (The Agricultural Workers Union) that at least 10 000 children will not be going back to school this term because their schools, situated on farms, have either closed down or are un-staffed because the teachers are too scared to work there.
This week the 24 farmers who were arrested after widespread looting in Chinoyi last year, again appeared in the Magistrates Court. They have been remanded until the 23rd April. The State Prosecutor said he was not ready to proceed because evidence pertaining to the case had been destroyed in a fire and that he was considering "withdrawing charges against some of the accused." Also this week the CFU have reported widespread looting and forced evictions of farmers in Raffingora, Mutorashanga, Guruve and Victory Block and the State run ZBC television have run nightly updates on political violence in towns all over the country. Last night the reports occupied the first 25 minutes of the main news bulletin.
With 48 days to go until the elections, the world is watching and more and more people are speaking out. Bishop Desmond Tutu (1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner) was interviewed on BBC and did not mince his words about the situation here, our governance or the human rights abuses. His voice was echoed by Mary Robinson (the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) who said in Geneva: "There is a real human rights crisis in Zimbabwe and action must be taken now." The SADC communiqué from Malawi said that our government must: guarantee freedom of speech and association; fully investigate all political violence; accredit local and foreign election monitors and observers and allow local and foreign journalists to cover the elections. The EU gave Zimbabwe until yesterday to provide written assurances of: the invitation and accreditation of international election observers and full access to the national and international media. The loudest voice though came in silence from within Zimbabwe. The second reading in parliament of the Access to Information Bill has twice been postponed. Edison Zvobgo has twice not been available to present the Bill and we have had another week of press freedom. Until next week, love cathy.
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Sydney Morning Herald

Hopes for fair election rest on Mugabe's word

Southern African leaders can do little if Zimbabwe's President fails to live
up to his pledges, Nicole Itano writes from Johannesburg.

After a welter of international criticism of its hardball election tactics,
Zimbabwe's ruling party this week made two important concessions to
observers concerned about the fairness of the country's upcoming
presidential elections.

On Wednesday, just two days after President Robert Mugabe promised Southern
African leaders that the elections in March would be free and fair, the
Government temporarily shelved a repressive new media law that was to have
been put through parliament this week.

Parliamentarians indicated that the bill, which journalists say would
cripple the country's independent press, will be revised before being
reintroduced. The same day, the Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, also
reiterated promises, made to the European Union during diplomatic meetings
in Brussels last week, to allow at least some international election
monitors and media to observe the elections.

Zimbabwe, which once had one of Africa's strongest economies, has been
racked by political violence in the two years since the fledgling Movement
for Democratic Change first began to challenge the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

But while Europe and the United States have played tough, threatening
sanctions against the country's leaders, Southern Africa has continued its
policy of quiet diplomacy, hoping that Mr Mugabe, 77, will stay true to his

"President Robert Mugabe has made pledges and has to be given a chance to
fulfill them," said the executive secretary of the Southern African
Development Community, Prega Ramsamy.

On Monday, Mr Mugabe met behind closed doors members of the SADC, a loose
confederation of 14 nations. SADC leaders later announced that Mr Mugabe had
promised to take steps to ensure a free and fair election. Their only
rebukes were aimed at the military, which has made a veiled threat to
protect Mr Mugabe's rule by force, and the international media for its
coverage of Zimbabwe.

The meeting disappointed human rights groups, which had hoped the SADC might
follow Europe's lead and threaten regional sanctions against Zimbabwe. They
say Mr Mugabe has broken repeated promises to return to the rule of law.

But the SADC, which operates by consensus and has no history of taking
action against a member state, has imposed sanctions only once, against the
Angolan rebel group UNITA.

The group has twice intervened militarily - in Lesotho and the Democratic
Republic of Congo - but in both cases the purpose of the intervention was to
prop up threatened governments.

SADC countries oppose sanctions against Zimbabwe and say they would only
increase the suffering there.

Analysts say the SADC's weak structure and the continued reluctance of many
states to criticise one of their own make it unlikely that the organisation
will produce any strong, unified condemnation of Zimbabwe.

Despite his tarnished image, Mr Mugabe remains a giant of the independence
movement whose victory more than 20 years ago against white-minority rule in
the former Rhodesia was a model and inspiration for many of its neighbours.

Many countries, with less than perfect human rights records themselves,
hesitate to create a precedent for SADC interference in internal domestic

As the International Crisis Group, which monitors conflict around the world,
put it: "Many governments are hesitant to penalise Mugabe this week for
something for which they may be accused of next week."

Neighbouring countries concerned that instability in Zimbabwe will send a
flood of refugees across their borders are not saying whether the are happy
with the SADC's position. South Africa, for example, said it was
inappropriate for one country to comment on the group's consensus.

Despite rising violence over the past week, including the stabbing of an
opposition MP, Southern African leaders say they have to trust Mr Mugabe to
uphold his word. But, as even some member states have acknowledged, there is
little they can do if he chooses not to.

"If he reneges we will tell him we are not happy," said Botswana's President
Festus Mogae. "But then he may tell us to go to hell."

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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2002/01
January 7th - January 13th 2002
1.  Summary
2.  Armed forces statement
3.  Political violence- poor sourcing messes up coverage
4.  State media smear campaign

In the week that the dates of the presidential election were announced, statistical evidence gathered by MMPZ serves to consign the government controlled media to the dustbin of partisan propaganda. During the week Zimpapers and ZBC featured unrelenting promotional stories about the ruling party's political campaign and unsupported accusations that the opposition MDC was linked to anthrax-mail terror tactics and the biggest robbery in South African history. And their reports on the threat of interference by the armed forces in the democratic process escaped any sensible analysis, especially with regard to its unconstitutionality. Nor did the state media provide its audiences with any useful information about the introduction of repressive new legislation
Instead, the national public broadcaster and Zimpapers worked closely to suffocate the MDC campaign and reinforce the ruling party's continued portrayal of the opposition as a violent, unpatriotic terrorist organization, and then used this figment of their disinformation department to justify the introduction of tyrannical security laws.
In the week ZBC1 news bulletins carried 23 political campaign stories, 22 (96%) of them pro-ZANU PF with just one that could be described as neutral. Radio 3FM followed a similar pattern, reporting 27 campaign stories, 25 (93%) of them in favour of the ruling party. The other two campaign stories featured Zanu Ndonga. Neither ZBC1 nor radio carried a single story of the MDC's presidential campaign, thus perpetuating ZBC's appalling reputation established during the constitutional referendum and the parliamentary elections in the year 2000 as being a shameless propaganda outlet for the ruling party. Once again, ZBC's public service mandate to provide fair and accurate coverage of all mainstream political opinion is being grossly abused.
In addition, ZBC1 (television) has refined a tactic that it only made limited use of during the parliamentary election. During the week, ZBC1's campaign stories carried a total of 59 voices, 11 (18.6%) of which were ruling party officials; five others were from the Registrar- General's office or professional commentators inclined towards favouring the ruling party. The remaining 42 voices (71%) were of ordinary Zimbabweans, but in every case they made their political affiliation to ZANU PF clear, even going so far as to name President Mugabe as their candidate of choice. Such figures unmistakably expose the grossly biased selectivity practiced by the national broadcaster in sourcing the voice of the Zimbabwean public. MMPZ condemns such crude and blatant prejudice.

2. ARMED FORCES STATEMENT: 3FM fails to cover statement
On Wednesday (9/1) General Vitalis Zvinavashe, commander of the armed forces, issued a statement on behalf of all Zimbabwe's security services that implied they would not accept the result of the presidential election if the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai won. ZBC1 broke the story in its main bulletin that evening, carrying footage of Zvinavashe, flanked by all the service chiefs and the head of the CIO, saying that the country's security organizations would only support political leaders who "pursue Zimbabwean values, traditions (and) beliefs for which thousands of lives were lost in pursuit of Zimbabwe's hard-won independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest. To this end, let it be known that the highest office on (sic) the land is a 'straightjacket' whose occupant is expected to observe the objectives of the liberation struggle. "We will, therefore, not accept, let alone support or salute anyone with a different agenda that threatens (the) very existence of our sovereignty, our country and our people". Surprisingly, Radio 3FM didn't cover the story until its 7am bulletin the next morning when all the print media reported the story. The Herald and The Chronicle (10/1) also pointed out that the service chiefs' stance comes as a big blow to the MDC, which is known to be bankrolled by the country's colonial master, Britain, and commercial farmers." The Herald (11/1) added the bizarre assertion that the armed forces had been pressured into making the statement by the British government, which, according to the report, had planted stories in the local privately owned Press  "alleging the top brass had urged President Mugabe to quit and appoint a successor". This appeared to be a follow-up to a statement carried by ZBC1 (8pm) the previous evening by Home Affairs Minister, John Nkomo, who welcomed the security forces' statement as "long overdue" because the private Press had been "demonizing" the security forces and putting them into disrepute "in the hope that as they did that, that would put ZANU PF and its government in bad light". In the same bulletin, Youth Minister, Elliot Manyika, also defended the security forces' threat by saying they "were just spelling out the values of our nation. This is what any right-thinking Zimbabwean should know." ZBC failed to ask either of them whether Zvinavashe's comments constituted an unacceptably dangerous interference by the military in the civilian affairs of a democracy, or even whether the comments amounted to the threat of a military dictatorship. But Friday's editions of the privately owned papers (The Daily News and The Zimbabwe Independent 11/1) carried a storm of protest from the MDC and domestic organizations representing a broad cross section of civic society condemning the statement as "dangerous", "unconstitutional", "treasonous" and a clear attempt to intimidate the electorate by indirectly threatening a military take-over should the MDC leader win the election. Both papers' editorials reflected these sentiments, and The Daily News the next day reported South Africa's presidential spokesman as describing the statement as ".not acceptable.You can't have a situation where the security forces are trying to pre- empt an election." The Herald edition of the same day carried a confused editorial attempting to distance Zvinavashe's statement from the MDC's candidate despite its earlier efforts to bind them together when it stated that ".at no point did the generals disqualify anyone, let alone name Mr. Tsvangirai, or even suggest that only candidates with liberation struggle credentials would be recognized by the military and security forces". And although it challenged Tsvangirai to reconfirm his patriotism, it also labeled him a "traitor" to the country. The next day The Sunday Mail's editorial echoed The Herald's thoughts when it stressed the point that the service chiefs did not name Tsvangirai, but that any reaction from the MDC proved that the ".the guilty are always afraid". Neither paper made the connection that they have vigorously defended government's persistent efforts over the past 24 months to portray Tsvangirai and the MDC as exactly the sort of candidate that Zvinavashe's statement alludes to. The Zimbabwe Standard (13/1) added a new dimension to the story when it reported a number of middle ranking military officers warning the armed forces chiefs that they would find themselves isolated if they attempted to stage a coup.

3. POLITICAL VIOLENCE: Poor sourcing messes up coverage
All the media continued to report an upsurge in the incidence of political violence that has plagued the country since President Mugabe urged ZANU PF supporters to wage a real war against the MDC at the party's Congress in mid-December. But the media are sharply divided over who is responsible. The privately-owned Press have only reported attacks on villagers, urban dwellers and MDC supporters, while the government- controlled media have carried stories almost exclusively of MDC supporters' attacks on ruling party supporters. In the state media's on-going efforts to portray MDC as a violent organization, ZBC1 has adopted a 'Violence Update' in its main evening bulletins and relies heavily on police reports and unattributed sources for its stories. During the week it carried 25 reports of political violence, 20 (80%) of them accusing the MDC of being responsible, while three (12%) were attributed to the ruling party and two to unknown assailants who had attacked MDC supporters. But ZBC1 reported that those incidents sparked by ZANU PF supporters were only committed in retaliation for violence initiated by MDC supporters. In its section on political violence, which has now been dubbed, "Campaign for Peace Update", television carried 13 stories on political violence without any attribution beyond the broadcaster's claims. The 12 other stories originated from police information and carried the voice of ZANU PF officials and sympathizers 17 times. Not once was the MDC accessed for comment. Radio 3FM 's 12 stories on political violence followed a similar pattern. ZBC and Zimpapers' reports of violence regularly conflict with reports of the same incidents in the privately owned Press over who is responsible for initiating the incidents. The state media consistently fail to address persistent reports in the privately owned Press of widespread violence against communities around the country committed by ZANU PF militias and even the military. But the denials by government authorities and the claim by the Ministers of Home Affairs and Information that the MDC is manufacturing National Service uniforms and giving them to its supporters to disguise the perpetrators of violence without providing a shred of evidence for this, is stretching credibility to the extreme. It should be noted that the privately owned Press also rarely follow up reports of violence reported in the state media. TV has also resorted to flighting what amounts to ZANU PF advertisements in the advertising sections of its 8pm bulletins by airing clips of President Mugabe, Elliot Manyika and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, calling for an end to political violence and a peaceful election. Nowhere does the MDC get a chance to do the same, and carried in the context of the station's reports of violence blaming the MDC, the images serve as a powerful portrayal of a peaceful ZANU PF fighting a violent challenger. Hard evidence in the privately owned Press of murdered and beaten MDC supporters and terrorized urban and rural communities, proves this to be a gross distortion of the truth and demonstrates the extent to which ZBC's news broadcasts have been so thoroughly corrupted. On Tuesday (8/1) ZBC reinforced this distortion by airing in its 8pm news bulletins (TV and 3FM) selective incidents of violence from last year, all of which the state has accused the MDC of committing but for which there have still been no convictions. There was no new angle to any of the reviewed stories, and TV gratuitously re-ran footage of the discovery and exhumation of the bodies of Cain Nkala and Limukani Luphahla who were murdered in Matabeleland last year. The bulletins described their deaths as being the result of a "clear and deep-seated terrorism which has become fully blown." and then used this to justify the government's plan to introduce the Public Order and Security Bill to "deal with political violence". Nowhere has the national broadcaster provided details of this Draconian law, which invests so much power in the police that it even indemnifies them against the killing of civilians in certain circumstances. It also gives them total discretion over who can and who may not hold public gatherings and political rallies. But ZBC has not asked government officials or the police how these provisions will help reduce political violence. The Daily News carried 12 stories on political violence during the week, but was unable to obtain a comment from the police for any of them, although it reported trying to. As a result, the paper was obliged to rely on reports from the victims, usually MDC supporters. None of its stories however, accessed comment from ZANU PF whose supporters, the paper claimed, were to blame for most of the violence it reported. It is important for the paper to be seen attempting to obtain comment from all parties alleged to be involved in the violence for the sake of its credibility. MMPZ condemns the refusal by the police to co-operate with The Daily News. By comparison, The Herald carried six stories on political violence - all of which blamed the MDC - and accessed police comment five times. In its story on violence in Mbare, The Herald (8/1) reported that both MDC and ZANU PF supporters had been arrested, which was corroborated by the police. But in its follow-up of their court appearance (11/1), The Herald simply reported that, "six members of the MDC youth wing accused of unleashing violence in Mbare have been placed on remand by a Harare magistrates' court." There was no mention of the ruling party supporters arrested. Readers were left to puzzle over the mystery with the inference being that either the paper overlooked their appearance in court, or that the police had released them. The same edition of The Herald reported the murder of a senior Zaka-based ZANU PF official, Gibson Masarira, and blamed it squarely on MDC youths. Although it quoted the police as saying his death was "a clear case of political violence", the police were not quoted actually naming the MDC. The Herald however, simply stated that, "This brings to two the number of ruling party supporters who have been murdered by the opposition party this week." The paper then reminded its readers that their deaths came "in the wake of similar terrorist murders" of Nkala and Lupaphla in Matabeleland "as the MDC steps up its terror campaign to win the election." in March. By using the passive past tense, the story avoided quoting anybody when it reported that "Suspected MDC terrorists.are said." to have attacked Masarira his family and other villagers in broad daylight. So the story actually carried no tangible evidence that the MDC was responsible for the murder. Nor did the paper identify the murder of the other ZANU PF supporter, which it had ascribed to the MDC. Earlier in the week, The Daily News (7/1) reported that an MDC official's home in Zaka had been looted in an "orgy of terror" by war veterans and ZANU PF militias. But it too, provided no corroborating evidence for these claims, although it accessed comment from a provincial MDC official. The paper also appeared to get its news priorities in a muddle by tacking on a report about the murder of a bus conductor in Gokwe by "ZANU PF militia" to the end of its story about violence in Zaka. And although the report said the man had died in hospital, it only quoted "witnesses" describing the incident. MMPZ condemns the blatantly unsubstantiated claims of both papers in these cases.

4. STATE MEDIA SMEAR CAMPAIGN: An assault on readers' intelligence
At the beginning of the week, The Herald (7/1) used its front-page headline, 'MDC linked to $2bn SA heist', to discredit the opposition party without providing a shred of evidence to support this claim. It picked up a story from the South African Sunday Times reporting that Zimbabweans had been involved in the robbery at Jan Smuts airport and then simply stated that "sources" in Johannesburg said they "could be MDC members living in that country". Later in the story The Herald deepened this fiction by stating that, "Police sources in Harare said the MDC had politicized criminal elements and fugitives in South Africa.", and marked the point where the story descended into undisguised propaganda discrediting the MDC. Notably, ZBC (13/1 - 7am and 8pm respectively) carried a follow-up story simply reporting that four of the 13 robbery suspects arrested had been picked up in Bulawayo and deported to South Africa. There was no suggestion of any political connotation in the report. In another carefully coordinated assault on the credentials of the MDC by the state-controlled media, the MDC was blamed for launching germ warfare in its "terror campaign" to win the presidential election. Under the headline, 'Anthrax scare', The Herald (8/1) broke the story that "a suspected anthrax attack had been detected at Causeway Post Office." According to "authoritative sources" The Herald said "alarm bells were raised after powder (in two suspicious-looking envelopes) was discovered and the letter (sic) had all the signs of an anthrax attack". But it provided no information about what these signs were. That evening, TV (8pm) followed up the story by announcing that Zimbabwe had "become the latest victim of the current bio-terrorism attack," and carried footage of the closure of the Post Office and the search by Ministry of Health officials wearing germ protection clothing. Like The Herald it reported that one of the envelopes had been addressed to a senior government official and unlike The Herald, referred to the anthrax-mail attacks in the United States of America last year. This clearly gave the impression that Zimbabwe was under siege from as yet unidentified enemies of the state and provided ZBC's Reuben Barwe with the opportunity to remind his audiences that Rhodesian security forces had, with the collusion of their South African colleagues, had used anthrax to infect black people during the liberation war. True to form, the next morning The Herald (9/1) announced that the MDC was linked to the anthrax mail and that ex-Rhodesians were involved under the banner headline, 'MDC terror mounts'. But its only evidence for these claims was a statement from the Minister of Home Affairs John Nkomo. According to The Herald, ".Nkomo said in an interview.that the suspected anthrax attacks were part of terrorist activities perpetrated by the MDC and its white founders who were bitter about the land reform programme." And his evidence for claiming this? "It is obvious that former Rhodesians are involved in these dastardly acts as they have done so before," the paper quoted the Minister as saying. The paper reported that laboratory tests on the offending envelopes had confirmed the presence of bacteria, which had yet to be identified. So if specialists still had to identify the bacteria, where did Zimpapers and ZBC get the idea that the envelopes contained anthrax? The authenticity of this story collapses at this point and is exposed as a creation of those in control of the government media as a ploy to further discredit the opposition. MMPZ condemns in the strongest terms this deliberate, cynical and crude abuse of the state media. But despite discrediting itself as a tool of the ruling party, The Herald (10/1) continued to destroy any shred of credibility with another story on the topic headlined, 'Anthrax mail targeted at (Information Minister) Moyo', and bearing the sub-head, 'Incident a terrorist act, say police'. Only at the end of the story do we learn from a government doctor that, "Laboratory tests conducted on the powder.have tested negative for anthrax bacteria." This should have been the basis for the story, but instead, The Herald continued with the fiction by misleading its readers and persisting with their original lies of anthrax bio-terrorism perpetrated by the MDC. ZBC had difficulty following The Herald's lead, but used the paper's stories to perpetuate this giant hoax. It can only be imagined that this manipulation of the state media provides some entertainment value for their audiences who must otherwise believe such reports are an offence to their intelligence. Ends
The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: or
Send all queries and comments to the Project Coordinator. Also, please feel free to circulate this report. Previous copies of MMPZ reports can be accessed at
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Refugee camp set up for Zimbabweans

SA HAS started readying itself for a "meltdown" in Zimbabwe as the March presidential election draws closer, designating a disused military base near the border between the countries as a potential handling centre for refugees.

Intimidation and violence in Zimbabwe have taken on what observers say are alarming proportions ahead of the election, in which President Robert Mugabe is seeking to extend his 22-year rule in the face of his toughest challenge yet, from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Home Affairs department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said yesterday that a committee including government, intelligence, police and defence officials had been set up to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe.

"They have identified Artonvilla, an old SA National Defence Force complex near Messina, to provide accommodation for refugees should the situation in Zimbabwe reach meltdown." Health workers, immigration officials, police and soldiers could be called up at any moment to help handle a sudden influx of refugees.

"We cannot yet say how much we have budgeted for the possible influx from Zimbabwe because we don't know what the magnitude of the problem might be," Mashokwe said.

He could not give details on the number of people who could be accommodated at the base, but said it might need some renovations before it could be used. Defence spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said the monitoring committee would respond to requests for assistance from other departments, but not take the lead in managing a refugee crisis.

Fidellis Swai, regional spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said the organisation was in touch with the governments of all Zimbabwe's neighbours and would assist where necessary.

Business Day

Mbeki reveals anti-Mugabe broadcasts

Secret radio stations were broadcasting to Zimbabwe from two Western
countries to influence the outcome of that country's presidential elections,
Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state were told this

This was revealed by President Thabo Mbeki in his weekly letter in the
online publication "ANC Today".

Referring to the summit's communique which, among other things, expressed
concern about negative reports on Zimbabwe by certain "hostile" media, he
said the SADC leaders had been informed -- presumably by President Robert
Mugabe -- of the "secret radio stations".

These stations were inciting propaganda against the Zimbabwean government
and had been urged to desist.

Mbeki said the heads of state had also agreed that Zimbabwe's state
electronic media would allocate equal time to all presidential candidates
"to communicate with the electorate".

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"Just for your info, as I don't think that any of you will be planning a trip there
this morning. As we can monitor the Agricalert from Marondera and district
here, I can tell you that it is not a good idea to travel to Marondera or area
this morning. It would appear that in their ongoing campaign, the Marondera
area has been sealed off by these ZANU-PF thugs, the two week wonders
that have earned themselves the name "Green Bombers" (nicknamed after
the disease spreading bottle flies prevalent at this time of year).
On Thursday I was in the Wedza district doing some work for one of my
farming customers who has been able to continue and I took a few snaps
of his farm and one of the "occupied" farms close by. I will leave you to
guess which is which and who is endeavouring to feed the nation."
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Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 10:20 GMT
UK protest over Zimbabwe human rights
Protesters against President Robert Mugabe's regime
Protesters at the Zimbabwe High Commission last year
Hundreds of people are expected to join protests in London against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

The demonstrations are set to take place on Saturday at the American Embassy and the Zimbabwe High Commission.

Speakers from the Movement for Democratic Change and experts on human rights are likely to attend both venues.

Previous protests in London by Britain's Zimbabwean community have called for the UK to help halt violence in their homeland and have included petitions being handed in to Downing Street.

Robert Mugabe
Protesters want an end to repression under Mr Mugabe
The demonstrators want to end attacks on white farm owners and the repression of journalists and opposition parties under President Robert Mugabe's regime.

They have appealed to Prime Minister Tony Blair to exert more pressure on President Mugabe's regime amid fears that the situation in Zimbabwe may be spiralling out of control.

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EU sanctions loom as Mugabe ignores deadline for poll plans

Ian Black in Brussels and Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Saturday January 19, 2002
The Guardian

European Union sanctions against Zimbabwe moved closer yesterday after President Robert Mugabe failed to meet a deadline to agree conditions for allowing international observers at the presidential election in March.

As lawlessness and intimidation spread across the country, the current holder of the union's presidency, Spain, said Harare had not replied to last Friday's EU demand for detailed plans on observers and media access within seven days.

"The non-response is a sort of response," a Spanish official said. "They are sending us a clear signal."

EU diplomats said sanctions were likely to be decided by a meeting of foreign ministers on January 28, unless there was a change in the next few days. One said: "They've really got to come up with something fairly quickly or there will be smart sanctions," aimed at leaders of the regime.

The likely options include a travel ban and an assets freeze for members of the regime, as well as an arms embargo. EU governments say they want to avoid hitting innocent people.

Officials said that Zimbabwe was trying to split the union by inviting observers from most of its 15 members but excluding Britain, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

EU missions in Harare are expected to report on the situation next week before ambassadors meet in Brussels to rec ommend policy options to the foreign ministers. But pressure is mounting for action after criticism that previous threats have come too late.

"I would be surprised if the Zimbabweans responded anywhere near the deadline, and I would be gobsmacked if they were to respond positively to the [EU] requests," the MEP Glenys Kinnock said.

"Mugabe is trying to divide and rule," Geoffrey van Orden, a Conservative MEP, said. "The EU should take a robust stand and not let him decide who makes up our election monitoring teams."

Latest events in Zimbabwe have confirmed fears of dangerously escalating climate of violence.

Late on Thursday, supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were abducted and beaten by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF. Several youths escaped and were being treated at a Harare hospital.

Thomas Tawanda Spicer, 17, the son of a Zimbabwean film-maker, Edwina Spicer, was tied to a tree and beaten and kicked throughout the night.

He was later taken to a police station in the northern city of Marondera where he was reportedly arrested on charges of kidnapping. After first denying any knowledge of him, the police confirmed that he was in their custody, but denied him access to his family or a lawyer.

Mr Spicer is an active MDC member and his fluent Shona and trenchant criticism of the Mugabe government has delighted opposition rallies.

Violence has also been used by the Zanu-PF militia to stop the distribution in rural areas of all independent newspapers, including the Daily News, the Financial Gazette and the Zimbabwe Independent. Distributors and vendors of the papers have been beaten and threatened with death if they continue to sell them, the publishers said.

"It is clear from the number of cases coming to us that there has been a substantial increase in state-sponsored violence," said Tony Reeler, director of the Amani Trust, which cares for the victims of violence. "We are concerned by the number of reports of deaths which we are having trouble confirming because we do not get responses from the police. Torture appears to be increasing substantially."

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SW Radio Africa : In Zimbabwe, tune in to the short-wave broadcast at 6145 KHz in the 49m band. Outside the broadcast area, you can listen to SW Radio Africa over the internet at . Broadcast times are between 6pm and 9pm Zimbabwe time daily.
In this issue :
From Associated Press, 18 January

Militants rampage in Zimbabwe

Harare - Ruling party militants rampaged through farming districts in northern Zimbabwe Friday, in what the opposition said was an attempt to shut down the areas to its campaigners ahead of presidential elections. Militants stormed white-owned farms, while members of the ruling party youth militia in green government-issue uniforms manned roadblocks to seal off districts to supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Welshman Ncube, the opposition party's third ranking official, accused President Robert Mugabe's party of creating ``no go areas'' for opposition supporters ahead of the vote scheduled for March 9 and 10. "Such areas are being systematically extended ... there is no prospect of the elections being free and fair," he said. Mugabe, fighting for his political survival after nearly 22 years in power, has cracked down on the opposition and pushed through legislation tightening security and electoral laws that favor his party.

On Friday, at least 100 slogan-chanting militants stormed a white-owned farm near Karoi, 130 miles northwest of Harare, the capital, demanding white owners immediately leave the property. Three of nine black workers on the property were assaulted by assailants who smashed down fences and hurled stones at approaching vehicles, said farmer Terry Smit. Other properties in the Karoi corn and tobacco district were targeted by militants who demanded owners pack up and go, some by the end of Friday, officials of the Commercial Farmers Union said. Smit said militants drove workers from their homes and threw their belongings onto the road after accusing them of supporting the Movement for Democratic Change. "They told me they were evicting me today. They are about 30 yards from my door," said Smit, speaking by telephone from his besieged farmstead. Drumbeats, singing and pro-government slogans were audible on the line. Smit said threats of violence from militants intensified since an announcement earlier this month of presidential elections.

Some farm workers bought ruling party membership cards to help them pass through the militia checkpoints. Without a card, "you are humiliated. We were made to kneel in the road and beg to be let through and sing slogans,'' said an elderly white farm manager who asked not to be identified. The youth militias have ignored government assurances that only police are permitted at roadblocks. Police have not prevented the militias throwing up checkpoints. Since the start of the year government-backed militants have embarked on a fresh looting campaign of white-owned farms, forcing at least 23 landowners from their homes, the mainly white farmers' union says. Police were on Friday unavailable for comment on violence. Militants have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms since early 2000 with the tacit support of the government, which called their actions a justified response to inequitable land ownership left by colonial rule. Most of Zimbabwe's commercial farmland is owned by whites who make up less than half a percent of the population.

From The Financial Gazette, 17 January

Would-be farmers yet to see new plots

Confusion surrounded the government’s fast-track land reforms this week as would-be beneficiaries said they were still landless because of bureaucratic delays which some analysts said were an attempt by the government to buy time ahead of the crunch March presidential election. A snap survey by the Financial Gazette this week revealed that most of the properties on which new settlers are being allotted plots are being contested or are already occupied by self-styled independence war veterans and other ruling Zanu PF party supporters, which means that the beneficiaries cannot move onto the land. As a result, most of the people whose names have appeared in the state media in the past few weeks as having been given land are still in the dark about the specific location of the plots other than general information such as the province and district.

Most of the beneficiaries said they had been told that the farms on which their plots are located are not yet ready for occupation because war veterans had already planted maize on the properties and would only leave after harvesting. "That is the tragedy of the whole issue because you will find that some of those people who invaded farms when the land crisis started were not allocated land under the scheme and are still living illegally on the occupied farms," said one beneficiary who was allocated land in the Murewa district of Mashonaland East. More than 27 000 individuals had by Tuesday this week been listed in the state media as having been successful applicants under President Robert Mugabe’s fast-track land reform programme. Efforts to get comment from Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made or Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, whose ministry is in charge of the actual placement of the resettled farmers, were fruitless this week.

"By rushing to announce the names of people before the farms are ready for occupation, the government could create conflict between the people who have been allocated land and those who have planted on the farms because some of us are keen to start working on our farms immediately," said another would-be farmer. All the interviewees preferred not to be named for fear they could lose their farms or plots or face retribution from marauding Zanu PF militia. This newspaper also found that another impediment had been an apparent breakdown in communication between Made’s ministry and its district offices, which had resulted in several successful applicants being turned away after inquiring about the exact location of their plots. "When I went to check at the local district office, I was told they were waiting for information from head office before they could write to me stating where I had been allocated land," said another successful applicant who was given a small-scale farm in Makonde district of Mashonaland West province.

The analysts accused the government of trying to hoodwink the electorate ahead of the crucial March 9-10 ballot in which Mugabe faces a stern challenge from opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The move is also seen as an attempt by Mugabe to mislead the international community that an orderly land redistribution programme is taking place in Zimbabwe. A rural and urban planning lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an orderly programme should have involved a coordinated approach between the various government departments involved in the exercise. "The procedure should be fairly standard. Once new settlers get letters from the district office, the district administrator’s office should be able to take them to the respective piece of land allocated to them," the lecturer said.

From The Financial Times, 18 January

Saving Zimbabwe

Only intervention by the country's neighbours can prevent catastrophe in the forthcoming elections, says Robert Rotberg

Dictators eventually overreach themselves. Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, has been pushing his country and his neighbours towards the abyss for several years. With a decisive presidential election looming, he has just forced legislation through parliament that is intended to make opposition campaigning impossible, destroy the last smidgin of accountability, prohibit objective poll-watching and encourage continued physical intimidation of voters. Pending is an attempt to emasculate the independent media. Washington, London, Brussels and Pretoria have been wringing their hands over Zimbabwe's descent into chaos, economic catastrophe and impending famine for many months. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa summoned the leaders of the Southern African Development Community to consider Zimbabwe's case this week. The result was yet more hand-wringing.

Nothing short of action by South Africa and Zimbabwe's other neighbours will save a denial of justice from becoming a broader tragedy. Mr Mbeki and the SADC need to intervene in Zimbabwe to help the country save itself from further economic and political strife and possible civil war. Mr Mugabe's intention is to control the election and the critical period before it with his own lackeys. That clearly will not do. The best alternative, and one that nearly all Zimbabweans would welcome, would be an election run by a team of experts from the SADC. Botswanans, Namibians, Malawians and South Africans (not Zambians) have all managed responsible, fair elections in the recent past. If they were to organise the election, starting now, all Zimbabweans would believe the result. The role of Washington, London and Brussels would be to help pay for the SADC's services.

Mr Mugabe would not welcome such interference. But South Africa controls the supply of electricity and petroleum to Zimbabwe and can also limit many of its imports and exports. If Mr Mbeki could rally SADC support for such a bold initiative, Mr Mugabe would have little room for manoeuvre and might accede to an SADC-run election. The need for outside intervention extends to the campaign as well as to the conduct of the balloting itself. The SADC will need to ensure that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is allowed to seek support freely throughout the country. Observers believe that it has backers everywhere and could win a fair poll.

That is precisely why Mr Mugabe has been - and is intent on - ensuring that potential MDC voters know that they will be attacked now and later by the president's paramilitary legions (the so-called war veterans and newly armed sets of thugs) and, sometimes, by the police. That has been the pattern for more than a year. Without an impartial protecting force, many Zimbabweans will fear showing support for the opposition, or will refuse to vote. For that reason, South Africa and the SADC need to do more, with moral and political backing from Washington, London, Brussels and the United Nations. The SADC should send troops into Zimbabwe - preferably with Mr Mugabe's acquiescence - to keep the pre-electoral peace. Most of those troops would be South African and Botswanan but others could be recruited as well. Small detachments of troops stationed throughout Zimbabwe could prevent high levels of local intimidation. They would also provide a degree of confidence for rural and urban voters.

This kind of intervention is normally unthinkable. But there are no limits to Mr Mugabe's ruthlessness and no end to his preying on his own citizens for personal gain. As Mr Mbeki has said, Mr Mugabe has lost the moral authority to continue to lead. Indeed, from the perspectives of the European Union and parts of the British Commonwealth he has become a pariah and Zimbabwe is deserving of various kinds of sanctions. The UN Security Council could declare Zimbabwe worthy of humanitarian intervention under the UN Charter, thus supporting any SADC initiative. The SADC charter also permits interventions to preserve peace, even within the sovereign borders of its members.

Zimbabwe is bankrupt. Its people are suffering from the power-hungry exactions of Mr Mugabe and his ilk. Everyone concerned pins their hopes on a fair election that will reflect the desires of most Zimbabweans. But everything that Mr Mugabe has done since early 2000 suggests the impossibility of such a test without SADC control and intervention. If ending dictatorship is a worthy goal, and if ending the palpable harm that Mr Mugabe is doing to southern Africa is another objective, action is imperative. Sitting back and continuing to pray that Zimbabweans will somehow be able to vote according to their hearts and minds, whatever Mr Mugabe does, is an exercise of pious futility.

The writer is director of the programme on intrastate conflict at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He is president of the World Peace Foundation

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Plans to evacuate 25,000 Britons from Zimbabwe

Last updated: 19-01-02, 21:58

Britain has drawn up plans to evacuate up to 25,000 British passport holders from Zimbabwe, says a report. According to records in the Irish Embassy in South Africa, there are an estimated 2,000 Irish passport holders also resident in the country.

The British Foreign Office sought to play down the claims, saying that its contingency plans to assist British nationals were a routine part of its work.

But according to the Sunday Telegraph, British Foreign Secretary Mr Jack Straw last month ordered an emergency planning committee to finalise plans for a mass evacuation after receiving alarming reports of the deteriorating situation.

The evaluation envisaged either a repressive crackdown before the elections or a civil war afterwards if Mr Mugabe uses fraud to cling to power.

Widespread reports from human rights organisations, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and commercial farmers say that thousands of youths have been deployed in rural areas all over the country with orders to drive out the MDC by force.

  • Ireland's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Hugh Swift, is in constant contact with members of the Irish community in the strife-torn country.

    Although Ireland does not have a resident mission in Zimbabwe, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Brian Cowen TD has instructed that an officer of the Irish Embassy in South Africa (which is accredited to Zimbabwe) remain in Harare to provide the necessary consular protection for the Irish community there.

    It is not known whether the government has formalised contingency plans for an evacuation of Irish citizens in the event of an emergency.

    Mr Cowen said "all possible steps will be taken to ensure the safety of our citizens in Zimbabwe."

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    Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 23:09 GMT
    UK 'plans for Zimbabwe airlift'
    A farm looted in Zimbabwe
    Zimbabwe's situation "prompted evacuation plan"
    The Foreign Office is playing down reports that it has drawn up plans for the air rescue of 25,000 Britons living in Zimbabwe.

    A spokesman said the government "has contingency plans for most countries in the world to assist British citizens in case of emergency".

    "It's a routine part of the work of our overseas posts, but this does not mean we are actively or imminently preparing to evacuate British nationals from Zimbabwe."

    Robert Mugabe
    Robert Mugabe: Unlikely to relinquish power without violence?
    Foreign Secretary Jack Straw ordered an emergency planning committee to finalise plans for a mass evacuation last month after receiving alarming reports of the deteriorating situation, according to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

    The Foreign Office evaluated that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe - facing presidential elections in March - was unlikely to relinquish power without a violent struggle, the paper said.

    The assessment envisaged either a repressive crackdown before the elections or a civil war afterwards if Mugabe uses fraud to cling to power.

    On Friday, pro-democracy figures in Zimbabwe claimed President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF had launched a new phase in its violent campaign for the presidential elections and was in the process of declaring all the country's countryside a "no-go zone" to the opposition.

    Widespread reports from human rights organisations, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and commercial farmers say that thousands of youths have been deployed in rural areas all over the country with orders to drive out the MDC by force.

    In London on Saturday, hundreds of people joined protests against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, with the organiser Albert Weidemann, calling on the Commonwealth to suspend the nation.

    The Foreign Office said that for obvious reasons the government did not discuss details of contingency plans.


    The FCO estimated there were around 40,000 British nationals in Zimbabwe, of whom around 25,000 had registered with the British High Commission.

    Observers say that with elections only seven weeks away, Mugabe is not about to dismantle the massive apparatus of repression.

    With the economy in tatters and widespread famine looming, violence appears to be the only way he can beat MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the elections on 9-10 March.

    The ruling party strategy is being reinforced by the arrest of hundreds of MDC politicians, officials and supporters all over the country on what human rights organisations say are spurious grounds.

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    Mugabe supporters arrested, violence closes schools
    HARARE, Jan 19 AFP|Published: Sunday January 20, 5:48 AM

    Police in southeastern Zimbabwe today arrested 13 supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, after the bodies of two suspected opposition members were found, a police spokesman said here.

    Meanwhile political violence in the region was reported to have closed at least 30 schools, as teachers refused to work for fear of being attacked.

    Police spokesman Tarwireyi Tirivavi said 13 supporters of Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party had been arrested in Zaka district, where the bodies were found yesterday.

    Zaka has been the scene of recent political tensions between ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

    Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence 22 years ago but faces a tough challenge in elections next March, has recently been under strong international pressure to curb violence by his supporters, and to ensure a free and fair election.

    A press report said at least 30 schools had been forced to close in Zaka and the neighbouring district of Bikita this week, as teachers refused to work due to fear of the political violence.

    The headmaster of one of the schools was stripped naked and beaten by a mob of around 40 ZANU-PF supporters, the privately run Daily News reported.

    Zaka and Bikita districts are traditionally ZANU-PF strongholds.

    In a separate incident, seven MDC youths were arrested in northern Zimbabwe today after an attack on farm workers, Tirivavi said. "They had forced the farm workers to hand over ZANU-PF cards," he added.

    There have been political clashes in several areas of Zimbabwe since dates for the presidential elections were announced last week. Elections are just seven weeks away, on March 9-10.

    Political violence is meanwhile reported to be disrupting NGO operations in the country, according to the state news agency ZIANA.

    The director of the National Association for Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), Jonah Mudehwe told the agency that staff had had to be recalled from various rural areas and some were being told to produce party cards.

    Also today, journalists working in Zimbabwe condemned a tough media bill which is expected to be passed next week.

    They vowed to petition parliament against the bill, which could ban foreign journalists altogether and place heavy restrictions on local reporters.

    The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill is set to be debated on Tuesday, just weeks ahead of presidential elections in March.

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    Party cards run out as Mugabe enforces loyalty

    By Basildon Peta in Harare

    20 January 2002

    Funerals are important in African society, so when Elizabeth Mujaji heard last week that her brother-in-law had died in the Chikombe area of rural Zimbabwe, she made plans to travel from Harare to attend the ceremony.

    First, however, she needed to buy a membership card from Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe's ruling political party. President Robert Mugabe's "war veterans" and youth militias have set up illegal roadblocks between most of Zimbabwe's towns, where they assault anyone failing to produce a Zanu-PF card and send them back to where they came from to get one.

    But the main party headquarters in Harare had run out of cards. Mrs Mujaji (not her real name) then sent her three sons into Harare's townships to try to buy one for her, but all returned empty-handed, forcing her to give up her plan to get to yesterday's funeral.

    On Friday, an elderly, white, farm manager whose area has been closed off by militia checkpoints explained why he had acquired a party card. Without one, he said, "you are humiliated. We were made to kneel in the road, beg to be let through and sing slogans." He asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

    Without the vital card, rural Zimbabweans are finding it impossible not only to travel but to get medical treatment, seeds and other agricultural aid for peasants, or school places for their children. People hoping to be assigned property confiscated from white farmers under Mr Mugabe's controversial land policies have no hope of succeeding unless they produce proof of Zanu-PF membership.

    In some of the areas worst affected by political violence, such as Gutu and Zaka, traditional headmen and chiefs are asking shopkeepers to sell goods only to those who can show Zanu-PF cards. Those who sell to "opposition renegades" risk having their premises burnt down.

    Last week Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said Zimbabwe was already engaged in a "low-intensity civil war".

    Such forms of intimidation, affecting almost every aspect of daily life, are commonplace in the more remote parts of Zimbabwe, where most of the country's 12.5 million people live. As the March presidential election approaches they are spreading to the towns, creating far more public concern than the controversial bills now going through parliament which will muzzle the press and make criticism of Mr Mugabe a crime.

    "At this rate Zanu-PF cards are now an equivalent of the water that we drink and the air that we breathe," said a business executive who was humiliated at an illegal roadblock when he failed to produce a card while driving his children to a boarding school.

    Apart from acquiring a Zanu-PF card, Zimbabweans are also finding it prudent to learn party slogans and liberation war songs from the 1970s. Many who have been unable to chant these on demand have been beaten up.

    The rush to acquire cards has cut supplies to vanishing point. Officials at Zanu-PF headquarters said that while they were doing their best to print more to meet demand, they could not cope. A "parallel market" has sprung up in which cards are changing hands for up to nine times the official price: while the party is supposed to charge Z$34 (about 45p), unscrupulous Zanu-PF officials are charging up to Z$300 (about £3.70).

    Although many Zimbabweans are buying the cards purely for convenience and are unlikely to vote for Mr Mugabe at the 9 and 10 March presidential election, their money will boost the coffers of a ruling party that also enjoys the use of state funds.

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    Zimbabwe journalists vow protests over media bill
        HARARE, Jan. 19 — Zimbabwean journalists vowed on Saturday to launch a series of protests from Tuesday over a controversial media bill they say will severely undermine press freedom.
        At the end of a five-hour meeting attended by journalists from across the southern African country, four media workers' bodies resolved to petition parliament to throw out the bill, which it is due to debate on Tuesday.
           President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party holds 93 of the 150 seats in the chamber. The government temporarily withdrew the media bill last Wednesday to include some ''reasonable'' amendments.
           Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, all journalists and owners of media organisations would be required to register with a government-appointed body or risk two years in prison.
           The same penalty would apply to breaches of a code of conduct that outlaws reports sowing ''alarm and despondency.''
           The legislation would also ban foreign journalists from working in the country.
           The United States, the European Union and numerous media groups have blasted the proposed law, saying it is another step by Mugabe to tighten his grip on power ahead of presidential elections on March 9-10.
           The legislation was expected to come up in talks Mugabe is to hold in Harare on Sunday with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
           Zimbabwean state media said the two men would discuss Zimbabwe's controversial land reform programme.
           Mugabe committed himself in Nigeria last year to a peaceful solution to the land problem. On Friday however the country's Commercial Farmers Union, voicing the fears of 4,500 mainly white farmers whose properties have been seized by militants loyal to Mugabe, said its members were still being singled out for attacks.

           The Zimbabwean government says redistribution of commercial farmland to members of the black majority is needed to redress imbalances from colonial times.
           The journalists' groups said on Saturday that, besides lobbying legislators to reject the media bill, they would also organise demonstrations against the government.
           ''This is one of the most draconian pieces of legislation one can ever see,'' Independent Journalists' Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) president Abel Mutsikani told the meeting.
           ''No such bad law has been formulated anywhere else in the world in recent years, not even in Mullah Omar's Afghanistan,'' he added.
           Saturday's meeting was called by the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
           Apart from IJAZ, bodies represented were the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the Federation of African Media Workers' Association and the Foreign Correspondents Association of Zimbabwe.

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    Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 17:14 GMT
    UK protest over Zimbabwe human rights
    Protesters against President Robert Mugabe's regime
    Protesters at the Zimbabwe High Commission last year
    Hundreds of people have joined demonstrations in London against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

    About 600 people demonstrated outside the American Embassy while another 150 were protesting at the Zimbabwe High Commission, according to organiser Albert Weidemann

    The demonstrators want an end to attacks on white farm owners and the repression of journalists and opposition parties under President Robert Mugabe's regime.

    They have appealed to Prime Minister Tony Blair to exert more pressure on President Mugabe's regime amid fears that the situation in Zimbabwe may be spiralling out of control.

    Robert Mugabe
    Protesters want an end to repression under Mr Mugabe

    Mr Weidemann told BBC News Online the Zimbabwe Human Rights Campaign had called the demonstration to thank the United States for imposing "smart sanctions" targeting Mr Mugabe and the ZANU -PF ruling party rather than the country as a whole.

    But he added: "Unless the international community do something the people of Zimbabwe will continue to be persecuted.

    "And we want to know why the UK Government and the European Union have not done enough."

    Mr Weidemann is also calling on the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe and the United Nations to send a peace-keeping force to the country.

    Previous protests in London by Britain's Zimbabwean community have called for the UK to help halt violence in their homeland and have included petitions being handed in to Downing Street.

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    UN Wire, Sat 19 Jan 2002

    Annan's Office Said To Have Delayed Release Of Mugabe Report

    Senior staff in U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's office have delayed the
    publication of a U.N. Development Program report on Zimbabwean President
    Robert Mugabe, the London Telegraph reports.

    "This report is diplomatic dynamite and needs to be handled very carefully,"
    one diplomat said.  The Telegraph reports that the senior staff decided they
    needed to give final authorization to the report, and this is believed to be
    the first time such approval has been demanded (Tim Butcher, London
    Telegraph, Jan. 18).

    Meanwhile, in response to international pressure, Zimbabwean Justice
    Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday decided to delay consideration of a
    bill which would ban foreign correspondents and establish a licensing system
    for local journalists, saying he wants to modify the legislation.  The
    proposed legislation rose out of an effort to silence dissent against
    Mugabe, who is running for re-election in March (The Australian, Jan. 18).

    In a commentary in the Financial Times, Robert Rotberg, President of the
    World Peace Foundation, writes that Mugabe "has been pushing his country and
    his neighbors towards the abyss for several years."  Rotberg also says that
    the proposed legislation "is an attempt to emasculate the media" and that
    Mugabe is attempting to "make opposition campaigning impossible, destroy the
    last smidgen of accountability, prohibit objective poll-watching and
    encourage continued physical intimidation of voters."

    Rotberg writes that "South Africa and the SADC (Southern African Development
    Community) need to do more, with moral and political backing from
    Washington, London, Brussels and the United Nations" (Financial Times, Jan.

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    Daily News - Feature

    When churches allow politicians to lead in prayer

    1/19/02 7:35:12 AM (GMT +2)

    Pius Wakatama on Saturday

    AS was stated, I could not contribute last Saturday because of death in the
    family. My cousin's son, Simon, succumbed to diabetes after a protracted

    Even though we were grief-stricken, we nevertheless rejoiced as we listened
    to glowing testimonies about his life from his church, friends, workmates
    and neighbours.

    It is amazing that in his short 38 years on earth, his life had touched so
    many people from various sections of the community. He was an exemplary
    citizen, a hard and honest worker, a fine son, a loving father and husband
    and a real gift to the Wakatama extended family.

    I received the message of Simon's death first after reading, in The Daily
    News, that scores of Zanu PF supporters had rampaged through Mbare,
    attacking people suspected of supporting the Movement for Democratic Change.
    Angry residents were reported to have threatened to hit back.

    I was gripped by fear and trepidation as I contemplated what could happen.
    I know the people of Mbare. I grew up there. They are a fearless and
    clannish lot who brook no bullying, especially those who were born and
    raised there.

    Most of them, as seen in the last municipal and parliamentary elections,
    support the MDC. Now, you just don't go into "totemless Mbare" and start
    brutalising people willy-nilly, and expect to get away with it, whoever you

    The people of Mbare did not turn to the MDC for no reason. Mbare used to be
    a Zanu PF stronghold, but that party let them down dismally. Their once
    idyllic township is now an over-crowded slum. Most of its young people are
    unemployed and poverty stalks every street and home. In order to make ends,
    meet families built zvihwendi (make-shift lean-onto structures) to
    accommodate paying lodgers.

    Social amenities and services which were excellent before independence have
    all, but broken down.

    In order to survive, some young people are now peddling drugs and the deadly
    kachasu brew. Young girls are turning to prostitution and other anti-
    social means to survive the harsh economic conditions.

    Mbare has now become the devil's own ghetto and the people rightly blame the
    Zanu PF government for their predicament. They, therefore, decided to bring
    about change to their miserable lives by ditching Zanu PF and turning
    hopefully to the MDC.

    Surely supporting a political party of one's choice is not a crime in
    Zimbabwe, at least not according to our Constitution and our laws.

    Why should people in a country that claims to be democratic be forced to
    support a violent, corrupt and discredited political party? Can they be
    blamed if they hit back at their tormentors?

    Sure enough, that evening we heard on Newsnet that the people of Mbare had
    hit back. Zanu PF supporters were attacked by suspected MDC supporters and
    their offices at Stodart Hall stoned. Even the house of the affable George
    "Big Youth" Mambo, a one-time popular musician, was ransacked. He is a
    staunch Zanu PF supporter, but I find it hard to believe that he could have
    been involved in attacking fellow Mbare residents just because they belong
    to the MDC.

    Please, somebody tell me what is happening to our beloved country? Is it
    right that residents of places like Mbare, who were sharing their suffering
    in peace, now turn against each other like ravaging wolves at the
    instigation of some mentally, morally and spiritually bankrupt politicians?

    Unfortunately, some of the guilty ones will not live long enough to reap the
    whirlwind whose seeds they are now sowing. They will have died from Aids,
    which I hear is afflicting a good number of them. A doctor once told me that
    the dreaded disease can affect one's power of reasoning. No wonder we are
    seeing what we are seeing in Zimbabwe today.

    The rot and injustice in our nation indeed now runs deep. The other day I
    visited my friend, Peter Karimakwenda, at his grinding mill in Dzivaresekwa.
    The man was seething with anger and found it difficult to return my cheery
    "Happy New Year!"

    "There is nothing to be happy about this year, Wakatama," he said rather
    seriously now. Karimakwenda is a level-headed and hard-working person. He is
    not given to loose talk.

    He is a true patriot, who loves his country with a passion. Being a real
    Shona of the Shumba Gurundoro totem, he is respectful, kind and generous to
    a fault. He is one of those whom people say: "He wouldn't hurt a fly."

    I thought his despondency had been brought about by the fact that he was
    having difficulty in sourcing maize for his grinding mill. Therefore,
    jokingly I said: "Cheer up, man. Your problems will be over soon. After all
    Minister Joseph Made said there will be a bumper harvest this year."

    He looked at me with tears welling up his eyes and said: "I spent the last
    three days in the cells at Harare Central Police Station."
    I was stunned. "Why?" I asked.

    "I was at home when the police came and arrested me. They accused me of
    organising violence against Zanu PF supporters in Dzivaresekwa," he said. "I
    had to pay bail of $5 000 to be released and yet I know nothing about what
    they are talking about."

    Things have gone too far in Zimbabwe if senior citizens, who are the pillars
    of society and their communities, can be locked up like common criminals for
    three whole days in order to harass them for supporting the MDC.

    The demon of war is now unashamedly walking stark naked in our land. It is
    enticing our poverty-stricken and gullible young men with promises of power,
    position and wealth.

    The once glorious liberation movement has been hijacked and transformed into
    a monster which is now devouring its own children.

    Who will save us? We can only turn to God.

    Dear Lord, help us. The forces of law which you ordained to maintain peace
    and order and uphold justice in the land have abdicated.

    They turn their eyes away as your people are tortured, raped and butchered
    in broad daylight.

    Your Church, too, has climbed down in fear from the watchtower. Like the
    Church of Loadicea, it is neither hot nor cold.

    The only voice we hear these days is the loud and shrill voice of the
    apostate Church of false prophets. What can one say when political leaders
    now organise and lead churches in national days of prayer? Who is supposed
    to give spiritual and moral leadership to the nation? Is it the Church or
    the unregenerate state?

    God's people must not be fooled. These so-called church leaders who fan
    violence and hatred of preaching peace and reconciliation among Zimbabweans
    are nothing but wolves in sheep's clothing.

    Their churches are not God's houses, but personal businesses.

    "Do not be yoked together in worship with non-believers. For what do
    righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light
    have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What
    does a believer have in common with a non-believer? What agreement is there
    between the temple of God and idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

    He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    Daily News - Leader Page

    Pushing people into organising themselves as urban guerrillas

    1/19/02 7:36:42 AM (GMT +2)

    By Marko Phiri

    NOW more than ever will the people of this nation need police and other
    uniformed forces' for protection from the marauding bands of evil-doers bent
    on seeing the vote go the way most favourable to them.

    This election is coming at a time when a lot of lives have been lost, and
    the tragedy for many here is that while the police force is ideally supposed
    to safeguard the lives of the citizens of any country, their loyalty is now
    to political interests.

    This in itself has to be the greatest injustice that can befall any citizen
    on earth. Yet because the people of Zimbabwe have been warned not to
    criticise the uniformed forces, it still remains interesting that one of the
    most important clauses enshrined in a people-oriented constitution is their
    right to demand the protection and upholding of their civil liberties by
    those guardians of the law!

    But we suppose the people here have to make do with living in fear and
    trepidation of not just the perpetrators of the political violence, but be
    very afraid of the people they are supposed to run to for protection.

    There sure has never been a time when the people of this country will need
    the law on their side, and this election should certainly be one that many
    hope never was.

    The plot for us becomes even thicker when we are told the uniformed forces
    will not salute anybody they suspect wants to reverse the gains of "their"
    hard-won independence.

    There may well already be contingency plans on what to do if the ruling
    party gets booted out. And that spells disaster for the populace who thought
    the police and the army were their "guardian angels", but are turning out to
    be usurpers of power and telling the masses that their choice of leader is
    terribly wrong.

    It is more of throwing the ideals of voting, of "free and fair elections"
    and the whole idea of multi-party politics into the trash can than merely
    not being too eager to salute one whose war credentials are in doubt, or
    "seeks to reverse the gains of Zimbabwe's hard-won independence". But then
    that is what happens when the protectors or keepers of the law become pawns
    in this very filthy game of politics.

    Previously, the policeman was one person outside one's "big brother" that
    the general public vested so much trust in and would run to when they felt
    threatened by those folks who are not in the least awed by the law. Yet
    today, many believe that the good old lie is one told to a cop!

    The year 2000 apparently did not herald just the millennium bug hoax, but
    also with its parliamentary election that year, brought with it radically
    altered ideas about the duties of the army and the police force.

    While appeals have been made to "de-politicise" these security arms, and
    with them claiming they are not "politicised", it is thus difficult to work
    out how people are going to be protected this time around as they attempt to
    freely campaign for their parties. Previously they have not fared any

    And it is not merely about those actively taking part in the process beyond
    casting their vote, or taking part in politics, but the many people who are
    somewhat apolitical want all the same to vote and then get on with their
    lives without chanting any slogans.

    There are many such people who have in the past lost their lives, or the
    lucky ones who have escaped with a few lashes on their backs from those who
    have made no attempt to hide their political affiliations.

    Obviously it will be said that there are a few good men and women, in the
    police force and the army, whose loyalty still lies in the people not
    politics and politicians. But it must be a fair assumption that today they
    definitely are not the happiest folks in the job.

    And for them the choice has become either they do their job with that frame
    of reference as preached to them during their days at Morris Depot or risk
    joining the ranks of the jobless.

    The pay cheques they get at the end of the month sure must smell like blood
    money, yet because the country seems to be in a period where the is no
    shortage of inverted "conscientious objectors", it is going to be long
    before many here respond to the obligations of the conscience and "do the
    right thing".

    That threat of leaving the force under duress has been more than real as it
    has been reported of officers who have been accused of being opposition
    party sympathisers and whose fate has been that of some teachers accused of
    the same by our erstwhile war heroes: they have been forced to leave town!

    Because the police are now caught up in this terrible atmosphere, one is
    eerily reminded of the militant blacks back in the United States of
    America's very racist 1960s at the height of the civil rights movement. When
    the blacks realised that protection from the white police officers was not
    forthcoming, they organised themselves into units and protected themselves
    from those vigilantes, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Who is the neo-KKK in
    Zimbabwe such that the locals would need to resort to the methods employed
    by Bobby Seale's Black Panthers back in America's racially volatile 1950s
    and 1960s?

    But Zimbabweans have always been celebrated as a peace-loving people, and
    this must offer relief that while protection from the law enforcement
    officers has tended to be lethargic, they will not be pushed to form
    themselves into neighbourhood militias or urban guerrillas bent on
    protecting themselves at whatever cost.

    It is hoped that this election, both during pre- and post-voting periods,
    does not take for granted that "peace-loving" stereotype.

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    Daily News - Leader Page

    Government merely shifting tragedy of food shortages

    1/19/02 7:35:59 AM (GMT +2)

    FOOD supplies become critically low at this time of the year, and the
    failure by the government to ensure imports of grain are in the country
    before the end of this month may result in people actually dying of

    Far more people than the initial estimate of 600 000 will require food.
    People have already died due to starvation and the silent killer is bound to
    claim more lives.

    However, because of the clampdown on the movement of people in and out of
    the rural areas by Zanu PF militias, it means the situation is likely to get
    worse before the full impact of the extent of hunger in the countryside is

    While keeping the crisis under wraps may be useful, it is most unlikely that
    starving villagers will have the energy to go and vote in March, and those
    that do may not necessarily believe that they are starving because of an
    insidious plot by Western countries to overthrow the Mugabe government.

    The combination of widespread and indiscriminate terror against Zimbabweans
    and the food shortages may help ordinary people to realise who is really
    responsible for the problems they are facing.

    It is tragic that in its relentless pursuit for power the government has
    abandoned its pretence at talking about its commitment to caring for the
    people, while in reality it practises the very opposite.

    The government can claim knowledge of one thing: crisis management in the
    handling of fuel supplies over the past two years. It could have adopted the
    same procedures in the importation of grain, even though this is far from
    being the best approach.

    The food shortage has its origins in the government's denial mode. As with
    the Aids pandemic, the government dismissed suggestions that its misdirected
    action in invading farms and preventing agricultural activities from being
    undertaken, unrealistic producer prices and then the subsequent late
    delivery of agricultural inputs to its newly resettled fast-track farmers,
    would result in serious food deficits.

    It dismissed the warnings as part of a scheme to entrench power in the hands
    of commercial farmers, allegedly supported by a conspiracy fuelled by the
    international community. But when reality dawned on the government, it began
    to de-emphasise the extent of the crisis. Even more dismaying was its
    response. That is why the little grain that is left is being moved from
    parts of the country to critical areas such as Matabeleland. But this is
    merely fire-fighting. The problem remains untackled.

    By putting in place legislation that empowers the Grain Marketing Board
    (GMB) to seize farm stock maize, the government is demonstrating how little
    it cares about the people in the farming areas, who it conspired to
    displace, as if they too have no need for land.

    The government wants to provide grain to the urban communities, while
    leaving those in the countryside to starve, away from the glare of the
    public and international community.

    Farmers and villagers retain part of their harvests for their own immediate
    consumption, for their workforce and livestock. Farm workers face
    starvation, while livestock products - poultry, pigs, beef and dairy - will
    become increasingly scarce. The government is merely shifting the theatre of
    food tragedy from the urban centres to the countryside.

    The intention could be to sway the urban vote from the opposition, but these
    are uncharted waters and what it seeks to gain in urban areas may turn out
    to be a double defeat, if the rural communities react angrily to their
    treatment by a government which takes them for granted.

    The delay in importing grain could mean that hungry communities will be so
    impatient by the time the maize arrives that they will raid the wagons on
    their way to the GMB silos, dotted throughout the country.

    Hunger has very little respect for laws and death is stalking the rural
    communities because this people's government has been tardy in its response
    to a crisis it authored.

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    Harare - A lawyer and the father of a 17-year-old white activist of the
    opposition Movement for Democratic Change were finally allowed access to him
    in a rural jail on Saturday, more than 36 hours after he was kidnapped by
    ruling party militias.

    "He's got superficial facial cuts, but he's fine," said television producer
    Edwina Spicer, mother of Tom Spicer. "I'm very much relieved he's in police
    custody and not in a shallow grave."

    Tom Spicer was leading a group of a dozen MDC youths campaigning
    presidential elections in a farming area about 100km east of Harare on
    Thursday when their vehicle broke down.

    Spicer was seized by a group of local ruling party militiamen, who assaulted
    him and held him prisoner until police took over on Friday morning, said Mrs

    However, police immediately accused him of kidnapping a ruling party youth
    and detained him overnight in the police station in the town of Marondera
    about 75km east of Harare where he will spend the rest of the weekend.

    He is due to appear in court on Monday, where an application will be made
    for him to be released on bail.

    Police refused to let lawyers or his father, Newton Spicer, see him until
    this morning, just as a high court judge here was about to hear an
    application to force police to grant access to him.

    MDC officials say campaigning for the elections has become fraught with
    danger as the ruling party turns huge areas of the country into "no-go
    zones" against the MDC.

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    Daily News

    Amani Trust, MDC deny creating hide-outs for fugitives

    1/19/02 7:31:39 AM (GMT +2)

    Staff Reporter

    THE trustees of Amani Trust, a human rights organisation, and the MDC
    yesterday, denied setting up hundreds of "safe houses" funded by the
    non-governmental organisation, for use as hide-outs for fugitives from

    Both Amani Trust and MDC said the allegations were defamatory and entirely

    The MDC said the refuges were meant to house victims of political violence
    perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters, war veterans and youth brigades, contrary
    to yesterday's Herald story.

    The article alleged that a three-month investigation had revealed that
    occupants of the asylums were mainly MDC members on the police's wanted list
    of suspects linked to political violence throughout the country.

    Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC's spokesman, said: "The front page story in
    today's (yesterday's) Herald, written by Mr Philip Magwaza, who is currently
    facing criminal charges of extortion, is false.

    "Equally false and disturbing is the assertion that Welshman Ncube, the
    MDC's secretary-general, conceded that the safe houses are being used as
    havens for criminals."

    The Mashonaland Trustees of Amani denied "funding covert operations against
    Zanu PF" and acting as a conduit to channel foreign funding to the MDC.

    In a statement, they said Amani Trust was a non-partisan organisation with
    no political affiliation.

    "The Trust's main function is to render assistance to victims of organised
    violence," says the statement. "Amani Trust has provided assistance to
    hundreds of victims since the liberation war."

    The Trust said it had a long relationship with various government
    ministries, particularly the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, for which
    it trained several hundred health workers in trauma counselling.

    The Trust said it had provided assistance to the victims of political
    violence since 2000, regardless of political affiliation.

    The Trust said it gave treatment, temporary accommodation and food to the
    victims and their families, but those entering these sanctuaries were bound
    by stringent conditions such as not engaging in any political activity,
    breach of which would lead to their eviction from the sanctuaries.

    Jongwe said the MDC sought temporary shelter for people displaced by
    political violence. Some of them were witnesses in election petitions filed
    in the High Court by the MDC challenging some victories by the ruling party
    in 2000's parliamentary election, propped up by the intimidation of voters.

    "After giving evidence, they were not allowed back into their villages and
    have not been able to unite with their children and relatives for more than
    a year now," he said.

    He said the number of innocent and helpless people, who have become internal
    refugees in their country of birth, owing to a concerted campaign of State
    terror against the people, now ran into tens of thousands.

    The MDC could only assist a few of the victims because of limited resources,
    he said.

    Jongwe said: "Is that Magwaza's definition of fugitives from the law?
    Fugitives from the law of the jungle - yes."

    Daily News

    Mudede in contempt of court, Makarau rules

    1/19/02 7:30:32 AM (GMT +2)

    By Pedzisai Ruhanya

    HIGH Court judge, Justice Rita Makarau, yesterday ruled that Tobaiwa Mudede,
    the Registrar-General, was in contempt of court when he closed the voter
    registration process early this month.

    Mudede disregarded Justice Charles Hungwe's High Court ruling in December
    that he should not close the process until the court hears an application by
    MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Tsvangirai had taken to court President Mugabe, Mudede and two Cabinet
    ministers, challenging the constitutionality of the registration process and
    the order to have people vote in their constituencies.

    During the hearing of the case yesterday, Tsvangirai's lawyer, Advocate
    Adrian de Bourbon, said that Mudede was in contempt of court after he closed
    the registration process in contravention of the court ruling.

    In response, Makarau said: "In order to protect the integrity of this court,
    I will refuse to hear Mudede in this case."

    She did not say what other measures she would take against Mudede.

    She told Chipo Machaka, from the Attorney-General's Office, to address only
    the points of John Nkomo, the Minister of Home Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa,
    the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Andrew Chigovera,
    the Attorney-General, the Electoral Supervisory Commission, and Pikirayi
    Deketeke, the Editor of the government-controlled newspaper, The Herald, who
    are among the 11 respondents in the matter.

    After hearing the case, Makarau reserved judgment, saying she needed time to
    consider the submissions.

    Makarau's refusal to hear Mudede's arguments means that she will arrive at
    her judgment using the arguments of the other 10 respondents and the MDC's

    De Bourbon said: "There is need for the courts to maintain their
    independence from the Executive and equally compelling is the need for the
    courts to ensure that the Executive comply with orders made by the court.

    "To do otherwise is to treat persons such as Mudede as being above the law,
    or to give the impression to the public at large that there is no reason to
    comply with orders made by the High Court of Zimbabwe.

    "While it is apparent that the fixing of the dates for the presidential
    election was not left to the discretion of Mudede, but was the result of
    decisions taken in the politburo of one of the ruling parties in this
    country, nonetheless the administration of justice generally must be upheld
    and Mudede cannot be allowed to get away with his conduct in the present
    matter," De Bourbon said.

    He said by now Mudede should have given a notice for the holding of mayoral
    and council elections in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling that the
    elections be held by or before 11 February, but has disregarded that and
    left Zanu PF to have the elections held in March.

    De Bourbon said in order to comply with Schedule three paragraph three of
    the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Registrar-General's office of citizenship,
    births and deaths and the chief immigration officer should make available to
    Mudede all the records in their possession or under their control containing
    full names and particulars of all persons who have, at the date of the order
    attained the age of 18 years or over and are Zimbabweans.

    He said Mudede should be ordered to compile a common roll in compliance with
    section 28 (2) of the Constitution, containing a full list of all persons
    who have at the date of the order attained the age of 18 years or above, are
    Zimbabweans or since 31 December 1985 have been regarded by virtue of a
    written law as permanent residents in Zimbabwe.

    "The issue of residence is only relevant when it comes to the registration
    of people, but it's not necessary when it comes to vote. The Court should
    protect the constitutional rights of Zimbabweans to vote in every part of
    the country not necessarily their constituencies. Those who were denied the
    right to register should also be allowed to do that," De Bourbon said.

    He said it was not a constitutional requirement for people to be restricted
    to vote in their constituencies, but they can vote anywhere as long as they
    are on the common voters' roll which the court should compel Mudede to
    produce for the purpose of the presidential election.

    He said Zimbabweans who are working or studying abroad should also be
    allowed to vote, instead of selectively allowing diplomatic staff and the
    armed forces outside the country to vote as the government intends to do. He
    said what the government and Mudede are doing was a discriminatory
    application of the law.

    However, Machaka defended the idea of people voting in the constituencies
    saying it was lawful.

    "The requirement of proof of residence applies to both registration and
    voting. This is what the law says. I urge the court to dismiss the
    application with costs," Machaka said.

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