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

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MDC calls for postponement of poll

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 25 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said his party has yet to
decide whether to participate in Zimbabwe's legislative elections, scheduled
for March, as conditions in the country are not conducive to a free and fair

Tsvangirai was addressing delegates at a conference on opposition parties
and democracy in Africa at the South African Institute of International
Affairs in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Given the number of reforms needed to
ensure a free and fair election, he said, the parliamentary poll should be
postponed to June.

The MDC was "damned if we do, and damned if we don't" participate in the
March election. If the MDC participated in a ballot under the current
conditions, it would be tantamount to "legitimising fraud"; if they chose
not to participate, "you [could] become irrelevant", Tsvangirai commented.

The MDC leader outlined key impediments to the MDC participating in the
poll: chief among them was the lack of democratic space for his party to
campaign, and ongoing intimidation and politically motivated violence. Both
previous legislative and presidential elections had been marred by
"state-sponsored violence", and this would need to cease if the upcoming
ballot were to be declared free and fair.

"People have lost confidence in the electoral process; they have experienced
too many fraudulent elections, in which their vote has been meaningless.
This has to change - the current electoral and political environment
precludes a free and fair election," Tsvangirai alleged.

Curbs on holding public meetings were also affecting his party's ability to
contest elections. "If we have a meeting with three or more people ... we
have to ask permission from the police". Under the Public Order and Security
Act (POSA), political parties have to obtain clearance from the police to
hold a gathering.

The opposition party also had no access to state media and was therefore
severely constrained in its ability to campaign effectively. However, the
government has contended that because the opposition has not confirmed its
participation in the ballot, it does not qualify for airtime.

After delivering his speech, Tsvangirai told the media he had been
encouraged by recent comments by South Africa's ruling African National
Congress (ANC) that the MDC should be allowed to hold public meetings
without having to apply for permission from the police.

"Any support ... is appreciated, but I don't know whether it will have any
impact in the next two months [before the scheduled elections]. The
government is going full throttle, regardless of comments from outside [the
country]," Tsvangirai said.

Both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union
(AU) had a role to play in ensuring that member states adhered to principles
and guidelines governing elections.

"Given the public policy and public position of SADC and the AU on freedom,
liberty, equity, economic management, governance and democracy, one would
have thought the two bodies could put together mechanisms for correction and
sanction, should a member state deliberately sabotage these noble ideals,"
Tsvangirai observed.

"A new spirit has taken root in the SADC region, to deal with the question
of elections. The [election] guidelines adopted in Mauritius last year [by
SADC countries] give us a lot of hope and encouragement: they are not just
SADC guidelines; they are universal requirements."

Zimbabwe, however, remained out of step with the thinking of the rest of the
region, he alleged.

"The reforms that the government has made to the electoral laws, while a
step in the right direction, are nowhere near sufficient. Significant reform
measures are needed if the government is to comply with the new SADC
benchmarks on democratic elections. From the MDC's perspective, the
government needs to carry out the following, if credible elections are to
take place: the disbanding of the youth militias and their complete removal
from all constituencies; the repeal or amendment of all legislative
provisions that infringe upon basic civil and political liberties; a
comprehensive independent audit of the voters' roll, and for those who have
been unable to register, to be able to do so; and access to the state media
[for the opposition]," Tsvangirai explained.

It would take six months for these reforms to "have a meaningful impact on
the electoral and political environment". The MDC was therefore advocating
that the earliest that elections could take place would be the end of June
2005. "We want to participate, but we don't want to commit [political]
suicide. Now the environment is very hostile, and they [government] are
nowhere near [full] compliance with SADC guidelines," he noted.

The MDC was involved in ongoing consultations over whether or not it would
contest the parliamentary elections, Tsvangirai said, and a decision would
be made during executive and council meetings to be held from 2 to 3

"It is imperative that we get this election right; that all stakeholders are
comfortable with the conditions and processes under which the election is
held," he stressed. "Another disputed election would be bad news for
Zimbabwe, and bad news for the region."

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ANC, alliance partners to develop common Zimbabwe position

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 25 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - South Africa's ruling African National
Congress (ANC) party and its alliance partners are to formulate a common
position on Zimbabwe, officials told IRIN. The move could indicate a shift
in the ANC's stance on Zimbabwe.

The alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
and the South African Communist Party (SACP), have been openly critical of
the ZANU-PF government.

The ANC also approved COSATU's plans to resume its fact-finding mission to
Zimbabwe. "We were never against it, but have always maintained that COSATU
should respect the Zimbabwean government's sovereignty", the ANC's head of
presidency, Smuts Ngonyama, told IRIN. The second fact-finding mission is
expected to leave for Zimbabwe early next month.

The ruling alliance secretariat meets on Thursday, when it will also draw up
a response to Zimbabwean labour minister, Paul Mangwana, who said last week
that COSATU should not seek to return to the country, COSATU spokesman Paul
Notyawa told IRIN.

Mangwana reportedly remarked to The Financial Gazette, a weekly newspaper,
that Zimbabwe was not a province of South Africa, and COSATU should stay on
its side of the border.

COSATU's first visit to Zimbabwe, when its delegates were expelled, sparked
a heated public exchange between the labour federation and the ANC last
year. President Thabo Mbeki criticised COSATU for allegedly showing contempt
for a sovereign government and head of state, which "could not have created
a climate conducive to serious discussions".

A member of the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) explained that the
shift in the last two weeks had come about as a result of several factors,
including the abrasive response by his party leadership to COSATU's first
visit, which "did not go down well with our members".

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
which has been seen by the ANC as being too pro-western, as well as having
ties to the predominantly white South African opposition party, the
Democratic Alliance, had developed a more pro-African "nuanced approach",
the official explained. The MDC has also attempted to improve its
relationship with the ANC, which has helped.

The ANC's willingness to review its stance on Zimbabwe has also come out of
concern that growing tensions with COSATU could lead to a split, with the
labour movement forming a new rival party, a senior party source said.

Zimbabwe was the subject of "extensive discussion" at an NEC meeting last
week. At a press briefing afterwards, ANC secretary-general Kgalema
Motlanthe, a former trade unionist, expressed concern over the MDC's lack of
political freedom in Zimbabwe, ahead of the general elections in March. He
reportedly said, "Over the years we have been saying to them [ZANU-PF] that
you cannot have a properly registered party restricted in this way. Indeed,
the playing field should be levelled, and the police should act in an
impartial manner."

This is the first time the ANC has admitted that it had been attempting to
apply pressure on ZANU-PF to adhere to the Southern African Development
Community's guidelines on electoral reform.

"There is growing impatience within certain sections of the ANC with the
ZANU-PF's unwillingness to reform. The debate now within the ANC, on drawing
a position on Zimbabwe, is whether we should, in the light of the fact that
the electoral reforms introduced by the Mugabe regime are too late - just a
few months ahead of the elections - declare the electoral exercise
illegitimate, or pronounce it as a partial opening towards democratisation,"
a senior NEC member told IRIN.

Ngonyama, however, maintained that there had been no change in the stance on
Zimbabwe, but underlined the need for "developing a common understanding
with our alliance partners on the issues in Zimbabwe. We have always said
that all parties [in Zimbabwe] should be allowed to function in a free

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Zimbabwean hospitals paralysed by brain drain
          January 25 2005 at 01:15PM

      Harare - Until 2003, strikes by doctors and nurses at Zimbabwe's
government hospitals were almost an annual tradition, but now many have
simply emigrated, paralysing the health sector.

      The medical brain drain has reached such critical levels in Zimbabwe
that bodies are piling up for months in morgues because there are no
pathologists to conduct post-mortems.

      A report presented last month at the ruling Zanu-PF party congress
show-ed that only about nine percent of pharmacists required in hospitals
are currently at work, along with less than half of the doctors.

      "We feel that the staffing level is less than or equal to 50 percent,"
said Billy Rigava, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association.

       Zimbabwe's health sector has in recent years witnessed an exodus of
workers - driven out mainly by poor working conditions and low salaries.

      Many have sought greener pastures in neighbouring countries and
further afield, or simply started private practice. At least 1 530 doctors
are needed, but only 687 were working at state institutions in 2003, against
6 940 nurses out of a required 11 640, according to a health ministry

      "Most of the nurses have gone elsewhere," said Rigava, adding that
once 15 doctors embarked on a strike and later left the country

      Popular destinations for Zimbabwe's migrating health professionals are
Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Namibia.

      The government has tried to bridge the gap by hiring doctors from Cuba
and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but many argue that it would be
cheaper to pay locals a bit more instead of hiring expatriates.

      Parliament last month passed a law which is expected to help stem the
brain drain by improving the salaries and working conditions of those in

      A hospital that is supposed to be staffed by about five doctors
normally has only one, which "gives an element of burn-out", Rigava said.

      A visit to the casualty and emergency departments of one of the
country's largest hospitals in the capital, Parirenyatwa, showed that many
patients have to endure long hours of waiting to be seen by overworked
doctors and nurses. - Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe harvest unlikely to improve over 2004 - U.S.

6:14 a.m. January 25, 2005
ROME - Zimbabwe's 2005 harvest is unlikely to improve over 2004 which was
believed to have come in well below government estimates and far short of
what the population needs to feed itself, a U.N. food aid official said on
Zimbabwe stopped large-scale food aid last year, saying it had reaped a
bumper harvest in 2004, a statement many aid agencies doubt is true. The
U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said things were unlikely to improve much
this year.
"There is still a steady erosion of the ability to plant," said U.N. WFP
spokesman Mike Huggins.
The knock-on effect of previous poor harvests would mean a shortage of
seeds, as most grain will have been eaten, and a lack of income from surplus
crops meant few farmers would be able to buy fertiliser, Huggins said.
"This year (the harvest) will probably reflect the same level (as 2004)," he
said, despite improved rains which are likely to improve harvests in
southern Africa.
Harare's estimate of a 2004 crop of 2.4 million tons of the staple maize is
seen by aid groups as an unfeasibly large increase on 2003's 800,000 million
Although WFP does not have the access it needs to Zimbabwe to make a formal
estimate, its officials reckon the 2004 crop was almost certainly no more
than 1 million tons, far short of the 1.8 million tons the population needs
to feed itself.
Opponents of President Robert Mugabe's government say he refused food aid as
accepting it reflected badly on his land reform policies of transferring
white-owned land to black farmers, much criticised by former colonial power
Amnesty International has accused the government of selectively distributing
food aid, withholding it from political opponents.
WFP said it was still feeding around 1 million Zimbabweans on relatively
small-scale schemes to direct food to vulnerable groups like school
children, the elderly and HIV/AIDS sufferers. Before May last year it was
feeding up to 5.5 million people.
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Yahoo News

Mugabe has lost control of party - opposition
By Alistair Thomson and Paul Holmes

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Unprecedented infighting in Zimbabwe's ruling
ZANU-PF shows President Robert Mugabe has lost control of his party ahead of
elections due in March, the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says.

"Mugabe now is a leader of a faction, not the leader of the party of the
country, and that undermines his legitimacy," the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader said on Tuesday.

More than a dozen top party officials have been purged amid jostling to
succeed Mugabe, 80, upon his retirement in 2008. The party has also been
racked by squabbles over the imposition of some election candidates and the
exclusion of others.

The rare infighting in ZANU-PF, which under Mugabe fought for Zimbabwe's
struggle for independence in 1980 and has ruled ever since, could benefit
the MDC if it decides to contest the election, Tsvangirai told Reuters in an
interview in neighbouring South Africa.

But, the MDC leader said his party still wanted the election delayed to
allow better preparation, and would decide only next month whether to
contest the parliamentary polls, which they have threatened to boycott.

"The problem confronting us is: damned if you do, damned if you don't,"
Tsvangirai said. "It takes two to tango. You can't have a one-party
election, neither can you have an election in which you legitimise a farce."

"As Napoleon said, don't help your enemy when he's down -- obviously it's an
opportunity for the MDC," he said.

Tsvangirai repeated his call for polls to be postponed to meet Southern
African Development Community (SADC) standards.

"We don't expect 100 percent compliance on SADC principles but we expect the
minimum to be applied," he said.

The MDC leadership would decide on February 2 or 3 whether to contest the
poll. The MDC accuses Mugabe of rigging elections in 2000 and 2002 and says
the government must allow them freedom of assembly and access to the media
and voter lists.

Mugabe rejects charges of electoral fraud and dismisses Tsvangirai as a
puppet of Western opponents, above all Britain.


The former trade union leader, 52, said that even after the creation of an
electoral commission last week, Zimbabwe was far from meeting SADC
standards, and the poll should be delayed.

"It's a logistical nightmare that they have to face. It's almost an
impossibility. And so if they are to go ahead, they would have to use
discredited institutions -- the very same institutions that have committed
the fraud over the years."

Tsvangirai conceded that his treason trial for an alleged plot to kill
Mugabe had caused despondency within MDC ranks.

But he said his acquittal last October had revived morale and he expected a
second case of treason against him, linked to street protests in 2003, to

Zimbabwe's once-vibrant economy has largely failed since 2000, when Mugabe
began advocating the sometimes violent seizure of white-owned farms.
Inflation has soared to three digits and food and foreign currency are often

Many in neighbouring South Africa have watched aghast as economic migrants
have come over the border, although President Thabo Mbeki has steered away
from open confrontation with Mugabe -- revered by many across southern
Africa as a giant of the struggle against white rule.

Tsvangirai said he sensed growing frustration within Mbeki's ruling African
National Congress (ANC) at Mugabe's failure to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.

Last week, the ANC's secretary-general voiced concern over restrictions
imposed on the MDC, saying the election must be fair and police impartial.

"They have tried quiet diplomacy for a very long time, tried to (encourage)
ZANU-PF to move towards democracy and human rights observation, but they
have realised that Mugabe has remained defiant both to national and
international opinion," Tsvangirai said.

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Public Switches Off as Electioneering Begins

Institute for War and Peace Reporting (London)

January 24, 2005
Posted to the web January 25, 2005

IWPR Reporters

Preparations underway for parliamentary poll amid seemingly widespread voter
scepticism and apathy.

Though a precise date for Zimbabwe's March 2005 parliamentary election has
yet to be announced by the ruling ZANU PF party, electioneering has
nevertheless begun in earnest as prospective candidates of the main
political parties fight it out in primary elections

The two major contestants will be ZANU PF, (Zimbabwe African National
Union - Patriotic Front) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
MDC. Several smaller parties will also contest the election, but following
major internal fights at the ZANU PF primaries there will also be an
unexpectedly high number of independent candidates.

There has been some speculation that the election might be postponed since
many candidates say they need more than two months to prepare their
campaigns. But analysts say a postponement is highly unlikely: they say the
delay in announcing a date is a tactic to minimise political violence that
has marred previous elections.

The registrar general says there are 5,658,637 registered voters in a
population of 11.5 million. [Three million Zimbabwean citizens have either
fled or emigrated into exile, mainly in South Africa and the United Kingdom,
as a result of economic collapse and political repression. The government
has denied them the right to vote, which will inflict enormous damage on
opposition candidates].

The right to inspect voters' rolls began on January 17 and ends on January
30, but opposition parties have complained that near-insuperable obstacles
have been raised.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bill, establishing a commission to run all
elections and referendums, was passed by the national assembly in December.
The commission is nominally independent, but is in fact wholly answerable to
the president because he appoints all six of its members.

With the election less than two months away, the commission has yet to
secure offices or appoint support staff.

Rashweat Mukundu, acting director of the Zimbabwe branch of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa, an organisation promoting freedom and
independence of the media, said the majority of urban voters are sceptical
that the election will bring any immediate change.

"Apathy has set in because the voters don't see anything changing," he told
IWPR. "The ruling party has not changed the electoral playing field and as
of now there is no evidence there will be fair play."

University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, chairman of the
Zimbabwe Integrated Programme, an independent development organisation,
concurred. "The apathy that has set in will play in favour of the ruling
party," he said. "Nothing has changed in the rural areas, so ZANU PF is
likely to maintain its stranglehold on that constituency. Urban voters, most
of whom continue to support the opposition, see nothing changing."

The passage last November of the repressive Zimbabwe NGO Bill, which
criminalises leaders of local non-government organisations, foundations and
charities if they accept foreign funding for work on human rights and
transparent governance, has further restricted the scope for democratic

"This means that state machinery controlled by ZANU PF will be the sole
agent of voter education. It cannot be expected to be impartial," said a
senior official of the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, ZESN, a coalition
of NGOs formed to promote democracy and good governance.

The government has been busily telling people through the state media, in
advance of the election, that an economic turnaround has begun after years
of decline. "Some people might be fooled by this government propaganda," a
banker, who requested anonymity, told IWPR. "But the business sector is
aware that there is no such turnaround. Zimbabwe's is an agricultural-based
economy and, on its own admission, the ruling party has said only a third of
arable land is under crops: so how can anyone talk of a turnaround?"


Under a unity accord signed in 1987, ZANU PF was formed from the merger of
the two liberation movements that had fought the war for independence
against white minority rule in the 1970s.

The two parties were ZANU (the Zimbabwe African National Union) and ZAPU
(the Zimbabwe African People's Union). ZANU was mainly supported by the
majority Shona tribal group from northern and eastern Zimbabwe. ZAPU was
primarily backed by members of the minority Ndebele tribe of western

Both liberation movements operated mainly in rural areas, which explains why
to this day the ZANU PF combined party has its main support base in rural
areas. ZANU PF is also dominated at the top by Shonas.

One of the clauses of the 1987 unity accord required the merged party to
legislate for a one-party Marxist-Leninist state. But in the 1990s an
increasingly confident civil society began to clamour for a new constitution
that would help loosen ZANU PF's hold on de facto absolute power. This was
happening at a time when democratic movements undermined and toppled
dictatorships in neighbouring Malawi and Zambia.

As the call for a new constitution gained momentum towards the end of the
1990s, ZANU PF succumbed to the growing demand for greater democratic
freedoms and established a constitutional commission to write a new
constitution. Although commission members consulted widely around the
country, it became clear that the wishes of the people for real reform were
not going to be respected. Critics said the resultant draft constitution was
constructed in such a way that it would entrench the ruling party further in

It was put to a referendum in February 2000 and was rejected by the
electorate. That triggered a major crisis, which has now gone on for five
years. It was the first time since independence in 1980 that ZANU PF and its
leader, President Robert Mugabe, had been defeated in a national poll.
Mugabe, angry and troubled by the people's rebuff, reacted swiftly to the
defeat. In a populist move, he ordered veterans of the 1970s war to begin
invading commercial farms, the backbone of the economy, to punish white
farmers who had publicly campaigned for the rejection of the draft
constitution. Several white farmers were murdered during the farm invasions.

Many tens of thousands of landless peasants were resettled on the farms, but
they in turn were driven off by army and police forces so that in the end
the main beneficiaries of the land reform programme were top ruling party
officials, including relatives of the president. The result was a near-total
collapse in agricultural production and only now is the government beginning
to try to rationalise the chaos and anarchy of the reforms.

The parliamentary election of 2000 reflected the declining popularity of
ZANU PF, which won only a narrow majority - 62 of the contested seats, with
57 going to the newly emerging opposition party, the MDC, and one to an
independent. However, the existing constitution permitted the president to
nominate an additional 30 MPs. All 30 nominated by Mugabe were ZANU PF
supporters, giving the ruling party 93 seats in the new national assembly.
Since then ZANU PF has gained another four seats at by-elections following
the deaths of opposition MPs, so that the ruling party now has the support
of 97 MPs in the 150-member assembly.

Following the 2000 election, Zimbabwe, under ZANU PF, has acquired pariah
status in the international community. Many western organisations that
observed the 2000 election, such as Transparency International and the
European Union, declared that the election had been rigged and the
opposition intimidated with state violence. The Commonwealth, grouping
member countries of the former British Empire, also condemned the poll,
which resulted in Mugabe pulling Zimbabwe out of the organisation.

There has been a lot of infighting in the ruling party recently, as factions
position themselves for a possible retirement of 81-year-old Mugabe. Six
provincial party chairmen and a minister were suspended from the party in
December after refusing to accept the president's choice of a woman as his
new vice president. At the party's fourth congress, held later that month,
Joyce Mujuru became Zimbabwe's first female deputy leader, seen as a
strategy by Mugabe both to lure the female vote in the March election and to
crush over-ambitious plotters for the succession.


The MDC was launched on September 11, 1999 as Zimbabwe's once vibrant
economy went into steep decline and inflation took off. At birth it was
mainly labour-based, having been formed by the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, ZCTU. Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the MDC, was the
ZCTU secretary-general while his deputy in the party was Gibson Sibanda, the
ZCTU president.

Several civic organisations also played an important part in the formation
of the MDC. The National Constitutional Assembly, which led the campaign for
a new democratic constitution, was the most important of these: its
secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, became the MDC's secretary-general. The
MDC also had considerable support among the urban unemployed and low-wage
black workers, as well as wealthy white commercial farmers and

The MDC surprised the nation, and greatly shocked Mugabe, when it
successfully campaigned for the rejection of a flawed draft constitution
promoted by the ruling ZANU PF party in a February 2000 referendum. In the
general election that followed in April of the same year, the MDC won 57 of
the 120 contested national assembly seats - by far the best opposition
showing in the country's history. It automatically became the official
opposition, barely a year after its formation.

Tsvangirai failed to win a seat. His deputy, Sibanda, did and became leader
of the parliamentary opposition. Tsvangirai narrowly lost a presidential
election two years later to the incumbent Mugabe, a poll that was again
accompanied by violence and criticised as having been widely rigged.

The MDC has lost four by-elections over the past five years and its leader
was brought before the courts to answer two treason changes carrying
possible death penalties. In the first, Tsvangirai, who was a plant foreman
in a nickel mine for ten years before he began to climb the trade union
ladder, was alleged to have hired a Canadian company to assassinate Mugabe.
In the second, it was alleged that he had called for the violent overthrow
of Mugabe. He has since been acquitted of the first charge and the second
will be heard in the courts soon.

The MDC has still to decide whether it will contest the election, arguing
that the electoral laws are unfairly skewed in favour of the ruling party.
It also alleges that

ZANU PF has not complied with guidelines on holding free and fair elections
agreed by heads of state of the Southern African Development Community at a
summit in Mauritius last year.

The MDC has strong support in urban centres where labour forms the bulk of
its membership. It has failed to penetrate effectively rural areas in
Mashonaland where much of the 1970s liberation war was fought. But in
Matabeleland, where as many as 20,000 people were slaughtered in a crackdown
by the army's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, the MDC has extensive
support in both the towns and countryside.

The MDC recently went on a diplomatic offensive in African and European
countries. It said the purpose of the visits was to persuade the countries
to put pressure on Mugabe to implement reforms that would level the
electoral playing field. The MDC, in turn, found most countries applying
pressure on the party to contest the March poll regardless of the obstacles
raised by the government.
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IWPR Launches Zimbabwe Elections Report

Institute for War and Peace Reporting (London)

January 21, 2005
Posted to the web January 25, 2005

Anthony Borden

The March parliamentary elections mark a critical moment in Southern Africa's
political crisis, and with this publication the Institute for War & Peace
Reporting launches intensive special coverage of the Zimbabwe election
campaign and the vote.

The ruling ZANU PF is angling to win the two-thirds majority necessary to
give it a free hand in amending the constitution - to suit the personal
designs and desires of President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980.

Achieved with a sheaf of fresh legislation that enables the government to
crack down on civil society and independent media, together with continuing
restrictions placed on political opposition, such a result would be
particularly disappointing to those who have placed hopes in some kind of
"African solution". The African Union, the Southern Africa Development
Community, the New Partnership for Africa's Development and key regional
players such as Nigeria and (albeit far too softly) South Africa have each
expended diplomatic energy in prodding Zimbabwe towards a more inclusive

All of these institutions have identified the March elections as a key test.
If the vote is deemed a failure, that failure will be broad. As the
International Crisis Group has predicted, "The best prospect in sight is a
C-minus election that is fairly clean on the day but deeply flawed by months
of non-democratic practices."

Yet the political scene may be more dynamic than is often understood within
the region, and internationally. Mugabe is ageing, and cohesion within the
ruling party is increasingly strained by political jockeying for position.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has faced a true dilemma -
whether to legitimise a questionable process through participation or to
boycott the poll and lose any parliamentary role. For the moment, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai is not in jail. He and his followers still have to decide
whether or not to boycott what they believe will be a deeply flawed
election. Whatever the MDC's decision and whatever any possible
predetermined official results, the situation will remain highly volatile
and events on the ground are likely to drive the formation of new
grass-roots political constellations with long term consequences.

Regional actors may not have made a decisive difference, but they have
engaged and promulgated protocols, statements and reports against which
Harare will be judged. Critically, South African civil society, and
especially the trades union movement, is increasingly active, which could
raise pressure on President Thabo Mbeki to play a more positive role.

This is the context of IWPR's special Zimbabwe reporting project. IWPR is an
international not-for-profit training and media development organisation.
Winner of numerous awards for development and human rights reporting in
conflict and crisis areas from the Balkans to Iraq, it has extensive history
in frontline reporting.

Edited in Johannesburg by Fred Bridgland, a distinguished foreign
correspondent and author who has reported on Africa for 25 years, the
project will gather a network of correspondents from throughout Zimbabwe.
Distinguished contributors, including Michael Holman, former Financial Times
Africa editor, and Gugulethu Moyo, a former Zimbabwe human rights lawyer now
working for the International Bar Association, will provide essential
commentaries. Daily photographs will also be produced on the website.

With the local independent press clamped down, and the international press
shut out, IWPR reporting will provide a unique window on a troubled country
at a critical moment.

IWPR's Zimbabwe elections reporting is available via email subscription and

IWPR is widely known for providing an international platform for local
voices. But in the Zimbabwean circumstances, dissemination within the region
is the priority, and IWPR reports are available to African media for
republication. For information, contact the editor.

This project is the first initiative of the newly incorporated South African
not-for-profit organisation IWPR Africa, under the chairmanship of Mail and
Guardian proprietor Trevor Ncube. The central aim of the effort is to
contribute to increased awareness of the situation within Zimbabwe among the
broader African regional audience. It seeks to highlight unheard Zimbabwean
voices, and thus truly contribute to an African solution.

Anthony Borden is executive director of the Institute for War & Peace

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25 January 2005


In the eyes of the ordinary Zimbabwean, the sincerity of SADC towards
conflict management and conflict resolution comes under spotlight in the
next few weeks. The people have pinned their hopes on the regional block to
intervene and ensure that the SADC pledge on the conduct of elections is

In Mauritius, Zimbabweans and SADC came up with an exit strategy to avert
the possibility of disputed elections in our region. Africans are skeptical
of African institutions because of their historical failures in resolving
African conflicts. SADC can help to clear these perceptions through a timely
intervention in the Zimbabwean crisis.

Unless African leaders seize the window of opportunity presented by the
forthcoming election to allow Zimbabwe to start afresh, SADC risks being
seen, at least by Zimbabweans, as one of the ineffective African
organizations, whose indecision could easily contribute to instability and
to an open conflict.

The help Zimbabweans seek is very basic. They would like SADC to help douse
the flames by insisting on the observance of universal electoral standards
and avert another dispute, which unfortunately, shall drag the entire region
into disrepute. If left unresolved for another five years, Zimbabwe's crisis
will have devastating effect on SADC. Clearly, the regional governments have
a critical role to play in averting a total social breakdown.

We are ready to co-operate with our SADC neighbours. They have worked hard
to understand our concerns, our vision and our aspirations.

The public confidence test has serious ramifications on the region's
intended links with other trading blocks and on renewed efforts to get the
attention of international development partners. A repeat of what happened
during the past five years will be a sad indictment on the spirit of
Mauritius in particular, and on the character of SADC in general. Any
display of a measure of inadequacy on our part shall be a huge blow to our
efforts to rid the sub-continent of practices anathema to democracy and good

Zimbabweans cannot afford to give up at a time when prospects for
advancement elsewhere in the region show a positive tack. Six months after
SADC adopted a set of guidelines on the conduct of elections, Zimbabweans
expect the organization to check on the work in progress and to come up with
a sincere opinion on the implementation of the new SADC covenant.

Here at home, the regime's actions have raised national anxieties and fears,
given the absence of the necessary institutional readiness and capacity to
execute the assignment. Concerns abound as to the state of readiness of the
new commission to guide all political contestants to compete according to
the rules of the SADC game and to emerge with a result that attracts
national consent.

Time is of essence. Without the infrastructure, grievance handling
procedures, a code of conduct and expertise, many doubt the commission's
ability to fulfill its legal and political mandate in the short time at its
disposal. The burden is on the commission to clear these doubts.

There are many factors against the commission at the moment. Any attempt to
rely on previously discredited state institutions for an election could have
drastic consequences. There is already a perennial dispute over the state of
our voters roll, aggravated by what seems to be a lack of commitment to
attend to this nagging inconvenience.

Zimbabweans shall feel relieved if the new commission is prepared to go down
in history as that patriotic lot that assisted in redirecting the nation
from the precipice. The nation shall forever be grateful if the commission
commits itself to an honest discharge of duty and responsibility.

The voters roll was compiled by a government department, whose past
behaviour represents one of the very distortions of the current electoral
environment. The new commission needs to check on the impact of Zanu-PF's
bureaucratic dominance on this crucial assignment.

Zimbabweans went to war to gain their independence and assume the universal
right to vote. Today, millions are denied this right simply because of
either their ancestry or place of residence. Those driven out of the country
by the regime's policies, by economic insecurity or by any other reasons
have a right to determine Zimbabwe's future and must be allowed to vote. The
commission must make a determination on this issue.

There is an argument over the role of the uniformed forces, especially the
military, in our elections. The Constitution forbids our armed forces from
taking an active role in the polls, yet the new Electoral Act empowers the
new commission to hire soldiers for that purpose. The Commission and SADC
must make a determination on these issues if they are to deliver an
impartial and acceptable result.

If the commission shows a patriotic fervour, engages all stakeholders
urgently and shows its impartiality early, it is possible to rekindle public
confidence in elections. We still have a chance to redeem ourselves as a
nation and to lend legitimacy to the electoral process.

The commission has an intricate task to separate itself from past practices
and show Zimbabweans that a fresh electoral management system is possible.
That can only happen if it discharges its duties without fear or favour.

A referee must enjoy the confidence of the competing teams. In our case, the
commission must display a behaviour that earns it national legitimacy and
pride. The commission must take a leadership position as adherents of
conflict management and resolution. Zimbabweans crave for love, wish to set
up peace committees, aspire for a society awash with media forbearance, and
expect abundant political space in the hope of a lasting end to the national

The commission must listen to all and save us from another five years of
uncertainty. Thereafter, we shall move onto a new political stage that
demands national unity and national healing.

Beyond the election, we wish to state once again that we have no intention
of pursuing a campaign of retribution. We have an enormous responsibility to
direct a massive development agenda in order to make a new Zimbabwe a
reality. The people have long expressed their revulsion at attempts to
repeat the scenes of the past five years.

Our vision directs us towards a holistic view of our past, understanding the
desperation of a failed nationalistic elite. Our objective goes far beyond a
mere election victory.

We are set for a radical overhaul of our political culture, raise a new
Zimbabwe and lay down an irreversible path for political transitions in
which winners and losers co-exist in peace. The political and moral will of
all the contestants must be focused on the dignity of the nation. We must
widen the foundation for a complete recovery beyond the parliamentary

Together, we shall win.

Morgan Tsvangirai

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Bennett Update January 25th 2005

The blistered hands are testimony to the hard labour that Roy Bennett is now
enduring on a daily basis.

He is no stranger to physical work, but the sheer exertion of labouring on
the prison farm is leaving its mark on Roy.

However, his spirits are high and he is enjoying working outdoors but he
never forgets the injustice that he is suffering.

An injustice made worse with every day he spends in prison, especially in
light of the fact that Zimbabwe's courts are continuing to reserve judgement
or are delaying hearing cases relating to the imprisonment of Roy Bennett.

Despite appeals by his lawyers that their client is likely to suffer
irreparable prejudice, there appears to be no movement by the judiciary to
settle the Bennett cases.

There has been a noticeable delay by the High Court concerning the
Application to Review the Parliamentary procedure that resulted in the
Honourable MP for Chimanimani being sentenced to a year in prison with

In addition, Justice Hungwe has still not passed judgement in the case
brought before him in November of last year applying for Bennett's release
pending the outcome of the Review application.

Furthermore, the legal team has also prepared a Supreme Court challenge on
the grounds that Bennett was denied a fair trial as guaranteed by Zimbabwe's
constitution. No date has been given by the court to hear this case despite
its obvious urgency.

While the courts' decisions are to be respected, questions must be asked
about the numerous judicial delays related to this case that have so far
failed to result in a single judgement. Roy Bennett has now been in prison
for almost three months. This is an obvious example of justice delayed is
justice denied.

Roy and the family would like to thank everyone who has sent letters and
to him as he has received so much mail and it is very uplifting for him. Roy
asked Heather to reply to each one, but because of the volume, she is not
able to.

Friends of Roy Bennett

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MDC in catch-22 on Zimbabwe elections
          January 25 2005 at 08:34PM

      Harare - The Movement for Democratic Change is caught in a Catch-22
situation in deciding whether to participate in Zimbabwe's upcoming general
elections, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

      "We are damned if we do, and damned if we don't," he told participants
in a seminar on opposition parties and democracy in Africa.

      Tsvangirai said if the MDC participated in an electoral process in
which the Zimbabwe people had lost confidence, they would be legitimising
the election.

      If they refused to take part, they risked becoming irrelevant as the
only opposition political party to the ruling Zanu-PF.

      Tsvangirai listed various factors contributing to the current
political environment which precluded free and fair elections.

      The recently created Independent Electoral Commission would not have
time to achieve independence status by the March election.

      The MDC was also unable to campaign freely as it had to get permission
from the Police Commission to hold a meeting of more than three people.

      Tsvangirai said 50 000 militia, specially trained to coerce and
intimidate opposition members, also hindered free elections. The MDC was
also being denied access to the voters' roll.

      Although the MDC had not yet decided whether to take part in the poll,
Tsvangirai said the party was established to do so.

      "Democracy is not an event such as a single election, it is a
process," he said. - Sapa
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The One Party State

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (London)

January 25, 2005
Posted to the web January 25, 2005

Trevor Grundy

The president has come close to securing absolute power in the past - this
time, says the opposition, he might pull it off.

When Robert Mugabe was sworn in as the first prime minister of Zimbabwe in
April 1980, a cousin and fellow freedom fighter James Chikerema said he
would never leave State House of his own free will. "Robert will have to be
carried out feet first," he told a group of disbelieving foreign

As 5.6 million Zimbabweans (total population 11.5 million) prepare to vote
in the country's fifth post-independence parliamentary election, the vast
majority - hungry, intimidated and nervous about their future - would surely
agree with Chikerema's words all those years ago.

The late president Julius Nyerere of Tanzania used to describe Zimbabwe as
"the jewel of Africa". But now more than 2,000 Zimbabweans die from AIDS
each week. Inflation is out of control, by far the world's highest, having
topped 600 per cent for a time. Unemployment is approaching 80 per cent,
manufacturing is almost non-existent and agriculture has been virtually

At some point, under present policies, the country will simply implode. Most
economic experts agree that even if radical reforms are implemented by the
newly-elected government it will take Zimbabwe more than a decade to return
to economic levels that prevailed at independence in 1980.

Things are so bad in what was once one of sub-Sahara's most vibrant
economies that people joke wryly, "What did we have before candles?" The
answer, "Electricity."

Against this backdrop of catastrophic collapse, the ruling party is split
from top to bottom, cracking along ethnic and tribal lines.

The country's main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change,
MDC, has expressed deep concern about the legitimacy of the approaching

MDC leaders and human rights organisations say terror and abuse have swept a
country whose ageing leadership boasts that it has finally given back to the
people what they fought for during the 1972-1979 chimurenga (war) against
white rule in Rhodesia - the land.

When Zimbabweans cast their votes in March they will do so in the certain
knowledge that the economic power of their old enemy - the white colonial
farmers who stole their land in the 1890s and went on to make Rhodesia one
of Africa's few agricultural success stories - has finally been broken.

"The old days have gone," said one of Robert Mugabe's few friends who makes
regular appearances on the BBC in London, the academic and ruling Zanu PF
(the Zimbawe African National Union- Patriotic Front) activist George Shire,
"Whatever happens next, the days of white power in Zimbabwe can never

Because of that, Mugabe, who turns 81 in February, really believes that his
grateful people will ignore their present appalling economic problems and
return his splintered but - to his mind - purified ruling party for another
five years.

"What we are about to see is a cross between a quasi-mystical coronation
ritual and an African-style smelling out ceremony sanctifying those at the
top and exposing those at the bottom to the wrath of the state," said
veteran journalist Michael Hartnack in Harare.

The Zimbabwean historian and journalist Lawrence Vambe adds with great
sadness in his voice, "Robert has betrayed almost every principle black
people ever fought for, lost their lives for, between 1972 and 1979 when
more than 30,000 people were killed by the soldiers of the Rhodesian Army.
He has become the new Ian Smith - stubborn, opinionated, isolated and remote
from the day-to-day sufferings of ordinary men, women and children. Yet,
tragically, I know he will win this election."

One hundred and twenty MPs will be returned to parliament in the March
poll - no precise date has yet been set. Mugabe is then allowed to appoint
another 30 people who have been, and will be again, ZANU PF loyalists.
Twenty are from civil society and ten are tribal chiefs.

Zanu PF needs 105 of the total 150 national assembly seats to be able to
alter the constitution, and MDC leaders believe Mugabe would then do
everything in his power in the weeks ahead to secure a de jure one party

His weapons already include total control of the police, army and some
50,000 National Youth Service recruits, who are deployed much as the
brownshirts were in the early years of Adolf Hitler's rule, intimidating and
crushing extra-judicially - and frequently raping - any who dare to
criticise the president and ruling party.

Respect for western-style democracy means nothing to Mugabe who delights in
America's latest description of his country as "an outpost of tyranny".

His chosen role today is to pose as the champion of Africa's long lost
rights and he does so with panache, brilliance and huge intelligence. In
recent weeks, the government has passed laws and implemented policies that
have substantially increased repression.

* Two electoral laws became effective last week that entrench presidential
control of all aspects of the March elections with Mugabe able to appoint
all electoral commissioners.

* Another bill about to be passed provides jail sentences up to ten years
for anyone convicted of publishing or passing on information deemed to be "
false or prejudicial to the state"

* A new press law carries a two-year jail term for any journalist working in
the country without a government-issued licence.

* A newly passed bill empowers the government to close any non-governmental
organisation or charity. It also bans human rights groups from receiving
foreign funding.

Mugabe has come close to securing absolute power in the past. This time he
might pull it off and enshrine as part of his legacy the return of the land
to the people, offering the illusion of stability by fatally weakening an
opposition who, he asserts, are the "tea boys" of British imperialism and

In 2000, the MDC won 57 of the 120 parliamentary seats in a brief spell of
opposition optimism. Two years later, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai came
close to winning the presidency - events that inspired Mugabe to trigger
massive land invasions of white-owned farms which have brought Zimbabwe to
its present plight but which enabled the president to reassert his

Over the next few weeks, the MDC's gains seem likely to be reversed because
of the power that Mugabe has gained and his willingness to enforce control
by brute force. This, after all, is a man who once boasted that he had "many
degrees in violence" and warned his main opponent, Tsvangirai, "Does he know
where we come from? If he comes that way we will blow him away like a fly."

There are now an estimated 400,000 Zimbabweans living in self-imposed exile
in Britain. In South Africa, there are more than two million black
Zimbabweans in exile who, like their compatriots in Britain, will not be
permitted to vote in the election.

Many exiles are from Matabeleland, Zimbabwe's western province, where more
than 25,000 black civilians were slaughtered in the early 1980s by soldiers
of Mugabe's Praetorian Guard, the ruthless Fifth Brigade, which had been
specially trained in the Nyanga Mountains by North Korean military

The Fifth Brigade's instruction was to wipe out "dissidents" and other
supporters of Mugabe's biggest-ever rival for power, Joshua Nkomo.

In 1983, Nkomo set a trend by first fleeing Zimbabwe for Botswana and then
Britain before coming to terms with Mugabe by disbanding his own party, ZAPU
(the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union), and folding it into Mugabe's ruling,
and increasingly all-powerful, ZANU, to form ZANU PF.

Some called Nkomo the Father of Zimbabwean nationalism. Others said he was
the uncrowned King of Matabeleland.

"Today Mugabe sees himself as some sort of Shona king or tribal chief," said
Vambe, a fellow Shona. The Shona are Zimbabwe's majority tribal group, in
the north and east of the country, from which Mugabe's guerrilla fighters
drew their strength during the 1970s liberation war.

A victory for ZANU PF in the March 2005 election would extend Mugabe's
uninterrupted reign as head of state to nearly 30 years. There will be an
installation ceremony amounting almost to a royal coronation, with Mugabe
draped in a leopard skin while bearing a knobkerrie, the symbols of African
royalty. "In Zimbabwean culture, kings are only replaced when they die,"
said Mugabe's anti-corruption minister, Didymus Mutasa.

There are some in Zimbabwe who deeply believe that this African despot - who
despite his age has amazing stores of energy and a formidable intellect,
which raises him well above the level of people who remain his loyal
sycophants - really wants to create a dynasty. Chikerema asserts that Mugabe
has ambitions for his own son, Robert Mugabe Jr, who is now a teenager
studying - as did his father - at a well funded and highly respected Roman
Catholic mission school.

"He so adores Kim Il Sung and Third World leaders whose children follow them
into the hot seat of power," said Chikerema, who remembers his relative in
the 1930s as a moody child cattle herder who could just suddenly "sulk and
withdraw his herd from the others" and drive them to secluded pastures.

His deepest wish, say those who know him best, is to be acclaimed as the man
who really did return the long ago stolen land to his massively grateful
people, even though the hundreds of thousands of villagers encouraged to
take over the land in 2000 are now being evicted and their huts burned to
make way for top politicians, judges, soldiers and policemen.

"This election will just help to consolidate ZANU PF's authoritarian rule in
Zimbabwe," said professor Brian Raftopoulos, head of the University of
Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies. "Mugabe has a cunning strategy,
but it will not resolve the fundamental issues around economic
reconstruction and democratisation."

Before going into his last battle against the Romans, Galgacus, Chief of the
Caledonians, described his enemies thus, "Pillagers of the world, they have
exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder. East and west alike have
failed to satisfy them. To robbery, butchery and rapine, they give the lying
name 'government'. They create a desert and call it peace."

That might easily be Tsvangirai describing Mugabe and Zanu PF on the eve of
the country's important 2005 parliamentary election, which is sadly
predictable in its outcome.

Author and broadcaster Trevor Grundy lived and worked as a foreign
correspondent in Zimbabwe for Time magazine, Deutsche Welle Radio and The
Scotsman from 1976 to 1996.
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Daily News online edition

      Manyika accused of taking bribes

      Date: 25-Jan, 2005

      ELLIOT Manyika, the Zanu PF elections directorate chairman, and
politburo secretary for commissariat stands accused of receiving bribes, in
cash and in kind, from aspiring ruling party legislators.

      The Daily News Online yesterday was told that Manyika received "gifts"
from Zanu PF parliamentary hopefuls who hoped he would use his muscle to
influence the outcome of ruling party primaries held last weekend.

      The sources said Manyika received a pick -up truck, a cabstar utility
farm vehicle, from a businessman-cum politician, from Manicaland province.
Manyika, sources said failed, despite spirited efforts to impose the
businessman as a candidate in one of the constituencies in Manicaland

      The businessman is also said to have given Manyika an undisclosed huge
sum of money. The sources said several parliamentary hopefuls gave Manyika
gifts, ranging from vehicles, cash and farming implements to induce him to
influence the outcome of primary election results.

      The sources said the Zanu PF top leadership, particularly John Nkomo,
the national chairman, got wind of this and has reportedly ruled that the
poltburo would make the final decision on the final list of Zanu PF

      "Manyika messed up the primaries," said one top Zanu PF insider. "The
problem is that he received so many gifts from aspiring candidates." The
sources said Manyika's bungling resulted in the chaos that characterised the
Zanu PF primaries held across the country.

      Several losing candidates are crying foul blaming Manyika for
favouring certain individuals during the primaries. Although Manyika was not
immediately available for comment several losing candidates said they were
unimpressed with Manyika's conduct.

      Others said they were surprised that Manyika, while entertaining
complaints from other losing candidates, completely ignored them even in
cases where evidence of electoral irregularities was readily available.

      Some losing candidates are already contemplating contesting the March
poll as independents after Manyika refused to entertain their complaints.

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Daily News online edition

      Government urged to respect human rights

      Date: 25-Jan, 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe Human Rights Non Governmental Organisation (NGO)
Forum yesterday urged the government of Zimbabwe to create an environment
that is conducive to the promotion and protection of human rights for all
Zimbabweans, regardless of their political affiliation or other such

      In its November 2004 political violence report, released yesterday,
the NGO Forum said the NGO Bill, which awaits President Robert Mugabe's
signature was a serious threat to the functioning of civil society.

      The report said: "The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Bill, which
is now awaiting Presidential assent, has left most NGOs in a state of
uncertainty as to whether and how they would continue with their activities.
Some NGOs had actually suspended operations pending the outcome of the Bill.

      "Because of this, the few cases documented in this November Monthly
Political Violence Report are by no means the only violations that occurred
during the month. The NGO Act itself when promulgated will impact very
negatively on civil society in Zimbabwe and will close more democratic space
particularly when buttressed by the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

      The Zimbabwe government has constantly come under attack from the
opposition and civil society and the international community for its
sustained attack on democratic activities through the enactment of
repressive legislation.

      The report documents the government action against members of the
civic movement and the opposition political parties.

      The NGO Forum recorded 399 cases of assault, 62 cases of kidnapping
and abduction and 406 people were unlawfully arrested during the period
under review.

      It said although the month of November was eventful in terms of
politically motivated violations of human rights, the prevailing conditions
made it difficult and at times almost impossible for organisations in the
human rights sector to document them adequately.

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Zimbabwe opposition says crackdown on members rises
      25 Jan 2005 15:28:57 GMT

      Source: Reuters

By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party accused
authorities on Tuesday of stepping up harassment of its members, including
arresting scores of supporters at the weekend for meeting without police

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has threatened to boycott
parliamentary polls due in March, saying the government has repeatedly
rigged elections in the southern African country.

In a statement on the weekend arrests, MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi
accused police of selectively applying a law requiring parties to seek
clearance for public gatherings.

He also said a legislator from the ruling party had abducted and tortured
three MDC youths before handing them over to the police on unspecified
charges. Police were unavailable for comment on either incident, but they
have repeatedly denied MDC accusations of bias in favour of the governing

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told Reuters on Tuesday that the party's
leadership would decide on Feb. 2 or 3 whether to contest the elections.

Thokozani Khupe, MDC member of parliament in the southern city of Bulawayo,
said she had been released on bail late on Monday after being arrested at
the weekend.

Some 60 supporters were also briefly rested on charges of organising a
political meeting without police approval, in contravention of the Public
Order and Security Act, she said.

"We are not being given any opportunity to meet with the people in the
run-up to the elections. I know for certain that (ruling) ZANU-PF officials
are having meetings without any police clearance," Khupe told Reuters.

Nyathi appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which
set new standards last year to prevent electoral fraud, to put pressure on
President Robert Mugabe's government to resolve the crisis.

"The political playing field remains very flawed. We would like to bring it
to the attention of the SADC leaders that in many instances the situation is
deteriorating," Nyathi said.

"The police continue to interfere with the MDC's political meetings and thus
prevent fair campaigning. All these factors will have a large bearing in the
decision of the MDC national council on whether to participate or not," he

The MDC says political violence and electoral fraud cost it victory in a
2000 parliamentary polls and a 2002 presidential poll in which Mugabe won
another six years in office.

Veteran leader Mugabe's ZANU-PF party denies its supporters have lodged a
campaign of violence against the opposition over the past five years, and
dismisses the MDC as a puppet of its Western foes led by former colonial
power Britain.
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      African carers keeping the UK healthy
      In the third piece on his impressions of African immigrant communities
in the UK, the former editor of the BBC's Focus on Africa, Robin White,
describes the army of African care workers he has met from rich doctors to
"bum wipers".
      In the Sudanese community in Birmingham I met Dr Zakaria Bol Deng, a
former minister in southern Sudan before the outbreak of the current civil

      He runs a thriving medical practice near the city centre, but says he
plans to return home, now a peace deal has been signed between the
government and the south.

      In Scotland's biggest city, Glasgow, I met another doctor who's done
very well for himself in the UK.

      Dr John Lwanda came here as a medical student more than 30 years ago,
and has never really returned home.

      Just when he was qualifying, the heavy hand of Hastings Banda (also a
medical student from Scotland) fell on Malawi.

      Dr Lwanda became active with the opposition United Democratic Front
(UDF), lobbying the outside world for support against Banda's one-party
state, and was therefore not welcome back home.

      A UDF victory should have ensured him a place in Malawi's new
establishment, but then President Bakili Muluzi turned his back on him.

      Dr Lwanda returned to his patients in Glasgow. Malawi's loss -
Glasgow's gain.

      Demeaning work

      Lower down the ladder of the British medical scene is a new
phenomenon: African care workers. They call themselves "the bum wipers".

      It is they who have taken on the jobs that no-one else wants: Looking
after the elderly who can't care for themselves.

      Many of the new army of care workers are from Zimbabwe, victims of old
age pensioner Robert Mugabe.

      They have abandoned good middle class jobs in journalism, the law and
business, to mark time in Britain until the "old man" goes.

      Ironically these care workers had servants back home.

      Shadai Tshuma had half a dozen cooks, gardeners, watchmen and

      Indeed, he still pays one servant to keep his house in order while
he's in the ancient town of Colchester.

      Meanwhile, he lives in a small flat, and serves the English elderly.
He does not believe he will be going home very soon.

      Happiness Pemiwah also swapped Zimbabwe, where she was a journalist
and actress, for Colchester.

      The hours are unsociable, the work demeaning and the pay not

      "It's hard work, especially if you're not used to it," Happiness told

      "In Zimbabwe, my work was going into a studio, sitting behind a desk
and using my voice. Now I'm doing lifting, manual work. It's not easy."

      She says that she has no money to go out or go shopping, so she spends
most of the time alone in her room.

      "I miss home very much. Home is best," she said. What a waste of
ability! But Zimbabwe's loss has become Britain's gain.

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The Star

      'We won't tolerate big headedness'
      January 25, 2005

      By Basildon Peta

      President Robert Mugabe's government last night branded the Congress
of South African Trade Unions' planned mission to Zimbabwe "subversive" and
vowed to deal ruthlessly with anyone who landed in Harare in early February
as part of the mission.

      Zimbabwe's labour minister Paul Mangwana said they would arrest and
deport any Cosatu members.

      In an interview with Zimbabwe's independent online newspaper
ZimOnline, Mangwana said they would not tolerate Cosatu's "big headedness".

      The threat comes as the ANC appears to have given the Cosatu mission
the thumbs-up.

      Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said at the weekend that his
labour federation would deploy a team to Zimbabwe in early February with or
without the Zimbabwe government's permission.

      The mission would be to visit the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) and did not need the Zimbabwe government's permission, he said.

      Cosatu had by the weekend not received a response to a letter it sent
to Mangwana asking for permission to deploy a fact-finding mission to
Zimbabwe and had decided to go ahead after consulting with the ZCTU.

      An earlier mission by Cosatu was bundled into a bus and deported
barely 24 hours after its arrival. - Independent Foreign Service

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Mail and Guardian

      It's do or die for MDC

      Dumisani Muleya

      Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will face a
daunting task if - as widely expected - it decides to contest the March
parliamentary elections.

      The MDC is on record that it will not participate unless Zimbabwe
complies with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines
on democratic elections adopted in Mauritius in August last year.

      The SADC protocol requires the establishment of "all-inclusive,
competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified
personnel", constitutional courts to arbitrate disputes about political and
civil liberties.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has enacted new electoral laws in
a bid to comply, but the MDC has dismissed these reforms as cosmetic and

      A supposedly independent electoral commission will be set up, but its
composition is yet to be decided. Military and intelligence personnel
continue to staff electoral supervisory bodies.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has visited several African and European
leaders to argue his party's case. Wherever he has gone, it is understood,
the message has been the same: fight the election.

      Many within his party view a boycott as politically dangerous as it
would hand the ruling Zanu-PF victory on a silver plate, albeit with an
attendant legitimacy crisis, and consign the MDC to the political

      However, if the MDC enters the election it will have to grapple with
numerous political and legal obstacles.

      Despite Tsvangirai's acknowledgement that the police have proved more
even-handed of late, political violence and intimidation persist.

      The MDC is unlikely to be allowed to campaign free of attacks by
Zanu-PF militants who are notorious for using terror as a political tool.

      Harassment assumes many forms. The MDC's offices have been raided on
numerous occasions by police supposedly looking for "subversive" documents.
MDC rallies and civic protests have been ruthlessly crushed.

      African National Congress secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe, in a
rare departure from the rhetoric of solidarity, this week said it was an
"anomaly" that the MDC, which has strong representation in Parliament and
controls several municipalities, should have to seek police permission to
hold rallies.

      "Over the years we have been saying to them [Zanu-PF] that you cannot
have a properly registered party restricted in this way," he said. "Indeed,
the playing field should be levelled and the police should act in an
impartial manner."

      Opposition and civic politics in Zimbabwe have been weakened by
systematic repression underpinned by the use of draconian laws, such as the
Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act, under which three newspapers have been closed and dozens of
journalists arrested.

      There have been several cases of individuals being fined or imprisoned
for expressing even mild criticism of Mugabe's record.

      The Broadcasting Services Act has shut out all voices from the
airwaves, except Mugabe's, and just last month legislation was passed to
prevent NGOs from participating in electoral or democratic education.

      As shown by last weekend's Zanu-PF primary elections, which were
characterised by fraud, manipulation and threats, Zimbabwean authorities are
either unable or unwilling to hold properly organised polls.

      The registrar general last week placed prominent press advertisments
to list voter registration requirements that many will find daunting.

      Urban dwellers need to provide proof of residency, such as utility
bills, which will discourage many of the MDC's youthful supporters who are
lodgers, while rural voters need to be approved by chiefs or headmen, all on
the government payroll.

      Zimbabwe's 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential polls were hotly
disputed. Some of the electoral petitions are still in the courts. Zanu-PF
MPs disqualified by the high court continue to sit pending their appeals to
the Supreme Court that - five years later - regards none of this as an
urgent matter.

      The MDC claims the voters' roll is a mess. It wants an electronic
version to conduct an audit of names of voters who died or emigrated years

      There have also been complaints of gerrymandering during the
demarcation of constituencies. A recent delimitation exercise resulted in
three constituencies being removed from MDC urban strongholds and
transferred to Zanu-PF rural fiefdoms. The MDC says it is the only example
in Africa of urban to rural migration.

      Critics argue these problems can only be resolved through
constitutional reforms.

      The big worry is that, despite Motlanthe's assurance that the election
"must be beyond question", anything short of this will simply result in SADC
leaders claiming that the playing field was a little more even than in the

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From The Cape Argus (SA), 23 January

Price of disobeying Mugabe 'too high'

Don't expect security forces to rebel, says former officer Holly Moyo. He
should know - he almost paid with his life

By Basildon Peta

African history is littered with military coups by disgruntled officers. Why
then have Zimbabwe's security forces indulged Robert Mugabe's systematic
destruction of their once prosperous country? Why, at least, do they not
refuse to obey Mugabe's orders brutally to suppress any dissent to his
autocratic style? The experience of Holly Moyo, a former senior officer in
the notorious Support Unit Section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP),
also known as the Black Boots section because of its brutality, provides an
eloquent answer to these questions. "The price of refusing to take orders to
persecute Mugabe opponents is very high. It's not all worth it at the end of
the day," says Moyo, who fled to Johannesburg recently after nearly losing
his genitals during brutal torture and beatings by Mugabe loyalists in the
security forces. "I could not bring my conscience to bear with the tasks I
was being asked to perform," says Moyo. He was stationed at the Fairbridge
Police Station in Bulawayo, from where operations to suppress dissent in the
opposition stronghold Matabeleland Province are directed.

Moyo's ordeal started in 2002 when he says Mugabe roped in the security
services, including the army, police and air force, to help him win the
presidential elections. He says the security forces were asked to vote
surreptitiously well ahead of the public, and all for Mugabe, of course. And
because Mugabe was not taking any chances, they had to vote in front of
senior officers at their respective police stations or barracks. At
Fairbridge, they had to vote in front of their station commander, one
Superintendent Chigandiwa. "I couldn't do that because I am a firm believer
in the secrecy of my vote. Even if I were to vote for Zanu PF, I did not see
any reason for being coerced into doing so before somebody else," says Moyo.
"I faked sickness on the day I was due to vote and did not turn up for
work." He voted later with the ordinary public. But members of the Police
Internal Security Service (PISI) saw him. PISI is probably the most powerful
branch of the police. Its main brief is to spy on other members of the
police force and ensure they remain loyal to Zanu PF, Moyo says.

Summoned to appear before the station commander, he couldn't deny he had
defied orders to vote at the police station for Zanu PF. The evidence
against him was overwhelming. "I argued that voting is one's secret and it
betrays the ideals of the liberation struggle if we were to be coerced to
vote a certain way. I also argued that I had not committed a crime by going
to vote elsewhere in my constituency in which I had been registered." Moyo
says he was told he was on the "wrong path" and would suffer severe
consequences. Nothing was immediately done to him and he became complacent,
thinking he could continue doing his job professionally. Towards the end of
2003, Moyo was asked to lead a group of the Black Boots to deal with a rowdy
mob that had gone on the rampage, destroying property belonging to MDC
supporters in a nearby area. Thirty-seven Zanu PF supporters were arrested
by his group in the process. He ordered their incarceration while preparing
to finalise a case against them with the local prosecuting department. But
the station commanders ordered the immediate release of the 37 and all
charges against them dropped."These were people who had beaten up opposition
supporters. Some of them had committed rape and destroyed property. We had
all the evidence. Much as I knew that the ZRP had been highly politicised, I
was convinced this was one of the few exceptional cases in which we had to
take action, perhaps in the interests of Zanu PF itself, as we had to show
some semblance of fairness," says Moyo.

But it was he who was summoned and told that he had taken "my support for
the MDC too far by being heavy-handed on ruling party supporters". Moyo says
he had also previously refused to participate in routine beatings and
torturing of MDC supporters in police cells. What followed for him was hell.
He was jailed and thoroughly beaten by the PISI.His wife, who visited the
police station to trace him, was also arrested and jailed for two days. She
still was not given a clue where her husband was. Moyo says he was then
forced to sign forms early last year stating that he had voluntarily quit
the police force. He was paid only R4 500 for 17 years' service in the ZRP.
"This was a huge insult considering all the dirty work we had done for
Mugabe, particularly since his grip on power was threatened with the
emergence of the MDC in 1999." But Moyo's ordeal was not over. Shortly after
his discharge, plainclothes PISI members, who he knew well, followed him
home, kidnapped him and brutally assaulted him, mutilating his penis in the
process. He says he was admitted to Mpilo Hospital unconscious but was
denied treatment for at least four days before sympathetic nurses attended
to him. When he regained consciousness, his family helped him leave the
hospital and hid him before he escaped to Johannesburg.

"Once you get fired from the security forces under these circumstances, they
will not leave you because they fear you will collaborate with the
opposition. They will continually monitor and harass you. So I thought it
was better to leave," he said. Moyo became the latest of many members of the
defence forces to flee Zimbabwe. Last year a group of former soldiers
addressed a news conference in Johannesburg convened by a South African NGO,
the Solidarity Peace Trust, to confirm reports of how they had been used to
help Mugabe rig the elections. Moyo says anyone who thinks the security
forces will ever act against Mugabe is "daydreaming". "These have been
highly politicised," he says. Many officers suspected of not toeing the
party line have been weeded out of the force and thousands of the
indoctrinated notorious youth militia from the Border Gezi training centre
have been drafted into the police and army to replace them. No
professionalism could thus be expected from the army or police, he said. "It
is no longer the Zimbabwe Republic Police, but the Zanu Republic Police -
Zanu RP ," says Moyo. "The same applies to the army. It has become the Zanu
National Army and not the Zimbabwe National Army as we used to know it."
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