Zimbabwe will have neither a free press nor free
Were it not for the courage of his opponents, Robert Mugabe
would have already succeeded in turning Zimbabwe from a de facto one-party
state into a de jure one-person dictatorship. This year may, unfortunately,
be the one where that aim is realised. His henchmen in Zimbabwe’s Parliament
will, almost certainly, today approve legislation designed to muzzle the
domestic press and render foreign correspondents virtually impotent. It
openly aspires to criminalise any reporting of which the President and the
ruling party disapprove — namely any that is remotely critical or simply a
factual account of their actions. It is a vile measure. Astonishingly Mr
Mugabe has even made Ian Smith’s regime seem pluralist by comparison. This
crackdown on the press is part of a wider political strategy. Mr Mugabe is
obliged to seek re-election shortly, an inconvenience he would surely have
cancelled were it not for the fear that overseas aid would then be withdrawn.
Having nearly lost parliamentary elections two years ago the President is
taking few chances on this occasion. Zimbabwe’s democrats, led by Morgan
Tsvangirai, will do their utmost to offer the country the chance to opt for
national salvation. The sad truth, though, is that this election has already
been so badly rigged that their effort may be doomed.
concerning the electoral register, wholly rewritten for this contest, have
been cast to ensure Mr Mugabe’s re-election. Urban voters, overwhelmingly
hostile to the current regime, must provide proof of identification to
register in the form of title deeds, a formal rental agreement, or utility
bill. As hundreds of thousands of Harare’s black residents live in
self-constructed shacks with no access to electricity, they will be
disenfranchised. Ironically, the tiny number of wealthy whites in such cities
will not be disadvantaged. And rural citizens may only vote if they have been
personally vouched for by the local village chief — every one of whom is paid
a salary by the Government and is therefore tied to the ruling Zanu (PF)
Despite these restrictions, however, Mr Mugabe is still nervous.
He intends to intensify the intimidation of those who will be permitted to
participate in the ballot. There will be no independent election observers in
a position to oversee proceedings. The violence undertaken against Mr
Tsvangirai’s backers will, as from tomorrow, pass largely unpublicised. And
there will be no point in challenging the outcome afterwards as the President
has packed the Supreme Court with his allies. This is, in short, a charade of
an election. Yet Mr Mugabe believes that no one will dare to act against
him. The legitimacy of his continued rule will not be challenged nor
will external funding be stopped.
On past form, alas, these
assumptions may prove correct. A much more assertive approach towards
Zimbabwe must be adopted this time. The Commonwealth, and especially South
Africa, have to make it clear that they will not recognise Mr Mugabe as the
rightful victor of such a tainted election. In these circumstances Zimbabwe
should be expelled from the Commonwealth and all international financial
assistance should be terminated. The people of Zimbabwe will not have the
opportunity to express their views on Mr Mugabe and his staggeringly corrupt,
inept and sadistic administration through a genuine democratic contest. If
they could then he would be dispatched from office. The outside world must be
prepared to act and speak on their behalf.
HOLGER JENSEN International Editor, Denver Rocky Mountain News
Foreign Affairs Columnist, Scripps Howard News Service
most interested in Zambia's election
1/5/02 By Holger Jensen News International Editor Democracy in
Africa is still an iffy proposition. Since shaking off the shackles of
colonial rule, the continent has had far too many presidents trying to get
“for life” tagged onto their titles. Zambia is a good example. It was
ruled for 27 years by President Kenneth Kaunda, leader of the nation's
independence movement against Britain who went on to dominate a one-party
state until he finally allowed elections in 1991. His successor, Frederick
Chiluba, was a born-again Christian but he too grew thirsty for power. After
all, he had only to look around him; seven of Zambia's eight neighbors,
including Zimbabwe, had at one time or another suffered presidents with a
distinct distaste for term limits. Last year Chiluba tried to change
Zambia's constitution so he could seek a third term. Six of his Cabinet
ministers were beaten up for objecting. And members of Parliament who didn't
vote for the constitutional amendment were thrown out of his Movement for
Multiparty Democracy, a misnomer if there ever was one. But popular
opposition to a third term for Chiluba mounted and in the end many of the
president's aides, some aspirants for the office themselves, deserted him.
He backed down in May after his own party turned against him and donor
nations threatened to cut off aid. While Zambia is stable by the standards
of neighboring Zimbabwe, it remains a basket case. None of the prosperity
and democracy that Chiluba promised 10 years ago has materialized. Income
per person is just $231 a year and 83 percent of its 10 million people live
below the poverty line, according to a recent report by the World Food
Program. Transparency International also rates Zambia as one of the
world's most corrupt countries, in the company of Nigeria, Pakistan and
Russia. And vote buying was rampant during the Dec. 29 presidential
election. Thus it was no surprise when Levy Mwanawasa, a lawyer who had
been Chiluba's first vice president and hand-picked successor to lead the
governing party, was proclaimed the winner. Certainly the MMD was in no
position to win. Weakened by the earlier exodus of MPs and Cabinet members,
it faced strong opposition from at least 10 other parties that immediately
cried foul. A European Union monitoring mission agreed, citing “clear,
glaring irregularities.” But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said
opposition claims of ballot stuffing and other fraud could not be confirmed.
“We think opposition groups need to be more specific in their allegations,”
he said. Mwanawasa was sworn in Wednesday a few hours after a Zambian
judge cleared the way for his inauguration by rejecting an opposition
petitition to force a recount. And the new president immediately warned his
critics to call off street protests or “face the full force of the law.”
The most interested spectator of all this was Robert Mugabe, the only
president Zimbabwe has ever had in its 21 years of independence. The aging
despot, who turns 78 next month, has done everything he can to cow his
opponents but faces a strong electoral challenge in March from Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC only
narrowly lost parliamentary elections in June 2000, despite a massive
campaign of intimidation by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, and its support has
grown because of Mugabe's misrule. Inflation is 100 percent and rising,
interest rates are above 70 percent and unemployment is estimated at 60 to
80 percent. Investor confidence in Zimbabwe is nil and foreign aid has dried
up because of Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless
blacks. What he calls “land reform” has caused severe shortfalls in food
production and export crops. Crippled by a lack of fuel and foreign
exchange, Zimbabwe now faces famine. Unfazed by this looming disaster,
Mugabe launched his bid for re-election by declaring “real war” on his
opponents. This translated into rising political violence against the
predominantly black MDC, stepped up farm seizures and a host of new laws
suppressing freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and even freedom to vote.
Above all, Mugabe does not want his election monitored by Europeans. As
his tame mouthpiece, the Herald newspaper, put it, Zambia's election
“revealed the obnoxious interference of the European Union in African
Copyright 2000 Holger Jensen. These columns may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or otherwise <
Jan. 7 — The Zimbabwean government is expected to push through parliament
this week a package of controversial bills which critics say is aimed at
boosting President Robert Mugabe's re-election bid in March.
Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday after a three-week break to
consider legislation that includes a media bill banning foreigners from
working as correspondents in the country and threatening jail terms for
journalists who violate tough rules. The session comes ahead of a
Friday meeting between Zimbabwe and the European Union in Brussels which will
discuss the deepening political crisis in the southern African
country. The EU is threatening to impose sanctions on Mugabe over his
land seizures, his drive against the media and the judiciary and his
supporters' campaign of violence ahead of the presidential
elections. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
denounced Mugabe's government on Monday for fanning violence, which it said
had claimed six lives in less than two weeks and pushed the death toll to
over 100 since February 2000. ''The fact of the matter is that the
ZANU-PF regime is now the most racist and fascist regime,'' MDC information
secretary Learnmore Jongwe said. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
told state media at the weekend that the government would move to adopt the
media bill ''without fear or favour'' and would not be deterred by criticism
led by former colonial power Britain. Moyo accused Britain of
double standards, saying its media laws were more stringent than Zimbabwe's,
whose own legislation was based on its national constitution. He
said the media bill would allow Mugabe's government to address the problem of
''lies by foreign correspondents about the situation
UNIONS TO IGNORE BILL Zimbabwe media unions
say the media bill is draconian and have vowed to ignore it. Under the bill,
journalists can only work in Zimbabwe if they get a one-year renewable
accreditation from a government-appointed commission. The bill
imposes registration requirements for private media companies and bars
foreign nationals from working as correspondents. The bill also
prescribes heavy fines for journalists publishing stories on protected
information, or news likely to cause alarm and despondency, which could range
from rumours, advice offered to Mugabe or minutes of cabinet
meetings. Zimbabwe government officials said the parliamentary session
starting on Tuesday would also debate a public order and security bill.
Critics say this will give Mugabe sweeping powers to clamp down on the
opposition as he faces the biggest electoral challenge since taking power in
1980. The government says the bill is aimed at consolidating
law-and-order legislation and has nothing to do with the March elections in
which Mugabe's main rival will be MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The
MDC nearly beat the ruling ZANU-PF in general elections in June 2000 despite
a violent campaign that left at least 31 mostly opposition supporters dead.
Tsvangirai says that without violence, and in a fair and free political
environment, Mugabe would lose in March. Parliament is also due to
consider an election regulations bill under which the government proposes to
ban local independent monitors from the March elections and to bar private
organisations from voter education.
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The nation's ruling party has launched
a media blitz for President Robert Mugabe's reelection bid, with a date for
the March vote expected to be announced soon.
The weekend drive also
coincided with reports that militants from Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, have stepped up a violent campaign against
the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, ahead of the
On Saturday, the MDC accused youths loyal to Mugabe of
attacking one of its offices and the home of a legislator, as violence rises
ahead of the presidential election. The MDC also said five of its supporters
have been killed in the last two weeks. ZANU-PF has been splashing a series
of advertisements in both private and state-owned newspapers, projecting
the embattled former guerrilla leader as a nationalist threatened by
a Western-backed rival.
The ads as well as dozens of articles in the
government media praise Mugabe's social, agricultural and economic policies
and attack his critics and rivals--mainly MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who
is expected to give the 77-year-old president the toughest contest of his
The government-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said Mugabe will
announce the March polling dates this week.
Government officials were
not available to comment on the newspaper report, which was attributed to
highly placed sources.
In its media blitz, ZANU-PF calls its black
opponents puppets of former colonial power Britain and Zimbabwe's former
The white opponents are portrayed as racists who hanker for
white rule under the former Rhodesia, Zimbabwe's colonial
Zimbabwe, EU to hold critical talks Friday:
HARARE, Jan 7 (AFP) - The European Union is to hold critical
talks in Brussels Friday with the Zimbabwe government, which faces the threat
of EU sanctions over its human rights record and violent land reforms, a
newspaper reported here Monday. The state-owned daily Herald, quoting a
senior government official, said Zimbabwe would send Foreign Minister Stan
Mudenge, Interior Minister John Nkomo, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and
Information Jonathan Moyo to Brussels for the talks.
been tense between the European Union and Zimbabwe after the Harare
government refused an EU request to allow election observers at presidential
elections due in March.
In November, the EU invoked Article 96 of the
Cotonou agreement which governs relations between the European Union and its
African, Caribbean and Pacific partners.
Under the agreement, formal
consultations with Zimbabwe are to be held, after which the EU can consider
punitive action against the southern African nation if no progress is
Last month the European Parliament called for economic sanctions
against Harare and said that assets of President Robert Mugabe and his
close associates should be frozen.
EU parliamentarians blamed the
government for the poor state of the country's economy, and said the
deteriorating legal and human rights situation was a "direct consequence of
deliberate and reprehensible actions of the Mugabe regime."
has been accused of clamping down on political opponents, independent judges
and journalists. It has also been lambasted for allowing pro-government
militants to wage a violent campaign on white-owned farms in a bid to speed
up land reforms aimed at redressing colonial-era imbalances.
News release (On
behalf of the Commercial Farmers' Union)
THREE people, two men and one
woman, were reported to have been assaulted by a group of illegal settlers on
an unlisted farm in Chegutu in an incident that began on Friday 4th Jan. One
of them, Mr Hennie Bezeidenhout (55yrs) a farmer, was abducted for several
hours bringing the number of abductions in Chegutu to 4 in the last few
weeks. The farm, Farnham A, is 460 hectares in size and although unlisted has
approximately 30 invaders; some of them have been there for 2 years. This
dairy farm is the only farm belonging to the Bezeidenhout family.
Friday night a group of invaders stopped Mrs Sissy Bezeidenhout (51) at the
farm gate as she prepared to leave to collect her husband. They accused the
Bezeidenhout's of damaging a brick house (30 bricks were displaced)
and allowing cattle into the invaders maize field. They assaulted
Mrs Bezeidenhout with open palms and fists on her face. Police were called
but made no arrests. Under pressure of physical assault, Mr Bezeidenhout
agreed to repair damage to the brick house and to mend the fence.
family thought the matter had been resolved, but Saturday brought additional
complications. When Mr Bezeidenhout visited the invader owner of the house
who is a 'weekend farmer' he was told to return to his house and expect a
He said, "They came at about 11:30 am and told me that the
District Administrator was at their camp and that a meeting had been called.
They threatened to breakdown the fence and storm the house - I felt
very intimidated and at their insistence accompanied them, instructing my
wife to advise the police, which she did."
" What followed can only be
described as a 'Kangaroo Court'. 50 people were present and 8 of these
carried sticks and participated in the beatings that I was subject to
although I had already agreed to help repair the damage to the house and
fence. I sustained bruising to my back, legs and chest. I was also made to
chant political slogans although I am not politically orientated. I was
ordered to pay cash of Zd$5000 for the damage to the house and Zd$ 2000 for
damage to the maize crop by cattle. I was also told to leave the Zimbabwe
He continued by explaining, "The police finally arrived at
about 3:30pm and accompanied a group and myself to the house to collect this
money. At this time I noticed one of the invaders had a 9mm revolver, this in
the presence of police officers, who were for the most part onlookers.
Additional demands were that I provide a chicken and take the group to buy
beer at the bottle store. A neighbour was eventually able to transport them
to the farm boundary. I had made a second report to the police but am not
aware of any arrests." Said Mr Bezeidenhout.
Ben Freeth, the executive
officer of the Commercial Farmers Union regional office who was monitoring
the incident over the radio network went to the Chegutu Police Station to get
a report on progress. The situation was reported to have been stabilized and
the Officer in Charge was said to be leaving the scene.
assurance, I deemed that it was now safe for me to go to Farnham Farm and to
see if there was any further assistance I could render the distressed couple.
As I arrived at the Farm gate, I saw that a there was a teenager manning the
gate. As I stopped, a group of about 25 people came up to the car from the
back and surrounded it. I was told to get out of the car and, as I still felt
the situation had been stabilized by the Police, and as I was alone and posed
no real threat, I got out of the car. The first stick hit me on the face and
more sticks, fists rained on me until I fell on the ground, then I was kicked
in the stomach. I estimate at least 6 people had sticks 4 feet long and
seemed to be the assailants. I pleaded with them to stop as I had only come
to assist a friend and was of no threat to them. In response I was further
assaulted and am badly bruised on the face, ribs, stomach and groin.
Eventually the blows subsided and mustering unknown reserves of strength I
dashed into the car, started it up while avoiding bottles hurled through the
open window dashed back to the police station to make a report. They were
shocked to see my condition as I'd left there half an hour earlier
unblemished. I made a report, which was recorded in a newsprint exercise
book; I was given a reference number 370102."
"A young man, I caught his
surname as Mhlanga came in before I left to say that he had also been
assaulted by a group on the main road as he sat in the back of an open van.
From his description and the timing I knew that this was the same group at
the entrance to Farnham. Mr Mhlanga was told he did not need to made a formal
report and he left without doing so." Said Ben Freeth.
Mr and Mrs
Bezeidenhout were spoken to today at their daughter's house where they were
evacuated to last night for fear that there would be
Mr Bezeidenhout said, "After we heard what had
happened to Ben, we decided to heed neighbourly advise to spend the rest of
the weekend away. As we left, we had to drive through a roadblock on the main
road that the group had set up. This seemed to indicate that there would have
been further incidents. We will go home on Monday, as it seems that this
incident was orchestrated by a weekend farmer from Harare, who has only come
on to the farm recently and is building the brick house that was said to have
Two additional farmers were adducted on Ardlui Farm in
Chegutu on News Years eve by about 40 ZANU (PF) youths, who arrived in two
Municipal tipper trucks. Most of the youths were armed with three quarter
inch iron bars and other homemade weapons. The two farmers were abducted, and
subsequently assaulted with fists, resulting in one of them losing hearing in
one ear. Two of the foremen were also assaulted. The farmers and the workers
were made to chant ZANU (PF) slogans.
In the Kadoma area, the owner of
Railway 4 Farm has been subjected to continual harassment, and is forced to
attend ZANU (PF) meetings, and to supply beer etc, under serious threats. He
was forced to give the illegal occupiers a cow for Christmas. They chose the
Beefmaster Bull, valued at approximately ZD$150 000.00, which they shot and
ate. Police are not prosecuting this incident. The owner's cattle have
become wild, due to continual harassment by illegal occupiers, and some of
them got into unfenced maize, being grown by illegal occupiers. The owner
had $108 000.00 cash extorted from him, which he had to pay under duress. He
was abducted from his house, late at night, by a militant group of illegal
occupiers, armed with knobkerries, and told to move out of his house the next
day. Illegal occupiers have also stopped all work on his chicken
unit. Eventually he had to agree to give the illegal occupiers the 72
cattle remaining on the property. On Normandy Farm, Illegal occupiers beat
up the owner's driver, for collecting the body of a deceased foreman from the
farm village. The worker, who was staying in the house, whilst the owner was
away for Christmas, also had the owner's cellphone confiscated by illegal
occupiers. A large deep freeze of meat was stolen, as the owner had to
de-stock all his beef, dairy, and the majority of his sheep, due to rampant
stock theft. A senior police Chief Inspector Makaza appears to be doing
nothing to apprehend the perpetrators and has also been unwilling to help the
owner of Alabama farm who has along with his manager, been forced to move off
all their property, and to hand over the keys to two of the
On Hellaby Farm the house was broken into and the owner has
been forced out of his house. On Kanyemba there is heavy snaring amongst the
cattle with one calf slaughtered recently. On Blue Grass the owner has to
move all his property off. On Mazarati Farm, illegal occupiers are still
living in the owner's house and there is little, or no help from Chief
Inspector Makaza. In the Chegutu and Kadoma districts there is a great deal
of illegal mining. The Mining Commissioner is unable to control the situation
due to no backup from police.
A climate of fear in the district has
become palpable as Section 8 Compulsory Notice of Acquisition Orders continue
to be served and VIP's arrive to take up stands allocated under the A2
resettlement. Some beneficiaries who cannot be describes as 'landless
peasants' are ZANU (PF) Members of Parliament (MP), one of whom is a Deputy
Minister, as well as highly placed civil servants from the Military, Local
Government, the Police Force, Ministry of Lands. Some incidents are
perpetrated in direct violation of statutory instrument 338, which allows for
a 3-month notice period for landowners whose farms have been compulsory
acquired. On one property, a ZANU (PF) MP gave the manager thirty days to
leave the property, and his wife arrived to measure up for curtains in the
The Chegutu District Administrator has been driving around farms
getting the farmers to plough for the illegal occupiers with no exchange of
payment being offered. In the current climate of terror, farmers feel it is
unwise not to comply.
Meanwhile a Government press statement announced
last week seeks to give ultimatums to A2 settlers by giving them thirty days
to establish a presence on the property and being told that they will forfeit
it if they do not.
6th January 2002 For more info, please
contact Jenni Williams Mobile (Code +263) 91 300 456 or 11 213 885 Email
email@example.com Office landlines:
(+2639) 72546 Fax 63978 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Harare - Zimbabwe's ruling party has launched a media blitz for
President Robert Mugabe's re-election bid, with a date for the March poll
expected to be announced soon. The weekend drive also coincided with reports
that militants from Mugabe's Zanu PF party have stepped up a violent
campaign against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
ahead of the elections. Zanu PF has been splashing a series of advertisements
in both private and state-owned newspapers, projecting the embattled
former guerrilla leader as a nationalist threatened by a Western-backed
rival. The adverts, as well as dozens of articles in the government media,
praise Mugabe's social, agricultural and economic policies and attack his
critics and rivals - mainly MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is expected to
give the 77-year-old president the toughest contest of his career. The
government-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said Mugabe - who is determined to
extend his 22-year-old hold on power despite a severe economic crisis blamed
on his controversial policies - will announce the March polling dates this
week. Government officials were not available to comment on the report, which
was attributed to highly placed sources. In its media blitz, Zanu PF mixes
attack and defence almost in equal measure, calling its black opponents
puppets of former colonial power Britain and Zimbabwe's former white rulers.
The white opponents are portrayed as racists who hanker for white rule under
the former Rhodesia - Zimbabwe's colonial name. In one full-page
advertisement entitled "Rhodesians Never Learn," Zanu PF attacks John
Robertson, one of Zimbabwe's top economists, for criticising Mugabe's land
seizure policy in a recent newspaper article. Zanu PF charges that Robertson
is "a public supporter of the treacherous British-sponsored MDC" who is
working with former Rhodesian war veterans to undermine black majority rule,
alleging that "his views are Rhodesian and racist". "What we reject is the
persistence of vestigial attitudes from the Rhodesian yesteryears, attitudes
of a master race, master colour, master owner and master employer. Our whole
struggle was a rejection of such imperious attitudes and claims to
privilege," the advert said. Robertson dismissed the charges as a measure of
desperation. "I think people will see this kind of propaganda for what it is,
a sign of desperation," he told reporters. Zimbabwe's ruling party has also
stepped up its propaganda on radio and television, taking up more slots on
the state-owned broadcasting service to defend Mugabe's controversial
seizures of white-owned farms. In the past, the MDC has accused Mugabe and
Zanu PF of relying on slogans and insults to avoid focusing on policy issues,
and their record in office. On Saturday, the MDC accused youths loyal to
Mugabe of attacking one of its offices and the home of a legislator, as
violence rises ahead of the presidential elections. The MDC says five of its
supporters have been killed in the last two weeks, and MDC secretary-general
Welshman Ncube says at least 100 people have been murdered in the last two
years. Zanu PF narrowly beat the MDC in general parliamentary elections in
June 2000 after a violent campaign that left at least 31 people dead.
UN may have to use armed escorts in food
1/7/02 8:31:42 AM (GMT +2)
IN its growing
desperation to cling to power at any cost, the government has resorted to
employing all manner of increasingly drastic and clearly unconstitutional
measures to keep out of the country's rural areas everyone else except
members of its own ruling Zanu PF party.
curtailment of the people's freedom of association is born out of the fear
that the ruling party might lose its only remaining hope of retaining power
through what it hopes is going to be a massive vote in its favour in all
rural areas at the forthcoming presidential election.
As has now been
well documented, in the June 2000 parliamentary election, the government
managed to hold on to power only by the skin of its teeth.
And then only
because it had embarked on a massive two-pronged campaign to force people to
vote for Zanu PF.
Rural voters were intimidated into believing the party
had a way of telling how people had voted. Dire consequences were promised
for those who voted for the opposition.
Those it could not deceive
with that cheap lie were simply terrorised until they gave in. It is that
"support", assuming it is still intact, which the government is so determined
to maintain at all costs as we approach what appears, by all accounts, set to
become an historic and watershed presidential election.
In pursuance of
what it mistakenly believes to be the protection of its party's political
turf, the government has banned all civic and non-governmental organisations
from conducting voter education, in flagrant violation of their
constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Not only that. In a move symptomatic
of its worsening paranoia, the government in November also banned the
distribution of all food aid in rural areas unless the said aid is
distributed through its own so-called "structures" - meaning, of course, Zanu
The government, which now appears to see enemies of Zanu
PF behind every bush and shrub, made it clear it feared non-governmental
organisations might use their food distribution contacts with rural people to
influence them politically.
As a direct result of that ban, about 750
000 people in Masvingo and the two Matabeleland provinces have since been
living under the spectre of starvation and cases have been recorded of people
starving to death, sacrificed on the altar of the ruling party's political
A new policy had been put in place: only Zanu PF had to be
seen to care for rural people. Since then donor response to appeals by
non-governmental organisations for food from the international community to
feed nearly two million starving peasants in Zimbabwe's drought-prone
southern and western areas has been disturbingly poor.
The reason for
that poor response is not hard to find. As many local non-governmental
organisations have openly said, aware of Zanu PF's infamy in that regard,
donors fear that, if it will have to be channelled through "government
structures", food aid could be used as a political tool to drum up support
for the ruling party in the run-up to the presidential election.
against that depressing scenario that the pledge by Victor Angelo, the United
Nations' Resident Co-ordinator in Zimbabwe, that no political party will be
allowed anywhere near UN food aid distribution should be cause for all
Zimbabweans' collective sigh of great relief.
Angelo says the UN has
finally acceded to the government's woefully belated appeal for urgent US$100
million (nearly Z$6 billion) food aid strictly on the understanding that the
government has back-tracked on its November ban.
To distribute its food
aid, says Angelo, the UN is going to use "credible nongovernmental
organisations, churches and community-based groups". That's as it should
However, considering that Zanu PF has turned many of the country's
districts into virtual war zones and no-go areas, that operation is going to
be extremely difficult.
The UN might have no choice but to use armed
escorts to accompany its food aid distributors.
Tsvangirai says Mugabe driving country towards
1/7/02 8:23:29 AM (GMT +2)
Zimbabwe's main opposition
leader on Friday accused President Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party of driving
the country towards a civil war by deploying "shock troops" to lead a violent
Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), accused Zanu PF of using a militia trained under the
guise of a national youth training service to terrorise the opposition ahead
of presidential election in March. Tsvangirai, who poses the biggest
challenge to Mugabe since the 77-year-old former guerrilla leader came to
power in 1980, said four MDC members had been killed by "Zanu PF shock
troops" in the last 10 days.
"Zimbabwe is teetering on the brink of a
low-intensity civil war owing to the activities of the Zanu PF
government-sponsored militias. "The militias have been involved in wanton
beating of innocent people and the destruction of homes in both rural and
urban areas," Tsvangirai said in a statement, responding to newspaper reports
on the activities of the new youth brigade.
Zanu PF has denied that it is
mounting a campaign to intimidate voters and the opposition ahead of the
polls. Tsvangirai said the youth brigade was tarnishing the image of
Zimbabwe's security forces by sometimes wearing army and police uniforms. He
said their activities were "a serious violation of human rights and if the
government fails to heed our calls, we will have no option but to appeal to
the International Court of Justice in The Hague".
Last Monday, the MDC
said Zanu PF militants went on a "terror run" in two Harare high density
suburbs, assaulting and harassing residents as part of Mugabe's re-election
campaign. During last week the MDC also alleged that Zanu PF was deploying
some of its militants dressed in MDC T-shirts to give the impression the
opposition was also involved in violence.
Zanu PF denied the charge.
Mugabe, who will be 78 next month, has been in power since the former
Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980. Political analysts say he
has a tough task retaining power in a country hit by a severe economic and
political crisis blamed on government mismanagement.
Mugabe - who
calls the MDC a front for Western interests - says he will win the election
on his record as a liberation fighter and defender of the rights of
Zimbabwe's black majority. The Zimbabwean leader has said his re-election
effort will be run like a military campaign - which critics say shows the
party will be stepping up political violence.
The MDC says the recent
killing of its four members has brought to 87 the number of opposition
activists and supporters killed since February 2000. - Reuter
WHILE the official
media is presenting the "graduates" from the Border Gezi Training Centre in
Mount Darwin as disciplined and patriotic youths on national service, we
should not allow such infatuation with anything that is associated with the
ruling party and the government to obscure reality.
national youth service is nothing but special effects pumped onto the
political stage to hide Zanu PF's ulterior political machinations.
"graduates" from the Border Gezi Training Centre are a national disaster,
with the terror they are unleashing on innocent civilians. It's now clear to
every concerned citizen that Zanu PF created a militia under the guise of a
national youth service.
In short, the militia are hired thugs who howl
the same chilling hymn of violence as Zanu PF tries to maintain its grip on
power through deft political manipulation and intimidation.
party's machinations have finally spun out of control and there is an air of
sadness and fear everywhere as the militia has been let loose on the
Zanu PF now prices political dominance over peace, but there is a
terrible danger in using the militia - the bottle of anarchy once uncorked
releases a malevolent genie that cannot be contained.
But Zimbabwe is
not at war. The ruling party is playing politics. President Mugabe is
fighting for his political survival as the real battle for Zimbabwe's future
is being waged ahead of the March presidential election.
The residents of
Harare and Chitungwiza are being targeted because they have been identified
as the major supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. But why create a militia?
Zimbabweans are living in a country
where it is virtually impossible to tell right from wrong. What is happening
in the country is the work of a few hangers-on, who are sacrificing the peace
of an entire nation for a few more years of power.
Worse still, by
baying for the blood of opposition supporters, they are holding peace hostage
The situation looks hopeless given the behaviour of the
government and ruling party politicians at this critical moment when the
nation is in need of a strong, peace-loving and democratic
But African leaders seem to be the same. African leadership
is least concerned with development. African rulers have not only been
morally corrupt from the start, but also trained to belittle their subjects.
Thus when they assume leadership they view themselves as lords instead
Because African leaders thirst for power, they have an
uncanny ability to thrive on chaos. Once they have taken over they proceed to
recreate the countries in their own images. The difference between themselves
and the state becomes indistinguishable. In the 1980s, Zanu PF had the
Youth Brigade, a militia which spread terror everywhere throughout the
Again African leaders create terror militias because they
develop an elaborate mythology which seeks to transform them into god-like
During his heyday, Mobutu Sese Seko of the former Zaire created
false legends about his military capabilities.
It was said bullets
could not penetrate Mobutu's skin - they simply bounced off. Again, it was
said that at the age of seven Mobutu had killed a lion with his bare
The late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi had his own militia
called the Young Pioneers, who repeatedly fed Banda's political enemies to
What is clear is that African leaders, especially the
"liberators", believe that without them their countries will descend into
chaos resulting in neo-colonialists taking over. It's the same message we
hear in this country that "Morgan Tsvangirai will never rule this
African ruling parties are also skilled in diverting Western
aid and government revenue into personal accounts and that money is used to
buy political friends and foes alike, feeding their addiction to local
and overseas properties.
For example, Mobutu had a villa on the French
Riviera, a castle in Spain, a hotel overlooking Lake Geneva, a coffee
plantation in Brazil and a ranch in Portugal with a cellar stocked with 14
000 bottles of vintage wine from the 1930s.
All African countries like
Zimbabwe inherited brutal emergency laws from colonial administrations and
have used them to ruthlessly crush the opposition. This is one of the reasons
behind the creation of militias.
Zanu PF leaders have made it clear that
they are not prepared to go "until the land issue is solved once and for
So what went wrong with African countries that create militias to
beat and harass innocent civilians? The answer is very clear: there is a
total lack of moral leadership at the top.
Most of the African
leaders, such as those found in Zanu PF, have reached a stage where the
"liberators" have run out of steam. They create militias in order to whip any
dissent into line.
The topsy-turvy systems of political and economic
values seem to have gripped the leaders and it is a fact that the
"liberators" have presided and are still presiding over the downward
Because of imaginary fear and enemies, African leaders never
travel along roads unless they are sealed off from other traffic and travel
in speeding motorcades. And wherever they go they are surrounded by heavily
armed elite troops and bodyguards with machine guns at the
African leaders once in power embark on projects of
self-deification, stretching personality cult to the realms of
Mobutu stamped his on Zaire with unparalleled ruthlessness. His
image was printed onto millions of kilometres of cloth which many women
donned. This same pattern is evident in this country.
conventional political yardstick Zanu PF, the ruling party, seems to be in
great trouble. The economy is on a life support system and relations with
neighbours are paralysed.
Zanu PF's deployment of the Border Gezi
Training Centre "graduates" is a declaration of war against anyone deemed to
support the opposition because they are afraid of losing at the hands of an
electorate determined more than ever to rid itself of its kleptomanic
The dreams of the people of this country must be defined by
liberty, the natural right to belong and associate, and not by a
ZANU PF wants Joseph
Chinotimba, the self-styled "commander of the farm invasions" and an
attempted murder defendant, who is its political commissar for Harare
province, and his deputy Douglas Mahiya removed for causing divisions in the
The recommendation was made in an 89-page confidential report
by the party's central committee presented to delegates at last month's fifth
national conference of Zanu PF in Victoria Falls.
committee warned that Chinotimba and Mahiya's differences were causing
serious problems in the party which could lead to the defeat of Zanu PF if
the mayoral and council elections were to be held in Harare as ordered by the
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku last month.
"The major problems with
this province, especially the commissariat department, are the personal
differences between Chinotimba and his deputy, Mahiya. The two commissars
have proved that they cannot work together. If this issue is not addressed no
commissariat work will be carried out in Harare,'' the report said. It
accused the Harare provincial executive of failing to address labour disputes
during the company invasions last year.
"The provincial efforts to
address labour disputes had given mileage to the party to win back the
workers. Its mismanagement by the province gave (sic) a devastating blow to
the party and all its good intentions. "The differences between Chinotimba
and Mahiya should be solved or else one or both of them should be removed out
of (sic) the commissariat office and replaced by dedicated cadres to
spearhead mass mobilisation in Harare,'' the report said.
also ordered Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs, to look at possible ways of banning the MDC's use
of the Zimbabwe Bird on its logo, while two other Cabinet ministers
should order the removal of opposition political insignia in the
The report said: "There were indications that the MDC's use of
the Zimbabwe Bird on its logo is a violation of the provisions of the
Armorials Act. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
should advise accordingly.''
The central committee also ordered
Swithun Mombeshora, the Minister of Transport and Communication, and Ignatius
Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,
to remove political insignia "in violation of the Road Traffic Act and local
The report noted: "The continued existence of
opposition insignia on the trees, street corners, road tarmacs and signs is
an eyesore and should be removed. Election graffiti must be removed and the
Ministers of Transport and Communication and Local Government, Public Works
and National Housing must vigorously follow up on this issue.''
Karimanzira, the party's secretary for finance in the politburo,
said donations from its friends and well-wishers have raised more than
$249 million, while its national fund-raising committee has so far raised
more than $24 million with another $32 million having been
"More could have been achieved had it not been the cry by many
business people that times are hard,'' Karimanzira's financial report
said. He said for much of the early part of last year, Zanu PF relied on
an overdraft facility from an unnamed bank, "hence the interest on
overdraft amounting to more than $20 million was
Karimanzira said Zanu PF spent a total of $15,4 million on
by-elections and mayoral elections, and the party paid more than $9 million
for election petitions in the High Court with $7 million still outstanding
for that work. He said the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Nominees have offered
to write off $6 million from the current loan owed of $16 million provided
Zanu PF paid back $10 million all at once.
Agrippa Madlela, the president of
Zapu, on Friday alleged that Zanu PF is targeting him for elimination ahead
of the March presidential election because his party is not contesting the
election to avoid splitting the opposition vote. He said if Zapu contested
this would work to the advantage of Zanu PF against the
Madlela said Zapu would fully back the MDC in the presidential
election because the overall objective was to remove Zanu PF from
power. He said: "Zanu PF knows that they have completely lost Matabeleland
and, therefore, want to see the votes for the MDC in Matabeleland neutralised
by promoting a candidate from the region."
Beitbridge farmer's wife, 70, accused of pointing pistol at
1/7/02 8:18:57 AM (GMT +2)
JANET Cawood, a 70-year-old Beitbridge farmer's wife, says she
is being wrongfully accused of pointing a pistol at a war veteran who
threatened to attack her with an umbrella at their Kleinbegin
Cawood said she pointed a pepper spray at the war veteran in
self-defence last month when he tried to attack her. But last week, the
police summoned her to give a warned and cautioned statement for allegedly
pointing a firearm at the war veteran. She has been in Harare and returns to
Cawood said: "On 14 December, two District
Development Fund tractors descended on the ranch to cultivate land occupied
by war veterans on the hayfield. My husband and I then went to the hayfield
and started taking photographs of the men and to see what was
"One of the men tried to take away my camera," said Cawood. "I
refused and one of the drivers swerved the tractor in my direction trying to
knock me down." Cawood said when one of the war veterans tried to beat her
up with an umbrella she used a pepper spray to scare him away.
am now surprised because the police came to our ranch, accusing me of having
pointed a pistol at the war veteran," she said. "They confiscated
my husband's pistol and the pepper spray. But the pistol was in the gun
cabinet at home when the incident happened. I have never held a pistol in my
life." Cawood is due to report to the Beitbridge Police Station
PROPERTY worth thousands of dollars was
destroyed over the weekend when Zanu PF militias went on the rampage in
Chitungwiza, Bindura and Marondera, attacking MDC officials and injuring
scores of youths in the process.
In Chitungwiza, the militia attacked
Shelter Mutasa, the wife of Ben Tumbare-Mutasa, the MP for Seke. Their son,
Talent, was also severely assaulted and had to be taken to hospital. The
militia destroyed windows and doors on the MDC MP's house.
wife works at the Parliament of Zimbabwe as a supervisor in the registry
office. Although a report was made to the police, no persons have been
arrested in connection with the attacks. In Bindura, the Zanu PF youths were
on Saturday and yesterday moving from house to house demanding Zanu
PF membership cards from residents. In a case of mistaken identity, the
youths abducted a war veteran's 16-year-old son and went with him to Tendai
Hall, their "re-education" base and beat him up thoroughly.
Chinyama and his friend, another 16-year old, Tafadzwa Makatya, were only
released late Saturday night after spending hours in the hall which is being
used by the youths as their central base for violent activities. In another
incident in Bindura, the police arrested a victim of violence, 22-year-old
Ishmael Jeke, who was beaten and left bed-ridden by the youths. "I was in
Bindura General Hospital after being beaten by about 15 Zanu PF thugs and
they took my medical report away on 2 January and up to now I haven't seen
it." Jeke, who is now out of hospital, has since been remanded out of custody
and told to report to the police every day.
On Friday, hundreds of
members of the Apostolic Faith sect descended on MDC offices at Makoni
shopping centre and later attacked the home of Fidelis Mhashu, the MP for
The marauding church members, led by Godfrey Nzira, were
later dispersed by defiant MDC youths who fearlessly advanced towards the
group. Senior police officers later told the MDC MP to remove the youths from
his premises so they could come in to protect him, but the MP refused to
allow them in.
Mhashu said: "I told the police officers that I didn't
want their dubious protection. How can I be protected by partisan policemen
and why should they want to protect me when I have not asked for their
protection?" During the furore, two MDC youths, Mike Munyonga and David
Chipunza, were seriously injured. In Marondera, MDC supporters who had
attended a provincial congress to choose new leaders, were attacked by a Zanu
PF militia transported from surrounding rural areas. Nelson Chamisa, the MDC
national youth chairman, who was also at the meeting, said unprovoked Zanu PF
hoodlums descended on MDC supporters and started throwing
Seven MDC youths were injured and were taken to hospital where
they are still being attended to. The scuffle took place in the presence of
the police but no one was arrested.
The rowdy Zanu PF youths later
broke into the MDC offices where they burnt documents containing valuable
party information. Chamisa remarked yesterday: "What the nation is witnessing
are the last kicks of a dying horse." In Mbare, scores of Zanu PF supporters
yesterday rampaged through the streets, attacking people accused of
supporting Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader.
Although the police were
called in, they did not arrest anyone. They just watched helplessly as the
youths, wielding stones, knobkerries and other missiles, attacked innocent
civilians going about their normal business in the busy streets of Harare's
oldest suburb. Angry residents said the attacks started around midday and
went on for the rest of the afternoon. There were sporadic attacks in
different parts of the suburb which continued until about 5pm
But Mbare residents said they would team up and hit back. They
said they did not want the help of the police. The police refused to
comment. Tsvangirai faces President Mugabe in a tight presidential race
scheduled for March.
In an orgy of terror, war veterans and Zanu PF militias over the
weekend ransacked Richard Mugwagwa's homestead and took his wife hostage
before looting property worth thousands of dollars as political violence
flared up in Zaka district ahead of the March presidential
Mugwagwa, the losing MDC candidate for Zaka East, is
spearheading the MDC campaign in the district.
The war veterans raided
Mugwagwa's homestead near Chinyabako business centre and beat up his wife
before confiscating MDC documents. They demanded that Mugwagwa and his family
denounce the MDC and join Zanu PF.After searching all the houses, they placed
his wife under a 24-hour guard at her home.
Mugwagwa, who was once
severely beaten by soldiers, was yesterday reported to be in hiding after
receiving death threats from the war veterans, but MDC officials said he was
The war veterans took away clothes and cash.
the MDC vice-chairman for Masvingo province, yesterday said: "We are worried
because Mugwagwa's wife has been put under house arrest by the youths. We
have failed to get to the area because the youths have established illegal
roadblocks on all roads leading to his homestead. "The police too have failed
to rescue Mugwagwa's wife and there is a possibility that she could even be
raped. These people have turned into criminals," Matake said.
Siyawareva ward near Jerera growth point in Zaka, war veterans destroyed a
hut belonging to Misheck Marava, an MDC activist, burnt his television
set and a bicycle before they took away some bags of maize.
recently abducted, tortured and later released by the Zanu PF militia for
supporting the MDC.
Marava yesterday said: "Despite all this, we have to
remain in Zaka so that our supporters will not desert us. If we, as leaders,
run away and seek refuge elsewhere, what will happen to ordinary supporters?
If the police continue to fold their hands while crimes are being committed,
then it means we have to beef up our security."
Problems in Zaka
started last November when Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice-president, launched
the party's presidential campaign at Jerera.
Meanwhile, Shepherd Tigere,
25, was brutally murdered by the Zanu PF militia in Gokwe. Tigere, who worked
as a conductor with Mavesere Bus Services, died from his injuries at Gokwe
District Hospital last Thursday. He was expected to be buried in Gokwe at the
According to witnesses, a group of about 100 Zanu PF youths
approached a Mbungu-bound Mavesere bus and later commandeered the bus to a
Zanu PF torture base where Tigere and several MDC supporters were assaulted
with sticks and iron bars.
Mugabe 'using violence to win election votes' By
Tony Hawkins Published: January 6 2002 21:30 | Last Updated: January 6 2002
With Zimbabwe's increasingly bitter presidential election
no more than 10 weeks away, the ruling Zanu-PF party has been accused of
using escalating violence, pay rises and land handouts to win
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change accuses the ruling
party of killing six of its members in as many weeks. The MDC says Zanu-PF
militants are being trained at government-financed youth camps in Zimbabwe's
rural areas. Only two of the six deaths claimed by the opposition have
been confirmed by the police.
An opposition MP for the satellite city
of Chitungwiza, close to Harare, says his home was attacked by Zanu-PF
militias on Friday, leading the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to
accuse the government of a "low intensity civil war".
rejects the opposition claims.
There were reports of mob violence in
several parts of the country last week, including one from the town of
Chinhoyi, where National Youth Service Brigade members raided shops and
looted property. The Commercial Farmers Union says two white farmers were
beaten up by war veteran supporters of President Robert Mugabe last week,
resulting in one of them losing an ear.
The government is reported to
have approved a 100 per cent pay award for the armed forces - nearly double
the 55 per cent increase for the civil service as a whole. The 2002 budget,
proposed in November, included a 93 per cent increase for army personnel and
more than 200 per cent for the air force, while the police pay budget was
increased 120 per cent. With inflation currently running at 104 per cent,
real earnings of almost everyone else in the country have fallen.
government appears also to be planning to postpone local government elections
in Harare, which should be held by mid-February. A Supreme Court ruling
instructed the government to call the election before February 11, but last
week the government extended for a further six months the life of the
government-appointed Commission that is running the city.
Mr Mugabe is
expected to use his presidential powers to delay the municipal election,
which the MDC is tipped to win with an overwhelming majority.
analysts say that if the MDC were to win Harare well less than a month before
the presidential poll, it would give Mr Tsvangirai an unstoppable momentum.
Mr Mugabe is expected to name an election date - probably mid-March - this
worldwide protests, the Zimbabwean Government plans to go ahead tomorrow with
the enactment of a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill,
which will in effect suppress all correspondents for foreign news
organisations and all newspapers outside state control. All journalists and
newspapers will require an annually renewable “licence”, available only to
citizens, and at the discretion of Jonathan Moyo, the Information
Simultaneously, Parliament, dominated 94-56 by the ruling
Zanu(PF) party, will be asked to endorse a second important new piece of
legislation, the Public Order and Security Bill, giving the authorities
sweeping powers of detention and seizure ahead of President Mugabe’s attempt
to win a further six-year term in March. A date for the polls is expected
To boost his re-election prospects police, troops and
state-funded “war veterans” have had their pay doubled to reinforce loyalty
to the regime.
“These two pieces of legislation, taken together, complete
the transition from a form of democratic society to a total dictatorship and
Fascist state,” said Professor Welshman Ncube, a constitutional law expert
and secretary-general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
He said that although the MDC, led by veteran trades unionist
Morgan Tsvangirai, was narrowly cheated of victory in the June 2000
parliamentary elections, it stood no chance of blocking the bills in view of
the presence of 30 MPs nominated by Mr Mugabe.
“But we believe if they
don’t actually commit fraud in the form of putting extra votes and getting
people who don’t exist to vote, the life of this dictatorship has come to an
end,” he said. “We will not run away from this struggle but take each day as
Mr Moyo told the state-controlled daily, The Herald, on
Saturday that last week’s international coverage of the resignation of Mr
Justice David Bartlett, a High Court judge, proved the need for media
“The time to expose their lies and their liars has come,” he
said, denying that the judge had been “pushed out” and the bench packed
with pro-government judges. “It proves the point we have been making all
along, that the greatest threat to regional peace and stability comes from
the apartheid press and its British sponsors.”
Under the new media
bill, correspondents could face up to two year’s jail for quoting Mr Moyo’s
words without the permission of The Herald, as for a range of other
“offences” against a new government-drafted code, to be imposed by its own
Geoff Nyarota, Editor of the only daily newspaper
outside state control, has vowed to use all legal methods to fight
implementation of the bill, which he says will silence independent voices
more effectively than the bomb which last year blew up his printing
Counsel’s opinion, released last week by Zimbabwe’s Legal
Resources Foundation, said the bill was “ill conceived, badly drafted and
dangerous”, and “most of the controls (it) seeks to impose are
However, the new bench dominated by ruling party
sympathisers may interpret the Declaration of Rights entrenched in the 1980
independence constitution to favour President Mugabe, having already endorsed
his plans to redistribute 5,000 white-owned farms to 300,000 black
Zimbabweans before the presidential polls.
A newly-appointed judge
last month banned a Zimbabwean-born white man from challenging citizenship
laws requiring him to prove he did not, secretly, hold Hungarian
His parents fled to Zimbabwe after the 1956 uprising and
Hungary’s Embassy in South Africa said he would have to be granted Hungarian
citizenship — an impossibility, since his birth was not registered with them
in 1960 — in order to renounce it. The act of applying for foreign
citizenship, whether granted or not, automatically strips a Zimbabwean of
Mr Tsvangirai, the MDC’s presidential candidate,
meanwhile said five supporters had been murdered in the past fortnight by a
newly trained “Youth National Service”.
BR>distributed without the prior written
authority of Holger Jensen.