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Mugabe defiant as voting starts


Fri Jun 27, 2008 7:53am BST

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabweans began voting in a one-sided presidential
run-off on Friday after President Robert Mugabe defied mounting world
condemnation and calls to postpone an election which the opposition says is
a farce.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat Mugabe in the first round of
voting in March, withdrew from the run-off last Sunday over violence and
intimidation of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters by the
ruling ZANU-PF party.

Voting began shortly after 6:00 a.m. British time and turnout was thin at
some polling stations in the capital Harare, unlike the March election when
people began lining up from the early hours. Polling is due to end at 6:00
p.m. British time.

"I am here to exercise my vote. It does not make a difference for me (that
only Mugabe is standing)," Tabeth Masuka said at a polling station in
Harare's Avondale suburb.

"I will not be voting, I think it does not make sense to vote when one of
the candidates has already withdrawn from that contest," said Terrence
Mukumba, a Harare-based bank employee.

The poll has been widely condemned and a security committee of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) called for the vote to be postponed,
saying Mugabe's re-election as the only candidate could lack legitimacy.

But Mugabe, 84, planning to extend his 28-year-old uninterrupted rule,
remained defiant and even ridiculed African leaders who said he should delay
the election.

"Even today they are saying do away with the election, what stupidity is
that," Mugabe said at his last campaign rally on Thursday, where he urged
people to vote in large numbers.

Mugabe has barred observers from Western countries critical of his
government and all but refused entry to hundreds of foreign journalists who
were keen to cover the election.

A grouping of local observers has said its members were harassed and
intimidated by government supporters and that they would not observe
Friday's vote.

Zimbabwe's electoral authorities forged ahead with preparations for the
poll, deploying thousands of polling officers across the country and
distributing ballot boxes and papers to more than 8,000 polling stations.

Police said they would deploy officers to prevent any trouble.


Analysts said Mugabe was pressing ahead with the election in a bid to cement
his grip on power and strengthen his hand if he was forced to negotiate with

Mugabe has said he is willing to sit down with the MDC but would not bow to
outside pressure, even from the African Union.

African heavyweight state Nigeria backed the SADC security committee's call
for a postponement, saying it was doubtful a credible poll could be held
under current circumstances.

"Clearly Mugabe's plan is to be in a stronger position come negotiating day
but the whole process lacks legitimacy both locally and internationally,"
said John Makumbe, a political analyst and long-time Mugabe critic.

Zimbabweans had hoped the run-off would help end a severe economic crisis
marked by acute shortages of foreign currency, food, an 80 percent
unemployment rate and the world's highest inflation rate, estimated to be
two million percent.

A loaf of bread now costs 6 billion Zimbabwe dollars, or 150 times more than
at the time of the first round of elections.

The MDC says nearly 90 of its supporters have died in political violence
which it blamed on ZANU-PF supporters. Mugabe says the opposition has been
responsible for the violence.

Tsvangirai said if Mugabe declared himself president he would be shunned as
an illegitimate leader who killed his own people.

The MDC said it feared ZANU-PF would force people to vote, especially in
rural areas, ruling party strongholds where Mugabe seemed to have lost his
support to the MDC during the first round of voting in March.

"What will happen tomorrow is that people will be forced to vote ... because
the military were mobilised to accompany this process," Tsvangirai said in
an interview on Thursday with Portuguese radio station Renascenca.

Zimbabwean police said Britain and the United States were backing plans by
the MDC and some NGOs to disrupt Friday's vote with violence, including
burning down voting tents.

Since the March election, Mugabe has rallied his shock troops, veterans of
the 1970s independence war and youth militia, in a violent campaign that
critics say has made a free and fair election impossible.

(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka and Nelson Banya, Editing by Marius
Bosch and Ralph Gowling

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The June 27 Elections in the Eyes of the Zimbabwean Voter and the Opposition

Thursday · June 26, 2008

by Zvisinei C. Sandi

"Makavhotera Papi?" "Where did you place your vote?" Those are the words
Zimbabwean voters have heard over and over again from their Head of State
and former hero, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, delivered via the lips of chain- and
club-wielding militias in the dark of the night. Those are the words that
have brought tears, heartbreak, and the chill of terror to many homes. And
now, when it's almost time to place yet another vote, with the question now
being "What will the voters do this time?" right there in the middle of
everything, the opposition contestant, Morgan Tsvangirai, has announced that
he is pulling out of the election and has fled into the Dutch Embassy. To
complicate matters even more, the Mugabe government has insisted that the
elections will go on as planned, with Tsvangirai's name on it.

Just before the March 29 elections, Mugabe promised to accept the outcome of
the poll and, in the event that he lost, he said he would accept it. As soon
as the results showed that he and his party had lost the elections, he
unleashed a violent campaign against the opposition and its perceived
supporters. The campaign is led by war veterans and the notorious Border
Gezi youths (the notorious Green Bombers), supported by the army. Now, just
12 days before the presidential election run-off, violence has escalated
countrywide with reports of deaths every single day. Mugabe and his henchmen
threaten to plunge the country into another war if he loses the presidential
election run-off. State security forces have been deployed countrywide to
try and rescue beleaguered Mugabe ahead of the critical presidential

The campaign environment has effectively been poisoned and the playing field
dramatically tilted in favor of Mugabe. There is now a pervasive aura of
fear surrounding the poll as the wave of terror ripples unabated through the

Tsvangirai's campaign has been virtually brought to a standstill as police
continue to harass him and his officials. It is a public secret that junior
police officers are carrying orders from their superiors who are openly
against Tsvangirai ruling the country as many of the superiors belong to the
murderous War Veterans Association. Tsvangirai and his party officials have
on several occasions been arrested and held at remote police stations to
prevent his rallies from taking place. ZANU PF henchmen have invaded rally
venues to be used by the MDC, as police stand by and watch as if to
encourage their actions. The same police force has banned MDC activists from
putting up campaign posters in Bulawayo arguing that "This is Mugabe's
country." In Masvingo, ZANU PF youths and war veterans continue to destroy
MDC campaign posters putting up their own instead, delivering severe
beatings or even death to anyone who is even remotely associated with the
MDC. People are being forced to put on ZANU PF campaign T-shirts. Residents
in the high density suburbs have been told to take down their satellite
dishes and watch the government controlled ZTV which churns out nothing but
propaganda. The militias accuse those with satellite dishes of watching
"lies" on the free channels beaming from neighboring South Africa,
especially E-TV.

Vendors at flea markets are forced, with dire threats, to attend ZANU PF
meetings, produce ZANU PF membership cards, and sometimes to close down
their businesses in favor of ZANU PF favorites. Petrol bombs have become the
order of the day in the countryside where war veterans and the youth militia
are targeting MDC activists, supporters, and their homesteads. There are
increasing cases of MDC supporters retaliating and going after the militia
to avenge the brutality against their own, which has been met with even more
brutality as Mugabe then mobilizes the whole state machinery against these
small centers of resistance. Men of the cloth and religious gatherings have
not been spared from the ongoing brutality. Clergymen have reportedly
attacked and threatened for housing those fleeing terror in their rural
homes. At Musiso Mission, priests' houses were burnt to ashes after the
militia accused the priests of taking in opposition supporters fleeing
violence in rural Zaka.

Meanwhile election observers have been trickling in to the country to
observe the June 27 election run-off. Their arrival is seen as very late
considering that the violence started soon after the March 29 poll. The
damage caused by the violence is already too big to imagine that the
observers' presence would change anything. The violence has not stopped
anywhere, even as news of the arrival of the observers came. Most rural
areas have become war zones. About 400 observers from SADC will be
dispatched to various parts of the country to monitor the electoral
environment as well as the conduct. Apart form the SADC observer team, The
Pan African Parliament (PAP) observer mission is already in the country.
Observers from SADC say they are here just as a formality as nothing
concrete or binding would come out of their observing mission. The Zimbabwe
Independent quoted one of the observers saying when they go back to their
respective countries, their leaders will then issue statements that really
do not mean anything to the people of Zimbabwe. The observer added that what
further exacerbated the situation were the divisions within the block SADC
itself, with South Africa rallying behind Mugabe while others were in favor
of a more critical approach. Sources also revealed that the observers had
been ordered (unofficially) by the Mugabe government, to conduct their
operations from morning till as late as 5pm only. This is unheard of, as all
are conscious of the fact that violence and intimidation is mostly done
under the cover of darkness. The United Nations said it was willing to send
an observer mission but is yet to get invited by the Mugabe administration.
It is highly unlikely that Mugabe will extend the invitation to the UN to
send election observers for the June 27 presidential run-off election.
Mugabe views the presence of the UN observers as meddling and in internal
affairs of a sovereign nation. He also believes that the British and
American governments are arm twisting the UN to oversee the regime change in
Zimbabwe. The two governments are accused of bankrolling the opposition to
topple his government as well as sponsoring NGOs that are seen as fronts for
the opposition agenda of regime change.

The electoral court has started hearing election petitions filed by both MDC
and ZANU PF, dismissing two petitions from both parties as they were filed
out of time, wrongly cited ZEC as a respondent and service of the petitions
was done at party headquarters instead of the respondents' residential
address or business address. Both MDC and ZANU PF filed a total of 105
election petitions, and the ruling by the court indicates that all the other
challenges from both parties would be thrown out.

With the ZANU PF government firmly in control of the election process, and
with this orgy of violence enfolding the nation, it is unlikely that Mugabe
would lose this charade of an election. The most likely outcome is that,
through (rigging, even at this point, estimated to be greater that in the
March 29 elections), and intimidation, Mugabe will emerge as the apparent
victor and be swiftly declared winner. Such an announcement would provide
his presidency with the false veneer of legality and provide him with a
platform from which he can defend his autocratic rule. In addition, this
would place Tsvangirai and the MDC on the back foot, forcing them to take
the position of the losing challengers to the incumbent-a position they have
held futilely for almost a decade.

The other, less likely but possible scenario is that Zimbabwean voters would
bravely ignore all the violence and the very realistic threats and vote for
Tsvangirai in enough numbers to offset the effect of the rigging. Although
this is the outcome that the great majority of Zimbabweans hope for, it is
not clear, in the current situation of state-sponsored violence, what its
implications would be. Since March 29, Mugabe and his ZANU PF establishment
have demonstrated just how far they are prepared to go to thwart the
democratic process, and it is unlikely that they will accept defeat. The
possibility of ZANU PF elements carrying out their threat to thwart
Tsvangirai's bid even if he wins is very real. They have the institutional
capacity and the will to carry out their threat.

Seen from the point of view of ordinary Zimbabwean voters, the situation is
even more depressing. Toward the March 29 elections, they saw a slackening
of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act, and slight slackening of the violence. They
saw the presence of international observers, and they noticed that MDC was
allowed some room (though not much) to campaign, and they believed that the
end of the Mugabe Dictatorship was drawing close, and flooded to the polls
and voted their choice. The days since have proved them terribly mistaken.
The international observers packed their bags and went home to their safe
countries, then Mugabe held on to the ballots for an astounding five weeks
and then released a result that no one believed. Polling officers (most of
them poor school teachers only trying to supplement their meager income)
have been arrested, tortured, and held in detention for allowing MDC wins in
their polling stations. They have seen the government mobilize and expand
its terror structures and go on to unleash a violence campaign of stunning
proportions while the world watched and did nothing. Thabo Mbeki, the man
the world had entrusted with monitoring and resolving the crisis, openly
announced, right in the middle of the chaos, that "there is no crisis in
Zimbabwe" and that Mugabe should be allowed his hand.

It therefore seems that the Zimbabwean voter has no support except for his
own resources, and whatever anyone else says, until such a date and time
that organizations like SADC, the African Union, the European Union, the
United Nations Security Council, and powers like the United States, the UK,
Australia, and South Africa decide to step in and play a greater role in
Zimbabwe's security situation, ZANU PF holds the real power in the country.
With the ZANU PF's track record, the average Zimbabwean goes against it at
his own peril. Rural voters do not vote for ZANU PF because they love it or
because they are less educated, but because they wisely realize that their
very lives lie in the hands of henchmen who, if they chose to (which they
often do), would torture and kill them without any hesitation.

From thorough investigations, it is clear that far more people have been
killed than those the MDC has reported as most of the killings take place in
the rural areas that are considered no-go zones for the opposition. The
reason for the discrepancy-the MDC has no access to the information. Most of
the victims are not really connected to the opposition party. Instead, they
are killed for such trivial things as failing to attend ZANU PF meetings,
not producing a ZANU PF party card upon demand, or simply because they
bumped into ZANU PF militias while walking around in an unfamiliar

ZANU PF henchmen have effectively sealed off many of the rural areas in
Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, and Manicaland. The
independent press, non-governmental organizations, and diplomats have been
banned from travelling or working outside Harare. None of the village people
may leave their homes without permission from the local War Veterans (who
sometimes work directly from the same offices as the defeated ZANU PF member
of parliament), and then they may not be gone for more than three days. None
of the friends and family based in the towns and cities may visit. Any
villager who gets an unexpected guest has to take him to the War Veterans
militia, who will then vet him to decide whether or not he may be classified
as MDC, and then he would have to attend all ZANU PF activities and stay
only for as long as the militias decide. Often, villagers have been branded
MDC for having a guest who did not know how to chant ZANU PF slogans or
(Heaven forbid!) did not carry a ZANU PF membership card, to say nothing of
the safety of the guest.

Apart from the current violence, the voting system itself is terribly
faulty, allowing Mugabe's militias to point out to within a few houses, who
voted for MDC, which makes the retributive violence devastatingly accurate.
It allows the henchmen to go back to communities perceived to be MDC
supporters and make an example. At the moment, these murderous groups, among
them the official army and police, are moving around these rural communities
beating and killing people (many of the murders go unreported because of the
way the government has clamped down on the rural areas) and threatening to
wipe out whole neighborhoods if there is so much as a single MDC vote in

The most startling aspect about this violence is not that it is happening,
but that the world is permitting it, condoning it, and, as in the South
African example, abetting it. MDC, being at the moment only a challenger to
Mugabe's entrenched and ruthless power, lacks the means to protect itself
and ordinary Zimbabweans. This leaves only one effective player on the
scene, and that is Mugabe, with the murderous ZANU PF at his command. The
people of Zimbabwe have to survive somehow, even if this means complying
with a madman's unthinkable demands-bowing under pressure and even voting
for him. By not acting against Mugabe's brutal rule, the world might be, by
default, electing this maniac and his followers to rule the country for at
least another five years and perpetuating Zimbabwe's suffering.

It is in the light of all these factors that Tsvangirai's decision to
withdraw from the run-off election is to be viewed. For him, campaigning in
any form has effectively been outlawed. Opposition rallies have been banned,
Tsvangirai may not air his adverts on the country's only radio and
television network and the militias who, in the last few weeks have taken up
the streets of Harare make it a life threatening phenomenon just to have
access to international radio or television.

To make matters worse, Mugabe and his ZANU PF government are cutting down
drastically on the numbers of international observers permitted into the
country for the June 27 election. The March 29 elections saw Zimbabwe
receiving 10,000 international observers for 9,900 polling stations,
ensuring that there was at least one international for each polling station.
Now that number has been reduced to 5,000 international observers, which is
approximately half the number of the polling stations, leaving room for
massive election rigging. The Mugabe government has been even more ruthless
with local observers, cutting their numbers down by almost ridiculous
proportions. For instance, the Law Society of Zimbabwe, which provided 500
observers in March, has now been reduced to a mere five. Where MDC polling
agents and official are concerned, Mugabe's policy has been simple: kill
them all wherever they are found. International media has been banned, and
even within Zimbabwe the only journalists who can operate are those who,
through the much-hated Media and Information Commission, have been
thoroughly investigated and vetted by Mugabe's notorious CIO.

For Tsvangirai to continue with this charade of an election would have
simply meant perpetuating the killings and torture of innocent Zimbabweans,
leading to a pseudo-legalization of this monstrous dictatorship. This way,
if Mugabe is to stay in power, it would be without the pretense of being an
elected leader, and, who knows, the international community might come
knocking on Zimbabwe's door to try and resolve the crisis.

Reposted from the Novo Zim website.

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Zimbabwe militias order people to vote
Mugabe seeks a big mandate in today's election, critics say.
McClatchy Newspapers Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, June 27, 2008

Getty Images A worker for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, right, waits for treatment of a head wound Thursday at a clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, that is aiding other injured foes of President Robert Mugabe.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe – President Robert Mugabe may be the only candidate contesting today's internationally condemned election in Zimbabwe, but opposition party officials said Thursday that militias loyal to him have threatened people across the country: Show up to vote or else.

In Chitungwiza, a working-class suburb of the capital, Harare, residents said that men in police uniforms barged into at least 11 homes Wednesday night and warned the occupants to vote.

In Marondera, 45 miles southeast of Harare, a gang of young Mugabe supporters – clad in the ruling party's signature green bandannas – confronted a resident at his home Thursday morning warning that if he didn't vote, they'd kill him.

Mugabe's victory was assured days ago when challenger Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the race.

Dozens of Tsvangirai's supporters have been killed in what diplomats and human rights groups describe as a state-sponsored terror campaign against his popular opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

But Mugabe, whose 28-year dictatorship has driven the southern African nation to the brink of economic collapse, hasn't let up. Although he's blamed opponents for the election violence, critics say that his regime is using force and intimidation to guarantee a high voter turnout today and therefore a mandate – however dubious – that he can flaunt before his growing legion of critics in Africa and around the world.

Nelson Mandela, the iconic former South African president who led the drive against apartheid, became the latest world leader to speak out against Mugabe, condemning Zimbabwe's "tragic failure of leadership" in a speech Wednesday night in London. Officials in Mugabe's regime have dismissed the remark.

"This has become a referendum on Mugabe, so their ultimate strategy is to get out as many people as possible to vote," said Priscilla Misihairanbwi-Mushonga, a former member of parliament from an opposition faction that backs Tsvangirai. "The election is a charade and they need voters to play their part."

Misihairanbwi-Mushonga said dozens of residents had reported receiving threats from Mugabe loyalists. She's advised opposition backers to vote to ensure their security but to make incomplete or double marks if they want to render the ballots invalid.

Tsvangirai's name remains on the ballot because the government election commission ruled that his petition to withdraw wasn't submitted at least 21 days before the election, in accordance with the law.

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The failure of Nelson Mandela

The First Post

Condemning Mugabe calls into question the concept of African liberation,
says Anthony Daniels
Nelson Mandela's description of the Zimbabwean catastrophe wrought by Robert
Mugabe as a failure of leadership is a failure either of intelligence or of
honesty, or of both. There comes a point at which euphemism turns into
untruth; and Mugabe's regime long ago passed the stage of mere human error
that the term 'failure of leadership' implies.

The reason most African leaders find it so difficult to condemn Mugabe's
rule is that to do so would put in question the whole concept of African
liberation. The crimes of colonialism are only too well known; but the
crimes of anti- and post-colonialism are still too recent, and too current,
to be talked of with frankness by their beneficiaries.

The attachment of the ANC under Nelson Mandela to freedom is comparatively
recent, and wholly the result of the downfall of the Soviet Union. Until
then, the South African Communist party, which was plus staliniste

que Staline, was very powerful, if not preponderant, within it. If the ANC
had come to power with the Soviet Union intact - which would have been
impossible without a civil war - it would have made contemporary Zimbabwe
seem like a garden party.

Moreover, there are still elements within the ANC that would like to move in
Comrade Bob's direction. The fact is, for many African leaders of the first
and second generation, the impoverishment of the population has been the
road to power and riches.

Mugabe has done only what many other post-colonial African leaders have
done. A fifth of the Zimbabwean population has fled; but a third of the
population of Guinea, under the leadership of another hero of African
liberation, Sekou Toure, fled. It would be difficult to say who was the
worst liberator: the competition is so stiff.

Africa is the one continent in which, with a few honourable exceptions,
there has been little advance or progress in the last forty to fifty years.
What Africa desperately needs is liberation from the liberators. But who is
to do it without renewing the catastrophe?


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State-run press leads propaganda charge

Mail and Guardian


There's only one reason Robert Mugabe is going to win today's presidential
election if you believe the state-run press: the people have finally come to
their senses.

They were duped by a massive British propaganda campaign into supporting the
opposition in the first round three months ago. But now they have magically
understood that the economy is collapsing and the supermarket shelves are
empty as the result of British-led sanctions, that the redistribution of
white-owned farms has been a great success even though there are shortages
of food, and that Mugabe is hugely popular even though he lost the first
round three months ago and has to beat people up to get them to vote for him
this time.

There is an Alice in Wonderland quality to most of Zimbabwe's press which is
answerable to those around Mugabe. The pretence of balance in the first
round of elections in March, when the state press made a stab at giving the
opposition its say, has given way to a propaganda onslaught that the
Zimbabwe Media Monitoring Project has called the "prostitution of even the
most basic ethical journalistic conduct in the service of the ruling party".

Presenters of the televised political discussion programme, Dzimbahwe,
routinely describe Mugabe as the "perfect presidential candidate for
Zimbabwe". A television interviewer the other day asked a ruling Zanu-PF
official: "Would it be fair to say that to vote for Morgan Tsvangirai is the
equivalent of selling your family into slavery?"

At their most perverse, the reports blame the bloodied victims of systematic
assaults on the opposition of being responsible for the violence.

But much of the propaganda conjures up a world in which Tsvangirai, the
opposition leader, is taking his orders directly from Downing Street with
the sole aim of recolonising Zimbabwe. The voters might wonder if the
Movement for Democratic Change's leader could have found a better mentor
given British Prime Minister's Gordon Brown's problems. It's a theme picked
up by the endlessly repeated television adverts showing Tony Blair morphing
into George Bush and then into Brown and finally a particularly unattractive
picture of Tsvangirai before declaring them all to be the "losers club". No
mention is made of the fact that it was Mugabe who lost the first round of
presidential elections.

Still there are times when the propaganda looks self-defeating, not least
midway through the hourly nightly news bulletin when the anchors move to the
fifth or sixth report on a Mugabe rally with the president yet again warning
that the gun is mightier than the ballot box. It's hard to imagine that
viewers haven't gone to make a very long cup of tea. The state papers have
also made much of Tsvangirai choosing to hide out in the Dutch embassy. "His
[Tsvangirai's] constituency is in Europe and he will be elected the best
Euro-American puppet of the country while having tea and Dutch cheese in the
Dutch Embassy in Harare," said the Herald. - © Guardian
Newspapers Limited 2008

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New Report Recommends Zimbabwe Abolish Its Central Reserve Bank


By Howard Lesser
Washington, DC
27 June 2008

In addition to the violence and human rights violations by a repressive
regime, Zimbabwe voters will take note of their economic woes as they cast
ballots today in a run-off election for president. Over the past two years,
inflation has escalated to a state of hyperinflation, which economists
suggest can be curbed by replacing the country's central bank with a new
monetary system. That's the finding of a new study by Johns Hopkins
University economist Steve Hanke which has just been published by
Washington's Cato Institute. Professor Hanke, who is also a senior fellow at
Cato, says that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is an inflation-fueling money
machine that should be abolished and replaced by a national currency board
that restore stability and growth to the country's economy.

"I've been involved in stopping hyperinflations in the 1990's, and you can
do this within 30 days. If you don't stop the hyperinflation, you can't have
economic stability, you can't have political stability, you can't have any
semblance of normalcy, so you obviously have to have a politician with a
will to do it," he said.

Professor Hanke argues that Zimbabwe's central bank has been used to print
money whenever the supply runs out and provide jobs for supporters of
President Robert Mugabe's government. He says the process, fostered by the
regime's determination to stay in power, continues to spiral out of control
and prevent opportunities for a return to economic growth.

"It's a terrible thing for the people who are involved because the economy
completely collapses and they're just robbed of all means to sustain
themselves," he notes.

Far from being a radical proposal akin to American attempts to abandon the
gold standard of currency valuation, Hanke says that getting rid of the
Zimbabwe Reserve Bank would restore Zimbabwe's rich monetary tradition,
under which a currency board system performed efficiently and circulated
currency without problems.

"There've been in fact very few hyperinflations because the main monetary
system there is historically the currency board system, which is one of the
systems I've recommended in the Zimbabwe report and which Zimbabwe actually
had from 1940 to 1956 and the thing worked beautifully. So Africa was just
thoroughly covered with currency boards, and most of them were backed, by
the way, by the gold standard. So you had generally stable money
historically in Africa," said Hanke.

Although the chronic economic woes have forced thousands of citizens into
poverty, caused millions to emigrate, and led to radical declines in health
and the average Zimbabwean's life span, the Cato Institute senior fellow
says there are no guarantees that resolving the hyperinflation will result
in better government for Zimbabwe. But he says any meaningful political
changes cannot be accomplished unless rampant rising costs are brought under
control, and that is what has enabled other former hyperinflationary
countries like Serbia and Bulgaria to take the necessary steps to overcome
their crises.

"Ultimately if you get into hyperinflation, you know that its life is
limited because people simply won't support a government in which
hyperinflation is raging away. So if that's the condition that exists, the
public is very much tuned into the idea that we have to get out of this
death spiral that we're in, and they're very willing to listen to
recommendations and adopt them. And most of the cases I've been involved in,
they have adopted them very quickly," he claims.

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G8 ministers call for legitimate Zimbabwe government


Fri 27 Jun 2008, 5:47 GMT

KYOTO, Japan, June 27 (Reuters) - The Group of Eight nations (G8) said on
Friday that Zimbabwe's first round of presidential elections must be
respected, and they could not accept the legitimacy of a government not
reflecting the will of the people.

The following is the text of a statement issued by the group's foreign
ministers after a meeting in Kyoto, Japan:

"G8 Foreign Ministers reiterated their grave concern about the situation in

"We deplore the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities -- systematic
violence, obstruction and intimidation -- which have made a free and fair
presidential run-off election impossible. We strongly urge the Zimbabwean
authorities to work with the opposition to achieve a prompt, peaceful
resolution of the crisis in accordance with the democratic wishes of the
Zimbabwean people and, for that purpose, to cooperate fully with the
international efforts including those of SADC, the AU and UN.

"We are deeply concerned over the suspension of humanitarian aid which has
been seriously affecting the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe and call on
the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately allow the resumption of operations
by humanitarian organizations.

"We note that the results of the March 29, 2008, elections must be respected
and that any dialogue between the parties must allow a legitimate government
to be formed. We will not accept the legitimacy of any government that does
not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.

"We will continue to closely monitor the situation." (Writing by John
Chalmers; Editing by Rodney Joyce)

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US says to consult UN over next steps on Zimbabwe


Fri 27 Jun 2008, 5:43 GMT

KYOTO, Japan, June 27 (Reuters) - The United States will consult with other
members of the U.N. Security Council on the next steps to be taken after
Friday's one-man presidential run-off in Zimbabwe, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said.

"We will consult with other members of the Security Council and others ...
to see what next steps we might need to take in the council," Rice told a
news conference after a meeting of Group of Eight foreign ministers in

The United States holds the presidency of the Security Council through June.

The ministers said in a statement that Zimbabwe's first round of
presidential elections must be respected, and they could not accept the
legitimacy of a government not reflecting the will of the people. (Reporting
by Susan Cornwell; Editing by John Chalmers)

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Mugabe 'win' Faces Rejection

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:39

AFRICAN leaders - including South African President Thabo Mbeki - are
for the first time expected to reject President Robert Mugabe's purported
"win" in today's presidential election run-off in which he will be the only
candidate after his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out due to political

The rejection of Mugabe's "victory" would compound his legitimacy
crisis and leave him isolated and even more vulnerable to economic pressures
than before.

This, analysts said, strengthens Mbeki's hand in his push for direct
talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Mbeki's envoys have been in Harare in a
bid to get today's poll postponed.

They are lobbying for a government of national unity between Mugabe's
Zanu PF and Tsvangirai's MDC.

Mugabe at a rally on Wednesday said he was amenable to dialogue with
the opposition after the poll. He said he was "open to discussion" with
Tsvangirai and the MDC, softening his hardline stance against the

The same day, Tsvangirai said he wanted talks on forming a
transitional authority, which would work for political stability and
economic recovery before fresh elections.

Mugabe had previously shown little interest in talks, instead focusing
on the election, but on Wednesday he showed signs of feeling the mounting
pressure of rejection and isolation by world leaders, including African ones
who had previously recognised his disputed electoral victories.

Mugabe has already lost the support of almost all neighbouring
leaders. Those who supported Zimbabwe's liberation struggle the most such as
Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana have broken ranks with him. Mbeki is also
showing signs of growing impatience with Mugabe.

At the weekend he made it clear that there was no way out except
through dialogue, a reality Mugabe is now beginning to acknowledge.

In a further sign Mugabe was changing tack on talks, MDC
secretary-general Tendai Biti was yesterday granted bail by the High Court
after more than two weeks in detention on charges of treason.

Tsvangirai had said on Wednesday no negotiations could take place over
the country's crisis until Biti - his MDC faction's chief negotiator - and 2
000 other "political prisoners" were freed. The MDC had claimed Biti's
arrest was part of a pattern of repression and harassment against the

World leaders have dismissed the presidential run-off as a farce.
Tsvangirai had been the only candidate facing Mugabe, but withdrew citing a
wave of political violence, intimidation, killings, internal displacements
and disenfranchisement of voters.

Sadc, the African Union (AU), the United Nations Security Council and
Western governments have since mobilised against Mugabe and called on his
government to end violence and call off the run-off.

On Monday, the UN Security Council issued its first collective
condemnation of the violence gripping Zimbabwe, saying it would be
"impossible for a free and fair election to take place".

"The Security Council regrets that the campaign of violence and the
restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free
and fair election to take place on 27 June," it stated.

Britain led an effort, dominated by the West, to include the toughest
language, while South Africa and allies including China and Russia pushed to
dilute it somewhat. But in the end China and Russia, who have supported
Mugabe in the Security Council agreed to the contents of the resolution
which observers described as "tough and unambiguous".

Mugabe also faced increasing pressure from his fellow heads of state
in Sadc, which is divided on how to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis.

South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, chosen by the 14-nation bloc as mediator
in the crisis, has maintained a strategy of quiet diplomacy, pushing for
negotiations between Zanu PF and the MDC, without criticising Mugabe

Zambian President and also Sadc chairperson Levy Mwanawasa on Sunday
said the run-off should be postponed to avert a regional catastrophe.

"There are a lot of unconstitutional things that have been done in
this process (election campaign)," Mwanawasa said. "It will, therefore, not
be out of fashion to postpone this election to avert a catastrophe in this

He said it would be "scandalous" for Sadc to remain silent on

"The current political situation in Zimbabwe falls far short of the
Sadc principles," said the Zambian leader. "Free campaigns have not been
allowed, and the opposition have been denied access to the media. These are
all in contravention of the Sadc principles."

The Sadc organ on politics, defence and security on Wednesday called
for the postponement of the election, joining the UN Security Council and
Western governments that have called for the cancellation of the poll.

Two members of the troika organ, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
and King Mswati of Swaziland met in Mbabane.

"It is the considered opinion of the organ summit that holding the
election under the current circumstances may undermine the credibility and
legitimacy of its outcome," the leaders said in a communiqué after the

But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said today's election would go
ahead and rejected Tsvangirai's bid to withdraw from the poll saying his
letter of pulling out was filed too late and of no legal force.

The Sadc election observer mission this week said members of Zimbabwe's
uniformed forces were committing political violence against supporters of
the opposition.

"There are acts of violence being perpetrated by the unformed forces .
. . The violence is in some instances instigated by the political
leadership," mission head Jose Marcos Barrica of Angola said.

The African Union on Tuesday said political violence in Zimbabwe was
of grave concern, adding it had started consultations with African leaders
on what action to take.

Jean Ping, the chairman of the African Union Commission said: "This
development (Tsvangirai withdrawal) and the increasing acts of violence in
the run-up to the second round of the presidential election are a matter of
grave concern to the Commission of the AU."

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and South African ruling ANC
leader Jacob Zuma also called for the run-off to be postponed.

Zuma called for urgent intervention by the UN and Sadc saying the
situation in Zimbabwe was out of control.

"The ANC says the run-off is no longer a solution, you need a
political arrangement first ... then elections down the line," Zuma said.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Wednesday described
the Zimbabwean crisis as "a tragic failure of leadership".

David Miliband, Britain's foreign secretary said it was "important
that African leaders continue to make clear that a government which violates
the constitution in Zimbabwe... cannot be held as the legitimate
representative of the Zimbabwean people."

He charged that the constitution was violated because the second round
poll was meant to happen within 21 days of the March 29 election.

By Dumisani Muleya/Constantine Chimakure

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Violence Against MDC Escalates

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:23
POLITICAL violence targeted at opposition party members escalated this
week with the MDC claiming that one of its activists was killed by a
suspected Zanu PF militia in Mhondoro while the rural homestead of its
national organising secretary Elias Mudzuri was attacked in Zaka.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, this week withdrew from today's
presidential run-off against President Robert Mugabe citing increasing
state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

He said over 85 members of his party had been killed, 10 000 injured
and 200 000 displaced by state security agents, Zanu PF militia and war
veterans since the March 29 elections.

However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the run-off would go
ahead today because Tsvangirai's withdrawal had no legal force.

According to MDC MP-elect for Mhondoro, Bright Kaungwa, 70-year-old
Godfrey Mashaka was abducted on Wednesday by Zanu PF militia and taken to
their base at Nyamweda Gudo Business Centre.

Mashaka's wife Veronica and son Daniel, Kaungwa alleged, were
assaulted by the same militia and sustained serious injuries.

"He was abducted at his home at 4am yesterday (Wednesday) by suspected
Zanu PF militia and the body was later found dumped in a building previously
used as a grinding mill," Kaungwa said. "His wife and son were beaten
heavily and chickens at the homestead were looted."

He said the militia's base was disbanded yesterday following the death
of Mashaka.

"The torture camp was disbanded this morning (Thursday)," Kaungwa
said. "I have previously held meetings with a Lieutenant-Colonel Wellington
Maramwidze Tutisa who leads the operations concerning the setting up of the
camps and violence in Mhondoro, Mubaiwa constituency, but he openly told me
that 'I am in charge of campaigns for the commander in chief''."

He added that MDC polling agents and councillors Edwel Marimo, Robert
Tafa, Obert Busu, Manuel Machaya, Godfrey Jongwe, Givemore Dread Marowa and
Edmond Usai were detained at several bases dotted around Mhondoro.

In Zaka, Mudzuri's 80-year-old father Dzingai, relatives Anthony
Mudzuri, Angela Mudzuri, Ronia Gwara, Jane Gomba and Clemence Kungwara were
seriously injured when their homestead was attacked on Tuesday morning.
Tichaona Marevanhema was shot three times during the attack.

Zaka Central MP-elect Harrison Mudzuri, brother of Elias Mudzuri, said
their homestead was attacked by 10 people in army uniforms.

"The group cut the wire surrounding the homestead and fired some shots
in the air," Mudzuri said. "While some were beating people, others were
smashing property and destroying houses. Marevanhema had three bullet
wounds - one in the right leg and two in the left thigh. Kungwara had his
nose severely damaged."

The MP-elect for Budiriro, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi said in his
constituency MDC supporters were being assaulted every night and he had
taken many to hospital.

In Gutu, MDC activist Crispen Musoni yesterday said a group of Zanu PF
supporters went on a rampage, raiding and searching houses at Mupandawana
Growth Point looking for MDC regalia.

"The youths led by Jose Mudziwapasi - who is feared at Mupandawana -
were moving door to door searching for MDC T-shirts and bandanas," Musoni
alleged. "They were forcing residents to go with them to their base that is
close to Church of Christ in the location."

He said the youths wanted MDC supporters to leave the party and join
Zanu PF.

Martin Magaya, the MDC provincial chairman for Chitungwiza, said
political violence was going on in the dormitory town.

Magaya said his party was preparing for the burial of two of the four
MDC youths allegedly killed last week by suspected Zanu PF militia.

"MDC activists in Chitungwiza are being abducted and beaten at various
bases around Chitungwiza," he alleged. "There is a base close to Town Centre
in Unit D, one in Unit M, St Marys, Unit N and KwaNzira."

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said violence
was escalating throughout the country. ZADHR chairman Douglas Gwatidzo said:
"Cases are continuing to rise and there is no decrease in the number of
injured people we are attending to. This week we have realised that serious
injuries were coming from within urban areas. In particular we attended to
patients from Epworth, Budiriro, Highfield and Dzivaresekwa."

However, police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka
expressed ignorance over the mentioned cases of violence.

"The situation is so good and so calm," Mandipaka said. "We hope that
the people of Zimbabwe will maintain the peace even after the election."

By Wongai Zhangazha

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UN Threatens To Close Zim Office

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:14
THE United Nations (UN) country representative, Agostinho Zacarias,
has threatened to close the world body's offices in Zimbabwe if political
violence targeting humanitarian aid workers is not stopped.

According to sources within the organisation, Zacarias on Wednesday
met with police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and told him that the
UN was considering relocation to neighbouring countries due to escalating
political violence in the country.

"Zacarias and Chihuri met this Wednesday," said one of the sources.
"He expressed concern over continued harassment and intimidation of aid
workers and gave Chihuri an ultimatum to ensure security of UN personnel."

According to the source, Zacarias warned that if the intimidation of
UN workers continued the organisation would change the country's security
rating from two (restricted movement of diplomats) to category three
(relocation of UN offices)."

Chihuri, according to the source, promised the UN representative that
the police would issue "special letters" for UN humanitarian aid workers to
ensure their safety throughout the country.

In an inter-office memorandum Zacarias said there were reported cases
of political violence throughout the country and feared that the simmering
tension between the MDC and Zanu PF would affect operations of the UN local

"Since March 29, there have been cases where our UN colleagues,
especially national staff have been harassed by youths and others who were
politically motivated," Zacarias said in the memorandum dated June 24.

By Bernard Mpofu

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Moyo Supports GNU, Lambasts Tsvangirai

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:10
FORMER Information Minister and independent lawmaker, Jonathan Moyo,
has come out in full support of a government of national unity (GNU) between
President Robert Mugabe and opposition parties saying no conflict can be
resolved through an election.

Moyo, speaking at the Bulawayo Press Club on Wednesday, devoted the
greater part of his presentation to lambasting MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai, calling him an incompetent leader and criticising him for
pulling out of today's presidential run-off.

Moyo accused Tsvangirai of being handled by outside forces, adding
that his withdrawal from the run-off was misguided.

The political scientist became the first Mugabe opponent to criticise
Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the poll after civil society organisations and
other political parties lauded the decision.

"This is the most unwise decision that Tsvangirai has ever made and it
would signify his downfall," Moyo told the journalists. "How can Tsvangirai
withdraw four days before the election and yet people were being beaten and
killed all along when he made his decision to contest on May 21."

Moyo drew the ire of the journalists when he said the violence being
perpetrated across the country did not warrant a withdrawal from the
election and claimed that Zanu
PF supporters were the most affected.

"The violence actually is more pronounced within Zanu PF itself where
the party members are disciplining each other," Moyo claimed. "MDC members
are not being invited to pungwes and being beaten there, but it is Zanu-PF
members who are being beaten for voting wrongly."

He drew criticism from the scribes when he made parallels between the
Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s and the current political violence which
the MDC alleges has claimed over 85 lives of its supporters.

"Sometimes the concerns of the British and the Americans are
suspicious," Moyo said. "Over 20 000 people were killed in Matabeleland and
nothing happened, but when 86 people are killed, the very same people who
ignored events in Matabeleland are the ones who say the election will not be
free and fair because of the violence."

In his attack on Tsvangirai, the Tsholotsho MP said the MDC leader was
gambling with his political career and accused him of failing to consult
other democratic forces on his decision to pull out.

"When Zanu PF was organising and regrouping after the polls,
Tsvangirai was advised by his handlers to leave the country for Botswana and
South Africa as the handlers were preparing him to take over as the next
president of the country," Moyo averred. "He ignored some of the people who
were campaigning for him and spent a lot of time away from home and had to
be persuaded by the US ambassador (James McGee) to come back home." This
self-exile was a bad decision, Moyo said.

By Loughty Dube

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Zanu PF Supporters Disrupt Distribution Of Newspapers

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:07
ZANU PF this week intensified its crackdown on the private media by
intimidating and harassing newspaper distributors and vendors.

Munn Marketing Distributors, which distributes local weeklies the
Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard and South African newspapers the Mail
& Guardian, Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Star was forced to stop
selling in Masvingo, Chivhu and Victoria Falls until after today's election.

The company's operations manager, Nicholas Ncube, told the Independent
that he was stopped in Chivhu on Monday by a group of youths wearing Zanu PF
bandanas and T-shirts who took his ID card and told him to stop distributing
the Sunday Times in the town.

"On Monday when we got to Chivhu a group of youths dressed in Zanu PF
regalia stopped us and told us that the Sunday Times and other private
newspapers had been banned in Chivhu and Masvingo."

Ncube said the youths took their ID cards and threatened to kill them
if they continued distributing the newspapers in Chivhu and Masvingo.

He alleged that many of the company's vendors in Harare were on Monday
beaten up, intimidated and forced to wear Zanu PF regalia when selling

"We have been forced to stop distributing our paper in Victoria Falls
after our agent there said she was scared and could only resume after
election day," Ncube said.

He added that it was unfortunate that their newspapers were being
targeted at the time Zanu PF was advertising in the same papers.

Fungai Katapi, a newspaper vendor at Market Square, said he was
approached by an unmarked white truck whose occupants were wearing Zanu PF
regalia who beat him up and told him to stop selling hostile papers.

Zanu PF information and publicity sub-committee chairman Patrick
Chinamasa yesterday said he was not aware of the attacks.

"We are not aware of such attacks and it is not our policy to attack
newspaper vendors," Chinamasa said. "It's obvious that those people are not
Zanu PF."

By Lucia Makamure

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Civil Society Backs Tsvangirai Pull-out

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:02
CIVIL society organisations have backed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
decision to pull out of today's presidential election run-off against
President Robert Mugabe saying this will save Zimbabweans' lives and make
the regime illegitimate.

The civil society leaders said the election, if held, was going to be
a sham and one of the worst the country has held since Independence from
Britain in 1980.

The MDC pulled out of the run-off polls after citing ongoing violence
against its supporters and a non-conducive environment for campaigning.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku,
said civil society in Zimbabwe has always been clear that no free and fair
elections would take place under the current constitution.

The MDC decision, he said, reflects the civic organisations' position.

"As civil society we have always said elections held under the current
Zimbabwe Constitution will not be free and fair and what Zimbabwe needs is a
new constitution that will guarantee free and fair elections are held under
independent electoral bodies," Madhuku said.

He said the MDC decision to pull out of the presidential run-off
election was commendable as the countdown to the poll turned out to be a
farce due to the violence and intimidation of opposition supporters by Zanu
PF militias.

"The pulling out of the MDC is very important as it means that
violence against Zimbabweans will stop and under the circumstances, the MDC
had no choice except to pull out," Madhuku added.

Christian Alliance, a grouping of churches in the country, said it
supported the decision by the opposition to withdraw from the race as
violence was reaching unprecedented levels countrywide.

"As Christians we support the decision by the opposition to pull out
of the presidential run-off as it was made with people at heart," the
alliance's national coordinator Useni Sibanda said. "There is a lot of
violence going on and if the decision will stop the violence we then support
the decision."

Gorden Moyo, the director for Bulawayo Agenda, a local political think
tank, said the decision to withdraw would further isolate Mugabe, as the
international community will not recognise an election held without the
opposition participating.

"The MDC decision to pull out of the presidential run-off is the best
under the circumstances and if President Mugabe goes ahead and conducts the
presidential run-off without any challenger he will be further isolated,
even by Sadc, and the international community," Moyo said.

He said the majority of Zimbabweans were eager to vote in a free and
fair election where their vote would not be stolen.

"Zimbabweans really wanted to vote, but with the prevailing violence
there was no way the MDC could have participated in a free and fair poll,"
Moyo said.

"The MDC withdrawal from the polls has plunged the entire Zanu PF
campaign strategy into turmoil as they had spent a fortune in printing
campaign materials, paying the youths to brutally campaign for the party.
All this will amount to nothing if the opposition does not take part in the
polls," Moyo said.

Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe in the first round in March and
remained favourite to win the run-off poll despite political violence
against his supporters, announced he was pulling out of the election because
a free and fair vote was impossible because of widespread political violence

Crisis Coalition, a grouping of civil society organisations in
Zimbabwe, also backed the MDC decision.

"The MDC should now urge Sadc to ensure that free and fair elections
are guaranteed because even if Mugabe proceeds with the polls and declares
himself the winner nothing will change his illegitimate status in the eyes
of the whole world," said Macdonald Lewanika, the organisation's

But Madhuku said the MDC pullout from the presidential run-off should
not end there and encouraged the opposition to pull out its elected MPs from
the House of Assembly and the Senate to complete the process.

"The MDC should complete the process by also withdrawing its
legislators from parliament, as taking up the positions will be endorsing
President Mugabe's illegitimate rule," Madhuku said.

The MDC says about 85 of its activists and officials have been killed
since the March 29 elections. The MDC further claimed that about 200 000 of
its supporters have been displaced while plus 10 000 have sustained serious
injuries due to violence perpetrated by Zanu-PF and state-sponsored

By Loughty Dube

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Voters Endorse MDC Withdrawal

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 18:58
VOTERS have said the decision by the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to
withdraw from today's presidential run-off against President Robert Mugabe
was prudent given the escalating political violence targeted at opposition
members and the continued state frustration of his campaign.

In a snap survey this week, the electorate sympathised with Tsvangirai's
move to pull out of the contentious poll.

Tsvangirai wrote to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson
George Chiweshe on Tuesday notifying him of his decision to withdraw from
the race.

He attributed the decision to unabated politically-motivated violence
and intimidation of the electorate in both urban and rural areas.

Despite this development, the government said the run-off would go
ahead today in accordance with the country's electoral laws.

According to the MDC, over 85 of its supporters were killed in the
countdown to the run-off, 10 000 injured and 200 000 internally displaced.

Farai Ngwenya, a Harare salesperson, said he was behind Tsvangirai's
decision because the situation on the ground was not suitable for a free and
fair election.

"I am 100% in support of Tsvangirai," Ngwenya said.

"There was no way we could go on with the elections without polling
agents. If elections are to be held, international observers from all over
the world should come in as well as peace-keepers to protect people so that
they vote in a free environment without any fear."

An MDC supporter who asked for anonymity said Tsvangirai was denied
the space to campaign and his decision to withdraw from the elections was
wise, as he would have starred an inevitable defeat.

"This was a very good move in the sense that he was not given a chance
to campaign," she said.

"Every day our brothers and sisters (in the MDC) are being beaten up
and killed and it's not worth it anymore."

An Epworth resident said Tsvangirai made the decision to save the
lives of his supporters who were at the mercy of Zanu PF militia and war
veterans backing Mugabe's continued stay in power.

"Let us just endorse Mugabe, at least we can live at peace," the
resident said."Mugabe said only God can remove him from power, so let us
just let him rule and wait for God to intervene."

Political scientists agreed with those interviewed that Tsvangirai had
made a wise decision under the current turbulent political environment.

John Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science lecturer
and Mugabe critic, said by withdrawing from the run-off, Tsvangirai had
pulled the rug of legitimacy from under the 84-year-old leader's feet.

"It is not worth it to pursue the run-off while people are being
killed and beaten and houses destroyed," Makumbe said.

"This is no longer an election, it's war! Zanu PF has been using state
coercive apparatus to win that war."

He said the MDC was not given the chance to campaign.

"If Zanu PF wants a war let them fight the war alone. The MDC does not
need to go to war," Makumbe added.

On the way forward for Tsvangirai, Makumbe suggested: "The MDC should
tell people not to go and vote. People should abstain. The MDC should also
urge Sadc, the United Nations and the African Union to pass a strong
resolution on Zimbabwe."

Another UZ political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said
Tsvangirai made the right choice under harsh circumstances.

"That was the most prudent thing to do as there was no other option,
all other options were blocked," Masunungure said.

"The way forward for Tsvangirai was to withdraw from the electoral
playfield that had been fundamentally altered to a warfare from a political

He said his move may not have been timely from a legal view, but
politically it was a wise move.

"Now there should be a search for a viable political settlement that
will be more similar to the Lancaster House settlement where a new legal
framework would be agreed on as well as power-sharing in a transitional
sense thus leading ultimately to an election," Masunungure suggested.

"The Sadc-facilitated dialogue has deficiencies and needs to be
supplemented by something else."

Masunungure said even though Mugabe would go ahead with the run-off,
it would be meaningless because a poll must offer a choice.

"An election has to be meaningful. One cannot get into a race alone,
there have to be two or three more people. There has to be a choice. If they
go on, it will be an election without a choice," he said.

Political commentator Sibangelizwe Ndlovu said it was unfair to judge
Tsvangirai's move as positive or negative without looking at the election
process in context.

"I think it's unfair to judge Tsvangirai's move as positive or not...
we need to look at the whole thing in the context of what we know," Ndlovu

"That being said, it was probably pointless too to expect him to
participate; his major blunder was losing the momentum after March 29."

Tsvangirai said state-sponsored violence closed off his access to
rural areas and that over 2 000 MDC polling agents were in "illegal"
detention. He said it was impossible for the party to contest an election
without agents.

He bemoaned his continued arrest and detention while on his campaign

Tsvangirai appealed to Sadc, the AU and UN to intervene.

However, some of the electorate said Tsvangirai had let them down by
pulling out of the election.

"Tsvangirai's last minute withdrawal is quite devastating," said a
worker in the central business district who identified himself only as

"I was confident he was still going to win despite the many Zanu PF
T-shirts we were seeing and the violence. He has disappointed me so much."

A nurse who preferred to be identified as Shupikai said Tsvangirai's
withdrawal from the race was a betrayal of the struggle to oust Mugabe.

"I feel like Tsvangirai has betrayed the struggle," Shupikai said.

"How can he just decide to withdraw? What of all those they say died
for the party, those displaced and beaten? Did they have to go through that
just for a withdrawal? I think it is not fair and he should have
participated in the election."

By Wongai Zhangazha

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Inflation gallops ahead: 9000 000%

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 18:41
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's election run-off campaign premised on
providing goods and services at cheaper prices has failed as inflation
continues to gallop ahead.

The Movement for Democratic Change presidential candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai officially pulled out of today's election this week to
effectively hand Mugabe a "victory".

The problem is that after his "win" Mugabe will face the same problems
that his government has failed to solve for the past eight years.

Latest figures from the Central Statistical Offices (CSO) show that
annual inflation rose by 7 336 000 percentage points to 9 030 000% by June
20 and is set to end the month at well above 10 500 000%.

Inflation for May stood at 1 694 000% by May 23 according to weekly
CSO computations seen by the businessdigest.

Month-on-month inflation for the same period was 862% as commodities
continued to rise beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans whose incomes are
being eroded on a daily basis.

The computation seen by this paper this week showed that inflation for
the CSO calendar month which ran from May 16 to June 15 had been 5 500 000%
while the month on month inflation rate had been 540%.

The CSO has been computing weekly movement averages on the annual
inflation rate since mid April. This is in addition to monthly computations
done according to its calendar year.

The latest figure is not far from computations made by banks which
have placed annual inflation for June at between 8 000 000% and 9 500 000%.

CSO acting director Moffat Nyoni would not confirm this month's latest
inflation figures saying his office did not have sufficient observations to
give a definite inflation estimate.

Nyoni said his office had done some investigations but had no official
figure for May and June. "We do not have any figures for those two periods,"
Nyoni said.

"Our observations are still not adequate for us to give a definite
inflation figure." The CSO last announced inflation figures in January this
year when inflation was 100 580%. Since then, figures have found their way
into the open through CSO sources with figures for February and March
standing at 165 000% and 355 000% respectively.

The inflation rate for April was 732 604%. The failure by the CSO to
announce inflation figures has affected quoted companies on the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange (ZSE) whose financial years ended between February and March.
Under ZSE regulations, these companies are supposed to release
inflation-adjusted results within three months of year end but have failed
to do so owing to the lack of official inflation figures.

The ZSE has been forced to make special dispensations for these
companies rather than suspending them from trading. The new inflation
figures for this month also beat forecasts for June made by the CSO and
banks last month.

businessdigest was informed last month that the CSO was looking at an
annual inflation rate of between 4 000 000% and 5 000 000% for June while
most banks projected rates of between 2 000 000% and 3 000 000%.

For its part the CSO is arguing it cannot release the inflation
figures because there are no products to measure. The latest inflation
figures came as the Zimbabwean dollar continued to crash against major

The Zimbabwean dollar was this week trading at US$1:$17 billion on the
parallel market. On electronic transfers the rate was as high as US$1:$45
billion depending on volumes. Analysts said the Zimbabwean dollar is going
to continue weakening.

The effect of inflation on households is apparent.

For instance a teacher who is paid $66 billion a month can only afford
to buy two litres of cooking oil and a bar of soap.

Pressure is also mounting on workers as they are now being forced to
pay rentals in foreign currency. A room in Tynward was this week going for
R150 a month as people battle to hedge against inflation.

The average worker in Zimbabwe gets about $25 billion a month. Most
workers have however resorted to joining the informal sector to keep up with
the cost of living.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 18:35
ZIMBABWE's presidential run-off will go ahead tomorrow without MDC's
Morgan Tsvangirai who pulled out of the race last Sunday.

The government has said the election will go ahead with or without
Tsvangirai. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said on Wednesday that
Tsvangirai's pull-out was null and void.

It has become clear that the election will proceed and President
Robert Mugabe will declare himself the "Winner" but the key question is what
will happen to the economy after that.

What happens the day after?

"The person who inherits this mess has to make dramatic changes,"
Harare-based economist John Robertson said. "But it is very clear that in
the first week after the election, if the right candidate does not win, then
things will really get bad."

There is a growing consensus locally, regionally and globally that
this election will not solve the political and economic crises facing the

The political impasse is at its peak and the isolation widening. The
economy has mirrored all these changes and has continued to bleed.
Year-on-year inflation on June 20 was 9 000 000%, up from 1 700 000%
recorded last month.

The new figure expected at the end of the month, though yet to be
finalised, is well above 10 500 000%. The Zimbabwean dollar has been
crashing at a spectacular rate of about 25% every week and the free fall is
likely to accelerate after today's election.

The new figure for the period from June 20 to today has not yet been
finalised but unconfirmed figures says it is around 9 030 000% million. The
Zimbabwean dollar has been crashing at about 25% every week. This free-fall
is likely to continue after today's election.

Industry is operating at 10% capacity. Most companies have shut down.
Agricultural production is at its lowest level ever.

Thousands of qualified workers have left the country. Basic
infrastructure has collapsed. Mineral production is also it its lowest.

University of Zimbabwe business school lecturer Professor Tony Hawkins
said the crisis was going to continue to spiral out of control and no amount
of cajoling from a Zanu PF-led government would halt its decline.

"One thing is very clear, Mugabe may win this election and have his
little party but the economy will take him down," said Hawkins.

"It is the millstone around his neck. But how long it will take, no
one knows. I believe that he does not have many months longer in office."

That the economy is in a shambles is crystal clear, even to die-hard
Zanu PF loyalists.

The country has zero wheat stocks and urgently requires 1,5 million
tonnes of maize to feed the people.

"Where will they get the money to do so?" Hawkins asked. "It's not
only the money, it also concerns the logistics. Zimbabwe has no foreign
currency, how will it achieve all this?"

The United States and the European Union are now talking of tightening
the sanctions and has pressured several companies which had announced their
interest in investing in Zimbabwe to leave Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by
over 60% since the crisis started.

This margin of shrinkage has been greater than that of African
countries in the most brutal of civil wars like Ivory Coast which has had a
four-year civil war and its economy has declined by 7%. The DRC's five year
conflict saw its economy decline by 19%.

Sierra Leone's three year conflict saw its Gross Domestic Product
decline by 25%.

In a paper presented by Todd Moss and Stewart Patrick of the Centre
for Global Development, the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean gone
down to 1953 levels.

Hawkins said if Mugabe won the elections, he was in a serious fix that
threatens his rule.

"He has to stop the printing of money, which he can't do at the same
time," said Hawkins.

"He has to get foreign currency from the international community,
which again he can't do. No government in the world will support a
government headed by Mugabe."

Hawkins said if Mugabe won the elections, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono would be forced to continue printing money to meet
recurrent expenditure.

"He has to pay the soldiers and the police, the security elements
propping up the administration," Hawkins said.

"It is only a matter of time before the army realises that the
Zimbabwean dollar is worthless and they start demanding their salaries in
foreign currency."

Robertson said the printing of money to make up for lack of foreign
investment was a false belief which Mugabe's government could not continue

"The very act of printing money causes inflation to rise," he said.
"It causes the value of everyone's money to go down. Civil servants will
possibly want minimum salaries of $500 billion this month. Next month, they
will want $5 trillion. With a month on month inflation of nearly a thousand,
prices are at present 10 times what they were at the beginning of the

Fifty percent of Zimbabweans currently rely on emergency assistance
while a third of Zimbabweans live abroad.

Moss and Patrick said any economic recovery would first require that
the new president bring the macro-economy under control, restore basic
public services and generate jobs.

"Reviving the agricultural sector.will also be priority areas," they

"Private investment in banking, mining, industry, and
telecommunications is likely to return on its own once the business
environment can be improved (especially if private property rights are
restored and foreign exchange constraints are lifted), but public-private
cooperation could catalyse much-needed infrastructure investment."

Robertson said he believed that Mugabe's people would try and coax him
into retiring if he wins the election so as to give Zimbabwe a realistic
chance of recovering.

"Maybe it could occur in the first week of his victory," Robertson
said. "I have no doubt that they will try and convince him to retire so that
they will appoint someone favourable from Zanu PF who is at least acceptable
to the international community.

"Everyone knows the name Mugabe has disaster attached to it."

Moss and Patrick however said several post-Mugabe scenarios existed
which included a transition to a hand picked successor, a broad government
of national unity, a military coup and even a descent into chaos.

"It is of course impossible to predict the outcome," they said. "What
is likely is that the change will come without much warning and that a
speedy and substantial international response will be necessary.

Political analysts say Zimbabwe will not turn around until the
political parties start talking to find a solution to the crisis.

Zimbabwe is unlikely to get foreign funding under Mugabe.

By Jeslyn Dendere/Kuda Chikwanda

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Tsvangirai Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 18:50
IN what is a bizarre circumstance of this electoral season, President
Mugabe and Zanu PF insist that Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, must stand
in the run-off election, when the latter's withdrawal might have been
expected to be cause for celebration on their part.

Why, it has to be asked, would a contestant given free room to achieve
what he most desires, insist on retaining his opponent's participation? The
same opponent that has been lambasted as a stooge and non-entity; the same
character to whom they declared without equivocation that they would not
concede; the same man whom they have said would "never, ever rule
Zimbabwe" - why then, the question remains, plead to the heavens for his
participation when everything pointed to the futility of any outcome in his

How does one contest against someone who considers himself so
omnipotent that he declares God to be his only worthy opponent? Tsvangirai
simply decided he was unable to take part in this "Holy War".

It is not hard, of course, to understand Zanu PF's discomfort and to
appreciate that the MDC's decision has had far more impact than could have
been imagined. When I wrote in these pages a few weeks ago, it was to warn
the MDC to prepare for the "worst case scenario" where by a short, sharp and
swift process, Mugabe would be declared winner after June 27. That outcome
was as clear as the sunrise over the majestic Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe.
The decision taken on Sunday to withdraw from the run-off has pre-empted
that worst case scenario, literally catching Zanu PF off-guard, hence the

The worry in Zanu PF circles is simple. Now that this has become a
one-horse race resulting from the circumstances of its own making, the
outcome will be no more than what has been known since Roman times as a
"pyrrhic victory" - a win that comes at great cost to the victor. Mugabe and
Zanu PF are well aware that a one-horse contest will deliver a hollow
victory; one that is devoid of legitimacy, a result that not even their own
compromised conscience could allow them a decent nap.

But this is less about the MDC decision, which was arrived at, I am
told, after serious consideration of prevailing events and consequences. It
is the reaction of Zanu PF and some of the legal interpretations that have
been proffered to allegedly render the withdrawal unlawful and of no force
or effect.

First, that they have gone to great lengths to attempt to water-down
the withdrawal is, itself, an indication that it has had an effect. In any
other contest where an opponent withdraws, the contestant would be happy
enough to go through with a walk-over. Here, though, we see the desire for a
fight, because it would provide a measure of legitimacy to the process,
especially having already lost in the first round.

The reaction to Tsvangirai's withdrawal betrays a certain weakness on
the part of Mugabe - that deep down, behind the camouflage of bravado and
swashbuckling arrogance, there is a very vulnerable and sensitive soul.

Second, it appears preposterous to say that Tsvangirai is legally not
entitled to withdraw from the run-off election as has been suggested in some
circles. Why not? Since when have citizens become prisoners of the law,
unable to exercise their free will in an election?

The key provision under the Electoral Act is Section 110(4), which
states: "In a second election held in terms of subsection (3) only the two
candidates who received the highest and next highest numbers of valid votes
cast at the previous election shall be eligible to contest the election".

To my mind, the operative word here is eligibility to contest. The
word "eligible" is not defined under the Electoral Act, so we turn to the
ordinary meaning as given in the dictionary. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's
Dictionary defines eligible as, "having the necessary qualities or
fulfilling the necessary conditions". But eligibility does not mean that you
must take part in the process. It simply means you meet the necessary
conditions but you can choose not to take part.

Take by way of example the fact that every person above the age of 18
years is eligible to register and vote in elections. It does not mean every
person who is 18 years or above is forced to register or to vote. Some can
and often do choose to withhold their vote. In other words, eligibility does
not make participation fixed and mandatory.

To take another example, those who qualify from the competitive heats
are eligible to contest in the 100 metres final of the Olympics. One of
them, say, the record holder and defending champion might at that stage
choose to withdraw from the final race. He is entitled to withdraw, even
though he was eligible. The eventual winner might not get the same
satisfaction that he would have earned from beating the defending champion
but that cannot be reason to compel an eligible participant to take part,
especially when he has good reason to withdraw.

Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe are "eligible" to contest the run-off
election in terms of S. 110(4). But they are certainly not obliged to do so.
Tsvangirai has chosen, rightly or wrongly, not to participate and nothing
can force him to contest against his will.

However, in keeping with the approach of maintaining scrutiny over
those who might form the government in the not-too-distant future, there is
another issue which we must place on the table and ask whether the MDC has
seriously considered it in the context of the big picture. This is because,
in that matter, the interests of the collective might conflict with the
selfish desires of the individuals.

Now that Mugabe will undoubtedly retain Presidential office, albeit
devoid of legitimacy, what will the MDC do in relation to matters of
parliament? It is common knowledge that the MDC won the combined elected
majority of both chambers of parliament - House of Assembly and the Senate.
Logically, they would want to retain that parliamentary power, although it
will soon be diluted when Mugabe's "33 factor" comes into effect - 18 chiefs
already in place, 10 governors and five direct appointees.

The problem here is that in terms of the skewed constitution the
commencement of the parliamentary tenure is predicated on the assumption of
office by the newly elected president. Section 63(4) of the Constitution
provides that the period of tenure of parliament is deemed to commence on
the day the person elected as president enters office. The president will
conduct ceremonial duties when parliament is first sworn in.

The net effect is that the participation of Mugabe in the process will
have symbolic importance which the MDC must now seriously consider. Could
the participation of the MDC MPs in the process be considered a symbolic
acknowledgement of Mugabe's legitimacy as president? If so, this would fly
in the face of the decision to withdraw in order to diminish the legitimacy
of the process and outcome of the run-off election?

It may be argued in defence of participation that the parliamentary
and presidential elections are two different matters but that is tantamount
to splitting hairs and overlooking the bigger picture. It is hardly my place
to advise the MDC on what it should do but it suffices to highlight the
potential conundrum.

Sure enough the MDC is, forgive the use of the old cliché, caught
between a rock and a hard place. Such participation might be interpreted as
recognising Mugabe's presidency, which would appear inconsistent with the
approach it has taken regarding the run-off election.

But failure to participate could mean that the MDC MP's are not duly
sworn in and may not be able to take part in the business of parliament. The
MDC might end up losing what leverage it had in Parliament. Yet, still,
refusal to participate would not only be consistent with its approach to the
run-off election, but it would also deal a further symbolic blow to any
claims of legitimacy that Mugabe and Zanu PF might still lay claim to.

Whichever direction this matter takes, Zimbabwe's political future
could not be more uncertain. The MDC made a bold decision, which, contrary
to other suggestions, it is perfectly entitled to make. The greater question
is the resolve with which it will stand by its decision.

Care should be taken not to take decisions that might be considered as
flip-flopping on this matter. One of the first great tests will be the MDC
reaction towards the swearing in of parliament, an event at which Mugabe's
symbolic presence will be visible and significant.

Meanwhile, Mugabe has said that only God will remove him from the

By Alex T Magaisa

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Candid Comment: National Healing Should Start Now

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 17:35
THE MDC announced that it was pulling out of today's presidential
run-off because of the continued violence that characterised the
pre-election period.

Its supporters have been assaulted and brutalised by those that
believe hook, line and sinker the claims of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu
PF party.

More than 70 have so far been reportedly killed in the violence, some
having lost limbs and some having been torched together with their

The police are however yet to confirm these deaths.

About 200 000, Tsvangirai told journalists, had been internally
displaced and several hundreds unaccounted for. All this in the name of
campaigning for Mugabe's victory over "imperialists" and "colonial masters".

The belief is that his withdrawal would put an end to the violence
that has been condemned within and without the borders of Zimbabwe. Sadc, as
the regional bloc, has condemned the violence while the international
community has also weighed in with its condemnation.

There have been proposals for international action over the Zimbabwean
government, including the intensification of sanctions. The events of last
Sunday morning around the Harare Showgrounds - when the MDC was blockaded
from staging a rally - were the last straw for the MDC leader as he bid to
land the country's top post, the presidency.

The roads were inaccessible. They were barricaded by youths clad in
T-shirts emblazoned with President Robert Mugabe's picture and the 100 %
Empowerment: Total Independence message.

There were police officers standing aloof close to the Rainbow Towers
as the youths went on a rampage, attacking perceived MDC supporters.

Some unfortunate supporters had just disembarked from buses from their
rural areas and were caught up in the ensuing melee.

Their sin: Coming from rural areas to attend a rally addressed by

Sticks, stones, and catapults were used to attack and assault those
that were caught wearing MDC regalia or simply suspected to be opposition

The attackers' messages were sharp and direct: "There is no rally
here!"; "Morgan Tsvangirai will not address any rally on earth, let alone in
Zimbabwe. He will only address on the moon and if you want a rally, you
rather go to the moon for that rally!"

This is in a country expected to hold what is supposed to be a free
and fair election whose outcome would produce a legitimate president whose
stay in office would be respected by all, within Africa and beyond.

It is one's belief that the conduct of any government leads to its
respect which is key to attracting investment, creation of jobs and economic
growth. The events on Sunday were a bad advert for the state of affairs in

One aspect of Sunday's debacle was the manner in which people were
attacked. It is clear that Zimbabweans have lost all respect for human life.
Victims were ordered to lie down on their stomachs and beaten with logs on
their backs and buttocks. Some were attacked with stones as they tried to
free themselves from their attackers. As a witness, I saw more than 15
people who had collapsed after the attack.

Ambulances had to be called to ferry the seriously injured ones to
hospital while police water tankers were summoned to quell the violence.

Paramilitary policemen who escorted the water tankers watched the
proceedings from inside their vehicles.

As for observers, it was really an eye-opener. One of them prolaimed:
"I came to Zimbabwe in March for the first election. The situation was
different from what I am seeing now. This is truly the same situation we
witnessed in Kenya.

"I thought reports of violence that have been given in the
international media were false," he said. "But I can now see that these
reports are true. What is this we are witnessing today?"

It remains to be seen whether the violence will end now that the
election that most within Zanu PF have been yearning for is being held

After the election, the ZEC will surely declare that President Mugabe
romped to victory and declared him the duly elected president.

It boggles the mind whether this country will ever return to normalcy
after the run-off election. The effort and resources that has been expended
in chasing after political rivals should have been directed at improving
social services and creating jobs. To use the old adage about beating swords
into ploughshares, how about converting all those trucks that have been
criss-crossing the countryside into ambulances or release them to police
stations to improve responses to crime scenes? I dare ask what happened to
trucks used in Operation Sunrise?

Youths should be "demobilised" so that they cease being agents of
terror but instruments of development. Do we hate each other so much? The
nation needs healing and this should start now.

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Comment: Mugabe Wants Power At All Costs

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 17:32
PRESIDENT Mugabe this week donned a thick skin of defiance and is
going ahead with an election which may grant him his wish - power - but
unfortunately no sheen of legitimacy.

The cacophony of condemnation from the United Nations, his peers in
the region, and local and international civic groups appeared to have no
impact on the octogenarian strongman who has elected to take the straight
and narrow route to retain power for himself.

After a sustained campaign of terror and death against supporters of
his opponent, Mugabe was this week sensing victory. Although the pull-out by
Morgan Tsvangirai must have spoilt the pleasure of reversing the
embarrassing defeat of March 29, Mugabe is now expecting loud cheers as he
nears the finishing line ahead of a phantom candidate.

The Sadc troika meeting in Swaziland this week - as was expected -
only urged a postponement of the poll. We did not expect anything stronger
than this slap on the wrist but the inclusion of one word - LEGITIMACY - in
the communiqué issued after the meeting on Wednesday should jolt Mugabe out
of any complacency. The government of Botswana in a statement earlier in the
week issued a veiled threat not to recognise Mugabe as the legitimate leader
of Zimbabwe. Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela in London on
Wednesday spoke of a "tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe. Well said
Madiba. It could not have come at a better time!

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday said "no run-off
election that doesn't have the participation of opposition ... can be
considered legitimate."

"This is not going to be a legitimate election, no one believes that
it is going to be a legitimate election," she said. But Mugabe was this week
brazenly standing firm. He even had the temerity to describe those
criticising him of going ahead with the poll as "making idiotic noises
(that) would not bother us".

This choreographed demonstration of bravado however is not sustainable
and Mugabe is aware of that. He is also worried about the prospects of
serious international isolation and the consequences thereof. He exposed the
soft underbelly of this defiance this week when he attempted to temper the
well-worn sabre-rattling mantras of war with promises of dialogue with the
opposition after the polls.

"We are open, open to discussion but we have our own principles. If
they (opposition) have problems they can always bring them forward and that
is how we came up with amendments to Aippa and Posa," he said, somewhat

So his plan is becoming clearer. It is not really about power-sharing
with the opposition because that would be going against the grain because to
Mugabe, Tsvangirai is still a stooge of former colonial power Britain. A
triumphant Mugabe would therefore want to prevail over a weakened Tsvangirai
and dish out morsels of power to the opposition in a project he hopes the
world will recognise as a government of national unity and with it, the
legitimacy of his throne.

But this will not be a stroll in the park for Mugabe because he is now
being watched at every turn; not so much by his erstwhile enemies in the
West; but by regional leaders whose integrity is also at stake if they fail
to stem the orgy of violence and get the country working again.

Strong statements by the international community this week are
emblematic but they came too late to halt the "run-off" or create a
conducive environment for the polls. The thrust of international pressure
should thus move a ratchet up to ensure the strong statements are followed
up by diplomacy designed to ensure that this country is ruled differently
and immediately thrust on the road to recovery and social healing.
Several options have been proffered: postponing the poll, which has
failed; declaring Mugabe's leadership illegitimate, or mediation that should
result in a transitional arrangement and then a government of national
unity. For Mugabe, all this has to wait. He is most likely going to be
inaugurated immediately after the polls. There will be no lengthy delays
this time.

But this week Tsvangirai was hanging tough on the prospects of Mugabe
declaring himself president.

"Negotiations will be over if Mr Mugabe declares himself the winner
and considers himself the president. I will not speak to an illegitimate
president," he said. But then what Morgan? What's your Plan B?

Currently, the MDC is riding on the crest of international sympathy
for his cause and condemnation of Mugabe - as was the case just after the
first round of polling in March.

But there is also a danger that this momentum can be easily lost,
especially if Mugabe uses the period after today's polling to sort out the
succession issue in his party and make a final bow from Zimbabwean politics.
His party's brochures hint at that. In that case attention could easily
shift to new power dynamics in Zanu PF. We hope that from his perch,
Tsvangirai has a plan to move the process forward and at the same time
retain power for his party. Our national politics are once again in the

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Erich Bloch: Default Outcome Of Major Impact

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 16:56
EDITORIAL dictates necessitate that this column be written some days
prior to publication, but it is written with awareness that most will be
reading it on Friday June 27.

That date may well be of immense significance as to the future of
Zimbabwe, and as to the wellbeing or otherwise of its population, for it is
the day when the presidential election run-off was due to be held.

The default outcome of the electoral vote for the presidency can be of
major impact on the future of the presently grievously beleaguered Zimbabwe
and its economically and otherwise embattled populace.

In part that can be if it brings to an end the prolonged hiatus of
uncertainty that has prevailed in the run-up to the March "harmonised"
elections, and ever since pending the now non-event presidential election

Throughout that period the severely weakened economy has become ever
more straitened, the hardships afflicting Zimbabweans have intensified
exponentially, and despondency, depression, doom and gloom, and pronounced
negativeness has become the order of the day for almost all sectors of the
economy and of society as a whole.

Driving these tragic emotions are numerous factors, but one of the
foremost is the intense sense of uncertainty as to the future. Uncertainty
as to who will govern Zimbabwe, how effectively and justly will Zimbabwe be
governed, will Zimbabwe be restored into the ranks of collaborative,
interactive nations in the international community, will the oppressed,
almost totally-destroyed economy be revitalised and transformed, and
numerous other uncertainties need to be resolved if a national positive
morale is to exist once more.

Achieving the transformation of a potentially near-unique country of
almost unlimited economic opportunity, and of a viable livelihood, comfort
and security for all depends not upon who is Zimbabwe's next president, and
upon which political party rules the country.

It matters not whether the president is Robert Mugabe or Morgan
Tsvangirai and whether the government is constituted by Zanu PF, MDC-T, a
government of national unity, or any other.

What matters is how the president and the ruling party (or parties)
will govern, albeit that those who have heretofore governed will have great
difficulty convincing the populace, and the world at large, of the
genuineness of policy transformation.

What is needed is that (following a rapid end to the very extended
period of political uncertainty that has characterised the Zimbabwean
scenario for more than a year, ever since the so-called harmonised elections
were determined upon), first and foremost the spirit of racial harmony and
co-operation, and national unity irrespective of race or tribe, that was the
central element of the acceptance of Independence speech of Robert Gabriel
Mugabe on April 18, 1980 now become a reality.

Over the last two decades, and more government has not only not
facilitated that harmony, co-operation and unity, but has been the principal
driver of racial divide.

Discrimination against whites and Asians is as diabolically evil as is
discrimination against blacks.

Discrimination against certain tribal groupings by other tribal
groupings is as evil.

No discrimination can be justified, save only for discrimination
between good and evil, honest and dishonest, capable and the incapable.

But, after a few years of faked exclusion of discrimination, after
Independence, in order to milk the world in general, and donor states in
particular, of as much wealth as possible, government was at the forefront
of provoking and initiating racial, and sometimes tribal, discrimination.

On the rare occasion when it admitted to doing so, its justification
was the discriminations of the past.

Effectively, it took the stance that "two wrongs make a right" or that
it was just and equitable for those who had previously suffered
discrimination to have revenge by recourse to reciprocal discrimination.

Secondly, the next government, of whomsoever it may be comprised, must
ensure that the very foundation of the Zimbabwean economy, being
agriculture, is healed, revitalised, and restored to its former glory.

This requires abandonment of specious allegations that the entire
country was "stolen" by former colonisers, and ensuring that the land is in
the hands of capable and industrious farmers disposed to attaining
productivity, instead of merely the perceived grandeur of land barons. It
requires that, very belatedly (but better late than never), bilateral
investment protection agreements, and governmentally issued Certificates of
No Interest, are honoured and respected. In a nutshell, land reform must be
constructively reformed.

Thirdly, the government of tomorrow must govern responsibly, wholly
disregarding self-interests, and placing the interests of the Zimbabwean
people as a whole as paramount.

Doing so requires responsible administration of state funding,
frugality and controlled spending, economic deregulation, central bank
autonomy, containment of corruption, and absolute transparency in all

And it requires reconciliation with the international community. The
so-called, not substantially productive, "Look East" policy must be replaced
with a "Look North, East, South and West" policy, founded upon reciprocal
respect for, and from, the international community as a whole.

Past recriminations should be buried, and instead conciliation and
reconciliation pursued. Diatribes of vituperative vitriol must cease, and
instead Zimbabwe must strive to repair the bridges with the international
community that it has so vigorously demolished in recent years.

Fourthly, but of as great importance as the first, second and third
necessary actions, is that Zimbabwe must prove to itself and to the world
that it genuinely pursues, without equivocation, the principles of
democracy, respect (without limitation) for human rights, and protection of
property rights, all interlinked wholly with preservation, and just
implementation, of rule of law.

Concurrently, bearing in mind the vast potential wealth of Zimbabwe's
provenly fertile lands, it's minimally exploited mineral riches, its
outstanding array of unique tourism resources, its strongly-founded
industrial technology base, and its considerable skilled, able and willing,
but under-utilised, pool of labour, Zimbabwe needs to create a genuinely
welcoming and conducive environment for Foreign Direct Investment, and
domestic investment.

If Zimbabwe can bring about a presidency, and a government, solely
motivated to do the best for the Zimbabwean people, and to do so by ensuring
a rapid and positive Zimbabwean transformation founded upon these
principles, then today will be a cornerstone of a history of Zimbabwe to be

If not, then today will tragically be remembered as yet another event
in the destruction of a great country and a great nation.

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Muckraker: 'Inappropriate Language' Keeps Tsvangirai Off Air

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 16:51
There is something profoundly delusional about statements on recent

We had for example Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri last
week saying the MDC was "the main culprit in the political violence that we
are currently witnessing in the country".

Really? Is that based on an objective and professional investigation?

The current violence stemmed from the land issue, the police chief

"The Rhodesians have even gone to the Sadc tribunal to override our
laws over land," he told journalists. "This is another form of violence on
our rights as a nation," he said.

So let's understand this clearly: Chihuri believes that citizens
exercising their right of appeal through the courts against expropriation
are engaging in "a form of violence" against the country?

This provides useful insight into police thinking.

Chihuri was quoted on March 13 as saying "We will not allow any
puppets to take charge." Constantine Chiwenga said on May 31: "The army will
not support sellouts and agents of the West before, during and after the
presidential elections."

President Mugabe declared on June 14: "How can a ball point pen fight
with a gun?"

Joshua Nkomo had an effective reply to those who seek to thwart the
will of the people.

He accused Mugabe's government of terrorising thousands of his
supporters, resulting in them fleeing to neighbouring territories.

"This is not government, it is the abuse of government, an abuse which
transforms the rule of law into the law of rule," Nkomo wrote in a letter to
Mugabe in June 1983. "As such it cannot lead to a free Zimbabwe but to one
in which oppression, division, violence and poverty will shadow all our
hopes and make a mockery of the freedom struggle in which so many heroes
gave their lives.

"Today our enemies laugh at us. What they see is a divided, confused
and frightened people led by a divided, confused and frightened government."

A fitting response to those who invent "puppets" as a pretext for
clinging to power.

Then we had ZBH boss Happison Muchechetere trying to explain why ZBC
had not carried MDC ads, as required by the Sadc electoral protocol.

That's because some of them used "inappropriate language",
Muchechetere declared. And what did he mean by inappropriate? Apparently it
was the suggestion that Tsvangirai had won the March poll!

One of the MDC ads talks of Tsvangirai having won the "popular
presidential vote". This, it seems, is anathema to the Zanu PF
establishment. But surely there can be a number of definitions of "won",
like coming first in the initial round?

The Secretary-General of the MDC was locked up for doing precisely
that. He had the temerity to provide an opinion on what the poll outcome
would be given figures posted to polling station doors. Anywhere else, this
would be regarded as an entirely valid part of the political process. But in
Mugabe's "liberated" Zimbabwe it is a criminal offence to discuss results
before the election commission has pronounced on them. And that commission
of course can sit on those results for weeks so as not to embarrass the

Is it fair that the president can excoriate his opponents in menacing
language, yet lock them up when they criticise him? Zimbabwe's gamut of
"insult laws" have no place in a democratic society and prevent robust
political debate.

Muckraker is in possession of a Zanu PF magazine called "All Good
Things Are Possible", "100 reasons why most Zimbabweans will vote Zanu PF
and President Robert Mugabe in the Run-Off election on June 27."

What is interesting about this document is the suggestion that
"President Mugabe is determined to ensure that at an appropriate time he
will hand over to his successor after the June 27 run-off a united,
reenergised, prosperous and internationally engaged Zimbabwe."

The question obviously arises, why have we had to wait for an election
for these things to happen? And what are the prospects of a "prosperous and
internationally engaged Zimbabwe" after the UN Security Council resolution
denouncing violence against the opposition?

Are balance-of-payments support, loans or investment likely to follow
after the turmoil of the past three months, arbitrary arrests, abductions,
and killings?

It doesn't seem likely. And why is Mugabe fighting for reelection if
he is contemplating his succession?

"The bottom line is that, when the time comes, President Mugabe shall
hand over to his successor a going concern after the June 27 run-off and
should not be pressured into handing over to Tsvangirai and his MDC as the

How many people would regard the economy as "a going concern"? More
"going, going gone"! As for pressure to hand over to Tsvangirai, this sounds
very much like a swipe at Thabo Mbeki and Sadc. The fact is regional
diplomacy is aimed at precisely what Mugabe opposes.

If it is any comfort to Mugabe, the MDC leadership regards a GNU with
Zanu PF as equally distasteful. But it could soon be the only game in town!

Mugabe "agreed to stand because he wanted to correct things that have
gone wrong", the document tells us.

This suggests he was persuaded to stand when we all know he made
absolutely sure nobody else was given a chance. And how successful to date
has he been in "correcting things that have gone wrong"?

"He agreed to stand because he wants us to use his friendship with the
majority of the leaders of the nations of the world too (sic) mobilise
international support we
need to end our poverty and suffering."

Does that include Eduardo dos Santos, Levy Mwanawasa and Raila Odinga?
Are readers of the Herald familiar with what those leaders have said about
Zimbabwe in recent days?

And who is responsible for the "poverty and suffering" Zimbabweans are
experiencing right now?

We referred earlier to the Sadc electoral protocol which requires
equal access for all parties to the public media. Zimbabwe is in open
violation of those terms. We cannot have Zanu PF officials deciding who can
access the media and who can't. They are not disinterested parties.

But there is another dimension to the Sadc protocol. How can voters
make an informed choice when they are denied information?
The Herald has declined to publish the UN Security Council resolution
despite its obvious importance. Instead, a spurious spin was placed on it so
it appeared that Britain, the US and Belgium were thwarted in their attempts
to have "Tsvangirai installed as president".

In fact the resolution was unambiguous. It said the Security Council
regretted that "the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the
political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to
take place".

The Herald also omitted to mention that their friends China and Russia
voted for it. And how could the Herald fail to inform its readers that
Nelson Mandela had spoken out against the "tragic failure of leadership in

The public media are not serving the public by depriving them of this
information. They are betraying their mandate and simply acting as hired
hands for the incumbent. Are they proud of their role?

On the subject of a GNU, Muckraker would be keen to know what two
gentlemen looking very much like Kumbirai Kangai and Didymus Mutasa were
doing in Johannesburg on Monday? Is there something here we should be told?

Something else the Herald didn't tell us was the presence in Harare of
Sydney Mufamadi and Mojanku Gumbi, Mbeki's negotiators, since last Friday.
They would have had a ringside seat for the mayhem witnessed near the
showgrounds on Sunday as militia thugs set upon people gathering for
Tsvangirai's rally. This was democracy Zanu PF-style.

Back home the ANC was on Tuesday describing "evidence of outright
terror" in Zimbabwe.

To Mugabe's acolytes really believe things are going to return to
normal after this? That there will be "reengagement" with the international
community, the economy will somehow undergo a miraculous recovery, and
inflation will fall?

That's what we mean when we say the country's leadership is utterly
delusional. In the absence of balance-of-payments support and international
assistance, not to mention investment and trade, Zimbabwe is heading towards
complete meltdown. It is a tragedy being played out on TV screens around the

Has anybody noticed that the Herald has become an afternoon paper with
all those political fingers in the editorial pie holding things up, and the
Fingaz a Friday paper?

The Zimbabwe Independent has become an afternoon paper on some Fridays
after a delay at the printers. Can we all please get back to normal!

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Editor's Memo; Mugabe Staging A Hollow Election

Zim Independent

Thursday, 26 June 2008 16:47
TODAY should mark the denouement of the run-off political drama which
has been playing out since President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF lost
elections in March. Hopefully, it will bring to an end the climate of
repression and fear gripping the country.

However, the run-off on its own will certainly not buy Mugabe any form
of legitimacy but actually compound his problems unless he uses the
opportunity to sort out his succession crisis and start a process of
leadership and policy renewal.

Everybody is clear on this one.

The run-off is a display of stone-age politics. There is intimidation,
violence and brutal killings. It has left a trail of destruction.

The media was also targeted. Journalists were arrested, detained and
harassed. We continue to hear about hit squads and lists of targeted

Only last week we received reports of Mugabe's political hacks
pounding tables and vowing in private meetings to punish journalists who
criticise their boss. Instead of seeking to put their case across to the
media, some of Mugabe's spin-doctors are now agitating for physical attacks
and liquidation of certain media houses and journalists. One of them
reportedly told a meeting last week the state should target certain
journalists personally for criticising Mugabe.

We are currently investigating a story of a reporter here who says he
was abducted two weeks ago by state agents who wanted to know where the
Independent was getting its stories.

The crackdown on dissent, including in the media, has now reduced
Zimbabwe to an Orwellian society. Mugabe's thought police are running amok
and want journalists dealt with for alleged thought crimes. But then we
should ask since when has telling the truth become a crime in Zimbabwe? If
this is now the situation, why doesn't the government let us know so that we
can stop writing news? I would be one of the first to quit journalism if
there is a new crime for writing true stories.

It is disturbing when people who should know better encourage state
agents to attack journalists. Why should criticising Mugabe be a hanging

The resurging wave of media repression is part of a broad strategy to
retain Mugabe in power.

The authors of the Mugabe fight-back strategy must be feeling pleased
with themselves. It was done with military precision and brutality, but
Mugabe pulled off an extraordinary come back. Tsvangirai was outmanoeuvred.
Of course, it was via a wave of repression and terror, but new circumstances
and conditions have been created. Tsvangirai has lost his historic advantage
which he had after March and will now engage Mugabe or his envoys from a
position of weakness.

This is sad for Tsvangirai given that this was an election for him to
win or lose.

Few who know Tsvangirai would deny his courage and tenacity. However,
he has now squandered a glorious opportunity due to a lack of organisation
and strategy. After needlessly spending over a month out of the country on a
largely pointless diplomatic offensive, Tsvangirai returned home to mount an
incoherent and disjointed campaign. He was definitely disoriented by the
violence and killings he found on the ground and political blockades, but
had he campaigned on a massive scale on a united-front platform and
grassroots-based strategy - not fleeting visits - he could have defied the
odds. He lost the plot somewhere in between. The problem with the MDC and
Tsvangirai is over-reliance on dodgy and self-serving advice from
money-grubbers and political upstarts behind the party instead of
utilitarian counsel from those in the established structures.

If Tsvangirai had gone into the March election on a united-front
ticket, he would be president by now. Many analysts and ordinary people who
use common sense said this before the elections. However, his advisors - who
clearly have a huge deficit of common sense - told him to go on a solo run
and robbed him of victory.

After narrowly surviving defeat in March, a campaign of repression and
terror was Mugabe's answer to Tsvangirai's ascendancy.

The MDC leader had no counter-strategy to Mugabe's military-style
strategy. This allowed Mugabe a free rein and to bounce back.

Tsvangirai's best insurance against repression would have been
organising a broad-based front to confront Mugabe's warlike approach. Now he
has been forced to retreat in fear because of a failure to join forces with
others. When will Tsvangirai and his advisors see what even the most cursory
observer of local politics is able to understand?

Tsvangirai's argument for pulling out is partly convincing. He cited
violence, displacements, disenfranchisement, political blockades and
killings as some of the reasons why he withdrew. These are compelling.

However, the problem is that his decision carries too many political
risks for him. I agree with those who say it was the "wrong move at the
wrong time".

How could he withdraw only five days before the election and yet
people had been beaten and killed all along? It might compound Mugabe's
legitimacy crisis, but may wreck Tsvangirai's career. This is where the
problem is for him.

In the end, it's not just Tsvangirai and Mugabe in a fix. We are all
in a tight spot.

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Zimbabwe: Shopping for Survivial
June 06, 2008

empty shelves

Empty shelves at a supermarket in Harare.

Editor's Note: Our correspondent is a Zimbabwean reporter based in Harare, the capital. Because of the government's crackdown on the press, we are protecting the reporter's identity. This is the first in a series of eyewitness accounts of the crisis there.

* * *

Empty Shelves and 400 Million Dollar Bars of Soap

It's hard to be positive when everything around you is crumbling. Hard to believe that my country, Zimbabwe, was once Southern Africa's breadbasket. The prosperity we experienced is becoming a colorful, distant memory, as we sink further into the abyss.

The people, though, are amazingly resilient. They are warm and welcoming. Even in urban areas, the tradition of greeting visitors with an ice-cold glass of water remains. The weather continues to be something to smile about. In the middle of winter, it's still beautiful.

But getting by day to day has become a nightmare.

Recently, independent finance houses told me that the country's inflation rate topped 1 million percent. They predict it could be as much as 5 million percent by October. The numbers are almost incomprehensible, but I am not surprised. I have had to cut my meals. Many cannot afford even one meal a day now. Food prices are out of control.

On a Wednesday, I went into a Spar supermarket in Harare's posh Greendale suburb to buy a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of laundry soap. I had run out. The price was ZW$400 million. I did not have half that amount and decided to return the Friday after my wages were paid to me. Two days later, when I returned, the same product cost ZW$1.5 billion.

They predict inflation could be as much as 5 million percent by October. The numbers are almost incomprehensible. Many cannot afford even one meal a day now. Food prices are out of control.

My employer has since resorted to paying me every week. It does not make sense to wait until the end of the month. At least my company is still in business. So many others have been forced to close. We get paid half our wages in groceries, whatever the manager can find: flour, salt, sugar, beans. The cost is deducted from our wages. Sometimes, he is compassionate and does not deduct anything.

The unemployment rate hovers above 80 percent. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries reported in April that the manufacturing sector alone shrunk 60 percent. Most surviving companies are operating below 20 percent capacity. All this comes in the wake of the government's chaotic land reform program, which started in 2000 and left the country unable to feed itself.

Dejected and hopeless, I walked around the once well-stocked grocery in search of items within my budget. I could not afford to spend the night with these Zimbabwe dollars. They were -- and still are -- losing value by the minute. But the shelves are empty. A long queue snaked out of the shop and onto the pavement. There must be a delivery of bread, I thought. I decided against joining the line. There's not enough food to feed everyone. A man was killed last month in the city center during a stampede to buy sugar. The crowd ran over him, frantic for a pack of sugar. It's survival of the fittest.

food lines

Food lines for bread in Harare.

At that instant I made up my mind. I would join the trek of thousands of my fellow Zimbabweans to the neighboring country of Botswana to purchase the basic items I need to survive. Top among the necessities: soap, cooking oil, toilet paper and flour.

One Thousand Kilometers to Buy Food

The day I began my journey, the central bank -- the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe -- introduced higher denominations of notes to keep up with inflation. We now have a ZW$500 million bill. On that day, it could buy just two loaves of bread.

The recently introduced $500 million Zimbabwean note is Zimbabwe's highest denomination. It's worth about one U.S. dollar and can buy two loaves of bread.

To pay for my bus trip to Botswana, I nearly had to empty my backpack, which I'd filled with wads of cash. It costs ZW$15 billion to travel to Botswana. That's the equivalent of 1,500 ZW$10 million bills. At least with the new ZW$500 million note, I can carry the money I need in my handbag instead of multiple backpacks and paper bags. But that, too, will be short lived. These new notes will soon be worthless and discarded on the streets of Harare.

A beggar is allowed on the bus before we depart from Harare's Roadport station. A passenger drops a bright red ZW$10 million note into the beggar's palm. He curses her. It's worth next to nothing.

Soon, the bus is rolling away on a 1,000-plus kilometer journey in search of food.

In between naps, I notice that the landscape looks bare. The once-green Kintyre estate -- just before Norton town, 30 kilometers outside Harare -- bears nothing but tired, brown grass where winter wheat once grew abundantly.

The next town, Chegutu, resembles a ghost town. Once a major producer of tobacco, it is a sorry sight. All its white commercial farmers have been chased off their land with no compensation.

The next town, Chegutu, resembles a ghost town. Once a major producer of tobacco, it is a sorry sight. All its white commercial farmers have been chased off their land with no compensation. President Robert Mugabe said they must get payment from their "kith and kin" in Britain, Zimbabwe's old colonizer. Tobacco output, a major foreign currency earner, has dropped from more than 236 million kilograms in 2000 to a projected 73 million this year, according to a farmer's union.

Farms Sit Idle

These farms were seized in the so-called land reform campaign, but they were not distributed to landless peasants. Top chiefs in the government grabbed them. Some of their wives, mistresses and children have a farm each. In April, a semi-independent newspaper, The Financial Gazette, detailed a divorce court case involving Mugabe's nephew Leo Mugabe. Leo and his former wife are trying to settle between themselves who owns the farms taken during the land grabs.

When the farms were seized, most had food crops growing in the fields. All the new occupants did was harvest the crops. In most cases, they have not grown anything since 2000. The farms lie idle. Youths too young to have fought in Zimbabwe's liberation war against Britain in the 1970s call themselves "war veterans" and spearhead violent land occupations. But the "war veterans" end up with nothing, save the odd allowance for killing, harassing and chasing off the whites.

Further south, we pass Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, now a white elephant. Electricity outages, water cuts and a stagnant economy have forced most of its once-vibrant industries to close. A good number of its inhabitants have fled to neighboring Botswana and South Africa to do whatever jobs they can find.

Bribes at the Botswana Border

Finally, after Plumtree, we arrive at the border post with Botswana. Zimbabweans wait patiently in a long line, trying to get their passports stamped by customs officials. Hundreds are turned away. The Tswana say there are too many Zimbabweans trying to get in. When my turn comes, I slip the Botswanan currency equivalent of U.S.$1 in my passport. The official grins and stamps. He tells me that at least 2,500 Zimbabweans are entering Botswana every day legally, saying they want to buy groceries. But less than half return. The rest stay and seek asylum or just live as illegal immigrants.

The Botswana government is now deploying its army to secure the border with Zimbabwe. But Zimbabweans still jump the security cordon on foot, risking deportation and wild animals. "Starting next month, we want visas," the Botswana border official warns me.

On the Botswana side of the border, four caged trucks arrive packed with about 350 deportees, escorted by armed police. It's an hourly event. These are the unlucky border jumpers who have no passports and have been caught by Tswana police. Caged and guarded like hardcore criminals, they look desperate. Many vow to cross again once they are dumped on the Zimbabwean side.

map of region

Map of the region.

After negotiating the border, we make our way to Francistown, about 80 kilometers from the Ramokobgane crossing. Here I meet Zimbabwean teachers, nurses, accountants and engineers who have left their country in search of employment, however, menial. They tell of going door to door, doing laundry for the Tswana. Begging, tending gardens, working on the farms or in the mines, they accept Botswanan wages as low as P3 or P5 a day (about 37 cents or 62 cents in the United States). Even a meal is acceptable payment.

I am angry to think that Mugabe's government has enriched itself and degraded all these citizens, who trusted it after Mugabe's forces led the war that brought independence to the black majority in 1980.

A former teacher, 52-year-old Marilyn Chirwa, says to me, "I would rather live under Smith again. We were oppressed, but at least we ate." Ian Smith was Rhodesia's prime minister during the days of white-minority rule. After independence, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.

One could mistake Francistown, Botswana, for a Zimbabwean town. There are more yellow Zimbabwean vehicle registration plates than white ones of Tswana. In almost every grocery shop, I hear my fellow Zimbabweans conversing in their local Shona and Ndebele languages.

Soap, Sugar, Oil, Flour, Candles

In the wholesale shop, Jumbo, located in the industrial area, it's not hard to spot Zimbabweans. They buy everything in bulk -- giant boxes of soap, cooking oil, powdered milk, salt, matches, sugar, flour, candles. The candles make me think of my home. It's in an affluent suburb of Harare, but I have gone for two weeks without electricity. Government officials call it "load-shedding." The country is no longer generating enough electricity for people's homes or industries.

The more affluent Zimbabwean shoppers who have made this trip are also buying toilet paper, rice, macaroni and containers for fuel. They load these into their vehicles. Poorer people head for the buses, but back home, they will be better off than the majority. In the midst of biting poverty, at least they can eat for the next month.

Africa's President Thabo Mbeki who recently said there is "no crisis" in Zimbabwe, apparently to maintain good diplomatic relations with Mugabe. But the people of Zimbabwe cannot eat diplomacy.

I help a 65-year-old woman, Mbuya Taona, load her soap boxes onto the bus. She is grateful and tells me she has six grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. It is all too common a story with thousands of children now living in households with no parents. All her children are dead, except for one who is an illegal immigrant in South Africa. I fear telling her about what was in the paper the previous day.

At least 42 foreigners have been killed and thousands displaced from their shacks in South Africa's Alexandra and other townships; many are now living at police stations and churches. They are mainly Zimbabweans and Mozambicans. Their crimes? South Africans accuse them of taking all the jobs and good housing. They also complain that desperate Zimbabweans take any job for a few cents and make it hard for South Africans to ask employers for higher wages. Unofficial figures put the number of Zimbabwean economic refugees in South Africa at three to four million.

Maybe these xenophobic attacks on foreigners will wake up South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki who recently said there is "no crisis" in Zimbabwe, apparently to maintain good diplomatic relations with Mugabe. But the people of Zimbabwe cannot eat diplomacy. Mugabe's government has destroyed Zimbabwe, and the world needs to speak out, especially our neighbor, South Africa.

Once the bus is on the road back to Zimbabwe, women of the Apostolic Faith movement break into song. They thank God and their ancestors for the food they have bought. I fall into a deep slumber, tired from lifting so many boxes.

Forgetting What Normal Life Is Like

Before sunset, the bus reaches the border. Immigration officials are lenient with the travelers. They want a small bribe of one Botswana pula from each of us, and in return, we avoid paying a duty on the food and supplies we've purchased. No one refuses to pay. Within minutes, we are on the Zimbabwean side and the bus parks along the road for the night. We all sleep in the bus. No one can afford a motel or lodge anymore. It's an unthinkable luxury.

The next morning we set off. At a police roadblock, the officer wants to see duty-clearance forms for the goods on the bus. It only takes a packet of potato crisps to convince him to open the roadblock. Such is the poverty amongst police, who are often accused of propping up Mugabe's regime. Yes, the top cops remain loyal to Mugabe. They benefited from the farm invasions. But the lower ranks bear the brunt of a harsh economy, just like the rest of us.

After two days of traveling, we arrive back at Harare's Roadport around 5 am. Hungry and expectant families wait in the morning cold. Six other buses arrive in the space of an hour. It's like the Berlin airlift -- a convoy of shoppers arriving by bus with food and supplies from the outside world, where life is normal.

Here in Zimbabwe we have almost forgotten what normal life is like. We had our election March 29, and most people believe that Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won, defeating Mugabe, who has been in power for 28 years. But the government delayed the official results for days, and when they were finally announced, officials said Tsvangirai had fallen just short of the necessary 50 percent needed to win. So now, we have a run-off scheduled for June 27, and in the meantime, the MDC says Mugabe's men have killed more than 50 opposition members in a wave of violence across the country.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has already lost majority control of the Parliament in the first round of voting, but the 83-year-old Mugabe seems determined to keep hold of the presidency. And while this political drama plays out, people are going hungry, inflation is never-ending and there is little hope for economic recovery anytime soon. My country is on life support.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Planning To Disrupt Vote - Police


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--Zimbabwe police accused the opposition of
trying to disrupt Friday's second round election, saying a group of youths
had been arrested as they planned to carry out an arson attack.

"It is evident that the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic
Change) has plans to disrupt the elections," senior assistant commissioner
Faustino Mazango was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper.

"These counter-productive criminal activities would be met head-on and
with the full force of the law. When arrests of those who commit such
criminal acts are made, no one should cry foul as the law will only be
following its course."

Mazango said a group of five MDC activists had confessed to planning
arson attacks on polling stations after their arrests in the central city of

"The suspects confessed that an MDC official had told them that their
party's leadership had realized that they had no support and that they
should disrupt the elections by burning down polling stations so that voters
would have no place to cast their votes in," he said.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is boycotting Friday's second round
election after a wave of violence since the March 29 first round which the
MDC says has left more than 80 of its supporters dead.

Tsvangirai was also detained on a number of occasions before pulling
out of the run-off last weekend while his party's number two, Tendai Biti,
has been charged with treason.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, looking to secure a sixth term in
office, has warned that he is prepared "to go to war" to prevent the MDC
from taking power in the troubled southern African nation.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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