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

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This morning I called in on a paint company in Harare where I am consulting. 
The management and workers are almost all entirely black Zimbabweans.  The
mood was sombre.  You could cut the depression with a knife.  Outside I heard
and saw one of the workers holding a small audience with some of his
colleagues – about seven or eight of them.  He was describing how last night
in Budiriro Township he was beaten up by armed soldiers who pulled him to the
ground by the scruff of the neck, kicked him and stole his cell-phone and his

He and his friends can expect more of the same tonight. 
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Zim Independent

Food crisis worsens as maize stocks run out
Blessing Zulu

THE food crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening by the day as it emerges government
does not have the capacity to purchase enough stocks to feed the population.

Reports from non-governmental organisations distributing food under the
auspices of the World Food Programme (WFP) indicate that in the rural areas
the situation has deteriorated.

"In Lower Gweru, Matabele-land, Muzarabani and Midlands the situation is
worsening by the day and some children are collapsing," said a programme
officer with one of the NGOs.

"The number of children attending school every day continues to decline. The
food being distributed so far is not enough."

The United States government, in a bid to avert widespread hunger in the
country, has provided money to buy food for starving Zimbabweans under the
WFP emergency food aid programme.

"As part of its ongoing support for the people of Zimbabwe, the United
States government is pleased to announce its contribution to the United
Nations World Food Programme's Emergency Operation in Zimbabwe," the United
States Information Service said.

"The United States is providing 8 470 tonnes of fortified maize meal and the
associated transport and handling costs. The value of the contribution is
US$4,6 million ($253 million at the official exchange rate)," said the USIS.

The US government is also working with World Vision Inter- national to
provide more assistance to villagers in the Midlands and Matabeleland South.

"In addition to the US contribution to the UN World Food Programme's food
relief effort in Zimbabwe, the US is now finalising an assistance agreement
with the World Vision International," the USIS said.

"This programme will provide for 14 310 tonnes of fortified maize meal and
other commodities for some 75 000 of the most vulnerable people in
Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces over the coming year," it said.

The total US contribution is expected to be 34 430 tonnes.

"This amount will meet the needs of approximately 170 000 vulnerable people
in rural Zimbabwe during the next 12 months. The total value of this
assistance is about US$20 million ($1,1 billion)," said the USIS.

Officials at the WFP however said only a few countries had so far responded
to the appeal for assistance.

"The funding and pledges we have received so far constitute only 30% of what
we actually needed," said an official. "Japan, Britain and now the US have
given us assistance. Some organisations though have just made pledges and
these include US$5 million by the Department for International Development,
a multilateral donation of US$500 000, and US$11,6 million from USAid," said
the WFP official.

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Zim Independent

Prices of basic commodities to rise

PRICES of most basic commodities look set to go up by high margins just days
after the controversial presidential election.

The Zimbabwe Independent this week established that prices of foodstuffs
were set to increase in the next few weeks creating severe hardships for the
ordinary consumer.

The timing of the increases are rather curious, especially as they come
after Zanu PF secured victory in the presidential election. The move to
introduce price controls in October last year was seen as an election

Ministry of Industry and International Trade permanent secretary Stuart
Comberbach sounded the warning shots when he said on Wednesday the
government was meeting industry and the private sector with the intention of
considering proposals to review prices of basic commodities.

A member of the Retail Association of Zimbabwe who spoke on condition of
anonymity said that prices of bread, cooking oil, sugar and mealie-meal were
all set to go up by unprecedented margins.

"We are already facing massive shortages of basic commodities which have
culminated in long queues on a daily basis. This week we were inundated with
reports from manufacturers of significant hikes in the prices of
commodities," he said. - Staff Writer.

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Zim Independent

Mudede inflates rural voter numbers
Vincent Kahiya

RAMPANT inflation of the numbers of potential voters in Zanu PF strongholds
played a key role in securing incumbent Robert Mugabe a controversial
victory in the presidential election, it emerged this week.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change lost heavily in these

In Harare and Chitungwiza where the opposition enjoys support, thousands of
people's names were deleted from the voters' roll a month prior to the poll,
while figures shot up in rural constituencies.

Evidence of manipulation of the voters' roll has emerged amid allegations by
foreign correspondents covering the election that there was massive ballot
box stuffing in the remote areas of Mashonaland where opposition polling
agents were denied access by Zanu PF militias.

"It was here that the boxes were stuffed," the Times reported yesterday.
"According to the official results, more than 70% voted in the rural areas
and only 40% in the cities, the opposite of what independent analysts
predicted," the London paper said.

The Times said Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede revised upwards the
country's voter turnout by 500 000.

"Having announced at lunchtime on Sunday that 2,4 million voted, he suddenly
said the correct figure was 2,9 million," the paper said.

The Telegraph's correspondent who was in Bulawayo during the voting period
said a ballot box containing 137 officially-listed votes went missing from a
mobile polling station in Umguza and when it turned up it had an additional
1 000 ballots in it.

"At another constituency - Tsholotsho - opposition polling agents carefully,
and given the intimidation, bravely counted 12 000 votes but when the
registrar-general declared the result the turnout had somehow surged to 21
000," the Telegraph said.

Whatever the truth of the claims by the two papers, there is ample evidence
that the registration of voters was irregular.

The numbers of total registered voters differed from those Mudede submitted
in an affidavit to the Supreme Court on February 13. The disparity in the
figures was the bone of contention in an application filed by the MDC
challenging the use of a supplementary voters' roll that was created after
the government secretly registered people in rural constituencies after the
official closure of the exercise.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku declined to make a ruling on the urgent
application and is yet to do so.

Observers said the figures showed that Zanu PF clandestinely continued to
register voters after the official announcement that the exercise had
closed. In Harare, the RG said in the affidavit that 888 663 voters had
registered to vote but this week the figure had dropped by 6 487 to 882 176.
Bulawayo lost 5 426 voters.

There was however a marked increase in the number of voters in Manicaland,
Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and the Midlands between the filing of the
February 13 affidavits and the election days.

Manicaland for example had an increase of 36 078 voters, Mashonaland Central
23 794, Masvingo 23 588, and Midlands 24 066. Substantial increases were
also recorded in Mashonaland East (12 822) and Mashonaland West (17 728).

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Independent (UK)

National unity plan 'impossible under Mugabe'
Analysts cast doubt on whether president would entertain Thabo Mbkei's idea
of shared government

By Basildon Peta
15 March 2002

With the threat of civil strife growing in Zimbabwe following President
Robert Mugabe's victory in a flawed presidential election, a number of world
leaders appear to be rallying behind a secret plan mooted by the South
African president Thabo Mbeki for a government of national unity.

Political analysts are doubtful that such a plan can work in Zimbabwe's
volatile political environment. "Definitely not," said University of
Zimbabwe law professor Lovemore Madhuku. "A government of national unity
cannot work simply because the nature and style of Mugabe's leadership will
not make it work."

President Mugabe enjoys overweening powers under Zimbabwe's constitution
which made him probably the most powerful president in the world in terms of
the authority he exercises over his people.

That explains why he did not have to consult any of his cabinet ministers or
Parliament before he made the controversial decision to deploy a third pf
Zimbabwe's national army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also
explains why President Mugabe has over the last two years ruled Zimbabwe
under an unofficial state of emergency, issuing decrees to overide the
courts, firing judges and usurping the legislature. President Mugabe is not
amenable to criticism.

Professor Madhuku said: "Unless [Morgan] Tsvangirai and his MDC [Movement
for Democratic Change] guys are willing to be mere stooges without any
influence in such a government of national unity, I simply don't see how it
can be sustainable.

The former Industry and International Trade Minister Nkosana Moyo, who fled
Zimbabwe, is a good indicator of how a government of national unity under
Mugabe might work. Moyo, a respected banker, was brought into cabinet to
revive the ailing industrial sector and add a new flair to a Mugabe cabinet
stuffed with liberation war allies. But soon after Moyo started speaking
publicly against the 78-year-old president's command economy policies like
price control and a fixed exchange rate system, his destiny was set.

"Moyo's story is a good example of how non-stooges cannot co-habit with
Mugabe. With their enthusiam to do things differently, I don't see fresh
opposition guys lasting in such a Cabinet."

While Mr Tsvangirai is thought to be open to the idea of a government of
national unity, it is unlikely President Mugabe is. He refused to accomodate
the opposition in his cabinet after it almost beat his ruling Zanu-PF party
in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, winning 57 of the 120 contested

However, Professor Masipula Sithole of the University of Zimbabwe, thinks
the president might now be prepared to consider the option. "Circumstances
have changed and the man is so desperate to cling to power." he said. "In
view of the current wave of international criticism about how he stole the
election, he might just as well want to swallow the opposition into his
ranks and quieten opponents."

Major policy differences would have to be overcome. While Mr Tsvangirai is a
major proponent of a free market economy with less state intervention,
President Mugabe has already abandoned an IMF and World Bank sponsored
economic structural adjustment programme in favour of a command economy.

Mr Tsvangirai advocates a sustainable land reform process to allow the
commercial agriculture sector to flourish, but the president's wholesale
seizures of white farms are returning Zimbabwe to a peasant subsistence

While President Mugabe has promised to further nationalise factories and has
rubbished any policy proposals that would attract foreign investment, Mr
Tsvangirai's economic policies hinge on winning back the confidence of
international investors and the donor community.

Mr Sithole equated the difference in policy and approach of the two rivals
to that between night and day.

"While Mugabe remains entrenched in the dear leader mentality which makes
his word final, Tsvangirai has shown a great inclination towards
consultation and collective decision making," he said.

"He Mugabe has served with two deputies Joseph (Msika) aged 78 and (Simon)
Muzenda who is 80. Trying to readjust to working with an energetic deputy
who is only 50 and enthusiastic in terms of new ideas would be the tallest
order for Bob."

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Unions warn of Zimbabwe unrest

Challenge to Mugabe as observers condemn poll

Chris McGreal in Harare
Friday March 15, 2002
The Guardian

Zimbabwe's trade unions yesterday warned of an explosion of unrest in
protest at the country's presidential election as Commonwealth observers
condemned the ballot, saying it was marred by state-sponsored political
violence, intimidation and mass disenfranchisement.
The warning came after police broke up a meeting of Zimbabwe's trade union
confederation to prevent it calling a general strike to challenge Robert
Mugabe's victory and to protest at a fresh wave of violence against
opposition activists since the election.

Commonwealth observers in Harare made what looked to be an increasingly
futile appeal for Zimbabweans "to put aside their differences" after
offering some of the strongest criticism of the election to date by a
foreign delegation.

The head of the Commonwealth group, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the former
military ruler of Nigeria, said a host of factors "did not adequately allow
for a free expression of will by the electors".

"It was clear to us that while the polling and counting were peaceful and
the secrecy of the ballot was assured, the presidential election in Zimbabwe
was marred by a high level of politically motivated violence and
intimidation, which preceded the poll," the Commonwealth statement said.

"We also found that thousands of Zimbabwean citizens were disenfranchised as
a result of the lack of transparency in the registration process. On polling
day, many who wanted to cast their vote could not do so because of a
significant reduction in polling stations in urban areas."

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told parliament that Britain does not
recognise the election as legitimate and that it would continue to "oppose
any access by Zimbabwe to international financial resources until a more
representative government is in place".

"Zimbabweans have been denied their fundamental right to choose by whom they
are governed," said Mr Straw.

He added that the elections confirmed Britain's view that Zimbabwe should be
suspended from the Commonwealth when a committee of three countries -
Australia, South Africa and Nigeria - meet to consider the implications of
the observers' report.

Election monitors from South Africa and Nigeria have said they were
satisfied that the elections reflected the will of the majority of
Zimbabweans, and a clash between Commonwealth members who are for sanctions
and those who are against could blunt Britain's call to isolate Mr Mugabe's

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change yesterday called for a
"significant expansion" of targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his
allies. In addition to the ones already in place against a list of senior
members of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF government, the MDC's secretary general,
Welshman Ncube, said he believed anyone doing business with Mr Mugabe should
also be subject to sanctions.

"Essentially, we want all those pampered by Mugabe's elitist system of
patronage to be exposed to the full impact of targeted sanctions," he said.

The police in Harare stopped the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
leadership from discussing plans for a strike yesterday after declaring the
meeting illegal under oppressive new security legislation. The congress
president, Lovemore Matombo, described the move as the de facto banning of
unions. He warned that growing bitterness among working people at the
election and the violent reprisals now being taken against opposition
supporters could explode.

"The situation is changing from bad to worse. Now the workers of the country
can no longer assemble freely. They are being beaten up by [Zanu-PF] youths
for their politics and the police let it happen. The violence against them
is increasing. We were meeting to try and contain the anger, to direct it
and control it. But now anything could happen," he said.

Mr Matombo stopped short of calling the strike the ZCTU planned to discuss,
in part because it would be illegal without a formal meeting of its general
assembly which includes some unions sympa thetic to Mr Mugabe.

But a source close to the unions, who decline to be named, said the labour
movement, churches and civic organisations are planning how to mobilise
people to challenge the election's outcome. "There is a lot of anger out
there and it might seem we should move right away. But Mugabe is brutal and
we don't want a bloodbath. He has the army and the police, and he's not
afraid to use any of them. We need protests that can be sustained over a
long period, not just a couple of days on strike and then everyone loses
heart and goes back to work."

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Zimbabwe’s tense election aftermath has raised fears of a middle-class exodus IT WAS MBANGA’S second encounter with Zimbabwe’s simmering political violence. Last year, a group of self-styled “war veterans”—pro-Mugabe militia who started invading commercial farms two years ago—began arriving at Mbanga’s home in KweKwe. “One night three truckloads of ‘war veterans’ arrived and, in front of our kids, they threatened us and demanded money. Things got ugly,” recalls Mbanga. He and two managers were held as hostages at the mine by the vets, who forced them to write a check for 6 million Zimbabwean dollars (about U.S.$112,500) “There is no rule of law here anymore. It’s scary and it’s dangerous.”         Now Mbanga is looking for work in Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Nor is he likely to be alone in his desire to relocate. Throughout Zimbabwe, tensions remain high in the wake of Mugabe’s controversial reelection this week. Western observers have condemned the poll as rigged, and several governments are now considering imposing tougher economic sanctions on the Mugabe government. “We do not recognize the outcome of the election because we think it’s flawed,” President George W. Bush said Wednesday. “And we are dealing with our friends to figure out how to deal with this flawed election.
        So far, internal public protest against the Mugabe victory has been muted. While isolated incidents of violence were reported, police and military roadblocks—as well as a call for calm from defeated opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai—kept the country under a semblance of control in the hours following Mugabe’s claim of victory.
        Under the surface, however, moving companies are bracing for a boom in business as middle-class Zimbabweans prepare to leave the country. “Who’s leaving?” says the owner of one shipping company. “Everybody who can.” Added the shipping manager of one of Zimbabwe’s largest removal companies, who asked that neither he nor his company be named: “We’re gearing up. We’re anticipating many, many more people [emigrating] as people look into a future with a worthless currency, declining living standards, more violence and no jobs.”
        Zimbabweans have been seeking more stable futures abroad for years. The government does not publish official emigration statistics—partly because it is unwilling to admit the extent of the problem and partly many people leave quietly, without announcing their intentions. But already, more than a million are believed to live in neighboring South Africa. A similar number is scattered in countries like Britain and Canada. While many who have left are members of the country’s tiny white minority, at least an equal number are believed to be black professionals.
        The poor, too, are trying to leave: in the first six weeks of this year alone, South African authorities caught some 7,000 Zimbabwean migrants who risked the crocodile-infested Limpopo River to seek a better life down south. The new arrivals were deported back to Zimbabwe, but, like many Mexican migrants who repeatedly try to slip across the border into the United States, they are expected to keep returning in the hope of finally evading the South African border guards.
        A fresh exodus now will hit the struggling country especially hard. Those whom Zimbabwe can least afford to lose—the skilled and the wealthy—are those most likely to go. And their departure is likely to be accelerated as the Mugabe government encourages fresh invasions of farms and businesses under its “indigenization” plan. (On Wednesday, state-run television suggested this program would be speeded up now that Mugabe has a popular mandate.)
        Mugabe may not be worried about the flight of the middle-class, who mostly support Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. But their departure undoubtedly will have a significant impact on those left behind. “I was paralyzed after [I heard] the election result,” says Harare lawyer Jacob Mafume. Mafume opted to remain in Zimbabwe because he feels his country needs his human-rights work now more than ever. But, he says, his work is much more difficult now. It’s not just the political climate—it’s because his trusted secretary left recently for a new life in Britain.
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The Times

March 15, 2002

Mugabe silent as criticism grows
From Jan Raath in Harare

PRESIDENT Mugabe found himself increasingly isolated yesterday when the
Commonwealth’s observers, most of them Africans, said Zimbabwe’s election
did not reflect the will of its people.
“The conditions in Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression
of will by the electors,” General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the chairman of the
observer group, said. Mr Mugabe, however, has stayed silent. On the day
after the announcement of the results he had still not appeared in public to
comment on his victory.

The report blamed the Zanu (PF) party for most of the violence during the
campaign. It accused his Youth National Service of “a systematic campaign of
intimidation” against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“The violence and intimidation created a climate of fear and suspicion,” Mr
Abubakar said. He highlighted the failure of police to act against violence
and their leniency towards the ruling party. “This failure to impartially
enforce the law calls into question the application of the rule of law in
Zimbabwe,” he said.

The report found that the country’s electoral and security laws “basically
flawed” and condemned the disenfranchisement “of thousands of Zimbabweans as
a result of the lack of transparency” of the voter registration system.

Jacob Zuma, the South African vice-president, arrived in Harare apparently
unaware of the Commonwealth’s damning report and even the criticism of his
own Government’s mission. “Those discrediting Zimbabwe’s electoral process
should listen to what African nations are saying,” he told Zimbabwe state
radio. “Democracy is being practised in Zimbabwe.”

North of Harare, police reacted swiftly to contain looting by mobs of Zanu
(PF) party youths on commercial farms. Mobs arrived on 15 white-owned farms
in the Mashonaland West province, and told the owners to leave. The farmers
refused to go and police arrested several of the youths.

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The Age, Melbourne

Howard to fly to London over Zimbabwe election
AAP|Published: Friday March 15, 10:30 AM

Prime Minister John Howard will fly to London on Monday to discuss the
Commonwealth observers' report on the Zimbabwean election with the
presidents of South Africa and Nigeria.

Mr Howard said the report he had read on last weekend's poll was very
critical of the election process.

"I'll be putting out a statement later today indicating that I'll be going
to London next Monday afternoon to have a meeting the following day with the
president of South Africa and the president of Nigeria to discuss this
report," he told the John Laws radio program.

"The report that I've read is critical, very critical, of the process," Mr
Howard said.

"I'll talk before I go, if I can, I'll talk to the four Australian
observers, who've been there."

Mr Howard said he would meet in London next Tuesday with President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

"Now it's not a very easy issue and I guess there'll be a range of views.

"I don't want at this stage to pre-empt that discussion by saying publicly
what my view is."

Mr Howard said the Commonwealth meeting in Coolum had given the three
leaders a remit to sit down and talk about the matter and consider the
report against the background of the Harare Declaration which called for
free and fair elections.

"That's the remit the three of us have and if we are conscientious about our
job then every one of us has to have a look at the report and put that
against the principles and reach a conclusion accordingly."

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Independent (UK)

Secret mission to solve Zimbabwe crisis
By Basildon Peta Zimbabwe Correspondent
15 March 2002

Britain and the United States are backing a secret South African plan to
persuade the Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to form a government of
national unity with the Movement for Democratic Change.

The South African President Thabo Mbeki sent his deputy Jacob Zuma on a
mission to Harare yesterday to persuade Mr Mugabe to embrace the opposition
and make its leader Morgan Tsvangirai his vice-president. Mr Mugabe, 78, won
a fifth term in office after an election over the weekend that has been
widely denounced as unfair.

The Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo, is also sending a message to Mr
Mugabe urging him to move quickly to form a government of national unity
with "substantial representation" from the opposition.

Tony Blair and the 14 other European leaders gather for a summit meeting in
Barcelona today where they will plan further sanctions on the Mugabe regime.

In a Commons statement yesterday, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, accused
Mr Mugabe of "stealing" the election and heading an "undemocratic and
illegitimate government".

Mr Straw said yesterday that Britain would not recognise Mr Mugabe's
re-election, and added that the Government would "oppose any access by
Zimbabwe to international financial resources until a more representative
government is in place." He did not explain what he meant by a "more
representative government".

President George Bush gave the first hint that negotiations were under way,
when he said this week: "We are dealing with our friends to figure out how
to deal with this flawed election."

With international outrage growing and Zimbabweans preparing to flee the
country en masse, Mr Mbeki wants to head off a clash between the West and
Zimbabwe that would have catastrophic consequences for Southern Africa.

The Mbeki initiative is discreetly supported by London and Washington as a
face-saving way out for both Mr Mugabe and Mr Mbeki's own government which
has yet to criticise the outcome of the election. Both Mr Mbeki and Mr
Obasanjo are on the Commonwealth troika that is to adjudicate on the
elections next week – the organisation's observer mission has already
decried the elections as unfair, because of the violence and intimidation.

A senior official in the ruling Zanu-PF party told The Independent
yesterday: "Mbeki and Obasanjo want Mugabe to make it easier for them to
resolve the Zimbabwe issue within the Commonwealth. They think the only way
to achieve an acceptable solution is for Mugabe to move fast and unite the
country by bringing the opposition into the government."

The 54-member Commonwealth's credibility is now on the line, with pressure
to throw Zimbabwe out of the organisation. Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo believe
the only way forward is for Mr Mugabe to make peace with Mr Tsvangirai.

President Obasanjo, who unsuccessfully tried to broker a meeting between Mr
Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe during his last visit to Zimbabwe in January, is
expected to travel to Harare to attempt to broker a deal. The plan calls not
only for Mr Mugabe to embrace the opposition in a coalition but also insists
he show more tolerance to other political opponents in civic society.

A Commonwealth observer group has already dismissed the weekend presidential
election as being neither free nor fair, putting pressure on Mr Mbeki and Mr
Obasanjo, who have previously defended Mr Mugabe. The Australian Prime
Minister John Howard is part of the Commonwealth troika.

The initiative faces grave difficulties. While Mr Zuma was still in
Zimbabwe, the police were breaking up a meeting of the country's largest
civic group, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The ZCTU, which has in
the past led successful national strikes against Mr Mugabe, was meeting to
discuss how best to respond to the election. It is understood that it is
mobilising civic society to begin a series of mass protests.
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