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Mugabe amends electoral laws


18/03/2008 19:13  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has amended electoral laws to
allow policemen into polling stations later this month to "assist"
illiterate people to vote, state radio said on Tuesday.

The amendment, which was published as a presidential proclamation on Monday,
comes less than two weeks ahead of make-or-break polls on March 29.

The amendment appears to backtrack on changes agreed at recently during
South African-brokered talks that restricted police from doubling up as
election officers.

Under the electoral laws, police were not to be allowed within 100 metres of
a polling station to avoid intimidating voters.

"Section 59 of the act has also been amended and will allow two electoral
officers and a police officer on duty to assist semi- literate voters," the
radio quoted part of the presidential proclamation as saying.

Voters who are "physically incapacitated" will also be assisted to vote by
two electoral officials and a policeman, the report said. The radio did not
say why the laws had been changed. - Sapa-dpa

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Has the rigging started?

Zimbabwe Guardian

Mugabe infuriated by low rank army officers

Brian Heart

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 00:15:00 +0000

HARARE - PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reported to be infuriated by reports of
massive disgruntlement in the lower ranks of the Zimbabwe National Army
(ZNA) over increasingly deteriorating working conditions and paltry

Mugabe on Monday last week announced a "hefty" 754 percent salary hike to
the enraged soldiers for the second time in a month after soldiers
complained that the $1,7 billion they had been awarded at the beginning of
the had been eroded by the world's highest inflation at 100 000 percent.

At the beginning of March, Mugabe increased the ZNA's salaries from $300
million per month to $1,7 billion per month.

Apparently soldiers said in interviews on Thursday that there had been
fliers that were circulating in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the ZNA
and the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) that called upon the security forces
to reject Mugabe during "because we are tired and our children are

Two reports circulated at the KG V1, the army's headquarters, and another
one on Monday at the same offices urging the army to "come out of your
sleep, why keep supporting a dictator who has killed our promising careers"
had infuriated President Mugabe.

On of the reports, which circulated on Monday read; "Come out of you sleep
soldier, we are tired of the regime and oppression."

The second one was reported to have been circulated in ZRP stations and some
barracks of the ZNA outside Harare.

In an interview with at the KGV1 army headquarters on Thursday, soldiers
said there were so many leaflets circulating in their mails and fliers that
the top ranks had employed monitoring measures to "punish those suspected to
be instigating a mutiny against the regime."

"We do not want Mugabe anymore," a soldier said.

"Now they have started rigging, soldiers and members of the ZRP have started
getting postal votes. But we are all here we are not anywhere out of the
country. They are forcing us. They started giving us the forms today
(Thursday) and they say we will vote with our chefs watching and our
envelopes will be marked our names so there is nowhere you cannot vote for
Mugabe, we will be afraid."

"Mugabe must go now. There is nothing he is doing for us, and all security
forces are supporting Makoni and Tsvangirai. We are tired. He must not get
our votes by tricks. We want our children to survive. To maximize his votes,
there is going to be a massive pass out of new recruits next week and all of
them have been instructed to vote by post after the messages were

But pressure had been mounting on President Mugabe in the past two weeks, as
civil servants had been disappointed about the deteriorating economic

After teachers downed tools in a paralysing industrial action that hit
Zimbabwe for two weeks, Mugabe announced on Monday he had awarded all civil
"hefty" salary increment, the soldiers included.

This would take the basic salary of the lowest paid soldiers to more than
$10 billion, and the lowest paid teacher to about $5,6 billion.

But the Secretary General of the vocal Progressive Teachers Association
(PTUZ) Raymond Majongwe said on Thursday Mugabe was back to his old game but
teachers, the security forces were not going to be deterred.

"It is a vote buying gimmick," Majongwe said.

"They left it until election time but our teachers know who to vote for.
They will vote for a person to will represent their interests," he said.

On several occasions, the ZNA and the ZRS has had to suspend training and
parliament has recently urged Mugabe to immediately give additional
government funding to the army. "The soldiers are disgruntled over poor
salaries, Defence Secretary Trust Maphosa told the parliamentary committee
on Defence and Home Affairs in December.

Committee chairman Claudius Makova, a retired soldier immediately warned of
the consequences on national security if the situation is allowed to

Another soldier said; "We are the pillars of a country's defence, the
security of our country, including the President's tenure, is in our hands.

"Yet we are always going hungry and we have become the laughing stock. Food
runs out every week and when it comes, in most cases we are fed on sadza
with beans, or vegetables without cooking oil. We are compromised.

"To make matters worse, the regime has failed to pay teachers and they have
gone on strike. It's a double blow for the children. Their parents cannot
feed them and they are deprived of their right to education."

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has been hit by a shortage of spares for its
ageing fleet so its officers have been commuting to and from work on food
due to the poor salaries.

Zimbabwe National Water Authority has on several occasions disconnected
water from military installations due to none payments of bills.

During a tour of the Chikurubi Prison Thursday, a reporter saw scores of
women fetching water from unprotected wells. Toilets in their houses were
blocked and raw sewerage was choking the residents.

A woman said her child had suffered from acute diahhorea but her husband, a
member of the ZPS had no money to take her to hospital.

"This is what we get from Mugabe," she said, showing off the child's
tattered clothes and malnourished body.

At the Dzivaresakwa Extension Presidential Command Barracks, 10 kilometres
west of the city, soldiers said they had been borrowing much more than their
salaries to keep their families running, but they were convinced Mugabe will
lose the election because despite the public relations campaigns their
commanders were doing in the public, there was too much disgruntlement in
suffering security forces.

Despite its high levels of discipline Mugabe has one of the most poorly
dressed armies in Africa, and often times, soldiers, the ZRP and the ZPS are
seen in old clothes.

But Mugabe has been playing his cards right.

He has showered the top ranks of the national defence forces with high
salary packs and top of the range cars buy their loyalty.

It has worked.

Last week the commander of the ZDF Constantine Chiwenga said the army he
will not raise his arm to salute anyone else except Mugabe.

"We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe who has sacrificed a
lot for the country," Chiwenga told the privately owned The Standard

He added; "what is wrong with supporting the President against the election
of sellouts.

There have been massive resignations in the national army military sources
said this week.

But Chiwenga has ordered that he will accept no more resignations.

The Commissioner of the ZPS Paradzai Zimondi has backed him.

"I will only support the leadership of President Mugabe. Will not salute
them (Tsvangirai and Makoni). If you want to salute them vote for them but I
urge you to vote for the President," Zimondi told a promotion ceremony in
Harare last week.

"We are going to the elections and you should vote for Mugabe. I am giving
you an order to vote for the President. Do not be distracted, the challenges
we are facing are just a passing phase."

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Poll pretence

  Business Day

18 March 2008

FOR anyone who has ever visited a working democracy, let alone
lived and participated in one, it is hard to understand how President Robert
Mug-abe could even be in the running to be elected for yet another term.

Life in Zimbabwe is every bit as "nasty, brutish and short" as
philosopher Thomas Hobbes envisaged when he coined the phrase more than
three and a half centuries ago to describe mankind's natural state in the
absence of any recognisable social structure. In a country where elections
had meaning, a change of government would be inevitable in such

Zimbabweans have been reduced to this state of desperation as a
direct result of Mugabe's misrule, yet it is by no means certain he will
lose the presidential election scheduled for the end of this month, despite
facing credible opposition. How can this be?

The obvious suspicion is that the polls will be rigged, as has
been the case in past elections won by Mugabe. Indeed, the voters' roll is
highly suspect, government officials are shamelessly using state resources
to favour the ruling party and there is plenty of evidence of
gerrymandering - rural votes will carry three times as much weight as those
cast in the cities, for instance.

If Zanu (PF) acts true to past form, anyone suspected of
supporting the opposition will struggle to cast their vote, election
officials will either be party loyalists or so intimidated that they
surrender control of the process, and ballot boxes will be stuffed.

The few sycophantic foreign observers who have been allowed into
the country to pretend to monitor the election will no doubt pronounce the
process free and fair on cue, and Zimbabwe will be back to square one - an
economic basket case run by a demented and ruthless despot.

The head of the Southern African Development Community's
monitoring mission, secretary-general Tomaz Salomao, has already expressed
confidence that the elections will be free and fair, ignoring all evidence
and past experience to the contrary. And SA's Deputy Foreign Affairs
Minister Aziz Pahad is on record as saying the conditions for a free and
fair poll exist "on paper" - although he was quick to hedge his bets by
adding that anything could happen before the election.

The South African government's role in the tragedy that is
unfolding in Zimbabwe is becoming increasingly difficult to defend now that
it is common knowledge that Mugabe duped President Thabo Mbeki with promises
of electoral reforms he never had any intention of implementing. "On paper"
these might have given a presidential candidate other than Mugabe a prospect
of winning. In practice, Zanu (PF) did the groundwork to steal this election
and reinstall Mugabe months ago.

The only hope of any other outcome is if there is a rebellion in
the ranks of the Zanu (PF) officials tasked with skewing the election
result. But, while dissatisfaction with Mugabe is growing within the party,
breaking ranks is risky. And, even if by some miracle voting is allowed to
take place relatively freely, former finance minister Simba Makoni's recent
entry into the race will favour the incumbent by splitting the urban vote,
which is all but lost to Mugabe anyway.

The election will be won or lost in the rural constituencies,
where Mugabe remains in firm control.

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Zimbabwe opposition demands electronic voters' roll, saying errors could allow rigging

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 18, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's opposition and independent monitoring groups
say numerous errors on the voter rolls - including the listing of a
long-dead colonial-era security minister - open March 29 general and
presidential elections to rigging.

Lawyers on Monday filed an application at the Harare High Court demanding
that the registrar of voters supply opposition parties with electronic
copies of the roll. Computerized searches could allow observers to almost
instantly uncover discrepancies and allay fears that doctored lists are
being used to rig voting, independent monitors say.

The lawyers acted after the special Electoral Court on Thursday denied a
petition by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for an electronic
list. The court ruled it was a technicality outside its jurisdiction.

"The Electoral Court should be there to deal with all electoral issues,"
said lawyer Bryant Elliot. "In this computer age, it has become fundamental
in any functioning constitutional democracy for a political party to be
provided with electronic voters rolls."

In response to a previous court order to provide copies of the roll, the
registrar issued what amounted to printed copies that cannot be used for
computerized checking.

Among the examples cited by critics is 50 voters were registered as residing
at an address that is a hairdressing business belonging to a member of
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Bryant's High Court application sites the example of Desmond Lardner-Burke,
a former minister of law and order who died nearly 30 years ago in
neighboring South Africa.

Lardner-Burke was the architect of a draconian state of emergency during the
guerrilla war for black majority rule that ended when white-ruled Rhodesia
became independent Zimbabwe after elections in 1980. Mugabe, who won that
election in a landslide.

Elections in 2002 and 2005 won by Mugabe's ruling party were marred by
administrative chaos, allegations of vote rigging, irregularities in voters'
lists and charges that violence and political intimidation influenced

This year, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network says polling stations have
been allocated in a lopsided way, with more placed in less populated rural
areas where Mugabe garners most of his support and fewer stations in heavily
populated urban areas where the opposition is strong. The network, a group
of non-governmental and civil society groups, estimated that a voter in
Harare province would need to be processed in 22 seconds and in some cases
as little as nine seconds on election day.

This when Zimbabweans - about 5.6 million registered electors - for the
first time will vote in presidential, parliament and local council elections
on a single day at about 11,000 polling stations countrywide. There were
4,000 polling stations in the last parliamentary vote in 2005.

The network and other independent monitor groups also say administrative
preparations for the elections so far have been left in chaos by chronic
shortages of gasoline, food and most basic goods in the nation's deepening
economic meltdown, where official inflation is by far the highest in the
world at 100,500 percent.

Many observers in and outside Zimbabe blame the economic crisis on the
often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms that disrupted
agricultural production in the former food exporter. Mugabe blames targeted
sanctions imposed by Britain and its Western allies that accuse him of
violating human and democratic rights and destroying his economy.

The government has barred official Western observer delegations from
Britain, the former colonial ruler, the European Union and the United
States, saying they back the opposition.

Mugabe, 84, is facing his biggest electoral challenge since independence
from former finance minister and ruling party loyalist Simba Makoni, 57, and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 55.

Makoni draws his support from ruling party rebels and disillusioned
supporters of the fractured opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
mostly in urban areas.

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Zimbabwe Voters List / Roll Margin of Error

Table of March 2008

From our correspondent in Harare

A brief computer analysis based on the scanned voters’ roll reveals massive discrepancies between what ZEC has declared as the number of voters per constituency and those actually on the voters roll.

There are massive variations of up to 30,8 per cent in some constituencies such as Goromonzi South, Bulawayo Central, Gokwe Nembudziya and Chikomba East.

Goromonzi South has a total of 19 422 on the voter’s roll which is 30.8 less than the 28 086 voters registered by ZEC.

The roll for Bulawayo contains the names of people long deceased.

Below is an analytical list of error on the March 29 general election voters’ register.

 ZIMBABWE Electoral Voters List Margin of Error

Tuesday 18 March 2008, by Bruce Sibanda
Constituency Voters registered by ZEC N° of Voters on Roll % Error
1. Goromonzi South 28086 19422 -30.8%
2. Gokwe-Nembudziya 27261 19519 -28.4%
3. Chikomba East 22597 15701 -30.5%
4. Bulawayo Central 27646 20760 -24.9%
5. Bulilima West 31305 29431 -15.8%
6. Chegutu East 31226 25059 -19.7%
7. Bubi 31706 26365 -16.8%
8. Gokwe 22669 19275 -15.0%
9. Chipinge East 24491 21756 -11.2%
10. Chikomba central 26520 24203 -8.7%
11. Chiredzi East 26344 24127 -8.4%
12. Guruve South 31711 29556 -6.8%
13. Chivi South 31909 29760 -6.7%
14. Bindura North 30867 29165 -5.5%
15. Glen Nora 22399 26862 19.9%
16. Buhera West 29427 34411 16.9%
17. Gokwe-Sengwa 24809 28462 14.7%
18. Binga South 26295 29686 12.9%
19. Bulilima East 31625 35218 11.4%
20. Bikita East 28509 31309 9.8%
21. Gokwe Sasame 31905 35034 9.8%
22. Chakari 21639 23585 9.0%
23. Glen View South 27689 29943 8.1%
24. Gokwe Mapfungautsi 29947 32383 8.1%
25. Gokwe Chireya 27261 29321 7.6%
26. Chikomba West 30297 32133 6.1%
27. Chivi Central 29691 31146 4.9%

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Zimbabwe poll body says can't rein in security forces


Tue 18 Mar 2008, 17:58 GMT

HARARE, March 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's election body has no legal powers to
stop security chiefs from threatening to reject an opposition victory in
this month's poll, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Analysts say President Robert Mugabe faces the strongest challenge to his
28-year rule in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections on March
29 due to an economic meltdown and and a pair of opposition candidates.

Statements by two senior security officials that they would only welcome a
victory by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party have generated controversy in
a largely peaceful campaign ahead of the election.

Responding to opposition complaints at a meeting in Harare on Tuesday,
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said there was no law
mandating the commission to act against those making the threats.

"The commission will not take a populist stance and do things or make
pronouncements which are not in its mandate. There is nothing in the law
allowing us to take a position on this," he said, drawing laughter from
diplomats, local and regional election observers and journalists.

Mugabe hopes to fend off challenges from long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the larger faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
and former finance minister Simba Makoni.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress said on Monday security
forces should stay out of the election.

Chiweshe said the commission would be impartial during the polls.

State media reported on Tuesday that Mugabe had invoked presidential powers
to change the law to allow police into polling stations to assist illiterate
or disabled voters.

Last Friday, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri vowed he would not allow
"western-backed puppets" to rule Zimbabwe, repeating similar comments made
last month by the head of the prison service, retired army major-general
Paradzayi Zimondi.

In 2002, Zimbabwe's security chiefs made a controversial statement
suggesting they would not accept a victory by Tsvangirai. Mugabe narrowly
won the presidential election amid opposition charges of rigging.

Chiweshe said the commission was well prepared for this month's poll, which
opposition groups and some western nations have said was unlikely to be free
and fair.

Mugabe's government has barred observers from the European Union, which is
locked in a bitter stand-off with Harare over accusations of human rights
abuses and economic mismanagement. (Reporting by Nelson Banya)

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Zanu-PF's stormtroopers -- the police

Mail and Guardian

Nicole Fritz: COMMENT

18 March 2008 06:00

Two weeks ago, a young woman lay in a hospital bed in Harare,
one of her eyes closed tight. A few days before, as Zanu-PF supporters
wrestled her to the floor at the party's provincial headquarters in Harare,
a boot struck her face. In hospital, several days after the attack, she and
eight colleagues of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe still bore
the marks of their beatings.

The beatings were inflicted after an initial group was picked up
by Zanu-PF militants for daring to distribute pamphlets protesting teachers'
pay (the equivalent of R300).

Other colleagues had sought to come to their aid but were
themselves dragged into the headquarters where each was made to lie face
down before being beaten. Police were then called to the scene and took them
to the central police station where, for some time, they were denied legal
representation and medical attention.

For those who follow developments in Zimbabwe, none of this must
seem new. And yet even in Zimbabwe there have been few such obvious examples
of police partisanship. When police collect obviously bruised and bloodied
individuals from ruling-party headquarters and lay criminal charges not
against the perpetrators of the bloodshed but their victims, there can no
longer be even the pretence that the police are anything other than the
ruling party's agents.

This most recent incident of violence, occurring so close to the
elections scheduled for March 29, must raise anxiety levels about the
intensity and extent of violence that might happen over the election period.
Because far from demurring from its use, as international attention
increasingly focuses on Zimbabwe in the run-up, it would seem that
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his supporters increasingly believe
that violence is the only means by which they can retain control.

In recent weeks Mugabe has raised the salaries of all civil
servants, and while teachers are barely able to survive, even the lowest-
ranking army officer receives more than double what a teacher earns. It
isn't hard to guess whose loyalty Mugabe is most intent on keeping.

But it isn't Simba Makoni's entry on to the scene that has
provoked a change in tactics. Greater militarisation of an already overly
militarised state seems merely the logical extension of a plan long settled
on. Nonetheless, Makoni's candidacy does raise a variety of new
possibilities and unquestionably raises the pitch of fear, perhaps most
dangerously inside Zanu-PF circles.

Amid all this uncertainty, it can only be guessed that Mugabe is
likely to become more paranoid and afraid. He is, as one Harare commentator
observed, that most frightening of political animals, "a leader with no
legacy left to protect". There is no clearer example than that a Mugabe-led
Zanu-PF, a party that put in place an education system reckoned to be the
best in Africa, now beats its teachers at party headquarters.

Still, there may be reason for some small measure of hope. The
desperation suggests the centre cannot hold: the fractures are all too
apparent, even within Zanu-PF itself. And the large number of individuals
registering themselves for election -- as independents or the opposition -- 
suggests real courage and a willingness to risk reprisal. The hope must be
that the electorate, and the risks for them are very great, reflects that
same courage.

Nicole Fritz is the director of the Southern Africa Litigation

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Problems at Tomlinson Depot area continue

See attached letter to ZEC - We were thrown out of Tomlinson Depot Saturday, which makes it very difficult to campaign - 40% of my voters in Ward 7 live in the various camps in that area.
Also we are complaining about the proposed polling station along Pauling Drive, the access road to Presidential Guard HQ, Ministry of Defence, Tomlinson Depot, Harare Central Prison, is a security area, and obviously the environment is not conducive to voting secrecy.

Trudy Stevenson, MP

4 Ashbrittle Crescent, Mt Pleasant, Harare

Tel/fax 304492 cell 0912 247 141 email


16 March 2008


Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

Century House East, Harare


Dear Commissioners






I refer to my previous letter of 24 February 2008 and my conversation with Mr Gavi, ZEC Harare Province CEO, concerning Tomlinson Depot and surrounding area as a potential polling station.


1. From our meeting with ZEC Mt Pleasant on Friday morning, I note that the “final list” of polling stations for Mt Pleasant constituency includes a tent at the corner of Pauling Drive and “Central Street”.  This polling station was not agreed to by consensus of all candidates in the constituency, as neither I nor my colleague Prof Rudo Gaidzanwa, nor the two Mt Pleasant council candidates, Chiwola and Moyana, knew anything about such a proposal until the meeting Friday morning. I subsequently attempted to identify the exact position of this polling station, but was unable to do so, as there is no Central Street listed for Harare.  There is Central Avenue, which runs parallel to Pauling Dr a number of blocks away in Harare Central constituency, but there is no way there could be a corner of the two streets.


We can only surmise that the corner referred to is either the one with large “Security Area” notices displayed towards Chancellor Avenue end of Pauling Drive, or the corner with the street leading to Tomlinson Depot. 


Neither corner, nor any other place along Pauling Drive, is suitable for a polling station.  This area is inside and surrounded by a large police security compound including the HQ of the Presidential Guard, the Police Camps, Army and Prison services.  It is an extremely intimidating place to enter, especially if, like us, one belongs to the opposition party.  The police, the army and the Presidential Guard are renowned for being pro-ZanuPF and for dealing harshly with the MDC.  It is therefore most unlikely that any non-ZanuPF supporter will attempt to vote at this polling station.  It is a ZanuPF polling station, in fact if not in name.


Moreover, there is a tradition of marshalling voters in blocks to ensure they vote the “correct” way in and near such controlled areas.  Almost certainly the security services have been warned to produce a “correct” result at this polling station, so that anyone voting for the opposition will be a negative result for them.


I note that approximately 40% of the registered voters in Ward 7 Avondale-Alexandra Park are registered within this security complex.  See attached copies of pages from the voters roll to illustrate this point.  In view of recent public statements issued by the Commissioner General of Police and the Heads of the Army and Prison Services, any member of the security forces who dared to vote for the opposition would be subject to disciplinary action at the very least, and the fact that votes are counted at the polling station and results posted outside would highlight any vote for the opposition within those forces.  This means that the pressure of intimidation is very high within such a complex, and voters therein do not believe that their vote is their secret.


Furthermore, in the event of the vote going against the incumbent president, it would presumably be the duty of the Presidential Guard to protect that incumbent.  This implies that the Presidential Guard would be duty-bound to stop the proceedings at polling stations within its vicinity in order to protect the incumbent, and would be tempted if not actively encouraged to interfere with proceedings at any such polling station.  The ramifications are obvious – and do not support the notion of a free and fair election result at this potential polling station.


2. A third area of concern is the difficulty for the opposition to campaign within this security complex.  It is clear that any person within the complex can use his/her position to instigate the arrest and harassment of any “outsider” moving around distributing pamphlets or election flyers or information.  The environment at Tomlinson Depot is far too intimidating to allow opposition to campaign within the complex.  Indeed, I was myself thrown out of Tomlinson Depot this Saturday afternoon, 15 March, by a police officer who insisted that I was not allowed to post my campaign letters to residents within the compound, because the police and their families were apolitical and therefore not allowed to receive such letters. He confiscated the letters my assistant had distributed, and forbade residents to read the letters.


I should be grateful if you would attend to these concerns as a matter of urgency.  I will certainly not accept any area on or around Pauling Drive or vicinity to be used as a polling station for the election.  This is a totally unacceptable location for a polling station.


Yours sincerely

TRUDY STEVENSON, Member of Parliament for Harare North Constituency

Cc -     ZEC Harare Province - Cecil House

     - ZESN, MDC Election Directorate, ZLHR

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Mugabe declares Zimbabwe poll day a public holiday

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared March 29 a
public holiday to enable workers to vote in general elections scheduled for
that day, state media reported Tuesday.

"It is hereby declared that Saturday the 29th March, 2008, shall be a public
holiday," the state-owned Herald quoted Mugabe as saying in a government

Banks and businesses normally open on Saturdays will be closed on that day,
while retailers could remain open.

Mugabe, seeking a sixth term at the helm of the country he has governed
since independence in 1980, will be challenged at the poll by his former
finance minister Simba Makoni, Movement for Democratic Change opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and obscure independent candidate Langton Toungana.

Zimbabwe has invited the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and
46 other teams of monitors from regional groupings like the African Union to
monitor the vote, along with countries like China, Russia and Iran with whom
President Mugabe enjoys good relations.

The southern African nation has not any invited European Union members or
the United States -- both of whom had accused Mugabe of rigging his
re-election in 2002.

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Zimbabwe Threatens to Arrest Foreign Reporters


By VOA News
18 March 2008

Zimbabwe is warning Western journalists will be arrested if they enter the
country without official permission to cover the March 29 general elections.

An Information Ministry spokesman says the government is aware of attempts
to turn journalists into election observers, or smuggle in observers. Anyone
caught without accreditation could face two years in prison.

A team of foreign affairs and security specialists is reviewing
accreditation applications from about 300 foreign journalists who want to
cover the elections.

The government of Robert Mugabe invited election observers from 47
countries, none of which has been critical of his government. The U.S. and
European Union have been excluded from sending observers.

The U.S. and EU imposed travel sanctions against members of Zimbabwe's
government after observers saw evidence of rigging in the 2002 election.

Critics charge that Mr. Mugabe has rigged elections for years in order to
hold onto power. The 84-year-old leader has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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Mugabe threatens crackdown on British companies


March 18, 2008, 18:15

John Nyashanu, Gweru
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has warned of a crackdown on British
companies in the country. This follows threats from London to ban Zimbabwean
sports persons from competing.

The veteran leader took his campaign trail to the Midlands province ahead of
next week's elections. Mugabe says neither Movement for democratic change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai nor independent candidate Simba Makoni stands
a chance.

He branded Tsvangirai a stooge of the West and Makoni a lost soul with no
grassroots support. Zanu-PF supporters, who came in their thousands, are
equally upbeat on the election results.

Gweru, a MDC stronghold, has become a focal point in the elections. Makoni
also drew thousands on his maiden rally in the city. Last week, Tsvangirai
refused to be outdone and addressed a capacity crowd at the same venue.

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Zimbabwe not Mugabe's private company says Tsvangirai

Canada Free Press

 By OnTheWeb: Stephen Chadenga  Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gweru, Zimbabwe- It is a hot Saturday afternoon. The sky is partly cloudy
and a warm breeze sweeps through Mkoba stadium in Zimbabwe's third largest
city, Gweru. A large crowd of about 13, 000 people brace the unfriendly
weather to attend a political campaign rally. Music blares from a sound
system at the center of the stadium. An old lady in her 70s dances in the
crowd. She draws laughter from the assorted gathering of youths, the middle
aged and the old. An infant giggles from her mother's back. All these faces
are anxiously waiting for their guest and presidential hopeful, Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. As the MDC leader
arrives, there is deafening noise in the stadium. Tsvangirai takes to the
stage to address his supporters.

He does not mince his words: " We are all gathered here because of poverty.
The main cause of that poverty is one man and he is Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

"Over the years we have been saying things are tough but now they are really
tough. We have come to a time when we are saying enough is enough. Now is
the time to change and we are going to do it through the ballot box on March
29." Zimbabweans go to harmonised polls to elect the country's President,
House of Assembly members, senators and councillors on March 29 this year.

"In 2000, 2002 and 2005 Mugabe stole the elections from the people. We let
him rule then. Now that time is over. When he (Mugabe) rigs the election, he
does not rig it from Tsvangirai. He rigs against the people of Zimbabwe. And
they have every right to defend their choice.
"We should make it clear from the onset that Zimbabwe does not need rulers
but leaders. This country cannot be Mugabe Private Limited.  We need a
government that is accountable to the people. We need a return to the rule
of law and not rule by law," said Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai dismissed Mugabe's claims that the opposition leader intends to
return acquired land back to the white minority farmers. He said MDC had at
its inception in 1999 a land reform programme in place.

"When we formed MDC in 1999, land reform was on our list of priorities. We
have said that prime agricultural land should be fully utilised and this can
only be done in a well planned manner.

"Look at what Mugabe did to productive land. He grabbed it (land) and
resettled people without the necessary implements to farm. Now we see grass,
the size to my shoulders growing on arable land.
"Don't be fooled by Mugabe that I want to return land to the whites. Do I
look white myself (drawing laughter from the crowd).
"All this is misjudgment of a person getting old. Zimbabwe used to be the
food bread basket of Africa.  Now we import maize even from Malawi. Can you
imagine that?"

The MDC presidential candidate said there was a time when Zimbabwe
"struggled against colonialism." He said that time is "now over" and that
Zimbabweans "now a struggle against black dictatorship."

Tsvangirai said MDC envisages national institutions, particularly armed
forces that have "respect" and respect "for the people."

"If MDC gets into power it will inherit these institutions. But they (army,
police and state security agents) must respect the people. They must not
traumatise and brutalise them."

The MDC leader promised the gathering, resuscitation of the economy which
has been on the down turn, for close to a decade now. He said MDC has "
friends" that are ready to help in the recovery of the economy.

" Our economy is now a national disaster. As MDC we have friends that are
prepared to help. We have investors ready to chip in once the political
situation is stable. This Mugabe business of blaming Bush (George), Blair
(Tony) and Brown (Gordon) does not bring anything. What does he (Mugabe)
offer himself."

Tsvangirai also promised a revamp of the health sector, which has witnessed
health institutions operating without essential drugs, staff and equipment
for a long time now. He promised free education at primary level. On
housing, the MDC leader said there should be "adequate housing for all those
who need it." "Democracy starts with a roof on your head," were the words of

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Mugabe Postpones Rallies After Failing to Mobilise Crowds in Bulawayo

SW Radio Africa (London)

18 March 2008
Posted to the web 18 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Robert Mugabe is reported to have postponed rallies planned for Bulawayo for
a second time, after his structures in Matabeleland failed to get enough
people to attend.

Our Bulawayo correspondent Zenzele said ZANU-PF officials in Matabeleland
are not campaigning much for Mugabe. He has had problems in the province and
lost officials like Dumiso Dabengwa and Cyril Ndebele to the Makoni
campaign. Zenzele added to this the fact that schools are now closed and
there are no school children gathered anywhere that can be forced to attend
the rallies.

According to our correspondent, Mugabe was scheduled to address supporters
at Cowdry Park last Thursday. This is an area of Bulawayo where ZANU-PF gave
houses to their own supporters, houses that were meant to be given to
displaced victims of Operation Murambatsvina. The rally was postponed to
this week Thursday without any reason given.

Zenzele said The Chronicle, a government-run newspaper in Bulawayo, on
Tuesday confirmed that Mugabe would address two rallies this Thursday. One
was to be at a Primary School in Cowdry Park and the other at Stanley Square
in Makokoba district. Zenzele said these are both very small spaces and this
shows the ruling party is having problems mobilising large numbers of
supporters in the province.

But Zenzele spoke to a ZANU-PF Central Committee member who told him that
the Thursday rallies had been postponed again, until Sunday. No announcement
has been made yet.

According to Zenzele there is not much campaigning for Mugabe in
Matabeleland in general. He attended a Mugabe rally at Esigodini last week
which he said was "not well-attended." Rallies addressed by Vice Presidents
Msika and Mujuru have suffered poor attendance as well. Zenzele said in
contrast, rallies for the Tsvangirai MDC have attracted the largest crowds
so far during this campaign.

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Villagers Flee Upsurge in Violence in Makoni District of Manicaland

SW Radio Africa (London)

18 March 2008
Posted to the web 18 March 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Villagers in Makoni district have been fleeing their homes since Saturday
after an increase in night attacks perpetrated by stone throwing and stick
wielding groups, led by a prominent Zanu-PF activist.

Tension has been high in the district after villagers in Nzimbe in Makoni
South boycotted a ruling party star rally on Saturday. Realising that a
Zanu-PF candidate could not attract a huge crowd, word quickly spread that
Robert Mugabe was to address the rally. But this again failed to move the

The rally was eventually cancelled and this angered Zanu-PF activists, who
under district co-coordinator Nathaniel Punish Mhiripiri, allegedly went on
a retribution exercise, targeting villagers perceived to be MDC supporters.
The violent groups systematically beat up men, women and boys they suspected
of backing the MDC.

Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC parliamentary candidate for Makoni south, has
condemned the violence and called for the arrest of the perpetrators. He
said frightened villagers are spending nights in the cold despite their
appeals for them to return to their homes.

'They claim to us their homes were no longer safe despite the visible
presence of more police officers on the ground. Fear has also spread in
other areas as Mhiripiri has been to 15 villages so far where people are
spending nights in the cold for fear of attacks,' Muchauraya said.

The MDC has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to investigate the
attacks and bring the culprits to book. The MDC said the attacks were
political and if left unchecked, would leave the villagers too scared to go
and vote on the 29th.

The MDC said five of its activists are locked up at Chisumbanje police
station because they campaigned door-to-door in Chipinge. The group was
picked up from Checheche's ward 24. The police in Makoni west picked up
another eight for campaigning as well.

'The province is currently under siege. Eight other activists were
threatened with arrest today (Tuesday) in Makoni south. The strange thing is
that the police are complicit in what ever Zanu-PF is doing to our
supporters. Police have done more harm to our campaigns that Zanu-PF
itself,' claimed Muchauraya.

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Soccer match to buy votes, ends in red card for Minister

By Lance Guma
18 March 2008

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu had a tough time over the weekend
after pouring Z$4 billion into a 'social' football match that ended in the
participants telling him to his face they hated both Zanu PF and the
Minister himself. Ndlovu is contesting in Bulawayo's Mpopoma constituency on
a Zanu PF ticket and is desperate to stem the tide of two election defeats
to the late MDC MP Milton Gwetu in the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary
elections. Ndlovu is a wealthy businessman who owns a string of private
colleges and he sponsored a match between Eastern Rovers and local 'boozers'
team Umthala United.

Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports that there were two VIP
guests at the match - former Dynamos and national team coach Sunday
Chidzambwa, plus the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Defence Industries,
Colonel Tshinga Dube. The stage seemed set for Ndlovu to win a few votes
from the goodwill generated, until a man wearing a Tsvangirai T-shirt walked
past the VIP area, which generated thunderous applause from the spectators.
The man proceeded to sit near the Information Minister who, not to be
outdone, bought huge quantities of beer for all those present.

The end of the match however served to wipe away any doubts that Ndlovu was
not going to have his way. After giving out the Z$4 billion prize money to
the winning team he tried to distribute 30 Zanu PF t-shirts to each of the
participating teams and supporters. This triggered a barrage of cat whistles
and boos with the crowd telling him in Ndebele; 'Kudhala sasizonda i Zanu PF
kuphela, kathesi sizonda iZanu PF lawe wena Sikhanyiso wangikhona' (In the
past we used to hate Zanu PF only, but now we hate Zanu PF and even you

Meanwhile Zanu PF candidate Colonel Tshinga Dube who is contesting in the
Makokoba constituency is reported to have bought up all the mealie meal
delivered to the suburb and was allegedly distributing this for free, to buy
votes. Dube is competing for votes against MDC candidates from the two
different factions, Thokozani Khupe and Welshman Ncube. He has also
undertaken to pay the medical bills of all the elderly people in the
constituency at a local Makokoba clinic. Michelle Hakata, a UK based
journalist who spent the last 3 weeks in Zimbabwe, told Newsreel that Zanu
PF candidates have a lot of resources and money to splash around, compared
to the opposition candidates.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Hot Seat interview with presidential candidate with Dr Simba Makoni

You can also download transcript via this link:

SW Radio Africa Transcript

HOT SEAT INTERVIEW: Journalist Violet Gonda interviews Presidential candidate Dr Simba Makoni.

Broadcast 14 March 2008

Violet: Former Cabinet Minister Dr Simba Makoni announced recently his intentions to contest in the forthcoming Presidential election as an independent candidate. Today we are joined by the Presidential candidate himself on the program Hot Seat. Welcome Dr Makoni?

Makoni: Thank you very much.

Violet: I would like to start by talking about policy issues. There is 80% unemployment, a considerable amount of the population requires food aid, and we have now 100 000% inflation and the erosion of the democratic principles in Zimbabwe . Now what policies would you put in place to reverse this, especially to resuscitate the economy?

Makoni: Firstly, we will remove all the barriers and impediments to normal economic function, to normal business function. A country basically is a mixed economy with a strong private sector and originally a similarly strong public sector with public enterprises that were operating in key areas and our policy thrust will be to remove the impediments that currently bar the normal conduct of business across all sectors. So as investors, business operators, managers can go about with their business with minimum impediments.

Violet: How instrumental will the international community be in resuscitating the economy in your government?

Makoni: Quite clearly there will be need for international support especially in dealing with the immediate crisis. The food crisis, the energy crisis, transport crisis, the health and medication crisis, but for the long term development of this economy - other than normal development assistance - this economy has the capacity to generate its own resources to induce a momentum for growth and development.

Violet: You mentioned that you would remove some impediments that are hampering the development of our economy; can you mention a few, what are some of these impediments?

Makoni: Well government hostility to business is the single most important impediment to our business at the moment, the government is hostile to business, the government mistrusts business, the government imposes rules and regulations and sometimes just structures that impede the conduct - that normal conduct of business. We will have a business friendly environment.

Violet: What about on the issue of privatization of basic services such as education and health, what is your position on that?

Makoni: Well, like I said, already we have a mixed economy. There are public health institutions and private health institutions. There are public education institutions and private education institutions - they are all suffering the same impediment overall - un-informed and hostile interference. We will support, we will facilitate. As I said in my launch statement we will see the national authority enabling and facilitating rather than directing and controlling.

Violet: What will be the changes made to Zimbabwe tax structures?

Makoni: I think it would be premature and ill-advised to give any specifics. But what we will aim to do is make the tax regime supportive of individual and corporate entrepreneurship; tax structures that can encourage the generation of growth and the generation of investment and increased income, whilst at the same time providing for stable and predictable public resource flows. We will not be punitive, we will not be aggressive and quite clearly we will not be oppressive in our tax regime.

Violet: Robert Mugabe has been dealing with some of these issues by printing more money, where will you get the revenue to do all these things?

Makoni: Well I think first of all if you restore productive capacity across the economy particularly in agriculture (and) manufacturing...we nurse the very vibrant tourism industry and the mining industry where there is scope for major investments that can generate substantial resources , It is feasible to generate public resource flows without penalizing business to such an extent that you don't need to print to the extent that you cripple the economy.

Violet: What about your position on subsidies do they help or don't they help, what is your position on it?

Makoni: Focused and targeted subsidies do help in a defined time frame. They cannot be a permanent feature of economic performance and conduct. And so there will be justification for what in other countries call "means testing support" particularly for the most vulnerable of our citizens - that there would be justification for that, but it has to be specifically targeted, it has to be structured to reach the most needy and to address the areas of desperate need like education support, like health support, food assistance. But untargeted and general freebies to ingratiate people do not have a place in a pragmatic and progressive economy.

Violet: Now there has been contention regarding International Monetary Fund economic plans. What is your position on this, are the IMF plans out of contest with Africa or do you agree with it?

Makoni: I don't believe there is one IMF plan. I think the IMF lends advice to different countries in response to their peculiar circumstances and we will engage in the discussions with multilateral and bilateral partners in response to our specific circumstances. But as I said the IMF is not in the kind of crisis support that I talked about which is the area I believe we need the most immediate international assistance.

Violet: What about IMF packages that offer to reduce things like the sizes of government, reduce inflation and also putting a mark on government wages? Now I am asking this because critics have said that if such conditions are undertaken they lead to greater poverty, so what are your thoughts on that?

Makoni: I believe that Zimbabwe has sufficient capacity to formulate and implement its own policies. We need some infusion of friendly support. I can tell you that a study done about two years ago ranked Zimbabwe 95% in policy formulation but 4% in policy implementation. So our problem is not that we can't formulate policy, that we formulate inappropriate policies. Our biggest problem is we don't implement the correct policies that we formulate and we are going to be putting a lot of emphasis in getting timely and effective policy implementations.

Violet: Let's move on to the issue of the land. During the last land reform exercise only less than 15% of women benefited. Now given that the fact that women are 52% of the population and that the land has already been distributed, will your government relook at the pattern of distribution?

Makoni: We must understand that women and men constitute families. This paddocking of citizens does not help. I am quite sure that if we followed the policy that said - land shall be distributed in an acquired and distributed in an orderly, equitable, fair and transparent manner - we would not find any sector or section of our community discriminated against. And we intend to proceed in an orderly, equitable, fair and transparent manner in reviewing; you must understand we are not starting acquisition and redistribution. That's already been done to quite a large extent. It's reviewing what's been done to ensure that it accords with the orderly, equitable, fair and transparent criteria that already constitutes to national policy.

Violet: On that issue of the fairness of the whole reform process, many officials in Zanu PF are beneficiaries of patronage around the land reform. Do you think this was done in a non partisan fair manner of land to the people?

Makoni: Well am not about to classify people. What I am saying is that we will review the conduct of acquisition in redistribution to ensure that it conforms with already agreed national policy of orderly, equitable, fair and transparent. Mind you we already have a number of important reviews on the table. The Rukuni Commission gave out invaluable assessment of the state of acquisition and re-distribution. The Utete Commission added on to the Rukuni Commission and the government itself has commissioned two land audits in the last three years which have also generated a lot of valuable information about the state of acquisition and re-distribution; and also more importantly the state of productive utilization of and non utilization of the acquired land. All those tools will be available to us to review and expedite an orderly equitable, fair, and transparent re-distribution so that we can move on to stimulating production because production and increased productivity are the main objectives of acquisition and re-distribution of land.

Violet: So under this return to the original policy can you explain to our listeners and readers if it will be one person per farm and also what will happen to those who have multiple farms?

Makoni: Obviously if its one person one farm there is no room for multiple ownership. It would be clear.

Violet: What happens to those people with multiple farms, are you going to take those farms away from them?

Makoni : I don't think it's taking away from them. One citizen one farm, or one family one farm. It's a very explicit policy. How can there be room for anything other than one person one farm.

Violet: Will you remove the people who have invaded farms illegally?

Makoni: We will review to conform to orderly equitable, fair and transparent. If they were allocated in an orderly, in an equitable and fair manner according to the guidelines and the regulations stipulated by government, nobody has any worry about their tenure. But you must also understand that at this stage we have not implemented any security of tenure measures on all those people. The government has promulgated a 99 year lease policy which is quite feasible but it hasn't been implemented. So we have to move not only to regularise and rationalise acquisition and re-distribution but speedily to move to establish secure tenure arrangement so that people can proceed to invest in higher production on the land.

Violet: Tell us more about what your policy is on land titles - freehold titles, because in other countries great wealth has been built on freehold titles because it creates value. Some say these 99 year leases are valueless because for example banks wouldn't be prepared to actually lend money under the current land reforms. What do you say about that?

Makoni: Well I can't offer you an individual's policy. We will institute or set up a national authority which will engage in appropriate policy formulation. But let me tell you that when the present government determined that they were going to issue 99 year leases, there wasn't sufficient study and examinations of the pros and cons of the one tenure form against the other. That will be one of the issues that we will wish to engage pretty early on so that we can establish the most appropriate tenure system, and also bear in mind it's not one or the other. You can have a combination of tenure systems and I do know of countries which have combination of tenure systems to suit different conditions and we are going to be engaging those issues rationally and in a very deliberate systematic and well informed way. And some of the work that I referred to - the Rukuni Commission, the Utete Commission, exposed these issues in a manner which had government wanted to be effective in this direction they would have found a basis for proper policy formulation.

Violet: How are you going to also re-introduce this viable commercial farming if we were to ask about the issue of the commercial farmers who were removed from their land, will it also include inviting back some of those commercial farmers who were displaced?

Makoni: Remember existing policy says one Zimbabwean one farm within maximum farm size. We will review who was allocated what, under what terms and conditions on what criteria. But reviving commercial farming is not synonymous with a particular race or colour of skin. This is a national program been undertaken in the context of a non racial national policy.

Violet: Let's move on to the issue of the mining sector. Now some senior politicians are associated in the elicit trade of gold and diamonds and some have taken mining concessions illegally. It is obvious that the only way the country can recover is if it gets its wealth back. What is your specific program to deal with the rampant corruption in the mining sector?

Makoni: There is rampant corruption across all activities of life in Zimbabwe including mining. We are not going to have one policy for corruption in mining; we are going to have a policy to eradicate or at least reduce drastically corruption in every walk of life. But our commitment is to eradicate. We must eradicate corruption in all walks of life.

Violet: But what will you do with people especially those Zanu PF cronies who have profiteered and stripped national assets?

Makoni: We are not going to be targeting anyone specific. Every citizen who has done something that is illegal will be subject to the due process of law.

Violet: Yes, but people will want to hear because there has been rampant corruption in Zanu PF and people like Robert Mugabe have been top of the list. Some say your backers have not been revealed and that there is likelihood that some of your backers might be implicated. If so what will you do as President to ensure that your party will not shelter these criminals?

Makoni: Every citizen will be subject to the due process of the national law without fear or favour or discrimination. We are not going to promulgate laws that are targeted at individuals. We are going to promulgate - but more importantly even at this stage, we have sufficient laws that can cater for all criminal activities. It's just the enforcement and implementation that needs to be beefed up and there will be no targeting of individuals. Every citizen will be subject to the law in the same way.

Violet: Is there any programs in your government plan to address the grievances around the Gukurahundi genocide?

Makoni: We don't have a government yet; we are campaigning to be elected. We are seeking support from the citizens of Zimbabwe on the platform of national re-engagement, national reconciliation and national healing. And that's in that framework, on that platform how we will deal with pain inflicted on any citizen from any action.

Violet: But Dr Makoni people would want to know what sort of program you would have on this particular issue because the issue of Matabeleland has been a soar issue. (Interrupted).

Makoni: I don't have a program Violet because I am not yet in government! And I am not going to formulate an individual program. When I get elected I will constitute a national authority which will lead our country out of pain, out of fear and out of stress and it would be the program of the nation not the program of the individual Simba Makoni.

Violet: But what if members of your present group were implicated in the Gukurahundi massacres?

Makoni: Members of my present what?

Violet: Members of your present group were implicated?

Makoni: I have already said that the laws of Zimbabwe will apply to all citizens without discrimination.

Violet: But Dr Makoni don't you think these are the sort of things that you should also consider right now, because for example it is alleged that Major Kudzai Mbudzi is a ex-Gukurahundi soldier as he was part of the 5th Brigade and he is one of your officials. What's your response to this, don't you think people would want to know?

Makoni: Is that fact?

Violet: So I am asking you. Is it not? Was he not part of the 5th Brigade?

Makoni: No, you have told me it is alleged and I am asking you is it a fact?

Violet: It is said that this is what he did.

Makoni: I believe one of the ground rules of the 5th estate is to deal with facts so I hope you can confirm your facts.

Violet: What if it's found out that he was, what would you do with that. Are you going to find out if he was part of the 5th Brigade?

Makoni: I have already said to you, we are moving on a platform of national healing. We are not going to start introducing discrimination, disparities and particularly separation of our people. We want to heal the wounds of the past. We don't want to exacerbate pain. We don't want to bring people apart again and all issues that have brought pain and separation upon our people will be dealt with in the context of the national healing and national re-engagement program that our national authority will offer to our people.

Violet: But this has never happened before so will your program involve an apology to the people of Matabeleland and reparations for the victims?

Makoni: Well if it has never happened before, does it mean it shall never happen ever?

Violet: So why can't you answer the question, will you do that?

Makoni: Which question Violet?

Violet : Will your program involve an apology to the people of Matabeleland and also reparations to the victims?

Makoni: How the country will heal itself will be the product of the national healing process. Don't compel Simba Makoni to pre-determine how the Zimbabweans are going to re-engage, reconcile and re-unite because that will be contrary to the democratic principles that constitutes our platform. We are moving away from a dictatorship. We are moving away from a few people dictating to the majority. We want an inclusive process that responds to the wishes of the nation of Zimbabwe for re-engagement and healing.

Violet: But if you claim to be national President, you cannot ignore the cries of this significant group of the population, so that is why I am asking that question - specifically about the people of Matabeleland . (Interrupted).

Makoni: But I don't know what suggests to you that I am going to ignore it, all I am saying is don't compel me to pre-determine what must be a national process. Merely because you are the national President doesn't give you the right to decide for people. They give you the opportunity to serve your people in response to their needs. That's very different. If I take your route I'll be a dictator and we don't want dictatorship in Zimbabwe .

Violet: Now let's talk about the media situation in Zimbabwe . Much of the legislation that destroyed the independent media in the country is still in place. There is a suffocated media environment right now which keeps people ignorant and also incapable of making informed decisions. Do you now believe that this was wrong and that your new government will reverse this stance on the media?

Makoni: When you ask, do you now believe, did I not believe before?

Violet: You were part of the government that didn't believe that.

Makoni : The government wasn't made up of clones Violet. The government was made up of individuals of free thoughts. I certainly am one of those.

Violet: So how dedicated are you in creating an environment for the establishment for free independent media

Makoni: I am dedicated to the creation of an environment that offers Zimbabweans in all walks of life freedom under the law of Zimbabwe .

Violet: And what about radio stations such as SW Radio Africa & Studio 7, will they be allowed to broadcast from Zimbabwe under your administration?

Makoni: We will propagate policy that supports constitutional provision for freedom of expression and for freedom of association and freedom of information. We will not take action in respect to a specific enterprise. But we will provide an environment for the provisions of our constitution to be realised.

Violet: Now, what about on the issue of your relationship with Zanu PF. Why did you break up form Zanu PF?

Makoni: Because I wasn't able to achieve what I believed our country needed under those circumstances.

Violet: What did you need to achieve?

Makoni: To renew the leadership of our country.

Violet: In your personal opinion, what were your chances in succeeding Mugabe while you were in Zanu PF?

Makoni: Had the process been opened for that - very good, just as good as to succeed him as President of Zimbabwe.

Violet: So at what point did you realise that you could no longer continue to support Robert Mugabe?

Makoni: When we went off rail in our leadership mission. It wasn't an instant, it's a continuum and this situation didn't just happen overnight, this situation has been evolving and entrenching over a period of years. Some would take it back to 1997 others would take it back to 2000. But this is a continuum and as the situation entrenched and got worse one became more and more convinced that the nature and quality of leadership being given our country was short-changing our people.

Violet: And it's reported that you had a meeting with Mugabe a couple of weeks before you made your announcement to stand against him. What did you talk about?

Makoni: About the crisis facing the nation and the need for new leadership.

Violet: Did you tell him you were standing against him?

Makoni: No I didn't.

Violet: Why not?

Makoni: It wasn't politic and appropriate at that time.

Violet: Is Mugabe under siege in his own party right now?

Makoni: I don't know. I think you should ask him that. I don't know what's happening to him in his party.

Violet: But you've decided to stand against him and several other Zanu PF officials have decided to leave his party. So can you not even give your thoughts on that?

Makoni: I am not standing against anyone. I am just standing for the people of Zimbabwe and I have made this point repeatedly; I am not standing against Mugabe, I am not standing against Tsvangirai or Toungana. I am standing for the people of Zimbabwe .

Violet: But Dr Makoni, do you realise that the people of .

Makoni: It is not my brief to know what's happening to Mugabe and his party. You can talk to President Mugabe and those in his party. They can give you the answers to your questions. I am not in that in that party.

Violet: When you say you are not standing against Robert Mugabe and you are standing for the people, are you aware that people in Zimbabwe are against Robert Mugabe. So if you are not standing against Robert Mugabe who are you representing because the people you are saying you are representing are against Robert Mugabe?

Makoni: Well Violet, I am trying to promote a positive disposition to our lives. A disposition that is stimulated by what is necessary to do that is right, that's why I am saying I am standing for the people and I know the people will want us to move forward positively.

Violet: It appears that your candidature is part of a sophisticated boardroom succession plan; and if we were to consider assessments in the media that say you would be in the run off against Robert Mugabe; and also if we were to consider your confidence in winning given the fact that you have not been a public figure with a constituency and you are appealing to a sub-section of the Zimbabwean voter base - namely the business community, disgruntled Zanu PF power brokers and disenfranchised MDC elements - Would it be safe to say that if a run off did happen, given this kind of support you will be able to force Mugabe to step down?

Makoni: Well first I want to tell you that there will be no run off. We will win a required majority in the first round. Secondly, people have active minds; they do analyses that paddock people in different corners. I am not moved by all those analyses. I am simply standing for the people of Zimbabwe offering myself to serve all the people of Zimbabwe in all their walks of life and stations in life, including the people of Zimbabwe who happen to be members of Zanu PF at the moment and those who are members of the MDC.

But bear in mind particularly that the majority of Zimbabweans had lost interest in politics because it was a futile exercise and they are now mobilised to come back into politics because they have an alternative candidate who stands for the nation. So the analyses of the media and political scientists and others who try to keep our people in different paddocks doesn't accord with the new spirit and the vision that the Mavambo/Kusile movement is about.

Violet: Dr Makoni what would you say to perceptions that say you are good at economic recovery but not on social justice?

Makoni: Whose perception is that and what is it based on.

Violet: Did you ever speak out against oppressive laws and rights abuses - publicly speaking out?

Makoni: But I don't know why one has to be measured by public statements but if they are needed you can follow the public statement I made on the occasions I had the opportunity to do so and I don't believe you would find justification for that statement you have just made.

Violet: Were you in the Politburo at the time when the Gukurahundi was unleashed and the purges after that?

Makoni: When was that?

Violet: In the 80's, in the mid 80's?

Makoni: If you remember in the mid 80's I was Executive Secretary of SADC.

Violet: So did you do anything about the Gukurahundi massacres when you were in SADC to expose what was happening in Matabeleland ?

Makoni: What could I expose that wasn't already exposed?

Violet: Dr Makoni, how many people knew what was happening, outside Zimbabwe , and you had that opportunity to expose what was happening. Don't you think it was important?

Makoni: What I am suggesting to you is that what was happening was in the public glare. There wasn't anything more I could expose that wasn't already exposed.

Violet: Okay. Let's bring it to events that are more recent. Did you condone Operation Murambatsvina that saw the displacement of more than 700,000 people?

Makoni: I did not.

Violet: What about the issue of the housing problems that have been demonstrated after Operation Murambatsvina. What are your specific proposals of addressing these issues?

Makoni: We will launch a national program of renewal and re-engagement
economic, productive, enhancement, special services development that will include provision of housing and bear in mind our platform is not that the government shall do everything for the people. The government shall facilitate that the people will do things for themselves including providing housing and other amenities under a supportive and conducive environment with appropriate support mechanisms.

Violet: What about the issue of the green bombers, the youth militia. What are you going to do about this very serious issue where people say that this group of youngsters have been terrorising communities? What will your government do, do you have a policy on the youth militias?

Makoni: I think you need to understand our broad platform. We are talking about national healing and national reconciliation. Any conduct any activity that rips pain on the people will be addressed in the context of our national healing. When we get Zimbabwe working again across all sectors it will be the youth of Zimbabwe that will have gainful engagement that then doesn't leave them idle to be used or misdirected in manners that inflict pain on others in society.

Violet: What about on the issue of elections right now, what is your perception of the electoral system in Zimbabwe and do you think it needs reform?

Makoni: There have been concerns about the integrity of previous elections. We will see how these elections are conducted. If there are still concerns about its integrity then we will certainly need to address those concerns.

Violet: And do you have a final word for our listeners and readers in Zimbabwe . You had said you wanted to speak in Shona - perhaps this is the chance that you have, the time that you have to speak to the listeners and readers in Zimbabwe .

Makoni: Well yes. Quite clearly I would like the people of Zimbabwe to extend their support to me and Mavambo candidates on March 29. I want to assure them that I am nobody's tool, and I am nobody's agent. I wasn't planted by anybody I was moved by the suffering that we are all facing in this country and to offer myself to serve our people genuinely, honestly, not to inflict more pain but to remove the fear that percolates throughout all Zimbabwean life and I say this - I am offering fervent leadership to our people. Not oppression and subjugation.

Ndirikuda kudzokorora kune zvizvarwa zveZimbabwe kuti ndiri kuzvipira kuvashandira kuti tibvise navo, kwete kuvabvisira ivo asi kuti tibvise navo matambudziko ese akanangana nevanhu vedu. Kubvira kushaya chikafu, nzara, kushaya zvekurapiswa nazvo muzvihosipitara. Muzvikoro vana vavane dzidzo yakanaka. Hupfumi venyika yedu usumikire zvakare. Tibvise humbavha nehuroyi urimunyika kuitira utumgamiri uve utungamiri vekushandira vanhu kwete utungamiri vekushandisa vanhu. Ndozvinangwa zvedu tiri Mavambo/Kusile - zuva rabuda. Tinokumbira rutsigiro rwavo pamusi vaMarch 29.

Violet: Thank you very much Dr Simba Makoni.

Makoni: It's my pleasure. You have a good afternoon.

Comments and feedback can be emailed to 


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Limited Number of Media to Observe Poll

BuaNews (Tshwane)

17 March 2008
Posted to the web 18 March 2008

Shaun Benton
Cape Town

It is unlikely that more than a handful of media outlets will be granted
accreditation to cover the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe, the country's
Ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, said on Monday.

Mr Moyo was briefing members of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Foreign
Affairs on the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe.

He indicated that the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria has been inundated with
requests for accreditation to cover the elections on 29 March, and that
embassy staff were working through these.

However, he said many are called, but few are chosen, suggesting that there
will be a limited number of media outlets granted permission to cover the
country's election.

According to one Member of Parliament (MP) at the briefing, Zimbabwe has
previously accused the South African public broadcaster of bias towards the
country, raising the question as to whether the South African Broadcasting
Corporation itself will be granted access to cover the election there.

Zimbabwe's ambassador also attacked western powers for the sanctions against
Zimbabwe, sanctions which have apparently been caused by the country's
recent human rights record.

These sanctions were not "targeted" sanctions, as stated by many in the
West, he said, but were rather "comprehensive" sanctions that were felt
widely in Zimbabwe.

The ambassador told the South African MPs: "Let those please who are in
charge of these illegal sanctions, think twice, and remove them, otherwise
they won't enter the Kingdom [of God]."

On the question of possible post-election violence - as has been witnessed
in Zimbabwe's northern neighbour, Kenya - should the result of the election
not be accepted by the overall population, Mr Moyo said: "We are all
determined not to see the Kenyan situation repeated in Zimbabwe."

He pointed out that Zimbabweans are widely obeying a recent ban on the
carrying of weapons.

He denied that voter intimidation has been taking place, and said that it
was the job of the police to put a stop to intimidation where it may be

There is currently "so much peace, but peace is annoying some people", he

As for the large number of Zimbabweans outside the country being allowed to
vote, Mr Moyo said this had not been allowed, for logistical reasons,
indicating that the Zimbabwean government did not have the capacity to
identify each voter living outside the country.

Mr Moyo thanked President Mbeki and the people of South Africa for
facilitating the peace process that has resulted in the country holding of

He said Zimbabweans were very grateful for the role he had played, adding
that there were over five million registered voters.

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In Zimbabwe, hungry voters ask who will feed us?


Tue 18 Mar 2008, 0:04 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

SHANGANI, Zimbabwe, March 18 (Reuters) - With her hand on her cheek, the
68-year-old woman gazes patiently at the cars racing past her, hoping
someone will stop and buy the firewood at her feet so that she can feed her
three grandchildren.

MaNcube, as she is called in her village here in Shangani, a dry arid land
360 km (228 miles) west of Zimbabwe's capital Harare, has one plea.

"If only the government could bring us food. The maize crop is a total
failure and I am worried about those grandchildren of mine," she says,
turning her creased face away from the sun.

MaNcube's story is all too common across Zimbabwe's once-rich countryside,
and it offers an insight into why President Robert Mugabe is facing his
biggest electoral challenge since coming to power 28 years ago.

Ahead of March 29 presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, many
voters say all they want is an end to the economic crisis that has left them
hungry and their country in ruins.

The question is will rural voters like MaNcube, who have carried Mugabe in
the past, trust him to bring this about, or will they turn away from the
84-year-old, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980,
and from his ZANU-PF party.

"There is now a convergence of grievances between rural and urban voters to
the extent that you can no longer isolate the rural voter as a ZANU-PF
supporter," Eldred Masunungure, a political commentator told Reuters.

"The rural areas are now a rich ground for the opposition and their vote can
no longer be taken for granted. We could actually see an upset in the rural
areas," he said.

Mugabe, widely blamed for a crisis marked by the world's highest inflation
rate -- above 100,000 percent a year -- faces a tough challenge from former
finance minister Simba Makoni and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai in the
main presidential race.

And MaNcube for one is running out of patience.

"If I am to vote, it will certainly not be for President Mugabe this time
round. We are hungry, my son," she says, declining to name her preferred


Analysts say Mugabe's failure to reverse the economic decline poses a
serious threat to his bid to retain power.

He has been battling to secure support.

Earlier this month, he gave out tractors, combine harvesters, ploughs and
several thousand other farming implements to beneficiaries of his land
reforms, which included confiscating farms from white farmers.

He has also promised to give blacks majority shares in foreign-owned
companies, such as mines and banks. And he has promised big salary increases
to government workers, like teachers, some of whom are on strike.

But people like MaNcube are still going hungry. Adding to their woes, the
state food aid that usually accompanies an election is not being given out
this time.

Because of the failure of the maize crop in what was once southern Africa's
breadbasket, Zimbabwe is having to rush in staple maize from Malawi, Zambia
and South Africa.

Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy and says it has been sabotaged by
Western states as punishment for his land reforms.

And despite the hardships, he still has loyal followers like 55-year-old
Maphio Kabwe who lives in Mahusekwa, a rural community 70 km (43 miles)
south of Harare.

Half of Kabwe's maize crop was destroyed this season, first flooded by heavy
rains and then hit by dry weather.

"That is not caused by Comrade Mugabe, he is a man of his word and that is
why we vote for him. He said maize is being imported and I believe him,"
Kabwe told Reuters as he rushed to get free food at a Mugabe campaign rally.

At a shopping centre near the rally, the stores were decorated with large
posters of Mugabe but inside the shelves were almost empty. An official
price freeze last June has left the country short of basic goods.


Despite these privations, the opposition has largely failed to penetrate
rural areas, which still bear the scars of the independence war which made
Mugabe a national hero.

Makoni and Tsvangirai are confident they can yet lure rural voters with
promises of an ambitious economic recovery, quicker food imports and an end
to corruption.

But Mugabe's challengers have made more inroads in cities where urban
workers grapple with galloping inflation and shortages of food, fuel,
foreign currency and electricity.

Some food is available on the black market but prices can fluctuate wildly.
Bus and train fares rise each week and around them, urban Zimbabweans see
their cities collapsing as roads crumble, sewers burst and civil servants go
on strike.

Although officially pegged at 30,000 Zimbabwe dollars to the U.S. dollar,
the local currency is trading at about 40 million Zimbabwe dollars to the
U.S dollar on a thriving black market.

Israel Chitiga, a barber living in Glen View township in Harare, hopes a
change at the top could end the hardships.

"I am afraid if Mugabe wins again we might as well all die from stress,"
says Chitiga, while going through his salary slip at a hair salon in central
Harare. "I will vote for Tsvangirai. I have known him over the years as a
fearless leader."

Chitiga is acutely aware of the shortages. The previous night he had to rush
his feverish seven-month-old to a state hospital. He was lucky. He saw a
doctor after just three hours.

Doctors working at government hospitals have gone on strike at least three
times over the past year, putting more strain on a health system already
overwhelmed by shortages of drugs and the HIV scourge.

"Mugabe should make way for a younger leader like Simba Makoni, there is
hope there," a junior doctor at Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital said.
(Editing by Clar Ni Chonghaile)

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Residents go for days without water

Zimbabwe Gazette

By Tawanda Kadungure, on March 18 2008 02:02

In another rude awakening to the problems that Zimbabweans are
faced with on a daily basis, most residents in high density areas have been
without tap water for nearly a week now.

Residents in Harare's high density areas as well as the
dormitory town of Chitungwiza have been without water for near a week now
with some having been in such conditions for almost a month.

"We have no water since last week and we are fetching it from
ditches and free flowing wells though it is not health at all," said a
Chitungwiza woman we talked to.

The residents are saying they are amazed at the quietness of
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) with the current water shortages
that everyone is facing.

I paid a visit to Chitungwiza during this past week (by the way
I regularly visit the town) to see for myself what was going on and was
touched by what I saw. In Unit C a group of young children and women could
be seen with 5, 10 and 20ltr containers fetching water from a ditch that had

"We are using it mostly for bathing and washing and in some
instances we are boiling it so that we can drink. There is nothing we can
do," said Mbuya Banda whom we talked to.

A visit in Zengeza also showed that people are either going to
fetch water in Mayambara which is on the back of Chikwanha shops or in
several houses that have wells dug within. Whether these are registered with
ZINWA as should be the case nobody knows but they have gone a mile in
alleviating the water shortages. At a certain house where this well is dug,
they are selling the water for $1.5m Zimbabwe dollars per 20litres.

In areas like Mabvuku it has always been the case that water is
rarely available and for long they have been fetching it from these
unprotected wells exposing residents to water borne diseases and cholera.

  "Water is something that we can not do without in our urban
settings and we wonder what the guys at ZINWA are thinking of us. Apa unenge
uine vana vadiki pamba. It is just saddening to think that our country has
gone down to such levels," said another lady we talked to in Chitungwiza.

Others said that the water used to come back late in the night
but now it is dry tapes throughout that they have in their houses.

"I used to wake up late in the night around 12 midnight and
water would be there but now it is not there at all. I have been trying to
wake up around 4 in the morning but still these days there is no water at
all," said Judith a young women we talked to in the same town.

ZINWA has not come forth to tell what the situation is on the
ground other than that they are carrying out repair work at the Morton
Jeffrey water works. Minister of State Water Resources and Infrastructural
Development Engineer Munacho Mutezo has been in the news saying much on the
repair works they are doing with ZINWA but it seems the condition is getting
worse by the day.

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MISA-Zimbabwe Alert: Mutare Journalists Face Trial

Media Alert
18 March 2008

Mutare journalists face trial

Two Mutare journalists will soon face separate trials on allegations of
contravening the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA).

Former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's (ZBC) Manicaland bureau chief
Andrew Neshamba, has been summoned to appear at the Mutare Magistrates Court
on 20 March 2008. Neshamba was arrested in February 2007 together with South
African-based E-TV reporter Peter Moyo, who was convicted on his own plea
for contravening Section 83 (1) of AIPPA which deals with practicing
journalism without accreditation.

Moyo was arrested together with ZBC cameraperson William Gumbo in the
eastern border town of Mutare after they were found in possession of filming
equipment which they were accused of using to cover illegal diamond mining
activities in Marange Village in Manicaland Province.

In a separate matter, Sidney Saize a reporter with the banned Daily News has
been summoned to appear before a Mutare Court on 22 April 2008 on charges of
contravening the same section of AIPPA. Saize is accused of having filed a
report with the Voice of America's Studio 7 in Washington DC on 18 january
2006 alleging that two teachers had been assaulted in Marange by Zanu PF
youths and independence liberation war veterans.

MISA-Zimbabwe condemns these actions as designed to instill fear and deter
the accused journalists from freely conducting their lawful professional
duties ahead of the 29 March 2008 elections. MISA-Zimbabwe's Legal Officer,
Wilbert Mandinde, will work with members of the Media Lawyers Network
members in Mutare to defend the two journalists against the charges they are


For any questions, queries or comments please contact:

Nyasha Nyakunu
Research and Information Officer

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Towungana Says God Told Him to Run for President

SW Radio Africa (London)

18 March 2008
Posted to the web 18 March 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

"To be President doesn't require a very big man. What is needed is a person
who has got the people at heart. A person who has compassion."

These are the words of Langton Towungana, the presidential candidate running
against Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. Speaking to SW
Radio Africa for the first time, the relatively unknown resident of the town
of Victoria Falls said it was his spirits that told him to run. He described
these spirits as the feeling inside him that said God wanted him to help end
the suffering of the people.

The last man to join the race, Towungana admitted that there was not enough
time for him to campaign and get his message out to people around the
country. His explanation was that radio interviews would make up for that
and God was on his side. "It's the only thing that can give us salvation.
God, not man can give us direction." he added.

The hardships that Zimbabweans are facing added to this feeling that he must
act. He said; "Everyone is on their knees. There is no food in the shops.
Everybody is crying. In the rural areas there is no sugar. There is no bread
and there is no mealie-meal." Using his own brand of English, he said
politics had failed to solve these problems and it was now time to try God.
"As a man of God I thought I must run in this race for President."

Surprisingly for a presidential candidate, Towungana said he had no
political experience at all. He explained that he was a teacher in the rural
areas and was running several businesses in Victoria Falls. These included a
milling company and one focused on tourism. But the tourism business has
died, he said, because the government is isolating Zimbabwe through its

Towungana said he would try to form a government of national unity that
would bring together officials from different parties who care about the
people. He believes that in Zimbabwe the President has too much power and it
should be shared equally with a Vice president.

Regarding the suggestion that he was a ZANU-PF creation brought about to
split the opposition vote, Towungana said: "Mugabe is surprised with me. He
does not know who I am. I am not a stooge. I am not ZANU-PF and I am not
associated with any party."

Towungana said the country is no longer enjoying its glory and it lost its
identity some time ago. Again he returned to religious references, urging
voters to look for a sign of the cross on the ballot box. He said: "When
voting look for the sign written Jesus, pane muchinjiko, that is the person
you vote for."

Observers have dismissed Towungana's candindacy saying he stands no chance
whatsoever of defeating Mugabe, Tsvangirai or Makoni. But the man talked
quite confidently of his own chances, repeating time and again that he was a
man of God, and that alone will take him far. He said: "Although it is late

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More cash makes food expensive

HARARE, 18 March 2008 (IRIN) - Extra cash in the pockets of civil servants
ahead of the elections and a spiralling foreign exchange rate has pushed up
the prices of basic foodstuffs and essential items by 300 percent in the
last few days, said economists.

"There has been quite a spike [in prices] in the past week," said John
Robertson, an independent economist based in the capital, Harare. Retailers
had hiked up prices because people's spending power had increased ahead of
the elections, he added.

The average salary of a civil servant went up from Z$100 million in December
2007 to Z$500 million in February 2008. Salaries were revised again last
week: a government employee can now take home more than Z$4billion a month.

The spending power of farmers and transport operators, who have access to
subsidised fuel has also increased: they pay Z$70,000 per litre, while
ordinary Zimbabweans have to fork out Z$70 million per litre for fuel, when

The salary increase and subsidies have caused a chain reaction, explained
Robertson. With more money to spend, consumers have prompted an increased
demand for imported consumer goods in the market, he said. "This in turn
created an extra demand for foreign currency as importers tried to keep up
with the surge in demand." The value of one US dollar shot up from Z$40
million to Z$70 million within a day in the parallel market.

The price of a two litre bottle of cooking oil has risen from Z$45 million
to Z$180 million within a week, said Dennis Nikisi, an economist, who
teaches at the University of Zimbabwe.

The price of essentials such as bread, meat, milk and even medicines has
been affected in a country grappling with a more than 100,000 percent annual
inflation rate.

A month's supply of antiretrovirals now costs Z$1.4 billion up from Z$200
million last week.

Maize-meal, the staple food is not available in food retail outlets in the
urban centres. "You can only access maize-meal in the parallel market, but
even that is now becoming difficult, my sister has been trying to buy it in
the parallel market for the past one week," said a Harare resident.

When available, a 10kg bag of maize-meal sells at Zim$250 million: a price
only the salaried can afford.

Not everyone is a civil servant

Not everyone has benefited from salary hikes and subsidies: the poor
including pensioners have been among the worst affected.

Moffat Ngulube, a 70-year pensioner earns Z$50 million a month, which could
only buy him a loaf of bread (Z$20 million) and a soft drink (Z$25 million).
The remainder (Z$5 million) is not even enough to buy him a bus ticket (Z$10
million) to his house in the high density suburb of Dzivarasekwa, about 20km
outside Harare.

"I am only grateful that I have children working outside the country who
send me groceries and toiletries for use," he said. "I cannot imagine how
other pensioners are surviving."

"The welfare system has long collapsed and does not provide relief to poor
people in Zimbabwe," pointed out Fambai Ngirande, the communications and
advocacy manager of the National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations (NANGO).

"While the government has introduced subsidies and price controls, only the
rich have managed to buy all the commodities from the formal system and
flood them in the black market at even higher prices which are way beyond
the reach of the majority of the people," he added.

Price controls

Morris Sakabuya, deputy minister for local government minister, warned
businesses against price increases and said their licenses could be
withdrawn. "We are calling on manufacturers, shop owners and even the
transport sector to have people at heart and work towards improving the
lives of citizens."

Government forced manufacturers to cut prices by 50 percent in an attempt to
reduce inflation in June 2007. But shortages of basic foodstuffs and
essential items worsened as manufacturers chose to either close down or
reduce production.

After widespread objections by business, the government made some upward
revisions of controlled prices in August 2007, but the move failed to boost
supplies, as the cost of manufacturing was still too high.

Most shops now import commodities from neighbouring countries, particularly
South Africa and Botswana, but because they have to source foreign currency
on the black market to buy the goods, the items are expensive when sold

The only way to curb prices would be to remove price controls, said
Robertson and Nkisi.

"The prices would certainly go up initially - but it would stabilise
eventually and would certainly be cheaper than imported goods," said

NANGO's Ngirande said the government needed to engage civic society in order
to form an effective partnership in combating hardships.

Most policy makers recommend targeted safety nets rather than price controls
to help the poor cope with high food prices.

In 2000 the Zimbabwean government launched its fast-track land reform
programme, which expropriated white-owned commercial farmland for
redistribution to landless blacks, and heralded the onset of an economic

The government blames sanctions imposed by some western countries for its
economic problems.

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

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SA companies to weather storm in Zimbabwe: Busa


March 18, 2008, 16:30

By Frank Nxumalo
South African companies will stay in Zimbabwe despite human rights abuses
and the promulgation of politically expedient legislation, Business Unity
South Africa (Busa) told the Business and Human Rights Conference in
Johannesburg this morning.

"Although we have strongly made our objection to abuses of the Zimbabwean
public at large and to opposition parties known to the South African
government, we still think our members should stay in Zimbabwe," Busa CEO
Jerry Vilakazi said.

"Zimbabwe is not yet a failed state, but South African companies cannot
withdraw without inducing the total collapse of that country. So we are
saying they must stay even if they are not making a profit".

Zimbabwe's head of state, President Robert Mugabe, recently signed the
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill into law in a move widely seen
as a political strategy aimed at buying votes for the March 29 presidential
and legislative elections.

Vilakazi called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to
provide leadership in Zimbabwe's hour of need. "It will be a sad day indeed
if SADC is seen as legitimatising anything untoward during these elections,"
Vilakazi said.

The law requires foreign companies based in Zimbabwe to cede their majority
stake or 51% of the shareholdings to indigenous Zimbabweans.

Until Zimbabwe's economic and social meltdown started in 2000 - attributed
to the seizure of white-owned commercial farms by war veterans by some
analysts - South Africa was the biggest investor in its economy.

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Abramovich denies reports of plans to buy Zim colliery

Mining Weekly

Published: 18 Mar 08 - 18:19
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has no plans to buy assets in Zimbabwe,
a spokesperson for his holding company Millhouse Capital said on Tuesday, in
response to reports that Abramovich had entered talks to buy the Hwange
colliery in the country.

"Mr Abramovich was in Zimbabwe on a private visit. Neither he personally,
nor Millhouse LLC, has acquired or plans to acquire assets there," John Mann
said in an email.

Zimabwe's Herald newspaper reported on the weekend that Abramovich had
visited the country and opened talks over buying the Hwange colliery, which
is the Southern African nation's biggest coal producer.

Millhouse, in which Abramovich's coinvestors include Russian oil billionaire
Eugene Shvidler, has assets in a variety of industries including mining and
metallurgy, real estate, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and media.

The group holds a significant stake in steel and mining giant Evraz, which
in turn, owns South Africa's Highveld Steel & Vanadium.

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Mbeki under fire for statement on Zimbabwe

Africa News, Netherlands

  Posted on Tuesday 18 March 2008 - 12:29

  Munyaradzi Mugadza, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
  South African president Thabo Mbeki is under attack from Zimbabweans
across the country for his words that the political terrain is even for free
and fair elections while oppositions parties are facing intimidations and
torture from the ruling party.

  Addressing journalists after his visit to Mauritius, Mbeki said he saw no
problems why Zimbabwe could fail to hold free elections given the political
playing field. Mbeki who have failed to lead talks between the ruling
Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change said everything to be heading
in the right direction despite Zanu-PF's bias towards coverage and the
continued attacks of opposition supporters and candidates.

  Zimbabwe's most civic organizations were in Brussels urging the European
community to pressure the United Nation's Security Council to solve the
alleged political violence in Zimbabwe especially towards the senatorial,
parliament council and presidential elections this month.

  President Mbeki has opened some floodgates of criticism his dialogue talks
collapsed. The South African president has also been accused of using quiet
diplomacy while favoring Mugabe. Some have however said Mbeki's brains were
somehow behind the Simba Makoni project.

  Some people who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity said
Mbeki is a complete failure in the Zimbabwean situation adding that he is
dancing to Mugabe's tune. After their blanket ban by the government of
Zimbabwe, the European community revealed that Zimbabwe was not yet ready
for the harmonized polls.

  The opposition MDC have sparked an outcry over the criteria used to
allocate the polling stations. The system resulted in urban areas getting
fewer polling stations ahead of rural areas. To this end, MDC has requested
for more observers to be deployed in rural areas.

  For example, in Harare, 379 polling centers have been established for
about 760,000 registered voters, giving a total number of 2,022 voting at
each station over 12 hours. If there is maximum turnout, that gives each
citizen an average of 22 seconds to vote for four candidates which is
practically impossible to achieve.

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Immigrants not looking forward to voting in Zimbabwe elections

Republic of Botswana

17 March, 2008
FRANCISTOWN - Many Zimbabwean immigrants in Francistown are not going to
vote in their countrys upcoming general elections, citing lack of a
conducive environment as the main reason.
Zimbabwe goes to the polls on March 29 to elect president and lawmakers.

I do not see a reason for me to go there and vote because the process will
be rigged, said one Sibusiso Moyo, a taxi operator in the city.

He anticipated that the elections are going to be as normal as has been the
case with previous elections, where intimidation and terror forced people to
vote for the ruling ZANU-PF.

Another Zimbabwean who preferred anonymity, said although she had registered
she would not vote in the election.

What difference will it make? Give me one good reason why this year could be
different from any other year, and why I should vote. I have been voting and
voting with the hope that things will change but here I am still doing piece
jobs in Botswana, she said.

Now even the immigration people here are giving us less days, saying we
should go back home to vote in the election, something I personally do not
want as I have been voting and what difference would it do now to vote again
for the same person, she cried out.

There are however other Zimbabweans who would want to vote hoping for a
regime change, but were too late to register.

I would have loved to vote but because I spend most of the time in foreign
countries I couldnt get the opportunity to register because registration was
open for only two days, said another migrant, Mandla.

He said due to limited time, most would-be first time voters failed to
register because they were outside the country fending for their families.

Commenting on the issue, political analyst at the University of Botswana, Dr
Zibani Maundeni, said election time in Zimbabwe was a difficult time for
opposition supporters and those who are neutral.

These people are talking from experience, and it is a huge sacrifice on
their part to go home to vote especially those in the opposition because
they are seen as enemies of the state, he said.

The seizures of thousands of white-owned farms in 2000 disrupted the
agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket, living
Zimbabwe in the worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe has the worlds highest inflation of more than 100 000 per cent and
suffers acute shortages of hard currency, food, gasoline and most basic

Presidential candidates are President Robert Mugabe of ZANU PF, Dr Simba
Makoni, an independent candidate and the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai. BOPA

All local news stories were supplied by the Botswana Press Agency (BOPA)

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Zimbabwean envoy gets mixed reception from MPs over pre-election briefing

Business Day

18 March 2008

Wyndham Hartley

Parliamentary Editor

CAPE TOWN - Friendly African National Congress (ANC) MPs gave Zimbabwe
ambassador Simon Moyo an easy ride yesterday, as opposition MPs said his
briefing on the state of the country before the March 29 election required
them to suspend belief.

Moyo's message to Parliament's foreign affairs committee is in sharp
contrast with the message from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to the
Congress of South African Trade Unions at the weekend, with reports of the
voters' roll in a shambles and state media behaving like a propaganda
machine for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF).

It also did not tally with opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
reports of massive gerrymandering in arrangement of rural and urban

Moyo basically said everything was on track for a free and fair election.

He rejected suggestions of gerrymandering and said the four presidential
candidates and three political parties in the poll were campaigning in peace
and calm - "much to the annoyance of some observers who want it to be

He voiced full confidence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and rejected
suggestions it had been loaded with Mugabe supporters.

The ambassador also paid tribute to mediation efforts of President Thabo
Mbeki, despite them often being described as a failure by the MDC and blamed
the state of Zimbabwe's economy and its 100000% inflation rate on
"comprehensive" sanctions imposed by the US and UK.

In response to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Tony Leon, Moyo
insisted that the state media was treating all parties fairly. "I was in
Zimbabwe last week and was very impressed by coverage."

Leon said the briefing required suspension of belief.

Moyo said the independent media in Zimbabwe never mentioned Zanu (PF) or
Mugabe but were intent only on carrying the "regime change" message of their

Clearly aligning himself with the ruling party, he said "we" were concerned
about the outside broadcasts coming in from the US and UK encouraging regime

When asked by DA MP Joe Seremane about the incidence of intimidation he said
that if it existed at all it should be reported to the police.

On the vetting of observer missions and Zimbabwe's refusal to allow western
delegations Moyo asked rhetorically why Zimbabwe should allow missions that
had already made up their minds that the poll could only be free and fair if
Mugabe lost.

In sharp contrast to the DA stance, ANC MPs referred to Moyo as "comrade
ambassador" and said "you are correct when you say we were together in the

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Responses to earlier items

Re: Group plans to take home 50 000 Zimbabweans to vote

This article makes a desperate reading. Zimbabweans, wherever they are, have
had enough of ZANU PF government. And in a desperate search for a solution
people are throwing everything lock, stock and barrel at the coming
election. The suggestion here may not be the best but at least it's an
honourable effort that should be applauded.

I however believe that  the election is going to be won and lot at the
electoral register. Many will turn out to vote but will be turned away or
directed to the next polling station or will be told their names do not
appear in the register. It is for this assertion that ferrying people from
outside the to vote could well be a futile project. I agree with some
writers such as Mtumwa Mawere who are saying the diaspora pupolation should
use its contacts and influence to tell people back home to vote for jobs,
low inflation, electricity, better and affordable schools, medicines, salt,
sugar, bread, public transport, etc. These basic necessities were wiped out
by Mugabe and his ZANU PF government. Zanu pf is not capable of reversing
the current crisis as they blame it on the West leaving us wondering what
this government is responsible for if it blame foreigners for every social
and political ill in our beloved country.  Let's send these messages home
not sendin people who may not even be able to vote.

John Huruva

The fight for freedom and justice in Zimbabwe is not going to end with
Mugabe's departure.
-------------------------------- Reply to Phil Matibe's letter to President R.G. Mugabe

Dear Phil Matibe

Your letter (below) directed at the President of Zimbabwe cannot go
What you are proposing by your very letter is for the President to break the
law by interferring people's freedom of speech and association. What your
letter tells me is that you are not a nuetral adviser in this regard. You
have hidden agendas.
When Nelson Chamisa promised Kenyan-style arnach, not once but twice, why
did you not advise Morgan Tsvangirai to condemn such atturances? The three
generals who have expressed their prefered choices in the race for president
are only exercising the constitutional right of association and choice.
There is nothing sinister about what they have said. There is not even the
slightest implied or veiled inferrance to an impending coup in their
pronouncement. All they were saying was that Zimbabwe is not for sale and
all those who intend to mortgage it to America and Britain should take hid.
Are Zimbabweans so stupid as to be influenced by atturences when they know
that  they will put their Xs in a secret bullot? It is people like Matibe
who are not Zimbabweans who want to speak for us as if we do not know what
we want. You are spreading lies and propaganda everyday about Zimbabwe
inorder to cause confusion and chaos, why?
President Mugabe is 84, that is not in dispute, but whoever told that people
of his age cannot rule has further blinded your already shallow mind.
President Mugabe is still more than fit enough to lead that country for
another five years. The issue should not be about his age but what he is
offering. Of the three presidential aspirants, only Mugabe has the
legitimacy to be voted back. He is talking about empowering the people of
Zimbabwe whereas the other two are intend on giving the country back to
whites. What does it mean to engage the so-called international community
when your people are not impowered? Does it not mean inviting them on their
own terms which terms will not benefit Zimbabweans? What Zimbabwe needs now
is strengthening of the structures that are in place. You cannot expect the
country to bargain with the world with nothing in hand, hence the need to
consolidate the gains made so far.
As for the elections being free and fairs, well thats a forgone conclusion.
What you wish for will never happen in Zimbabwe. The freeness or fairness of
an election is not determined by the winning of the opposition. It is
determined by the conditions currently obtaining on the ground in Zimbabwe.
People are free to campaign anywhere in the country. They have access to the
media and a host of other measures that were put in place by President
Your advice for the President to retire gracefully is rejected with the
contempt it deserves. He is there to stay, you who are Zimbabweans by
association can go to hell and burn but Mugabe remains our legitimate leader
whom we want to continue leading us into prosperity. Of course your threat
to the President's life is taken seriously.
Forward Ever, Backward Never
Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

Amon Kamba

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