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

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Zim Standard

      Mugabe's incitement since 1980 has caused untold suffering
      Newsfocus By Itai Dzamara

      IN an address to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the early 1980s,
President Robert Mugabe once said: "I call upon you to eliminate the remains
of gangs of bandits in Matabeleland North and South and parts of the

      This led to a wave of genocide, perpetrated by the North Korea-trained
5 Brigade in Matabeleland and the Midlands, which led to the deaths of more
than 20 000 civilians.

      In 1985, in the wake of Zanu second election victory, President Mugabe
was at it again. 'Bvisai zvigutsa in our midst', said Mugabe effectively
calling for violence to be unleashed against Bishop Muzorewa's UANC
supporters. The statement caused untold violence and the destruction of
houses and properties belonging to UANC members and supporters.

      At a very tense Zanu PF congress in December 2000, held in the wake of
the rejection of Zanu PF's constitutional proposals and its poor showing in
the June 2000 parliamentary elections, Mugabe incited his followers to
brutalise white commercial farmers whom he charged with supporting and
funding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which had swept
almost half the 120 contested seats.

      "Strike fear into the hearts of the white men. Make them tremble," he

      The party faithful complied and the country was soon up in smoke as
marauding bands of so-called war veterans and landless peasants besieged
commercial farms and small holdings, beating up and killing white farmers
and their black workers and creating mayhem on the properties.

      Many of the white farmers fled into the cities because neither the
partisan police nor the army could protect them.

      However, at the burial of former Zapu leader and Zimbabwe's first vice
president Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe confessed that the 5 Brigade massacres
(Gukurahundi) had been "a moment of madness".

      But that is typical of the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of character
displayed publicly by the veteran Zanu PF leader who has ruled Zimbabwe with
an iron fist since independence from Britain in 1980.

      When it suits the occasion, Mugabe pretends to be a responsible
statesman, a magnanimous leader, oozing fatherly love and tolerance, but
when he feels under threat, he changes into a bloodthirsty, war mongering

      Last Friday, in typical war mongering fashion, Mugabe issued yet
another threat against the MDC during the burial of former higher and
tertiary education minister, Swithun Mombeshora.

      Digressing from the business of the day, in what has become a popular
characteristic of his, Mugabe said: "Our law enforcement agents must react
promptly and with vigour to provide appropriate responses to dangerous
mischief makers."

      This comment was in apparent response to the just-ended but successful
two-day job stay away organised by the MDC.

      Mugabe was also clearly miffed by the MDC's resultant ultimatum which
called on his government to restore the rule of law, among other things, or
face further mass action.

      As soon as his motorcade had left the national shrine, all hell broke
loose, as Zanu PF militia and soldiers went on the rampage.

      They searched for and provoked MDC supporters in the city and the
suburbs and unleashed a wave of terror in Highfield, Mbare and Kuwadzana.
Within hours, too, the police and the army were all over Harare's suburbs
butchering innocent civilians caught enjoying themselves in bars and night

      Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC shadow minister of defence and a former army
official, believes those going around beating up civilians while in armed
forces uniform are not attested members of the defence forces.

      "They belong to a private group of hooligans rounded up by Zanu PF to
undergo orientation at the Border Gezi training centres scattered all over
the country.

      "The reason behind this is to create a situation whereby the
population perceives the defence forces as enemies of the people, alongside
the ruling party. We, however, don't doubt the integrity of the defence
forces. Unfortunately, due to one man (Mugabe) who has equated himself with
Adolf Hitler, the image of the defence forces is being sacrificed."

      Wayne Bvudzijena, the spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Republic Police
(ZRP) dismissed the allegation that Zanu PF was using people in police
uniform to beat up civilians willy nilly, especially at night.

      Said Bvudzijena: "We have received reports of official harassment by
members of the police. However, we have established that these reports are
coming from people who have the agenda of distorting the situation in the
country so as to justify their position that there is no rule of law in the

      However, when further challenged, Bvudzijena claimed that the ZRP used
force when necessary.

      "Where it is necessary, we use appropriate force to enforce the law,"
said Bvudzijena.

      Christopher Bhunu, a Kuwadzana resident who visited The Standard to
narrate his ordeal at the hands of people in army and police uniform said:
"They forced themselves into my house at midnight and accused me of having
organised the mass action. They ordered my wife and myself to lie on our
stomachs and began to savagely beat us until my wife fainted."

      Lovemore Matombo, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions described Mugabe's irresponsible incitement of chaos as most

      "We condemn the president's speech, made at a time when we need to
depolarise our society. Our major concern has been lawlessness, especially
state-sponsored lawlessness when the army and police are used to harass the

      Typical of Mugabe, once he has incited the people into violence, he
retreats into State House for days possibly weeks, when he will may be
savouring the results of his words.
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Zim Standard

      Brutal Zanu PF youths to disrupt MDC demos
      By Chengetai Zvauya

      THE governing Zanu PF party says it will counter planned
demonstrations by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by throwing
thousands of its rural supporters into the cities.

      According to official party sources, the idea was discussed and passed
at the National Youth Assembly meeting held at the Zanu PF headquarters last
week between President Robert Mugabe and the party's top youth leadership.

      The MDC has given the government an ultimatum which consists of 15
demands including a return to the rule of law and an end to political
victimisation. The ultimatum expires tomorrow.

      The opposition party has yet to announce what sort of action it will
take but sources within the party say it plans a huge street march,
involving hundreds of thousands of its supporters, to demand the end of
Mugabe's tyranny.

      Zanu PF's trial run on how it would respond to the MDC mass action was
held last Monday when more than 5 000 supporters, including some travellers
caught in the melee, were ferried from Mbare to the city centre to
demonstrate against Harare executive mayor, Engineer Elias Mudzuri of the

      The gangs of demonstrators caused chaos in the city forcing many
people to stay in their offices for fear of being attacked.

      The groups, including some people who later confessed that they had
been hijacked from Mbare Musika on their way to various rural destinations,
threatened Mudzuri with death, accusing him of failing to run the city

      In the past week, scores of Zanu PF youths from the Border Gezi and
other training centres have thronged Harare and have been holding rallies
and demonstrations in Kuwadzana and Highfield.

      The youths are notorious for their brutal political campaign tactics
which have included rape and assaults in all the constituencies they have
been to.

      At a Zanu PF's meeting a week ago on Saturday the 29th, the party's
deputy national youth chairman, Saviour Kasukuwere, is said to have told
Mugabe that the youths were ready to defend him and his government by
disrupting the planned MDC demonstrations.

      "If the mass action proceeds, violence is likely to break out in the
cities because the Zanu PF youths are gearing themselves to square up with
their rivals in the MDC,'' said a source in Zanu PF.

      Kasukuwere told The Standard this week that the youths in Zanu PF were
ready for whatever action the MDC would take.

      "We are ready to engage them. If they want fire, we will fight fire
with fire. Tsvangirai must not try to topple our president
unconstitutionally because we will defend our party and president," said
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Zim Standard

      Chaos marks first day of by-elections
      By Our Own Staff

      THERE was chaos at most polling stations in the Highfield and
Kuwadzana by-elections on the first day of polling yesterday, as Zanu PF
supporters ran amok trying to intimidate voters and to influence the poll

      Hordes of Zanu PF supporters in both constituencies held gatherings
near polling stations, in most cases less than the stipulated 100 metres
away from the polling booths, where some of them beat drums and sang
revolutionary songs denouncing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

      At these polling stations, voters were being invited by Zanu PF to
register for scarce food commodities such as mealie meal which could be seen
piled up near by, a tactic used by the ruling party's candidates to lure
votes throughout the campaign period.

      In one street near Mhofu School in Highfield, Zanu PF supporters
virtually sealed off both ends of the road, with about 1 000 lining up to
receive mealie meal from a huge truck.

      Long ropes with the posters of Zanu PF's bearded illiterate candidate,
Joseph Chinotimba could be seen blocking the street.

      The Standard crew covering the by-election in Highfield was yesterday
harassed by a mob of Zanu PF youths who accused them of being MDC activists.

      Reporter Itai Dzamara, was held hostage for about an hour at the Zanu
PF base near Mhofu Primary School in Highfield until he had verified with
the command centre at Cyril Jennings Hall that he was a bona fide
journalist, registered to cover the elections.

      Zanu PF supporters also held gatherings near polling stations at
Mhuriimwe High School, Mbizi Primary School, Mhizha Primary School and Mhofu
Primary School-all in Highfield.

      The ruling party's supporters checked the identity of all vehicles
moving around the suburb and when they discovered The Standard vehicle, it
was chased all over Highfield, sometimes by youths in trucks, and pelted
with missiles whenever it was spotted.

      Youth and Zanu PF supporters were also gathered at the house of
Chinotimba's election manager, Dorcas Manyonda, where they were being fed
and given bags of mealie meal.

      However, polling officials in both constituencies described the voter
turnout at the start of the polling days as "very high".

      Jabulani Mbambo, the constituency registrar for Highfield, yesterday
said: "The turn out is very high. But we are still compiling the figures.
When we opened, queues had already formed and voters have continued to
trickle in to cast their vote."

      * Meanwhile, police officers yesterday watched helplessly as the
ruling party's supporters held their gatherings very close to the polling
stations. It was quite apparent that Zanu PF supporters had the freedom to
behave in any manner they wanted to.

      At the Kuwadzana 3 Primary School polling station, voters were made to
line up according to gender and some people said this could have been an
attempt to disenfranchise the male voters who are mostly MDC.

      Anorld Mhini said: "The women are obviously getting favours. We have
been waiting here for over two hours and yet the female voters are barely 30
minutes in the queue."

      David Mutasa of Zanu PF' squares up with the MDC's national youth
leader Nelson Chamisa in the by-election for Kuwadzana.

      In Highfield, war veterans' leader and former Harare municipal
security guard Chinotimba, is pitted against the MDC's Pearson Mungofa,
independent candidate Egypt Dzinemunhenzva and former legislator and self
confessed socialist, Munyaradzi Gwisai.

      The MDC won all the parliamentary seats in Zimbabwe's major cities and
towns in the 2000 legislative polls and has warned that any signs of
electoral irregularities in the weekend polls could ignite a violent

      The party claimed on Thursday that thousands of people from outside
the constituencies had been irregularly registered to vote in the upcoming
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Zim Standard

      Mugabe cannot win free and fair poll

      IT is obvious to the vast mass of Zimbabweans that in a free and fair
poll in the Highfiled and Kuwadzana constituencies, Zanu PF cannot by any
stretch of imagination-win.

      With our economy crumbling, there is no way Mugabe can be the people's
choice. Zanu PF has irredeemably lost its moral authority and the confidence
of most of the country.

      It would indeed be a terrible tragedy and outrageous were the
Highfield and Kuwadzana voters-sophisticated urbanites to boot-to allow
themselves to be bought by a few litres of cooking oil, a few bags of mealie
meal, sugar and salt, and the biblical 30 pieces of silver, into voting for
Zanu PF in this weekend's crucial by-elections.

      There is no doubt that the governing party has left no stone unturned
in its efforts to win Kuwadzana and Highfield thereby taking a further step
in achieving its goal of turning Zimbabwe into a one-party state.

      Joseph Chinotimba, that former illiterate municipal guard-who once
donned straw hats but is now into designer suits-has openly boasted during
his campaign that those who vote for him will gain access to any of the
scarce basic commodities. Zimbabweans must not forget Zanu PF's fluent
capacity to tell lies.

      Chinotimba has doled money out like Santa Claus, to unemployed youths
in Highfield and has promised them jobs once he is elected into parliament-a
blatant lie and vote buying tactic that would have earned him immediate
disqualification in a proper democracy.

      But Highfield voters-and indeed those of Kuwadzana where Zanu PF
candidate David Mutasa has been doing exactly the same as comedian
Chinos-should ask themselves these questions:

      Who is responsible for the shortages of basic commodities in this
country in the first place?

      Who has destroyed industry and commerce and created record
unemployment in Zimbabwe?

      Who has pratically destroyed what was once a beautiful and lovely

      Who has made Zimbabwe such a pariah state in the eyes of the
international community that we can no longer borrow on favourable terms or
access foreign currency?

      It does not take a rocket scientist to answer any of these questions:
Zanu PF has so destroyed the economy of this country that infants and
toddlers cannot even get a glass of fresh milk to drink.

      Zanu PF's haphazard and chaotic land reforms have contributed to the
mass starvation that is sweeping the country and to the shortages of almost
anything from mealie meal, meat, poultry, sugar and milk, to apples and baby

      Zanu PF's amateurish economic policies have destroyed what was once a
sophisticated, vibrant and industrialised economy and the result is all
there for everyone to see: millions of qualified but unemployed Zimbabweans,
desperate to leave the country at the earliest possible opportunity, and
hundreds of company closures or relocations to neighbouring countries.

      Zanu PF has made Zimbabweans the laughing stock of the whole world and
now some of our graduates and qualified professionals have to clean toilets
in Europe and the US for a living.

      Now, the same Zanu PF dangles the carrot of cooking oil, mealie meal,
sugar and salt in the face of voters and says it has finally found the
formula for turning around the economy? Ah!

      Who in their right mind can honestly vote for a party that lies so
openly to voters during elections; promises them the world and then turns on
them and pummels them into submission once they start to complain about its
failure to deliver?

      Zanu PF has failed Zimbabweans dismally in its 23-year-rule. Like an
old car, it is now fit only for the scrap yard.

      The ruling party must pay a very high price for its over-investment in
the destruction of the country. And that high price is to defeat it cleanly
in this weekend's by-elections of Highfield and Kuwadzana.

      The truth of the matter is that Zanu PF and its "Mr-Know-It-All"
President Robert Mugabe, has destroyed our lives while it toys with all
sorts of ill-conceived political and economic policies such as socialism and
the "one party state".

      At the same time, Mugabe boasts that he has presided over one of the
best economies in the world. We have heard pathetic things before from the
President but this one really takes the biscuit!

      He also boasts that besides his many academic qualifications (which
some of us are beginning to doubt), he has degrees in violence.

      Why would a man who has been genuinely elected, boast of his prowess
in unleashing violence against his own people unless he knows he did
something nefarious to get elected into office?

      The voters in Kuwadzana and Highfield must know that they carry a
heavy burden for the rest of Zimbabwe.

      Zanu PF is on a mission to turn this country into a one party state
and if it wins these two crucial by-elections, it will need just three more
seats to turn our nightmare into a reality.

      We must all use whatever power is at our disposal to stop the devilish
machinations of Mugabe and his party.

      Every Zimbabwean worked and sacrificed for independent Zimbabwe. There
is nothing special about Zanu PF. The ruling party is not synonymous with

      12 hours left. In the heart of their hearts, the people of Highfield
and Kuwadzana know what to do: Send the Chinoses and Mutasas of this world
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Zim Standard

      What should be the penalty for raping a country?
      By Chido Makunike

      SOMETIMES, looking for the common threads in small, seemingly
unrelated events, gives a clear view of the big picture that may not be so
obvious from looking at the smaller events in isolation.

      The official stance of the Mugabe regime in the face of the many
self-created problems bedevilling it is that it remains strong and united,
with a clear agenda. Yet a look at virtually any sector of life in Zimbabwe
suggests a regime at the helm that is adrift, bereft of ideas and confused.
There is no longer any defining principle or ideology holding the ruling
clique together.

      It is now merely a question of trying to forestall growing local and
international opposition, and making as much hay as possible for the
inevitable rainy day, in the process. Within the ruling party, the latent
divisions are coming out into the open as the many opportunists who
uncomfortably co-exist in it position themselves for a share in the spoils
of the post-Mugabe era.

      The government of Mr Mugabe is a master of confrontation and seems to
thrive on it. If there is anything it has learned to do well, it is control
through physical force. The MDC is merely the latest and most formidable
opposition force to come face to face with the ruling party's 'expertise' at
ruthlessly dealing with even fairly mild dissent.

      In recognition of how the authorities do not hesitate to use the
slightest excuse to bludgeon and jail demonstrators, the opposition party
has felt it best to look for alternatives to large numbers of vulnerable,
unarmed marchers offering themselves up for state abuse in the streets.

      But how long, direct, incendiary confrontation between the authorities
and large groups of citizens, can be carried out without the risk of real
chaos and civil strife, remains to be seen. The MDC has been criticised by
some for a stayaway strategy that hurts an already moribund economy or which
may be too gentle an approach.

      Whatever the effectiveness or lack thereof of stay aways, it is clear
they are a strategy that the Mugabe government finds confusing and difficult
to deal with. They definitely hurt economically, and they expose to all the
world the level of restlessness and unhappiness in the population.

      Yet, because they involve people staying off the streets rather than
flooding them as in other forms of mass protest, the government finds it
difficult to know who to hit out at. Not being too sophisticated a
government, bringing out the riot police and the army to beat up and arrest
people on the streets is what it enjoys and is good at.

      Peaceful protest that makes it difficult to do this is completely
perplexing to the Zanu PF government. You can't very well go into people's
homes and beat and arrest them just for not going to work. What the
authorities have been reduced to doing is beating up people indiscriminately
after the stayaway, but this is more their usual bullying and venting of
frustration than anything else.

      Predictably in response to all this repression, there are more voices
in the opposition who are itching for physical confrontation as much as the
police and other authorities seem to be. This may be a sign that despite the
best efforts of opposition leaders to keep protests as peaceful as possible,
we are going to see increasing acts of violence from their frustrated
members, tired of always meekly being at the receiving end of official

      The police will increasingly find it difficult to control this without
using even more repressive methods, that will in turn result in a
spontaneous mass uprising that no one will be able to control. This is the
price the Mugabe government is likely to pay for so effectively blocking off
and criminalising most forms of mild, peaceful protest.

      It seems true that there are more acts of violence from opposition
elements, whether or not they operate as party members or independently. But
it is also true that these elements have been bred by the authorities'
policy of shutting off, by repressive legislation and the State's own
long-running preemptive violence, other forms of protest that are taken for
granted in countries with more confident, enlightened and sophisticated

      President Mugabe's latest attack on the private press last week,
revealed a lot more than may have been intended. He said he did not read the
"rubbish press" but had people in government who did, for the express
purpose of letting him know what was said about him. This would seem to
explain why he so often seems completely clueless and out of touch with the
day to day concerns of the average Zimbabwean! He apparently only reads the
press that regurgitates his own propaganda to him.

      It is a fatal flaw for a politician, particularly one as besieged as
he is, to ignore what those who disagree with him have to say. It may be
even more tragic that he gets this information grudgingly and second hand,
and therefore filtered by the biases, fears and agendas of those who pass it
on to him.

      As much as he may hate what is written about him in the private press,
ignorance of it can simply not be a strength in his efforts to counter it.
As uncomfortable as it may be to listen to detractors, critics and differing
viewpoints, one can simply not make informed and enlightened decisions
without doing so. Mugabe's confession and the poor and deteriorating state
of the country is ample proof of this.

      Godfrey Nzira, the infamous, rapist quasi-religious cult leader, has
been sentenced to more than three decades in jail by an enlightened
magistrate for abusing many members of his so-called church. While it is
neither uncommon nor surprising for megalomaniacs to attempt to control the
minds of their followers for their own evil ends, it never ceases to amaze
that so many people are willing to sheepishly go along with this. The mind
control that made many of Nzira's followers protest that their "God" could
not be jailed for raping many of his followers, and destroying the lives of
many more, is the same type of voodoo that citizens of some countries allow
to be exercised over them by political rapists.

      I think it is entirely consistent that Nzira's cult and Zanu-PF felt
very comfortable together. The revelations of how Nzira virtually enslaved
many members of his cult, with the willing participation of many other
members, have heavy political overtones in Zimbabwe. Readers will not have
any difficulty making the many connections.

      As horrific as those revelations were, I have no doubt they were just
the tip of the iceberg. Now the real dirt is going to hit the fan as the
remaining cultists splinter into factions amidst bitter recriminations and
all kinds of counter charges.

      Many of Nzira's cronies who benefited from his many crimes will now
attempt to distance themselves from his filthy legacy. Nzira in his
confident, deluded arrogance never considered that there would be a day of
reckoning for him, not just in the by and by of the afterlife, but right
here on earth.

      I predict we are going to see a repeat of the whole sordid business in
Zimbabwe, but this time in the political arena.

      I wonder what the penalty is for raping a country.
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Zim Standard

      Analogies between troubled countries
      overthetop By Brian Latham

      Harare-Political analysts have said there are strange analogies
between a troubled central African country and a rapidly disappearing Middle
Eastern country.

      While both countries are ruled by very angry leaders, one is difficult
to see because it is covered by a thick cloud of black smoke and the other
is difficult to see because no one can be bothered to look at it.

      This stunning revelation was made obvious when hundreds of torture
victims in the troubled central African regime suffered in silence while
their counterparts in the troubled Middle Eastern nation were given food
parcels after coalition forces had finished bombing them.

      Sadly, the coalition forces bombed by the other coalition forces were
not given sweets or food. Instead, they were given a pine box, a flag and a
free flight home.

      Still, most people in the troubled central African country were
viewing the troubled Middle Eastern country with unrestrained glee. Analysts
said it was a common phenomenon. Victims of violent dictatorships generally
get vicarious pleasure watching other bloodthirsty rulers receiving their

      Meanwhile right-thinking political analysts told Over The Top that the
French government had contributed to the unfolding disasters in both
troubled countries.

      While the foul smelling Europeans had actually started the war in the
troubled Middle Eastern country with their perfidious behaviour, they had
also added significantly to the woes of the troubled central African regime
by undermining democracy, analysts said.

      Another similarity lay in the fact that Mr Sadly Insane, the barking
mad leader of the troubled Middle Eastern country, was imposed on his people
with considerable American assistance. Meanwhile, the most equal of all
comrades had come to rule over the troubled central African nation with not
insubstantial British assistance. Both troubled leaders now detest their
former friends, dismissing them as the homosexual sons of Satan.

      Still, the same analysts said the similarities between the two
troubled nations ended there. While democratic western forces were more than
happy to liberate the troubled Middle Eastern country, it was unlikely
they'd lift a finger to liberate its central African counterpart.

      It was decided that the only people who could liberate the central
African nation were the central African people, against heavy pressure not
to liberate themselves from leaders of a confused southern African country.

      This was because their country had no oil and no foreign currency to
buy desperately needed weapons of mass destruction.

      Still, a spokesman for the ministry of disinformation assured Over The
Top that it did have weapons of mass destruction. "The weapon is code named
Dzaku Dzaku and how it works is we get thousands of illiterate youths, dress
them in army and police uniforms, fire them up with green tobacco and let
them loose. Like most weapons of mass destruction, they are indiscriminate,"
he said.

      Asked if this new weapon had a biological, chemical or nuclear
component, the spokesman said: "Well, they are a health hazard."

      Residents where these weapons had been based said they agreed that
they did pose a health hazard and complained that the noise and smell
emanating from their secret bases-which are well known to almost
everybody-could well pose biological and chemical hazards, if not nuclear

      Still, foreign diplomats interviewed by OTT said that while they
appreciated that Dzaku Dzaku was indeed a weapon, it was hardly formidable
and certainly not smart. "As dumb weapons go, it has to be the dumbest we've
seen in a long time," said a western diplomat who declined to be named in
case someone pointed a weapon at him.
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Amnesty International

Zimbabwe: Spiralling human rights crisis in elections run-up - UK Government
must act
Amnesty International is deeply concerned that politically motivated
violence and arbitrary arrests will continue to increase in the run-up to
and during the Zimbabwean by-elections this weekend (29 and 30 March).

The human rights organisation is concerned at the spiralling human rights
crisis in the country and is asking the UK government to raise the issue at
this week's EU ACP (African-Carribean-Pacific) meeting (1-3 April) and to
demand immediate action from the international community.

Amnesty International is concerned about reports that ZANU-PF officials are
using food aid to buy votes in Highfield and Kuwadzana, the two high-density
suburbs where the by-elections are set to take place.

The Zimbabwean government stands to increase its power and ability to stifle
opposition if it wins these by-elections. Victory this weekend, and in a
further three by-elections whose dates are yet to be confirmed, would give
the ruling ZANU-PF party two thirds of the seats in Parliament and the
ability to alter the constitution.

Amnesty International said:

"Politically motivated violence and arrests have increased dramatically in a
spiralling human rights crisis. Public order legislation is being used to
harass and arrest critics of the government.

"There is no hope for a peaceful future in Zimbabwe unless the international
community intervenes immediately. It must demand that the Zimbabwean
government ends human rights violations, guarantees freedom of expression
and allows fair distribution of food aid."

State-sponsored intimidation of government opponents has been reported:

  a.. More than 250 people have received hospital treatment for torture
injuries following the recent mass stay-away organised by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the run-up to the elections.
  b.. There are accounts of uniformed Zimbabwean National Army (ZNA)
soldiers visiting the houses of victims in groups of up to 50, and
subjecting them, and sometimes other family members, to beatings with
batons, whips and chains. Many were taken away for prolonged torture


The Zimbabwean government has continued to use restrictive legislation, such
as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), as a vehicle for intimidating
and arbitrarily arresting real and perceived opposition members, independent
media workers and human rights activists.

According to the Zimbabwean Human Rights NGO Forum, during the month of
February 2003 alone, there were 122 incidents of unlawful arrest and 118
reported violations of freedom of expression, association and assembly.

To date, the month of March has seen a very marked increase in arrests and
torture, a trend yet to continue in the run-up to the by-elections. During
2002, there were over 1,000 reported cases of torture and at least 58
political killings.

The MDC issued an ultimatum to the government on 20 March to meet several
demands, which include restoration of the rule of law, depoliticisation of
the police force and army, and disbanding of the youth militia. The deadline
is 31 March.

The MDC has warned that failure by the government to meet its demands will
result in further mass action. Incidents of politically-motivated violence
and arbitrary arrests continue and will likely increase in the days and
weeks that follow 31 March.
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ABC Australia

Voting begins in two key Zimbabwe by-elections
Voters in Zimbabwe have waited patiently to cast their ballots in
by-elections in two key suburbs of the Zimbabwe capital, as political
tensions ran high between the main opposition and President Robert Mugabe's
ruling party.

Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has
vowed to win back the two seats in the suburbs of Highfield and Kuwadzana
from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

An AFP reporter saw dozens of voters queuing outside polling stations in
Kuwadzana township.

State radio reported that around 3,500 out of more than 46,000 registered
voters had cast their votes in the suburb by mid-morning.

"Everything's quiet and peaceful," the spokesman of the state-appointed
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), Thomas Bvuma, said.

Mr Bvuma said hundreds of people were queuing up outside polling stations in
Highfield before voting started at 7:00 am local time (05:00 GMT).

By mid-morning there were still long queues of people he said.

The state's ZIANA news agency reported a two-kilometre long queue of people
outside a polling station in Highfield, where people had waited since 3:00
am to vote.

State radio said that the situation "remains calm" and that no incidents of
violence had been reported.

Early Saturday, Mr Mugabe and his wife Grace went to cast their vote in the
president's home constituency of Highfield, where ZANU-PF is being
represented by firebrand war veteran Joseph Chinotimba.

Tensions have been running high ahead of the two-day poll.

The Opposition has already accused the government of irregularly registering
thousands of non-resident voters in the two constituencies in order to rig
the polls.

It says there are also plans by the ruling party to hand out scarce food
supplies to people in the suburb in packages smeared with indelible ink,
thus disqualifying potential voters.

People with ink on their hands are deemed to have already voted.

The Opposition said ZANU-PF youths were handing out bread to voters at a
polling station in Kuwadzana after they had cast their ballots.

But an AFP photographer in Kuwadzana said he witnessed no signs of food
handouts to the electorate.

The MDC has said there could be a "violent backlash" against the government
if voters perceive the election to have been rigged in favour of the ruling

Mr Mugabe has urged his supporters to relegate the MDC to the "electoral
scrap heap".

He accused the Opposition party, popular among Zimbabwe's urban dwellers, of
being imposed by foreigners and not a genuine expression of the people's

The by-elections were won by the MDC in parliamentary elections in June

The Kuwadzana vote is being held after the death of former MDC lawmaker for
Kuwadzana and the party's spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe.

The popular young legislator died in prison last year while awaiting trial
on a charge of murdering his wife.

Prominent Zimbabwean socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai, the former MDC lawmaker
for Highfield, was expelled from the party for going against its policies.
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Zim Standard

      Drastic plunge in tobacco output expected
      By Kumbirai Mafunda

      THE Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has this year trimmed
the number of selling teams stationed at the country's three auction floors,
reflecting the drastic plunge in the output of the country's former prime
foreign currency earner, it has emerged.

      In an interview with Standard Business Duncan Miller, the president of
the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), said TIMB-which regulates the
marketing of the golden leaf-had halved last year's number of selling teams
owing to a decline in output.

      This is contrary to the gospel being spread of a crop harvest of 200
million kg's by Lovegot Tendengu, the Zanu PF-aligned president of the
Farmers Development Trust, and fortified by other party loyalists eager to
hoodwink Mugabe into believing the land grab exercise is a success.

      The tobacco marketing season commences on 23 April with a meagre 85
million kgs expected to go through the country's three auction floors which
have been reduced to mere shells.

      A total of 165 million kgs was sold last year at an average price of
226 USc/kg, down from the previous year's 202,5million kgs. Last year, the
opening of the sales floors was delayed until May after a growers' revolt
over low prices.

      Calm and normal trading only returned after the introduction of a
support rate by former finance and economic development minister, Simba

      "If we have 200 million kgs, why is it that this year there will be
three selling teams only?" queried Miller.

      At the peak prior to the disruption of commercial tobacco production,
the TIMB had seven selling teams in the 2000/1 selling season which had the
capacity to sell 7 000 bales a day.

      However, last year, two selling teams were allocated to each of the
country's three auction floors, namely Zitac, Burley Marketing Zimbabwe
(BMZ) and Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), giving a total of six teams.

      TIMB general manager, Stanley Mutepfa, confirmed the reduction in
selling teams at the auction floors saying deliveries would be low at the
start of the selling season.

      "Initially, we will start with three sales and then deploy necessary
sales teams as and when required. It is all to do with efficient utilisation
of selling space and buying," said Mutepfa.

      The shrinkage in the crop expected to pass through the sales floors
means Zimbabwe will only sell half the daily volume it sold last year
because of the halving of the sales team.

      The sales period, which last year ran from 7:30am to lunchtime, is
likely to start at 8:00am to around lunchtime.

      The foreign currency shortage will persist as this year's tobacco
earnings are likely to be well below last year's US$375,9m (about $20,7bn at
the official exchange rate).

      Prior to the haphazard land grab which had the blessings of the aging
Zanu PF leader, Robert Mugabe, tobacco was Zimbabwe's single largest foreign
currency earner, accounting for about 28% of the country's exports.

      "The industry is never going to be the same unless we build the crop
up to 200 million kgs. We have thrown away the advantages we had and we are
now competing with small producers like Malawi and Zambia," said one
agricultural economist.

      Analysts said the decline in tobacco output this year to

      85 million kgs was going to give even more headaches to Mugabe as he
constantly searches for new avenues to raise hard currency.
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Zim Standard

      UZ impasse continues
      By our own Staff

      THE University of Zimbabwe will stay closed for longer following the
death of Swithun Mombeshora. The late minister of higher education was
negotiating with the Association of University Teachers (AUT) on their
demand for a 50% salary increment at the time of his death.

      Members of AUT who spoke to The Standard said they will only return to
work after government has acceded to their demands.

      "We made our position very clear from the beginning. We will only
return if they grant our demand of a 50% increment," said a member of AUT.

      Levy Nyagura, the acting chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe,
said the UZ Council held a meeting where decisions were made and then
communicated to the lecturers.

      "Council met last week and reached some decisions which we
communicated to every lecturer. We await their response and on Monday, we
will establish a firm position on the way forward," said Nyagura.

      "I cannot disclose the decisions now except to say that they evolve
around the provisions of the disposal order issued by the ministry. However,
I should emphasise that we are working hard to ensure the reopening of the
institution as soon as possible."

      The ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare issued an
order directing the lecturers to return to work by 13 March but they refused
to comply with the order.

      The lecturers vowed not to resume teaching until they were awarded the
50% return allowance against their basic salaries. The strike began on 24

      Some lecturers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the decisions
referred to by Nyagura did not address their demands and would only serve to
delay the reopening of the university.

      When Mombeshora died last week, he was in the midst of trying to solve
the impasse.

      Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has
threatened to protest against the closure of the university and thus risks a
showdown with the state and its law enforcement agencies, which are
currently on stand by to severely crush any forms of dissent.

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Zim Standard

      Zimbabwe lacks political will to fight Aids scourge
      By our own Staff

      THE Zimbabwean government has not yet fully committed itself to the
war against HIV/Aids despite well-documented evidence of the devastating
effects of the killer disease, participants at a workshop organised by
Futures Group International learnt.

      The workshop, held in Nyanga was entitled "Responsible Reporting on
HIV and Aids", and it sought to equip reporters with skills for reporting
about Aids.

      Presentations by experts demonstrated that despite the high level of
Aids awareness, the rate of HIV continues to shoot up as the scourge preys
upon Zimbabweans.

      The government and non-governmental organisations appear uncertain as
to how many lives the disease has claimed, though they say between 2 000 and
3 500 people die of Aids-related illnesses every week.

      Isabella Matambanadzo, the director of Zimbabwe Women Resources Centre
and Network, explained why the country has failed to reduce the Aids menace
to the same level as that of fellow African countries such as Uganda and
South Africa.

      She said: "The lack of political commitment has badly exacerbated the
effects of Aids on our society. This is unlike Uganda and South Africa where
the governments are very much at the front-line of fighting Aids.

      "Here, it is so difficult, especially for women, most of whom are
unable to acquire the anti-retroviral drugs. And if they do find them, they
cost an arm and a leg."

      Anti-retroviral drugs can prolong the life of HIV-positive people and
the Zimbabwean government says it might start to distribute them for free
this year.

      Matambanadzo also blamed religion and culture for "suppressing and
subjugating" women whom she said were the most vulnerable to the pandemic.

      "African women carry the burden of the global epidemic: eight in every
10 women infected with Aids are African. Religion and culture have been very
powerful in shaping gender relations, often forcing women to submit to the
whims of men, including agreeing to unsafe sex," she said.

      Zimbabwe is at the epicentre of the pandemic, which has infected an
estimated 25,3 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and has killed over 22
million people world-wide since it was first detected in June 1981.

      The Aids onslaught has been particularly severe in rural Zimbabwe and
has worsened the country's political and economic problems.

      Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President, Matthew Takaona, urged
reporters to persistently press the government into fully engaging itself in
the fight against Aids.

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Zim Standard

      Mashakada's band gets taste of army brutality
      By our own Staff

      AS the Zanu PF government tightens its grip on power, musicians and
revellers are increasingly being caught up in what has become an orgy of
police and army brutality.

      Popular dreadlocked musician, Cephas Mashakada, was forced to seek
refuge in a cold room as armed soldiers indiscriminately assaulted revellers
at a Mereki night club in Warren Park D recently.

      Mashakada was performing at the popular Brooklyn Club when armed
soldiers abruptly pounced on revellers who were clubbing the night away.

      "We were enjoying Mashakada's music and having some drinks when more
than 10 soldiers descended on us and started beating up everyone. The
beatings were so severe that big men cried like children in front of women
who were also crying," said John Chimanga, one of the victims.

      Some of the victims who showed Standard Plus the bruises they had
sustained all over their bodies, but refused to be named for fear of
reprisals, alleged that the soldiers descended on the nightclub at around
4.00am and immediately went beserk.

      A woman who works at the nightclub is said to have received serious
head injuries which required medical attention.

      The soldiers had reportedly been called in to quell the commotion at
another night spot, Real Night Club, which is close to the popular Pfukwa
nightclub in the same area. This was after a policeman was allegedly beaten
by patrons at about 9.00pm for throwing a teargas canister into the club.

      It was not long before two truckloads of soldiers arrived to punish
the culprits. After arriving at Real and being told that the culprits had
gone on to Mereki Shopping Centre, the soldiers beat up the clubbers and
then proceeded to Brooklyn.

      Mashakada had just finished his show and was enjoying a drink when all
hell broke loose. He quickly hid in the cold room and remained there while
everyone in the club, including some of his band members, were thoroughly
beaten up.

      The soldiers also forced the patrons to chant slogans denouncing the
MDC while they were sprawled on the floor. Mashakada is said to have come
out later, when the coast was clear.

      Contacted for comment, Mashakada panicked and pleaded with this paper
not to write the story fearing it would get him into serious trouble.

      "Yes, it happened, but please let the matter rest because it's too
risky to talk about it. I will jeopardise my livelihood if I ever comment
because these people will stop at nothing and I will never sing again if
they ever hear about it.

      "Tirikuitira safety yedu sevanhu vemagitari nokuti iko zuro chaiko
hakuna kumborarwa kuno (kuChitungwiza). Zvinotipinza pa-tight tikada
zvokushambadzira mumapepanhau. Regerai arohwa aende kunomhangara (We are
doing it for our safety as musicians because Chitungwiza residents hardly
slept last night. We will be in serious trouble if we tell the papers what
is going on. Let those who are beaten up go and report for themselves)," a
nervous Mashakada said.

      Cases of police and army brutality have reached unprecedented levels
since the successful MDC stayaway and ahead of this weekend's by-elections
in the Kuwadzana and Highfield constituencies.

      Mashakada is currently riding the crest of a wave with the success of
his 2002 offering, Shingiso. He has a number of gospel and social-commentary
hits to his credit with his long-time group, Sounds Of The Muddy Face.
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            Zimbabwe by-election starts, intimidation alleged
            March 29, 2003, 10:30

            Polling got underway in Zimbabwean by-elections today with
voters complaining of intimidation by militants loyal to President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

            ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
have exchanged allegations of violence during campaigning in Harare's
Kuwadzana and Highfield constituencies which rights groups say left hundreds
of people injured ahead of the vote. Today over 500 people queued at one
polling station at 8 am, an hour after voting started, complaining that the
process was moving too slowly and charging that ruling party supporters were
jumping the queue.

            "We have been here since 5 o'clock but we still haven't voted
because latecomers are going ahead of us and police are not doing anything
to stop it," one man told reporters. "ZANU-PF youths are also milling around
at the gate, asking people about their party affiliation and generally being
intimidating," added one woman, who said she would flee the volatile
township soon after voting to escape possible reprisal.

            Nelson Chamisa, the MDC candidate for Kuwadzana, told reporters
that he would lodge a formal complaint. Polling officials and police at the
station said they had no authority to comment to the media. Results are
expected on Monday. The violence has coincided with a crackdown on the MDC
after it led a two-day strike against Mugabe's 23-year rule last week, one
of the biggest protests in recent years.

            The MDC won the Kuwadzana and Highfield seats in the 2000
parliamentary elections but they fell vacant with the death of one
legislator and the expulsion from the party of another. The MDC, which
accuses Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party of rigging the 2000 polls which it
narrowly won, says the governing party is seeking to manipulate the weekend
polls, including inflating the voters' roll with 19 000 "ghost" names.

            ZANU-PF officials have not commented on the allegations, but the
ruling party has in the past dismissed allegations of electoral
irregularities as an MDC excuse for its poll defeats. Mugabe (79), won
re-election for another six-year term as president in controversial polls
last March condemned as fraudulent by both the MDC and some Western
governments. - Reuters
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Zim women in SA 'abducted by state agents'

      March 28 2003 at 08:38PM

      By Basildon Peta

Three Zimbabwean women were abducted at gunpoint in Johannesburg and
brutally assaulted by suspected agents of the Zimbabwe government who tried
to smuggle them back to Zimbabwe this week.

The incident comes amid claims that President Robert Mugabe has now deployed
his notorious youth militia known as Green Bombers - who have been attacking
government opponents in Zimbabwe - to target his opponents in South Africa
as well.

The three women, who participated in a well-attended march against Mugabe in
Johannesburg on Human Rights Day last week, said they suffered a night of
terror and sexual harassment before they were dumped in the border town of
Musina after their abductors were stopped by SA border officials.

Amanda Dube, Norma Sibanda and Nozipo Moyo said two of their five abductors
had also participated in the Human Rights Day march organised by the
Concerned Zimbabwean Citizens Abroad (CZCA). The abductors held posters
denouncing Mugabe's abuses but the women suspect they were in fact agents
who had come to spy on the opposition marchers.

After the march ended, the abductors followed the three women back to their
flat in Hillbrow to establish where they lived.

On Wednesday, they came back and abducted the women at gunpoint and forced
them into two Pajero 4x4 vehicles with Zimbabwean number plates and a small

The three said they were later handcuffed and blindfolded in the vehicles
after they refused to show their abductors the homes of CZCA leaders who had
organised the protest march. The women said the abductors made it clear they
would suffer the consequences of participating in anti-Mugabe activities.

"As we drove throughout the night, we stopped at bushy areas and were beaten
heavily with clinched fists and electric rubber wires... At times I
travelled in the boot of the small car," said Dube, who claimed they had
been sexually molested.

The women said they only avoided being smuggled into Zimbabwe because the
vehicles were stopped at a police roadblock in Musina and South African
police officers discovered them and asked their abductors why they were
hiding the three in the vehicles.

A police official in Musina who was at the scene but refused to have his
name used, corroborated the womens' story, saying they later showed bruises
on their bodies to prove they had been badly beaten.

CZCA leader Jay Jay Sibanda said he had no doubt the people were Mugabe's
agents on a mission to harass opponents in SA.

He had received threatening phone calls from people urging him to stop
organising anti-Mugabe protests, he said.

"Our protests are meant to raise awareness of the problems in Zimbabwe among
South Africans... We are not a political party."

The incident happened barely a week after Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga
went into hiding in South Africa claiming that Mugabe's government had
deployed its spy agents to arrest him. The Zanu-PF has established a branch
in Hillbrow.

Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu-PF spokesperson, has denied that either Zanu-PF
or the government had deployed agents in SA. - Independent Foreign Service
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Mugabe defends violence against opposition

      March 29 2003 at 02:00PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe defended himself on Saturday
against international outrage over his violent crackdown on the opposition
in his country.

"It is now time for law and order to have the upper hand and we will not
seek the approval of outsiders to enforce law and order in our country," he
was quoted as saying in the state-controlled daily Herald.

Mugabe's remarks to a meeting of his central committee on Friday came amid
massive condemnation over what human rights organisations described as "the
worst campaign of violence yet seen - short of mass killings - against
civilians by the country's security forces".

"After all, some of the foreigners have been aiding and abetting the
creation of instability and disorder here and are thus part of the
lawlessness we have witnessed," he reportedly said.

Mugabe's remarks were also seen as a rebuff to South African president Thabo
Mbeki, who earlier this week said Pretoria had told the Zimbabwe government
that "we would not agree with actions that deny the right of Zimbabweans to
protest peacefully, democratically".

Reports by doctors and civil rights bodies revealed that at least 250 people
had to be treated in hospital in the last week for severe injuries inflicted
by soldiers rounding up supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

The clampdown followed last week's massive support for a two-day national
stayaway called by the MDC to protest against the collapse of the rule of
law that has brought the country into its worst ever political and economic

The MDC has given Mugabe until Monday to respond to an ultimatum to restore
the rule of law or face peaceful mass demonstrations to remove him.

On Friday, Zimbabwe's justice minister Patrick Chinamasa also dismissed
repeated statements by Mbeki that the government had agreed to amend what
has been described as draconian security laws that violated constitutional

      'The racial high-handedness of the white commonwealth has once again
been demonstrated'
He said the government would not change the Public Order and Security Act
(Posa), used by the regime to quash virtually any form of public criticism
of, or demonstrations against Mugabe.

"We cannot amend Posa when we are under an onslaught from institutions which
are causing mayhem and anarchy in the country," Chinamasa was quoted as
saying in the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent.

"We cannot loosen up and let the MDC and other puppets of the United States
and Britain run around bombing bridges and shops.

"Get it from me, Posa will not be amended. We are not doing that and we make
no apologies."

Also on Saturday, Mugabe attacked the "white" member of the Commonwealth
troika consisting of South Africa, Nigeria and Australia over