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New Zimbabwe
Chido Makunike
Business as usual in Harare
Last updated: 05/13/2004 22:16:21
WHAT'S up in Zimbabwe in May 2004? Well, the crafty, cantankerous old Mr.
Mugabe is still firmly entrenched in power in spite of all the chaos around
him. He has done a masterful job of dispiriting, compromising and dividing
the opposition which is in more disarray than it has been for some years.
In addition to causing maximum dissension in opposition ranks, who it must
be said have their own severe problems quite apart from Mugabe's
machinations, the ruling party is going all out to use all the advantages of
incumbency in preparation for the upcoming general election. The now
well-honed ZANU-PF bag of tricks is employed in fine style. Intimidation of
opposition candidates, attempting to buy off impoverished voters with food
handouts, you name it, and it is a tactic in use to try to decimate the
hapless MDC.

The state propaganda press triumphantly trumpets an "economic recovery," but
strangely, you don't meet anyone who has actually seen this strange
creature. We all have heard and read about it in the Jonathan Moyo-run
propaganda media but on the ground it is proving to be rather elusive!

Within a couple of weeks of the appointment of Gideon Gono to the
governorship of the Reserve Bank in December, the Herald was already
crediting him with all kinds of miracles, including a slight dip at
Christmas time in the official inflation figures! In the last several weeks
the official figures indicate that it has dropped a few more points, to just
below 600%. Before you can say "statistical margin of error" or "let's wait
for evidence of a real, more meaningful downward trend" the propaganda press
has been given instructions to declare victory!

Yet life continues to get tougher all the time, with none of the conditions
that are classically responsible for inflation having been addressed. There
is an "economic recovery" by mere declaration, simply because somebody says
there is. Those of us who don't see it are obviously imperialist stooges!
Bus fares have just been increased by close to half , a loaf of bread has
gone up by about that much, last week even the Herald was forced to write a
story about the prices of consumer electronics having gone up, and that
"newspaper" just recently doubled it's cover price, I guess to celebrate the
"economic recovery" they are "enjoying!". This time of year is the
traditional wage negotiation season, and get set for a lot of industrial
unrest as struggling workers bargain for large increments to keep up with
inflation, which will only make the overall problem worse.

An embarrassing myth that had begun to take hold had been that if inflation
goes down a little, assuming there is any shred of credibility to the
official figures, it means prices will go down. Lost to the crack
"journalists" of the propaganda media is that inflation is the rate of price
increase so even if there is really a drop in this economic index from 613%
to the still incredible 590%, it only refers to a slight slowing of that
rate of increase, not a reduction in prices! But don't waste your time
trying to confuse the Jonathan Moyo-run media with facts and logic, those
are not its specialties or areas of interest!

Speaking of my main man Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo, he wants to be the MP of
Tsholotsho constituency through the upcoming parliamentary election. I am
sure something will be arranged for him by the ZANU-PF that knows how to
intimidate and bribe the rural electorate so well.The Registrar General's
office that counts the votes can also be expected to do its part. Forget
about whether Moyo is "popular" there (or anywhere else for that matter!) I
think it's a done deal. I don't know if Moyo has any interest at all in the
welfare of the people of Tsholotsho, but I'm pretty sure he had got tired of
the tag of "unelected junior minister."

The paranoid Moyo believes there is a plot to "tarnish his image" ahead of
the poll by his detractors, and he uses every opportunity to get The Herald
and The Chronicle to act as his public relations outfits, to the great shame
and embarrassment of what were once reasonably respectable newspapers. I
absolutely howled with laughter at the "tarnish his image" claim. How is it
possible for anybody to soil Moyo's "image" any more than he has done
himself?! I do not need to go into all the ways in which the unfortunate
Moyo has been in the headlines worldwide for all the wrong reasons for
years. What "image," implying a certain degree of respectability, can
Nathaniel lay claim to and defend? At one point I almost thought The Herald
was using the expression in a tongue in cheek way, as if to say " we know
how ridiculous this sounds to you readers, but you know how compromised we
are, we have no choice but to write this garbage."

In response to many readers' queries, no, I cannot confirm that the real
reason ZANU-PF MP and previously well-connected businessman James Makamba
continues to languish in jail and almost spitefully be denied bail at every
turn is because he allegedly became a little too cozy with some prominent
married woman who was looking for an approximate age-mate to mess around
with! Anything is possible. If it is true then he should consider himself
lucky; according to the Harare rumour mill some youngish men have died or
been crippled in arranged accidents for similar lapses of judgment. Don't
for a minute believe "foreign currency externalisation and a crackdown on
corruption" to be the real reasons for his still being in jail. If they
were, the Mugabe cabinet, parliament and the top ranks of the ruling party
would be decimated!

The frail, pitiful-looking former finance minster Chris Kuruneri has also
hit a brick wall in his efforts to get bail for alleged "externalisation."
The poor guy's worst mistake was to get so publicly caught by the South
African Sunday Times, complete with pictures of his gaudy mansion in that

Interestingly, Jonathan Moyo also had a high profile house in South Africa
that was eventually reportedly disposed of unceremoniously when where he had
a little trouble keeping up with the mortgage payments. Being a man of a
supposedly "tarnishable" image, I trust that the way he acquired that
property and what he did with the proceeds of selling it were in accord with
the exchange control regulations for which Makamba, Kuruneri and others are
being crucified! Would an investigation into this to clear the "honourable"
minister from any chance of his political detractors using this to "tarnish"
his image not be in order? Perhaps Moyo should not be too eager to see
journalists thrown in to jail for flimsy violations of his notorious,
cynical press law : they could end up having the last laugh even before
there is a change of government; it's difficult to know who is safe any
more! Oh well, I guess all a minister can do in the meantime is to try to be
as shrill as possible in the defense of the emperor to try to safeguard
one's future.

What do you think of Moyo's bizarre stand off with Vice President Joseph
Msika over Kondozi Farm? The latter expressed misgivings about the bungling
state agricultural parastatal ARDA taking over this renowned, innovative and
successful farming experiment. Moyo loudly and publicly shouted Msika down
and seems to have won the stand-off, with Mugabe conspicuously failing to
come to the defense of his number two, implying support of the junior
minister's stance. What can this mean?

The word on the street is that some uncouth, ambitious and totally
unscrupulous political climber has succeeded in planting doubts in the
King's mind about the loyalty of some of his closest, longest-serving
colleagues. In so doing, it is said, he can then, like a knight in shining
armour to a frightened, insecure monarch say "but ah, you can trust and
believe me, look at how I have destroyed whatever good reputation I used to
enjoy for the sake of defending you to ridiculous extents." If this sounds
too much like the intrigue of some ancient medieval fiefdom rather than the
politics of a modern society, what can I say? Zimbabwe at the moment is
pretty much a one man fiefdom.

Please keep in mind that the unofficial but much sought after position of
"chief politician from Matabeleland" has been vacant since the death of Vice
President Joshua Nkomo several years ago. At various times this has appeared
to be occupied by John Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa and even that wily man of hard
to pin down ethnicity, Joseph Msika, by virtue of his having been a senior
aide of Nkomo, but none of have worn the title convincingly or confidently.
Given the pogrom of the 1980s by Mugabe that is still the source of a lot of
bitterness in that region, the water problems of the most arid part of the
country, coupled with particularly keenly experienced economic hardship,
Matabeleland is unlikely to be persuasively won over by Mugabe's party.

If you were a ruthless youngish opportunist who found himself within arm's
reach of imposing yourself into the position despite deep public antipathy
towards yourself in Matabeleland and nationwide but had found that this did
not mean you could not achieve many of your diabolical ends, what would stop
you from setting yourself the goal of attaining the position by embarrassing
potential foes for the prize? It's not at all as far fetched as it may seem
at first blush. Msika, Nathan Shamuyarira (who had his authority as chief
ZANU-PF spokesman recently put in doubt in an embarrassing way by our usual
suspect), and many of the ruling party old guard have never had to contend
with the degree of immoral, vicious self-seeking of the new crop of
mercenaries that have achieved prominence recently. What the old guard can
do for the king is limited; what the young mercenaries are motivated to do
by their dirty pasts, their ruthless ambition and relative energy is far
more to ensure his majesty achieves his wish of dying in office.

Imagine the gratitude of the King for "capturing" a notoriously rebellious
region of the country, unlikely to be won over by persuasion, and what doors
this may open up in the succession race. Who says one has to be "popular" to
be a player in the ZANU-PF succession stakes? Popularity is for sissies, not
for people who hope to make any headway in ZANU-PF! Would Mugabe still be
the ruler of Zimbabwe if he had depended on a quality as pedestrian as
"popularity?" Hell no, the electorate would have kicked him out a long time
ago, as it is alleged by many it actually in fact did at the last general

The MDC is on the offensive from a rampaging ruling party that does not want
to be embarrassed this election as it was last time around. Cars, houses,
positions used as inducements to prominent MDC officials have already
resulted in bitter, public splits. Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
predictably still tied up with a treason trial that was always meant to keep
him out of circulation despite flimsy evidence. Many other party leaders
have been jailed, beaten up, publicly embarrassed and harassed in countless
other ways. I suspect that in the next election many currently MDC-held
constituencies will get stuck with a ZANU-PF MP because the opposition
candidate will not be given anywhere near a chance of participating in even
a flawed contest.

If the MDC has any plan to counter the onslaught against it, it is certainly
not in evidence. The cracks within it have become more public and clear,
they messed up the campaign for a relatively safe urban seat they recently
almost gave away to ZANU-PF, and you find fewer Zimbabweans who hold them up
as their great hope for the near future. A blatantly, unapologetically
repressive political and media environment has severely limited their room
to maneuver. It calls for a kind of unity of purpose and innovation to get
around which it is not at all clear to me the party possesses.

Decline and repression continue under the regime of Mugabe,and life
continues to get harder for the great majority of Zimbabweans. The talk
about a great effort against corruption could not be sustained because this
cancer reaches the top-most levels. The country's international isolation
shows no sign of abating because of a government that now almost considers
being a rogue regime to be an issue of pride.

The government talks and acts with a ruthless belligerence against the
citizens. They talk tough to try to mask the many signs of a paranoid fear
of the public will they are smart enough to recognise to be against them.
The hopes of a magic wand to turn the country's economic fortunes around
without political reform are showing themselves to be the mirage they always
were. In other words, its business as usual in Zimbabwe as we continue our
sad downward spiral under a clueless, brutal regime.

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      Zims prefer the whip to prison court, president says

      Staff Writer
      5/13/2004 11:57:54 PM (GMT +2)

      FRANCISTOWN: A Customary Court president here has said that contrary
to popular belief, Zimbabwean criminals prefer to be caned to avoid

      "In most cases Zimbabweans fear being imprisoned and they prefer to be
caned as they always fail to pay fines imposed on them. You will notice that
Zimbabweans always prefer corporal punishment over other punishments," said
Martin Chilume of Monarch Customary Court.

      He dismissed allegations in the Zimbabwean press that Botswana uses
corporal punishment on Zimbabweans only. He said that in his court he uses
the penal code irrespective of nationality. "We are all equal before the
laws of Botswana regardless of our nationality," he explained.

      He said Customary Courts are not "kangaroo courts" as accused persons
have a right to appeal. "Corporal punishment is not uniquely a punishment
reserved for Zimbabweans," he said. He added that about 90 percent of cases
involving Zimbabweans are theft related. "You will notice that even our
state prisons are overcrowded in most cases with Zimbabweans and authorities
have been complaining about this state of affairs," he said explaining why
corporal punishment is sometimes necessary.

      The Zimbabwe press has condemned the 'barbaric' use of corporal
punishment by Botswana against Zimbabwean criminals. Reports in state-run
Herald newspaper quoting Zimbabwe's chief immigration officer Elasto Mugwadi
said the use of corporal punishment against Zimbabweans was unfair.

      But Tatitown Customary Court president, Ludo Margaret Mosojane
explained to Mmegi that Botswana laws are clear and they do not discriminate
against anybody. "We take our decisions based on the principles of law," she
said. Entering Botswana through ungazetted points, overstaying in the
country, shoplifting, are some of the offences commonly committed by the
Zimbabweans, she added. "At the Customary Courts, our sentences vary
depending on the evidence adduced and other factors. We warn, caution and
discharge; some face a fine, imprisonment and or both. Another form of
punishment is the administration of corporal punishment," she said. She
revealed that Zimbabweans shoot themselves in the leg because once they are
warned, cautioned and discharged they commit the same offences again. This
has necessitated the authorities to impose stiffer penalties.

      Mosojane said the allegations raised by the Zimbabwean authorities
"ignore the fact that Zimbabweans would have committed offences punishable
under the laws of Botswana. Also, they expect us to handle them with kid
gloves after committing these offences". She stressed that Zimbabweans
shoplift everyday according to the cases brought to her court.

      "That corporal punishment is 'barbaric' is nothing but the opinion of
an individual and there is a need for individuals to respect the laws of a
host country".

      Phase Four Customary Court president, Masego Masonya said that there
was no difference between punishment meted out to Zimbabweans and Batswana
offenders. "When we administer corporal punishment, we do it after a
necessary trial as the law dictates. We do not have specific canes reserved
for Zimbabweans and separate ones for the locals.

      "We consider the gravity of offences committed and other factors
before we reach a verdict. Zimbabweans are mostly involved in shoplifting
and immigration related offences like overstaying, entering the country at
ungazetted points, assault common and others. We are not going to be
intimidated by these biased observations made by the Zimbabwean authorities.
We will continue applying the cane to correct some of the behaviour that is
not acceptable within our shores," he said.
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New Zimbabwe

MDC MPs thrown out of House

By Agencies
Last updated: 05/13/2004 18:48:36
TWO opposition MDC MPs have been thrown out of the House by Deputy Speaker
of Parliament Edna Madzongwe for disobeying orders.

Fidelis Mhashu and Giles Mutsekwa, both from the Movement for Democratic
Change, were kicked out of the chamber on Wednesday when they refused to
keep quiet to give time to ministers who wereresponding to questions during
a question-and-answer session.

First to be thrown out was Mhashu, who had continued interjecting as
Minister of Education, Sport and Culture Aeneas Chigwedere was responding to
a question on the closure of some schools for illegally increasing fees.

Mutsekwa was booted out of the House when he refused to keep quiet while
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa was
answering a question on the hiring of prisonlabor to work on farms.

Although interjections are permitted in parliament in Zimbabwe,sometimes
they become so annoying to the extent of disturbing the business of the
House, forcing the speaker or deputy speaker to discipline those refusing to
obey orders.

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JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Updated 13th May 2004

Please send any job opportunities for publication in this newsletter to:
JAG Job Opportunities <>

1.  Advert Received 7th May 2004


1) Tobacco Manager required to run 200 hectare tobacco operation. 100 Ha
Irrigation, 100 Ha Dryland. in rotation with maize and wheat.
2) Assistant Manager required to assist with 200 Ha Tobacco, Maize and

Both positions available for this coming season.

Please contact Gordon Chance on phone number 260 05 362567 or email

For the latest listings of accommodation available for farmers, contact

JAG Hotlines:
(011) 612 595 If you are in trouble or need advice,
(011) 205 374
(011) 863 354 please don't hesitate to contact us -
(011) 431 068
                                we're here to help!
263 4 799 410 Office Lines
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


As long as we have some definite idea about or some hope in the future, we
cannot really be serious with the moment that exists right now.
(Suzuki Roshi)



Letter 1.  JAG Open Letters Forum 11th May 2004
                OLF 266
                RE: Estimated 6 million Victims of Starviation
                in Zimbabwe for the Current Year
Robert Mugabe has on occasion hailed Hitler for his solution to the "racial
problem" in Nazi Germany.
He sports a a similar moustache and preaches racial hatred
He has destroyed the Agricultural Sector by his "forced aquisitions of
White owned, succesful farms,". mostly lying fallow and unproductive.
He is Hitler reborn, even to the estimated victims of his regime revisited
in the 20th Century , viz 6 million starving people.
"Vote for Me or Starve" will be his slogan.

He is too afraid to die because he knows he is headed toward Hell, where
he will meet his maker


Letter 2 Subject: Total Onslaught

In the dying days of the apartheid regime in South Africa, those of us who
lived in the "Front Line States" were subjected to a wide range of attacks
on our wellbeing and security.  It was a no holds barred effort by the
South African regime to protect itself from the growing influence of
regional states and the international community.

Infrastructure was destroyed; schools, clinics and food production systems
were undermined and sabotaged. Hundreds of thousands of people died - many
from hunger and the effect of the collapse of normal social support
systems. Rebel movements were financed and armed and even given clandestine
logistical support by a rogue regime that knew it was against the ropes.
The regime justified the operation saying they were being subjected to "a
total onslaught" that required a "total response".

In Zimbabwe, we have seen a similar last-ditch effort by the Mugabe regime
to defend itself by reckless attacks on a very wide range of targets. The
commercial farmers, the independent media, targeted industrialists, bankers
and others who were perceived as being potential sources of opposition
activity. Now the independent schools and remaining pockets of commercial

The result. Death rates have soared to over 300 000 people a year - three
times the "normal death rate". Some 8 million people have been critically
short of food for most of the past 4 years. A third of all children of
school going age and two thirds of all girls, are no longer in school. The
economy is in free fall - declining 40 per cent in 6 years and foreign
exchange earnings are down by two thirds. Over a third of the work force
has lost their jobs in the formal sector and only 8 per cent of the
population are now employed. A quarter of the total population has fled the
country for political and economic reasons.

Right now the pace is accelerating even further - a new Reserve Bank
Governor is herding all available foreign exchange towards the State
coffers, selected targets in the financial sector are being picked out for
"special attention". No one is exempt from attack. If you are perceived as
being less than reliable in this conflagration, you are neutralized. All
State organs are being mobilized for one last-ditch effort to protect the
status quo at any cost.

They know full well that pressure for free and fair elections are growing
steadily - both in the international realm and here in the region. They
know that time is running out, they feel that they have the upper hand over
the MDC which they see as exhausted and short of resources and barely able
to stand up after 4 years of pummeling in the ring. What they need now is a
knockout blow - if this match is allowed to run to the end of its allotted
rounds, they are scared of a point's loss to a more nimble, disciplined and
principled opponent.

So the talk is all about a snap election in September or October this year.
Zanu PF is racing to complete its preparations - candidates selected, a
rigged voters roll, and gerrymandered constituency boundaries.  The
opponent beaten and exhausted by constant attacks and restrictions on its
access to essential resources. What is intended is much the same as the
final scene in the film "Gladiator" where a severely wounded Maximus is
pitted against the wily Caesar. Caesar intends to take his life in an
unequal contest witnessed by thousands who are unaware of the injury done
to Maximus just a short while before.

I am sure we are going to see a relaxation of some the restrictions that we
have been operating under in the past 4 years - Sky Television is here
right now - so is Kenya Television - both carefully supervised and being
shown what they can and cannot film. Oh yes, they were allowed to see
Morgan Tsvangirai - locked in his cage and unable to move freely before the
contest. I am sure we will see some concessions to a free and fair election
- not fundamental enough to permit Zimbabweans to vote freely and secretly
for those they wish to govern them. But enough to allow Zanu PF to claim
victory after the contest supported by their acolytes in the stands from
the region.

The preparations for this final round (final for Zanu PF) are almost
completed. The local media is cowed and nearly totally controlled by Zanu
PF, sources of support for the MDC are also cowed and suppressed. MDC
structures have been severely damaged by a campaign of terror and arbitrary
arrest and detention. The voters roll is being manipulated on a massive
scale - MDC has not been able, despite repeated requests and Court
decisions in our favour, to get a copy of the roll - in any form. From the
limited access we have had over the past two years we know that there are 2
to 3 million-ghost voters on the roll. We also know that hundreds of
thousands have been taken off the roll or had their votes transferred to
another constituency.

We also know they are preparing to again reduce the number of urban
constituencies despite the growth in the urban population. Squatter camps
are in existence on the outskirts of all the cities and towns and are being
settled under Zanu PF supervision and control.

Now we also have clear evidence that they are going to use the food crisis
to the maximum extent that they can in the election. Last year they
carefully built up a stock of maize - 250 000 tonnes. This is being held by
the GMB in silos. They know there is at the very most 800 000 tonnes of
grain from the present harvest - enough for 4 months. This gives the
country enough food for human consumption up to August.

In August real food shortages will appear. Alternative foods such as rice,
bread, potatoes will all be prohibitively expensive for the majority.
Dependency on maize as the basic affordable staple will be at its peak. The
maize purchased in 2003 will be cheap enough to give away - already paid
for and in the hands of a parastatal controlled by the military.

Zanu PF will make maize available through its systems - at low prices and
on a strictly rationed basis - both in urban and rural areas. They will
then say - "any constituency voting for MDC will lose its food supply. If
you do not vote for the government, why should the government feed you?"

Voting in the rural areas, resettlement areas and in Zanu PF controlled
shantytowns will be under close supervision. Headmen will line up their
people and tell them who to vote for. The penalty for not doing so is made
quite clear - expulsion from the village or shantytown or your patch on a
confiscated commercial farm.

All polling stations will have their associated camps of green bombers or
militia. State agencies linked to the military will be everywhere. The
threat of force and violence constant - even if unspoken. This weekend, as
the people of Lupane vote in a bi election they will do so under a threat
from Zanu PF that if they vote MDC "the 5th Brigade will come back". This,
in a community that saw the brunt of the killings and genocide in 1983/85.
The first order of business for a peasant family or a family in a squatter
camp is to survive.

That is the whole point of the "total onslaught". The question is, can we,
like Maximus, get up enough courage and strength to go back into the ring
and beat this monster? We can - that is what makes a competitor a champion
in every competition.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 10 May 2004
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.
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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Weekly Media Update 2004-18

Monday May 3rd  - Sunday May 9th 2004









1. General Comment


ELECTION reporting fatigue appeared to be taking its toll on the media as was reflected by the way they covered the run-up to the Lupane by-election scheduled for this weekend (May 15th and 16th).

While the private media generally have reported political violence and manipulation of the electorate in recent weeks, there were virtually no stories updating their audiences of the situation in the final week leading to the election, and precious little information about the electoral process itself. For example, none of the media fully examined the state of the voters’ roll, which the opposition has previously accused government agencies of tampering with to ensure a ruling party victory, or other related electoral mechanics, such as logistics on the number and nature of polling stations, or the composition and number of election officials, including monitors and observers, all crucial elements in the exercise of democracy.


Rather, the government media, as epitomized by The Sunday News (9/5), seemed pre-occupied with campaigning exclusively for the ruling party in its two articles, Zanu-PF vows to bury MDC in Lupane and, A choice between barren politics of protest and fruitful politics of progress.


On the other hand, the private media did not carry any specific stories on the Lupane by-election, focusing instead on broader interpretative reports exposing ZANU PF’s methodical but unorthodox plans to tilt the outcome of next year’s parliamentary elections in its favour. For example, the Zimbabwe Independent (7/5) quoted the MDC alleging that the ruling party wanted to eject food aid agencies from the country on the pretext that the nation has enough food, so it could “use total control over relief food distribution as a key campaign tool in the next year’s parliamentary election”. 

The MDC’s shadow agriculture minister, Renson Gasela, is reported alleging that ZANU PF had stocked maize for the purpose.

The Standard (9/5) also viewed government’s recent hefty salary awards to chiefs as part of the ruling party’s attempts to buy their support as happened during the March Gutu North by-election.


Besides the vote-buying claims however, The Zimbabwe Independent also warned that ZANU PF was likely to intensify its violent campaign to subdue the opposition during the parliamentary election due in 2005, but which the paper suggested could be held as early as October this year. It cited the recent retribution exercise conducted by ZANU PF supporters against the MDC supporters in Chiendambuya, Manicaland, as an example. Opposition supporters were severely assaulted for attending a rally addressed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Despite such adversity an optimistic MDC secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, told The Financial Gazette (6/5) that he expected the ruling party would concede to his party’s demands to overhaul the flawed electoral laws and level the playing field ahead of the parliamentary poll.

The paper did not however question the source of his confidence.


2. Schools closure


THE docile manner in which the government-controlled media, particularly ZBC, covered the government’s use of the police to enforce its closure of private schools it accused of massively hiking school fees further underscored the extent to which the authorities have transformed these media into unquestioning conduits of racial bigotry.

The government broadcaster allowed Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere to claim – without substantiation – that private schools were “racist” and were therefore increasing fees to discriminate against black people.

The broadcaster’s complicity in this regard was more pronounced in the way it regurgitated these claims without subjecting them to any analysis or balancing them with comments from the affected parents and the school authorities on the reasons behind the increased fees.


Notably, Zimpapers’ publications, which usually adopt a similar stance to ZBC on topical issues, initially steered clear of Chigwedere’s unproven racial claims and preferred to carry factual, fair and relatively balanced event reports on the matter. Thus, unlike their electronic counterpart, the papers also quoted the affected parents’ condemnation of the closures. However, by the end of the week their “independent” stance was brought into line following more racist remarks made by Chigwedere on ZTV’s Face the Nation programme.  Opinion pieces in the Chronicle (8/5), the Sunday News and The Sunday Mail (9/5) unquestioningly echoed Chigwedere’s allegations and called for tougher action against the schools.


Like ZBC, the government papers did not fully discuss the legality of the government action.

The private media however, categorically condemned the schools’ closure as illegal since the Education Act, which the authorities and the media they control used to justify the shutdowns, has no provision for this action.


As news of government’s closure of the 45 private schools emerged in The Herald (4/5), ZTV (4/5, 6pm) tried to justify the move saying it was meant to “preserve the gains made by government in the education sector since independence”. The station and Power FM (4/5, 8pm) then quoted Chigwedere contriving a racial factor to defend the illegal shutdown. Citing St George’s College and Peterhouse as examples, Chigwedere described the private schools as “racist schools” which wanted “to throw the black majority out of education” and added that, “government won’t hesitate to deal with this racist attitude”. 


To give the government action a seal of public approval, ZTV (4/5, 8pm) then conducted street interviews with selected members of the public and claimed that most parents had condemned the fee hikes because they felt the move was aimed at discriminating against “the black majority and move back to the era when some schools were meant for whites only.” No comment was sought from the schools’ authorities. Neither did the broadcaster try to relate the fee increases to the runaway cost of living. Instead, it quoted Chigwedere downplaying this by allowing him to claim that the “Prices of most goods are going down.”


But Studio 7 (5/5) and The Standard (9/5) disputed this. The Standard noted that school fees, like everything else in Zimbabwe, had risen because of “the abnormal economic environment” caused by “Zanu PF’s skewed policies,” while Studio 7 quoted University of Zimbabwe educationist Fred Zindi saying the fees hikes were made
“to counter inflation” and allow the schools to continue to offer high quality education.
Zindi dismissed Chigwedere’s claims that private schools were racist saying Zimbabwe’s white population is very small and the majority of the pupils in those schools are black…” Though most of these schools are run by whites, he added, “it is not the (white) principals who make these increases but the PTAs (Parents and Teachers Associations)…”
Teachers who were also quoted on the same bulletin agreed, saying, “more than 70% of their students are black”.


Some corroboration of these claims appeared in The Herald (6/5). The paper quoted parents as having told Chigwedere that 80 percent of children enrolled at private schools were blacks thereby “significantly exceeding” government’s stipulated quota of 60 percent. The paper also deviated from its usual passivity when reporting government policies by quoting parents condemning the closure. The authorities should “raise standards at its own schools” rather than “focusing on closing private schools”, said one parent. Similar views appeared in The Herald (5/5) and even The Sunday Mail.


But the public broadcaster refused to exercise even this minimal professional standard. Rather, it meekly provided Chigwedere (ZTV’s Face the Nation (6/5, 9.30pm) with an unbridled platform to divert public attention from the real issues bedeviling the education sector in Zimbabwe by allowing him to dabble in racial and nationalist rhetoric.

Said Chigwedere, fully exposing the source of deep-seated racial hatred that has characterized Zimbabwean politics for the past four years: “These schools… are the factories that manufacture the Rhodesians. At any rate, look at their history; they were established by the Rhodesian regime to produce future Rhodesian leaders and they have remained Rhodesian to this day. And the ownership is foreign, it is British. The very war that we are fighting against Britain is the very war we are fighting against these schools… this is another front of the racist war that we are fighting”.


Instead of subjecting these absurd allegations to analysis, the Chronicle (8/5), Sunday News and The Sunday Mail rehashed and approved such insidious racism. For example, the Chronicle’s Busybody column, notable for its crude attacks against perceived government opponents, celebrated government’s crackdown on the schools, describing them as an “extension of apartheid”. The column claimed that “whites” established “whites only” schools after realizing “that they could not practice racism in independent Zimbabwe”, adding that it “liked” Chigwedere’s comments.


The Sunday News’s Goings-On column also welcomed the closure saying “little Rhodesians” were “unacceptable” while The Sunday Mail’s Tafataona Mahoso likened government’s action to the “Third Chimurenga”, which would prevent private schools from producing “another bunch of Rhodies in African skin”.

These papers however, conveniently ignored the fact that not all the closed private schools are white-owned, as illustrated by Tynwald Primary School, owned by retired army commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe.


Eventually however, the schools’ response to their closure obliged the media to reveal the illegal nature of government’s action. ZTV (6/5, 8pm), The Herald and the Zimbabwe Independent (7/5) reported that the High Court, with the consent of the State, had ordered the reopening of Hartmann House Preparatory School, which had filed an urgent application against the government’s action.

The Herald and the Zimbabwe Independent also revealed that other private schools in Masvingo and Bulawayo had also filed court applications seeking to nullify the closure.

The Independent quoted the schools’ lawyer, Richard Majwabu-Moyo, saying, “There is no provision in the Education Act that gives the Minister of Education powers to shut down schools for raising fees and what he has done is illegal.”

The Standard and Studio 7 (6/5) quoted other legal experts making similar observations.

Despite this, ZBC (6/5, 8pm), The Herald and the Zimbabwe Independent (7/5) still reported the police as having arrested some of the school headmasters accused of unilaterally hiking fees.


Unlike the Independent however, The Herald did not name some of the arrested headmasters or their schools. Rather, it only revealed that those arrested in Marondera had paid deposit fines after signing admission of guilt forms and quoted police spokesman Andrew Phiri saying the police “were enforcing the laws that exist and we will continue to do so until everyone complies…”

The paper did not question this falsehood.

Studio 7 (6/5), however, quoted Harare lawyer Simon Ziva saying there are no legal provisions for such arrests as private school staffers “do no fall under the essential category in terms of the Public Service Act.”


But the authorities’ disdain for the law and their continued abuse of office to formulate self-serving legislation without regard to other people’s freedoms was clearly demonstrated by Chigwedere’s remarks on ZTV’s Face The Nation. Chigwedere pointed out that government would circumvent the law by amending the Education Act so as to legitimize its demands on private schools. Citing the Hartmann court victory, he said private schools might “win (court cases) because they have exploited a loophole somewhere. In two, three weeks, we will have plugged the hole. They discover another one and exploit it, six months thereafter, we plug the hole… there is no way they can win…”



3. Indicators of an ailing economy


BARELY three weeks after the government media hailed the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s monetary policy review statement as the tonic for the country’s economic ills, symptoms of economic recession littered media space in the week. Even the government Press, which so assiduously assures the public of the country’s economic recovery, gave the game away when they increased their cover prices, attributing the hikes to increased production costs including newsprint.


The week also witnessed an increase in the price of a loaf of bread from about $2,000 to $2,900, The Herald (5/5), Radio Zimbabwe (5/5, 1pm), Power FM (5/5, 1pm), and The Manica Post (7/5). In their reports, these media quoted bakers justifying the bread price hike by citing the increase in the price of flour from $2,5 million to $3,4 million dollars a tonne. Other factors such as increases in wages, electricity, transport and spare parts were also cited.


However, the government media merely presented these problems as peculiar to the baking industry and not representative of the broader economic environment.

The Sunday Mail claimed that price increases were not justified because of the “decline in the country’s inflation rate and the cheap funds being made available to the manufacturers through the Reserve Bank’s Productive Sector Facility”.

The paper then tried to give the impression that government policies have resulted in phenomenal growth in the manufacturing sector. It quoted unnamed “retailers” as saying “manufacturers who increase prices unreasonably risk going out of business as there is increased competition” as “indigenous players are now venturing into manufacturing, with some of them even running promotions to outdo established manufacturers”.


The same article quoted the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) calling on government to reintroduce food subsidies on basic commodities “to make them affordable”.  The implications of this were studiously avoided. In fact, the failure by the government media to examine the adverse effects of subsidies on the economy manifested itself in the manner they reported the increase in the producer price of maize.

ZBC (4/5, 8pm), The Herald and the Chronicle (5/5) announced that the government-run Grain Marketing Board would now buy a tonne of maize from farmers for $750,000 up from last year’s $300,000 a tonne while maintaining its selling price to millers at $400,000 a tonne and to drought-stricken areas at $9,000 a tonne.

However, none of them examined how this economically senseless decision would affect the fiscus. Neither did they examine the inflationary effects of offering resettled farmers free transport to ferry their produce to the GMB, The Herald (7/5).


The private media paid lip service to the issue. Nevertheless, they highlighted the continued erosion of workers’ incomes due to the recent price increases. For example, The Sunday Mirror (9/5) pointed out that although CCZ and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) use different figures to measure workers’ incomes, they both illustrated the difficulties workers are encountering. For instance, the conservative CSO figures show that a family of six, whose breadwinner earns a minimum wage of  $47,696 “needs $475 525 a month for the food basket alone…” while CCZ figures put the poverty datum line at “$968 525 a month”. The Tribune (7/5) carried similar CCZ figures.


The week also witnessed the Zimbabwean currency sliding from $5,200 to $5,333 against the US dollar. The Daily Mirror (5/7) attributed this to the central bank’s decision to allow the local currency “to operate in free market conditions”. The paper (7/5) quoted an economist pointing out that this would result in increases in the price of most goods, including basic commodities. Said the economist: “All these changes will lead to demands for higher wages as price increases will erode the disposable income of workers and consumers and this will have an inflationary impact on the economy”.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at

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The Herald

Salary negotiations to be tough

SALARY and wage negotiations for this year are set to be a tough battle as
the country's two main labour unions are demanding massive increases in
workers' pay despite Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe calls for restraint in the

Both the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Federation of
Trade Unions said in separate interviews that constant increases in prices
of basic commodities had resulted in most workers failing to make ends meet.

ZCTU president Mr Lovemore Matombo said unions would be seeking a minimum
salary of $871 000 during this year's collective bargaining exercise, as
provided by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe price index for the month of
January 2004.

"Even though there has been a reduction on inflation, prices are constantly
going up as evidenced by recent increase in transport fares and prices of

"Salaries and wages should also match such increases," said Mr Matombo.

He added that most unions and employers had resorted to negotiating on a
quarterly basis in trying to match with what he said were "regular"
increases in cost of living.

A prominent Bulawayo-based labour consultant, Mr Davies Ndumiso Sibanda
called for restraint in this year's collective bargaining exercise as the
country's economy was on its way to recovery.

"The country's economy is on a steady growth and there is no need for
workers to be awarded huge salary increases as it will impact negatively on
the implementation of the monetary policy," said Mr Sibanda.

ZFTU vice-president Mr Joseph Chinotimba said while his organisation was
cognisant of the monetary policy targets, there was also a need for
employers to award a reasonable salary and wage increase.

Mr Chinotimba accused some employers and industrialists of continuously
hiking prices without reciprocating on workers salaries.

He said that ZFTU was seeking what he termed a "reasonable" salary increase
from employers, adding that ZFTU wanted minimum wages to be pegged at $900
000 per month.

Mr Chinotimba said some employers were willing to offer better packages.

In his quarterly review of the monetary policy, central bank governor, Dr
Gideon Gono, appealed to labour unions to put more emphasis on containing
inflation during this year's collective bargaining exercise. - Bulawayo
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Date: 2004-05-13

Archbishop Assails Zimbabwe Food Claims

HARARE, Zimbabwe, MAY 13, 2004 ( The Zimbabwe government's
refusal of international food aid will leave the country hungry, says
Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe ordered U.N. crop assessors to stop their work last week, and
forecast a bumper harvest, BBC said.

But the archbishop told the BBC's Network Africa program that the government
was "not telling the truth," and much land lay unfarmed.

"So I fear, for instance in western Zimbabwe, many people will have enough
food for three or four months, after which they will need food aid," he

Zimbabwe has relied on food aid since it began controversial land reform
seizures in 2000.

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New Zimbabwe

Harare grinds to halt as council workers strike

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 05/13/2004 22:18:16
CITY of Harare employees have gone on strike leaving many rate payers

The Harare Municipality Workers Union said the City of Harare had failed to
provide protective clothing and necessary equipment for their employees,
forcing them to embark on industrial action.

The strike which started on Wednesday on a low note has grounded the entire
City Health Department, Cleansing department and the Amenities department.
Employees from other departments which do not heavily rely on protective
clothes have also joined the strike in solidarity with their workmates.

Most Council clinics were not operational in the morning although the nurses
were around but simply not offering their services. The rubbish collectors
were not on the road as well as they are the most affected. The sewerage
workers at Corobrough in Mufakose have downed their tools and ladies in red
who are usually everywhere sweeping the city roads were nowhere to be found
this morning.

Protective clothing have been said to be a necessity in most council
departments since work related deaths have increased. Gloves, uniforms,
canvasses, boots and tools are the most common items that the employees use
at various departments.

"The council is busy deliberating on trivial issues like firing Leslie
Gwindi when our people are dying on duty," said said Mr Bungu the Chairman
of Harare Municipality Workers Union. "We have been writing to them since
last year but nothing has changed. Work related deaths have increased due to
HIV hence the need to have protective clothing all the times. Imagine a
worker with his boots full of human worst because they are torn, surely
something must be done about our welfare."

The problems at the council departments have been worsened because most
machines are broken down and work has to be done manually.

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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!



Sokwanele : 14 May 2004

This weekend, the people of Lupane will be queuing to cast their vote in a by-election resulting from the death of David Mpala, the MDC Member of Parliament elected in 2000. Theirs is no ordinary constituency: Lupane is a name synonymous with some of the worst human rights violations imaginable. This drought stricken remote rural area of Zimbabwe has a long acquaintance with violence. During the liberation struggle, international newspapers carried reports of vicious attacks on missionaries and civilians in the area. But freedom did not bring peace; international attention was once again focussed on Lupane in post-independence Zimbabwe in July 1982 when six foreign tourists were allegedly abducted.


Within days of the disappearance of the tourists, Robert Mugabe deployed troops into the Matabeleland North areas of Lupane and Tsholotsho under the pretext of searching for the whereabouts of the missing six tourists. The Mthwakazi Action Group on Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in Matabeleland and Midlands 2000 (based in London) maintain that the abductions were orchestrated by Robert Mugabe to justify a crackdown on the area, resulting in the torture and murder of thousands of civilians with the intent to undermine the main opposition at the time, Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU. They note: "Scores of villagers and communities were raped, beaten, tortured, killed or disappeared. Hundreds of thousands more were compelled with threats of torture, beatings and killings to join and buy ZANU-PF membership cards".


It was not until the late 1990s that the full extent of the atrocities reached international public attention through the publication of the Breaking the Silence report, but that is not to say that the International community was unaware of what was happening during the 1980s.


Donald Trelford, editor of The Observer (UK) recalled an interview that he had with Robert Mugabe in 1984 where he asked Mugabe whether he would ever consider a political solution to the Matabeleland issue rather then the military one. Trelford describes Mugabe's response to his question as 'blunt' and 'chilling'. Mugabe replied:


'The solution is a military one. Their grievances are unfounded. The verdict of the voters was cast in 1980. They should have accepted defeat then… The situation in Matabeleland is one that requires a change. The people must be reoriented.'


The Breaking the Silence report describes in detail what a militaristic reorientation programme involves: curfews are imposed, journalists are forbidden to enter the area, but worst of all, troops trained in 'counter insurgency', or, to use Mugabe's euphemism, 'reorientation' are let loose on a community.


In 1983, the infamous red-bereted 5 Brigade was deployed in Matabeleland. These were no ordinary troops: they were soldiers equipped with unusually cruel skills, trained by North Koreans recruited specifically to impart this knowledge. We learn through the Breaking the Silence report that the methods used to address "reorientation", "change", "unfounded grievances", to teach a community to "accept defeat", were methods that involved civilian murders, civilian rapes, civilian torture and the destruction of civilian property.


"Five Brigade passed first through Tsholotsho, spreading out rapidly through Lupane and Nkayi, and their impact on all these communal areas was shocking. Within the space of six weeks more than 2000 civilians had died, hundreds of homesteads had been burnt and thousands of civilians had been beaten. Most of the dead were killed in public executions involving between one and 12 people at a time."


The same report describes in detail some of the techniques used. Most would defy the most creative imagination of Hollywood's horror film directors; all techniques were intended to maximise terror, pain, grief and humiliation.


One of the most difficult things to comprehend is that these perverse barbaric acts of cruelty were not the actions of psychopaths, but soldiers. Their 'enemy' was not an invading army from foreign borders, nor were they fighting for freedom against a repressive racist regime; the 'enemy' were our fellow Zimbabweans - men, women, children, the elderly: the innocent and the defenceless; the helplessly isolated.


Lupane is singled out in the Breaking the Silence report as being the area where, more than other areas, entire villages were destroyed - huts deliberately burned down by the 5 Brigade, sometimes while people were still in them. Lupane is also singled out as an area where people were frequently denied the right to bury their dead:


“burial was on occasion forbidden, and relatives of the dead were reportedly forced to observe the remains of their dead rotting away and being scavenged. In these cases, bones were sometimes buried months or years later, and in other cases, bones were removed by the 5 Brigade, who came past in trucks and collected them. In cases where bones were removed by 5 Brigade, chances of recovery now are almost non-existent” (Breaking the Silence 1997).


Offences for Lupane are conservatively estimated in the report as follows:


Death: 275

Missing: 41

Property loss: 58

Physical torture: 2

Detention (by Govt. agencies): 158

Physical torture: Assault with Sticks, or other blunt weapon: 186

Physical torture: Assault with Burning object, or enclosure of victim in burning building : 10

Physical torture: Assault with Bayonette, or other sharp weapon: 1

Physical injury: Gun Shot Wound: 37

Rape: 6


"Reorientation" and "Accepting defeat": these were the words used by Mugabe to sweep away and justify the calculated cruelty, murder, torture, degradation, humiliation and intimidation of his own people, his fellow Zimbabweans.


In an open letter to Mugabe in 1997, Amnesty International called on Mugabe to acknowledge the horror that had happened years earlier. But it was not until 1999, at Joshua Nkomo's funeral, that Mugabe flirted, for the first time, with the notion of accountability by acknowledging the impact on innocent people, saying, "The conflict which took place caused great suffering among innocent people, we regret that". His 'almost apology' was immediately qualified, however, with the words "but these conflicts always do that".


A year later, in July 2000, Mugabe tried again to perpetuate the myth that his specially trained troops were fighting a justifiable conflict, a war against an identifiable and dangerous enemy, rather than indiscriminately massacring thousands of civilians. This time he was speaking at a memorial service for Joshua Nkomo. Possibly still reeling from shock at the number of seats won by the MDC at the general elections earlier in the year, Mugabe said: "It was an act of madness, we killed each other and destroyed each other's property" and "It was wrong". But again, the 'almost apology' is qualified with the ready words "both sides were to blame".


This is unacceptable to the communities who endured 5 Brigade's special brand of cruelty, as the words of one Gukuruhundi survivor clearly illustrates:


"Mugabe, whose praises we were made to sing while these people were being murdered, is not saying anything. "The people whom we regarded as our leaders in PF Zapu, are now living in glass houses, and our children remain where the killers decided they should remain. Is that the type of country we fought for?"


If this was a 'war', a 'national security issue' where 'both sides' were wrong, why has Mugabe been so reluctant to release the findings of the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe reports into the Matabeleland atrocities? Further, are we to believe that it is purely coincidental that the only existing copy of the Dumbutshena report was reportedly removed from the National Archives by the CIO? Why have the mass graves of those killed 'in action' (as Mugabe would like us to believe) been dug up and the bones moved to unknown locations?


Years later, the ruling party's efforts to impose 'reorientation' and 'accepting defeat' on a civilian population continues. The familiar pattern emerges once more - an absence of journalists, no-go areas : yet another "curtain of silence". The people of Lupane found their voice in 2000 despite all the 'lessons' ruthlessly forced upon the people of Lupane by Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF over the years; despite the fact that the genocide, rapes, murders and torture incurred very little response from the international community; and despite the fact that they were once again isolated from the media. They collectively, and courageously, spoke through the ballot box by electing David Mpala of the MDC as their Member of Parliament.


Once again, the response was murder.


In February 2001 the MDC's ward chairman for Sizangobuhle ward, Jameson Sicwe, was murdered by a group of war veterans who dragged him from his home and beat him with thick sticks all over his body. He died on the spot.


One year earlier, in April 2000, David Mpala had been abducted and severely beaten by a group of about 40 ruling ZANU-PF supporters. A year after the death of Jameson Sicwe, the Daily News reported that David Mpala was fighting for his life after being abducted by ZANU-PF supporters on a Sunday afternoon, who then went on to "slit his abdomen with knives" and try to crush his skull. Unlike Jameson Sicwe, David Mpala's wounds did not kill him immediately. He died earlier this year, in February 2004, two years after being stabbed. The MDC have stated that Mpala's death was brought about by injuries sustained in 2002, while the state-controlled media trumpeted that he had died of meningitis.


Whatever the cause of David Mpala's death, Lupane is once again the centre of attention. Dates for the by-election have been set for 15 and 16 May 2004. The two main candidates are Njabuliso Mguni for the MDC, and Martin Khumalo for ZANU-PF.


The 5 Brigade have not returned, but the 'curtain of silence' that has once again fallen now conceals the activities of another specially trained wing of ZANU-PF; the 'Green Bombers' - so-named by the public because of their green uniforms and thuggish brutality. (A recent Herald article suggests too that the notorious red-beret, a visual reminder of the infamous 5 Brigade, is also a part of their uniform).


These are not soldiers: they are our own youth. Young people whose minds have been deliberately and systematically broken down through a programme of calculated abuse to teach them to accommodate ZANU-PF's unpalatable view that torturing and attacking their own communities, sometimes their own families, is their duty. The following transcript details a conversation between Hillary Andersson, a BBC correspondent, and Edward, a young man who now works in the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation:


ANDERSSON: […] The next vital stage of training is an intense programme of indoctrination. The youths are taught to think like Mugabe. Edward, back in the ministry, only qualified for his job monitoring the camps after going through the process of psychological training himself.


EDWARD: They have to deal with you physically and then they have to take out the stuff which you have in your mind and then put in the new stuff which is literally brainwashing.


ANDERSSON: Is that what they told you?




ANDERSSON: That they wanted….


EDWARD: Yes, they want to empty your mind out and then once you're called in, you go with an empty mind.


ANDERSSON: This is a lesson taking place inside a camp. The youths are taught Mugabe's own version of history. The manual they learn from is written by the President himself. The lesson is simple and racist. Mugabe and his party Zanu, are the heroes of blacks. The opposition party, the MDC is backed by whites and is bad. Questioning this is forbidden.


EDWARD: I was taught that the enemy was obviously the opposition and mostly the whites. Those were the main enemies of Zimbabwe.


ANDERSSON: Mugabe repeats this message again and again to the youth and the nation. Enemies of the state, enemies of Mugabe's party Zanu-PF must be made to repent (BBC, Panorama, 6 March 2004).


On the 28th March 2004, The Standard reported the inevitable: hundreds of green bombers were being bussed into Lupane to prepare for the upcoming by-election. The success of the MDC in 2000 showed that grotesque violence might not be enough to support Mugabe's party; perhaps realising this, ZANU-PF has adjusted to accommodate other vote-acquiring tactics. It was not long before the MDC called attention to the fact that hundreds of green bombers were now also being registered as voters in the Lupane constituency. One political analyst observed that the ghost of the 1980s, which had previously helped the MDC win support from this embattled community, was no longer a threat to ZANU-PF: he commented that the "ghost can also be "rigged out"".


Nevertheless, violence is deeply instilled in the ZANU-PF pathology and appears to be a hard habit to break. Favourite techniques are still being employed to lend support to any rigging operations set in place. The MDC's candidate, Njabuliso Mguni, campaigns daily with the sobering knowledge that the previous MP was abducted and brutally stabbed, later dying from his injuries; that Lupane's ward chairman was also brutally murdered. He takes the precautions of travelling around this rural constituency in a special armour plated vehicle, and of sleeping in different hiding places every night. During the day, he has to contend with his campaign meetings being disrupted or cancelled, as well as constant police harassment.


This testimony from an eyewitness at one of Njabuliso Mguni's campaign rallies has been extracted from a report carried in The Standard:


"As suddenly as they arrived, some of the vehicles - laden with war veterans and Zanu PF youths - started moving fast in a circle right round the open space entrapping hundreds of MDC supporters who were listening to a fired up Mguni. Mguni, a veteran educationist, was urging them to shun the ruling party in the by-election set for May 15 and 16 and instead vote for the MDC. At the same time, other vehicles with menacing looking occupants, were being revved, making such ear-shattering noise that it was obvious this was a deliberate ploy to make it impossible for Mguni to communicate with his audience. Apart from that, the vehicles also raised so much dust that engulfed the gathering within seconds.


Confronted by this frightful scenario, it didn't take long for the faint-hearted to take to their heels escaping from what turned out to be the Gomoza circle of despair. Among those caught up in the stampede were elderly men, women and children. Only a few people, mainly MDC officials and ex-Zipra combatants stood their ground and remained at the venue until the hullabaloo died down. Out came the leaders of the war veterans and the militia who announced that the meeting was illegal and everyone had to disperse. "Abandon your rally and get away now," said a fierce looking war veteran threateningly, as he and his mates pranced about like prize fighters.”


The journalist who witnessed these events went on to report that two people, civilians, were fighting for their lives as a result of attacks by war veterans and ZANU-PF supporters. In a chilling reminder of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of David Mpala and Jameson Sicwe, the same newspaper reported a week later that five opposition supporters had been abducted by ZANU-PF supporters and taken to a place where they were severely assaulted. Two days before polling was due to start, newspapers reported that at least 64 MDC supporters had been indiscriminately arrested by the police.


When the people of Lupane queue to vote on the 15 and 16 May, they must do so with mixed feelings. Without doubt, everyone in the community will know the story of the Gukuruhundi, many will have heard tales about members of their family, many others may have had families who preferred silence, because the pain of the story is too hard to tell. This is a community with a collective scarred psyche. But it is also an incredibly brave and defiant community.


Many of us fear speaking out in Zimbabwe these days, because the repercussions are thuggish and swift. We have slowly learned too that the likelihood of the international community coming to our rescue is small, infinitesimal. The people of Lupane know this far better than any of us can ever imagine, and yet they still attend rallies, they will still try, however futile it may turn out to be, to cast their vote this weekend. In the face of their instinct for survival, 'freedom' and 'democracy' still matter. Their courage is humbling and an inspiration to us all.


Let us resolve this weekend that despite the rigging, the violence and the brutality that may be taking place at this very moment, despite our own despair at the government's efforts to continue to break down our spirit through forced school closures and the destruction of the economy, that each and every one of us spares a thought for the people of Lupane. Talk about them to your family and friends. Above all, pray for them.


Mugabe would have you believe that land is everything in this country of ours, but a nation would be nothing without its people. Mugabe has taken the land, but the only way he can say he has the support of the people is through brute force, theft, deception and cruelty. Journalists may find it difficult to do their job in Lupane this weekend, but let us not forget that we are all storytellers. If the media cannot represent the people of Lupane, then it falls to us, their fellow Zimbabweans, to honour them with our memories, and to ensure that their story of tragedy, and bravery, is never forgotten.


For a more detailed overview of Lupane, please visit .

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