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Zim news (no Malawi today)

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Zimbabwe observers concerned By Lewis Machipisa BBC Harare correspondent A day after European Union observers pulled out of Zimbabwe, the South African
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2002
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      Zimbabwe observers

      By Lewis Machipisa
      BBC Harare correspondent

      A day after European Union observers pulled
      out of Zimbabwe, the South African election
      observer mission has expressed concern over
      violence in the capital, Harare.

      The mission is also alarmed by a recent
      decision to prevent some South African media
      organisations from covering the upcoming

      The head of the South African election
      observer delegation, Sam Motsuenyane, says
      he plans to raise the press ban with the
      Zimbabwean Government.

      ''Our experience in South
      Africa tells us that it is
      vital for the success of
      building democracy, to
      inform the public and
      the world at large
      without hindrance,'' Mr
      Motsuenyane said.

      The Zimbabwean
      Government has refused accreditation to
      several foreign news organizations whose
      coverage has been unfavourable, including
      many from South Africa.

      The government accuses the banned
      journalists of fabrication, exaggeration and

      "We will be taking up matters with the
      authorities on an on-going basis," Mr
      Motsuenyane said. "Critical at this stage is the
      accreditation of South Africa media in
      particular. We believe that the media should be
      given access to the electoral process in a free

      ''We are optimistic that the problem of
      accreditation will be resolved amicably and
      speedily with the Zimbabwean authorities."


      Mr Motsuenyane described as "a matter of
      great concern" allegations that police stood
      idly by while opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC) offices came under

      "We also received reports about the existence
      of 'No-Go Areas' for some parties and we are
      also taking up the matter," he said. "We have
      already deployed our observers to some of
      these areas."

      He said the proposed 50-strong team would
      increase its presence to ensure that the
      election took place in an environment free of
      intimidation and violence.

      Mr Motsuenyane
      described the mission
      in Zimbabwe as a
      daunting task that
      requires as many
      monitors as possible.

      The withdrawal of EU
      observers was
      unfortunate and
      regrettable, he said
      but added that his
      group would not be
      deterred by the

      ''Zimbabwe will need a stable political and
      economic environment after the elections
      irrespective of who wins,'' Mr Motsuenyane

      Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said
      he believes it will be almost impossible to hold
      credible elections, in light of recent violence.

      The MDC's Harare offices were attacked by a
      group of ruling party supporters who had been
      demonstrating against the British Government.

      The protesters had accused Britain of meddling
      in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe and warned
      British Prime Minister Tony Blair to ''stay off''.

      (According to the Jo'burg Mail & Guardian, the Zimbabwean government today allowed South African reporters in to cover the elections.)


      Mugabe: 'Do not dictate
      to Africa'

      Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says he
      can resist the EU sanctions imposed on him
      and his close associates.

      Mr Mugabe told a rally in
      the remote district of
      Nkayi, 600 kilometres
      west of the capital
      Harare, that he does not
      need Europe.

      "What will I be wanting
      in Europe? We can visit
      other countries in Asia and Africa," the
      president declared.

      He enjoys the backing of many African leaders
      who regard EU sanctions as an attempt by
      Europe to undermine Africa's democracy.

      Democratic principles

      Early this week, President Olusegun Obasanjo
      of Nigeria, who has mediated between
      Zimbabwe and Britain, wanted to know which
      democratic principles Mr Mugabe was accused
      of abusing.

      He praised Mr Mugabe for allowing parties
      other than his own to go into the elections.

      In Tanzania, President Benjamin Mkapa told a
      public meeting in the northern town of Moshi
      on Wednesday, that Africa was not going to
      allow Europe to repeat the 19th century
      history of partitioning Africa in 2002.

      He said it was high time Africans started
      resisting European pressure over how they
      should govern themselves.

      Tanzania's support

      Mr Mkapa said Europe had to allow
      Zimbabweans to make their own decisions in
      choosing their leaders and that Tanzanians
      would continue to support that process.

      The EU sanctions
      include an arms
      embargo against
      Zimbabwe, a freeze on
      the overseas assets of
      the president and 19
      top officials, as well as
      a ban preventing them
      from travelling to the
      15-nation bloc.

      President Mugabe has
      recently been seeking
      closer ties with Asian
      nations such as
      Malaysia and Thailand, while in Africa his
      closest ally is Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

      "We must be prepared to withstand these
      actions by Britain and its allies," he said.

      Not deterred

      Mr Mugabe said sanctions would not deter him
      from his controversial scheme to take land
      from whites and give it to landless blacks.

      The government has allowed observers from
      the Southern African Development Community
      and the Commonwealth to monitor next
      month's presidential election.

      However, the 100-strong South African team
      has already expressed concern over the
      increasing violence and intimidation in
      Zimbabwe, just a week before the election.

      The head of South Africa's election observer
      mission, Sam Motsuenyane, criticised the
      stoning this week of the Harare headquarters
      of the opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change (MDC) by ruling ZANU-PF party
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