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Thursday, 27 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 27 Mar 08, 06:36 PM

zimbabwe203x100.jpgZimbabweans go to the polls on Saturday for presidential elections. Incumbent Robert Mugabe, who's been in power for 28 years, is seeking another term as president. The Local, Senate, Assembly and Presidential polls come against the backdrop of a disintegrating economy - the annual rate of inflation exceeded 100,000% in February. Opposition activists have complained of intimidation, unequal media coverage and other anomalies. The opposition itself is divided and has failed to unite behind a single figure. Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni is challenging Mr Mugabe as an independent and could split the vote of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
With only a day to go there are still major questions and arguments of voter registration and the number of ballot papers printed - one report suggest that an extra three million ballot papers have been printed. The BBC as you may know is banned from Zimbabwe. Only a handful of international journalists were granted accreditation, one of those was RTE's Richard Downes - but he was only given official access to the country for three days around polling day. Undeterred by such bureaucratic irritations he slipped into Zimbabwe as a tourist to try to assess the state of the country in the run up to the election. See his exclusive report on the programme tonight.
We'll be speaking to Simba Makoni who is challenging Robert Mugabe for the presidency.

Scores of people have been killed in fighting between the Mahdi Army, Iraqi, and in many instances, US troops during a crackdown on the militia of firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Why is this happening now and is Iraq on the verge of a civil war? We'll be speaking to a senior adviser to the Iraqi army.

More than 30 flights have been cancelled at Heathrow's new Terminal Five because of problems with its high-tech baggage handling system. Thousands of passengers have been stuck at the airport awaiting flights and trying to trace their bags.

George Orwell's world of Big Brother seems to be alive and well in supermarket chain Lidl. Detectives hired by Lidl, which has thousands of stores worldwide, including 450 in Britain - have been monitoring employees in Germany. Several hundred pages of surveillance records have been passed on to Stern magazine, causing outrage among the unions and data protection officials. Peter Marshall is on the case.

Prospects for Thursday, 27 March

  • Newsnight
  • 27 Mar 08, 10:26 AM

Robert Morgan is today's programme producer - here's his early email.

Good morning everyone,

We have a strong undercover film from Zimbabwe on the eve of the presidential elections from Richard Downes and Ian O'Reilly. We also have an interview with presidential candidate Simba Makoni. I'll tell you more in the meeting.

It's been reported this morning that at least 44 people have been killed in clashes between Iraqi and US forces, and Shiite militiamen from the Mehdi Army. What exactly is happening on the ground in Basra and across the country?

Should we be looking at the MPs expenses story again today? Are there any other stories we should be doing like asylum story or the pregnant man. Do come to the meeting with your ideas.

See you in a minute,


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