An American pro-democracy worker discusses his post-election detention in Zimbabwe and what could happen in the next chapter of the nation's political drama.
What kind of information did they want from
The authorities were asking questions about the local civic groups that NDI and myself in particular were working with. They wanted to get a sense of what these groups were engaged in, and how it related to the elections.
Do you think this was an attempt to
intimidate you and the groups you worked with?
Yes, and I think for the most part the interrogation was opportunistic. They happened to catch me and detain me while I was leaving the country. I think the government was caught by surprise by the initial projections from independent monitors in the country, and were caught flat-footed by it. I think they were trying to understand how it was possible for independent civic groups to be able to provide projections of the results, which is something that hasn't happened in Zimbabwe or anywhere else on the continent.
It's been weeks since the election, and still
no results have been announced. What will happen?
I think it's hard to forecast what will happen in Zimbabwe. What's important to stress is that the Zimbabwean people have gone to the polls now in the last few elections, which the opposition and civic groups have considered less than free and fair. That notwithstanding, the citizens have continued to abide by the rule of law, and to go to the polling booth and vote and express their free will as much as possible.
Do you think the opposition won outright?
[According to the] independent monitoring groups, Mugabe did not come in first place. Whether or not the lead opposition candidate won the election outright or whether there's a need for a runoff is still in the margin of error, based on their projections and calculations. That much is known so far, and I think that's caught the government by surprise.
If Mugabe clings to power despite losing the
election, will the military and his political supporters still stand behind
I think it's hard to say, and I can't necessarily comment on what all Zimbabwean people think or what the government or military think. But because of the work of these civic groups in releasing projections, there's some sense of what the elections results probably looked like, and I think the government and the electoral commission need to respect what has happened.
Daily Nation, Kenya
By MATIRASA MURONDA, NATION Correspondent
Last updated: 2 hours ago
“We were sitting and discussing football when four soldiers burst into
Spaceman Bar in Glen Norah A. They ordered everyone to lie down on the floor
after asking three elderly men to leave the nightclub, saying they wanted to
deal with the “born frees” — a reference to those born after Independence in
1980 who are considered troublesome — who were causing problems by
supporting the opposition.
“Then the beatings started. We were kicked and hit with gun butts as we lay
on the ground.
‘‘Then, after what seemed like an eternity, we were told to run and warned
that we would be subjected to similar treatment until we learn that
opposition politics don’t pay. I was shaken, and bruised, and right now I
can’t sit properly. I am will never go out at night again.
‘‘I’m now afraid of even going to the shops during the day because the
soldiers are roaming the streets and stopping people at random and harassing
them,’’ Bernard Chitoro, a resident of one of Harare’s high-density
suburbs, Glen Norah, told of his ordeal at the hands of police on Wednesday
He added: ‘‘The soldiers told us that everyone should stay indoors at night,
that this is a state of emergency. Zimbabwe will never be the same again,”
Mr Chitoro said as Zimbabwe plunged into a fresh crisis this week.Violence
has erupted across the country, with the ruling Zanu PF and Morgan
Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change in open confrontation after the
March 29 elections, whose results have still not officially been released by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Mr Chitoro’s experience has been repeated in the country’s major towns,
where the army has been beating people, especially at night, accusing them
of taking part in opposition politics. Violence has also gripped the
countryside, where terrified villagers have fled their homes.
Ms Emma Nhira, who lives in Glen View township in Harare, is nursing bruises
on her buttocks after being beaten by an army patrol as she was coming from
Tichagarika Shopping Centre at 6 pm.
Sit on the tarmac
“I was ordered to sit on the tarmac and made to slide on the rough surface.
I tried to explain that I was coming from work but was called all sorts of
names and accused of being a prostitute, who can do anything for money,
including selling my country to the British. The soldiers asked me whether I
was married, and when I said I wasn’t, they asked me why, saying Zimbabwe
had so many men who were looking for women to marry.
‘‘After being made to slide on the tarmac, together with five men who had
also disembarked from the same kombi at Tichagarika Shops, the soldiers
started beating us all over. The people at the shopping centre then fled,
leaving it deserted. I don’t know what this will lead up to, but the
soldiers are really pushing it, I can foresee an outbreak of civil war if
this continues because, eventually, people will fight back,” Ms Nhira today,
as she sought medical attention in the city centre.
In Chitungwiza, about 30 kilometres from Harare, soldiers have been telling
residents to remain indoors at night. Christopher Makwarimba, who lives in
Unit J, Seke, said he was at Makoni Shopping Centre in the suburb on
Wednesday evening when they were told to go home or face the wrath of the
“We were drinking by the Makoni shops when soldiers on patrol told us to
beat it. We don’t have a social life anymore since the soldiers no longer
allow people to move around at night. Yesterday afternoon, they went round
saying they would deal with us later for voting for the MDC. Things are
really bad here and everyone is living in fear,” Makwarimba said.
In Karoi, where Tapuwa Mugwada was killed by suspected Zanu PF supporters
last Saturday last in Kazangarare Village, soldiers have imposed a “curfew”
by terrorising anyone found outdoors in the evening.
“We were at Karoi Hotel when soldiers ordered everyone out, saying we should
not be seen outdoors after 6p.m. I think we would have had a rough time, had
it not been for a guy we were drinking with, who happened to know two of the
soldiers,” said Wilfred Chikwanha.
In Bulawayo, the reign of terror has not been so pronounced but the
residents are cowed by the presence of armed soldiers. “The best we can do
is not to provoke them by moving around at night. Just stay indoors and play
it safe,” said Pamela Tsuro, who lives in a city flat.
While in the cities, soldiers have taken over the terror campaign, in the
rural areas, opposing sides have declared war, and those in the minority
have fled their homes. But Zanu PF denies that its supporters are terrifying
Mr Ray Kaukonde, the Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland East — one of the
regions where the violence is reported to have escalated with each passing
day — told reporters yesterday: “I should be the first person to know, I
have not heard of any beatings or violence in my province. I am one person
who does not beat about the bush. If I had been informed of any incidents of
violence, I would have confirmed it.
Police in my province have not told me of any violence.” MDC deputy
president Thokozani Khupe told journalists during a media conference this
week that their supporters are being beaten up, adding that war veterans
have set up torture camps to punish the opposition party for challenging Mr
Ms Khupe said bases had been established in most rural centres and showed
journalists ghastly pictures of MDC supporters who had been tortured.
But even as Zimbabweans wonder what other misfortune will befall their
country, a human rights watchdog, Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC),
has come up with a damning report that implicates senior Zanu PF officials
in the ongoing violence.
SALC director Nicole Fritz, said in the report: “We’ve received information,
some of it from sources inside Zimbabwe’s security establishment, indicating
that youth militias, central intelligence operatives and war veterans are
being deployed, under command of approximately 200 senior army officials,
throughout the rural areas.
The intention seems to be to use violence against, and to intimidate ,voters
prior to any run-off or re-run of the elections. ”Ms Fritz says its sources
have given them details of the identity of the individuals who will carry
out the terror campaign.
“The level of detail in the information provided — names, dates, numbers,
speaks of a state-sponsored, pre-planned attack on Zimbabwe’s civilian
population, indicating the commission of crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, police deny that there is a crisis, insisting that everything is
by Patricia Mpofu Friday 18 April 2008
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s opposition has said hundreds of its supporters have
suffered serious injuries while at least one supporter was murdered in an
orgy of violence it blamed on state security agents and militant activists
of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which said the violence
started almost immediately after it defeated ZANU PF in elections on March
29, said some of its supporters in remote rural areas were homeless after
their homes were looted and burnt down by the suspected ZANU PF activists.
“Hundreds of MDC supporters have received serious injuries (due to political
violence) following the party gaining more seats than ZANU PF in March 29,
elections,” the MDC said in a post election violence report shown to
ZimOnline on Thursday.
“Some of the villagers have fled their homes after they were burnt and their
property looted by the ZANU PF militia,” said the opposition report, adding
that at one time on the weekend of April 12, the MDC had 20 supporters
receiving treatment for various injuries at Avenues Clinic in Harare.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi was not immediately available for comment
while police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the
incidents of violence mentioned in the MDC report.
ZANU PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 28 years in
last month’s election when it garnered 97 seats compared to 110 won by the
MDC and other minor opposition candidates.
But electoral officials are yet to issue the much awaited results of a
parallel presidential vote, which ZANU PF acknowledges Mugabe lost to MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, although they say a second round of voting is
required to settle the contest.
The MDC, which earlier this week lost a court bid to force electoral
authorities to release results of the presidential poll, says Mugabe’s
government has blocked results while it implements a campaign of violence
and terror to cow Zimbabweans to back the 84-year old President in the
In a message delivered to Zimbabweans on Thursday on the eve of the country’s
28th independence, the United States’ embassy in Harare backed the
opposition claims of violence, saying it was aware of acts of violence,
intimidation and murder committed against government opponents.
Ambassador James McGee said: "There is growing evidence that rural
communities are being punished for their support for opposition candidates.
We have disturbing and confirmed reports of threats, beatings, abductions,
burning of homes and even murder, from many parts of the country."
Other Western nations led by Britain used a Wednesday summit of the United
Nation Security Council and the African Union to call for tougher action to
end Zimbabwe’s election stalemate and the violence it has bred.
In its post election violence report, the MDC said Zimbabwe army soldiers
and secret service police were involved in committing violence and human
rights abuses against its supporters.
For example, the report narrates an incident in Gokwe constituency on April
12 when an agent of the spy Central Intelligence Organisation it identified
as Amos Jaravaza shot an MDC activist, Munyekeni Ganye, in both legs,
seriously injuring him. Ganye is recovering form his injuries at Gokwe
On the same day Ganye was shot, suspected ZANU PF militants stabbed to death
another MDC activist Tapiwa Mubwanda, who was a polling agent in Hurungwe
West in Mashonaland West province.
The MDC said scores of soldiers were also seen assaulting suspected
supporters of the opposition party in Mutoko North constituency in
Mashonaland East province.
The allegations by the MDC of increasing violence committed by soldiers and
ZANU PF militants against its supporters, tallies with reports released
earlier this week by two local non-governmental organisations, the Zimbabwe
Peace Project and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. – ZimOnline.
April 18, 2008
Shouly’s brow is knitted with worry as she counts through the family’s last
few notes. There are five mouths to feed and that is before the rent and
school fees have to be paid. “We’re overwhelmed,” she sighs. “The numbers
just don’t add up.”
Caroline sits cradling Prince, 6, his tiny fingers wrapped around her thin
arms as she thoughtfully strokes his feet. He has outgrown the shoes she
bought for him to go to school and there is no money for new ones. “At least
we get help from the Church so he can go to school,” she says. “Education is
the most important thing.”
From dawn to dusk, adult worries fill their heads, the buzz of them drowning
out the rumbles of their underfed stomachs. But Shouly and Caroline are not
young mothers, they are children themselves, thrust into adulthood before
they even hit puberty in Zimbabwe’s topsy-turvy present.
Walk into any village, any township, in Zimbabwe, and gradually you will
sense that something is missing. There are children, playing in the dust
with dried-out mealie cobs. There are old people sitting under the shade of
a tree, swatting away the flies. But where is the generation in between, the
twenty, thirty, fortysomethings on which most countries’ economies and
Shouly’s parents died of Aids, only months apart, when she was 12, leaving
her the head of her family.
Caroline’s father was shot dead when she was 10, by an armed robber in South
Africa where he had gone to work as a physiotherapist as jobs in Zimbabwe
dried up. Her mother died two years later from tuberculosis brought on by
Aids. At 12, Caroline became de facto mother to her brothers Marcus, 10, and
Prince, 8 months. “It was very hard,” Caroline says, the pain of loss still
evident on her young face.
As Zimbabwe’s 28th Independence Day anniversary dawns today, those born in
that first heady year of freedom can now expect to live, on average, only
another seven years. In those nearly three decades, life expectancy has
plummeted from over 60 to 34 for women and 37 for men. The chief culprit is
HIV, which has spread like wildfire through a population weakened by poverty
and hunger, slaughtering a generation.
Others, like Caroline’s father, left Zimbabwe to seek work as its imploding
economy melted away job prospects. As many as three million people have left
in the past two decades, mostly to South Africa, where they earn the foreign
currency that keeps Zimbabwe’s stricken economy afloat – and with it, the
man who presided over its destruction. Nobody knows exactly how many
Zimbabweans are “missing”, dead or simply gone away, except that they
represent almost an entire generation.
“Let’s have an Aids-free generation in Zimbabwe,” pleads a sign along one of
Harare’s main roads. It is a prayer for the orphans of this missing
generation, but for Gamuchira it is almost certainly too late. Her mother
died of Aids two years ago when she was 7. She lives with her “go-go”, or
grandmother – the generation whose second turn at parenting has come with
the death of their own children. “I thought she was going to be OK right
until she passed away,” Gamuchira says of her mother. “But then she sickened
Gamuchira’s face is beautiful, huge almond eyes fringed with long lashes,
but ugly lesions scar her upper lips, one open and red. The marks are almost
certainly Kaposi’s sarcoma, the telltale sign of HIV infection worsen-ing
into Aids. Gamuchira was probably born HIV-positive and has no idea that she
might be carrying the virus that killed her mother. “The grandparents don’t
get them tested,” a social worker says. “They don’t think it’s important.”
Simbarashi is 9, still numb from the death of his father on February 21. He
barely remembers his mother, who died in 2002. Life is hard at his “go-go’s”.
“We can’t afford to buy much food, just porridge in the morning, and sadza
[grain] in the evening.”
Incredibly the family somehow finds the pennies to send him to school.
Education is highly prized here, a legacy of President Mugabe’s more
celebrated early rule, when he built schools and promoted one of the best
education systems in Africa. Shouly, 17, is shocked at the suggestion that
she pull her siblings out of school so she can afford to feed them. “I can’t
have them leave school, it’s too important,” she says.
She has started a hair-braiding business outside their one-room home to try
to raise the money to educate them, but it is not enough. A church worker
confides they fear that she will soon turn to prostitution. Her ambition for
her siblings, however, is that they should live abroad.
Ravaged by Aids
34 Average life expectancy for women
565 Estimated number of adults and children infected by HIV every day
180,000 Zimbabwean deaths due to Aids
1.1m Aids orphans
1.7m Zimbabweans living with HIV
4.4% Percentage of pregnant women receiving treatment to reduce
Source: UN 2006 report on AIDS epidemic, avert.org
The First Post
Red Army officers have checked into a hotel in Mutare. Why?
ASH Smyth looks for an answer
Reports that a score of Chinese soldiers have been seen in Mutare, eastern
Zimbabwe based, largely, on the testimony of hotel chambermaids might
yet prove false. Chinese officials have denied that their troops are there,
and the 'soldiers' in question could conceivably be private security for
some Chinese business interest.
But in the context of recent civil unrest, reports of bi-hourly patrols
alongside Zimbabwean security forces make that interpretation look rather
optimistic. Security guards don't normally patrol the streets - even less
so in 'regalia' - and they don't stay at the Holiday Inn.
One squad of Chinese officers ('pistols' are officer issue) doth not an
invasion make. A detachment of special-operations advisers, though, could
represent a rather bigger problem.
And the presence of the Red Army on the streets of any African nation would
constitute one of the biggest crises of the decade, uniting the twin
headaches of African bad-governance and Chinese foreign policy.
So what are the Chinese up to? Is the West being sent a message?
Hopefully not. To parry scrutiny of their own domestic problems, China's
entire foreign policy in Africa especially is founded on principles of
non-interference. Most Western diplomats don't like it, and many don't
really believe it; hitherto, however, it has been unflinching and
But if the West decides to push China off the fence, there's no knowing
which side they'll land. Zimbabwe is emphatically not the place to put this
to the test.
It is too much to hope that the Olympic torch party have got lost on their
lap of Africa. Instead we should take comfort in the fact that the Chinese
presence in Mutare is so ostentatious. If they decide they mean business,
the Red Army won't arrive in their No. 1's, nor walk down the main street.
FIRST POSTED APRIL 17, 2008
Daily Nation, Kenya
Publication Date: 4/18/2008
Come tomorrow and Zimbabweans will have waited
for three weeks without the results of the presidential election, widely
believed to have been won by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Efforts to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through a
judicial process has hit the wall, while Mr Tsvangirai himself has been
forced out of the country for fear over his life.
Tension is building up in the country, with the eerie prospect of the
Robert Mugabe-led government unleashing armed forces and the dreaded war
veterans on the hapless populace.
Not surprisingly, a nationwide strike called by the Movement for
Democratic Change this week failed as the population feared the fury that
would elicit from President Mugabe, who will do anything to continue his
hold on power.
It is saddening that very little is being done to compel Mr Mugabe to
respect the wishes of the Zimbabwean voters. In fact, a meeting convened
this week in Zambia by the Southern African Development Conference (SADC)
did not make any far-reaching resolution.
The African Union, the United Nations and the entire international
community cannot continue looking the other side when Zimbabwe is burning.
By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer 58 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - President Bush criticized Zimbabwe's neighbors on Thursday for
failing to intercede with President Robert Mugabe's government to stop
violence and misrule in the country.
Other South African countries and international organizations, including the
African Union, need to join the few who have come forward, Bush said.
"I appreciate the fact that some in the region have spoken out against
violence," Bush told reporters after a White House meeting with British
Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Still, he said, "More leaders in the region
need to speak out, and the United Nations and the A.U. must play an active
role in resolving the situation."
Earlier, speaking at the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice used more forceful language in discussing the Zimbabwe situation three
weeks after presidential elections that opponents of Mugabe are widely
believed to have won. Despite pressure from the United States and other
countries, the results have not been released.
Rice called the past few years of Mugabe's presidency an "abomination" and
urged his African neighbors to "step up" and confront the government's
campaign of arrests and intimidation since the March 29 elections.
Bush also spoke of the delay in releasing the ballot results. He said Brown
had "made it abundantly clear" at the United Nations that "you can't have
elections unless you're willing to put the results out."
"What kind of election is it if you not let the will of the people be
known?" Bush said.
At the State Department, Rice said it must be up to the Zimbabweans to
decide whether Mugabe should go. But, she said, Zimbabwe "really needs to
move on and get on with its future." For starters, she said, the election
results should be released.
"Where is the concern for the — from the African Union and from Zimbabwe's
neighbors about what is going on in Zimbabwe?" she said, speaking to
reporters at the State Department. South African President Thabo Mbeki has
said Mugabe will not respond to a confrontational approach.
Rice said Mugabe has "done more harm to his country than would have been
imaginable, if you look at what Zimbabwe was just 15 years ago or so."
She acknowledged Mugabe's role as a liberation leader in the war that ended
white minority rule in his country but said the "last years have been really
an abomination to a country that used to feed its neighbors, and now it
can't feed itself."
Rice also said the United States is worried about the government's
accusations of treason against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai has dismissed the treason charges and said accusations that he
was plotting to overthrow the Mugabe government were outrageous.
Associated Press writer William C. Mann contributed to this report.
By CLARE NULLIS, Associated Press Writer 42 minutes ago
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - South Africa, which has been reluctant to
criticize Zimbabwe publicly, made a strong call Thursday for the release of
the African nation's presidential vote tallies.
Government spokesman Themba Maseko warned "the situation is dire," and
criticized the failure of President Robert Mugabe's government to release
results nearly two weeks after the March 29 elections.
"When elections are held and results are not released two weeks after, it is
obviously of great concern," Maseko said.
South African President Thabo Mbeki was widely criticized for saying last
weekend that Zimbabwe was not in crisis. At a summit, Mbeki and other
regional leaders issued a weak declaration that failed to criticize
Zimbabwean President Mugabe.
Mbeki, appointed last year to mediate between Zimbabwe's government and
opposition, has said Mugabe will not respond to a confrontational approach.
On Thursday, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called on Mbeki
to step aside as mediator for Zimbabwe in favor of Zambia's president, who
has taken a tougher stance toward Mugabe.
Independent tallies suggest Tsvangirai won the election, but not with enough
votes to avoid a runoff. The electoral commission says it cannot yet release
results because it is still verifying ballots and investigating anomalies.
The opposition says Tsvangirai won outright and accuses Mugabe of
engineering a delay to secure his 28-year grip on power.
Despite concerns about mounting tensions inside Zimbabwe, Maseko said South
Africa cannot intervene to prevent a shipment of weapons from being
transported through its territory to its landlocked neighbor as long as
administrative papers are in order.
The ship, the An Yue Jiang, was anchored just outside Durban harbor after
receiving permission late Wednesday to dock.
The Beeld newspaper reported it was carrying nearly 3 million rounds of
ammunitions for small arms and AK-47s, about 3,500 mortars and mortar
launchers, as well as 1,500 rockets for rocket-propelled grenades. The paper
said it had a copy of the ship's cargo documentation, finalized on April 1 —
three days after Zimbabwe's election.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe does not need weapons. "We are not at war," he said
at a news conference Thursday in Johannesburg. "The only war that is there
is Mugabe's war against the people."
A South African government official, speaking on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed there were weapons on
board but gave no further details. Durban port authorities and police
explosives inspectors could not be reached for comment.
Defense Secretary January Masilela told South African radio that the
National Conventional Arms Control Committee granted approval for the
transit of the weapons.
"If the buyer is the Zimbabwean sovereign government and the seller is the
Chinese sovereign government, South Africa has nothing to do with that," he
told the radio. He said South Africa worked according to established
international conventions but had no jurisdiction over goods in transit.
The government official who approved the transit, Sydney Mufamadi, is the
same official who heads the team mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis.
The South African Revenue Service said customs officials were bound by
confidentiality rules and could not give details of the content of the
cargo. It said the vessel would be subject to standard inspection procedures
and the cargo would not be released until it was proved that it complied
with customs formalities — which can be a lengthy process.
Tsvangirai said importing arms instead of food for impoverished Zimbabweans
is "disgusting. It only shows the warped nature of the priorities of this
regime: that they are more preoccupied with the defense-power project than
Monsters and Critics
Apr 17, 2008, 22:09 GMT
Wellington - New Zealand added its voice Friday to international concern
about Zimbabwe, as Foreign Minister Winston Peters expressed fears that
President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party were 'preparing to steal the
parliamentary and presidential elections once again.'
Peters said that there were strong indications from various sources that
ZANU-PF, which lost its majority in Parliament, had secured the means to
produce fraudulent results.
'ZANU-PF now appears to be trying to revisit the outcome, and to retain the
presidency, by seeking recounts in 23 constituencies,' he said.
'The international community is increasingly concerned that once again the
will of the people of Zimbabwe will be frustrated by a government that
refuses to respect the democratic process and the rights of the people they
are meant to represent.'
LONDON, April 17 (AFP)
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday his party held
secret talks with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF about forming a
government of national unity after last month's polls.
Tsvangirai told BBC television that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
thought they were close to striking a deal after two days of talks but then
the discussions suddenly broke down.
"The reality had dawned to them that they had lost the election and I think
there was a lot of pandemonium and panic -- they started by approaching us
to say let's talk about a transition," Tsvangirai said in an interview.
"We were prepared to consider the issue of an inclusive government including
some members of ZANU-PF.
"They were suggesting how many and they were talking about the panel from
which we were going to choose."
He said the MDC was prepared to offer guarantees over the future of Mugabe
and senior military figures.
But the situation apparently changed after hardliners in ZANU-PF asserted
"What happened was that the very same people who were coming to us for
discussion organised a meeting and did not turn up for almost two hours,"
"Our guys left and we realised that the situation had totally changed."
Asked what had changed, he said: "I'm sure that the hardliners just put a
stand through the military."
Authorities in Zimbabwe have yet to release the results of the presidential
election held on March 29 in which Mugabe, 84, sought a sixth term.
17 April 2008
Political demonstrations are currently banned in
Zimbabwe. But in neighboring South Africa, exiled Zimbabweans protested on
Thursday, calling for the release of last month's presidential election results
in a rally near the global assembly of members of parliament. For VOA, Terry
FitzPatrick reports from Capetown.
|A woman holds a poster reading 'Zimbabwe is in Crisis' during a protest against the Zimbabwean Government in Cape Town, South Africa, 17 Apr 2008|
Protester Barbara Mondiwa says she fears it will take widespread violence in Zimbabwe to trigger global intervention.
"They must not wait for people to die," she said. "We need help now. We need help now."
Many of the demonstrators wore shirts with the word "crisis" painted in red. It was a rebuke to South African President Thabo Mbeki's assessment last weekend that Zimbabwe is not experiencing a political crisis. Activists here say Mr. Mbeki's comment is fueling an increase in violence against Zimbabwe refugees in South Africa.
"The xenophobic attacks have been increasing mainly because of the large number of Zimbabweans in South Africa, but a comment such as Thabo Mbeki's only fuels the situation further," said Braam Hanekom, who is with an organization called People against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty.
A small group of lawmakers at the parliamentary conference paid attention to the protest outside. The Inter-Parliamentary Union's Human Rights Committee has been investigating the arrest and beating of several Zimbabwe opposition politicians over the past few years. Committee chairwoman Sharon Carstairs from Canada says Zimbabwe has failed to cooperate with the probe.
"And sad to say, there has been no resolution of any of those cases, or even on a regular basis, communication with the Zimbabwean government with respect to their consistent harassment," she said.
Several speakers of parliament from Southern Africa have issued a statement calling on Zimbabwe to release its election results. A broader communiqué, representing the entire global assembly, is expected Friday.
April 18, 2008
The elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya have shown how democracy is in a parlous
It has been a tale of two elections - a tale which, on the surface at least,
seems to have two different endings. In Zimbabwe, the flicker of hope that
Robert Mugabe would bow to the will of the people has all but been
extinguished; while in Kenya the shocking post-election violence has led to
a power-sharing pact and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, being sworn in
yesterday as Prime Minister.
It is tempting to conclude that while Zimbabwe continues on the road to
perdition, Kenya has pulled back from the brink. Tempting but wrong. The
real lesson in both countries is that the “Big Man” culture of the
all-powerful African presidency is alive and well - while democracy is in
In Kenya, the “power-sharing” Government is no such thing. The elderly
President and his clique remain firmly in control of the crucial ministries,
despite the widespread assumption that his party fixed the result of the
election. For the wananchi (ordinary people) who got up before dawn, walked
for miles to get to polling booths and waited in long queues because they
really believed their vote would make a difference, the result leaves a sour
Yet it says something about the state of governance in Africa that the
Kenyan outcome is being hailed internationally as a victory. The truth is
that poll fixing has become so routine in Africa that even a lop-sided
coalition government is seen as a big concession on the part of Africa's
Take the mysterious delay in releasing the result of Zimbabwe's election.
When a similar delay was announced in Kenya just before the new year, a
friend of mine who happens to be a Zambian opposition MP turned to me and
said tersely: “That's what happened to us.”
His party lost the closely fought Zambian election. You don't have to be a
Bletchley Park codebreaker to realise that a “delay” in an African election
is usually a signal of behind-the-scenes skulduggery by the ruling party.
Yet Western nations such as Britain have been reluctant to shout “cheat”,
and continue to dole out large dollops of aid.
One detects a whiff of indulgent paternalism about this: that Africa has to
“learn” about democracy over years. Such an approach is fatally misguided,
and a severe injustice to voters across the continent - ordinary people who,
despite the odds, continue to hold faith in the power of democracy.
If Africa is to progress, there has to be accountability through the ballot
box; and governments such as Britain's, backed by its powerful aid budget,
should stop treating the new breed of dictators with kid gloves.
Ishbel Matheson is a former BBC East Africa correspondent
April 18, 2008
Jamie Walker in Harare
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader called yesterday for President Mbeki of South
Africa to stand down as international mediator in the Zimbabwean
post-election crisis, condemning him for inaction in the face of an
Morgan Tsvangirai’s damning call — his first explicit attack on Mr Mbeki —
came as international pressure continued to grow not only on the Zimbabwean
Government, but also on Africa as a whole to bring an end to the crisis.
The South African Government, in a clear repudiation of its President’s
softly-softly policy, labelled the situation “dire”, while Condoleezza Rice,
the US Secretary of State, called on Africa to “step up” to the
“abomination” of President Mugabe’s rule.
The Zimbabwean Government upped the ante by accusing Mr Tsvangirai of
“treason”, alleging that he has tried to persuade Britain to launch a
Speaking on a diplomatic mission to Johannesburg, Mr Tsvangirai gave a
warning that Zimbabwe was facing its “darkest hour” since independence 28
years ago today, before calling for Mr Mbeki to be replaced.
“We want to thank President Mbeki for all of his efforts but President Mbeki
needs to be relieved of his duties,” he told reporters on a visit to
The continent has largely taken its cue from Mr Mbeki, who has faced fierce
criticism, even from within his own ruling party, for his passive approach
to Zimbabwe’s collapse.
Mr Tsvangirai said that he would like to see the South African leader
replaced by President Mwanawasa of Zambia, the region’s fiercest critic of
“I made a specific request to President Mwanawasa to say he needs to lead a
new initiative, an initiative that will expand beyond that of Mr Mbeki,” Mr
Mr Mwanawasa convened an emergency meeting of the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community last weekend to formulate a regional initiative on
Zimbabwe. But the meeting ended with little progress, and a weak statement
after Mr Mbeki refused to acknowledge a crisis in the country and vetoed a
resolution critical of Mr Mugabe.
Mr Mbeki has long seen Mr Mugabe as a fellow traveller in the liberation war
against white rule, making him reluctant to criticise him directly. But
Southern Africa’s entire doctrine of non-interference looked under siege
yesterday as the calls grew for Zimbabwe’s neighbours to intervene.
Almost three weeks since the presidential elections, no results have been
released and a protracted legal battle has erupted over recounting, with
fears mounting that as the weeks go on, massive electoral fraud is under
Mr Tsvangirai, who leads the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
claimed to have won the election outright but the Government has insisted
that a second-round run-off will be needed, and militias backed by the army
and government have unleashed a campaign of terror against the opposition,
particularly in rural areas, in an attempt to lock down that vote.
Frustrations with Mr Mbeki’s hands-off policy heightened yesterday as news
emerged that South Africa had granted permission for the overland transit of
Chinese-made weaponry ordered by the Zimbabwean military days after the
election and ferried into Durban on a Chinese-owned ship.
The South African Beeld newspaper reported that the ship was carrying nearly
three million rounds of ammunitions for small arms and AK47s, about 3,500
mortars and mortar launchers, as well as 1,500 rockets for rocket-propelled
grenades. The paper said that it had a copy of the ship’s cargo
documentation, finalised on April 1 — three days after the election.
AfriForum, a regional business lobby group, said that it would organise
protests along the shipment’s route. “The South African Government’s
approval for the transport of the arms across South African territory will
in effect mean that the Government is replacing its ineffective policy of
‘silent diplomacy’ with an even more catastrophic policy of complicity to
the state violence and human rights violations committed by the Zimbabwean
Government against its own citizens,” Kallie Kriel, its spokesman, said.
Mr Tsvangirai, describing the militia campaign as “an orgy of violence
against the people”, suggested that the only way to halt it might be the
threat of prosecution before an international court.
“I think the current wave of violence against the people must stop and the
only way to stop is that those who are committing those crimes must know
that they must be answerable one day,” he said.
International frustration over the stance of regional leaders has burst into
the open. Dr Rice chimed in yesterday to insist that it was “time for Africa
to step up”. “Where is the concern from the African Union and from Zimbabwe’s
neighbours about what is going on?” she asked.
In an address to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Gordon Brown said “no
one thinks” Mr Mugabe won the presidential election. That intervention
brought an angry response from Harare and allegations that Britain was
colluding with Mr Tsvangirai to topple Mr Mugabe.
The state-run Herald newspaper, the mouthpiece of the regime, printed a
letter that it said showed Mr Tsvangirai begging for military intervention,
as well as one purporting to be a reply to the opposition leader from Mr
Brown. “It is clear from the correspondence that Tsvangirai along with Brown
are seeking an illegal regime change in Zimbabwe and on the part of Mr
Tsvangirai this is treasonous,” Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, was
quoted as saying.
The British Embassy responded with an unusually strongly worded statement,
denouncing the correspondence as forgeries. “It reflects this regime’s
desperation that Zanu (PF) \ and the state-controlled media have resorted to
faking documents for crude propaganda purposes, and not for the first time.”
International Herald Tribune
By J. Anthony Holmes and Sasha Polakow-Suransky Published: April 17, 2008
Twenty-eight years ago, Zimbabwe celebrated its independence from Britain,
the end of white minority rule and the victory of Robert Mugabe in the
country's first democratic elections.
Yet today, Zimbabwe's population is suffering from hyperinflation (165,000
percent annually), 80 percent unemployment, widespread hunger, and wholesale
trampling of basic democratic rights.
Nearly three weeks have passed since the March 29 elections in which
opponents of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party stunningly won a parliamentary majority
for the first time ever and outpolled Mugabe in the initial round of the
presidential contest. Yet Mugabe's government has refused to release the
Despite calls to publish the vote count from Zimbabwe's southern African
neighbors, George W. Bush, Gordon Brown, and the UN secretary general, Ban
Ki Moon, the man with the greatest leverage, President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, has remained bizarrely silent.
Last Saturday, after a closed-door session with Mugabe, Mbeki stunned the
world by declaring that "there is no crisis in Zimbabwe."
On Wednesday, Mbeki chaired a special session of the UN Security Council to
discuss African security issues. But despite calls for a free and fair
runoff from the United States, Britain and France and the secretary
general's statement that "the credibility of the democratic process in
Africa could be at stake here," Mbeki prevailed, insisting that his "quiet
diplomacy" be given more time. (In reaction to criticism at the UN, a South
African government spokesperson issued a statement on Thursday calling the
situation "dire" and urging publication of the election results.)
Since Zimbabwe began to implode in 2000, Mbeki has alternated between
coddling the former liberation war hero and pursuing his so-called "quiet
diplomacy" rather than insisting on better governance in Zimbabwe.
But this policy has proved a resounding failure. In late 2007, Mbeki
presided over secret negotiations between Mugabe and the Zimbabwean
opposition on a new constitution that included major reforms and democratic
safeguards that leveled the electoral playing field.
Yet Mugabe repudiated Mbeki's efforts by insisting that the March 29
elections be conducted under the old constitution. Mbeki's refusal to
condemn Mugabe and lead a regional diplomatic front to pressure him to honor
the vote - either by holding a fair runoff or stepping down - is
particularly disappointing because he and other anti-apartheid activists
condemned Western countries for precisely this sort of softball diplomacy
during the 1980s.
When the African National Congress called for universal suffrage and
sanctions against the apartheid regime, the Reagan administration instead
pursued a gradual policy of "constructive engagement."
Now, when the Zimbabwean opposition and democracy activists call for free
and fair elections and a public tally of three-week old votes, Mbeki's ANC
government thumbs its nose and places South Africa squarely against the
democratic values upon which it was founded.
This inaction in the face of Mugabe's blatant suppression of democracy makes
a mockery of the good governance agenda at the core of Mbeki's signature
pan-African initiative: the New Partnership for Africa's Development. As a
result, South Africa's carefully cultivated image as a defender of democracy
and human rights has taken a serious blow.
Fortunately, divisions within the South African government are emerging.
Mbeki's continued equivocation and protection of Mugabe has strained his
already shaky hold on the foreign policy leadership of his own party.
Since he was defeated by his arch-rival Jacob Zuma in December in an effort
to win a third term as president of the ANC, Mbeki has been a lame duck.
Tension has mounted over the division of power and policy leadership between
the Zuma-controlled party structure and Mbeki's government. Zuma has
publicly criticized both Mugabe and Mbeki's ineffectual approach, giving
hope to the Zimbabwean opposition.
While Mbeki has failed to play the role of regional power broker in forging
a solution to the Zimbabwean impasse, other leaders have cautiously stepped
forward. Presidents Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia and Ian Khama of Botswana have
treated the situation as an emergency and encouraged the Southern African
Development Community to play a stronger role. If only South Africa would
join them, these countries could display a united front and deny Mugabe the
legitimacy that he craves personally and needs politically.
Strong African rejection of his actions, more than anything else, could
fracture his support from the Zimbabwean military and internal security
czars who are presently propping him up.
In the meantime, though, as Mbeki dithers and the vote tally remains secret,
ZANU-PF has embarked on a full-fledged campaign of voter intimidation to
ensure that Mugabe "wins" the runoff round of presidential elections.
There are numerous reports that gangs of government loyalists have targeted
communities where support for the opposition was strongest, beating and
bludgeoning those who voted against Mugabe. Mbeki had hoped that the New
Partnership for Africa's Development would be a hallmark of his foreign
policy legacy. Instead, by denying the crisis in Zimbabwe and perpetuating
Mugabe's egregious misrule, he is more likely to be remembered as the
apologist who abandoned his own values and ignored the plight of his 13
million African brothers next door.
J. Anthony Holmes is the Cyrus Vance Diplomatic Fellow at the Council on
Foreign Relations and the former U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso. Sasha
Polakow-Suransky is associate editor of Foreign Affairs.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
A SILENT battle is raging between ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) to lure the Arthur Mutambara camp, with reports
that promises of lucrative posts in the next government have been made as
part of the bargaining.
Mutambara’s camp won nine seats in the lower house, but its position is such
that it would be a crucial ally to either of the two larger parties, which
both failed to garner an absolute majority.
The support of the Mutambara faction will also be crucial in an expected
While Tsvangirai has declared himself the winner of the presidential race,
Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa told
journalists last week that ZANU-PF’s own tallies indicate that none of the
four candidates garnered the more than 50 percent required to win outright.
In the parliamentary elections, MDC-Tsvangirai grabbed 99 seats against
Independent candidate Jonathan Moyo won in Tsholotsho North.
But should ZANU-PF regain control of Parliament through a recount of votes
in 23 constituencies, it may disengage from the negotiations unless the
party decides to pursue alliances for purposes of a re-run of the
“There are talks about building alliances. Both ZANU-PF and the Tsvangirai
MDC have been in touch with the Mutambara and (Simba) Makoni camps,” said a
Sources said ZANU-PF has promised senior members of both camps lucrative
posts in the event President Robert Mugabe won the run-off. The juiciest
carrot being dangled is the powerful post of Speaker of Parliament.
The MDC Tsvangirai is alleged to have promised the Mutambara camp three
ministerial positions in the government of national unity. Losing candidates
would be offered diplomatic posts, sources said.
They said Mutambara and his national executive were also not happy with
Makoni’s insistence that he was not in alliance with their faction despite
the former university student leader having withdrawn his presidential
candidacy to throw his weight behind the former finance minister.
It therefore means that Makoni is unlikely to influence the Mutambara camp
in deciding whom to back in the event of a run-off.
But ZANU PF’s overtures to the Mutambara camp have created serious fissures.
Most members of the camp have strongly stated to party secretary general
Welshman Ncube that they were not prepared to be associated with ZANU-PF.
“The problem though is that Tsvangirai went into the March 29 elections
saying he was prepared to go it alone and this is presenting a dilemma for
Mutambara’s supporters,” said a source.
Ncube was not immediately available for comment, but party spokesman Gabriel
Chaibva said the last time the issue was brought to his attention, it had
been agreed that the party would swing its support behind Tsvangirai.
“Our position is very clear that in the event of a run-off we will support
Tsvangirai,” said Chaibva.
Thokozani Khupe, Tsvangirai’s deputy, said the Tsvangirai faction had
initiated talks with their former colleagues with a view to fighting the
“We have engaged them. In fact our people are in touch with Gibson Sibanda
over the issue. We have indicated in the past that we are willing to work
Godfrey Chanetsa, a spokesman for Makoni, said it would be difficult for his
political formation to declare its allegiances in the run-off before the
release of the presidential results.
“We will respond when there is a run-off. We are waiting to know the
results. We are in a situation where we need to talk to each other,” he
Tsvangirai and Makoni were invited to the Southern African Development
Community emergency meeting in Lusaka amid unconfirmed reports the regional
leaders had discussed the possibility of a government of national unity
featuring all the protagonists.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
IT is a Saturday and, a ZANU–PF supporter stands at Magunje Growth point
guarding a very large drum, brimming with enough sadza to feed dozens. “I
vote for the fist,” a message on his T–shirt proclaims.
“Land is the Economy,” a fellow activist’s T–shirt declares. However, as we
travelled along Magunje road, last weekend the first tobacco barn we see
lies collapsing and abandoned.
Further down the road, empty Grain Marketing Board (GMB) silos stand as more
testimony of the collapse of agriculture in this once–rich farming area in
Hurungwe. Beyond Magunje Growth Point lies Hurungwe District Rural Hospital,
where emaciated patients stare at an ox–drawn cart waiting to transport the
On either side of the road leading into the area, President Robert Mugabe’s
campaign posters festoon the trees. There is no sign of Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s posters. But both parties
won parliamentary seats there.
ZANU–PF candidate Reuben Marumahoko won the Hurungwe Senatorial
constituency, while, in a major blow to ZANU–PF, the MDC snatched the
Hurungwe West House of Assembly seat.
With utter desolation at the GMB offices and hopelessness at Hurungwe
Hospital, signs of life in this constituency seem only evident at the
Hurungwe Rural District Lodge.
Here, ZANU–PF youths have set up camp since the run–up to the March 29 poll.
“They had been staying there long before the elections were held. They are
unemployed. All they do is eat and drink the whole day,” said Lloyd
Hamadziripi, a resident of the area.
“They seem to be waiting for something. We wonder who is feeding them.”
When they are not eating or chanting slogans, the youths spend their time
drinking at Kusema Bottle Sore, across the bridge from their lodge, whiling
the hours away.
An uneasy peace prevails between residents and the militia.
But the lodge is like a dark, ominous cloud looming over the whole area.
People here live with the constant fear that, at any time, the command will
come for the youths to descend upon residents and punish them for voting for
ZANU–PF has said its vote tallies show that there will be a presidential
run–off but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to release the outcome.
On the other hand, the MDC says Tsvangirai won the poll outright, making the
need for a second round unnecessary. The standoff has raised tensions across
the country, and in rural areas that rejected ZANU–PF on March 29, fears are
growing the ruling party is mobilising for retribution.
At Magunje, an area ravaged by poverty, residents wonder about the
intentions of those sponsoring the feeding and drinking frenzy of the
ZANU–PF youths. “Out of every 100 people here, less than 10 can afford to
prepare vegetables using cooking oil. Life is tough,” one resident said.
ZANU–PF never expected to lose in Hurungwe West, but the people here seem to
have been pushed away from the ruling party by both economic factors and
“You see those traders there?” Hamadziripi says, pointing at people at a
vegetable market. “They walk for 10km just to sell groundnuts. At the end of
the day, they get takings of $60 million. What can you do with that?”
Villagers report that food distribution has now been politicised in the
“When people take maize to the GMB, they are never asked about their party
affiliation. But they say if you want maize meal, you should bring a letter
from a ZANU–PF councillor,” said Kelvin Mashaninga.
Like most other rural areas, Hurungwe West residents are simply holding
Zimbabweans being ‘punished’ for failing to oust ZANU-PF
ZIMBABWEANS are having a difficult time crossing the border into South
Africa as their economy remains on a downward trajectory, writes PETER
ZIPHOSO, who visited South Africa by road last week.
IT took an unbearable eight hours for Tapera to finally get to the
immigration counter for an entry stamp to visit South Africa. He had arrived
at the border post on the South African side at 2200 hours on Thursday,
hoping to reach Johannesburg by 0500 hours the following morning.
But he got the entry stamp — often called the entry visa in home affairs
parlance — during the morning hours of Friday, just after 0600 hours.
“It’s terrible,” said Tapera, declining to give his full name. “These people
should understand that the problems haunting us might come back to strike
them as well. We laughed at the Zambians during their recession, but where
are we now?”
“But who are these people?” I asked Tapera.
“These South African immigration officials are punishing us for failing to
remove (President Robert) Mugabe,” said Tapera, infuriated.
“There is no reason for this kind of delay and they are saying go back and
sort out your mess.”
A woman standing close to Tapera, who simply called herself a teacher,
immediately exclaimed: “Look at how the prices are going up — it’s going to
be disastrous once their shower boy comes into power.”
The “shower boy” refers to Jacob Zuma, the ruling African National Congress
party president, who is the front-runner to succeed President Thabo Mbeki as
the leader of South Africa.
Zuma revealed during a rape trial that he had taken a shower to wash himself
to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS after sleeping with an infected woman.
While he is popular with the masses, Zuma is less popular with business and
South Africa’s elite, who fear he could ruin the South African economy
because of his populist policies.
But to the South Africans, particularly those living in the Limpopo province
just across the Zimbabwean border, it is Zimbabwean shoppers who have
triggered sharp price hikes because of their bulk shopping habits.
But it was not the ordinary South African folks and their complaints against
the increasing number of Zimbabwean shoppers that worried the Zimbabweans
during this journey. It was, rather, the South African immigration officials
brazenly punishing them for the single offence that they had failed to oust
President Mugabe and were trooping into South Africa to cream off their
“You should go and sort out your mess with (President) Mugabe,” a police
officer controlling the front of the queue to the immigration office said.
The wait had been too long and agonising: the queue of desperate visitors
meandered from the office block housing the South African customs and
immigration departments down to the entry point close to the Limpopo River’s
Beitbridge, as if taking the travellers back into Zimbabwe.
The queue moved slowly like a cautious chameleon, and it kept getting longer
with each bus that arrived with more passengers.
At the first count when Tapera arrived at the border, his bus was number 23,
but there were over 30 coaches just a few hours later, and the buses had to
be moved by the police to park in South Africa in order to clear the way for
other traffic flowing into the country, southern Africa’s economic
The journey to South Africa from Zimbabwe by road has become a living
nightmare for cross-border travellers, particularly for those using public
While the majority of the people flocking into the country are cross-border
traders trying to eke out a living by buying goods in South Africa and
reselling them in Zimbabwe, hundreds others are Zimbabwean shoppers going to
buy groceries in South Africa because of market-wide shortages back home.
Buses pass through the border into South Africa daily from as far as Zambia,
Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, again with shoppers attracted
by the well-stocked supermarkets and retail outlets offering goods at
cheaper prices than back home.
But it is the number of Zimbabweans trooping into South Africa that has
upset South African immigration officials, who are bothered by the influx of
Zimbabweans fleeing an economic crisis back home.
And they are paying the price for a crumbling economy, which many critics
blame on economic mismanagement by the ZANU-PF government, in power since
independence from Britain in 1980.
Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy has been under a recession for the past nine
years, with acute foreign currency shortages that have spawned a wider
crisis that has disrupted the normal functioning of the economy.
Inflation currently tops 160 000 percent, unemployment is estimated at 80
percent while close to 80 percent of the country’s population of 13 million
people are said to be living in poverty.
So unbearable is the situation that even refugees from other African
countries who had sought sanctuary in Zimbabwe are now taking flight to
neighbouring South Africa.
At the border post, tens of Somali refugees huddled in a corner, braving the
chilly night weather as they waited to process refugee documents with the
South African immigration department.
A news agency report quoted a Somali refugee Mustapha Umar saying: “Life is
unbearable in Zimbabwe. We escaped bullets in Somalia only to face
starvation in Zimbabwe.”
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
SENIOR army officials and ZANU-PF bigwigs are digging in their heels against
plans to form a government of national unity (GNU), saying a transitional
strategy purportedly authored by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
had shaken their confidence in the opposition.
Diplomatic sources told The Financial Gazette this week that regional
leaders and the international community had almost succeeded in convincing
President Robert Mugabe’s key lieutenants to buy into the MDC’s idea of a
GNU, but the process was scuttled after the 13-page document surfaced.
“This freaked the army generals who already had their misgivings about
Tendai Biti (the MDC Tsvangirai secretary-general), whose utterances before
the elections were seen going against the spirit of national unity,” a
diplomatic source said.
Last week, the document did rounds in Harare newsrooms, and even ended up
being distributed to delegates to the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) summit in Lusaka at the weekend.
Dated March 25, the document claims a Colonel Mudzingwa was to go to army
headquarters on April 1, “confront” army commander Phillip Sibanda and force
him to hand over command.
It quotes Biti saying: “Our British friends have already taken the
president, his wife and the rest of the first family through a crash course
on the ethics, etiquette and basic protocol associated with this high
“As an interim measure we have secured the agreement of selected reputable
generals and senior officers of the former Rhodesian security forces, who
are presently in Australia, Britain and South Africa, to take charge of our
security forces while we train our young leaders.”
The document also alleges that the MDC offered Zimbabwe Electoral commission
(ZEC) officials between $3 billion and $50 billion each to overstate its
But the MDC on Friday called a Press conference to refute what it termed
“It is sad to note how state media organisations such as The Herald and the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation have, since the defeat of ZANU-PF last
week, allowed themselves to be used as willing tools by the illegal ZANU-PF
regime to support the party’s shameless propaganda,” the MDC said in a
Sources on Tuesday said state media had been in possession of the document
since before the elections.
The document was first used to allege that the MDC would hand over control
of the central bank to Germans once it took power. It was then quoted more
extensively this week, in a story alleging evidence had emerged of MDC
Earlier, The Herald reported that MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai had begged
to be named vice president in a unity government.
“Efforts by the MDC to put the record straight in terms of journalistic
ethics that should be adhered to by any publication worth its salt are being
This is not the first time that the two rival parties have thrown dirt at
each other. The two parties have fought through the elections and in the
courts. Now they are waging a bitter propaganda war.
In the run-up to the 2000 general election, The Chronicle published a front
page article claiming the MDC had hatched a plot to “bomb all tall
buildings” in the capital.
The MDC was also at that time linked to a campaign to spread anthrax among
According to the MDC, ZANU-PF has resorted to forging documents to discredit
“There is no doubt that that the disinformation campaign has been undertaken
by the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) in a desperate effort to help
(President) Mugabe and his ZANU-PF to achieve two nefarious objectives,
namely to mislead the SADC leaders at their emergency summit on April 12 in
Lusaka on the Zimbabwean electoral impasse by alarming them into falsely
believing that the MDC has a transitional plan whose effect would be to
destabilise Zimbabwe with far reaching implications on the stability of the
region itself; and to incite the public and cause alarm and despondency in
Zimbabwe through false assertions that the MDC has a retributive
transitional plan that will target certain individuals, institutions and
sections of the population after taking office following its electoral
victory on March 29,” said MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday.
For the first time in history, the ruling party lost control of Parliament
to the opposition.
The MDC, for its part, has driven the message that Tsvangirai won the
presidential poll outright, and that any other outcome would be the result
of rigging by ZANU-PF.
However, ZANU-PF still insists it is preparing for a run-off, even though no
official results from the presidential poll have yet been released by the
ZIMBABWEANS have for the past 19 days been kept guessing as to who their
President is. My cell phone rings almost every two minutes with members of
my constituency wanting to find out when the results of the Presidential
elections will be announced.
Those in business are saying they are holding onto major decisions because
of the uncertainty created by the delayed results. Those in employment say
they are having concentration problems at work and hence affecting their
productivity. Those unemployed and without food are hoping for a change in
their fortunes if the candidate they voted for is declared the winner now
and not tomorrow.
I have no answers for my constituency. This is not healthy for either the
nation or individuals. It is not healthy for me either. It is nerve wracking
and frustrating to say the least.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is a public body led by a learned
fellow, and it is expected in the discharge of its duties to act reasonably
in matters that affect the rights of others and in particular the rights of
over 14 million Zimbabweans here and in the Diaspora.
Zimbabweans have a right to know the results of the presidential election
now and not when it suits ZEC and ZANU–PF. The original reason given by ZEC
for the delay in releasing the results was that they were collating and
verifying the same. This reason was not believed by anyone including 14 year
olds who are yet to qualify to vote. ZEC was dealing with 210 forms or data
sets compiled and collated at the constituency centres countrywide.
Most of the data on these forms had by March 30, 2008 been agreed to by ZEC
constituency and provincial election officers and all contesting candidates
directly or through agents and signed for. The addition of total votes
obtained by each of the four presidential candidates should not have then
taken more than three hours with the help of Bill Gates’s Microsoft excel.
At most, by Tuesday April 1 the results should have been announced. Alas! It
wasn’t to be.
When the original reason for delaying the results could no longer be
sustained, ZEC came up with another one. This time they said they had
received complaints from ZANU–PF that they had been robbed in 21
constituencies and therefore they wanted a recount.
In Patrick Chinamasa’s words, ZEC had rejected their request serve in 5
constituencies in which he alleges their complaint had been submitted within
48 hours of the announcement of the results as provided for by the law.
This meant in all other constituencies ZANU–PF was expected if it so wished
to file petitions in the Electoral court within 14 days of the Poll. Alas
that was not to be. ZEC has gone ahead to publish a notice that they will do
recounts in the same constituencies that ZANU–PF had raised complaints
notwithstanding that this was done out of time.
This time ZEC’s actions, in my view and that of any reasonable person, are
implying that it can cover up for ZANU–PF’s ineptitude by using its power to
conduct recounts whether or not the participating candidates had lodged
complaints on time.
If that is the case, who wouldn’t want to be ZANU–PF if a whole
constitutional body can on paper and in practice appear to be acting for
The power given by the legislature to ZEC to conduct recounts must be based
on a reasonable suspicion that there were miscounts or votes were stolen.
The legislature in its wisdom never intended that this power be used to
favour one group of people. The majority of the people that I have spoken to
now believe rightly or wrongly that ZEC is biased in favour of ZANU–PF.
Bias does not necessarily have to be actual. Sometimes it is the sum total
of the perceptions of those affected by the actions of a public officer or
body. ZEC is therefore not doing itself any good in the eyes of Zimbabweans
and the international community.
The question on the minds of most Zimbabweans and the international
community is that: Is there any reasonable suspicion that votes were stolen
from (President) Robert Mugabe as suggested by Chinamasa and buttressed by
ZEC’s notice for recounts?
Never mind President Thabo Mbeki’s day–dreaming that HIV does not cause AIDS
and that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe when he is looking it in the eye. He
(President Mbeki) seems not to see nor hear any evil when it comes to
(President) Mugabe and ZANU–PF. No wonder he lost in Polokwane because he
appears to always be fighting with reality and no one takes him seriously
In addition, both him and (President) Mugabe believe that their respective
parties will crumble if they are not on their helm whilst the opposite is
true. In addition, the two also have something else in common. Mbeki is
determined to ensure that Jacob Zuma does not become South Africa’s
President while (President) Mugabe vowed that Morgan Tsvangirai will never
be President of Zimbabwe irrespective of what the people of the two
Zimbabwe has an Electoral Commission (ZEC) still appointed entirely by
(President) Mugabe, from a shortlist picked predominantly by his party,
which until March 28 2008 was the majority party in parliament.
Zimbabwe Police have started arresting ZEC election officials countrywide,
alleging they fraudulently deprived (President) Mugabe of votes during vote
counting or compiling in the recent harmonised elections. If so, they robbed
(President) Mugabe in front of police and numerous other witnesses – without
it being detected for a week.
Whatever red herrings people may try to draw now across the trail, all the
counting was done in front of numerous witnesses including the police and
ZANU–PF’s polling agents at every polling station and completed by lunchtime
on Sunday 30th March 2008. And over the next couple of days, all the
compiling was done in front of numerous witnesses including the police and
ZANU–PF’s polling agents at every polling station, in every ward and every
constituency and the result there in each of the four elections was recorded
and put up outside.
No complaints were publicly made, until last Friday when ZANU–Pf allegedly
had to explain to (President) Mugabe –on the basis ostensibly and allegedly
only of their own polling agents returns, as the official ones are still
officially secret – why he lost, and even did so much worse than his party
candidates in many areas.(vakarovera bhora musango). In terms of the results
published by ZEC at polling stations and collated by MDC, Tsvangirai won the
highest number of votes in 123 constituencies and ZANU-PF President Robert
Mugabe in 87 constituencies. That is a 58 percent win of the 210
constituencies against (President) Mugabe’s 41 percent.
What it means is that based on constituency results and the first past the
post system, (President) Mugabe was also defeated by his own party, which
won in 97 constituencies, while Tsvangirai defeated (President) Mugabe,
Simba Makoni, the other presidential candidate, ZANU–PF and MDC
parliamentary candidates in some areas.
The counting was done at each polling station. Present at every count were
11 ZEC officials, accredited observers (all approved by a government
minister first) agents for each candidate (with a ZANU–PF agent, inside and
out) – and police – as (President) Mugabe had personally and single handedly
changed the electoral law just before the election to put his police inside
the polling stations. I say “his” police since the Commissioner General
publicly said he can only salute (President) Mugabe and not anyone else the
people of Zimbabwe in their sovereign wisdom would have chosen as their
Other agents, observers, the public etc watched from a short – distance
outside. Nobody was allowed in or out during the count. Then six copies were
made of every result, from each of the four ballot boxes in turn
(presidential, senate, house of assembly, local authority). They were signed
not just by ZEC officials, but by party agents – including ZANU–PF.
One signed copy of each return was then put up publicly outside. All 5
others were sent on to the ward centre, then the constituency centre, then
the command centre. How could any theft from him have happened so publicly,
and been undetected, unreported for so long?
Individual ZEC officials are being arrested by police from around the
country for having unlawfully robbed (President) Mugabe of votes, before any
official result is released.
Everything was done at every level with many other people watching – the
counting of the ballot papers and the collating. For any theft or fraud to
have occurred at any stage, many other people would have needed to be
accomplices, including ZANU–PF party agents and police.
Why have they not all been arrested? Every result was recorded in multiple
copies, and signed by ZANU–PF agents. Every polling station result was put
up publicly. Five copies were kept for ZEC. Can anyone hope to defraud
(President) Mugabe in quintuplicate?
The number of copies made of every Constituency return is unknown, but can
be easily discovered. One was put up outside for the public for each
election. Winners were announced. The time when all this happened at the
constituency level can also be proved. Most, if not all, were finished by
Sunday or Monday.
Long after each local announcement of the Parliamentary seats, ZEC also
announced the results at its National Command Centre. It said its delay was
while it checked each one. So they checked the parliamentary results and
announced the winners. So what has happened now? ZEC is well staffed and has
computers. If a local official cheated or perhaps made a mistake in entering
or adding any returns – undetected by all those others watching him–ZEC
would have discovered this before it made its own public announcement for
that seat. Yet it is ZEC’s public announcements that are being disputed now
by ZANU–PF and ZEC itself. If there was any fraud or error in any tally by
some official, it was an error ZEC also made; yet no–one from its National
Command Centre has been charged.
While every constituency result has been broadcast, all ZEC presidential
results remain secret. Like ZANU–PF, the police should not have any official
records of that vote yet. Can they explain on what evidence therefore are
they now arresting and dragging before the courts any ZEC official for theft
of votes or defrauding (President) Mugabe? Are they too relying on the
results reported by ZANU–PFs own agents? Has ZEC laid a complaint against
some officials, rather than merely rectifying any errors? Or are these
arrests stage managed to justify the so called recounts?
Being such a public process, there surely can be no reasonable suspicion
that (President) Mugabe has been robbed by anyone. Why now open the ballot
boxes? I speak for several members of my constituency and I believe several
other Zimbabweans who feel that there seems to be no credible grounds to do
so, but there is every reason to fear that the real reason for doing this is
to suddenly “find” more votes for (President) Mugabe inside, in boxes kept
guarded only by his officials and police, sealed with only their seals. They
believe that this is being done to create a run–off, which people believe
does not exist. There is also a genuine fear by members of my constituency
and several other people that the other reason is to find more “votes” for
ZANU–PF in order to rob MDC of its parliamentary majority.
Others believe that the delays by ZEC are designed to buy time for ZANU–PF
to regroup before a run–off and close Zimbabwe’s democratic space by
intimidating and beating up our fathers, mothers and grandmothers in the
countryside to create an unfair advantage over MDC. This they believe is
being done to give ZANU–PF a psychological advantage in an unlikely
presidential run–off, for it will be difficult for them to campaign with a
double loss in presidential and parliamentary elections. What do you tell
the electorate that we lost in the parliamentary and first round of the
presidential elections so please vote for our president who will then govern
with a minority in parliament. Give us a break and stop insulting the
intelligence of Zimbabweans. Muri kunyangira yaona.
Before ZEC does its recounts, (and I pray that no reasonable court under the
sun would allow them) it must inform every accredited observer, and let them
also attend. It must show these observers all the polling station returns,
and let them take copies of that, and explain why it thinks there are any
grounds to reopen and recount, when ZANU–PF was present at the time and made
no complaint for so long.
In addition, it must tell observers that notwithstanding Chinamasa’s public
pronouncement that a recount in the presidential election to recover about 4
900 votes will not change the fact that Tsvangirai defeated President
Mugabe. Or it must tell observers it received complaints within the allowed
time of 48 hours, but ignored them and announced the results anyway; and
explain why neither it nor ZANU–PF told observers that they had any
complaints. Regardless of any recount, every winner announced at the
constituency centre remains the winner unless and until that result is set
aside by the Electoral Court after petition and trial. ZEC cannot change it
by setting aside its own declaration.
A recount in itself cannot change it either. Section 66 (4) of the Electoral
Act Chap 2:13 specifies that.
66 Determination and declaration of result of poll
(4) A declaration by the constituency elections officer or the Chief
Elections Officer under this section shall be final, subject to reversal on
petition to the Electoral Court that such declaration be set aside or to the
proceedings relating to that election being declared void under subsection
(1) of section fifty.
If the intention of ZEC in conducting the recounts is to change the result
of the parliamentary results and immediately declare new MPs different from
what they have already declared as implied in their notice then that in my
view will be unlawful. They can only change the winner by filing a petition
in the electoral court with the affected candidate and party having a right
to oppose it. No reasonable court anywhere in the world would accept that.
Our courts would have failed in their responsibility if they allow ZEC to
change people’s elected representatives any time and as they wish without
due process. That due process entails conducing recounts in terms of the law
and the law is specific in that regard.
Section 67 A of the electoral act states that
67A Recounting of votes
(1) Within forty–eight hours after a constituency elections officer has
declared a candidate to be duly elected in terms of section 66(1), any
political party or candidate that contested the election in the ward or
constituency concerned may request the Commission to conduct a recount of
votes in one or more of the polling stations in the constituency.
(2) A request in terms of subsection (1) shall:
(a) be in writing, signed by an appropriate representative of the political
party or candidate making the request; and
(b) state specifically the number of votes believed to have been miscounted
and, if possible, how the miscount may have occurred; and
(c) state how the results of the election have been affected by the alleged
(3) On receipt of a request in terms of subsection (1) the Commission shall
order a recount of votes in the polling stations concerned if the Commission
considers there are reasonable grounds for believing that the alleged
miscount of the votes occurred and that, if it did occur, it would have
affected the result of the election.
(4) The Commission may on its own initiative order a recount of votes in any
polling stations if it considers there are reasonable grounds for believing
that the votes were miscounted and that, if they were, the miscount would
have affected the result of the election.
(5)Where the Commission orders a recount of votes in terms of this section,
the Commission shall specify:
(a) the polling stations whose votes are to be recounted and, where
appropriate, the votes that are to be recounted; and
(b) the date on which, and the place and time at which the recount is to
take place; and
(c) the procedure to be adopted for the recount; and shall take all
necessary steps to inform accredited observers and all political parties and
candidates that contested the election of its decision and of the date, time
and place of the recount.
(6) Accredited observers and representatives of candidates and political
parties that contested the election shall be entitled to be present at any
recount ordered in terms of this section.
(7) The Commission’s decision on whether or not to order a recount and, if
it orders one, the extent of the recount, shall not be subject to appeal.
In the case of the current recounts, ZEC had initially indicated that they
were recounting the votes based on the complaints made by Zanu-Pf in terms
of Section 67 A (1) of the Electoral Act. This is notwithstanding the public
acknowledgement by ZANU-PF through Chinamasa that they were late in
submitting their complaints on the majority of the constituencies i.e. 16
out of 21.Meaning they had submitted their complaints outside the 48 hrs
prescribed by section 67 A (1) above. MDC through its lawyer Selby Hwacha
challenged this in court and ZEC;s lawyer George Chikumbirike consented to
an order before Justice Guvava at 8.30pm on Friday 11, April 2008 that the
recounts were unlawful and therefore will not proceed. Before the ink on
this consent order had dried ZEC published a notice in the Sunday mail and
the Standard of 13 April 2008 that they were proceeding with recounts on the
19th April,2008 in the same constituencies complained about by Zanu-PF out
of time because they were empowered to do so by law whether or not they have
received a complaint from a candidate. Yes they are empowered to do so but
only under Section 67 A (4) of the Electoral Act. In their notices published
widely in both independent and so called state newspapers they do not say
that they are proceeding in terms of Section 67 A (4) of the Electoral Act.
They instead cite the general empowering constitutional clause 64 (1) (d)
that created them and Section 67 A of the Electoral Act. That is not good
enough. Unless their notice specifies that they are conducting the recounts
in terms of the cited relevant section of the Electoral Act 67 A (4) then
these recounts are in my view blatantly unlawful. It would not be
unreasonable for anyone including a first year law student to conclude that
they are proceeding to conduct recounts in defiance of a High court order.
No reasonable court in my view would not conclude that the recounts that
they intend to proceed with are the same recounts that Zanu-PF asked for out
of time. No reasonable court in my view will also not arrive at the
conclusion that the notice issued by the Justice Chiweshe led Commission is
defective for want of correctly citing the empowering clause in the
electoral act to make its actions lawful.
In addition, it is my view that by attempting to proceed with the same
recounts purportedly under Section 67 A of the Electoral Act, ZEC’s actions
have the effect of frustrating a High court order and that should not escape
the mind of an A Level student intending to study law after the delayed
results of ZIMSEC in August this year. Whilst the decisions of ZEC in
recounts are not subject to appeal, they are reviewable. Hon Justice Uchena
made this point clear in his recent judgement on the release of results that
the courts will intervene if ZEC strays from the law. They have in my view
just done that. I know that justice particularly in our country is sometimes
blind in matters that affect the political power of ZANU-PF but I don’t
believe that it is stupid. It shouldn’t be.
Jameson Timba is the MDC MP for Mt Pleasant
ZAMBIAN President Levy Mwanawasa could not have anticipated what he was up
against when he hastily convened a Southern African Development Community
(SADC) extra-ordinary summit in Lusaka at the weekend to discuss the thorny
electoral developments in Zimbabwe.
As the current SADC chairperson, Mwanawasa went into the summit convinced he
had the rest of the world behind him, after all the subject matter had
attracted so much interest worldwide.
But after the marathon meeting, which lasted nearly 13 hours, the Zambian
leader must have felt let down by his colleagues, who got the better of him.
Despite the summit failing to live up to its billing, a communiqué released
afterwards tacitly endorsed the electoral fraud being committed by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on SADC’s watch.
It left many people livid over SADC’s failure to reprimand a wayward
neighbour whose electoral shenanigans have heightened tensions while goading
an otherwise peaceful people to turn against each other.
The entire region is now seated on a ticking time bomb and yet its leaders
are presenting a rose-tinted view of the crisis in their backyard.
SADC leaders came out of the weekend meeting singing from the same hymn
sheet. Mwanawasa, who had cut the image of a hardliner before the indaba,
had also softened his stance, turning the summit into another talk shop and
an unnecessary burden on the region’s taxpayers.
In the communiqué, the leaders once again threw their weight behind South
African President Thabo Mbeki’s mediation efforts while upholding Pretoria’s
view that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.
They also called on ZEC to speedily release the Presidential election result
while urging the protagonists in Zimbabwe to respect the outcome of the
Do SADC leaders still have any conscience? What did Zimbabweans do to
deserve such uncaring neighbours? What constitutes a crisis in their minds?
To his credit, Mwanawasa did the correct thing by calling for an
extra-ordinary summit. Tensions are rising due to ZEC’s inordinate delays in
releasing the results of an election held 19 days ago.
The Commission has not given any plausible reason for the delay other than
hiding behind a finger. This has raised fears that some powerful force might
have hijacked the electoral process and that the outcome may not reflect the
wishes of the people.
As if to confirm this, the Commission last week succumbed to pressure from
ZANU-PF to have a recount in 23 constituencies won by the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC-Tsvangirai).
The impasse has plunged into chaos an exercise that had gained a fair
measure of respect after the peaceful conduct of the elections and has made
the conditions ripe for mayhem.
With ZEC’s autonomy in serious doubt, the MDC has responded by calling for
mass protests. And this week there were skirmishes in some parts of the
country between the security forces and protesters irked by what they see as
evasiveness on the part of ZEC in declaring MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
winner of the Presidential poll.
There are also reports of beatings and torture of innocent people in the
countryside by alleged ZANU-PF thugs on the warpath against those they
suspect to have voted for the opposition.
If that does not constitute a crisis then we don’t know what will?
Already, the country has lurched into a legal and constitutional crisis.
While the life of Cabinet has been extended, its wings have been severely
curtailed. There is no Parliament to pass laws and perform an oversight role
over government following its dissolution last month.
The incumbent is also running the country on a caretaker basis with no clear
mandate from the people to take stock of what needs to be done until the
impasse has been resolved.
And with the MDC indicating it might not participate in a re-run following
indications that none of the contestants garnered a clear majority; SADC
might live to rue the gilt-edged opportunity they missed in Lusaka.
Without specific deadlines given by SADC, ZEC is under no pressure to
release the results more so with the High Court having ruled on Monday that
it cannot compel it to release the result.
What this means is that Zimbabwe is headed for another disputed election and
without legitimacy, the powers-that-be will find it difficult to reverse a
festering economic crisis now in its ninth year.
While correctly pointing out that the March 29 elections were held in a
peaceful environment, interestingly the SADC leaders did not demand fairness
and transparency in the verification process so that all parties could
accept the outcome of the election.
Such glaring duplicity exposes SADC as an integral part of the crisis and as
lacking the moral high ground to read the riot act to Harare.
One might as well argue that the communiqué issued on Sunday was only meant
to save Mwanawasa’s face, who ZANU-PF has accused of convening an
By highlighting that the letters of invitation to the summit were issued two
days after the summit had been announced in the Western media, ZANU-PF is
playing up the same tired mantra that anyone with a perspective different to
its own is a stooge of the so called imperialists.
Unfortunately, President Mbeki has been a willing partner in ZANU-PF’s
attempts to postpone the inevitable.
For President Mbeki, who has been involved in finding solutions to the
Zimbabwe crisis for the past six years to say there is no crisis in Zimbabwe
is surely being too economical with the truth, nauseating and patronising.
His ruling African National Congress (ANC) is also not amused by this and
has publicly differed with its Head of government.
“The ANC reiterates its position that the electoral commission announces the
presidential election results without any further delay,” said ANC national
spokesperson Jessie Duarte. “And we express concern that the commission will
lose its credibility if it continues to hold on to the election results. A
run-off in the face of the results not being known is both undemocratic and
indicative of a disregard for the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
On Monday, ANC chairperson and National Executive Committee member Baleka
Mbete also said the situation in Zimbabwe constituted a crisis.
The Inter Parliamentary Union, which had earlier said the current situation
in Zimbabwe was not an emergency item to warrant debate, made a U-turn on
Monday with its members agreeing to an emergency debate on the issue.
Hopefully President Mbeki and his colleagues in SADC are listening.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
Safely and comfortably ensconced in the land of the much denounced British,
which he is apparently unwilling to leave to return home to Zimbabwe to
enjoy the kind of life he so zealously advocates for others, Herald
columnist Peter Mavunga can afford to peddle Utopian views on the
“revolution” that were the theme of his column in the April 12 issue of the
Headed “Change for change’s sake bad”, the main thrust of the writer’s piece
was to ridicule those among the people of Zimbabwe who voted for change in
the March 29 elections. Mavunga says those Zimbabweans who want change
because of the unrelenting economic hardships they have experienced over the
last decade are a misguided lot looking at things “back to front.” He claims
that the perception that the government led by ZANU PF is responsible for
the economic malaise and must therefore be replaced is a “distortion, either
deliberate or unintended”.
According to the Herald columnist, what has happened in Zimbabwe is the
result of “some deliberate act of subterfuge and intended to obfuscate
rather than clarify issues”.
Mavunga continues: “The Zimbabwean economy was never as bad as it is now
prior to 1997. Indeed, President Mugabe was the West’s blue-eyed boy for his
efforts of reconciliation. After all, his Marxist-Leninist rhetoric prior to
independence, his accommodation with the white community who had vowed never
to serve under him was too good to be true.”
To cut a long story short, the upshot of the Herald columnist’s argument,
whose nostalgic outpourings included recollections that President Robert
Mugabe was once a guest of Queen Elizabeth at a parade in London that the
writer witnessed, is that these memories of how things were once, should be
enough to keep the people happy and they should not aspire for anything
better than living below the poverty datum line and battling to keep body
and soul together every single day. In other words, they should be happy to
be experiencing famine at the elaborate banquet the country’s rulers are
The Shona have a saying, “Matakadya kare haayaradzi mwana” which to
paraphrase, means nostalgic memories of a glorious past cannot bring food to
your table today, which Mavunga is seeking to overturn by insisting that
Zimbabweans should submit to their wretched lot and not exercise their right
to seek redress through a democratic change of government. Advocating doing
nothing about an untenable situation because it was once alright is the most
illogical thesis I have ever heard. It is tantamount to saying don’t have
your aching tooth extracted or don’t repair your broken down car because it
was once in mint condition! How gratifying that the people of Zimbabwe have
been courageous enough to reject this kind of hogwash through the clear and
loud message they sent out on March 29.
Mavunga’s outpourings are echoes and regurgitations of the government’s
tired hate propaganda through which its seek to blame the West, targeted
sanctions, opposition parties, the media, sellouts and anybody and anything
but itself for the penury into which it has driven the country. Mavunga has
simply been away for too long to appreciate the daily struggles of the
people and the man-made obstacles they must overcome just to make it through
the day. Living in a country where he takes the conveniences of modern life
for granted, The Herald columnist evidently cannot imagine that having water
flowing out of taps and electricity coming on at the flick of a switch are
now once-in-a-blue-moon miracles for most Zimbabweans; that his compatriots
cannot walk into shops and find basic commodities such as mealie meal,
bread, meat, milk or sugar and that when they stumble upon them on the black
market, they must fork out billions of dollars.
The result is that a majority of Zimbabweans are leading a stone age
existence in which they must literally scavenge for food and other
necessities all the time. Most families can no longer afford a single decent
meal per day. Parents cannot send their children to school and thousands are
dying unnecessarily following the collapse of the health delivery system.
Millions of Zimbabweans including the holier-than-thou Mavunga himself, have
had no option but to seek job opportunities in other countries to enable
them to sustain themselves and their families. And yet Mavunga derides these
Zimbabweans saying, “When black Zimbabweans have run away from ‘repressive’
Zimbabwe and sought refuge in Britain, their stories of torture and human
rights abuses have been believed and used to vilify ‘tyrant’ Mugabe.”
What every suffering Zimbawean back home would like to know is what stories
staunch supporters and defenders of the revolution such as Mavunga have to
tell to justify their extended sojourns in so-called imperialist countries
such as Britain and Australia. If life in these countries is so good for
them that they prefer to eschew the Zimbabwean paradise they perceive and
extol from afar, they have no right to attack anyone else who makes similar
choices. It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy to deride those back
home in Zimbabwe who know where the shoe pinches and have tried to seek
redress democratically through the ballot.
The line about the targeted sanctions imposed on President Mugabe and his
lieutenants being the cause of the collapse of the economy is a tired
mantra, which nobody believes judging by the way the people voted at the end
of last month despite being constantly bombarded with this “ big lie”.
Moreover, the sanctions-cum- economic sabotage mantra cannot hold water in
the face of the obscenely opulent lifestyles of the powerful and influential
, which seem to be the only “revolution” they are determined to defend. The
people sabotaging the economy are the corrupt ministers and public officials
who horde farms they cannot utilise to full capacity, sell subsidized
agricultural inputs and fuel on the black market and generally loot from the
nation. The cash barons that the Reserve Bank has accused of fuelling the
parallel foreign currency market consist of these same heavyweights. Has
Mavunga ever wondered how the ruling elites have become fatter and wealthier
in inverse proportion to the impoverishment, oppression and subjugation of
the rest of the people?
If Mavunga were to make a flying visit to Zimbabwe for the Independence
anniversary tomorrow, he would discover that for most ordinary Zimbabweans,
there is virtually nothing to celebrate. Most of those living is urban areas
will spend the day without water and electricity staring at uncollected
garbage and sewage flowing near their houses.
It will be a tense and apprehensive time for rural dwellers following
reports that a Gestapo-style retributive campaign of terror is underway to
punish them for voting against the ruling party. This will add to their
daily woes that include hunger, lack of health facilities, and the scarcity
and un-affordability of basic necessities.
The ruling party’s resort, in the 21st century, to these totalitarian and
barbaric tactics to enslave the same people it claims to have liberated, is
a clear indication that it has lost direction and now exists only to
safeguard the vested interests of greedy individuals.
Instead of deploring the people’s hunger for change under these untenable
conditions Mavunga should be asking what good a revolution that benefits
only a select few is.The Zimbabwean version that he defends so passionately
has been rejected by the people because it has pauperized them and stripped
them off their rights and dignity.
It is revolution for revolution’s sake when officials defeated in elections
feel no pang of conscience that innocent citizens have to be brutalized to
facilitate and legitimise their illegal re-imposition on the electorate.
Without a mandate from the people, these officials are simply imposters
representing no one.
ZIMBABWE’S beef industry, one of the prominent casualties of a controversial
agrarian reform undertaken by the government in 2000, remains subdued, an
industry player revealed.
This was, however, largely due to government price controls meant to slow
down run away inflation.
“The beef industry remains subdued. This situation was reflected in the
performance of the beef division, which suffered a decline in volumes of 71
percent principally because farmers were reluctant to sell animals at
unviable prices,” Colcom Holdings Limited, an agro processing group, said in
a statement to shareholders.
The group however, noted that the breeding herd grew by 15 percent in 2007
despite extensive grass burning, which hindered pasture and grazing
Zimbabwe lost a considerable number of its cattle herd under its
controversial land redistribution programme, which transferred land from
former white owners to landless and inexperienced peasant farmers including
ruling party elites who have run down farming infrastructure.
Output in the farming sector has significantly declined as a result,
creating market-wide shortages that have forced the government to import to
cover production shortfalls.
To mitigate the effect of the decline in the national herd caused by the
agrarian reforms, government embarked on a livestock rebuilding exercise
through the Cold Storage Company (CSC).
New black farmers unable to keep livestock taken over from former white
farmers were urged to sell the beasts to the CSC.
All beef disposals by farmers were also to be done through the CSC.
Announcing this measure last year, former agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo
said: “We are on a drive to rebuild the national herd devastated by
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono also unveiled plans to boost
the country’s cattle population under a support scheme launched two years
In July last year, Gono again reiterated his desire to boost the national
cattle herd, saying: “We want Zimbabwe to get back to the animal stock
levels of our glitter years.”
He unveiled a separate cattle-restocking package under which he said
provinces would get a total of 2.1 million beasts for the restocking
The Ministry of Agriculture was to get funding for capacity development in
the provision of dip tanks and veterinary services across the country.
The national cattle herd is estimated at 80 000 beasts from nearly four
million before the land reform exercise.
Zimbabwe has the capacity to sustain between 10 million and 15 million
MILLERS are in the middle of discussions with the government to resolve a
costly impasse over the pricing of maize-meal and flour, which is driving
the industry towards collapse.
Millers, armed with revised pricing schedules, had hoped for a quick respite
but a no holds barred meeting held on April 7, 2008 left them in suspense
after the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) dug in its heels.
The stormy meeting convened by the NIPC and attended by millers and members
of the National Bakers Association to iron out the pricing issues, failed to
produce outcomes amenable to both sides.
According to sources, the sticky points centred on the pricing of flour,
maize-meal and the weights given to the inputs making up the various
The millers are pressing for an increase in the price of maize-meal from $8
million per 10kg to $188 million and from $1.2 billion to $34 billion per
tonne in the case of bakers flour.
In coming up with the suggested prices, millers cited escalating costs of
production, in particular transport costs, salaries, packaging and other
administrative overheads. Fuel and packaging costs have emerged the biggest
drivers of costs in the milling industry, spurred by soaring international
prices of crude oil.
Given that the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe is struggling to meet local
commitments, millers have had to source the product on the parallel market,
where it is fetching exorbitant prices. The result has been astronomical
increases in transport costs at a time when most millers cannot access the
staple grains from the nearest collection points.
Whereas millers used to collect their grain from the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) Aspindale Depot, they are now travelling nearly 600km to Middle Sabi.
“The NIPC interrogated the prices and the pricing models that we used and in
the end the meeting resolved that the millers should review their positions
before re-submitting new applications, which has since been done. We have
been assured that approval is now being sought for the new prices, which may
be announced next week,” said a source.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe
(GMAZ) chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said the discussions between millers and
the NIPC were confidential.
Musarara, however, said the industry enjoyed a good rapport with the pricing
commission, which started operations last year.
“All I can say is that we are having intensive discussions with the NIPC. We
are hopeful that a breakthrough will be achieved soon to rescue the
industry. We know that our government feels the same way too,” said
“GMAZ is also happy that grain supply has vastly improved over the last few
weeks. Expect to see maize-meal gradually filling up supermarket shelves
once again. We will be holding a national executive meeting today to discuss
teething operational issues,” he added.
Among the milling companies that were represented at last week’s meeting are
National Foods, Blue Ribbon Foods and Victoria Milling.
At the meeting, it was revealed that manufacturers of packaging material
were accessing the foreign currency required to import granules, chemicals
and other essential inputs from the parallel market and passing on the extra
cost to the millers.
The granules are a by-product of crude oil whose price has hit the roof on
the international market.
Even if the millers were to opt for toll milling they will still be unable
to circumvent the high costs of foreign exchange and fuel. Compounding their
unenviable position is the cost of financing flour and grain purchases,
which has escalated in the wake of a sharp interest rates spike seen on the
Government is, however, of the opinion that millers should queue to access
the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention facility, under Fiscorp
(Private) Limited, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S state–run Central Statistical Office (CSO) has blamed the current
shortages of commodities in supermarkets and retail outlets for causing the
delay in the publication of official inflation figures in the past two
The CSO, which last year pledged to release inflation figures by the 10th of
each month, failed to do so in February and March.
CSO acting director Moffat Nyoni told The Financial Gazette that the
publication of the crucial economic data had been delayed because commodity
shortages on the formal market had affected the collection and calculation
process of the figures.
“We don’t have figures yet. We are still encountering the same problems we
have encountered in the past such as no observation because of the
unavailability of some goods. So we have to estimate some observations,”
When asked when the CSO would make public the February and March inflation
figures, Nyoni said: “No, I wouldn’t like to give a deadline.”
Zimbabwean supermarkets and other retail stores have been struggling to
restock since last year when a government crackdown on retailers triggered
The Financial Gazette reported early this month that figures from the CSO
measured inflation at 164 900.3 percent for February.
But Nyoni could not comment on the figure published by our report.
Critics accuse the CSO of bowing to government interference to understate
inflation numbers to avoid embarrassment, but the statistical body denies
Last year government prioritised the fight against inflation as the
cornerstone of its strategy to arrest a nine–year economic recession that
most critics blame on mismanagement and inappropriate economic policies,
including threats to seize foreign owned enterprises.
But the prices of basic commodities such as bread, maize meal and sugar
continue on the upsurge.
Economic Viewpoint with Terrence Kairiza
THIS article seeks to unpack and prescribe a set of policy measures that
Zimbabwe can adopt from successful disinflation strategies implemented in
countries with similar experiences.
Hyperinflations everywhere have been associated with currency substitution,
elimination of value on nominal assets, capital markets that are in shambles
and a contracting real economy. The consequence of these ills is that ruling
politicians and often even political regimes are discredited, a fact, which
has led in most cases to the fall or even to the emergence of authoritarian
In spite of these seemingly obstinate adversities, it is feasible to
re-establish a stable Zimbabwean currency with positive implications for the
real economy. This begs questions regarding the precise measures that are
necessary and sufficient for a successful reform.
An appraisal of events elsewhere suggests that “…. successfully ending
hyperinflations requires a public sector budget balanced by explicit taxes
and an end to money finance. It also suggests that to enforce fiscal
responsibility, monetary policy has to be constrained by actions such as
those creating an independent central bank, restoring external currency
convertibility, or submitting domestic policy to foreign supervision”.
These pronouncements leave uncovered the following gaps: They do not divulge
political conditions under which the economic reforms are feasible.
Furthermore, they are silent on the specific policy actions, implementation
of which, the aforementioned scenario can obtain in Zimbabwe.
In the early 90s, three Latin American countries; Argentina, Brazil and Peru
implemented major stabilisation programmes designed to stop hyperinflation
within a period of one year. The initiation of stabilisation programmes in
these countries coincided with the inauguration of a new administration in
each country: In Argentina in July 1989 (Menem administration), in December
1992 in Brazil (Franco administration), and in August 1990 in Peru (Fujimori
administration). The three stabilisation programs embodied a clear departure
from the previous disinflation attempts under the ousted regimes.
That implementation of major reform programmes to end hyperinflations and
serious dislocative political events are contemporaneous events is not
coincidental, rather, the former is a logical result of the latter.
The absence of politics in economics is itself a political process. Besides
depoliticising internal discharge of economics in Zimbabwe, it is also
intuitive that restoration of international currency support for Zimbabwe is
contingent upon a shift in Zimbabwean politics. International currency is
vital in the inflation battle as there is a high degree of pass-through from
currency depreciation in currency markets to loss of value on the domestic
markets. The achievement of these political preconditions is necessary
though not sufficient to halt the inflationary slide.
Specific reform measures in Zimbabwe
Taking the political preconditions as the point of departure, the following
measures will suffice to halt Zimbabwe's hyperinflation.
(1) Substantial fiscal
Though questions exist on the desirability of a balanced budget in a
recession, the achievement of this feat will have a demonstration effect on
the government’s commitment to living within its means and subsequently an
end seigniorage finance.
Besides minimising government expenditure, fiscal tightening also entails
stopping forthwith the Quasi-Fiscal Activities of the central bank. All QFAs
need to be transferred to the budget where they are subject to the normal
QFAs are usually associated with autocratic regimes that seek to bypass all
democratic institutions like the parliament in the discharge of the
Is the goal of expenditure minimisation in harmony with the short-run need
to rehabilitate the collapsed social services?
The streamlined expenditure will have to be pointed towards priority areas
like education and health with instruments of self-preservation like
military expenditures for the regime relegated to the background.
For the period of 1998 to 2004, Zimbabwe’s average military expenditure as a
percentage of total GDP at 3% compared unfavorably to South Africa at 1.4%,
Zambia at 1% and, Malawi at 1% (World Bank, 2006).
(2) Market determination of the
The arbitrary setting of the exchange rate by the RBZ at rates below the
market clearing levels is at odds with any disinflation strategy for it
creates suppressed inflation on the official markets.
“Suppressed inflation describes a situation in which, at existing wages and
prices, the aggregate demand for current output and labour services exceed
the corresponding aggregate supply and it results from the inability of
wages and prices to adjust instantaneously, in response to shifts in
aggregate demand or supply, to satisfy the conditions for general market
“In this type of regime, nominal income increases occur as a money illusion
to minimise social discontent and provide a work incentive.”
This increases the inflationary overhang, which eventually finds its way
onto the parallel market, which spurs inflation on the parallel market. Thus
the first step should be to unlock this inflationary overhang on the
official markets, by the movement to the market rates and removal of
multiple exchange rates.
(3) Deregulating prices
The justification for the market determination of the exchange rate also
applies for prices.
(4) Substantial monetary tightening
RBZ will need to establish a strong money anchor to reduce inflation and
inflation expectations and inform the public of its intentions. In this
undertaking it is necessary to examine which should be the intermediate
monetary policy target in light of the stability of the demand for money and
the information content of financial variables for predicting price level
Results of a study by Kovanen (2004) for Zimbabwe indicate that a
well-defined long-run demand relation exists for currency in circulation,
but not for other monetary aggregates, thus currency in circulation has
strong information content for predicting future price level movements.
The information content of other financial variables, such as the exchange
rate is weaker which takes it out of analysis. Furthermore, the low level of
reserves makes it impossible to use the exchange rate as an intermediate
monetary policy target.
Stabilisation of prices will result in higher output in the short run due to
the fact that high inflation is inimical to the real economy, thus
eradication thereof is beneficial to the real economy in the short run. A
long run analysis will have to encompass a second generation of reforms to
sustain real economic growth.
Second-generation reforms will correct the underlying structural problems of
the economy in line with modern market economies. They will encompass State
Owned Enterprises’ reforms (including setting hard budget constraints for
SOEs and privatisation), civil service reforms (streamlining towards a
leaner and more efficient civil service), tax reforms (to reduce the tax
disincentives to investment and work), and central bank reforms (towards
more accountability, transparency, and operational independence but not goal
All these reforms should be underpinned by improvements in governance and
protection of property rights, which is key in restoring investor