by Lizwe Sebatha Wednesday 23 April 2008
BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s main trade fair begins today with no foreign leader
expected to grace the occasion as has been the tradition in the past, but
Harare said this did not mean other countries were shunning President Robert
Mugabe’s increasingly isolated government.
Western companies will again boycott the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair
(ZITF) as they have done since 2000 in protest against Mugabe’s
controversial economic policies and human rights accord.
But International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu was adamant that the absence of
a head of state to officially open the trade showcase did not mean other
governments no longer wanted to be seen associating with Mugabe’s government
which continues to hang onto power despite losing elections to the
opposition last month.
“President Mugabe will be the guest of honour and will officially open the
2008 ZITF on Friday. I do not see that as a snub (by other governments),”
said Mpofu in a telephone interview. Mpofu would not say whether Harare had
attempted at all to invite a foreign leader to the fair.
The guest of honour at previous fairs has been a visiting head of state,
invited by Mpofu’s ministry to officially open the show. The last foreign
head of state to official open the ZITF was Tanzanian President Jakaya
Kikwete in 2006.
Mugabe’s government – already under targeted European and American
sanctions – has come under intense pressure from neighbours and the wider
international community after it blocked release of results of the March 29
presidential election that the Zimbabwean leader is believed to have lost to
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
A vote recount in 23 constituencies that analysts fear could see Mugabe’s
ZANU PF party regain control of Parliament which it lost to the opposition
in a parliamentary poll also in March has further heightened tensions in
Zimbabwe, amid warnings that the situation could breakout into violence and
South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday that the
situation in Zimbabwe was not acceptable and urged African leaders to
intervene, as more of southern Africa’s leading political leaders began to
show signs they were getting fed up with Mugabe’s government.
"It's not acceptable. It's not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone
out to . . . elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want,
exercising their constitutional right," Zuma told the press in Germany where
he is on tour.
"The electoral commission must issue the results because it is actually
destroying its own credibility as an institution that is supposed to be
Zuma’s spoke barely 24 hours after Zambia, which chairs the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), urged regional states to bar a Chinese ship
carrying weapons for Mugabe’s government from docking at their ports, saying
the weapons could deepen Zimbabwe's election crisis.
The Chinese ship, known as An Yue Jiang fled South Africa’s Durban port
after a High Court judge directed that the ship be offloaded but refused to
allow the weapons to be transported across South Africa to Zimbabwe.
Mozambique and Angola have said they will not allow the ship to dock at
their ports, in an unprecedented move by regional governments that have in
the past stood by Mugabe’s administration, shielding it from censure by the
But it remains to be seen whether the evident impatience with Harare among
key players in the region will in due course translate into a policy shift
by the SADC which this week backed South African President Thabo Mbeki as
mediator in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki has been the chief architect of SADC’s policy on Zimbabwe that favours
engaging Mugabe but which critics complain has failed to yield results in
the past and has been misconstrued as support by the 84-year old Zimbabwean
leader. – ZimOnline.
by Patricia Mpofu Wednesday 23 April 2008
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government on Tuesday rejected calls for United Nations
(UN) intervention saying the country was not in crisis despite rising
political violence amid an election stalemate that analysts say could lead
to more conflict and bloodshed.
Deputy information minister Bright Matonga said Harare would invite the
world body if it felt the situation had deteriorated beyond its control.
“They can only intervene when there is a crisis,” he said. “There is not
crisis at the moment we do not see why they should be invited. We will
invite them when there is a real crisis not now.”
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai asked UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon for intervention by the
world body to stop a wave of violence and murder against opposition
supporters since Zimbabwe’s disputed elections.
The MDC says 10 of its supporters have been killed while at least 3 000
others have been displaced from their homes in what the opposition says is a
war being waged by Mugabe’s government against the people.
Zimbabwe, facing its worst recession and food shortages, was plunged deeper
into political crisis after electoral authorities withheld results of a
March 29 presidential election that President Robert Mugabe is believed to
have lost to Tsvangirai.
A vote recount in 23 constituencies that analysts fear could see Mugabe’s
ZANU PF party regain control of Parliament, which it lost to the opposition
in a parliamentary poll also in March, has further heightened tensions in
Meanwhile, Matonga also denied charges that weapons bought from China could
be used to crackdown on government opponents.
“Every sovereign country is allowed to import weapons from any legitimate
source unless if they are bought from an unofficial supplier,” said Matonga.
“We don’t use weapons to kill like what the British and the Americans are
doing in Iraq.”
A ship ferrying the weapons from China was forced to flee South Africa’s
Durban port after a High Court judge directed that the ship be offloaded but
refused to allow the weapons to be transported across South Africa to
Mozambique and Angola have said they will not allow the ship to dock at
their ports, while Zambia, which chairs the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), urged regional states to bar the ship from docking at
their ports, saying the weapons could deepen Zimbabwe's election crisis.
The United States said it would also try to block the Chinese weapons
However China said on Tuesday the weapons shipment that it defended as
“perfectly normal trade” might be returned home following the problems over
where to offload the cargo. – ZimOnline.
Published: April 22 2008 21:55 | Last updated: April 22 2008 21:55
Jacob Zuma, the head of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, has
stepped up his rhetoric on the crisis in Zimbabwe as he embarks on a
whirlwind tour of Europe’s capitals in an effort to assert his leadership
After a 36-hour visit to Berlin he will meet Gordon Brown, UK prime
minister, in London on Wednesday before flying to Paris on the final leg of
what is his first high-profile international mission since winning control
of the ANC from Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s president, in December.
The tour could hardly have come at a better time for the man hoping to lead
South Africa next year.
The international reputation of Mr Mbeki, his arch-rival, is in tatters over
his “quiet diplomacy” policy towards Harare. Mr Zuma has in the past
fortnight sought to capitalise on the president’s troubles.
He will not seek to undermine Mr Mbeki by initiating discussions on
Zimbabwe, advisers say.
He is, however, expecting the subject to be raised by Mr Brown, who is known
to have been exasperated by Mr Mbeki’s non-confrontational stance towards
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president.
Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change hopes the two will
discuss their idea of appointing an African envoy for the crisis. Mr Mbeki
has been the official South African Development Community (SADC) mediator
for Zimbabwe since March 2007.
Mr Zuma on Tuesday called for African leaders to launch a new mission to
“assist” Mr Mbeki as mediator, but stopped short of calling for him to be
“When I say leaders should go [to Zimbabwe], I’m saying that we are fully
aware that Mbeki is the mediator,” he said in Berlin. “But . . . given the
gravity of the situation, we should add other leaders to assist what Mbeki
When Mr Zuma said last week the region could not afford “a deepening crisis”,
it was widely seen as a dig at Mr Mbeki, who a few days earlier had denied
there was a crisis over last month’s disputed elections.
Mr Zuma’s more forthright stance has won favour in South Africa, as have his
recent comments about tackling violent crime. Against a backdrop of
pessimism in white-dominated business circles over the implications of his
taking over the ANC, and also over the country’s power shortages, he has
toured the nation courting in particular white and business audiences, even
visiting down-and-out Afrikaners last weekend in a remote town.
However, he is best known abroad for his embroilment in a bribery scandal,
over which he is to stand trial on corruption charges in August, and for
controversial comments made two years ago when on trial for rape. He was
acquitted of the latter charge and denies wrongdoing in the former case.
He will have lunch at the House of Lords on Wednesday, where he will sit
next to Lord Malloch-Brown, minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, and will
have a dinner on Wednesday and lunch on Thursday with South African
His tour is intended to counter disquiet in international business circles
over South Africa. While he insists ANC policy will not change under his
leadership, his closeness to the unions who helped revive his political
career has raised fears he will bow to pressure for a less market-friendly
Market uncertainty intensified this year when the government conceded the
country would face electricity shortages for years as a result of its
failure to plan.
Mr Zuma’s critics point to his recent comments over crime, including his
backing for a minister who urged police to “shoot to kill”, as evidence of a
By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 04/23/2008 07:46:27
ZIMBABWE'S ruling Zanu PF party retained its House of Assembly and Senate
seats in the first result announced from a patial recount in 23
constituencies following general elections on March 29.
The result of the Goromonzi West election was disputed by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it being one of two which the party
challenged after results released by the Zimbabwe Eelectoral Commission
(ZEC) showed it overturn Zanu PF's majority in parliament for the first
Results were still expected in 22 more constituencies, 21 of which are being
challenged by Zanu PF which claims the MDC bribed election officials to
undercount its votes and President Robert Mugabe's in the presidential poll
whose result is still unknown, over three weeks later.
Zanu PF gained a single vote in the House of Assembly recount in Goromonzi
West, taking its tally to 6194, against the MDC's 5931. The Senate results
Interestingly, the Goromonzi West election was one of two claimed to be "
fatally flawed" when the recount began by a SADC election observer Dianne
Kohbler-Barnard -- a Member of Parliament for South Africa's opposition
She claimed to have seen "ballot boxes with keys missing. One had a padlock
open. Some had the envelopes with the keys sealed with Sellotape instead of
wax... It tells me the box was opened, the ballots were fiddled with and it
was repackaged but the person did it badly."
The MDC charges that the exercise is a farce and has been fixed by Zanu PF
after ballot stuffing, a charge which President Robert Mugabe's party
Election officials were expecting the bulk of results from the recount to be
announced starting on Wednesday morning.
Recounts are being carried out in Chimanimani West, Mutare West, Bikita
West, Bikita South, Bulilima East, Zhombe, Zaka West, Zvimba North,
Silobela, Chiredzi North, Mberengwa East, West, South and North, Gutu South,
North and Central.
In Zimbabwe's 210 member House of Assembly, a party needs 106 seats to be
able to pass laws and elect a Speaker. Three elections were postponed, and
of those contested, the MDC was declared to have won 99 to Zanu PF's 97 and
another MDC faction won 10 seats, with one going to an independent.
Zanu PF needs to overturn results in at least nine constituencies won by the
MDC to regain the majority.
In the Upper House or Senate, Zanu PF has 30 seats, Tsvangirai's MDC 24 and
another MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara has control of six. Whoever wins
the presidential race appoints 10 provincial governors, and five Senators.
Eighteen chiefs are seconded from the Council of Chiefs to seat in the
deliberative 93-member chamber which has the power to block legislation.
The Herald, Scotland
You are right to be critical of the role of South African President Thabo
Mbeki in the Zimbabwe situation (Editorial, April 19).
With the UN seemingly reluctant or unable to pressure Robert Mugabe in any
significant way, the role of the biggest country in the area should be
crucial. Mbeki, while having displayed real courage in the fight against
apartheid, has become an increasingly eccentric figure, as his attitude to
Aids has shown.
The Zimbabwean people themselves can hardly be blamed for their lukewarm
response to the call by the MDC for a general strike, given a situation of
high unemployment, massive inflation and food shortages.
While the situation looks bleak, hopefully these people can take heart from
events in eastern Europe in the recent past. In Romania, for example, a
seemingly impregnable dictator such as Ceausescu was brought down in a very
short space of time.
Mugabe and his acolytes were clearly surprised by the election results. As
such, perhaps this from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is appropriate: "Tis
true, this god did shake."
R A Dziewialtowski, Glasgow.
By Gilbert Muponda
Last updated: 04/23/2008 04:49:51
ZIMBABWE’S current situation closely mirrors that of Russia in the mid to
late 1990s in many respects. Of particular importance President Robert
Mugabe finds himself in a situation similar to where President Boris Yeltsin
found himself in 1996.
Panic struck the Yeltsin team when opinion polls suggested that the ailing
president could not win; members of his entourage urged him to cancel
presidential elections and effectively rule as dictator from then on.
The president's inner circle assumed that it had only a short time in which
to act on privatisation “empowerment”: it therefore needed to take steps
that would have a large and immediate impact, making the reversal of reform
prohibitively costly for their opponents. The team quickly devised a plan to
co-opt potentially powerful interests, including enterprise directors and
regional officials, in order to ensure Yeltsin's re-election.
When Zimbabwe was implementing ESAP in the 1990s, Russia followed similar
trade liberalisation policies as well. The process of liberalisation would
create winners and losers, depending on how particular industries, classes,
age groups, ethnic groups, regions, and other sectors of Russian society
Some would benefit by the opening of competition; others would suffer. Among
the winners were the new class of entrepreneurs and black marketeers that
had emerged in the early 1990s. The trend is very similar to the various
empowerment schemes that have been implemented in Zimbabwe over the last few
The new capitalist opportunities presented by the opening of the Russian
economy in the late 1980s and early 1990s affected many people's interests.
As the Soviet system was being dismantled, well-placed bosses, career
politicians and technocrats in the Communist Party, the KGB, and the ruling
party Youth League were cashing in on their Soviet-era power and privileges.
Some quietly liquidated the assets of their organisations and secreted the
proceeds in overseas accounts and investments.
This development could yet be replayed in the Zimbabwean scenario. Others
created banks and enterprises in Russia, taking advantage of their insider
positions to win exclusive government contracts, tenders, and exclusive
licenses and to acquire subsidised loans and supplies at artificially low,
state-subsidised prices in order to transact business at high, market-value
During the same period, a few young people, with limited much social status,
but with lots of entrepreneurial spirit, saw opportunity in the economic and
legal confusion of the transition. During the period 1987 and 1992, trading
of abundant natural resources and foreign currencies, as well as imports of
highly demanded consumer goods and then domestic production of their
rudimentary substitutes, rapidly enabled these pioneering entrepreneurs to
accumulate considerable wealth.
In turn, the emerging cash-based, highly opaque markets provided a breeding
ground for a large number of racket gangs. It’s clear Zimbabwe has followed
a similar path. The black market has become the dominant market for all
basic items. Whilst this has created opportunities for enterprising
individuals it has left the state coffers bleeding due to the limited
ability to tax such activities. The problem is worsened that some state
enterprises have become main actors in black market activities especially in
the case of foreign currency.
By the mid-nineties, the best-connected former leaders accumulated
considerable financial resources, while on the other hand the most
successful entrepreneurs became acquainted with government officials and
politicians. The privatisation of state enterprises was a unique
opportunity, since it gave many of those who had gained wealth in the early
1990s a chance to convert it into shares of privatised enterprises.
Zimbabwe has had its on start -stop privatisation programme which has
occasionally been put on the back burner. However, in its place Zimbabwe
developed its own unique empowerment model from the land reform, to farm
mechanisation and to subsidised funding. Whilst the intentions are noble,
what has been queried in both countries is the after effect plus the skewed
distribution of the beneficiaries.
The Yeltsin government hoped to use privatisation to spread ownership of
shares in former state enterprises as widely as possible to create political
support for his government and his reforms. This presents a clear similarity
with the Zimbabwean land reform. The government used a system of free
vouchers as a way to give mass privatisation a jump-start. But it also
allowed people to purchase shares of stock in privatised enterprises with
cash. Even though initially each citizen received a voucher of equal face
value, within months most of them converged in the hands of intermediaries
who were ready to buy them for cash right away.
As the government ended the voucher privatisation phase and launched cash
privatisation, it devised a program that it thought would simultaneously
speed up privatisation and yield the government a much-needed infusion of
cash for its operating needs. Under the scheme, which quickly became known
world wide as "loans for shares", the Yeltsin regime auctioned off
substantial packages of stock shares in some of its most desirable
enterprises, such as energy, telecommunications, and metallurgical firms, as
collateral for bank loans.
The scheme had at least three desired outcomes. Firstly to make any policy
reversal very expensive and complicated for Yeltsin’s rivals should they win
power. Secondly, to raise cash for a cash-strapped government which was
running out of sources of money after printing money had caused massive
inflation and currency collapse. The third desired result was to extend
patronage to buy loyalty and support from the new and fast-developing
Whilst the initial transaction is disguised as a loan, it is in fact a
deeply discounted outright disposal of a valuable state asset at a fraction
of its value. This is clear since the state is in fact bankrupt which is why
it is engaging in such a transaction. And it well known upfront that the
state cannot repay the loan and as such the security for the loan (shares)
are already exchanging hands permanently.
When the rumour mill went into overdrive speculating that one of Russia’s
most well known billionaires was in Zimbabwe ahead of a crunch election, one
should be forgiven to think Zimbabwe was just about to unveil its own
mini-version of loan for shares scheme.
In exchange for the loans, the state would hand over assets worth many times
as much. Under the terms of the deals, if the Yeltsin government failed to
repay the “loans” by September 1996, the lenders would automatically acquire
title to the shares and could then immediately on-sell the stock or take an
equity position in the enterprise.
The first auctions under the loans for shares scheme were held in late 1995.
The auctions were usually structured in such a way so to limit the number of
banks bidding for shares and thus to keep the auction prices extremely low.
By summer 1996, major packages of shares in some of Russia's largest firms
had been transferred to a small number of major banks, thus allowing a
handful of powerful banks to acquire substantial ownership shares over major
firms at shockingly low prices. These deals were effectively giveaways of
valuable state assets to a few powerful, well-connected, and wealthy
This trend creates very powerful interest groups who have to be co-opted
into any change in the status quo agenda. Zimbabwe has some valuable assets
which could end up going this route. In addition, under the recently passed
51% local ownership law, the requirement to cede or sell a stake to the
state can easily end up feeding such a scheme. This would be possible since
certain businesses would be forced to sell or give up stakes to the state
.The state would in turn liquidate such acquired stakes through its own
version of loans for shares scheme.
Gilbert Muponda is a Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur, exiled in Canada. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Monitor (Kampala)
23 April 2008
Posted to the web 22 April 2008
The election saga continues in Zimbabwe with the electoral commission
refusing to release results three weeks after the elections were held. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai,
claims to have defeated the Zanu Patriotic Front's long serving leader
What is clear is that Mr Mugabe did not win the election. But what is
amazing is that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) refused to release
the results of the presidential election simply because Mr Mugabe did not
In an effort to ensure results are released, Mr Tsvangirai appealed to
African leaders in the region who, through the Southern African Cooperation
and Development Council (Sadc) urged the Zec to release results urgently.
This was simply ignored and the Zec ordered a recount in 23 constituencies
when neither party had contested the results. Mr Tsvangirai then appealed to
the courts which tried all they could to delay the ruling but finally ruled
it could not order Zec to release the results. Now the MDC has warned that
the country was slipping into a war situation and nobody seems to take it
African leaders who, perhaps, have their skeletons to protect when it comes
to elections don't seem so keen on ensuring democracy is upheld in Zimbabwe.
Yet many conflicts on the continent have arisen as result of dissatisfaction
with election results or power sharing.
It was hoped that South African President Thabo Mbeki would be helpful in
resolving the Zimbabwe crisis but in the current situation and in the past
few years, he has totally failed yet he wields a lot of influence over Mr
But now the reality of the crisis requires that African leaders through the
African Union, (AU) should step up and ensure democracy prevails in
Zimbabwe. It will be sad if the country slips into a civil war yet
opportunities to save the situation have been wasted. What will the African
leaders tell the world and Africa? That they saw it all coming but did
Apart from Sadc calling for an urgent meeting on Zimbabwe on April 12, no
serious steps have been taken by the AU to resolve this crisis. This can
only mean that other African leaders can take the road taken by Zimbabwe
when they feel they should not leave power even if voters decide against
African leaders will be to blame for any chaos that crops up in Zimbabwe
because of their failure to act.
By Jonga Kandemiiri and Carole Gombakomba
22 April 2008
Zimbabwean church leaders called Tuesday for international intervention to
end the violence that has swept the country in the aftermath of elections,
warning that without action the attacks on opposition supporters in rural
areas in particular by ruling party youth militia could lead to mass
killings as experienced in Kenya and Rwanda.
"Organized violence perpetrated against individuals, families and
communities who are accused of campaigning or voting for the 'wrong'
political party ... has been unleashed throughout the country," said a joint
statement issued by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe
Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Zimbabwe
Pastor's Conference and the Christian Alliance.
"We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe
from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that
experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hot spots in Africa and
elsewhere," it said.
The religious groups appealed to the Southern African Development Community,
the African Union and the United Nations to "work towards arresting the
deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe."
Among new reports of violence, sources said a 61-year-old man and his
85-year-old mother in Gutu West, Masvingo Province, were badly beaten by
ZANU-PF youth militia on Saturday and had to be rushed to Harare on Tuesday
for medical attention.
Opposition offices continued to be overwhelmed by people fleeing rural
Vice President Thokozani Kuphe of the Movement for Democratic Change
formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai visited victims in Harare hospitals as
her party asked the churches to pray for peace and an end to the violence,
MDC sources said.
Bishop Ancelmo Magaya of the Grace Ablaze Ministries, a Christian Alliance
spokesman, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the religious leaders fear opposition supporters may eventually
The government has denied any responsibility in the rural violence campaign.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been
quoted in the state-controlled Herald newspaper as saying the opposition was
waging a propaganda campaign to justify international intervention in
Chinamasa said the allegations of violence were “part of a scheme to
undermine the country, President (Robert) Mugabe and our processes.” He
accused opposition officials of “gallivanting all over the world lying
through their teeth that there is genocide in Zimbabwe and that the country
was in a state of war."
Human rights activists, meanwhile, said the humanitarian crisis could
surpass the turmoil of Operation Murambatsvina ("Drive Out Trash") in 2005
when authorities forcibly evicted hundreds of thousands of people and
leveled their homes.
Rights groups say more than 300 people injured in politically inspired
attacks have sought medical attention with some serious injuries requiring
Thousands more are seeking shelter or hiding in the bush after their homes
were burned or otherwise destroyed by war veterans and ZANU-PF youth militia
in an operation that many observers believe is intended to punish those who
voted for the opposition on March 29 and prepare the ground for a
The MDC this week said 3,000 families have been displaced, but human rights
activists said that the number is probably much higher.
Zimbabwe Peace Project Chairman Alois Chaumba told reporter Carole
Gombakomba that rights organizations are trying to coordinate activities to
better assess the burgeoning crisis and find ways to help the victims.
By Blessing Zulu
22 April 2008
Zimbabwean presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai and his opposition
Movement for Democratic Change are stepping up a diplomatic campaign to
pressure President Robert Mugabe to concede defeat in March elections and
Tsvangirai in recent past days has met with United Nations Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon, Ghanaian President John Kufuor and former Nigerian president
Olusegun Obasanjo. MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti has met with Kenyan
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former UN chief Kofi Annan, a veteran crisis
In Liberia early this week, Ban reiterated that the Harare government must
release the results of the March 29 presidential election. "It is
unacceptable that the results of the presidential election in Zimbabwe are
not being officially announced even after three weeks after the election,"
Ban said at the close of his Liberia visit.
"I will urge the Zimbabwean authorities and the election commission to
release the results as soon as possible," he added, before heading to
Elsewhere, Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa’s ruling African National
Congress, delivered his toughest comments to date on the delay in releasing
He told on Reuters in Berlin that withholding election results is "not
acceptable. It's not helping the Zimbabwean people" exercise their
President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia condemned comments by the chairman of his
ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy formation saying President Robert
Mugabe should be forcibly removed from office. President Mwanawasa said the
comments by Geoffrey Chumbwe risked undermining Zimbabwean-Zambian
MDC top official Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that his party wants Africa to resolve the crisis.
By Trudy Stevenson
Last updated: 04/23/2008 07:44:04
ZIMBABWE has limped along for over three weeks now with no official
government in place. It looks like we may well limp along for many more
weeks and even months yet, before this current constitutional crisis is
Robert Mugabe dissolved Cabinet the day before the 29 March election, as is
normal practice and as required by the Constitution in preparation for the
elections. Despite the “government statement” on 9 April and the
“reaffirmation of the position” by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, former Minister of
Information “that all Cabinet ministers are still in office until such a
time that a new Cabinet is appointed to conduct Government business," this
is not the case.
A dissolved Cabinet is a dissolved Cabinet! They can pretend among
themselves as much as they like that they are still in office, but they are
not. The majority of Zimbabweans are still waiting for the new Cabinet to be
announced. We are well aware that there is no substantive government in
The danger, however, is that because of lack of independent media,
especially in the rural areas, people will start to accept and even act upon
the lies put out by “government”. It is a well-known phenomenon that if
something is said by an “authority”, that statement will be accepted and
even acted upon. Remember the psychology experiment where someone turned up
the electric voltage to way beyond the point where the recipient was
screaming and would have died in reality, simply because he was obeying the
person in authority?
The myth of the former Zimbabwe government continuing is even being spread
by international media, who ought to know better. This week, the Mail and
Guardian referred to Bright Matonga as the Deputy Minister for Information
and Publicity, presumably because they too have fallen for the lie.
While we could be right in thinking that this situation proves that we could
get along fine without the former government being in power, clearly we do
need a substantive, constitutionally appointed Cabinet, and as soon as
possible. Neither our Constitution, even the defective and much-amended
Lancaster House version, nor the Electoral Act ever made provision for such
an unthinkable hiatus following an election. This hiatus looks set to last
for an indeterminate period, especially if we have court cases, appeals,
challenges and so on, which is bound to happen.
In the case of the 2000 elections, some 36 court challenges were filed and
several MPs, including Kenneth Manyonda, were found not to have won freely
and fairly, but those MPs appealed to the Supreme Court and remained sitting
in Parliament, passing laws for the full five-year term!
The mind boggles, but in the meantime we all need to do everything in our
power to stop this lie (and others!) from spreading. Other governments and
the international community should also be under no illusion that any
agreement made with the former Zanu PF government will be honoured by the
next substantive government.
In particular, our resources, mines and businesses remain ours and we will
not honour agreements giving them away in whatever manner to other countries
or multi-nationals, whether western or eastern!