Mugabe may boost size of parliament Sun Apr 3, 2005 9:10 PM
By Manoah Esipisu
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe, flexing his new political powers, says he will use his
party's huge new parliamentary majority to change the constitution to raise
the number of legislative seats.
Mugabe did not provide details but
such a move could enable him to tighten his already firm grip on power if he
was to appoint the additional members himself.
endorsed Thursday's disputed poll, countering critics from outside the
continent who accused Mugabe of rigging the vote to cling to
"At the moment it's 150 (the number of parliamentary seats),
but I think we can bring it up to about 200 or any other number that's
agreed," Mugabe said in a televised interview with the South African
Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party scored a
massive win on Thursday, taking the two-thirds majority it needs to push
through constitutional changes at will.
ZANU-PF won 78 of the 120
contested seats but Mugabe also gets to appoint 30 additional members to the
Mugabe, 81, also said the constitution may be
changed to create a dual legislature with a senate.
The African Union
(AU), the 13-member regional Southern African Development Community (SADC)
and government delegations from Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi joined
economic powerhouse South Africa in saying the poll was free, credible and
reflected the will of the people.
The opposition rejected the result and
joined Western governments in denouncing it as a fraud, saying Mugabe had
stolen his third election in five years.
The European Union called
the election "phoney" and the United States attacked its credibility, saying
the process was unfairly tilted in favour of the government.
Africa's observers appeared satisfied.
"We are saying that this election
was free," said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of the SADC observer mission
and South Africa's energy and minerals development minister.
process was credible. It reflects the will of the people of Zimbabwe,"
Mlambo-Ngcuka told a news conference.
Harare refused to invite U.S.,
British or Australian observers or groups such as the Commonwealth and
European Union, arguing they had prejudged the poll because they were
hostile to Mugabe's government.
Observers from the 53-member AU, Zambia,
Malawi and Mozambique said separately that they agreed with SADC's
assessment, saying decreased violence compared to parliamentary and
presidential elections in 2000 and 2002 showed Zimbabwe had made political
Mlambo-Ngcuka said not all conditions for
the poll were fair and the state media did not give as much access to the
opposition as required under regional election guidelines that Zimbabwe
pledged to honour.
But she said this did not change the fact that on
election day voters made their choices freely.
SADC was guided in its
overall assessment of the vote by the fact that the MDC had chosen to
participate, indicating the party believed it had a fair chance of victory,
Zimbabwe's official media on Sunday declared the election a
success and questioned the validity of criticism.
"If the farcical
Iraqi elections can be termed free and fair, one would have to be
disappointingly dishonest to question the overall integrity of Zimbabwe's
2005 parliamentary elections," the official Sunday Mail newspaper said.
Zimbabwe's muted opposition By Alastair
Leithead BBC News, Johannesburg
believe the Zimbabwe election result was "fundamentally flawed," the US says
it was "seriously tainted", the opposition party calls it "massive fraud"
and independent monitors say it has failed to meet regional guidelines for
free and fair elections.
These guidelines were put in place
by one of the few international opinions President Robert Mugabe seems to
listen to, the Southern Africa Development Community
And SADC observers describe the election result as
"peaceful, credible and well organised... reflecting the will of the
Their election observers, one of the few delegations
invited into the country, were concerned by the 10% of voters turned away at
the polling stations and the bias of the state media towards the ruling
They even noted that the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) was claiming the figures did not add up and there was suspicion
over 32 of the 120 seats contested - more than a quarter of all
But in the end they delivered their statement of
approval anyway, because the MDC could not present them with evidence in
The courts can deal with any complaints, they said, as there
is a procedure for appealing against the results.
But the MDC
says it will not take the legal route. The appeals lodged after the last
election have still not been processed by the courts.
So what can
the MDC do now?
The party only took part in
the elections begrudgingly, after saying the intimidation and restrictions
meant this election would not be free and fair however peaceful it was on
It is the build-up to the poll that the
independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network highlights as the
"Although there were no incidents of direct violence...
the pre-election period was not in line with the SADC principles and
guidelines," Chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove said.
"Intimidation and the politicisation of food distribution were used to
persuade citizens to vote for the ruling party."
cited the example of Manyame constituency, where the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission said 14,812 people had cast their votes at the close of
"The figure then suddenly catapulted to 23,760 as the
results were announced... and the same applies to a number of other cases,
so we urge the commission to seriously look into these discrepancies as they
have serious implications for the credibility of the electoral process," Mr
The MDC is
currently assembling the evidence, but the SADC endorsement of the election
- along with that of South Africa - means there is very little the
opposition can do.
Morgan Tsvangirai's leadership is being
When he addressed the press as results were
coming in on Friday, he offered no clear path - having accused the
government of "fraudulently... betraying the people".
still seems little direction to the MDC's response.
spokesman said the party had asked its president to "pursue a programme of
political alternatives" - which seems to mean he has not decided what to do
"I can tell you what he has ruled out," William Bango
"A legal challenge and an armed struggle - but we are not
closing the door on mass demonstrations or protests."
It is hardly the call for the people to take to the streets
peacefully that the outspoken Archbishop Pius Ncube was
The African Union observer mission was
slightly more cautious about the election result - but President Mugabe now
has all the cards, with a two-thirds majority.
He has made it
clear he intends to change the constitution - most probably to introduce a
second chamber, or senate. Perhaps he will even remove the need for the
presidential election in 2007.
It is all part of the retirement
plan, no doubt, even if President Mugabe did joke that he could stay in
power until he is 100.
With the support he is getting from southern
African countries, and the lack of options the opposition has to challenge
the election result, it is a joke poor, hungry and unemployed Zimbabweans
suffering under an appalling economic crisis could well take
Zimbabwe's Enabler South Africa Falls Short As Monitor
By Sebastian Mallaby Monday, April 4, 2005; Page
Thursday's election in Zimbabwe was not merely stolen. It was stolen
with the complicity -- no, practically the encouragement -- of Africa's most
influential democrat. If you think too long about this democrat, moreover,
you reach a bleak conclusion. For all the recent democratic strides in
Africa, the continental leadership that was supposed to reinforce this
progress is not up to the challenge.
The bankrupt democrat in
question is Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president. For the past few years,
he's been promising a pan-African Renaissance, a new era in which Africans
would take charge of their own problems. Mbeki led the creation of the
grandly titled New Partnership for Africa's Development, which commits
members to the rule of law and other principles of good government; he's the
driving force behind the peer-review mechanism that's supposed to police
compliance with those pledges. The New Partnership's principles are quoted
frequently by Africa sympathizers who advocate more foreign assistance, and
they've boosted Mbeki's profile marvelously. Mbeki has become a fixture at
the rich countries' annual Group of Eight summits. He has been treated by
George Bush and Tony Blair as a player. He has felt emboldened to advance
South Africa as a candidate for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security
But do Mbeki's New Partnership principles mean anything? In the
run-up to Zimbabwe's election, when the regime's thugs were denying food to
suspected opposition sympathizers, Mbeki actually undercut the international
pressure for a fair contest. He expressed a serene confidence that the
election would be free and fair. He allowed his labor minister, who was
serving as the head of the South African observer mission in Zimbabwe, to
dismiss the regime's critics as "a problem and a nuisance." He quarreled
with the Bush administration's description of Zimbabwe as an outpost of
repression. He did everything, in other words, to signal that mass fraud
would be acceptable.
And so Zimbabwe's thugs obliged him. Before the
election, they arranged for ballot boxes made out of see-through plastic and
a voter's roll stuffed with fictitious names. When polling day came, about a
tenth of the voters were turned away from election stations for mysterious
reasons. One constituency, in which 14,812 people voted according to
election officials, was announced the next day to have awarded more than
15,000 votes to the president's nephew. In this way, the regime won a famous
victory -- and with it the power to change whatever's left of Zimbabwe's
If South Africa, which could strangle its smaller
neighbor's economy by switching off its electricity, had been tougher
beforehand, this fraud might have been forestalled. If Mbeki had protested
after the election, events also might have been different. Some brave
Zimbabweans called for an African version of Ukraine's Orange Revolution.
But as one opposition politician said wistfully, regional conditions
provided no encouragement. Ukraine benefited from proxi- mity to
pro-democratic Europe. But Zimbabwe's democratic neighbor sent the opposite
signal. After the election was stolen, the head of the South African
observer mission heaped praise on the process, declaring that the outcome
reflected "the free will of the people of Zimbabwe" and that "the political
climate was conducive for elections to take place."
the only place where Mbeki has been disappointing. On New Year's Day he
visited Sudan and addressed that country's government. If ever there was an
opportunity for some peer-to-peer truth-telling, surely this was it: Sudan's
Arab leaders are engaged in the systematic killing of ethnic Africans in the
western province of Darfur. But Mbeki spoke understandingly of "the
challenges facing the government," and reserved his toughest comments for
the easy scapegoat of imperialism. "When these eminent representatives of
British colonialism were not in Sudan, they were in South Africa, and vice
versa, doing terrible things wherever they went," he lectured.
is undoubtedly an able man -- thoughtful in conversation, workaholic in
habit, a wizard in the dark arts of backroom politics. But he is a tragic
figure: He personifies the flaw that his own New Partnership is intended to
inhibit. Open and accountable government is desirable because it exposes
leaders to criticism, obliges them to listen and so reduces the risk of
blatantly bad policy. But Mbeki, who leads a democratic government but one
without electable opponents, is no more willing to accept criticism than to
dish it out. He surrounds himself with yes men and spits viciously at
critics. He lacks the humility to admit errors, even when the consequences
are plain for all to see.
Mbeki's error on Zimbabwe is almost as
terrible as his earlier one on AIDS, when he opposed anti-retroviral
treatment. Zimbabwe is the poster child for the emphasis on governance in
the New Partnership for Africa's Development; it shows how bad government
can take a promising society and ruin it. A country that was once a
breadbasket for the region now depends on food aid; a country that once took
in migrants now exports desperate people by the million. And yet Mbeki, the
mastermind and guiding light of the New Partnership, will not speak out
against this tragedy.
Harare: A major row has broken out among political parties
in the SA parliamentary observer mission to Zimbabwe over the mission's
assessment of Thursday's parliamentary elections.
unanimously agreed that the elections were credible, legitimate, free and
fair and conformed to the SADC elections guidelines," ANC chief whip Mbulelo
Goniwe, the head of the mission, said in a statement issued in Harare on
But the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front and
Independent Democrats all disagreed with this "unanimous" verdict, saying
the election had been anything but free and fair.
its reports on the election released yesterday the SADC observer mission
declared the elections free, but not fair.
Development Community observer mission leader, Minerals and Energy Minister
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said the election was peaceful and
"The fact that in the end when a person entered a polling
station it was one person, one vote, and it was secret is the classical
international standard to measure the freeness of any
"In general we came to the conclusion that the election
does reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe," she added.
The African Union (AU) observer team yesterday also issued a cautious
approval of the elections, but stopped short of endorsing the
Team head, Kwagwo Asari-Gyan, said that at the "point of
ballot" the poll was conducted in a "peaceful and orderly manner", but would
not comment on whether it was free and fair, saying the AU team could not
comment on this as it had not witnessed the full electoral
He expressed concern at reports alleging the number of
voters who actually cast ballots did not tally with the final vote count in
Goniwe said the SA parliamentary
mission had resolved to ask parliament to "severely reprimand" the DA's Roy
Jankielson and the ID's Vincent Gorte for making unauthorised statements on
their own in Zimbabwe about the elections - in violation of the mission
rules - and to make them reimburse their expenses.
The DA has
rejected the Zimbabwean elections as being neither free nor fair, and
accused the South African government of deciding in advance to endorse the
elections at a cost to the country's international credibility.
a statement issued yesterday, DA leader Tony Leon said while the actual
election itself had been more peaceful and orderly than the previous
elections, Zimbabweans had been denied freedom of expression and freedom of
"The playing field was vertical, with Zanu-PF assured
victory from the start," Leon said.
The DA leader said the
Zimbabwean government failed to meet the requirements of the SADC Protocol,
and that reports from DA public representatives in various observer missions
suggested the elections were "conducted in a climate of intimidation and
repression that prevented the people from expressing their will
"The observers themselves were subjected to extreme
pressure, with ANC leaders threatening to abandon DA representatives to the
whims of the Zimbabwean security forces. One DA observer, party chairperson
Joe Seremane, was prevented from entering the country after the SADC
Parliamentary Forum was barred by the Zimbabwean government," Leon
He added that the DA representative to the SADC Electoral
Observation Mission (SEOM), reported "the ANC commandeered it and sidelined
other governments and parties, when in fact the SEOM should have been led by
Mauritius as SADC chair".
"It is clear that the South African
government and the ANC went to Zimbabwe with the aim of declaring the
election as "free and fair", come what may, and with their report already
pre-certified by President Thabo Mbeki," Leon said.
President Mbeki has squandered South Africa's hard-earned place in the world
in defence of the pitiless dictatorship across the Limpopo, is difficult to
In his statement of endorsement, Goniwe did not mention
the Freedom Front's Willie Spies, a member of the mission, who had issued a
statement on Friday that the elections had not complied with the SADC
They fell short in several areas, he said,
including the unequal access of parties to the state media, the incomplete
participation of all citizens and the partiality of the judiciary and
Spies said although the election campaign
had been peaceful, this was just a minimum condition for elections which
overall could not be described as free and fair.
said at the weekend: "If I had known the mission would be meeting to discuss
a statement on the elections, I would have stayed for that. But Goniwe did
not inform me. I don't know how he could make a statement like that without
consulting all the members of the delegation."
He said he
"absolutely disagreed" with Goniwe's assessment of the elections. The major
flaws in the legal and constitutional environment and five years of
violence, torture and intimidation against the opposition could not be
Goniwe's statement said: "There was unhindered, calm and
peaceful campaigning and voting by the parties and electorate respectively;
parties campaigned with reasonable confidence to win the election." -
Voters not convinced MDC could really offer a new
beginning April 4, 2005
By Moshoeshoe Monare
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was unprepared, ill-equipped,
disorganised and lacked basic tactical strategy during the parliamentary
elections, which contributed to their humiliating defeat.
Zimbabwean opposition party had relied heavily on sympathy from the foes of
the ruling Zanu-PF party in Britain, some European Union countries, the
United States, the international media, and diplomatic
Four months before the elections, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai had still not decided whether to enter the race.
Campaigning, strategising and the approach to the elections were reluctantly
and hastily planned without calculating the symmetry of the political
topography in Zimbabwe.
The MDC believed the untested doctrine that
the internal divisions in the ruling party would produce results in their
While criticising Zanu-PF's bullying tactics days before
the elections, Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC chief spokesman, was complacent
about victory, saying "the people of Zimbabwe wanted change" and that they
were tired of Zanu-PF's repressive and nefarious rule.
the results were not about the masses punishing the MDC, but about the
opposition's inability to convince the people that their message related to
their short-term, immediate needs.
Before the elections, Eldred
Masunungura, head of political and administrative studies at the University
of Zimbabwe, said people were unconvinced that the MDC would provide a new
He said the electorate perceived the opposition to
be a dwarf against the ruthless Zanu-PF machinery.
people conceded that their lives would remain stagnant in poverty and
repression, and thus stayed away from the polling stations.
was the feeling of Chris Lloyd, a middle-class Borrowdale resident, and
Nancy Dodo, a taxi driver in the city centre, who felt that voting was a
waste of time.
This apathy and indifference worked perfectly in
Zanu-PF's favour, because the low turnout meant that only the ruling party
die-hards braved the morning drizzle to make that important political
On the ground, the MDC was either failing to penetrate, or
was refused access to, previously no-go zones in the Mashonaland provinces,
where Zanu's base was solid.
MDC's Secretary-General, Welshman
Ncube, complained on the eve of the elections of not-so-widespread
intimidation in Mashonaland. The party's president, Tsvangirai, also cited
this as a reason for an uneven playing field.
other factors, such as access to the media and the legislative framework
that made it difficult for the MDC to compete fairly, were key reasons why
the elections could not be perceived as fair.
Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, rightly maintained that
Zimbabwe needed constitutional and political reforms that would not
necessarily be effected through elections.
He argued that the
process of conducting the elections was flawed, and the polls themselves,
were not a solution.
Entering the elections in Zimbabwe was
basically legitimising and legalising the Mugabe government.
The regime was duly formed within the constitutional principles and
international law tenets which give a government moral authority to
But sources said pressure from SADC also played a major role
in forcing the MDC to test their popularity in the polls.
ordinary Zimbabweans and Zanu-PF supporters, the MDC's complaint about the
uneven landscape and flawed system made them look like the disappointed fox
that craved the grapes, or a perennial whinger.
this perceived blunder, Tsvangirai told reporters that the people had
mandated the MDC to enter the elections.
"They believed that it was
right to fight the system from within parliament," he said.
the MDC's performance in parliament over the past five years had not been
impressive, and Zimbabwe's presidential democracy also rendered anyone
winning parliamentary elections ineffective because they could not form a
To have tried their luck in a flawed landscape was an
indication of a lack of leadership innovation, guidance and
However, Tsvangirai maintained that the defeat in the
three elections since 2000 could not be attributed to him.
said that if the organisation was not happy with his leadership, it would be
up to them to review it.
For the Zimbabwean political situation to
change drastically, a change of leadership in both the Zanu-PF and MDC are
Zimbabwe could continue to cope beyond the current crisis
under Zanu-PF, minus Mugabe, as an alternative way out, in the face of a
struggling MDC and the fragmented civil society organisations. - Mercury
Zimbabwe voters 'were gripped by terror' By Peta
Thornycroft (Filed: 04/04/2005)
The largest group of observers at the
Zimbabwe election said yesterday that it was conducted in 'a climate of
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which deployed
observers to two thirds of 8,200 polling stations, issued a report
contradicting South African groups that have given Mr Mugabe's landslide a
clean bill of health.
"Zimbabwe's electoral climate has been shrouded in
fear from the 2000 parliamentary elections... Zimbabweans have come to
associate elections with physical violence," according to Dr Reginald
Matchaba-Hove, the chairman of ZESN.
ZESN is a long-established
non-governmental organisation that has monitored most of Zimbabwe's national
and local government polls in the last decade.
It sent observers into the
field several months ago, and had 6,000 on duty on election day itself. In
comparison with the South African groups, which are glaringly ignorant of
Zimbabwe's electoral laws and were determined not to recognise that
intimidation has long roots, ZESN, which employs only Zimbabweans, saw it
The report said: "Traditional leaders threatened their subjects with
eviction and sometimes unspecified action should they fail to vote for the
"Opposition parties were not free to campaign in
certain parts of the country as some of these areas were no go
"Intimidation included the politicisation of food
It also said that Zanu PF "monopolised access to both the
print and electronic media".
It welcomed the "peaceful" day of voting
and reduced violence ahead of the poll, but said that "fundamental" rights
of freedom of assembly were restricted by security and media laws introduced
by Mr Mugabe after the MDC entered the political scene five years
All traditional observer groups, such as the European Union and the
Commonwealth, were barred from the elections.
television station reminded its viewers who had won last week's general
election by showing President Robert Mugabe's supporters carrying a mock
coffin through the streets of Bulawayo.
On it was a large name tag: "PT
Nyathi," standing for Paul Themba Nyathi, who resisted both white minority
rule and Mr Mugabe's regime, and is the opposition Movement for Democratic
Mr Nyathi lost his seat in the Matabeleland province
of southern Zimbabwe after his constituency boundaries were radically
altered two months ago.
The image on the state-controlled television
channel from Bulawayo, Matabeleland's capital, was accompanied by triumphal
whoops from Mr Mugabe's few supporters in the city.
Mr Nyathi has
shrugged off his defeat, saying he has no idea whether the result was rigged
or not. He said: "The new boundaries of the constituency included people who
have known nothing but terror all their lives, from Rhodesia through to the
massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s and now because they are as thin as
broomsticks and are in urgent need of food."
mounted yesterday over Zanu-PF's two-thirds majority win in the Zimbabwe
elections and its endorsement by African observer missions, especially those
dominated by South African political heavyweights.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change ended some vacillation about its
future actions by calling for fresh elections under a new constitution,
while in South Africa, a major row broke out among SA parliamentarians after
the DA distanced itself from the SA government mission's
Journalists and Zimbabwe human rights officials burst
into laughter when the leader of the SADC observer group fielded questions
about Zimbabwe's state media which gave Zanu-PF nearly 90% of air-time on
both radio and television.
"It could have been better," said
South African Minerals Minister Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka.
Meanwhile, the first of Mugabe's hand-picked observer missions began to get
cold feet in the chorus of endorsements. The African Union's observer team
admitted it was unable to witness the full electoral process. A statement
issued by team head Kwagwo Asari-Gyan said that at the "point of ballot",
Thursday's vote had been conducted in a "peaceful and orderly
However, he stopped
short of declaring that the AU team's verdict was free and fair. He
expressed concern at media reports that the number of voters who had
actually cast ballots did not tally with the final vote count in several
The independent Standard newspaper published
evidence of major discrepancies between the total number of votes cast in
each constituency, broadcast before the vote count had been completed, and
the results of the counting the next day.
Meanwhile, a row has
broken out among political parties in the SA parliamentary observer mission
over its assessment of the elections.
"The mission unanimously
agreed the elections were credible, legitimate, free and fair and confirmed
to the SADC elections guidelines," said ANC Chief Whip Mbulelo Goniwe, the
head of the mission.
But the DA, Freedom Front and Independent
Democrats all said the election had been anything but free and fair. DA
leader Tony Leon said while the election itself had been more peaceful than
previously, Zimbabweans had been denied freedom of expression and
"The playing field was vertical, with Zanu-PF assured of
victory from the start," Leon said. - Mercury Foreign Service
Woeful life of poverty and unemployment is the bleak
outlook for Zimbabweans April 4, 2005
Harare: A crushing election victory has tightened President
Robert Mugabe's grip on power but is likely only to aggravate his personal
isolation and Zimbabwe's ruinous crisis, analysts say.
81, and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, vowed before the
poll that his Zanu-PF party would "bury" both the opposition MDC and British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he paints as his chief enemy.
He will see the result as a sweeping vindication. Zanu-PF easily exceeded
the two-thirds majority Mugabe aimed at and which gives the party the power
to change the constitution.
But political analysts said a chorus of
condemnation of the poll from the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and
Western powers has further dented Mugabe's international
"Mugabe might crow and shout about his supposed
victory but nobody in important international quarters believes he won
fairly," said one Western diplomat.
"I think what is worse is
that with more power, Mugabe is likely to become more arrogant and everyone
is expecting him to use it to suppress the opposition..." he
"I think Zimbabwe could actually be worse off with this
Zanu-PF has used its previous simple majority in
parliament to introduce tough media and security laws that have hobbled the
opposition. Analysts say with a two-thirds majority, there are worries of a
much tougher crackdown.
"Mugabe's major problem now is that
many people, here at home and governments abroad, don't trust him," said
human rights lawyer Jacob Mafume.
"On his part he has become very
suspicious of some of the big Western powers, including Britain and the
United States, to the extent that it is difficult for him to mend strained
relations and to repeal some of the undemocratic laws on our statute books,"
Many Western powers said both the presidential
vote and the last major parliamentary elections in 2000 were rigged, and
have publicly or quietly frozen economic aid.
of the latest poll from the European Union, United States, Britain and
others was equally harsh.
"The independent press was muzzled;
freedom of expression was constrained; food was used as a weapon to sway
hungry voters; and millions of Zimbabweans who have been forced by the
nation's economic collapse to emigrate were disenfranchised," said US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
But some analysts say
sanctions and the isolation of Mugabe have robbed the world of critical
forums to engage him constructively and have paradoxically reduced the
pressure to make democratic reforms.
Analysts said the election
would also worsen a crisis that has ruined the once-prosperous nation and
for which Mugabe is blamed.
Mugabe said his government would
rebuild the economy through controversial land reforms, a consolidated
economic policy and vigorous implementation of state plans.
International donors and multilateral institutions have halted lending and
foreign currency balance of payment support to Zimbabwe.
editorial on Friday, the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper said Mugabe had
"fixed the electoral system to ensure his party's retention of power" but
could not solve the country's pressing economic problems.
all the excitement has evaporated... Zimbabweans will be going back to their
woeful lives of poverty, unemployment, food shortages and all the other ills
associated with this dying regime that won't let go despite its manifest
inability to solve a single one of the country's problems." -
Richard Dowden: What now of Blair's Africa vision
after Zimbabwe? It is hard to find a single current African leader who is
willing to criticise Mugabe 04 April 2005
Suddenly the upbeat
"let's celebrate Africa" mood and Blair's grand plans to save the continent
have hit reality; African politics. In Zimbabwe, the overwhelming victory of
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in Friday's parliamentary elections is a stark
reminder that Africa's politics have their own particular
For Zimbabwe it is the worst possible result. The next election
there will be the presidential one in 2008 and between now and then the
country will remain in limbo; its economy in ruins, its people wracked by
HIV/Aids and its government shunned by Western donors. But the collapse of
Zimbabwe is a minor setback to the Afro-optimism and Blair's commitment to
The really serious blow is the reaction of the rest of the
continent. The official South African observer mission declared the result
"the will of the people" on Saturday even while other observers were trying
to check out allegations of massive fraud. The other African observer
missions will almost certainly say that there were"'irregularities" but that
the election was basically free and fair, a vast improve- ment on
Africa does not support Western policy towards Zimbabwe. In fact
many African politicians regard it as a "tiff" between Zimbabwe and Britain
caused by British concern for its own "kith and kin" there; the white
farmers. Even President Ben Mkapa of Tanzania, hand-picked by Tony Blair to
serve on his Africa Commission, says that what has happened to Zimbabwe is
"the price of transformation". It is hard to find a single current African
leader who is willing to criticise him.
All this bodes badly for the
New Deal for Africa laid out by Blair's Commission for Africa under which
rich countries level the playing field for trade, raise massive funds for
development and write off Africa's debts while in return African rulers
commit themselves to good government and monitoring each other's behaviour.
The African Union's Peer Review Mechanism, made up of Africa's great and
good, is supposed to police the continent's governments on everything from
human rights to economic management. This deal is in
British government policy has hit a brick wall. Well might the
Foreign Office ponder how this small agricultural country in southern Africa
has produced only two leaders in 50 years, Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe, who
have both given the finger to the rest of the world. The diplomats must now
work out how Mugabe turned near-defeat five years ago - 61 seats to 58 -
into a 78-41 victory on Friday while the economy had declined by about 50
per cent. There are factors: 3 million of Zimbabwe's 11.8 million people
have fled the country. The voters' roll and the results were almost cer-
tainly fixed. But that cannot explain all.
Many voted for Mugabe
simply because he is president - a common political view in rural Africa.
Others have a tribal one-of-us mentality. Some may have also been afraid -
even though this election was far less violent than 2000. Many may have
feared that if they did not vote for Zanu-PF, they would not get food aid.
But the opinion polls showed that outside Zimbabwe's towns Mugabe's
popularity had gone up in the past year. Singing the liberation struggle
battle hymns against whites and Britain, and handing out seized land and
food aid, worked.
As Jack Straw and others pick over the wreckage of
British policy they will be forced to admit ruefully that it contributed to
Mugabe's success. Trying to browbeat Mugabe with threats and condemnation
played straight into his hands as he turned every insult back on his
accusers, supercharged with anti-colonial rhetoric. British support for the
opposition candidate and regime change also boosted Mugabe making Morgan
Tsvangirai look like a British puppet. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq
was another gift proving that Britain still acted in an imperial
Britain can take some heart from Mugabe's own difficulties created
by his very success. He has secured the two thirds majority in parliament
needed to change the constitution so in theory he can install the successor
of his choice on his own terms. In practice, his government is increasingly
drawn from his own family and members of his Zezuru people, alienating other
Shona clans such as the powerful Karanga.
Britain has been forced to
learn that the only way it can influence Zimbabwe's future is through other
African allies, particularly South Africa. As in the days of rebel Rhodesia,
South Africa holds the key. But Blair and President Thabo Mbeki fell out
over Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth Summit in 2003. Since then Mbeki has shown
little sign of changing his mind and announced before the election that he
was confident it would comply with regional standards. If Britain is going
to go the diplomatic route it will be a long walk.
In the meantime
the British sherpas carrying Africa to the top of the agenda at the G8
summit at Glen- eagles in July will find their route littered with prickly
obstacles marked "Made in Zimbabwe".
The writer is Director of the Royal
Robert Mugabe's victory: Its implications for
Zimbabwe. Monday 4 April 2005
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe might
crow and shout about his ''overwhelming victory'' in the just ended
parliamentary plebiscite , but its disputed outcome will only worsen
Zimbabwe's isolation and exacerbate the country's economic and political
crisis, analysts say. Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party won 78 seats
against 41 for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and one
for independent candidate, disgraced former Information and Publicity
Minister Jonathan Moyo.
ZANU PF is now guaranteed a two thirds
majority in the 150 member parliament because Mugabe is constitutionally
empowered to appoint an extra 30 members. The MDC has rejected the poll
outcome alleging massive electoral fraud.
The European Union,
United States, Germany, Australia and Britain have condemned the election as
having been neither free nor fair although African observers have given it
the thumbs up.
While the poll outcome has entrenched
Mugabe's grip on power, the chorus of condemnation about his manner of
victory from important international quarters is only likely to worsen
Zimbabwe's isolation, analysts say. More targeted European and American
sanctions are likely to follow Mugabe's victory, says University of Zimbabwe
head of political and administrative studies Eldred
Masunungure says European nations may even contemplate
stiffening and broadening the sanctions and he sees no reprieve for the
Zimbabwean government. Zimbabwe's isolation from important international
quarters in turn means more suffering for the ordinary people of
"Some of the EU countries and indeed America will
contemplate stiffening and broadening the sanctions unless there is a
fundamental policy shift by the government. There has to be a serious
paradigm shift and Mugabe must make a serious conscious decision to change
his domestic and foreign policies if he is to expect a reprieve from the
international community," says Masunungure.
He says Mugabe has
to make a public statement that repressive legislation such as the
controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),
Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and many other controversial bills will
either be repealed or amended. This would indicate to the world that he is
ready to be accepted into the global family.
President Thabo Mbeki's stance on Zimbabwe will also remain crucial in any
efforts to rehabilitate Mugabe, Masunungure says.
law expert Lovemore Madhuku believes the election results will make ZANU PF
more arrogant and will cause more conflict between government on one hand
and civil society and the opposition on the other.
sees Mugabe wanting to use his majority not to advance the cause of
democratisation but to reward cronies. Mugabe has said he will change the
constitution to introduce an upper house of parliament, the
"It affords Mugabe an opportunity to reward patronage
through the senate. It makes them more arrogant to effect any constitutional
changes alone without involving the people," says Madhuku.
Madhuku's fears are confirmed by ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira who
says several constitutional amendments are now on the cards following ZANU
"Constitutional amendments are long overdue. We
need to amend to allow for the establishment of a senate, and we also need
to abolish the constitutional provision for the president to appoint
members. This will be replaced by elective members of the assembly. Details
will be worked out by the parliamentarians," says Shamuyarira.
He also reiterates Mugabe's promise to cooperate with the MDC, provided the
opposition "recognizes and respects the government".
"This is an
important statement of reconciliation and we hope the MDC will respect
that," he says.
Many doubt the sincerity of Mugabe's pledge to work
with the opposition in view of his new majority in parliament empowering
ZANU PF to unilaterally change the constitution.
previously ruled out dialogue with the opposition even when the MDC still
had a significant presence in parliament and hence more influence.
Crisis of Zimbabwe Coalition chairman Brian Kagoro says nothing is likely to
change and Mugabe's isolation is likely to continue to the detriment of the
economy. Kagoro does not believe Mugabe's promises to dialogue with the MDC
count for anything.
''Mugabe has said he wants to talk to the MDC
but on his own terms. That will in fact change nothing as this will not be
honest dialogue,'' says Kagoro.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza
says the ruling party's 'landslide' is a massive responsibility which
solicits for a massive response to the mandate given by the people. "We are
likely to see a return of the draft constitution which was rejected a few
years ago. But above all it means ZANU PF has a lot on their hands to
respond to," Mandaza says.
Economists remain pessimistic about the
economic environment in Zimbabwe and believe the ZANU PF majority puts more
uncertainty on business. Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)
president Luxon Zembe says industry is waiting to see how ZANU PF will use
the absolute power it has acquired.
"The key point for business
is what the government will do with that power in terms of renewing business
confidence and regularizing relations with the international community.
Everybody is waiting to see how they will use the power and this poses more
uncertainty on industry," says Zembe.
He says business is concerned
that if ZANU PF abuses its power, this will not help in creating a conducive
environment for potential investors.
"Their response to this
mandate must be economy driven and not power driven. We hope it will not
entrench more arrogance on ZANU PF," says Zembe.
He also hopes that
ZANU PF will adopt policies that will enable the economy to grow and
alleviate the country's 70 percent unemployment.
dismisses the MDC's allegations of election fraud and is confident the
European Union and America will lift sanctions against the
"They (EU and US) will remove the sanctions as we
have always encouraged them to do because of the way we ran our elections.
It was a free and fair election run in a transparent manner and we hope they
will respond in the same way," he says.
MDC secretary general
Welshman Ncube insists ZANU PF did not win the election given the "anomalies
that were before all". He fears ZANU PF will abuse its majority in
parliament hence exacerbating the Zimbabwe crisis.
"ZANU PF will
rewrite the constitution without consulting anybody and this is dangerous
for the nation. They will also appoint geriatrics in the senate as a way to
pay them back for years of loyalty," he says. The MDC claims it won 94 seats
instead of 42 and has alleged electoral fraud in more than 30
Ncube is not hopeful about the 2008 presidential
"You cannot perform any differently in a
dictatorship. But this does not mean the MDC will give it on a silver
platter. "We will engage in various forms of pressure for them to open
democratic space but I cannot release details now."
are unanimous that the conclusion of the parliamentary poll will not see the
resumption of suspended aid to Zimbabwe.
Diplomats interviewed by
ZimOnline say they do not believe Mugabe won fairly and insist their
countries are not in any hurry to engage him.
''We fear that he
will become more arrogant with his two thirds majority and engage in acts of
repression that will not be helpful in improving relations with his
government,'' says one diplomat.
All this means there is no
reprieve for the people of Zimbabwe and the country's economic and political
crisis is far from being resolved.
But Mugabe begs to differ. He
says in an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation
economic recovery is on path and his government will reduce inflation from
three to two digit levels by year end.
Once again, Robert
Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front has managed
to bully its way to victory. In legislative elections last week, the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change scored big in urban areas, where
election monitors were plentiful, but Mugabe's party roared back in rural
areas, where election monitors were scarce. . No one believed Mugabe's
claim that these elections would be democratic, except maybe his chief
apologist, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who actually had the gall to
announce that he was confident Zimbabwe's elections would be
fair. . Did Mbeki not notice all of the news reports about Mugabe's
party's withholding bags of cornmeal - bought and paid for, mind you - from
opponents in the country's drought-stricken regions? . Or maybe he
hasn't had time to take note of Mugabe's cynical attempt to starve his
people into submission: Last year, Mugabe ordered international food donors
to stop general feeding programs, a move that seemed intended to control
food stocks before the election. "Why foist this food upon us?" he told Sky
News of Britain. "We have enough." . It's the Zimbabwean people who have
had enough - of Mugabe. On Friday, the country's top Catholic prelate called
for a peaceful uprising against Mugabe if the voting itself turns out to
have been rigged, as is likely despite a stamp of approval from Mugabe's
chosen monitoring group from the South African Development Community. And
the opposition party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, hinted that his party might
stage street protests. . That's a welcome idea. If people power can force
democracy in Ukraine and Georgia, why not in Africa? After all, Zimbabweans
have South Africa right next door for a role model. Mbeki cannot have
entirely forgotten what it's like to be on the wrong side of an iron
Democratic drought Zimbabwe's plight
should stir other African leaders to action
Robert Mugabe is a problem that many have wished would simply go away. But
this weekend's election result shows that the 81-year-old dictator is far
from fading, with possibly his most fraudulent election victory yet. So
shameless was the vote-rigging that in many areas the broadcast result
differed by thousands from the total numbers of people recorded as having
voted. Democracy is not the only casualty. In a country where around half
the people now go hungry as a result of his policies, Mr Mugabe has surely
set his country on a path to eventual violence. The choices
now facing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its
courageous leader Morgan Tsvangirai are bleak indeed. The MDC has already
ruled out mounting further legal challenges: the high court has still not
concluded hearings on its application challenging the 2002 election result.
Mr Tsvangirai has continued to reject calls for armed struggle, saying his
party is committed to peaceful means. It would be a brave group indeed which
would openly confront the thugs of Zanu-PF. This is not a regime that is
likely to be moved by any Ukraine-style protest. And the MDC has very
limited resources. It has no independent radio or TV stations, in a country
where the media have been ruthlessly muzzled. Nor, faced with a Public Order
Security Act which bars free assembly, does it have any sympathetic
neighbouring states which can provide bases.
one of the most shameful aspects of the current situation. President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa, the powerhouse in the region, pronounced the latest
Zimbabwean elections as free and fair even before they had taken place. On
Saturday his Government then repeated the line to puzzled journalists, just
as it had done after the elections three years ago. The 11-country observer
mission from the Southern African Development Community concluded that the
elections "reflected the will of the people", despite finding that around 10
per cent of Zimbabweans were turned away from the polls.
It should by now be dawning on Western leaders that Mr Mbeki's strategy of
"quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe has in practice been one of blinkered
complicity in the abuses of the Mugabe regime. His refusal to listen to
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other citizens on this subject is jeopardising
his country's reputation as a champion of democracy and human rights in
It also makes a mockery of the grand plans for the
continent espoused by Tony Blair's Africa Commission and the New Partnership
for Africa's Development (Nepad), which links increased aid to political and
economic reform. As long as Africa's leaders refuse to condemn the Mugabe
regime, Western donors will surely feel that talk of good governance lacks
Another five years is too long to wait for
the millions who are hungry and oppressed. Mr Mugabe treats all opposition
with contempt. Other African leaders must now take the lead.
HUNGRY AND IN DISTRESS Gwynne
Dyer When Mugabe became president a quarter-century ago, after a long
guerilla war led by Zanu-PF had finally overthrown the white minority
regime, he inherited a country with a decent infrastructure and rich
Zimbabwe did fairly well despite
Mugabe. It was impossible to defend the fact that white farmers owned most
of the good land in the country, but they did grow enough to feed everybody
with plenty left over for export. A property-owning and even factory-owning
black middle class appeared in the cities, though too many of them owed
their prosperity to their political connections.
I went back to Zimbabwe in 1995 for the first time since the
end of the liberation war, and the contrast with South Africa was stunning.
It was only one year since the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa,
and I had just come from the rural northern Transvaal, hardly the richest
part of the country - but across the river, in Zimbabwe, was a different
world. Nobody was starving and most of the kids were getting at least a few
years of school, but despite a 15-year head-start on South Africa as a
post-colonial, non-racist society, Zimbabwe's black majority were hugely
poorer than their counterparts in South Africa.
Then, in order
to secure Zanu-PF's hold on power forever, Mugabe held a referendum in 1999
to change the constitution and turn Zimbabwe into a one-party state. That
gave everybody an opportunity to say no, so they said it loud and clear, and
Mugabe has been running scared ever since. He's a bit old to learn new
tricks, so that mainly means confronting the local whites, blaming
everything that goes wrong on the "colonialists" and "imperialists", and
beating up, jailing, starving or killing those Zimbabweans who defy
In a mess
The land reform that should
have begun 20 years ago, with compensation for white farmers who were
gradually bought out and training and financial assistance for black farmers
who were given a piece of the huge farms, was done by violence, without
compensation, in less than 2 years. Huge amounts of land have simply fallen
out of production, so production of maize, the staple food crop, has fallen
by almost half. Not only are there no exports to bring in foreign exchange;
one-quarter of Zimbabweans are slowly starving.
Mugabe stopped international aid organizations from distributing food in
Zimbabwe. He probably did it more out of pride than malice, but the effect
has been to make everybody in famine-stricken areas totally reliant on
buying food from the government-controlled Grain Marketing Board. And in
many areas where support for the opposition was strong, the GMB only sold
food to Zanu-PF members.
If you fall afoul of Zanu-PF in today's
Zimbabwe, do not expect the police or the courts to help you. And don't
expect parliament to help you, either: well over half of Zimbabweans would
have probably voted against Mugabe and his cronies in a genuinely free
election, but an estimated two-thirds of the electorate have taken the safer
course and cast their ballots for Zanu-PF candidates in the election. And so
it will go until Mugabe is removed either by death or by his own colleagues.
Zimbabwe would probably be a lot happier place if he had died in, say,
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe
has dismissed reports that members of his politburo have been meeting to
choose his successor. "There is no issue of succession debate going on," said
President Mugabe. President Mugabe said this on Saturday while addressing
journalists and foreign observers to the 6th parliamentary elections who had
gathered at State House as a finale to the event, which saw Zanu PF scooping
a two-thirds majority. This further doused wild speculations, which
started circulating last year, about intensive in-house talks and
consultations within the ruling Zanu PF party to choose the President's
successor. The reports alleged that Emmerson Mnangagwa, seen as the
heir-apparent, would prevail against a growing list of aspirants. But
hopes of Mnangagwa's presidential ambitions are feared to have been
relegated to play second fiddle to Joyce Mujuru, whose ascendancy to the
presidium as vice-president in December 2004 has tipped the scales in her
favour. The resurgence of the succession debate, which was almost buried
last year at President Mugabe's decree after factions began to emerge in the
wake of a green-light to "freely discuss" the issue, comes on the back of
fresh snoops by foreign journalists who continue to make news about
President Mugabe's age and duration in power. President Mugabe, who
turned 81 in February this year, however, said jokingly: "(I will retire)
when I'm a century old".
11 people were arrested when Zanu PF and Zanu supporters clashed at
Checheche Business Centre in Chipinge South constituency on Saturday, police
in Manicaland said yesterday. Provincial spokesperson Joshua Tigere said
the suspects would appear in court soon charged with political violence. He
added that scores of people had also been injured, some seriously, during
the nasty incident. He said: "We have arrested 11 people. Eight are
supporters of Zanu (Ndonga) while three are Zanu PF supporters." Some 13
people were left injured as politically-motivated violence flared in the
constituency, which for 25 years had been the bastion of Zanu, the home
district of its late founder, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole. The three
critically injured were taken to Chiredzi hospital while the remainder were
discharged after treatment at St Peters Hospital. Losing MP Wilson Kumbula,
said soon after Enock Porusingazi was proclaimed winner for Chipinge South
constituency, Zanu PF supporters went around town celebrating. The Zanu
leader has represented his party in the last parliament for the constituency
the Ndau-dominated party had jealously hung on to since independence in
1980. He said the supporters who were singing and chanting Zanu PF slogans,
carried a mock coffin, which they later dumped at one of his business
premises. He also claimed that when the rowdy gang threatened to attack him,
Zanu supporters defended him - leading to the scuffle between the two sets
of supporters. "I called the police but at first they were reluctant to
assist. I, however, insisted by reminding them that we have been promised a
nonviolent post-election period, hence they should come to address the
issue," insisted Kumbula. He said since police were dragging their feet
to come to the scene, he fired two shots in the air to warn the rowdy
opposing group. Manicaland police spokesperson, Joshua Tigere, confirmed the
incident. He, however, blamed the fracas on Zanu people, saying they are the
ones who in fact had attacked triumphant Zanu PF supporters for "provoking
us". Tigere could, however, not provide the names of the victims of the
political skirmishes, saying he was out of office when The Daily Mirror
contacted him yesterday. This year's general elections were marked by
minimal cases of politically-motivated violence, both post- and pre-election
period, compared to previous polls. Police were working flat-out
arresting those caught on the wrong side of the law while political parties
also preached the gospel of violence-free elections.
MORE than half of the
registered voters around the country did not participate in the just ended
sixth parliamentary elections held last Thursday, The Daily Mirror has
established. Most constituencies in urban areas recorded a percentage poll of
below 50 percent, while a slightly higher voter turnout was experienced in
rural areas. Topping the list of constituencies with low voter turnout
were Matabeleland, followed by Harare metropolitan. Makokoba recorded a
paltry percentage poll of 33.18 per cent, Pumula 33.6 percent , Bulawayo
South 36 percent, while Mkoba in Gweru had 39 percent. Although President
Robert Mugabe says the elections were free and fair, the MDC are not content
with the results and alleged massive rigging by Zanu PF, in power for 25
years. MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said the belief that rural areas
were Zanu PF strongholds was not valid, adding that there was no going back
on the part of the main opposition which had already rejected the
results. He expressed concern over the low percentage poll, saying: "We are
concerned about the lower turn- out.. People in urban areas are beginning to
lose faith in democracy," adding that the more informed urbanites would
eventually lose hope. Unlike the newly established Manyame that recorded
the highest percentage poll of 50 percent in Harare, Glenview scored 41.70
percent, Chitungwiza (40.77) and Glen Norah (43.49 percent). In contrast,
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe recorded 61.42 percent, Mutoko South (58.33 percent),
Shamva (58.87 percent), Mudzi West (55.39 percent) and Sanyati (52.75
percent.) Out of the country's 120 constituencies, Harare, Masvingo and
Manicand had the highest number of constituencies, where 8 250 polling
stations had been created to ensure everyone gets the chance to vote in the
one day that was set aside for voting. The battleground mainly pitted the
ruling Zanu PF and the MDC.
The fact that President Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has won the parliamentary election in Zimbabwe -
which most people predicted he would - will unfortunately not solve the many
problems facing the people of that country.
will soon find out that their party's victory at the elections - achieved by
strong-arm tactics including intimidation of the opposition, muzzling of the
Press and other extra-legal means - will not translate into jobs and food
for the hungry.
The fact is that Mugabe himself is the problem. As
long as he is in charge there is no prospect that the foreign investment
needed to lift Zimbabwe out of economic ruin will flow into that
Mugabe inherited from the white minority government of Ian
Smith an economy which, while not benefiting the black majority, was quite
sophisticated by the standards of developing countries.
the past 25 years he has presided over the collapse of the economy, and many
people are worse off today than they were six years ago.
It is our
hope that, having achieved the landslide at the polls which he predicted,
Mugabe will feel secure that he will not face possible prosecution by an
opposition party attaining government and will step down in favour of
another man who will stand a better chance of rehabilitating the
Regarding the observer missions (including South Africa's)
which monitored the elections, we are extremely disappointed that they
failed to condemn an electoral process that was rigged in favour of the
There may not have been overt violence or a flouting
of the law as such in these elections, but that does not make them free and
fair or reflecting the will of the people of Zimbabwe.