Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:46
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, defeated by main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in the cliffhanger presidential election last weekend, is
cornered as he tries to fight back after his dramatic eviction notice from
This comes as pressure mounted yesterday for Mugabe to release results
of the presidential poll which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is
withholding on his orders as part of a crisis management strategy. The
results are being held back to give Mugabe enough time to plan his escape
from the tight spot he is in.
The United States, Britain and the European Union, as well as local
and foreign civic groups, have urged Mugabe to immediately allow the ZEC to
release the results. American diplomats met the Tsvangirai faction this week
to help deal with the situation. Tsvangirai met Simba Makoni yesterday to
find a way forward.
As the crisis deepens, head of the African Union (AU) election
observer mission Ahmed Tejan Kabbah met with Mugabe and Tsvangirai
The ruling Zanu PF’s decision-making politburo meets today to confront
Mugabe’s defeat and his party’s loss.
Fireworks are expected at the meeting of the deeply-divided body where
political hawks led by Emmerson Mnangagwa and moderates are likely clash
over what to do next. Hardliners, sources said, will urge Mugabe to fight
on, while level-headed politburo members led by rival Solomon Mujuru would
recognise the extent of his defeat and counsel he should go.
Zanu PF and MDC representatives are also meeting to discuss the
crisis. American, British, European Union and African diplomats are involved
in shuttle diplomacy to deal with the crisis, especially the release of
results and ways of stopping Mugabe from digging in.
Sadc diplomats are anxious that delays could trigger unrest. They are
keen to see a smooth transition. Already tension and uncertainty are
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week called South African
President Thabo Mbeki and urged him to tackle the situation. Britain is said
to be anxious to prevent chaos in the country.
Mbeki has dispatched his envoy Kingsley Mamabolo, former high
commissioner to Harare who is part of the Sadc election observer mission, to
engage Zanu PF and the MDC with a view of forming a Government of National
Unity. Mbeki could be on his way to Harare soon to persuade Mugabe to step
aside or resolve the deadlock through constitutional means, it was said.
The ZEC has so far only announced results for the House of Assembly
and was last night due to begin releasing senate results. The outcome for
the presidential poll is not yet out. ZEC officials blame the delay on
But Mugabe is said to be delaying the release of results to buy time
and push for the elapse of the 21 day window within which the run-off must
be held. Counting of votes was completed on Sunday. Sources said the acting
Attorney-General’s Office advised government on the legal position about the
run-off and indicated the time allocated for the process would not be
Mugabe is said to be now trying to amend the Electoral Act to have the
run-off in 90 days. This would give him enough time to plan his fight back.
Alternatively, Mugabe wants a six-month transitional government while a
solution to the deadlock is found.
During that period, sources said, Mugabe would resort to scorched
earth policies similar to those in 2000 after his defeat in a constitutional
draft referendum to retain power.
After the 2000 defeat Mugabe seized farms and threatened to grab
companies to reassert his grip on power. Zanu PF militias were deployed
countrywide to fight across hinterlands to shore up his faltering rule. It
said that Mugabe is under pressure from hardliners to fight back using
similar militant methods.
This has come up in ongoing talks between Zanu PF and the MDC. Zanu PF
has sent its point man Nicholas Goche to meet MDC representative and
newly-elected MP Jameson Timba to discuss the issue. The meetings were held
this week. It is said Zanu PF heavyweight retired army chief General Solomon
Mujuru has contacted the MDC to find ways of dealing with the crisis.
Sources said members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) — which
comprises the army, police and intelligence chiefs — were keen to discuss
the situation with Tsvangirai.
Kabbah met with Mugabe to avert conflict triggered by his refusal to
let go. The former Sierra Leone president met with Mugabe at State House
yesterday to discuss the volatile situation. He also met with Tsvangirai in
a bid to resolve the deadlock created by Mugabe’s blocking of the official
poll result and refusal to publicly concede defeat.
It is understood Kabbah, who left yesterday for the AU HQ in Addis
Ababa to report back on the Zimbabwe election, was acting as an envoy for AU
chair, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete who is under pressure to tackle
the current crisis.
The AU secretariat is chaired by ex-Gabon foreign minister Jean Ping
whom southern African countries, including Zimbabwe, did not want to come in
ahead of Zambia’s Inonge Lewanika.
Zanu PF’s politburo is due to meet in Harare today for an emergency
session to deal with the situation.
Mugabe — now a hostage to the crisis he has created — is weighing his
options. His alternatives are clear: surrender and quit; fight on and enter
a run-off that many including some in his party say he would lose dismally;
or negotiate with Tsvangirai’s MDC for a government of national unity which
would involve a safe exit.
Mugabe needs a smooth exit strategy to avoid possible prosecution for
human rights abuses by his regime. This has been one of his main motives
for clinging onto power.
It is said that Mugabe’s advisors in JOC are worried about their
future and have been trying to dig in while searching for a solution.
Talking to Tsvangirai is part of the process.
Sources say radicals in the JOC who include Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, Police
commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, and Director of Prisons
Major-General Paradzai Zimondi want Mugabe to fight on via a run-off.
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:42
EMBATTLED President Robert Mugabe reportedly intends to extend the
date of the anticipated presidential election run-off by 90 days after
Saturday’s polls failed to produce a clear winner.
Impeccable sources said Mugabe lost the presidential race to the MDC’s
Morgan Tsvangirai, but the opposition leader’s votes fall short of the
legally required 50% plus, prompting a run-off between the two within 21
days from the day of the last polling.
Tsvangirai won against Mugabe, former Finance minister Simba Makoni
and little-known Langton Towungana. While the MDC claims 50,3% of the vote,
the likely figure is closer to 49% to Mugabe’s 43%.
The run-off should be held on or before April 19, but the sources said
Mugabe and his close advisors from the country’s state security agencies
want Mugabe to use his presidential powers to amend the Electoral Act to
have the election re-run after 90 days and meanwhile rule by decree.
The sources revealed that Mugabe was not aware of the run-off
provision in the Electoral Act until it was published in the media a few
months before the Saturday elections.
Mugabe, the sources said, has argued that it is not logistically
feasible to have a presidential poll within the stipulated 21 days.
He reportedly argued that time to prepare for the election had already
been lost due to the counting of the harmonised presidential, legislative
and council elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
At the time of going to press yesterday, the ZEC had only announced
results of the House of Assembly elections, but was mum on senate and
presidential poll results. Local government election results were announced
at ward level.
However, it has become a matter of public knowledge that Mugabe lost
the election and that the ZEC was cushioning the defeat by not rushing to
release the results.
“Mugabe and his advisors are toying with the idea of having the
run-off in 90 days,” one of the sources said. “The president, however, is of
the opinion that if the opposition thinks that three months is too long, he
would settle for a month.”
Before the run-off, the sources said, Mugabe intends to rule by decree
because he dissolved parliament and his cabinet on March 28.
The Zanu PF first secretary would be expected to be helped in
discharging his duties by service chiefs and this would be tantamount to
A senior constitutional lawyer based in Harare yesterday said the
constitution empowered Mugabe to change any law at anytime.
“Throughout the world, at any one point a country should always have a
president,” the lawyer said. “The president is empowered at any given time
to discharge the powers vested in him. Mugabe can amend any law.”
The lawyer, however, said political morality demanded that Mugabe as a
candidate should not amend laws to give himself an unfair advantage.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman,yesterday said his party was not
aware of Mugabe’s plans and maintained that Tsvangirai had won the
“We are not aware of his plans, but let me emphasise that we won the
election,” Chamisa said. “We have the necessary majority and we do not know
what Mugabe is up to. We have the constitutional majority.”
The sources said Mugabe was not aware of the run-off provision in the
Electoral Act until recently and was averse to it, but there was nothing he
could do to change the provision when the presidential election was just
around the corner.
Speaking soon after casting his votes at Mhofu Primary School in
Highfield, Harare, Mugabe made it public that he was not in favour of the
Both local and international media quoted Mugabe saying he did not see
the necessity of a run-off.
The ageing leader reportedly said: “We are not used to boxing matches
where we go from one round to another round. We just knock each other out in
the first round… that’s how we have done it in the past, that is how we
will do it this time.
“This second round, I don’t know. It is our constitutional lawyers who
brought it…What they should have done is to look at what the president gets,
combining that with what his party gets, and the sum total should (provide)
Sources said the run-off provision was promulgated into law through an
amendment in 2002 to the Electoral Act. Mugabe’s trusted lieutenant Emmerson
Mnangagwa and then Information and Publicity minister Jonathan Moyo
reportedly sought the amendment.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:33
STARING defeat in the face after weekend polls, President Robert
Mugabe has gone on the offensive, directing the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to delay the result in order to manage a crisis that could
result in his defeat.
Sources said ZEC’s delay is part of government’s crisis management
plan following clear indications that Mugabe had lost the election to Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
There is a move in government to fight the defeat. Police last night
sealed off a local guest lodge as the government intensified its crackdown
on foreign media.
The police picked up a journalist, Barry Bearak, from the New York
By late last night they were still at the lodge blocking anyone from
entering or leaving the premises. They ransacked several rooms at the lodge.
Phones with a roaming service appeared to have lost their network even
though it could not be readily established whether this was a result of a
deliberate interference with the system or a genuine technical problem.
As it become clear that Mugabe has lost in the weekend polls senior
Zanu-PF officials have started panicking fearing retribution.
Part of their strategy is to force ZEC to delay the result until
Mugabe has found a way to deal with the problem.
“We have been told to hold on to the numbers,” said a senior ZEC
official. Mugabe is behind the tactic to manage a potentially volatile
Deputy Information minister Bright Matonga told the Herald on
Wednesday that Zanu PF was preparing for a runoff.
This statement, analysts say, indicates that Mugabe has lost the
election. Observers are worried about the delay.
Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament observer mission,
said the ruling Zanu PF was considering the possibility of defeat.
“I was talking to some of the bigwigs in the ruling party and they
also are concerned about the possibility of a change of guard,” he told a
South African radio station.
“Zanu PF has actually been institutionalised in the lives of
Zimbabweans, so it is not easy for anyone within the sphere of the ruling
party to accept that ‘maybe we might be defeated or might have been defeated’,’”
While ZEC sits on the results of the presidential polls Mugabe is
using time to consider his options.
Senior Zanu-PF officials said Mugabe was considering using his
presidential powers to have the run off election in 90 days instead of the
constitutional 21 days.
During that time Mugabe would rule by decree which means there would
be a state of emergency.
Mugabe is also considering a run-off but is afraid that the odds are
heavily tipped against him now he is seen as vulnerable. He is also
understood to have tried to reach out to the MDC with a proposal of a
six-month transitional government. But there have been no takers.
“However he plays it, he has lost,” a Western diplomat said yesterday.
“The monolithic image has been shattered.”
By Shakeman Mugari
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:31
THE Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) warned before last weekend’s
critical elections that President Robert Mugabe was unlikely to win an
outright majority due to the economic crisis.
In a pre-election intelligence survey report to Mugabe, the state
security agency said Mugabe was likely to get 49,2% of the vote if he did
well. The CIO was however later put under political pressure to revise the
figure to 52,3% and eventually 56%.
The CIO survey was similar in content and detail to the report
released last week by University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Joseph Kurebwa
prompting suggestions it was actually the same document. The idea was to use
the report as a justification for rigging the elections and other
The CIO indicated main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was able to win the election if not contained,
although they eventually gave him 29,1% in a bid to appease Mugabe. They
said if Tsvangirai won it would be a disaster for Zimbabwe because he is
regarded as a front for western powers.
The CIO said independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni was a
“spoiler” and was likely to get 21,5% of the vote. This figure was later
revised down to 13%. Makoni has apparently won 7% of the vote. The other
minor candidate Langton Towungana was given 0,2% of the vote.
Tsvangirai this week claimed he had won by 50,3% of the vote compared
to Mugabe’s 43,8%. However, the ruling Zanu PF rejected this, saying it was
“wishful thinking” and advised him to wait for the official results. Sources
said Mugabe lost the election to Tsvangirai by 43%-49%. The Zimbabwe
Election Support Network said Tsvangirai was projected to get the most
votes, with 49,4%, trailed by Mugabe with 41,8%.
If no candidate gets more than 50%, a run-off must be held within
The CIO initially predicted Mugabe would not win an outright majority
and a run-off was almost inevitable. They said the current economic and
political conditions militated against a Mugabe victory.
Kurebwa made the same conclusions.
“The precarious state of the national economy, characterised by high
levels of inflation, unemployment and the cost of living, as well as low
productive and export capacities, poses a serious impediment to an
overwhelming Zanu PF election victory,” Kurebwa’s report said.
“Additional factors contributing towards the erosion of electoral
support for Zanu PF are the party’s failure to transform itself, especially
on the leadership, mobilisation, and ideological fronts, in line with
changing times. The party has also failed to redress alleged marginalisation
by certain racial, ethnic, regional and civic society groupings and social
Kurebwa’s report in its executive summary — hidden from journalists
last week but later obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent — said Zanu PF’s
failure to accept dissent had undermined the party’s credibility and
“Probably the most critical failure has been the party’s
ill-disposition towards internal dissent and external opposition, which has
alienated potential and actual supporters,” Kurebwa’s report said.
The CIO, like Kurebwa, initially predicted that there could be a
run-off after the polls because Mugabe would not get the required majority.
“A run-off election would be necessary under the circumstances,
pitting Tsvangirai against President Mugabe. Such an event would mass both
factions of MDC, Makoni’s supporters, certain sections in Zanu PF,
fence-sitters and the politically apathetic against President Mugabe,
alongside his external foes,” Kurebwa said.
“Support for President Mugabe from his international allies would be
expected to be very thin.” The CIO also said the same.
The CIO and Kurebwa also agreed that Mugabe and Zanu PF would be in
trouble because they would not win the “strategic” Matabeleland vote.
“MDC (Mutambara), a key Makoni ally, negate the Zanu PF and MDC
(Tsvangirai) desire to control the strategic Matabeleland vote. For Zanu PF,
this vote is crucial to prove that the Unity Accord of 1987 is working,
while MDC (Tsvangirai) needs Matabeleland to undercut the rival MDC
(Mutambara) faction,” Kurebwa said. The CIO corroborates this.
“As a spoiler, Makoni’s first role in the presidential election will
be to deny both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai at least 50% of valid votes
cast on 29 March, thus ensuring a run-off election.”
Kurebwa said in the hidden executive summary a run-off was looming
because “the notion that Zanu PF is dominant in rural areas as opposed to
urban areas is more ideal than real”.
Kurebwa said there would be serious allegations of vote-rigging if
Mugabe won the poll, “triggering political violence, especially in urban
“The key factor will be the prospect for further (and probably more
rapid) economic deterioration, rather than the actual conduct of the
elections or Zanu PF victory,” he said.
“A fresh and harsher round of Western political and economic sanctions
will probably bring the economy of Zimbabwe to its knees, and seriously
undermine government credibility both at home and abroad.”
By Dumisani Muleya
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:29
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reportedly proposing the formation of a
six-month transitional government to manage his exit from power after he
lost the presidential race to the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai.
Sources said Mugabe made the proposal to avoid a run-off and wanted to
lead the transitional government made up of Zanu PF and MDC members and then
would relinquish power to the opposition.
The proposal, the sources said, was tabled to the MDC and was one of
the many options Mugabe was considering to manage his departure from office
after 28 years at the helm.
“Zanu PF tabled the proposal to the MDC this week and the opposition
is looking into it although it is likely to reject it,” one of the sources
said. “This is one of several options Mugabe is weighing before he makes a
final decision on his future.”
While details were sketchy on the modalities of forming the
transitional government, the sources said Mugabe wanted to guarantee his
safe exit from power.
The MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, yesterday professed ignorance of
the Mugabe proposal.
“We are not aware of the proposal for the formation of a transitional
government,” Chamisa said. “Why a transitional government when we won the
Political analysts said wherever there was a change of guard,
especially when the incumbent sees the newly elected leader as hostile, the
handover of power must be handled with care.
“There are a lot of guarantees and assurances, implicit and explicit,
required for the incumbent’s political, bureaucratic and security
establishments,” one analyst said. “(Former Rhodesia Prime Minister Ian)
Smith and apartheid regimes received similar guarantees and assurances from
the liberation movements.”
The analysts said delays in releasing the presidential results must be
seen in that context because “the country has never witnessed what we are
seeing in relation to a transfer of power”.
“Zanu PF is in shock and real trouble, MDC must not worsen that
shock,” another analyst said.
In May 2006, the MDC proposed the formation of a transitional
government under its Road Map strategy to resolve the country’s political
and economic crisis.
The party proposed that the government be made up of Zanu PF and the
MDC. Its mandate was to come up with a people driven constitution and
oversee a democratic election.
“Once a new people driven constitution is in place, needless to say,
the ultimate process of legitimization must surely be the conducting of free
and fair elections in terms of the new constitution under international
supervision,” the Road Map strategy read.
The strategy was anchored on seven main issues, among them, talks
between the civil society, Zanu PF and the MDC on the modus operandi on
negotiating terms and parameters; negotiations for constitutional conference
and a transitional authority and the enactment by parliament of a
Constitutional Conference Act.
The party wanted the constitutional conference to draft the new
constitution while the transitional government deals with economic
reconstruction before a referendum of the new supreme law takes place.
It also proposed a period of national healing and integration that
would have resulted in the abrogation of repressive laws such as the Public
Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act. During the same period the MDC wanted airwaves to be opened up.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:28
CIVIL society organisations under the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) have said there was “political
fatigue” in the country as evidenced by the apathy which characterised last
The NGOs, which met yesterday in Harare to review last weekend’s
harmonised elections, also noted deficiencies in the electoral process such
as the absence of constitutional safeguards and the need for an independent
“As civil society we have to be concerned about the voter apathy we
witnessed. Apathy mirrors the political fatigue of the citizens as it
reflects the non-existence of a vibrant democracy in our country,” said the
NGO body. Nango said in some constituencies only 30% to 40% registered
voters cast their vote while eligible voters did not register.
In their presentation, the NGOs said people were turned away while
others citizens did not want to vote.
“The enhancement of citizen participation in issues of governance and
democracy is therefore a challenge for civil society,” Nango said.
Nango said there was need to address the issues of constitutional
safeguards to ensure a better process next time the country holds elections.
“Zimbabwe urgently needs constitutional safeguards and a legal
framework which is conducive for a free and fair electoral environment;
freedom of speech, information and assembly has to be ensured and
journalists must have liberty to research and report,” Nango noted.
“A truly independent and impartial electoral monitoring body is needed
as the ZEC has failed to be such a body,” it said.
They said many controversies have surrounded the elections including
issues around the demarcation of election boundaries which were favourable
to the ruling party and the delay in the announcement of results.
Meanwhile thousands of Zimbabweans stayed home on polling day with a
minority of registered voters casting their ballots in the crucial
The polls were supposed to shut the door on President Mugabe’s
uninterrupted 28-year rule but a split opposition vote allowed Zanu PF to
gain crucial parliamentary seats. At least eight seats were lost in this
In Lupane West, Zanu PF won the parliamentary seat with 3 311 votes
while the two MDCs had a combined total of 5 049 which could easily have
dislodged Zanu PF.
In Chirumanzi the MDC factions fielded two candidates who both polled
a total of 5 538 which would have seen their party prevail over Zanu PF
which secured 4 631 votes to win the seat.
It was the same story in Mazowe South where the combined MDC vote was
5 453 while Zanu PF won with 4 109 votes. In Vhungu Zanu PF polled 4 287
votes while the candidate of the Tsvangirai faction combined with the
Mutambara candidate polled a total of 5 701 which could have seen the
opposition secure the seat. — Staff Writers.
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:25
LAWYERS representing the Movement for Democratic Change yesterday
filed a High Court application to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to announce the results of the presidential poll which was held last
The application comes in the wake of the commission’s failure to
announce the presidential results by Wednesday afternoon as had been
demanded by the opposition lawyers in a letter to the commission’s chairman
Justice George Chiweshe.
In the letter, the MDC through their lawyers Mbidzo, Muchadehama &
Makoni wrote to the ZEC threatening to take legal action against the
regulatory body for the delay in announcing results for the presidential
“On behalf of our clients we therefore demand, as it is their right
to access such information, that you announce the latest tally of results in
the presidential election by not later 14.00hrs this afternoon (Wednesday),
failing which our clients shall be forced to take further steps to protect
their interests without further notice to yourselves,” said the lawyers in
The lawyers said their client’s understanding is that all polling
station returns were compiled at the same time and transmitted at the same
time in respect of all four elections.
“It is not feasible for you to say (you are) in possession of the
House of Assembly election results and fail to have the results for all the
other elections,” wrote the lawyers. “With respect, these results were
transmitted at the same time.”
The lawyers informed the ZEC of their wish to know how the election
results for the four elections were transmitted from the polling stations to
their several destinations.
“Our client is therefore of the considered view that the current
announcement of House of Assembly results is a mere dilatory technique being
employed by yourselves to mystify the whole process announcing the winner,
if any, of the presidential election. Whatever it is that you seek to
achieve by such delay is best known to yourselves but it is surely holding
the nation at ransom given that so much interest has been generated in the
elections and every one is eagerly awaiting such announcement.”
Meanwhile a coalition of 18 civil societies in Zimbabwe has petitioned
the African Union and Southern African Development Community heads of state
to exert pressure on the ZEC to release the presidential election results.
The coalition includes Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, Save Zimbabwe Campaign, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
“We the civil society organisations from Zimbabwe therefore implore
the Sadc and AU heads of state and government to urgently demand that
President Mugabe and his government should allow the elections results to
be released immediately without being tampered with,” reads the petition.
The civil societies said they want the AU and Sadc heads of state to exert
the necessary diplomatic pressure to force Mugabe to ensure that the
elections are as free and fair as possible.
The coalition said the delay could result in the outcome of the
elections being contested.
“This delay, if it persists, will result in the real likelihood of the
outcome of the elections being contested and in the process undermining
whatever small gains may have arisen from the Sadc efforts,” said the
Sadc together with the African Union was implored by the coalition to
be prepared to urgently engage in a process to assist in resolving any
dispute that may arise if the results of the elections are seriously
contested and to investigate allegations of fraud, so that the ZEC-announced
results may be correlated with independent tabulation processes.
By Lucia Makamure
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:24
THE Movement for Democratic Change which this week secured a majority
in parliament has opened dialogue with losing contestant in the presidential
race Simba Makoni to craft a workable plan for the next government.
It has also secured the support of Arthur Mutambara’s faction.
The Zimbabwe Independent was told that the MDC and Makoni’s team had
started exploratory meetings to see whether the two groupings can work
together in a new government.
Makoni, who contested as an independent with the support of the Arthur
Mutambara faction of the MDC, won about 7% of the vote. A senior official in
Makoni’s Mavambo project yesterday confirmed that there was “low level
discussion” between the two formations. He however said Makoni’s grouping
was at the moment more concerned about what position it would take in the
event of a run-off being declared between President Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai for the presidential crown.
He said the Makoni camp was likely to make three demands on the MDC in
return for support. He said they wanted an assurance from the MDC that the
party would make a new constitution a priority upon assuming office. He also
said fresh elections should then be held under the new constitutional
dispensation. He said Makoni’s grouping also wanted assurances that the MDC
government would not try to “reverse” the land reform programme.
Unconfirmed reports say that Tsvangirai and Makoni’s people had met
several times a week before elections. The reports say senior officials in
Makoni’s Mavambo project were likely to be offered senior posts an MDC
Meanwhile, the Mutambara faction of the MDC has said it will back
Tsvangirai in the event of a run-off.
The faction won 10 seats in the parliamentary poll. Its deputy
spokesperson and newly re-elected Nkayi South MP, Abednico Bhebhe, yesterday
confirmed that they will campaign for and support Tsvangirai in the event of
a poll re-run being called after the counting of the presidential votres.
“There is no way I can support and campaign for Mugabe,” said Bhebhe.
“If there is a poll re-run we will support Tsvangirai and we will have to
sit down with the other winning candidates and decide. It is obvious that
they will also agree to back Tsvangirai.”
This is the first public proclamation of support Tsvangirai has
received from parties and candidates that took part in the harmonised polls
to back him in the case of a poll re-run.
The Mutambara MDC won all its 10 seats in Matabeleland North and South
The Makoni camp has said it will make a decision on who to back after
the presidential results are announced.
David Coltart, who has won a senate seat, said yesterday that the MDC
could have won eight more seats had it not gone into the election as a
divided party. — Staff Writers.
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:15
AT dawn last Saturday thousands of people were already in queues
outside polling stations throughout Zimbabwe to cast their votes in the
country’s historic poll.
Some of the voters slept at the polling stations while others were
heading there after dawn and, as the sun set, they did not despair; they
remained in the queues to make sure they cast their ballots.
At a polling station in Glen Norah, Harare, some voters were seen
casting their ballot by candlelight after a power cut in the high-density
While the voting process went on smoothly and was generally peaceful,
the voter turnout throughout the country averaged below 50% and there were
cases of intimidation and violence recorded by both the police and civic
At Murehwa’s Juru Growth Point, voting started as scheduled at 7am at
the council offices and police officers were seen pulling down election
candidates’ posters that were plastered on shops within the prohibited 100m
from the polling station.
There were 37 voters waiting to cast their ballots at the station.
The largest number of voters was at the Public Service Commission at
Murehwa Centre (Murehwa West constituency) where there were over 60 people
in the queue.
An election observer at the polling station said about 100 people had
voted between 7am and 8am. The observer said the voting exercise was
proceeding at a “helter-skelter pace”.
“The turnout here is low, but I think it is a result of increased
polling stations and that the elections are ward-based,” the observer from a
church organisation said.
At Mushaninga Pre-School in the same constituency, only 80 people had
cast their ballots and seven were in the queue awaiting their turn.
The low voter turnout characterised the elections throughout Zimbabwe,
but those who voted yearned for their preferred candidates to win.
A second year student at the University of Zimbabwe who identified
herself as Tatenda was hopeful that the elections would usher in a new
“I hope we get a new government because the economic crisis in the
country has affected the education system,” Tatenda said.
The student added that collapsing infrastructure and the deterioration
in the quality of education at the university was a reflection of what has
become of Zimbabwe.
“We sometimes have no power, water and accommodation at the campus and
lecturers are always on strike and if (President Robert) Mugabe wins then
our future as youths is doomed.”
However, a newly resettled farmer in the Nyabira area said he hoped
“Mugabe is a liberator and he has given land to his people and that is
why we will keep on voting for him,” the farmer said.
Civil organisation, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn),
said while the election was generally smooth, it had received some reports
The organisation said although the presence of police officers at
polling stations was to maintain order, it was concerned with the deployment
of large numbers of security forces as reported in Makoni Central
constituency as this was likely to lead to voter intimidation.
Zesn said it received a disturbing report from Insiza North involving
a shooting incident after an altercation between opposition and ruling party
supporters during an MDC Mutambara rally held on the eve of the election.
“The altercation resulted in the death of a passerby who was hit by an
MDC vehicle which had allegedly been shot at by Zanu PF supporters,” it
In Bulawayo, it was reported that the home of the Zanu PF candidate
for Emakhandeni-Entumbane was bombed in the early hours of Saturday,”
reported the Zesn.
Zesn said incidents of intimidation were recorded in Chegutu West at
Lowood Farm polling station where a Zanu PF polling agent was advising
people on how to vote and similar reports were recorded in Mudzi
constituency at Nyemanyora polling station.
According to the Zesn, a number of people failed to vote after they
were turned away for various reasons, including wrong identification
“A number of people were turned away for reasons including wrong
wards, wrong identification particulars like drivers’ licences or
photocopied IDs, or, in the case of some polling stations, failure to
produce renunciation certificates for those foreign-born,” the network said.
Inconsistencies in the voters’ roll were also noted by the Zesn.
“One couple previously registered under Mt Pleasant discovered that
one of the spouses’ names was moved to Harare West. However, she managed to
get help from the ZEC command centre in Mt Pleasant,” the network said.
Polling started at 7am in most parts of the country, except for some
polling stations in Harare’s Glen View South constituency and in Hwange
At Haig Park School in Harare, MDC-Tsvangirai polling agents were
initially turned away because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had
not accredited them.
Zesn noted that there was inconsistency in the application of
procedures by ZEC at various polling stations, for example in Harare Central
voters were allowed to vote with registration certificates while in Mbare
the commission did not allow that.
The network said in Mazowe South and at Summerdale polling station
there were campaign materials within 100 metres.
Despite the elections ending on Saturday, the ZEC was yet to announce
results of senatorial and presidential elections at the time of going to
print five days later.
The ZEC only announced the outcome of the House of Assembly elections
that saw the MDC-Tsvangirai party winning 99 seats, Zanu PF 97,
MDC-Mutambara 10 and independent candidate Jonathan Moyo 1.
There will be three by-elections — in Redcliff, Pelandaba-Mpopoma and
Gwanda South — after the deaths of candidates before the elections last
A coalition of 18 civil societies on Tuesday wrote a petition to the
African Union and Sadc heads of state complaining about the late release of
“We the civil society organisations from Zimbabwe therefore implore
the Sadc and AU heads of state and government to urgently demand that
President Robert Mugabe and his government should allow the election results
to be released immediately without being
tampered with,” the organisations said.
The organisations, however, hailed the conduct of the polls.
“There were less queues at polling stations and it looked like the
majority of those who wanted to vote and whose names were on the voters’
roll managed to vote without undue delays or major hassles,” said the
organisations. They said the general environment inside the polling station
and around the polling station was not hostile unlike in previous elections
where cases of harassment of local observers were reported.
“In this election there have
been few reports of intimidation or harassment of human rights
defenders during the election day and the period immediately after,” they
The civics said the counting and posting of results at the polling
stations for all to see was very well received and ordinary people
could be seen in numbers studying the results posted at the polling
Constantine Chimakure/Lucia Makamure
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:52
THE central bank last night introduced new $50 million and $25 million
bearer cheques as inflation rose to 164 900,3% for February.
The new notes coincide with a review of the daily cash withdrawal
limits which move up from $500 million to $5 billion with effect from today.
“With effect from Friday April 4, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is
releasing new $50 and $25 million bearer cheques into circulation,” the bank
said in a statement.
The bank said the review of the daily cash withdrawals was meant to
provide relief and convenience to the transacting public.
The bank has been fighting a losing battle against inflation which
continues to spiral out of control.
On January 18 this year, the central bank introduced a batch of new
notes, the $10 million, $5 million and $1 million bearer cheques. — Staff
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:50
INDICATIONS from the parliamentary poll results are that the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) is likely to form the next government but
immediate challenges face them on their first day in office.
Although the presidential election results have not been officially
released, predictions are that there could be a run-off which analysts say
President Robert Mugabe is likely to lose.
Analysts this week said a huge challenge awaits the new government on
the economic front. The stiffest challenge faced by a new government is the
economy, which has shrunk by over 60% within a decade.
Thousands of companies have either shut down or relocated to
neighbouring countries as the economic environment became more untenable and
as they realised the Mugabe government could not uphold its promises.
They will inherit corrupted government structures and institutions, a
situation that might be difficult to undo.
They MDC will come in to a government which is virtually broke and
indebted heavily, with a foreign debt of US$4 billion and a domestic debt of
$1,6 quadrillion. Every Zimbabwe is personally indebted to the tune of
The country’s central bank is technically insolvent and has incurred
huge losses in the region of US$2,5 billion through quasi-fiscal operations.
In addition to this, more money is owed in United States dollar terms to
exporters, NGOs and individual foreign currency holders.
The revenue authority has been prejudiced of almost 60% of potential
earnings which has been generated by the informal sector which is not a
recognised source of funds.
The MDC claims to have a comprehensive plan to deal with these
problems but analysts say it will have to do more to undo the damage that
the Zanu-PF government has caused.
In their political manifesto the opposition has said it will
restructure government companies and institutions.
Analysts however said this will not be easy especially with the system
that the Zanu-PF government has created over the past 27 years.
The MDC says it has a rescue package of US$10 billion to stabilise the
Economic commentator, John Robertson, said the first challenge will be
to halt the slide in the economy.
Inflation is now 165 000% and still rising.
He said money alone will not be enough to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s
“For the international community to give us international support we
have to prove that we are worthy of that support,” Robertson said.
“We have to demonstrate that we can use the money responsibly. We have
to behave in a better way than we have in the past 27 years.”
“Even with that money we might not be able to achieve much if they don’t
change the whole system. We need stability and to address the issue of
scarcities like foreign currency and food,” said Robertson.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the MDC will be to convince the
foreign investors that Zimbabwe is a safe destination for their capital.
To do this the new government will have to deal with all the new laws
and institutions that government put in place.
“We have to scrap the Indeginisation Act because it’s not necessary,”
said Robertson. “There is no single clause in that act that is worthy of
support. It is wrong. We need to do away with it so that investors can trust
Zimbabwe again as a capital destination”.
There are also the huge problems of price controls and institutions
like the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC).
Economic commentator Tony Hawkins said there was need for the new
government to restore the credibility and discipline in the central bank and
in the financial sector as a whole.
The central bank has been accused of excessive printing of money and
participating in the parallel market to buy foreign currency to fund
In the run-up to the elections the central bank went on a spending
spree buying tractors and other equipment to help Zanu-PF’s campaign.
“In as much as we need a quicker response from the international
community we need the skills to revive corrupted and undermined
institutions. By year-end we could see things beginning to change,” Hawkins
“We will need a new government because it’s going to take some time
for the hyperinflation to come down. It’s going to be difficult to
prioritise what to tackle first,” he said.
“In the short term it’s important for the new government to effect
crisis management and get some foreign currency. But Money alone is not
going to help.”
THE NUMBERS THAT AWAIT NEW GOVERNMENT
Economy that has shrunk by 60% in 10 years
Inflation of 165 000%
Industry capacity utilisation at 10%
Gold production less than 25%
Unemployment rate 82%
Domestic debt of $1,6 quadrillion
Punitive accommodation rate of 4 500%
Foreign exchange rate distortions
Negative interest rates
Budget deficit at 60%
Money supply of 51 768,8%
Technically insolvent reserve bank
US$2,5 billion in quasi-fiscal losses
A personal tax of 60% on the top end
70% of money out of official circulation
GDP crash of 60%
A land bank with bad loans
Errant central bank overstepping mandate
US$2 billion needed for optimum industry output
Collapsed road, rail and aviation infrastructure
A foreign debt of US$4 billion.
About US$1,6 billion to increase power generation
Massive brain drain with 3,5 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora
Bloated civil service wage bill
Broke parastatals and national authorities
Price distortions caused by controls
Depleted tax revenue base: 60% of revenue undeclared.
By Jeslyn Dendere
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:47
A WAR of words has erupted between the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC) and the business community as tensions between the two
parties escalated this week.
The exchanges have seen the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) being
blamed for fuelling Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.
The NIPC executive chairman Godwills Masimirembwa came under fire from
the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) and the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) for making “uninformed” judgments.
CZI president Callisto Jokonya labelled Masimirembwa a liar and
challenged him to prove his allegations.
“We don’t want people to lie like that, so we will not dignify his
allegations with a response. We just challenge him to prove them, if he can
do so,” said Jokonya.
The ZNCC president Marah Hativagone attacked Masimirembwa for making
general “uninformed and unfounded” decisions.
“He simply does not want to acknowledge the obvious. Those are just
general accusations and it is a blame game. Business is always blamed and
yet we are hardly to blame with Masimirembwa proving himself wrong,” said
Masimirembwa had earlier accused the business community of abusing its
foreign export proceeds and driving the parallel market rate higher by
selling export proceeds to importers at parallel market rates.
“Businesses are not behaving properly in respect of export
proceedings. They are abusing export retention schemes and by doing this,
they are the biggest driver of inflation,” Masimirembwa said.
Masimirembwa described business as an organised crime syndicate
colluding to push up the prices of commodities by hiking parallel market
rates and hinted at a crackdown aimed at exporting businesses.
“The NIPC’s main concern is the abuse of export proceeds by selling
them at parallel market rates to importers. If we crackdown on importers,
the shops will dry up. We intend to look closely at exporters,” he said.
Hativagone said they blamed the RBZ instead and said RBZ governor
Gideon Gono had admitted that the huge increases in money supply had dealt
the economy a blow and allowed inflation to run amok.
“The (RBZ) governor himself said the huge increase in money supply is
the major cause of inflation and the parallel market. What Masimirembwa said
is wrong,” Hativagone said.
By Kuda Chikwanda
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:46
ZIMBABWEANS face a steep tax rate after government this week raised
tax brackets that will take more money from the workers who are already
struggling to make ends meet.
In a statutory instrument published this week government raised the
tax bar from 47,5% to 60% for those earning $20 billion and above.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest tax regime in the world but has very
few social incentives that benefit the people. The average in the region is
The new rate means that a worker earning $20 billion will be levied an
effective 63% by the taxman which amounts to $13,1 billion. This figure
includes the Aids levy which government deducts from every worker in
The worker will be left with $7,9 billion before pension and medical
aid contributions are deducted.
Government also reviewed the income tax free threshold from $30
million to $300 million.
Tax experts however said the while government pretended to be helping
the worker it was in fact taking a huge portion of their wages by raising
the tax brackets.
Even then the $300 million tax free threshold does not translate into
anything much in real terms.
The $300 million is enough to buy two bars of washing soap ($130m),
1kg of salt ($35m), two tablets of bathing soap ($108m) and a loaf of bread
on the parallel market.
The list of what it can buy will be reduced by next week because of
inflation which reached 165 000% for the month of February.
According to the new tax thresholds, a worker earning between $300m
and $800m will pay 25% in income levy.
This is despite that the amount is not enough to meet basic
requirements of the month like transport, food and rent.
The civil service, which accounts for the majority of the working
class, would fall into the first four tax bands (refer to table) where the
highest paid government employee earning up to $5 billion will be taxed at
Tendai Mavhima, a tax management consultant, said the minimum tax-free
threshold would not help low income earners reeling from the country’s
“On paper, it appears there are changes but in real terms there is no
change,” Mavhima said.
“The minimum tax-free threshold is only enough to pay a six day trip
for a worker. On the other hand those earning $20 billion plus will be left
with no option except to start small income enterprises where there are
charged 30% of tax after deduction of operating expenses.”
A senior tax expert with an international auditing firm described the
reviews as “immaterial and ridiculous.”
“Most domestic workers are earning much more than the minimum tax free
threshold and taxing their salaries is ridiculous,” said the expert.
“To have a coherent approach to the setting of the amount of taxable
income falling into the 0% threshold, the brackets upper limit should be set
at two thirds of the poverty datum line figure of the budget.”
“Soon everyone will not be exempted from tax unless there are
progressive economic reforms,” said the tax expert.
Genesis bank group economist, Brains Muchemwa, said the increased
tax-free threshold would only increase disposable income to lower income
workers if inflation is managed.
“Ordinarily, the increased tax-free threshold would have the impact of
stimulating expenditure for the lower income groups, but with the high
levels of inflation, that stimulus will not be there,” said Muchemwa.
He added that the upper tax bands discouraged productivity in the
“The upper end tax bands of between 50% and 60% on the other hand
discourage worker productivity in the economy,” Muchemwa said.
“Basically it’s a sign that the fiscal position is fragile and the
government is looking for ways of increasing the revenue, more so when we
forecast that the budget deficit for this year could be anything above 15%
According to Muchemwa, low productivity, divestment at corporate level
and high unemployment has “strangled real government revenue” over the
This has forced to government to rely on increasing personal tax.
The government has also been borrowing from the domestic market and
printing money to cover its bloated expenditure.
By Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 03 April 2008 22:20
FIVE days after the presidential and parliamentary elections in
Zimbabwe, its people still do not know who will lead their country.
By its own account, Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF lost the parliamentary
election to the MDC. And in the contest for the presidency, even despite the
possibility of large scale voting fraud, it seems that Mugabe has not
But as Mugabe contemplates his immediate future, it is clear that no
course of action can make his rule infinite. There will be a day after
Mugabe. His political demise could come swiftly or still be some way off,
but the status quo has now been upset.
So while keeping up the pressure on the regime now, in the form of
targeted EU sanctions and tough diplomacy, our strategy must comprehend the
possibility of a dramatic change in Zimbabwe’s domestic politics.
The international community has a duty to prepare for that moment, to
ensure that we can assist in the country’s difficult transition from
authoritarian rule and economic and social collapse.
While in theory at peace, Zimbabwe is a country at war with itself. It
may therefore need the same level of support as a country emerging from
Zimbabwe today exhibits many of the scars and characteristics of a
post-conflict state: massive population displacement — around three million
in South Africa and Mozambique, depleted infrastructure, the breakdown of
basic services, social trauma, a lack of justice, and a shattered economy.
It is the country that has the lowest life expectancy in Africa; world’s
highest inflation rate and instances of political torture.
Incredibly, several other African countries which experienced full
scale civil wars have emerged with stronger economies than Zimbabwe, ravaged
instead by two decades of misrule and Robert Mugabe’s inexorable destruction
of the country.
As in any other post-conflict situations, Mugabe’s departure will
create a “golden hour”; a short window of time when people’s expectations
are high and the political situation is fluid. In Iraq, as we have learnt to
our cost, this golden hour was squandered.
We have gained hard-won experience in rebuilding broken societies: in
Bosnia, Sierra Leone and East Timor. These lessons need to be applied now,
to ensure that we are poised to help Zimbabwe onto a path of social,
economic and political recovery.
In this vein the international community ought to be prepared to take
the following steps:
lDevelop a clear package of assistance, based on the World Bank and
the UN assessment of the country’s needs in the post-Mugabe era. This would
follow as soon as either a caretaker administration in Zimbabwe makes it
clear that it will implement democratic reforms, or a new leadership
lPrepare to call a donors‘ conference hosted jointly by the African
Union and the European Union. Set up a “contact group,” backed by the weight
and resources of the UN, to engage closely with regional partners, such as
South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.
lSuch a body was successful in overseeing Bosnia’s recovery, and would
be able to pool international efforts on Zimbabwe, manage the inflow of
assistance, advance the political process, and pave the way for normalising
Zimbabwe’s relations with the international community. Sound recovery and
reconstruction planning will ensure that the people of Zimbabwe are helped
in rebuilding their country and avoid the worst case scenario of complete
state collapse and regional destabilisation.
lOnce Mugabe has gone, successors committed to democracy should be
offered help in moving from a culture of violence to one of the rule of law.
We should support a thorough reform of the security sector, including the
restructuring of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, the disbanding of paramilitary groups, and training for officials in
civilian policing and human rights.
lUrgent steps will be necessary to promote economic recovery, starting
at the most fundamental level of ensuring protection, food and shelter for
internally displaced people and restoring livelihoods, right the way up to
restoring basic infrastructure and institution-building. We should also be
prepared to help enable the orderly return and reintegration of those living
outside Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s human capital is the greatest assets the
country has and the realisation of its potential imperative.
lIn the event of a major deterioration in security we ought to be
ready for an international observer mission or over the horizon humanitarian
force under the auspices of the African Union and backed by the major
There is no time to waste in developing a multilateral framework to
respond to the inevitable in Harare. Nor is there a reason to be shy about
preparing for the moment. If anything our active preparation for the day
after Mugabe should send a signal to the Zimbabwe’s people that they have
not been forgotten, that the world stands ready to help once
Mugabe is gone, and if his party and others are prepared to make a
decisive break with the past.
Zimbabwe used to be among the most prosperous and promising states in
sub-Saharan Africa. Once Mugabe has departed, its human capital and natural
resources will form the basis for its recovery. To succeed Zimbabwe will
need a rapid help from its neighbours, international organisations and its
friends. Today they must all stand ready to help.
lRt Hague is an MP, UK Shadow Foreign Secretary and Mitchell is an MP,
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in the United
By William Hague and Andrew Mitchell
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:34
IT is with considerable, but not unreserved, optimism that I write
this because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has finally completed
the announcement of the House of Assembly results.
The final tally is historic because for the first time in 28 years,
Zanu PF has lost control of the House of Assembly. Of the 210 seats
contested Zanu PF won 97 seats, the MDC (Tsvangirai) 99, the MDC (Mutambara)
10 and an independent 1. The remaining three seats will require by-elections
because candidates contesting those seats died (of natural causes) during
the election. All three are likely to be won by either the MDC (Tsvangirai)
or MDC (Mutambara).
The tortuous process implemented by the ZEC this week to announce the
results is unacceptable. However, the Herald curiously appeared to have the
results of this race yesterday because it announced confidently that no
candidate is likely to get the absolute majority required to win. The MDC
(Tsvangirai) responded by announcing its own result, based on original
polling station returns, giving Tsvangirai an absolute majority of 50,3%.
I cannot comment on how accurate that is and note that Robyn Dixon
writing in the LA Times this morning (Thursday) says that the MDC
(Tsvangirai) made an error in calculation and that on their own figures
Tsvangirai’s tally is less than the 50% required.
However whether the final tally in the Presidential race is 49% or
50,3% this is in fact irrelevant because all that lower figure means is that
we will have to wait a further three weeks to see the end of Mugabe’s rule.
It is obvious that all democrats must rally around the candidacy of
Tsvangirai in the run off and if we all do then Robert Mugabe stands to be
annihilated and indeed humiliated. Not only will he face a single opponent
but all the momentum is now with the MDC. Mugabe has already gerrymandered,
has already given out all the taxpayers’ tractors and ploughs and has
already tried to use food as a weapon. In other words he has nothing further
to bribe or intimidate the electorate with. They rejected these methods in
the general election and there is no doubt they will reject them even more
forcefully in the run off.
However I hope that there will now be some sober reflection in the MDC
(Tsvangirai). The sad reality is that their failure to agree on a coalition
has undermined the opposition’s victory. In at least eight House of Assembly
constituencies we handed victory to Zanu PF by dividing the vote. In several
others we only narrowly avoided doing the same again. At the same time many
of the opposition’s best MPs such as Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube, Paul
Temba Nyathi, and Trudy Stevenson lost and will not be in the new
parliament. We have lost their experience, integrity and expertise —
qualities we will sorely need.
In short the MDC (Tsvangirai) must acknowledge that it has enjoyed a
pyrrhic victory in many respects. All is not lost as we can still win the
Presidential election in the rerun. However it is now incumbent upon the MDC
(Tsvangirai) to build a broad and effective coalition.
By David Coltart
Coltart is a Senator for Bulawayo.
Thursday, 03 April 2008 20:51
The following is an edited version of the address by the Republic of
Botswana’s newly installed president, Lieutenant General Seretse Ian Khama:
LET me from the outset pay tribute to Rre Festus Mogae as he begins
his retirement after years of exemplary service to our nation. When looking
back at his lifelong commitment to national service, it is hardly surprising
to anyone that he eventually ascended to the highest office in the land.
Mogae’s achievements and the legacy he will bequeath us are well-documented,
as indeed outlined in his last State of the Nation address in November last
Immense strides in areas such as economic management, gender equality,
HIV and Aids, infrastructure development and social transformation, have
been made under his stewardship of our country. As president, Mogae was
recognised locally and abroad for these achievements. He can boast an
admirable track record that serves as an example for future leaders of this
country and elsewhere in the international community.
An example of Rre Mogae’s wise leadership is best restated by his own
words during his last State of the Nation address when he said: “I have not
allowed political expediency and the pursuit of populism to cloud my
judgement and service to the nation. For the road to political expediency
and populism may be lined with cheering crowds, but in the end we cannot
escape the cold hard facts of our limitations as a developing country. Harsh
punishment awaits a nation that spends unwisely in pursuit of immediate
gratification rather than sustainable development.”
These are indeed wise words, and words I wish to identify myself with.
On behalf of the nation, Rre Mogae I wish to thank you Rraetsho for all you
have done, and we wish you all the best in your retirement. Please feel free
to call on me at anytime to render advice on any issue, and I hope I too can
call on you for the same.
A change of leadership does not mean radical changes in the way we
have been setting out our objectives as agreed upon by the ruling party and
government for this nation. Our party has a manifesto that I signed on to
and the government has a national development plan that I am also a party
to. However, in the course of the incoming administration you may detect a
change in style and special emphasis on a number of issues. This should not
cause any alarm or uncertainty.
After all, changes should be seen in the context that no two people
are the same. However, the overall objectives remain the same and not least
because we, Rre Mogae and I, have been working together for quite some years
to achieve them.
Leadership changes can be a time of unease. I can only allay any
disquiet by once more evoking President Mogae’s words in his State of the
Nation address and I quote: “Let us therefore face the future with
confidence and determination: determination to lift our nation to greater
heights, and determination to use our current achievements as
stepping-stones towards prosperity and greater success.” I certainly intend
to carry out my duties within the spirit and intent of those words.
I am confident in the future, and I am determined to build upon the
solid foundation that has already been laid since independence by my
predecessors. For me to succeed, we must all be growing in success. No one
can achieve anything on his or her own. This is our country, the only
country we have. Botswana can achieve greater success only if we show a
collective will and when we all participate fully in her affairs. Therefore
whatever we do or whatever we say must be done and said in the best
interests of this country.
We have a clear vision of what we want Botswana’s future to be.
The successful implementation of our economic diversification policies
and all this implies will require focused and a single-minded pursuit of our
goals and objectives. I am confident that with the right leadership at all
levels and the appropriate mindset, we can, together, secure that success.
Batswana have every right to reflect with pride on four decades of
independence, stability and major economic and social development. But we
cannot bask in past glory forever as has been the tendency. We need to think
of the coming decades and about the prosperity and welfare of future
generations. Botswana has become a middle-income country by prudently
managing and investing the proceeds from her natural resources. This in
turn, has provided a stable and fulfilling environment for its citizens and
Today, the country faces challenges that require further responses and
initiatives. Areas that I feel need special emphasis are employment creation
and poverty alleviation, programmes for the youth, health, housing and the
fight against crime, to mention a few. But we also face new challenges such
as environmental protection, and changing social values, brought about by
rapid urbanisation. The external perceptions about Botswana have also
Botswana is no longer seen as the only beacon of success in Africa. A
growing number of countries on our continent have become stable, democratic
and increasingly attractive for investors, tourists and like spirited
These are some of the issues I am mindful of as I take the oath of
office. Hence my roadmap for the nation will be underpinned and
characterised by the principles of democracy, development, dignity and
discipline. That they all start with the letter D is purely by coincidence.
The first D, Democracy, has served our country and its people well. It
is an important cornerstone of good governance and prudent economic
management. Only democracy guarantees human rights, the rule of law,
accountability and basic freedoms that we have enjoyed over the years. Yet
again it is President Mogae who said “we are a country with a rich
democratic political tradition and something positive to demonstrate and
contribute to the rest of the world”.
All the success we have registered is on account of our adherence to
democratic ideals. Nothing should be allowed to detract us from this path.
There is no substitute for it. I believe that Batswana recognise that only
democracy can create the most favourable conditions to ensure that our
aspirations can be fulfilled.
I am a democrat. I have always believed in democratic ideals, and
joined the military to defend this democracy. I consider myself an integral
part of this system of governance that has become entrenched in the life of
The second D, Development, refers to improving the standard of living
of Batswana. This will manifest itself through the continued provision of
national infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, electricity, schools,
stadia and other life affirming opportunities, most importantly jobs. For
this to happen, we have to create an enabling environment for the private
sector, and to actively encourage it to become the driving force of and the
main investor in our economy.
Government cannot alone bring about change. I also expect the private
sector to do much more in support of the change process, especially in areas
such as innovation, staff training and skills development.
We need to change the mindset among Batswana by encouraging and
helping them to fully develop their talents, and through stimulating
creativity and hard work, so they can contribute to the economic development
of our country. This must include a change in the way in which we see
ourselves relative to non-Batswana stakeholders in different spheres of
life, and the absolute need to embrace the realities of the
internationalisation and globalisation processes. It will also demand an
acceptance that Government’s empowerment policies will increasingly be based
on ability, effective delivery, wealth creation and capacity building
through skill development and hard work, rather than on entitlement.
With reference to the third D, Dignity, no one should need to live an
undignified life as a result of poor shelter or health and abuse in a
domestic environment. Anything in life that brings you suffering affects
your dignity as a person and we shall seek to address and overcome some of
Living in dignity must go hand in hand with being treated with
dignity. In this regard I call upon all of us, politicians, the public
service, and the private sector to ensure that our interaction with the
public must at all times be underpinned by dignity. Botho is an integral
part of our culture. Every citizen must (especially the political
leadership) strive to maintain our culture of modesty and avoid extravagance
at all costs.
Last, but not least the fourth D, is the principle of Discipline.
Nothing can be achieved successfully without discipline in any society. May
I quote President Mogae again when he said: “As I prepare to leave office,
let me ask that we take a firm stand against all the negative tendencies
that are creeping into our society and defacing our image.”
Allow me to highlight some of the social problems in our society that
we need to address as a nation. These range from alcohol abuse, reckless
driving on our roads, disrespect for elders, vandalising of school property,
wastage of scarce resources such as water, the use of abusive language in
public discourse and defamation, slander and false statements in the media.
The examples I have cited reflect a lack of discipline by some sections of
Batswana must be reminded that in a democracy, the rights and freedoms
of one individual end where those of other citizens begin. Freedoms go hand
in hand with responsibility.
The 4 Ds, I believe will help guide us towards our National Vision
2016. As Batswana we have formulated a clear roadmap of our future. We can
only realise this noble vision through focussed actions, by government,
business and citizenry. Two major strategies have recently been developed to
help realise Vision 2016. They are the Business Economic Advisory Council’s
Economic Strategy designed to drive our country’s much needed economic
diversification, and a Brand Strategy — to inform ourselves and the world
what Botswana holds in store for investors, visitors, traders and foreign
To actualise the contribution these two strategies will make towards
realising Vision 2016, it will be necessary to make some changes in the way
our country operates. This requires decisive and inspirational leadership in
both government and business to instill self-confidence in the workforce and
inculcate a results-oriented culture. It also necessitates better
organisational skills and capacities to effect the changes required. Our
young people need jobs-ready training and education to obtain the skills
business requires. They need to be equipped with the abilities and mindsets
to excel in their jobs and to start and grow their own enterprises.
Accelerating globalisation and the rapidly changing international
economic environment and related competitive pressures will continue to have
a dramatic impact on Botswana. This change process also fuels the
international fight to attract scarce and often highly sophisticated skills
and know-how, and the Foreign Direct Investment which can commercialise such
skills and thus help achieve longer term economic success.
These developments dictate that Botswana must reposition itself.
Botswana must learn to benchmark itself internationally, and we,
collectively and individually, must develop the capacity to compete
internationally on equal terms. This is the basis for our policy “Citizen
Empowerment through Excellence”.
I shall set up a special Committee of Cabinet responsible for economic
issues and employment that will report to Cabinet monthly on progress made
with regards these various initiatives. This committee will be headed by the
Finally, I intend to try and find ways to phase out any excessive or
counter-productive bureaucracy. Our public service, at both central and
local level, must become optimally efficient, transparent, motivated and
disciplined. Within government I will continue to attach importance to team
work, accountability, effective co-ordination and providing staff with clear
objectives and targets.
To this end I shall start by laying out to the cabinet and the entire
senior management of government in a meeting later this week and with local
authorities next week, my expectations of them with respect to making good
on the pledges we have made to Batswana. As part of a team charged with
delivering services and development to the nation, I hope they are all up to
the task because those unable to deliver cannot be kept on the team.
Bagaetsho: “Success starts with a vision, but nothing will come of it
unless the follow-through is swift and only single minded pursuit of goals
brings success. We cannot stand still — we must improve further on our past
gains. With the support of the nation I will do my best to lift Botswana to
the next level of development.”
Thursday, 03 April 2008 20:44
WHEN an organisation continues to live in the past, constantly failing
to adapt to the call for renewal in response to the dictates of modern-day
leadership, that organisation runs the risk of becoming irrelevant to the
obtaining scheme of things.
When such a scenario prevails, the leadership soon becomes a burden to
those that it leads and this results in those that are being led upstaging
their leadership in a bid to find renewal elsewhere.
This postulation amply sums up the situation that the Zanu PF party,
its leader President Robert Mugabe and his outgoing ministers find
themselves in. But just how Mugabe, an eminent scholar who prides himself
with the brain power to analyse, would allow himself to be misled by those
goons surrounding him to fight a desperately onerous and visibly lost battle
with his back stuck against the wall like a bull cornered, boggles the mind.
Results have been slow in coming and the nation has been waiting
desperately and anxiously. Theories as to the causes of the unnecessary
delay have been propounded and aftermath positions have been proffered.
As this tortuous fiesta unfolds, with winning and losing figures
sumptuously displayed at the national command centre for all to see, one
thing is certain, teeth are rattling. The sound is loud and clear and is
coming from one side of the great political divide. No prizes for guessing.
The octogenarian leader and his paternalistic sunset party are
out —fait accompli. Whether by a straight victory or a run-off, “the die is
cast and history has been made” — Otto von Bismarck.
The people have spoken and their will, for certain will prevail. No
amount of wishful thinking or dilly dallying can possibly placate this
The thinking people of Zimbabwe have simply condemned Mugabe and his
hopelessly useless cronies to the dustbin of history. A position not
Some of these ministers like the rampantly unwise Samuel Mumbengegwi
who, for close to two painful years, masqueraded as Finance minister, were
even rejected by their own party Zanu PF in the primaries.
Even if Mugabe were to win, who would be his ministers given the
constitutional provisions which do not allow appointments outside the two
houses? All his trusted lieutenants have been dumped. From Patrick Chinamasa
to the ever bungling Joseph Made.
He would not try to re-appoint Ignatius Chiminya Chombo, a man who
single-handedly took Harare and all the country’s urban centres into the
At this juncture it may be in order to say what options exist for
Mugabe. He may, like the true patriot that he is, choose to stay put and
witness the shaping of a new political dispensation as he eagerly awaits the
due process to “exonerate” him of any culpae.
He may, like the coward that he is not, choose to go into exile and
allow the country to go through the process of healing without having the
burden of his presence acting like an irritant reminder of his poisonous
All current indications point towards a run-off between Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai. The result of the run-off will be obscenely one-sided.
Tsvangirai will garner upwards of 80%.
Why would Mugabe wait to face such further rejection? The option for
him will be to allow either Joice Mujuru or Emmerson Mnangagwa to run and
lose and start the process of rejuvenating an opposition Zanu PF party in
preparation for the 2013 plebiscite.
This scenario will also call for Simba Makoni to launch a fully
fledged political party and start working with the zeal and order that he
has grown to be known for.
The sum effect of this will be that the Tsvangirai government will be
kept on its toes right from day one by a vibrant opposition in a country
that respects political diversity.
It must also be realised by all progressive forces that the process of
re-building, reconstructing and re-engaging will be so odious and imposing
that there may be very little room for malicious retributive manoeuvres.
Zimbabwe needs all the expertise and human resources that the nation can
muster in order to heal smoothly and expeditiously.
Maybe Andy Brown will lend us his hit song Tichangoshaina. It says:
“Ko sei vamwe vane zvese, vakaba vachadzorera, handei nerudo vanhuwe-e,
handei nerudo. Tichangoshaina kana tiri tose.” (“How come others have
everything, those who stole will return the loot. Let us move forward with
love and together we will shine.”)
Our national broadcaster, ZBC, is certainly everything that it is not.
Showing us a two-hour film on farming methods in Japan and a fashion show in
Malaysia? We are in the middle of a defining moment for the country and a
fashion show in the Far East is the last thing on our minds. Is this too
much to ask?
On a lighter note, I received an sms from my 10-year-old niece. It
read: “ Kana vaMugabe vobuda muState House vasiye makey pasi pe meti yepa
gonhi. Kana vachinyara ngavasiye vakanda pakona paSamora Machel Ave na7th
St.” (“Tell Mugabe to leave State House keys by the door mat as he takes
flight and if he is too embarrassed to do this
he may just drop them at the corner of Samora Machel Ave and 7th
Such is the level of expectation, anticipation and anxiety from even
What level of desperation can one man and his bunch of cronies drive
an entire nation of more than 12 million innocent souls? It is unforgivable.
People have always accused President Mugabe of surrounding himself
with carrion. But when one lives with the dead for too long, he will soon
assume their characteristic of lifelessness and start emitting an odour just
as bad if not worse.
We may be in for a treat if our goo-ol-sis Oppah Muchinguri lives up
to her word. Last year she threatened to expose her ministerial behind if
Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai. Here is her opportunity to make good her threat.
Out of mere public decency she may well be advised to reserve that
piece of malfeasant pornography for the serenity of the next politburo
meeting where they are in the habit of clapping and ululating unnecessarily.
In conclusion, Zanu PF provides very interesting lessons to those keen
to learn. They give vivid and practical lessons on how not to run a
political party, how to effectively campaign for a loss in a harmonised
election, how not to govern a country or, put it simply, how to run down a
once prosperous nation in just 28 years. I love Zimbabwe.
By James Maridadi
James Maridadi is a freelance journalist.
Thursday, 03 April 2008 20:41
ZIMBABWEAN voters rejected President Robert Mugabe’s trusted ministers
in last Saturday’s polls because of the overdue stay of their octogenarian
leader and as a protest against the economy’s free fall, political analysts
Most of the defeated ministers lost in rural constituencies where Zanu
PF has been dominant since Independence in 1980.
Former Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Water Resources minister
Munacho Mutezo and Mines minister Amos Midzi were among the rollcall of
Mugabe’s appointees who lost during the legislative poll on March 29.
The three ministers were in parliament after being appointed
non-constituency legislators by Mugabe in 2005.
Other ministers – Michael Nyambuya (Energy), Oppah Muchinguri
(Gender), Joseph Made (Agricultural Mechanisation), Christopher Mushowe
(Transport) and Chen Chimutengwende (Interactive Affairs) — failed to retain
their seats after losing to the MDC-Tsvangirai faction.
In the last government, Vice-president Joseph Msika and eight
ministers were in cabinet by virtue of Mugabe’s patronage.
Msika, Chinamasa, Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Midzi,
Mutezo, Information minister Ndlovu, Small Enterprises minister Sithembiso
Nyoni, Indigenisation minister Paul Mangwana and former Foreign minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi were in parliament courtesy of their appointment as
non-constituency MPs by Mugabe.
Political analysts said the fall of the former ministers in last
Saturday’s elections was a decisive rejection of Mugabe’s government by the
electorate for its failure to pursue workable development policies which has
resulted in the majority of Zimbabweans wallowing in poverty.
Zimbabwe’s flagging economy is characterised by high inflation, high
interest rates, critical shortages of foreign currency, an over 80%
unemployment rate and spiralling prices of basic commodities and services.
Inflation is above 100 580% — the highest in the world exceeding even
rates for countries in war situations. The analysts further argued that some
of the former ministers were rejected because of their dismal performance as
cabinet members and legislators, especially those who had rural seats but
failed to live up to their promises.
Others said the defeat of the ministers had nothing to do with
execution of duty but represented a downright rejection of Mugabe and the
ruling Zanu PF by an electorate battling to eke out a living in a harsh
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure,
said the cabinet ministers lost the elections because of poor governance by
Mugabe and the ruling party.
“They were defeated because of poor performance by the government,”
“The electorate saw the ministers as the personification of the
government and decided to punish them to atone for their suffering.”
He said the economic malaise in the country also contributed to the
defeat of not only ministers but also other Zanu PF candidates in the rural
areas, now the former stronghold of the revolutionary Zanu PF.
“In our study we found that ‘operation reduce prices’ the government
embarked on last year emptied shops resulting in the suffering of villagers.
The defeat of Zanu PF candidates is a result of the rural protest at the
operations,” Masunungure explained.
He added that there was now convergence of political opinion in urban
and rural areas that culminated in the MDC making inroads in the latter
“The ground has softened in the rural areas and the MDC-Tsvangirai
messages have been received well. It is the state of the economy that has
seen the MDC now having one leg in urban areas and the other in rural
areas,” Masunungure said.
Another political commentator Michael Mhike said the loss of the
ministers represented a “total” rejection of Mugabe.
“The defeat of cabinet ministers is a rejection of the current
government which the electorate blames for precipitating the fall of the
country,” Mhike said.
“It is clear from the results that even in rural constituencies where
Mugabe used to enjoy great support the electorate rejected him and his
Mhike argued that the outcome of the elections had nothing to do with
how the former ministers executed their duties in government or in their
“The majority of people in the country are blaming Mugabe and Zanu PF
for all the ills in the country and this explains why even in some perceived
ruling party strongholds the party lost the elections,” he said.
“This is a protest vote against Mugabe, it is not about individual
candidates’ performance in government or at constituency level.”
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer John Makumbe said
the defeat of the ministers — especially those who were contesting in rural
constituencies — was an indication that the 84-year-old’s reign had come to
“The dictatorship is coming to an end,” said Makumbe.
“Mugabe and Zanu PF have been synonymous with the rural areas and the
dictator used to get his cabinet members from rural constituencies, but this
time around things have changed. The rural areas have rejected Mugabe and
the ruling party. The dictator is going.”
Makumbe said poor policies by Mugabe resulted in the electorate
dumping Zanu PF and its leaders.
“The loss by the ex-ministers you referred to and other Zanu PF
candidates should be attributed to Mugabe’s poor policies and bad governance
that have ruined our economy. The major loser here is Mugabe,” he added.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:32
MY congratulations to the MDC-MT. It performed beyond my expectations,
although I must record that I think even this was way below its potential.
It did itself a lot of damage by going into the elections divided. At least
eight clear seats were lost as a result of the split. Still, Zanu PF’s
hegemony on Zimbabwe’s political life has been broken, probably forever.
A few weeks ago, commenting on Simba Makoni’s entry into the
presidential race, I wrote about the end of “hostage politics” in which Zanu
PF and the MDC had carved for themselves “spheres of influence” among
Zimbabweans. Zanu PF was a “rural party” while the MDC was “urban”, we were
told. For that reason, each party had clear constituencies in which
campaigning was almost a formality; it was preaching to the converted.
Makoni’s entry may not have had a “dramatic” impact on the outcome of
the polls given the final tally, but it certainly generated a lot of
debate — both negative and positive. It gave the campaign a fresh impetus,
and additional propaganda material to the main protagonists, President
Robert Mugabe and MDC-MT leader Morgan Tsvangirai. He might yet live to play
a key role in the affairs of our nation.
The same can be said of Welshman Ncube who lost to Thokozani Khupe,
given his crucial role in the inter-party talks between Zanu PF and the MDC.
This is despite lies about the failure of Thabo Mbeki’s mediation efforts.
Thanks to Mbeki, the dire pre-polls predictions of horror and calamity
turned into a bogeyman. We may yet need his services in this delicate
transition. Even ZEC exceeded everyone’s expectations because the chaos
forecast at polling stations was no more than a mirage. By 12 noon ordinary
Zimbabweans who wanted to vote for a better future had done so and there
were no queues, turning election day into an anticlimax given the media
hype. That is until counting of the votes started the following day and
there was evidence of Mugabe losing.
This however does not distract from my point about an end to “hostage
politics” especially given the inroads the MDC has made into Zanu PF’s
“sphere of influence” in the rural areas. I have said in the past that so
long as the MDC accepts this fallacy about Zanu PF’s rural “strongholds”, it
will never win the elections.
I always found this simplistic allocation of spheres of influence both
degrading and insulting. It gave the impression that we were a dual society
between rural and urban, in which the former were enjoying a prosperous
economy despite Zanu PF bondage while urbanites endured economic deprivation
and were the only ones hankering for freedom. Yet the truth is that our
urban and rural life are closely intertwined because of economic and social
Two weeks ago I again stressed the need for a united front if the
opposition hoped to win the March 29 elections. Personal egos triumphed over
the national interest, with the focus more on Mugabe “rigging” the elections
than on mobilising the electorate to go out and vote. The result was an
agonisingly close finish — MDC-MT 99, Zanu PF 97, MDC 10, Jonathan Moyo 1.
Whatever reasons those in the know might have for this, my deduction
is that the embarrassingly low voter turnout for the opposition in urban
areas was a protest statement against the MDCs. In Matabeleland it was a
virtual boycott, first because of the MDC leadership’s “refusal” to work
together, secondly because of confusion over the “Makoni factor” — the
problematic Zanu PF brand. But the apathy in Bulawayo was a microcosm of the
The biggest gain for MDC-MT is that it has become by far the most
“national” party in terms of representation in all the country’s provinces.
For the first time since its launch it has won seats in Mashonaland West,
Central and East. It has won seats in all parts of Matabeleland, a feat Zanu
PF failed to achieve even through the force of arms. It is an indication of
the faith in and grave responsibility which the people of Zimbabwe have
reposed on the MDC-MT leadership.
Still, under the current economic circumstances, the MDC could have
done better. Zanu PF as a party did not have a strategic vision to turn
around the economy. Government has invested a lot in farming equipment and
implements, but these have been distributed as if they belonged to the
party, engendering a lot of resentment in the country.
Moreover, the vagaries of weather were simply against Zanu PF. After
an inordinately wet season between December and January suddenly February
turned out to be one of the driest in recent years, ruining what was touted
as the “mother of all agricultural seasons”. Lacking proper planning and
adequate resources, Zanu PF was unable to import grain in large enough
quantities to distribute to desperate, hungry villagers. City dwellers who
often cover up government deficits found themselves so badly hit by
inflation of over 165 000% they couldn’t spare anything for their relatives
in rural areas.
President Mugabe’s vituperative campaign speeches against his rivals
exposed a grave deficiency of a unifying spirit after years of national
polarisation. Suggestions of a government of national unity were scoffed at.
His threats against business were the final nail. In other words an outright
Zanu PF and Mugabe win meant a defeat for the British and Americans but a
continuation of the same — a prospect which scared everybody.
In a nutshell, the MDCs were fighting a foe lying prostrate and could
easily have notched a clear majority as one. They still have a chance.
Congratulations all the same for “A new beginning”.
Thursday, 03 April 2008 21:31
IT may not exactly resemble a roll call of the French chivalry
littering the field of battle after Agincourt, but the number of political
nobles at President Mugabe’s court who have gone down to defeat in last
weekend’s general election is stunning.
Chinamasa, Nyambuya, Mushohwe, Mutezo, Made, Machinguri, Midzi and
Chimutengwende have all paid the price of attaching their standards to the
electoral banner of an unhorsed monarch.
For make no mistake, Zanu PF’s defeat can be laid squarely at the door
of Robert Mugabe’s disastrous rule. His bid to blame the West for his record
of failure simply didn’t wash this time round. The evidence of a self-made
calamity was all too obvious. His posturing and blandishments made no
impression upon a nation brought to its knees by his own obduracy. At last
Zimbabweans found the courage to tell him what they thought of his claims.
A pattern emerged as soon as the first results came in. It was clear
that not only had the MDC retained its urban stronghold but had penetrated
Mugabe’s rural fiefdom at the same time. Manicaland in particular suffered
from the opposition’s depredations. But there were also significant gains
for the opposition in Masvingo and the Midlands. Not content with a nearly
clean sweep in Harare, the Tsvangirai MDC launched a surgical strike against
the Mutambara faction’s Bulawayo stronghold walking off with a clutch of
seats there. Prof Welshman Ncube was a notable victim.
“It’s the economy stupid,” Bill Clinton remarked of the issues he
faced over a decade ago, and nowhere is that more true than in Zimbabwe
today where agricultural production has fallen victim to populist seizures,
manufacturing held hostage to economically-ignorant apparatchiks, and
investors scared off by maladroit political pronouncements.
Just this week, Botswana’s new president, Ian Seretse Khama, at his
installation remarked that he would not allow political expediency to cloud
“For the road to political expediency and populism may be lined with
cheering crowds, but in the end we cannot escape the cold hard facts of our
limitations as a developing country,” Khama said. “Harsh punishment awaits a
nation that spends unwisely in pursuit of immediate gratification rather
than sustainable development.”
He pointed out that Botswana had become a middle-income country by
prudent fiscal management. Zimbabwe was a middle-income country in 1980.
Today it’s a basket case with record levels of inflation and unemployment.
It stands as a warning to neighbouring states of the danger of populist
rulers buying votes by reckless spending and then blaming all and sundry
when the consequences become clear.
Indeed, this has been a campaign of dishonesty and deceit. Government
media have parroted Mugabe’s claims that this is a struggle of a small
country against bullying Western powers. In fact it is the struggle of a
people who regard the international community as partners and see its own
rulers as political thugs abusing state resources to mislead the nation as
to where responsibility for economic collapse really lies.
A younger generation is unimpressed by the stale shibboleths of a
corrupt liberation aristocracy. What is so gratifying for the independent
press, the opposition and civil society is that their argument for a
radically reformed national paradigm has won the day. Zanu PF had nothing to
offer except more abuse and more failures. Mugabe so evidently didn’t have a
clue how to extricate the country from the hole he had dug for it. He was
long past his political shelf-life but intended to keep up the campaign of
Meanwhile, his apologists believed they were serving some sort of
ideological cause by speaking up for him. In fact what they were doing was
compounding all that was rotten in our midst.
Today we can see through the toxic haze Mugabe’s failed regime has
generated and contemplate institutional and economic reform. There is a
whole host of friends who are prepared to assist. All they will ask is that
we manage our economy prudently — like Botswana.
Mugabe will be remembered as the leader who, with others, liberated
Zimbabwe from colonial rule but then lost his way and could only hold on to
power by coercion and electoral manipulation. Those around him should be
seen for the self-serving barons they are. They have grown rich as the
country was pauperised. The Africanist rhetoric steaming from the pages of
the state media provided only the thinnest of veils for the violence and
looting that characterised the record of the post-2000 elite. Kondozi Estate
will be their tombstone.
It is time to remove the roadblocks Mugabe has thrown across the path
to recovery. Before that we can allow ourselves a moment for
celebration.This is a great victory for the people of Zimbabwe. Whatever
happens now things will never be quite the same again. The mould of
invincibility has been shattered. A dark cloud has been lifted from the
Thursday, 03 April 2008 20:35
THE Zimbabwean economy has been so devastated that its redemption
necessitated that government give absolute priority over all else to
achieving restoration of economic wellbeing. But, at no time since the
disastrous economic decline began, in 1997, was government willing to do so.
Admittedly, it continuously alleged that the country’s economic
wellbeing was one of its primary concerns and that it was determinedly
Concurrently, it intensely sought to divert any allegations that it
was to blame for the dismal state of the economy, doing so speciously,
repeatedly attributing culpability to others and, as a by-product of so
doing; it intensified and accelerated the economic decay.
This was particularly pronounced in recent months as, concurrently
with ever faster, and ever greater, economic melt-down, presidential,
senatorial and parliamentary elections approached. Desperate to retain the
power it had held for 28 years, and determined not to be held responsible
for the overwhelming suffering that was the life for most of the Zimbabwean
population; government strove never endingly to ascribe the economic morass
This contention was constantly, and raucously made by the
pre-election government, founded primarily upon the absence of balance of
payments support and other funding from the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the World Bank, and diverse other international funding agencies.
The claim that the sanctions were “illegal” was founded upon such
sanctions not having been decided upon by the United Nations, but there is
no international law which binds all members of the United Nations to
determine their international relations and their funding policies only in
accord with the United Nations decisions. Each and every country has the
right to decide who to trade with, who to benefit from investment, and so
forth. Thus, the United States and the United Kingdom had, and have, a
perfect right to exercise their IMF votes against that institution funding
any particular country. Were this not so, what is the point of the IMF
structure providing for member states to cast votes (including some, who are
the biggest contributors, having veto powers)?
Moreover, no country or person in its right mind would lend and
advance monies to countries that are potentially bad debtors, their
economies being such as are unable to honour repayment commitments. That is
especially so when the country desirous of borrowing already has prolonged
instances of debt service default, and that is certainly so of Zimbabwe. For
many years Zimbabwe failed to repay international, long overdue, debt.
Very courageously, and most conscious of the debt defaults, Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono sought, as far as he was able, to make good on the
defaults, and in 2006/7 he succeeded in partially reducing the considerable
arrears, but notwithstanding, Zimbabwe remained a delinquent debtor, and
remains so. Despite this, it has the blatant effrontery to take umbrage at
not being the recipient of further international funding and support, and at
the US and UK for their role in the withholding of that funding and support.
To reinforce the grossly unfounded attacks upon the western powers,
government unreservedly claimed that their alleged endeavours to destroy
the Zimbabwean economy was partially as a revenge for Zimbabwe’s
displacement of white farmers and nationalisation of land, and partially
to facilitate a recolonisation of independent Zimbabwe.
It was not prepared to accept that the actual motivations for the
international reservations on Zimbabwe were that its government had
contemptuously, and repeatedly, flouted the fundamental principles of
respect for human rights, and those of genuine democracy, recurrently
breached the international bilateral investment protection agreements to
which Zimbabwe was a partner, failed to maintain and respect law and order,
and endlessly pursued policies that were destroying the economy.
Concurrently, the Zimbabwean government unceasingly and scathingly
criticised and attacked its perceived first world enemies, belittling and
denigrating them and their governments with torrents of vituperative
Government was so paranoid, and so convinced of its own omnipotence
and infallibility, that it steadfastly failed to recognise that the
principal causes of the near total collapse of the Zimbabwean economy were
wholly, or at the least almost entirely, caused by it. It was government
lDestroyed agriculture, which was the foundation of the country’s
economy, first by expropriating the lands and displacing thousands of
productive farmers, and hundreds of thousands of farm workers; then by most
ineffective redistribution and resettlement of some of those lands,
mainly to a favoured, highly-connected few, and extensively to those
lacking skills or resources, or the will, to use the lands productively,
and a repeated failure of government to provide or enable access to
necessary resources, and delayed availability of inputs;
lFuelled massive hyperinflation by gross overspending, far beyond its
means, funded by excessive printing of monies and equally excessive recourse
to borrowings, and significantly exacerbated by a failure to align fiscal
and monetary policies, failure to accord the central bank with genuine
autonomy and independence, and obligating it to engage in quasi-fiscal
activities which should have been addressed by government;
lContinuously destroyed the availability of necessary foreign exchange
for the operations of the economy. On the one hand, government constantly
resisted necessary devaluations of the Zimbabwe dollar, required to
compensate for the impacts of inflation upon exporters’ operating costs. As
a result, the viability of mining operations, manufacturing, tourism, and
foreign currency generators was brought to near total destruction;
lFailed to provide an investment-welcoming and conducive environment,
necessary to attract the investments that would yield foreign exchange,
employment creation, access to state- of-the-art technologies, and
penetration of export markets. Instead, it generated legislation designed
to expropriate foreign-owned equity, it revoked or breached agreements, it
pursued pronounced, counter-productive bureaucracy, and applied unrealistic
taxation policies; and these are but a few of the catastrophic governmental
accountabilities for the abysmal state of the Zimbabwean economy.
However, now that the “harmonised” elections are effectively over,
opportunity to reverse Zimbabwe’s economic ills knocks once again. The new
government of today can grasp the many nettles grown by the pre-election
governments, can reverse the foolhardy, cataclysmic economic policies that
have bedeviled Zimbabwe since 1997, and can dynamically, innovatively, and
positively, pursue economic and other policies previously seen as anathema,
but critically and absolutely necessary, if there is to be an economic
transformation, and a progressive restoration of wellbeing for the millions
of distressed Zimbabweans, albeit that such restoration will unavoidably be
long and slow. Will today’s government have the will and ability to do so
for, if not, Zimbabwe has no future, other than one of extreme misery and
distress, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions?
Thursday, 03 April 2008 20:18
THE Herald never ceases to amaze. After the ruling party had suffered
the most humiliating blow in its history, losing seats across the board, the
newspaper splashed a front-page picture of Zanu PF supporters in Masvingo
South celebrating the “victory” of House of Assembly candidate Walter
Yesterday it tried to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by
claiming an "absolute majority" in the three Mashonaland provinces Midlands
and Masvingo. But very simply Zanu PF lost.
It had been hoped that the partisan journalism of the state newspapers
that so marred this campaign could be transformed into something more
statesmanlike once the results were out. Instead we got more of the same
including facile opinion pieces from redundant Pan-Africanists.
The Herald should wake up and smell the coffee. There has been a sea
change in Zimbabwean politics. Mzembi may have won in Masvingo South but the
MDC cut a large swathe through Masvingo, the Midlands and above all
Manicaland where ministers went down to defeat in hitherto safe seats. Why
no pictures of voters celebrating there?
We bet Patrick Chinamasa, Mike Nyambuya, Joseph Made, and Amos Midzi
And how does the Herald explain the following headlines: “Survey gives
Tsvangirai 27% of vote”; “Voting MDC wasting votes”? Then there were all the
childish conspiracy theories including the helicopter story. The pilot was
reminded that Zimbabwe is a one-helicopter state!
It’s time the Herald and its Sunday sibling ate humble pie and
confessed to the error of their ways. This has been a humiliating defeat for
President Mugabe’s claims. He said voting for the MDC was like voting for
the British. What are we to conclude now: that the majority of our people
would prefer to be ruled by the British?
Obviously the public didn’t buy his paranoid posturing. That includes
his “anti-imperialist” acolytes. Sikanyiso Ndlovu, Tafataona Mahoso, and
George Charamba have all been proved wrong at best and deceitful at worst.
Who will ever take them seriously again?
Excluding the international media was a disastrous error. They all
made it abundantly clear to viewers that they were not allowed into Zimbabwe
raising the obvious question: “What do they have to hide?” Claiming that
some networks didn’t have an open mind was just plain stupid. Can you
imagine George Bush refusing to speak to the New York Times because he
perceived the newspaper as hostile to him? Governments should be in the
business of winning friends and influencing people; not seeing enemies
We were intrigued by the statement put out by defence and security
chiefs last Friday. They said they would not tolerate any attempt to cause
mayhem. Of particular interest was the following paragraph: “The authority
of counting votes and announcing the winners is vested in ZEC in accordance
with law. We warn anyone of such inclination that we will not tolerate any
such pronouncements as they have the effect of trying to take the law into
their own hands…”
Could not the same thing be said of overweening service chiefs telling
their officers and members of the public who to vote for? Indeed, wasn’t the
whole charade last Friday designed to undo the damage caused by maladroit
remarks a few weeks earlier?
If so it didn’t succeed. Once we heard references to “detractors”
trying to cause chaos we knew we were back in the vacuous world of Zanu PF
Many of the election observers raised the issue of pronouncements from
the service chiefs as designed to sway voters. The statement issued on
Friday looked very much like an exercise in damage control. The unfortunate
remarks referred to were dismissed as personal rather than institutional
views. But the damage had been done. Zimbabwe appeared to be a society in
which generals told people who to vote for. And that was clearly a breach of
the Sadc guidelines.
Sadc observers have been keen to sweep all this under the carpet. But
at least they raised the matter along with ghost voters and access to the
public media. And it was the Pan-African Parliament’s head Mawick Khumalo
who warned of the dangers of delay in announcing the results — the Kenya
And who are Lawyers for Justice? How come we haven’t come across this
outfit before? They claim to be a “wholly Zimbabwean social justice and
human rights activists’ organisation”. You will get some idea of who they
represent when they announced: “In terms of democratic development this
election saw Zimbabwe rising higher in its democratic record, probably
unparalleled in sub-Saharan Africa.”
OK, we get the message. Now we know who you are!
Muckraker doesn’t usually watch ZTV. It is simply too bad and too
boring. But Sunday night was an exception. Surely they would be saying
something about the election?
No, not really. It started with trailers for shows appearing later
that evening. And then when the news started at 8:05 we were treated to
inaudible interviews with people queuing at polling stations 24 hours
earlier. No explanation whatsoever about what happened to the votes once
they had been cast and when we could expect the results.
We were hoping to see footage of George Chiweshe fleeing from Meikles
pursued by hordes of journalists and civic activists. But all ZTV could
offer were clips from the previous day!
Do the interviewers know how to hold their microphones to obtain
optimum results? It doesn’t look like it. And what steps are the Newsnet
team making to provide a more interesting and professional service?
Anchor-persons appear wooden and dull. Reporters are happy to have
background noise while they interview people. Views are obtained from
predictable sources who can be relied on to parrot the party line.
Please, it’s time for a change at Pocket’s Hill. In this age of media
choice nobody would choose ZTV unless they had no alternative.
Still on the subject of professionalism we were interested to note the
appointment of Mr Samuel Bepe as general manager of Natprint, a Zimpapers
subsidiary. He was previously Harare branch technical manager. We wish him
On the same page and right next door to this announcement, three
stories were illegible because the print was smudged. We were thus sadly
unable to read about “Suspect hangs self”, “5 dogs kill man” and
“Businessman sentenced”. Fascinating stories, we’re sure.
We were however able to read about Aeneas Chigwedere answering the
call of his ancestors to take up traditional responsibility and lead his
people as Headman Mubaiwa.
At his investiture Chief Svosve advised him to stick to traditional
values in cases brought before him.
We are not sure what role the .303 rifle, among the items “adorning”
him, plays in traditional society but let’s hope Chigwedere doesn’t make too
much use of it!
Headmaster, historian, oracle and minister, Chigwedere has certainly
led a busy life.
But we are relieved he has been “called” away from education where
frankly he was making a mess of things. If he had stayed on Mugabe might
have had to get that cane out again and deliver six of the best.
It was interesting to hear Chief Svosve at a meeting attended by Ray
Kaukonde recently thanking the government for distributing food.
Here is somebody who led land invasions in 2000 but evidently hasn’t
used what he took for agricultural production. Why is government having to
distribute food when beneficiaries of its policies should be growing it?
Perhaps Kaukonde could explain.
Never has there been such a wave of public indignation as over the
painfully slow release of election results. Nobody buys the excuse about
“logistical problems”. If that was the case how come the ZEC was able to
choreograph the announcements so nobody suffered too much sense of shock?
One way ZEC could have helped was to simply say that so-and-so has
been elected as MP for wherever. Jane Chigigi did not need to say “Member of
the House of Assembly for … constituency”. There is no such title as Member
of the House of Assembly. And obviously they are constituencies. She should
also try and get a handle on siNdebele names.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was in the Herald on Tuesday having a go at those he
imagined were causing “alarm and despondency” ahead of the polling. In
particular he attacked the MDC and the Western press who he accused of
Which is why we are thrilled to announce that Ndlovu is still without
a parliamentary seat. He had hoped to stand in Pelandaba/Mpopoma but the
incumbent died, opening the way to a by-election. We don’t know if Ndlovu
will put his name forward as the ruling party’s candidate. But given the
trouncing Zanu PF received at the polls in Bulawayo it is unlikely that he
We recall him boasting at the Quill Club last year that he would
easily recover the seat from the MDC. He has yet to do so and is still a
political nomad. As President Mugabe will not be appointing any more
seat-less MPs to cabinet we await Ndlovu’s fate with interest. But until he
has a job he should shut up for a while and give us all a rest.
The same goes for Bright Matonga. He was claiming on Wednesday that
Tendai Biti had no right to announce results in the presidential poll and
that his declaration would be seen as provocative by the police and army.
The ZEC’s public relations director Tendayi Pamire joined in claiming no
other body except the ZEC had the power to issue results.
It is amazing isn’t it how the supine ZEC which allowed the state to
arrogate to itself so many of the ZEC’s functions could suddenly find its
voice in defence of its tattered integrity.
Pamire should be contemplating what people will think of a five-day
delay in releasing results that are already within the public domain. Why
should the public have to wait for five days to discover information they
are entitled to because the ZEC is dragging its heels on behalf of a
manipulative regime. And Matonga should explain why the army and police
should be “provoked” by democratic outcomes.
If Biti wishes to say that according to the MDC’s figures, backed by
independent monitors, his party is in the lead, then he has every right to
do so without the preposterous Matonga threatening military intervention!
The same goes for Didymus Mutasa who has suddenly found his voice after his
party’s mauling in Manicaland.
These discredited losers are behaving as if nothing has changed. But
is anybody listening?
“What makes the situation even worse,” Pamire was quoted as saying,
“was the fact that this (Biti’s announcement) was beamed live on some
international television stations and could have been meant to confuse the
actual count to come from ZEC.”
Don’t forget that confusing people is an offence in Zimbabwe. But did
Pamire say anything when the President’s Office usurped the ZEC’s role of
accrediting television stations?
We have said it before and we will say it again: the ZEC has failed to
assert its independence and indeed its competence throughout this process.
It has no idea how to deal with the press and has instead allowed
ruling-party politicians to perform that task, not to mention the
discredited MIC. As a result many governments are having difficulty taking
the ZEC seriously.
Pamire, Ndlovu and Matonga should take note of the comment by the East
African Community observers that “undue delays” in the announcement of
results might encourage political parties to begin announcing their own
Thursday, 03 April 2008 20:10
BRIGHT Matonga’s outburst in a BBC interview on Wednesday — responding
to an announcement by MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti that Morgan
Tsvangirai had won the presidential election — epitomises the extent to
which the Zanu PF government has become reliant on the military for its
Biti in his usual brusque manner announced at a press conference that
their figures, backed by independent monitors, showed that Tsvangirai had
won the election and would be the next president.
Matonga who retained his Mhondoro constituency seat feebly tried to
invite the army to support his own corrosive view of the military in a
modern democracy. Matonga still believes that as former Deputy Minister of
Information he can speak on behalf of government and the whole country. He
is now a backbencher.
Matonga notwithstanding all the “bright” ideas which won him the vote
declared that Biti’s statement was a provocation to the military and the
police. He ominously opined: “They (MDC) have got to be very careful. They
think they can provoke Zanu PF, and the police and the army.”
Matonga’s statement aptly captures one of the major problems which has
bedevilled this nation and which an MDC government should never allow to
happen again. This country has been ruled by civilians who employ military
stratagems to get their own ends — Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina,
Operation Sunrise, and recent electoral announcements.
The government of President Mugabe invited military personnel to get
involved in farming, at the Grain Marketing Board, at the National Railways
of Zimbabwe, in fuel procurement, trade, sport and even at the Post Office.
This the government defended as the panacea to economic recovery!
“There is nothing sinister about involving security force personnel in
areas like the economy and food security: the government is doing what is
best for Zimbabwe. Any complaints to the contrary are only meant to rubbish
a genuine economic revival and food security programme,” Obert Mpofu,
Minister of Industry and International Trade, said in an interview with Irin
But the securitisation of civilian institutions was not all about
national development. The military failed to protect the nation from its
number one enemy: inflation. It failed to safeguard the value of the local
currency. It could not stem the tide of price hikes. Its involvement in
civilian offices was therefore a domestication of the servicemen by a party
which believed that it had a lifetime to rule this country and therefore
required the military to safeguard this foul political ordination.
Matonga even in the face of the embarrassing defeat of his party and
colleagues still sees the army as an institution whose principal role is to
defend the narrow interests of the ruling aristocracy and not the whole
nation. The military therefore is regarded as an instrument of thwarting any
attempt to oppose the establishment.
But any self-respecting army should never allow itself to be turned
into a private security company providing round-the-clock protection to a
political party, especially one with a record-breaking testimony of failure.
Zanu PF has in little more than two decades reduced our once
professional army to an extension of the party and not a protector of the
common good in the country. Statements by service chiefs on the eve of the
elections that they would not salute a president drawn from the opposition
however failed to cow the voters into maintaining Mugabe and his legion of
flunkies as national leaders.
I see Matonga’s statement on Wednesday as an invitation to the men in
uniform to protect Zanu PF losers rather than defend the nation.
Zanu PF information handlers were this week describing opposition
supporters celebrating victory before the official announcement of the
results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as an attempted coup.
Here is a calculated attempt to bring in the army to subvert the will
of the people. The people of Zimbabwe VOTED to remove this corrupt and
hopelessly incompetent Zanu PF government. That is not a coup. It is called
democracy but not many politicians are bright enough to realise this.
There is no scope for any democratic administration to owe its
existence to a pliant military command. The military is not a political
party and should therefore stay out of politics especially during the
election period. This is a major task the successor government to our
current rulers has to grapple with.
The country’s political landscape is littered with too many citadels
of patronage which have nothing to do with national development but
political entrenchment. The army should therefore not be employed to protect
these outposts of depravity nor should it become a centre of patronage
We are looking forward to more Bright ideas from the backbencher from