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Uncertainty About Zimbabwe Election Grows

VOA

By Peta Thornycroft
Harare
18 February 2008

There is growing uncertainty in Zimbabwe as politicians and analysts realize
that President Robert Mugabe is likely to face a run off after the March 29
elections. For VOA, Peta Thornycroft in Harare reports on the concerns.

Harare political scientist Eldred Masungurure says he believes the ruling
party - Zanu PF - will try to bring off what he describes as "an electoral
coup" when the results of the presidential balloting emerge after the
elections next month.

He and other independent political analysts do not believe it will be
possible for Mr. Mugabe to win an absolute majority, as for the first time
in his political career he faces not one, but two strong candidates.

Mr. Mugabe would, Masungurure says, have to do massive amounts of rigging to
win a majority.

Many independent analysts say that Morgan Tsvangirai, founding president of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was cheated out of a narrow
victory in the last presidential poll in 2002. Mr. Tsvangirai has
considerable support in many urban areas, particularly in the capital,
Harare.

One of the challengers President Mugabe is facing, Simba Makoni, had been a
life long member of the ruling Zanu PF until he was expelled earlier this
month, and has held senior positions in both the government and the party.
Mr. Makoni says he has considerable support from many of his former
colleagues in Zanu PF. Analysts say that means it will be more difficult for
Mr. Mugabe's supporters to rig this election undetected.

Analysts point out that President Mugabe does not know which of the
legislative candidates on the Zanu PF ticket will support Simba Makoni in
the presidential poll.

Masungurure says it is hard to image that an already divided Zanu PF, having
contested parliamentary, local government and senate elections on March 29,
would be prepared or even able to stage a second round of presidential
voting just 21 days later.

He said Zimbabweans should not be surprised if President Mugabe decides to
break electoral laws if, as seems most likely, he does not win a clear
majority.

He said Zimbabweans should look carefully at what happened in Kenya last
month when President Mwai Kibaki quickly had himself sworn into power before
any legal objections to the result could be launched by the opposition.

Patrick Chinamasa, a spokesman for Zanu PF who is also minister of justice,
says a second round in the presidential poll will not be necessary as
president Mugabe will win "resoundlingly." He described the opposition as
"make shift" and he said Mr. Mugabe's opponents do not have a "platform or
any cohesion."


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Divisions cause turmoil in Zim ruling party

Mail and Guardian

Angus Shaw | Harare, Zimbabwe

18 February 2008 05:28

Zimbabwe's ruling party, shaken by internal divisions and a
potentially strong election challenge to President Robert Mugabe, will expel
candidates running against its official nominees in the March vote, the
official media said on Monday.

An independent observer group, meanwhile, reported widespread
attempts by Zanu-PF members to buy votes in the ruling party's nominating
contests before the March 29 presidential, parliamentary and local council
elections.

Didymus Mutasa, a senior party official, said that in a number
of key election districts more than one Zanu-PF candidate had registered to
contest the same seat. Such duplicate registrations threaten to split the
ruling-party vote to the benefit of the opposition.

"Given the large number of such cases, we will meet as a party
and deliberate on how best we can deal with that," Mutasa told the state
Herald newspaper.

"Indiscipline can even be seen among senior party officials and
that cannot be accepted," he said, adding that candidates who refuse to
withdraw will be kicked out of the party.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni upset Zanu-PF earlier this
month by announcing that he was splitting from the party to stand against
Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain 27 years ago and is
blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into unprecedented economic crisis.

Makoni has called for other disillusioned members of the ruling
party to stand under his banner as independent candidates. He has already
picked up pledges of support from a breakaway faction of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

In the town of Chinhoyi, north-west of Harare, witnesses said
Makoni supporters were threatened by ruling-party militants as "traitors" in
tense scenes at the town's nomination court on Friday, when the election
nomination process ended.

The court also accepted ruling-party nominations long after its
official closing time but barred some independent and opposition hopefuls on
the grounds that they were late, said witnesses who asked not to be named
for fear of reprisals. One independent who successfully registered fled his
nearby home after it was raided by secret police agents of the state Central
Intelligence Organization on Friday night, they said.

It was not clear exactly how many of Zimbabwe's 210 constituency
districts had rival Zanu-PF candidates, as details of nominations were still
being compiled. But at least five ruling-party strongholds were affected.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, an independent observer
group, said in its latest bulletin on Monday that its observers countrywide
have reported "widespread vote buying in Zanu-PF" in the party's primary
elections.

Many aspiring candidates are selling scarce commodities such as
soap, cooking oil and sugar to the electorate at heavily discounted prices,
it said.

Near the southern town of Masvingo, a government minister
distributed free sports kit and money for school fees. A second minister
allegedly promised voters scarce cellphone lines, the support group said.

It said the state Grain Marketing Board "played an active role
in the campaigns", using the corn meal staple to entice voters to support
favoured ruling-party nominees. In western Zimbabwe, people attending a
ruling-party rally received 50kg bags of corn meal while others were given
10kg bags of rice.

Observers also reported fraud in voter registration in some
areas.

In one case, 50 ruling-party supporters were added to voters'
lists after being given a residential address that turned out to be a hair
salon where no one lived, the bulletin said.

Elections since 2000 were all marred by violence, intimidation
and allegations of vote rigging. -- Sapa-AP


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Police beat up Anglican parishioners, arrest high court officials

Monsters and Critics

Feb 18, 2008, 11:27 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - Riot police have arrested the Harare deputy sheriff
trying to open the Anglican cathedral for a Sunday service, the cathedral
church warden Sekai Chibaya said Monday.

The cathedral had been illegally occupied by a renegade pro-ruling party
ex-priest and baton-charged parishioners waiting for the church to be opened
and to begin a service, witnesses said.

Watched by a group of about 20 parishioners on Sunday, a locksmith
accompanying the deputy-sheriff - whose name was not immediately available -
had just used a bolt cutter to open the padlock on the gate to the cathedral
when a squad of riot police drove up, Chibaya said.

The court official was arguing with a police detail and two priests loyal to
dismissed former bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga challenging a writ of
execution granted by a high court judge on Friday.

'We thought ... help has come at last,' she said. 'They jumped out the truck
and started beating us, and bundled us - including the deputy-sheriff - in
the truck and took us to the charge office. I was in shock,' she said.

The incident was the latest in the struggle between Kunonga, dismissed by
the Anglican synod of Central Africa, the Church's supreme authority in the
region, after he unilaterally set up his own diocese in Harare, and the
newly enthroned replacement bishop, Sebastian Bakare.

Bakare has been trying to assert court orders giving him and his clergy
control of the Cathedral of St Mary and All Saints, the senior parish in
Zimbabwe.

Three weeks ago, a high court judge declared that Kunonga, a militant
supporter of President Robert Mugabe, had no legal rights to be in the
cathedral following the synod's appointment of Bakare.

He ignored the order, and attempts to have Bakare enthroned in the cathedral
two weeks ago were thwarted by heavily-built young men blocking the church
entrance.

No action was taken by police, despite being shown the court order.

The enthronement had to be held instead in a local sports stadium. The
cathedral has been locked since then, except briefly for poorly attended
services held by Kunonga.

On Friday last week, Bakare's officials obtained a writ of execution order
for the deputy sheriff to ensure Kunonga allowed the cathedral to be opened
for services by synod-endorsed clergy.

On Sunday at noon, three priests and several parishioners arrived at the
cathedral where the gates were locked. Immediately after the locks were
broken, a policeman arrived, followed by two pro-Kunonga priests who have
also been dismissed by the synod and barred the deputy-sheriff from going
any further.

They claimed they had appealed against the order, but refused to show the
court official the documents, Chibaya said. The deputy sheriff stood his
ground, but then the riot police attacked.

Most of the others ran away. One man was badly beaten on the arm, she said.
They left the two Kunonga priests alone. 'The deputy sheriff and his
locksmith were not harmed,' she said.

'The parishioners, their priests and Kunonga's men were held for two hours
and then released,' she said. 'We wanted to go back with the deputy sheriff
to start our service but they detained him.'

'They said they wanted a statement for him. We held our service in the
cathedral car park instead. Lawyers were planning to draft an application
for Kunongas arrest for contempt of court,' Chibaya said.

Kunonga was given a farm taken from its former white owner under Mugabe's
lawless seizure of white-owned farm land that began 2000, and then drove off
the workers and their families living there.

He was brought before a special ecclesiastical court in 2005 where he was
accused of inciting ruling party militants to murder pro- democracy party
supporters and of abusing church property.

The court adjourned indefinitely.


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Journalist arrested as police fight on behalf of Kunonga

zimbabwejournalists.com

18th Feb 2008 18:24 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - ARMED riot police beat up Anglican parishioners at the Cathedral
and arrested five including a Studio 7 Correspondent Fazila Mahomed for
allegedly operating as a journalist without state accreditation from the
Media and Information Commission.

Some of those arested include a member of the Vabvuwi Guild, a men's
fellowship in the Anglican Church Evison Bhonzo and the Churchwarden for the
Cathedral only identified as Mrs Chibaya and three others whose identities
could not be immediately confirmed.

All parishioners were not charged and returned to continue with their church
service, outside the cathedral after former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga
continued to defy Judge President Rita Makarau's judgment that Anglicans in
Harare Diocese whould share the church services until the dispute has been
finalised. They sustained some bruises on their limbs.

The Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights said it condemned in the strongest
terms the high-handedness of the state police against innocent people
worshipping God, let alone the assault of a journalist carrying out her
professional duties. Failure to produce a MIC accreditation card does not in
anyway warrant harassment or threats.

"This display of unnecessary bravado by the police demonstrates the lengths
at which they will go to deny Zimbabweans their right to worship," the
association said.

"Fazila was merely standing by the church witnessing as the deputy sherriff
attempted to break the locks at the cathedral to allow parishioners entry
into the church when the police arrested her."

The response of the police has shown the world how crude and senseless the
police can become when faced with unarmed citizens exercising their rights.
Given the forthcoming elections, we urge the media to be watchful of
overzealous policemen who act without thought.

She was represented at the police station by lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe of the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights while the parishioners were represented by
Diocesan registrar Mike Chingore and Diocesan Secretary Christopher Tapera.

The police confiscated her tape recorder and headphones.

Fazila is set to return to the police station tomorrow in the company of her
lawyer to know her fate.


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Makoni - the dangers he faces

Zimbabwe Today

How Mugabe's men plan to sabotage Simba Makoni's bid for the Presidency

Zanu-PF's top operatives are wasting no time in setting out to destroy the
Makoni campaign before it even gets off the ground. A high level security
meeting was held on Wednesday, plans were formulated, and on Thursday a top
secret Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) memo was sent out. As usual I
was one of the first to see it.

It's a chilling document. It emanates from the office of the CIO director
general Happyton Bonyongwe, it is coded DG/sm11, and it puts all national
and provincial security operatives, spies, thugs and bullyboys on "condition
red."

The memo describes Makoni as "too hot to handle", says that in challenging
Zim1 (CIO code for Mugabe) he is posing a big security risk, and adds that
the political atmosphere is charged up, and "citizens are restless and ready
to vote out Zim 1."

This last is an extraordinary statement. Apparently the top CIO men believe
Mugabe could lose. But they are also intent on making sure it doesn't
happen, by all fair, and as you will see if you read on, by all foul means.

The memo essentially summarises the CIO's anti-Makoni plans. First, the
document instructs: "Be advised to temporarily suspend all minor operations
in your provinces for RDWK ahead."

"RDWK"? That was a new one on me. My CIO source who showed me the memo told
me that, almost unbelievably, it stands for "Real dirty work." That
certainly makes sense in the light of what follows.

"Assign your trusted operatives to ensure a tough ride for Makoni... Place
Makoni, his financial backers and disgruntled civil servants who might
support him under top 24 hour surveillance. Employ all RDWK strategies
without restraint. Mobilise street kids in urban areas, hire them, then
plant them at all Makoni's rallies to cause violence. The police will be on
hand to arrest rioters. Those arrested will be detained in jails until after
the elections."

"Without restraint" are the key words in the above paragraph. We know what
that means. Intimidation, violence, beatings...

And for the first time in my experience this document gives written proof of
how Zanu-PF uses food aid for its political ends. It reads: "In rural areas
keep track on Non-Governmental Organisations when distributing relief food.
Ensure that no non-card carrying Zanu-PF individual gets food. Feed
villagers wth any tarnishing information on Makoni that you can think of."

There is more, too much to be contained in this space. It's all frightening.
We know that Simba Makoni is a man of integrity and intelligence. We will
soon find out if he is a man of courage. At least if he reads this - or some
of his people read it - then he will know a little of what to expect in the
coming weeks.

The elections take place on March 29. Not long to go. Ladies and gentlemen,
my fellow citizens, to paraphrase an old Chinese curse, we live in
interesting times.

Posted on Friday, 15 February 2008 at 12:10


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So the battle begins

Zimbabwe Today

Monday, 18 February 2008

It was Nomination Day on Friday - and signs of the Zanu-PF split were there
for all to see

Speculation about just who is supporting who in the forthcoming battle
between Mugabe and Makoni has been erratic to say the least - and I include
my own prophecies in that. But on Friday, when the Nomination Court opened,
we could at last identify some of those Zanu-PD figures brave enough to defy
the President and his clique.

The moment of truth arrived when it came time for parliamentary candidates
to file their nomination papers. Chaos reigned, as several top Zanu-PF
politicians defied instructions to stand aside in favour of the alleged
"winners" of the party's primary elections.

Instead they went ahead and filed their own papers, the result of which will
be that in places two Zanu-PF names will stand for the same seat. Ask Robert
Mugabe what he thinks of that, and you are likely to get an uncivil reply.

Today it's my pleasure to record the names of some of those brave enough to
put their heads above the parapet.

Let us salute Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, Senator Dzikamai
Mavhaire, Eddison Zvobgo Jnr., and acting chief executive of the Zimbabwe
Football Association, Henrietta Rushwaya.

Mumbengegwi registered as a Zanu-PF candidate for the Chivi/Mwenezi House of
Senate seat, which means he will clash with the Mugabe nominee, former
Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe.

Mavhaire - distinguished in being the first party member, 11 years ago, to
call on Mugabe to retire - will go head to head with another Mugabe
appointee, Maina Mandava.

Zvobgo also defied the party directive, and will stand against businessman
and Mugabe appointee Edmund Mhere. And Henrietta Rushwaya has a truly
heavyweight contest on her hands, as she stands against the mighty madam
Shuvai Mahofa for the Gutu South constituency.

All this has maddened the Mugabe camp, as National Commissar Elliot
Manyika's tones revealed. "One cannot flout party procedure and expect to
get away with it," he told me. "I assure you there will be retribution this
week, no matter how senior a party member."

Mreanwhile Simba Makoni played it cool, refusing to claim that these rebels
were necessarily joining his campaign. "If they want to join us they can,"
is all he would say.

Predictions are, many of them will.


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Maize hoarded for vote buying

The Zimbabwean

Monday, 18 February 2008 15:24
BY STAFF REPORTER
HARARE
About 300 000 tonnes of maize believed to have been imported from
Malawi, South Africa and other countries have been stockpiled by Zanu (PF)
at GMB depots around the country for vote buying.
The party's political commissar was this week preparing to launch the
election campaign by President Robert Mugabe this weekend, which includes
distributing all sorts of things to the electorate – maize, scotch carts,
ox-drawn ploughs and fertilisers, although the latter is no longer required
at this late stage in the agricultural season.
It was difficult by the time of going to press to establish where
Mugabe would hold his rallies but we established that GMB depots in most of
Mashonaland had received directives to prepare to release maize stocks they
have been hoarding.
Senior officials at the GMB depot in Harare confirmed to The
Zimbabwean that close to 100 000 tonnes of maize were ready to be dispatched
for Mugabe's campaign. We also established that depots in Murehwa, Bindura,
Chegutu and Marondera have been hoarding stocks.
"We have stocks of up to 20 000 tonnes and some of them have been
coming through Mozambique. We have been given instructed to start preparing
for dispatching the maize," a GMB source at Murehwa depot said. The
Zimbabwean witnessed recently four haulage trucks coming from the Nyamapanda
border off-loading maize at Murehwa depot, which official there said had
been purchased by the government from Malawi.


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Mugabe's rigging nightmare

The Zimbabwean

Monday, 18 February 2008 15:19
John Makumbe
I have consistently insisted that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have always
rigged the elections in order to "win" and retain power since 1985. I still
hold that view and I suspect that this time around, Mugabe may find it
rather difficult to rig the elections for a number of reasons. For starters,
Mugabe and his crumbling party do not really know who their friends and
their foes are in this power game come March 29. They do not know who among
the persons responsible for the rigging machinery are loyal to Mugabe or to
Makoni or to Tsvangirai.
They are not certain that the rigging machinery is not just as split
as Zanu (PF) is given the numerous independent electoral candidates that
filed their nomination papers last Friday. What if some of the key persons
responsible for the rigging machinery are more inclined to rig the ballot in
favour of either Tsvangirai or Makoni rather than Mugabe? Worse still, what
if all the "riggers" decide not to rig the elections and allow the best
candidates to win? This is a real nightmare to Mugabe who is fully aware
that he can never win a contest against either Tsvangirai or Makoni.
The second reason why it might be tricky for Mugabe and Zanu (PF) to
get away with a stolen election this time is that the Electoral Act in
chapter 2:13 deals with the issues of what happens if none of the
presidential candidates obtains a majority of the total number of votes that
will have been cast in a presidential election.
Section 110(2) of the Electoral Act provides that "Where two or more
candidates are nominated and no candidate receives a majority of the total
number of the valid votes cast, a second election", must be held within 21
days after the previous election. Section 110(4) provides that in the second
election, or what we normally refer to as the run off, only the two
candidates who will have received the highest and second highest number of
valid votes cast in the first election will be eligible to contest.
But if the top two candidates receive an equal number of votes in the
first election, then Parliament must, as soon as practicable, after the
declaration of the results of that election, meet as an electoral college to
elect one of the two candidates as President by secret ballot and without
prior debate. In the light of the sudden break up or splits within both the
MDC and Zanu (PF), the results of such a parliamentary ballot could be very
interesting, indeed.
We live in exciting times and in an exciting country. It is therefore
quite clear that an absolute majority is required for any presidential
candidate to be declared the winner. Any results that fail to produce a
candidate with a fifty-one per cent of the valid votes will require a run
off. In the forthcoming election, with three rather strong candidates, the
possibility of all the candidates obtaining less than the requisite 51% or
higher cannot be ruled out.
The need for as many people to turn out to vote cannot be
over-emphasized in this election. It is absolutely imperative that the
various parties and candidates that are contesting this election mobilise as
many voters as possible in order to make vote rigging very difficult for
those of a deceitful inclination. As noted earlier, the rigging machinery
may itself be divided with regards to whom to rig the election in favour of.
The best practice would therefore be to allow the people of this
wretched country to speak through their votes. Sheer numbers may well
incapacitate the Zanu (PF) rigging machinery this time around. God bless
Zimbabwe.


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Police stock up on tear-gas and grenades

The Zimbabwean

Monday, 18 February 2008 15:12
BY STAFF REPORTER
HARARE
The Mugabe regime has reportedly splashed out US$2m in scarce foreign
currency to import tear-gas and other anti-riot material from China and
Israel.
According to sources, tear-gas canisters were delivered to the Police
Support Unit Headquarters in Harare, together with pepper spray, toxic dye
and grenades such as those used on University of Zimbabwe students in 2002.
Several students were left with permanent injuries.
"These materials are already being distributed to police stations
across the whole country," a senior source at PGHQ said. "Some shall be
handed over to the army and Police Support Unit. Some we have used before
but others, such as a toxic purple dye imported from China, are wholly new
to us but compatible with the water canons we have."
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said: "I cannot discuss security
matters", while police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said he was not the right
person to comment on the issue.
"Those materials were imported from Israel and China at a cost around
US$2m," a government official said, on condition of anonymity. "Some of the
things were purchased from the same manufacturer that supplied the water
canons in 2002."
In 2002, the Mugabe regime bought anti-riot equipment from Kibbutz
Beit Alfa, which included customised anti-riot tankers, gas masks and
microscopic laser guns, similar to those used by Israeli forces against the
Palestinian protesters in their bitter clashes. The tankers that were
supplied to Zimbabwe are of model RCU 4500 I based on an advanced
computer-controlled jet pulse system and can fire up to 500 metres.


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Mugabe faces defiance as officials haggle over seats

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 02/19/2008 00:16:47
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faced open defiance on Friday last week when party
members defeated in primary elections, including one of his ministers,
successfully registered to stand as Zanu PF candidates in parliamentary and
senatorial polls set for March 29.

President Mugabe last week presided over a Zanu PF politburo meeting that
approved Zanu PF candidates for the joint elections for the senate and
parliament to run concurrently with elections for president.

But Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, having lost in primary elections to
former Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe, still went ahead and filed papers as
a Zanu PF candidate in Chivi/Mwenezi.

Dzikamai Mavhaire also defied the party by filing papers as a Zanu PF senate
candidate for Masvingo despite losing to Maina Mandava in a party primary.

In Masvingo Central, Eddison Zvobgo (Junior) registered to contest against
the official Zanu PF candidate, Edmund Mhere.

Nation Madongorere filed his papers to contest against official party
candidate Joseph Made in the Makoni West House of Assembly race.

Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya was also sucked into the Zanu PF
chaos after filing her papers as a Zanu PF candidate in Gutu South where
Shuvai Mahofa is seeking re-election.

Didymus Mutasa, the party’s secretary for administration suggested a re-run
of primary elections could be ordered, and losing candidates forced to stand
down.

But that could create fresh problems as primary elections winners would
unlikely accept a rerun.

Mutasa said: “… one available option we have in some constituencies is to
order a rerun in deserving cases under properly supervised conditions and
ask the losing candidate to withdraw.

"Indiscipline can even be seen among senior party members and that cannot be
accepted.”

President Mugabe faced an open rebellion two weeks ago when Simba Makoni, a
former finance minister and member of the Zanu PF politburo declared he
would challenge the 84-year-old leader.

Makoni has claimed he has the backing of senior Zanu PF officials, which if
true could represent the biggest internal revolt against Mugabe since he
came to power in 1980.


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MDC to exploit from Zanu PF division

zimbabwejournalists.com

18th Feb 2008 13:02 GMT

By Ian Nhuka

BULAWAYO - The split in Zanu –PF, following the decision by former politburo
member, Simba Makoni to gun for the presidency in next month’s elections
have brightened the chances of the mainstream faction of the divided
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), of
winning the plebiscite.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for the MDC said because of the chaos reigning
in Zanu-PF, the opposition party could be the biggest winner as the ruling
party’s vote is likely to be split between President Mugabe andMakoni.

“We are up against a bitterly divided Zanu –PF,” said Chamisa, yesterday.
“This is probably the first time that has Zanu –PF
split like that and that gives plenty room for our party to win. We are
confident.”

Makoni, a respected political figure, businessman and former Zanu-PF
politburo member successfully filed his nomination papers to contest the
election as an independent last Friday, along with President Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and another independent Langton Towungana.

It is said Makoni enjoys the support of senior figures in Zanu –PF, chief
among them the powerful Retired General, Solomon Mujuru, his wife
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, former Home Affairs Minister, Dumiso Dabengwa
and many others.

“So it is not far-fetched if I say that the presence of such high profile
figures in the Makoni faction would split the Zanu –PF vote,” said Chamisa.

He added that the disunity in the ruling party was also dramatised last
Friday, when probably for the first time since independence, dozens of
Zanu –PF candidates filed their nomination papers to compete against each
other in certain constituencies.

The Zanu –PF officials who registered to compete against fellow party
members did so after the party failed to resolve widespread disputes during
its primary elections.

The rows over the conduct of the primaries saw at least three ruling party
aspiring candidates winning court orders against their losses.
For example, in Masvingo Central House of Assembly constituency Eddison
Zvobgo (Junior) successfully filed his nomination papers and will slug it
out against the official Zanu-PF candidate, Edmund Mhere.
Another notable seat where two ruling party candidates will fight against
each other is the Masvingo senatorial seat where maverick politician,
Dzikamai Mavhaire is pitted against Maina Mandava, said to be the official
Zanu – PF candidate.

Finance Minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi registered as a Zanu-PF candidate to
challenge Josaya Hungwe for the Chivi-Mwenezi senatorial seat. In addition,
Tranos Huruva and Clifford Mumbengegwi,both registered as Zanu-PF candidates
for the Chivi
North House of Assembly seat in Masvingo.

In Manicaland’s Makoni West, Nation Madongorere registered as a Zanu-PF
candidate although the party had endorsed Joseph Made, as the official party
candidate for the House of Assembly seat. Bongayi Nemayire and Sheila
Mahere, will also contest on a Zanu-PF ticket in the Makoni North House of
Assembly seat.

“They are fighting against themselves,” Chamisa said. “Even if Mugabe wants
to rig against this time, it would be difficult for him to win.”


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Makoni can split military — MDC group

Business Day

18 February 2008


HARARE — A splinter group of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party said on Friday it was backing Simba Makoni
because the former finance minister had the capacity to split the military,
the bedrock of President Robert Mugabe’s power.

Makoni, a member of the ruling Zanu (PF) ’s politburo until his
expulsion last week, shook Zimbabwe’s ruling elite when he announced he
would challenge Mugabe in next month’s presidential elections.

Makoni filed his papers to stand in the polls as an independent
against Mugabe and MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The leader of the breakaway MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, said
that though his group backed Makoni’s presidential bid, it would field its
own candidates in parliamentary and local government elections taking place
on the same day as the presidential ballot.

Mutambara, whose group initially wanted to back Tsvangirai but
failed to reach agreement, said his group would back Makoni because of “his
strategic vision and track record of achievement as opposed to the
short-term and narrow-mindedness of other opposition pretenders”. ZimOnline


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Gono claims escaped arrest in December

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 02/18/2008 19:16:50
ZIMBABWE’S central bank governor has sensationally claimed that political
rivals within the ruling Zanu PF party hatched a plan to have him arrested
during his vacation in December on allegations he helped a private firm
siphon $21 trillion from the national fiscus.

Rserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono said he had been vindicated by
a court ruling last week which absolved the central bank of any impropriety
in releasing $21 trillion to a local company which had promised to exchange
it for scarce foreign currency.

The RBZ wanted to secure foreign currency for the purchase of agricultural
equipment under a government programme.

"Those in positions of influence and authority wanted me arrested. They
thought my arrest would finish me off and they hoped I would pale into
insignificance,” Gono told New Zimbabwe.com in an exclusive interview.

"Luckily for me, there was someone sober in the police who felt they had to
give the court case a chance. But my enemies were already seeing me in
prison garb. The truth has now come out for all to see.

"I have been vindicated but I am pained that even journalists joined this
grand scheme to have me arrested on allegations raised in court by a
prosecutor.”

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor broke his silence three days
after a Harare magistrate cleared him of releasing $21 trillion to Flatwater
Investments improperly, hardly a month after the same court accused the
central bank of raiding the fiscus for the benefit the same firm.

In a ruling which appeared like an apology to Gono, Harare Magistrate
Mishrod Guvamombe said the state had erroneously applied for an order
seeking the arrest of the RBZ officials, yet the facts later presented in
court showed the central bank had acted above board in its dealings with
Flatwater Investments.

Said Guvamombe: "An erroneous impression was earlier created that trillions
of dollars were dished out under unclear circumstances by the central bank
to undeserving people, and that was Flatwater. It was clearly proved by the
state that there was a contract between Flatwater and the RBZ.”

The ruling flew in the face of an unprecedented attack on Gono by prosecutor
Tawanda Zvekare who accused the central bank of releasing the money to
Flatwater Investments with "nothing, totally nothing" in documentation. He
intimated that a verbal agreement between the RBZ and Flatwater could have
been made in a beer hall or a nightclub.

Zvekare charged Gono had entered into a verbal agreement with Flatwater
Investments proprietors - Tazviwana Chivaviro and Nigel Marozhe - who were
sentenced last week by Guvamombe for prejudicing the state after they failed
to import tractors after being awarded the tender by the RBZ.

But Gono was unforgiving to the prosecutor, claiming that he had swapped
roles for a tormentor and persecutor.

Said Gono: "There was no coincidence that all these inflammatory articles by
the media and allegations of unethical and corrupt conduct by the governor
came in January.

“This was a grand scheme by my enemies who again last year during my
vacation came up with the story that I had used the taxpayers’ money to buy
a Mercedes Brabus. Everyone knows how that story collapsed upon my return
from leave.

"While I don't contest court decisions, I defend myself to win over malice.
Reckless statements such as those made by the prosecutor do not help anyone.
People begin to lose confidence in the justice delivery system."

The RBZ chief has had a love and hate relationship with some senior ruling
party officials who accuse him of harbouring presidential ambitions. In
turn, Gono says the officials are “cash barons” conducting illegal
activities which are undermining the country’s economy.

Gono has repeatedly quashed stories linking him to the Zanu PF succession
battle which appears to have taken a different direction since the
announcement by former Finance Minister Simba Makoni that he will contest
President Robert Mugabe in next month elections.

Makoni is reportedly backed by a faction belonging to retired army general
Solomon Mujuru who has previously shown his disdain towards Gono and his
policies.


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ZEC stops ZESN from conducting voter education



By Tichaona Sibanda
18 February 2008

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission last week barred the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network from conducting voter education.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us the ZEC is using an
amendment to the electoral act contained in the country’s constitution, to
stop ZESN from conducting any voter education.

‘Apparently there is a law in the constitution that requires anyone wishing
to carry out such an exercise to have a licence from the government. There
are indications from ZESN that they will soon have that licence so that they
can continue with their work,’ Muchemwa said.

Analysts have raised fears that because of the complicated electoral
process, the March 29th election will result in the highest number of spoilt
ballot papers since 1980. Voters in most urban areas will be required to
vote for several candidates at onec - for president, parliament (House of
Assembly and Senate) and local authorities.

Muchemwa said while ZESN were shocked at this latest directive, the
organisation hopes to continue with its civil education campaign. This
campaign allows them to operate without any approval from the government.
Civil education is very broad and deals with human rights and developmental
issues in the community, while voter education teaches people about the
electoral process.

‘Lawyers are saying there is no difference between what ZESN were doing
before they were asked to stop and the civic education they intend to embark
on now. It’s the same exercise with a different name,’ Muchemwa added.

With just six weeks to go before the crucial elections, there are fears ZEC
is lagging behind in every department.

‘As we speak today, ZEC has yet to publish anywhere the constituency and
ward boundaries, the number and location of the polling stations, or how
voters can tell which wards they now fall under. It looks like their
operations are under financed because they lack capacity in whatever they
do,’ said Muchemwa.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Four candidates to contest the presidential race



By Tichaona Sibanda
18 February 2008

A fourth presidential candidate last week filed his nomination papers to
contest next month’s elections. The Zimbabwe Election Commission presiding
officer Ignatius Mushangwe confirmed that Mr. Langton Toungana had
successfully lodged his papers.

No one seem to know who Toungana is or which party he represents. So far he
has not held a press conference or presented his election manifesto. But
some analysts believe his entry into mainstream politics is a CIO plot,
aimed at trying to dilute the opposition vote.

Simon Muchemwa, our Harare correspondent, said Toungana’s registration to
stand as an independent could have been a last minute scheme by the CIO to
try and confuse the electorate, after Makoni entered the presidential race.

‘These are last-minute plots that never work. We have had independents who
have registered to stand against Mugabe in the past, but as soon as
elections are over, it appears most of these candidates evaporate never to
be seen again,’ Muchemwa said.

Three others were duly nominated on the same day - Robert Mugabe, the
Zanu-PF leader, Simba Makoni, Independent candidate, and Morgan Tsvangirai
the MDC president.

Nomination papers for William Gwata of the little-known Christian Democratic
party were rejected for failing to satisfy the criteria, while former
ZANU-PF official Daniel Shumba was barred from submitting his papers after
turning up at the close of nominations. But a breakaway faction from the MDC
led by Arthur Mutambara did not put up a candidate and decided to support
Makoni. Mutambara has opted to contest the Zengeza West seat in Chitungwiza.

But Makoni insisted after filing his papers: ‘I am not in an alliance with
anyone. I am an independent candidate and I am standing alone.’

Meanwhile the MDC’s policy co-ordinator Eddie Cross finally managed to
register as a parliamentary candidate for Bulawayo South, after the
presiding officer in Bulawayo had initially declared him as an alien, a
non-citizen.

Cross told us he was born in Bulawayo, grew up in the country all his life
and has never held any other citizenship and travelled most of my life on a
Zimbabwe passport.

‘I took the issue to the High Court and won an order from the Judge who told
the Nomination Court to treat me as a citizen and to act accordingly.
Eventually at 9.30pm I was declared a candidate for the Bulawayo South
constituency,’ Cross said.

He refuted claims in the state media that he had been barred from standing
as a candidate because he had been ‘declared insolvent’ in 1994.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Mnangagwa at the helm of Zanu

Africa News, Netherlands

Posted on Monday 18 February 2008 - 16:09

Munyaradzi Mugadza, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
After being at the helm of censuring former finance minister for his bid
to contest the presidential seat and presenting Mugabe's election
registration papers to the nomination court in Harare, cabinet minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken the centre stage ahead of the harmonised polls.

Mnangagwa was in the past touted as among the succession race together
with Dr Simba Makoni before the latter decided to stand as independent
candidate because of claims that Mugabe wanted to die in power.

When Simba Makoni called for a press conference to announce his plans to
fight the Mugabe led Zanu-PF, Mnangagwa was the first cabinet minister to
break the news that Dr Makoni had expelled himself from the ruling party as
enshrined by the constitution despite Makoni's argument that there was no
such clause in the constitution of Zanu-PF.

Also to reporters speaking after presenting Mugabe's nomination papers,
Emerson Mnangagwa, said Zanu-PF would as usual win the election come March
29.

"We're very confident of victory, 99.9% confident," president Mugabe
recently revealed to the nation, adding that he was ready for the polls
raring to go although the media were awash with reports of Simba Makoni who
sneaked out of the ruling party ship.

The opposition was concerned the elections would not be free. Mugabe had
been widely accused of rigging the last three major elections and of using
security forces to quell dissent.

However, four aspiring Presidents namely President Mugabe, MDC faction
leader Morgan Tsvangirai , Dr Simba Makoni independent and little known Mr
Langton Towungana.

There was also drama as at the nomination court when Mr Daniel Shumba of
the United People's Party, Mr Abel Ndlovu of Peace Action Freedom for All,
Mr William Gwata of the Christian Democratic Party and Advocate Justin
Chihota were disqualified as presidential candidates.

Some of their nomination papers were not in order while others failed to
beat the nomination deadline time. But it is Dr Simba Makoni who is going to
give Mugabe a tough test with recifying the economy as his major mandate.


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Analysts, Exiled Zimbabweans, See No Hope in Looming Elections

VOA

By Tendai Maphosa
London
18 February 2008

Next month Zimbabwe holds presidential, parliamentary and local elections -
the first time all three polls have been held together. But as Tendai
Maphosa reports from London, analysts and exiles do not believe the poll
will bring about the change the country needs for it to get out of the
political and economic crisis it has been mired in for years.

With the elections only a few weeks away there is already widespread
pessimism that the elections will not bring about the change Zimbabwe so
desperately needs. Among those expressing concern is the Britain's Africa
Minister, Mark Malloch-Brown, who said the odds are against a free and fair
election in Zimbabwe.

Alex Vines, who heads the Africa Program at the London-based think-tank,
Chatham House, echoed Malloch-Brown's sentiments. Vines is well acquainted
with Zimbabwe having worked there during the 1980s. He told VOA that while
the voting itself may be free this time, Zimbabweans remain so affected by
the violence and intimidation that marred past elections, the result of this
election is unlikely to reflect the electorate's real choices.

"I think it [is going to] be difficult given what's been happening in recent
years in Zimbabwe for a free and fair election; and the days themselves
maybe more free but [given] the context of the elections [it] is very
difficult to see how it will be an open, democratic and fear-free election,"
said Vines.

Since 2000, the contest has been between Mr. Mugabe's party and the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC came close to
winning the 2000 elections but has since been severely weakened by violence,
arrests on trumped-up charges as well as internal bickering.

But earlier this month the 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader's former minister
of finance, Simba Makoni, announced he will challenge the president as an
independent. Until he announced his run for the presidency, Makoni was a
senior member of the ruling Zanu-PF led by the president.

Vines notes Makoni's candidacy is an interesting development. But Dewa
Mavhinga, a Zimbabwean working with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum in
London, describes the excitement around Makoni's candidacy as overblown.

"The significance or otherwise of Makoni's candidature would have come in
his ability to split Zanu-PF," said Mavhinga. "But if he fails to draw
heavyweights from Zanu-PF then he is not significant at all. As he is an
independent without a political party or a grassroots base, he is unlikely
to unseat President Mugabe in the forthcoming poll."

The crisis in Zimbabwe has seen an estimated three million people - a
quarter of the total population - leave the country for political and
economic reasons. The most popular destinations have been neighboring South
Africa, Botswana and the United Kingdom. Launching his election manifesto
earlier this month, Makoni called on those abroad to come home and vote.
Mavhinga said it is unlikely Zimbabweans outside southern Africa will heed
the call.

"People, particularly in the diaspora, which would be made up of fairly
middle class and informed people are very aware of the shortcomings of the
electoral process and therefore would not put much faith in the process as
to travel all the way from the UK, New Zealand the U.S. to go and vote,"
added Mavhinga.

There seems to be a consensus that the opposition has to participate in
elections even though the electoral process is heavily tilted in favor of
Mr. Mugabe's party. Chatham House's Alex Vines says it is important for the
opposition to participate otherwise it becomes irrelevant.

"They are not unique in this regard, this is a conundrum that opposition
parties more regularly have found themselves in Africa but the history of
parties that completely boycott is actually more grim than those that
actually try and contest and have some space for negotiation and relevance,"
he said.

Alex Magaisa is a Zimbabwean lecturer at the University of Kent. He told VOA
that the upcoming elections are crucial for the country's recovery and he
hopes that the prevailing hardships may push the rural electorate, normally
intimidated into voting for Mr. Mugabe, into rejecting him this time. But,
he points out that the splintered opposition might hand Mr. Mugabe victory.

"If Mugabe wins, which is quite likely, there will be no progress, Zimbabwe
will continue to be a pariah state and that is the biggest obstacle," said
Magaisa. "The question that we are faced with is not whether we change the
system of government or democracy in the country, I think it's whether we
change the face of the national leadership."

Magaisa added a change in leadership would unlock a lot of possibilities for
Zimbabwe in terms of economic recovery and the democratic process. Most
analysts note that if past elections are anything to go by, Mr. Mugabe, who
has been in power since independence in 1980, will be celebrating another
victory. And exiled Zimbabweans, who have fled his regime, will still be
waiting for the change that means they can go home.


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Why SADC leaders keep backing Mugabe?

IOL

February 18 2008 at 02:07PM

Ten years ago, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki attracted the
world's attention when he announced the arrival of the African Renaissance.

But when the much heralded renaissance actually arrived in Zimbabwe
two years later, in February 2000, and threatened the power of Zanu-PF,
South Africa's leaders took fright and became paralysed as President Robert
Mugabe set out to extinguish by force the nascent Renaissance. This
paralysis eventually acquired a name: it became known as South Africa's
"quiet diplomacy".

Meanwhile, Mugabe went about systematically terrorising the supporters
of the opposition the agents of the African Renaissance and wrecked his
country's economy, with predictable results.

A quarter of Zimbabwe's people fled to neighbouring countries, that
is, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, but especially to its bigger and
richer neighbour, South Africa.

The South African government estimates that between two and
three-million Zimbabweans now live in SA, mainly as illegal immigrants.

Let us imagine that as a result of certain actions by a Chinese
government, 100-million Chinese took flight to India, another 100-million
poured into Russia and a further 100-million into Japan. If this were to
happen between China and its three neighbours, the outcome would be
predictable.

Japan, India and Russia would form a military alliance and in no time
their armies would force out the offending regime in Beijing.

Proportionally the 300-million Chinese referred to equates to the size
of the population that has fled Zimbabwe's economic and political crises and
taken refuge in the neighbouring countries.

Far from the governments of Zimbabwe's neighbouring states calling the
Zanu-PF government to order, they take every available occasion to wine and
dine Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe.

They even go so far as to demand that the rest of the world must also
wine and dine him.

Southern African governments recently demanded that Mugabe be invited
by Portugal to the Europe-Africa Summit in Lisbon last year despite the
travel ban to Europe by the European Union on Mugabe and his cronies.

Why are Zimbabwe's neighbours mollycoddling the very man who is
destabilising the Southern African region?

The simple answer is shortsighted leadership in Southern Africa,
coupled with fear of emerging more democratic political forces in Zimbabwe.

As Zimbabwean society became increasingly more sophisticated, its
citizens became better educated and more prosperous; they also demanded a
greater say in how their country was run.

The emergence of these new, well-organised, cosmopolitan and vocal
constituencies that were no longer interested in the politics of race, but
in the accountability of governance, has struck fear in the hearts of
established rulers, not only in Zimbabwe, but in the whole of Southern
Africa.

It is this fear of fundamental social and political change that
explains Southern African governments' solidarity with Zanu-PF and Mugabe.

Southern Africa is unique in Africa in that most of its countries are
still ruled by nationalist parties that fought against colonialism.

These ruling parties: Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe; MPLA in Angola; CCM in
Tanzania; Frelimo in Mozambique; BDP in Botswana; ANC in SA; or Swapo in
Namibia, consider themselves to be entitled to rule their countries forever
by virtue of having struggled against colonialism.

Their attitude to the mass of the people is paternalistic and they do
not accept that they should be accountable to them.

The new ANC president, Jacob Zuma, recently prophesied the ANC would
rule South Africa at least until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

All this is, of course, shortsighted and largely futile.

Nationalist parties and their governments in Southern Africa can no
more stop the march of progress and history any more than the colonialists
before them could.

During 1998-99, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), with the
support of many non-profit civil society organisations, established the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a new political party.

MDC's key objectives were to fight for a more democratic constitution,
to combat corruption and to re-organise the grossly mismanaged national
economy. The new party received support from many prominent Zimbabweans in
the professions, trade, industry, media and agriculture.

ZCTU seconded two of its leaders to the party - its general secretary,
Morgan Tsvangirai, became MDC president and Gibson Sibanda, its president,
became MDC's deputy president.

The rise of the MDC illustrated more than anything to date the arrival
of the African Renaissance. Twenty eight years ago, when Zimbabwe became
independent, its social structure was simple: its social classes were
defined by race.

At the apex of the social pyramid were the whites, who controlled the
economy, the professions, and the mass media in an alliance between public
and private sectors.

Below that were an intermediate stratum, barely differentiated, made
up of wage earners, many of them peasant migrant workers, with a sprinkle of
semi-professions and professionals who acted as teachers, nurses, a few
doctors and lawyers, shopkeepers, salespeople etc.

At the bottom of the pyramid was a vast mass of undifferentiated
peasants who eked a living off the land.

Twenty years after independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had become a
transformed society with a rich and complex social structure.

New black players were prominent in business, the mass media, and
other professions, organised labour and civil society in general.

In this fast changing and dynamic environment it was the ruling party,
Zanu-PF, that remained unchanged. In fact, the opposite had happened, it had
fossilised. It was estimated that no Zimbabwean below 35 supports Zanu-PF.

Within one year of its establishment, MDC, with the support of its
civil society allies, in February 2000 defeated Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF in a
referendum to adopt a new, more democratic constitution.

The new constitution would have drastically reduced presidential
powers and would have abolished the 30 unelected members of parliament
appointed by the president. This was what caused panic among the rulers of
Southern Africa.

A new type of party had emerged in the region that had been created by
the people and was therefore not controlled by the African elites.

Nationalism in Africa has always paraded itself as a movement of
people fighting for their liberation.

Reality was rather different.

African nationalism was a movement of a small, Westernised black elite
that emerged under colonialism. Its fight was always for its inclusion into
the colonial system so it, too, could benefit from the spoils of
colonialism.

This was why independence did not bring about economic transformation
in Africa as it did in Asia; if anything, independence entrenched the
economic inequalities inherited from colonialism.

The new black elites merely replaced the former white colonial elites,
but the exploitation of the black masses continued as before as did the
exploitation of Africa's natural resources, which were exported to the rest
of the world.

It is this that explains the fear of new age parties such as the MDC
by nationalist-ruled Southern African governments.

They fear that new age, people-created parties, will destroy the
neo-colonial system that the nationalist elites live off.

This also explains the support for the Mugabe regime by SADC states
despite the havoc Mugabe's actions cause in neighbouring countries.

Moeletsi Mbeki is deputy chairperson of the South African Institute of
International Affairs, an independent think tank based at Witwatersrand
University in Johannesburg.

This article was originally published on page 8 of Daily News on
February 18, 2008


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2008 Local government elections -advice for residents

18 February 2008

Prepared by ZESN and CHRA

Zimbabwe will have harmonized elections on 29 March 2008. This mean that
registered voters will have four choices to make. Amongst these choices,
voters will choose the President, Senator, Member of Parliament and the
Councilor of their choice. It is important for voters to know the boundaries
of their wards, polling stations as well as the contesting candidates.

What is the role of the Council?
Councils are responsible for the development and maintenance of the local
area. This means that they are very important since their decisions and
actions affect every person living in the area. Councils must ensure that
waste and refuse is collected, water and sewerage systems work, access to
health care by residents, construction and maintenance of roads and other
infrastructure. The council's main role is to ensure better livelihood by
improving the quality of social service delivery in a professional and
non-partisan manner.

Why vote for councilors?
Voting is every citizens` right and responsibility
For democracy to function at a local level
To ensure that the council spends its budget on the needs of the community
So that they carryout residents issues from particular wards for debate at
the council meetings
It's an opportunity for residents to influence local governance policy
through their representatives.

Who is a good councilor?
A person willing to serve the community
One who represents all the residents and not just his or her own supporters
A person who fully represents his ward at council meetings
A person who is accountable to the residents in a ward
A person who does not cause division along tribal or racist lines. (it is
only through common effort that the community will develop)

You and the councilor
The resident must participate in meetings called by the councilor
The resident must raise issues that the councilor must take to council for
debate
The councilor must call for regular meetings with all residents in this or
her ward
The councilor must give feedback on issues discussed at council meetings

On the Election Day
Remember that your vote is your secret
That every vote counts
Your vote is your right
Remember to take your identity particulars

Remember to participate peacefully before, during and after the elections
Farai Barnabas Mangodza
Chief Executive Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
Harare
ceo@chra.co.zw
www.chra.co.zw
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912638401, 011443578, 011862012 or email info@chra.co.zw,
programs@chra.co.zw and admin@chra.co.zw



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Zimbabwe must follow new laws for free elections: SAfrica

Yahoo News

Mon Feb 18, 7:48 AM ET

Pretoria (AFP) - Zimbabwe's elections next month will be free and fair as
long as new laws on security and the media are fully implemented, South
Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said on Monday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with her visiting New Zealand
counterpart Winston Peters, Dlamini Zuma said it was vital that legislation
which was agreed on between the Zimbabwean opposition and ruling party in
talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki is put into practice.

"If the Zimbabweans implement everything that have agreed upon during their
negotiations on matters that had kept them apart -- if they implement the
laws passed by parliament around security, information, media and all those
laws ... the prospects for free and fair elections should be good," she
said.

"The important thing is all those things should be implemented now in the
run-up to elections and during the elections."

Following the talks led by Mbeki, Zimbabwean lawmakers passed a new public
order and security act which should allow for opposition rallies to take
place except where police have reason to believe they could result in
unrest.

They also passed a new media law relaxing requirements for independent
broadcasters and newspapers to operate and compelling the media to give
equal coverage to all political parties.

However the opposition has accused President Robert Mugabe's government of
failing to follow the new laws in the build-up to a March 29 general
election after the authorities tried to ban one of its rallies last month.

And despite the new media law, the only daily newspapers and radio or
television stations to currently operate are all state-run.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has rejected Mbeki's
claims the mediation talks have been a success and urged the South African
leader to show some "couraage" in his dealings with his neighbour Mugabe.

Peters, whose government has imposed a series of sanctions against Mugabe
after he allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election, said New Zealand would only
have "positive thoughts for Zimbabwe" if the elections were fully
democratic.

"Unless an election is free and fair it is not an election. It is a jack up.
It is a construction... It is organised deceit," he told reporters.


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SA NGO urges government to send observers to Zimbabwe elections



By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 February, 2008

A non-governmental organisation that assists refugees in South Africa, has
called for the government there to immediately send election observers to
Zimbabwe. The group ‘People against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and
Poverty’ (Passop) also urged the authorities in South Africa to call for
media controls in Zimbabwe to be loosened before the polls on March 29th.
Passop is the group that organised protests against police brutality and
xenophobia at the Central Police Station in Cape Town earlier this month.
Director Braam Hanekom, was himself arrested several times for demonstrating
against the victimization of refugees by the police and immigration
officials.
Hanekom is quoted as saying: "We urge the government to send observers
immediately to closely examine this build-up to the elections. If there is
faith in the transparency of the elections we will see a significant
decrease in migration over the electoral period and even a possible reverse
migration.”
Meanwhile South Africa's Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on Monday
said that Zimbabwe's elections next month will be free and fair as long as
new laws on security and the media are fully implemented. She was speaking
at a joint press conference with her visiting counterpart from New Zealand,
Winston Peters.

Dlamini Zuma, whose government has been accused of being too soft on Robert
Mugabe, was referring to changes in the law that were agreed to at the SADC
initiated talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC. South Africa’s President Thabo
Mbeki mediated at the talks but he has so far failed to get Robert Mugabe to
implement the changes he agreed to.

Additionally, the authorities in Zimbabwe have banned several opposition
rallies and assaulted and arrested students and activists during separate
peaceful protests since the talks abruptly stopped without any signed
agreement. Dlamini Zuma did not make a reference to any of this.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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SA prepared to observe in Zim

News24

18/02/2008 17:36 - (SA)

Cape Town - South Africa was fully prepared to send election observers to
Zimbabwe if asked, said foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa on
Monday.

"If South Africa is invited to take part, either in its own right or as part
of the Southern African Development Community, it will not be found
wanting," he said.

Earlier on Monday, a South African refugee NGO, Passop, urged the government
to immediately send observers to Zimbabwe, which holds combined local,
parliamentary and presidential elections on March 29.

Passop said that, as a result of the hardships they faced in their own
country, there were more than three million immigrants from Zimbabwe in
South Africa.

Possibility of reverse migration

"If there is faith in the transparency of the elections we will see a
significant decrease in migration during the electoral period and even a
possible reverse," said Passop.

There was a serious threat of electoral violence in Zimbabwe, and in
previous elections there had been opposition allegations of vote-rigging.

"We urge the government to send observers immediately to closely examine
this build-up to the elections."

European Union and Commonwealth observers alike denounced as flawed the last
presidential election in 2002 that saw Robert Mugabe win a new term in
office, while an African Union observer mission gave the vote a clean bill
of health.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said his
government would bar foreign observers who did not have "an open mind".

Some observers only served to "sow the seeds of confusion, disunity and
ultimately bloodshed", he said.

EU monitors were barred from the last parliamentary elections in 2005,
although teams from so-called "friendly countries" - mainly from Africa, but
also including Russia - were allowed in.


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Mozambique reconnects Zimbabwe power after payment

Reuters

Mon 18 Feb 2008, 11:51 GMT

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique has reconnected its energy supplies to
Zimbabwe after the country settled part of its debt owed to Mozambique's
state-run electricity firm, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Zimbabwe has pledged to settle $16 million it owes to Mozambique's Cahora
Bassa in six months, as it tries to ease a power crisis that has worsened
the burden on its struggling economy.

The state-controlled daily paper Noticias, said Zimbabwe's Electricity
Supply Authority, ZESA, in January paid $10 million after Cahora Bassa
switched off power for non-payment.

"The important documents of this agreement were signed during the first week
of February, in which Zimbabwe promised to settle the debt with our company
in a six month period, at the same time paying their monthly bills," Cahora
Bassa chief executive officer, Paulo Muxanga told the paper.

After non-payment, Cahora Bassa halved its power supply to Zimbabwe to 75
megawatts in mid-December, then shut it down on Dec. 28 because ZESA had
still failed to pay.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in severe crisis for several years, resulting in
record inflation of over 66,000 percent in December and chronic shortages of
basic goods like fuel, food and cash.


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Mugabe could face second round of voting - Moyo

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 02/19/2008 05:37:51
ZIMBABWE’S President Robert Mugabe will likely be forced into a second round
of voting after the country’s presidential elections on March 29 because of
Simba Makoni’s decision to join the race, a leading political scientist said
this week.

Professor Jonathan Moyo believes Mugabe will face a run off -- the result of
a 2002 amendment to the country’s Electoral Act which requires that the
winner of the presidential election must receive a clear majority – or 51
percent.

The Electoral Act (Chapter 2;13) Section 110(3) states: “Where two or more
candidates for president are nominated, and after a poll taken in terms of
subsection (2), no candidate receives a majority of the total number of
valid votes cast, a second election shall be held within twenty one days
after the previous election in accordance with this Act.”

If the final two candidates are split evenly, parliament sitting as an
electoral college, will vote to break the deadlock.

Previously, the law allowed a candidate with more votes to be declared
president. In neighbouring Zambia, President Levy Mwanawasa got into office
after winning 27 percent of the vote, with the larger percentage shared
fractionally between various other candidates.

Mugabe is seeking a sixth term and was widely tipped to be coasting for
victory until Makoni, a former finance minister and member of the Zanu PF
politburo, entered the ring as an independent on February 5. Movement for
Democratic Chang (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and relatively unknown
independent Langton Towungana are the other candidates.

Moyo said: “Given what the law provides, the likelihood of any of the
candidates getting 51 percent is between slim and none because for the first
time we have three candidates who are likely to draw solid support from
their strongholds, and their respective strongholds are different.

“There is quite a sizeable chance of disgruntled registered voters from both
Zanu PF and MDC who out of desperation believe Makoni is a solution -- even
though he says he is working alone -- actually voting for him..

“When you have three strong candidates in an environment of desperation, it
is very unlikely anyone of those will command a total majority of votes
cast. One may get more votes than the other two, but not enough to get 51
percent as required by law.

“What makes this election quite intriguing is that whereas Mugabe called for
harmonised elections in order to avoid a situation where he comes head on
with one candidate -- he did not want to run against the MDC candidate
alone, he wanted to be assisted by his council candidates at ward level,
house of assembly and senatorial at constituency level -- the stark reality
he now faces is that he will most likely if not certain run alone.

“The looming possibility of a run-off renders meaningless Mugabe’s attempt
to harmonise elections in the hope of riding on its cocktail. While he
thought he was clever or even wise by doing this -- he says people like me
are clever but not wise -- his Amendment 18 which harmonised elections might
turn out to be the greatest boomerang.

“He must now hope that he will be part of that run-off, but if he becomes
part of that run off, he will be alone. And people will now say simkhuthe
ngaphi (where did we miss him)? If there is quite a wave, a huge anti-Mugabe
wave, that would be the end of him.

“The mathematics of it if you look around where Tsvangirai is popular and
likely to get support, where Makoni is popular and likely to get support,
where Mugabe is popular and likely to pick more votes, none of them is
guaranteed 51 percent, and that’s what will cause a run-off.

“In the past all you needed was a simple majority, the same situation you
had with Kenya under Daniel Arap Moi where he used to defeat the fragmented
opposition by getting more than them individually, and not more than them
put together.”


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Clear poll win unlikely - experts

The Zimbabwean

Monday, 18 February 2008 15:23
HARARE
Zimbabwe's next president would have to win the forthcoming
presidential election by a 51 percent majority, raising high prospects of an
election re-run by two leading candidates.
Electoral experts said the likelihood of an election run-off after the
March 29 vote were very high and predicted that none of the three main
candidates could out rightly garner a 51 percent majority because of the
current neck-and-neck race for State House.
The Nomination Court last Friday duly accepted nomination papers from
four candidates who will fight the presidential poll. The candidates are
President Robert Mugabe of the ruling Zanu (PF) party, Morgan Tsvangirai of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and two independent
candidates, Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana. But the real contest would
be between Makoni, Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
Legal experts said in the context of a four-candidate contest, section
110 of the Electoral Act becomes relevant.
"It states that the successful candidate in a Presidential poll must
receive ‘a majority of the total number of valid votes cast', that is, at
least 50 percent plus one of the valid votes cast," said an electoral
assessment by legal service Veritas. "If that does not occur, a second
run-off election must be held within 21 days, in which only the two
candidates who performed best in the first round will participate. If the
second election results in a tie, Parliament must sit as an electoral
college to decide between the two candidates, by secret ballot and without
debate."
Experts say it was highly unlikely that any of the three main
presidential candidates could garner a 51 percent majority.


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Catholics call for Zimbabwe elections to be postponed

ekklesia, UK

By agency reporter
18 Feb 2008
Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) has called for
the postponement of the national elections due on 29 March 2008. They say
there are clear signs that the poll will not be free and fair under current
conditions.

The J&P Commission commented that both the established voter registration
process and the requirements for the presidential and parliamentary
elections are "cumbersome" and will make it difficult for citizens in many
areas of the country to take part.

"There has been inadequate preparation and voter education on the electoral
process," the Commission declared in a statement released on 16 February.

It added that the confusion is compounded by the presidential and
parliamentary elections being held simultaneously for the first time.

Millions of Zimbabweans who have fled to neighbouring states or who have
gone overseas to escape their country's economic meltdown should be allowed
to vote because they still contribute significantly to Zimbabwe, the
Commission said.

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged government authorities to
adhere to the Southern African Development Community's Principles and
Guidelines Governing the Holding of Democratic Elections "in letter and in
spirit."

"We would like to remind the relevant authorities and citizens that
elections are a process and not a once-off event," it said.

The justice and peace commission said that, seven weeks before the
elections, citizens still did not have information such as which candidates
would be running and which parties would field candidates.

"We strongly recommend that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission be dissolved
with immediate effect and a new one be appointed in terms of the new law",
the Commission concluded.


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Daily news files Registration Application



Alert Update
18 February 2008

ANZ Files Application

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) publishers of the banned Daily News
and Daily News on Sunday have filed a fresh application with the
state-controlled Media and Information Confirmation (MIC) in their
protracted battle to be registered to operate in terms of the repressive
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

The fresh application was filed on 14 February 2008 raising hope for the
return of the two publications that have been out of circulation since
September 2003 following the Supreme Court’s “dirty hands” judgment in which
it ruled that ANZ was operating illegally as it was not registered with the
MIC in terms of AIPPA.

John Gambanga, ANZ chief executive officer, expressed confidence that they
would be granted an operating licence by the end of March this year. “I am
confident that we will be registered. I see no reason why we should be
denied the licence,” said Gambanga.

Gambanga told The Standard weekly newspaper that he had a “long chat” with
Chinondidyachii Mararike, the chairman of the special committee that will
consider the ANZ application and had been assured that past events would not
influence the committee’s decision in the matter.

Mararike is on record saying: “We are there to enable. We reaffirm our
commitment to act in a very balanced and impartial manner. Our processes are
not at all pre-determined. We consider the application as it comes and there
is a checklist of things that have to be fulfilled.”

The special committee was constituted after court findings on the bias of
MIC executive chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso against ANZ. Dr Mahoso is recused
from the adjudication of the ANZ application.

End

For any questions, queries,or comments, please contact:

Nyasha Nyakunu
Research and Information Officer
MISA-Zimbabwe


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5 Zimbabwean refugees dead, 36 injured in SA border accident



By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 February, 2008

We received a sad and tragic report from the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
(ZEF) in South Africa on Monday, that 5 deportees died and 36 were injured
in an accident while they were in transit on Saturday. The accident occurred
between Musina and Beitbridge and it involved a truck owned by South Africa’s
Department of Home Affairs, which was transporting mainly women refugees
back to Zimbabwe. The 36 injured were admitted to a hospital in Musina. Most
were treated and released, except for 6 women and two children who are still
in hospital.

ZEF director Gabriel Shumba said the deceased have not been identified and
their relatives have still not been informed. Shumba said that he had been
at the border at Beitbridge with other ZEF officials from Thursday until
Friday. They were monitoring reports of an increased military presence at
the border and in Musina. The accident happened a day after they left.
Details of the accident were provided to ZEF by their partner organization,
the Musina Legal Advice Center.

Shumba said he noticed that there was an increased number of South African
soldiers at the border. They normally do not get involved in rounding up
refugees, but according to Shumba they were making arrests. He described the
town of Musina as “a hive of activity” as many more people are streaming
into South Africa.

Shumba believes the sudden increase is related to the March 29th elections
in Zimbabwe. He said it also appears the South Africa government is nervous
about an increased outpouring of refugees from Zimbabwe, due to the violence
that usually comes with elections.

The ZEF criticized South African immigration officials at the border for
failing to advise Zimbabweans applying for asylum about their rights. Shumba
said he has been involved in several cases where the applicants had been
denied asylum at the border without being informed that they had a 14-day
period to apply before being sent back to Zimbabwe.

According to Shumba the treatment of Zimbabwean refugees by South African
authorities is “inhuman.” He said he also found it “very callous” that to
date, no officials from the South African government had offered any
statements of sympathy to the families of the deceased.

The incident highlights the difficult plight Zimbabwean refugees continue to
face in South Africa. Last month South African police raided a church
shelter in Johannesburg late at night, arresting 1,500 refugees, mostly
Zimbabweans. The police were accused of using excessive force during the
raid and forcing arrested victims to pay bribes for their freedom. As we
reported, an independent investigation is underway. There have also been
several protests at the South African Embassy demanding better treatment of
refugees.

Shumba urged all Zimbabweans in the diaspora who can go home to vote on
March 29th to make sure that they do so. He said his organization and many
others are engaged in educating Zimbabweans about the importance of going
home to vote. This is part of the “Get out the Vote Campaign” launched in
Johannesburg last week.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Two wheels go where four cannot


BULAWAYO, 18 February 2008 (IRIN) - The road is uphill for most of the 15km,
but if Masikosana Ngulube wants to get to school each morning in Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second city, she has no other option but to get on her bike.

A bus ride is out of the question. What was once cheap and unremarkable is
now a luxury for families on ever-shrinking budgets, instead, mass
transportation increasingly means two wheels and pedal power.

"Things have changed so much - I never thought I would be forced to ride to
school," said Masikosana, 14, attending her first year at Evelyn Girls' High
School on the outskirts of the city in the southern province of Matabeleland
North.

At dawn each morning she teams up with three boys from her neighbourhood in
a mini cycling club. "The boys are a great help when one of my wheels
punctures or the chain comes unstuck," said Masikosana. She keeps a tube of
gum and patches among the books in her satchel. Her companions leave
Masikosana at the gates of her school before heading up the road to Milton
Boys' High.
'
"Cycling keeps her fit," quipped Claire Ngulube, Masikosana's mother, before
adding: "It's the only way she can get to school with these frequent
increases in fees and unpredictable hikes in bus fares."

Ngulube, who runs a dressmaking shop in the city, said she was lucky that
her other two children were still in primary school and could walk just a
short distance to get to class.

Masikosana is less than keen on having to make the daily 30-km round trip
between school and home. "The bike gives me problems because of its
condition. I often get to school tired and am unable to concentrate," she
told IRIN. Her return journey is easier, as it is mostly downhill. "I take
my time because I am not under pressure, unlike in the morning when I have
to be on time for lessons."

Ngulube said sending Masikosana to boarding school was not an alternative to
her cycling marathon because of the food shortages pupils often suffer.
Zimbabwean boarding schools are also notorious for demanding unbudgeted
mid-term "top up" fees to restock empty pantries as a result of galloping
inflation, which in December 2007 officially hit 66,212 percent.

The continued depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar against major currencies
on the parallel market has also driven up fuel prices. A litre of petrol
costs Zim$12 million (US$3 on the parallel market), up from Zim$6 million
(US$1.60) late last year. Commuters are now forced to fork out Zim$3 million
(just under a dollar) for an average trip - three times more than they paid
just before Christmas.

Minibus-taxi operator Sidney Gurura denied that the vehicle owners were
exploiting the situation, and said they themselves were victims of the fuel
price. "If we don't raise fares we will go bust and stop operating."

Informal fuel traders who import from Botswana have filled the supply gap
left by the state-run National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM), which has
failed to import adequate supplies due to a long-standing foreign currency
crunch.

Second-hand goods trader Rasheed Mohammed is not complaining. Since schools
opened in January he has been pestered by parents trying to get their hands
on bikes for their children.

"Anything on two wheels with a frame is snapped up as soon as we receive
it," Mohammed said. "New bicycles are beyond their reach and few people are
letting go of bicycles they already have because they are handy during the
current fuel crisis."

[ENDS]
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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Zimbabwe 2008: Decision Time – Points to Ponder

swradioafrica.com

Mutumwa Mawere
18 February, 2008

Zimbabwe’s population is now estimated at about 12.3 million after taking
into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS and poverty. To say
that the forthcoming elections represents a defining moment in the history
of post colonial Zimbabwe would be an understatement.

The combined elections will give the eligible and registered voters an
opportunity to decide at four levels how Zimbabwe should be governed in the
next five years. The first level is the Presidential election in which
citizens have to make a choice between the four candidates that have been
successfully nominated.

Two of the candidates, President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, were the two
dominant players during the last Presidential election held in 2002. The
other two are Dr. Simba Makoni and Mr. Langton Towungana.

To the extent that President Mugabe who has monopolised the political space
since independence is also a candidate, it is important now that the choices
are known for Zimbabweans to think seriously about the future of the
country. The political space in Zimbabwe was dominated by ZANU and ZAPU
during the first seven years of independence and thereafter through to 1999,
the space was dominated by ZANU-PF.

However, during the last 8 years, President Mugabe and Tsvangirai have
dominated the political space. Both ZANU-PF and MDC representatives were
elected to Parliament during the 2000 and 2005 elections and the successful
candidates have managed to co-exist under the same House of Assembly.
Consequently, they share the burden of governance as they have been involved
in the day to day legislative agenda, which recently resulted in them
agreeing to Constitutional Amendment number 18.

Prior to the emergence of the MDC as a political actor, the civic society
organisations (CSO) from which the founding members of the party were drawn
were agitating for a new constitution. The National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) was one such institution advocating for a people driven constitution
arguing that the parliament of Zimbabwe could not be trusted to deliver a
democratic constitution. Understandably, the NCA then rejected the CA 18
agreed to by both ZANU- PF and the two MDC formations.

At the core of the argument for constitutional reform debate, was the issue
of process power and the role of the President particularly given the
generally held view that President Mugabe had manipulated ZANU-PF and the
people of Zimbabwe into agreeing through their parliamentary representatives
to amend the Lancaster House Constitution in a manner that has created an
Imperial Presidency in which he has been able to run the country as if it
was a kingdom.

The quest for a new constitutional order was successfully thwarted through
the use of a Constitution Commission that was mandated to draft a new
constitution. The credibility test for the draft constitution was primarily
the manner in which the office of the President was treated. When the
constitution was sold to the Zimbabwean public it was naturally rejected by
even the most ardent advocates of the new constitution because it failed to
deal decisively with the incumbent President.

I am only bringing this historical record in order to put my thoughts, on
the points that the registered voters participating in the forthcoming
elections have to think seriously about, into some context. The attempt to
remove President Mugabe through constitutional reforms failed so as the
attempt to remove him through elections as well as subsequently through
ZANU-PF.

The presence of President Mugabe’s name alone on the political menu raises
its own issues about the credibility and transparency of the forthcoming
elections. President Mugabe has credited his government of holding free,
frequent and fair elections in which his party has always ‘won’.

As American author and historian, Henry Brooks Adams, said over a hundred
years ago: “No man, however, strong can serve ten years as school master,
priest, or senator, and remain fit for anything else,” it has been observed
that President Mugabe notwithstanding the fact that he may not know what to
do to lift Zimbabwe up again fits into the category of persons who look to
politics as a career rather than as a service platform. A dilemma Zimbabwe’s
opposition is also faced with; imagine the fate of many after say they lose
their parliamentary seats in the March elections? Or what would become of
Tsvangirai should he cease to be leader of the opposition?

The post election intentions of President Mugabe are not known but it has
been speculated that he will relinquish power to a successor who would then
have to be elected by parliament. However, there are no guarantees and
people are genuinely sceptical and cynical about the future to the extent
that they have surrendered their future to only four men.

It is now too late for Zimbabweans to think of a President beyond the four
men that have qualified as candidates. If President Mugabe were to win, the
other three contenders will predictably challenge the results. It is
generally agreed that President Mugabe does not offer anything new but if he
does win, very few of his critics outside Zimbabwe will accept the results,
prolonging the countries pariah status.

The country is on its knees and yet the conversations at this late hour
between Zimbabweans and among the three competitors for the top post
excluding President Mugabe suggests that some Zimbabweans are not ready to
break with the past. Given the gravity of the economic situation, one would
have expected Tsvangirai, Makoni and Towungana to share a common vision for
Zimbabwe and a consensus on what the defining hour should deliver.

While Makoni and Tsvangirai may disagree about the context of change they
ought to agree that they are brothers in prosecuting the struggle to usher
Zimbabwe into a new era. It cannot be said that it is not healthy for Makoni
to have entered the Presidential race not only because it has allowed people
to expand the menu of choices beyond the two bitter enemies, President
Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Indeed, the entry of Makoni has given voters an
opportunity to pronounce their opinion on whether they wish to continue to
be spectators and victims while the stalemate continues. It is not clear
whether President Mugabe would accept Tsvangirai’s victory and vice versa. A
new dawn in urgently required in Zimbabwean politics and Makoni may emerge
to be the only available option.

One cannot accept a proposition that the entry of Makoni has denied anyone a
right to participate in the elections given that the same old culprits are
still on the ballot paper. It is expected that Makoni’s participation will
help energise the Zimbabwean electorate to participate rather than fall
victim to the MDC strategy of participating in a race while openly
acknowledging that the vote will be stolen. This will have had the
effect of discouraging voters from participating in the elections if Makoni
had not entered the race.

A Zanu PF culture runs through the veins of even the most ardent critics of
President Mugabe’s policies.

Although I hold no brief for Makoni, I think that it would be undemocratic
for even any of his competitors to characterise him as a surrogate of
someone else when it now takes courage in an atmosphere of fear for anyone
to offer his name as an independent. I am not sure whether the critics of
Makoni’s eleventh hour entry into the race would have been satisfied if the
contest was between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai only. Strangely, many of
them had dismissed this election has having been won by the incumbent
President Mugabe.

One Dr Lovemore Madhuku even went as far as to give an exclusive interview
to the state run Herald that the opposition would be walloped in this
election. A position he reiterated at a public meeting in Harare and was
supported by the majority there. It may be the case that many of the CSOs
are encouraging Tsvangirai to participate fully convinced that he will lose
so that they can extend their lives. The NGO sector in Zimbabwe would rather
have the stalemate continue and the elections inclusive because of the
inherent financial benefits to the actors.

Ever since I pronounced my personal opinion on what kind of change I would
like to see in Zimbabwe, I have been encouraged by my critics who have
proceeded to allege that my support for Makoni was motivated by an
underlying ZANU-PF agenda. It did not surprise me to receive mixed messages
about Makoni because it demonstrates that Zimbabweans are thinking about the
future of the country. Some have accepted that the future will not be
complete if their preferred candidate does not win the election ignoring
that what is at stake is not the fate of the four candidates but the
country.

However, one needs to unpack the logic behind my being defined as ZANU-PF or
Makoni for that matter, I want to posit here that ZANU-PF is not only an
institution but a culture that permeates every aspect of our society,
including the home, the church and the so called alternative politics.
Zimbabwean national politics is so diluted that many in the opposition camp
including parliamentarians, for instance, are funded and sustained in their
livelihoods by the RBZ and other state institutions, militating against any
argument that may be advanced that anyone in the MDC is fresh faced and pure
as it may have been at its formation 8 years ago.

If Zimbabwe was a person what would he/she say about the four candidates?
Anyone who cares about the future of the country is compelled to think
deeply about legacy issues. The people privileged to vote in this defining
election have to think beyond the confines of their own personal preferences
but for all the millions in the Diaspora as well as future generations who
will no doubt look back and ask the right questions.

Both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been at each other’s throat for
the past 8 years and the country has continued to deteriorate under their
watch. They have both claimed to be victims with President Mugabe alleging
that Tsvangirai is nothing but an agent of third parties while Tsvangirai
maintains that he is the de facto President of Zimbabwe on the back of a
widely held view that he won the 2002 elections. Tsvangirai disputes that
the MDC is a puppet of the West and yet ironically, he now wants to argue
that Makoni is not a principal in his own right who genuinely believes like
him that Zimbabwe’s brighter day is yet to come and he has a stake in it.

There is a classic Zimbabwean disease that seems to have afflicted many to
see beyond what is before them. Zimbabweans have to choose from the four men
who are the political beauty pageants. Like beauty queens the judges are the
registered voters who have to make the choice based on their subjective
evaluation of what each candidate brings to the table.

What does President Mugabe bring to the table? This question is equally
applicable to the other three contestants. However, instead of waiting for
the contestants to promise what they cannot deliver it is important for
everyone interested in the future of the country to pose and think about
what they want to see and work constructively in the remaining days to make
sure that they are the change they want to see.

It is nave for anyone concerned about the future of Zimbabwe to think that
it is someone else’s responsibility to bring the change they want to see.
President Mugabe has the African continent as well as the majority of the
developing countries while Tsvangirai has enjoyed the support of the West.

Over the last 8 years, I have not seen any major drive to increase MDC party
membership let alone to get people to register as voters. It has been
reported that following Makoni’s announcement to enter the race, the
registration of voters increased suggesting that Zimbabweans do respond to
changes in the choices available. Notwithstanding, excitement and vibrant
debate has been generated as a direct consequence of Makoni’s entry into the
Presidential race in a manner that has dramatically transformed an
increasingly apathetic population.

What the above seems to suggest is that Zimbabweans in general do not see
value in participating in the affairs of their country through political
organisations. Many who support either President Mugabe or Tsvangirai are
not even members of ZANU-PF or the MDC, respectively. If citizens have
surrendered their future to political actors then the change they expect to
see may not necessarily be what they want to see irrespective of who is
elected.

If ZANU-PF, MDC and other Zimbabwean political organisation unlike religious
institutions have failed to capture the imagination of citizens then the
problem that Zimbabwe faces may be more fundamental. I am not convinced that
the people who have been nominated to represent MDC and ZANU-PF necessarily
share a common vision with their leaders. Many are however trapped in this
partisan politics and it becomes clear that many in ZANU-PF actually may be
against President Mugabe’s candidature while those in the Tsvangirai
formation may not necessarily be at one with him. Not discounting the
disillusioned in both formations that claim to have been elbowed out of the
race for political reasons and are now standing as independent candidates.

Assuming I am correct in suggesting that the political labels that people
put on Makoni, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have no real meaning because in real
life it is difficult to locate a person who is ZANU-PF or MDC but what is
more realistic is that there may be a convergence of thought between
Makoni/Tsvangirai/Towungana about the need for change. For Mugabe the change
that he wants to see would allow him to be President and the same applies to
his competitors. Zimbabweans would then need to makes choices discounting
the political labels because they ultimately may have no bearing in the
manner in which the government will operate. I am also not convinced that
ZANU-PF members are satisfied about the manner in which President Mugabe’s
government has conducted its affairs, thus the noticeable fears within the
party ranks of Makoni’s challenge to President Mugabe.

It would not make sense to believe that the dismal economic performance and
the lack of political and economic direction that Zimbabweans have been
subjected to have only been transmitted on partisan grounds. I should like
to believe that if there is no electricity or water in an area one would not
see only ZANU-PF houses being privileged with supplies. The problems affect
all and the current government has to shoulder the responsibility.

Outside the contestations for political office there appears to be no life
in many of the political organisations in Zimbabwe suggesting that the real
agenda is to seize the state power and not necessarily to advance any
national interest. If it is national interest that motivates people to seek
political office then it should not matter who is ZANU-PF or MDC because
these are mere labels seeking to divide and not unite people.

Makoni has rightly chosen to wear no political label. I believe that it is
important that Zimbabweans rise above the cheap politics of defining and
characterising others as currency for advancing their political careers.
What do people of Zimbabwe really expect from their government? Who really
should own the government of Zimbabwe? If citizens are ready to reclaim
their heritage then they have to think beyond the labels because whoever
becomes President has to be accountable to the people of Zimbabwe and not to
the parties that select them.

Only two candidates for the Presidency will not have the baggage of
political organisations that are faction ridden, with questionable
democratic credentials and maybe there is a chance that the people of
Zimbabwe will come to a realisation that they are the true owners of the
republic and not ZANU-PF or MDC. Consequently, Zimbabweans in choosing their
leader in the next election will judge both the MDC and ZANU-PF on
performance over the past 8 years for the former and the past 28 years for
the latter.

The MDC cannot continue to plead innocence and play victim when it has been
involved in the process of governance together with ZANU-PF, it also has to
shoulder responsibility for the disillusionment in its ranks arising from a
myriad of problematic issues that are a matter of public record. To put it
crudely, MDC legislators have enjoyed pecks of being in parliament just as
ZANU-PF MP’s have, they have equally contributed to the legislative agenda.
To make matters worse, it is significant to note that the reason that caused
the two MDC factions to split appears to have been forgotten as both
formations have fielded candidates for the Senate.

And so one can safely argue that Makoni’s rise and popularity is as much a
result of ZANU-PF’s inability to deliver positive change to its members as
much as the MDC’s similar inability to deliver to its own members.

ZANU-PF and MDC like any political parties are nothing but associations of
people who may share a common purpose but it does not mean that the
institutions own the members. Zimbabwe needs to turn a new leaf and invest
in creating a new environment, with a progressive political culture that can
operate above the partisan one that sections of the country have now come to
accept as normal.

The person elected to be President of the country must discharge his
responsibilities in the national interest. Questions have been raised
whether an independent Presidential candidate will have any chance of
winning if he does not have a political party behind him forgetting that all
that the citizens will be asked to do is to elect one of four men. Makoni is
contesting in one big constituency called Zimbabwe, by the look of things he
appears to appeals to a diverse group of Zimbabweans regardless of political
affiliation. Thus the fears and the vitriolic attacks from hardliners in
both the
MDC and ZANU-PF, begs the question of what they fear if they have a
satisfied
support base.

The constitution of Zimbabwe does not require a President to belong to a
political party. What it will mean if any of the two independent candidates
wins the Presidential election, is he will have to appoint a candidate from
the pool of successful parliamentarians. Given the configuration of the
players in the various elections, it is evident that only an independent
President has any prospect of creating a government with a cabinet drawn
from the various political parties.

If the objective of Zimbabweans is to move away from largely despotic
partisan politics then it occurs to me that this can only be achieved by an
independent President. I am not convinced that either President Mugabe or
Tsvangirai would have any appetite for embracing MPs from either party given
the attitude already in evidence against Makoni’s candidature, including the
inability of the two MDC formations to agree to a coalition before the
elections.

My observation is that the real injury that Zimbabweans feel is at the
Presidential level and for people to be convinced that there is change they
can believe in there must be a new President. It is not too late for
Tsvangirai and Makoni to come up with a joint election winning strategy for
the nation’s sake. If that is the position, then the onus is on both
Tsvangirai and Makoni to ensure that they communicate to their supporters
clearly that they vote for whomever you may wish at the local, parliamentary
and senatorial levels but vote against President Mugabe. This is the ideal
situation which unfortunately the polarised political ground no longer
allows.

Given the already publicised candidates lists, it is already confusing the
long suffering people of Zimbabwe when the opposition seem to be failing to
identify who is on which side. I would have thought that both Tsvangirai and
Makoni would target the Presidency using the infrastructure available to
make the voters know what is at stake. It is to the favour of the already
fractured MDC as much as it is to Makoni that a combined election strategy
that wins against the incumbent President Mugabe is adopted. Future
generations will judge both Makoni and Tsvangirai on the basis of their
actions during this hour of need and not whether they were ever active
members of ZANU-PF before.


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President Bush Calls For Change in Zimbabwe

VOA

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C.
18 February 2008

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe have reportedly welcomed U.S. President
George Bush’s demand that next month’s general elections should be free and
fair. President Bush, who is on his second African tour, called Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe a dictator who is presiding over staggering
inflation and harsh repression of his people. Bush pledged America’s support
for freedom in the country, urging neighboring countries to help solve the
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean
with the International Crisis Group in South Africa. From the capital,
Pretoria, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Bush’s rhetoric
would put pressure on President Mugabe.

“First of all, I want to make a qualification that what President Bush is
saying is quite in sync with the behavior of President Robert Mugabe. And
his (President Bush’s) description of him (President Mugabe) fits the bill
and his comments are plausible in so far as they only help to up the
pressure. But I must stay in the over all sense that the American line on
Zimbabwe, especially some of their rhetoric statements have actually been
counter-productive to some extent in trying to have leverage and influence
of the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis,” Masamvu pointed out.

He doubts whether President Bush’s statement would have any significant
impact on how this month’s elections would be conducted.

“I think mere talking is not going to change anything. Actually what is
needed are practical actions involving all actors, internationally and in
the regions to really exert practical pressure. Mere talking or issuing of
statements, especially from the west, Mugabe will just dismiss them with the
content they deserve,” he said.

Masamvu called on the international community to help resolve the ongoing
economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.

“I think it’s about time for all well-meaning countries within the region
and internationally to lay the rule on Mugabe and make sure that they
outline practical steps or measures, which they will take to bear pressure
on him (Mugabe) as an individual, and as a leader of a country to follow
certain principled lines to guarantee free and fair elections in Zimbabwe
and the resolution of the crisis, failure of which there should be measures
to enforce those resolutions. In other words, there should be defined carrot
and sticks,” Masamvu noted.

He said Zimbabweans are weary the March elections are not going to be
credible.

“As the opposition leadership has said and as any Zimbabwe watcher who is
conversant with the situation on the ground, the Zimbabwe elections have got
predetermined elections results. There is a flawed process. Nothing has
been done to open up the political space to guarantee and uncontested
election contest, which will yield an undisputed result. So in a sense,
nothing has changed practically on the ground to warrant a free and fair
election, and as such we are going to experience the same motion and
rituals, which we’ve had in the last elections and, which had got a
predetermined outcome,” he said.


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PASSOP Watch

The Zimbabwean

Monday, 18 February 2008 15:10
South Africa has its chance to be rid of us
This week, at a PASSOP meeting in a small township, I asked the group
of about 100 people how many of them would return to Zimbabwe if there was
work. I asked in such a way that avoided a political connotation, but sought
indication a positive change. They all immediately responded they would
leave, some saying they would leave the same day.
The truth is our people in South Africa miss home, they are suffering
here and given even a basic means of survival they would return to their
homes across the Limpopo. With this in mind we have begun to advocate that
South Africa makes sure that the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe are
transparent. If there is transparency then, hopefully, stability will
return.
This stability would result in more investment and would ultimately
result in employment. If we have survival at home then we will return and
relieve the South African government of its duty to support us. The efforts
made to deport immigrants should best be focussed on resolving the cause,
not the result, of their migration.
If South Africa ensures us our votes will be meaningful, we will
surely vote and vote in the best interests of our country and ultimately
ourselves. This could lead to the gains we pray for and lead to the return
of our work force to where it belongs.
Our statement:
We urge the government of South Africa to deploy observers immediately
and to advocate for media controls to be loosen during Zimbabwean electoral
process.
South Africa is faced with an ongoing migration crisis, with over 3
million immigrants from Zimbabwe alone. This crisis is a result of hardships
faced by Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe, they have an election approaching and this
could encourage people to return. If there is faith in the transparency of
the elections we will see a significant decrease in migration over the
electoral period and even a possible reverse migration. However, if there is
no confidence in the process the influx of migrants will definitely increase
as it has rapidly in recent times.
There is also a serious threat of electoral violence, with a large
number of reported incidents than during previous elections. There have been
allegations of election rigging by the opposition in previous years and we
anticipate similar allegations unless the elections and this crucial build
up stage are closely monitored. We also fear that if the process is not
transparent we may be faced with a similar situation to that of Kenya.
We believe that South Africa should involve itself at the forefront of
the international electoral monitoring process, and feel that the monitoring
of the build up process is the only way they can confidently claim the
process will free and fair. We urge the government to send observers as soon
as possible to closely examine the build up to the elections; we believe
that observation is imperative at this time.
We also want the South African government to advocate for media
controls to be loosened. This would ensure that the mass media can access
and publicise the process, and allow for their use as a campaign medium for
all concerned candidates. Media freedom is very much a part of the electoral
process.
If monitoring of the entire electoral process does not begin
immediately, Zimbabweans will have no reason to believe that this election
will differ from previous ones (which Zimbabwean immigrants largely
criticise), and therefore migration will continue and no-one will return to
vote. We have already seen people leaving the country to avoid possible
violence during this period.


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Van Hoogstraten trial fails to take off

From The Herald, 18 February

Court Reporter

The trial of businessman Nicholas Von Hessen alias Van Hoogstraten, who is
accused of dealing in foreign currency, money laundering, possession of
pornographic material and possession of fake notes, failed to start last
Friday after defence lawyer Mr George Chikumbirike raised several objections
and applications. Mr Chikumbirike applied for the charge of possessing fake
R600 to be quashed saying the facts on the State papers did not prove an
offence in terms of the Reserve Bank Act. Mr Chikumbirike said the section
the State was trying to use to charge his client with only dealt with local
currency, which was legal tender in Zimbabwe. He further objected to the
production of an affidavit by one of the State witnesses in court saying it
was inadmissible. He argued it was received after his client had been asked
to plead to the charge, which was prejudicial. The court further heard the
statement was given to the defence late and that it was contrived as an
afterthought.

Mr Chikumbirike sought to have the two charges of dealing illegally in
foreign currency combined into one saying the split was unnecessary. The
defence also requested for proof of authority to prosecute the pornography
case from the Attorney-General’s Office before his client tendered his plea.
After the authority to prosecute granted by the Deputy Attorney-General Mr
Johannes Tomana was tendered in court, Mr Chikumbirike then challenged Mr
Tomana’s appointment. He argued that Mr Tomana’s appointment was not
published in the Government Gazette and he could not approve the trial. On
that basis, Mr Chikumbirike made an application seeking the acquittal of his
client on the pornography charge. According to Section 180 of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, Von Hessen should demand immediate acquittal, on
the premise that he pleaded not guilty to the charge in the absence of
prosecution authority.

Responding to the application, prosecutor Mr Obi Mabahwana said Mr Tomana
was duly appointed by the President in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe
and that he had the powers to authorise a trial under the Censorship and
Entertainment Act. Mr Mabahwana said the exchange control charges could not
be treated as one as they were completely different. He said charging
rentals in foreign currency and exchanging local currency for foreign
currency were two different charges, which should be separately dealt with.
Mr Mabahwana told the court that the Censorship Board commissioners were
competent witnesses whose statements should be admitted to court on the
pornography charge. The court also heard that the Reserve Bank Act was
appropriate on the allegations of possessing fake R600. Mr Mabahwana said
the RBZ was responsible for currencies of other countries used for
international transactions. Harare regional magistrate Mr Morgen Nemadire
deferred rulings on Mr Chikumbirike’s applications to Wednesday this week.

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