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US voices 'serious concerns' about Zimbabwe election

Yahoo News

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States expressed "serious concerns" Thursday
about the March 29 general elections in Zimbabwe, a country it finds under
constant repression from President Robert Mugabe's regime.

"In terms of Zimbabwe, we have very serious concerns about the upcoming
elections," said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

"Certainly, the record of the Mugabe government and its continued repression
of political opposition in that country doesn't leave us with a lot of hope
that these upcoming elections are going to be free and fair," he added.

Mugabe, 83, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in
1980, is hoping to secure a sixth term in office at joint parliamentary and
presidential elections on March 29.

Casey strongly suggested the Zimbabwe polls could benefit from the presence
of international observers.

"Certainly, we would want to see international observers there not only just
a matter of general principle, but because there have been so many problems
and concerns with the political system in Zimbabwe and with the actions of
President Mugabe," the spokesman said.

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party cut former finance minister Simba Makoni
adrift Wednesday over his electoral bid to topple Mugabe, saying he had
"expelled himself" by taking on the veteran president.

Makoni, 57, announced his candidacy on Tuesday after the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change was unable to get its two factions to agree on a
candidate to take on the soon-to-be 84 Mugabe.

The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe will be
held against a backdrop of economic disarray with an annual inflation rate
of more than 26,000 percent, the highest in the world, and unemployment of
around 80 percent


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Makoni leaps from tightrope into the lion’s den

Business Day

á08 February 2008

Dianna Games

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ZIMBABWEAN businessman Simba Makoni has made a leap that is a lot bigger
than people outside Zimbabwe may appreciate — from the heart of the
pernicious Zanu (PF) politburo into a political showdown with President
Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is a dangerous opponent. The question most people are
asking is whether Makoni will survive — particularly if he does not win.

But his announcement that he will stand against Mugabe in next month’s poll
is not totally unexpected. Despite 27 years in the party, Makoni has long
been at odds with the ruling party’s tunnel vision on Zimbabwe .

Makoni has often been suggested as a possible successor to Mugabe, certainly
since he was fired as finance minister in 2002. His challenge to Mugabe
endeared him to the international community, which was desperate for
political change in Zimbabwe.

But Makoni survived that incident and, although out of government, he has
remained at the core of Zanu (PF) politics as
a member of the party’s highest decision-making body, the politburo. A
reasonable man, Makoni must have had many sleepless nights about being at
the heart of a process that is destroying his country. He was, as a member
of the politburo, at least partly responsible for decisions flowing from it,
among them an array of doomed economic policies that flew in the face of
everything he had tried to do as finance minister.

Makoni owns his own business in Zimbabwe, which he has to keep running in
the face of the testing economic environment that he indirectly helped to
create.

Makoni put himself at the mercy of the international media in 2005, when he
stood as southern Africa’s candidate for the presidency of the African
Development Bank. Journalists were more interested in his defence of
Zimbabwe’s politics.

It was a fine balancing act to defend a pariah government while trying to
establish personal credibility, but he managed it quite artfully.
Nevertheless, the taint of Zimbabwe politics worked against him in the final
vote.

A turning point may have been last year’s World Economic Forum Africa Summit
in Cape Town when Makoni, despite his best attempts to keep out of the
spotlight during a live BBC television debate , was hauled out of the
audience by interviewer Nick Gowing.

Asked about change in Zimbabwe, Makoni suggested that most Zimbabweans
believed change was necessary but it was a question of how one got there.

Caught between the pressure of toeing the party line and maintaining
credibility at a high-level international gathering, Makoni’s responses were
mild at best. But back home, he was accused by party colleagues of betrayal
on a grand scale.

Since his election announcement on Tuesday, the state-run propaganda machine
has attacked Makoni in emotional editorials. The presence of foreign
diplomats at his press conference led to allegations of his action being a
“western plot”. Party acolytes have accused him of opportunism — something
Zanu (PF) politicians know a lot about after decades at the feeding trough
of power.

But there may be merit in the allegation. Makoni vehemently denied having
presidential aspirations when a story about his candidacy surfaced a few
weeks ago. His announcement this week, follows on the heels of a final
breakdown of unity talks in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), which opens a gap to further divide the opposition vote.

Given the paranoia and cynicism that characterises Zimbabwe politics, there
is even talk that this is an elaborate ploy by Mugabe to convince his
detractors that democracy is alive and well in Zimbabwe.

This has been given credence by the fact that Mugabe met Makoni recently,
after media reports of his presidential ambitions first emerged last month.

There are many details missing about Makoni’s plan.

He has not said who his party backers are, although it is speculated he is
fronting a group of disaffected Zanu (PF) politicians. Among them are ruling
party heavyweight and army veteran Solomon Mujuru and his wife,
Vice-President Joyce Mujuru.

There are also many powerful business figures in the party who may back
Makoni.

There is a chance Mugabe may extend the election date to give him time to
eradicate this new threat, which would, ironically, play into the hands of
the MDC, which has wanted an extension all along.

But he may not need to. He has all the organs of state at his disposal, all
the funding and support of state-sponsored “vigilante” groups, which have
all been used effectively against the MDC in the past.

Makoni’s ejection from Zanu (PF) will leave him in the political wilderness
should he not win. It also undermines the level of grassroots support he can
expect. Support from the urban areas alone will not win him the presidency.

The country has no hope of economic recovery without political change. But
whether Makoni has the stomach, or the leadership skills, for the rocky road
ahead is another story. He has a lot to gain if he wins — but everything to
lose if he does not.

Games is director of Africa @ Work, a research and publishing company.


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I'm still Zanu PF: Makoni

Zim Independent

FORMER Finance minister Simba Makoniá yesterday said he was still a
Zanu PF member amid reports that the ruling party was on the verge of a
major split.

Addressing a media conference in the capital yesterday, Makoni
dismissed assertions by Zanu PF legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa and
commissar Elliot Manyika that he had expelled himself from the party by
declaring himself a presidential candidate on Tuesday.

"I plan to continue my functions as a member of the party until I am
excluded by the due (disciplinary) process," he said.

Makoni said there was no provision in the Zanu PF constitution
allowing for self-expulsion.

"I ask you to take the constitution for your sake, myself and the
legal secretary to find any provision or section which provides for
self-expulsion," Makoni said. "I have even looked at the national
disciplinary provisions and I have not seen any provision of
self-expulsion."

He said in the event that he was expelled after following the correct
procedure, he would stand as an independent candidate and hoped colleagues
he was working with in Zanu PF would follow suit.

"If due process is followed and I am disabled from representing my
party, I will stand as an independent," Makoni said. "I have deeper faith in
my country than in my party."

Makoni was however evasive on how he would earn the Zanu PF candidacy
since the party had endorsed President Robert Mugabe at its extraordinary
congress last December.

The former Sadc executive secretary said Zimbabweans should wait until
nomination day on February 15.

He denied that he was being used by the West to challenge Mugabe, whom
he accused of failing to handle a diversity of views and ideas.

"Any different ideas (are) regarded as antagonistic and foreign,"
Makoni said. "It’s typical of the leadership of the country which has always
failed to accept a diversity of opinion."

On allegations that he was being used by Zanu PF to divide the
opposition, Makoni said: "I declare here that I am genuine, I am honest, I
am nobody’s tool or agent. I am Simba Makoni, have always been, and will
forever be the same Simba Makoni. Ini handishandiswe nevanhu (I am not a
puppet)."

Makoni urged people yearning for "genuine" renewal and improvement of
Zimbabwe to participate in the March 29 harmonised elections.

"But let me also encourage those others in Zanu PF who have been, and
still are, working with us in this project for national renewal, to remain
steadfast and not be intimidated. I hope the timing of a March election in
2008 is propitious against the background of a March election in 1980."

Makoni was also evasive on whether he was working with opposition
parties, but indicated that he had received assurances of support from all
spheres of society including, the opposition.

Sources close to Makoni said he would soon unveil his plan to shore up
his dramatic bid for the presidency which has shaken the political
landscape.

The plan will include the name of the party — touted as the Patriotic
Front — its symbol, manifesto, and details of the post-election set-up he
would put in place. He would also disclose the names of his supporters, the
sources said.

The party’s core would be reform-minded officials from Zanu PF. The
outfit would then recruit members from existing political and civil society
formations. After the elections, if Makoni wins, the party would form a
government of national unity.

It would call for a congress to elect a proper leadership and work on
issues which need to be addressed urgently. It is understood that the new
party would also introduce a new constitution via a national referendum.

"The Makoni group is examining many issues and possibilities," a
source said. "It is thinking of formally launching a party to reconfigure
the political landscape and as part of national renewal, holding a congress
after elections, introducing a new constitution via a referendum,
reasserting the unity accord between Zanu and Zapu and forming a government
of national unity."

The sources said after the postponement of the nomination date to
Friday next week, Makoni’s group was contemplating fielding candidates in
practically all constituencies. This suggestion was tabled on Wednesday
after it became clear that Makoni would need an organised force behind him
to present a strong challenge to Mugabe.

Meanwhile, ruling party sources said Makoni has the backing of Zanu PF
bigwigs, service chiefs and state security personnel.

Makoni is also reportedly being supported by both vice-presidents,
Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, and national chairman John Nkomo who
allegedly argued that Mugabe was unprocedurally endorsed as the party’s
presidential candidate.

Also reportedly in Makoni’s corner are politburo members Solomon
Mujuru, Dumiso Dabengwa, Vitalis Zvinavashe, Sydney Sekeramayi, Oppah
Muchinguri and Saviour Kasukuwere. — Staff Writers.


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'No prospects for MDC unity'

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro/Loughty Dube

MDC reunification talks are now dead in the water and prospects of the
resumption of dialogue appear irretrievably lost, senior party officials
said this week.

Key interlocutors in the dialogue to achieve common ground on the
fielding of candidates in the elections, Tendai Biti (Tsvangirai) and
Welshman Ncube (Mutambara) both believe there is little room for unity
between the two groupings before the elections scheduled for next month.

Following failure of the bid to construct a united front Biti and
Ncube this week met to review reasons for the collapse of the dialogue.

Ncube yesterday confirmed that he had met with Biti "for a post-mortem
of the failed dialogue". He said after examining the reasons for the failure
of the talks "there were no prospects for unification at the moment
considering the grounds which resulted in the failure of the dialogue in the
first place".

Biti in a separate interview, described the collapse of the dialogue
as a "disaster for Zimbabwe".

"I am deeply concerned that some people put their personal interests
ahead of the national agenda," said Biti.

The sources said Biti and Ncube were keen to resolve the rift because
it would split the vote and give the election to Zanu PF. This position,
which the two have always held, has failed to garner backing among those
close to the party leadership. The party split in October 2005 and numerous
attempts to bridge the rift have failed.

Talks once again collapsed last Saturday after the factions failed to
agree on the allocation of constituencies.

The formations announced on Sunday that they were going into the
election as separate entities after they failed to agree on how to
distribute "safe" urban seats.

Both said they would now rush through primary elections this week to
choose separate candidates ahead of nomination day, which has since been
extended to February 15.

Faction leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara are expected to
stand in the presidential poll. There have been rumours that Mutambara had
agreed to step down and support Simba Makoni who announced his candidacy for
the presidential poll this week.

Ncube however said there was no such agreement. He said the only
position standing at the moment was that taken by the faction’s national
council this week that Mutambara would stand for the presidency. "That is
the only position …and if there are other developments warranting a review
of this position, the council will be requested to convene and reflect on
it," said Ncube.

Meanwhile, cut-throat competition between the two factions has already
started in Bulawayo where Ncube and the Tsvangirai faction Vice President
Thokozani Khupe are set to clash in the Makokoba seat after the Bulawayo
East parliamentary seat previously held by Ncube was demarcated to cover
Makokoba.

Khupe was confirmed the Tsvangirai faction candidate after the party
resolved to retain all MPs in their constituencies.


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Kunonga thugs block Bakare ordination

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

FORMER Anglican bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga last Sunday hired
thugs to block the ordination of Bishop Sebastian Bakare as acting
vicar-general of the diocese at the cathedral in the capital, it is alleged.

Bakare, who is also the acting bishop of Harare, had to be ordained at
the City Sports Centre instead.

Reverend Christopher Tapera, the acting diocesan secretary and Bakare’s
spokesperson, yesterday confirmed that Kunonga hired thugs to stop the
installation.

"We understand that thugs were ferried to the cathedral in lorries. We
ended up using the City Sports Centre for the ordination," Tapera said.
"Kunonga’s actions were clearly in contempt of recent court judgements."

The thugs were allegedly hired from Bindura, Mhondoro and Norton to
stop the installation of Bakare, sources said.

The sources said the thugs locked up the cathedral in violation of
High Court judge Justice Rita Makarau’s order a fortnight ago that Bakare
and Kunonga were both entitled to the use of the church property.

"We had planned to have a combined service at City Sports Centre in
the morning and the installation of Bishop Bakare at 2pm at the cathedral in
line with Makarau’s judgement that gives us the authority to use the
cathedral," one of the sources said. "We later received information that
Kunonga had thugs all over the cathedral. Kunonga and some of the thugs
were, in fact, inside the cathedral."

As a result, the source said, the installation had to take place at
the City Sports Centre.

Another source said Kunonga resorted to hiring thugs after Justice
Chinembiri Bhunu at the weekend dismissed his urgent application to stop the
ordination of Bakare.

The Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) dean,
Albert Chama, ordained Bakare.

Efforts to get a comment from Kunonga yesterday were in vain.

Last week, High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe ruled that Kunonga’s
diocese could not exist at law outside the constitution of the CPCA.

Hungwe said this when he dismissed an urgent application by the
diocese represented by Kunonga for a spoliation order against the CPCA and
Bakare.


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Media law creates regulatory vacuum

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE proposed statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) which should
accredit journalists following amendments to the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) is yet to be constituted and journalists
are still not accredited for 2008.

However, journalists who were registered by the defunct Media and
Information Commission (MIC) in 2007 and those who applied for renewal and
new accreditation before the amendments, are deemed to be accredited under
the law, legal experts have said.

In separate interviews on the legal implications of the media
regulatory vacuum created by the non-establishment of the ZMC after the
enactment of amendments to Aippa on January 11 this year, lawyers said
previously accredited journalists and those who submitted applications
before January 11 were "operating legally".

Although the amended Act makes provision for journalists to operate
without statutory accreditation, they still need it to enjoy various
journalistic privileges like access to state press conferences, functions
and statutory bodies.

As the country prepares for the March elections, most journalists have
expressed concern over possible denial of accreditation to cover the
elections and harassment by police since the MIC-issued cards expired on
December 31 last year.

Valid statutory press cards are also a prerequisite for special
election accreditation by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Fulltime and freelance journalists nationwide are still to get 2008
accreditation cards.

However, legal expert Muchadeyi Masunda who is also the chairperson of
the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, Misa-Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert
Mandinde, and a veteran lawyer with Veritas Trust who asked not to be named,
concurred that journalists would be deemed registered during this
transitional period.

Under the amendments the MIC — to be renamed the ZMC — and new
commissioners are to be appointed from nominations made by the Parliamentary
Standing Rules and Orders Committee.

Masunda said although the amended Act did not provide for the
extension of the validity of previous cards during the transitional period,
journalists would be deemed legally licensed under the law.

"The responsible minister has an obligation to issue a statutory
instrument to ensure continuity during the transitional period during which
the MIC should be reconstituted as ZMC with new commissioners being
appointed.

"There is a deeming provision at law to cater for such developments.
We have had institutions being renamed and reconstituted in the past and the
same should apply in this case," said Masunda. "Of course the responsible
minister is obliged to make any clarification but journalists holding 2007
cards and those who applied before the amendments, are deemed to be
registered in terms of the law."

Mandinde concurred but expressed concern over the possible harassment
of journalists by "overzealous policemen".

He said delays in setting up the ZMC had created "some kind of a
regulatory vacuum" which could prejudice journalists.

Mandinde said journalists could be denied access to information at
some places like the courts where they are expected to produce valid press
cards.

"It is therefore imperative for the responsible minister to issue an
instrument for the benefit of those in authority in various institutions to
entertain journalists holding 2007 press cards. Legally, they can operate
but it’s not everyone who understands the law,"said Mandinde.

In terms of the amended Act, the eight ZMC members should be appointed
by the president from a list of 12 nominees submitted by the Parliamentary
Standing Rules and Orders Committee.

However, parliament was adjourned to April 8 after the elections and
is awaiting dissolution on March 28.

Parliamentary committees are no longer sitting as members are busy
preparing for the elections.

Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said he would look into the
matter once he was back in office after the ruling Zanu PF party primary
elections.

"That should not be a problem. Everything is under control. However, I
will respond to your questions fully when I return to my office next week,"
said Ndlovu.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa
could not respond to written questions faxed to his office because he was
also busy with the primary elections.

"I am in the rural areas campaigning. Send your questions to my office
and I will look at them on Monday," said Chinamasa.


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More problems for Mugabe

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro/Loughty Dube

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces a dilemma on how to retain Zanu PF’s old
guard in mainstream politics following the defeat of ministers, party
heavyweights and sitting MPs in the primary elections.

Some of the heavyweights who lost their bid to represent the ruling
party in the March 29 elections have been Mugabe’s trusted lieutenants and
have served in cabinet in different portfolios.

Political bigwigs that have been swept away by the tidal wave of
change that seems to have characterised the ruling party’s primary elections
include ministers Rugare Gumbo and Aeneas Chigwedere, deputy ministers David
Chapfika and Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, and sitting MPs Claudius Makova, Isaiah
Shumba and Marbel Mawere.

The defeated ministers had become Mugabe’s close allies, securing
appointments to cabinet posts on two consecutives occasions.

Ministers defeated in primary polls have often been served by Mugabe’s
patronage through appointments as non-constituency members.

However, that window was closed by Constitutional Amendment No 18,
which declared that all the 210 House of Assembly seats should be contested.
Presidential appointees would occupy only five senate seats.

There are also a number of disputed primary elections in the provinces
where Zanu PF heavyweights were either accused of vote rigging or imposing
candidates without going to primaries.

The objections and complaints, which have since been registered with
the national election directorate have forced Mugabe to defer the nomination
court to next Friday. The disputes have also left Zanu PF contemplating
extending primary elections to allow reruns in the disputed constituencies.

Zanu-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika said primary elections were
likely to be extended. The directorate has been inundated with complaints of
alleged irregularities, all implicating political leadership of imposing
candidates, resulting in party supporters besieging Zanu PF headquarters in
Harare.

In Mutare a serious clash has erupted between Gender minister Oppah
Muchinguri and Irene Zindi following the declaration of Sherlington Dumbura
as the Zanu PF candidate for Mutare South. Zindi is accusing Muchinguri of
misrepresenting facts and presenting Dumbura as a woman candidate to the
party leadership.

"After the delimitation process, Muchinguri approached me expressing
fears on her chances in the elections since her constituency now included an
urban electorate," Zindi said. "We agreed to swap the constituencies.
Provincial leadership then met on January 3 to parcel out constituencies. We
agreed that Mike Nyambuya, Oppah Muchinguri, Mandi Chimene and myself would
go in unopposed."

Zindi said after the meeting Muchinguri turned around to support
Dumbura to challenge her in the constituency.

"In the primaries they robbed me," Zindi said. "People voted at night
only in two wards instead of six wards to which I refused to endorse the
outcome and launched a complaint with the election directorate."

"To make matters worse Muchinguri rushed to the directorate to
misrepresent the facts saying that Dumbura was a woman."

Zindi was yesterday waiting for the outcome of her appeal. Muchinguri
could not be reached for comment.

Supporters from Mashonaland Central on Wednesday demonstrated at the
ruling party headquarters and denounced the imposition of candidates and
alleged declaration of candidates as uncontested when the directorate was
preparing for primaries.

Supporters in Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces have accused the
provincial leadership of "ambush politics" in which some constituencies were
announced as reserved for women just before the primary elections. Makonde
MP Leo Mugabe who sought to become senator for Mhangura was shocked when he
was told that the constituency had been reserved for a woman on the day of
the primary. His immediate response was to file an appeal.

In Gutu South constituency in Masvingo, Dr Paul Chimedza, the former
president of the Hospital Doctors Association who had reportedly bankrolled
a multi-billion dollar bid for political office, suffered a major setback
when he was informed that he could not contest in primary elections because
the constituency was reserved for a woman.

The provincial elections directorate last Saturday (day of primaries)
informed him that the long-serving and controversial politician, Shuvai
Mahofa, could not be challenged in the primary elections.

Sources in the ruling party’s election directorate said the results
that had not been made public this week included several shockers which the
national elections directorate could turnaround through reruns.

Zanu PF primaries have been characterised by reports of outbreaks of
violence in several areas.

In Bulawayo province, clashes forced the postponement of primary
elections last Friday after rival factions clashed in protest over unfair
selection criteria. Members aligned to war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda
protested against a move by a rival faction led by the Zanu-PF old-guard to
bar them from contesting in the primaries.

The provincial party leadership was accused of imposing candidates and
delaying announcing the list of contestants until shortly before the
nomination court sits. It emerged that politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
had been confirmed as the party candidate for Mpopoma constituency while
Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube is the unopposed candidate in Makokoba
constituency and Joshua Malinga is candidate for Bulawayo South.

Complaints were received in Matabeleland North where an aspiring
candidate Retired Major Mark Mzulu Mbayiwa was barred from contesting
against Industry and Trade minister, Obert Mpofu, over claims that his
papers were submitted unprocedurally.

Mbayiwa has lodged a complaint with the party’s national directorate.

In Matabeleland South another aspiring candidate for Insiza, Charlton
Siziba, has filed a High Court application seeking an interim order to
nullify the result of the primary poll. Siziba was disqualified from
contesting the primaries on the day of the polls.

In the court papers Siziba wants the High Court to interdict the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from holding the nomination court for Insiza
until the finalisation of his court case.


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Moyo, Dongo press ahead with nomination date challenge

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

TSHOLOTSHO legislator Jonathan Moyo and former Harare South lawmaker
Margaret Dongo are pressing ahead with their High Court application to set
aside the date President Robert Mugabe proclaimed for nomination courts to
sit for the March 29 elections arguing it was unconstitutional.

Moyo and Dongo, in an application filed with the court on Sunday,
argued that Mugabe violated provisions of the constitution when he made the
proclamation before the publication of a final delimitation report. Both
politicians intend to contest in the polls.

Mugabe on January 24 initially set today as the nomination date and
this week moved it to February 15.

The president said he moved the date after Zanu PF and the MDC
approached him and asked for more time to allow them to complete selection
of candidates.

Moyo and Dongo’s lawyer Chris Mhike yesterday said despite the change
in the date of nominations, his clients were going ahead with the court
application on the basis that it was done in contravention of the
constitution.

"The application is about the legality of the recent proclamation,"
Mhike said. "The nomination date was proclaimed before the publication of
the final report on boundaries and names of constituencies and wards, which
had the effect of reducing the nomination preparation period of would-be
candidates."

Mhike said the constitution required the proclamation of a nomination
date 14 days, but less than 21 days, after the publication of the final
delimitation report.

He said judging from recent press reports, the postponement of the
nominations to next week were prompted by "practical concerns of major
political players" without regard to the law.

"My clients argue that primary focus should be on compliance with the
law, as the law is designed to protect the interests of citizens and parties
other than the major political players," Mhike said. "We are yet to see the
final delimitation report and to us it means that the movement of the
nomination date to February 15 is still unconstitutional."

The lawyer said if the report was to be made public through the
Government Gazette today, the ideal date for nominations would be February
22.

Moyo in his affidavit said the setting of the nomination date by
Mugabe without the publication of the relevant names and boundaries of
constituencies and wards would shorten the period over which candidates may
prepare for the nomination.

He said the proclamation by Mugabe was in blatant violation of Section
61A (11) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in that "the final names and
boundaries of the wards and the House of Assembly and Senatorial
constituencies had not been proclaimed and published in the Government
Gazette".

Moyo added: "This means that 1st respondent (Mugabe) fixed the sitting
date for the nomination court and fixed the date of the next general
election on the basis of a preliminary report by 2nd respondent (Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission), which report has not been made public by the time 1st
respondent issued Statutory Instrument 7A of 2008 and was never available to
the public."

The former Information minister further argued that the failure to
distribute the report for the benefit of the public, the electorate and
aspiring candidates was a serious breach of the law and a subversion of the
democratic process.

"Indeed, the failure is the clearest neutral evidence that, despite
the 1st respondent’s proclamation fixing the date of the sitting of the
nomination court and fixing the date of the general election, the relevant
authorities are in fact not ready to hold the general election and to ensure
its freeness and fairness purely from an administrative and logistical point
of view," Moyo added.

Dongo agreed in her affidavit with Moyo’s assertion.

The High Court is expected to hear the application before Monday.


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Gono blasts govt

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono has accused the government of
failing to implement his "modest and well-thought-out recommendations"
towards stabilising the economy due to lack of "requisite commitment and
discipline" on fundamental aspects of economic reform.

The government, however, attributes the current economic crisis to
sanctions rather than mismanagement.

In a detailed catalogue of policy advice the RBZ has given to
government since 2003, Gono said the country’s economic turn-around was
being affected by lack of commitment to fight corruption and indiscipline,
stakeholder unilateralism and pursuit of selfish sectoral interests.

Gono also cited government’s failure to instill discipline in matters
of policy-implementation, monitoring and review in ministries and
restraining fiscal expenditure. He also cited failure to enhance
agricultural productivity, among other key issues.

The catalogue was a supplement to the January 2008 Monetary Policy
Statement issued by Gono last Thursday.

Gono said against the backdrop of slippages on the implementation
front, "it should therefore not come as a surprise to any Zimbabwean, great,
small and otherwise, that our country has continued on a downward and
inevitable path of economic decline with inflation remaining the country’s
number one enemy".

Commenting on inflation in his statement, Gono took a swipe at the
failure by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to release inflation figures
on time.

The CSO falls under the Ministry of Finance.

"Yes, our inflation is the highest in the world, but this should not
tempt us to sweep our blemishes under the carpet. Where there is no
information, markets will tend to fill in the gaps through distorted and
imprecise wild guesses, which cause more damage than would be the case when
the actual information is made known to the public in time," said Gono.

He said latest data indicates that inflation was 26 470,8% for
November last year.

"As monetary authorities, we call upon those whose role is to collect,
compute and publish economic statistics to do so timeously so as to preserve
credibility of national accounts, as well as enabling proper business
planning," he said.

Gono said as a result of corruption and policy inconsistencies across
all sectors of the economy, the public had continued to lead a life of
shortages and economic inconveniences characterised by power blackouts,
water cuts, lack of basic commodities and lately cash shortages.

The RBZ chief in December told the ruling Zanu PF extraordinary
congress that corrupt top government and ruling party officials were
responsible for the cash shortages as they were actively involved in illegal
foreign currency dealings.

Gono publicly offered to give information on cash barons to the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance, but the scheduled
meeting was cancelled ahead of the dissolution of parliament for the
elections.

Guruve North legislator David Butau, who chaired the committee, was
implicated in the deals and fled the country.

Despite the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission,
corruption is rife in both the public and private sector and Gono said there
was need for the commission to be "fully capacitated to discharge its duties
effectively".

The policy advice catalogue outlined RBZ recommendations to
government, intended impact and progress on implementation on the plan for
various sectors of the economy.

On agriculture and the land reform programme, Gono said the RBZ was
concerned by the slow progress on the issue of Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs), full land utilisation, dam
construction and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes.

"The RBZ availed funds for dam construction and irrigation
development. Resources from the National Budget are still insignificant and
most dams are still incomplete," said Gono.

The central bank boss added that the misalignment between fuel prices
for agriculture and the public transport sector needed to be addressed,
adding that the government’s late announcement of producer prices was
affecting production.

He said although government had reviewed the producer prices of maize
and wheat, there was still need for further alignment to ensure grower
viability.

Gono said there was also need to come up with "appropriate maize
pricing for millers" as they were still receiving maize at subsidised
prices.

The RBZ chief also expressed concern over the undercapitalisation of
the Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) which is expected to play a key
role in financing farmers.

Gono said the central bank had advised government to hasten the pace
of macroeconomic convergence by dealing with disparities between agriculture
lending rates and market rates as well as multiple exchange rates for gold,
tobacco and the rest of the economy.

However, the fiscal authorities were still to address this issue.

On economic indigenisation, Gono said the RBZ advised legislators and
government to strike a balance between the objectives of the programme and
the need to attract foreign investment through a gradual approach.

However, Gono said the indigenisation proposals by the RBZ had not
been embraced.

On incomes and pricing policies, Gono said the introduction of price
controls in June last year had affected business viability and there was
need for relevant authorities to fully implement three protocols of the
Social Contract signed by labour, business and the government.

"Policy inconsistencies still exist in some areas, particularly with
regard to the pricing of some goods and services. Business viability is
still being eroded by inflation, hence the need to institute corrective
measures," said Gono.

Gono said there was urgent need for parastatals and local authorities
to be functional as preconditions for meaningful economic recovery.

He said parastatals utility Zesa, Zinwa, Air Zimbabwe, the NRZ and
TelOne should charge realistic economic tariffs to sustain their operations
and provide efficient service to the nation.

On the mining sector, Gono said delays in finalising mining
legislation was undermining investor confidence while "disorder and
unstructured diamond mining activities continue to stifle growth".

On streamlining fiscal expenditures in line with the economy’s
revenue-generating capacity, Gono said line ministries were still
experiencing expenditure overruns and this had an impact on inflationary
pressures.

Gono said successful macroeconomic stabilisation and development would
"come as products of tangible implementation of consistent policies in a
holistic manner".

Commenting on the pending elections in his policy statement, Gono
urged all political parties to remain peaceful.

"We should not therefore, choose the path of self-mutilation as did
happen elsewhere here in Africa where brothers and sisters, sons and
fathers, daughters and mothers are decapitating each other all in the name
of politics," Gono said. "Let us show political maturity and choose the path
of peaceful progression into the future. Like seasons of the year, elections
come and go, but people’s lives will self-perpetuate throughout
generations."


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Makoni and the politics of stability

Zim Independent

By Alex Magaisa

SIMBA Makoni’s presidential bid has caused a large amount of
excitement both within and outside Zimbabwe. It has certainly injected some
life to an electoral process that had become a dud through a combination of
the two MDC factions’ nauseatingly infantile behaviour and Zanu PF’s
traditional penchant for underhand tactics.

But there is need for some reflection, even in the midst of the
excitement.

There seems to be a single and important theme characterising the
Makoni bid — the pursuit of compromise and stability. This is the pursuit of
democracy in a very different way from the traditional multi-party politics
that has characterised democratic movements in post-Cold War Africa. This
can be deciphered both from two aspects: first, the unusual character of
Makoni’s bid, which falls outside the realm of the political party
structure, and, second, the reported plan to form a government of national
unity (GNU) if his bid is successful.

This, therefore, is a story of re-unification across divided lines,
set against the background of an economy that has broken down in the face of
two feuding political movements, Zanu PF and the MDC, both of which have
tried but failed to find common ground.

There are a number of reasons which make this new development a
significant one in Zimbabwean politics.

First, it represents the first major break in the post-Independence
era by a significant figure from Zanu PF.

When Edgar Tekere bravely formed ZUM in 1989 and helped stop Mugabe’s
plan for a one-party system of government, he was already on his way out of
Zanu PF structures.

Though significant, Margaret Dongo’s gallant fight against Zanu PF in
1995 was mainly constituency-based.

There have been many rumours over the years of factionalism and
threats to break away, but this is the first time that the country has seen
the face of so-called reformists within Zanu PF. It does indicate that there
is room for regeneration within the old party.

Second, the approach being pioneered seems to be the advent of a
different approach to democratic politics in Africa — the possibility of
providing leadership beyond the traditional political party framework.
Whether or not this is viable is soon to be tested.

But it would be na´ve to ignore the voices that are beginning to doubt
the efficacy of party politics per se, given the conditions of African
polities. Events in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa have shown how the pursuit
of democracy through party politics is vulnerable in the fragile foundations
of African countries.

All too often, their capacity to withstand the dynamics of pure
democracy has been found wanting as fatal divisions occur along the oldest
of societal fault lines: tribe.

The current division of the MDC resembles the old division of the
1980s between PF Zapu and Zanu PF and it does not bode well for stability,
even if one of the MDCs wins.

This idea of a government of national unity is not entirely new to
Zimbabwe, Zanu PF itself having tried it after the 1987 Unity Accord, but it
needs to be supported by good economic management and equitable development
across regions.

That Makoni is raising the issue of a GNU also reflects developments
elsewhere in Africa. The current political and social instability affecting
Kenya, arising from the failed pursuit of electoral democracy, is being
resolved through an approach that also privileges leadership by compromise
and consensus through a GNU.

It should be recalled that the larger purpose of government, whether
democratic or otherwise, is to provide stability to its citizens. Where
there is stability, the chances of development and enjoyment of other
freedoms also increase.

If Zimbabwe needs anything at this juncture, it is stabilisation in
all areas of life. A leadership that is capable of providing stability
should find favour among the people.

The political struggle of Zimbabweans cannot be viewed simply within
the confines of democracy for the sake of it. Democracy is a means to
certain ends, of which stability is one of the primary ones.

Third, the bid comes at a time when the existing opposition seems to
have been failing to provide national leadership. The failure to form a
united force last week has caused a lot of consternation, particularly among
the MDC’s usual benefactors.

There is no doubt that the MDC leaders have fought the good fight over
the years. But they too seem to have entered the mode where they see very
little beyond their own little fiefdoms so that the national interest seems
to now play second-fiddle to individual politicians’ immediate interests.

Zimbabwe badly requires leadership that can bridge the divide, not
only between the MDC and Zanu PF but also in various other aspects of life.
Whether Makoni and his group have the capacity to do that can only be judged
with time, though even they will admit they have little of it.

Fourth, the new development gives rise to hope that the sources from
which Zanu PF draws power can be neutralised.

Contrary to common beliefs political power in Africa is not simply
decided by the ballot. Power drawn from the security structure remains a
crucial factor. This security structure is the main reason for Zanu PF’s
hitherto domination, regardless of the outcomes of the ballot.

This break from Zanu PF, if truly significant, has the chance to give
those controlling the security structure some options which have not been
available until now. Much depends on how much power the breakaways can draw
from the security structure and in this regard it remains to be seen whether
the Makoni-Mujuru link has any substance. If significant, this will be a
crucial factor which no other opposition to Mugabe has ever had.

Fifth, the new development provides Zimbabwe with a chance to rebuild
its relations with all significant players in the world, including the
maligned West.

The problem with the current leadership is that it perpetuates a
one-dimensional view of the world -— the anti-West approach to politics —
without actually appreciating the real dynamics of the global economy.

At the same time that they deride the West and applaud the East,
British PM Gordon Brown and a group of business leaders were being hosted by
the Chinese government. But when President Mugabe goes to the East, he takes
his family on holiday. The British are actually making more headway with the
Chinese than we are.

If Makoni enjoys the confidence of the West, that is not necessarily a
bad thing. The likes of Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), Jakaya Kikwete
(Tanzania), Arimando Guebuza (Mozambique) and most other Sadc leaders seem
to enjoy Western confidence but that does not make them stooges.

The ability to manage the country and provide bacon on their tables is
what matters to the ordinary people.

Finally, there is no doubt that Makoni has his work cut out. There are
formidable obstacles ahead.

He needs to draw unity with other opposition forces, now that he is
officially one of them. His friends must also come out in the open to boost
public confidence that this is real, otherwise some will believe the
conspiracy theorists who say that it’s a Zanu PF gimmick. Makoni enjoys a
measure of confidence and respect. He needs to make hay while the sun
shines. If he is serious about delivering stability, then he has to say what
Zimbabwe needs right now.

He might well fail on March 29, but for reasons outlined above, his
bid has already made its mark on the country’s fragile political landscape.

* Dr Magaisa is based at the University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at a.t.magaisa@kent.ac.uk or wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk


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Simba Makoni: a glimmer of hope

Zim Independent

By Trevor Ncube

I AM excited about the hope that springs out of Dr Simba Makoni’s bold
and brave decision to stand up and be counted. This is by far the best
prospect for change that Zimbabweans have been presented with in a very long
time. It would be catastrophic if we let this opportunity slip again.

Until Makoni’s decision on Tuesday I had made up my mind that for the
first time since 1980 I was not going to vote in the forthcoming elections.
The choice between the MDC and Zanu PF under the current circumstances is no
choice at all. This was indeed Hobson’s choice. Now things have changed and
I will be voting for I suddenly have a real choice.

Makoni’s decision to stand as a presidential candidate in the
elections at the end of March is a huge personal sacrifice that now must be
supported by all Zimbabweans who desire peaceful change.

The first giant step has been made but it would be na´ve to assume
that the job will be easy. Already the attacks from the state media have
been vicious but I am sure Makoni must have anticipated this. Some have even
gone so far as to claim that this is a CIO hoax and Makoni is a tool of the
state. Only the extremely gullible would believe this. He will need great
determination to withstand what the Zanu PF and state machinery is going to
unleash on him.

The burden that Makoni has taken upon himself on behalf of us all will
be made that much easier if progressive Zimbabweans liberated themselves
from fear and made it known to all that he is not alone in this journey.
Zimbabweans from all across the country have been decrying the dearth of
high-calibre leadership and now that Makoni has stepped up to the plate,
those wanting change from within Zanu PF, the opposition, civil society,
business and the church must rally around him.

Coming so soon after the failure of the two MDC factions to unite,
Makoni’s initiative provides a credible home and leadership for all those in
opposition who desire genuine change and not self-aggrandisement. The MDC’s
weakness has always been its pedestrian leadership which should now join
hands with Makoni to form a formidable coalition of forces opposed to all
that Mugabe represents. For his part, Makoni will need to reach out to all
and construct a movement that is accommodating to the diverse voices that
have been calling for change.

I must confess that I don’t exactly know what Makoni’s programme is or
what his manifesto holds. But one thing I am sure of is that I would be
proud to call him my president any day. He is intelligent, very articulate,
and his decision to resign as Finance minister six years ago tells me he is
a principled man. I think he cares and I am sure we can trust him. And I
have never caught any whiff of corruption about him.

My only criticism of Makoni is that he is aloof and tends to come
across as arrogant and condescending. I have also heard it said that he
holds strong views and he can’t work with others. But then there are very
few angels in Zimbabwe. His weaknesses pale into insignificance when
considering the dehumanising circumstances that we desperately need to
liberate ourselves from.

Zimbabwe is in a desperate situation and we can ill-afford the luxury
of a wait-and-see attitude or fence-sitting as far as the prospect offered
by Makoni is concerned. Those in the MDC need to go back to the days they
cared more about the people than their narrow selfish interests and throw in
their lot with Makoni. Those inside Zanu PF must realise that there will
never be another chance to break away from Mugabe’s suffocating clutches and
that it is imperative that they also collectively answer the call by
Zimbabweans for change.

They must realise that Makoni offers them an opportunity to make right
their sins of commission and omission. Will they grab this chance to reject
corruption, murder, patronage and abuse of power or will they choose to
stand on the side of Mugabe and the ruin and pain that he has inflicted on
Zimbabweans?

Within the context of Zimbabwean politics, I was the first one to
write about the "Third Way" as an essential prerequisite for a fresh start
for Zimbabweans. My thinking was and still is that under Zanu PF our society
has collapsed and we need a new beginning that rejects Zanu PF corruption,
oppression, arrogance and mismanagement and offers Zimbabweans an
opportunity to dream again.

The Third Way to me is a way of thinking that rejects the mediocrity
offered by the MDC and seeks to define who we are and restructure our
institutions, constitution, and touch base with our norms and values. I
believe Makoni gives Zimbabweans an opportunity to dream and live again.

While it will be near impossible for anybody to perform worse than
Mugabe, for Makoni to make a difference he will have to be a democrat who
values human rights and is committed to the rule of law. His manifesto must
make an undertaking to involve Zimbabweans in crafting a new rights-based
constitution. He will have to be a leader who listens and takes advice and
one who is tolerant of views and opinions different from his.

Apart from Mugabe and his entire arsenal, perhaps the biggest
challenge that Makoni faces is time. There simply isn’t enough time
considering the work that needs to be done to realise the hopes raised by
that noble decision he announced on Tuesday. But I believe that the task is
made easier by the disaster that Zimbabwe is at the moment. People have been
waiting for change for too long and this is the trigger they needed to
liberate themselves from the current poverty, suffering and a
less-than-human existence.

To a large extent Makoni has done his bit and the ball is now in the
court of all Zimbabweans. As US Democratic presidential candidate Barack
Obama said on Tuesday: "We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the
change that we seek."

* Trevor Ncube is publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent, Standard and
Mail & Guardian.


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Give Makoni a chance

Zim Independent

Comment

IT’S early days yet to gauge the full impact of Simba Makoni’s
decision to challenge President Robert Mugabe for the topmost political post
in Zimbabwe. What must be said is that it must have been a brave and painful
decision. Still somebody at some point had to be brave and do it. As
providence would have it, that lot fell to Makoni.

A number of irrelevant questions are being raised about his
suitability, his culpability in the sorry state of our economy and generally
his capacity to lead the country. Most of these are questions which have
never been asked of any other leader, which begs the question why now? Time
will answer those questions.

What is important, in our considered view, is Makoni has broken the
mould in directly challenging Mugabe for the position of president. Like
everybody else, he says he was disappointed by what people expected but didn’t
happen at the December Zanu PF extraordinary congress.

"I shared the wish, the hope and expectations of the overwhelming
majority of Zanu PF members and the nation at large that the extraordinary
party congress of December 2007 would usher in …a change of leadership,"
said Makoni in his brief statement announcing his presidential bid.
"Needless to say I share the disappointment that followed the failure of
congress in that regard."

It is necessary to point out that Makoni is clear about the source of
our problems — a crisis of leadership in the country. He said a change at
the leadership level "is a prerequisite for change at other levels of
national endeavour".

It is hard to fault this observation given that it is failure at the
leadership level of policy drafting and implementation that is responsible
for the parlous state of Zimbabwe’s economy. We can talk about the land
reform, corruption, political violence and all the evils that go with our
crooked electoral system, but it all boils down to a failure of political
leadership.

It is possible that Makoni could very easily have jumped the Zanu PF
ship and joined existing opposition political parties. But that he didn’t
opt for this easy route must say something to us about leadership
deficiencies in that quarter as well. It is an indictment of those who have
stood so firmly against Mugabe’s excesses that they have failed to rise
above petty personal egos to fit the bill of national calling. It is this
failure which is spawning a number of fly-by-night political parties on the
eve of crucial national elections.

It is commendable instead that Makoni has opted for a neutral
position, ready to receive brickbats and accolades from both sides of the
political divide. We believe Makoni has remained the least tainted of the
Zanu PF old guard even as he has been with the party since Independence,
occupying various ministerial posts, including that of Finance minister
before he fell out with Mugabe in August 2002.

His neutral position in Zimbabwe’s highly polarised politics allows
Makoni to speak to reform-minded Zimbabweans in both Zanu PF and the MDC. It
allows him to speak even to those sitting on the fence between the two
antagonistic parties. His neutrality allows him to give a non-partisan view
of the state of our nation, something which neither Mugabe nor Morgan
Tsvangirai can do and be believed by the other side.

Further to his advantage, Makoni independently understands the
importance of Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the international community, not
just China, Iran and Cuba. So far Zimbabwe has tried to be an island, to go
it alone in a globalised village. The results are fuel and foreign currency
shortages, loss of skills to the developed world and a collapsing health
delivery system.

Tellingly, cognisant of the failure of leadership, Makoni has remained
faithful to Zanu PF policies as envisaged on paper at least. A key aspect of
those policies is obviously a final resolution of the land question, who
owns what and the issue of compensation to dispossessed white commercial
farmers, not a return to pre-Independence boundaries. This is very important
to state from the outset, so that Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the
international community is not premised on some romantic notions about the
status quo ante 2000. Zimbabwe must rejoin the community of nations on its
own terms, free to trade with other nations on an equal basis. It is
certainly not in our national interest to be treated as a beggar state or as
if we have been defeated in a war. We believe these are sentiments which sit
comfortably with Makoni and he can pronounce on them at any forum without
raising fears about Zimbabwe’s suitability as a safe investment destination.

Let’s give Makoni a chance. His candidacy, first reported in this
paper on January 11, creates a new dynamic in our political process and
offers something that had been lacking in the campaign so far: hope of real
change.


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Makoni deals blow to politics of hostage

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

THERE was a lot of good news this week. First, the MDC wrangle can be
said to be over. They failed to find a point of convergence in their fight
for mastery of the party; some say because of personal greed among those
closest to the leadership, others believe it was because of disagreements on
matters of principle. After all they say a principle compromised is a
principle sacrificed.

Whatever the reason, the good thing is that the two MDC formations now
know where they stand in relation to each other and vis-a-vis Zanu PF. They
must now enter the ring as separate entities if they want to be taken
seriously and stop the pretence that they can form a so-called "marriage of
convenience" for the purposes of beating Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe
in next month’s elections.

To me if political leaders cannot forego their personal interests
ahead of the nation which they pretend they want ahead, there is no point in
any alliance, coalition or united front. The collapse of the "unity talks"
reflects more on the quality of the negotiators themselves than on any
substantive issues which selfless compromise could not have resolved. More
importantly, it is evident that the MDC leaders are themselves guilty of the
intransigence which they accuse Zanu PF of at the Sadc-initiated
negotiations. The side which imagines it has an edge over the other will not
budge, but together they dream of forcing Zanu PF to legislate itself out of
power through sometimes preposterous demands.

For whatever reason, each of the factions, with obvious odds against
it, believes it can go it alone against Zanu PF and win. For them to win,
the logic appears to run, they only need a new constitution and a
postponement of the elections. They don’t have to campaign because
Zimbabweans are so beholden to them and have no alternative. In short,
President Mugabe has become such a loathsome ogre everybody is running away
from Zanu PF. There is no distinction between Zanu PF as a party and its
failed leader.

The irony is that this same image is beginning to reflect very
strongly in the MDC itself. The leader is the party or there is no party.

The people of Zimbabwe are better off without marriages of convenience
which are short-lived and end up in embarrassing acrimony and take the
nation many steps backwards. We have already seen what happened to Kenya’s
Rainbow Coalition soon after Mwai Kibaki got into power. There were no
principles or ideology binding the coalition together and the people of
Kenya were taken for a rough ride by people who were only driven by a
craving for power. Today they are paying a heavy price for their
shortsightedness. Getting rid of evil Daniel arap Moi didn’t cost as much
blood as is being shed to remove democratic Kibaki.

More good news: Enter Simba Makoni, the perpetual youth of Zanu PF
politics. He has raised as much of a stir as did Arthur Mutambara’s entry.
There is anger and bewilderment. Anger on the part of those suffering from
the "founding leader" syndrome who believe they alone own the struggle for
democracy and no one should try and steal the limelight from them, much like
Nelson Mandela did to Mugabe when he was released from prison. Bewilderment
on the part of those who believed Mugabe could never be challenged from
within Zanu PF.

But Makoni’s entry into the presidential race has more significance
than that. The truth is that he doesn’t even need to win the election.

Firstly, if he can maintain the delicate poise of being a politician
and a gentleman, he would give Zimbabwe the good character it needs —
regrouping frustrated voters in both Zanu PF and the MDC and presenting a
sober face to the international community.

Secondly, to me Makoni stands between Mugabe and his MDC clone,
neither of whom believes in the rule of law. Morgan Tsvangirai will not
hesitate to trash party rules and the constitution if they stand in his way
just as Mugabe will quickly trash property rights if they stand in the way
of what he believes to be a just cause.

Thirdly, Makoni presents an opportunity for many Zimbabweans who are
disenchanted with both the MDC and Zanu PF. There are many people who are
frustrated by Zanu PF’s policy failures and the MDC’s lack of a clear
programme of economic recovery beyond fairytales of a generous international
community waiting at the border with truckloads of foreign currency.

Most significantly for Zimbabwean voters, there are many who are so
frustrated with Zanu PF’s incompetence and arrogance that they would vote
for anyone who challenges it. This protest vote has unfortunately given the
opposition a sense of entitlement in urban areas. It therefore doesn’t see
the need to campaign on the basis of its won policies but simply exploit
people’s anger and frustration with Zanu PF.

Thus up to election day it doesn’t see the need to announce clearly
whether it is contesting the elections or waiting to challenge the results
over which it has already pronounced a papal verdict. Makoni’s entry is
therefore salutary in that it widens the choice for Zimbabweans and thereby
removes the politics of hostage to two equally bungling contenders. Time
will clear the current miasma of uncertainty about the political path he
plans to chart.


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Getting it right

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Iden Wetherell

THE media are an essential part of the election process. We are the
main channel for getting information to voters on their right to vote,
reporting what the various parties stand for and what the main issues in the
campaign are.

Below we publish a summary of key standards produced by the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network, drawn from material used by the International
Federation of Journalists and media watchdog Article 19, to which the
Zimbabwe Independent and our sister paper the Standard are happy to
subscribe. We have made changes where we think necessary to update the
material but essentially it remains a timeless statement of elementary
principles.

If you think we have departed from these principles in any way please
do not hesitate to contact me on 773930/8 or at idenw@zimind.co.zw.

The first duty of a journalist is to:

*report accurately and without bias;

*report only in accordance with facts whose origin are known and not
suppress essential information;

*observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information
obtained in confidence;

*report in a balanced manner. (If a candidate makes an allegation
against another candidate, the journalist should seek comment from both
sides wherever possible);

*do his/her utmost to correct any inaccurate published information
that is found to be prejudicial to a candidate;

*report as far as possible the views of candidates and political
parties directly and in their own words, rather than as they are described
by others;

*avoid using language or expressing sentiments that may promote
discrimination or violence on any grounds, including race, gender, sexual
orientation, language, or religion;

*do his/her utmost when reporting the opinions of those who do
advocate discrimination or violence to put such views in a clear context and
to report the opinions of those against whom such sentiments are directed;

*not accept any inducement from a politician or candidate;

*not make any promise to a politician about the content of a news
report;

*take care in reporting the findings of opinion polls.

Any opinion poll report should wherever possible include the following
information:

*who commissioned and carried out the poll and when;

*how many people were interviewed, where and how they were interviewed
and the margin of error;

*the exact wording of the questions;

A journalist shall regard the following as grave professional
offences:

*plagiarism

*malicious misrepresentation;

*acceptance of a bribe or favours in any form in consideration of
either publication or suppression of views.

There should be a clear separation between fact and comment. News
reporting should reflect the facts as honestly perceived by journalists.
Comment may reflect the editorial line of our publications but should be
clearly flagged as such.

Our journalists reporting an election campaign have a number of duties
which include:

*Reporting what the candidates say, and;

*Digging beneath the surface to uncover hidden campaign issues.

Our reporters will report what they see and hear without exaggeration.

Over the years, we have witnessed the increased use of hate speech and
inflammatory language during the campaign period. The campaigns have also
been marred by violence and damage to property. Politicians have inflamed
this through violent language. It is not our job to censor what they say but
to report accurately what they say. But when reporting inflammatory
language, we will balance it by reporting the view of those who are being
attacked.

It is not the job of a reporter to criticise what a politician says.
That can be done on the editorial pages. But it is also imperative that we
point out where they are not being consistent or where they are applying
double standards. Is a candidate saying the same thing this week as he was
last week? Is he saying the same as other candidates from the same party on
the same issue?

We will be guided by these basic journalistic tenets in our coverage
of the polls and sincerely hope that parties will understand that the role
of the media is to report events even if the reportage turns out to be
unpalatable to them.

Above all we hope that by applying the standards above we can help
produce an electorate capable of making informed choices.


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So Makoni is a British stooge?

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

THE Herald’s front page on Wednesday told us what to expect in the
coming weeks. Simba Makoni’s decision to throw his hat into the ring — a
mould-breaking development that was newsworthy by any standard — was
relegated to the bottom of the front page while the president’s return from
an ordinary session of the AU in Addis Ababa occupied pride of place at the
top.

Even then the Makoni story was heavily panel-beaten to make it fit
with the ruling party’s childish regime-change conspiracy theory involving
the British, Americans and Swedes.

Instead of simply reporting the story straight, the Herald devoted
four introductory paragraphs trying to establish a linkage between Makoni’s
candidacy and the Anglo-American plot to unseat President Mugabe.

Only at paragraph five did we get to know what Makoni had actually
said at his Tuesday press conference. And even then the following key
remarks were omitted from the Herald report: "Let me confirm that I share
the agony and anguish of all citizens over the extreme hardships that we all
have endured for nearly 10 years now," Makoni said.

"I also share the widely held view that these hardships are a result
of failure of national leadership and that change at that level is a
prerequisite for change at other levels of national endeavour."

Caesar Zvayi in his column referred to this part of Makoni’s statement
but claimed Makoni was part of government for the better part of those 10
years.

In fact Makoni was Finance minister for two years (2000-2002) and was
thwarted at every turn by Mugabe who accused him of being an economic
saboteur.

Zvayi appears to have forgotten that episode including the
circumstances surrounding Makoni’s departure from office.

The Herald’s front-page story included Joseph Chinotimba’s
melodramatic remarks that war veterans would take control of the Zanu PF
headquarters — presumably to safeguard it against a Swedish attack.

Does the Herald want to be taken seriously? Quoting threats by former
municipal policemen who are a law unto themselves is hardly the way to go
about it. How will tourists and investors feel about manifestations of a
lawless society?

he lack of shame at the Herald is astounding. On the front page of the
Business section yesterday the paper said we have been experiencing
electricity shortages because of "rapid industrialisation...."

Once you have stopped laughing, can you believe that this is being
said by a so-called business reporter. Everyone (including Gono and the
Dimwit of Finance) knows that productivity has been falling steadily for
years now and the economy is shrinking. Government is considering digging
pit toilets in the cities because there is no foreign currency. Call this
rapid industrialisation?

It would appear that the reporter read articles from South African
newspapers which cite the stupendous growth of their economy (target growth
6%) and the housing boom as the reason for increased demand on their grid,
whereas our demand is actually shrinking because companies are closing.

We always suspected that the Herald had no original thought of its own
and this confirms it. We are sure even Zanu PF is cringing at this craven
attempt to lick its boots. Such servility can be embarrasing to the master
sometimes.

uckraker received a mail recently from a prominent resident of the
Bvumba who described the rapidly deteriorating conditions the community
there faces.

"I feel that I must appraise you," he says, "of the appalling
circumstances that hotels, tourist operators, farms, smallholdings,various
businesses (such as canning factories and sawmills) and numerous private
residents are trying to survive under due to the progressive collapse of the
power and telecommunications infrastructure in the Bvumba.

"Due to theft of several kilometres of Zesa high voltage transmission
lines since early December and vandalism to numerous transformers, much of
the Bvumba has been without any power for more than seven weeks!

"This has also resulted in the loss of the TelOne radio-linked
landline telephone service for most of the area and, as cellular telephone
service is restricted due to rugged terrain, many no longer have any means
of external communication.

"The losses to tourism (hotel occupancy over Christmas-New Year was
less than 30%) and to business now runs into hundreds of billions of
Zimbabwe dollars.

"Those fortunate enough to have financial resources have installed
diesel or petrol generators to provide limited amounts of emergency power
for lighting and refrigeration. These consume about a litre of fuel per hour
which is unobtainable locally and has to be sourced at great expense either
on the black market or by travelling to neighbouring Mozambique. Those
without generators are in dire straits due to being unable to keep food
fresh.

"Those without gravity fed water supplies have been without pumped
water for weeks and are having to manually carry it from nearest sources.
The lack of water for primary purposes poses a health risk.

ravel to town is becoming increasingly difficult due to lack of fuel,
shortage of transport and deterioration of the roads. Some roads are now
almost single lanes due to large potholes landslides and encroachment of
mud, grass and weeds.

"Although individual representations have been made to government
authorities including Zesa and TelOne, not much has been done to rectify the
situation due to acute shortages of local resources, foreign currency, and
international aid.

"Neither the police nor army have apprehended the culprits responsible
for the vandalism and cable theft and neither been willing or able to
upgrade security with patrols, roadblocks and other measures. Already there
has been an armed car hijacking (the first in the Bvumba) and several
instances of house breaking by thieves who are taking advantage of lack of
power and telephone communication.

"It is only a matter of time before fatalities occur.

"What is particularly worrying is that nothing has appeared about the
situation in the state-controlled media and very little in the local private
press.

"There have been several break-and-enters in the Essex Road area and
thefts of transformer oil which have been facilitated by the lack of power,
security lights and communications. The result is that apart from property
loss, we shall now be without any electricity indefinitely even if the lines
to the area are replaced as Zesa have no transformer oil and no forex to
import any.

"A few people in the same boat have purchased oil privately so Zesa
can refill their transformers but with no security up here there is no
guarantee that it won’t be stolen again.

"This is a dreadful situation and is in my opinion a symptom of
impending total collapse. It is one which in any other part of the world
would have resulted in a state of emergency being declared so that drastic
remedial action could be taken and external assistance could be canvassed
and received."

n Tuesday the Herald reported that an outfit called the Zimbabwe
National Liberation Supporters Association had endorsed President Mugabe
because "he articulates the African dream".

They should visit the Bvumba where that dream turned out to be a
nightmare! Here was one of our flagship tourism destinations ruined by
reckless policies and state corporations that advertise their slavish
loyalty to the president at every opportunity but fail the public whom they
purport to serve.

ne reason for this institutional failure is misplaced nationalism.

Writing in the Herald on Tuesday Chinondidyachii Mararike proclaimed
Zimbabwe’s solidarity with the people of Iraq and Palestine who are
struggling against imperialism. He also saluted the people of the DRC.

"That is why we of Zanu PF proclaim loud and clear that we are against
Tshombes, against all versions of Tshombe — Morgan Tsvangirai, Jonas
Savimbi, Arthur Mutambara, Mobutu Sese Seko, John Makumbe, Eldred
Masunungure, Afonso Dhlakama, Elfas Mukonoweshuro . . . Our hearts are also
with our comrades in Cuba . . .
and with our brothers and sisters in Kenya who are killing each other
because of evil imperialist machinations."

Compare this vapid posturing with the views of Sunday Times editor
Mondli Makhanya who is in no doubt where Africa’s problems lie. The cult of
the "big man" is alive and well, he says in the wake of the AU shindig.

"What is happening in Kenya," Makhanya says, "should force every
African to stand in front of the mirror and ask: Why do we keep sliding back
to bad ways?

"Our leaders have to take the bulk of the blame. It has happened too
often before on this continent that Africa’s leaders have ignored the
suffering of ordinary people while supping with dictators. Africa’s leaders,
including our very own, have been quite content to go with the herd and not
differentiate themselves. The sacred principle of not speaking out against
evil so long as it is perpetrated by Africans on fellow Africans seems well
entrenched. That is why Robert Mugabe is able to strut about and spew
anti-Western rhetoric while oppressing Zimbabweans."

Makhanya argues that "in order for Africa to move forward this
misplaced solidarity between leaders of the continent has to end".

South African political commentator Xolela Mangcu, reflecting on his
country’s reversal of fortunes, says "back in 1994 I never would have
imagined that we would provide cover for a brutal dictator, Robert Mugabe,
under the guise of black nationalism".

Mararike is lost in time. He inhabits a world in which the language of
nationalism and solidarity excuses incompetence and wickedness. Nobody buys
that dishonesty any more. Kenyans are not killing each other because of
"imperialist machinations". They are bitter over a stolen election and a
suborned electoral commission. We should be doing everything to avoid such
consequences. Mararike plans to export Zimbabwe’s damaging politics to South
Africa and Namibia. Let’s see what reception he gets from a generation no
longer locked in the sterile mantras of the past.

Meanwhile, perhaps the Law Society could comment on Mararike’s current
status.

imbabwe has been withdrawn from the agenda of the ACP/EU joint
parliamentary assembly after successful representations by the country’s
delegation in Brussels last week, the Herald reports.

"We have managed to defend resolutely our country," said head of
delegation Senator Forbes Magadu, "and it was felt by everyone present that
the situation in Zimbabwe was much better compared to what is currently
happening elsewhere."

Nelson Chamisa is a member of the Zimbabwe delegation. It will be
recalled that he was savagely assaulted at Harare airport while on his way
to an ACP/EU joint parliamentary session in April. But he remains strangely
quiet when Magadu and others make statements about how tranquil Zimbabwe is.

"The Zimbabwe delegation together with their African counterparts
convinced the assembly," the Herald reported, "that there was no need to
send a fact-finding mission to the country as the situation did not warrant
that."

The people who assaulted Chamisa have still not been brought to book.
Yet the victim of this attack doesn’t seem to mind. What is going on here?
Whoever has heard of a political spokesman who has lost his tongue?

eanwhile, Chamisa’s wing of the MDC should be ashamed of itself
following the breakdown of talks with the Mutambara faction.

Very simply, the Tsvangirai MDC wants the freedom to poach
Matabeleland seats in addition to the lion’s share of Harare and Mashonaland
seats it has allocated itself. The Mutambara faction obviously cannot accept
such wanton greed.

"From haggling over two seats last night," Mutambara announced after
the breakdown last weekend, "this morning our (Tsvangirai) colleagues came
back to us demanding 20 more seats in Matabeleland, even where we have
sitting MPs. At the same time they are not prepared
to make such concessions in Harare."

Once again the MDC has put partisan bickering ahead of the national
interest. They really are intent on throwing this election away. They don’t
seem to understand that sometimes it is necessary to accommodate your
opponents on terms that are generous rather than mean. That way you build
confidence and provide space for a variety of talents. Posterity will judge
them harshly for last weekend’s events.


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Post-election economic blueprint

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

NEVER has the level of national despondency been as great in Zimbabwe as it
is at present. Inflation is soaring upwards at a draconian pace, with many
prices increasing as frequently as daily.

Unemployment is intensifying endlessly, as the ongoing contraction of the
economy impacts upon consumer purchasing power and demand, resulting in
cessation of almost all contract employment. Employers are also pursuing
employee numbers reduction by natural attrition and by retrenchment
programmes. Numerous employees, in distraught financial circumstances, are
readily accepting voluntary retrenchment programmes, in desperate endeavours
to resolve immediate financial problems, but without regard to future
financial needs.

The infrastructural collapse is accelerating, with commerce and industry,
agriculture, mining, tourism and the populace as a whole becoming
continuously inconvenienced and stressed by recurrent energy load-shedding
and supply breakdowns, grossly defective telecommunications, roads with
potholes of such magnitude that motorists fear they have strayed from their
intended routes and arrived at the Great Hole of Kimberley, and prolonged
water supply interruptions.

Healthcare resources are becoming evermore limited, with a mass emigration
of doctors, nurses, and other skilled health care providers, and with
hospital equipment ageing and in disrepair. Education is similarly
negatively affected, as is almost every other facet of the Zimbabwean
infrastructure.

Scarcities are more and more pronounced, with shop shelves having been as
bare as the renowned Mother Hubbard’s cupboard for more than six months.
Consumers, in desperation, are forced to resort to the black market to
access basic essentials such as soap and detergents, cooking oil, light
bulbs, toilet paper, and the like. Bread, flour, milk and eggs (as well as
many other products) are as scarce as the legendary hen’s teeth and, in the
rare occasions that any are available, the prices are prohibitively high.
Public transport has become so costly that it is beyond the means of many,
with the fares payable in a month exceeding the average worker’s monthly
earnings.

All these, and innumerable other socio-economic ills have created a
gargantuan divide in many families, for over a third of the population has
fled (albeit usually reluctantly) to other countries, in order to seek a
livelihood, and earn sufficient to support a plethora of dependents back
home in Zimbabwe.

With these dismal, trying circumstances, it is little wonder that almost
without exception, Zimbabweans are imbued with an endless sense of doom and
gloom, misery and depression. The widespread dejection is accompanied by
great disillusionment.

For years government has steadfastly denied any responsibility for the
appalling, ever-declining, economic circumstances, has continuously ascribed
those circumstances to non-existent international economic sanctions,
allegedly being vigorously applied against Zimbabwe by the European Union,
USA and some Commonwealth countries, in general, and by the United Kingdom
in particular.

The stated motivations for those non-existent sanctions are said to be to
bring about a regime change in Zimbabwe, and restoration of colonialist
control. But government’s never-ending, vituperative outpourings that all
Zimbabwe’s ills are attributable to the Machiavellian machinations of
government’s perceived enemies are no longer believed by any of the
population, other than a very gullible few.

At the same time, Zimbabweans query why, if that which Government claims has
foundation, it has failed to counter the economically-destructive actions
with effective countermeasures. (They recall that Rhodesians, during UDI,
successfully circumvented sanctions for 14 years!). As a result vastly
increasing numbers of Zimbabweans believe that government has irremediably
destroyed the economy, having reduced it to a level which precludes
recovery. That belief is deepening the intense despondency that
characterises Zimbabwe today.

But although so many have given up hope, a few have not, and remained
determined to continue efforts to bring about the greatly longed-for change.
Amongst those is the very frequently criticised and castigated Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ), and this is evidenced by some of last week’s Monetary
Policy Statement, presented by RBZ’s governor on January 31. The statement
entitled "Consolidating Economic Productivity and Inflation Stabilisation",
briefly noted that the extent that RBZ has unsuccessfully sought to
influence economic change.

The governor recorded that: "Since December 18, 2003, the Reserve Bank
issued acres and acres of policy advice, to government ministries, local
authorities, parastatals and the business community, under-scoring what
needed to be done to realign the economy back on the rails of success. The
non-implementation of some of the policy advice given to stakeholders,
especially to government ministries, local authorities and parastatals
remains a sore point for monetary authorities as, in the process of filling
that gap, the bank has found itself having to carry extraordinary
responsibilities outside its normal core business simply to keep Zimbabwe
fed, to keep Zimbabwe oiled, and to keep Zimbabwe afloat . . ."

However, despite such disregard for its advice, RBZ has not been deterred
from its determination that Zimbabwe must, and its conviction that Zimbabwe
can, achieve a positive economic turnaround. That is in marked contrast to
the negativeness of most in Zimbabwe today, and is loudly evidenced by the
inclusion, in the Monetary Policy Statement, of: "As we enter the dawn of
the forthcoming combined elections, work is already underway to crafting a
robust Post Elections Economic blueprint that will anchor a lasting
foundation for price stability, inflation control, investment promotion, as
well as revamping the general productivity levels in the economy."

Although not stated, RBZ clearly recognises that the magnitude of economic
policy changes required is such that there is no prospect of government
having the courage, or the moral persuasion, to effect those changes prior
to the forthcoming elections, for fear that doing so would be interpreted by
the electorate as a governmental admission of economic mismanagement, and of
government’s culpability in creating the intense poverty and hardships
afflicting almost all Zimbabweans. But RBZ seems therefore, to pursue the
"better late, than never" stance, and is therefore timeously preparing
advice for the post-election era.


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MDC must return to founding principles

Zim Independent

THE MDC must embrace its founding principles of 1999. I was just a
19-year old, fresh from high school, new at college with no political
experience, empty belly, no payout, no accommodation because the then
Minister of Higher Education decided to starve students across the country.

I must admit that time everything was so difficult, I lost hope when
my future prospects were next to nothing. Having a family background where
education is part of life, I couldn’t believe that my only hope for a decent
living was going up in smoke because someone in a position of authority
decided to close colleges and universities across the country.

I had a newly found hope when the MDC was formed. Hope for a better
Zimbabwe where everyone was going to have access to better education, access
to health, better transport, no starvation and lots of jobs. It was hope and
up to this day I am still hoping.

As with a new baby in a family everyone was so excited to embrace MDC
then, the party was so innocent, full of hope, promises and energy. MDC’s
founding principles were based on democracy, equality, clarity, a
corruption-free society, social justice, rule of law and respecting property
rights amongst others.

Now I wonder why then after eight years the MDC family is no longer
the same. Just like Zanu Ndonga, we now have MDC Mutambara and MDC
Tsvangirai — political parties with surnames! People fighting for positions,
others using violence to get elected, some are even going to sangomas in the
dead of night to enhance their chances of getting into power, while others
are just following whoever promises them positions.

What has gone wrong over the years? Is it frustration among the
leadership? We all agree that the political field is not fair but can we
blame an uneven political playing field for fielding two presidential
candidates? Four hundred and twenty legislators instead of 210? Can Zanu PF
be blamed for disrespecting our party leadership?

Whatever happened to MDC leadership? Whether it is greed, infiltration
or whatever, I strongly believe that at such times only the masses are
losers. It’s always the masses who suffer when their leaders abandon them
and fight for power. The result is that more time will be spent fighting for
strategic positions. It is only two months left before the elections but all
we get as voters and MDC supporters are negotiations — between Zanu PF and
MDC, between MDC and MDC. If half the effort that has gone into negotiations
was used on voter education, putting policies across, mobilising people to
vote and strategising, I am sure there would be a big difference come March
29.

Elijah Mangwengwende,

Harare.


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Tsvangirai must monitor MDC primaries

Zim Independent

A NUMBER of aspiring MDC candidates who participated in the ongoing
primary elections are crying foul. Many are accusing those tasked with
presiding over primary elections in Harare and Chitungwiza of doing a
hatchet job in order to protect the interests of particular individuals.

I am a founding member of the MDC and I know the MDC constitution
gives clear guidelines on how primary elections should be conducted. But
these principles are being ignored by those who find such democratic
requirements a stumbling block in their quest for power. As a loyal party
member my heart bleeds when I see reckless and selfish men and women
deliberately trashing the constitution by holding primary elections in
secret venues.

I have seen unpopular individuals being declared winners when less
than a quarter of the required voters turned up for the primary. What does
it mean for democracy and fair representation if 18 people vote where 50
people are supposed to? What happened to the mandatory MDC quorum? I am told
in some cases ghost voters have been allowed to vote by sleepy presiding
officers. When candidates have protested they were blantantly ignored.

In one ward in Chitungwiza, an aspiring candidate who withdrew from
the race went on to vote for another candidate when his withdrawal was
supposed to nullify his voting rights. Verification of ballots was not
permitted while money changed hands openly on the verandah of the primaries
venue.

Some who were supposed to vote were not invited to the elections while
others were barred from voting by marauding youths and biased presiding
officers who I am told were paid to make sure all sitting councilors in
Chitungwiza were retained despite their unpopularity with the larger
community.

While MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai trusts his lieutenants to do a
thorough job when tasked by the party, those delegated are busy letting him
down by allowing themselves to be bought in order to keep unpopular and
corrupt councilors who have done nothing for the party and the people of
Chitungwiza in the past five years other than stealing and running down the
dormitory city.

If he is serious about winning even in the so-called safe urban areas
Tsvangirai must monitor the primary elections closely to ensure that
democracy prevails and the correct people are elected to represent the party
not these corrupt opportunists using money to protect their small fiefdoms.

If Tsvangirai allows MDC primaries to be hijacked by pretenders in the
party he will have nobody to blame when his election team fails to pull the
critical vote in the face of divisions and a new Zanu PF formation led by
Simba Makoni.

Joseph Kanyandura,

Ward 17, Chitungwiza.


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Same wolves in sheep's clothing

Zim Independent

WHAT does Simba Makoni bring? The same looters who have helped Mugabe
wreck the country? The same MDC opportunists who wasted nine years fighting
over positions? Surely, Zimbabwe deserves better.

The old guard seeks power rather than helping the nation. Years ago
Makoni could have opposed his patron but he was feeding at his table while
people suffered. Weeks ago he tried to make a deal with Zanu PF chefs and
was rebuffed, now he claims to seek to oust Mugabe through the ballot with
no plans or policies or a transparent team, on the basis of integrity he has
never shown before?

We need leadership renewal not the same wolves in sheep’s clothing.

A genuine revolution in Zimbabwe is being stalled by illusions. Where
were all these saviours for all these years?

Kundayi,

africanlion_1@hotmail.com

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