Saturday, 07 June 2008 19:28
PRESSURE is mounting on President Robert Mugabe to cease immediately
the relentless assault on dissenting voices ahead of this month's
Presidential run-off election.
Mugabe has been called upon to stop human rights abuses and allow
United Nations observers into the country to monitor the run-off.
MDC campaign rallies for the 27 June election have been banned by the
police, virtually shutting the door on a free and fair election.
The MDC has said at least 65 of its supporters have been murdered
since the 29 March elections, while more than 25 000, among them 10 000
children, have been displaced.
Opposition supporters are being denied food while aid agencies have
been banned in what observers say is an attempt by Mugabe to use food
assistance as bait for votes.
Last week's detention and harassment of diplomats from the United
States and Britain and the assault of a driver in Bindura by police and Zanu
PF militia have given rise to condemnation from the international community.
Both the US and British governments are furious over the incident in
which five US and two British diplomats were detained for several hours at a
police roadblock. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the incident
Already Washington has raised the issue at the UN Security Council and
protested strongly to the government, saying the incident underlined the
harassment ordinary Zimbabweans faced every day.
But Zanu PF spokesperson for elections Patrick Chinamasa said the
government was "not shaken" by the uproar because there was no basis for the
US to appeal to the UN as Zimbabwe was the "aggrieved" party.
"Zimbabwe is actually the victim and complainant in an issue of
extreme provocation by the US and UK diplomatic officers who have appointed
themselves campaign managers for the opposition," he said.
Chinamasa alleged the diplomats were seen distributing opposition
campaign material for MDC-Tsvangirai in Bindura and refused to heed to
police orders to stop at a roadblock.
US President George W Bush has called on international bodies to
quickly send monitors and observers to Zimbabwe.
"We urge the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the
African Union, the United Nations, and other international organisations to
blanket the country with election and human rights monitors immediately,"
said Bush in a statement.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the detention of
diplomats "mirrors the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans", who suffer
intimidation and brutality of Mugabe's regime on a daily basis.
"It's a window into lives that in some cases are marked by brutal
intimidation, by torture and, in fifty three cases that have been documented
over the last few weeks, by death," he said.
He said the world continued to "watch" the situation in Zimbabwe and
stressed need for SADC countries and international bodies to monitor the
"And it's very important that the international community plays its
role by ensuring that for the election on 27 June there are international
monitors, properly accredited, who are able to ensure that despite the
ravages in Zimbabwe at the moment . there is an election that allows the
democratic will of the Zimbabwean people to be heard loud and to be heard
clear," Miliband said.
On Friday, Tsvangirai was detained by the police for the second time
in a week, blocking him from a campaign rally in Matabeleland.
The MDC leader beat Mugabe in the March election but failed to win the
majority needed to avoid a second ballot.
South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, the SADC mediator on the Zimbabwe
crisis, last week quickly intervene by contacting the government upon
hearing Tsvangirai's detention, to ascertain the circumstances of the
On the arrest of Tsvangirai in Matabeleland, Chinamasa said the MDC
leader must abide by the country's laws.
"He cannot travel in unregistered vehicles carrying youths with banned
weapons. The police have an obligation to stamp out violence," said
Chinamasa, who accused MDC of political violence.
Bush has expressed concern over Mugabe's politicisation of food, after
a ban on all non-governmental organisations from operating in the country,
alleging they were campaigning for MDC.
"We also are concerned by reports that misguided government policies
are projected to result in one of the worst crop harvests in Zimbabwean
history," said Bush
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis
Michel, expressed concern over the food aid ban in a country where over four
million people are surviving on food handouts
"This ban must be lifted right away," Michel said.
"I am deeply distressed to think that hundreds of thousands of people
who depend on aid from the European Commission and others for their very
survival now face an even more uncertain future. It is essential that relief
workers be given unrestricted and secure access so they can provide
assistance to the most vulnerable."
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 07 June 2008 19:17
VOTERS across the country have warned President Robert Mugabe: he will
be "embarrassed" at the Presidential run-off election on 27 June against MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Through massive intimidation and violence in the rural areas, Mugabe's
Zanu PF hopes to reverse a 13%-plus vote deficit to the MDC and independent
candidate Simba Makoni and win the run-off.
There are already fears the ongoing violence, especially in rural
areas, could discourage some voters from casting their ballots and
intimidate others into voting for Mugabe out of fear of reprisals.
Some have become so pessimistic about the run-off they want it called
off and replaced with a negotiated settlement, culminating in a government
of national unity (GNU).
But in random interviews with The Standard, ordinary people showed
their determination to vote again on 27 June and "show Mugabe the exit".
Martin Ngwenya, a mechanic in Bulawayo, said the run-off must go ahead
to demonstrate to Mugabe and Zanu PF that Zimbabweans were capable of
choosing their own leaders.
"We are tired of being told that our economic problems are caused by
Britain and America, as if they are the ones running our government,"
"We want a government that will not take us for granted. This is the
statement the majority of Zimbabweans made on 29 March, but it appears
Mugabe has not taken heed. So we are going to make it even louder this time
Forgoing the poll, said Noliwe Ncube from Lupane, would set a bad
precedent for future governments who might stir unrest to avoid an election
where they looked certain to lose.
"The March election was stolen and this time people must vote in their
thousands to demonstrate that they can no longer put up with misgovernance
and abuse of power.
"We cannot wait to remind Mugabe that he must know when to quit and
that it is time he stopped imposing himself on us. We want to show Mugabe
the exit on 27 June."
Tendai Hondo of Jerera growth point in Zaka said he believed the
run-off "is the only legitimate way to end tyranny in the country".
"I think elections should be held, despite rampant political violence
in many parts of the country. If elections are called off these people will
remain in power and we will continue to suffer," Hondo said.
He said last week two people from his neighbourhood were shot dead by
suspected Zanu PF militia.
Micah Zinduru of Mucheke high-density suburb in Masvingo said he
thought Zanu PF and the MDC should call off the election and negotiate a
"In the limited time between now and 27 June, Zanu PF and the MDC,
with other stakeholders, should talk and reach an agreement that would pave
the way for a transitional government," said Zinduru, adding that many
people could fail to vote because of intimidation.
There are also fears that Zanu PF supporters may not accept an MDC
victory, leading to chaos.
"If we go into elections, Zanu PF is not likely to accept an MDC
victory," said Moses Gonese of Gutu.
"Remember there have been sentiments from Zanu PF bigwigs that the
country will not be won by a ballot, and Grace Mugabe's assertions that
Mugabe would not leave State House, even if he lost."
Mellisa Takura, a student at the Midlands State University in Gweru,
Another Gweru resident Jayson Machaya said "there is no need to hold
that election at all in the first place because Zanu PF would not adhere to
While most urbanites believed the MDC would romp to victory,
interviews in rural areas showed most believe "the victimisation" has taken
its toll. Dudzai Shoko from Mberengwa North said people had been cowed and
were likely to be driven to vote by fear.
"Since April, we have known no peace. We go to meetings every day and
witness people being tortured for voting for the MDC.
"Some of us have lost homes and the little property that we had
acquired. They have told everyone that if we vote for the MDC again, they
would deal with us. Most people would rather vote for Zanu PF than lose
everything they have worked for," Shoko said.
Geshem Pasi from Gokwe South under Chief Njelele said there was a
witch-hunt for those who voted for the MDC.
"In Mudzongwe Village where I stay, people are being forced to confess
and repent during meetings that they voted for the MDC. They are also made
to assure the local leadership that they will not repeat the mistake. Many
MDC supporters have surrendered their party T-shirts and are actually being
made to offer goats or chickens for their cleansing."
Emmerson Mandava from Muzarabani said Zimbabwe was "going through an
evolution, not a revolution, and the run-off would complete that process".
Even politicians and activists believed Mugabe would not hand over
power even if he lost, as demonstrated by his reaction to the 29 March
Paul Siwela, the president of the Federal Democratic Union (FDU), said
the ailing economy could not adequately fund the election and that the
environment was not conducive.
"Mugabe has to hand over power to Tsvangirai because he won this
election," Siwela said. "The run-off is not necessary . . . It can no longer
be a true reflection of what people want because many would be scared to
vote because of the violence."
Simba Makoni said "the last thing Zimbabwe needs is another election".
Makoni said the run-off would "further traumatize" voters, and further
cripple the economy.
Max Mkandla, leader of the Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative, said
the run-off would be characterised by voter apathy as thousands of rural
voters had been displaced.
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:52
THE government has devised a plan to disrupt the distribution of
private newspapers in its bid to curtail public information ahead of the 27
June presidential run-off, sources have said.
Sources close to the Joint Operations Command last week said among
other targeted papers were ZimInd titles including The Standard and its
sister paper The Zimbabwe Independent.
"JOC held a meeting on Friday where it was agreed that uneducated
soldiers who can hardly be reasoned with should be assigned to disturb the
operations of private newspaper dealers in Masvingo, Gweru and Kwekwe among
other areas," they said.
The sources warned the papers should not be distributed publicly as
part of the plan which will include assaulting anyone seen with them.
But JOC chairman and Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa, when
approached for clarification, said the reports were "mere imagination".
"As the JOC chairman, I can tell you that we never had a meeting of
that sort," he said. "The reports are absolutely untrue, mere figments of
Mutasa said private newspapers could proceed with their business as
usual as government was not aware of any plot against them.
The Standard was yesterday also informed that suspected Zanu PF
militia were assaulting people seen with copies of The Zimbabwe Independent
in Mabvuku and Tafara.
In another development, the government on Friday last week announced
foreign newspapers sold in Zimbabwe would now have to pay import duty, a
move supposedly aimed at protecting Zimbabwean media space.
The newspapers which would now be defined as "luxury goods" would have
to pay at least 40% of the total cost per kg.
Some of the foreign papers distributed locally include The Zimbabwean,
South Africa's Mail & Guardian, The Sunday Independent and The Sunday Times.
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:33
ZANU PF youth militia and war veterans have reportedly been evicting
suspected MDC supporters from council vending sites in Harare and
Chitungwiza, since last week, allegedly to cripple them financially ahead of
the 27 June presidential run-off.
Vending has become a steady source of income for most people, in a
country where unemployment tops more than 80%.
But the Zanu PF spokesperson on elections, Patrick Chinamasa,
dismissed the allegations, describing them as "the usual claims by the MDC
to tarnish the country's image".
The MDC spokesperson for Harare, Willas Madzimure, said the crackdown
had directly affected the livelihoods of at least 2 000 party supporters in
He said Zanu PF was pushing the people "against the wall", especially
after the government's Operation Murambatsvina (Clean-up) of May 2005 left
more than 700 000 families homeless.
"What Zanu PF must know is that the people will end up regrouping to
fight back because it is now a war of the stomach," Madzimure said.
He said the vendors being evicted were the same who cared for people
displaced by the Zanu PF-sponsored violence in the rural areas.
The MDC said at least 60 of its supporters had been killed in
political violence since the 29 March election. Over 25 000 people have been
To operate from council facilities, the youth militia and war veterans
are demanding Zanu PF membership cards or a letter from a ward chairman
confirming the vendor's membership of Zanu PF.
The vendors last week said Zanu PF had virtually taken over the
running of public facilities from the local authorities.
They said the militias were targeting all those who celebrated soon
after the 29 March election when it became clear the MDC had defeated Zanu
When The Standard news crew visited Mbare Green Market on Thursday,
the names of vendors suspected to be opposition supporters were being called
out and the people ordered to leave the market.
Those "fortunate ones" were being forced to pay $15 billion as a
"repentance fee" at a local Zanu PF office, manned by war veterans and the
notorious militia known as Chipangano.
"Since last week, they have been coming here to evict vendors
suspected of supporting the MDC. If Mugabe does not want an election he must
say so publicly and stop tormenting people," said one vendor.
The vendor, who asked not to be named, said he was on the Zanu PF list
of suspected MDC supporters.
Another vendor who operates a flea market at Makoni shopping centre in
Chitungwiza said they were being forced to attend Zanu PF meetings daily
where they are "fed" ruling party propaganda. "Personally," he said, "I know
Zanu PF is a failed party and I won't vote for a party that has brought
poverty into my home."
Harare Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi said he was unaware of the
victimization of MDC supporters at council-owned facilities in Harare.
"No one has come to my office to complain about that. So I don't know
anything about that. I will try to find out from my officers," Mahachi said.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:31
LAWYERS representing The Standard editor Davison Maruziva have
objected to the State's intention to marry records of his case with those of
MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara and the newspaper.
Charges against the newspaper, Maruziva and Mutambara arose on 20
April this year following its publication of Mutambara's Independence Day
article in which he criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's delay in
releasing the 29 March presidential poll results.
In his article, Mutambara lamented the irony of celebrating
independence amid a myriad of problems, among them widespread political
violence and economic collapse.
The State says Mutambara's message contained falsehoods prejudicial to
the State and contemptuous of the courts.
Mutambara on Tuesday last week appeared before a Harare magistrate
Mishrod Guvamombe in connection with the article which the State says
undermined public confidence in the law enforcement agents, defence forces
and the prison services.
Mutambara was remanded out of custody on $20 billion bail to 17 June.
Zimind Group Projects Editor and company director, Iden Wetherell,
representing the publishing company, was on Thursday remanded out of custody
to 17 June while the trial of Maruziva, due to open on Thursday last week
was postponed to the same date.
Advocate Deepak Mehta who represented both Maruziva and Wetherell
pointed out that Mutambara had his own lawyer and another would be engaged
for the trial of the company, thus the jointer was prejudicial to the
clients whose lawyers felt the cases must be dealt with separately.
Mehta said the State should make a proper court application seeking
the jointer of the cases and allow defence to respond, instead of
unilaterally joining the three records for trial.
Mehta also raised concern over the State's failure to provide defence
with its papers regarding Maruziva's case since he first appeared in court
on 23 May.
"You should understand that State papers take time to prepare",
prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said. "A rejoinder for the accused persons is a
preserve of the State and due notice will be given."
By Jennifer Dube
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:28
THIRTY-four-year-old Peter Terera, a father of two, began
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) three years ago at The Centre in Harare.
After years of trying in vain to enrol for the government's programmes
at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals, Terera says he had given up hope.
But one day while sitting at home pondering his failing health and
leaving his two children and wife Charity, Terera received a life-changing
phone call from The Centre.
A volunteer at The Centre told him a group of American volunteers from
the Allan Temple Church would start a free ARV clinic in Zimbabwe and that
he would be among the pioneer beneficiaries.
For three years Dr Robert Scott, leader of Allan Temple Church
volunteer team restored Terera's health but last week he heard depressing
Scott and his team have run two free ARV clinics for years - one at
The Centre in Harare and another at Mother of Peace in Mutoko.
But they have been forced to suspend their ARV programmes to more than
600 HIV positive people because of political violence.
"I went to The Centre on 3 June and was shocked to hear that Dr Scott
was unable to come because of the political violence," a tearful Terera told
The Standard on Friday.
"Although, we have been assured by The Centre we will get assistance,
I fear for the worst. What will happen to all those people in Mutoko and all
of us here who were beneficiaries of this programme?"
Founder and director of The Centre, Lynde Francis, living positively
with HIV and Aids for more than 20 years, says she too is disturbed.
Francis said Dr Scott, an HIV specialist in the United States, advised
her he would not be coming back following a travel warning to Zimbabwe by
the US government.
"They have been advised to wait until after the elections," said
Francis. "We expect them to resume in September but it is not for certain."
"It will depend on how calm the situation will be then. They have been
told they could probably do the programme in Harare but definitely not in
Francis said she had learnt of Dr Scott's cancelled trip last week but
was not able to advise the hundreds of beneficiaries of the programme about
this in time.
As a result, she and other volunteers at The Centre spent days
receiving people and breaking the bad news to them.
She said The Centre had managed to transfer some children on ARVs to a
government hospital where they will be given ARVs until the programme
Francis said there were plans to move Mutoko beneficiaries to Mutoko
General Hospital. The Centre has promised to source other funds to provide
ARVs to its Harare members until September.
Established in 1991, The Centre suffered a setback after it was closed
in March. Francis says she was forced to scale down operations at The Centre
after suspicions of financial mismanagement.
A reputable accounting firm is expected to release a forensic audit
into its books this week.
By Bertha Shoko
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:25
AN MDC government would be prepared to work with progressive and
"reformed" Zanu PF members but would punish those who wantonly murdered its
supporters, Morgan Tsvangirai has said.
In his recent State of the Nation Address to the MDC parliamentary
caucus in Harare, the MDC leader said not all Zanu PF members were killing
Tsvangirai was launching his party's Restore Hope Campaign, aimed at
restoring people's freedom, dignity and basic services as well as returning
Zimbabwe to the world family of nations.
He said there were Zanu PF members being victimised by what he called
the "violent hawks" who have hijacked the party.
"In the spirit of moving our country forward, let us seek out those
peaceful members of Zanu PF whose eyes are open to the disastrous state of
our nation," he said. "Let us listen to their views. Let us invite them in
where we have policy agreement," said Tsvangirai, shortly after returning to
the country after a long absence.
The MDC has said more than 60 party supporters have been murdered and
25 000 others displaced since the 29 March polls.
"There will be no tolerance or amnesty for those who continue to
injure rape and murder our citizens," he said. "We consider these criminal
acts, not political acts. Criminals will be prosecuted."
He said the MDC government would establish a Truth and Justice
Commission (TJC) to look at human rights abuses, corruption, asset stripping
and looting, mostly by a clique of Mugabe's loyalists.
He said the MDC-dominated Parliament would pass legislation to enable
compensation and reparations for victims of Gukurahundi as well as
Murambatsvina (Clean-up operation).
Murambatsvina displaced more than 700 000 families countrywide.
Tsvangirai who has launched a President Fund for victims of political
violence, said since March to have over 50 lives, left 25 000 people
displaced and 1 000 homes burnt down.
On the party's land policy, he said his party would establish a
commission to conduct a land audit to ensure the land question is solved
without negating equity and justice.
"Measures must be put in place to either compensate or reincorporate
into productive agriculture, those who lost their land during the Zanu PF
land grab programme, depending on the findings of the land commission,"
He said he intended to reform the civil service, judiciary and
He outlined an economic revival plan to reverse a sharp drop in
agricultural production, the scarcity of foreign investment and soaring
inflation, now pegged at more than 1 700 000%.
"Since 2000 Zimbabwe has been transformed from the jewel of Africa to
a tragedy. Let me stress that our objective must not be to merely restore
the Zimbabwean economy to its former glory but also to take it to new
heights," he said.
State enterprises and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) would be
restructured, he said.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:23
Soldiers were the biggest beneficiaries of the government's latest
surprise salary windfall for civil servants with the least paid getting a
whopping $130 billion, up from $10 billion last month.
This latest hike has been described as an attempt by the government to
buy the loyalty of the armed forces ahead of the 27 June presidential
The salary increase - like the one before the 29 March general
election - is double that for teachers, The Standard learnt last week.
Teachers had their salaries increased to about $63 billion from below
$5 billion a month and the militant Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) dismissed it as a slap in the face for the perennially underpaid
According to pay advisory slips of junior soldiers, the least paid
received $130 billion, before deductions.
"The soldiers have been reminded that the latest hefty salary
increments are part of the deal to campaign for the President and ensure he
wins on 27 June," said a soldier who requested anonymity.
In what was criticised as an election ploy, the government awarded
civil servants a massive salary hike before the 29 March elections.
But again soldiers were awarded the lion's share, as they received a
raise of between $1 billion and $3 billion, depending on rank, while
teachers received an average of $500 million.
The top military brass have pledged their undying loyalty to Mugabe
and have said they would not back Tsvangirai even if he won.
Soldiers have also played a decisive role in ensuring Mugabe wins the
vote in the past two elections through establishing "bases" in rural areas
where they have led party militia as coercing agents to intimidate and
harass the rural electorate.
Army units were deployed in rural areas after the March elections and
have been accused by the MDC of leading attacks against its supporters in a
bid to intimidate them into voting for Mugabe.
Opposition parties have accused Mugabe of rigging the vote in past
elections using the armed forces, among other government agencies, to retain
power. But Zanu PF has denied manipulating the vote in its favour.
In the 2002 presidential elections, the then army chief, General
Vitalis Zvinavashe warned that the army would not salute MDC leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai if he won as he had no liberation war credentials.
The current army chief, General Constantine Chiwenga, before the 29
March harmonised elections gave a similar warning.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:19
MILITANT supporters of President Robert Mugabe, who have unleashed a
wave of terror in rural areas, last week brought their campaign to Harare,
invading a social club which houses a museum.
Since the 29 March polls when Mugabe's Zanu PF lost control of
Parliament for the first time since independence, there has been political
violence in most rural constituencies.
The Standard was told a group claiming to be war veterans, accompanied
by uniformed police and army personnel, invaded MOTH (Memorable Order of Tin
Hats) Memorial centre - a social club frequented mostly by whites and
coloureds - in Braeside suburb last week.
The club was established many years ago to commemorate those who
fought in the First and Second Waorld Wars. According to members, the
invasion sparked memories of the farm seizures that brought the economy to
A club official, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation,
said the group staged the raid last week, saying they were taking it over.
They claimed they had been tipped there were weapons to oust Mugabe
from power kept in a secret room at the club.
"The secret room they thought had weapons is actually a conference
room, with old guns used in the two World Wars.
"It is actually a museum room," he said.
He said the police spent the whole week investigating the club
premises and the war veterans only left on Wednesday after being dismissed
by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Aguy Georgias.
The bar resumed operations on Friday.
Another club member said a group of youths came to the club and
removed the club monument flags, replacing them with posters of Mugabe.
"They plastered the whole building with Mugabe's posters and ordered
the bar closed saying it was under investigation," he said.
The Standard saw large banners of Mugabe all over the place with his
One regular club patron said what happened at the MOTH Club was an
indication the war veterans who were beating and harassing unarmed MDC
supporters in the rural areas had shifted operations to Harare.
"These people have done enough damage in the rural areas. Now they
want to come and intimidate people in Harare to vote for Mugabe," the patron
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena refused to
give details on the invasion saying only:
"Investigations are still in progress and if we find anything we will
let you know."
By Sandra Mandizvidza
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:17
SOMBRE atmosphere engulfed Jerera growth point in Zaka last Wednesday
morning, as residents and passers-by tried to come to terms with the
horrific incident that had occurred in their area.
The usually noisy, "beehive" activity at the centre was quiet on this
day as business had virtual come to a standstill, with people clustered at a
small shop trying to catch a glimpse of the badly disfigured bodies of
victims of political violence, reportedly set ablaze by unknown gunmen.
Arriving at the growth point around 10AM The Standard news crew was
met by two elderly women, whispering as they discussed the incident.
Clearly, they were whispering for fear of being overheard by
unidentified men said to be operating in the area. Reports identify them, at
the very least, as being responsible for punishing MDC supporters for
contributing to Zanu PF's rout in the 29 March elections.
"This is horrible," one elderly woman said to the other. "We last saw
such scenes during the liberation struggle when the Rhodesian forces would
lock up people in their houses and set them ablaze, after accusing them of
assisting the freedom fighters. It's really shocking. Now brothers are
killing each other for power."
The shopping centre was deserted, people having received word that an
MDC office sheltering six displaced party activists had been set ablaze by
Shell-shocked people who visited the place could not look twice at one
victim's body, burnt beyond recognition, lying just outside the office.
The brave among the witnesses proceeded to take a closer look at yet
another body lying inside the shop.
Men brandishing AK-47 assault rifles were said to have pounced on the
MDC offces in the early hours of Wednesday morning and set them ablaze,
killing two people.
They allegedly forced open the door, rousing from sleep unsuspecting
MDC members who had fled political violence from their homes in the
They allegedly ordered everyone to stay where they were, their heads
under the blankets.
Witnesses said one MDC member, who tried to resist, was shot and
killed on the spot. Others, seeing the dire consequences of resistance,
complied with the order.
The attackers doused the office with petrol, locked the door and set
Two people were burnt beyond recognition while three, their clothes on
fire, managed to break down the door and were later taken to St Anthony's
Musiso Hospital, where they were immediately referred to Masvingo general
The deceased have been identified as Krison Mbano from Munjanja in
Ward 18 in Zaka and Washington Nyangwa from Mbuyamaswa village in Ward 9.
Narrating her ordeal to The Standard, an MDC member who survived the
inferno because she was in a room next to the office, said she was abducted
by the gunmen who later dumped her about 30km away from Jerera.
Memory Pedzisai said they assaulted her
after bundling her into a new Mitsubishi single cab truck with no
registration number. They asked her to say her last prayers before killing
her, she told The Standard.
"The gunmen came at around 3AM and forced the door open," she said. "I
was asleep in the next room and when I tried to see what was happening there
I came face to face with 13 men clad in anti-riot police gear. One was
pouring petrol on the office door and called out to me to close the door. I
just banged it shut in a state of panic, but I was told to close it again
and they torched the office and dragged me into their vehicle and drove away
She said she was lucky to be alive after 10 men in the back of the
truck quarrelled over whether or not to shoot her.
Some wanted her dead, but others were not keen, saying they had
already killed a lot of people in the office.
Still others looked scared of the incident. "I could hear them
whispering to each other, saying 'tatouraya vanhuka paya' (We have already
killed people)," she said.
MDC provincial chairman, Wilstaff Stemere, who visited the scene of
the carnage said the country has been turned into a military state by the
ruling party, desperate to win the presidential run-off on 27 June at all
"This is the highest level of brutality," he said. "Violence against
our supporters is increasing and many are losing their lives at the hands of
Zanu PF. We are really shocked by this level of brutality. How could they
burn people alive like this?"
He said people had sheltered at their office after they ran away from
their homes because of political violence.
"Their crime is that of supporting a political party of their choice,''
Zanu PF provincial chairperson for the media committee for the
presidential run-off campaign team, Kudakwashe Dzoro, denied his party was
responsible for the attack.
"Our party does not engage in violence," he said. "So, we do not know
who those people are. In fact, they are not in any way associated with us.
We are campaigning freely in a non-violent manner and we are appealing for
the people's support without using violence."
But the villagers insisted the ruling party was perpetrating the
"This is serious," said Edmore Gato. "It appears as if we are now at
war. How can they kill their brothers like this, just because of elections
that come and go? Even if they beat up people and kill them I don't think
people will support them because they are butchering our relatives."
Police spokesperson Inspector Phibion Nyambo said: "I can't comment on
that one. You can call Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena. May be he
Efforts to get comment from Bvudzijena, who is the official police
spokesperson, were fruitless.
Ambuya Jambaya, who had walked for eight kilometres to see for herself
the shocking incident, said only those who were becoming unpopular were
killing people to force them to support them.
"But killing people will never force the surviving ones to support
them. Such incidents are not good, especially as we are killing each other
for the sake of retaining power," she said.
People in Jerera said they were living in fear. Zanu PF was forcing
them to attend their rallies, during which they brandished guns and
grenades, threatening to wage war on the villagers if they didn't vote for
By Godfrey Mutimba
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:13
THE European Union (EU) has strongly condemned the state-sponsored
campaign of violence and intimidation against Zimbabweans and has called on
the government to ensure a level playing field in order to secure an
environment that will reflect the free and democratic will of the people of
In a statement, the EU External Relations Council said last week that
it is concerned that violence has been increasing throughout the prolonged
electoral process and called for an immediate end to the beatings, tortures,
killings and other human rights abuses.
"The Council calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to ensure a level
playing field and a secure environment conducive to ensuring that the
results of forthcoming second round will reflect the free and democratic
will of the Zimbabwean people," the council said in a statement.
"In this respect the Council stresses the importance that all
necessary measures be adopted in order to allow all candidates and
supporters to participate safely and fully in the electoral process."
The Council said the second round (run-off) presents an opportunity
for the free and democratic will of the Zimbabwean people to be expressed
and respected, opening the way for delivering political stability.
Zimbabweans will vote in a run-off presidential election on 27 June, pitting
President Robert against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, after the 29 March
harmonised poll failed to produce a candidate commanding 50% plus one vote
of the ballots cast.
"The Council reiterates that the credibility of the electoral process
requires conditions on the ground to be in full accordance with
international standards, particularly those adopted by the African Union
(AU) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), of which
Zimbabwe is a signatory, including the freedom of assembly and access to
media. In this context the Council underlines specifically the importance of
the publication of results outside the polling stations once counting is
The Council emphasised the importance of effective election
observation, local as well as international, to ensure regularity and
transparency for the second round and reiterated the important role of the
countries in the region in achieving this.
While welcoming the positive role played by the AU and the SADC
Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) during the first phase of the
electoral process, the Council said it supports the intent of the AU and the
SADC to ensure continued presence of their EOMs until the electoral process
is complete and results announced and to deploy, as soon as possible, a
significant number of election monitors across Zimbabwe, including rural
areas, well in advance of the election day.
The statement said the EU was ready to deploy an EU election
observation mission, if the right conditions were met, but it said it was
concerned no invitation had been extended to the EU.
"The Council calls upon SADC," said the statement, "to continue to
engage with strong determination with the Zimbabwean authorities to
implement the outcome of the Lusaka Summit. The EU shares the concern of the
SADC about the situation and reiterates full support for SADC's efforts to
resolve the current crisis."
France is the local chair of the EU Presidency in Zimbabwe.
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:06
British court has thrown out AMG Global Nominees' bid to buy SMM
Holdings from its former owners in a landmark ruling that deflates efforts
by the Zimbabwe government to expropriate Zimbabwe-born business mogul,
Mutumwa Mawere's assets.
Mawere, now a South African citizen, was previously closely associated
with Zanu PF.
The UK ruling confirms the government's reconstruction of Mawere's
companies was unlawful and unconstitutional to the extent that Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa needed Mawere's consent prior to nationalising
his companies, experts said last week.
Mawere told Standardbusiness he was awaiting the results of Zimbabwe's
presidential run-off before seeking similar damages against AMG.
He said it was ironic that President Robert Mugabe was talking of 100%
empowerment after nationalising his companies.
"You ask President Mugabe how black a person needs to be not to be
targeted by his government. It is strange that a person who purports to be a
champion for black rights would be party to an opaque deal like the AMG
transaction using public resources with no shame," Mawere said.
"Imagine the public was informed properly of the true construction of
the AMG and that their resources were being diverted to advance the
interests of private individuals? Would you give such a government another
lease of life?"
In 2004, the government took over Mawere's assets after it accused him
of externalising foreign currency. His assets, then valued at US$400
million, were expropriated by a presidential decree.
In October 2004, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, paid US$2 million on
behalf of AMG to buy the share warrants to SMM Holdings, a subsidiary of
Africa Resources Limited (ARL), from its former owners Turner and Newell Ltd
Risk consultancy firm Kroll were appointed administratrors of T&N in
But a UK judge ruled that ARL had title to the bearer share warrants
relating to SMM Holdings and THZ Holdings subject to T&N's continuing
security under the terms of the Memorandum of Deposit and Charge for payment
of the balance of the purchase price for the bearer share warrants and
It declared that AMG did not, "pursuant to the Share Purchase
Agreement dated 5 November 2004, obtain any or good title to the bearer
The court declared that the cost of this action, including without
limitations the hearings of 18 November 2005, 2 March 2006, Justice Mann
order of 18 December 2006 and the Pre-Trial review by Justice Morgan on 18
October 2007 be paid by AMG to ARL, "except as otherwise specifically
provided by orders previously made in this action".
The court refused AMG's application for permission to appeal.
The court said that T&N did not forgive payment of the sums payable
under the Sale & Purchase Agreement (SPA) dated 7 March 2006 and accordingly
the balance of the purchase price and interest due under the agreement
remains due and payable from ARL to T&N.
It said in light of the afore-mentioned, the question whether AMG had
actual or constructive knowledge that the sums payable under the SPA had
been forgiven by T&N did not arise.
It said that T&N had no power to exercise the power of sale under
clause 8 of the Memorandum of Deposit and Charge dated 15 March 1996.
ARL had originally purchased SMM, whose assets included two
Zimbabwe-based asbestos mines, for US$60 million in March 1996 from the
After buying the share warrants from Kroll, the Zimbabwe government
took AMG to the London courts, where ARL is registered, to try and force
Mawere to divest share control in the company.
Mawere said ARL is taking legal advice about suing Kroll for US$60
million for accrued loss of earnings later this year.
Quizzed on why Kroll had sold the share warrants to AMG and the
impending lawsuit, Sara Turner, who handles public relations and media
inquiries, at Kroll London said the risk consultancy firm cannot "comment on
Arafas Gwaradzimba, AMG chief executive told Standardbusiness the 19
May judgement had no winners.
Told that the court had ruled ARL has title to the bearer share
warrant after paying the balance of the purchase price plus accruing
interest, Gwaradzimba said AMG will pay for the shares if ARL failed to
clear the balance.
Gwaradzimba was asked to explain his assertion that there were no
winners when AMG would foot the legal bill. He said: "Our lawyers there are
discussing between themselves. After all ARL paid the legal bill before."
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:02
ZIMBABWE lost US$7 million in tourism revenue from the Japanese market
following the review of the country's security risk by Tokyo, the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke has said.
Kaseke said Zimbabwe lost about 4 000 tourists who had planned to
visit Victoria Falls between 15 April and 31 May 2008.
The loss translates to about 12 000 bed nights as the average stay per
visitor is three nights.
"If this is translated to tourism receipts, including earnings from
food and beverages, activities such as those common in Victoria Falls,
Zimbabwe lost about US$7 million from the Japanese market alone in those 45
days," Kaseke said.
"This is a sad situation indeed, but as the tourism promotion organ of
the government we will do everything in our power to redress the situation."
In April, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised the risk
level from the previous Level One to Level Two.
Japan classifies destinations in four levels in terms of security
risk. Level One, being the lowest, is not prohibitive but merely requires
Japanese nationals who visit destinations in that category to exercise due
caution while they travel.
Level Two requires Japanese to consider the necessity of their travel
and is prohibitive.
Once a destination has been classified in Level Two all tour
operators, travel agents and individual travellers are expected to cancel
their travel arrangements to such destinations.
Level Three requires an outright cancellation of all travel to the
affected destinations while Level Four requires the immediate evacuation of
Japanese nationals from the destinations.
Kaseke said during April and May, the country experienced group
cancellations by tour operators from Japan who had planned group tours, not
only to visit Zimbabwe but Southern Africa as a whole.
The group tours were to visit Victoria Falls, Cape Town and Chobe in
Saturday, 07 June 2008 18:00
JOHANNESBURG - A leadership vacuum has hampered progress in Africa and
countries will need to prioritise education in order to help the continent
end poverty, delegates said at the World Economic Forum on Friday.
"There has been a conspiracy of silence on critical issues and lack of
courage to state publicly what should be done," said Wendy Luhabe, chairman
of South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation.
Various delegates raised the "crisis of leadership" repeatedly as
holding Africa back and called for better education for the continent to
free itself from the legacy of colonialism.
But South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki dismissed the criticism
saying African leaders had taken steps to improve economic and political
"There's much better clarity among the political leadership of what
needs to be done to establish stable democratic systems".
"There's clarity about how to respond to these economic challenges,
and we talk about better macroeconomic management on the continent," he
Millions of people continue to live in poverty in Africa despite
faster economic growth averaging 5% over the past five years. About 40% of
the continent's 900 million people are poor.
"We must invest massively in education because it is the only tool to
liberate people so they have access to opportunities for their own
self-sufficiency," said Luhabe.
"We can't afford to create a culture of dependency," she said, adding
education would help drive the growth of the middle class that is key to
stability and maintaining democracy.
The current global food crisis, however, threatened social stability,
with 20 countries on the "most vulnerable" list and several experiencing
violent protest against high prices.
World Bank Vice President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili said on
Thursday the crisis could be an opportunity to revive Africa's farming
industry and review agricultural policy.
The three-day 18th WEF on Africa attracted more than 800 delegates
from over 50 countries. (Editing by Malcolm Whittaker)
Saturday, 07 June 2008 17:54
WHEN Cosmas Benza (30), qualified as a chartered accountant in 2005,
he hoped to receive commensurate remuneration.
The world opened its doors when an accounting firm he was working for
offered him shareholding, plus a company car.
He worked there for barely a year, then packed his bags and crossed
the Atlantic to Bermuda.
"I had no choice but to seek greener pastures. I discovered that with
my salary it was going to be difficult to fend for my family," he told
Standardbusiness last week.
Benza is another Zimbabwe professional who left for the proverbial
greener pastures, following the economic meltdown that has reduced workers
For the past two years, the country has lost professionals to
neighbouring countries at an alarming rate.
First, it was the engineers and artisans lured by South Africa's
booming construction industry ahead of the 2010 World Cup. The exodus has
extended to professions such as teaching and the hospitality trade, as the
lure of the Rand across the Limpopo becomes irresistible.
While some companies continue weeping over the loss of key staffers,
others have taken up the cudgels and put in place measures to halt the brain
At one law firm, employees are given groceries every month, with the
money being recovered over three months.
At Air Zimbabwe, senior employees are being paid in foreign currency.
Hoteliers have written to the central bank to seek approval to pay key
personnel in foreign currency.
Human resources experts note while it is a noble gesture, buying
groceries for staff and paying them in forex, companies with no access to
forex can at least index the salaries to the US$.
"If salaries are pegged to the US$ and using the inter-bank rates, it
removes the need for salary negotiations," said Memory Nguwi, a human
Nguwi, founding partner at a human resources and management
consultancy firm, Organisation Excellence Consultants, proposes a minimum
salary of US$100 a month with a cut-off date when the inter-bank rate would
He said there was now a worrying trend where employees went to work
"to maintain their jobs in the hope that things would improve in the
"In terms of basic salaries, most workers are not earning enough to go
to work. They are going there for career reasons. They don't want a gap in
their careers," he said.
Luxon Zembe, a management consultant says while the gesture by
employers is noble, it has to be productivity-linked.
He says dishing out groceries to employees "is a crisis intervention
which is not sustainable in the long run".
"We have to address the economy and stabilise the dollar by going back
to production in industries and on the farms," he said.
Zembe said for workers to survive, they needed to earn salaries in
line with global standards of US$1 a day set by the International Labour
Organisation and the United Nations.
But he cautions that the rate at which the Zimbabwe dollar was losing
value made it difficult for employers to cope.
"It's like a dog chasing its tail," he said.
Japhet Moyo, acting secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions told Standardbusiness what employers were doing was
"fire-fighting" that did not address "the fundamentals" on how to run the
"We can talk about employers paying in forex or buying groceries for
employees but that does not address the problem. It is the issue of politics
which people are scared to talk about," Moyo said.
Analysts say a comprehensive package to revive the economy would
cushion employees from the harsh economic conditions.
Zimbabwe has the highest inflation - 1 700 000% - in the world, an
unprecedented situation in a country outside a war zone.
Analysts say inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the
currency, reducing workers to paupers.
Zembe says as a way out, the country can adopt a more stable currency
such as the US dollar, though there are challenges on the availability of
the adopted currency.
"In practical terms, people are thinking in terms of US$," he said.
By Ndamu Sandu
Saturday, 07 June 2008 17:51
GWERU - Although the issuance of extremely high-denomination bearer
cheques makes it easier to carry big sums, such notes are also fuelling
inflation and ultimately making matters worse for ordinary people, consumers
who spoke to Standardbusiness complained.
Winnie Sibanda, a housewife in Gweru's Mkoba high-density suburb said
that for people like her, budgeting for household necessities had become a
major dilemma as the prices of essential commodities were continuously
Sibanda says that although her husband, who works for a private
enterprise, brings home about four billion dollars a month, prices always
seemed disconnected from incomes, and she blames the constant issuance of
ever-larger denomination notes by the central bank.
"Every time new bearer cheques are introduced, the price of most
commodities and services goes up. The problem is that most basics are now
available only on the parallel market, and those who sell these commodities
won't stop hiking the prices," Sibanda said.
"When the $500-million bearer cheque was introduced recently the price
of a 2kg packet of sugar went up to $1 billion from $500 million; the price
of a two-litre bottle of cooking oil rose from about $1.4-billion to
$2-billion and commuter omnibus operators also hiked their fares.
"It is high time the authorities did something about this. The country's
economy has been bad for some time but I think what is worsening the
situation is the current political impasse. Our leaders should resolve this
quickly because it is the ordinary people that are hardest hit by the
economic and political crises."
Along with the latest introduction of a 500-million dollar bearer
cheque, the Reserve Bank has also introduced so-called "agro-cheques" in
denominations of $5 billion, $25 billion and $50 billion for the use of
farmers selling produce. They can also be used by ordinary members of the
But economic analysts who spoke to this reporter said such notes
merely pour gasoline on the blaze of inflation.
Amos Dhewa, an an assistant lecturer in economics at the Midlands
State University, said the introduction of the bearer cheques was no
solution but actually worsened the economic problems.
He said the government over the past 10 years has installed flawed
macro-economic policies which had derailed the economy.
"There is a debate regarding which factor affects the other - politics
or the economy. It is politics probably that affects the economy more. As
long as our political relations are not okay, the economy will always
deteriorate. If we are part of the world, we need to recognize that we are
just a part of the world and not to think that we are the world itself.
"The world can do without us but we cannot do without the world. Even
when we preach the doctrine of sovereignty and whatever, we have to
understand that, Yes, sovereignty, but, we also depend on other countries,''
Bearer cheques, referred to derisively as "burial cheques", were first
introduced during the 2003 cash crisis - the first of many. They were
supposed to be phased out by the end of 2003 but Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono, installed in December of that year, has made the bearer cheque
the de facto Zimbabwean currency.
Gono himself has acknowledged printing money drives up inflation, but
in the face of an unrelenting economic decline, says he has had no choice
but to regularly introduce higher denominations.
The central bank has taken measures such as limiting the amounts
individuals and businesses can withdraw from banks, but this has done little
to slow inflation, and consumers are already calling for a review of the
recently revised $10-billion withdrawal limit, saying it is not enough.
Economists have suggested the government mend its relations with the
international community and international financial institutions.
Some have blamed the Look East policy, suggesting that "we don't need
only to look east but to look everywhere".
Gono has in the past emphasized the need to mend fences with the
international community. But his advice has not been heeded as President
Robert Mugabe and his government claim the West wants regime change and
By Rutendo Mawere
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:47
AT first glance, the photograph flashed on news reports around the
world - an image of a man burning in South Africa, necklaced with a rubber
tyre that had been doused in gasoline and set aflame - looked like a relic
from the days of apartheid.
Necklacing was common then: it was the way that enforcers of the
revolutionary African National Congress made an example of informers who
betrayed their struggle for majority rule.
That struggle was finally won at the ballot box 14 years ago, but the
photograph of the burning man was taken last month, as South African mobs
tore through the country's townships and shantytowns, hunting down
foreigners. The young men who formed the core of the mobs were armed with
everything from hammers and whips to machetes and guns, and they were not
easily deterred. Even when President Thabo Mbeki, who sat silently by during
the first 10 days of the pogroms, called out the Army, the violence
continued, and once again the photographs of the confrontations recalled the
township showdowns of yore: uniformed sharpshooters firing into the throng,
albeit with rubber bullets.
Roughly 5 million of the 50 million people who live in South Africa
are migrants from elsewhere on the continent - Malawi, Nigeria, Congo,
Mozambique, Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. They came in the years
since apartheid, seeking political refuge or economic opportunity or both,
and their presence could be seen as a measure of South Africa's success: the
nation that once produced asylum seekers had become a place of asylum. But
the banishment of white-supremacist rule did not bring an end to South
Africa's divisiveness and inequality; the terms were merely reconfigured.
In the place of political violence, the nation has been plagued by one
of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. Most of the victims,
like most of the perpetrators, belong to the vast black underclass. Rising
unemployment (twenty-three percent nationwide, and two or three times that
in the townships) and rising food and fuel prices have led to rising
desperation for those chronically excluded from the promises of the new
The tabloid press and the political demagogues freely blame the social
situation on foreigners, and in the last weeks of May more than 50 of them
(as well as several South Africans mistaken for foreigners) were killed by
the mobs, while more than thirty thousand were driven from their homes,
stripped of their possessions, and left to huddle in makeshift camps around
churches and police stations or to flee for the borders.
The man in the now iconic photograph was Mozambican; thousands of his
compatriots bolted homeward, and the government of Mozambique declared a
state of emergency on its frontiers. The great mass of South Africa's
foreigners, however, are from Zimbabwe, and for them - some three million
people, or a quarter of Zimbabwe's population - repatriation is not an
option. They have fled the incessantly escalating hunger, degradation, and
violence of President Robert Mugabe's dispensation. In fact, even as they
are hounded in the streets of South Africa, more of their compatriots are
risking their lives to escape Zimbabwe and join them.
In late March, Mugabe, after three decades in power, did not win
re-election this time, he had failed to rig the vote sufficiently - and in
the months since, in preparation for a run-off vote on 27 June, he has
unleashed his soldiers and militias to run a campaign of systematic terror
against supporters of his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Last year, after Mugabe's torturers battered Tsvangirai almost to
death, regional leaders appointed Mbeki to mediate the crisis in Zimbabwe.
But Mbeki has been utterly unwilling to show any spine in dealing with
Mugabe. On the contrary, he has exhibited a sinister solidarity with his
fellow onetime liberation fighter. With strenuous unreality, he has gone so
far as to deny that Zimbabwe is in crisis, and he has refused to extend
formal refugee status, and the protections that come with it, to millions of
the Zimbabweans in his country, lest he insult Mugabe. Mbeki is a lame-duck
President, required to step down next year, and he has lost control of the
ANC party apparatus to his chief rival, Jacob Zuma. But his coddling of
Mugabe has made him complicit in Zimbabwe's devastation.
So perhaps there is some justice in the fact that the Zimbabwean
crisis he denies threatens to become the defining crisis of his Presidency.
After all, the recent mayhem in South Africa only serves Mugabe, creating a
distraction as he bleeds Zimbabwe in the final stretch of the election, with
forebodings of greater slaughter hanging over the outcome.
It is not obvious what leverage there is on Mugabe. Defiance is his
element; he loves to tell the world, "Go to hell". But there is no reason
for the world to abide his desire to carry out his crimes unheard and
unseen. In April, South African stevedores refused to unload a shipment of
seventy-seven tons of rockets, mortars, and other munitions from China
destined for Zimbabwe - a cargo reminiscent of the deliveries to Rwanda
before the genocide of 1994.
And, in deliberate contrast to Mbeki's obliging absence, the American
Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, has been making his presence felt,
leading his colleagues in the diplomatic community into the rural areas to
investigate and report on the extent of the torture. On a recent excursion,
he collected testimonies, notebooks, and photographs that document how
Mugabe's goons flay their victims and break their bones.
McGee offered this evidence to Mbeki's representatives; they declined
to meet with him, and Mugabe threatened him with expulsion. Still, at a time
when America's international prestige as an arbiter of political justice
carries the stain of Abu Ghraib, it is heartening to see one of our
diplomats operating as if he'd never heard that waterboarding and other
forms of torture are now his country's policy.
To watch the intertwined agonies of South Africa and Zimbabwe today is
to see what Frantz Fanon meant when he wrote, in The Wretched of the Earth,
that "the last battle of the colonized against the colonizer will often be
the fight of the colonized against each other". Mbeki and Mugabe belong to a
generation of liberation fighters who seem incapable of seeing the world
through any lens beyond that of anti-colonial struggle, and who invoke their
revolutionary bona fides as immunity against all political criticism and all
Their time has passed. The best hope for both their countries now is
for the voters of Zimbabwe to be allowed to show their courage on 27 June
and liberate themselves.
*Philip Gourevitch opinion piece appears in The New Yorker.
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:45
IF most people were asked to describe the picture that forms in the
mind at the mention of the term "vote rigging", they would probably give an
account of shady characters in dark glasses, dark coats, operating under
cover of darkness busy stuffing ballot boxes, changing figures, shredding
and burning documents.
That may be so, but, in fact, one simple and less dramatic picture of
vote-rigging is that of a system that simply prevents persons from
exercising their right to vote.
Zimbabwe's electoral regime contains a number of features that prevent
persons from voting or at the very least, increase the risk of preventing
persons from voting. In that way the electoral regime plays a crucially
negative role in disenfranchising citizens.
For a start, an attempt by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to challenge
the constitutionality of the system which disenfranchises them was dismissed
by the Supreme Court in March 2005. This effectively cemented the
disenfranchisement of a significant number of Zimbabweans who have every
right to participate in their country's electoral process. In most
countries, including SADC countries, efforts are being made to allow
citizens abroad to participate in the political process. The Zimbabwe
government, in its wisdom, has not been willing to do that. That is probably
because the Diaspora population is not viewed as a natural constituency for
the ruling Zanu PF party.
But there is a more pressing matter, concerning those persons resident
and present in Zimbabwe but are likely to be disenfranchised come 27 June.
These are the people who, by circumstance of the deliberately engineered
mayhem, violence and intimidation, have become displaced from their normal
It is reported that thousands of people have been displaced from their
homes due to the violence raging in the countryside, especially in the
Mashonaland provinces. If these persons are to exercise their right to vote,
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will need to devise a special
mechanism for that purpose because the current legislation effectively
nullifies their right and leaves them disenfranchised.
It is important to illustrate why there is a great risk of
disenfranchisement unless the ZEC intervenes, either to stop the violence
and displacement and also to facilitate people's return to their homes.
Alternatively, the ZEC could facilitate their ability to exercise their
right, wherever they may be physically situated on 27 June.
The problem commences with the mandatory ward-voting system. The
effect of Section 110(3) of the Electoral Act is that the run-off will be
conducted in the same way as the 29 March election. This means that in
accordance with Section 56 of the Electoral Act, persons will be required to
vote in the wards in which they were registered on the voters' roll. It
states that, "(a) every voter registered on a ward voters roll shall be
entitled to vote in the ward concerned for a Presidential candidate . . ."
However, there is a proviso to that section, which states that, a
person whose name does not appear on the ward voters' roll shall still be
entitled to vote upon production to the presiding officer of a voters'
registration certificate. This is the certificate normally issued to a
person when he registers on the voters' roll. It is therefore highly
significant that every voter retains and takes to the polling station the
voter's registration certificate, just in case one's name does not appear on
the ward voters' roll.
But these provisions have two important implications:
First, it means that if the person's name is not on the ward voters'
roll and does not have the registration certificate, he will not be able to
vote. This is where the violence and confiscation of voters' registration
certificates or identity documents becomes a key instrument of
Second, Section 56(1) (b) of the Electoral Act prohibits a person from
voting in a polling station outside the ward in which he is registered as a
voter on the ward voters' roll. The combined effect of these provisions is
that a person can only vote in a polling station located in his ward.
Conversely, if the person is outside his ward, he is effectively
disenfranchised unless he qualifies for postal voting.
This means that the displaced voters will not be able to cast their
votes on 27 June unless there is a legal and practical facility to enable
them to do so. These victims of violence have, effectively, been
disenfranchised. It demonstrates the effectiveness of preventing people from
voting as a rigging tactic.
It is difficult to understand the necessity of requiring persons to
vote in their respective wards in an election that is essentially national
rather than ward-focussed. One can understand the rationale for the
ward-based voting procedure in the 29 March election on the basis that it
was a harmonised election in which voters were required to vote not only for
the presidency and MPs but also for the councillor of that specific ward.
That necessitated the restriction of voters to their respective wards.
However, the same rationale is less justifiable in the case of the
run-off election, which only concerns the Presidency, a national rather than
ward-based office. People should be able to vote at any place where they may
be at the relevant time so long as they can authenticate their identity and
eligibility to vote.
One of the ZEC's chief constitutional functions under Section 61 (4)
(a) of the Constitution is to "ensure that those elections and referendums
are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance
with the law". The ZEC may argue that the ward-based voting system is vital
for efficiency and, indeed, for transparency but it is equally important
that the values of fairness and freedom be upheld. The displacement and
consequent disenfranchisement does not satisfy these values.
The ZEC should devise cost-effective and practical ways to enable
people to vote at any place beyond their respective wards. Ideally, people
should vote in their wards and most will do so because it is cost-effective
and more convenient for them. But those who, for good reason, are unable to
be in their wards should not be unduly prevented from voting by a rigid
system that fails to take into account the realities of their situation.
That there has been violence and displacement is common knowledge and there
is, surely, sufficiently good reason why many voters cannot be in their
wards on 27 June.
In fact, this is one instance in which the ZEC's law-making powers
provided for under Section 192 could be put to good use. These regulatory
powers have already been used at least twice since 29 March, first, when
extending the run-off deadline from 21 days to 90 days and second, in
prescribing new forms and procedures to be used in the counting and
verification of votes on 27 June.
To be sure, these powers provide various grounds for abuse. These are,
by and large, the same powers that were formerly vested in the President
under the notorious Section 158 of the old Electoral Act and were only
nominally transferred to the ZEC, whose autonomy remains a subject for
The concerns over these powers notwithstanding, Section 192 (4)
empowers the ZEC to, "make such statutory instruments as it considers
necessary or desirable to ensure that any election is properly and
efficiently conducted and to deal with any matter or situation connected
with, arising out of or resulting from the election". It is submitted that
the matter concerning the displacement of voters is of critical importance
to the proper conduct of the run-off election. For that reason, the ZEC
should at least make provision to enable such persons to vote.
There may be concerns that opening the voting system beyond the
ward-system will create opportunities for further rigging but surely,
enabling voters to exercise their right is of great importance. The system
has created a greater moral hazard that by displacing people, they will not
be able to participate in the election and that the first, and perhaps most
effective way of rigging the election.
Alex Magaisa is based at The University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at email@example.com or
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:43
WITH an estimated 4 million Zimbabweans facing starvation, last week's
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation summit in Rome, Italy, was
an opportunity lost, demonstrating just how out of touch and uncaring the
government has become.
The summit was called to commit world leaders to eliminate hunger
among their citizens and to secure food for all. It was an opportunity for
Zimbabwe to appeal for international assistance in providing aid to
small-scale farmers in order to boost their productivity. Also needed is
assistance in investing more in agriculture and increasing food production
and on tackling soaring food price increases. It didn't.
But in what must rank as one of the most tragic ironies to come from
President Robert Mugabe's government, it decided to suspend the operations
of non-governmental organisations involved in providing assistance to the
poor and most vulnerable groups among our communities, simply because the
NGOs are suspected of supporting the MDC.
The Rome summit was an opportunity for Zimbabwe to put its case for
assistance to the world community so it could save the lives of 4 million
Zimbabweans. But by suspending operations of the NGOs the government
signalled it would rather these Zimbabweans starved.
Zimbabwe's food shortages are man-made. This is perhaps why it was
embarrassing for Mugabe to stand before world leaders and ask for
assistance. That would have been the most significant admission of failure
of his government's so-called "agrarian revolution".
Unfortunately Zimbabwe shows no signs of having learnt anything or of
willingness to learn from past failures.
During the run up to the 1980/1981 agricultural season, the
international community provided Zimbabweans with starter seed packs. The
response from the small-holder farmers was phenomenal, contributing to a
bumper maize crop.
The conclusion from the current spectacular collapse of the
agricultural sector is that despite a supposedly enlightened political
leadership Zimbabwe has learnt nothing. Instead, its singular achievement
has been impoverishment of the small-scale and communal farmers.
The real beneficiaries of the government's so-called land reform
programme have been political heavy-weights and the politically connected,
but their case demonstrates one thing: you can provide resAources and inputs
but you cannot make them produce - unmasking one of the fallacies about the
"agrarian revolution", but more likely perdition.
By banning all operations of non-governmental organisations keeping
millions of Zimbabweans alive, the government is demonstrating the extent to
which it is prepared to go in order to remain in power. As a result of this
callous disregard of human lives, it is possible to conclude that
Gukurahundi, which claimed more than 20 000 lives in the Matabeleland and
the Midlands provinces during the early 1980s, and Operation Murambatsvina -
three years ago - and the recently launched Operation Makavhoterapapi are no
accidents of history.
The UN agencies are due to publish a full report on Zimbabwe this week
which will reveal an even more precarious food supply situation in the
country as cereal production is expected to plummet again this year while
food imports announced by the government will do little to make up for the
Last month the government said it had paid for 600 000 tonnes of maize
from South Africa but this would only be enough to cover at least three
Mugabe squandered an opportunity to ask the international community
for food aid for millions of his people, while suspension of NGO operations,
just unmasks government's true colours. Then he expects Zimbabweans to
support his re-election bid during the 27 June presidential re-run! In 19
days' time they will have their turn to decide his fate.
Exposing The Fallacy Of Tribal Conspiracies
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:58
AFTER I was evicted from my farm in Norton, I decided to go and
confront the district administration for Chegutu and the lands committee.
My farm had been unprocedurally awarded to another person, who comes
from Dzumbunu communal lands by Chief Nyamweda even though our area falls in
Ward 11 under Chief Chivero.
I informed the administration and the committee that as a war veteran
I was entitled to land under the Land Reform Programme. The Lands officer
told me that the land available was only for people from Mhondoro because
they had not been beneficiaries of the fast track resettlement programme,
especially in the other provinces.
They said the new approach was that they scrutinised an
applicant/beneficiary's National Identity Card to establish whether it ended
with 32, which is Mhondoro District and to a lesser extent, 70, which is
The administration, Chief Nyamweda and the Lands office claimed that
the land invasions had resulted in people from Manicaland flooding into
Mashonaland West. Then the most insulting question was posed: Was there no
land in Manicaland for me to go and seek to be allocated?
As if that was not enough, they went on to suggest there was a Manyika
conspiracy to take over the reins of political power. They alleged that
there was a deliberate, systematic and sustained plan to plant Manyikas in
all strategic positions throughout Zimbabwe. This, they claimed, was being
orchestrated from very high offices, liaising with several permanent
secretaries in the various ministries.
This, they alleged, had come to the attention of the Presidency and
several key Zanu PF officials in Mashonaland West. They went on to say this
was the reason why the President questioned why all the opposition leaders,
such as the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Edgar
Tekere, Margaret Dongo, Morgan Tsvangirai, Dr Simba Makoni and Professor
Arthur Mutambara, came from Manicaland.
I told them it was not a crime for a person from Manicaland to aspire
to become president of Zimbabwe and that the presidency was not a preserve
for people from Mashonaland West. If most war veterans appeared to come from
Manicaland, it was because of the long border that the province shared with
Mozambique, I informed them.
I then asked these gentlemen whether there was also a Zezuru
conspiracy to perpetuate their dominance over Zimbabwe, drawing their
attention to the security chiefs and reminding them that these were the same
people now holding the nation hostage by publicly declaring that they will
not salute anyone who does not have liberation war credentials. We all know
they are doing this for self-preservation in order to protect their
ill-gotten gains and the lifestyle of luxury amid a sea of poverty among the
majority of Zimbabweans.
I lectured them on the formation and origins of Zanu PF, Sithole's and
Herbert Chitepo's contributions and pointed out that while Manicaland
contributed a significant number of fighters to the liberation struggle, the
province was neglected during the boom period of the 1980s and 1990s. Was
this a deliberate conspiracy to marginalise Manicaland? I queried.
Is there an organised Zezuru conspiracy to thwart the alleged Manyika
Zimbo Farm, Norton-Chegutu
Cursed Be The Terrorists
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:56
AUGUSTINE Chihuri, the Police Commissioner-General, pledged that the
police would maintain law and order before, during and after the harmonised
He emphasised that the police would not take into account the
political affiliation of the trouble makers.
But what is happening after the elections? Organised Zanu PF terror is
taking place all over Zimbabwe. Law-abiding citizens in rural areas are
fleeing their homes, some of which have been burnt down by these party
There has been no action taken against these terrorists by Chihuri's
police officers because the perpetrators are Zanu PF supporters who are
"immune" to arrest. This is shameful and may these terrorists and their
leaders be cursed until eternity.
D R Mutungagore
State House Not Mugabe Property
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:55
GRACE Mugabe should be reminded that State House is a national
institution that belongs to Zimbabwe and not to the Mugabe household.
Who is she to say Morgan Tsvangirai will never set foot in State
House? That is a prerogative of the Zimbabwean electorate which they will
exercise on 27 June, banishing her to Zvimba where she belongs.
Run-off Poll, A Matter Of Life And Death For Zimbabwe
Saturday, 07 June 2008 16:53
AS a foreigner, or a mukwerekwere, staying in South Africa, I woke up
on the monring of 19 May to the image of a "burning foreigner" on the front
page of The Times.
I was quite shaken by this image and also by the fact that some locals
were actually giggling in the background. Understandably, on that Monday I
received a number of phone calls and e-mails from fellow Zimbabweans, all
wanting to know whether I was okay.
The message is clear: foreigners must go because they steal their
jobs, wives, houses and are criminals. Someone was saying one way they will
find out that you are a foreigner - that is, if they do not pick it from
your dark skin colour - is to ask you to say "elbow" in Zulu.
It is a scary situation because every foreigner is at risk, whether
you are here legally or otherwise.
Still reeling from this shock, I read Zimbabwe news on the internet
and something hit me between the eyes. They had murdered Mr Jani from
If they can abduct a fine gentleman such as Jani in broad daylight and
kill him, then no-one is safe any more. They are very desperate and
obviously this election is a matter of life and death for the ruling party.
Many Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa and as the events of the
past three weeks have shown this is no place for us.
In the past, it has been easy to sit on the fence but now I don't
think it will be possible to do so as we have nowhere else to run.
From rough estimates there are around three million Zimbabweans in
South Africa, which means even if a third of them go home to vote this will
make a difference.
Saturday, 07 June 2008 17:00
HAVE we turned into animals to butcher and torture one another like
this? Have these so-called leaders no shame at all? It will be no victory at
all because it will be pure robbery. What is the use of all those degrees? -
Blind to reality
HAPPISON Muchechetere believes the MDC is responsible for all the
violence in the country. Why are his reporters at ZBC not covering the
abductions and deaths of the victims? Even the police aren't using his
stations to flight the pictures of those abducted and the deceased in order
to investigate the cases. Please don't insult us. We are not as daft as you
think. - Gift Mwanza.
ON Sunday evening there were three pro-Zanu PF speakers and one
representative of the MDC. Correctness of facts: pro-Zanu PF speakers 20%,
MDC representative 80%. Time afforded speakers: MDC 20%, Zanu PF 80%.- J K,
NO matter the type of propaganda Zanu PF dishes out and how much it
kills, it will never win as long as there is no food on the table.- Morgan
Jobs, not land
ZANU PF can be so desperate. The people who were in South Africa do
not want land. They went there for jobs! - Mangwende, Harare.
A traditional leader in Zaka organised the beating of 13 victims of
politically motivated violence on 17 May 2008. - Witness.
Rogue-ish First Lady
GRACE Mugabe's speech to Zanu PF supporters in Shamva that farm
workers must be dealt with is not fit to be coming from a First Lady. It is
the kind of thing you expect from a rogue. I wonder how she will carry out
this threat without using violence. Her utterances were grossly
irresponsible. Whatever happens to any of them she'll be personally
responsible. - Jaku, Marondera.
I would like to urge those who did not vote on 29 March 2008 to heed
my call to unite so we can show Robert Mugabe his exit in one strong
voice. - Dirt.
No to coercion, sir
I would like to say to the Army Chief of Staff that most of the
soldiers are suffering just as the majority of the people of Zimbabwe. We
are there to save and protect the nation, not Zanu PF. Don't try to use us
in order to protect your own personal interests. - KG VI.
I need to alert the nation that 99% of the Zanu PF youths do not have
three "O" Levels and above and they are being told that if Zanu PF wins,
they will have jobs of their choice, even to become medical doctors, perhaps
doctors of violence. - Gattuso, Bindura.
Never say never
RECALL when the end was near during the late 1970s -
never-in-a-thousand-years Ian Smith lavishly fooled our traditional leaders
by even flying them! Remember Bishop Abel Muzorewa's seven-day Zimbabwe
Grounds wonderful feast. See how the full circle has turned and our chiefs
are again being feted? What a pity! - Amon D Nyamambi.
Wrecking our lives
IN Masvingo we are getting electricity for just eight hours a day. The
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority is determined to wreck our lives. -
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority is the most incompetent, most
cynical and most financially illiterate government organisation in the
country. How can they honestly send me a water bill for $25 billion, when I
only received water for one week for the whole of last month? This is a
clear indication that the brain drain has affected our State-run companies.
Any intelligent person would have thought twice about posting such a bill.
But it seems that they are only interested in raising revenue for their
salaries. My neighbours and I have vowed to set our dogs on meter readers if
there is no service delivery. We need intelligent people at Zinwa, not these
comedians. - Dry.
THIS wheat season is a total disaster. There is no wheat in the
fields. This is really a man-made disaster and someone has to take
responsibility. Someone should be held accountable. This business of playing
the blame game has to stop. The buck stops with someone. This time around
Zimbabweans are not going to listen to Zanu PF's cock-and-bull story about
sanctions as wheat in this country is not grown by American and British
farmers but by Zanu PF farmers. Furthermore, everyone knows that 90% of the
fuel allocated to farmers finds its way onto the black market. This time
look in the mirror if you need someone to blame for bread shortages. You
should be ashamed. - Mhepo.
ZIMBABWE is short of foreign currency, so imagine if the United
Nations brings in say 3 000 observers, this would translate to US$300 x 3
000 in accreditation fees for them to observe the run-off. Just where does
the money go to and for what purpose is the fee charged? Why can't observers
come in free, because they pay for hotel and accommodation and that is where
the country can benefit in terms of foreign currency-generation? - Puzzled.
THE best way to curb political violence is to allow people to vote in
any area they will be at the time of the run-off. This way, people who have
been displaced by the political violence will not be disenfranchised. -
The government has announced that it wishes to import 2 000 buses from
China for Zupco, but I fail to understand why Zupco doesn't sell those old
and redundant shells of buses which are rotting at the Zupco workshops. It
would be far better for Zupco to have a new, efficient and manageable fleet
and if they dispose of those bus shells by public auction they can plough
back the proceeds and use those funds as working capital to maintain the
existing fleet. This just goes to show that common sense is not so very
common at Zupco. It's time they stopped draining the government fiscus by
always begging for more funds. - M T K.
A Zanu PF supporter in Ward 8, Nyanga North, turned down financial
support meant for the installation of electricity at a clinic in the Ward.
The clinic supports more than 14 villages. - Villager, Nyanga.