Thursday, 20 March 2008 13:07
FEARS that next week's elections will be rigged by President Robert
Mugabe's regime heightened this week with opposition parties raising new
complaints about a flawed electoral process.
This week Mugabe proved that he has manipulated the electoral rules on
the hoof for political advantage. On Monday he used emergency powers to
amend the law to allow the police access to polling stations to assist
infirm and illiterate voters.
The Statutory Instrument effectively reverses changes effected through
the Electoral Laws Amendment Act signed into law on January 11, in line with
an agreement between Zanu PF and the MDC.
Well-placed sources said Mugabe's diehards were prepared to rig the
elections to save the ruling Zanu PF and its leader from possible defeat.
Mugabe has become hugely unpopular both in the urban and rural areas
due to the deepening economic and social problems. The election campaigns
have shown that he has fallen out of favour with the masses and now relies
on stage-managed rallies where people are bussed or coerced to attend.
It is now generally acknowledged by Mugabe's advisors and critics
alike that short of rigging he will not win next week's polls. The Zimbabwe
Independent has it on good authority Mugabe was two weeks ago told by his
top security advisors he would not win over 50% of the vote unless a lot of
"hard work" was done to help him out before the polls.
If no candidate wins over 50% a run-off follows within three weeks,
although there are doubts over this due to conflicting clauses in the
Electoral Act, but a senior lawyer said yesterday the clause on the run-off
takes precedence because it is more recent.
Mugabe's advisors said opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had
become an unexpected threat to Mugabe and could win if Zanu PF did not step
up its efforts to stop him. They said the other main candidate Simba Makoni
was initially a threat but was receding, although he still posed a danger
chipping away at Mugabe's rural support base.
This week Mugabe's advisors said it was possible for him to scrape
through with a 50% margin. Insiders said this referred to winning by fair
means or foul.
A survey conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute recently shows
Tsvangirai leading, followed by Mugabe and then Makoni. It showed that none
of the candidates could win 50%.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai are likely to go to the run-off if it happens,
in which case the incumbent will almost certainly lose. However, the sources
said Mugabe and his advisors would not allow the election to go that far.
The sources said the outcome of the elections - mainly the
presidential poll - would be determined by the systematic and technical
manipulation of the ballot. Vote-buying, as shown by the distribution of
farming equipment, maize, buses, computers and hiking salaries of civil
servants will also be decisive.
They said the ground has been laid to ensure a predetermined outcome
in the elections. Rigging methods that could be used include a reduction of
polling stations and ballot papers in urban areas, slowing down the voting
process, turning away voters and hence disenfranchisement, fiddling with the
numbers of ballots, fraudulently playing around with the structure of the
voters' roll and gerrymandering.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which was supposed to have
been reconstituted before the elections to restore its credibility in terms
of the talks between Zanu PF and MDC, has remained unreformed.
ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe, appointed by Mugabe, is widely
seen as a Zanu PF supporter.
ZEC did not consult opposition parties before drawing up constituency
boundaries as required by the law, hence claims of gerrymandering.
Makoni's group last Friday held a meeting in Harare with the Sadc
election observer mission to table a list of rigging mechanisms used to fix
the vote. The group told Sadc observers that a team of CIO officers had been
deployed to ZEC to rig the polls. It released the names of the officers
The reduction in the number of polling stations in urban areas - MDC
strongholds - effectively decided the outcome of the intensely disputed 2002
presidential election which was controversially won by Mugabe by 400 000
votes from a questionable supplementary voters' roll.
The same trick is likely to be repeated next week. The evidence is
clear: ZEC statistics show that Harare - the province with the biggest
number of constituencies - only has 722 polling stations compared to
Matabeleland North which has 755 polling stations. Harare has 29
constituencies, while Matabeleland North has 13.
If the polling stations are reduced in Harare it means thousands of
opposition supporters would not all be able to vote. Although Matabeleland
North is also an opposition base, Zanu PF is still capable of picking rural
votes from there.
The Zanu PF strongholds of Mashonaland provinces, Midlands and
Masvingo also have a lot of polling stations compared to Harare.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) chairperson Noel Kututwa said
the list of polling stations contains "significant errors and relatively few
polling stations in Bulawayo and Harare provinces".
Kututwa said there was a significant discrepancy in the number of
registered voters per polling station for different provinces.
"There should be some variation, but the number of registered voters
per polling station in Bulawayo and Harare is more than twice that of the
other provinces," he said.
"The situation is similar in Gweru and Mutare municipalities where the
average number of registered voters per polling station is 1 234,8 and 1
277,3 respectively. As a result, the average voter in Harare province will
need to be processed in 22 seconds."
Government claims urban provinces proportionally and in real terms
have fewer polling stations compared to rural ones even in cases where urban
ones are far bigger because polling stations in towns are more accessible,
an argument not technically sound. The number of polling stations in each
province is supposed to be determined by the number of voters, not the
proximity of the polling booths.
This issue was hotly contested in the Supreme Court just a day before
the 2002 election but the court reserved judgement, only to dismiss the case
after the polls on technical grounds. However, thousands of urban voters,
especially in Harare, did not vote.
In the same way as 2002, thousands of people are likely to fail to
vote in Harare again.
Besides, the voters' roll has been used in rigging. In 2002 it was
discovered Tsvangirai in reality won because there were more voters
registered in urban areas compared to rural areas, but that has now been
reversed. Now there are more rural than urban voters.
The voters' roll also contains ghost voters. MDC MP Trudy Stevenson
this week revealed that former Rhodesian Law and Order minister Desmond
Lardner-Burke, born in 1908, was still on the voters' roll for Mt Pleasant
constituency, although he died some years ago. His wife, born in 1912, is
also still on the voters' roll.
Opposition and independent monitoring groups this week said numerous
errors on the voters' rolls opened the elections to rigging. Lawyers on
Monday filed an application at the High Court demanding that the registrar
of voters to supply them with electronic copies of the roll which is easy to
Thursday, 20 March 2008 13:00
CENTRAL Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general, retired
Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe, is facing removal from the state security
agency after a major fallout with President Robert Mugabe over the Simba
Makoni issue which has divided the spy outfit. It has also caused ructions
in Zanu PF and government.
Reliable intelligence sources said this week Bonyongwe - who took over
from Elisha Muzonzini in April 2003 - was likely to be forced out or not
reappointed when his tenure expires next month. Bonyongwe's term was not
extended when Mugabe renewed the appointments of Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Commander General Constantine Chiwenga and Commissioner-General of the
police Augustine Chihuri recently.
The sources said it was almost certain Bonyongwe would be forced to
leave because he allegedly failed to keep Mugabe briefed when Makoni was
about to challenge him in the presidential election next week.
The only way, the sources said, Bonyongwe could survive is if Makoni
wins the election. Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai appear
to be running neck and neck in the poll - which many say is too close to
call - barring vote-rigging.
It is claimed Bonyongwe "sanitised" CIO reports on Makoni in a bid to
suppress the matter.
Bonyongwe, linked to the Zanu PF faction led by retired army commander
General Solomon Mujuru, is said to be a Makoni sympathiser, if not an ally
despite denials. Mujuru is said to be the architect of the Makoni project
despite Mugabe's claim last week that the former army chief had denied any
links to the ex-minister.
The sources said Bonyongwe acted as "gatekeeper" on behalf of Makoni
and the Mujuru camp, much to the fury of Mugabe who reportedly no longer
trusts the CIO chief. It is said Mugabe and Bonyongwe's relationship had
broken down "irretrievably".
Bonyongwe last weekend took the unusual step of talking to the state
media in a bid to dispel speculation about his links to Makoni.
While admitting it was uncommon for a CIO boss to talk to the press,
he nonetheless went ahead to do so. Bonyongwe denied links to Makoni,
saying: "I have no association whatsoever with the Makoni group." In the
lengthy denial -- which only served to heighten speculation about his
future - Bonyongwe was at pains to pledge his loyalty to Mugabe, declaring:
"I serve one master and the master is the president."
However, the sources said Mugabe is now relying more on reports from
Bonyongwe's deputy Maynard Muzariri who is locked in a personal war of
attrition with his boss. The two are said to have failed to work together,
dividing the organisation which was already fractured by alignments to the
ruling Zanu PF factions led by Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Bonyongwe has previously been linked to the Mujuru camp while Muzariri
has been connected to the Mnangagwa faction although of late he is said to
be loyal to Mugabe as are most service chiefs.
The CIO, which has been widely blamed for intimidation, harassment and
human rights abuses, has often been rocked by infighting. The most notable
case of internal wrangling in the CIO was between Shadreck Chipanga and
Lovemore Mukandi 10 years ago. Infighting within the CIO has almost been
invariably followed by overhauls.
Sources said the CIO was facing another shake-up because two distinct
camps with different reporting channels were now in existence in the
While the Bonyongwe faction is said to be pro-Makoni, the Muzariri
camp reportedly backs Mugabe's continued stay in power and was pushing for
the ouster of their boss. Muzariri, a professional CIO officer, reportedly
feels that Bonyongwe was not fit to head the CIO given his military
background and his links to Mujuru.
The sources said, however, Mugabe was unlikely to re-appoint either
Bonyongwe or Muzariri because of their power struggle that has torn the
Elias Kanengoni, deputy director (Internal), is likely to replace
Bonyongwe. Kanengoni is very loyal to Mugabe who pardoned him from serving a
six-year jail term for shooting former Gweru mayor and controversial
businessman Patrick Kombayi in the run-up to the presidential and
parliamentary elections in 1990.
Kanengoni and Zanu PF Midlands provincial youth leader Kizito Chivamba
were convicted in January 1994 of attempted murder of Kombayi who was
contesting the Gweru Central seat on a Zimbabwe Unity Movement ticket
against the late Vice-president Simon Muzenda. But Mugabe pardoned them
before they started their jail terms. - Staff Writers.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:57
INDEPENDENT presidential hopeful Simba Makoni's campaign has suffered
a major setback after retired army General Vitalis Zvinavashe and Zanu PF
politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire reportedly declined to come out to
support his candidacy.
Zvinavashe, Mavhaire and other senior Zanu PF politburo members were
believed to be backing the ex-Finance minister's presidential bid and had
been expected to abandon President Robert Mugabe.
Zvinavashe and Mavhaire were expected to attend Makoni's rally at
Mucheke Stadium, Masvingo, last Saturday, but did not turn up amid reports
they were no longer party to the former Sadc executive secretary's ambitious
Impeccable sources in the Makoni campaign management committee told
the Zimbabwe Independent that Zvinavashe and Mavhaire had washed their hands
of the project to dislodge Mugabe from power in next week's elections.
The sources said Makoni and his election mobilisation department head,
retired army Major Kudzai Mbudzi, went twice to Zvinavashe's Tynwald home in
Harare recently to find out when the Gutu Senator would quit Zanu PF and
"Zvinavashe refused to meet them," one of the sources said. "He has
made it clear that he was no longer interested in Makoni's presidential
ambitions even though he is of the opinion that Mugabe should not be the
Zanu PF presidential candidate."
The source said Mbudzi approached Mavhaire in Masvingo and was told
point blank that he was not interested in the Makoni plot.
"Mavhaire was upset when approached by Mbudzi," the source said. "He
told Mbudzi that he was bent on destroying his political career. He said he
didn't want to hear anything to do with Makoni."
The sources said while Zvinavashe and Mavhaire - both Zanu PF
politburo members - had snubbed Makoni, some bigwigs from the ruling party
would come out insupport of Makoni.
Former Zipra intelligence supremo and ruling party politburo member
Dumiso Dabengwa is the only Zanu PF bigwig who has come out in support of
Makoni so far.
The sources said during the Makoni rally in Masvingo, Mujuru was
represented by one of his confidants (name supplied).
The confidant, one of the sources said, had attended most of Makoni's
meetings and rallies since the former finance minister announced his
presidential ambitions on February 5.
"The confidant briefs Mujuru on our meetings and rallies. We have been
assured that the general (Mujuru) will go public soon," the source ssaid.
Zvinavashe was among commanders drawn from both Zanla and Zipra
forces, who met twice last March and resolved that Mugabe should leave
office. Others were Mujuru, Youth minister Ambrose Mutinhiri, suspended
Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele and Dabengwa.
Apart from the commanders, sources said, despite their denials and
exhibition of allegiance to Mugabe, Vice-presidents Joice Mujuru and Joseph
Msika and party chairperson John Nkomo maintained close links to Makoni's
camp. Efforts to get comment from Mavhaire yesterday were unsuccessful as he
was not reachable on his mobile phone, but Zvinavashe recently issued a
statement slamming Makoni and Dabengwa for leaving the ruling party.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:54
ZIMBABWE'S ailing economy will crash further after the March 29 polls
because of government's populist policies that are designed to win hearts
ahead of the elections, analysts have said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has been forced to print trillions
of dollars to fund Zanu PF's campaign ahead of the synchronised elections.
Although some of the policies might sound genuine in nature, their
timing is curious. The central bank was last week forced to print trillions
to fund civil servants' salaries which government was forced to review for
fear of losing the elections.
There were fears in government circles that the discontent among
soldiers, police, teachers and other civil servants would translate into
votes for the opposition.
There is also a direct link between the Zanu PF campaign and the farm
mechanisation programme phase three launched by government and the central
bank two weeks ago.
These populist policies that are disguised as part of a national
strategy or necessary interventions will have a severe impact on the economy
after the elections.
So serious is the impact of these policies that whichever political
party or presidential candidate wins the elections will face a more depleted
The winners will have to deal with an economy that has been pillaged
for political expedience. Inflation, currently at 100 580,2%, will skyrocket
and industry which is operating at 20% of capacity will continue to collapse
because there is no foreign currency to import critical raw materials.
The warning signs are already flashing. Last week domestic debt
reached $1,4 quadrillion as government continued to fund its operations
Inflation is likely to hit more than 200 000%, according to estimates
from bank economists.
Analysts however say the real impact of the government's populist
policies will be seen after the elections when the country starts counting
the cost of the expanded mechanisation programme.
"It is vote-buying but it will come back to haunt whoever wins the
elections," said economic commentator Tony Hawkins.
"The government is broke but whoever wins whether it's Tsvangirai,
Makoni or Mugabe will have to face a worse situation. The February inflation
figures are not yet out but I wouldn't be surprised if it comes to 300 000%
because of government actions," said Hawkins.
Hawkins said inflation is likely to reach 400 000% by May this year.
"Right now they are damaging the economy further but I don't think they care
because all they want is to win votes."
He said whoever wins will have to immediately seek international
assistance to revive the economy.
It is almost certain that very few of the thousands of people who
gathered at Bak Storage for the launch two weeks ago knew that the future of
some key sectors of the economy had to be sacrificed to make this day
While the people were celebrating toilet-paper rolling machines,
generators and candle-making machines some established companies were
tottering on the brink of collapse.
The reason is that it is their foreign currency which had to be
diverted to import the equipment. The companies cannot produce for their
export markets and gold producers say their production is likely to slump to
as little as three tonnes from last year's 6,7 tonnes.
The real impact is that there will be very little foreign currency
coming into Zimbabwe after the elections because the key earners have been
destroyed. Their revival will need more foreign currency and time.
Zimbabwe's biggest gold mine, Metallon, has not received its foreign
currency from the central bank since December. Operations at the company's
five mines that produce 51% of Zimbabwe's gold have ground to a halt. Some
exporters have not received their foreign currency for the past four months.
Applications from companies that require foreign currency to import raw
materials for production have not been processed for the past three months.
A number of companies were this week considering closing until after the
elections because they don't have raw materials.
There is also uncertainty in the market after President Robert Mugabe
signed the empowerment Act which will force foreign-owned companies to
surrender 51% of their shareholding to locals.
Perhaps the major problem with the recent mechanisation programme is
that it has now changed from its initial focus. At its launch in 2006 the
programme was targeted at new farmers. The idea was that the new farmers did
not have enough capital to buy the necessary equipment like tractors,
ploughs, planters and harrows.
Events at Bak Storage two weeks ago told a different story. A look at
the inventory indicates that the motive of the programme has been twisted to
suit the Zanu PF campaign strategy.
The programme was widened to include equipment which has nothing to do
with farm mechanisation. The target was broadened to include cooperatives,
small businesses, youths and women. Again the problem here is not the idea
but the motive which explains the timing. In the spirit of Zanu PF's
campaign the central bank will distribute 82 diaper, sanitary and
maternity pad machines, and 82 toilet roll-making machines. The list
includes machines for making cosmetics, popcorn, samoosas, drinking straws
By Shakeman Mugari
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:43
MEDICAL aid providers will this month fail to provide health cover for
their clients after the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC)
barred them from increasing service fees.
Private doctors now charge between $100 million and $240 million for
consultation, fees that are way above those currently covered by medical aid
One of the country's leading medical aid societies, Medical Aid
Society of Central Africa (Masca), last week wrote to its members notifying
them that they would experience huge shortfalls as what they are
contributing could not cover their health bills.
"We have now been informed that, after the March 12 meeting, the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission would not approve any increases,"
wrote Masca. "This then means that the January tariff would be used to pay
any claims despite the fact that some service providers were granted
approval to increase their tariff by 800% back-dated to January 2008! This
decision will only see the members facing even larger shortfalls."
Masca said the prevailing harsh economic environment in the country
had witnessed marked increases in the prices of goods and services.
The increases, the society said, were sharp in the medical sector due
to the high level of import content of most items used.
"This has seen a serious erosion of benefits to our members to the
extent that the relevance of medical aid societies is being questioned.
Members are running out of drug benefits and are also facing sizeable
shortfalls whenever they seek medical attention," the aid society said.
The society said until contributions are reviewed upwards by the NIPC,
members would have to make cash payments to private doctors.
"We are therefore appealing to our valued members to bear with us as
we face a situation we do not have any control over. We appreciate that
members may have to make up-front payments and we urge them to submit their
claims as soon as possible to enable us to pay our awards in the shortest
possible time," Masca said.
The NIPC, however, defended its move not to allow medical aid
societies to hike their fees.
NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa in an interview with the Zimbabwe
Independent this week said his commission cannot allow medical aid societies
to hike their fees as this could result in some employees having their
salaries eroded by medical aid contributions.
Masimirembwa said his commission is proposing that employers
contribute at least 80% of their workers health cover.
"We are asking industry to contribute voluntarily at least 80 % of
their workers' health cover in order to avoid a situation where salaries are
eroded as a result of medical aid contributions," said Masimirembwa.
Masimirembwa said if companies pay for the bulk of health cover of
their workers his commission would then assist them to recover their money
through pricing of their commodities.
The umbrella body for medical aid societies, the Association of Health
Funders of Zimbabwe, yesterday said they were still engaging the NIPC.
Tapiwa Bwakura, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Medical
Association, said the fees
being charged by the private doctors were in line with the prevailing
economic environment in the country.
"We had to review our consultation fees as everything has gone up from
fuel to sundries that are required for a doctor to attend to a patient,"
By Lucia Makamure
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:40
EMBATTLED President Mugabe, reeling from waning support and a restive
urban population ahead of next week's harmonised elections, tests his
support in Bulawayo this weekend where he is scheduled to address three
At the time of going to press there were doubts that the rallies would
go ahead because of poor planning and haphazard mobilisation by party
President Mugabe, who has been on a whirlwind tour of rural areas
since he launched his election campaign last month, will hold his first star
rally at Mandwandwe Secondary School in Nkulumane before proceeding to
Stanley Square and Inkanyezi Primary School in Lobengula.
In the past President Mugabe has held election rallies at White City
Stadium which can take in 13 000 supporters on the stands and on the main
turf. Stanley Square in Makokoba is estimated to take in a maximum of 5 000
people when packed.
The rallies in Bulawayo, perceived to be opposition strongholds, will
be the first President Mugabe will hold in urban areas since he launched his
election campaign in Harare last month.
But the move to hold the rallies at smaller venues across the city
could indicate the insecurity and fears of drawing a smaller crowd at White
City Stadium compared to opposition contestants who have drawn large crowds
at their star rallies.
Over 7 000 people attended Tsvangirai's star rally at White City
Stadium while about 4 000 attended independent presidential candidate Simba
Makoni's rally at the same venue three weeks ago.
Matabeleland-based political analyst, Gorden Moyo, said Mugabe's
coming to urban areas was just a formality he was fulfilling since he has
counted himself out by going to smaller venues in the city.
"Mugabe has already counted himself out by avoiding a rally at White
City Stadium," said Moyo. "The meetings he will be holding in schools are
solely aimed at getting school children to attend in order to boost numbers
and to add onto the numbers of people who will be bused for the rallies. He
doubts himself, his own party and support for his party in urban areas."
Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity in Bulawayo, Effort
Nkomo, however said the star rallies will be held at smaller venues and
spaced out to allow more people to attend but could not vouch that the
rallies will go ahead as planned and referred further questions to Zanu PF
political commissar, Elliot Manyika.
Nkomo however refuted claims that Mugabe was moving to smaller venues
because of a declining support base in Matabeleland.
"The rallies are set for smaller venues to enable more people to
attend; we have been holding other small rallies to build up for the rallies
to be addressed by President Mugabe but for other details you can contact
Manyika for comment," Nkomo said.
By Loughty Dube
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:37
THE state-run Media and Information Commission (MIC) has allegedly
blacklisted several journalists and asked the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to bar them from covering next Saturday's elections.
The existence of the blacklist emerged last week when a local
freelance reporter Hopewell Chin'ono was denied accreditation by the ZEC to
cover the polls.
According to Chin'ono's lawyers, Mtetwa & Nyambirai, the journalist
was denied accreditation on March 11 and was told that he was blacklisted by
"Your offices advised our client that he was on the blacklist provided
by the Media and Information Commission for journalists who were not
accredited to cover the elections," the lawyers stated in a letter dated
March 14 and addressed to the ZEC chairperson, Justice George Chiweshe.
"When our client enquired the legal basis of such blacklisting, and which
provisions in the country's electoral laws allowed the MIC to direct ZEC on
who to accredit, he was advised that the ZEC was merely relying on
information provided by the now legally defunct MIC."
Chin'ono is duly accredited by the MIC as a freelance reporter and his
press card is valid until the end of the year.
His lawyers said the law did not give room for the MIC to interfere
with the duties of the ZEC.
"We have perused all the laws relating to the elections and the media
and we have been unable to find in them any provision which allows the MIC
to interfere with the supposedly independent functions of the ZEC," the
They further argued that it was "inescapable that the ZEC was
deliberately impeding the full coverage of the election process" through
selective accreditation of journalists.
ZEC had not responded at the time of going to press.
By Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:33
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has accused Zanu PF of
instigating political violence in rural areas, intimidating the electorate
and abusing state resources ahead of next Saturday's harmonised elections.
In a report compiled by Zesn election observers, the network also
alleged that the ruling party was manipulating traditional chiefs to its
The organisation's observers have been monitoring election-related
activities in the country since last year.
"It has become evidently clear that some parts of the country remain
no go areas for mostly opposition political parties although exceptions have
bee noted in Nyanga where Chief Mezani is reported to have allowed the
MDC-Tsvangirai to hold a rally in his village," said the Zesn report.
The observers reported that the Central Intelligence Organisation has
since started to victimise Mezani through continuous harassment and threats
to withdraw his benefits if he continues to give equal access to his area to
all contesting political parties.
Zesn said political violence cases emanating from attempts to hold
political campaigns have been reported in Mutasa North where Zanu PF youths
are understood to be camped at Katiyo Tea Estate.
The youths on February 17 reportedly attacked women on their way to
the MDC-Tsvangirai rally.
"Four MDC youths sustained serious head injuries when they retaliated
and were attended to at Hauna Hospital after a report had been made at Ruda
Police Station," read the report.
In Mazowe West, the MDC-Tsvangirai was denied access to a community
hall to hold its rally by the local authority.
The authority reportedly said it was afraid of victimisation from Zanu
PF if it allows the opposition access to the hall.
"Mberengwa North has been a challenge for MDC-Tsvangirai to begin its
campaign activities owing to the alleged intolerant behaviour of war
veterans in the area," said the report.
The Zesn observers noted that all the contesting parties and
independent candidates have to a large extent managed to conduct their
rallies in urban areas.
"In urban areas, MDC-Tsvangirai, MDC-Mutambara, Simba Makoni,
independent candidates and Zanu PF have been able to conduct rallies. It is
interesting to note that areas such as Bindura, once a "no go" area for
opposition political parties, has been open to MDC-Tsvangirai although
people have been threatened with violence if they attended the MDC rallies,"
said the Zesn.
The network castigated the use of public resources by Zanu PF to drum
up support ahead of the elections.
"The use of public resources in elections is the prerogative of the
incumbent. The use of public resources benefits the party that has access to
these resources and disadvantages those without access. It has been observed
that government vehicles, offices and other ancillary services have been
used for political purposes," said the report.
"It was noted that in Manicaland province government vehicles were
used for campaign purposes. This was observed in Chimanimani West where
vehicle number GWRD 0228 was being used for campaign purposes through the
ferrying of party supporters around the constituency."
In Mashonaland Central, the Zesn observers said, the MDC-Tsvangirai
was denied the use of school premises for their meetings while Zanu PF had
unrestricted access to the same.
The network said the role of traditional leaders in the politics of
Zimbabwe continued to be controversial.
"In Chipinge South, Headman Chindukumire Tsvangirai summoned
MDC-Tsvangirai chairman, one Mtimukulu, for holding a meeting on February
20. He was threatened with eviction from the village if he continued with
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:18
ZIMBABAWE'S harmonised election campaigns are slowly turning dirty
with presidential aspirants now involved in mudslinging.
Two rallies lined up at Mucheke Stadium, in the southern city of
Masvingo, on Saturday and Sunday by independent presidential hopeful Simba
Makoni and the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC saw the candidates trading insults
in a bid to woo voters.
While insulting opposition leaders has been President Robert Mugabe's
trademark since Independence in 1980, Makoni and Tsvangirai in the current
race had largely distanced themselves from scorning opponents.
But on Saturday, Makoni and his campaign entourage took off their
gloves to attack Mugabe and Tsvangirai, as the countdown to next week's
presidential, legislative and parliamentary elections gathers momentum.
First to make a jibe at Mugabe was retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, Makoni's
campaign head, who described the first secretary of Zanu PF as a "useless
geriatric" bent on clinging to power until kingdom come.
Speaking in the Shona vernacular, Mbudzi lashed out at "grandfather"
Mugabe saying he should have quit politics in 1998 when it became apparent
that he was "getting tired and running out of new ideas".
"In 1998 it was clear that the old man was frothing at the mouth, he
was tired," Mbudzi said amid applause from the over 3 000 people who
converged on Mucheke Stadium.
"But he deliberately declined to pass on the relay baton to young
blood as suggested by the late veteran politician Eddison Zvobgo. Instead,
the grandfather ran away with the baton into the bush."
Mbudzi, a war veteran, said it was out of realisation by Makoni and
his colleagues in the politburo that Mugabe would not go that they decided
to launch what he termed a "surgical operation" to remove the octogenarian
"After the opposition MDC failed to remove Mugabe in 2002 we came up
with the Makoni project - a surgical operation. Ours is a caesarian
operation to dump the old man Mugabe," Mbudzi said.
"If we don't remove Mugabe, the old man intends to outlive us all. He
is '90' and life expectancy in this country is 37. We will all dies and
leave him to continue ruling this country."
He said it was apparent that Mugabe wanted to die in office and would
probably be replaced by another "old man from the politburo like Nathan
Shamuyarira (who is now in his late 70's)."
Mbudzi asked what miracles Mugabe wanted to perform in the next five
years, which he failed to implement in the past 28 years.
"Mugabe should not gamble with Zimbabweans' life. We know that in
Masvingo, Mugabe's sidekick Walter Mzembi is harassing people on behalf of
the old man. Let me ask him (Mugabe), is it us who make people old? The
enemy of Mugabe is the economy," Mbudzi said.
"Mzembi should have elections in his family and I can assure you that
his children will vote for Simba Makoni instead of Mugabe. Mugabe will not
rule this country again."
When Makoni went to the podium, the stage had been set by Mbudzi to
take pot shots at Mugabe, but the former Finance minister's sting was not as
sharp as Mbudzi's.
Makoni told the gathering that he respected Mugabe as an elderly man
and would not want to insult him in line with traditional values.
"Mr Mugabe is older than me. In our tradition we are not are allowed
to insult our elders. It is taboo," Makoni said amid jeers from the people
who were yearning for an outright attack on the Zanu PF president.
However, Makoni labelled Mugabe a liar for claiming that the former
Sadc executive secretary did nothing for the party when he was its
representative in Europe during the liberation struggle.
"I was the party's representative in Europe and I personally
accompanied Mugabe to Austria, Italy, Sweden and other countries where
people who wanted to assist us were based," Makoni said.
"I sourced vehicles from Germany for the party. For Mr Mugabe to say I
did not play a role in the liberation struggle is a mockery."
He said what Mugabe was doing was tantamount to exposing his dirty
"Ndapota musafukura hapwa. Zvinozobuda imomo hazvina kunaka.
Chibhakera chavenyundo yekupwanya nyika."
He said Mugabe's clenched fist had become a reckless hammer destroying
everything in its wake.
Makoni described claims by Mugabe and Tsvangirai that he was being
used by the West as rank madness.
On Sunday, it was Tsvangirai's turn to hit out at his opponents before
an audience of more than 7 000 people that cried out for more.
The MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said the Makoni project was
doomed from the onset as he could not renew anything with former Zanu PF
members like Edgar Tekere, Margaret Dongo and Fay Chung.
"What renewal is Makoni talking about with Tekere-Two-boy, and Dongo
and our bleating cousin Mbudzi (goat)? A baboon is a baboon even if you
apply skin-lightening cream to it. It will remain a baboon even if you
replace an old one (Mugabe) with a young one (Makoni)".
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, upped the insult tempo in his
address when he launched a vicious attack on Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono and Mugabe.
The feisty lawyer accused Gono of working hand in glove with Mugabe to
rig the March 29 elections.
He said Gono was the principal author of the country's flagging
economy that has seen inflation spiralling to over 100 000% from 598% in
December 2003 when the central bank czar made his maiden monetary policy
Biti accused Gono of bankrolling a project to rig the polls in favour
of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF.
"Gideon Gono is an accomplice in the on-going exercise by government
to rig the elections in favour of the ruling party. You give people tractors
at a time when they are preparing to vote, meaning that you are also part
and parcel of the rigging process through funding the exercise," Biti said.
"You give out buses with Zanu PF colours for what reason? We are going
to make Gono account for his actions."
Turning to the ailing economy, Biti said Gono was the problem.
"Gono is the number one enemy of this country, not inflation. He has
been stoking the fires of inflation through quasi-fiscal activities," Biti
"In other countries if a central bank governor admits to printing
money he will face the firing squad. Gono is the number one economic
saboteur, terrorist and Al Qaeda. Gono has assumed the position of the
Minister of Finance on behalf of Mugabe."
Tsvangirai said the electorate should be wise enough not to vote for
Mugabe who has plunged the country into economic doldrums.
"Mugabe is now very old. Can we have an 84-year-old leader to misrule
this country for the next five years? No! We need new blood in the mould of
those whose blood still runs hot, like me, Tsvangirai. The old man is tired,
his party has nothing to offer except poverty," Tsvangirai said.
The MDC leader did not insult Makoni as Chamisa did and the largest
part of his address was on the party's manifesto.On the other hand, Mugabe
has since February 29 when Zanu PF launched its campaign been attacking his
presidential opponents Makoni and Tsvangirai as stooges of the West bent on
reversing the gains of Independence, especially the land reform programme.
The three presidential hopefuls, however, have not yet said anything
on another aspirant, little known Langton Towungana.
Towungana's campaign is still a matter of conjecture as he is yet to
hold a rally.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:03
MORE than 400 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are facing
imminent closure after failing to get their foreign currency from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
The central bank has failed to release foreign currency belonging to
the NGO sector for the past three months.
The RBZ is now in charge of all foreign currency accounts in the
country while commercial banks are only allowed to hold mirror accounts
The delay in the release of the funds has forced most organisations to
scale down operations.
Others are now contemplating shutting down until the central bank
releases their monies which they urgently need to carry out projects.
Humanitarian and civic organisations are the most affected. Among
those affected are organisations that distribute anti-retro viral drugs to
There are also organisations that were carrying out voter education
for the upcoming elections.
Some Aids organisations have reduced the number of beneficiaries on
their schemes because of the crisis.
"We are in a fix. Aids medicines must be taken consistently but at the
moment we are finding it difficult to do that because the RBZ has not
released our money," said a programme coordinator with a local
There are also various support groups that have had to scale down
because of the lack of funds.
Speculation in the market is that the central bank could have used the
money to prepare for the elections.
There are also unconfirmed allegations that the foreign currency was
used to import equipment for the farm mechanisation programme.
The central bank recently announced that it was going to distribute
machines for making ice cream, shampoo, soap and pop corn as part of
economic empowerment programme.
Hundreds of tractors, harrows, ploughs, planters and combine
harvesters were distributed under the mechanisation programme. Analysts have
accused the central bank of starving key economic sectors of foreign
currency to fund government's campaign project.
Efforts by the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations
(Nango) to seek audience with central bank authorities have so far come to
Nango is an association of more than 1 000 non-governmental
organisations in the country.
In their latest attempt to get a meeting with the central bank
authorities Nango representatives were told that they had to wait because
there is a long list of organisations that wanted meetings with the RBZ.
Nango spokesperson, Fambayi Ngirande, said the situation has become
desperate for most organisations.
"What is most disturbing is that the RBZ has not offered us any clear
explanation," Ngirande said.
Ngirande said most organisations have been battling to maintain
"Some organisations are yet to pay salaries but that is not really
"What is critical is that most organisations have scaled down critical
"The level to which the central bank has become so uncountable is
shocking," said Ngirande.
Gold mines and exporters are also yet to get their foreign currency
from the central bank.
Gold mines have not received their money for the past three months.
There are now fears in the market that some mines could be forced to shut
down unless they get the much-needed foreign currency soon.
"The sad part of this story is that we are not asking for money from
the central bank, all we want is our money in the FCAs," said a mine
By Shakeman Mugari
Thursday, 20 March 2008 12:01
PRICES of basic commodities this week surged on the back of Zimbabwe's
galloping inflation and the dollar's further crash on the black market.
Although the inflation figures for February have not yet been
officially released a number of companies are estimating it to be more than
The Zimbabwean dollar has been on a major slide against major
currencies over the past two months.
This has pushed the price of fuel, the key cost in production, to $50
million a litre.
With the parallel market now being the major source of foreign
currency, it means companies have to adjust their prices according to the
black market rate in order to remain viable.
Manufacturers this week reviewed their prices by between 200 and 260%.
Company executives who spoke to businessdigest said further reviews were
possible this week as the Zimbabwean dollar continues its plunge.
A survey conducted this week showed that most shops increased prices
by more than 240% in the past two weeks.
A two litre bottle of cooking oil now costs about $220 million from
$70 million at the beginning of the month.
A 2kg packet of rice now costs about $80 million, up from between $38
and $40 last week.
A bar of washing soap is going for $45 million from $22 million while
a two litre bottle of Mazoe Orange Crush costs more than $55 million, up
from $25 million.
Carbonated drinks now cost $10 million from $4,6 million. Delta this
week increased the price of beer from $8 million a pint to $20 billion.
Analysts have attributed the massive rise of basic commodities to the
fall of the dollar against major currencies.
"The weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies has
been a reflection of the rise of real prices of commodities relative to
prices of the same goods in US dollars," economic consultant John Robertson
said this week. The parallel exchange rate of US$1 was $1 900 000 at the
beginning of the year.
This rate was $40 million on Wednesday this week.
"The impact is being felt by the ordinary man in the street as goods
and services are being priced using parallel market rates at a time when
disposable incomes are not being adjusted in line with parallel market
rates," said Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group economist David Mupamhadzi.
The price of bread is now $10 million a loaf from $4,5 million.
However, bakers are already pushing for an increase in the price of
bread to between $10 million and $15 million a loaf.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:57
MONEY supply (M3) growth continued on an upward trend increasing to a
new record of 51 768,8% in November last year from 24 463,6% the previous
month as government continues to print money to fund operations.
Money supply is the total supply of money in circulation in a given
country's economy at a given time. It is considered an important instrument
for controlling inflation.
"Annual broad money growth recorded a 51 768,8% growth during the
month of November 2007. Largely contributing to the increase in broad money
growth were increases in credit to the private sector of 125 348,4% and
credit to public enterprises 12 425,3%," said the Reserve Bank this week.
The continuous rise in money supply would further trigger inflation
upward, which is currently at 100 580,2%.
Analysts estimate that the figure would be over 100 000% for January.
The figure could increase further for February and March when the amount
printed for the civil servants salaries is included in the calculations
More money has also been printed to buy foreign currency on the black
market to buy buses for the campaign and equipment for the mechanisation
"All major sectors of the economy have not been performing but
government continues to invest in inflation," Independent economic
consultant John Robertson said. "The Reserve bank cannot print money faster
than the rate at which it is devaluing. All this is being done for short
term gains instead of production. This will neutralise government's attempts
to stimulate the economy."
Business has over the past two years accused the government of heavily
relying on printing money instead of generating enough revenue from taxes to
fund its operations.
This had rendered futile any attempt to deal with inflation.
The central bank in January introduced higher bearer cheque
denominations of $1 million, $5 million and $10 million.
The previous month the bank had introduced new $250 000, $500 000 and
$750 000 notes to ease cash shortages that the country had experienced
between October and January.
"The main cause of hyperinflation in the country is the massive and
rapid increase in the amount of money which is not supported by growth in
the output of goods and services," a bank economist said yesterday.
"This results in an imbalance between supply and demand for the money
including currency and bank deposits, accompanied by a complete loss of
confidence in the money," the economist said.
This week the Reserve Bank said government domestic debt was now $1,6
quadrillion as at March 7. The bank advanced $680 trillion to government
during the period under review, money which bank sources said was being
printed to finance elections, import maize, fuel, farm mechanisation
equipment and electricity.
The bank said net credit to government increased from 16 585,8% in
October last year to 509,16% in November.
"Domestic credit also rose by 96 232% to $49 trillion in November
compared to $590 billion recorded in November 2006. Narrow money growth
increased to 57 871% quasi-money also increased to 40 418,7% in November
from 20 321,1% recorded in October 2007," the bank said.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:32
THE MDC-Tsvangirai have been flying adverts all over trying to make us
believe that they can bring real change to Zimbabwe - change that you can
The insults that its leaders have been hurling before the electorate,
especially at Simba Makoni, left me wondering about the level of tolerance
we are supposed to enjoy once the MDC gets into power.
Calling a fellow contestant a "zhing zhong" is really regrettable
coming from people fighting for meaningful change. The question
one would ask is haven't we had enough of people who waste valuable
energy on personalising issues instead of concentrating on policy?
The current US contest for the Democratsic presidential nominee has
some similarities to what we are seeing, especially between MDC-Tsvangirai
and Makoni's election bid. They all are promising change, which I think is
really welcome. But when Hillary Clinton attacks Barack Obama for his lack
of experience, I see a resemblance with the MDC. They afford to call Makoni
a "zhing zhong" (fake/inexperienced), but honestly who between the Makoni
presidential bid or the MDC-Tsvangirai) suits this tag?
Tsvangirai has had the most experience in the fight for change but
does he have the same experience in governance and democracy (which is
closely related to change)? There was the Ari Ben-Menashe issue, the James
Makore/Chimbaira issue in 2003, youths hired to block perceived political
enemies at Harvest House (Welshman Ncube), the unfortunate split of the MDC,
and more recently the Lucia Matibenga/ Theresa Makone fiasco. Do we call
these democratic decisions from a potential state president or are they a
hint of the kind of change we are likely to face?
Is this the kind of change we would like to have?
The insults on Makoni have been credited to lawyer Tendai Biti. I
thought Biti knew better about issues of democracy and name-calling. Being
in the position he is, he should know better the dangers we have on hero
worshipping and immortalising leaders. Does he dream of one day leading the
party he belongs to and facing other candidates too?
Would he want to spend time hurling abuse at others in the form of
name-calling? Yes the MDC needs to think of possible successors to prevent
what has happened in the ruling party and the NCA where individuals are now
bigger than the constitution.
What difference does Lovemore Madhuku make from such fellows as Sam
Nujoma, Yoweri Museveni, Fredrick Chiluba and others who fail to appreciate
the need for succession? What Zimbabwe and in particular Zanu PF have failed
to learn is that countries like China and Iran are succeeding because they
have realised that parties and governments need re-energising.
Madhanzi writes from Chiredzi.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:24
THE Zimbabwe Independent said two weeks ago the election process was
already so seriously flawed that there was little prospect of a free and
fair outcome. Today that is undeniable.
On Monday a Statutory Instrument was gazetted which reversed
amendments made to the Electoral Act in January. Those changes were the
product of South African-mediated inter-party talks.
Under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of
Electoral Act) (No 2) Regulations, 2008 "police officers on duty" are now
restored to the list of persons who may be present in a polling station to
assist illiterate or incapacitated voters. They had been removed from the
list by the recent much-trumpeted Electoral Laws Amendment Act.
The amendment to the Electoral Act in January has been held aloft by
Zanu PF as emblematic of its commitment to electoral reforms as required by
the 2004 Sadc guidelines and the inter-party agreement. Those reforms were
designed to bring Zimbabwe into conformity with the Sadc norms by
establishing a national consensus on electoral architecture and procedures.
President Mugabe has driven a coach and horses through those reforms
by unilaterally declaring the election date on March 29 and now restoring
the role of the police in "assisting" infirm voters by way of an edict.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has proved supine in
safeguarding its independence. It has allowed the government to arrogate to
itself the right to accredit observers and foreign journalists for the
election.It has made only belated attempts to secure access for opposition
parties to the public media. And it has proved unable to comment on
statements made by service chiefs which appear to intimidate the electorate.
Justice George Chiweshe who was boasting of the ZEC's independence
only a few weeks ago now says it is not within the electoral supervisory
body's jurisdiction to comment on such statements.
"It will not do things which are not within its mandate," he said this
The prisons and armed forces chiefs have both said they will not
acknowledge opposition leaders if they win the poll. Police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said last week the force would not
allow British and American "puppets" to rule Zimbabwe.
This is the language of the ruling party. Now, the same police force
whose chief will determine which candidates can be classed as puppets is to
gain admission to polling booths to assist voters who need help in casting
This makes a mockery of the inter-party agreement on electoral reform
and demonstrates the insincerity of the ruling party which has portrayed its
agreement to the amended Act, together with changes to Posa and Aippa, as
indicative of its willingness to establish a national consensus.
President Thabo Mbeki who has been active in this project will now be
able to see the limitations of his diplomacy. But regional observers are
already expressing their determination to approve the electoral process
despite the all-too-visible gaping holes.
Sadc mission head José Marcus Barrica of Angola has said he was
impressed by his initial assessment of the political environment.
That no doubt includes exclusion of opposition views from the public
media, exclusion of observers and journalists unwilling to sanitise a rigged
poll, and threats by service chiefs which will have a chilling effect on the
No doubt Zimbabwe's experience compares favourably with Angola. But
that is an invidious benchmark.
Then there is the abuse of public resources and undisguised
inducements that give the ruling party a clear advantage. Not a day passes
without a presidential promise or gift of some sort. What is clearly
"treating" under the law is an established custom in Zimbabwe at election
As Mugabe's predicament becomes more perilous with each day of
economic decline, so we are likely to see more explicit attempts at
coercion. A partisan media, suborned service chiefs, a police force
unwilling to exercise an even hand, and an electoral regulatory body
completely at sea in this toxic political climate, all point to an outcome
that is anything but free or fair.
The whole point of the Sadc intervention that commenced last March was
to avoid a disputed poll and further uncertainty that made Zimbabwe a
liability in the region.
Instead it looks as if they will get more of the same.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:05
IF ever there is an issue all political formations contesting next
week's elections are guilty of, it is overstating the number of supporters
attending their campaign rallies.
The political protagonists have been playing numbers games intended to
build momentum which should hopefully propel them past the post ahead of the
Publicists and spin doctors for the main contenders for the
presidential office appear to play the game with gusto. They have perfected
the ploy to misstate election attendance figures into an artform. Gullible
scribes have fallen for the ruse to publish ridiculous figures about
attendances at rallies.
Sakubva Stadium in Mutare when bursting at the seams holds at the most
25 000 supporters. But stories were written in newspapers and online
publications last month of the MDC manifesto launch attracting a 60
000-strong crowd at the venue. I covered Morgan Tsvangirai's well-attended
manifesto launch in Mutare when an MDC official in the information
department standing a few metres from me claimed "50 000 at MDC rally in
Mutare". To this day, the official swears that there were 50 000 at the
venue which is much smaller than Rufaro Stadium in Harare or Barbourfields
in Bulawayo which both take 35 000.
Sections of the media then decided to inflate the already inflated
figure to come up with 60 000. This is about the seating capacity of the
giant National Sports Stadium!
Simba Makoni's election campaign handlers have also caught the bug. In
Masvingo on Saturday Makoni addressed at the most 4 000 enthusiastic
supporters at Mucheke Stadium which has a capacity of 10 000 people. After
the rally I asked a senior member of the Makoni campaign team how many
people had attended the rally. "I counted them, I am sure you saw for
yourself that there were 16 000 people. That is what you should go and
write," he said with a straight face.
I declined the invitation to plumb these absurd depths of
misinformation. If this official had been right, then Tsvangirai's rally the
next day attracted 45 000 supporters because there were clearly three times
more people at the MDC rally than Makoni's. But hang on, MDC officials said
there were about 20 000 people at their rally.
With President Mugabe's rallies, the picture on the front page of the
current edition of the party newspaper The Voice, captures how his party is
playing the numbers game. In rural areas where the president has been
campaigning lately, school children are frog-marched to rallies to inflate
figures and give the semblance that our octogenarian leader commands mass
support. The shot in The Voice is dominated by little children raising the
small clenched fists to mimic the elders around them.
Not only that, at business centres where the president has been
holding rallies, shops are forcibly shut to ensure that the focal point of
the populace becomes the rally.
At his Mucheke Stadium rally, Makoni thanked those who attended for
coming without being forced to do so. This is to mean that those who
attended his rally did so because they had a keen interest in doing so. But
among these were observers attracted by the novelty of Makoni and
fence-sitters looking for a home at the eleventh hour. Makoni for his part
has introduced an innovative method of campaigning in which he is spending
more time interacting with voters in small groups and talking directly to a
receptive mind and not partisan crowds.
This is different from Zanu PF's door-to-door campaign in which
thought police and in some cases hoodlums are dispatched to straighten
voters and not necessarily to win them though persuasion.
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC is situating itself as a mass party ready to
take Zanu PF head on. Like Zanu PF, it has designed party regalia and made
its own jingles. At rallies, melodic chants, accompanied by whistling and
ecstatic cheers precede speeches executed with precision apparently hewn
from pages of tele-evangelist manuals. The speeches are accompanied by
play-acting and dance. Even Tsvangirai now displays amazing agility of feet
and fronts many party songs. He has become an entertainer! Makoni
toyi-toyied on stage for a good 90 seconds before addressing his rally in
Mucheke perhaps to
demonstrate his relative youth and vitality compared to Mugabe.
Mugabe on the other hand is neither dancing nor singing. He is
"chanting slackness" as Rastafarians would say. In Mvurwi last Friday, he
upped the tempo of insults to say "hure rekuMbare" is better than Makoni.
At the moment, I am not interested in Makoni's jogging, or Tsvangirai's
singing Chinja yakauya zvishoma nezvishoma, or Mugabe's current fascination
with Mbare's nocturnal girls. There is enough of all this on television and
in pop music. What does inflation, a worthless currency, hunger,
deprivation, drug shortages, dry taps have to do with hure rekuMbare?
Inspired by the dark nights with no electricity perhaps?
Thursday, 20 March 2008 10:42
WEEKEND rallies by independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni and
the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo revealed that
the two rivals have almost similar manifestos on land, health, education,
the economy and foreign policy.
The rallies also exposed the former Finance minister's lack of mass
appeal and his campaign shortcomings.
Makoni addressed over 4 000 people on Saturday while Tsvangirai's
rally the following day was attended by about 7 000 people at the same
venue. In his speech, Makoni promised that if elected he would revisit the
land reform programme embarked on by President Robert Mugabe's government in
2000 and weed out multiple farm owners.
"There is a crisis on the farms. Mugabe appointed several land
commissions whose findings were never made public," Makoni said. "We will
revisit the reports of the commissions and let me say to those with multiple
farms that there will be gnashing of teeth," Makoni said.
He denied that he would evict beneficiaries of the land reform
programme to make way for former white owners.
Tsvangirai also promised to carry out a land audit and end multiple
"Mugabe goes around telling lies that when I am elected into power I
will return the land back to the whites, but that is not true," he said.
"Those not using the land productively and also multiple farm owners would
face the music."
Makoni and Tsvangirai lamented the deteriorating health services and
the plummeting of education standards. They separately said they would
strive to improve the health delivery system and the education sector with
Tsvangirai saying primary education would be free. Both said Zimbabwe would
rejoin the family of nations as it tries to revive its flagging economy.
"The health delivery system has collapsed and all social services have
been ruined. Our country has been traumatised, brutalised and destroyed by
Mugabe. The only means to get out of this mess is to vote for the MDC at the
end of this month," Tsvangirai said.
While the levels of the address by the former Sadc chief executive
officer and Tsvangirai were high, it is the lack of wide appeal by Makoni
and his organisation that analysts said could see him lose the presidential
Unlike the Tsvangirai campaign team, which had road shows throughout
the city calling upon the electorate to attend their rally the following
day, Makoni's team had only a few posters announcing their meeting.
This probably explained the relatively low turnout of about 4 000 at
Makoni's rally compared to 7 000 at the MDC meeting. A third of the people
at Makoni's rally were children.
The MDC, on the other hand, employed a convoy of vehicles that toured
the city's high-density suburbs of Rujeko, Mucheke, Sisk, Majange, and
Runyararo East and West, while Makoni's group tried to follow suit a few
hours before their rally.
There was no entertainment at the rally and the public address system
was inadequate. Calls by some members of the camp's provincial coordinating
meeting to the people to sing went unheeded and even the arrival of Makoni
and his entourage did not cause the anticipated applause.
When the rally kicked off, the master of ceremony, Ray Muzenda, had to
ask "anyone from the audience" to come forward and pray and it turned out
that the person was inebriated, but nevertheless went ahead and prayed.
It was only when Makoni toyi-toyed on the podium to a song by a group
of youths from Kwekwe that the people livened up. Addressing the rally,
Makoni, as has become his trademark, said he was happy with the turnout
because the people were not bused to the venue.
"I thank you for coming. You were not bused or forced to come to this
rally like what happens with other candidates," Makoni said. "No shops and
markets were closed for you to be here. Some of you decided not to rest, to
enjoy the company of your families to come and listen to us."
However, analysts argue that Makoni lacked sufficient grassroots
support or financial backing despite reports that his campaign was
The analysts said Makoni's entry into the political fray was late and
brought with it scepticism as to whether he was a genuine contender. Makoni
had a ready answer to such assertions.
"I am not a puppet of Zanu PF. Mugabe did not send me. I don't deny
that I worked with Mugabe before, but we have parted company," Makoni said.
"I have left Zanu PF and I am looking forward."
He also denied allegations made by Zanu PF and the Tsvangirai-led
formation of the MDC that he was working with the West.
An aspiring House of Assembly member who intends to contest under the
Makoni banner in Masvingo said their poor organisational capacity was a
result of lack of funds.
"We are using our monies to organise rallies in the province," the
would-be legislator said. "We are not sure when we are going to get campaign
funds, but with less than two weeks before the elections we are likely to go
There are very few campaign posters for candidates under the
independent's banner in Harare and Masvingo. On the other hand, Tsvangirai's
rally followed a clear programme and supporters were treated to the party's
campaign jingles explaining the opposition's manifesto.
If the crowds attending recent opposition rallies were to translate
into votes on March 29 Tsvangirai seems to have the upperhand over Makoni.
But, observers say, the race is still wide open.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 20 March 2008 10:38
THE influence of the security structure in the electoral process has
already been felt following the improper statements made by individuals
commanding three key areas of the security forces.
The pronouncements of General Constantine Chiwenga (armed forces),
retired Major Paradzai Zimondi (prisons) and Commissioner-General Augustine
Chihuri (police) may have tipped the balance in favour of President Robert
Mugabe at the expense of his three rivals in the race for the presidency.
Their actions have an intimidating effect on the voters and,
therefore, affect the fairness of the election. But, crucially, they raise
serious questions about the aftermath of the election, should one of the
opposition leaders defy the odds and win.
This will test Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders
who, so far, have given Mugabe the benefit of doubt. They, surely, ought to
recognise that the perceptions created by such statements are more likely to
have a negative impact on the election process.
The statements create disincentives for the free expression of will
and instead cause people to vote for self-preservation. The African leaders
who have so far stood by on the basis of "quiet diplomacy" must surely
acknowledge the noisy aggression coming from the security structures in
But an even more crucial question is: what will Sadc heads of state do
if the opposition wins and security forces carry out their threat of what
will effectively be a military coup?
If history is an indicator, the southern African region has never
looked kindly at coups. Even the mild Nelson Mandela was forced by the
spectre of military rule in Lesotho in1998 to send armed forces to protect
civilian rule. President Mbeki was so close to power that he must have been
involved in that decision-making process. But this one, if it were to happen
in Zimbabwe, will be the real test of his "quiet diplomacy".
Sadc needs to act against such improper and unethical conduct. It is
inadequate to simply await the outcome of the process when it is clear that
there is improper influence being exerted on the electorate.
Principle 2.1.3 of the Sadc Principles and Guidelines for Conducting
Elections requires "political tolerance", while Principle 2.1.9 requires
"acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties
proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent national electoral
authorities in accordance with the law of the land".
Further, Principle 7.5 requires a member state to "take all necessary
measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or
any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process, in order
to maintain peace and security", while Principle 7.7 requires the provision
of adequate security to all parties participating in the election.
The effect of the Zimbabwean security heads' statement is to violate
all of these principles, in particular the lack of political tolerance and
the threat of withdrawal of security to the opposition candidates, should
one of them they win the election.
But there is another fear arising from these statements which relates
to the likely reaction of a new government should one of the opposition
leaders succeed against these odds.
Although they will never say so while still in opposition and
therefore courting voters, it is likely that the first and more important
priority for a new government will be its security. An insecure government
is more likely to be concerned with its own protection against forces bent
on destabilising it. While it is natural that the government will engage in
acts of self-preservation, the trouble is that it is also likely to adopt
tactics that may not be dissimilar from those of its predecessor.
Our recent history tells us that human rights are often the first
casualties of government insecurity and paranoia. Contrary to earlier
undertakings to promote human rights and remove repressive legislation, the
reality is that faced with threats of insecurity (real or imagined), a
ruling party is more likely to resort to the same methods previously
employed against it when it was in opposition.
This much happened in the aftermath of Zimbabwe's Independence in 1980
when the new Mugabe government retained security and emergency laws that had
been used by the Smith regime. The main reason given was to safeguard state
security in the face of perceived and real threats.
The government felt threatened not only by the then hostile South
African regime but also by disgruntled members of the opposition. It is now
argued that many of there fears were exaggerated and used largely to provide
grounds to silence opponents.
That situation led to large-scale human rights violations especially
in the Midlands and Matabeleland. Many people, including erstwhile
revolutionary colleagues like Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku, were
incarcerated under the stringent security laws. Even the embedded local
media was largely unable to report on these grave matters at the time.
There are, plainly, lessons to be learned from this period.
What the three leaders of the security forces have done is to provide
potential grounds for the maintenance of stringent security laws even if
there is a new government after March 29. Their statements have given rise
to fears of a potential coup against a non-Mugabe government and that is a
serious threat against an elected government.
Such insecurity will pose great dangers to the people because it will
result in the suspension of human rights and perpetuate repression. Here
Sadc and the rest of the African community will have a big role to play to
quell any threats to a new elected government. It will not only benefit
Zimbabweans but will send a clear statement that unlawful rule by security
forces will not be countenanced in the region.
But Sadc needs to be more assertive even at this stage, to demonstrate
that it does not tolerate the interference of the security forces in the
electoral process. Its silence on this matter would amount to tacit
condonation of improper behaviour.
Any new government itself will, however, need to take a measured
response. It can learn from the errors of the post-Independence government
which overreacted and caused mayhem which even Mugabe has acknowledged as a
"moment of madness".
In this regard, civil society organisations concerned with human
rights will have their hands full even if there is a new government. If
anything, there will be need for greater vigilance in respect of a new
And this is why they need to retain and assert their independence from
the political parties vying for power. Any kind of endorsement, as others
seem to have done recently, is likely to leave them compromised. They say
when you set a trap in the mud, you should not complain when your trousers
l Dr Magaisa is based at the University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:26
THIS is a subject I wouldn't want to write on again soon - the issue
of a united opposition as Zimbabweans go into the synchronised elections
next week. But not to do one last time before this definitive election would
be to betray my conscience.
I am embarrassed by those in the MDC who still believe that instead of
focusing on winning the elections, they need to demonstrate which is the
"real" MDC. Then what happens after the opposition "loses" again?
The reason I am writing on this subject is because I believe there is
still a chance for those who have put themselves forward to lead this nation
to come together if they are sincere in their calls for change. I am
pessimistic about the chances of a divided opposition winning against the
ruling Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe, just like I have reservations
about those so optimistic about victory that they have closed their ears to
any other ideas. Divisions only serve to show that our suffering is taken as
no more than a campaign tool, not something which calls for immediate
The single-candidate principle was the best idea the MDC ever came up
with since the "split" of 2005. Zanu PF can afford to be divided and take
whatever gamble they want. They have been in existence for nearly four
decades and have been in power for 28 years.
Zanu PF has access to state resources.
To all intents and purposes, Zanu PF is in charge of the entire
electoral process whatever the fanciful wishes of those who imagine that
reality can be changed overnight to suit their whims. It is the reality, no
matter however ugly and unpalatable. It can be pushed and Thabo Mbeki blamed
for his failed mediation effort, but the net effect at this stage is
academic. The MDC and its civic society partners cannot completely escape
blame for the outcome of next week's elections.
A united opposition will be more focused; it will also maximise the
use of its resources. A united opposition will minimise the confusion which
the electorate is facing now about who to vote for; it is the same story
about dividing the vote.
There will be the usual recrimination between the "rebels" who broke
away and Morgan Tsvangirai and those around him who are against unity. But
that is not what the people of Zimbabwe are interested in. They want a
better life, yet those who promise to bring change cannot think beyond their
personal interests. They want solutions to their problems; they wouldn't
care less who is in State House.
The opposition and civic society will be among the first to tell the
"international community" about how the vote was "rigged" while they play
innocent victim of an evil regime. That is not what the people of Zimbabwe
want. They are not interested in Kenya-style threats of violence, and
definitely are not interested in more sanctions on Zimbabwe. They are
desperate for a leader who has a vision; one who can find an end to their
toil. I have doubts that a divided opposition can deliver that.
If we all agree that there is no politician worth dying for, why
should the electorate risk their lives on the streets to get into power
leaders who cannot cut a bit of their ego to put the national interest
first? People can support the case if they believe those who claim to have
been cheated of victory had done all in their power to work as a team
towards a common goal.
It is far easier for politicians to allege "rigging" and other
electoral malpractices, but these have proved difficult to demonstrate. It
has happened in the past. It can happen again. But people will be able to
tell who betrayed them when they refused to work as a team. Even when
allegations of rigging or violence are made, it is vital for the parties to
speak with one voice from the same corner.
What I find most intriguing is that the same politicians who tell us
they want to give us a united Zimbabwe are unable to work together. So what
constitutes unity if leaders cannot see the need to lead by example? What is
its value? To me this is not the stuff national leaders are made of, not
even if they win elections. We saw it at Independence in 1980. The template
I almost despair when people spend their campaign time showing us raw
sewage and being expert on inflation and unemployment figures. Who in this
country feels the pangs of hunger more than the poor who are being asked to
go and vote? But do the same people feel that those who promise them a
better tomorrow are committed to better values or that they are opportunists
besotted with power? Are the politicians canvassing our vote committed to
nation-building or is their focus on courting international opinion to
endorse whatever they want said about the outcome of next week's elections?
For, in the end, it looks like there is more energy invested in
identifying technical impediments to, instead of concerted mobilisation of
voters for, victory. The Patriotic Front won in 1980 in spite of, not
because there were no obstacles in its path. In the shallow, angry campaign
speeches even noble ideals such as a better education and improved health
sound like epithets - one does not feel the sincere heart, generous spirit
or noble mind behind the words.
It's a disaster for the nation that, faced with the current economic
ruin, President Mugabe still stands a chance of winning elections because
opposition leaders are too arrogant to accommodate each other and work as a
Thursday, 20 March 2008 10:56
ON Monday the Herald carried a picture of a "Zanu PF supporter" who
had benefited from phase 3 of the government's farm mechanisation programme
in Bindura. The supporter was given a scotch cart and he was "pulling it"
Quite tellingly, he had wrapped himself all over his upper body with
"Vote Zanu PF" posters. What further evidence of vote-buying can one look
for? But like all things that are not properly planned, somebody forgot to
give him donkeys to pull the cart.
On a related subject, Gender and Women's Affairs minister Oppah
Muchinguri told an International Women's Day celebration in Harare last week
that government had set aside $38 trillion for empowerment projects. She
however said the money was losing value "while lying idle in our offices".
Shall we all go on a looting spree! Is that where money is kept now and what
does one need to qualify for the funds? A Zanu PF card and an election!
But the party is not over yet. Zanu PF's aspiring candidate for
Highlands' council ward 8, Mavis Gumbo is helping residents in her ward
access free medical treatment. The residents, mostly gardeners, housemaids
and security guards, were reportedly treated for "various ailments" at
Highlands healthcare centre.
She said although Highlands was an upmarket suburb where most people
could afford to pay for treatment, suddenly she had discovered another group
which could not afford it. "Through consultations and idea-sharing with some
residents in the ward, we agreed that there was need to invite doctors and
nurses to assist in providing treatment to our people as part of community
service," said Gumbo unctuously.
And what is Gumbo's claim to being elected councillor? She is a
permanent resident of the area, she says. Yet she has only just discovered
her impoverished neighbourhood.
The voters should seek clear commitment here. How long is this
vote-buying trick going to last?
In its campaign adverts, government has been at pains to demonstrate
how the "land is the economy and the economy is land". In this vein, we are
told that economic recovery "will be led by agriculture" by "comprehensive
retooling of the sector through an expensive and inclusive mechanisation
There is no doubt that the government has been giving "farmers" cheap
fuel, seed, fertiliser and agricultural machinery although all this has
apparently gone to waste as there is no evident correlation between these
expenses and productivity.
Many people believe most of these inputs have found their way on to
the black market for faster returns. Now a reader has pointed out another
interesting anomaly as we get closer to the fruits of the "mother of all
agricultural seasons". He says while trillions of dollars are being spent on
cellphone farmers selling foreign currency in hotels and on the streets of
Harare, has anybody ever thought about the toiling farm workers upon whose
shoulders rests the burden of the whole enterprise?
More than that, says the writer, not only are the farm workers getting
so-called slave wages, they can actually go for three months without being
paid while inflation plays havoc with their pittances. To cap it all, a
majority of them are aliens who didn't benefit from Mugabe's land largesse
and therefore have no stake in its success.
Is it any wonder therefore that all predictions of bumper harvests
have always turned out to be a pipedream?
Another advert promoting President Robert Mugabe's bid says: "The
great teacher; the great scholar: Vote Bob for enlightened leadership".
Do they always believe their claims?
"Tsvangirai flees rally," screamed this week's Sunday Mail in its lead
story. It turns out that the story concerns a small incident in which a few
party supporters protested against a candidate who was "imposed" by the
leadership. Muckraker knows someone who is more likely to flee from the
Zimbabwean people before the end of the month. There is no guessing who.
Instead the paper had a more interesting story which it chose to
downplay. Vice-President Joseph Msika said he had been saddened by Zanu PF
politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa's decision to join Simba Makoni's
presidential bid. He said this was an "ill-conceived" decision but that he
did not agree with those who called Dabengwa "a sellout".
"I am not together with those that say Dabengwa is a sellout," said
Msika. "Others are celebrating because they were plotting against him - I
have minutes of those meetings. I can't go to the extent of saying he is a
sellout, the good he has done outweighs the bad," he said.
Which sounds reasonable enough. But how do those comments fit with his
own attack on the same man in the same breath, saying Dabengwa has "lost his
dignity" by joining Makoni? He went on to call Dabengwa "dangerous". How
does that differ from calling him a "sellout" we wonder.
Still, it is important that finally some people in Zanu PF are
beginning to see the light. It is no longer the monolith it used to be. And
how dare that hired fool Coltrane Chimurenga call Dabengwa and Makoni
sellouts and charlatans. What role did Coltrane play in the struggle for
Independence? And now he sings for his supper. He is nothing more than a
charlatan himself scavenging on the rubbish tip that his fallen hero has
Chairman of the National Incomes and Pricing commission Godwills
Masimirembwa has decreed that employers must meet 80% of workers' medical
expenses. The reason, he says, is because specialist medical practitioners
have been "defying the NIPC directive by raising their fees every month. We
are aware that some service providers are still increasing fees - especially
specialist doctors - almost on a daily basis."
So what solution does the chicken farmer dream up? Set the workers
against their employers. He says the employers can incorporate the increased
medical expenses into product pricing.
Fantastic idea. That is until you realise that this is the same guy
who has caused terror in industry by directing the arrest of company chief
executives for increasing the prices of goods to meet costs. Medical cover
is not the only cost that employers must meet good comrade. If companies
were allowed to operate profitably they would probably pay high enough wages
for workers to meet their own medical expenses without Masimirembwa trying
to play Robin Hood.
We were relieved to read Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo's impassioned
denial that Mugabe had "rigged" his way to be the party's sole presidential
candidate. This was not true, said Nkomo, according to the Herald.
"President Mugabe was nominated and when I asked for other
nominations, there was dead silence," Nkomo said. "So let me correct this:
President Mugabe never rigged to become the party's presidential candidate
and it is me who should have rigged for him, but I do not rig."
He is probably right. But can anybody imagine him saying: "Mugabe
rigged the nominations process?" That would be news.
'Forget the dollar," says expatriate Herald columnist Peter Mavunga.
"The majority of our people have not got the dollar neither do they have a
bank account, let alone savings or pensions."
It is always good to hear President Mugabe's publicists making a
virtue of necessity. But now they are actually boasting of the privation his
policies have wrought.
And of course they are making wild promises of improvements in the
lives of ordinary people when they have sat back and done nothing for years.
Mines minister Amos Midzi urged people "not to look at challenges
being faced by the country but to remember that Zanu PF was a family."
A pretty dysfunctional one at that. But Midzi was advertising the role
of his own family by "drumming up support" in Mt Pleasant for the ruling
party candidate, Alice Midzi. Zanu PF was the party that had brought
development to the country, he claimed. But not much later he was promising
the residents of Epworth that government had a package to develop Epworth to
match standards in other residential suburbs. That probably means they can
expect more potholes.
Government had started drilling boreholes at clinics, he told them.
But why, if Zanu PF was the party of development, did it only embark upon
this project now?
And when he was in Mt Pleasant, did Midzi refer to the state of the
Alice Midzi's rival for the seat, Trudy Stevenson, who unlike the
Midzi's has a record of bringing development to the people, has discovered
the name of Desmond Lardner-Burke on the roll. He was born in 1908 and was
for many years Minister of Law and Order. He imprisoned many in our
leadership today. But they want his vote, even though at 100 he may have
difficulty getting to the polling station!
We liked the Herald picture of the president road-testing a bus, one
of several the government is distributing in areas where it needs support.
But our question is: Can he drive? In the 1920s it was not unusual for
parents to be photographed
sitting in the driving seat of their son's new car. They would pretend
to be driving it. It didn't fool anybody.
The way in which Zimpapers have prostituted their newspapers to the
incumbent's tattered cause will surprise no one who has followed their
suborned record over the years. But last Sunday the Sunday Mail took this
shoddy performance a step further by telling a whopper of gigantic
The newspaper's editor claimed that the head of the 2002 Commonwealth
observer team, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, "had decided to vest all his
trust in a secretariat that wrote a damning report which the team leader had
never read.It was embarrassing for the general to later admit that his team
had betrayed him by writing a false report."
In fact it was the Sunday Mail writing a false report that had no
doubt been concocted by the usual suspects. When this scurrilous lie first
appeared in the state media General Abubakar was asked by the Zimbabwe
Independent whether there was any truth in the story. He promptly issued a
statement repudiating it. He fully endorsed the Commonwealth's report, he
said. He wouldn't have signed it if he didn't agree with it, he pointed out.
Nothing could be clearer than that. At no stage did he "admit that his
team had betrayed him". But Zimbabwe's state media continued to be fed the
lie and dutifully repeated it without bothering to seek the general's views.
It remains an emblematic case of journalists being told to mislead the
public on behalf of their political masters.
The same of course goes for the report on "MDC violence" that
government newspapers carried extensively last year without once asking
themselves why nobody had been successfully prosecuted.
In this connection we were interested to note the comments of Angolan
External Affairs minister Joao Miranda. "People who are going to observe the
elections on the ground are the ones who should make the pronouncements on
elections and not people from outside," he declared.
But it hadn't occurred to him that people who are "outside" are being
kept there because the government doesn't want them making unwelcome
discoveries, like the EU and Commonwealth teams did in 2002.
And by the way, when was the last time Angola held an election? It is
one of the most corrupt countries in the world and hardly a paragon of
Have you noticed a number of stock phrases cropping up in the
government media? These include something soon becoming "a thing of the
past" now that government is addressing the problem. What invariably
happens is no sooner has the Herald or Sunday Mail made this confident
forecast than the problem resurfaces. It can be applied to wheat production,
electricity supplies, transport problems or just about anything.
The current hot favourite is the president having his audience "in
This is supposed to imply that he has said something really funny. He
has "a witty way of spicing his speeches with a bit of humour", we are told.
But sometimes the joke falls a little flat.
For instance, last week he was briefly reunited with pupils he taught
at Mapanzure primary school in Zvishavane. Some of the pupils are now
walking with difficulty, "a stark contrast to their teacher's swift gaiety
(sic)", the Herald reported. It probably meant gait.
But we can see why they were having difficulty walking. The president
called for a cane so he could discipline the pupils in a reenactment of
scenes from 1944.
Very funny. Except when you consider that is what he's been doing to
No doubt some of those on the receiving end are not just former
We can imagine cabinet ministers lining up at Munhumutapa Building for
"six of the best" when they have broken school rules - like talking to the
Still with the government papers, we understand that the president has
asked them to stop translating his Shona into English. This is because he
feels some statements have not been correctly reported from the vernacular.
Have you noticed how the front page of the Herald is looking
increasingly like Kwayedza.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 10:45
IT has long been apparent that government has a dogmatic conviction
that the only manner of operating an economy is by absolute and total
control of every facet of that economy.
It cannot contemplate, let alone acknowledge, that rigid and excessive
economic controls are counterproductive in the extreme, prevent economic
development and growth and, instead, debilitate and destroy the economy to
an even greater extent.
And, therefore, it rigidly resists any and all representations to
modify and relax its policies of economic management, and instead constantly
intensifies existing controls, and introduces new ones, in oblivion of its
pronounced culpability for the economic ills which are the motivants of its
introduction and implementation of yet further controls.
The examples of government's obdurate pursuits of destructive economic
policies are innumerable. In the early days of Independence it radically
modified labour legislation. Correctly recognising a need for equitable and
just labour practices to protect workers, government went grossly overboard,
vesting intensively excessive powers and authority in itself, with especial
regard to any employer intents to terminate employment.
As a result, employers have been intensely reticent to increase
numbers employed, save when they felt that they had absolutely no
alternative but to do so, recognising the magnitude of difficulties and the
costs that they would face if they ever needed to reduce numbers employed,
other than by natural attrition.
Although each one of the nine Economic Development Policy programmes
that government has launched since Independence has included intents to
reduce the state's direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of the
economy by privatising parastatals, the reality is that only a very few
parastatals have ever been even partially privatised, for government has
been determined to maintain its absolute controls. The resultant has been
ever deteriorating infrastructure, and accelerating economic collapse. But
government maniacally believes it must retain total control, and vehemently
denies to itself, and to others, that it is that control which is the
primary contributor to the lack of adequate service delivery, and to the
In similar blind indifference and economic restlessness, government
enacted the Land Acquisition Act in 1991, and over most of the last decade
gave effect to it in pursuing its catastrophic Land Reform Programme. In its
addiction to consummate control, it has reduced the very foundation of
Zimbabwe's economy, being agriculture, to the precipice of near total
Such destruction has been occasioned by many to facets of the
programme, including the displacement of thousands of skilled, highly
productive farmers and the replacement of them with many lacking in skills
and resources, but a key factor of the destruction has been government's
control mania, which evidenced itself by vesting ownership of all land in
the state. In doing so, it deprived farmers of the inspiration and drive to
success which is conveyed by ownership.
Of the overwhelming number of grievously misplaced controls pursued by
government, one of the most catastrophic was the imposition, in June 2007,
of gargantuan price controls, followed by the creation of the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC).
The almost immediate results were massive exacerbation of the then
already immense scarcity of almost all commodities, including all basic
essentials, fuelling an even more vigorous, almost hyperactive black market
than had previously prevailed, and converting the appalling inflation that
government wanted to address into world-shattering hyperinflation.
Government's infatuation with control fuelled the poverty-intensifying
escalation of the cost of living for all Zimbabweans.
All these, and many, many more governmental controls have all been the
major catalysts of the destruction of the economy to a greater extent than
ever experienced since that of the crash of the German Weimar Republic in
1922 to 1924.
Government is unquaveringly convinced of its unlimited omnipotence,
and is equally paranoically certain that all Zimbabwe's economic ills are
attributable to evil machinations of its perceived enemies.
Therefore, it cannot even momentarily contemplate that it, and its
unending, foolhardy and diabolically destructive, policies and controls
could be even remotely responsible for the derelict state of the economy and
for its continuing and intensifying failure. Therefore it persists with
Amongst the most recent, and indisputably one of the most stupid, of
such controls, has been the enactment in the last month of Statutory
Instrument 21 of 2008, issued pursuant to the Bank Use, Promotion and
Suppression of Money Laundering Act.
The key provisions of that Statutory Instrument include that no person
may, at any time, have more than $500 million dollars in their possession,
save that traders may hold greater amounts for not more than 24 hours after
the last trading hour in which the monies were received. A further provision
prohibits individuals and companies from effecting any cash transactions
exceeding $250 million.
This is ridiculous in the extreme. One visit
to the supermarket to purchase essential household needs can readily
necessitate a payment at the cash till well in excess of that amount.
The purchase of 10kg, of mealie meal (if one can find it), bread,
cooking oil, some vegetables, salt and bread, aggregates to more than $250
million, let alone the simultaneous purchase of many other normally required
And not every consumer can afford to operate a banking account and
have the facility of a debit card, and therefore must operate in cash. In
like manner, virtually all businesses require to effect cash transactions
aggregating to more than $500 million.
Factories operating staff canteens for large labour forces often have
no alternative but to pay cash for meat, poultry, mealie meal and other
Those same factories have many workers who cannot practically or
affordably operate banking accounts, and must therefore be paid in cash,
with the weekly cash payout frequently amounting to billions of dollars.
Thus, government is not containing money laundering, but is further
curbing business operations, hindering the populace from conduct of
essential daily living requirements, and demolishing the economy to an ever
Government's never-ending introduction
of new controls, all of which sabotage
all prospects of economic recovery, demonstrate that it has become a
fanatical control freak which places its craving for control above all else.
A tip for poll observers
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:18
IF Sadc is sending 120 observers to our elections and if AU (together
with EAC & Pan African Parliament) can add another 100 then we will observe
the Zimbabwean elections much better than the Kenyan one where AU (Pan
African Parliament) sent four and the East African Community sent 14
That's why in all the fighting that took place in Kenya, the AU and
EAC observer missions were not confident enough to loudly publish their
reports because theirs were just desktop reviews of the electoral process.
I urge that AU co-ordinate with EAC, Sadc, Pan African Parliament and
any African countries sending observers so that while the individual
observer missions produce their individual reports, they also feed into the
AU mission's report in a systematic way. This calls for partitioning and
allocation of responsibility areas so that every constituency is covered and
that there is a parallel tallying of votes during the counting process.
Why Makoni's project is flying
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:10
IT is understandable that President Mugabe - and those few who remain
huddled with him - should feel threatened by Simba Makoni's bid for the top
office on March 29. For all indications and predictions so far confirm that
Mugabe is a rank outsider in the forthcoming poll, giving him a bare 4% of
This is not surprising given latest reports that the old man received
only 13% of the vote in the 2002 presidential election. A grave warning to
all Zimbabweans that everything should be done to avoid another rigged
election this time around.
The race is now firmly between Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. I am not
certain that Tsvangirai understood fully the import of the statement he made
two weeks ago, to the effect that the forthcoming election is "a referendum
on Robert Mugabe". But the obvious inferences to be drawn from the
statement should have educated such of his overzealous supporters as Roy
Bennett (writing in the Cape Argus on February 17) and Jacob Rukweza (a
sub-editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, writing in Candid Comment last
week): that the main objective of the vote is to end Mugabe's misrule; and
that the opposition as a whole should do everything possible to ensure that
outcome by avoiding unnecessary inter-party bickering and distractive
I believe this was the central consideration that inspired David
Coltart (writing in the Cape Argus on March 10 ) when he described Roy
Bennett's attack on Makoni as "unfortunate" and "unjustified".
Coltart's reply in this regard should likewise shut up Rukweza's
diatribe: "Simba Makoni was never implicated in the Gukurahundi"; and as
regards Murambatsvina, "the facts are that Makoni resigned, in an
unprecedented and brave act, from Cabinet in 2002, well before Murambatsvina
took place" in 2005.
But that is not to deny that Makoni (and some of us involved in the
Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn initiative) has a strong historical association with the
national liberation movement, Zanu PF specifically. But neither Zanu PF nor
the Zimbabwe state has ever been ideologically and politically monolithic;
and it should not surprise any serious and informed analyst of the
Zimbabwean polity that the most formidable challenge to Mugabe's misrule
consists of persons - particularly Makoni himself - who have been the
conscience of a party that now stands ideologically and organisationally
vacuous, a far cry from the movement that inspired and motivated millions of
Zimbabweans during the struggle and well into post-Independence.
And let us not forget the millions of Zimbabweans for whom the
struggle and the gains of Independence remain indelible in their memory, and
for whom the hope is that the removal of Mugabe and his cabal of politically
bankrupt leaders will be a real dawn. There are many in Zanu PF who share
this vision and constitute a good proportion of that 95% of voters who have
already turned away from Mugabe and will vote against him.
But there has also been a huge swing away from the MDC to the Makoni
camp in the period since Makoni announced his candidature. And what about
the many, many more Zimbabweans who do not belong to either Zanu PF or MDC
but who rallied to Makoni's clarion call, and rushed in their numbers to
inspect and register on the voters' roll before nomination.
The figures speak for themselves and do confirm that Makoni has every
reason to expect and anticipate electoral victory. The records show that
45% more voters registered in the period between the day on which Makoni
announced his candidature, and when the voter inspection and registration
These are the realities that speak for themselves; less, perhaps,
about the personality of Makoni himself. This is not a new reality about
which the likes of Bennett and Rukweza should feel uncomfortable and
threatened. It is one that all Zimbabweans should embrace as heralding hopes
and expectations of a better future, the real opportunity to begin
liberating ourselves from fear, stress and tension, and from poverty and the
burden of failure and inertia.
It is not true, as suggested by Rukweza, that "the majority of those
who have embraced Makoni as their future president have confessed that they
know very little about their candidate of choice". It was not an accident
that those of us who initiated the Simba project last December decided
unanimously that Makoni was the best person to lead this initiative. Some of
us have known him since the early 1970's, as one with a rare intellect, a
principled and honest man, hardworking, and a patriot second to none. He
did not campaign for himself: we chose him to lead us; and, as Coltart
concluded, it is Makoni's courageousness that should be supported, not
criticised. Of course, it is up to the Zimbabwean electorate to assess and
decide on Makoni at the polls.
Makoni's election campaign so far has yielded a good response; he is
emerging to be a popular and charismatic figure. He has been embraced as a
symbol of Zimbabwe's hope across the country. Makoni has the political and
technocratic skills that gives him more than an edge over all the other
presidential hopefuls in the forthcoming election. He has had almost 30
years of exposure to the public policy arena, as the youngest Minister of
State at Independence and, subsequently, as Minister of Industry and Energy;
and from 2000 to 2002 as the Minister of Finance who might have made a
difference to the flagging Zimbabwean economy had he been afforded the
opportunity by Mugabe.
Makoni's tenure at Sadc (1984-1994) will have exposed him to the
challenges of both external relations and economic development. And,
contrary to some reports which seek to throw aspersions on his tenure at
Sadc, it was Makoni who put the regional organisation on its feet and left
it at a level of pre-eminence that the body has not enjoyed again ever since
those days. But our future president also knows the world of business, as
both a trained chemist and industrialist, as well as an entrepreneur and
farmer. We can be certain Simba Makoni will bring all these 30 years of
exposure to statecraft, international diplomacy and entrepreneurship, to
bear in the new government that he will lead. Above all, Makoni's dramatic
re-entry into the political scene cuts him out as the unifier of an
otherwise polarised Zimbabwe.
So, if this election turns out to be the most peaceful, it will
largely be due to the entry into the race of Simba Makoni and his
"Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn" movement. What a wonderful sight for me to have
witnessed, throughout most of the campaign so far, the MDC's,
Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn, and Zanu PF, all contesting side by side, bereft of the
acrimony and violence that has characterised previous elections. It is a
great pity that certain elements and individuals in Zanu PF are bent on
frustrating the campaign process, preparing to rig the elections and even
However, I am hopeful that Zimbabwe is on the threshold of a genuine
democratic multi-party dispensation. But only if all of us keep the eye on
the ball and desist from reckless distractions as those attempted by Bennett
Mandaza is a member of Makoni's management committee.