March 24, 2008
Here we go again! Seven years after the World Food Programme helped to save
Robert Mugabe's political bacon by unilaterally and unconditionally deciding
to feed his starving people, the UN agency is making the same mistake.
At the end of 2001 Zimbabwe's leader was in trouble. Presidential elections
were looming. The consequences of his land grab were becoming clear. After
denying that hunger was imminent, Mugabe finally admitted that half a
million Zimbabweans faced famine.
At this point the WFP stepped in to feed the country - but without an
insistence on minimum conditions, such as an end to the land policy which
created the crisis that donors sought to alleviate.
The outcome of the operation was predictable: food aid became
institutionalised as the land grab continued. The WFP has fed millions of
Zimbabweans and Mugabe has been cushioned from the consequences of his
Seven years later history repeats itself. Mugabe is fighting for his
political life. Elections are imminent. And he has been forced to admit that
his country is starving. But again, help is at hand from the same source.
In a statement last week the WFP announced that it "plans to complete this
month's food distributions in Zimbabwe earlier than usual to avoid any
overlap with the final run-up to the presidential and parliamentary
elections on 29 March". In other words, in time for Mr Mugabe to use the
resources of the State to distribute the food as he deems fit.
The WFP claims that it has "zero tolerance for political interference . . .
in the distribution of its food assistance," a claim as pompous as it is
hollow. For a start, it should be unacceptable to the WFP that reporters
from the very countries who pay for the food should be banned from Zimbabwe.
It is also unacceptable that election monitors are similarly proscribed.
No one underestimates the UN agency's predicament. What if Mr Mugabe
responds to a WFP attempt to impose conditions by choosing to let his people
starve rather than accept foreign reporters, and the presence of independent
But there is another question to ask: if Mr Mugabe's political life is in
the balance, could these terms prove the straw that will break his back? If
he agrees, the better the chance that democracy prevails on March 29. If he
refuses, might this tip the scales towards his overthrow?
Selecting and applying the conditions that should accompany food aid is no
easy task. But the record suggests that the naïve and unconditional
generosity the WFP has displayed has done long-term harm, whatever
short-term good. Michael Holman is author of Fatboy and the Dancing Ladies
23 March 2008
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai held his last election rally in Harare Sunday and promised that a new Zimbabwe, driven by love and not fear, is on the horizon. Mr. Tsvangirai, enjoying a huge surge of popularity around the country, is standing against President Robert Mugabe in elections next Saturday. Peta Thornycoft reports for VOA from Harare.
|Morgan Tsvangirai addresses a rally in Harare, 23 Mar 23, 2008|
The rally was held in an open field because the police denied the MDC access to any of the city's stadiums, according to party officials.
Nevertheless, the rally was well organized. People sang popular MDC songs, some of which mock Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues in the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Tsvangirai told the crowd that Zimbabweans are beyond fear now. He said the road for the opposition has been long and painful, but that victory is at hand.
"We will stand together, we will stand for food, we will stand for jobs, for justice," he said. "We will stand for freedom as one, for a new Zimbabwe. We will line up at those polling stations and we are going to vote in our millions."
Tsvangirai said people want jobs, food and a decent life, and that the current economic chaos was caused by bad government.
He praised President Mugabe for delivering Zimbabwe from colonial rule, but said it was now time for the 84-year-old leader to go. He said that so many people would vote for the MDC next Saturday that any rigging and cheating would be overcome.
"We expect the enemies of justice to engage in every trick in the book. We are ready for them," Tsvangirai said. "We are ready for those that would like to subvert the people's victory."
|President Robert Mugabe addresses the congregation at a church in Bulawayo, about 500 kilometers south of Harare, 23 Mar 2008|
He also said that after the elections he would nationalize British-owned companies and ensure that new legislation giving majority ownership of all businesses to black Zimbabweans is quickly implemented.
Zimbabweans are, for the first time, voting in four elections simultaneously including presidential, parliamentary and local government contests.
On Sunday, civil rights leaders briefed a group of observers from the Southern African Development Community or SADC.
Western observers are not being allowed to monitor these elections. And the government says it will not allow any white Western journalists to cover them.
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:42
BULAWAYO -President Robert Mugabe was forced last week to cancel five
rallies scheduled for Matabeleland after being advised they would be
boycotted by supporters switching to one of his main challengers, Simba
Makoni. Observers say Makoni staged a major coup against Mugabe when he
convinced Zanu PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa to back his bid for the
The former ZIPRA intelligence supremo is still regarded as a hero in
Since launching his campaign for a sixth term, Mugabe has not held
rallies in major urban centres. He held his first rallies in Harare
Mugabe has cancelled rallies in Gwanda, Binga and Bulawayo at the last
The latest cancellation was on Thursday where the Zanu PF provincial
executive was only informed a day before Mugabe was billed to visit two
schools and Stanley Square in Makokoba to hand over grinding mills,
computers and buses as part of his campaign.
Sources said the rallies were cancelled after meetings called by Women's
Affairs minister, Oppah Muchinguri last week to prepare for Mugabe's rallies
were poorly attended.
This reportedly led to the conclusion that the party structures had
been infiltrated by Makoni's supporters who were allegedly sabotaging Mugabe's
To save face, Mugabe has reportedly assigned trusted war veterans'
leader Jabulani Sibanda to lead the mobilisation of party supporters.
After the embarrassment of the cancellations, a meeting was reportedly
held on Thursday between 46 officials whose suspension from the party was
recently lifted, and the McLoud Tshawe provincial executive, to try to patch
up the divisions that have thrown the Zanu PF campaign into disarray.
The officials were suspended last year for supporting Sibanda during
his campaign to have Mugabe endorsed as the party's presidential candidate.
Mugabe will now be expected to address two rallies, at Stanley Square
and Inkanyezi primary school today, amid fears of a poor turnout.
Zanu PF provincial spokesman, Effort Nkomo yesterday confirmed Mugabe
would be in the city today.
But sources said Mugabe no longer trusted the Zanu PF leadership in
Matabeleland as he believed they were Dabengwa sympathisers.
Sources said Dabengwa draws a lot of sympathy from a number of Zanu PF
candidates and officials in Matabeleland who are openly campaigning for
This has been confirmed by Industry and International Trade minister,
Obert Mpofu who recently told Mugabe that a number of Zanu PF heavyweights
were "decampaigning" him in the region.
Recently, Mugabe was forced to cancel a rally at Tinde Secondary
School in Binga after his party failed to convince the villagers to attend.
Last week, Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu told
Vice-President Joice Mujuru during a rally in Binga that several members of
the Zanu PF district co-ordinating committee had been suspended for
campaigning for Makoni and failing to organise Mugabe's so-called star
"We have discovered that they were working with us during the day, but
during the night they would be busy campaigning for Makoni," Mathuthu said.
Yesterday, Zanu PF provincial chairman Headman Moyo refused to comment
on the cancellation of the Binga rally.
Mugabe is scheduled to address a rally in Hwange tomorrow, after
indications that Binga had "already been taken by Makoni's people", sources
After cancelling another rally in the Gwanda South constituency Mugabe
had been billed to visit Gwanda town on a date yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, Dabengwa who has been on a whirlwind tour of Matabeleland
campaigning for Makoni, has attracted substantial crowds.
In Binga last week, he reportedly attracted an average of 2 000 people
at campaign meetings while Mujuru addressed less than 200 people at Lisulu
in Binga. On Thursday, Mujuru postponed a rally by more than five hours in
Dete after another poor turnout.
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:21
SOLDIERS and police officers started voting yesterday, as the MDC led
by Morgan Tsvangirai and independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni
revealed they had unearthed plans to rig Saturday's elections in favour of
The Standard learnt yesterday that casting of postal votes started in
the morning and would end on 29 March. But voting for millions of
Zimbabweans will take place on a single day.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general, said Zanu PF and ZEC were
running the elections "like a private function".
"We only heard late on Friday afternoon that postal voting was
scheduled to start on Saturday morning, which means many of these polling
stations for postal ballots will not have polling officers."
Biti said he had written to the ZEC demanding to know how many postal
ballots had been printed and where they would be cast, but had received no
Fears of rigging heightened after ZEC ordered Fidelity Printers to
print 600 000 postal ballot papers.
ZEC chairman, Justice George Chiweshe, last week said only 8 000
postal ballots had been requested by voters.
Postal ballots are issued to security personnel such as soldiers and
police and Zimbabweans at foreign missions. They also apply to voters on
official government business but not necessarily outside the country.
A news crew from The Standard yesterday visited Girls' High School in
Harare where polling officers said postal voting had started in the morning.
Officials in Makoni's camp said they had been told that there were
seven senior CIO functionaries who had been attached to ZEC since last week
"to do its dirty work".
This involved inflating postal votes and printing more ballots than
Tsvangirai said they had information that ZEC had ordered nine
million ballot papers for each of the elections, despite the fact that ZEC
had announced only 5.9 million people had registered to vote.
Tsvangirai showed journalists a letter allegedly written by ZEC,
asking the printers to print the postal ballot papers.
"What we are witnessing is an attempt by Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe to
try and rig the elections," said Tsvangirai. "Uniformed forces, including
the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the police and prison services are not more
that 100 000 when combined."
"We don't have any forces on duty in foreign lands. The diplomatic
community has also shrunk dramatically over the years. So who does ZEC want
to give the 600 000 postal ballots to?"
There has been an outcry after ZEC announced that local council, House
of Assembly and Senate results would be announced at polling stations while
the results of the presidential poll would be announced at the national
Makoni told journalists and observers in Marondera on Friday that they
were not happy with attempts by ZEC to "shift the goal posts" a few days
before polling day.
Makoni said: "Is it going to be at polling stations? Is it going to be
at the central command centre? We are looking into these ambiguities about
the issue of announcing the results. We are also concerned that a few days
before the elections, the final voters' roll is not yet out."
Tsvangirai said there was no provision for a command centre in the
Tsvangirai said an independent analyst had done an analysis of 28
rural constituencies and had unearthed serious discrepancies between the ZEC
figures and those on the voters' roll.
In Goromonzi South, for example, ZEC said there were 28 086 registered
voters while the voters' roll showed 19 422 had registered to vote, giving a
discrepancy of more than 8 000. In Chegutu East, ZEC said 31 226 had
registered to vote while the voters' roll puts the number at 25 000 - a
discrepancy of 6 000.
In Chikomba Central, while the voters' roll said 24 000 had registered
to vote, ZEC puts the figure at 26 000.
"In all the 28 constituencies the analyst has done there are 90 000
unaccounted for voters," Tsvangirai said.
The Standard sent a list of questions to the ZEC offices in Harare on
Thursday seeking clarification on allegations that they were playing a key
role in rigging the elections.
The ZEC director of public relations, Shupikai Mashereni, yesterday
acknowledged receiving the questions, saying he had forwarded them to
Utloile Silaigwana, the deputy chief elections officer (operations).
Silaigwana said: "Honestly I didn't see your questions. What were they
By Foster Dongozi,Ndamu Sandu and Vusumuzi Sifile
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:18
INDEPENDENT presidential hopeful, Simba Makoni on Friday attacked
President Mugabe's government as being led by "a bunch of fools", duped by a
self-proclaimed spirit medium into believing diesel could flow from a rock.
Campaigning in Marondera, a Zanu PF stronghold, Makoni left supporters
in stitches as he mocked Mugabe's government.
He said Zimbabwe was in chaos because Mugabe has surrounded himself
"We are here because the country is being incompetently managed . . .
these people are afraid of new ideas and would rather believe a spirit
medium who tells them that they can get diesel from a rock," Makoni said.
He said it was ironic that Mugabe's ministers would believe this
"nonsense" when they were aware the Beira pipeline that used to bring fuel
to Zimbabwe has been blowing air for years now.
Makoni said after the elections, he expected the 84-year-old to go to
his rural home and narrate folk stories to his grandchildren, like normal
African old men. This drew huge laughter from about 2 000 supporters.
Later, at a press conference at Marondera Hotel, Makoni said voter
intimidation was rife, particularly in areas considered to be Zanu PF
strongholds. But he said that had not deterred them from campaigning.
Makoni told journalists and the Southern African Development Community
observer team that two weeks ago a group of Zanu PF youths had blocked the
road to Renco Mine in Masvingo by felling two huge trees across the only
road that linked it to their venue.
At another venue, Makoni said Zanu PF supporters were sent to
distribute maize not far from his rally.
The former finance minister expressed concern that the final voters'
roll had still not been published, yet there were only a few days left
before the elections. He said his formation had complained about the
inadequate number of polling stations in urban areas.
Meanwhile, journalists from both the local and international media
were annoyed with Makoni's campaign team for misleading them into believing
that retired General Solomon Mujuru, Ray Kaukonde and other Zanu PF
heavyweights would publicly declare their support for Makoni in Marondera.
On Thursday evening, a top official in Makoni's campaign told The
Standard "there would be a major announcement by a Zanu PF heavyweight in
Another official in the team later said Mujuru, Kaukonde and other top
Zanu PF officials in Mashonaland East would be announced at the Marondera
Hotel, and then proceed to address a rally in the town.
An unusually large number of journalists rushed to Marondera on Friday
afternoon to witness the announcement of the officials. But when Makoni
arrived in Marondera, he went straight to address a rally at an open space
in the town. There were no heavyweights in sight.
Makoni said he was not aware that heavyweights would attend his rally.
When journalists told Makoni they had actually been informed of it by a top
official that Mujuru and others would publicly declare their support for his
candidature, Makoni asked back: "Who is Mr Mujuru? Was he going to be here?
... I was not expecting him."
"In our book, every individual is equally important. No one has more
votes than others . I do not know how you define people of influence . I am
not aware of any behind-the-scenes work", Makoni said, adding: "This
movement has the support of many within Zanu PF."
By Vusimuzi Sifile and Bertha Shoko
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:15
BULAWAYO - Zanu PF "must accept the results" of this week's elections,
says a key ruling party candidate who was a former ZIPRA commander during
the liberation war.
Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) chief and Zanu PF candidate for the
Makokoba House of Assembly seat, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, told The
Standard a disputed election victory would not be "in the best interests" of
"Once you accept to hold elections, it means you will have to accept
the outcome of that election," Dube said, "whether you win or lose."
"The most important thing is that our elections should be free, fair
and legitimate and be recognized by everyone."
Dube's comments appeared to be a reaction to threats by defence forces
commander, Constantine Chiwenga, police commissioner-general, Augustine
Chihuri and prisons boss, Paradzai Zimondi not to salute a presidential
election winner other than President Robert Mugabe.
The security chiefs described Mugabe's challengers, independent
candidate Simba Makoni and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as "sellouts".
Dube faces MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube and MDC-Tsvangirai's
vice-president, Thokozani Khuphe in one of the toughest contests in
The MDC has raised alarm over the statements by the security chiefs
and last week South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), urged
the commanders to be non-partisan.
Previous elections have been marred by allegations of vote-rigging and
intimidation by the armed forces who in 2002 threatened a coup if Mugabe
lost to Tsvangirai.
Analysts say this has contributed to Zimbabwe's international
isolation, largely blamed for the spectacular collapse of the economy.
Dube said: "Most of our problems are related to our failure to have
polls internationally regarded as free and fair.
"If these elections are free and fair, the country will be accepted
back into the international community and that would bring about a change to
Meanwhile, in another indication of the widening rift in the ruling
party ahead of the elections, Dube has told Industry and International Trade
minister, Obert Mpofu to stop interfering in party affairs in Bulawayo.
He was responding to reports Mpofu told Mugabe during a recent rally
there were senior Zanu PF leaders in Matabeleland campaigning for Makoni.
Mpofu claimed the heavyweights were urging party supporters to vote
for Zanu PF councillors, MPs and Senators but to choose their own candidate
for the presidency.
"Baba President, some top leaders in Matabeleland, especially in
Bulawayo are spreading serious disinformation," Mpofu was quoted as saying
by the State media.
But Dube, who has in the past accused Mpofu of contributing to Zanu PF's
unpopularity over last year's price blitz, urged him to concentrate on his
rural Umguza constituency.
"He should focus on his area as it is not his duty to comment on
Bulawayo operations. There are people in Bulawayo who can report to the
president if such things are happening."
Mpofu himself could not be reached for comment.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:11
MASVINGO - Vice-President Joseph Msika last week saw at firsthand the
simmering discontent engulfing the rural areas when villagers walked away in
protest as he spoke.
Msika was addressing a poorly-attended campaign rally at Sarahuro
business centre in Mwenezi last Thursday.
The rally attracted less than 400 people, mainly school children and
the elderly, who were allegedly forced to attend.
The aged, who said they had come to the rally hoping Msika would solve
the hardships they were facing, walked away before the rally ended after he
continued what they described as the "same old Mugabe rhetoric of the
liberation war history and sovereignty".
Msika attacked Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni - the other
presidential candidates in next Saturday's poll - accusing them of being
"Who are they (Tsvangirai and Makoni) to say Mugabe should go? What
did they do for Zimbabwe? Nhapwa zvadzo dzinosveta ropa dzakatumwa
nemuvengi. That is what Makoni and Tsvangirai are doing," Msika said,
likening them to ticks sucking the blood of their host.
This was followed by a deafening silence from the villagers.
While admitting that "we are going through hard times", Msika said it
was not possible to change leaders.
"Changing of leadership like the way we change our shirts is a luxury
we cannot afford . . . Do not vote sellouts, renegades and puppies."
He blamed all the economic hardships on Britain, America, and the
International Monetary Fund which he said had withdrawn their credit
But before Msika could conclude his speech, incensed villagers walked
off in protest. They told The Standard they could no longer afford to wait
to hear "such lies" when they had to do chores "to fend for our children".
"These are the same old Zanu PF lies. They shift the blame onto others
yet they are responsible for the ruin of this country," villagers said.
"We don't eat sovereignty. We know the liberation war history; we do
not need to be told that. We want to hear how they are going to mend things
if we vote for them again."
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:08
AT least seven MDC candidates and activists have fled their homes
after their houses were damaged in attacks by people believed to be Zanu PF
supporters in the past week as political violence mounted ahead of this
The party this week said some of its House of Assembly and local
government candidates could not campaign after they were run out of their
areas by suspected Zanu PF youths.
MDC (Tsvangirai) national director of elections, Denis Murira, said
among those affected was their candidate for Zvimba West, Knox Danda.
He said the youth militia raided Danda's homestead on Monday night and
broke down doors and windows to his house, and part of the roof.
"Fortunately, Danda was not there but the MDC youths who were guarding
the home fled into the bush. The attackers damaged doors, windows and part
of the roof before rummaging through the house," Murira said.
Danda, now sheltering in Harare, is standing against Nelson Samkange
of Zanu PF for the Zvimba West seat. Zvimba is President Robert Mugabe's
home area and has long been a no-go area for the opposition.
Zanu PF supporters are reportedly terrorising Mutasa South in
Manicaland, where they have forced the MDC candidate for Ward 21, a Ms
Masango, to flee her home.
The MDC House of Assembly candidate for Mutasa South, Misheck
Kagurabadza, said his supporters were fleeing their homes following attacks
by Zanu PF activists.
Masango's houses were also extensively damaged, said Kagurabadza. The
aspiring councillor is now staying in another ward.
"We have a councillor who has fled his home and several party
activists who have since sought refuge elsewhere because they fear for their
lives," said Kagurabadza, former Mutare mayor.
Kagurabadza is standing against Zanu PF's Shellington Dumbura and
Bangani Maunga, an independent candidate.
"One of our activists woke up in the morning to find Zanu PF posters
plastered all over his house. This is provocation of the worst kind,"
Three of the activists returned to their homes on Friday accompanied
by police from Penhalonga police station.
Efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena
Murira said there could not be a free and fair election when Zanu PF
was involved in acts of violence. He said the party preached peace during
the day to hoodwink local and international election observers and committed
violence under the cover of darkness.
Neither Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira nor his deputy Ephraim
Masawi could be reached for comment.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:07
BULAWAYO - Bulawayo governor, Cain Mathema last week called
independent candidates in this weekend's elections "mad monkeys" out to
confuse the electorate.
In remarks likely to anger hundreds of independents standing in the
presidential, Parliamentary, Senate and municipal elections, Mathema told
the Bulawayo Press Club the polls would be a contest mostly between Zanu PF
and the two MDC formations.
President Robert Mugabe is facing probably his greatest challenge
since independence from former Zanu PF politburo member, Simba Makoni,
standing as an independent candidate and the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.
"In this day and age we cannot have people saying they are independent
candidates," he said.
"If you see a monkey straying from others it will certainly be mad
and to me those calling themselves independent candidates are just mad
monkeys, rejected by mainstream political parties."
Bulawayo has a large number of independent candidates in parliamentary
In the 2005 parliamentary elections, Mathema's wife Musa Ncube, a Zanu
PF candidate, was humiliated by former Information and Publicity minister,
Jonathan Moyo, an independent candidate.
Moyo is favoured to win the Tsholotsho North constituency against Zanu
PF and MDC candidates.
Reminded of this fact, Mathema who in 2000 lost the Tsholotsho seat to
an MDC candidate Mtoliki Sibanda said those who won the elections were
"probably clever monkeys".
In the past, Zanu PF has resorted to insulting its opponents. Mugabe
called Makoni "a prostitute" and "a puffed up frog" after the former finance
minister announced he would challenge him for the presidency.
Meanwhile, Mathema sought to defend the Gukurahundi massacres, saying:
"Why is it that the dissidents were Ndebeles only? It is time we started
researching on who played what role in the disturbances. It is not President
Mugabe who was butchering people."
Mathema accused the former Zanu PF politburo member and now a
political ally of Makoni, Dumiso Dabengwa, of "trying to divide tribes".
Dabengwa and the late ZIPRA commander, Lookout Masuku, were jailed on
trumped up treason charges by Mugabe's government before the military
onslaught began and despite their acquittal by the Supreme Court.
Mathema said the two deserved the treatment as he accused them of
A number of ex-Zipra commanders, all unhappy with the government's
shoddy treatment of victims of the massacres, are also backing Makoni.
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:03
ZANU PF politicians are courting victims of Operation Murambatsvina
and are promising them better accommodation if they vote for them, The
Standard confirmed last week.
Since Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Clean-up) in May 2005, most
of the victims still live in the open or in knee-high shacks after failing
to secure alternative accommodation.
But aspiring Zanu PF legislators are now exploiting their desperation,
organising weekly meetings with them at sites of housing co-operatives that
government demolished, promising them permanent residential stands.
The meetings are being held at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, Tongogara, Sally
Mugabe Heights, Hopley Farm and Ushewekunze, Housing Co-operative, among
The people are being given new stand numbers, "while servicing is in
progress", they are told. Graders are already at work on roads, to boost the
confidence to the desperate home seekers.
Two weeks ago, those at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Co-operative in Kambuzuma
high-density area were given free maize-meal, beans, sugar and bottles of
One of the victims, who asked not to be named for fear of
victimization, said he would "not be taken for a ride again".
"They are giving us food because they want our votes," he said,
angrily. "Why were they not building the houses they demolished all along?
We now know what they are after."
Houses at the co-operative have been destroyed three times since 1999,
but have been rebuilt each time there was a major election, with assurances
from politicians that they were legal and would not be demolished.
Just before the 2005 parliamentary election, the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, told
residents they were free to build their houses at the site.
But two months after the 2005 March parliamentary polls, the
government ordered the demolition of the houses.
In Harare South constituency, the incumbent Zanu PF MP Hubert
Nyanhongo, who is seeking re-election, has promised residents of Hopley Farm
and surrounding areas better accommodation if Zanu PF wins.
But most of the residents dumped at Hopley Farm after Operation
Murambatsvina in 2005, are staying in shacks and cabins donated by charity
organizations. They have no toilets and clean water.
"We are tired of his (Nyanhongo) promises," said a resident of Hopley,
who was resettled at the farm following the demolition of his home at Porta
Farm near Norton. "He comes here every week but nothing has improved. We are
not kids. We know what he wants. We want to vote for a person who will
improve our lives."
Nyanhongo could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was not
In another act of desperation, Zanu PF has included an alleged rapist,
Destiny of Africa Network (DAN) founder, Reverend Obadiah Musindo, in its
Musindo, who has publicly urged his followers to vote for President
Robert Mugabe, is luring voters by promising them residential stands after
Musindo has appeared on national television several times, urging
people to vote for Mugabe.
The controversial clergyman still faces five counts of rape of his
MDC (Tsvangirai) director of elections, Dennis Murira, said people
should not be fooled again by Zanu PF. He said promises for the provision of
housing stands by Zanu PF were "vote-buying gimmick" that would not work.
"People lost a lot of money when their houses were destroyed. This
time they should know better the animal they are dealing with," he said.
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:58
TRISH Mazambara was three months old when she made international
headlines in 2004 when she and her mother spent four days in a bug-infested
police cell after being arrested in a protest staged by Women of Zimbabwe
Her mother, Enia, and other WOZA activists had taken part in a 439km
protest walk from Harare to Bulawayo against the Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGO) Bill.
Trish and her mother slept in a cell infested with lice, mosquitoes
and other bugs. There were no proper ablution facilities.
She spent the four days with one nappy and developed a rash lasting
three months after her release.
Even after well-wishers brought disposal nappies for her, the police
refused to give them to her mother.
"I went to court with Trish in a soiled brown nappy after police held
on to the donated diapers," said Enia last week. "Up to now, I cannot
understand why police were that cruel to my child. From my experiences as a
human rights defender, these people have hearts as cold as the devil
Trish is now three years old and might still not be mature enough to
understand what happened to her.
Enia remembers: "I was beaten up during an arrest once at the Town
House. The pain was so unbearable that I took off all my clothes. That way
the male police officers found it difficult to continue beating me up and
left me but I was arrested anyway and spent days in the cells."
On Wednesday last week Trish and her mother were among WOZA and Men of
Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) and other human rights defenders who turned up for the
launch of its report on violence.
Since its formation WOZA has conducted more than 100 peaceful
demonstrations against the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
The report entitled, The Effects of Fighting Oppression with Love
documents the violence WOZA members have endured since 2003.
The research also examines women's tribulations during the liberation
struggle and Gukurahundi.
The oldest woman interviewed was 91 years old, while the youngest was
16 years. At least 2 200 women from Bulawayo, Harare, Insiza, Chitungwiza,
Harare, Mutare and Masvingo were interviewed.
According to the report, at least
1 206 - 61% - have been arrested at least once.
During the arrests the report says anti-riot police beat up and fired
tear gas canisters at WOZA members to disperse them.
While in police custody, the women were subjected to "extremely bad
conditions" and were often denied food, medical treatment and legal
The report notes that in spite of clear regulations requiring people
in police custody to be given food and medical attention, the women actually
had to negotiate for food and other necessities.
Other violations documented in the report include assault, death
threats, being forced to attend political meetings, humiliating and
degrading treatment, insults by police officers, unlawful detention and
forced removal of underwear.
A total of 280 women reported forced removal of underwear in addition
to other forms of violence.
On underwear removal WOZA said: "This seems to be a particular fetish
of some police officers. It is, of course, a form of humiliating and
degrading treatment but is particularly poignant and some cases could verge
on being mental torture considering its implied threat of sexual assault."
Of the 2 200 women interviewed, 793 reported having been assaulted by
police, 911 said they had been threatened with death,
1 297 were forced to attend political gatherings while
1 214 said they had been subjected to humiliating and degrading
On assault some women said they had been beaten with batons, booted
feet, butt of a gun, slapped with open palms, planks, sjamboks, belts and
Speaking at the launch WOZA director Jenni Williams said the
documentation was important for transitional justice.
"When change comes to Zimbabwe, shall we forget the pain all these
women have gone through? I don't think so myself. This is the documentation
of events that we will need one day for the perpetrators of such violence to
be held accountable.
"And maybe one day when Trish is old enough to understand all this,
her mother and other human rights defenders will get justice."
By Bertha Shoko
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:56
THE baking industry is heading for disaster, as sky-rocketing input
costs and an unviable pricing system take their toll amid revelations that a
crackdown on bakers is on its way.
Industry players told Standardbusiness flour and fuel were not
readily available and the sector was buying flour at more than the regulated
$1.2 billion a tonne set by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission
Flour and fuel account for 18% and 26% respectively.of the input costs
"The gazetted price of flour is $1.2 billion a tonne, but because the
commodity is not available we buy it at between $3.5 billion and $6
billion," said an industry player last week.
"Unless something is done urgently bread will disappear from the
market as bakers are failing to buy flour because the wheat silos have run
Standardbusiness was told the biggest bakers, Lobels and Bakers Inn -
had very little stocks of flour.
Bread is a basic commodity and the baking industry is doubly
regulated. While bakers can seek a price review from the NIPC, the Cabinet
can either accept or reject the review. But the industry's inputs are only
regulated by NIPC.
The last price review of bread was $6.6 million for a standard loaf,
which the industry says is no longer viable.
Figures obtained by Standardbusiness show that bakers spend $15
million a loaf in costs and to break even, they would need a price of at
least $18 million for a standard loaf.
There were indications the "authorities" were pleading with the NBA to
release the names of "errant" millers, a source said last week.
In their application for a price review, bakers have been told to
attach invoices, according to people familiar with developments in the
National Bakers' Association of Zimbabwe chairman, Vincent Mangoma,
confirmed that bakers were facing problems but said the industry was in
talks with relevant authorities "to resolve the problems".
Industry players said last week that fuel was not readily available,
forcing the industry to source it on the black market.
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has failed to supply subsidized
fuel to the industry.
The baking industry needs at least 80 000 litres of diesel or paraffin
Observers fear there could be a crackdown on bakers and millers this
week as Zanu PF drums up support ahead of Saturday's elections.
Fears of a crackdown heightened on Wednesday when President Robert
Mugabe reportedly told a rally in Kadoma that unilateral price hikes by
companies, particularly bakeries, were part of detractors' quest for regime
Two weeks ago, police arrested National Foods and Blue Ribbon
executives Jeremy Brooke and Mike Manga respectively for selling flour above
the gazetted price.
The two executives are out on bail.
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:49
BULAWAYO - The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is still to pay farmers in
some parts of the country for winter wheat delivered in October last year,
one of the farmers said last week.
The delay could throw the farmers' forthcoming winter cropping
programmes into disarray.
There is despondency among the farmers, particularly those relying on
irrigation schemes. Some are said to have vowed not to supply the parastatal
with wheat anymore.
This could aggravate the problems of bakeries already struggling to
improve bread supplies.
A wheat farmer, Sweet Sweet, who produced the best crop in
Matabeleland North province last year, said he had been waiting for payment
since October last year after delivering 60 tonnes to the GMB.
He said he expected $2.6 billion for his produce.
"I delivered my wheat at the GMB depot in Bulawayo and the officers
there assured me the money would be deposited into my account after three
days," Sweet said.
"After three days, there was nothing and when I asked them about the
delays, they said there was a problem with the RTGS (Real Time Gross
"In November, they said the problem was with my bank and the stories
have been changing every day.
"I could have sold the wheat to private buyers, who were paying more,
but as new farmers we wanted to show our patriotism, but this is what we get
The delays have affected a number of wheat farmers in Nyamandlovu, on
the outskirts of Bulawayo, most of whom said they were facing financial
The Standard learnt that communal farmers at a number of irrigation
schemes in Matabeleland South face the same predicament.
"I was expecting $2.5 billion, enough to pay workers and prepare for
the new season," said a plot holder at Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme in
"The GMB has been telling us to come and collect fertiliser for the
winter wheat season but how do we plant when we haven't been paid for last
The GMB finance director, a Mr Chivasa, refused to comment, demanding
questions in writing. But at the time of going to press, he had not
responded to questions faxed to his office.
There has been a steady decline in agricultural production due to lack
of inputs and the government's failure to pay farmers market-related prices
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:29
YEARS ago, after the people of Malawi freed themselves from the
political dungeon into which they had allowed Kamuzu Banda to confine them
for 30 years, a seminar on media election coverage was held in Blantyre.
The most radical view: to maintain objectivity, journalists should not
"If you vote, you can't be objective as a reporter, are you?" was the
In Africa, there are many frightening misinterpretations of democracy:
a journalist is a political animal, like the party's cell chairman.
Such journalists believe serving readers honestly, faithfully can
translate into serving the ruling party and the government, faithfully too.
I keep making this comparison, perhaps unfairly, with the Convention
People's Party of Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana. After 1957, every emerging African
party wanted to be a CPP clone.
Every African leader so admired Nkrumah they too wanted to be clones
of The Osagyefo. Kamuzu and Robert Mugabe lived in Nkrumah's Ghana and both
created political systems in which their party was their version of the CPP.
But Malawi later abandoned all attempts to ape Ghana and to this day -
except for the occasional hiccup - is unrecognisable from the country once
ruled by Kamuzu.
Kamuzu even aped Nkrumah by having all loyalists call him The Ngwazi,
Chewa for Osagyefo, I suppose. For Mugabe, the totem, Gushungo, is a modest
The media in Malawi is freer today than that in Zimbabwe. There is no
equivalent of AIPPA, although people see President Bingu wa Mutharika's
admiration of Mugabe as dangerous.
There have recently been media upheavals, but they haven't closed four
newspapers in a row, as Mugabe did with The Daily News, The Daily News on
Sunday, The Weekly Times and The Tribune after 2003.
Mozambique, steeped in Marxism-Leninism until Joaquim Chissano
unshackled Frelimo from that ideology, has a relatively free media, although
I can't get over the murder of the investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso,
with whom I had a warm acquaintance in 1983.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, a year after it had
been launched, The Daily News was accused of aiding the MDC into winning 57
of the 120 seats up for grabs.
There are others today who vehemently dispute this analysis. To them,
this was coincidence. The paper had a fortuitous birth, when agitation
against the hegemony of Zanu PF and Mugabe's benevolent despotism had
finally choked the people into loud protest.
But anyone who worked for the paper cannot be unaware that what drove
them most was the excitement of "all the news that's fit to print" and
"telling it like it is", both hardly original slogans.
People did respond to the gutsy, irreverent thrust of the paper. Not
since Elias Rusike's ill-fated paper, The Daily Gazette had challenged the
monopoly of the government mouthpiece, The Herald, had readers seen anything
quite so breathlessly brash, so iconoclastic.
Today, The Herald rules the daily roost and is owned by the
government, the party and every functionary in Shake Shake building. From
Monday to Wednesday and Saturday, these election days, people can read only
about Zanu PF's election campaign. Only on Thursday, Friday and Sunday can
they read any other party's campaign news.
The government media, including TV and radio, do feature news of the
other parties, but it's so scant, stilted many people think it's worse than
tokenism. There are no independent TV and radio stations broadcasting from
Zimbabwe - thanks to Jonathan Moyo or George Charamba, or both.
On TV and radio, the opposition parties are allowed some time, but it's
There is no substitute for a free media to guarantee a free and fair
election. In Zimbabwe, that is whistling in the wind, not with AIPPA still
All independent media is Western-controlled, alleges the government,
without even the elementary effort to substantiate the scurrilous
What the independent media did in 2000 was to debunk the government's
propaganda on how all its failures were a result of the West's machinations,
over the land grab.
What the voters learnt -some for the first time - was that they owed
most of their tribulations to the very same party which boasted it had
Most discovered that, although they themselves were materially in
tatters, the so-called heroes of the struggle had everything in obscene
abundance, including Saville Row suits and 12 cylinder cars.
So, they decided it was payback time. They might do it again on 29
March, if they keep remembering the seven years of hunger, darkness, thirst
and the needless deaths of sick children in government hospitals.
As in 2000, it's not entirely the West's fault that they are in this
hole of deprivation. Most of it is the fault of the same people campaigning,
so shamelessly, for their vote on 29 March.
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:27
FEARS that soccer matches could become a platform for rallying voters
against a government that is running scared, are behind the sudden decision
by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to scrap all matches across the
country until after the elections.
The first round of the fixtures was played last weekend, but less than
a week later all games have been suspended because intelligence services
have advised the government it is fast running out of support going into
There has never been a cogent reason why domestic matches should be
postponed when the same concerns do not apply to today's international match
between Dynamos and Mozambique's Costa do Sol.
Government's action demonstrates the extent to which the regime will
go in order to deprive Zimbabweans of a few moments of relief from the
misery and suffering it has brought upon this nation.
But scrapping the matches is also indicative of the confusion
afflicting the regime in its dying moments. Since 2000, the government has
used soccer in order to "intoxicate the masses" into forgetting their
everyday hardships. But this time with nothing to show voters why it
deserves a further term in office, the government has decided it will give
buses, ostensibly for public transport.
It is likely that the handful of buses imported ahead of the elections
are the same ones being paraded in the country's various provinces as the
government's panacea to transport problems.
What is striking about the government's largesse is that it is going
to be fulfilled after the elections, just as teachers' salaries, maize
imports from neighbouring countries and housing stands for urban dwellers
will be delivered after the polls.
It is quite clear what the government is up to. It seeks to make
promises it has no intention of fulfilling after 29 March.
It is inconceivable that anyone in their right mind and living through
the nightmare that this country has been reduced to - a deteriorating
infrastructure, shortages of electricity, power, fuel, water and basic
commodities, coupled with volatile prices - could rightly wish to prolong
their suffering by keeping the government in power.
The government had not reckoned on an unusually wet season that has
led to widespread crop failure, rendering its "mother of all agricultural
seasons" a cruel irony. Therefore, in its desperation, it is promising
voters heaven on earth if they vote it back into power.
Given the government's record, it is difficult to see how anyone can
risk another term under a Zanu PF government.
For the opposition, this will be the easiest election it has ever had
to fight. Every voter experiences the effects of the government's
unprecedented misrule, daily.
The argument about Western sanctions is wearing very thin, largely
because the government has declared a "Look East" policy, which has failed
dismally to explain why sanctions should have such an impact when the focus
of our business has shifted to the East.
In a way if the so-called sanctions are having such an impact, it can
only mean the "Look East" policy has been an unmitigated disaster. Rhodesia
survived sanctions with the support of a handful of countries supporting it.
Zimbabwe has the whole of Africa, the Far East, Asia, the former Eastern
Europe and the rest of Latin America on its list of friends yet it is on its
On Saturday, Zimbabweans go to the polls to decide the course they
want this country to take. There is no doubt that it is their wish to
finally attain a more just, equal, free, caring and prosperous nation.
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:22
THE postal voting system as it is currently is available to government
officials who are outside their voting districts on Election Day and their
This applies to those outside the country and those members of the
uniformed forces who will be outside their voting areas on official
government business but not necessarily outside the country.
The police and armed forces have currently been using this facility
and concerns have been raised as to the credibility and transparency of the
voting process where this facility has been used by the said government
Investigations have yielded that despite its extensive use among the
said professionals, this internal postal voting exercise has not been
supervised by party agents, contestants or their proxies. Neither has the
voting exercise been subjected to observation by both local and
Furthermore, the secrecy of the vote of the postal facility user is
allegedly compromised in the uniformed forces as superiors are often tasked
to supervise the voting process that involves their subordinates.
Concerns have also been raised on the security of the ballots cast as
this voting process is often conducted a month before the official polling
day and no political party representative or candidates' agents take part in
guarding the ballot boxes. Consequently, it is difficult for political
parties to ascertain the number of ballots cast by members of the uniformed
forces neither is it possible for candidates to verify either the
authenticity of the ballots nor the transparency of the voting system.
The date on which the postal voting begins and ends should be made
public and the voting procedures clearly outlined to all would-be users. All
the votes should be counted at the centre where they are received and these
should be made public for purposes of accountability when the ballots are
eventually mixed with those from the normal polling process.
So while people argue for the extension of the postal voting facility
to every interested citizen within or without the country, it is equally
important to subject the current postal voting facility to scrutiny and
where possible, if there is no guarantee to its universality and
transparency, argue for its total eradication until mechanisms are put in
It should however, be noted that, where the postal voting facility is
employed with the genuine desire for universal participation in elections,
it has enabled people who would not be resident in their voting areas on
election day to exercise their inalienable right to vote. It has also
ensured that those who are resident in the country but for reasons such as
illness, infirmity, pregnancy or call of duty, are not able to access voting
facilities at their nearest polling station, participate in the election
through the post. In some countries, the postal facility is available to all
citizens who, by whatever reason, might be more than eight kilometres away
from their nearest voting station on Election Day.It is therefore, ZESN's
genuine concern and utmost conviction that the use of the postal voting
facility can go a long way in ensuring universal suffrage, which is a
democratic tenet, but due to the complexities and proneness to abuse that
the facility can open up to, there is need for caution in its application
until such a time measures are in place to ensure its transparency and
credibility. There is need for openness in terms of the numbers involved and
how they are distributed beforehand.
There is an urgent need for the participation of political parties,
international and local observers where voting through the system is taking
place and the security for ballots cast postally should always be available.
Article produced by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).
Comments are welcome at
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:17
THE President has only recently assented to the Indigenous and
Economic Empowerment Bill.
He overlooked section 51 of the Constitution under which he had only
21 days to assent to the Bill. When he failed to adhere to this time limit,
the Bill lapsed.
The section says that when a Bill is presented to the President for
assent, he shall, subject to the provisions of this section, within 21 days,
either assent or withhold his assent. The section also says when the
President withholds his assent, the Bill shall be returned to Parliament
and, subject to the provisions of subsection (3b), it shall not again be
presented for assent.
Zvimba folk say neglected
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:16
WE thought, as residents of Zvimba, we would enjoy the benefits of
coming from the same home area as the Head of State. In fact, this is
costing us a considerable lot.
The President does not like donors bringing food aid to the
communities in the area. But what is worse is that he is doing nothing about
his people who are starving. He just folds his arms and watches while people
starve yet in areas where the opposition presence is strong, a lot of
development projects have been implemented. Chiundura is an example. The
villagers each receive cooking oil, beans, maize-meal and porridge for their
children up to those going to primary school.
Zvimba is a Zanu PF stronghold but the party has done absolutely
nothing for the people there, not even a scheme for school leavers to secure
29 March poll: Matabeleland could cast the deciding vote
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:13
FOR the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, the people of
Matabeleland are likely to decide who goes to State House.
All three Presidential candidates, Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni and
Morgan Tsvangirai, have very strong credentials, which makes it highly
unlikely that any of them will get the required 51% of the 29 March vote to
This means any candidate who gets more than the 33.3% threshold will
definitely qualify for the second round of voting. Matabeleland has three of
the country's 10 provinces (30% of the voting provinces). A candidate who
wins in 30% of the provinces, by whatever margin, is also likely to achieve
the 33.3% threshold, unless he fails dismally in all the other provinces;
which is an unlikely scenario. This in turn implies that whoever wins
Matabeleland will most likely proceed to the second round of voting.
Historically the people of Matabeleland have always voted and followed
one leader at a time. They were united under Joshua Nkomo and followed him
through thick and thin.
When they decided to vote for the MDC in 2000 and 2002, they all spoke
with one voice. When people are deprived because of tribe or ethnicity, they
tend to find solidarity. It seems that this unity was shaped by the
Gukurahundi atrocities which left the people feeling disenfranchised,
persecuted, harassed and struggling to find a voice.
Gukurahundi stirred the pot of identity politics in Matabeleland, and
created a form of solidarity which will survive any changes in the political
landscape, until the imbalances it created have been fully addressed. It
made tribal boundaries real in our society and almost every sphere of
leadership is now linked to tribe in one way or another. The two
Matabeleland provinces will therefore come as a package to one leader; they
cannot be split.
The politicians have realised this and they have all put Matabeleland
at the heart of their presidential campaigns. This is why Morgan Tsvangirai
has promised compensation for Gukurahundi victims as bait for the Matabele
vote. He even went to the extent of hiring 40 buses to ferry people to White
City Stadium all day for his rally, to portray a picture of popularity and
This strategy actually works because it gives him a psychological
advantage over his rivals. Everyone who did not see the free beer and free
buses now believes that Morgan is the most popular leader in Matabeleland.
His biggest let down though, is the lack of a local hero in his ranks.
Thokozani Khupe and Lovemore Moyo hardly define what it really means to be a
"real" Matabele leader and whether they will deliver the vote, remains to be
On the other hand Simba Makoni decided to rope in a local hero, Dumiso
Dabengwa, in order to win the heart and soul of this region. Dabengwa spent
five years in prison, fighting for his people. Even in 2000, when they voted
for the MDC, they openly told him: "We love you, Dumiso, but we do not like
the (Robert) Mugabe jacket that you are wearing".
Now he has come back to say: "I have removed that jacket." It remains
to be seen whether the people of Matabeleland will go back to the leader who
originally stood for their identity. In accepting Dabengwa, Makoni has also
accepted the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), which stands at the
heart of Matabeleland development. In addition to Dabengwa, Makoni has also
roped in Dr Themba Dlodlo, treasurer of the Matabeleland/Midlands
Gukurahundi Victims' Development Association (MGVDA). This man and his
network of chiefs and headmen have done a lot of work to identify victims
and source compensation.
Mugabe already knows that Matabeleland is a lost battle. He will
concentrate on the rural areas of Mashonaland where he is busy sharpening
his mechanisms to steal the vote.
Manicaland, where both Makoni and Tsvangirai come from, is shaping up
to be another interesting battle. The Buhera area obviously belongs to
Tsvangirai. Mutare urban is likely to follow suit, albeit with a split
However the people of Chipinge, like the people of Matabeleland, have
always believed in one leader. Their current leader, Wilson Khumbula, has
endorsed Makoni. This is likely to deliver the Chipinge vote to him. In the
Chief Makoni area, which covers five constituencies, they are all shouting
"Nyati imhenyu" together with the Mutasa and Nyanga people.
Whoever wins Matabeleland can add Manicaland to that collection to
pass the 33.3% mark.
Mugabe should step down for Makoni
Saturday, 22 March 2008 18:12
I am puzzled by the increased traffic of letters to the Editor in the
various private media calling on Morgan Tsvangirai to step aside for Simba
Makoni. The calls suggest confusion and political immaturity.
How can the MDC presidential candidate step aside in order to solve an
internal Zanu PF feud?
Both Makoni and Robert Mugabe are Zanu PF political heavyweights.
Their bone of contention is over whether or not the party's constitution was
properly followed at the 2006 Goromonzi congress and at the 2007 Harare
extra-ordinary congress. Mugabe, Jabulani Sibanda, Emmerson Mnangagwa and
Joseph Chinotimba argue that the extra-ordinary congress' function was to
endorse the candidature of Mugabe.
But Makoni, Solomon Mujuru, Vitalis Zvinavashe Joseph Msika and John
Nkomo thought it was for electing the party leadership. Where does
Tsvangirai fit in this Zanu PF internal feud?
Zanu PF has taken its succession battle to the streets and its
supporters will rightly decide between Makoni and Mugabe. If Mugabe is
correct that he was elected as the party's presidential candidate, they will
vote for him. If Makoni is also correct as Dumiso Dabengwa suggests that
Mugabe fraudulently imposed himself at the extraordinary congress and the
party ended up with the wrong candidate, then Makoni will win the Zanu PF
vote. This has nothing to do with the MDC presidential candidate.
All Zanu PF supporters should be directing their appeals to Mugabe to
step aside for Makoni since they are both Zanu PF candidates.
by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 24 March 2008
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean churches hold a mass prayer meeting today to seek
divine intervention to ensure peace during and after next Saturday's
presidential and general elections.
Analysts have warned the March 29 polls could degenerate into Kenya-style
violence, with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) last week
urging the African Union (AU) to have contingency plans ready to intervene
should a rigged poll spark off violence in Zimbabwe.
The leaders of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) and the Catholics Bishops Conference (CBC) said
in addition to peace, they would also pray that elections deliver a"leadership
that will not put people into bondage and suffering as is happening now."
The three organisations are the main representative bodies for Christians in
Zimbabwe. The prayer meeting is scheduled for the Zimbabwe International
Trade Fair grounds in the second largest city of Bulawayo.
"The three-fold prayer meeting is focused on the elections. We want to
dedicate this country in the hands of God and prevent a repeat of the Kenyan
situation," said Bishop Trust Sinjoji, who is co-ordinating the prayer
At least 1 500 people died and tens of thousands were displaced when
post-election violence erupted in Kenya after allegations of vote rigging.
Sinjoji said: "We are praying for an election of a leadership that will not
be selfish and will not put people into bondage and suffering as is
"We will also pray for peace to prevail during and after the elections and
for the wishes of the people to prevail in the voting process. We will also
pray for national reconstruction as there is so much that is dilapidated on
Zimbabwe's elections come as the country grapples with its worst ever
economic recession blamed on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe and
marked by the world's highest inflation of more than 100 000 percent, rising
poverty, shortages of food and every basic survival commodity.
The ICG - an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation working
to prevent and resolve deadly conflict across the globe - said while Mugabe
was under mounting pressure from the opposition, he still retained the means
to rig elections which could spark off a violent reaction by a populace
desperate for change.
It urged the AU and the rest of the international community to stand ready
to intervene in Zimbabwe should polls lead to violent conflict.
Mugabe -- who has promised a thunderous victory against the opposition
despite some opinion polls showing him lagging way behind main challenger
Morgan Tsvangirai -- has rejected charges he plans to rig the ballot.
The veteran leader, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain
and seeking another five-year term, has told the opposition to accept the
election result, warning that security forces were ready to crush any
Kenya-style post-election upheaval. - ZimOnline
by Simplicious Chirinda Monday 24 March 2008
HARARE - A regional Tribunal has agreed to postpone a case in which a
white Zimbabwean farmer is contesting the seizure of his land until after
the country's March 29 elections.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal, which last
December temporarily barred Harare from seizing the farmer's property, had
set down the matter for hearing on March 26, just three days before Zimbabwe's
presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
Tribunal Registrar Charles Mkandawire said the Namibia-based court
would give President Robert Mugabe's government time to organise elections
before setting a new date for the hearing of the matter.
"The government of Zimbabwe wrote to us indicating that they had many
logistical problems on the ground which might prevent it from arguing the
case. They cited many things among them the coming elections," said
Mkandawire, a Judge of the Malawi High Court.
"We will give the party time to sort out these as they have argued
that because of what is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe they won't be
able to bring to court their crucial witnesses as they will be busy at the
time," he said.
The farmer, Michael Campbell, wants the SADC court to find Harare in
breach of its obligations as a member of the regional bloc after it signed
into law Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No.17 two years ago.
The amendment allows the government to seize white farmland - without
compensation - for redistribution to landless blacks and bars courts from
hearing appeals from dispossessed white farmers.
The white farmer has also asked the Tribunal to declare Zimbabwe's
land reforms racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty, adding that Article 6
of the Treaty bars member states from discriminating against any person on
the grounds of gender, religion, race, ethnic origin and culture.
A ruling declaring land reform illegal would have far reaching
consequences for Mugabe's government, opening the floodgates to hundreds of
claims of damages by dispossessed white farmers.
Such a ruling could also set the Harare government on a collision
course with its SADC allies particularly if it - as it has always done with
court rulings against its land reforms - refuses to abide by an unfavourable
Farm seizures are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into severe food
shortages after the government displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
black farmers. - ZimOnline
by Herbert Nyamakope Monday 24 March 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The integrity of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) as a body that seeks to 'ensure economic well-being, improvement of
standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice and
peace and security of the peoples of southern Africa' is to go through a
strong test in the coming Zimbabwe election.
Failed leadership or failed institutions in most cases are a result of lack
of integrity. Integrity is a quality that is paramount in successful
leadership whether of a family, a company, a nation and more still a
community of states.
It speaks of honesty, truthfulness, justice, consistency in judgment,
following through what you set to do and dependable.
Whether these qualities are present in SADC as a body or in the current
chairman Levy Mwanawasa or the executive secretary Tomaz Salomao or the head
of the Observer Mission, Jose Marcos Barrica will be judged by how they
follow through what they set out to do.
A few years back, the SADC published the 'SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections'.
According to this document, which is available at
www.sadc.int/key_documents/guidelines/elections.php, the aim is to 'enhance
the transparency and credibility of elections' and to 'ensure the acceptance
of results by all contesting parties'.
They said in order for member states to conduct democratic elections they
must adhere to these principles.
. Full participation of the citizens in the political process
. Freedom of association . Political tolerance
. Regular intervals for elections
. Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media
. Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
. Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral
. Voter education
. Acceptance and respect of election results by political parties.
These points are talking about good practice that enhances democracy.
SADC was quick, however, to establish an Electoral Observation Mission which
shall be involved during the elections themselves to observe the elections
in member states.
In observing elections, whether they be free and fair, and whether the
results are to be accepted as legitimate, this Observation Mission looks for
the following 10 conditions.
If any of these conditions is not fulfilled, then the election cannot be
said to be free and fair and the results legitimate.
. There must be constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of
. There must be a conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful
. There must be non-discrimination in the voters' registration
. There must be existence of updated and accessible voters roll
. There must be a timeous announcement of the election date
. Funding of political parties must be transparent
. Polling stations must be in neutral places
. Counting of votes must be done at polling stations
. There must be a mechanism for assisting the planning and deployment of
. The SADC Observor Mission must be deployed at least two weeks before the
voting day. This is what the Observor Mission is coming to Zimbabwe to do,
to observe whether these conditions are met. Simple.
If not, then the election cannot be called free and fair and the results
cannot be legitimate. Remember what I said about integrity.
When the Observer Mission passes its judgment, it is not only passing
judgment on the election itself, but more importantly it is actually passing
judgement on the integrity of the SADC leadership.
The whole world will be waiting to hear and see what this Mission will say.
Remember that everyone else has been banned to go and observe the election
in Zimbabwe. Why?
Well maybe everyone else is insane, only the SADC mission is sane.
So SADC Mission, there you are, we are all waiting to see your sanity and
that of your leadership.
* Herbert Nyamakope is a Zimbabwean writer based in Dublin