By Kholwani Nyathi and Vusumuzi
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Friday said he was shocked at Dumiso
Dabengwa's decision to back Simba Makoni's presidential ambitions, as
reports surfaced that the ex-Zipra intelligence chief had turned down an
offer to be Zanu PF vice-president.
Under an unwritten covenant of the Unity Accord signed in 1987 between
Mugabe and the late PF-Zapu leader, Joshua Nkomo, Zanu PF and the State
would have two vice-presidents from the former parties.
Joseph Msika holds the post on behalf of PF-Zapu, having succeeded
Nkomo. He is due to retire after the 29 March elections.
Reports say Dabengwa turned down the offer on the grounds that it had
come too late.
Although Dabengwa remained a Zanu PF politburo member after the 2000
parliamentary elections, in which he lost his Nkulumane seat to the MDC's
Gibson Sibanda, he was not in the Cabinet, his last portfolio there being
Last week, Mugabe reportedly vented his emotions on Dabengwa's
defection at a private briefing of government and Zanu PF officials in
He said he had been particularly incensed by Dabengwa's decision to
back Makoni, "a little man".
"Why should Cde Dabengwa have gone that divergent way?" he asked. "I
can't understand what the real motivation is. What makes me feel rather
upset is that Makoni was never in the limelight. Dumiso came from the
grassroots. I can't understand why, he chose to follow a little man like
Yet Mugabe avoided attacking Dabengwa at rallies in Plumtree and
Esibomvu Business Centre in Esigodini.
A host of former Zipra commanders have publicly backed Dabengwa's
The Standard was told that a few days before Dabengwa went public with
his backing of Makoni, Mugabe tried to dissuade him, promising him the
Dabengwa was said to be away on business in South Africa until
Sources said Mugabe tried again during a surprise overnight stop in
Bulawayo on his way to Beitbridge for his birthday bash, but was again
"No one knew about the president's visit until the last minute and we
had to run around to get people to welcome him at the airport," said a Zanu
PF official in Bulawayo.
"The word was that he had come to find out why people in the province
were switching to Makoni's camp, but we understand he couldn't meet with
Dabengwa because he was out of town."
The rift between Mugabe and Dabengwa first surfaced late last year
when Mugabe appeared to have re-admitted suspended war veterans' leader,
Former PF Zapu heavyweights were furious at the move.
A day after Sibanda's "Million Man March" in Harare, Dabengwa said he
was "not sure what whoever is using Sibanda is up to when party rules and
regulations are very clear".
Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo, has been linked to Makoni's
presidential bid. At the launch of Zanu PF's manifesto, Nkomo avoided an
outright attack on Makoni. Even when Oppah Muchinguri and Joseph Chinotimba
tried to incite Nkomo to say "Pasi naMakoni (Down with Makoni)", he ignored
them and simply said: "Pasi nekuruza ma elections" (losing elections is not
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE AND SANDRA
THE unrelenting power outages across the country last week took their
toll on households in Harare's Kambuzuma suburb, damaging domestic
appliances worth billions of dollars.
More than 30 households lost electrical appliances, including
television sets, decoders, radios, stoves and refrigerators after a sudden
surge in voltage.
The residents said most of the appliances exploded suddenly, producing
smoke before packing up completely.
One resident, Munashe Mugoni, said he was watching television with his
family around 8PM when the incident happened.
"A bulb in the lounge exploded suddenly," said Mugoni, "followed by
another one in a bedroom. After a few seconds, the TV blew up, producing
smoke from the rear."
Marvelous Sibanda was another resident whose household was hit by the
spate of exploding appliances. She said she could not afford to replace her
TV set and refrigerator.
"For all these years, I have been working for these appliances, only
to lose them in a minute," said Sibanda, a cross-border trader.
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) electricians who later
came to inspect a local sub-station told residents the mishap was caused by
an electrical fault precipitated by the theft of underground cables.
But the residents were not entirely satisfied with that explanation
after making a report on the exploding appliances.
For three days, Zesa officials said they did not have 10 litres of
diesel to drive to Kambuzuma - less than seven kilometres away - to attend
to the problem. The residents were told to buy the fuel and give it to Zesa
for the trip to their suburb.
A number of residents said they found this unusual, as Zesa, a
cash-strapped parastatal, had spent several billions of dollars last month
splashing advertisements in the government media to congratulate President
Robert Mugabe on his 84th birthday.
Only last month, Zesa chief executive officer, Ben Rafemoyo, advised
residents not to pay or give Zesa workers fuel as this amounted to
The Kambuzuma incident is one of a number of cases in which residents
have lost property worth trillions of dollars because of the current
electricity crisis, sparked by the economic meltdown which began in 2000
after the land invasions.
A number of suburbs have gone for more than two months without
electricity in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Zvishavane. The residents have
resorted to firewood for cooking and candles for lighting, which some
described as "a return to the villages".
Most now have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy firewood which,
at $10 million a bundle and a candle for $4 million, are wreaking havoc on
their depleted budgets.
But Givemore Gumbo of Glen View in Harare will live to regret ever
lighting a candle again when there is a power cut.
Last week, he forgot to blow it out, resulting in all his belongings
going up in smoke.
"My furniture, which included a wardrobe, a bed, television set,
stove, blankets and clothes were all destroyed. Luckily I escaped from the
fire unscathed and began to shout for help from neighbours," said a tearful
The fire was put out by neighbours who doused the house with buckets
of water, which, while often scarce, was available on that day.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira last week said the power utility's
fuel storage tanks were empty. He said residents were well advised to
provide fuel for Zesa vehicles if they want their problem to be attended
"We don't encourage people to pay money to Zesa workers but they could
provide fuel... so that the fault can be swiftly attended to," he said.
Some of the residents are planning to hire lawyers to ensure that Zesa
compensates them for all the appliances they have lost in the power
Zimbabwe Lawyers' for Human Rights (ZLHR) litigation officer Tafadzwa
Mugabe said ideally residents can sue Zesa but because they signed "an
exemption clause" on their application for power this would present
"In terms of the law," said Mugabe, "it presents serious challenges
because most residents signed a form which includes an exemption clause
which forbids them from suing Zesa unless there are very special
circumstances. You have to prove that Zesa was at fault."
Residents said although Zesa technicians had later assured them the
problem which had led to the explosion of the appliances had been resolved,
they could not risk connecting their appliances again.
Gwasira said Zesa had built-in safety components to protect its
network and the consumers.
But he said if the components are tampered with it could lead to
damage of household goods.
"Zesa does not compensate where damages result from a
vandalism-induced problem because our system has built-in safety components
that protect our system and the property of our consumers," he said.
Smaller thermal power stations at Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo have
not been working at full throttle for over three years now.
If a legal challenge against Zesa for compensation failed, it would
take Marvellous Sibanda another three or four years of illegally crossing
into South Africa to sell her wares to raise enough money to buy another TV
set and a fridge.
By Nqobani Ndlovu and Leslie Nunu
BULAWAYO - The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC yesterday drew a huge crowd
at a star rally addressed by its leader at White City Stadium in a major
show of support in Matabeleland.
The region is considered a stronghold of the Arthur Mutambara
formation of the MDC.
Last week's defection of senior Zanu PF members, among them former
Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, appeared to tilt the scales in favour
of the independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni.
The pro-Senate MDC has endorsed Makoni and observers predict its
support could be decisive in the presidential race.
Makoni launched his presidential campaign at the same venue last
Saturday and attracted a crowd of about 6 000, which almost equalled the
number at the launch of the pro-Senate MDC campaign the following day.
About 12 000 people attended Tsvangirai's rally. Most of them were
bussed in from the city's high-density suburbs and tertiary institutions
after the faction reportedly hired more than 40 commuter omnibuses.
Tsvangirai promised his audience he would set up a Gukurahundi
compensation fund and "end the policy" of marginalizing the region.
"An MDC government will not allow a situation where this region will
be treated as if it is not part of the country.
"We must stop this policy of marginalization."
Meanwhile, shops in the city's central business district were forced
to shut down yesterday morning after anti-riot police fired teargas to
disperse marchers commemorating International Women's Day. Shoppers were
forced to scurry for cover at a supermarket and a bank.
The police beat up members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise and Men of
Zimbabwe Arise as they marched past the police district offices, before
firing teargas into the streets. Several people were taken to hospital with
Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the
demonstration when contacted for comment but said local police knew how to
"deal with such situations".
BY GODFREY MUTIMBA
MASVINGO - After braving the scorching heat to attend a rally
addressed by President Robert Mugabe last week, hungry villagers in Gutu
said later they were disgruntled because he did not deal with what they
called the "pressing issues" affecting their lives.
The villagers alleged most of them had been forced by their
traditional leaders and Zanu PF officials to attend the rally at a secondary
school, more than 20 km away.
In interviews with The Standard they said they were disappointed that
Mugabe had failed to raise their hopes to end their suffering.
"Is that what we came here for?" asked an elderly woman. "Travelling
on foot and sacrificing our chores, only to be told what we already know?
Who does not know about the liberation struggle? We wanted to hear how he
would end our suffering, if he retains power."
Mbuya Ruramai Mudzamiri said: "When we came here, we expected to hear
something that would give us hope that the horrible life we are leading
today would end soon. We can no longer afford to buy enough food as prices
are rising every day and yet he comes here and tells us Zimbabwe ndeyeropa
(the country was won after a bloody struggle) as if we eat ropa (blood)."
The villagers had waited for more than eight hours, braving the
scorching heat as Mugabe arrived late from another rally in Zaka.
At the Gutu rally, at Maungwa secondary school, hungry school children
made up most of Mugabe's audience after every school in the surrounding
areas was forced to close.
All business at Maungwa centre stopped as all shops were told to close
for the duration of the rally.
Meanwhile, speculation on the fate of Zanu PF rebels, particularly
politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire, ended after he attended Mugabe's rally
following his forced withdrawal from standing against fellow party member,
Former commander of the defence forces, Vitalis Zvinavashe, earlier
linked to Simba Makoni's Mavambo formation, turned up at the rally as well.
Most Zimbabweans, but particularly the old people in the communal
areas, have been hardest hit by galloping inflation and the shortage of
But Mugabe skirted the bread-and-butter issues, concentrating instead
on the 15-year liberation war which ended in 1979.
"The liberation struggle ideology should be passed on to future
generations as we left friends and relatives during the war and we should go
to the elections with this, in memory of the struggle that brought
independence," he said. "Those who vote against us would have sold the
struggle," he said.
BY OUR STAFF
OFFICIALS of Simba Makoni's independent candidates for the 29 March
elections yesterday reported two violent incidents against their members.
The Hatfield house of their Harare South candidate in the House of
Assembly, Joram Nago, was besieged by suspected Zanu PF youths in the
In the afternoon, while driving from Hopley Farm where he was
scheduled to address a rally today, Nago and his driver were stopped by
youths who accused them of trying to enter a "no-go" area.
The police had cleared the rally.
The Standard caught up with Nago as he made a report at Waterfalls
police station. He told the police that after beating him, the youths took
away his police clearance letter. A police officer acknowledged in the
presence of The Standard they had cleared the rally.
Yesterday evening, Nago was still to go to hospital for a medical
check-up as he was assisting police investigators.
In the second incident, two pfficials one of their vehicles were
attacked while waiting to fill up at a service station along Samora Machel
Avenue and Fourth Street in Harare.
Never Mutamba, one of those assaulted, said they were saved by Police
Support Unit officers passing by the service station.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - The army has been forced to reduce its annual recruitment
due to what is described as "perennial under-funding", it has been learnt.
Since independence in 1980, the army has recruited soldiers every
three to four months but the frequency has been reduced to save scarce
The cutbacks have been implemented despite a flood of desertions of
soldiers fleeing low pay and deteriorating living conditions in the
Army spokesperson, Samuel Tsatsi confirmed the quarterly recruitments
had been shelved over budgetary constraints.
According to army insiders, the quarterly recruitment exercises were
eating into most of the army's budget.
They said on a number of occasions the army had failed to feed the
recruits, some of whom had abandoned the rigorous training exercise midway.
Last year, the army lowered entry qualifications to cater for
non-holders of the Ordinary Level Certificate, in an effort to lure more
youths into the force.
"It is a huge and beneficial cost-cutting measure," said a source.
"But it does not mean that all the recruits would join the army at the same
time after the one-off recruitment exercise held across the country.
"Instead, the recruits will join the army on a quarterly basis as was
the practice in the past."
The army is reportedly struggling to cope with massive resignations
and desertions, and frequent recruitments are the only way to ensure
adequate staff levels.
There are reports that non-commissioned officers formed the bulk of
those leaving for greener pastures on a regular basis. The commissioned
officers and war veterans are said to have remained loyal.
Soldiers can renew their contracts after three, seven and 10 years
respectively but due to the poor working conditions, many are opting out
before they even complete a year in service.
By Vusumuzi Sifile
THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans with non-indigenous origins could be barred
from voting on 29 March, even if they have known only Zimbabwe as their home
and their names appear on the voters' roll, The Standard has learnt.
This could affect thousands of farm workers and urban voters.
The likelihood of disenfranchisement emerged in a letter to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
litigation lawyer, Rangu Nyamurundira.
He wrote that some "aliens" whose names appear on the voters' roll had
already been told they would not be allowed to vote.
According to the letter, MacDonald Lewanika, a Zimbabwean with Zambian
ancestry, was barred from inspecting the voters' roll on 14 February because
he was considered an alien.
His brother, Gregory Irvin, was also barred from registering to vote
for the same reason.
Lewanika, a civic activist, took up the issue with ZLHR, who in turn
called Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for clarification. They insisted
that Lewanika be allowed to inspect the voters' roll as he had the right to
do so under Section 21 of the Electoral Act.
On checking the roll, Lewanika established he was indeed registered to
vote in Mufakose constituency. But one of the officials at the inspection
centre told him that, even with his name on the voters' roll, he would still
not be able to vote because he was an alien.
"Despite him being registered as a voter under Mufakose Constituency
and in fact having voted in all elections since 2000 Parliamentary elections
Mr MacDonald (Lewanika) was told that he would not be allowed to vote . . .
because he was an alien, and despite the fact that he was registered to
vote," ZLHR's Nyamurundira wrote to ZEC.
With three weeks to go before the elections, ZLHR and other civic
organisations fear more people could find themselves in Lewanika's
predicament - registered to vote but unable to vote.
"Many Zimbabweans in fact find themselves in our clients' position and
have been denied their democratic right to vote. Those already registered to
vote stand to be denied casting their vote come 29 March 2008," said
Attempts to contact ZEC chairperson, Justice George Chiweshe, were
fruitless as he was said to be out of town.
ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations) Utloile Silaigwana
said he had not seen the letter from ZLHR.
After amendments to the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act in 2001, there has
been confusion over the status of Zimbabweans registered as "aliens".
Section 9 of the Act prohibits dual citizenship, and requires
Zimbabweans with dual citizenship to renounce foreign citizenship they would
In its letter to ZEC, ZLHR argued that most aliens never "acquired"
foreign citizenship in the first place.
In the Government Gazette of 22 November 2002, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa said a mere potential claim to foreign citizenship, as
opposed to actual possession, would not result in loss of citizenship.
Nevertheless thousands of citizens were instructed by the Registrar-General's
office to renounce foreign citizenships they never had.
Last week ZLHR, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions) and the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers' Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) held a workshop to sensitise many possible casualties of
the current "misinterpretation of the Citizenship Act".
GAPWUZ represents workers at all farms and plantations in the country,
most of whose workers are descendants of Malawians, Zambians and
A GAPWUZ official said so far the union had identified more than 100
people in Mashonaland Central with such a status.
The union was currently compiling a list of all those affected and
once the list was completed, would mount a legal challenge.
At the Nomination Court on 15 February, Eddie Cross of the MDC was
initially barred from filling his papers because there was a
misunderstanding on his citizenship status, it being suggested he was
Cross argued he was a Zimbabwean, and was eventually allowed to file
his papers in Bulawayo.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
IN the blistering sun, barefoot and frail-looking Mbuya Rukweza (62),
trudged to Sakubva stadium in Mutare for last week's MDC 2008 election
The grandmother was not alone in the "long march" from Chikanga
high-density suburb, 5km to the stadium.
Grandparents, some with the aid of walking sticks, students and young
children with lips cracked white by hunger and thirst, trooped to the
stadium to listen to Morgan Tsvangirai.
"I want to hear it for myself," said Mbuya Rukweza, her voice
quivering with pent-up emotion as she entered the stadium. "We have suffered
In the stadium, breast-feeding mothers, their children blissfully
suckling on their breasts, sat on their laps. They were shielded from the
heat, as their mothers waited to hear from the man to whom they have
entrusted their destiny.
These were some of the 20 000 party supporters who braved the
sweltering midday heat in Mutare, dancing and singing, waiting for
Tsvangirai to address them.
This was not a captive audience. They had not been forced out of their
homes, jobs, fields or supermarkets to attend the rally.
They had not been force-marched to the stadium by 'Green Bombers', nor
lured by promises of free food, ploughs, combine harvesters, tractors or
They had defied attempts by the youth militia to stop them from going
to the stadium.
They were there of their own freewill.
When Tsvangirai finally arrived, the crowd near the entrance surged
forward for a closer glimpse of him. They were restrained by his security
As he walked around the ground, Tsvangirai waved to the crowd, and
their cheers reached a crescendo when he raised his hand in the party's open
His address was punctuated by cheers and whistles. Tsvangirai promised
a "better-governed" Zimbabwe with no shortages of basic commodities, no
transport problems, no food crisis.
He promised to empower women and youths, and to fight the HIV and Aids
pandemic.He pledged to fight inflation, ensure exchange control stability to
stimulate economic growth.
He told the gathering exactly what he knew they wanted to hear: this
time he would unseat President Robert Mugabe, repeatedly portrayed as the
architect of the people's misery.
But the launch was marred by sporadic violence as party supporters
fought over T-shirts.
Even journalists were assaulted for taking pictures of the supporters'
The supporters chanted: "We want T-shirts! We want T-shirts!" for
nearly an hour, forcing a temporary halt to the programme.
The party's national organizer, Elias Mudzuri pleaded with them in
There were different interpretations of the violence. Some said it was
a graphic demonstration of the poverty Mugabe's government had inflicted on
the people. Others interpreted it as outright hooliganism.
Watching from the high table, Tsvangirai looked embarrassed, then
lashed out: "Those youths are a misfit to our agenda. They should not be
As the MDC leader left the stadium after the address, the crowd raced
towards his motorcade, for a last glimpse. Others wanted a handshake.
For the MDC, the turnout was clear testimony of the huge following the
party still commands, in spite of having failed to unseat Zanu PF and Mugabe
in two parliamentary and presidential elections.
It was a clear sign that the upcoming 29 March harmonised elections
would not be a stroll in the park for Mugabe, his erstwhile Zanu PF protégé
Simba Makoni and little-known Langton Towungana, alleged by some to be a
"spoiler" planted by the ruling party.
The huge attendance was achieved in spite of the announcement by
Makoni that he was after Mugabe's job.
Two weeks ago, Makoni's election co-ordinator Ibbo Mandaza claimed
voter registration rose by at least 45% soon after Makoni announced his
If that is true, then the election is going to be a very close contest
where none of the four candidates could clinch the 51% needed for outright
victory in the first round.
A run-off pitting the two people with the highest share of the votes
would be inevitable.
The 20 000 who attended the Sakubva rally may be an insignificant
percentage of the 5.5 million registered voters but it is enough testimony
of Tsvangirai's support - considering none of the people had been coerced to
Mugabe, who turned 84 last week, still claims he has support in the
rural areas despite the worsening poverty countrywide.
He will continue to dish out free goodies in return for votes.
Despite his sound educational background, international acceptance and
his aura of a great leader, Makoni might still find it difficult to garner
It will also be proved today, when Makoni launches his election
campaign in Harare, whether he really has the "millions" of supporters that
he claims to have.
Or will those "behind him" keep their cards close to their chests
until the Election Day.
Or will he, like the clear outsider Towungana, wait for the Almighty
to clear his path to State House?
By Vusumuzi Sifile and John
ZANU PF's campaign manifesto launched in Harare on 29 February focuses
on the party's past achievements, confirming opposition claims that the
party has run out of fresh ideas to rescue the country from the current
The manifesto centres on the same issues that have been at the core of
Zanu PF's campaign in elections since 2000 - fighting sanctions and British
imperialism, indigenisation and reforming agriculture, education, health and
The party is still offering the same unfulfilled promises it made in
2005 and previous elections. In 2005, Zanu PF said by 2008, the government
would have built 1 250 000 houses. According to the manifesto, only 7 500
houses were completed under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.
The party promised to stabilise the exchange rate and reduce inflation
to single digits. At the time, inflation was 237.8%, but it is now 100
580.02%, a world record. The Zimbabwe dollar continues to tumble against
The manifesto says the party would assist the poor with school fees.
Evidence on the ground is that the exact opposite is the case: state
assistance to students at tertiary institutions has been slashed. As a
result, many university students cannot fund their studies.
The manifesto, launched amid fanfare in Harare, does not refer to the
2005 promises, but rather to what has been achieved since independence.
In fact, about 20 pages are devoted to "What Zanu PF has done", 43
pages - about half the document - dwell on "West bashing". Some analysts
said the only difference between the 2005 election manifesto and the 2008
one is the former had 53 pages and the latter 93.
Presenting the manifesto, President Mugabe admitted most of their
previous policies had flopped, resulting in failure to maintain standards.
Vice-President Joseph Msika said some ministers were only good at
"rhetoric", their policies not bearing any fruit.
Giving a vote of thanks, Msika singled out Joseph Made, the Minister
of Agricultural Mechanisation, whom he told to "interpret your rhetoric into
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo cautioned party officials against lying to
University lecturer and political analyst, John Makumbe, said the
manifesto was a clear indication Zanu PF had run out of ideas and had
nothing new to offer.
Makumbe said: "What Zanu PF is proposing is more of the same and it
will not help this country at all. We need change and not continuity. Zanu
PF has no capacity to bring about change... So voters must look for a
candidate with better proposals."
The manifesto says "illegal Western sanctions have undermined the
economy", and claims the MDC lobbied for sanctions.
John Robertson, an economic analyst says there is no way the sanctions
could be blamed, as they were only imposed when the economy was already in a
"The West is not to blame, the problems are of our own making," said
Robertson. "This is not about sanctions; the situation started deteriorating
way before the sanctions. The manifesto does not offer relief because there
is no change in policies that are causing this economic damage."
Civic activist, Gorden Moyo said the manifesto was a "glaring failure,
not attractive to any investor, voter, businessperson or academic".
"The manifesto is empty... hollow," said Moyo. "They don't know how to
BY SANDRA MANDIZVIDZA
AS the cost of sanitary wear and cotton wool - like other basic
commodities - continues to soar, most women now live with the almost
perennial risk of contracting infections as they resort to unorthodox and
unhealthy methods during menstruation.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says most women are now
exposed to infectious diseases because they use materials such as
newspapers, rags, tissues and soft fibre from trees to stem the flow of
blood during menstruation.
ZCTU Information Officer, Khumbulani Ndlovu, said: "Most working women
can no longer afford to buy sanitary pads. What about those who are
"All we want is for the sanitary wear to be affordable to every
She said with the countrywide water shortage, it had become a problem
for women to clean and dispose of the rags they are being forced to use.
A gynaecologist at Parirenyatwa Hospital said it was dangerous to use
tissues, rags or newspapers as they could cause infections, which might lead
to cervical cancer.
"They are not so good in absorbing blood and this can lead to vaginal
infections. We urge women to use pads or cotton wool because they are made
to absorb blood," she said.
"The hospitals do not even have the medication to treat the
infections. So you can imagine the magnitude of the crisis."
A senior nurse at Mufakose Maternity Clinic said many women were
coming to the clinic complaining of vaginal infections which might have been
caused by the use of unhygienic materials during menstruation.
"If one cannot afford to buy pads or cotton wool," said the nurse, who
requested anonymity, "it is advisable to buy flannel material and sew it.
The material is good for absorbing blood. Newspapers and tissues have
chemicals that irritate the skin and are dangerous to a woman's private
parts and can cause vaginal infections, such as thrush."
Sanitary wear has become too expensive for the average Zimbabwean
woman, although the country is a leading cotton producer.
Among the most affected are women and girls in the rural areas,
school-going teenagers as well as domestic workers in the low-income
"The cost of cotton wool and pads is now so high," said Patience
Bunhu, a domestic worker in Waterfalls, "some of us cannot even afford it. I
now use rags."
In a snap survey in Harare's city centre, The Standard discovered that
the sanitary pads and cotton wool had become almost a luxury because of
their prohibitive cost.
By our staff
A FEW winners from last year's Miss Tourism Zimbabwe pageant were
recently seen actively participating at the launch of the Zanu PF's
manifesto for the 29 March elections.
The Standard saw the models, including 2006 winner Caroline Marufu,
playing the role of ushers at different entrances.
Later, in their Zanu PF campaign regalia, the four models distributed
copies of the party manifesto to the 4 000 delegates.
It is believed that after attending the Miss Tourism prize
presentation in Harare on 27 February, the winners from outside Harare were
requested to remain in the capital for two extra days.
The models were given Zanu PF caps, T-shirts and miniature flags. The
T-shirts, emblazoned with a picture of party president Robert Mugabe, bore
the familiar inscription "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again".
The reigning Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, Cynthia Muvirimi, was not at the
event. Only her two princesses, Avril Mhembere and Sibusisiwe Dube, were
present. Mhembere and Dube could be seen shaking their hips when Elliot
Manyika's "Norah" started playing on the PA system. But their dancing could
not match that of Joseph Chinotimba, dancing a few metres away.
ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke asked The Standard if it
was "a problem" that the girls attended the launch.
"Yes, the girls were there and I invited them. Is there any problem if
they were there or not?" he wanted to know.
ZTA took over what was then known as Miss Zimbabwe in 2006 and renamed
the event Miss Tourism Zimbabwe.
This sparked controversy as it was suspected ZTA, a parastatal, would
turn the pageant into a Zanu PF public relations gimmick. The ZTA argued its
involvement was primarily to use the pageant as a tourism-marketing tool.
The parastatal has hired entertainers from Jamaica and the US for the same
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga says he will
not salute any candidate who beats President Robert Mugabe in the
forthcoming elections amid reports that soldiers have been granted paid
leave to campaign for Zanu PF in their rural homes.
Chiwenga joined the head of the Zimbabwe Prisons Service, Paradzai
Zimondi, in declaring that they would not recognise former Finance Minister
Simba Makoni and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai if they won the 29
Echoing similar threats he made with former commander Vitalis
Zvinavashe in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections, Chiwenga
claimed Makoni and Tsvangirai were "sellouts", without elaborating.
"Elections are coming and the army will not support or salute
sell-outs and agents of the West before, during and after the presidential
elections," Chiwenga told The Standard in a telephone interview last week.
"We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe who has
sacrificed a lot for the country."
Pressed to comment on the role of the army in a democracy, Chiwenga
"Are you mad? What is wrong with the army supporting the President
against the election of sellouts?"
A woman then took over the conversation on the phone and said: "We can
come and take you and deal with you." Then she hung up.
In remarks described by critics as being tantamount to scare-mongering
ahead of 29 March, Zimondi told a pass-out parade of prison officers if
Mugabe lost he would resign from his job to "defend" the farm he was
allocated during the land reform programme.
A number of retired officers in the defence forces hold key positions
in the government and in parastatals, most of whose performance continues to
deteriorate under their stewardship.
Meanwhile, army sources have told The Standard that soldiers were
recently instructed to take paid leave so they could go to their rural homes
to help in the Zanu PF election campaign.
Critics of Zanu PF's campaign strategy have attacked what they have
called the "decisive role" of soldiers in ensuring that Mugabe wins,
particularly in the setting up of bases in the rural constituencies.
It has been alleged that the soldiers have led party militia in
intimidating the rural electorate to vote for Zanu PF.
"Those who were deployed were reminded that the hefty salary
increments they received last month were part of the deal to campaign for
Zanu PF," said a soldier based at Brady Barracks in Bulawayo.
Last month the government sparked fury among civil servants when it
awarded soldiers hefty pay increases, raising the average soldier's pay to
$1.3 billion from $300 million.
The deployment of soldiers in the rural areas comes amid reports the
government has pulled out all the stops to improve the diet in the barracks,
once reportedly hit by acute food shortages.
A monotonous diet of beans and cabbage was said to be boring the
soldiers out of their enthusiasm for work.
But The Standard has established that the regular fare now features
such sumptuous dishes as rice and chicken.
Army spokesperson, Colonel Samuel Tsatsi referred questions to
Chiwenga when contacted for comment.
BY our staff
ZANU PF has devoted a quarter of its manifesto to how it has
successfully empowered citizens in what analysts say is a futile bid to win
the hearts of the electorates ahead of the 29 March polls.
The party says there is an opportunity to build on the gains of the
empowerment achieved by the land reform.
"It must now extend to the rest of the economy so the politics of the
country begins to address and rearrange the economic domain," it said.
Zanu PF says it has already drawn up a strategy of entering and/or
supporting entry into critical sectors and enterprises whose activities
provide vital inputs to most citizens.
It says: "These sectors, and within them, firms, should be indigenised
and stabilised to ensure basic goods and services reach the people
Analysts dismiss the gains from the land reform as "lies".
"There is no evidence of gains," said economic consultant John
Robertson "If there were gains, the country would not be importing food."
Economic consultant Dr Daniel Ndlela agrees: "You don't empower people
by making them hungry."
The land reform programme was touted as economic empowerment but has
created the "landed gentry", where a few well-connected chefs amassed
multiple farms at the expense of the majority, despite President Robert
Mugabe's call for "one man, one farm".
For the seventh consecutive year, Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of
the region, will be importing food as the new breed of farmers have neither
the skills nor the capital to embark on successful agriculture.
Analysts are wary of the government's intentions, particularly after
it announced that it was pushing the indigenisation envelope across all
The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, now awaiting
President Robert Mugabe's signature to become law, gives locals 51%
shareholding in all foreign owned companies in Zimbabwe.
Last year central bank chief Gideon Gono warned that a fine balance
should be struck between the objectives of indigenisation and the need to
attract foreign investment.
"Of particular concern to us, as monetary authorities, would be any
attempts to forcibly push the envelope of indigenisation into the delicate
area of banking and finance," Gono said.
Paul Mangwana, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, had
earlier said foreign banks unwilling to comply with indigenisation law "can
pack and go".
Analysts note that since what critics have called the indigenisation
"tsunami" spread across the country in the 1990s, only a few individuals
have managed to push through deals.
At the peak of the crusade pressure groups, such as the Indigenous
Business Women Organisation (IBWO) and the Affirmative Action Group (AAG)
were formed to spread the gospel.
IBWO and AAG were fortunate when they went into a marriage of
convenience under the Empowerment Corporation that culminated in Telecel
Zimbabwe getting an operating licence.
Despite his vision to set up a mobile operator Strive Masiyiwa had to
strive for five years in the courts to get an operating licence for Econet
The pressure groups saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil when
Masiyiwa was fighting in the courts. Today, Econet has become a brand and
has enjoyed blue chip status on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
THIS year's election is remarkable for the unashamed manner in
which the State, bereft of a plausible election campaign platform, has
decided on outright vote-buying.
President Robert Mugabe leads his party in offering inducements of
computers to schools throughout the country. Ordinarily such support to the
educational sector would not raise eyebrows. However, when this is done in
order to rally voters to a political cause and to garner votes, it raises
serious questions about the extent to which State resources can be abused
It is cynical that the government can purport on one hand to be
concerned about education - by donating computers to schools - when on the
other it completely ignores the plight of teachers over poor salaries.
Consequently teachers are entering the third week of their strike with no
immediate solution in sight.
Desperation belies the government's vote-buying agenda. In most of the
areas where beneficiaries of the President's largesse are located there is
no electricity to power the computers. But that is just one small aspect of
There just aren't enough computer teachers and equally there is a
shortage of technicians to maintain them.
Yesterday saw the launch of the so-called third phase of the farm
mechanisation programme. We know what the first two phases were about, so
this one is no different: it is a desperate attempt at vote-buying. The
timing is blatant. This is what happens when an electoral management body
opts to play the observer and allows an interested party - the ruling
party - to get into the driving seat of the electoral process.
Running parallel to this exercise is another in which urban voters are
offered stands by an organisation that promotes the interests of the
ruling party. And it hasn't been shy about who the recipients of the stands
should support during the 29 March elections.
In Harare alone the ruling party has been offering stands to residents
in Harare North and South constituencies on condition that they produce
party membership cards.
Rural voters are being enticed with offers of grain that is being
imported from Malawi and Zambia, while the military has been awarded hefty
salary increases - this at a time when government is ignoring the plight of
teachers, nurses and doctors.
While it may be difficult to end the practice of vote-buying during
the current campaign, there must be an agreement among Zimbabweans and
political parties that outlaws vote-buying. Penalties could include outright
barring from seeking office of candidates guilty of the exercise.
The problem with entrenching vote-buying is not only its abuse of
resources bought by taxpayers' money to further the interests of a
particular political party, but it demeans the essence of political parties
going out to voters on the basis of their programmes. Vote-buying is a
dangerous process. It belittles the voter.
For the purpose of the 29 March polls, voters should go ahead and
accept whatever they are offered, but they must then proceed to vote for the
party they believe demonstrates the determination - as opposed to the
rhetoric - to rescue the country from the crisis it has been subjected to
during the past decade.
There are a select few who will vote for those dispensing such
largesse, but the fruits of the struggle for democracy are not for the few.
The benefits must cascade to all citizens of Zimbabwe.
Sunday opinion by Bill Saidi
MAI MUSODZI Hall is a landmark, not only of Mbare, but also of Harare,
as Mbare - before they stole its original name and bestowed it on
Salisbury - remains a landmark of Zimbabwe.
For me, Mai Musodzi hall has such glittering memories, in many ways,
it changed my life. I almost lost an arm there, in 1949, in an epic battle
with my aunt's bicycle which I had purloined briefly - talk of The Wages of
I had ceased fancying myself as Joe Louis or Sugar Ray Robinson: my
Moment of Truth arrived with a bang, literally, when I was given what we
called a "Bindura!" punch to the lower regions, as I boxed a dirty fighter
at the boys' club located in the hall, when it was still called the
I was knocked out for the full count and swore I would never risk my
life like that again, a pugilist with a weak stomach.
Years later, I made my debut as an entertainer in the hall, where the
likes of Sonny Sondo had made their mark.
I saw my first full-length all-black movie there too, Cabin in The
Sky, starring Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington,
The movie was made in 1943, when it was considered cheeky for African
Americans to take leading roles in any films.
This one was directed by Vincent Minnelli, later married to the singer
Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli's mother.
I have recently read this about that trail-blazing flick:
"One musical number, in which Horne sings a reprise of Ain't It the
Truth while taking a bubble bath, was cut from the film prior to release,
though it later appeared in a 1946 Pete Smith short subject entitled Studio
Visit. As Horne later said in the documentary That's Entertainment lll in
which the excised performance was also featured, it was felt that to show a
black woman singing in a bath went beyond the bounds of moral decency in
"A second (non-bubble bath) performance of this song by Louis
Armstrong was also cut from the final print, resulting in the famous
trumpeter having no solo musical number in the film."
You don't need to have read Native Son, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The
Confessions of Nat Turner or Roots to appreciate what humiliation this was
for all African Americans.
It didn't occur to me to ask Armstrong and Ellington how they felt at
that time, when I met them in the 1960s and the 1970s in Africa. I was so
intoxicated with the fact of meeting them such questions seemed inane.
Today, the coincidence of watching this film in a venue later named
after a Zimbabwean woman in a white-run country, excited deep reflection
about black people and black women.
First, as black people we are no different from other races. We
struggled for independence and dignity, but later decided some of us were
more equal than others. Zimbabwe is the worst example.
It's not something to be proud of, this affirmation of our being as
fallible as all other races.
As for black women, we are just as crude, if not worse. Yes, they can
vote today, but if anybody insists they are free to use that vote any way
they wish, I would tell them to wash their dirty mouth with the toughest
Women were the most vulnerable victims of Murambatsvina, the price
blitz, the prohibitive cost of sanitary wear. Yet they turn up in huge
numbers at Zanu PF rallies. Their almost hysterical ululation for every word
that passes through the party leader's lips is pathetic. The man has almost
destroyed this country.
Or are they - as all women grievously scorned in 28 years of male
chauvinistic misrule would - preparing a deliciously devilish surprise for
him, driven by a fury hotter than anything in Gehenna?
Are the men girding their loins for a fight to the finish with the
perpetrators of this sustained attack on their dignity and manhood?
Mai Musodzi herself was a fearless woman. She dared to be different
from your average, fearful, Zimbabwean woman raised to be forever the
helpmate, nay, the serf, of the man whose people paid for her.
There are few such women left in our midst - Margaret Dongo, Fay
Mugabe started his election campaign in the sticks, where traditional
mores are still revered, where the word of the man is sacrosanct.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) probably has no structures there. But
can the women themselves be shaken out of their stupor of acquiescence? Can
they listen to this clarion call: "Ladies, it's time to strut your stuff!"?
REFLECTIONS WITH ALEX T MAGAISA
ONE of the primary challenges for every election candidate is to
appeal not only to the converted but also to the unconverted, who are likely
to be fence sitters or supporters of other candidates. The competition
involves reassuring the traditional supporters but more importantly, to gain
advantage on the others by convincing those that are otherwise persuaded at
any given time.
Therefore, when the opposition, broadly defined, attracts a key member
of the ruling establishment it is, surely, a cause for celebration rather
than castigation. It symbolises a measure of success in the opposition's
efforts, in the same way, perhaps, that the priest at the church would
welcome a converted pagan into the ranks of his flock. Whatever the
divisions in the opposition, which is regrettable, the conversion of Dumiso
Dabengwa to join the leadership of the opposition may also be considered in
If there is one individual who symbolises the trajectory of Zimbabwean
politics over the course of its recent history, it is Dabengwa. His
announcement on Saturday (two weeks ago) that he would back Simba Makoni's
bid for the presidency is indicative of the topsy-turvy character of a young
nation that is still battling to find itself.
Here is a man who was once a "comrade" in the eyes of the national
pre-independence liberation movement. He was then characterised as an "enemy
of the state" in the immediate aftermath, during which he spent many years
in unlawful detention without trial at a time when the majority of
Zimbabweans were enjoying the bliss of independence - a period that most
Zimbabweans still refer to as the "good old days", oblivious of the scars
that some of their countrymen and women bear from that sad chapter of
He then metamorphosed into a "comrade" once more after the 1987 Unity
Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu. Thereafter, Dabengwa was a faithful
servant of the government, ironically spending a length of time as the Home
Affairs Minister, an office previously occupied by predecessors who had led
his persecution in the early 1980s. Later on, with the unpopularity of Zanu
PF and the emergence of the powerful MDC, Dabengwa found himself at the
margins once again. He was unable to secure the presidential rescue that
saved colleagues like Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had similarly lost his seat to
the vibrant MDC before securing a seat by presidential nomination and
serving as Speaker of Parliament.
And now Dabengwa is at risk of once again being referred to as "enemy
of the revolution" by those who religiously believe, against evidence of
disintegration, that Zanu PF is pursuing some form of revolution.
Some might argue that Dabengwa's fluctuating career is indicative of a
man who does not quite know what he wants. But the more sympathetic might
argue on behalf of a tortured soul whose conscience and desire to do the
right thing has often been betrayed by events beyond his immediate control.
Selective memory may, perhaps, choose to denigrate him as a faithful
and complicit member of a party that has brought the nation down to its
knees. It may also elect to focus on his role as a senior cabinet minister
who held the key Home Affairs portfolio, under whose watch the law
enforcement authorities demonstrated an unkind face to the public. No doubt,
he will struggle to get rid of the apparel of a key Zanu PF man deriving
from those years of service to the government.
But it would be unfortunate if such selective memory were to cloud the
significance of the re-emergence of a man who by all accounts seems calm,
considered and decent.
Those that consider suffering under Mugabe a ticket for leadership may
wish to stretch their memories further and consider that the suffering
endured by those who have gallantly stood in opposition in the last eight
years was preceded by unfortunate events which, in legal terms, will always
be personified by the experiences of Dabengwa and his late colleague Lookout
Masuku. A better account of their trials and tribulations leading up to the
tragic death of Masuku can be found in Judith Todd's recent book, Through
the Darkness: A Life in Zimbabwe Zebra Press (2007). This article only seeks
to highlight a few points to place Dabengwa's circumstances in the context
of the current struggle.
Dabengwa and Masuku were the two high profile victims of the clampdown
against the alleged security threats in the 1980s. It is within this context
that the notorious 5 Brigade launched the callous attacks against victims
for which Gukurahundi is now the common euphemism. During that time the
Mugabe government retained the emergency laws which, ironically, had been
used by the Smith regime against the nationalists during the liberation
One of the instruments available under these laws was the use of
"preventive detention" - basically, detention of an individual without trial
for purposes of preventing conduct that would allegedly breach public order
and safety. Later, between 7 February 1983 and 27 April 1983, Dabengwa was
put on trial for high treason and acquitted by the High Court. But that did
not stop his further arrest and detention on basically similar grounds under
the same emergency laws on 24 May 1983, hardly a month after the acquittal.
The numerous cases that the wives of Dabengwa and Masuku brought to
court on behalf of their husbands are major precedents to which students of
Zimbabwean constitutional law often refer in their studies. Indeed, it is
through these cases that those of my generation too young and uninformed to
have fully appreciated the nature of events at the time, have come to
understand some unsavoury aspects of our post-independence history.
In one of those cases, they successfully challenged the refusal by the
government to allow them access to their lawyers. It has to be mentioned
that even then, perhaps as punishment for being audacious, their wives were
subsequently prohibited from visiting them whilst in detention. Later, they
would stay in detention for months on end without receiving trial or review,
each time launching legal action led brilliantly by, among others, lawyers
like Adrian de Bourbon SC and Bryant Elliott.
It is during that time that Dabengwa witnessed the sad demise of his
fellow comrade, Lookout Masuku. The misery visited upon the people of
Matabeleland and the Midlands eventually forced Joshua Nkomo to compromise
and submit to Mugabe's Zanu PF. When they signed that Unity Accord on 22
December 1987, it was meant to be the beginning of a fresh chapter and men
like Dabengwa were suddenly elevated into the ranks of government - the same
government that had persecuted him, the same regime against which he had
been accused of attempting top overthrow.
Idealists would question the motives of joining such a regime given
what he had gone through. They might castigate him for "sleeping with the
enemy" and joining government simply for selfish gain. Only he can answer
But surely, even from a detached position, it is clear that Dabengwa
and his colleagues did what was practical and pragmatic under the
circumstances. Indeed there was a period of relative stability thereafter,
shaken only by the increasing economic deterioration. We do not know what
they did behind closed doors. We do not know whether Dabengwa and/or others
tried to challenge the system from within. He now says he did but they would
not listen. Indeed, since 2000, Dabengwa has literally been frozen out,
leading even those outside Zanu PF to now dismiss him as a "spent force".
Some even go so far as to question his "heavyweight" status.
If we do have a full understanding of the history of this nation, I
am not sure we would dismiss Dabengwa as a spent force. I am not sure we
would simply denigrate him as others choose to. Even Mugabe has, so far,
chosen his language very carefully, compared to his scathing attacks against
Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai.
There can be no doubt that his long reign in government will forever
taint Dabengwa's reputation but his re-entry into the ranks of the
opposition should surely be a cause for celebration rather than the subject
of a summary dismissal. This, surely, is a man travelling a path that he
knows only too well - one that he travelled tortuously before the present
generation of opposition leaders. Of course, few will forget his reign in
government but that is the price that he has to pay for his tenure, well
meaning though he might have been.
If winning support by conversion is the challenge facing the
opposition, then Dabengwa is an important gain. Who knows, it may be an
ominous sign of what is to come, not necessarily prior to 29 March but even
more importantly, after it. If there was one remaining symbol of that Unity
Accord, it was Dabengwa - the one who was persecuted and then embraced,
forgiving but not forgetting. When speaking of men and women who despite
their Zanu PF past may be worth considering whether they have something to
contribute to the future of Zimbabwe, Dabengwa might well lay a legitimate,
though contested, claim.
=Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, the University of Kent at
Canterbury, UK and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or
The issue of whether to allow
residents outside the country to use the postal voting facility has been
raging on since government decided, in 2005, to restrict the use of the
postal voting system to government officials and their spouses outside the
country on official government business.
The arguments for the exclusion of others have been as variegated as
they might be partisan. What has not been thoroughly scrutinised is the
process through which current users of the postal voting system cast their
votes, both within and without the country.
While government has argued against the extension of the postal voting
facility to every Zimbabwean in the Diaspora on grounds its officials cannot
access this section of the electorate due to travel bans imposed upon most
of them by the West, the opposition has repeatedly pointed out the need for
the electorate in the Diaspora to participate in elections since most of
them are outside the country not by choice, but as a result of socio,
economic and political reasons beyond their control.
Sadly, very few arguments have been proffered to enable voters inside
the country, who for one reason or the other might not be in their voting
wards, to use the postal facility or how this postal facility could be
monitored to avert electoral fraud. Discourse has mainly centred on the
Issues like the economic role that the people in the Diaspora play
through such programmes as the Homelink and the universality of suffrage
have been cited to justify the need for efforts to ensure this economically
active section of the polity partakes in the politics of their country. The
need for postal voting facilities, however, does not start and end with
citizens in the Diaspora, but includes citizen in the country who by reason
such as infirmity, pregnancy or calls of duty, might not be in their voting
areas on Election Day.
There is therefore need to put mechanisms, legal and structural, to
facilitate that these people exercise their right to vote where possible.
However, this is not without problems hence the need to ensure the pressing
obligation of protecting their inalienable voting rights does not compromise
the quality of the electoral process and consequently its credibility.
The importance of postal voting is premised on the universality of the
right to vote, that is, despite being enshrined in Article 21 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), is unfortunately not included
in our Constitution, although the sentiments of 21(3) are in our Electoral
Act Chapter 2:13 section 3 subsections (a) and (b).
The Electoral Act borrows from Article 21(1) which stipulates that,
"Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,
directly or through freely-chosen representatives" and that "(3) the will of
the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will
shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by
equivalent free voting procedures."
Governments, for this reason, derive their authority and legitimacy
from the universality of suffrage in their areas of jurisdiction and any
compromise on this affects their credibility. Consequently, the issue of
enabling people in the Diaspora to vote does not only enhance popular
participation of citizens in the elections, but significantly gives credence
to the subsequent government's authority and legitimacy. The same applies to
allowing all people inside the country, who cannot be at their nearest
polling station, to use the postal facility to cast their ballots.
This said, there is genuine need for the powers that be, to review the
situation of postal voting in time for the forthcoming harmonised
presidential, parliamentary, senatorial and local government elections so
that all those who are eligible to vote, but might not be in their voting
areas on election day, can participate in the elections. This is more
important with the advent of the ward-based voters' roll that outlaws voting
outside one's ward. There is, however, need, particularly now, to review the
postal voting facility and make recommendations for its extensive use among
a whole cross-section of our polity.
The postal voting system is currently available to government
officials who are outside their voting districts on Election Day and their
spouses. 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. It is also not possible for candidates to verify the authenticity of
the ballots or 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 till 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 be subjected 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 email@example.com
Voters their own worst enemies
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki's brother, and probably one of ANC's harshest
critics, Moeletsi Mbeki, (pictured) says the problem is that Zanu PF has not
changed since 1963, while the world around it was changing every day. They
have failed to change from guerrilla leaders to economic managers.
It is a very accurate assessment if one looks at how our leaders use
the same colonial style repressive mechanism once used by their
predecessors. They fought for chefdom, not for people or for independence.
That is why some comrades milked the Grain Marketing Board of all its money
and still find themselves in government. It is the reason why General
Vitalis Zvinavashe tells the peasant grandmothers in Gutu that he will be in
government as long as he wants, whether they vote for him or not.
I agree with Moeletsi. Our leaders have failed to change. They are
blissfully unaware of their new role in a democratic state and still think
as if they are in the bush planning a guerrilla campaign. I just think that
Moeletsi's thesis is incomplete. We have also failed to change as voters in
Zimbabwe. Fine, elections are rigged, but the fact that we still have people
voting for the current government tells you a lot about us.
When it is clear that the current leadership is responsible for 100
000% inflation, cash shortages, fuel scarcity and crumbling education, you
still find some people praising them. Makes you wonder what we are as a
nation. I asked a relative the other day why he belongs to the ruling party
and his answer knocked me off. I am not discussing a semi-literate village
idiot here, but a post-graduate businessman with a lot of local respect.
He answered, without missing a beat, that "vamwe vari kudya nazvo"
(others are surviving). I couldn't believe it. But there you have it, people
vote for a chance to join the high table, nothing else. Which is why people
still vote for friends and family. If your uncle becomes a Minister, you
will never cry for fuel, or queue for a passport, or struggle to get a visa.
As long as we vote that way, we then should forget about change. We
will not be very different from war veterans, gallant children of the soil
that we all thought fought for our liberation, only to discover lately that
they only fought to put one man in office!
Zimbabwe is not the geographical space between the Zambezi and the
Limpopo. It is people; it is us, a nation, a sum total of our shared
aspirations, values, identity and sense of being. We want to go to school,
and then go to college and work for the country when we are qualified. We
want to educate our children to become teachers, engineers, doctors, and
social workers, not refugees and border jumpers.
We want to be able to go to hospital and get treatment when we are
sick, just as they do in Namibia and Botswana. We want to get home and
switch on the power and cook and watch the news as they do in Lesotho and
Swaziland. For those who can afford cars, they want to get to the local
filling station and fill up their tanks and go to work or visit relatives,
as they do in Zambia and Malawi. Nobody wants to stand behind some seedy
backyard and buy five litres of diesel from shifty strangers who can even
rob you if they choose to.
I will vote against my father, if voting for him and his party means I
have to travel to Mozambique to buy groceries. I will vote against my
neighbour if voting for him and his party means candlelit dinners every day.
Just because somebody spent most of his free time in jail or in the bush in
the 1970s does not entitle him to traumatise 13 million people.
I want to leave every voter with a task. When the next candidate
arrives at a township near you and tells you that they will bring
prosperity, please ask them how? When somebody tells you that they will give
you land, ask them why they haven't given it to you in the past eight years?
After all it's free. But most importantly ask them what happened to the very
land they took, because the national granary is empty. I have already told a
war veteran neighbour that I have no intention of moving to any farm
anywhere - I am not a farmer.
When war veterans come to your village and claim they fought for you,
ask them who they fought for - Zimbabwe, Zanu PF or Robert Mugabe? Because
if they fought for us, where is the democracy they were supposed to bring?
And where are food and health and education?
If anybody dares tell you that we don't have these because of
sanctions, tell them point blank that you would rather vote for someone who
can remove the sanctions. It's only logical here - if we vote them back,
then the sanctions will stay, then the queues get longer. It will be an
exercise in self-defeat.
I think the most important are the presidential candidates. If someone
has been in power for 28 years and still wants to continue, the most urgent
question is what do they want to do that they couldn't do all these years?
In 28 years, a girl named Cara Black was born, learnt to play tennis,
became a professional and won several world titles. In less than 28 years,
Kirsty Coventry was born, played in water, made a good effort at it, won
Olympic gold medals, broke a world record and finished a degree. This is our
country, not anyone's bedroom!
Davy Tariro Saruchera
Makoni must lead us towards a new order
WHEN change takes place, there are those who feel threatened because
they would be displaced, and there are those who realise that there is an
opportunity to change their environment. Then again there are others who
remain undecided until death.
We, as Liberators, see what the second group sees. We see the
opportunity to change the environment that we live in. We see so many things
that are not right in our society, such as sky-rocketing prices,
unemployment, an exodus of skilled manpower to neighbouring countries, a
serious shortage of drugs and medicines, a shortage of foodstuffs, a poor
educational environment, electricity outages, poor water management and
distribution, endemic corruption, non-observance of the rule of law, failure
to provide accommodation to all victims of the so-called "Operation
Murambatsvina, the price blitz, the fat getting fatter, soaring medical
costs and interference with the judicial system.
For these simple reasons, our organisation is rallying behind Dr Simba
Makoni, in a bid to win the presidency in the 2008 general elections. In him
we see a tested leader who has gone through the mill. He has been called all
sorts of names by failed politicians for wanting to change the way the
economy is managed.
One point that is clear to us is that Bulawayo, once the hub of
Zimbabwe's industry was destroyed by people who wanted every factory
relocated to Harare. This included the Cold Storage Company and the National
Railways of Zimbabwe. For us, supporting Makoni is an absolute necessity. He
has seen the light. His ambition to stabilise the economy has unfortunately
been frustrated by a party whose record of intimidation, thuggery and
blackmail is known throughout the region, and indeed, the whole world.
For the presidency, our weight is behind Makoni. We wish him well. All
peace-loving Zimbabweans, please join us in supporting Makoni for the
Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative
Why spend on generators WHY is the government busy buying generators under
the farm mechanisation programme, when the country is suffering from serious
power cuts? Wouldn't it make sense to pay regional power suppliers the
foreign currency that is going towards purchase of generators, so that
Zimbabwe has a reasonable and constant supply of power?
Our priorities have become so warped, if this is the best this country
can come up with. Generators are a short-term measure - unless the
government is now admitting that the power crisis will be with us for a long
time. In that case I would urge voters to look at what is happening and what
is wrong with the whole picture, and just who is responsible and give them
the red card, come 29 March 2008.
Really Fed Up
By Taurai Shava, Sylvia Manika & Netsai Mlilo
Gweru, Harare & Bulawayo
08 March 2008
Zimbabwean independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni took off the
gloves on Saturday in his upstart challenge to incumbent Robert Mugabe,
calling the 84-year-old leader a "liar" for saying Makoni if elected would
reverse the land reform program that Mugabe launched in 2000 and return
farms to their former white owners.
Makoni was addressing about 5,000 supporters gathered at Mkoba Stadium in
Gweru, the capital of Midlands Province and an important industrial center.
It was the first hard rhetorical punch Makoni, 57, has taken at President
Mugabe since announcing his candidacy early last month, following which he
was expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party. Mr. Mugabe later called Makoni a
Saturday 8th March 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
It's hard to believe that in three weeks time Zimbabwe will have staggered
to another election and will have the capacity to put a stop to the most
shocking state of affairs in our country. Despite all the criticism, insults
and condemnation from outsiders, we have turned the other cheek again and
again as one abuse after another has been laid upon us these last nine
years. None have been spared, no sector is unscathed, everyone has horror
stories to tell, losses to enumerate, abuses to relate.
We have not resorted to violence, to civil war, to guns and bloodshed. Those
with financial resources have turned to the courts for relief - most have
been unsuccessful. Others have shown great courage and have taken to the
streets in peaceful protest, repeatedly trying to make our leaders hear our
voices: WOZA, NCA, MDC, students, lawyers, teachers, church leaders and
others. Thousands have been arrested, beaten, tortured and endured inhumane
treatment. Tragically, hundreds have died.
In three weeks time we can say: STOP, we've had enough suffering, enough
abuse, enough oppression. As we walk and wait and watch during this last
three weeks, the very people who have reduced Zimbabwe to a beggar State are
descending on our home areas. Men and women who we haven't seen since the
last election are here again. Dodging the cavernous potholes they emerge
from their luxury double cabs in their fancy clothes and smart shoes and
say: Vote For Me! Their physical appearance and well fleshed bodies is a
clear give away - they have not gone to bed hungry, have not gone without,
have not struggled these past nine years. It seems impossible that they can
identify with the thin, exhausted people sitting in the dust at their feet,
people watched by equally thin, uniformed police.
Since the last election these men and women who dare say: 'Vote For Me,'
have stayed quiet and stayed away while the infrastructure has collapsed;
while the water and electricity has been off more than on; while the shops
have been emptied and remain barren of food. They have not been around when
we, their constituents, couldn't get medicines, couldn't get our own money
out of the bank.couldn't afford to send our children to school and couldn't
even afford to bury our dead. Now they come with their gifts - tractors,
ploughs, hay balers, computers and money. 'More is coming,' they say: motor
bikes, grinding mills and generators. 'Even generators big enough to power a
small town,' they promise.
Three weeks is not a long time but to Zimbabweans these are the longest of
times. As I write this letter it is a glorious Zimbabwean day. There is a
warm wind, blue sky and the view is of blonde, golden grass and I have in
mind a couple of lines from our National Anthem:
"May we be fed and our labour blessed; And may the Almighty protect and
bless our land."
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Sunday Times, SA
Mar 9 2008 12:46AM
In this final extract from her new book, Heidi Holland
interviews the Zimbabwean president and discovers the unconscious coping
mechanism he employs to protect himself from the real world
I greeted Mugabe. He nodded, watching me closely. The
tension in the room was suffocating. My strained voice sounded unfamiliar as
I asked if I could record the interview. He nodded, waving his hand airily.
Then he apologised for the time I had spent waiting to meet him. As I
reached out to put my tape recorder on the desk in front of him, George
Charamba, permanent secretary for information in the office of the President
and Cabinet and the man charged with keeping journalists out of Zimbabwe,
told me to describe my book to the president before proceeding with the
questions. Then I began to question Mugabe.
"How would you describe yourself in a few words?"
"I feel I am just an ordinary person. I feel within me
there is a charitable disposition towards others, just as I find charitable
positions towards me from others. And I don't make enemies, no. Others may
make me an enemy of theirs but I make no enemies. Even those who might do
things against me, I don't make them enemies at all. No."
If Mugabe ever feels ordinary, which is doubtful, he is
more accurately an ordinary person in an extraordinary mess. But if he were
to admit that, where would it leave him? It would negate his whole life.
From his perspective, he does not make enemies - it's not me, it's "them",
he insists. He is in denial. When something is too much to bear, he makes it
non-existent, an unconscious coping mechanism to protect him from the real
"So you're not a vengeful person?"
"Are you a forgiving person?"
"Yes, I think so. Otherwise, I would have slaughtered lots
of people, including Ian Smith. I always used to joke with Smith that he had
borrowed hair (meaning Smith's scalp) which rightly belonged to us, but he
could continue to wear it ..."
He mused almost wistfully about Zimbabwe's white
population's attitude towards his government. "When it came to the land
issue, there was no compromise on that one. But it was actually the British
who spoilt things for the whites."
In fact, it was the unforgiving part of Mugabe that
allowed the land grab and spoilt things not only for the whites, but for all
those affected by the damaging policy. In his view, though, it was the white
farmers who made him their enemy by supporting the Movement for Democratic
He probably really believes that he is forgiving,
otherwise why did he let Ian Smith stay on in Zimbabwe? He pushes his anger
back, masking it with self-deception.
His unresolved rage towards white Rhodesians as
representatives of British colonisers was endorsed when Britain and the
farmers supported the MDC, which is why Mugabe condoned the resultant
violence. If he had given full expression to his resentment of whites, he
could have done to them what another African dictator, Idi Amin, did to the
Asians in Uganda. So, while certainly not forgiving, he has been more
controlled than people acknowledge.
Mugabe's manner did not allow for any contradictory ideas.
Whenever I was on tricky territory, I backed off in the interests of keeping
the interview going.
Had I stood my ground, there might have been an entirely
different outcome. He silenced me whenever I drew attention to uncomfortable
realities. He could not admit that he was in trouble and had made a complete
mess of Zimbabwe. So he idealised the mess as if he really believed it was
going to be wonderful two years hence.
"Do you worry about repercussions in the international
justice system in respect of Gukurahundi (the campaign of beatings, arson
and mass murder deliberately targeted at the civilian population and
conducted by Mugabe's personal militia)?
Mugabe waved his hands dismissively and sighed in
exasperation. "It's just political. It's just politics that people try to
gain out of it. Gukurahundi - as it happened - what was it? You had a party
with a guerrilla force that wanted to reverse democracy in this country. And
action was taken. And, yes, there might have been excesses, on both sides.
True, it's not the fact that there was Gukurahundi which is wrong. It's the
fact that there have been excesses that have caused some people to suffer.
"But we'd have to start with the excesses of Ian Smith -
and the colonialists, the British, who were still in charge - because lots
of people disappeared; lots of people died."
"But Gukurahundi happened during your time," I told him.
"Would you like to place on the record your regret about it?"
"No, there is no regret about the fact that we had to
defend the country. But the excess, where it happened, yes. Any death that
should not have occurred is a cause for regret, and wherever people have
suffered. But the figures don't make sense because they don't represent the
When I told him the estimates of deaths during Gukurahundi
ranged between 8000 and 30000, he replied icily: "Who are those people; who
are they? We want to know."
I had been expecting Mugabe to object to the question on
Gukurahundi, but it was my scepticism that bothered him. The question itself
did not disconcert him, because he simply justified his actions.
He clearly feels Gukurahundi was legitimate on the grounds
that he was aggrieved. He was settling a problem with a terrorist group,
though he regretted the excesses.
He sat on the fence, condoning the terrible violence
without actually saying as much.
Like the husband who beats his wife mercilessly and then
says he did it because she provoked him, Mugabe takes no responsibility for
his loss of control or what Gukurahundi says about him.
"Do you have any regrets, sir?"
"It would depend on what you have in mind."
"No, no regrets. You go into a fight. It's a fight against
colonialism. You make sacrifices. And naturally, when people die, you regret
the deaths of the people. And that's why we have created Heroes Acre in
order to remember those whose deaths should not have occurred. Yes, we are
sorry that there are those who have died, but other regrets, I don't know.
We might have regrets where we've had a policy that we've had to revise. Or
failures in our programmes because some people have not implemented them
faithfully and honestly. Yes, you regret those failures. Failures in
government are regretted, especially when they are because of corruption or
inefficiency, incompetence or neglect. Sure, we regret."
"How would you like to be remembered?"
"Just as the son of a peasant family who, alongside
others, felt he had a responsibility to fight for his country. And did so to
the best of his ability. And was grateful for the honour given him to lead a
country and be remembered as one who was most grateful for the honour that
the people gave him in leading them to victory over British imperialism.
Yes, for that I want to be remembered."
Holland's book, Dinner with Mugabe, is due to be released
by Penguin Books this month