10 MAY 2013 00:00 - M&G HARARE CORRESPONDENT
Mugabe is adamant the vote will take place on June 29, but Tsvangirai and
Ncube say this will be impossible.
With 50 days to go before the unity government's tenure expires, political
parties are drawing battle lines over dates for the general election.
President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party insist that the polls will be
held on June 29, come what may.
But the bickering between Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, who leads the smaller MDC-N
party in government, over election dates has intensified infighting within
Informed Cabinet sources say government principals and party leaders on
Tuesday received a report from a committee comprised of Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa and Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric
Matinenga on how to break the impasse over election dates.
"Chinamasa presented a report on the political and electoral processes which
should inform us when the elections are going to be held," a senior minister
who attended Tuesday's Cabinet meeting said.
"The report, which is a product of consultations with other political
parties, and the agreed elections roadmap will tell us when the polls are
going to be held."
At each other's throats
While Chinamasa and Matinenga are trying to come up with an addendum to the
original roadmap brokered by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), their bosses, Mugabe and Tsvangirai respectively, as well as Ncube,
are at each other's throats over when elections should be held.
Mugabe argues that the polls will be held on June 29, the day his five-year
term and that of Parliament expires, because it would be unconstitutional to
hold them after that.
"The clock is ticking. This is May. In June, whether anyone likes it or not,
the time [for elections] will have come. The sun will have set for the
Global Political Agreement [GPA]," Mugabe told the Zanu-PF central committee
"You do not run to countries even in Europe to prevent the sun from setting
on June 29. Some are struggling to ensure that the sun should not move. The
day is coming; unstoppable."
But Tsvangirai says that, whatever Mugabe thinks, elections will not be held
on June 29. His spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, told the Mail & Guardian
this week that demands for elections on that date were just "idle talk".
"Every sane Zimbabwean knows that there can't be elections on June 29. It's
not possible. That is why the principals, including Mugabe himself,
appointed a team that includes Chinamasa and Matinenga to consult other
parties and prepare a report on the electoral issues that will be discussed
by party political leaders, including Ncube, to inform them on when the
elections can be held," Tamborinyoka said.
"Besides, there are other stakeholders in this issue. There is the SADC and
the African Union, the guarantors of the GPA, who must also be consulted on
Visiting SADC and West African leaders
Tsvangirai last week visited SADC and West African leaders to discuss the
situation in Zimbabwe and the preparations for elections. He demanded that
they pressure Mugabe to implement the GPA, the elections roadmap and
attendant reforms before the polls could be held.
Ncube said this week it was constitutionally and logistically "impossible"
to have elections by June 29.
"All things considered, and if you follow the constitutional or legal
requirements, the earliest date we can have elections is from mid-August,"
Ncube said. "It is impossible to have elections by June 29 if all the
processes are strictly followed."
Ncube said that Parliament needs to first pass the new draft Constitution
before Mugabe assents to it and it is gazetted into law. Parliament resumed
on Tuesday to debate the draft and is likely to pass it next week.
Ncube said that Mugabe would consider the draft and sign it into law before
it is gazetted. When the new Constitution takes effect, relevant sections
dealing with elections will immediately kick in, and that will guide the
30-day mandatory voter-registration process.
Ncube said after that Mugabe is required to give at least 14 days notice
before proclaming an election date. He said there must also be 42 days
between the announcement of the election date and the actual voting day.
"All this shows that elections can't be held by June 29," Ncube said.
Debate and confusion over elections
Since the advent of the coalition government, there has been debate and
confusion over when the next general elections will be held.
Constitutional lawyer Derek Matyszak said even though the term of office for
Mugabe and Parliament expire on June 29, elections could still be held
within four months after that.
"Despite the dust that has been thrown up around the timing of elections, it
remains clear that the five-year life span of Parliament ends on June 29
2013, according to Section 63 of the Constitution, at which time Parliament
will be automatically dissolved," he said.
"Parliament may only constitutionally be dissolved earlier with the consent
of the prime minister first obtained. Elections must be held within four
months of the dissolution of Parliament according to Section 58 of the
By Tichaona Sibanda
10 May 2013
ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa warned on Friday that the armed forces chiefs
remain a potential source of instability, which could still throw Zimbabwe
and the region into chaos after the elections.
Dabengwa said it is a very bad precedent for any country to allow its
members of the security forces to interfere or have a say in whatever is
happening on the political scene.
The former ZIPRA intelligence supremo told SW Radio Africa that Robert
Mugabe’s silence in the wake of a verbal onslaught against Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai by his generals, seemed to condone their behaviour.
Asked for his opinion following the recent spate of toxic grumblings by the
service chiefs, Dabengwa was unequivocal when he stated: ‘It’s either he
(Mugabe) condones what they’re saying or he’s afraid of them.’
Many commentators say it is extremely unlikely Mugabe is afraid of the men
he put into power to maintain his hold over the country, particularly as he
continues to richly reward them by allowing them to plunder the Marange
In the last two weeks, the service chiefs waged a verbal war against the MDC
leader with army commander General Constantine Chiwenga labelling him a
psychiatric patient in need of a competent psychiatrist.
Not to be outdone, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri described
the Premier as a ‘malcontent’ who did not deserve any attention from him as
the chief of police.
Worryingly, the heads of the country’s army, police, airforce and CIO have
warned in the past that they will not allow a candidate without liberation
war credentials to be president.
This was in apparent reference to Tsvangirai who did not participate in the
liberation war of the 1970’s. Analysts say that years of interfering in
political issues have rendered the armed forces a source of chronic
political trouble and a liability to any democratic civilian rule.
Dabengwa said reforming a security sector notorious for its human rights
abuses and distrust of leaders other than Mugabe, will require significant
‘The issue of realignment (security sector reform) to me is not important…it
is a process that takes time and cannot be achieved overnight. But what is
important is to ensure that everyone in the country abides by the highest
law of the country, which is the new constitution.
‘The constitution spells it out that members of the security forces,
including civil servants, should be apolitical. So once that clause in the
constitution comes into effect, the generals cannot come out and start
commenting on the political issues,’ Dabengwa said.
The liberation war icon explained that the loose-tongued generals have felt
free to say anything they want, because they know no one will reprimand them
for doing it.
‘If they know they would be reprimanded they will never repeat what they’ve
been saying all along. They have a commander-in-chief who happens to be the
President of the country and when your juniors do something wrong…it is your
duty to reprimand them.
Dabengwa continued: ‘And if you don’t the indications that you’re giving to
the rest of the other people is that you actually condone what they are
Military analysts however believe that reforming the armed forces is crucial
to dealing with country’s deep-rooted political problems. Since 1980, the
ZANU PF regime has used the military for political ends.
Others believe this has not only undermined it as a professional outfit, but
has also made the military a source of political instability.
Despite a new constitution that requires an apolitical military it is
unlikely that anything will change, without anyone to enforce that ruling.
By Nomalanga Moyo
10 May 2013
President Mugabe met Zambian Vice President Guy Scott at State House in
Harare Thursday to finalise an agreement for Zimbabwe to import 150,000
tonnes of maize from that country.
After the meeting, Scott told journalists that Zambia would start delivering
the maize soon, and said this could be as early as next week.
Although Scott did not disclose the value of the consignment, the state-run
Herald newspaper said Zimbabwe had already made a down payment of $3
Scott was accompanied by Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Efron Lungu and
Agriculture Minister Robert Sichinga.
Speaking to the state media, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said that the
150,000 tonnes of maize would see the country having enough grain when added
to the harvests taking place in areas that were not affected by drought.
He said Zimbabweans should be grateful to Zambia for prioritising the
country in the light of a high demand of maize by other countries in the
Last month, SW Radio revealed that Zimbabwe was facing severe shortages of
grain, partly due to a poor harvest and a lack of fertiliser in the last
season, with the national Grain Marketing Board having only 92,000 tonnes of
maize in its reserves.Before the ZANU PF government embarked on the chaotic
and violent farm seizures in 2000, Zimbabwe used to be the regional
breadbasket, producing enough for its local needs and exporting its corn
But since 2000 the country has largely relied on food imports. Areas
including Matebeleland South, Masvingo, southern parts of Manicaland,
southern parts of Midlands and some parts of Matebeleland North are already
receiving food aid. But ZANU PF regularly politicize the food aid, making it
impossible for opposition supporters to access.
For some years now nearly 2 million people have had to be supported with
food aid from the international community, due to ZANU PF’s disastrous
By Violet Gonda
10 May 2013
Zimbabwean authorities have been urged to drop charges against two Zimbabwe Independent journalists who were arrested on Tuesday over a story claiming the MDC-T was engaged in sensitive talks with military and police hardliners.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said it is “concerned about the safety of journalists in the run-up to the upcoming elections and the political situation in Zimbabwe, and warns authorities of their responsibility to ensure the security of journalists.”
The MDC-T have also come out defending the journalists saying they did nothing wrong.
Nqobile Ndlovu the company secretary of Alpha Media Holdings (owners of the newspaper), Editor Dumisani Muleya and the author of the article, Owen Gagare, were released on the same day after spending 7 hours in police custody, but still face charges of publishing falsehoods.
Security heavyweights like Army General Constantine Chiwenga publicly denied speaking to members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. But the Zimbabwe Independent stands by its story, saying they sourced the information from MDC-T Defence Secretary Giles Mutsekwa.
“We call on authorities in Zimbabwe to
drop the charges against the two
colleagues and improve the law so as to ensure full freedom of expression in
the country,” IFJ Africa Director Gabriel Baglo said in a statement Friday.
The MDC-T ‘condemned’ the arrest of the journalists, with party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora saying the arrests are meant to intimidate the journalists from reporting factually.
“We maintain that there is nothing wrong that was reported by the journalists,” Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa.
While the arrest of Muleya and the others has been criticised, opinions vary on whether or not the MDC-T should have publicized any secret meetings with the military hardliners who are well-known for supporting President Robert Mugabe.
Asked if meetings with the service chiefs were indeed taking place, Mwonzora said: “We don’t want to discuss that as yet but all I can tell you is that the journalists in question are just being harassed. They have done nothing wrong.”
Meanwhile in an interview on our Hot Seat program, Giles Mutsekwa revealed that his party is pursuing what he called ‘security sector realignment’. He denied his party wants the security bosses removed from their positions, saying the MDC-T has “no problem” working with the military hardliners they previously accused of committing serious human rights violations.
By Tichaona Sibanda
10 May 2013
The Attorney-General’s office has for the second time in a week failed to
allocate a prosecutor to deal with the High Court bail application for the
19 MDC-T activists arrested in Hatcliffe two weeks ago.
The activists, part of co-Home Affairs Theresa Makone’s Harare North
constituency team, were arrested and charged with allegedly impersonating
government officials during a door-to-door voter registration exercise.
Since their arrest the activists have been held in custody after a
magistrate denied them bail last week. On Wednesday lawyers representing
them appealed to the High Court for the activists to be bailed but the
hearing did not proceed after the state failed to allocate a prosecutor to
deal with the matter. It was postponed to Friday.
But lawyer Denford Halimane told SW Radio Africa the case failed to take off
Friday after the prosecutor claimed he had only been given the papers in the
morning. Halimane said it was unusual for the Attorney-General’s office to
delay allocating personnel to deal with such appeals.
‘I wouldn’t want to speculate what’s going on in the AG’s office, but we are
obviously very frustrated since we filed our papers last week. This is a
very simple case and the charges wouldn’t take any lawyer to study them for
a day, that’s how frustrated we are,’ Halemani said.
Meanwhile in Manicaland, the MDC-T’s organising secretary Prosper Mutseyami,
has been charged with public violence and will appear in court on Monday.
The Musikavanhu MP denies the charge.
The MP will spend the weekend in police cells, together with six other party
members who were picked up on Tuesday following political disturbances that
rocked a rally in Chipinge last week.
By Nomalanga Moyo
10 May 2013
The people of Matebeleland must brace themselves for an onslaught by
Jabulani Sibanda after the ex-combatants leader indicated this week that he
will be heading that way by the end of the month.
Sibanda is currently on the campaign trail in Mashonaland where he claims to
be carrying out a revolution against the MDCs, whom he accuses of
spearheading Satanism, the NewsDay newspaper reported Friday.
Explaining his crusade, Sibanda told the paper: “This is a continuation of
the revolution to make our people understand what our people went through
during the liberation struggle, what they have achieved and what we would
have wanted to achieve and the difficulties that we face and how we can move
forward under those difficulties to achieve total freedom.”
He said this will then be followed by “a 10-million-vote-for-Mugabe campaign
to “show that Satanism fronted by the MDCs is not allowed in Zimbabwe”.
But Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) official Paul
Themba Nyathi said Zimbabweans should ignore Sibanda rather than be afraid
of him, “as he has no capacity to inflict injury to anyone”.
Nyathi told SW Radio Africa Friday: “Jabulani derives undeserved mileage if
people are afraid of him. He is someone who is seeking relevance by
threatening violence. We know that factions in his party have disowned him,
so he has no structures and no capacity.
“He is just an attention-seeking nobody who needs to ask himself why he
continues to disrespect Zimbabweans by suggesting that his message of
violence is in any way related to the cause for which the liberation
struggle was fought.
“The fact that Jabulani does not ask himself these questions raises
questions about his credibility as a genuine war veteran.”
Nyathi, who is also the MDC’s treasurer-general, said Sibanda’s hate speech
against the two MDCs typifies ZANU PF politics of “name-calling and throwing
cheap labels around if they are losing an argument”.
“Those of us who have been in the struggle for much longer than Jabulani
know that the MDCs have nothing to do with his Satanism. And I also know
that the people in the MDCs are working tirelessly to correct the damage
that Jabulani and his party have inflicted on Zimbabweans.”
Nyathi revealed that although concern had been raised within JOMIC regarding
Sibanda’s terror campaigns, not much had been done to rein him in, with the
various factions of ZANU PF merely disowning the war-vets leader.
In April, JOMIC co-chair Elton Mangoma of the MDC-T told this station that
the committee could not act on Jabulani as it does not have arresting
powers. He said the monitoring group would be referring “such issues” to
cabinet. But Nyathi indicated that this was yet to happen.
Sibanda is one of a handful of individuals, including President Robert
Mugabe, who remain on the European Union sanctions list, and is accused of
carrying out a sustained terror campaign since the 2000 land invasions.
Last month, the leader of the War Veterans’ Association told a gathering at
Chinhoyi University of Technology that he “hates whites”, and described
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as an “agent of the devil” and threatened
violence in Zimbabwe should ZANU PF lose the forthcoming elections.
We could not get a comment from Sibanda as he was unreachable by phone.
Updated: 2013-05-10 17:41 By Li Jiabao ( chinadaily.com.cn)
Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe will set up offices in Shanghai
and Dubai this year to sever intermediate links and sell precious stones,
including diamonds, directly to China and the UAE.
The corporation is a wholly government-owned company which falls under the
ambit of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, which
announced establishment of the new offices.
The corporation is the exclusive agent for the selling and marketing of all
minerals produced in Zimbabwe, except gold and silver.
Christopher Mutsvangwa, former Zimbabwean ambassador to China and the
corporation's chairman, said the disordered international market for
diamonds has led to illegal exports of Zimbabwean diamonds.
Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
WITH the clock ticking away slowly towards the first ever hosting of the
world’s biggest tourism event in Zimbabwe, the United Nations World Tourism
Organisation General Assembly (August 24-29 2013), the tourism and
hospitality industry in Victoria Falls
has gone full swing in its preparations.
While most of the critics of the project in the media have inexplicably gone
mum, Zimbabwe and Zambia have not rested to make the mega event a success.
Although there has not been construction of legacy or signature
infrastructure as expected by many, in the past month or so, there has been
re-kitting, re-tooling and facelift on many structures in the town.
Legacy or signature buildings are those built for mega events, and will be
remembered, thereafter for hosting the events, like what the Government did
in 1992 with the construction of the Harare International Conference Centre
for the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting.
While such buildings are necessary as memorabilia, they are not a must and
neither have they been a prerequisite for the hosting of UNWTO General
That aside, away from the madding media, the tourism and hospitality
industry has gone into overdrive, with the support of Government
departments, resulting in massive sprucing up work taking place.
The Victoria Falls Hospital has undergone a facelift and re-kitting with new
equipment, the water supply system is being overhauled, almost very road has
now been resurfaced, while the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway is being
widened from the Victoria Falls International Airport to the town. Work
there is seriously in progress.
The Victoria Falls International Airport itself is having its runway
expanded to enable it to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft while the terminal
building is being extended to accommodate more passengers.
Work has already started after Vice President Joice Mujuru, commissioned the
launch of the project, last month.
The hotels have not stopped facelifts and while the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority, the vanguard of the country’s tourism and hospitality industry
has embarked on massive training of hotel staff in the resort town, to
prepare them for hosting the mega event where more than 1 200 delegates are
Zimbabwe and Zambia have started working on friendly visa regime to allow
visitors to have access to both countries without hitches.
What is left is refining or tying the loose ends, to make the event a
This is the fist ever time the UNWTO General Assembly is being held in
Southern Africa and the second ever time it is being held in Africa, after
Senegal hosted it in 2007.
The UNWTO General Assembly brings high profile delegates from the 170
countries that constitute the world tourism family, among them government
ministers and the two Presidents of the hosting countries, Cde Mugabe and Mr
Michael Sata who will officially open, the general assembly.
by Staff Reporter
As donor funding dwindles, hospitals are considering charging user fees when
treating people with HIV-related illnesses.
Recently, Harare Central Hospital authorities told opportunistic infection
patients that the hospital would soon start charging consultation fees for
any treatment outside anti-retroviral therapy reviews.
According to the Ministry of Health, HIV testing, counselling, treatment and
CD4 counts are free of charge in public health institutions. This is due to
resources from the government through the AIDS Levy, as well as development
partners such as USAID, Global Fund, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS
Foundation, UK AID and other donors.
The Ministry of Health 2011 estimates that 1, 235 million adults in the
country and are living with HIV.
The Zimbabwean spoke to parents of children living with HIV.
A woman identified as Ambuya Nastai (67) said she was looking after her
grandchild whose mother died of the disease.
“My daughter was a single mother and she died three years after giving birth
to this child and I am the only guardian. I sell vegetables for a living,”
she said. “If the hospital authorities charge us user fees it will be very
difficult for me to afford consultation fees as well as drugs. This will
kill my grandchild.”
She added that the government should act quickly or at least subsidise the
The consultation fee for children older than five at Harare Hospital is $6
while adults pay $10.
In some remote areas people living with HIV pay a CD4 count and stationery
fee of $1.
The treatment of tuberculosis is free of charge but those with illnesses
such as pneumonia pay a consultation fee of $5 at local clinics and $10 at
Aisha Kamusoko (25), a guardian of her nine-year-old brother, said charging
user fees was not the right route to take.
“My mother died when my young brother was just two-years-old and I was doing
A levels. Since then, life has not been easy as it took four years for him
to get ART,” she said. “Now he is receiving drugs, his health has greatly
improved and introducing user fees will likely reverse these gains.”
Harare Central Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Peggy Zvavamwe, confirmed
that the hospital was considering charging patients but said negotiations
with the government were still in progress. “The policy is silent on
charging user fees. Since it does not say charge or do not charge, we are
still engaging policy makers on the appropriate route to take,” she said.
By Violet Gonda
10 May 2013
A 35 year old man, Malvin Mushonga, has been jailed for an effective one
year after being found guilty of robbing Zimbabwean swimmer and former world
record holder Kirsty Coventry.
Four other gang members, who got away with goods valued at over $5,000, are
still on the run, but NewsDay reported Friday that Mushonga was sentenced to
four years, of which one year was suspended on condition of good behavior
and two years suspended if he returns the stolen goods.
The eight time Olympic medalist was on her way from the Harare International
Airport with her family late last month, when the gang broke the window of
their vehicle, stealing a laptop, shoes, cellphone and other items.
The swimmer had been hurt during the robbery when she tried to wrestle with
one of the thieves after the gang had smashed the back window of the car to
Coventry, who had narrated the ordeal on her Facebook fan page, said her
fiancé Tyrone Seward and her brother-in-law ran after the robbers but only
managed to catch Mushonga, while the other suspects escaped with one of the
10 MAY 2013 10:38 - RAY NDLOVU
As an editor and a reporter are charged, journalists are bracing for more
arrests ahead of elections.
The arrest of the editor and chief reporter of the Zimbabwe Independent on
Tuesday, four days after Zimbabwe marked World Press Freedom Day, has
ignited fears of the onset of a wider crackdown against journalists as the
country heads towards a high-stakes election.
Dumisani Muleya and Owen Gagare were arrested for a report published in the
Zimbabwe Independent last month that claimed that army generals had held
secret talks with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to curry favour
with him should he defeat President Robert Mugabe in the coming elections.
In that report, Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) defence
and security secretary Giles Mutsekwa, a retired major, confirmed that he
had held talks with the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General
Constantine Chiwenga; the Zimbabwe National Army's chief of staff, general
staff, Major General Martin Chedondo, and chief of staff and quartermaster
Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba. That story sparked a verbal attack by
the military on the MDC and Gagare.
Gagare is a former intern in the Mail & Guardian's investigative unit,
amaBhungane. He has previously reported for this paper on the shady deals in
the Marange diamond fields.
Since the rise of the MDC as a challenger to Mugabe's rule, the military has
publicly and persistently said it would neither recognise an election
victory by Tsvangirai nor salute an individual who had no liberation war
The two journalists are being charged under Section 31A (3) of the Criminal
Codification Act and are accused of "publishing false statements prejudicial
to the state" and "undermining public confidence in the state".
If convicted, they would be liable to a fine, or imprisonment for a period
not exceeding 20 years, or both.
Trevor Ncube, the executive chairperson of the Zimbabwe Independent and the
owner of the M&G, said the arrest of the journalists was a sign that "the
silly season is upon us".
Muleya, after his release from Harare Central Police Station, said the
pair's arrest was a clear abuse of the state machinery and an act of
systematic harassment of journalists. He said that although there had been
media reform under the unity government in the past four years, conditions
for reporters remained largely restrictive. "In Zimbabwe, repression of the
media tends to increase around elections and the 2013 election won't be an
exception. This [arrest] is meant to intimidate the media. We should brace
ourselves for more."
In 2011, Mugabe said the army could never be separated from Zanu-PF. "They
are a force that has a history, a political history. We worked with them
when they were still guerrillas."
The army's allegiance to Zanu-PF was born during the struggle and army
chiefs have been rewarded with the choicest farms, retired and even serving
officers head some of the country's biggest state enterprises and the army
has significant diamond-mining concessions.
10 MAY 2013 00:00 - ANALYSIS JASON MOYO, RAY NDLOVU
The opposition's attempt to win the army in Zimbabwe is not new and is
unlikely to succeed as the military is keen to prove its loyalty to Mugabe.
In these days of suspicion and mistrust among President Robert Mugabe's
allies any suggestion that one of them is talking to the enemy was always
going to be met with a heavy response.
Reports that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was again trying to
revive previously failed efforts to reach out to the military drew strong
rebuttals from the military and resulted in the arrest of journalists.
The denials – delivered in somewhat flamboyant vocabulary – were aimed less
at Morgan Tsvangirai than at Mugabe. With Zanu-PF again entangled in all
sorts of factional intrigue, the army generals had to be sure Mugabe himself
was left with no doubt that he could still rely on his trusted top brass.
The arrest of journalists who published the claims of engagement between the
MDC and the military was possibly just intended to drive the point home.
"We have no time to meet sellouts," Zimbabwe National Army commander
Constantine Chiwenga told state media at the weekend. "Clearly Tsvangirai is
a psychiatric patient who needs a competent psychiatrist."
To meet Tsvangirai would be to "spit on the struggle", Chiwenga said.
Earlier, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri had said he would not meet
"confused malcontents". He would arrest anyone who repeated those claims, he
Shifting between the factions
With alliances shifting between the factions bidding for power in Zanu-PF
one has to be sure that Mugabe knows where your allegiances lie. Which,
perhaps, is what Information Minister Webster Shamu was trying to do last
week when he said he wished Mugabe was his biological father.
Given how badly the MDC has failed in its efforts to infiltrate the
military, Mutsekwa's claims seemed doubtful to many. Such claims are also
not new. But the military's top badges felt, this time, they had to offer a
response, and it had to be seen to be a tough response.
What is less certain is where the affair leaves the MDC, which has tried for
10 years to reach out to the army. Tsvangirai is desperate to get some
assurance that he would be allowed to rule, in the event that he ever won an
Previous attempts by the MDC to reach out to the military have failed,
hurting the MDC's own credibility and pushing the army further away. The
military has been increasing its involvement in politics and the economy and
is also becoming increasingly sensitive to how it is viewed by its
opponents, but more importantly, by Mugabe. Yet Tsvangirai's choice of
trusted defence advisors crippled whatever strategy he might have had.
The military is stuffed with war veterans and is suspicious of the MDC,
which was openly backed by the West and by white farmers when it was
launched. This meant that Tsvangirai's choice of any point men on military
matters had to be clever. It wasn't.
Mutsekwa, who has been his senior military advisor over the past decade,
fought on the side of the Rhodesian army during the war, a fact Zanu-PF
repeatedly brings up to soil his name.
Another of Tsvangirai's previous defence advisors was Martin Rupiya, a
respected security analyst who also served in the Rhodesian army. Rupiya
stepped down as advisor in 2009, reportedly after Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi said the generals would refuse to sit in the Security Council – a
grouping of government ministers and security forces – if Rupiya was
present because he had fought against them during the war.
Even Mutsekwa, in his claims last week that he had met the military,
acknowledged it would be tough to try and pry the generals from their
Zanu-PF roots. "They fought the liberation struggle under a certain
political leadership and system, so they believe in that system."
Previous attempts by the MDC to establish military alliances that come to
mind are the 2003 tape transcript produced in court during Tsvangirai's
treason trial that showed him claiming to have sent Mutsekwa to meet the
military "to smooth the relationship and lay down our views that the army
has to remain professional".
Air Marshal Perence Shiri, who testified during that trial, denied meeting
Mutsekwa, calling it "a blatant lie". However, he told the court he had been
approached in 2001 by Job Sikhala and Tafadzwa Musekiwa, who were then MDC
The meetings were held ahead of the 2002 presidential elections.
"[Tsvangirai] wanted me to be the commander of the armed forces and to play
a pacifying role to war veterans and the armed forces who would have been
disgruntled by his election," Shiri told defence lawyer Eric Matinenga, who
is now constitutional affairs minister.
In January 2003 Tsvangirai claimed he had held talks with retired Colonel
Lionel Dyke, who, he said, was acting on behalf of the late defence forces
chief Vitalis Zvinavashe and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. The claims
were also denied. Since then, the MDC's insistence on "security reforms" has
only driven the two sides further apart.
Prepared to die for Mugabe
Douglas Nyikayaramba, a top military officer, recently declared that he was
prepared to die to keep Mugabe in power.
Tsvangirai responded by charging that civilian authority had been usurped by
"a small, parasitic clique at the helm of the military". In 2011 Mugabe said
the army could never be separated from Zanu-PF. "They are a force that has a
history, a political history. We worked with them when they were still
While the army's allegiance to Zanu-PF may indeed have been born in the
struggle, it has taken a lot of nest-padding to keep those bonds going. Army
chiefs have been treated to the choicest farms, retired and even serving
officers get to head some of the country's biggest state enterprises, and
the army has diamond concessions.
Reappraisal of Zimbabwean president coincides with plausible plotline of win
in 'credible' elections leading to lifting of sanctions
David Smith in Harare
The Guardian, Friday 10 May 2013 14.08 BST
Robert Mugabe's redemption narrative will be less convincing if civil
society groups are right and his Zanu-PF party resorts to intimidating
voters this autumn. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
He has been a schoolteacher, freedom fighter and political prisoner. He has
gone from admired independence leader to despised autocrat. Now a life that
spans nine decades could be about to add its least expected final chapter:
the rehabilitation of Robert Mugabe.
The following scenario, once unthinkable, is now just conceivable. The
Zimbabwean president will retain power in this year's elections through fair
means or foul; the poll will be relatively peaceful and deemed "credible" by
the west; then sanctions will be lifted against Mugabe and his inner circle,
ushering him back in from the cold.
This coincides with a subtle shift in the mood music around Africa's oldest
leader. Domestic political foes have praised him. He recently enjoyed
cordial meetings with Andrew Young, special envoy of the US state
department, and civil rights stalwart the Rev Jesse Jackson. A documentary
film, Mugabe: Villain or Hero?, has won sympathetic audiences in London.
Most contentiously of all, researchers have begun to challenge the orthodoxy
that Zimbabwe's land reform programme was an unmitigated disaster.
Even non-supporters believe this reassessment is a necessary corrective
after years of demonisation. "He was overtoxified in the first place," said
Petina Gappah, a Harare-based writer, lawyer and fellow of the Open Society
foundation. "This idea of Mugabe as Hitler? He's extremely charming and
"This idea of a mindless thug underestimates his intelligence. This
cartoonish, caricatured Idi Amin figure fails to recognise his insidious
effect on the country. If he didn't exist, they would have had to invent
Two currents are moving in 89-year-old Mugabe's favour for elections likely
to take place in August or September. His Zanu-PF party has allegedly helped
itself to profits from the country's diamond fields and revitalised its
support base with populist policies such as the indigenisation of
No less importantly, the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is seen
by many as having lost momentum and the moral high ground after entering a
power-sharing agreement with Zanu-PF after the last disputed election in
The MDC insists that it has made real achievements in government and retains
groundswell support, but it is losing a crucial battle of perceptions.
Recent opinion polls by Afrobarometer and Freedom House found the party
trailing behind Zanu-PF – a more attention-grabbing headline than questions
about the data's reliability.
The MDC stands accused of the sins of incumbency, its leadership seduced by
ministerial houses and luxury cars; the party has been forced to discipline
some councillors for corruption. It has failed to heal a factional rift that
could divide its support. Leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who serves as prime
minister in the unity government, has been criticised for becoming too close
to Mugabe and for an unseemly run of sex scandals.
"I think he's been a total disaster," said one senior MDC figure, who did
not wish to be named. "He's let us all down. But the important thing to
remember is the MDC is bigger than Morgan Tsvangirai."
Among the disenchanted who feel taken for granted is the country's second
biggest teaching union, cause for alarm because the MDC grew out of the
union movement and relies on it for support. Raymond Majongwe, secretary
general of the 14,000-strong Progressive Teachers' Union, said: "I'm feeling
seriously let down by the MDC. The MDC has done nothing for teachers.
"The power-sharing agreement could be the undoing of the MDC leadership.
They exposed their own naivety and appetite for opulence and extravagance.
In four years the level of wealth these MDC guys have accumulated is
shocking. If the MDC wins the election, fine, they can go ahead and loot the
country like their predecessors."
But Zanu-PF is unlikely to take any chances. It still dominates the
broadcast media and its persecution of activists, journalists, lawyers and
opposition figures continues. Serious questions remain over the legitimacy
of the electoral roll and the potential for cheating, particularly after
apparent anomalies in the recent constitutional referendum. Civil society
watchdogs predict that the party will resort to its old tricks of
intimidating voters, but this time using a form of "smart terror" whereby
the mere threat of violence is enough. "Shaking the matchbox," is how one
opponent describes it.
A schoolteacher from Buhera district, who says he was abducted from his home
and beaten after voting for the MDC in 2008, said: "There is a register of
Zanu-PF supporters and it is used to intimidate people. It is silent
violence. People are being told what to do. Rehearsals are being held day
and night over how this election is going to be rigged."
But after the bloodshed of 2008, in which the MDC says 253 people died and
thousands were tortured, a low body count is likely to be hailed as progress
by an outside world that may then turn a blind eye to other irregularities.
Gappah said: "There will be no violence this year; they don't need it. But I
don't think it's possible to talk about the possibility of a free and fair
election. A 'credible' election is the buzzword the diplomats use. The UK
and US will accept a 'credible' one. It's very likely Mugabe will come away
smelling of roses."
She compared the situation to Kenya, which this year "held a flawed election
to fix another flawed election". The outcome was victory for Uhuru Kenyatta,
who faces charges at the international criminal court of crimes against
humanity. But the west was quick to laud Kenya for a peaceful process and
seems determined not to allow the new president's past to get in the way of
Britain's high commissioner to Kenya visited Harare recently and it seems
likely that parallels of realpolitik are being drawn. Zanu-PF was
represented at a recent Friends of Zimbabwe meeting in London, while Mugabe
has welcomed the re-engagement efforts initiated by the UK and the EU.
All this comes as one of the central pillars of the western critique of
Mugabe's 33-year rule is under attack.
In 2010, Prof Ian Scoones of Sussex University published a study that
claimed the seizure of white-owned farms, which smashed food production a
decade ago, had also bequeathed a positive spinoff in the form of thousands
of small-scale black farmers.
It has been followed this year by a book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land,
which concludes: "In the biggest land reform in Africa, 6,000 white farmers
have been replaced by 245,000 Zimbabwean farmers. These are primarily
ordinary poor people who have become more productive farmers." Agricultural
production is now returning to its 1990s level, they argue.
The reappraisal is hotly disputed. The MDC says that Zanu-PF cronies and
supporters are the main beneficiaries, and the new farmers are still easily
outnumbered by agricultural workers who lost their jobs – but the mere fact
that land reform's consequences have moved from conventional wisdom to a
debate worthy of airtime is another step towards making Mugabe's legacy less
Saviour Kasukuwere is the youth development, indigenisation and empowerment
minister and a rising star in Zanu-PF. He said: "We knew one day the
chickens would come home to roost and now they have. The whole world
realises that President Mugabe was right and the policy that Zanu-PF
embarked on was right."
Bristling with confidence, Kasukuwere claims the west now regrets supporting
the MDC, which he dubs the "Movement for Dangerous Children". He continued:
"They made a mistake in the first place, they backed a terrible horse. I
think the first reaction was anger. The things that you do when you're
angry, you always live to regret them.
"They had this view, 'Why is Mugabe taking the land? So let's look for
something.' I think they should have sat down and had their faculties
working and we should not be where we are. The best brains in this country
did not join the MDC. That's why President Mugabe will confidently walk home
with the trophy."
It is an arresting narrative that Zanu-PF is naturally eager to promote, but
whether Mugabe can complete the unlikely circle from liberation hero to
authoritarian villain to redeemed father of the nation remains far from
certain. A civil society group, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, notes that
polling suggests a tight race that will go to a second round, in which
Tsvangirai stands a better chance of building alliances.
McDonald Lewanika, director of the coalition, said: "When it comes to the
crunch, the choice that faces people is clearly between two evils, but one
much less than the other. It's unfortunate the choice will be that bad."
By Simukai Tinhu
May 9, 2013
Recent arbitrary arrests of prominent human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa
and senior officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), coupled
with sporadic attacks on civilians and civil society by the state, have been
interpreted by some including the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as the last
kicks of a dying horse. High-profile lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, who heads
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an omnipotent civic organisation
when it comes to constitutional and democracy matters in Zimbabwe, also
echoed the same sentiments – explaining such behaviour as indicative that
ZANU-PF was panicking that it might lose the elections.
Lost amongst all this are two unmistakable facts: first, violence and
intimidation of civilians is part of the party’s electoral strategy. Second,
ZANU–PF has been the subject of such predictions before, and to date they
have been proved wrong. Indeed, in the run–up to the 2002 and 2008
elections, with mounting national debt, food shortages, disease outbreaks,
rampant unemployment, and high levels of inflation, many wrote off the
party. However, ZANU–PF has proved to be a survivor, and is currently
calling the shots in a shaky coalition government with the two MDC
Why Has the Party Stayed in Power for So Long?
There is no doubt that ZANU–PF has depended on heavily managed and scripted
elections to retain power. Alongside manipulation of elections, intimidation
and violence have also been at the heart of this strategy. Indeed, a cursory
look at the post-independence elections shows that these have been
characterised by violence. In the run–up to the 1985 parliamentary
elections, ZANU–PF government unleashed the infamous Gukurahundi against the
supporters of ZAPU-PF, resulting in the deaths of thousands.
In 1990, Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM), a party that provided a formidable
challenge, faced widespread intimidation and violence. In the 1996
elections, the two main opposition parties, Abel Muzorewa’s United Parties
(UP) and Ndabaningi Sithole’s Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-Ndonga),
withdrew from the elections citing irregularities and intimidation of their
supporters. When the MDC emerged in 1999 and seemed to have a genuine chance
of unseating ZANU-PF, President Mugabe’s party again resorted to physical
force. Even today the use of coercion and the threat of violence remain
critical for ZANU–PF’s strategy, and it should not come as a surprise if
this year’s elections are shrouded in violence, intimidation and repression.
The party has also been aided by an unequal political playing field. For
example, the media in Zimbabwe has always been muzzled. There are very few
privately–owned newspapers and radio stations. This has meant that public
information remains under the firm grip of ZANU–PF, which uses state–owned
media to manipulate public opinion in its favour while using hate speech and
other undermining language against the opposition.
Repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act have been used to severely curtail basic
rights through vague defamation clauses, and draconian penalties. Indeed,
ZANU–PF treats an unequal political playing field as something that cannot
be changed. For example, to date, they have showed total disregard to calls
by the opposition, civil society, regional bodies such as the African Union
and the international community to change it so that other political players
have room to manoeuvre.
ZANU–PF has had an overwhelming share of Zimbabwe’s most talented
politicians including figures such as Patrick Chinamasa, Jonathan Moyo, and
Herbert Murerwa. This vanguard of elite politicians, who masterminded the
party’s stranglehold on Zimbabwean politics since the 1980s are not only
street smart and tough, intelligent and well read, they are also ruthless.
Most crucially, they have perfected the art of staying in power. It is this
obsession with power that blinds them to any regard for competitive
politics, and which also explains the party’s aversion to democracy.
President Mugabe’s party also has an ideology that appears to resonate with
a staunchly anti-Western and nationalistic section of Zimbabwean society.
Indeed, it could be argued that ZANU-PF is a political party that has a
‘permanent’ support base of mostly rural area peasants that have
consistently voted for them since independence. Though the MDC has started
to make some inroads, historically, it has been difficult for the opposition
to claim significant support from this group. ZANU–PF has not only managed
to secure support from this group through nationalist ideology, but it has
also used propaganda. For example, it has repeatedly played the fear card of
a return to ‘white rule’ via the MDC, portraying the opposition as conniving
with foreigners to steal Zimbabwe’s riches.
One of the less remarked upon reasons for ZANU–PF’s long stay in power is
its interpretation and reinterpretation of history. President Mugabe’s party
understands the power of ‘useful history’ – the application of it as a
propaganda tool, and as a social and political organising force that can
help shape national identity. ZANU-PF0- has manufactured and popularised
many histories in order to justify both its policies such as land reform and
indigenisation and also the party’s repressive rule.
History has also been used to reinforce the centrality of ZANU–PF in
Zimbabwean politics and also the eternal nature of the ‘revolutionary party’
versus the ephemeral nature of other parties that have come and gone. While
President Muagbe’s own interpretations of national history might be
difficult for non–Zimbabweans to appreciate, they do resonate with certain
sections of Zimbabwean society.
ZANU–PF’s greatest strength has, however, been its elite’s cohesion. Indeed,
there would be genuine grounds for optimism for the opposition if the party
was to split or a significant number of party stalwarts were to leave. The
unity of the party is the best barometer for ZANU–PF staying in power, and
no strategy can seriously purport to have the ability to unseat it from if
it does not consider undermining its unity.
What explains this high party elite cohesion? First, is what might be called
‘corrupt law practice.’ This ‘colapractice’ (a portmanteau of words ‘corrupt
law practice’) system is simple; in return for elites’ loyalty to the party,
the government tolerates corrupt activities by its party officials. However,
the government closely documents this corruption, building evidence that can
be used against elite officials, particularly those that the party cannot
afford to leave or join other parties. If any of these party members
undermine party cohesion by, for example, threatening to form a breakaway or
join a rival party, compromising information is passed to the legal system
led by a partisan attorney general. The disobedient party member either
faces prison, full–scale seizure of their wealth or both. ZANU–PF has turned
this strategy against a number of party elites such as James Makamba, Chris
Kuruneri, Philip Chiyangwa amongst many.
The very nature of ZANU–PF’s corrupt political culture has also ensured its
survival. The party is dominated by wealthy individuals who have mines, vast
tracts of land and who also own or control local banks. Together, these
individuals practice a distinctive form of patronage politics that has also
been used to maintain the party’s unity. Public offices are often used by
its elites to gain access to state resources, which are then shared amongst
party elites to retain their loyalty to the party. The resources are also
used to lure talented members of the intelligentsia and powerful civil
society leaders to the party.
The West, by publicly backing the opposition MDC, maybe have done an
injustice to the very democratic ideals that they seek. Indeed, they have
been an asset to President Mugabe in terms of boosting his core supporters’
hostility towards perceived attempts to micro–manage Zimbabwean politics.
Washington and Brussels’ missteps afforded ZANU-PF the perfect invitation to
take on the MDC as a front for neo–imperialism. In addition, their
relentless criticism and lack of engagement with President Mugabe’s party
gave endless fodder for stoking nationalism and anti–Western rhetoric.
ZANU–PF’s Succession Problems
Is an attempt to unseat ZANU–PF from power a case of pushing water uphill?
No: once Mugabe is gone, all bets are off. The 89 year old’s presence has
neutered any potential split in the party. The octagenerian leader will
either expire or resign before the end of the first term (should he win the
upcoming elections). Indeed, the fact that ZANU–PF fought so hard for a
provision in the new constitution which says that should a president retire
or fail to continue in office for any reason, there would be no fresh
elections, but the governing political party would choose whom to thrust to
the top post. This is the clearest indication yet that President Mugabe
intends to hand over power to one of the party members. Rumour has it that
power struggles within the party have already started in earnest. But who
are the contenders?
The choice of successor, if left to Mugabe, will certainly be someone
capable of preserving party unity and also determined to carry forward his
policies (land reform and economic indigenisation). The man who appears to
fit the bill is Emerson Mnangagwa, who has long been regarded as the
President’s blue eyed boy. Having been minister of Justice and Security, he
is not only an experienced administrator, but probably more than anyone
else, has helped build and maintain Mugabe’s post–independence political
However, worryingly, not only does Mnangagwa lack the charisma of his
mentor, he also combines the worst instincts of narrowly focused patronage
with a ruthless authoritarian temperament. He is rumoured to be one of the
country’s richest people, and has been accused of being the man behind the
Gukuruhundi atrocities committed against civilians in the Matabeleland in
the 1980s. In addition, the succession of Mnangagwa will be of the same
generation. Indeed, having been in the cabinet since 1980, Mnangagwa exudes
an atmosphere of elderly exhaustion.
The other contender is the current Vice President, Joyce Mujuru. However,
with the death of her husband, who was known as a King maker in ZANU–PF’s
internal politics, Mujuru’s faction has been gravely weakened.
A surprise entry in to the battle has been the emergence of Saviour
Kasukuwere, the young and energetic minister of Youth, Indigenisation and
Empowerment who has been the point man in President Mugabe’s drive to
‘indigenise’ foreign-owned companies. The burley, former intelligence
officer is by far the underdog. Kasukuwere’s faction is made mainly of young
apparatchiks languishing in the wilderness, emerging on the national scene
might prove difficult. His camp lacks the patronage networks of the
traditional factions of Mnangagwa and Mujuru that draw party big–wigs and
turn out the vote.
Some believe that if President Mugabe were to lose the election the security
chiefs (who have a symbiotic relationship with ZANU–PF) will take over. This
is unlikely for two reasons: First, the army is very much aware that its
stock in public image is extremely poor. Despite explicit threats, I doubt
if they have the stomach for experimenting with actual governance. Second,
the army will also struggle to project legitimacy across Africa. Diplomatic
assault by international leaders, particularly from SADC, would be too much
for them to withstand.
What will ZANU–PF do if it loses?
Having been encouraged by the peaceful referendum vote, many are beginning
to see a scenario where ZANU–PF voluntarily hands over power in the event of
its defeat. This is a reckless assumption. Past elections have shown that
the party distinctly hostile to competitive politics, and as such, it would
be naive to think that ZANU–PF is conducting elections out of goodwill, with
the ultimate intention of handing over power to the opposition.
The Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who is considered one of the brains
behind the party’s strategisation, channelled ZANU–PF sentiments when he was
recently asked on BBC’s Hard Talk programme if the party was prepared to
voluntarily surrender power if it were to lose the elections. Chinamasa’s
response was that he would campaign for ZANU–PF to win, and did not see his
party losing. Such Polyanna intransigence not only reflects ZANU–PF’s
resolve not to give up power, but to retain it at all costs.
Simukai Tinhu recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an
Mphil in African Studies.