Zimbabwe news 1 August 2013 - Zimbabwe Situation

Zimbabwe news 1 August 2013

Zimbabwean exiles call for new elections

 As votes were cast in the Zimbabwe elections, Zimbabwean exiles and supporters in London called on South Africa to organize new elections in keeping with the agreed roadmap and election guidelines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The call came during a six hour demonstration by the Zimbabwe Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on election day , 31st July, in protest at the rigging of the vote by Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

About 70 Vigil supporters were joined by members of Action for Southern Africa , the successor to the Anyti-Apartheid Movement, and representatives of the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party. Also there was the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The protest was covered by a variety of news organisations who showed particular interest in the Vigil’s depiction of how Mugabe was stealing the elections.

A Vigil leader, Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing a Mugabe mask, was filmed stuffing ballot boxes with votes from large black bags labeled Nikuv – the Israeli company accused of helping Zanu PF rig the elections.

As the demonstration got under way Fungayi received a text from Harare that an informant in the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission had disclosed that polling stations in MDC strongholds were being supplied with Nikuv pens with ink which disappeared after a few hours.

During the afternoon Vigil supporters moved en masse around the corner for a boisterous demonstration outside the South African High Commission, where the following letter was delivered:

‘Dear President Zuma

 Zimbabwe elections not credible

Zimbabwean exiles and supporters deplore the refusal of President Mugabe to ensure the elections are free and fair. There is overwhelming evidence that the poll has been comprehensively rigged and we have no confidence that the results will reflect the will of the people.

The Zimbabwe Vigil calls on the Southern African Development Community to organise new elections in keeping with the agreed roadmap and SADC election guidelines.

We caution you that, as things stand, there will inevitably be a new mass exodus of desperate and impoverished people fleeing Zimbabwe as the Mugabe mafia intensifies its looting, sending the country’s economy into a cataclysmic decline’

Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


Zimbabwean elections: A view from polling stations

http://www.itv.com/

– last updated Wed 31 Jul 2013

Today Zimbabweans are heading to the polls for elections that pit President Robert Mugabe against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has vowed to push Africa’s oldest leader into retirement after 33 years in power.

Here young Zimbabweans share their experiences of casting their votes:

Julie Smith shows her finger with pink ink, showing she has cast her vote in today’s Zimbabwean elections.

Julie Smith, 26, from Harare writes:

I went to vote at 9am – I didn’t want to go too early in case there was any trouble or violence, so we waited a little while before we headed out but it was peaceful and we didn’t hear of any trouble, so we went out.

I voted at my local polling station – a mobile polling station which was just a tent and three booths. I waited for about an hour in the queue which by Zimbabwe standards is quick!

There were polling officials, election monitors and police at the station – an usher at the door checked your documents and then your ID and name and address were checked on the roll – they were very strict about this.

A police officer keeps watch as Zimbabweans wait to cast their vote in Mbare township outside Harare. Credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The officials were helpful and the monitors were watchful – making sure you posted your ballot in the correct boxes.

They were very strict about where you stood and where you walked – two policemen were walking along the queue and collecting elderly voters and bringing them to the front of the queue.

I did notice that the monitors were being monitored! Overall I think that it was quite well-run and efficient for a tent in the middle of a supermarket carpark!

There was, however, an old man in the queue who had moved house and even though he insisted he had changed his address on the roll – his name didn’t appear and they wouldn’t let him vote – they told him he had to go back to his old constituency and vote there.

He was quite old and it was quite far away so I’m not sure if he would actually have the energy to make the second journey.

So even though they were fairly efficient – there were still issues.

Everyone’s buying champagne and putting it on ice. They are hopeful.

There is no way Morgan Tsvangirai cannot win.

Voters queue to cast their votes in Mbare on the outskirts of Harare. Credit: Facebook/Morgan Tsvangirai

Ian Smith, 23, writes:

At my polling station I didn’t see anyone being turned away – there were lots of observers and a definite police presence – they weren’t aggressive but they were watchful as well.

Everyone’s details were checked stringently and they were checking your finger to make sure there was no pink ink to show you had already voted.

There was an official watching you like a hawk to make sure your ballot went in the correct box.

I wasn’t allowed to loiter and watch another person post their ballot – not sure why – I guess in case I saw his vote.

Voter queues at the polling station on the outskirts of Harare. Credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

I only waited half an hour but this was not normal – driving home, there were long queues around the corner. As you drove out of Harare the queues got bigger and the stations were extremely busy.

People were Facebooking and texting to say bring your own pens. Just to be sure I brought my own and I left it there for others to use.

There was definitely a low turnout of young voters – I don’t think any of my friends voted.

I got a sense that everyone was really hopeful, thinking: ‘this is going to work’.

From seeing so many people turning out to vote and from the massive amount of people at the MDC rally yesterday in Freedom Square there’s no way Mugabe can rig it this time – there’s too much of a critical mass in support of MDC.


Obasanjo to alert ZEC to any irregularities

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

Gerry Jackson SW Radio Africa 31st July 2013

The head of the African Union observer mission, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said
they will be alerting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commision to any irregularities
in the voting process.

He said the AU is committed to helping Zimbabwe have free and fair
elections.

Despite these assurances from the former Nigerian President, Zimbabweans
remain somewhat sceptical about the AU’s commitment to this ideal.

The AU commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, made a very
disappointing statement on Friday, a statement that was criticised by Morgan
Tsvangirai. She said that the AU were satisfied with the election
arrangements and that Tsvangirai had not raised any concerns with her.

But Tsvangirai said he had had a meeting with her and raised many concerns.
He said that from her past record she had shown she was biased towards
Mugabe, so she could not be an impartial observer.


Exiled Zimbabweans protest against unfair elections

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
31 July 2013

Zimbabweans in the UK gathered outside the country’s embassy in London to
protest against the flawed elections back home, which they say have denied
millions an opportunity to vote.

The protest – dubbed Demonstration for Democracy – was led by rights group
the Zimbabwe Vigil, with anti-apartheid lobby group Action for Southern
Africa as well as British labour body the Trades Union Congress also
participating in solidarity.

Speaking before the demonstration, protest coordinator Ephraim Tapa said
that since its formation in 2002, the ZimVigil has always raised awareness
about the electoral irregularities that have enabled President Mugabe to
cling on to power despite losing the elections.

Tapa added: “A free and fair process would ensure that the right to vote is
extended to Zimbabweans in the diaspora, which is not the case in this
election.”

The ZimVigil protest, which kicked off at noon in typical style with song
and dance, drew scores of people and several journalists from the British
press. Mugabe’s nemesis and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also
attended.
But amid the drumming, singing and dancing, the message was loud and clear:
Mugabe must stop stealing elections and go. The protesters also demanded
that exiled Zimbabweans be given their right to vote.
ZimVigil coordinator Rose Benton told SW Radio Africa that the protesters
would disperse at the same time as the close of the polling stations in Zim,
at 7pm.

She added: “We performed several sketches on ballot stuffing which we
believe is how Mugabe is going to be stealing the vote, and also illustrated
how we want him to be kicked out of power.”

A petition was handed in to the South African Embassy in London, asking GPA
facilitator President Jacob Zuma to call for fresh elections in Zimbabwe in
view of the discredited current electoral process.


Zimbabwe Votes 31st July 2013

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

Gerry Jackson
SW Radio Africa
31st July 2013

Parliamentary watchdog Billwatch has provided some details about Zimbabwe’s
elections, to remind people of the key points.

Kisinot Mukwazhe of the Zimbabwe Development Party has withdrawn from the
presidential election. He says he will now be supporting President Mugabe.
That leaves four presidential candidates, Dabengwa of ZAPU, Mugabe ZANU-PF,
Ncube MDC and Tsvangirai MDC-T.

If the presidential results are too close to call, there will be a run off
on 11th September. This precise date was specified in Mugabe’s election
proclamation, in accordance with the electoral act.

There are 9,735 polling stations across the country.

There are 20,000 local and foreign observers.

There are nearly 900 foreign journalists in the country, covering these
elections.

The official announcement of results has to be made by the electoral
commission. But there is nothing in the law that is against parties,
organisations and individuals compiling results, as long as they don’t claim
they are official.

The official announcement of the Presidential election result has to be made
by the ZEC chairperson, or in her absence the deputy chairperson or one of
the other commissioners.  The announcement must be made not later than 5th
August, five days after polling, if there is an outright winner.

The person elected President must be sworn in within 48 hours.

More voting irregularities

The Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum has been sending out more messages about
voting irregularities in a number of areas.

They say that in areas expected to see a higher level of support for the MDC
significantly fewer polling stations have been set up, and within these
stations it’s taking much longer to process voters.

Reports from Greengrove polling station in Harare say that in a queue of 55
people it had taken more than 120 minutes to process 20 voters. This shows
that the process is moving much more slowly than in a number of other areas.

Some voters continued to be turned away from Wards where previously they had
voted, after being placed on other lists where geographically it was
impossible for them to get to on time.

In Chivhu, south of Harare on the road to Masvingo, there is an estimated
population of several thousand potential voters, but only 3 polling stations
have been set up.

Bulawayo there are only 392 stations for a large population and Harare has
only 875, for over a million voters.

In Manicaland there are 1,303 stations, an area narrowly lost by ZANU PF in
2008. In Mashonaland West 1,238 stations have been established. Given the
numbers of potential voters it would be easier in these areas to cast votes.

In the Mufakose High School polling station near Harare, up to 15 police
officers were reportedly present inside the polling station, some seated
besides the Presiding Officer, taking the names of people who are voting.
This is a clear effort to intimidate voters, and is in direct violation of
the ZEC electoral laws.

The report also says that unusually high numbers of voters are requesting to
be assisted. This is normally available to the disabled, so that they have
help in voting and means that police, military or village elders help the
voter.

Heal Zimbabwe have also been releasing a number of reports of disturbing
voter irregularities.

In Muzarabani North, Ward 12, at a polling station at Chiriga Primary
School, there was a high number of people claiming they could not read or
write so they were being assisted to vote.

At a polling station in Machaya Primary School, Godfrey Magaya was
intimidating voters in the queue, telling people that they will be beaten if
ZANU PF loses.

In Ward 5, at Kapembere polling station, aspiring ZANU PF councillor Mutunda
Rason was intimidating queuing voters, saying there will be no peace in
Muzarabani if ZANU-PF loses the election.

In Chipinge South, Ward 30, Lisungwe polling station, voting had not yet
started by 9:21am due to late arrival of ballot papers.

At Gomba shops, Zengeza 3, aspiring ZANU PF MP Kahanana was intimidating
people, threatening to unleash violence in the area.

Gwanda Central, Ward 4, Jahunva Hall, ZANU-PF supporters were campaigning
less than 200 metres from the polling station.

Zvimba South, Ward 34, Trilon Primary school polling station, a group of
ZANU-PF youths led by a chairperson identified as Makey were campaigning
less than 200 metres from the polling station.

Chegutu West, Ward 17, Dombwe, Msengezi Secondary School and Mahwanda
Primary School polling stations. A group of ZANU PF members were telling
people to register their names before they vote.  The group of youths was
led by Tongai Mukwesha, Thumelo Zinundo, Frank Sayeni, Joseph Matola and
Fainos Ndlovu. Potential voters were threatened with death if ZANU PF loses.
The matter was reported to Chegutu police station and the groups dispersed.

In  Chinhoyi, Ward 11 a JOMIC monitor, Victor Muchavhaira, was arrested at
Citrus polling station for allegedly dropping MDC party fliers within the
prohibited radius.


Exiled Zimbabweans stage dramatic pre-election protest

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Alex Bell

SW Radio Africa
31 July 2013

Three Zimbabwean exiles on Tuesday staged a dramatic pre-election protest in South Africa, where they chained themselves to a statue of that country’s liberation hero, Nelson Mandela.

The brief protest happened in the affluent Sandton City shopping centre, the site of an iconic, nine foot high bronze statue of Madiba.

The three Zimbabwean nationals wrapped chains around their necks to secure themselves to the statue, and brandished placards with the message: “Zimbabwe deserves to be free.”

The protest did not last long after security guards told them and some supporters and passersby to leave.

But the message soon spread on Facebook and Twitter, with other Zimbabwean exiles echoing the sentiment that the country is still not free from the control of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Respected human rights advocate and the head of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, Gabriel Shumba, told SW Radio Africa that voting day is a bittersweet one for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. He said that while there is “so much hope for change,” there is still skepticism.

Thousands of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have returned home to vote, after the right to vote in their resident countries was denied by the government. This is in spite of a successful court application that Shumba filed at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, which ordered the Zim government to allow the postal vote for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

“What we were told when the government defied this order is that we should try go back and vote anyway. Unfortunately not everyone can do this, and even when they do, it seems the practice on the ground is to deny this,” Shumba said.

He was referring to the fact that at least seven buses believed to be filled with Zimbabweans travelling from South Africa to cast their votes, were stopped at Beitbridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning. One of the buses was impounded and the others were prevented from travelling onto their final destinations. It is understood that the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights were trying to intervene on Wednesday morning.

“So there is a mood of skepticism that this vote will bring change. We don’t think this election will be credible, legitimate, free and fair,” Shumba said.

 

 


Zimbabwe elections free and fair, says Robert Mugabe after casting vote

http://www.theguardian.com/

So far, so good, says president as polls open, while rival Morgan Tsvangirai says he expects to win ‘quite resoundingly’

David Smith in Harare theguardian.com, Wednesday 31 July 2013 22.34 AEST

Robert Mugabe casts his vote in Zimbabwe’s elections at a polling booth in Harare. Photograph: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

Robert Mugabe was in a jocular mood as he cast his vote in Zimbabwe‘s elections on Wednesday, talking to reporters and saying the poll would be free and fair.

Asked whether he was nervous about the outcome, the president replied with a laugh: “No, no, no, I’ve gone past that. At 89?”

Africa‘s oldest leader faces a major challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai‘s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has alleged fraud and other irregularities in the election process.

The mood at polling stations on Wednesday was peaceful but queues were long and there were reports of intimidation and gaps in the electoral roll.

Accompanied by his wife, Grace, and their children, Mugabe voted at noon at Mhofu primary school near his former home in the Highfield township of the capital, Harare. He emerged from a rundown concrete classroom and waved his little finger that had been coated in pink dye.

The man long accused of brutal authoritarianism by human rights watchdogs expressed confidence in a credible election. “I haven’t got an account yet but I suppose they’re still gathering information, but I’m sure people will vote freely and fairly,” he said. “There is no pressure being exerted on anyone. So far, so good.”

Mugabe described the MDC’s claims of vote-rigging as “politicking”, adding: “They want to find a way out.”

There has been speculation that, should Mugabe prevail, he will step down before his 90th birthday and hand power to one of his allies in the Zanu-PF party. But asked by journalists whether he would serve a full term, he said: “Why not? Don’t you want me to serve the whole term? Why should I offer myself as a candidate if it is to cheat the people into resigning after?”

If a credible election led to sanctions against Mugabe and his family being lifted, he would be in no hurry to visit Britain, he said. “Why? I’ve nothing to do in Britain, actually.”

Other voters queued patiently at the school. Mugabe had support from Kelvin Mudzing, a 23-year-old electrician. “Robert Mugabe is the only person who can stand for us,” he said. “We’re the younger generation and we need someone with the sense of where we’re coming from. We should keep him as long as he’s willing to serve.”

But as in much of Harare, the MDC is expected to win here, with young voters demanding democratic change. First-time voter James Hanoki, 24, had arrived at 3.30am to make sure he cast his ballot, and was 32nd in the queue. He voted at 7.40am.

The student said: “I’m feeling great. I’ve managed to do what I’m supposed to do as a Zimbabwean to bring the change we need. I believe that democracy can come. I believe that we can be like any other nation that holds democratic elections.”

Wearing an Arsenal football shirt, Donald Mavhudzi, 28, a property manager, had queued for five hours before voting. “We really wanted to vote for change. Here in Zimbabwe they call us the born-frees. We didn’t experience the liberation struggle and for some of us it’s the first time to vote.”

He continued: “The 2008 election was a bit tense. There was a lot of violence and people were afraid but this has been peaceful so far and people are excited. If the playing field remains level today, I would say Morgan Tsvangirai will the election by 65-plus per cent. But nobody knows what will happen after the election.”

Mavhudzi said Mugabe deserved to be honoured but his time was up. “We still have a lot of respect for him. He was a liberation hero and we respect his old house near here; I believe it should be preserved as a national shrine. But we feel the old man should rest now.”

The last election, in 2008, led to a run-off between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and violence in which more than 200 people died. Eventually the two men formed a unity government with Tsvangirai as prime minister, bringing a degree of stability as the economy went into meltdown.

This time Mugabe has declined to make confident predictions and promised to stand down if he loses, although other Zanu-PF ministers say victory is certain.

Casting his vote at a high school in Harare, Tsvangirai said he expected to win “quite resoundingly”.

Voting began at 7am on Wednesday with many people braving the winter cold. At one polling station in the western province of Manicaland, a key swing region, the queue of voters, many wrapped up in blankets, stretched for a kilometre.

“I got up at four but still couldn’t get the first position in the line,” Clifford Chasakara, a sawmill worker, told Reuters. “My fingers are numb but I’m sure I can mark the ballot all the same. I’m determined to vote and have my vote counted.”

There was frustration at some polling stations over slow-moving queues and names missing from the electoral roll, with some people being sent away to central administrative offices. There were also media reports of police standing close to polling booths in rural areas, applying pressure to vote for Mugabe.

The official state election body has admitted that administrative, logistical and funding problems have hindered voting arrangements, but said they had been resolved and voting was ready to go ahead at more than 9,000 polling stations across the country. There are 6.4 million voters in a nation of 12.9 million people.

Mugabe has refused to allow western observer missions, including one from the Jimmy Carter Centre, to monitor voting but western embassies in Zimbabwe have been permitted to deploy a limited number of Harare-based diplomats to key voting districts. The African Union and southern African region also have thousands of observers.


US expresses concern over Zim polls

http://www.news24.com/

2013-07-31 13:31

Harare – Crisis-weary Zimbabweans flocked to cast their ballots Wednesday in
a fiercely contested election overshadowed by accusations of vote-rigging as
President Robert Mugabe bids to extend his 33-year rule.

The 89-year-old firebrand, Africa’s oldest leader, is running for office for
the seventh and perhaps final time, after a series of violent crackdowns,
economic crises and suspect elections.

“I am sure people will vote freely and fairly, there is no pressure being
exerted on anyone,” he said as he cast his vote in a Harare suburb. “So far
so good.”

The veteran leader, a hero of Africa’s liberation movement for his fight
against white minority rule who then became an international pariah, had
vowed on Tuesday that he would step down if he loses.

“If you lose you must surrender,” he said, insisting: “We have done no
cheating.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai – his perennial rival and reluctant partner
in an uneasy coalition for the past four years – has voiced concerns that
the electoral roll has been rigged.

The 61-year-old former union leader, who was forced out of the bloody
election race in 2008 after 200 of his supporters were killed, told CNN he
took Mugabe’s promise to step down “with a pinch of salt”.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki voiced doubts about the way the
election would be run.

“We do remain concerned about the lack of transparency in electoral
preparations, by continued partisan behaviour, by state security
institutions, and by the technical and logistical issues.”

Still, Tsvangirai cut a confident figure as he cast his own ballot,
predicting his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would win “quite
resoundingly”.

Historic moment

“This is a very historic moment for all of us,” he said. It is the time to
“complete the change”.

Turnout appeared to be brisk in the urban areas where Tsvangirai has enjoyed
his strongest support, and which he must retain to stand any chance of
victory.

Voters, some wrapped in blankets on a cold winter morning, started queuing
at least four hours before polling stations opened.

“I am happy to have cast my vote. I just want an end to the problems in our
country,” said 66-year-old Ellen Zhakata as she voted in a Harare township.

“All my children are outside the country because of the economic troubles
here. I am so lonely. How I wish they could be working here.”

Millions of Zimbabweans were forced to migrate to find work elsewhere after
an economic collapse exacerbated by the violence-marred 2008 elections.

While this year’s campaign has seen little of the bloodshed of 2008, the MDC
on Tuesday handed what it claimed was documentary evidence of plans to rig
the election to observers from the Southern African Development Community
(SADC).

The dossier, which an SADC observer said raised serious questions, listed
examples of duplicate or questionable voters gleaned from a initial
examination of the electoral roll.

A lot of duplicate names

In June, the non-governmental Research and Advocacy Unit said after
examining an incomplete roll that it included a million dead voters or
emigres, as well as over 100 000 people who were more than 100 years old.

“We have seen a lot of duplicate names in the roll, where you see somebody
is registered twice, same date of birth, same physical address but with a
slight difference in their ID number,” junior minister Jameson Timba told
AFP.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was ordered Tuesday to fully publish the
roll by 10:00 GMT on Wednesday, leaving little time to correct problems.

Commission chief Rita Makarau said the delayed access to the roll had
affected all parties equally.

“It has not affected one political party, so in a way it remains unfair to
all political players,” she said.

Some 6.4 million people, around half of the population, are eligible to vote
in the presidential, parliamentary and local polls.

A candidate needs 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off.

Mugabe has focused his campaign on bashing homosexuals and on promises to
widen the redistribution of wealth to poor black Zimbabweans.

Amid recovery from an economic crisis that saw mass unemployment and
galloping inflation, Mugabe loyalists insist their hero is “tried and
tested”.

Tsvangirai hopes his plans to lure back foreign investors, create a million
jobs in five years and improve public services will deliver a long-awaited
victory.

Credible opinion polls are rare, but according to one survey by the US-based
Williams firm in March-April, Mugabe could be in for a rough ride.

In a survey of 800 Zimbabweans, 61% said they had a favourable view of the
MDC compared with 27% for Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

The poll showed Tsvangirai leading in seven of 10 provinces and that only
34% of those who voted for Mugabe in 2008 back him this time around.

Polling stations close at 17:00 GMT and final results are expected with five
days.

– AFP


Economy needs a clear winner: Gono

http://www.newzimbabwe.com/

30/07/2013 00:00:00 by Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE’S fledgling economy requires a decisive winner in Wednesday’s
general elections, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said.

“The economy desperately needs a clear winner and a peaceful ending to the
electoral processes for it to stabilise and prosper,” the RBZ chief said in
a statement.

Zimbabweans will cast their votes between 7AM and 7PM bringing the curtain
down on a power sharing government between Zanu PF, the MDC-T and the MDC
which was accused of policy paralysis.

The winning presidential candidate should get at least 50 percent plus one
vote, and Gono says a 2008 scenario where none of the candidates reached
that number triggering a run-off which was marred by violence could
seriously hurt the economy.

Gono says a decisive win for one of the parties will give the country a
clear policy direction for the next five years.

Gono was due to give his mid-term monetary policy statement this week but
announced Tuesday he was postponing it to after the elections in August.

“Until then, banking-sector players and all stakeholders should go about
their business in the normal way, remembering that the saying “Peace begins
with me; Peace begins with you and Peace begins with all of us” must remain
our Zimbabwean prayer during and after voting on Wednesday,” he said.

Gono, one of President Robert Mugabe’s closest lieutenants, said he would be
voting at Heritage School in Borrowdale at 9AM on Wednesday.


Zimbabwe elections: no matter the result, the future’s bleak (and Comrade Bob’s not going anywhere)

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/

SIMON ALLISON  AFRICA 31 JUL 2013 12:00 (SOUTH AFRICA)

Zimbabwean citizens, including a surprising number of centenarians and more
than a few dead people, are casting their vote on Wednesday. Despite the
opposition’s fighting talk – not real fighting, that’s a ZANU-PF specialty –
President Robert Mugabe looks like he’s got this one in the bag, with SADC
and the AU firmly in his corner. By SIMON ALLISON.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: this election is not going to be
free and fair. This election is not going to be credible. This election is
not going to be transparent, or acceptable, or whatever other linguistically
and morally ambiguous adjective the African diplomatic community will coin
to condone its results (so far, African Union Commission chairwoman
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has plumped for satisfactory, as in “the [election]
preparations were satisfactory”, an insupportable conclusion which makes me
question my admiration for her).

Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s long-suffering finance minister and a very senior
opposition figure, wearily offered a few more accurate adjectives in an
interview with Al Jazeera: “I have said it and I have said it again and I am
beginning to sound like a broken record now, but these elections are
illegal, illegitimate, immoral, unfree and unfair.”

Perhaps, though, you’d rather not take Biti’s word for it, given that he’s
not exactly an objective source. How about the International Crisis Group?
“Conditions for a free and fair vote do not exist. Confidence in the process
and institutions is low. The voters’ roll is a shambles, security forces
unreformed and the media grossly imbalanced. The electoral commission is
under-funded and lacked time to prepare. Concerns about rigging are
pervasive, strongly disputed results highly likely,” the think tank
concluded in a special report.

A few examples, from many. In 63 constituencies, there are more registered
voters than inhabitants – Zimbabweans, it seems, are so excited about
democracy that some of them want to vote twice. The national voters roll
lists 109,000 voters over the age of 100, in a country where the average
life expectancy is just 51. That same voters’ roll has 900,000 duplicate
entries, and has not been made officially available to the opposition.

What this means, in practice, is that there is almost no chance of an
uncontested victory from either the near-nonagenarian President Robert
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF, or from Morgan Tsvangirai and his faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change (there are several others – a division which
doesn’t help the opposition’s cause). Whoever wins, someone is going to be
unhappy, and they’ll have plenty of grounds on which to base their
complaint.

In the short term at least, by far the most dangerous outcome is if
Tsvangirai wins the presidential election – either outright or by just
enough to force a dangerous run-off (tentatively scheduled for early
September). This is likely to trigger the kind of violence that Zimbabwe
witnessed last time Tsvangirai won an election, which was the first round of
the 2008 poll. A brutal campaign of intimidation against opposition figures
and supporters, spearheaded by state security agencies, forced Tsvangirai to
withdraw his participation from the run-off. The complete lack of reform in
the security sector since then (a failure for which SADC mediators must bear
some responsibility), and its vested interest in maintaining the status quo,
means that the threat of state-sponsored violence could once again derail
the entire process.

A Mugabe victory, on the other hand, raises a different set of issues. Bear
in mind that Mugabe remains an extremely popular man, and some opinion polls
have indicated that he might even be popular enough to win without having to
cook the results (note that these are unreliable at the best of times, and
much more so in Zimbabwe). For this, the opposition have only themselves to
blame – their messy divisions, coupled with Tsvangirai’s even messier love
life, have knocked their support.

But the president still has plenty of incentive to fiddle the results. Even
if he’s leading, Mugabe wants to avoid having to do this all over again in a
run-off election which would by its nature re-unite the opposition behind a
single candidate. For this, Mugabe needs more than 50% of the vote.

A lot, then, will depend on the scale of the rigging and just how blatant it
is. In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 2011 presidential vote, the South
African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union have already
shown that they are prepared to ignore pretty serious electoral fraud. This
is a useful template for Zanu-PF to follow: as long as they don’t go
overboard, and allow the SADC and AU election monitors space for the kind of
plausible deniability necessary to legitimise these clearly flawed polls,
then chances are Mugabe will get the regional support he needs (which will,
incidentally, automatically trigger the suspension of European Union
sanctions).

This, then, is the most likely outcome: Mugabe wins with just over 50% of
the vote in elections which are clearly flawed, but not flawed enough to
force observers into dismissing the results.

It would be an outcome that South African President Jacob Zuma will be
delighted with. He’s no friend of Mugabe, but he is a fan of stability in
the region – and he’ll be particularly wary of the impact another economic
and political crisis in Zimbabwe will have on South Africa. “South Africa is
already struggling with millions of Zimbabweans pushing service delivery to
its limit … The consequences are dire should millions more pour across the
border,” said Rashweat Mukundu, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy
Institute, speaking to the Mail & Guardian.

Zimbabwe’s opposition won’t be quite as happy. They will feel justly
aggrieved that they were forced to participate in these dubious polls for
which the country is ill-prepared; and even more so that the entire process
has been legitimised by the African diplomatic community who were supposed
to be the guarantors of genuine political reform. And it is in the
opposition’s hands that Zimbabwe’s long-term future rests, for how the it
reacts to what looks certain to be another huge setback will determine the
course of the country’s future – which, right now, still looks bleak. DM


89 reasons why Mugabe must go

http://www.dailynews.co.zw/

STAFF WRITERS  •  31 JULY 2013 8:21AM

HARARE – Zimbabweans go to vote today in the first election since the
violence-wracked polls five years ago, in a showdown between President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with allegations of vote
rigging marring the key ballot.

The tense elections are seen as a crucial test for Zimbabwe, with leaders
vowing to avoid a repeat of the bloody 2008 post-poll violence in which over
200 MDC supporters were killed and observers repeatedly warning of the risk
of renewed conflict.

A return to a protracted political crisis, and possibly extensive violence,
is likely, as Zimbabwe holds inadequately prepared presidential,
parliamentary and local elections today, the International Crisis Group has
warned.

Conditions for a free and fair vote do not exist.

Confidence in the process and institutions is low. The voters’ roll is a
shambles, the security sector remains unreformed and the state media is
still grossly imbalanced.

The electoral commission is under-funded and lacked time to prepare.
Concerns about rigging are pervasive, strongly disputed results highly
likely.

Zimbabweans are casting ballots for a new president, parliamentarians,
senators and councillors, with some 6.4 million registered voters and more
than 9 700 polling stations.

Results are expected within five days, officials have said.

Both front-runners have said they are confident of winning the absolute
majority needed to avoid a second round run-off vote.

But as the Daily News, we believe it’s time to retire the illustrious
veteran who has given so much to the country — President Robert Mugabe.
Below we list 60 reasons we believe Mugabe should lose today’s poll.

1. At 89, President Mugabe has by far passed the retirement age of 65 and
should rest like any other old man of his age.

At nearly 90 he needs to spend time with his young children and also give
advice to whoever wins the Presidency.

It was clear from the 10 rallies he addressed that Mugabe needs to rest and
Zimbabweans should do him that favour today.

2. He inherited a “Jewel of Africa” and wrecked it through Marxist and Stone
Age policies. The economy is now grounded.

3. The country is failing to feed its citizens and is importing food from
neighbouring countries like Zambia.

4. He has refused to apologise for Gukurahundi atrocities where an estimated
20 000 innocent civilians lost their lives in the Midlands and Matabeleland
regions.

5. Under Mugabe, there has been inadequate power generation resulting in
rolling power outages.

6. Almost nine in every 10 Zimbabweans are unemployed in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe
and his party has no clue on  how to deal with unemployment which has hit
the youths hardest.

Today, our graduates are employed at fast food outlets as cashiers and
cooks.

7.  Mugabe has been stalked by repeated accusations of electoral fraud over
the last four national elections and including today’s vote.

8. Under his rule, the country has been convulsed by unprecedented violence,
while those who committed murder in the run up to the 2008 Presidential
run-off are still free.

9. Notwithstanding the violence that has blighted the country, there has
been blatant impunity in redressing the dark chapters.

10.  Mugabe has failed to invest in health delivery and he now shuns local
facilities to seek specialist treatment outside the country.

Most Zimbabweans cannot afford to get treatment at hospitals and are dying
at home.

11. His Zanu PF manifesto vilifies the ministry of Education for working
with donors to revive the country’s education sector, which was devastated
by his own economic mismanagement, albeit after investing in the sector in
the early years of his rule.

12.  Mugabe is hell-bent on quickly reviving the Zimdollar which caused
unprecedented hardships in the country.

13.  Under Mugabe’s rule, the family unit has been disintegrated as millions
fled economic hardships to seek opportunities in the Diaspora.

He has also denied the Diasporans voting rights.

14.   Mugabe has ruled by fear, and uses laws like Posa and Aippa inherited
from the racist Smith regime.

15.   He is fond of globetrotting despite the perilous state of the country’s
finances.

16.   Mugabe has staunchly refused to open up the broadcast sector to new
players and maintained a broadcast monopoly that has seen Zimbabweans
resorting to foreign TV and radio channels.

17.   Under Mugabe, university grants have been scrapped and tertiary
education is steadily deteriorating under the weight of under-funding.

18.   There has been no transparency in revenues being realised from
minerals, pointedly diamonds.

19.   Corruption has become endemic under Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, with the
country ranking 154 out of 182 under Transparency International’s corruption
perception index.

20.  He has shut down four newspapers.

21.  There has been militarisation of Zimbabwe under the veteran ruler, with
blurred lines between national institutions and political parties.

22.   Under Mugabe’s rule, local banks are charging high interest rates as
much as 35 percent due to high political instability and risk.

23. Zimbabwe has one of highest unemployment rates of more than 80 percent
due to company closures under his watch.

24. Mugabe’s policy inconsistencies have affected the country’s ability to
attract investment.

25. The Zanu PF-driven indigenisation policy which requires foreign-owned
firms to surrender a controlling 51 percent to locals has resulted in
companies pulling out of the country, resulting in job losses and investors
staying away.

26. Zimbabwe has resorted to the use of a multi-currency system after its
Zimdollar currency became worthless due to poor economic policies.

27. Zimbabwe has gone into the record books after registering one of highest
rates of inflation under a Mugabe government.

28. The country also printed one of the world’s highest denominations, worth
less than a US dollar.

29. His government has destroyed agriculture, once the country’s biggest
export earner and employer  after enforcing forced farm seizures.

30. Zimbabwe remains a net importer of South African products with a trade
deficit of $3,53 million after it imported goods worth $3,207 billion
against exports of $2,674 billion in 2012.

31. Under Mugabe, over $7,4 billion generated by the country’s small to
medium enterprises last year, is still to find its way into the formal
banking system due to risk concerns.

32. Under Mugabe, the legislature has expanded at an alarming rate, with the
8th Parliament set to have a bloated Parliament of 400 sitting MPs from the
current 210 who will be paid at the taxpayers’ expense.

33. Mugabe has failed to bring to book legislators who abused the
Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which was meant to develop
constituencies.

34. Under his watch, Zanu PF MPs that were not attending Parliament
including Jonathan Moyo and Webster Shamu were never reprimanded.

35. Mugabe does not respect the doctrine of separation of powers by arms of
government as the executive continued overriding other arms of the State
such as the judiciary and the legislature.

36. Because of the repressive environment imposed on the country by Mugabe,
Zimbabwean music legends such as Thomas Mapfumo were forced into exile.

37. There has been paranoid censorship, with songs perceived to be against
Mugabe’s party denied airplay by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

38. Under Mugabe, the poor economic environment has made once-popular
musicians paupers and has forced many other musicians to quit music for
other ventures.

39. In sport, Mugabe’s contempt for games means this important sector of
life has been heavily underfunded for the three decades he has been in
power.

40. Mugabe is impervious to new ideas.

41. He is not forward-looking and spends time harping about the liberation
struggle and not charting a new direction for the country.

42. Under his rule, there has been systematic breakdown of the rule of law.

43. There has been a purge of the judiciary and installation of pliant
judges on the bench.

44. He has failed to deal with selective application of the law by police
and judicial officers.

45. Under Mugabe, uncollected garbage is contaminating cities across the
country.

46. Under Mugabe the rail system has collapsed and mothballed with
apparently no plan to revive this crucial and cheap travel mode.

47. The road infrastructure is littered with potholes, suffering neglect.

48. There is widespread prostitution because of lack of economic
opportunities.

49. The whole citizenry has been turned into vendors and dealers because of
lack of opportunities.

50. Under Mugabe, the economy has failed to produce star businesspersons and
those who have succeeded have been hounded out of the country.

51. There was systematic collapse of recreational facilities under Mugabe’s
33-year rule, from swimming pools in the townships!

52. Mugabe lost the 2008 elections and used violence to retain power, and
for that he must lose.

53. Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe was booted out of the Commonwealth.

54. He presided over shortages of basics like salt, sugar and mealie-meal
among others.

55. Under Mugabe, there are many unresolved mysterious deaths like that of
Rashiwe Guzha, Sydney Malunga and others.

56. Mugabe has neglected the war veterans who brought independence to this
country. He has rarely if any, met with war veterans as an association.

57. Mugabe needs to rest and write books about his life and struggles.

58. Under Mugabe, thousands of people lost their pensions which they will
not recover.

59. He is causing unnecessary tension with big neighbour South Africa.

60. It is through Mugabe’s human rights’ violations which forced the Western
countries to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The others which take us to 89 are: destruction of Zesa, NRZ, Air Zimbabwe,
Arda, Caaz, PTC, CMED, Zupco, DDF,  Shabanie/Mashaba Mines, Zimalloys,
banking sector, sport, social fabric, faith in government, general
entertainment, small businesses, transport infrastructure, tourism, bread
basket status, well being of the people, local currency, transparency in
government and water supplies to urban areas.

The last four reasons are Mugabe’s failures to: complete the Zambezi Water
Project, Kunzvi Dam, fully utilise the Beira/Harare pipeline and dualise the
country’s roads which have become death traps.


Zimbabwe’s crucial elections: what to expect and when

http://www.theweek.co.uk/

 

Can Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF be dislodged from power after 33 years?

LAST UPDATED AT 12:51 ON WED 31 JUL 2013

VOTERS in Zimbabwe go to the polls today to elect a president with a straight choice between the incumbent Robert Mugabe (centre) of the Zanu PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

It is the second time that the two rivals have fought for the role, the last election taking place in 2008 against the backdrop of bloodshed and corruption allegations. The run-up to these elections has been a lot more peaceful than last time around, according to The Guardian, with fewer reported instances of violence on the campaign trail.

However, Channel 4 News says that thousands of troops have been sent to some areas of the country and police are patrolling townships in the capital, Harare, with automatic rifles and grenade launchers.

Is the election likely to be fixed? The MDC has accused Mugabe of already cheating in the elections, the BBC reports, with voters in opposition areas not being registered to vote and the names of up to 100,000 dead people being included on the electoral register. There has also been intimidation of and violence towards MDC supporters in some areas by their Zanu PF rivals. Without any Western monitors on hand, it will be difficult to gauge how clean the election is.

When will there be a result? Polls opened this morning at 7am and will close at 5pm. The country’s 6.4 million registered voters have been granted a public holiday so that they can cast their ballots. The final results are expected to come through at the beginning of next week as results are tallied from far-flung rural polling stations across the country.

If one of the five candidates doesn’t receive 50 per cent plus one vote, there will be a run-off between the two leading candidates from the first round on September 11.

Will the loser accept the result? The 89-year-old Mugabe has vowed to stand down if he is defeated.”If you lose you must surrender,” he said yesterday. However, during his 33-year reign as president, Mugabe has faced down opposition on many occasions and it is unlikely he would give up without a fight. If the MDC lose, they are expected to challenge the integrity of the poll.

What else is up for grabs? There are also elections for the Zimbabwean parliament today. In the last election in 2008 the MDC took 51 per cent of votes against 45 per cent for Zanu PF.

 


Q&A: Why Zimbabwe elections matter

http://edition.cnn.com/ By Stephanie Ott, for CNN July 31, 2013

(CNN) — Zimbabweans are voting in a hotly-contested election as President Robert Mugabe seeks to extend power for a further five years. Mugabe, 89, has been at the helm since 1980, and is the only leader the nation has known since it gained independence from Britain.

The polls are expected to end an uneasy coalition government formed after violence broke out when Mugabe claimed victory in the last election five years ago. The post-election violence left 200 people dead and thousands more injured, according to rights groups.

Is Zimbabwe ready for elections? Depends on who you ask

What do we need to know about these elections?

They are taking place under a new constitution endorsed in a March referendum that limits the president to two five-year terms. Mugabe is allowed to seek another term because the rule does not apply retroactively. Results are expected within five days. To be declared winner, a candidate needs to win more than 50% of the vote. If that doesn’t happen, a run-off will be held on September 11.

Who is running for president?

The head of state Robert Mugabe, the 89-year-old leader of Zanu-PF, is seeking to extend his 33-year rule. His main rival is the current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who helped form the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999. Tsvangirai, 61, hopes to become president after three failed attempts. There are three other candidates: Welshman Ncube, the current industry and commerce minister and president of the Movement for Democratic Change; Dumiso Dabengwa, leader of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), and Kisinoti Munodei Mukwazhe, who represents the small Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP).

Who is Robert Mugabe?

Mugabe, born in 1924 in the south of Rhodesia, spent his early career as a teacher.

Drawn to the struggle for independence, he fled the country in the early 1960s, only to be jailed for 10 years on his return in 1964. On his release he formed Zanu-PF, which he led from neighboring Mozambique.

The conflict came at the same time as the ANC in South Africa, led by Nelson Mandela, engaged in its struggle to overthrow apartheid, a cause that drew strong support from Mugabe and his followers.

In 1980, Mugabe became prime minister of the newly formed Zimbabwe, and he assumed the position of president in 1987.

A Wikileaks cable released in 2011 claiming Mugabe had prostate cancer was dismissed by his party.

What problems has Zimbabwe faced?

Mugabe’s liberation credentials held him in good stead during the early part of his leadership, with many seeing him as a politician who could unite a country that had been divided through civil conflict.

But in 2000 he drew criticism for his land reform program, when white farmers were evicted from their land, which was given to poor black Zimbabweans, many of them veterans of the struggle for independence with limited knowledge of commercial farming. Soon, agricultural output began to decrease sharply.

Overseas, Mugabe’s relationship with nations beyond southern Africa became rocky. In December 2003 Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth, the organization of the United Kingdom and predominantly her former colonies. Five years later the UK government stripped Mugabe of the honorary knighthood he had been awarded by Queen Elizabeth II.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his allies over its human rights record.

By 2008 inflation in Zimbabwe had soared to 200 million percent. Food shelves were empty, international isolation continued to hit the economy, and corruption was rife.

Mugabe failed to win enough votes in the March 2008 presidential vote to retake office. His main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), withdrew from the presidential run-off vote scheduled for June 2008, alleging Mugabe supporters had used violence and intimidation. Scores of opposition party supporters were beaten, tortured and killed.

In 2009, the country’s unemployment rate stood at 94% according to the CIA. However, since 2009, Zimbabwe’s economy has started to recover from a decade-long crisis. The value of mineral exports increased by 230% during 2009-2011, while the value of agricultural exports increased by 101% during the same period.

Growth in 2011 was led by strong growth in mining (50.5%), agriculture (17.1%) and services (16.3%), according to the World Bank. Zimbabwe’s economy recorded real growth of more than 9% per year in 2010-11, before slowing to 5% in 2012, mainly because of a poor harvest and low diamond revenues.

But poverty in Zimbabwe is still widespread, food shortages affect many parts of the country, and corruption is rife.


Exclusive interview with Tsvangirai

http://www.dailynews.co.zw/

GIFT PHIRI  •  31 JULY 2013 4:45AM

HARARE – Our News Editor Gift Phiri (GP) talks to MDC leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MT).

Below are excerpts of the interview.

GP: A massive crowd turned out on Monday to rally behind you at your final star rally in Harare. What do you read into this?

MT: You know, ever since the start of this campaign, people underestimated the determination of the people to have change.

And as we went around (the country), you could see and feel the momentum. This Harare rally just represents a culmination of the accumulation of the national mood that is so determined to have change. It will be a travesty for someone to try to interfere with that.

GP: You have expressed vote rigging fears. What steps have you taken to avert electoral fraud in this decisive election?

MT: I think its a strategic question that cannot be answered in a question.

What I can assure you is that the people of Zimbabwe were shortchanged in 2002 and 2008. This time I think they have to draw a line in the sand and say as far as we are concerned, we are going to defend our victory.

GP: Why not boycott the election if its unfair?

MT: If the MDC boycotts the election, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party will simply declare victory on polling day.

GP: Will you accept defeat if you lose?

MT: That is impossible.

GP: Let us say you win the election, there has been threats to veto the transition, to block the transfer of power. How do you plan to go round that?

MT: Power transfer would have already happened through the people’s expression at the ballot.

There is no power transfer through any other mechanism but through the ballot.

If it becomes anything other than that, it becomes a subversion of the people’s mandate. We do not talk about that.

GP: How do you plan to handle the losers in the event that you win?

MT: As I have said, in any contest, a genuine contest, there is always a winner and a loser.

But at the end of the day, in a political contest, because you have participated in a process in which you all feel was fair, you have to congratulate the winner and you must be magnanimous to the loser. For politics, there are no winners, there are no losers.

It is about determining whose agenda is going to determine the path for their future, that is all. But we are all Zimbabweans, and ultimately what each government will try to do is to maximise the benefits to Zimbabweans, rather than undermine the benefits to Zimbabweans.

GP: There are heads of the security sector who say they will never salute you even if you get the people’s mandate. How do you plan to deal with this?

MT: First and foremost as I have said, I believe in a security establishment that defends the country.

So we start with the national security strategy which was agreed in the National Security Council.

It defines how you are going to relate to the security sector. Secondly, as a matter of principle, I believe in professional work that promotions should be on merit, that these are national institutions and they are not partisan political issues.

For somebody to stand up and say I will not accept the mandate of the people, it is idle to say the least. It then becomes the defence of the people’s mandate against defence of the status quo.

GP: What type of government do you envisage?

MT: We have always committed ourselves to a reasonably leaner government not probably more than 20 ministers, but there are a number interventions that are required.

The bureaucracy itself through the Public Service Commission must change its attitude.

So we will be in a position of reviewing and transforming the government so that its in line with our mandate and our thrust.

So, not only do you determine government by the size of the ministries, but also determined by the competence of the bureaucracy.

GP: Are we likely to see changes in the superstructure?

MT: There is going to be changes, obviously I am not going to have the same Cabinet as Mugabe.

And of course all permanent secretaries in terms of the new Constitution have to serve a determined period.

So it means all permanent secretaries, their contracts have to be reviewed.

GP: The country has gone through a period of sustained turmoil and pain. How do you plan to tackle transitional justice?

MT: You know what is painful, it is for people whose houses have been destroyed by (Operation) Murambatsvina when they are being roughshod to go to a meeting of Zanu PF.

What we will like to see about transitional justice is that the truth must be told because the truth sets us free. As far as I am concerned, truth and reconciliation is a must, and it is there in the new Constitution.

GP: And what about victims of the Gukurahundi genocide, Murambatsvina do they get reparations?

MT: It is the same commission that has to handle those matters. If it is an independent commission, we will wait for their recommendation. How do they intend to tackle the matter in terms of their mandate.

GP: Corruption is pervasive. How do you plan to end this scourge?

MT: Corruption starts at the top contrary to general view that corruption starts at the bottom, it does not.

Corruption starts at the top. If the top is clean, there is no way those at the lower echelons of the body politic behave otherwise because there are disincentives for bad behaviour by sanctions taken from the top. So if you start from the top, if the top is clean,  the bottom will be okay.

GP: Are you ready to govern?

MT: It is not even a question of are you ready to govern, but when you govern. I articulated the plan.

I said as president, these are things I am going to do and they revolve around the governance culture, around reviving the economy, revolve around reviving the infrastructure, a particular focus on various interventions in various sectors.

They involve attracting or healing our relations with the international community which is at an all-time low. So there is a programme of action regarding what the MDC president and his team are going to do to reverse the decline.

GP: Zanu PF claims you will reverse land reform and the indigenisation programme. What exactly do you plan to do with the two if you romp to victory?

MT: We are not Zanu PF. Let them articulate their policies, if they are popular with the people, let the people vote for them. But for us, it is about creating new wealth, not sharing a small cake.

For us, it is about increasing agricultural output and not just an emotional attachment to the land. So land reform is an emotional issue but it is also a productivity challenge

GP: In your manifesto you talk of creating a million jobs. How exactly do you intend to go about that?

MT: You have got a situation in which even (Tourism minister Walter) Mzembi says you can create 1,2 million jobs in the tourism industry alone. So it is possible. But we are not going to rely on that.

What we are saying is that we need to sit down with Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Industry to revive collapsing industries, textile industry, clothing industry, food industry, all these sectors are potential job creators.

The other potential job creator is infrastructure. Open up dual roads in our major trunk roads, open up our railways, open up Batoka electricity generation, open up sub-Kariba, you will have so much activity and yet that is an enabling instrument.

So while we invest in infrastructure, we will able to create jobs. We used to have 1,6 million jobs. We lost a million.

All we need to do is bring this country where it was, at the most vibrant level where it ever reached by creating one million jobs. In new areas like new mining ventures, open up closed mines, you create jobs. If the mining industry used to employ 60 000, now its almost 30 000 it means between 30 000 to 35 000 lost their jobs.

GP: What are your plans for the Zim-dollar?

MT: It will not return until such a time as we have got sufficient gold reserves to sustain it.

Otherwise you go back to the hyperinflation conditions. You will be forced to print money to pay for your debts. And that is what has caused problems.

GP: What will you like to tell voters going into the ballot booth on Wednesday (today)?

MT: We have to ensure that, Wednesday (today) is not just an event. Wednesday (today) is part of a process that we are going to roll out as soon as we are given the mandate. So Wednesday (today) is the start of a process of confidence building, of revival.

GP: The campaign has been hectic, have you spoken to President (Robert) Mugabe since you started the campaign?

MT: No we have not spoken. (They met for the first time yesterday)

GP: Why?

MT: He has not convened our usual Monday meetings.

He has even refused to give me my two Prados that were impounded. He is the one who said, no you can’t give them.

GP: Let us say you are elected president, how are you going to treat him? Are you going to pursue him?

MT: There will be no special treatment, he will only get the treatment former presidents deserve. He is a former president ka, so there are privileges and status that go with being a former president, that he will be entitled.

And besides, why should we pursue him when we have got so much on our table to deal with.

Instead of focusing on this old man, we will have to focus on the agenda that we have set for ourselves.

GP: At his National Sports Stadium rally, he threatened that he is going to get you arrested if you announce the results as you plan to do. What is you reaction?

MT: Arrest me for what? When you have a contender to power threatening another contender, where have you seen that? What powers will you be using?

Zvakafanana nekuti mose muri kutamba bhora umwe player goes and kicks the referee and takes the whistle and run. (Laughs) Or where the referee throws the whistle away and joins the other team.

I mean, it is ridiculous to even think one can make that kind of statement. We will be taking our results from our polling stations.

GP: But there are plans by Zec to move the tallying of votes away from polling stations?

MT: We will not allow it, I want to tell you, we will not allow it. We will not allow movement of boxes. And the law does not allow it. We will not disobey the law.

The law says there shall be counting at polling stations. And that is going to obtain.

No box is going to move out of any polling station until the results have been pinned outside the polling station and everyone is satisfied.

So what is wrong with me as Tsvangirai to collect all the information about our results? We are not violating the law. I will not announce national results, I will announce my results. Is that illegal?

GP: So there will definitely be a parallel voter tabulation being done by the MDC?

MT: Yes, definitely, we will do that. We will be collecting all our results and at the appropriate time, we will tell our people we have won.

They will be celebrating. Oh, yes. Why should we wait for the official announcement which comes four, five days later when we have already won.

We are not interfering with the national announcement, we are just saying varume, tahwina. Awa maresults edu aya. Taita parallel voter tabulation yedu, tatora maresults edu eku mapolling stations ta adder.

These are the results, we now have 75 percent in our favour. Womirira hanzi kuti (Zec chairwoman Rita) Makarau ataure. Hatidaro.

GP: You addressed almost 10 times the number of your opponent’s rallies…

MT: Mudhara hapana chaakambotadza. Musafunga kuti anga achienda achiti ndisupportei , anga achiti veduwe, vanhu, ndokutendai nekundisupporter bha bhai ndaakuenda kunozorora, it was nice doing business with you, makandisapotao all these years.


Our vote is being stolen – MDC should withdraw now

http://www.thezimbabwean.co/ 31.07.13 by The Zimbabwean

Zimbabwe’s electoral law states that the results of the elections must be
posted outside of the polling stations at ward level. Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai said the MDC would use these figures to announce the results in
real time – so why do we need to wait five days for the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to announce what is posted at a local level within hours?

President Robert Mugabe’s response to Tsvangirai was “if he does so we will
arrest him.” MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti then said there was nothing
illegal about announcing the results already posted by ZEC and promised to
do so.

I have just been to my polling station (at close of polling at 7pm) to view
the results as I did in 2008. I was told by a ZEC monitor that they were
taking a 15 minute break and then had been instructed to begin counting ONLY
local councillor votes. He said the MP and Presidential ballots would be
transported to a larger town 45 minutes away to be posted at regional level.
The vehicle that will transport them is only large enough for a select few
officials to move in!

This is how the vote is being stolen this time. At this point the opposition
parties should withdraw from or halt the process – this is blatantly the
means by which the will of the people is to be subverted yet again!


Don’t be fooled: Zimbabwe’s land reform is no success

http://www.groundup.org.za/content/don%E2%80%99t-be-fooled-zimbabwe%E2%80%99s-land-reform-no-success

July 31, 2013 – Jack Lewis

OPINION
It is election day in Zimbabwe. This is a good day to reconsider the
Zimbabwean land reform experience and what to make of it, especially as we
consider what should be done about land reform in South Africa.
When you think of Zimbabwean land reform, you think about the “fast track”
reform from 2000 that saw the majority of commercial farms either broken up
and handed in smaller allotments to about 125,000 small farmers and 50,000
larger small-holders, or grabbed by members of the Zimbabwean elite. How did
this come about?

A little report in Tuesday’s Times is revealing. Erina Murwira, now in her
80s and living on the outskirts of Harare will be voting for the MDC. Why?
“I stopped supporting Mugabe a long time ago … he has not taken care of us
old people. He has failed us,” she said. She has not forgiven Mugabe for
stopping her pension in the 1990s. To understand why Erina’s pension was
stopped we need to understand why the fast track land reform became a
political necessity for the ruling Zanu-PF dictatorship. It had little to do
with justice and a new economic path, as some naive researchers have
suggested, and everything to do with bloated plutocrats hanging on to the
state at any cost.

Following independence in 1980, the new government in Zimbabwe resettled
52,000 families on 2.5 million hectares purchased from European commercial
farmers. Plans called for the acquisition and resettlement of an additional
five million hectares. Initially it was a great success. The UN’s Food and
Agricultural Organisation reported that smallholder maize production doubled
from 738,000 tonnes in 1980 to 1.3 million tonnes in 1986 and that
underlying this was “the inheritance of a productive public agricultural
research system, a quadrupling in the number of government-provided loans to
smallholders, a sharp increase in guaranteed producer prices and a 30-fold
increase in the number of Government Marketing Board (GMB) grain-buying
depots and collection points.” The government also spent money on education
and health.

Why did the government falter? A large part of the reason, and one that is
given far too little importance by contemporary writers on Zimbabwean land
reform, was the coup which Mugabe initiated in 1982 in Matebaleland against
the Ndebele stronghold of Zapu, the main opposition party led by Joshua
Nkomo. Over 20,000 people were butchered in the “Gukurahundi” and Mugabe’s
regime became a de-facto dictatorship. It shocks me that most writers on
Zimbabwe’s 2000 land reform, Mahmood Mandani being a notable exception, are
largely silent on the anti-democratic nature of the Mugabe regime which has
looted the Zimbabwean state for private gain.

By 1990, the government was broke with debt service obligations consuming
33% of its budget. Zimbabwe was obliged to seek help from the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank which demanded structural adjustment.
Erina Murwira’s old age pension was a casualty of these IMF imposed cuts.
Markets were deregulated and public expenditure reduced. At the same time
drought and poor agricultural yields further restricted government revenue.

Between 1991 and 1996 manufacturing shrank by 14% and GDP per capita
declined by 5.8%. Government spending on education declined by over 30% as
wages for teachers were slashed and health spending declined. In desperation
it printed more money to keep social spending going, starting a vicious
inflationary spiral, already 50% by 1999.

A parasitic ruling clique had by 1999 seized all organs of state. It was
hugely unpopular and effectively lost the 2000 elections to the newly formed
MDC: it was only the appointment of 30 seats from amongst the chiefs that
gave Mugabe control of Parliament. It was this shock that precipitated the
fast track land reform to shore up the rural vote which was in near revolt
against Mugabe’s misrule.

The result of the land reform was massive economic dislocation. However,
recently a group of researchers led by Ian Scoones in the UK has stimulated
discussion on Zimbabwe land reform. Scoones found that many recipients of
small holdings have in fact increased production and are better off as a
result of receiving land.

It would indeed have been surprising if the perhaps 160,000 smallholder
beneficiaries from among the very poor and 51,000 beneficiaries from among
small and medium-scale black farmers had not increased production. But this
increase in smallholder production, which is still wholly inadequate to feed
Zimbabwe, has come at the cost disrupting the link between Zimbabwean
agriculture and industry. It has further undermined state revenue and made
impossible any of the support to smallholders that had been responsible for
the large increases in production in the 1980-85 period.

Over a decade since the land redistribution, up to 70,000
households—perhaps 350 000 people–remain displaced, living in poverty on
the urban peripheries of Zimbabwe’s cities and towns. But the total
displacement was far greater. Many more, perhaps two to three million, did
not receive land and lost their livelihoods in the cities and were forced
into economic migrancy, mainly in South Africa and Botswana. Many others
were forced into labour tenancy, non-wage and casual work on the
redistributed land. This loss of population has reduced domestic demand and
contributed to loss of revenue for the state.

Loss of agricultural output from large scale farms not made up by small
holders

Prior to land reform, Zimbabwe produced not only sufficient maize, wheat,
and other grains, but a surplus was exported. Since land reform there has
been a critical dependence on imports. Approximately 1.8 million tonnes of
maize are required annually to meet the country’s needs against the current
national yield of a little more than 300 thousand tonnes per year. Since
2000, there have been 13 consecutive years of food deficits and the United
Nations has recently appealed for more than $100 million dollars to feed 1.7
million Zimbabweans in 2013. Production of wheat continues to be constrained
by lack of access to inputs and an unstable power supply, arising from a
bankrupt state that cannot maintain and invest in infrastructure.

It is a standard refrain from those arguing for the great gains made by
smallholder agriculture that these figures are not to be trusted. But
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, wrote this year that “We have
received the second crop assessment report, which records the unacceptable
situation of a major decline in agricultural output… Our strategic grain
reserve is less than 40,000 metric tonnes. We are in the process of
importing 150,000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia.”

One of the main contributing factors to agriculture’s massive decline is
that the majority of the new farmers did not have the capital necessary to
fund operations and could not access funding because of the chaotic manner
in which the expropriations were carried out. The state claims title to all
farmlands, only making land available to new farmers by way of leases. The
state therefore denied those farmers the collateral security necessary to
access working capital for farming operations.

Shrinking economy and job losses equals less state revenue and greater
fiscal debt

750,000 jobs were lost between the peak employment in 1998 and 2011. Only
14% of the workforce has a paid, permanent job in the formal economy. Using
the most generous definition of informal employment, at least half the
workforce does not have a job. The collapse of the commercial farming sector
has contributed significantly to a steep decline in state revenues, the
collapse of state services and hyperinflation as the government desperately
printed money to keep going, and eventually the abandonment of the
Zimbabwean dollar in 2008 in favour of the US dollar and the rand.

A recent study by the Development Bank of Southern Africa found that the
Zimbabwean government “currently employs an estimated 250,000 people
generating a wage bill of more than US$960 million, working out at more than
70% of revenue collections, 60% of the total budget, and more than 15% of
GDP.”

Zimbabwe Government Debt to GDP averaged 80% from 1990 until 2011, reaching
an all time high of 151% in December of 2011. The relevance of this for land
reform is that there can be no question of government support for
infrastructure, veterinary and agricultural support services, grain silos,
transport and so on–things that Scoones and others would agree are
essential–because the state is bankrupt.

An economy driven into the informal sector and reliant on smallholding
agriculture cannot provide the revenue to sustain a modern state. The mining
sector, driven by foreign multinationals despite the enrichment disguise of
“indigenisation” does not on its own do anything to promote local industry.

Of course the blame for all this does not lay solely with ZANU-PF and its
ruling clique. If there had been greater international support for land
reform, more willingness from large scale farmers to redistribute and
support both small scale and larger black farmers as well as less pressure
from the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation to liberalise and
reign in expenditure on agricultural support, things might not have ended up
as they have.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t change the reality that there is no
independent small scale route to greater well-being once large scale
commercial agriculture has been undermined. From an analytical point of view
it seems Scoones and others seems happy to ignore all of this when
discussing the impact of land reform, taking increased production and
incomes for smallholders as if this is the only socially relevant criteria.
It seems to me to be historically blind to argue that there is a Korean path
for Zimbabwe. Korean land reform occurred with the United States fully
committed to its success in an era of sustained global economic expansion
and driven by cold war era concerns. None of these conditions pertain to
Zimbabwe.

The meaning of all this for South Africa should be clear, especially when
taken against the smaller proportion of the population dependent on the land
for a living. Land reform requires the state to have the capacity to provide
post settlement support, secure title and cheap capital. Zimbabwe shows that
undermining the large farms undermines the capacity of the state to provide
these things. Zimbabwe’s smallholders deserve a state that provides such
support. And it cannot be a Zanu-PF-Mugabe state.


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