Thursday, 10 April 2008 21:43
EMBATTLED President Robert Mugabe, buffeted by fresh problems after
his recent election defeat by the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, is heading for
further trouble at the Sadc summit in Zambia tomorrow. The meeting is likely
to be a critical turning point in Sadc leaders’ ways of tackling the
Zimbabwe crisis, currently the focus of a watching world as the country
heads for a dramatic transition.
Sadc chairperson, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, said the urgent
meeting was called for because of the “deepening problems” in the country.
Sadc leaders are said to be geared to confront Mugabe over the
Zimbabwe situation this time after their persistent failure to do so in the
Diplomatic sources said Mugabe will travel to Zambia with a detailed
“dossier” to defend himself on why he has ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to withhold recent presidential election results.
The sources said the dossier contains Mugabe’s appeal for a vote
recount and the alleged prejudice he suffered due to miscounting of votes.
The dossier contains Zanu PF’s letter demanding the recounting of votes in
21 constituencies and details the arrest of ZEC officers on alleged vote
fraud charges. There is also a series of bound intelligence reports on the
Supporting annexures are attached to the dossier.
The dossier claims that the United States’ State Department and other
Western governments, as well as donors, were involved in the alleged
electoral fraud to ensure Mugabe was defeated.
It further claims that the State Department provided funds to pay a
team of ZEC officers through NGOs and civil society groups to cover the MDC’s
But court charges against a ZEC officer, Virginia Sibanda, accused of
corruption during elections appeared to be collapsing this week in Bulawayo
after the state struggled to substantiate its allegations.
The collapse was similar to the failure of Zanu PF’s charges of
terrorism against MDC activists arising from an alleged spate of petrol
bombings by opposition militants last year.
Mugabe took a dossier last March to a Sadc emergency meeting in
Dar-es-Salaam to defend his regime after Tsvangirai and other opposition
leaders were brutally assaulted in police custody.
The dossier proved to be deceptive after the claimed petrol bombings
seemed to be contrived by the state to justify a crackdown against the
Zanu PF, sources said, wants to repeat the same trick in Lusaka
tomorrow even though it didn’t completely work the first time.
The current dossier tries to suggest the recent polls were fraudulent
to justify the ruling party’s attempt to limit damage over its defeat and
persuade regional leaders to endorse a re-run.
The dossier also attempts to whitewash Zanu PF’s blatant manipulation
of the electoral process.
To counter this web of deceit, Tsvangirai this week launched a
regional diplomatic offensive ahead of tomorrow’s summit to ensure that Sadc
leaders are not taken in by Harare’s explanations.
Tsvangirai met with Botswana’s new president Ian Khama on Wednesday.
Prior to that he had met South Africa’s governing ANC president Jacob Zuma.
He is expected to travel to Mozambique to meet President Armando
Guebuza and later Mwanawasa.
“The purpose of Tsvangirai’s visit is to explain and mobilise Sadc
leaders to persuade Mugabe to accept the
results and allow a transition to take place,” MDC spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa said yesterday.
Chamisa said it was not true that Tsvangirai had fled the country as
some reports suggested.
Tsvangirai’s diplomatic trips are expected to give Mugabe a hard time
Mugabe has directed the ZEC not to release results, demanding a
recount of votes despite Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu’s claim that
there has been no government interference with the ZEC.
Ndlovu said Zimbabwe would tomorrow “appraise the regional bloc of
political developments in the wake of the elections”.
Tsvangirai’s lawyers wrote to the ZEC on Monday arguing that Mugabe’s
demand for a recount of votes is unlawful. They said the law only allows
Mugabe to file an election petition to the courts if he felt aggrieved by
the results as Tsvangirai did after the disputed 2002 presidential election.
The lawyers urged ZEC to reject Mugabe’s request, failure to do which
they will pursue the matter in court.
The MDC lawyers have already taken ZEC to court over its failure to
release the presidential results. Ruling on the case is expected on Monday.
Zanu PF has also demanded a recount of votes in 21 rural
constituencies. The MDC lawyers said some of the demands were invalid
because complaints were lodged after the 48-hour window allowed by the law.
Sources said Zanu PF’s strategy is to delay the release of the results
to create circumstances for a presidential poll re-run. The party now wants
a run-off only if a re-run is not possible.
Zanu PF leaders think a re-run is better because a new candidate could
be fielded if the need arose, something not possible in a run-off. If a
recount of votes succeeds in most of the 21 constituencies, as it already
has in the case of Bikita South where Elias Musakwa has now won after losing
in the initial vote count, that would give Zanu PF the required
parliamentary majority to be able to govern.
It is said Mugabe is under pressure from hardliners around him,
including state security service chiefs, to hang on to power. The diehards
want him to fight on to block Tsvangirai from taking over.
Thursday, 10 April 2008 21:38
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has disbanded its National
Command Centre where it claimed the March 29 presidential election votes
were being “meticulously” verified, raising suspicion that the results will
not be released at all.
However, there is growing pressure from the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC
and regional and international players for President Robert Mugabe’s
government to compel the ZEC to announce the results.
The MDC has since approached the High Court seeking an order requiring
the ZEC to announce the results. Justice Tendai Uchena is expected to make a
ruling on the application on Monday.
Official sources yesterday said there were indications that the ZEC
may release the outcome of the poll on Monday, although it was under
pressure from Mugabe and Zanu PF not to do so but instead proclaim a date
for a presidential run-off between the ruling party’s first secretary and
Tsvangirai last week claimed that he won against President Mugabe of
Zanu PF and independent candidates Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana.
The MDC yesterday ruled out a run-off, re-run or recounting of votes
claiming that Tsvangirai had won 54% of the valid votes against Mugabe’s
The command centre — then located at the Harare International
Conference Centre (HICC) — was dismantled on Tuesday amid reports that
opposition parties were not informed of the move and were in the dark as to
where the vote counting was now taking place.
Sources in the ZEC told the Zimbabwe Independent that the commission
dismantled the command centre from the HICC and moved electoral materials to
Century House, the commission’s headquarters.
“The command centre is no more,” one of the sources said. “All
electoral materials were moved to our headquarters where verification,
counting and collating of votes will take place.”
The sources said while reasons to disband the centre were not given,
the suspicion was that the ZEC acted on instructions from the government.
“Presidential candidates’ chief agents were not informed of the
dismantling of the command centre,” another source said. “The verification
is going on without the candidates’ representatives.”
The MDC-Tsvangirai this week claimed that the ZEC chief elections
officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, told the party that verification, collating
and counting of the votes was now a “private” process.
“We are concerned that at this very late stage verification hasn’t
started,” MDC secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said this week. “The National
Command Centre has been dismantled. Sekeramayi told our people at the
command centre that the process was now being done in private.”
He alleged that the centre was disbanded to allow the ZEC to “fix the
matrix of a run-off.”
Makoni — widely believed to have come a distant third in the
election — on Wednesday alleged that the command centre had been disbanded.
“There is no more work taking place in that place,” he said. “It gets
me very worried and I believe other political contestants are similarly
worried that it is taking so long and why it is taking so long is not
Makoni said he asked the ZEC chairman George Chiweshe and Sekeramayi
to personally check on the verification, counting and collating process
“I regret to say that I wasn’t accorded that opportunity,” he said.
Yesterday, ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations), Utoile
Silaigwana, insisted that the command centre was still in place.
“The National Command Centre has not been dismantled, take it from
me,” said Silaigwana. “We are now left with one election only, we will
announce it from where we had originally intended to do so.”
Meanwhile, the MDC national executive met yesterday and condemned the
dismantling of the command centre, among other things. The party’s
spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said the national executive noted with concern
the “deployment of the army in rural areas” to spearhead Mugabe’s run-off
“We also noted with concern that Zanu PF was now arm-twisting the
judiciary, and is using the ZEC to tamper with ballots of the presidential
election,” Chamisa said.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 10 April 2008 21:35
RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono this week condemned fresh farm
invasions and violence orchestrated by war veterans and Zanu PF militia
ahead of a looming presidential election run-off.
This came amid allegations by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC that Gono
was working with a group of senior security officers and government
officials to “unleash a wave of violence” ahead of the run-off.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is yet to announce the results
of the presidential election, with Zanu PF reportedly gunning for either a
run-off or a re-run of the poll.
The MDC has already claimed victory for Tsvangirai with 54% of the
vote against Mugabe’s reported 42%.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, this week claimed that Gono was
secretly working with Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine
Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and President Robert
Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba to allow war veterans and Zanu PF
activists to run riot before the election.
This, the party alleged, was designed to ensure Mugabe wins the
run-off or re-run after his embarrassing defeat by Tsvangirai in the March
Chiwenga, Chihuri and Charamba have not yet reacted to the MDC’s
But Gono yesterday scoffed at the allegations.
“The one in the forefront is to blame whenever anything goes wrong and
this governor is no stranger to this phenomenon,” Gono said. “If anyone goes
on to commit a crime — invade a farm or commit violence and it is
ascertained that he or she has a few bearer cheques in his or her pockets
bearing the governor’s signature — that is evidence enough the governor has
sponsored that crime.”
He denied bankrolling the police to buy any “equipment or instruments
of repression”. He said the funds given out were to pay for items such as
the Criminal Investigations Department’s forensic science laboratory
Gono said he also financed the police’s procurement of uniforms for
the Signals Corps, refurbishment of 260 Defender vehicles, drilling of 10
boreholes at Chikurubi Camp and purchase of generators.
Addressing a Security Mills (Pvt) Ltd business function in Bulawayo on
Wednesday, the central bank governor slammed the latest farm invasions and
the resurgence of political violence. Gono said the fresh farm invasions
would further undermine the already bleeding economy if not stopped.
The police this week claimed they had evicted the new farm invaders.
“We note with concern the seeming re-emergence of disturbances on the
farms between resettled new and old farm owners,” Gono said. “Such friction,
if indeed it is re-emerging, does not augur well for a country that has been
hailed as exemplary in terms of peace and stability in the just-ended
The Commercial Farmers Union this week claimed that more than 60
farmers had been driven off their land since the fresh farm invasions began.
“We’ve got over 60 farmers who have been evicted,” CFU president
Trevor Gifford said. “They have been chased away and left everything
Gifford himself became a victim of the land invasions this week when a
mob wearing Zanu PF T-shirts surrounded his farm in Chipinge and left
messages warning him not to return.
By Loughty Dube
Thursday, 10 April 2008 21:30
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has spent over $1,5 trillion
in legal fees since January opposing electoral petitions including the one
currently before the High Court in which the commission is defending its
decision not to announce the results of the presidential election, the
Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
The figure looks set to hit $2 trillion soon as the legal battle, in
which the opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai has filed an urgent
petition with the High Court demanding that the ZEC release results for the
presidential election held 13 days ago, intensifies.
Information to hand suggests that the ZEC has spent some $480 billion
in just five days for court appearances made by its lawyer George
Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike & Associates.
Chikumbirike spent an average of 40 hours in court from April 5 when
the case went before the High Court to April 9 when Justice Tendai Uchena
said he would deliver judgement on Monday.
Uchena said he needed time to look over the relevant statute quoted in
the case and also that he needed time to “digest the submissions by both
Chikumbirike yesterday denied receiveing $1,5 trillion from ZEC in
legal fees. “That is not true at all. I am not at liberty to disclose the
figure, but I can assure you that it is not even anywhere near what you
have. In fact some payments have not even been made,” Chikumbirike said.
It has also been established that the ZEC spent over $700 billion
since January in legal fees fighting off other electoral petitions in ward,
constituency, senatorial and presidential elections.
The amounts spent include legal fees spent fighting court challenges
brought by Advocate Justin Chihota and Daniel Shumba who are challenging
decisions made by the ZEC to bar them from contesting the presidential
It is unclear where the electoral body is getting the funding for its
costly legal battles.
What is clear, however, is that Chikumbirike has been levying an
average of $12 billion for every hour he has spent in court defending the
Investigations also reveal that he has levied the ZEC additional fees
for research and other attendances he has made on behalf of the electoral
body’s top personnel and chairman, Justice George Chiweshe.
This would bring the combined legal fees paid by the ZEC to $1,5
trillion. The ZEC also paid Value Added Tax of 15% on the amounts.
Legal experts told the Independent that senior legal practitioners
were allowed to levy a maximum rate of $12 billion an hour that was approved
by the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
They said three criteria determined whether a lawyer was permitted to
apply the maximum rate. These were the importance of the matter to the
client, the amount of expertise required and the circumstances in which the
case was being carried out.
“All three apply,” one lawyer said. “Victory in the case is of utmost
importance to the ZEC and the circumstances in which the case is being
carried out are self-evident for every Zimbabwean to see. Lastly,
Chikumbirike is highly competent.”
Other ruling Zanu PF sources indicated that the party, which has
refused to concede defeat to the MDC in both the parliamentary and
presidential elections, had initially wanted to engage the services of
Chikumbirike as legal advisor.
The move was dropped after it became clear that this would compromise
the independence of the ZEC.
However, the ruling party sources indicated that Chikumbirike and Zanu
PF’s legal team routinely compared notes.
“Our legal advisors are still comparing notes with the ZEC’s legal
advisor (Chikumbirike),” said one Zanu PF politburo member.
The ZEC’s Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Utoile Silaigwana, refused
to comment saying he was unaware of what amounts had been paid to
“I can’t comment on those matters. I am unaware of what has been paid.
Maybe your sources can comment better,” he said.
By Kuda Chikwanda
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:57
REGIONAL and international diplomatic pressure is mounting on the
government to order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release
results of the March 29 presidential election which President Robert Mugabe
reportedly lost to the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai.
The MDC claims Tsvangirai won the poll by 54% against Mugabe’s 42%,
but independent election monitors said neither of the two had the required
50% plus votes to assume office. As a result, a run-off pitting Tsvangirai
and Mugabe is anticipated.
However, latest media reports indicate Tsvangirai has reviewed his
position on a run-off citing “changed circumstances” due to violence across
the country which he says is not conducive to the holding of free and fair
The ZEC is yet to announce the official results claiming that it was
“meticulously” verifying and collating the votes. This has attracted
condemnation in the region and abroad.
The MDC has since approached the courts seeking an order compelling
the ZEC to announce the results. High Court judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, is
expected to hand down judgement on Monday.
Sadc chairperson and Zambia president, Levy Mwanawasa, has called for
an emergency meeting of heads of state in Lusaka tomorrow to deliberate on
the Zimbabwe crisis that has seen Tsvangirai and the MDC calling for
regional and international intervention.
Mwanawasa said because of the deepening problems in Zimbabwe, he “felt
that this matter should be dealt with at presidential level”.
While Sadc leaders would be meeting, the diplomatic sources said, the
United Nations (UN) country team would be preparing to engage the Zimbabwe
government to find a solution to the political crisis.
“The UN team intends to meet the Zimbabwe government and see how it
can assist in ending this impasse,” one of the diplomats said. “There are
fears that the situation could degenerate into violence if the results are
not announced soon.”
On Monday, the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement
calling for the expeditious and transparent release of the election results.
“The secretary-general is concerned that presidential results have yet
to be released,” read the statement. “He urges the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to discharge its responsibility and release the results
expeditiously and with transparency.”
Ban appealed to political parties in the country to act responsibly,
exercise restraint and calm, and to address all issues regarding the
elections through recourse to legal means and dialogue.
This week, British and Swedish parliamentarians Kate Hoey and Birgitta
Ohlsson urged Ban to lead a UN delegation to deal with the election crisis
In a joint letter to the secretary-general, the two MPs said his
presence in Harare would signal that the world community stood united in an
appeal for the installation of a government that reflects the will of the
Both MPs have made recent undercover visits to Zimbabwe, meeting
opposition activists and members of civil society engaged in the struggle
for democracy and human rights.
Labour’s Hoey is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Zimbabwe in the UK Parliament. Birgitta Ohlsson is the Foreign Affairs
spokesperson for the Liberal Party in the Swedish Parliament.
The two wrote: “We, the undersigned, have made repeated visits to
Zimbabwe and have noted pleas from within the country for help from the
United Nations. In order to facilitate a peaceful solution to the ongoing
crisis, the United Nations must act immediately.
“The United Nations’ ability to respond decisively in the wake of a
bitterly contested election was illustrated during former secretary-general
Kofi Annan’s diplomatic intervention in Kenya.”
Annan was reportedly trying to engage Mugabe to mediate in the
political impasse like what he did in Kenya, but the public media this week
said the government would spurn his overtures because he was allegedly being
used by Britain and America to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday revealed
that he had spoken to Tanzanian president and AU African Union head Jakaya
Kikwete about the Zimbabwe crisis and was told that AU leaders were unable
to get through to Mugabe. He evidently wasn’t taking their calls.
“All the efforts that have been made have been a failure,” Solana told
the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in Brussels. “So it is a
concern of the leaders of the region.”
The diplomat said there were fears in Brussels and beyond that
Zimbabwe could descend into the kind of post-election violence seen in Kenya
in January if the electoral impasse persists.
Last Friday, the EU’s Slovenian presidency called on Zimbabwe to issue
the results of its presidential election “without further delay”.
Annan last Thursday urged Zimbabwe’s government not to tamper with
election results and to respect the country’s constitution. Annan, who last
month led negotiations to resolve an electoral crisis in Kenya on behalf of
the African Union, said from Geneva that the people of Zimbabwe had
exercised their democratic rights, though the results were “still dribbling
in” several days later.
“I strongly urge the government and the Electoral Commission to
scrupulously observe the electoral law and to declare the election results
faithfully and accurately,” Annan said. “Any attempt to tamper with these
results would be rejected by the people of Zimbabwe as well as by the
international community,” he said. “The wish of the people must be heeded
and everyone must accept the outcome.” He warned that the world will be
watching Zimbabwe and its leaders, urging them to respect the constitution
and obey the electoral laws.
Jacob Zuma, the president of the ruling African National Congress
(ANC) in South Africa, on Monday criticised the delay in publishing the
results of the presidential election.
Speaking to journalists after meeting Tsvangirai in Johannesburg, Zuma
said the ZEC should have announced the results by now.
“I think keeping the nation in suspense, and as you know, the
Zimbabwean issue has become an international issue — it is almost keeping
the international community in suspense — I don’t think it augurs very
well,” Zuma, who is expected to become South Africa’s president next year,
Zuma’s comments were in contrast to those of South African president
Thabo Mbeki who said in Britain at the weekend that the situation was
“manageable”. He told Zimbabweans to wait. Mbeki made the statement after
meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Brown wanted Mbeki to persuade Mugabe to accept the results and not to
resort to violence in an attempt to hang onto power.
Mbeki reportedly refused to criticise Zimbabwe’s conduct of the
elections and rejected a call by the MDC for international intervention to
The South African president reportedly declared that: “Zimbabwe is not
a South African province. Can we agree about that?”
The MDC on Tuesday slammed the “deafening silence” from Africa in the
aftermath of the country’s elections, warning of bloodshed on the streets
unless pressure is brought to bear on Mugabe.
The party said its supporters were being provoked into violence as
part of a strategy to impose a state of emergency.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:55
FORMER South African President Nelson Mandela advised President Robert
Mugabe last year not to contest the recent presidential election and retire
as soon as possible to avoid an embarrassing exit from power.
Mandela’s advice — which was rejected — has now come back to haunt
Mugabe after his dramatic defeat by main opposition MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai. Mugabe has reportedly blocked the release of results and is
demanding a recount in a bid to avoid embarrassment, the very thing Mandela
warned him of a year ago.
As initially reported in the Zimbabwe Independent, Mandela early last
year told Mugabe via his advisors that he should quit and allow a new leader
to come in because he had “played his part”.
However, Mugabe rejected the advice and proceeded to amend the
constitution to consolidate his position and seek re-election.
Details obtained from sources in Zimbabwe and South Africa showed
Mandela had contacted Mugabe by telephone via his advisors on March 30 — on
the very same day that Zanu PF spokesmen misleadingly claimed Mugabe was
endorsed as the candidate for this year’s poll — to advise him to quit
before the election.
Around the same time former Zanla general staff members linked to
retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru also tried to tell Mugabe to
quit but were rebuffed. The ex-combatants approached Zanu PF politburo
bigwig Emmerson Mnangagwa over the issue but he refused to help.
The former guerillas wanted to ensure Mugabe secured a gracious
departure from office because they feared he would end up being defeated at
the polls or risked a humiliating exit as the country’s crisis deepened.
Most Zanu officials, sources say, now find it disgraceful that Mugabe
might actually be forced out of office after being defeated by a man he has
repeatedly said would “never” rule this country.
Mandela reportedly indicated that his advice was also the view of a
number of influential African National Congress (ANC) leaders. ANC stalwart
Tokyo Sexwale supported Mandela’s initiative. Sexwale, then an ANC
presidential hopeful, has said on several occasions Mugabe has made his
contribution to Zimbabwe and should leave office.
After Mugabe failed to respond to Mandela’s initiative as he had
promised, Mandela unleashed his team of world leaders, the Global Elders, to
deal with the problem. Three critical meetings were held last year by the
Elders and their advisors on July 16, 17 and 18 to discuss the issue. The
meetings on July 16 and 17 were held at Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg.
The first meeting — on July 16 -—was attended by political and
constitutional experts from the United States and the region who debated a
range of issues, including constitutional mechanisms and immunity issues, to
facilitate a possible Mugabe retirement. The meeting was stormy as experts
clashed over what was possible and achievable and what was not. The second
meeting — on July 17 — was attended by the Elders themselves who discussed
the best way to approach Mugabe.
On July 18, during Mandela’s birthday party, the Elders further
exchanged notes about the pressing matter on the sidelines of festivities
after agreeing Kofi Annan would travel to Zimbabwe to meet Mugabe over their
initiative. The initial plan was for Annan to travel to Harare before the
Sadc meeting on August 17 last year in Lusaka to press Mugabe to leave.
This did not work because Mugabe refused to grant Annan an audience
until the UN boss had to phone in September. The conversation between Mugabe
and Annan, it was said, was stormy because Mugabe was offended by Annan’s
willingness to discuss such a sensitive issue over the phone.
It is said Mugabe recently rejected Annan’s bid to intervene in the
current stalemate over the presidential election results, as he did in
By Dumisani Muleya
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:53
SUSPECTED state security agents and Zanu PF supporters have allegedly
embarked on a terror campaign in rural areas to coerce villagers to vote for
President Robert Mugabe in the event of a presidential election run-off with
Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week
Political analysts anticipate the countdown to the run-off will be
bloody with Zanu PF unleashing war veterans and youth militia to force the
electorate to vote for the 84-year-old Mugabe, who will be seeking a sixth
term in office.
According to a report released by the MDC this week, Zanu PF-sponsored
violence erupted throughout the country during and after the historic
harmonised elections on March 29.
“In Mutoko East constituency, Zanu PF members were moving around the
villages waving guns of different sizes and type telling the people that the
re-run (run-off) was the last chance for them to vote for Zanu PF,” read the
report. “If they (villagers) don’t (vote for Mugabe) then they would use the
guns against them.”
The party said the Zanu PF militia was also threatening to kidnap
villagers they suspected of voting for the MDC in last month’s elections.
The MDC said the police had failed to respond to the reported cases in
Several incidents of violence, the MDC alleged, took place in Masvingo
rural where suspected Zanu PF militia and soldiers allegedly assaulted
According to the report, Harare’s high-density suburbs of Epworth,
Rugare, Glen View and Mabvuku-Tafara also recorded cases of violence.
The opposition party further claimed that a member of the MDC in
Harare was beaten up and sustained “serious injuries” for celebrating the
party’s victory in the House of Assembly elections.
By Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:47
IF there is one sobering thing that can be unequivocally said about
why the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has scandalously delayed the
announcement of the March 29 presidential election, it is simply that
President Robert Mugabe did not win the election and is now desperately
trying to steal the result through an unjustified recount because he does
not have any prospect of winning a run-off or a re-run.
Had Mugabe won the election, even with less than the absolute majority
required under the Electoral Act, ZEC would have announced the result ages
ago and Zimbabweans would have been spared the constitutional uncertainty
and political anxiety that have put the nation on the brink of utter chaos
The simple truth which ZEC has found hard to stomach and which Mugabe
and his shocked cronies have found hard to swallow is that Morgan Tsvangirai
won the presidential election even if with less than the required absolute
majority. In other words, Tsvangirai got more votes than Mugabe and thus
If the Electoral Act had not been amended after the 2002 presidential
election to require a run-off where no candidate gets an absolute majority,
Tsvangirai would have been sworn in by now and Zimbabwe would be in a
totally new situation under his MDC government and we would not have the
current charade of a dissolved cabinet whose defeated ministers are now
seeking to unconstitutionally smuggle themselves back into office under
spurious but self-serving interpretations of Section 31E of the
It is common cause that Mugabe dissolved not just parliament but also
cabinet before the March 29 elections and this fact was widely reported in
What must be understood is that in terms of Section 31E (1) (a) of the
Constitution, the significance of the dissolution of cabinet by the
president is that it is constitutionally the same as the removal from office
of vice-presidents, ministers and deputy ministers. When the president
dissolves cabinet, it means that vice-presidents, ministers and deputy
ministers have all been dismissed and removed from their offices in one fell
There are two scenarios under which cabinet is typically dissolved or
dismissed in Zimbabwe: one happens before a cabinet reshuffle and the other
before a general election. In either case, the dissolution means that there
is no cabinet thereafter and thus there are no government ministers. Many
times in the past, Mugabe has dissolved cabinet before a reshuffle and
persons not reappointed in the reshuffle have not remained as ministers on
grounds that the dissolution was merely an administrative matter with no
Given that Mugabe has not reappointed anyone to reconstitute the
cabinet that he dissolved last month, Zimbabwe right now does not have a
cabinet. This means there is no government. As such, there is now a
constitutional vacuum which is made worse by the fact that the country is
also going through an unprecedented economic meltdown whose resolution
requires an elected government with a requisite economic recovery plan.
The only exception, which is not much of a consolation, is that the
dissolution of the cabinet in March did not affect the embattled Mugabe who
appointed it and who, even if defeated on March 29, is nevertheless
empowered by Section 29 of the Constitution to unhappily continue in office
until the person elected as President on March 29 takes over the reins of
The constitutional crisis now gripping the nation arises from ZEC’s
delinquent failure to announce the result of the March 29 presidential
election and that failure has in turn prevented the democratic and
constitutional processes from yielding a new President to enable the country
to move forward in a stable and cohesive manner cemented by national unity
and the law.
Against this background, ZEC’s perverse delay in announcing the result
of the presidential election leaves Zimbabweans and the international
community with only one gloomy conclusion: the defeated Mugabe and his
shocked hangers-on are using the delay to scheme up a dirty game plan whose
nefarious purpose is to reverse Tsvangirai’s electoral victory with the
collusion of ZEC at all cost and by any means available. This is being done
under a barrage of confused and confusing Zanu PF talk around a recount,
runoff or rerun when the result has not been announced.
In the circumstances, ZEC’s delay in announcing the result has become
inherently destabilising to the detriment of both the national interest and
As far as the national interest is concerned, there was no reason on
earth why the nation went to great lengths and at great cost to hold a
presidential election in terms of the law on March 29 if there’s was a
predetermination by officialdom that only one particular candidate, Mugabe,
had to win or else all hell would break loose. The outcome of an election
is determined by the voters and not by the whims of officialdom. The voters
rejected Mugabe on March 29 and officialdom must unconditionally and
graciously accept that electoral verdict in the national interest even if
some officials have debatable or even understandable reservations about
Tsvangirai’s leadership, ideology or policies.
If officialdom uses all sorts of self-indulgent pretexts to reject an
electoral outcome that has been determined by the will of the people, as is
currently happening, that rejection necessarily threatens national security
by exposing the country to hostile external interference. This is because
the international community, especially Zimbabwe’s neighbours in Sadc,
cannot be expected to stand idly by while Mugabe digs in and embarks on a
scorched earth policy against his own people and country for the sole
purpose of reversing an unannounced election result won by Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe’s detractors won’t miss such an unfortunate opportunity created by
what can only be Mugabe’s contempt for the electorate with the assistance of
Because Mugabe is so stubborn as to be incapable of doing the right
thing on his own, those who still have his ear and the ear of the military
and security complex around him, need to appreciate three inescapable
realities facing officialdom and communicate them accordingly:
lThe current electoral stalemate created by ZEC on Mugabe’s behalf
cannot be resolved through a recount, rerun or runoff. It would be
foolhardy to use an election to resolve an election impasse. What is needed
is a negotiated settlement for a transitional process that recognises the
will of the people as expressed on March 29 while also appreciating Mugabe’s
institutional sensitivities and personal anxieties along with those of his
close associates in key organs of the state.
lZimbabweans have crossed the electoral Rubicon which means that
Mugabe simply cannot win any election; not even one which is neither free
nor fair in his favour. Mugabe’s days of electoral victories are
lIn the most unlikely event that Mugabe were to win a recount, runoff
or rerun by hook or by crook and thus remain in office, the economy would
reject him with devastating consequences for the livelihood of ordinary
people to the point of necessitating never before seen chaos and mayhem.
What this means is that Mugabe no longer has any electoral option
involving him as a candidate outside a negotiated settlement for a gracious
exit. He is certain to be humiliated in untold ways if he should be unwise
enough to participate in a runoff or rerun as no rational voter can see him
turning around the economy or just running this country for the next five
years. The Zanu PF claims that only Mugabe can secure the gains of the
liberation struggle in general and the land reform programme in particular
are plain silly and if they are true then God help us because Mugabe is not
going to be with us for any sustainable period in revolutionary terms.
By Jonathan Moyo
Professor Jonathan Moyo is the MP for Tsholotsho North.
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:45
ZIMBABWEANS could easily top the list of citizens worldwide who know
what their central bank is doing at any given time of the year. But they
also top the list of citizens who do not know what role their central bank
should be playing.
In the past four years the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has emerged
as one of the most powerful institutions in the country.
It has been labelled the real government while RBZ governor Gideon
Gono is possibly the second most powerful individual in the country after
President Robert Mugabe.
“The RBZ and Gono have become very powerful indeed,” said economist
John Robertson. “Gono appears to have been given authority over every
The hierarchy of power starts with Mugabe, followed by the politburo,
then Gono, followed by cabinet and lastly parliament. However, despite all
this power, the RBZ has systematically deviated from its core monetary
Under the leadership of Gono the RBZ, as monetary authorities, has
evolved from being the one half of the economy’s financial system to being
the nerve centre of the troubled economy suffering from years of gross
mismanagement by Mugabe’s government.
The other half, the Ministry of Finance, as fiscal authorities, is
next to redundant.
The RBZ has spent money in almost every sector and was of late
bankrolling the elections. Now the RBZ faces another huge budget — the
presidential run-off and payments for maize and tobacco.
While no definite figures were available for the cost of the
presidential run-off, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) estimates that
Zimbabwe will have one of its worst maize harvests since 1980.
Only 300 000 tonnes of maize are expected and the farmers have been
promised US$210 for every tonne delivered. The RBZ is expected to fork out
an estimated US$6,3 million for maize deliveries.
However, the warning bells have begun to ring.
The RBZ is currently overstretched and attempts to meet this bill are
likely to result in severe consequences for an already bruised economy.
“They will just have to print more money to finance these pledges.
Where will they get the foreign currency?” asked University of Zimbabwe
economics lecturer, Professor Tony Hawkins.
Even the farming community is sceptical that they will be paid. Years
of broken promises have made them wiser.
“We would be very lucky to get the 300 000 tonnes delivered. And we’d
be twice lucky to get the central bank to pay for those deliveries as
promised,” said Commercial Farmers Union president Trevor Gifford.
Simply put, the RBZ is in a tight fix. It is finding it difficult to
pay its debts and yet has been making pledges for more payments.
The RBZ owes exporters and NGOs funds that it raided from their
foreign currency accounts (FCAs). Most gold miners and tobacco growers haven’t
been paid since last year. The tobacco season is about to start.
So deeply rooted has been the influence of the central bank that when
Gono sneezes, the nation catches a cold.
“Mugabe appears to have given him influence over everything. The
exercise of authority by the RBZ is way beyond that which was planned for
any central bank,” Robertson said.
The RBZ’s influence has been growing over the years. It has fed on the
failures of the Mugabe government which has failed to live within its means
for successive years.
Mugabe’s cash-strapped government has earned itself the reputation of
not paying its debts and has become a serious credit risk.
With a rapidly dwindling tax revenue base and unable to borrow
elsewhere, government has relied heavily on the RBZ to fund its recurrent
Virtually every ministry survives on funds availed by the RBZ.
Loss-making parastatals and state-owned companies have served only to make
the situation worse.
Found in every sector, the central bank is a key player in
agriculture, tourism, national security, health, manufacturing, mining,
water and electricity provision and the media.
It can even be found in candle and freezit making, dam construction
and borehole drilling, cattle restocking and small to medium enterprises.
Even the Ministry of Finance waits for policy advice from the RBZ.
Fiscal revenue sources amounting to $6 quadrillion and outlined in the
2008 national budget were exhausted in the first two months of the year.
This forced government to seek additional funding from the RBZ to the
tune of $1,6 quadrillion, all borrowed in the space of three weeks.
Traditionally, central banks are supposed to implement monetary
policy, control money supply, act as a government and bankers’ bank,
regulate the foreign exchange market and gold reserves, set official
interest rates, manage inflation and oversee the banking sector.
Gono has done this and more. But he has also and determinedly pushed
the RBZ into uncharted waters for a central bank.
He has been very clear about where he stands. Gono has maintained the
mantra that he remains guided by “conviction and not convention” despite
assurances made last year that he was winding down quasi-fiscal expenditures
Gono established Fiscorp (Pvt) Ltd, a 100% owned subsidiary of the
RBZ, which began administering the RBZ’s QFEs.
The damage done to the economy by the RBZ’s QFEs since 2003 has been
Last year, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report said the RBZ’s
actions had resulted in losses amounting to 80% of the country’s Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).
Zimbabwe’s GDP is estimated to have a purchasing power parity of
US$6,186 billion. Purchasing power parity is a measure that compares two
currencies with a view to equalising their purchasing power. It equalises
the purchasing power of different countries for a given basket of goods.
This means that quasi-fiscal losses incurred by the RBZ have been in
the region of US$4,9 billion.
The IMF also accused the RBZ of stoking inflation through the printing
of money. Gono later admitted that increased money supply (M3) was the major
driver of inflation. The M3 currently stands at 55 000%.
“The RBZ has access to Zimbabwean dollars by printing them. It has
access to foreign currency by raiding FCAs and using printed dollars to buy
foreign currency on the black market. The unavoidable consequences of this
unbridled exercise of authority are run- away inflation,” Robertson said.
But instead of winding down, Gono has actually made the RBZ step up
its QFEs. This has been in the form of the third phase of the farm
mechanisation programme and the Medical Sector Skills Retention facility.
Now the likelihood of the printing press going into overdrive seems
real with the prospect of the presidential run-off.
“It is a fact that the RBZ has failed to maintain the integrity of the
currency. Quite frankly, it (the RBZ) has done very poorly on about every
account,” said Hawkins.
Other QFEs incurred by the RBZ include the Agricultural Support
Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF), the Basic Commodity Supply Side
Intervention (Bacossi) facility, the Parastatals Reorientation Programme
(PLARP), the Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (LARP) and the
Productive Sector Facility (PSF).
The central bank spread its tentacles to Operation Maguta, and has
also bought vehicles which are now being used by the Zimbabwe Republic
Police (ZRP) and state-owned broadcaster, ZBC.
The RBZ has also been paying for Zesa Holdings power imports and has
paid the utilities’ foreign debts which were reported to have breached
US$100 million last year. In addition, it has played in a key role in Air
It has also created a fund for women and youths to engage in self-help
programmes, invested in a bio-diesel project and has played a crucial role
in the country’s water management through interventions in the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Mugabe and Zanu PF have campaigned on these RBZ-driven policies
leading some quarters to label RBZ’s QFEs as vote-buying gimmicks by
“Ideally, a central bank should be autonomous making it free from
politics,” Hawkins said. “Unfortunately, the RBZ has been used more as an
arm of politicians and of the ruling party. National interests have been set
aside for sectional interests.”
The independence of central banks has been a trend that has been
followed by many developed countries as a way of improving long term
This was after it was observed that if a central bank was too
susceptible to political direction, it would encourage economic cycles at
the instigation of politicians being tempted to boost economic activity in
the advance of elections.
But Gono is not perturbed. Insisting that conviction takes precedence
over convention, he also told the state media three weeks ago the RBZ
programmes could not be classified as quasi-fiscal interventions.
Gono said the RBZ would not stop QFEs saying national policies were
not cast in stone and that “we live in a dynamic environment in which change
is the only constant”.
Gono said national policies had to be receptive to change and that the
debate on quasi-fiscal operations by the central bank was political. He said
RBZ’s actions were guided by the need to find and implement “practical
solutions to practical challenges in our economy”.
But Hawkins begs to differ.
“Gono has been behaving irresponsibly,” he said. “He is behaving all
the time as a political institution and the economy is the one suffering.
Inflation figures for April, May and June will be shocking,” Hawkins said.
By Paul Nyakazeya/Kuda Chikwanda
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:35
GOVERNMENT’S decision to review the tax brackets through a statutory
instrument issued two weeks ago is illegal because the instrument was
incorrectly drafted, tax experts have said.
According to a newsletter released by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), an
international auditing firm, the statutory instrument released last Tuesday
was incorrectly drafted.
“The law as presented through a statutory instrument was basically
incorrectly drafted,” says PWC.
“The ‘contra fiscum’ rule should therefore negate this legislation
until it is amended. However, we approached Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority) and they have told us to follow the law in its present form, that
is taking up to 60% plus 3% Aids levy for a maximum effective rate of 61,8%
on an income of over $20 billion a month,” PWC said.
Other tax consultants said the bone of contention for the
controversial law emerged after its passing.
“The constitutionality of the law is questionable because it was
passed when cabinet was dissolved,” said a local tax consultant.
The statutory instrument was gazetted by the Minister of Finance,
Samuel Mumbengegwi in accordance with Section 3 of the Finance Act well
after the dissolution of cabinet on March 28.
However, law experts said a statutory instrument is deemed
“incorrectly drafted” when it is not consistent with an Act of Parliament.
“For any statutory instrument to be legally valid, it must not be
ultra vires the enabling Act from which it is derived,” said Obert Gutu, a
”A statutory instrument is subsidiary legislation that must be
consistent with the provisions of the Act of Parliament from which it is
derived. Thus, a statutory instrument is deemed incorrectly drafted if it
seeks to go against and or beyond the parameters of the enabling Act. Put
differently, a statutory instrument is invalid to the extent of its
inconsistency with the provisions of the enabling Act of Parliament,” he
“If Zimra’s directive contradicts the ‘contra fiscum’ rule, then it
logically follows that the said directive lacks legal validity and thus, can
be successfully challenged in a competent court of law, in this case the
High Court,” Gutu said.
In terms of a statutory instrument legislated on Tuesday, an employee
earning less than $300m monthly will now be exempted from income tax.
According to the law income tax on high earners getting more than $20
billion per month was increased to 60%. The statutory instrument also
increased the number of tax brackets from seven to 11. The average number of
tax brackets in Central and Southern African countries excluding South
Africa (6) is five.
In a related matter politicians challenged the constitutionality of
the current governance saying cabinet had passed its term of office. MDC
secretary-general and lawyer Tendai Biti recently described the current
governance as “expired”.
Contrary to Biti’s claims Information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
yesterday was reported in a local daily saying the entire cabinet under
President Robert Mugabe was still functional under constitutional
By Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:33
THE stock market finally succumbed to the chaos and uncertainty
surrounding the presidential election yesterday, having spent much of the
week resilient to the electoral crisis.
The Industrial Index shed 6,01% to close at 18 175 248 922,10 while
the Mining Index lost 8,67% to 13 950 523 647,77 as the market reacted to
the political predicament that has resulted in an emergency Sadc meeting
Gains for the movers were marginal while losses were huge for the
shakers as the stock market reflected the volatility of the situation in
Zimplow gained $200 000 to close at $12 million while the Rainbow
Tourism Group (RTG) gained $500 000 to close at $2 million.
Star Africa Corporation was up by $1 million to close at $7 million
while Hippo Valley closed the day $2 million higher to end at $25 million.
On the other end, the situation had all the signs of big trouble.
Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd (KMAL) arguably took the largest knocking,
slipping by $10 million to end the day lower at $19 million.
Econet lost $8 million to end at $140 million, while PPC shed $2,1
million to end up at $22 million.
Innscor ended the day $7 million lower, closing at $38 million while
Natfoods lost $5 million to close at $20 million.
Cottco shed $2,8 million to close at $11 million, while Delta, Afdis
and Colcom all lost $2 million each to close at $25 million, $11 million and
$13 million respectively.
All the major losses have ridden on the back of the worsening
shortages of basic commodities and inputs.
KMAL’s retail chain, TM has been suffering from dwindling supplies,
while Hippo and Star Africa have come short in sugar deliveries. Delta has
stopped manufacturing soft drinks owing to sugar shortages while Natfoods is
struggling to secure maize in what promises to be a disastrous farming
However, yesterday’s plummeting followed three days of successive
gains as the bulls stampeded home from Monday to Wednesday, with the
Industrial Index gaining 12%, 14% and 5% successively while the Mining Index
gained 4%, 2% and 12% on the same days.
The equities market appeared strongest despite the political crisis
that had left many businesses reeling from the non-availability of
commodities and other supplies.
Market analysts had predicted that a significant change in
macroeconomic policy was the only long term thing that could halt the
domineering influence of the equities market over the money market.
They argued that this change could only come through a change of
government as President Robert Mugabe’s government was unlikely come up with
any major policy changes that could revive other sectors of the economy.
The stock market looks set to rebound next week despite a policy
vacuum created by a desperate government vetoing the release of the
This will be achieved on the back of negative real interest rates
which trail inflation by a long shot. Inflation is currently at 165 000%.
With month-on-month inflation pegged at 125,9%, market analysts said
the local bourse would only cease to being the only attractive investment
destination once a new macroeconomic environment was in place.
Stocks picked up momentum Monday to see the industrials up 12% to 16
072 871 975,70 points while minings were up 4% to 13 311 209 741, 68 points.
Major movers included Radar up 65% to $13 200 000, Edgars 16% to $4
000 000 and Innscor 50% to $45 000 000.
By Paul Nyakazeya/Kuda Chikwanda
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:30
RETAIL shops have stopped restocking as they fear that government
could be planning to launch another blitz on business as party of a campaign
strategy in the expected run-off election.
Retailers told businessdigest this week that they were waiting until
the election period is over.
“We are not sure. A run-off might cause problems for us,” said a
senior manager with a local supermarket chain.
Other retail companies said although they might want to restock they
are yet to recover from the blitz launched by government last year.
There are also indications that some companies are still facing
difficulties in getting new supplies because most manufacturing companies
have either shut down or reduced capacity drastically.
A snap survey by businessdigest revealed that commodities such as
cooking oil, sugar, mealie-meal, bread, salt and flour were not readily
available in shops.
The shortages have affected the country’s top two retail groups, OK
Zimbabwe and TM Supermarkets, whose shelves are currently half full owing to
re-stocking problems. One of OK’s branch managers, Frank Sumani, said
getting new supplies was still a problem.
“We are not getting anything from our suppliers,” Sumani said.
He said the unavailability of basics was a result of the economic
crisis that the country is facing.
He said suppliers had also been hit by other macro-economic factors.
Food World, one of the leading supermarkets, said they were facing
similar problems with supplies dwindling daily.
“Our suppliers are not bringing in anything, though we do have cooking
oil on our shelves, it is not locally made, it is from South Africa,” said a
branch manager at one of the Food World supermarkets.
At TM along Harare Street, shelves were lined up with bottled mineral
water and fruit juices.
“We have to cover up our shelves because they are empty,” said an
official from TM.
“We have excess mineral water and juices; it doesn’t make sense to
keep these in our warehouse when we can use them to fill up the shelves.”
The official at TM said the reason why their shelves were empty is
because their suppliers have not delivered goods in a long time.
“The last batch of mealie meal we had was in October last year because
our suppliers, including GMB, have said they have no maize,” said the
“We do not have sugar at the present moment but we have made orders to
Zimbabwe Sugar Refinery (ZSR) who said the sugar is available but there is
no transport to make the deliveries.”
Delta Beverages has stopped production of soft drinks owing to
shortages of sugar.
Delta spokesperson, George Mtendadzamera said the sparkling beverages
business is a major user of bottler grade sugar.
“While the general shortage of sugar impacts adversely on our ability
to produce the full range of our brands we are doing our best to cope with
these supply challenges.
“The suppliers of sugar continue to do their best to minimize
disruption to our production and we work closely with them all the time.”
Most manufacturers have been citing lack of raw materials as the major
constraint in their efforts to supply.
“Oil suppliers have not given us anything for the past six months,
while one of our biggest suppliers Olivine which last supplied us three
months ago has ceased production,” said the TM branch official.
Olivine cited unavailability of coal as the major reason why they have
halted production. Bread, a basic commodity is also in short supply.
“The shortages are now being felt because we don’t have wheat, stocks
have dried up, no miller has wheat, GMB has no wheat and there is no money
for importation,” said Vincent Mangoma, the chairman of the National Baker’s
Most companies are not making business decisions as they wait for the
outcome of the polls to map the way forward.
However, president of Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Marah
Hativagone said the empty shelves were not as a result of precautionary
measures ahead of the run-off but rather the same problems that businesses
have been experiencing for the past ten
“Manufacturers have no raw materials to produce that which is not on
the shelves,” Hativagoni said.
“It is not a new phenomenon but it is being worsened by the fact that
we are not having more meetings with government resulting in no policy being
She said business is receiving no support and that their plight was
being ignored, the only voice that was coming from the government was that
of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission which keeps warning people to
restock or face the full wrath of the law.
“People are ignoring us and there is no support from the central bank
since a large amount of money was bankrolled into financing activities
related to the elections,” said Hativagone.
“The only link perhaps between empty shelves and the delay in
announcing results could be that, government arms are not working properly.
“We do not have a government in place to monitor and assist in running
A business executive who refused to be named said it was not wise to
make business decisions at the moment without knowledge of what is going to
happen in the future.
By Jeslyn Dendere
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:28
THE recent Zimbabwean elections have generated unprecedented
excitement for many stakeholders as a defining moment for the future of
With the economy in a chronic state of recession, runaway inflation at
more than 165 000% (the highest in the world), a life expectancy of 37 (the
lowest in the world), unemployment at 82% and persistent shortages of
critical supplies, the state of the economy would to a large extent have
influenced the decision of a significant number of voters.
Even that “common man” in the remote but “infamous” Uzumba and
Maramba-Pfungwe would have voted not only for their patch of land but for
the improvement of their economic circumstances.
It is possible to suggest that for the first time since 1980,
Zimbabweans were driven by the politics of the stomach; voting on issues of
their sustenance rather than on sentiment. Politicians are often in the
suicidal habit of grossly underestimating the awareness of ordinary voters,
especially those in the rural areas and their ability to pierce the veil
between rhetoric and substance.
When the basic choice is between food on the table and intangible
ideals, that debate appears to have been settled by Maslow’s theory of
psychology and the hierarchy of needs.
There is no doubt that this watershed election was about the state of
The Zanu PF government has often argued that the source of the
economic crisis is the failure of neo-liberal structural adjustment
programmes and later declared and undeclared sanctions by Western
governments as retribution for land retribution.
The Zimbabwean crisis is therefore argued as a bilateral dispute
between Britain and Zimbabwe. The government’s approach suggests that the
Zimbabwean crisis is more about defending our sovereignty than it is
The opposition and the international community have in turn blamed the
government of gross economic mismanagement and ruinous policies such as an
ill-planned land redistribution exercise, patronage spending in the war
veterans pay-outs, involvement in an unbudgeted regional warfare in the DRC
and the recent price control policy. “It’s the economy stupid” was a
catchphrase popularised during Bill Clinton’s first campaign against
President George W Bush, who was shackled with a recession in 1992, a year
after his acclaimed stewardship of the US-led victory in the Persian Gulf.
That victory had given Bush the highest presidential approval rating in US
However, given the choice between nationalistic pride and their
wallets, the electorate voted with their wallets. Clinton emerged victorious
and the markets responded positively to his appointment. From the stock
market’s perspective he proved to be a strong president.
Politics has the uncanny habit of affecting your pocket, whether you
vote or not. In the absence of strong institutional frameworks of law and
independent regulatory bodies, the outcome of the presidential and
parliamentary elections is naturally the strongest determinant of the
country’s policy direction.
Collated House of Assembly results from the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) indicated Zanu PF losing its parliamentary majority for the
first time in 28 years. The MDC had a slight majority running almost neck
and neck, evenly splitting the votes between them. Although the presidential
election remains in the balance, it has become evident that Zimbabwe is at a
defining moment. The underlying hopes of the millions who voted on March 29,
regardless of political dispensation have been that this election will
change the economic future of the country, with diverse views on which
candidate is better placed to achieve that objective.
The official parliamentary results are pointing towards the
possibility of a totally new phenomenon on the Zimbabwean political
landscape, a “hung parliament”. In parliamentary terms, a hung parliament is
defined as one in which no one political party has an outright majority.
Although a hung parliament is often considered debilitating for a fledging
democracy, it may be the best thing for a transitional one.
So would a hung parliament be good enough to resuscitate the
Zimbabwean economy and is the current vote split between Zanu PF and the MDC
good for the economy? There is every indication that it is.
Firstly, a hung parliament will provide the key that Zimbabwe need, to
bring in reforms. It will add plurality of voices and diverse power centres
to the House of Assembly and for the first time in 28 years may become the
ignition for reasoned and contested economic policies since Independence.
Secondly and most significantly, the MDC is a relatively new but
rapidly growing party. A hung parliament will give the MDC the cautioned
experience of government without the irrationality of costly economic
mistakes camouflaged by the euphoria for change, as was the case when Zanu
came into power.
Left with an overwhelming majority, the danger could be that the MDC
would have dug itself into monumental blunders without checks and balances
from a strong opposition. Thirdly, the conversion of Zanu PF into an
opposition party in parliament is an indictment on their economic policies
which have, if not the causation, failed to address the current economic
Undoubtedly, Zanu PF, unused to being an opposition party will try to
win back the mandate of the people, hopefully creating parliamentary
The balance of power in the current outcome is important in trimming
any political party’s authority, which in turn is good for economic
recovery. The post-election period may present an important window for the
incumbent politicians to address policy irrationality for the sake of the
ordinary Zimbabweans they claim to represent. With no definitive majority
for all parties, economic policies as with any other legislation will be
decided based on coalition building. Although this may prove a challenge to
a new government, it may yet become the most important outcome of this
election. Some policies, regulations or enactments such as the controversial
price control regulations would not pass through parliament without the
necessary scrutiny, as politicians would fear being voted out of office.
The dispensability of political cycles is a necessary building block
for any progressive society and good for the economy. Choices made by public
officials will depend not only on what would be optimal but also on the
lobbying interest of their political bases.
As such, the allocation of corporate power and privileges will be
determined not only by how governments favour their various constituencies
but by the fear that a politician will be voted out of office and lose power
if they don’t represent the will of the people.
However, since Zimbabwe is not a parliamentary democracy, the outcome
of the presidential election will be important in addressing any economic
resuscitation. In the event that the MDC wins the presidency, the party has
a window of opportunity to formulate a broad consultative economic agenda
and a definitive plan for economic recovery.
The MDC has the advantage of novelty and international support. A new
government can tap into massive financial support from the international
community which has imposed sanctions on the Zanu PF government. An
emergency stabilisation fund can also be accessed from the IMF to address
fiscal imbalances, restore credibility in the monetary system and balance of
payments. Without a concise turn-around plan, public euphoria and
unreasonable expectations can easily turn into disillusionment and a
lightning quick political defeat.
If the incumbent president were to be re-elected, the shifting
political base will demand a change in policy strategy to address the
economic decline and a re-evaluation of people’s concerns. Failure to
address policy weaknesses and other fundamental reasons for the economic
disaster can only result in a hastened political demise.
Lance Mambondiani is an Investment Executive at Coronation Financial.
These views are his own.
By Lance Mambondiani
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:25
CONFUSION marred the upward review of daily cash withdrawals by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last week as it emerged that the central bank
failed to formally inform banks on the new policy change resulting in
customers failing to withdraw the new cash limits.
The RBZ last Friday wrote to banks instructing them to hike withdrawal
limits to $1 billion instead of the $5 billion hinted at by central bank
chief Gideon Gono in an interview with the state media three weeks ago.
This caused problems as some banks had already started giving $5
billion per depositor.
Gono told the state media that the RBZ had put in place “contingency
plans” that would review the maximum daily withdrawal to $5 billion from
“To help ease the plight of many consumers, with effect from 4 April
2008, cheque limits will be lifted from $10 billion to $50 billion, while
cash limits will be raised from the current $500 million to $5 billion,”
Gono was quoted as saying in an interview.
While some banks immediately started giving out $5 billion other were
more cautious as they waited for the official communication from the central
Those that immediately implemented that limits were reprimanded by RBZ
officials. The RBZ officials told the banks that the governor did not make
policy announcements in the newspapers.
Banking sources who spoke to businessdigest this week said the delay
in communication meant they had to see out business for the entire day using
the old cash withdrawal limits of $500 million.
They said Gono had not formally communicated to them on the new limit
until mid morning on Friday.
“We were waiting for formal communication from the (Reserve) bank to
review (daily cash limits), which we received around 10 am in the morning
(on Friday),” said a senior bank manager.
“It’s unfortunate that our customers had to bear the brunt of this
communication oversight,” he added.
When this paper visited banks in Harare’s central business district
last Friday, most financial institutions were still dispensing $500 million,
much to the disappointment of customers.
The new limits also coincided with the introduction of the new $50
million and $25 million bearers’ cheques.
“We were only notified on the review on Friday morning which was said
to be $1 billion instead of the expected $5 billion. We only respond to
written documents,” said a manager with a commercial bank.
The Reserve Bank said the introduction of higher denominations of the
bearer notes was meant to add convenience, especially with the new cash
Efforts to get comment from Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ)
were fruitless at the time of going to press with BAZ president John
Mangudya said to be locked in meetings.
Meanwhile economic analysts said the recent hike of daily cash
withdrawal limits to $1 billion was likely to drain the money market as
deposits are set to decline due to negative real interest rates.
Statutory reserves were hiked to 50% for commercial banks’ call,
demand and savings accounts.
The tenure of the Negotiable Certificate of Deposit (NCD) by the
Reserve Bank was also increased to three months from the seven days.
By Bernard Mpofu/Paul Nyakazeya
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:20
COMMERCIAL banks this week hiked their lending rates from between 750%
and 900% to between 3 000% and 4 500% in response to the upward review of
accommodation rates by the Reserve Bank two weeks ago.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe hiked accommodation rates to 4 000% from
Unsecured accommodation rates were reviewed to 4 500% from 1 650%.
The commercial banks said the review was in response to subdued
liquidity conditions caused by the central bank’s review of accommodation
“The new development was going to cause a rise in the gearing ratios
of most companies thereby worsening their already challenging operating
conditions, all which have a negative bearing on capacity utilisation,”
economic analysts John Robertson said.
Government bank, Agribank, however is charging minimum lending rates
of 6 500%.
Economic analysts said financial institutions also need to enhance
their credit management operations, as the rise in borrowing rates will
automatically result in increased default risk on their portfolios.
They said the minimum lending rates so high that very few companies
will be able to borrow.
The hike in rates is a signal that inflation had really spurned out of
“The new rates are too high to attract meaningful borrowings by
companies. High interest rates have curtailed the growth of bank loan books
as borrowers shy away because they have become prohibitive,” an economist
with a commercial bank said.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono said the accommodation rates would continue
to be reviewed in line with the inflation outlook.
Meanwhile the Reserve Bank was on the market on Monday with its 365
day Treasury Bills and allotted bids worth $6,2 trillion.
Interest rates have largely remained unchanged with 7-14 days being
quoted at 50%, 30 days 80% and 60-90 days 150%-200%.
By Paul Nyakazeya
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:43
FOR most Zimbabweans awaiting the overdue presidential election
results, one word encapsulates their present predicament: Zvakadhakwa.
It literally means that everything and everyone is in a state of
intoxication. It implies that one cannot make sense of things; that nothing
is moving and if it is, it is the motion of the staggering, drunken
individual — directionless, senseless and confused.
For this is what it is. The whole country is in a daze. It has been
for a few years. Stoned, sloshed, high, drunk and incapable.
When you look at it you might think there is democracy. For when they
queued to vote on March 29, it was the sixth occasion in eight years since
the Constitutional Referendum in 2000. But then you look more closely and
you see that it is no more than a veil of democracy.
This election in particular has been unusual. More than anything it
has what lies beneath the veil.
It is unusual because almost two weeks after the key elections,
Zimbabweans have been waiting for the result of the presidential poll. In
past elections, the dispute has been over the substance of the result, not
over its release.
And most unusually, the ruling party, the organisation that for so
long has been in control of the electoral process, is behaving in a manner
generally associated with the opposition. Except that because it is the
ruling party, it has been able to abuse its authority over the arms of the
state by withholding the result.
Even the view that Mugabe and Zanu PF have concerns about the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s counting process does not stand scrutiny.
Zimbabweans know that the MDC had similar concerns about the electoral
process in previous elections, particularly in the 2000 parliamentary and
2002 presidential elections. But that did not stop the electoral body from
announcing the results and declaring Mugabe and Zanu PF as the winners.
Mugabe insisted that any negotiations with or challenges by Morgan
Tsvangirai and the MDC could only be conducted if they recognised his
What then has changed on this occasion, so that the ZEC should
withhold results simply because Zanu PF has objections? Surely, if the
results favoured Mugabe and Zanu PF, the ZEC would have announced the
results and the MDC would have been directed through the constitutional
route, as has happened before, to make their challenges. Why can’t Zanu PF
make its objections using the legal channels to which they have so often
directed the opposition in the past?
You do not have to look far for the answer. It is because the power
that Zanu PF is now relying upon is the kind of power that is not subject to
an election: power emanating from the security structure. It is because
Zimbabwe is now effectively a country that is ruled by the security
For too long Zimbabweans have laboured under the impression that there
is some semblance of democracy in the country and that the legitimate
mechanism for leadership change is through the electoral process. They have
embraced it regardless of the acknowledged limitations. If ever there was
evidence that the electoral process in Zimbabwe is no more than a part of an
elaborate charade of democracy, this is it.
The same thinking has crippled the international community’s view of
Zimbabwe, the most culpable being the African leaders who deal with Zimbabwe
as if it were a normal democracy. What greater evidence should there be
before they acknowledge that Zimbabwe is effectively operating as a military
state, where the will of the people is slowly but surely being subverted or
at the very least postponed unnecessarily?
The registered voters who voted in the recent elections have a
legitimate expectation to know the result of their vote. By withholding the
results, without any reasonable explanation, the ZEC’s conduct is
inconsistent with the doctrine of legitimate expectations which applies to
all public authorities. The doctrine of legitimate expectations expands the
boundaries of the concept of fairness and in coming to a decision to or not
to announce the results, the ZEC owes a duty to act fairly to all parties
and individuals that participated in the elections.
The Sadc leaders will now need to peer through and even lift the veil
of democracy and legitimacy that the ruling party has for so long used to
cover its acts and omissions. For as long as they deal with Zimbabwe on the
basis that it operates on the same platform, using similar democratic
institutions, they will continue to dilly-dally and perpetuate what is in
fact a military-style regime.
Perhaps they are waiting for a formal declaration of a military
takeover before they can acknowledge the sad reality. There is, here, a de
facto military regime in charge of the country, masquerading as a de jure
constitutional government. In fact, during this impasse, constitutional
power is vested solely in the president, but plainly, those in charge are
the security establishment. Without the security structure, Zanu PF would
Pop legend, Tina Turner gave the world one of the best songs of all
time when she sang, “What’s love Got To Do With It?” It is a song that asks
hard questions of the nature of love. Zimbabweans may be tempted to ask in
relation to their circumstances, “What’s Democracy Got To Do With It?”
In that great song, Tina Turner asks, “Who needs a heart when a heart
can be broken?” Perhaps Zimbabweans, too, may be asking at this point in
time, “Who needs an election when an election can be broken?”
It will not be surprising if Zimbabweans show disinterest in the
much-discussed “run-off” election or indeed in any future elections.
Certainly not with precedents like the one the ZEC is setting. For there can
be no guarantee that any future election will not suffer a similar fate. For
President Mbeki and his Sadc colleagues, it is high time they pierce the
veil of democracy and see the regime in charge of Zimbabwe for what it
really is. If they have the sense and emotion that we all expect of them,
they might even be moved to ask, “What’s Democracy Got To Do With It?” and
echo the millions of Zimbabweans crying out for Noah’s Ark.
The MDC has taken action in the High Court to compel the ZEC to
release the result. It is reported that the ZEC lawyer George Chikumbirike
stated before the judge that, “It would be dangerous in my view to give an
order because it might not be complied with ...
because of outside exigencies which the party (ZEC) will be unable to
control.” Chikumbirike did not specify the nature of the ‘outside exigencies’
beyond the ZEC’s control, leaving the matter to speculation.
But, surely, the ZEC is a constitutional body that is supposed to be
independent of external control, however large and overbearing. That it
concedes before the High Court that it is unable to execute its mandate
because of some unnamed forces is testimony to its lack of independence, a
circumstance that takes away any of its significantly diminished
credibility. How President Mbeki and the Sadc leaders can persuade everyone
to wait patiently for the result under these circumstances is hard to
Alex Magaisa is based at The University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at email@example.comThis e-mail address is being protected
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:37
IT has been a vivid demonstration of how power really works. A week
ago, Robert Mugabe was still the undisputed ruler of Zimbabwe.
He was 84, and he had reduced the country to ruin: four out of five
adults are unemployed, inflation is running (officially) at over 100 000%,
and one-third of the population has fled abroad in search of work, mostly to
Yet nobody in his own party, Zanu PF, dared to question his rule, the
police and the army remained loyal, and ordinary people lived in quiet
The silent submission of the population owed a good deal to the
brutality of the police, but what can explain the loyalty of his own
colleagues in the party and the army? After all, Zimbabwe is their country,
too, and nobody likes to see their homeland dragged in the dirt.
Moreover, it was all Mugabe’s fault, brought about by policies that he
freely chose to pursue. He is not ten feet tall and he has no magical
powers. Why did they obey him?
They obeyed him because he has been in power for 28 years, longer than
the great majority of Zimbabweans have been alive.
The average Zimbabwean woman is dead at 34, the lowest life expectancy
in the world. Men make it to 37. They obeyed him because he was the hero of
the independence struggle and an icon of African liberation.
Most of all, they obeyed him because his rule was apparently the only
thing that kept them out of the desperate poverty in which most Zimbabweans
live. Powerful people who defied him were rarely killed, but they were cut
off from the flow of wealth and had a very hard time of it.
So the regime cruised on almost unaffected by the ruin of the country,
and Mugabe even felt secure enough to allow more or less free elections on
He had been under heavy pressure by the African Union to clean up his
act, since Zimbabwe has become a profound embarrassment to better-run
African states, and in particular to neighbouring South Africa.
The farther away the potential investors are, the harder they find it
to tell the difference between one African country and another, and Zimbabwe’s
bad reputation was hurting the whole region. So Mugabe made what seemed to
be a harmless concession.
Typically, in Zimbabwean elections, the cities vote against Mugabe,
but the countryside, where 75% of the people live, votes for him. At least,
it seems to. Rural people are more easily intimidated, opposition observers
can easily be chased away from isolated rural polling stations, and many
things can happen to the ballot boxes on the way to Harare to be counted.
Mugabe was so confident that he didn’t even send out Zanu PF’s
storm-troopers, the so-called “war veterans” (most of whom were not born
during the liberation war), to frighten people into voting the right way.
But he had made one crucial miscalculation: in response to pressure
from the African Union, he agreed to let the vote be counted locally, with
the results posted up outside each polling station.
So the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), sent members to photograph the results at more than 8 000 polling
stations, and it suddenly got very hard to manipulate the returns at a
central location. And it turned out — maybe it had been true at every
previous election, too — that around half the population had not voted for
Zanu PF despite all the pressures.
Mugabe’s party has already lost its majority in parliament, but the
real transformation has been in Zanu PF itself. Suddenly, the “old man” is
not the object of fear and adulation any more. In the eyes of some senior
party people and their military and police colleagues, Mugabe has become a
If the jig is really up, maybe they could trade Mugabe and power for a
peaceful retirement with no awkward questions about where their wealth came
Of course, Mugabe would also have to be allowed an honourable
retirement himself — but as one of the last heroes of Africa’s independence
generation, he was guaranteed that anyway.
Or maybe they should declare martial law, annul the election and push
Mugabe aside — or leave him out front as a figurehead and flak-catcher.
He must be very disconcerted, after 28 years of absolute power, to
discover that it was just a confidence trick all along.
But the game is not over yet. While both those options remain open,
the party elders and the security forces have opted for the moment to play
more or less by the rules: a run-off election in two weeks between Mugabe
and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
That gives them time to deploy the bully-boys, re-intimidate the rural
population, and pull off a second-round victory for Mugabe. Or, if that
strategy doesn’t look like it’s going to work (for once people have lost
their fear, it’s much harder to get them back in the mood), then they still
have time to exercise Option A or Option B.
So what has this episode taught us about the nature of power? That the
more absolute and illegitimate it is, the easier it is for it to dissolve
overnight. And that democracy is a good solvent.
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist.
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:31
ZIMBABWE’S March 29 election surprised many, because although it
seemed President Robert Mugabe had the machinery in place to ensure a
victory even by stealth, as has happened before, the groundswell of
opposition was overwhelming.
Up until now, we don’t know how many votes he won, either in reality
or in the cooked books of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), but
certainly fewer than 50%.
What is known, at this writing, is that a bare plurality of the 210
seats in the House of Assembly were won by Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change: 99. This was two ahead of Mugabe’s Zanu PF, with Arthur
Mutambara’s MDC faction getting 10 and the independent Jonathan Moyo
retaining his seat. (Three more seats will be fought for in by-elections due
to the deaths of MDC candidates.)
But these are official statistics, and who knows what the actual votes
were, once the multiple systems of rigging are exposed, if ever they are?
As for the presidential race — for which at this time no figures have
been released by the ZEC — Tsvangirai says that based on polling station
report-backs, he received 1 171 079 votes, or about 49%, with Mugabe getting
44% and Makoni the balance. (Mutambara told his supporters to vote for
Senate and municipal election results are also not being released as
we write. In any case, the official parliamentary results are so distorted
that last week the state-owned Herald newspaper claimed, “Zanu-PF had won
45,94% of the votes, MDC-Tsvangirai 42,88%, the MDC (Mutambaraba) 8,39% and
the minor parties and independent candidates 2,79%.” The Herald even claimed
Zanu PF outpolled Tsvangirai’s MDC in Matabeleland South.
Though Zanu PF has definitely lost control of parliament, such numbers
justify Mugabe potentially contesting a run-off, which would be held no more
than 21 days after March 29. Tsvangirai and former Finance minister Simba
Makoni had a pre-election pact to unite in such an event, and it is hard to
imagine that if the pact holds, Tsvangirai would not beat Mugabe outright,
one on one.
Makoni, who ran solo for president with no machine behind him, never
gained the open public support of key military factions and of dissident
Zanu PF politicians that his main handler, Ibbo Mandaza, had predicted.
Makoni’s arrogance in entering the race — probably drawing away
roughly the same votes from each main party — was again witnessed last week.
His advisor, former Mugabe spokesperson Godfrey Chanetsa, now insists that
in a new government in alliance with Tsvangirai, Makoni would not “play
second fiddle. He came to lead.”
As reporter Fiona Forde put it, “frantic behind-the-scenes
negotiations were laying the groundwork for a government of national unity
that would include not only the opposition MDC but also Zanu PF with Makoni
taking on a senior role with extended executive powers.”
Here’s Chanetsa’s strange rationale: “Eight percent is an illusion.
Many people were afraid to vote for Simba, afraid of letting Zanu in the
back door and losing their chance of getting rid of Robert. But if they got
rid of Robert, do you still think they would see Morgan as the right man for
Meanwhile, an ominous dance began between Tsvangirai and the forces of
imperialism. According to a Reuters report, the MDC would gain access to
US$2 billion per year in “aid and development” — which normally is top-heavy
with foreign debt and chock-full of conditions. Amongst these, most likely,
are dramatic cuts to the civil service, so that the Zimbabwe central bank
stops printing so much money, fuelling inflation. But the
downside is the potential deepening of the country’s economic crisis
in the short-term, as effective demand falls while more luxury goods become
available thanks to foreign exchange inflows.
The key players are the International Monetary Fund, World Bank,
European Union and the United Nations. No doubt Bush’s White House is also
involved in negotiations, which, if Tsvangirai persuades Mugabe to depart,
may even reach fruition next week at the IMF/Bank spring meetings in
Given that Tsvangirai has chosen advisors from the International
Republican Institute and Cato Institute, such a process was anticipated.
It simply means that the left-leaning civil society forces that backed
Tsvangirai have a huge regroupment challenge. If after an April 21 victory,
many progressive Zimbabwean organisations lose cadres into an expanded
state, this may recall the liquidation of South Africa’s Mass Democratic
Movement into the African National Congress government.
At least in Kenya, reports from Tuesday’s street battles between
hundreds of protesters and police show that civil society will not
necessarily accept a “supersized state” as a gimmick to seduce contesting
parties into a government of national unity. “No more than 24!” was the
activists’ demand for a slim state so that more social spending can be spent
on ordinary people, not the bloated ministers’ Mercedes.
In the same critical spirit, Kenya’s National Civil Society Congress
and Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice offered wisdom and solidarity
in a statement. Amongst their concerns, were “That Sadc should review their
statement that concluded that elections were free and fair while closing
their ears to the significance of the undemocratic practices of the Zanu PF
Between Kenya’s tragic election last December and Zimbabwe’s uplifting
experience last week, lessons should be taught and retaught about the
dangers of elite transition between a voracious, corrupt, violent and
divisive set of rulers, and an incoming crew who might not withstand the
blandishments of local power-sharing and global economic seduction.
Professor Patrick Bond is the Director of the Durban-based Centre for
Civil Society. — Kubatana.net.
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:27
THE judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Elliot Chauke versus
Moses Mare (SC 147/04) is very interesting. It is a clear indication of what
happened in the case of election petitions filed after the 2000 elections
and what might well happen after the “harmonised” elections if Zanu PF is
declared the winner.
The parliamentary elections in 2000 were held on June 24/25. After the
elections 37 election petitions were filed, mainly by the MDC candidates.
Justice Chidyausiku was the Judge President at the time. He allocated the
cases to three judges of the High Court. He must have been aware of the fact
that the Electoral Act provided that an election petition must be handled as
a matter of urgency, and that in no way could three judges handle 37 cases
in a short time.
Needless to say, the three judges did not start to handle any of the
cases until the beginning of 2001, some six months after the elections. One
of the first petitions to be heard was that brought by Moses Mare, the MDC
candidate for the Chiredzi North constituency. Elliot Chauke, the Zanu PF
candidate had been declared the winner and Mare thought that the election
had not been free and fair. The petition was heard early in June and the
judge concerned delivered her judgment on June 20 to the effect that Elliot
Chauke was not duly elected as the member of parliament and that no other
person was entitled to be duly elected.
Elliot Chauke had got 10 154 and Mare 8 765 votes in the contest. Mare
filed his petition on July 24 2000, complaining of “irregularities and
illegal practices”. The basis for the complaint was that the election result
had been secured by means of assaults, threats of violence, arson and
malicious injury to property perpetrated by war veterans and Zanu PF
supporters led by Boniface Mutemachani on members of the electorate known or
suspected to be MDC supporters. In the Supreme Court judgment the findings
of the High Court judge Ziyambi, which were not challenged, were quoted. In
the judgment Judge Ziyambi said:
“I find it proved that Chief Tshovanu was intimidated into gathering
all the village heads at his residence to be addressed by Boniface
Mutemachani and other war veterans to advise their families to vote Zanu PF
or risk death.
The following MDC supporters and office bearers were assaulted or
otherwise intimidated — Kudzayi Chisirimunhu had the windows of his shop
smashed and his patrons attacked and intimidated.
The Mujaji family suffered the loss of their home which was razed to
the ground with all their property therein contained and their children were
assaulted by Mutemachani and other war veterans causing them to flee from
the area until the election.
The house of Percy Mavheneka was broken into, his windows destroyed
and himself and his family assaulted with whips, knobkerries and sticks by
Rose Chauke and her husband were assaulted by Mutemachani and other
war veterans, their two year old child kicked from the arms of his father
and the family forced to flee to Chikombedzi where they remained until the
elections were over.
The petitioner had the windows at his residence smashed and was forced
to flee from his home with his wife and children.
Richard Nyekeani of Muteo Village was assaulted severely by
Mutemachani and three others and threatened with death. Kenneth Mwenga was
assaulted by Mutemachani when he went to the assistance of an MDC supporter
whose T-shirt was being forcibly removed by Mutemachani.
Chadema Sungano, an NCA supporter and a teacher at Chitepo School, had
the walls of his house spray-painted with the words “Down with Chademana”
and his friend Proud Zava was assaulted in his presence.
James Jekero and the village heads in the constituency were told by
war veterans to urge their subjects to vote for Zanu PF or else there would
Elliot Chauke lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court in July 2001. The
appeal was eventually heard by Jutices Chidyausiku, Cheda and Malaba on June
14, 2004. Malaba delivered the judgment of the court. He said that a reading
of the record of the evidence given by witnesses who were victims of acts of
violence satisfied him that the findings by Ziyambi were justified. He also
said that the facts established that the same type of acts of violence were
perpetrated on MDC supporters at different places across the constituency.
Chauke obviously was not in a hurry to have his appeal heard because
he wanted to remain an MP. The Chief Justice allowed him to drag the appeal
out for three years. It then took the three judges of the Supreme Court 15
months to prepare their judgment.
Having heard the submissions by counsel on June 14 2004, their
judgment was handed down on 22 September 2005 (SC147/04). By that time
Chauke had served his five years in parliament and his term of office had
expired. Neither the High Court nor the Supreme Court directed that criminal
proceedings should be instigated against the war veterans who had
intimidated the chief and the village heads or that Chauke should be ordered
to refund all the payments he unlawfully received as an MP.
Judge Malaba who delivered the judgment of the Supreme Court, said
that a reading of the record of the evidence given by witnesses satisfied
him that the findings were justified. He also said that the evidence
established that corrupt practices committed by persons other than Chauke or
his election agent and without their knowledge and consent extensively
prevailed in the violence. Therefore, it could not be said that there was a
He said that corrupt practices in the form of undue influence on
voters to refrain from voting at all or to vote for Zanu PF committed by
Mutemachani and other war veterans extensively prevailed in the constituency
so that it could not be said the election was free and fair. Malaba then
went on to say that he came to the same conclusion as the judge of the High
Court that Chauke had not been duly elected. Chidyausiku and Cheda concurred
with his judgment.
It is interesting to note that although the appeal had been filed on
July 24 2000, the judges of the Supreme Court did not hear argument on the
matter until June 14 2004. That meant that Chief Justice Chidyausiku was
happy to let Chauke act as MP and receive the relevant salary and
allowances. Obviously the Chief Justice did not consider that the matter
should be dealt with expeditiously as a matter of urgency.
The three Supreme Court judges must have read the record of the
proceedings in the High Court before they heard arguments from counsel on 14
June 2004. However, it took them 15 months to prepare and hand down their
judgment. It was handed down on September 22 2005, three months after the
expiration of the five year term of the MPs elected in June 2000. Chauke was
allowed, per grace and favour of the Chief Justice and other judges of the
Supreme Court, to remain and act as a Zanu PF MP for five years even though
his election had not been free and fair.
In all the 37 election petitions which were filed in July 2000, not
one of them was finalised before the expiration of the five year term of
that parliament. About two thirds of the election petitions had been
processed in the High Court within the five year term. In most of these
cases an appeal was filed but no appeal in which an election was set aside
was determined before June 2005. With regard to the petition challenging the
election of President Mugabe in 2002, the case has not yet been determined.
Have the MDC, its candidates and its supporters received justice at
the hands of Chief Justice Chidyausiku and the courts of Zimbabwe?
George Smith is retired Judge of the Zimbabwe High Court.
By George Smith
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:24
FACED with an opposition claiming victory in the March 29 presidential
election and rising public discontent, President Robert Mugabe has rallied
his party, war veterans, ex-political detainees and restrictees as he digs
in for the fight for his life.
While the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to announce the outcome
of the poll, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai last week claimed victory.
Mugabe’s Zanu PF hit back saying no candidate had attained the legally
required 50% plus of the valid votes to assume office.
Last Friday, Zanu PF’s politburo met in the capital and hardliners in
the party backed a decision by the country’s service chiefs to have Mugabe
face a presidential run-off against Tsvangirai and also that war veterans,
ex-detainees and restrictees be roped in to spearhead the 84-year-old leader’s
“Because of the stalemate in the presidential election, we have
resolved to go for a run-off,” Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus
Mutasa said after the politburo meeting.
“The decision for the run-off was in the affirmative by all
members…Mugabe, our dear old man, remains our candidate. We shall take him
and carry him along with us.”
The politburo also said its defeat in the House of Assembly elections
by the opposition was just a minor setback. “We stumbled.We did not fall.”
The MDC-Tsvangirai won a bare plurality of the 210 seats in the House
of Assembly. The party bagged 99 seats, just two ahead of Zanu PF with
Arthur Mutambara’s faction getting 10 and independent Jonathan Moyo
retaining his seat in Tsholotsho North.
With the politburo meeting in session, a rag-tag band of about 400 war
veterans led by their national chairperson Jabulani Sibanda marched in the
capital before assembling at the Zanu PF headquarters where they vowed to
back Mugabe and decreed that Tsvangirai would never rule Zimbabwe.
On Monday, ex-detainees and restrictees also met at the party’s
headquarters and endorsed the decisions of the politburo and the war
“We agreed that Zimbabwe cannot lose political sovereignty to
Tsvangirai whose political party is a product of British imperialism,” one
of the ex-political detainees said. “They want to reverse the gains of the
liberation struggle. You are not a Zimbabwean if you don’t own a few acres
of land in your country.”
Political analysts this week said it was clear that Mugabe had rallied
his party, war veterans, ex-political detainees and restrictees to secure a
victory for him during the anticipated run-off. University of Zimbabwe
political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe was a wounded
buffalo and would resort to the 2000 campaign tactics.
“There is fear in Zanu PF that Mugabe would lose the run-off if
opposition parties unite behind Tsvangirai,” Masunungure said.
“As such, Zanu PF will resort to intimidation of voters, especially in
rural areas where the party used to enjoy the greatest support. I cannot
rule out violence in the countdown to the run-off.”
After the government lost a constitutional referendum in February 2000
Zanu PF unleashed war veterans and members of the national youth service to
drum up support ahead of general elections in June the same year.
War veterans invaded and seized white-owned farms, while the youth
militia went on an orgy of violence in rural areas.
The MDC claimed that scores of its members were killed, while
thousands were injured.
The same campaign tactics were employed during the run-up to the 2002
disputed presidential election won by Mugabe by just over 400 000 votes.
Fears abound that Mugabe will this time around use tried and tested
measures to win the run-off, and Sibanda in an interview with an
international television network at the weekend seemed to confirm that there
would be a bloody campaign.
Quoting former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Sibanda said while Zanu
PF wanted democracy to prevail it would not allow political parties bent on
reversing the gains of the liberation struggle to assume power on the
pretext of democracy.
He said the war veterans would take decisive action.
“We will use our weapons to defend our ideas,” Sibanda said.
And true to that, war veterans in Masvingo at the weekend invaded two
farms after claiming that former white farmers were back in the country and
threatening to repossess their properties once MDC assumed power.
Patrick Bond, director of the Centre for Civil Society in South
Africa, said there was no doubt that Mugabe would use force to remain in
“Mugabe will resort to the machinery at his disposal to win,” Bond
said in an article on Zimbabwe’s unfolding election drama. “This entails
even the use of violence to secure victory.”
He said Tsvangirai could only win if he can hammer out a pre-run-off
pact with Makoni, Mutambara and other opposition forces.
“It is hard to imagine that if the pact holds, Tsvangirai would not
beat Mugabe outright, one on one,” Bond added.
Unconfirmed reports this week were that Zanu PF had already unleashed
violence on the electorate in Masvingo, Mutoko, Chiredzi and Mhangura.
Suspected Tsvangirai supporters were reportedly being beaten.
By Tuesday, the MDC-Tsvangirai claimed that it had received 15 reports
of political violence against its supporters throughout the country.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, said Zanu PF was once again
desperate to find an issue that it would bring to the centre-stage to
reverse the “heavy and structural losses it has suffered” in the March 29
“That issue, sadly, is the issue of land. Indeed, sadly for Zanu PF,
it is a message that sounds like a broken record. In the past few days, Zanu
PF has upped the tempo and unleashed war and terror on farmers perceived to
be sympathetic to the MDC,” Biti claimed.
“Our people are being brutalised by a regime that is smarting from a
heavy electoral defeat. The regime has also created the myth that white
people are revisiting their erstwhile farms with a view to reoccupying them
following the MDC’s victory in last week’s election.”
The party further claimed that Zanu PF had put in place the machinery
to unleash violence and to engage in vote-buying ahead of an anticipated
“Zanu PF has enlisted the services of the central bank chief Gideon
Gono to work with selected individuals in sponsoring a wave of violence and
vote-buying,” the party alleged. “Those at the apex of the plot team are
said to be Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga,
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Zanu PF politburo member Saviour
Kasukuwere and Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba.”
Political scientist John Makumbe said Mugabe would unleash violence of
“disproportionate proportion” to cling to power.
“Mugabe has set the stage for a bloody campaign. Victims will cry,”
Makumbe, a critic of Mugabe, said. “The dictator will do everything in his
power to remain in office.”
It, however, remains to be seen whether the countdown to the run-off
will be worse than that of the 2000 and 2002 presidential elections.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:39
THANKS to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission lawyer George Chikumbirike
for shining a bit of light on why we still do not have the results of the
presidential election two weeks after the people cast their ballots.
In court on Wednesday — where Chikumbirike was defending the ZEC’s
decision not to announce the results of the presidential election — he
revealed to the nation key information on the nature of forces at play on
the commission. “It would be dangerous in my view to give an order (for ZEC
to release results) because it might not be complied with ... because of
outside exigencies which the party (ZEC) will be unable to control,”
Chikumbirike said without elaborating.
The statement is not only revealing in as far as it shows that ZEC has
been sat on and therefore cannot release results but is also a tacit warning
from the executive that it can undermine the rule of law when it likes even
if it means subverting the will of the people in an election.
Justice Tendai Uchena hearing the case has said he will give a ruling
on the issue on Monday but this could turn out to be an academic exercise.
There is no doubt here who is most likely to refuse to accept the results of
the poll. The Zanu PF government has already started to dispute results
which have not been made public to the electorate. Its propaganda machine
is even claiming that voters who supported the opposition did not have
ideological depth and therefore made the wrong decision.
President Mugabe and his government are not likely to take kindly to
election results which show that Mugabe lost the election and there is
therefore no need for a run-off. The party cannot stomach defeat. It is in
denial that Zimbabweans have rejected its corrupt and incompetent
administration. It has therefore seen it fit to block the announcement of
the election result. The electoral commission on the other hand is prepared
to toe this line and defend its decision to keep the nation in suspense as
long as it serves the designs of Zanu PF to subvert the will of the people.
What we have here is a coup by stealth. The role of the commission
should be to give the election a semblance of transparency and fairness in
line with the Sadc Mauritius protocol. It should represent the interests of
the voters, not the parochial and self-serving ends of a dictatorial regime.
The commission has failed to display its impartial credentials. Today its
behaviour gives the impression that it has become another layer of the Zanu
PF government bureaucracy which has been roped in to protect a bad loser. Is
that really how the ZEC wants to be seen?
The bureaucracy includes the police and security agencies which have
been instructed to arrest and interrogate electoral officers in order to
discredit the electoral process. All because Zanu PF lost.
The forces referred to by Chikumbirike are already working to control
the electoral process by usurping the ZEC’s mandate. A suborned national
electoral body is a danger to democracy as its supervisory role is easily
compromised by the ruling elite. The Zanu PF government has in the past
demonstrated that it is not afraid of blatantly disregarding the rule of law
as long as it safeguards the tenure of the ruling aristocracy. Key
institutions of governance which include the police, the military and the
judiciary have all in one form or another become pliant instruments of Zanu
Elsewhere in this edition retired Justice George Smith demonstrates
how the lethargy in the judiciary has subverted the will of the electorate
by ensuring that ruling party candidates who were dubiously elected to
parliament completed their terms on full benefits.
There is a clear pattern of government’s subversion of the rule of law
by disregarding court orders dating back to the time of the land
resettlement fiasco. The police have refused to effect evictions ordered by
the courts taking their cue from a contemptuous executive. This pernicious
thread of lawlessness has contributed immensely to the country’s collapse as
the state has now made it its business to methodically assault civil
liberties. The executive and the judiciary can no longer be relied on to
safeguard property rights, a key requirement of investors.
Chikumbirike’s statement on Wednesday will only attract more
international attention. It is ironic that the President’s Office went to
such lengths to exclude foreign journalists in order to minimise negative
publicity only to create a bigger story by withholding the election results.
Now the whole world is focused on Zimbabwe’s delinquent behaviour. Voters
have been denied their right to know the outcome of an election for the
highest office in the land.
Whatever the ruling on Monday, it will still be incumbent on the ZEC
to announce the results of the poll but the electoral body is now hopelessly
compromised. In the event of a run-off, can we trust the ZEC to run the
election professionally and what guarantees do we have that the results will
be announced expeditiously without outside “exigencies” exerting their evil
Thursday, 10 April 2008 20:37
“WHEN you join in a political fight by way of an election you must be
prepared to lose,” President Mugabe told a rally in Nyanga, just three days
before the elections. “You must accept it. If Zanu PF wins you must accept
it, if you (MDC) win we will accept,” he said.
We almost believed Mugabe’s assurances that he was ready to play fair.
On election day, he reiterated his assertions, saying he would not sleep
with a “clear conscience” knowing he had won the elections through rigging.
“There was no language of rigging in this country until the (arrival
of the) MDC,” he said in Nyanga. That may be true semantically. After all,
even as people in Matabeleland and the Midlands were being brutalised under
curfews and a state of emergency in the 1980s and were beaten and had their
homes burnt down during the 1985 elections for supporting PF-Zapu, nobody
cared to raise the flag about rigging or human rights violations.
Mugabe was such a fine guy then. His “principled” stand against
apartheid South Africa’s brutalities against blacks placed him beyond
reproach. It provided him with a convenient cloak for his atrocities against
political rivals at home. Up to now, you still get political analysts who
talk of that grim era as Zimbabwe’s golden hour — low inflation, a good
exchange rate and the orgy of consumption!
There was no rigging until Mugabe encroached on to white commercial
farms in 2000 and we are all paying the price for that voluntary blindness
to what Mugabe has always been.
I am stating this because of the serious claims of “vote-rigging” in
what the state media now call a “stalemate” in the presidential election
results, notwithstanding Zanu PF’s cynical antics about being more sinned
against than sinning.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not disclosed what President
Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai each got. It is duplicitous for
anyone to speculate about a stalemate, a re-run or a run-off. The simplest
thing would have been to let the electorate know the results; a run-off
would then suggest itself if no party demanded a recount.
So what became of Mugabe’s promise that they would accept the election
results? Where are those results? Why has the ZEC stopped the pretence of
To me whatever rigging might have occurred in the presidential
election, it was unlikely to have had a material effect. The original
outcome was simply unacceptable and had to be suppressed. And this is
exactly where international diplomacy has been a disaster for Zimbabwe.
In its haste to play midwife to the political transition through the
MDC, the West has compounded our problems like they did in Kenya, prejudging
the outcome or announcing false results. By rushing to announce
unauthenticated results as a victory for the MDC, they have strengthened the
case of the hawks in Zanu PF who have always argued that the MDC is pushing
a foreign agenda.
Similarly, by rushing to condemn Mugabe for rigging, they have made it
almost impossible for their “pointman”, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, to make
any adverse comments on the conduct of the elections without sounding like a
ventriloquist’s dummy for Gordon Brown and George Bush.
In short, there was never a chance of “free and fair” elections in
Zimbabwe, with others pronouncing verdicts on the polls months before the
vote. While Mbeki and regional neighbours were still consulting on the
“delayed results”, Britain, the US and the European Union were already
talking of a US$2 billion annual aid package to the “new government”. More
than imprudent, I find this insolent to people like Mbeki who are trying to
work out a peaceful transition and avert another Kenya on their doorstep.
This partly explains Mbeki’s angry outburst in Britain last week that
Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa.
Why should he accept blame for not putting enough pressure on Mugabe
to go when bellicose Western powers who are least able to do anything are
the first to make his job that much more difficult through what George Soros
recently called “counterproductive interference”? Shouldn’t they be lending
support to regional initiatives such as the weekend summit in Lusaka?
In the end it wasn’t clear what the timing of the US$2 billion aid
package was supposed to achieve at the most critical juncture in the
announcement of the election results: to incite people into street protests;
to cajole Mugabe to retire or to spite his government?
Unfortunately the third option appears to have been the official
interpretation and made the military establishment and party hawks more
obdurate. The reckless sabre rattling by MDC spokespersons has only
exacerbated anxieties among those closely linked to the Zanu PF government.
It reinforced another campaign statement by Mugabe just before the
elections. He warned Bulawayo residents against voting for the MDC because
that would be “a wasted vote… there is no way we can allow them to rule this
country. The MDC will not rule this country.”
Those who care can rewind to the Defence Forces statement in 2002 and
just before the March 29 elections and the essence is clear. How does one
reconcile Mugabe’s promise to accept the results with this categorical
denial of an MDC government?
The contradictions suggest a leader who has become hostage to the
patronage system which he initially created to secure his power. There are
bigger forces than Mugabe in this electoral debacle and those forces cannot
be dealt with through brash Western diplomacy. Now whether there will be an
election re-run or a run-off, you can add a lot of blood-letting to the
The truth is that while there are many in the establishment who want
“change” there are only a minuscule number who believe that this should come
about through Tsvangirai because of the perceived overbearing influence of
the British and Americans on the MDC’s policies, especially on land.
All of which doesn’t save the Zanu PF government from being a huge
embarrassment to the continent.
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:21
ALMOST everyone, other than government itself, has long known that
government is insane, but clearly that insanity has intensified
exponentially, and by now government is mad in the extreme.
It is either that, or it is that government is resolutely determined
to achieve that final and absolute destruction of the economy, concurrently
with ensuring the final annihilation of the Zimbabwean populace.
This was irrefutably evidenced by last week’s issue of a government
extraordinary gazette, modifying the income tax threshold, bands and rates,
with effect from April 1. The first of the changes, raucously applauded by
the state-controlled media, was to increase the individual’s tax-free
threshold from $30 million to $300 million per month. It cannot be denied
that the threshold of $30 million was ludicrously low representing the
equivalent of only three loaves of bread, and that it had to be revised
upwards as a matter of extreme urgency.
However, with the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) for a family of six now
being in excess of $1,5 billion, being the minimum income necessary to
sustain a family without endangering health, a threshold of $300 million is
contemptuously low. Even assuming that the family has two income earners and
also assuming the highly improbable that both those income earners are
earning in amounts, the lowest conceivably acceptable threshold would be
$750 million per month. In practice, with over 80% of the employable
population not having formal sector employment, the reality is that it is
unlikely, in the extreme that they are earning equal amounts, and hence the
threshold should, at the least, have been set at $1 billion. Moreover, with
monthly inflation being considerably in excess of 100%, by the end of April,
the PDL will have risen to almost $3 billion, or ten times the allegedly
generous threshold now set by government. It is therefore abundantly evident
that government has no qualms about rendering the poverty-stricken populace
even more destitute than heretofore.
Effectively, a taxpayer earning an amount equal to the current PDL
will be subject to $360 million income tax per month, leaving him with a net
after-tax income of at best, 76% of PDL, meaning that he and his family will
suffer considerable malnutrition, or be unable to afford adequate health
care or education for the children, or a combination thereof. The magnitude
of deprivation and hardship will be horrendous, but apparently this is of no
concern for government.
As if this was not a sufficiency of cataclysmic taxation policy,
government has also seen fit to raise the already grossly excessive maximum
rate of taxation from 47,5% to a high as high as a reprehensible 60%. Any
individual earning from $5 billion to $10 billion per month is now subject
to tax at 50% on income over $5 billion, those earning from $10 billion to
$15 billion will pay 52,5% on income over $10 billion, income in excess of
$15 billion will attract tax at 55%, and income over $20 billion will be
subject to tax at 60%.
Zimbabwe is now applying the highest rates of tax in the region, and
compounds its rapacious expropriation of the incomes of the population by a
wide variety of indirect taxes, including Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs
Duty and Excise, petrol levies, ATM and cheque tax, and much, much more. The
bottom line is that Zimbabweans are no longer working to generate incomes to
care for their families and themselves, but to fund a profligate,
The inevitable consequence is that the already very greatly depleted
resource of skills necessary for the continuance of the economy will now
become an accelerated “brain drain”. Almost all of the few remaining
skilled in Zimbabwe will undoubtedly look to departing for greener pastures
where, away from endless scarcities, soaring inflation, collapsing
infrastructure, political oppression, and legalised theft by the state of
almost all their income, they will enjoy a markedly better life. As a
result, what little is left of the economy will be decimated into almost
total non-existence, and the already greatly disabled infrastructure will go
into total collapse.
Government will dispute this, claiming it to be extreme over-reaction
and that in any event it needs to have the taxes in order to run Zimbabwe
effectively. The fact that if all upper-income earners join the brain drain
there won’t be any taxes to collect from them is obviously totally
disregarded by government, or considered to be irrelevant. It is long
overdue for government to pursue policies, fiscal and otherwise, which would
bring about real economic recovery, restoring to Zimbabwe that which
government has steadfastly destroyed since 1997.
Zimbabwe could have the second strongest economy in the whole of
Southern Africa, if not in all of sub-equatorial Africa, for it has a vast
resource of potential wealth in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism
and much else, but it needs a government that is prepared to do that which
is necessary to beneficiate economic development, instead of pursuit of
provenly catastrophic policies, and self-aggrandisement.
If it did so, and hence brought about the readily attainable economic
growth, then that growth would generate all fiscal flows necessary to fund
the operations of government and service the needs of the country, instead
of trying to extract those taxes from the majority of the population that is
desperately struggling to survive, and from those whom government seeks to
impoverish through excessive taxation, thereby driving them out of the
And, pending that economic recovery and resultant increased revenue
flows into governmental coffers, government could cope with the lesser tax
income that there would be if the threshold and the tax rates were
well-founded, by constraining expenditures to the necessary. There are
innumerable opportunities of containing government’s spending, without
prejudice to the operations of government, or to Zimbabwe. These include,
amongst many others:
lReducing the gargantuan size of government. It is incomprehensible
that a country with a population smaller than that of New York should have
more than twice the number of ministers as the US. Each of Zimbabwe’s 63
ministers and deputy ministers has a considerable infrastructure of offices,
staff, vehicles, housing, and much more. A significant reduction in the
number of presidential sycophants would substantially reduce expenditure.
lSimilarly, Zimbabwe has no need for as massive a public service as
presently exists. Civil servants should not, as they presently are, be
underpaid, but as against being recipients of market-related remuneration,
which they should be accorded, they should provide market-related levels of
service. The public service needs to be streamlined, applying natural
attrition, and elimination of the incompetent, the inept, the lazy, and the
corrupt. Cost [ends here...]
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:12
DO you remember just two weeks ago when every policeman, general and
politician in the country was telling us to accept the poll outcome? It
would be a sign of our maturity, the opposition and civics were lectured, to
take defeat in their stride. Demands for recounts were for losers, it was
That, of course, was when they thought they were winning. Now it’s a
different story. Recounts are being demanded all over the place as if this
will change the reality of public rejection. If Zanu PF had won we would
never have heard the end of it. They would be yelling from the rooftops. Now
they are crafting the spurious argument that they shouldn’t have lost.
Zanu PF’s repudiation of the democratic outcome was first flagged by
Caesar Zvayi last Friday. In an article headed “Revolution: It’s not over
until it’s over”, he claimed that “the 99 seats that went to the MDC do not
represent any ideological shift in Zimbabwe which is why they will be
difficult to defend at the next election. By contrast all 97 seats won by
Zanu PF came from a conscious populace that knows what is at stake.”
We have some advice for Zvayi: Rule No 1 in politics — don’t insult
Claiming that one group of voters knows better than another and that
those voting against the ruling party were ignorant of the ideological
issues at stake is pretentious nonsense. It is also downright insulting.
Elsewhere we had government columnists referring dismissively to the
“protest vote” and the “politics of the stomach” as if people were not
supposed to use the ballot to protest against the suffering Zanu PF’s
scorched-earth policies have spawned. How else are they supposed to show
And are voters seriously supposed to swallow Zanu PF’s puerile
theories about Britain and the US wanting to recolonise the country when it
is quite obvious that, together with the EU, they are the only governments
keeping people here fed? Zanu PF is unable to do so.
What sort of sovereignty and independence is it when Zimbabwe has to
go begging every year for international help because its own government has
destroyed the country’s ability to feed itself?
As for Zanu PF recovering the seats it has lost, weren’t we told in
2005 that the election marked Zanu PF’s return to national ascendancy? That
the recovery of the towns was inevitable?
Now Zanu PF has been exiled to its peasant margins by an electorate
unimpressed by its blandishments. Zanu PF is the party of those who can be
bought and terrorised because they are vulnerable. It will now try and
secure a majority for Robert Mugabe by threatening the rural voters.
“We stumbled, we did not fall,” Didymus Mutasa assured the nation last
weekend. And now he and his henchmen will inflict as much damage as possible
in the run-off to ensure the obedient and gullible vote the “right” way this
“Cde Mugabe, our dear old man, remains our candidate,” Mutasa gushed.
“We shall take him and carry him along with us.”
Is he a mascot of some sort or simply unable to walk? Let’s hope he’s
back on his feet soon.
As for the Herald’s daft story about Tsvangirai seeking the VP’s post,
why should a successful contender for the presidency want to be
vice-president? Nick Goche and Patrick Chinamasa are losers (not to mention
leaks). Tsvangirai would be best advised not to bother with them. They are
trying to claw victory from the jaws of defeat. Stop giving them the
As we said last week, one of the most gratifying aspects of the
landslide Zanu PF lies prostrate under is the rejection of the facile claims
of Tafataona Mahoso and other state apologists such as Reason Wafawarova.
They purported to speak for the “people”. But when the people spoke it was
to tell them to get lost!
In the best Stalinist tradition they will now be looking for ways in
which to dissolve the people and reconstitute them so they learn to be more
grateful for their derelict condition.
Has anybody else piped up recently to say they won’t be saluting
Readers will recall a number of such declarations by misguided service
chiefs. But they seem to have gone quiet following the national outcry
against such delinquent behaviour.
What we should have asked at the time is what qualifications are
needed to be a director of prisons? Do you need “O”Levels, or just a big
mouth? And who will be telling us next that he won’t be saluting Morgan: the
station master at Rutenga Junction?
Before the election Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga was
reported in the Standard as saying: “Elections are coming and the army will
not support or salute sellouts and agents of the West before, during and
after the presidential elections.”
At that point, we are told, a woman came on the line saying: “We can
come and take you and deal with you.”
She did not identify herself. But it was useful to know who wears the
pants around the commander’s household!
The Herald tried to run a scare story on Monday telling us the Germans
were taking over the Reserve Bank. This was on the basis of a report that
two German advisors were standing by to manage a restructuring process as
part of a raft of reforms Tsvangirai will be putting in place. The Germans
were referred to Herald-style as “agents”.
But the paper didn’t seem to understand that there will be a wave of
national relief that the Germans will be brought in to help restore order at
the profligate central bank. Above all it is hoped they will curb inflation
by putting a stop to money-printing
It is interesting that the Herald should regard any help from a
successful institution such as the German central bank as a threat. And it
seems to think we would all mind terribly if suborned service chiefs and
judges were removed.
In trying to stir nationalist indignation the Herald was in fact
inspiring confidence. The events of 1980 when the ancien regime was purged
of its more reactionary elements should provide a useful precedent.
We were interested in the pictures of young Bona voting on March 29.
This was her first such foray to the ballot box, we were told. But something
was missing from the story. Who did she vote for? And has the state press
told us the outcome in Highfield where the president voted? Surely this
cradle of nationalist struggle voted “correctly” in line with Zvayi’s
Yes it did. It voted solidly MDC.
Then there was a picture on the front page of the Sunday Mail of two
very well-fed Zanu PF ladies, Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Edna
Madzongwe, congratulating each other on their respective “victories”. (It
was a bit problematic because their arms didn’t quite extend all the way
round their ample waists.) This followed the ruling party’s historic defeat
across the country but neither lady was noticing that. Nor was the Sunday
Mail which is pretending Zanu PF won the senate election. In fact it won the
same number of seats as the opposition.
And wasn’t it remarkable that the ZEC finally found its voice — only
to claim that the courts had no jurisdiction in its affairs. How dare it
waste our money in support of despots? Doesn’t this confirm the national
view that the ZEC is completely compromised?
Muckraker was very unimpressed with the way the mobile phone companies
rose to the occasion last week by failing to provide coverage to customers.
It was a disaster as people struggled to communicate. You should have heard
what the foreign visitors had to say when they couldn’t get through! Then we
learn that one of these companies is planning expansion in Kenya.
Let’s have a basic service here before any expansion elsewhere. Has
there been any apology for last week’s debacle? And have we ever been told
why it is impossible to make a cell-to-cell call to South Africa?
We were all so busy speculating about the fate of our ruler that we
didn’t notice what was happening elsewhere. Just as we were voting for
change, Malaysia’s prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was dealing with a
serious electoral setback.
Abdullah’s National Front ruling coalition secured a fresh mandate but
lost its two thirds parliamentary majority and surrendered five of the 13
states to the opposition alliance, according to the Guardian. This was a
shock for Malaysians because it was the ruling party’s worst performance
since independence in 1957.
Muckraker was also interested in remarks by former Malaysian PM
Mahathir Mohamad who said Mugabe would be welcome there if he goes into
exile following elections.
But Mahathir, who is seen as a close Mugabe ally, said he expected the
Zimbabwean leader to accept the results of national polls.
“If he wants to come here, the (Malaysian) government should welcome
him,” Mahathir said. “If he has lost, he has to accept the decision of the
people, that is the best thing he can do,” he added.
A foreign ministry official in Kuala Lumpur said they were unaware of
Whenever Mugabe used to visit Malaysia he would call on Mahathir and
there would be a photo opportunity. That stopped under Badawi.
Whatever Mahathir’s assurances, we are sure Badawi doesn’t share his
predecessor’s enthusiasm about having an exiled despot in his midst,
especially now he has a little local difficulty of his own to cope with.
In this regard readers may be interested in the remarks of the editor
of the Malaysian Star which has a certain resonance here: “The first page of
the new Malaysian political era opens today (when the results came out),”
the paper said. “Certainly the elections may have ended but the drama has
only just started. Stay tuned.”
We will. Meanwhile, Abdullah told his supporters: “I will not step
down from my post because I feel no pressure.”
He’s obviously been taking lessons. Others may be feeling the pressure
but refuse to budge anyway. As Zvayi might say: “It ain’t over till the thin
man sings,” — or takes the flight to KL.
It was rather sad to see Patrick Chinamasa singing for his supper in
the Herald yesterday.
He claimed former white farmers were “interfering” with the land
reform programme. He threatened stern action against them saying a reversal
of the programme was not in the interests of the MDC or the white farmers
themselves. He said some of the farmers had even telephoned ministers and
threatened them with “bombing”.
We would hate to think the minister was trying to win back his seat by
claims of this sort. What farmers have been interfering with the land reform
programme? What cases does he know of? Who has telephoned ministers and
threatened them with bombing? Why have charges not been brought against such
The answer is obvious. This is all part of the big lie used by
Jabulani Sibanda, Didymus Mutasa and other politically bankrupt individuals
to justify Zanu PF’s pretence that it is defending its land revolution. This
will be used as an excuse for violence and repression in rural areas.
Chinamasa knows perfectly well the MDC will not be returning land to
white farmers. In any case most of those farmers left the country years ago.
What the MDC has said is that it will have a land audit to investigate which
officials helped themselves to more than one farm. It is this record of
greed that Chinamasa should be worried about, not fictional bombings of the
sort the Home Affairs ministry tried to sell to the public a year ago and
which Mugabe took to Dar es Salaam as “evidence” of MDC violence.
There were no takers then either! Chinamasa, Mutasa, Sibanda and other
beneficiaries of Zanu PF plunder should get the message from the electorate.
No more lies. You lost. Now take it with dignity just like you told the rest
of us to do.
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:09
ZANU PF this week put themselves firmly in control of the country’s
confused political scenery even after losing the parliamentary election and
probably the presidential poll.
There is nothing on the ground at the moment to show that the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) has a majority in parliament and that the party’s
leader Morgan Tsvangirai garnered more votes than Robert Mugabe in the
presidential poll last week.
Assertive statements by the MDC last week, declaring that Tsvangirai
had won the poll and was now president and that there was no need for a run
off were this week eclipsed by a Zanu PF counter-strike of saturation
propaganda meant to discredit the electoral process and deflate MDC
expectation that change had finally come to Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF has poured cold water on the frenzy of MDC supporters to
poison the air with nerve-wracking expectation. The electors have been
asking the question: Where are the results of the presidential election?
There is no answer but there is little doubt that Mugabe has the results.
With each passing day he defers releasing the results, he has consolidated
his grip on power. He is firmly in charge. He has turned the celebrations
into fear for the victors. In the commercial farming and communal areas Zanu
PF has launched a systemic campaign of violence and disinformation about the
return of white farmers to reclaim lost farms and threats of violence
against those who voted for the opposition.
This week the Zanu PF propaganda machinery mobilised and deployed
state media to portray the MDC as a party in crisis. There were reports that
the MDC had approached Zanu PF with proposals for a government of national
unity. Other reports said Tsvangirai was begging to be made vice president
in the GNU. There were also reports that the MDC wanted to cede control of
the Reserve Bank to the Germans upon assuming power.
One can be forgiven for believing that the MDC despite its win is in
crisis. Here, the punch drunk Zanu PF is enjoying the sight of vanquisher
struggling to manage the victory. They have become reactive.
The MDC leaders this week were battling to react to the propaganda
onslaught by Zanu PF. They had to react to the violence bait and to the
information that they were begging Zanu PF for a share of power, and
suggestions that they wanted to surrender control of the RBZ to the Germans.
Statements issued by the party this week were largely reactive to the Zanu
PF cant. This is playing directly into Zanu PF disconcerting deception.
But after declaring that Tsvangirai had won the presidential vote and
the MDC having been declared winners in the parliamentary poll, it was
important for the party to behave like winners and to display leadership at
the crucial stage. One way of doing this would have been for the MDC to plan
carefully before making public statements.
There were announcements that Tsvangirai had “won this election… (and)
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the next president of the Republic of Zimbabwe,
without a run-off”. This was followed by: “The state media has already begun
to prepare the people for a run-off in 21 days... If that is the position
this party will contest the run-off”. Also last week Tsvangirai declined to
proclaim himself the winner and said that he was prepared to wait for the
commission to make an announcement.
This position is as clear as mud and does little to inform the
multitudes who voted for the MDC in the election. Where is Ian Makone, the
party’s director of elections in all this? We haven’t heard a squeak from
him. He was unforgivably mute when the Command Centre closed down without
anybody being told.
The party should focus on providing leadership to the voters. We are
keen to know how many public meetings the party has held with its supporters
to discuss the developments with regards to the delay in the announcement of
the presidential vote and how they intend to break the stalemate. Meetings
at Meikles are good for the media, especially the foreign correspondents who
appear to be favoured these days. But the electors also have a right to know
and be afforded the opportunity to ask questions. Is the party negotiating
with Zanu PF for a power sharing deal? If so, does the party have a mandate
from its supporters to do so?
The transition of power needs to be managed and this role falls
squarely on the MDC. It would be naïve for the MDC to think that by virtue
of them winning a majority in parliament, Mugabe would just walk out of
State House and Tsvangirai would come in and change the curtains. Remember
his declaration: “Tsvangirai will never rule this country, never, never,
never”. I believe the MDC leadership can do better to prevent Mugabe’s
bluster from becoming sad reality in Zimbabwe.
ZEC still a Zanu PF organ
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:07
THE failure of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce the
results of the presidential elections in time has caused unnecessary
Legally ZEC was supposed to have furnished us with results within a
reasonable time after polling. Now we are into the second week after polling
and ZEC is still silent and one wonders if two weeks after polling is still
a reasonable delay. This exposes the fact that ZEC is not an independent
electoral commission. In fact it is a Zanu PF organ which receives orders on
whether to announce the results or to withhold them to serve the interests
The delay in the announcement of the presidential poll results is
particularly ominous to Morgan Tsvangirai who — according to independent
sources — emerged the victor in the presidential race. Zanu PF is obviously
busy rigging the results so that at least they can force a run-off. Probably
they have now finished tampering with the ballot boxes and that is why they
are demanding a re-count.
I advise the MDC to resist Zanu PF machinations with all the energy at
its disposal. If they achieve a run-off, legally it is supposed to be held
within 21 days after the announcement of the results. To Zanu PF this is too
short a time to put its fractured house in order, if at all it can be able
to do that. Thus, the delay in the announcement of the presidential results
is an illegal tactic by Zanu PF to buy time to consolidate its campaign. I
am afraid they will be able to buy even three months, which they will use to
ruthlessly crush opposition by way of torture, intimidation and all other
forms of violence which Zanu PF is known for.
Currently they have started descending on MDC supporters with savage
vehemence and a degree of alarming alacrity especially in the rural areas
where they thrive on a culture of violence. There is evidence of eviction of
people from their farms, homes, beatings, abductions and vote buying. The
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has already started releasing vehicles for the
campaign. All this is being done while ZEC is withholding the results.
State media attitude unfortunate
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:03
I AM writing this letter to the editor of the Herald and I hope that
it will be considered for publication in the interest of fair debate.
However, I have previously offered similar sentiments before but felt that I
was suppressed, which is why I am copying my opinions to the Zimbabwe
Independent editor for his consideration as well.
Everyone who cares about Zimbabwe is naturally disappointed that the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has taken an unusually long time to
announce the final result of the presidential election. However, I am more
disappointed by the state media, particularly the Herald, and their
continued state of denial in the face of the humiliating defeat for Zanu PF
and President Robert Mugabe. While one can understand the Herald’s bias
towards Zanu PF in the run up to the elections, it is beyond comprehension
why they still cannot bring themselves to accepting that Zanu PF’s days are
People voted overwhelmingly for the opposition, and that includes both
factions of the MDC and some independent candidates, and this was a
confirmation of their total denial of Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe’s disastrous
policies of the past few years. For the Herald to continue publishing
opinions from some of its semi-literate readers claiming that Morgan
Tsvangirai and the MDC will never rule Zimbabwe when the evidence from the
results announced so far shows that Tsvangirai is most likely going to be
the next President of Zimbabwe is to do a disservice to all Zimbabweans.
People have been feeding on the same old diet of childish propaganda
but they were able to see beyond these lies. The purpose of an election is
to determine the winner, and if the Herald editor and some of his misguided
opinion writers do not like the identity of the winner then that is their
problem. Many people do not like Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, but if he was
going to win this election fairly then we were all going to take it on the
chin and move on.
Curiously enough, soon after the end of the elections the Herald urged
its readers and the whole nation to accept the outcome of the result and not
resort to any violence. It now appears that this call was only made because
the Herald assumed that Robert Mugabe was going to win as their phoney poll
published on the eve of the elections had made them believe.
Publishing lies about the MDC’s position on land and inflating tempers
by publishing opinions from people who accept no other result than Mugabe’s
continued grip on power will only help to breach the peace and stability
that the Herald had urged its readers to observe.
The Western powers have their own axe to grind with Robert Mugabe, and
for them the only acceptable result is the one that sees Mugabe out of State
House. But it is Zimbabweans who voted in this election, and they voted to
stop many years of corruption, cronyism, incompetence, and the continued
disrespect of their rights and freedom of choice. They did not vote to
return land to the colonial powers — a lie that was invented by Zanu PF and
which the Herald is finding very difficult to sustain.
I prefer to rely on my home newspapers for news because I believe they
are closer to the action and they reflect more what is on the ground. But
what kind of journalism does the Herald practise which does not even
question why Zanu PF is requesting a recount before the result is known.
Everyone is talking about a runoff, but the only evidence we have about a
runoff is that the Herald said so.
I do not necessarily expect the Herald to praise Tsvangirai if they do
not agree with some of what he promises to do when he forms the next
government. In fact, I think it is healthy for the press to be very critical
of the government — something that the Herald has not been doing while Zanu
PF was in power. However, I still expect any newspaper worth anything to
acknowledge that the MDC and Tsvangirai won and quickly move on to tackle
what the next government should be doing.
My own preferred candidate Simba Makoni lost dismally in this
election, and I do not describe myself as one of Morgan Tsvangirai’s most
ardent fans, but he and the whole of the opposition parties surprised
everyone by toppling Zanu PF in the just-ended election. No amount of
searching for face savers by concentrating on meaningless Zanu PF Senate
wins and so-called majority wins in certain provinces will negate the fact
that Zanu PF lost.
Nathaniel Manheru — one of the Herald’s chief opinion makers — is
entitled to remain Zanu PF to the marrow if he so wishes. He can continue to
serve his party with unquestioning loyalty even when Zanu PF is in
opposition. But he must be daydreaming to believe that just because he
belongs to Zanu PF then only he and his masters have a monopoly on
intelligence, and that the rest of other hard-working Zimbabweans are not
important. Such ideas from Manheru and those who think like him are, if you
will permit me to say, nothing but a bunch of artifices piled on sophistry;
a superfluity of egotism served up with insipid inanity!
Hudson Yemen Taivo,
Zanu PF playing games with voters
Thursday, 10 April 2008 19:00
AFTER the demise of the dictatorship during the harmonised polls, Zanu
PF has started playing hide-and-seek games in order to buy time whilst the
dictatorship clings to power causing unnecessary mayhem in the country.
Firstly President Mugabe instructed the Zmbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
not to announce the poll results without his approval.
Unfortunately for him he failed to defeat the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai
and lost by a wide margin. He then demanded a run-off before the results
were officially announced. This shows how inhuman he is, not having the will
of the people at heart but only interested in his own survival along with
that of his bootlicking lieutenants.
The dictatorship parades itself as doing the masses a favour by
haphazardly distributing land and repossessing foreign-owned investments
which has had the effect of devastating the economy. The people are
therefore longing for a leadership structure which will lure instead of
chasing away investors. Currently the outside world has lost confidence in
Zimbabwe as a place to invest as a result of the rampant mismanagement by
the Mugabe regime.
There is a lot of confusion and apprehension in the majority of
Zimbabweans as they look forward to new leadership which will steer the
economy out of its current pit to a position of envy by the nations that
surround us. The incumbent regime is totally confused because it is talking
about a recount which shows that they know the results and they have
realised that they have lost. Let us not waste time and effort dwelling on
them but let’s congratulate the new leader Morgan Tsvangirai on winning the
Mswazie needs advice
Thursday, 10 April 2008 18:59
THROUGH your newspaper, I wish to respond to an article, “Makoni can
withstand the political heat” written by one Walter Mswazie in last week’s
issue of the Zimbabwe Independent.
It was evident from the first sentence that Walter is an ardent
supporter of the former Finance minister. Surprisingly, whilst this
so-called trainee social scientist was trying to justify Makoni’s capability
for the presidential post, he directed much of the attack on the opposition
MDC which is yet to taste political power. According to this social
scientist to-be, the main opposition “has so far failed to live up to the
electorate’s expectation by behaving like a political novice…” Such were the
misconceptions that characterised Mswazie’s article.
It is important, Brother Walter, to note that Makoni belongs to this
archaic Mugabe regime and he is only a greedy politician shamelessly trying
to solve the Zanu PF succession battles.
Where was Makoni when the Ndebele-speaking populace was being
mercilessly crushed in Matabeleland? Wasn’t he part and parcel of this bunch
of barbarians calling themselves Zanu PF? Where was Makoni when the
internationally condemned chaotic land seizures were taking place?
Wasn’t he sitting at the same table with Robert Mugabe? Where was
Makoni when the wrath of Operation Murambatsvina left thousands and
thousands of Zimbabweans homeless? Where was he all along? Let this be clear
to you Mswazie, that it is not a bold decision, under any crazy sense, for
Makoni to contest for the presidency.
Neither is it noble nor virtuous for a failed politician like Makoni
to try and fool the nation that he has now repented. He belongs to a
shameless class of political opportunists and has nothing new to offer to
the starved Zimbabwean populace.
During Makoni’s stint as Finance minister, he failed to expose the
corrupt chefs who were operating on the black market and how on earth can
such a person promise to resuscitate the economy?
Mugabe regime in panic mode
Thursday, 10 April 2008 18:47
I AM shocked by the levels of disrespect exhibited by the Zanu PF
propagandists towards the citizens of Zimbabwe. For some reason, Zanu PF and
government spin doctors still labour under the mistaken belief that they can
at any time win our minds, hearts and votes with any story notwithstanding
its persuasive value.
The Robert Mugabe regime is in panic mode and it is a fact, for
example, that all this nonsense about former white farmers returning to
reclaim acquired land is just a folk tale. These are attempts to hoodwink
the citizenry into believing that Zanu PF is our anti-neo-colonial Messiah.
Claims that Zanu PF is an agent of “sovereignty” and nationalism are
misleading and have been worn out as rhetoric. It is clear that Mugabe has
subverted the will of the people of Zimbabwe by concentrating on hate
rhetoric meant only to divert the attention of the masses from bread and
butter issues — issues of change.
Zanu PF is prepared to negate the value that drove thousands of young
men and women, sons and daughters of the soil into the bush during the
second Chimurenga in search of democratic values like the right to vote.
Mugabe is prepared to incite violence and chaos so that he can continue his
stranglehold on power. Rhetoric and lies will not improve our stone-age
social services, medieval economy and isolated international reputation.
Mugabe’s behaviour will only sink us deeper and deeper into the abyss of
poverty and isolation.
Zvamunoda S Hondo,