Sat 12 Apr 2008, 23:13 GMT
HARARE, April 13 (Reuters) - Ballots from 23 constituencies in Zimbabwe's
parliamentary and presidential elections will be recounted in a week's time,
an electoral official said on Sunday.
Clarifying a report in the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) official, who asked not to be named, said: "The
recount is not for the whole election, but for the specific 23
No result has been released from the March 29 presidential election but the
recount raises the prospect that the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change's victory in the parliamentary vote could be overturned.
Sat 12 Apr 2008, 22:24 GMT
LUSAKA, April 13 (Reuters) - The conclusion of a summit of southern African
leaders on Zimbabwe's election stalemate was delayed by disagreement over
the use of the word "crisis" in a final communique, a senior Zambian
official said on Sunday.
"The delay to conclude the meeting has been caused by a disagreement on how
the final communique should be phrased. Some leaders feel that including the
word crisis will be inappropriate while others say the extraordinary
conference in itself shows there is a crisis in Zimbabwe," said the
official, who asked not to be named.
Before the summit started, South African President Thabo Mbeki said there
was no crisis over the elections in Zimbabwe.
By Studio 7 Staff & Correspondents
Lusaka, Zambia, and Washington
12 April 2008
An extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community lived
up to its billing as regional leaders discussing the post-election crisis in
Zimbabwe remained behind closed doors well past midnight Saturday without
issuing a communiqué on the two-week delay in issuing results of the
country's March 29 presidential election.
Observers speculated that the delay signaled a fierce debate between those
reluctant to issue in effect a reprimand to Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, and regional peers who might feel that the time had come to set
aside longstanding loyalties to the man who once provided a redoubt to South
African fighters battling apartheid.
There seemed little doubt that South African President Thabo Mbeki was
prominent in the former group: on his way to Lusaka he stopped in Harare for
discussions with President Mugabe following which he declared that "there is
no crisis" in Zimbabwe and suggested that inconclusive election results
might necessitate a runoff ballot.
Mr. Mugabe was conspicuously absent from the summit, having dispatched three
ministers in his place. A senior Zimbabwean official said the summit was
Regional leaders received a briefing from opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, whose formation of the Movement for Democratic Change insists
that he won an outright majority in the presidential election. Also on hand
was former finance minister Simba Makoni, a presidential candidate and
former Mugabe aide believed to have run a distant third in the ballot.
SADC Chairman and Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who called the summit on
short notice, made clear in opening remarks that he, unlike Mr. Mbeki,
believes the situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a crisis and requires
Mr. Mwanawasa voiced concern that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has
still not released presidential results two full weeks after the elections,
and also took the high court to task for failing to address the matter with
dispatch, leaving, as he put it, "our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters…in the
dark" as to who won the election.
Earlier, director Earnest Mudzengi of the National Constitutional Assembly,
a leading non-governmental organization, was critical of President Mugabe’s
Zimbabwean activist Jenni Williams, national coordinator of the
Bulawayo-based Women of Zimbabwe Arise, urged regional leaders to speak
sufficiently strongly to force the Harare government to divulge the results
of the election.
University of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe, often critical of Mr. Mbeki's
"silent diplomacy" on Zimbabwe, told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mbeki stopped in Harare for
instructions from Mr. Mugabe.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the international community was
running out of patience with Mr. Mugabe, though he said world leaders are
remaining careful not to jeopardize an outcome that reflects the will of the
From Washington, Freedom House Deputy Programs Director Daniel Calingaert
said his organization is optimistic the summit can point the way forward,
but is also a test of the regional organization's capacity to solve problems
and promote democracy.
Singing and dancing, the group of women and young people clambered down from the back of the open Bedford truck that had pulled up among the lush green maize fields of a white-owned farm outside the central Zimbabwean town of Centenary.
"Mr Mugabe is ruling Zimbabwe, yeah he is ruling now, and in firm control," they sang, jogging towards the farm buildings. "We are here to repossess our mother land," a man shouted, waving an axe.
They had been driven the 40 miles from Harare to take part in the latest wave of evictions of white farmers from their land. But this was not the unified show of force it seemed. Many were there, they admitted, because Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party had forced them to be.
"At this age, you think I would be happy to be involved in these racial struggles?" said Matiridha Maparo, 46. Almost in tears, she said would rather be at home in Harare taking care of her five children and the five orphans she looks after, but had been coerced into taking part in the attacks on white farms.
"I have 10 children to feed back in Harare and they have the luxury of forcing me to come to farms to support people who preach democracy yet who do not want to practise it. It is sad. I survive on selling firewood, and when I go back there will be nothing to eat - that is, if we go back. Now the schools open in three weeks. It will be cold and children need warm clothes: how will I buy them when I am spending my time in the bushes, fighting other people's wars?"
Another woman, Christine, 25, said she had been forced to abandon her vegetable stall and join the invasions. "We do not have even a tin to fetch water. And still they want us to take over farms," she said.
A fresh wave of evictions has hit Zimbabwe's white-run commercial farms. By Friday, 71 properties had been taken over by supposed veterans of the Seventies independence war. The opposition insists the new wave of attacks is in retaliation for Mr Mugabe's loss of the election two weeks ago.
The Commercial Farmers' Union said the attacks were orchestrated from the highest office in the land. "People are being paid to basically carry out the wishes of the highest office. This is purely racial, it is apartheid," said union president Trevor Gifford.
The farm invasions have stirred memories of the violence that followed Mr Mugabe's last electoral reverse, in 2000, when he lost a referendum on a new constitution that critics said was aimed at broadening his powers and facilitating land seizures.
Those driven off their land have been given just a few hours' warning to clear out.
One white farmer who was last week forced off his 2,000-acre farm in Zimbabwe's rich Masvingo Province, 182 miles south of Harare, said he was confronted by more than 200 axe-wielding "war veterans" and militia demanding that he, his wife and their three daughters, aged between two and 10, clear out.
He said: "They told me, 'We have come to take not only your farm but all the best farms, the honeymoon is over for imperialists, we will not go for the bad farms. You know the new rule - get out of this property within 10 hours, or we will come for your stinking head. Do not take anything, you have made enough profit in 100 years. We are being generous.'?"
As the farmer retreated, the mob forced its way into his yard, looting and ordering the family's 150-strong workforce to leave.
With their source of income gone, the farm workers said the future looked bleak. Memory Ngwerume, 32, a mother of three young children, said they were being persecuted because the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential elections.
"You see all these people," she said, gesturing at her fellow workers as tears welled in her eyes. "They are poor and suffering. They have no food to eat, no water or shelter over their heads because one man has refused to let go of power."
The MDC says security agents and Zanu PF militia have been deployed in rural areas to coerce villagers into voting for the president in a run-off poll.
"In Mutoko East constituency, Zanu PF members were moving around villages waving guns… and telling the people that the re-run was the last chance for them to vote for Zanu PF," an MDC report said. "If the villagers do not vote for Mugabe then they would use the guns."
According to the report, Zanu PF militia had threatened to kidnap suspected MDC voters.
Zimbabwe's leader defies the world to send in new wave of thugs
By a Special Correspondent in Bulawayo
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Robert Mugabe is preparing to defy international pressure and launch a
systematic crackdown in Zimbabwe aimed at reversing his defeat in the
presidential election two weeks ago, according to dissident policemen who
have been briefed on his plans.
Through an intermediary, the policemen told The Independent on Sunday that
they have been ordered to be ready to deploy today or tomorrow. With their
ranks swollen by so-called "war veterans" given police uniforms, they would
take over constituency "command centres" used in the 29 March elections.
Two weeks ago the ruling Zanu-PF party not only lost its majority in the
House of Assembly, but, in the presidential contest, Mr Mugabe is believed
to have finished well behind Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The growing crisis over the government's failure to release the election
results, coupled with rising violence in rural areas where the MDC did well,
has reinforced fears of a crackdown. Mr Mugabe has also defied international
pressure to declare the result, spurning a regional summit on Zimbabwe's
problems called yesterday by the President of neighbouring Zambia.
On Friday, police banned all political rallies, a move initially thought to
be aimed at an MDC protest meeting in the capital Harare today. A police
spokesman said the force did not have enough officers to handle rallies
because many were still guarding ballot boxes or preventing post-election
violence. But it appears the order may also have been issued to give the
police time to move into position around the country. Once they are
deployed, opposition parties believe, the government could announce the
presidential result and the date of the second round, claiming no candidate
won an overall majority. This would also forestall the MDC's High Court
action demanding the immediate release of the results, on which a judge has
promised to rule tomorrow.
The dissident policemen said that "war veterans" – in reality Zanu-PF
enforcers – would be given police uniforms, and, for the first time, police
numbers, making it impossible to distinguish them from regular officers.
In rural constituencies, the policemen said they had been told their role
would be to campaign openly for Mr Mugabe. Some areas would be closed
altogether to outsiders. "This is a national plan," they told the
intermediary. They added that the "war veterans" had been recruited to act
as watchdogs over any policemen reluctant to carry out orders.
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa met Mr Mugabe in Harare yesterday
before going on to Zambia, but said there was "no crisis" in Zimbabwe and
called for patience. Yesterday, Gordon Brown called for the election results
to be published "immediately".
Zanu-PF leader snubs a regional gathering as he prepares to unleash his
thugs to ensure victory in the second round of the presidential election.
Report by our Special Correspondent in Bulawayo
Sunday, 13 April 2008
It always seemed unlikely. Would President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, a man
who has long shed any pretence of bowing to international opinion or the
electoral verdict of his people, really agree to go to a summit of southern
African leaders at which his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, would be treated as
For a man as hugely proud as Mr Mugabe, such a confrontation would have been
uncharacteristic indeed. Especially when yesterday's gathering in Lusaka,
capital of Zambia, had been called by President Levy Mwanawasa, the one
southern African leader to break the region's code of omertá concerning
criticism of Zimbabwe. Mr Mwanawasa, the current head of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), had likened conditions in his southern
neighbour to the Titanic, heading for disaster.
So when it was initially announced that Mr Mugabe had accepted the
invitation to yesterday's gathering, Zimbabweans experienced a wave of hope.
If he was prepared to attend, surely it meant he was at last acknowledging
defeat in the presidential election held two weeks ago? Mr Tsvangirai's
claim to have beaten Mr Mugabe decisively has been accepted by most
international monitors, and even privately by elements of the ruling Zanu-PF
party – but the question has been whether he gained more than half the votes
The MDC leader says he has; others are not so sure, believing a run-off will
have to be held. Despite growing unease, as the days went by without the
result being announced, and reports of violent retaliation in areas where
the MDC had gained ground, it appeared that Mr Mugabe would agree in Lusaka
to a second round of voting, with some measure of international supervision.
If he was willing to be seen on the same platform as Mr Tsvangirai before an
audience of his fellow regional leaders, he could hardly concede anything
By yesterday, however, Mr Mugabe was back to his usual self. On Friday the
government had said there was no need for a summit in Zambia, because the
election totals were still being tallied, and three hard-line ministers were
dispatched instead while Mr Mugabe remained at home, forcing the SADC's
designated mediator, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, to come to him.
A clearer sign of the failure of Mr Mbeki's attempts to deal with Zimbabwe
through "quiet diplomacy" could scarcely be imagined.
Despite the growing problems that Zimbabwe's crisis has caused for his own
country, where three million Zimbabweans have fled, Mr Mbeki still appears
hidebound by the revolutionary solidarity forged during the liberation wars
of the last century. Where any other leader might have felt humiliated by Mr
Mugabe's intransigence, the South African President reacted as he has always
done: denying there was a problem and calling for patience.
Jacob Zuma, the leader of Mr Mbeki's own ANC party and his heir-apparent,
finally lost patience with this approach last week, calling for Zimbabwe to
publish the election result without delay. But the South African President
would have been aware that Mr Zuma and Mr Mwanawasa are in a minority within
SADC, where countries such as Namibia and Angola still hold fast to the old
rhetoric of anti-colonialist "struggle". What happens in Zimbabwe will
remain in Mr Mugabe's hands.
The unco-ordinated response of the Zimbabwean establishment to Mr
Mwanawasa's summit call – first saying Mr Mugabe would take part, only to
backtrack – might indicate some confusion in senior Zanu-PF ranks after an
election in which the government's unpopularity was clearly demonstrated.
The failure to declare the results of the presidential election has
paralysed much of the civil service and business, with many government and
private-sector employees failing to turn up to work in recent days.
But all the signs are that Mr Mugabe is preparing to deal with this crisis
the same way he has handled every other challenge to his authority in his 28
years of rule: with intimidation and violence, regardless of the
consequences. Enough police will be deployed to keep the main urban centres
quiet while the rural areas are targeted. And the blows are expected to fall
hardest in constituencies where Zanu-PF won, or came close to winning, two
The reason for this apparent paradox is that Mr Mugabe has long dispensed
with the support of the minority Ndebele group, whose political resistance
was crushed in a military campaign in the 1980s. At least 20,000 people were
killed in that crackdown. Ever since, the people of Matabeleland, whose
largest city is Bulawayo, have said Mr Mugabe will not go until his own
group, the majority Shona, overthrow him.
Conscious of this, Zanu-PF has always reacted most viciously to any sign
that the MDC is eroding the ruling party's base of support in the provinces
around Harare, the capital, and down the eastern half of the country. These
areas had not experienced mass intimidation until 2000, the year Mr Mugabe
unexpectedly lost a referendum on extending his presidential powers.
What followed bears an ominous similarity to the current situation. After a
pause during which Mr Mugabe appeared to accept the result, chaos was let
loose across the country. White-owned farms were invaded by people claiming
to be landless "war veterans", even though most were children or had not yet
been born when the liberation war ended. Gangs of thugs went around villages
herding people to meetings at which they were forced to chant Zanu-PF
slogans, and suspected opposition supporters were brutally beaten.
It is from this time on that Mr Mugabe has come to be seen as a merciless
dictator, impervious to criticism. He blames all setbacks on British
imperialism. It took the sustained brutality of the present decade – and the
plight of white farmers – for the international media to decide that Mr
Mugabe was a monster.
In 2000, rural Shonas were told that they had voted the wrong way, and
warned of the consequences if it happened again. The subsequent election,
held after a three-month delay, showed that they had received the message:
Zanu-PF won a narrow but decisive victory. In the election after that,
Zanu-PF won a two-thirds majority, allowing Mr Mugabe to amend the
constitution to his taste.
The urban areas have suffered bouts of intimidation, most importantly the
Murambatsvina ("clear out the trash") campaign in 2005, which drove out
street traders and the unemployed from the capital, forcing many back to the
rural areas they had left to escape starvation. But it is in the countryside
that the tactics of oppression have been constantly refined.
As the economy has slid into ruin and food shortages have become endemic,
areas that back Zanu-PF get handouts of rations and implements to help with
subsistence farming. Opposition areas get nothing. In large areas of
Zimbabwe, the MDC did not dare to hold meetings during this election
campaign for fear of violence. And if there were clashes with MDC youths, it
was an opportunity for the police to round up party officials and helpers.
With the crushing victory of 2005 having been followed by a split in the
MDC, which saw two factions using the party name in this election, the
government appears to have become complacent about the outcome. As long as
enough bribes were handed out and the MDC kept in check, Zanu-PF believed,
rural voters in the north and east would deliver the desired result.
So desperate is life for most Zimbabweans, however, with inflation having
reached 100,000 per cent and the ravages of HIV/Aids having reduced life
expectancy for women to the lowest level in the world, that voters lost
"The trouble is that the results of the Assembly election have told Mugabe
exactly where to target his intimidation," said an opposition source. "The
areas that will suffer most are those where Zanu-PF narrowly lost, or had
its majority severely cut. In 2005 Mr Tsvangirai did not win a rural seat
outside Matabeleland. This time he won heavily in the east and south, and
picked up seats in Mashonaland [the north-east] and Midlands areas. In his
heartland, the three provinces of Mashonaland, Zanu-PF is likely to attempt
to shut out the MDC altogether. In the rest of the country, they will have
to try to batter down the MDC's structures."
How this will be managed was explained by the dissident policemen whose
evidence has reached The Independent on Sunday. They said they had been told
to be ready to deploy today or tomorrow, leading the opposition to surmise
that the government will announce the election result and name the date for
the second round once its forces are in place.
With their ranks swelled by "war veterans", who will be given uniforms and
official police numbers, the policemen said they would be expected to
campaign openly for Zanu-PF in the second round. The party loyalists who had
joined them would report on any policemen unwilling to carry out their
orders, and certain areas would be shut off completely to anyone entering
So far Mr Tsvangirai's stance has been that he won the presidential election
outright, and that his party will not take part in any run-off. How he will
react if the government announces a second round is not known, but the
intimidation has already begun in rural areas north of the capital.
None of this should surprise anyone who has watched Mr Mugabe's defiance of
international opinion previously. Yesterday's snubbing of the SADC summit
makes it clear that nothing but direct international pressure will divert
the unfortunate country's president from using force against his own people.
Days of delay
Sunday State newspaper reports that Mugabe has requested a recount
"following revelations of errors and miscalculations".
Monday High Court delays decision on release of election results. MDC
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai meets South African Jacob Zuma, leader of the
African National Congress.
Tuesday Commercial Farmers Union reports invasions of 60 white-owned farms
by Zanu-PF forces. Five election officials accused of altering results in
MDC's favour are arrested.
Wednesday Southern African Development Community of 14 nations announces
summit on crisis. South African President Thabo Mbeki refuses to meet
Tsvangirai. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission lawyer George Chikumbirike tells
court it would be dangerous to force release of results.
Thursday MDC declares Tsvangirai will not stand in a run-off.
Friday Government bans political rallies and arrests Tsvangirai's chief
lawyer, Innocent Chagonda. MDC says about 1,000 of its supporters have been
arrested or attacked since election. Zimbabwe Election Support Network
estimates Tsvangirai has 47-52 per cent of the vote.
Saturday Mugabe meets Thabo Mbeki but refuses to attend regional summit.
Sunday April 13 2008
There are many ways a corrupt regime can fix a ballot, but they fall into
two main categories: elections can either be bought or can be stolen. Robert
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's President since 1980, has tried both.
Ahead of a parliamentary and presidential poll two weeks ago, Mr Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party awarded pay increases to civil servants and security forces.
Pro-Mugabe rallies were used to distribute expensive goods to crowds. But
Zanu-PF was still defeated in the parliamentary poll, for the first time
since the end of colonial rule. What happened in the presidential election
is unclear because the results have not been announced. The opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims that its candidate, Morgan
Tsvangirai, won. Zanu-PF says there should be a second ballot, but does not
say when. Police and gangs of thugs have been mobilised to intimidate voters
and signal Mr Mugabe's continuing command of the streets.
That is no surprise. Mr Mugabe does not see elections as mechanisms for the
transfer of power, but as ritual affirmations of his moral right to govern.
That mandate, he believes, is an untouchable legacy of his leadership in the
guerrilla war for independence. Following the twisted logic common to all
narcissistic demagogues, to oppose the President is to attack the idea of
national sovereignty. The MDC, in Mr Mugabe's rhetoric, is a pawn of white
supremacist, neo-imperial conspiracy. Meanwhile, he has presided over the
pillage of his country's economy and the impoverishment of its people.
Mr Mugabe might have been able to do that and cling to power by intimidation
alone, but, as it happens, he has been abetted by fellow African leaders.
They have ignored his abuse of office and indulged his delusion of immortal
hero status. Chief among the apologists is South African President Thabo
Mbeki. As head of the state on which Zimbabwe's crippled economy depends, Mr
Mbeki is best placed to exert pressure on Mr Mugabe. He has faced a choice
between supporting a despot with historic anti-imperial credentials and an
opposition movement that enjoys the support of Britain, the former imperial
power; between the easy solidarity of an old struggle and the complex
diplomacy of a new one. Mr Mbeki, and most of his fellow African leaders,
have chosen to hide in the past and defend the despot. This they present as
African unity, but it looks suspiciously like entrenched power elites
closing ranks to stifle grassroots democracy in their midst.
There are some signs that Mr Mugabe's neighbours are tiring of him. They
invited Mr Tsvangirai to a summit in Zambia to discuss Zimbabwe's future,
enhancing his claim to be President-elect in the absence of official poll
results. But Mr Mbeki's assertion yesterday that there is 'no crisis' in
Zimbabwe suggests that the habit of solidarity endures, leaving little hope
of a meaningful African intervention against Zanu-PF.
So what can be done to restore to the Zimbabwean people the freedom and hope
of prosperity Mr Mugabe has stolen from them? The regime is already subject
to 'targeted' sanctions aimed at disrupting its kleptocratic finances, with
little effect. Wider sanctions when the economy is already on the brink of
collapse would aggravate the suffering of ordinary people.
The best strategy is to shift the focus away from Mr Mugabe and the past and
towards the potential rewards of a democratic future. Developed nations
should put together an economic rescue package to be deployed for whenever
Zanu-PF surrenders the presidency. There should be concrete pledges of aid
and technical assistance that would be swiftly disbursed in the event of
Britain and the West must demonstrate they are not pursuing a vendetta
against one man, but mobilising in defence of a captive nation. That way,
Zimbabwe's neighbours may be shamed into doing the same.
There are many villains to blame for Zimbabwe's decade of horror
Chris McGreal has reported from Zimbabwe for the past 20 years and watched
its slow slide into despair. But who is at fault? Here, he blames British
ministers, white farmers and the country's opposition for misunderstanding
the Mugabe regime - and for the complacency that laid the ground for his
Sunday April 13 2008
It is more than a decade since Clare Short wrote the extraordinary letter
that some have characterised as 'the spark' that set off Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's President was pressing Britain to fulfil a commitment to pay for
land redistribution from white farmers to poor black people, which he
regarded as a pillar of the deal that brought an end to Ian Smith's
unilateral declaration of Rhodesian independence and the birth of a free
nation in 1980.
Taking back the land was a key platform of the liberation war and, Mugabe
said, the time had come for London to honour its commitment. Short, in the
letter to Zimbabwe's Agriculture and Land Minister, Kumbirai Kangai, in late
1997, repudiated the claim. 'I should make it clear that we do not accept
that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase
in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links
to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we
were colonised, not colonisers,' she wrote.
Short, then International Development Secretary, said that Britain would
help pay for long-term redistribution only as part of an agreed poverty
alleviation programme, but added that it would be 'impossible' to support
rapid land acquisition because of the damage it would cause to agriculture.
Given how things have turned out, that might seem a reasonable position. But
Short was in essence saying that the past was done with, because Britain was
no longer an imperial power and that Zimbabwe's liberation war was history.
Her letter laid bare a fundamental misunderstanding of Mugabe and the nature
of the regime he leads, a mistake that others - including Zimbabwe's whites
and a rising black opposition - were to repeat as they struggled to prise
him from office and that has, arguably, helped him cling to power.
Britain did have a special responsibility, not only as the former coloniser
but also because it had failed to act against Smith's illegal regime -
making necessary a liberation war that cost tens of thousands of lives, most
of them black - on the grounds that it could not move against its 'kith and
kin' in Rhodesia, in Harold Wilson's phrase. It was those kith and kin who
made the same mistake as Short in thinking the past was history.
When the farm invasions began eight years ago, it would have taken a
particularly hard heart not to be moved by the sight of people forced from
their homes at machete point, sometimes losing everything but their lives,
desperately fearful for the safety of their children.
But looking around those farms as the white families fled, it was also
apparent that independence had not done much for the daily lives of their
workers. Often they still lived in rows of cramped, bare accommodation,
sometimes all too reminiscent of prison cells, built in colonial days.
Liberation had not changed the fundamental link between being white and rich
and being black and poor.
Zimbabwe's whites were not only complacent; they also misjudged how Mugabe
saw their place and the unwritten pact that allowed them to stay on. In the
cities they kept their houses and their pools and their servants. Life went
on as before, but without the war.
The white farmers had it even better. With crop prices soaring, they bought
boats on Lake Kariba and built airstrips on their farms for newly acquired
planes. Not much of that trickled down to the poor, and not many of the
farmers reflected on the essence of the liberation war and its cry not only
for freedom but also for land. Instead Zimbabwe's whites reached an implicit
compact with Zanu-PF; they could go on as before, so long as they kept out
of politics and did not criticise publicly.
That is the way it stayed for 20 years, but then quite a number of whites -
some of them farmers - made a misjudgment. They thought they had the same
rights as everyone else.
It began with the visible and extensive white opposition to Mugabe in a
constitutional referendum in 2000, which he was shocked to lose. Mugabe went
on television to concede defeat. Emboldened whites stuck their heads above
the political parapet, imagined that the old man could be driven from power
and threw their support behind the fledgling Movement for Democratic Change
under Morgan Tsvangirai at the parliamentary elections a few months later.
White people accounted for only a small proportion of the party, but they
were highly visible and had clout in part because they were the ones with
the money and the cars. They could be seen delivering party propaganda and
running its offices. White farmers appeared on stage with Tsvangirai,
handing over fat cheques to party coffers.
The MDC and its white activists regarded all that as everyday politics in a
normal society; Mugabe and the Zanu-PF old guard saw an attempt to refight
the liberation war by other means. Their fears were not entirely unfounded.
A man called 'Monty' Montgomery was heading the MDC's campaign in the
Hurungwe and Kariba regions in the 2000 election. His family lineage in
Zimbabwe went back to the 1890s. His parents were teachers in Bulawayo, at a
school once attended by Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of South Africa's
apartheid. Montgomery was conscripted into the Rhodesian police and rose to
become an officer in the notorious special branch responsible for the
interrogation of political prisoners and 'terrorists' - men like Mugabe.
By the time I met him, Montgomery was running an agricultural supply
business that had fallen on hard times. He had not taken much interest in
democracy until his pocket was hit, but talking to him, and to other older
whites, there was a sense that this was payback time, an opportunity to
When 5,000 black MDC delegates elected the party's executive in January
2000, three out of the top four were whites. The head of the party's
campaign in Mashonaland West, Duke du Coudray, explained it this way:
'There's only one reason we whites are so visible. The mass of this party is
black, but the black bourgeoisie is afraid to take a public stand. They are
intimidated away from public support. They are pushing us to the fore,
saying we support you, but we can't do it in public.' What the whites did
not understand was that they could not do it either. They might have had a
legal right, but the history was too recent and they soon found themselves
exploited by Mugabe as targets and scapegoats. Far from bringing him down,
they had helped to strengthen him.
Tsvangirai welcomed whites for sound reasons, but it proved to be a
misjudgment to allow them such a public role while maintaining an equivocal
policy on land redistribution that fed Mugabe's claim that the MDC would
give the farms back to their former owners.
The opposition leader made other political misjudgments that Mugabe
exploited. Tsvangirai was paralysed by indecision after Zanu-PF stole the
2002 election and failed to mobilise the mass of MDC supporters in the
crucial days following the vote, when many were ready to take to the
streets. The opposition had again failed to appreciate the measure of
Mugabe, imagining that, if he lost the election, he would simply step
aside - and so it had no Plan B.
Tsvangirai also failed to appreciate how well Mugabe would exploit his
liberation credentials in the rest of southern Africa. He portrayed the MDC
as a neo-colonial conspiracy in which blacks were a front for
unreconstructed Rhodesians. When the farm seizures began, the region's
leaders threw their weight behind Mugabe, accusing his detractors of
ignoring history. Joachim Chissano, then President of Mozambique, defended
Mugabe by saying that there was a tendency to 'put a blanket' over the
history of the independence struggles in Africa. He condemned those who
would portray 'former heroes of the freedom struggle' as 'anti-democratic
and even dictators'.
A couple of years later, as Mugabe bludgeoned and murdered his way to a
rigged election victory, Chissano said: 'There's nothing the world has to
teach Robert Mugabe about the rule of law.'
Britain didn't help by wading in with loud denunciations. Peter Hain, then
Africa minister, called Mugabe's government 'uncivilised'. Hain might have
given more thought to how other African leaders would view a minister of a
former colonial power, who was also the product of an apartheid-era
whites-only school in Pretoria, describing one of their number that way.
Thabo Mbeki had not long before become South Africa's President. He views
politics and much else besides through a racial prism in a way that Nelson
Mandela does not. Rainbow nation man had given way to Zebra man. The highly
visible white involvement in the MDC made Mbeki twitchy. The region's
leaders decided to put him in charge of dealing with the Zimbabwe problem
and Mbeki embarked on his 'quiet diplomacy' that had one aim - to ease
Mugabe from power with dignity, but keep Zanu-PF in control. Quiet diplomacy
did not mean remaining silent in public; it meant refraining from criticism.
Mbeki frequently justified actions by Mugabe.
So it was that, last Sunday, at a dinner at the South African High
Commission in London, he endorsed the recent election whose result we are
still awaiting. 'We have been very pleased with the manner in which the
elections were conducted: the opposition had access to every part of the
country, there was no violence, no one was beaten up; it's gone very well.
You have a very serious effort by the people of Zimbabwe to resolve their
problems, we could see there was a common spirit among them and that's the
sense we got. And in the conduct of the election none of the parties came
back to us to intervene to say something was going wrong,' he said.
Mbeki's yardstick for a fair election was that no one was murdered or
beaten, as occurred in the previous three presidential and parliamentary
ballots. But by almost every other measure, it was far from free. Most of
the opposition media, including the main daily newspaper, have been banned
for years, while the state-run press ran a vitriolic hate campaign against
the opposition. Parliamentary constituencies were gerrymandered to diminish
the power of opposition voters. The electoral roll contained hundreds of
thousands of ghost voters.
By the time Mbeki gave his speech, the opposition was saying something was
South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad, publicly bought the line
that the result of the presidential election was not being released for
logistical reasons, and said that sceptical reporters were 'instruments of
conspiracy and destabilisation'. Mbeki said much the same in accepting that
the election commission was 'verifying' the results. The practical effect
was to give Mugabe time to unleash his forces to terrorise Zimbabweans to
ensure they do not again vote against him in the second round of elections
that the election commission was trying to engineer. Mbeki flew into Harare
yesterday to meet Mugabe and emerged from their talks again saying there is
'no crisis' and once again appealing for patience until the results are
released. Mbeki's principal contribution over recent days has been to try to
arrange what he always wanted - Mugabe out, but Zanu-PF still in power. He
is also insisting that, if Mugabe goes, it must be without humiliation. To
Mbeki, the pipe-smoking, urbane intellectual, the dignity of an African
leader is more important than the indignity of Africans scrabbling on
rubbish dumps for food, dying in hospitals for want of drugs, or forced to
crawl through barbed wire into a foreign country to find work.
The region's leaders have spent years indulging Mugabe. Now he is snubbing
them by refusing to attend their summit in Zambia to discuss his country's
crisis.The coming days will show whether Mugabe's useful idiots will finally
do right by the people of Zimbabwe.
Sunday, 13 April 2008
It seemed too good to be true. Without warning an election in Zimbabwe,
which everyone assumed that Robert Mugabe would fix as usual, went badly
wrong for the oppressor of that ruined country. Two weeks ago, the
democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe became impossible to resist.
But it was too good to be true. Early euphoric hopes that Zimbabwe's long
nightmare might suddenly be over have faded. This was not going to be a
"people's power" moment of the kind we had seen in central and eastern
Europe. The Zimbabwean people are too impoverished and intimidated to take
to the streets. Thabo Mbeki, the leader of the country's powerful neighbour,
South Africa, is too cowardly to step up to the responsibility of
statesmanship. And Mr Mugabe's apparatus of patronage and coercion is still
sufficiently confident to cling to power in defiance of the people's will.
As our special correspondent reports today, Mr Mugabe plainly intends to
press ahead with a simple plan to retain power. First, he will have the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announce that the presidential election
was inconclusive. This would require a run-off between him and Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Meanwhile, Mr Mugabe has given orders to the police force to prepare to take
over the polling stations, with their numbers augmented by thousands of "war
veterans", who will for the first time be given police uniforms and numbers.
Everyone knows the truth. Everyone, in Zimbabwe and around the world, knows
that Mr Mugabe and his party, Zanu-PF, lost the elections. Everyone knows
that the only reason for the delay in publishing the results is the need to
falsify them. Everyone can guess that Mr Tsvangirai won more than 50 per
cent of the votes for the presidency, but that ways are being found to bring
the figure below 50 per cent to require a second round. And everyone knows
that the so-called war veterans are no more veterans of the 1970s struggle
against Ian Smith's government than Mr Mugabe is a stalwart for gay rights.
They are Mr Mugabe's hired thugs; in effect the militias of a dictatorship.
The question, then, is how best the international community can help the
people of Zimbabwe to achieve their democratic rights. Zimbabwe has long
been one of the more fraught case studies of the doctrine of liberal
interventionism. Tony Blair was blunt enough to say that if Britain could
intervene, it should, and realistic enough to recognise the impossibility of
such action. This country is, of course, constrained by its relationship
with Zimbabwe as the former colonial power. Any attempt by the British to
act on the sense that we owe a special obligation to the people of Zimbabwe
has the effect of reinforcing the propaganda that has sustained Mr Mugabe in
power for 28 years – an ideology of resentment against white imperialists.
Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, have therefore
pitched their response to the crisis about right: not too strident and
emphasising the international community. Britain's tactical restraint throws
into sharper relief, however, the lack of leadership from elsewhere. Once
again, the United Nations has shown its weakness, while the unwillingness of
Mr Mbeki to use his leverage as leader of the regional power is a continuing
Mr Mbeki did not exactly say, "Crisis? What crisis?", any more than those
exact words crossed James Callaghan's lips. But they sum up the wilful
blindness of a leader in trouble. "I wouldn't describe that as a crisis.
It's a normal electoral process in Zimbabwe. We have to wait for ZEC to
release," he told reporters yesterday after meeting Mr Mugabe in Harare.
Time is on the side of democracy in Zimbabwe. Mr Mugabe is 84, and a new
leadership is emerging in South Africa. Jacob Zuma, who recently defeated Mr
Mbeki to become leader of the ruling ANC, is in a strong position to succeed
Mr Mbeki next year. Since the elections, Mr Zuma has met Mr Tsvangirai and
called for the results to be published. The sense of the inevitability of
the collapse of the Zanu-PF regime must surely sap its ability to carry on.
That, and the scrutiny of the outside world. That is why it is so important
to report what is happening in Zimbabwe – and Mr Mugabe's regime knows it,
which is why two foreign journalists were arrested and charged with
"illegally observing an election". (As a telling footnote, bail was set at
300 million Zimbabwe dollars, about £4.)
Mr Mugabe's plan to cling to power can be frustrated by the bravery of the
Zimbabwean people, honest reporting and a united international community,
including a little more of the leadership of which Mr Zuma has shown he is
capable. The hopes of a sudden liberation have faded; the certainty shines
on that the end of Zimbabwe's misery is near.
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:29
MASVINGO — Losing Zanu PF candidate for Bikita West, Elias Musakwa,
has allegedly repossessed goods he donated to constituents in the run-up to
Other Zanu PF politicians in the province are reportedly doing the
Musakwa is a former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) official who
resigned following clashes with the governor, Gideon Gono. During the
campaign, he donated ploughs, computers, maize-meal, furniture, sewing
machines, money, cooking oil and clothes to woo voters.
But the voters chose the MDC’s Heya Shoko instead.
Sources close to his campaign team said after collating the election
results displayed at polling stations, the gospel singer-turned-politician
stormed Gwindingwi secondary school, demanding the return of a computer he
He allegedly proceeded to Bikita training centre where he confiscated
a computer and a number of sewing machines he had donated.
Musakwa next repossessed maize-meal, which was yet to be distributed
at Bikita Minerals, as well as sports uniforms at Chirumba and Ngozvore
A ZAOGA church elder at the Bikita Branch said after taking back his
ploughs from villagers, Musakwa visited their church and demanded all the
furniture he had donated to the church.
The Ngaavongwe Records proprietor, popular for his hit song Nditarire
in which he appears in ragged clothes, surprised many Christians after he
declared his interest in mainstream politics on a Zanu PF ticket.
“He spent several billions if not trillions in a bid to buy votes but
the people decided not to vote for him, despite what he had done for them. I
think they taught him a lesson that money can’t buy votes,” said Teerai
Mukuvaza from Bikita West.
But Musakwa, who was not immediately available for comment, was not
the only one accused of punishing the electorate for ditching Zanu PF.
Our correspondent in Gutu reports that other losing Zanu PF candidates
had decided to punish the electorate by denying them basic commodities.
Former MP for Gutu North, Lovemore Matuke (Zanu PF) who lost to the
MDC’s Oliver Chirume in the newly-created Gutu Central constituency,
recently withdrew maize grain he had intended to deliver to the people
before and after the elections.
Matuke, who owns haulage trucks, had sourced the staple food stashed
at GMB depots at Munyaradzi, Dewure and other areas of Gutu Central in the
run-up to the elections.
The maize was removed from the area after Matuke lost the election.
He, too, could not be reached for comment.
At a shop belonging Shuvai Mahofa, the losing Zanu PF candidate for
Gutu South, at Mpandawana growth point last weekend, sugar was only being
sold to known party supporters.
Employees at the shop confirmed to The Standard the sugar had been
selling at $65 million/2kgs but only to Mahofa’s friends and supporters.
“There is no sugar for you here,” said one female employee who
declined to be named for fear of being victimised. “It’s for Zanu PF and its
supporters, not for ordinary people.''
By Godfrey Mutimba
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:51
ON 6 April, Wellington Gweru, the MDC council candidate who lost his
bid to win Ward 10 in Chiweshe, says he decided to spend the night with his
family at their uncle’s home in anticipation of an announcement of the
presidential election results.
But the results were not announced that night. Gweru, like many other
Zimbabweans at that time, returned home a disappointed man.
But sad news awaited him on arrival at his homestead: all his huts had
been razed to the ground, with all the property inside reduced to ashes.
“A few days earlier, a number of war veterans and Zanu PF supporters
had told me they had been sent by a top Zanu PF official to set fire to my
huts because of my opposition affiliation,” he said. “They told me they had
been instructed by our chief to deal with me as I was negatively influencing
people ahead of the anticipated run-off for the presidential election.”
The Standard could not
immediately confirm independently the incidents reported by Gweru of
many MDC supporters in the area being terrorised by war veterans and Zanu PF
But police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed they were
“isolated incidents” of violence.
“It is misleading to say the whole country is burning. They are just
isolated incidents. I will check those for you”, Bvudzijena said.
After the elections, many Zimbabweans, like Gweru briefly allowed
themselves a little hope after President Robert Mugabe suffered what
appeared to be a devastating electoral defeat by his old nemesis, Morgan
But two weeks on, that hope has turned to fear. Riot police,
especially in high-density areas, have made themselves a permanent feature
there, imposing a 10PM curfew.
Residents in such high-density areas as Glen View, Budiriro, Mabvuku,
Mbare, Mufakose, Highfield and Chitungwiza fear the days of the batons are
At Makomva shopping centre in Glen View, it took the eloquence of Glen
View South legislator Paul Madzore to convince an angry mob to disperse
after the curfew began.
There have been roadblocks manned by the police. People have been
ordered to stay indoors at night. There has been a clampdown on the
opposition whose offices have been raided by the police. Foreign journalists
have been arrested, Zanu PF war veterans have revived the people’s ugly
memories of the tension and the violence before, during and after the 2000
parliamentary and the 2002 presidential elections.
Memories of those dark days come flooding back as people fear Zanu PF’s
retribution for voting overwhelmingly for the opposition.
There have been reports of lives being lost in this new wave of fresh
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) monitors politically motivated
violence and human rights abuses.
Last week it reported that soldiers, some wearing masks, raided bars
and a public market in Gweru’s Mkoba suburb and assaulted people, reportedly
for “failing to vote correctly”.
“Soldiers descended on unsuspecting revellers in bars and late night
shoppers, beating them up. The soldiers were allegedly saying the people’s
crime, among others, was not to have voted correctly,” said the ZPP.
The organisation said it had received similar reports of violence in
Mashonaland East, where a Zanu PF official was said to be waging a campaign
of retribution against people suspected to have voted for the MDC. Three
victims, Gerald Shamuyarira, Shingi Chigovanyika and Irvine Chimanga, tried
to report the official to the police but ended up being arrested themselves.
Churches reported incidents of torture as post-election violence
mounted. Zimbabwe National Pastors’ Conference spokesperson, Lawrence
Berejena said in Harare last week: “Some people are being seriously
tortured, especially in the rural areas. Some have been chased from their
homes while others are being denied access to humanitarian aid.”
Last week, the MDC released a list of 200 serving senior officers in
the uniformed forces reportedly deployed across the country to command war
veterans and Zanu PF youth militia to intimidate people ahead of the
anticipated run-off election.
According to the MDC, the service chiefs will be operating “under the
guise of war veterans”.
Political analyst Lovemore Madhuku said Zanu PF is cognisant of the
fact that only through violence can it win the anticipated run-off.
“This explains the delay in announcing the presidential results,” said
Madhuku.” Zanu PF is clearly buying time to intimidate the electorate
through the violence now taking place everywhere in Zimbabwe. I must add
that this violence is a waste of time.”
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) last week said it had
“received information, some of it from sources inside Zimbabwe’s security
establishment, indicating that youth militias, Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operatives and war veterans are being deployed, under the
command of approximately 200 senior army officers, throughout the rural
Nicole Fritz, the director of SALC, said the deployment was part of a
“state-sponsored, pre-planned attack on Zimbabwe’s civilian population”.
“The intention seems to be to use violence against and to intimidate
voters prior to any run-off or rerun of the elections,” Fritz said.
SALC said “the international and regional communities have a
heightened responsibility” to find a solution to the problem in Zimbabwe.
War Veterans’ chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, denied responsibility for
any of the incidents of violence, as they are not “a thuggery organization”.
“I have always said as war veterans, violence is not part of our
programme,” said Sibanda. “If there is indiscipline by one person that does
not mean that is what we are, as war veterans. We are not an organisation of
thugs, but that does not mean we are weak,” Sibanda said.
On reports that the war veterans had camped at selected commercial
farms, Sibanda said: “Our people went there to check the numbers of white
farmers, or aliens at the farms. What we have simply been saying is that if
a white man has 10 farms, he has to retreat from nine and have one.”
Sibanda said “the MDC must stop fooling around and prepare for the
run-off”. He denied the war veterans were working with the uniformed forces.
Sibanda’s deputy, Joseph Chinotimba, has of late been seen wearing a
hat similar to the straw hat he donned at the height of farm invasions in
Attempts to contact Zanu PF spokesperson on the elections, the
defeated Patrick Chinamasa, were fruitless. But last week he told
journalists: “We are a peace-loving party and the people of Zimbabwe will
not forgive anyone who foments violence.”
The statement may have been received with deep cynicism by many
people, some of them victims of the violence which Chinamasa is denying.
By Vusumuzi Sifile and John Mokwetsi
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:41
WAR veterans and Zanu PF militia last week burnt down more than 30
farm workers’ huts in Mashonaland Central, accusing them of voting against
President Robert Mugabe in last month’s elections.
The workers said the attackers raided Silver Stream Farm in Centenary
on Tuesday and Wednesday under cover of darkness, torching huts, beating up
the occupants and looting property.
The workers said they were accused of voting for the MDC after a vote
count at Silver Stream primary school showed “a slight difference” between
Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The attackers demanded the workers join them in farm invasions, which
they refused to do.
The workers said the attackers were from two nearby farms, Sharon and
Among the most seriously injured workers was Justin Fungai,
hospitalised at St Albert’s Mission Hospital.
Selina Njara (26), mother of two, said for three days they slept in a
nearby mountain fearing the attackers would return to kill them.
“We woke up when our neighbour’s house was on fire. They were coming
to ours when we fled into the mountains. Watching from afar, we saw them
taking our property, before setting the huts on fire,” she said.
The family lost all their clothes, stuffed into travelling bags,
blankets, a radio and even maize-meal. “I don’t know where to start,” she
As Njara told her ordeal, her six-year-old son, Kudzai Kavhumbura,
foraged in the rubble, trying to salvage remains of his school books. All he
could recover was a half-burnt English textbook.
“I hope my father will be able to replace the books. I want to go back
to school when we open,” Kudzai said.
He is in first grade, at Silver Stream primary school, across the
After the attack about 18 families now shelter temporarily in tobacco
barns, exposed to the cold and diseases.
Shelter is being provided by farm owner Joseph Chakwara, who played
down the crisis, saying it had “nothing to with politics”.
“It all started at a beer drink when two people fought. Others from
different farms took sides,” said Chakwara, who volunteered information of
his Zanu PF membership.
He claimed he obtained the Mazda pick-up truck he was driving and a
tractor from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe because of his Zanu PF
Gaurani Mutape (24), gave a different account of how the trouble
started. As the attackers flailed them, they shouted: “You must follow the
white farmers out of this country because you voted for the MDC!”
Gaurani and his brother, Thomas (27), both work at the farm. They said
the attackers looted everything: clothes, radios, blankets, buckets. Thomas
said: “Some even killed and took away chickens, when people fled.”
The farm workers blamed the police for failing to take action before
the situation deteriorated. They said when they reported the first attack on
Tuesday, the police said they did not have transport and told them to go
back to “defend ourselves”.
“When more huts were burnt on Thursday night all men from here walked
to Centenary police station to complain,” said another worker who requested
anonymity for fear of victimisation. “But while we were there, the attackers
returned, forcing our children and wives into the mountains.”
It was only when anti-riot police arrived that the attackers fled to
their homes and normalcy returned.
Mashonaland Central police spokesperson assistant inspector Michael
Munyikwa, who met The Standard news crew at the troubled farm, said he could
not comment as he was still gathering facts about the incident.
But farm workers said only a few of the attackers had been arrested.
They feared those left behind would pounce on them again.
There were reports of violence in Mudzi West where militia reportedly
beat up Batsirai Kapikinyu and Cephas Nyarugwe in Nyamudo village near
Kawere School in Mashonaland East.
According to Oswel Dziike, a candidate for the MDC in the House of
Assembly elections, the two were left with broken arms and legs. He said a
number of opposition supporters had fled the area as a result of the
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:38
THE two foreign journalists arrested 10 days ago for practising
journalism without accreditation will now be tried tomorrow, after the State
failed to make its submissions in court on Friday.
Barry Bearak of The New York Times and Stephen Bevan, a British
freelance journalist, were arrested on 3 April when armed police raided York
Lodge in Harare, where they were staying.
They were released on $300 million bail each on 7 April, after five
days in prison. They were charged under the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who together with Alec
Muchadehama is representing the two, said the journalists have no case to
answer under the newly amended AIPPA.
Mtetwa said following recent amendments to the Act, practising without
accreditation was not an offence and journalists can only be prosecuted on
the recommendation of a statutory media council, which has not yet been
When this argument was made in court on Friday, the State was not
ready to make its submissions, resulting in the case being moved to
Mtetwa said: “The two have committed no offence under the newly
amended AIPPA. We want the charges against them dropped.
This is what we have submitted in court. But now we will have to wait
until Monday to hear what the court has to say on the matter.”
After his release from prison Bearak was admitted to hospital for
medical treatment for a back injury sustained from a fall from his prison
bed. He also received treatment for a chest infection.
The acting Attorney General, Justice Bharat Patel, had recommended
that charges against Bearak be dropped, the director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York.
Bearak’s passport is being held by police. He has been ordered to
remain in the country until his case has been finalised.
Two South African media workers had their second day in court also on
Friday facing charges of obstructing the course of justice.
Freelance cameraman Sipho Moses Maseko and satellite technician
Abdulla Ismail Gaibbe were arrested on 27 March for contravening AIPPA.
Their lawyer Wilbert Mandinde said the magistrate dropped the charges
two weeks ago after the State prosecutor failed to appear three times.
Within hours of their release, Chief Inspector Rangwani re-arrested them but
they received bail after spending a weekend in jail. Harare Magistrate Doris
Shomwe will make a ruling in their case tomorrow.
Joel Simon, the director of the CPJ has urged Zimbabwe to stop
intimidating and arresting journalists.
“It is imperative that all journalists, foreign and domestic, be
allowed to freely cover the important political situation unfolding in
Zimbabwe,” Simon said. “The charges against all four men are obviously
spurious and are merely an attempt by the authorities to prevent any
reporting on the turmoil in Zimbabwe from reaching the outside world. These
charges should be dropped immediately.”
Only a handful of foreign journalists received accreditation despite
300 requests, according to the pro-government weekly The Sunday Mail.
A US election monitor, Dileepan Sivapathasundaram, who was arrested
nearly two weeks ago, was released on Wednesday after six days in detention.
He has since left the country.
Sivapathasundaram is a senior programme officer with the National
Democratic Institute, a US organisation that monitors elections worldwide
and promotes democracy.
After the authorities denied he was in their custody, he was finally
tracked down to Harare Central Police Station.
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:35
THE police ban on all political gatherings is illegal as it was not
issued according to the provisions of the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA), lawyers and politicians said yesterday.
On Friday the police commander of the harmonised elections, Senior
Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango, announced “no political party will
be allowed to hold a rally during this period until after the announcement
of the outstanding results”.
Mazango told journalists the MDC applied to hold a rally today, but
the police denied them clearance because “the current period is still very
But politicians and analysts yesterday said the ban was illegal and in
contravention of POSA, which states that bans can only be effected at
district level by the officer commanding (District). Friday’s ban was
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday vowed the MDC would
“continue with our normal activities”.
“The ban is illegal,” he said. “Zimbabwe has not been declared a
police state. The law is very clear on political gatherings. The police are
not above the law, and they cannot just wake up one day and change laws
willy-nilly. We will continue with our normal activities.”
But he would not say if they would go ahead with their rally today.
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said the ban was “politically
immoral and illegal”.
“There is no jurisprudential difference between a political gathering
and a gathering for any other purpose. People who gather for any other
purpose can also become politically agitated.
“This betrays the dictatorship mentality that there is always
something wrong when people discuss politics. They want to promote a view
that is not in the Constitution.”
Major Kudzai Mbudzi, a key member of Simba Makoni’s presidential
campaign, said the ban was an “expression of fear by the government”.
“The guilty are always afraid. This has nothing to do with rallies;
they fear that when people meet, they will discuss issues affecting them.
What they do not know is that whether you ban rallies or not, Mugabe’s exit
is now inevitable,” Mbudzi said.
Announcing the ban on rallies on Friday, Mazango said the MDC was
“spoiling for a fight” and claimed the party had “deployed around 350 youths
countrywide to man bases”.
But Chamisa dismissed the claims, saying the police were probably
confusing them “with the new opposition, Zanu PF”.
“We are a ruling party and we want to be exemplary,” said Chamisa. “We
cannot be wasting time setting up bases as if we are going to war, instead
of setting up institutions to rebuild the economy, create jobs for the
people and bring food to people’s tables.
“It is only losers who are setting up bases and they should be
arrested. It is Zanu PF who have set up bases across the country. People are
being terrorised and some have even fled their homes as bases have been set
Chamisa said the police claims were similar to those made in March
last year when opposition supporters were accused of petrol-bombing.
“The MDC is not a military organisation. We are a civilian party and
at no time have we harboured the issue of setting up bases. That is why we
took the long route of democracy, and it’s good we have finally reached our
destination. It is actually defamatory for Mazango to make such an
By Vusumizi Sifile
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:34
BULAWAYO — The smaller MDC faction has pledged to co-operate with the
MDC’s main wing in Parliament as long as it protects the rights of
The MDC led by Arthur Mutambara won 10 parliamentary seats as well as
six senatorial constituencies in the 29 March elections in Matabeleland.
Although its electoral performance was poor, the faction will be a
potential power broker in the “hung” parliament.
Both Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and Zanu PF have been reportedly courting
the faction with a view to forming an alliance.
The larger MDC won 99 seats against Zanu PF’s 97, meaning that no
party achieved an overall majority in the 210-member House of Assembly.
Zanu PF has refused to accept it is now the official opposition,
saying an alliance with the smaller MDC faction was possible.
But that party’s deputy spokesman, Abednigo Bhebhe, on Friday told the
Bulawayo Press Club an alignment with Zanu PF was “unthinkable”.
“We will avail ourselves to our fellow (MDC) colleagues as long as
they commit themselves to bring about the change we have struggled for,” he
“We are determined to use our strength in parliament wisely.”
But Bhebhe warned their support “must not be taken for granted” as
they were looking at ways to push through Parliament issues designed to
carry out their mandate.
“For the first time since independence a minority party will have
power in parliament,” he said, “and this gives us the leverage to stop the
majority from imposing its will on the minority.”
He said the party’s major priority would be to push for the
development of rural areas, neglected by successive governments since
On the election of the Speaker of Parliament, Bhebhe said they would
support the best candidate.
There have been suggestions that the faction should only align with a
party that would allow it to nominate the Speaker from its ranks.
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:31
FAILURE by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), to release the
results of the Presidential election and the resultant widening political
gulf between the country’s main political parties could spell doom for the
country’s future, analysts have warned.
They said the uncompromising positions taken by the two parties could
speed up the breakdown of what is left of Zimbabwe’s socio-political and
Two weeks after Zimbabweans participated in harmonised elections, the
government-appointed ZEC has not released the Presidential results.
The commission claims it is still “receiving and collating the
figures” from centres across the country.
But it has disbanded its Command Centre at the Harare International
Conference Centre, which analysts say shows the ZEC has completed the
Zanu PF, which is widely believed to have lost to the MDC in the 29
March presidential election, is insisting on a recount and a run-off.
But the MDC has rejected both a run-off and recount, setting the stage
for what could turn out to be a bruising political battle.
Political analysts said this post-election scenario scuppers any hopes
of a quick turn-round of the collapsed economy, once the envy of many
University of Zimbabwe political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the
delay in releasing the results was bad for the country.
“It has caused a political paralysis which has resulted in policy
paralysis because we don’t have a substantive government. Many State
institutions are dysfunctional because there is no political leadership,”
He said the delay had enveloped the country in a cloud of uncertainty,
leaving Zimbabwe’s democratic credentials in tatters.
Another University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Simon
Badza, said the country was at a crossroads.
“This is where mature and stable minds are needed to arrest the
deteriorating situation. Failure to do that could result in a serious crisis
that will take ages to correct,” he said.
Badza said the current political set-up bore the hallmarks of a
post-constitutionalism scenario, where the constitution no longer plays its
Reports say State security and defence agents had virtually taken over
the running of the country.
“Most of the business is being conducted outside the constitution now
and people have many fears,” said Badza without elaborating.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti claimed Zanu PF had already started
“militarizing all national institutions” in preparation for an onslaught on
opposition supporters in the event of a run-off.
Masunungure said the uncertainty and the on-going violence in the
rural areas would trigger an influx of Zimbabweans into the Diaspora.
Already over three million Zimbabweans — a good number of them
professionals — have fled the political and economic squalor in their
country to seek asylum and better jobs.
Independent economic analyst John Robertson said the delay in
releasing the results slows down the economic recovery that was expected in
the post-Mugabe era.
He said potential investors have developed a wait-and-see attitude
while local companies cannot produce or import because they do not have
foreign currency after government raided their forex accounts to finance
Zanu PF’s election campaign.
“The delay slows down the ability of the government to give back to
companies, money they took from their foreign currency accounts. No company
can do business because they don’t have forex,” Robertson said.
Already, the International Monetary Fund has forecast that Zimbabwe’s
economy would shrink by 6.6% this year and 6.77% in 2009. This would be
exacerbated by the current political stalemate.
With an inflation figure of 165 000%, over 85% unemployment rate,
crippling shortages of fuel, foreign currency and a standstill industry,
writing Zimbabwe’s post-election and recovery script might be a mammoth
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:23
“DO you have a truck? I have a very rich client who needs to move his
furniture. He will pay in foreign currency and provide fuel.”
My mind was already racing as I wondered who this client could be,
until I finished reading the SMS on my mobile.
“The rich client is not going very far. He is moving from State House
Humour and rumour have kept Zimbabweans entertained since 29 March
when millions went out to vote in the presidential, senate, parliamentary
and local government elections.
Zimbabweans at home and in the Diaspora have been on tenterhooks as
they waited for the results of the presidential poll which, according to
the State media, will have to go to a run-off as none of the candidates
managed to garner more than 50% of the votes cast.
After Zanu PF announced they were preparing for a rerun on Friday, a
joke doing the rounds was: “Breaking News: Opposition leader, Robert Mugabe
has vowed to reclaim his position as Head of State in the 2013 elections.”
Among journalists, possible post-election scenarios were being
One SMS read: “Can you imagine any journalist writing or broadcasting
that ‘The ruling MDC and the opposition Zanu PF...’?”
Last week another SMS joke on the elections circulating widely was:
An elderly woman, after attending a Morgan Tsvangirai rally in Uzumba,
was heard to say to the former trade unionist:
“Ah, Ah, Ah! Ko zvataifunga kuti uri murungu mwanangu. Takanzwa
neveZanu PF. (We always thought you were white.)”
Strangely, most of the barbs were directed at Zanu PF while one or two
were directed at Simba Makoni or Tsvangirai.
“Zimbabwe will never be an economy again if you vote Zanu PF,” read
One of the choice text messages was: “Don’t ever talk to me, don’t
ever tell people that you know me because you disappointed me. I dreamt that
you had voted for Zanu PF.”
Another message about a voter in a polling booth:
“I am about to vote for Zanu PF and there is nothing that you can do
The more cruel jokers made fun of Mugabe’s age:
“On polling day, each person should go where they belong. Mugabe to
the fields and Tsvangirai to State House.”
The Simba Makoni camp must have come up with their own version which
read: “On polling day each person should go where they belong. Mugabe to the
fields, Tsvangirai to school and Makoni to State House.”
The First Lady was naturally one of the targets.
A conversation was supposed to have taken place between Grace and the
Mugabe: “What do you think will happen in the presidential elections
and what will you do if I lose to that Tsvangirai?”
Grace: “I don’t know. The elections are for President, not First Lady.
I will remain the First Lady.”
Makoni, who was viewed as trying to spoil Tsvangirai’s chances of
getting to State House also received a few barbs:
“For eight years, Morgan Tsvangirai has been chasing jongwe (the
cockerel, symbol of Zanu PF). Today he has caught it and Simba Makoni oti
nderake (comes along and claims it).”
After it became clear the MDC had won the parliamentary elections, the
Veterinary Department was supposed to have issued a warning.
“Jongwe ramauraya musadye, rinezvirwere zvinoti: hupombwe, corruption,
violence, umbimbindoga, umhondi, utsinye. Musabate tapota.” (Don’t eat the
cockerel you have just killed. It has many diseases: prostitution,
corruption, violence, dictatorship, cruelty. Please don’t touch the meat.)
Zimbabweans fond of naming their children after significant events
could have a large selection of names from this election, according to
emails and mobile messages.
Here is a list:
Run-off Moyo, Senatorial Chirumhanzu, Candidate Pote, Independent
Maposa, Electoral Commission Ndlovu, Foreign Observer Chimunda, Sadhaki
Sibanda, Heavy Weight Utaunashe, Released Results Matongo, Meticulous
Verification Chinengundu, Free and Fair Pazvakavambwa (Twins), Rerun
Mombeshora, Rural Stronghold Khaliyathi, Polling Station Nhamoinesu,
Ballotbox and Ballotpaper Kunonga (Twins).
Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:31
BULAWAYO — The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), last week
called on the government to reverse its recent decision to widen income
brackets or risk nationwide protests from overtaxed workers.
The labour body said the increase was a ploy to raise funds to finance
Zanu PF’s election campaign in anticipation of a presidential run-off.
In a statutory instrument published a fortnight ago, the government
raised taxable earnings from 47,5% to 60% for those earning $20 billion and
Zimbabwe has one of the highest tax regimes in the world but has very
few social incentives that benefit the workers.
Its health delivery system, supposedly financed from taxes, has
virtually collapsed, as defence expenditure has risen
The new tax rate means a worker on $20 billion a month would be left
with about $8 billion after tax and other deductions.
ZCTU secretary general, Wellington Chibebe said the government was
He said the move would force the labour organisation to “take action”
against the government to push for lower taxes to about 30% and below.
Said Chibebe: “It would seem that the increase in income tax was a
ploy by the government to finance the Zanu PF election expenditure after
they ransacked the foreign currency accounts of mainly non-governmental
“The ZCTU demands an immediate redress of this scenario that has shown
high levels of government insensitivity to the plight of the long-suffering
Chibebe said the ZCTU would be forced to take action if whoever was
responsible for the announcement did “not correct this situation”.
No comment could be obtained from Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare Minister, Nicholas Goche, as his mobile phone was unreachable.
Chibebe said: “Surprisingly, nothing has been mentioned about
businesses because most of the former government ministers are now
businesspeople and are therefore protecting their businesses.
“Businesses are taxed at 30% while they are in business to make profit
and workers labour to make ends meet.
“Workers continue to negotiate for the government to earn more
revenue in taxes while they remain poor.”
Zimbabwe’s workforce is grappling with constant increases in the cost
of basic commodities and transport — sparked by runaway inflation which
currently stands at over 160 000% — yet their salaries remain stagnant.
Analysts blame the state of the economy on ill-planned government
policies, a charge the government officials deny.
The government blames the West for imposing targeted sanctions on
selected political leaders and their allies in other sectors.
The government insists the sanctions have hit ordinary citizens hard,
a charge denied by the West, which is providing humanitarian aid, including
drugs and food aid.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:29
BULAWAYO — The political crisis caused by delays in announcing the
winner of the presidential election has cast doubt on the success of this
year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
Days before the country’s biggest trade showcase kicks off, organisers
last week said they were aware of rumours it would be postponed due to the
inclement political climate.
Daniel Chigaru, the ZITF general manager told a press conference
postponing the fair would be “too expensive”.
Two weeks after the harmonised elections, only the presidential winner
has not been announced.
The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai says he won the presidential vote
But Zanu PF insists on a run-off because the party says its own
tallies show that Tsvangirai did not win more than 50% of the vote when he
beat President Robert Mugabe.
Observers say the impasse has affected business, with some postponing
major decisions until it is resolved.
“There have been rumours this year’s ZITF has been postponed,” Chigaru
said. “But this is not true because it will go ahead as planned. There has
been no indication from the Ministry (of Industry and International Trade)
that it has been postponed.”
The fair is expected to open on 22 April, with the official opening
three days later.
The guest of honour at previous fairs has been a visiting head of
state, invited by the Ministry of Industry and International Trade.
Last year, Mugabe officiated, after being reportedly snubbed by
leaders of neighbouring countries.
Chigaru said this year only nine countries were expected to attend. He
said postponing the showcase would be an expense the company could not
By Leslie Nunu
Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:25
TALKS aimed at securing a comprehensive trade deal between Africa and
Europe are headed for the rocks as it emerged that finance and trade
ministers from Africa sought the removal of certain clauses from interim
pacts signed between the two blocs.
Trade and finance ministers met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10 days ago
and agreed that issues such as the definition of substantially all trade,
transitional periods, export taxes, free circulation of goods, national
treatment, bilateral safeguards, infant industry, non-execution clause and
the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause needed to be clarified.
The MFN clause binds its members such that countries cannot
discriminate between their trading partners by granting special favours such
as lower customs duty rate for one of their products.
If such special favours are to be granted, they must apply across all
other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members.
African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries used to enjoy
unilateral trade preferences with the EU for almost three decades under the
The Fourth Lomé Convention was replaced by the Cotonou Partnership
Agreement in 2000, which extends these unilateral trade preferences up to
the end of 2007.
Most poor nations were unable to beat the 31 December deadline and
instead signed temporary deals that run up to December in preparation for
the full Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in line with World Trade
WTO rules advocate reciprocal trade among members.
The ministers said the issues needed to be reviewed and re-negotiated
“within the context of a comprehensive and full EPA to ensure an all
inclusive comprehensive EPA that would safeguard development and regional
Already 18 African countries have initialled the Interim Economic
Partnership Agreements and have undertaken commitments to continue with the
negotiations with a view to concluding comprehensive and full EPAs.
The Ministers said the interim agreements were initiated in order “to
avoid trade disruption that could result from failure to conclude WTO
compatible arrangements by the deadline of 31 December, 2007”
The ministers proposed a road map in which the AU Commission in
collaboration with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and
Regional Economic Communities “to urgently develop a model/template of a
full EPA to serve as a guide for EPA negotiating groups, as need arises”.
The AU will encourage the negotiating groups to use the proposed
template as a guide for harmonising the texts of the comprehensive and full
EPAs with respect to areas of common interest to ensure coherence and
consistency with African agenda on regional integration, they said.
The concerns raised by African ministers come against a backdrop of
similar protests raised by civil society organisations who have already
given EPAs a wild card.
A policy series document published by the Regional Network for Equity
in Health in East and Southern Africa, the Southern and Eastern African
Trade Information and Negotiations Institute and Training and Research
Support Centre said countries under the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)
bloc would lose a staggering US$473 million on import tariff revenue.
Zimbabwe is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) that is
negotiating for reciprocal trade agreements with the EU.
African ministers raised concern that countries are set to lose as
they do not have the capacity to compete on an equal footing with the EU.
“The EU should provide adequate and predictable additional resources
beyond European Development Fund to meet adjustment costs, to support supply
side capacity and build infrastructure, regulatory capacity, competitiveness
and national and regional interconnectivity,” the declaration said
EPAs cover trade issues in six areas: fisheries; services;
agriculture; market access; development and trade related issues.
By Ndamu Sandu
Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:18
GWERU — With an economy that’s been in tatters for over 10 years,
Zimbabweans have developed a knack for identifying opportunities in
Most jobless Zimbabweans have turned to illegal trade in basic
commodities and even currency on the parallel market to earn a living.
Now, with talk of a new political dispensation, some are worried their
livelihoods could be threatened.
Gweru’s pavements, like those of all urban areas across Zimbabwe, are
filled with foreign currency dealers, and informal traders, hawking basic
commodities not readily available on the formal market. Although the
government says this is illegal, the dealers have become so daring they
carry out their business openly and even the police source their basic
commodities from the same traders.
Dealers, interviewed while at work, said they were disturbed at the
prospect of a new government actually resuscitating the economy from its
This would virtually throw them out of business.
Kudakwashe of Senga suburb, confesses he is not “very educated” and
has made a living out of dealing in foreign currency for the past three
He said he was so worried about his future he was thinking seriously
of going back to school to advance his education, and thus enhance his
prospects for a good job.
“Life is tough,” he said. “I was educated up to ‘O’ Level, but I did
not do so well. With the talk of a new government coming in, I am uncertain
about my future. Since it’s expected that with a new government the economy
would pick up and foreign currency would become available, perhaps my job as
a foreign currency dealer would disappear.
“If there is a new dispensation, I shall go back to school. I became a
foreign dealer because my mother could not afford to send me back to school
due to the skyrocketing fees.”
Another dealer, Marilyn Zhou, quit her job as a bank teller a few
She said if there was a new government she would return to formal
employment. “I had been working for the past five years but my salary was no
longer satisfactory. I could not send my children to school and it was even
difficult to feed them.
“I decided to quit my job and join the streets to buy and sell foreign
currency. But now with the prospects of a new government, it seems that the
exchange rates will become so low that maybe we won’t be able to make any
“But anyway, if that happens I will have to start looking for another
Another dealer, identifying himself only as Dube, said although he was
worried about the short-term effects of a new government on his operations
the prospect of the revival of the economy was good for all.
Dube said he was willing to work, formally, for the good of the
“I was educated up to ‘A’ Level in 1996,” he said, “and passed very
well. I’ve been earning my living through buying and selling basic
commodities. We would get the commodities from shops, put a mark-up and then
resell them. I’ve been able to take care of my family this way for the past
“But should there be a new dispensation, and the country’s economy
improves, as expected, I’m in support of this because basic commodities
should be readily available in the shops. If the economy is resuscitated and
the industrial sector is revived, I am prepared to get formally employed and
work for the good of my country.
“At my age, I should be formally employed, perhaps in the industrial
sector, doing proper work. It has not been all rosy for us as we run away
from the police every time and at times all our goods were confiscated.”
A housewife, Mai Fellistas, said although she earned a living buying
and selling scarce commodities, these should be readily available in shops.
She did not relish the idea of spending days on the pavement selling
But some dealers said they would prefer for the situation to remain as
it is so they could continue to make a living.
Still, even they appreciate a new government, respected and welcomed
by the international community, might usher in an era of the revival of the
The end of a pariah state reputation would brighten the prospects for
development in all sectors.
By Rutendo Mawere
Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:07
ONE of the reasons why Robert Mugabe’s regime will not allow the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce results of the 29 March
presidential election is not simply because he was defeated.
It is how he was comprehensively trounced that they don’t want
Zimbabweans to know. He is terrified that the whole of Zimbabwe will
understand the extent of his stunning defeat and that even his supporters
will be embarrassed.
The continued delay in announcing the results — nearly two weeks after
Zimbabweans voted — is a deliberate denial of the right to know the outcome
of their vote and a blatant violation of the Sadc electoral guidelines.
If Zanu PF had been the victor in the March polls the outcome would
not have remained a State secret. The world and the West in particular would
have been reminded that the victory was a measure of the popularity of
The inescapable conclusion on the inordinate delay is that the party
of liberation lost convincingly to the opposition. Therefore its decision to
put a lid on the results should be seen as a cynical perversion of the
struggle for freedom and justice for which so many Zimbabweans paid with
It is a major source of concern that the official results continue to
be held hostage by a cabal of political rascals and rank opportunists. Even
more worrying is the disbandment of the National Command Centre even though
there are indications some of the results could be contested. The results
are at the mercy of those whose wish is to deny the right of the people to
decide who should lead this country.
The semblance of neutrality that was afforded by the Harare
International Conference Centre venue has been dispensed with.
Against this background, the heightened presence and visibility of
armed security details on the streets and in the high-density areas amount
to a declaration of war on the people who on 29 March decided the course of
The conduct and ambivalence of the ZEC over announcement of the
outcome of the presidential vote reflects a deeply flawed approach that
scorns the people’s vote.
Clearly there is a wish that aggrieved voters take to the streets so
that security forces can find an excuse to fire on the demonstrators, while
the ensuing mayhem creates conditions ripe for a declaration of a State of
SADC leaders met in Lusaka yesterday to discuss the growing crisis in
Zimbabwe. We have learnt from the recent past not to expect too much from
the group. In March 2007 the regional leaders met in Dar es Salaam and our
leader got off lightly. In fact, he was able to claim victory! We are also
reminded that when President Levy Mwanawasa described Zimbabwe as a “sinking
Titanic” last year, his declaration did not last 48 hours. These are leaders
we are expected to believe will resolve our deepening crisis.
We hope the Lusaka meeting will not be just a briefing from Mugabe as
his publicists have claimed. Morgan Tsvangirai should also be in Zambia to
argue why the will of the people should be respected by all. The MDC had its
agents at all the polling stations and they know who the people voted for in
Mugabe should not be allowed again to mislead and mesmerise regional
leaders with his version of the reality of the 29 March presidential vote.
SADC needs to be frank with Mugabe and tell him he can’t cheat the will of
the majority who voted last month. Letting him get away with that will be
read as an African failure.
Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:04
THERE may have been a time when Zanu PF was revered as the party which
There was then still Zanu and Zapu, with their separate armed wings,
Zanla and Zipra.
They had fought the struggle under the banner of the Patriotic Front,
virtually railroaded into it by the Organisation of African Unity’s
It could have been their respective backers, their Angels during the
war — the Chinese and the Soviets — who insisted they maintain their
separate identities, perhaps for their own selfish ideological reasons.
But before the first elections, which led to independence, it was
decided they would fight separately, which pained people like Joshua Nkomo.
He had seen Ndabaningi Sithole lead a splinter group of impatient radicals
out of Zapu in 1963.
Then, in exile in Zambia, he had suffered the defection of two
long-time comrades-in-arms, George Nyandoro and James Chikerema, who went on
to form the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (Frolizi).
Now, on the eve of independence, Zanu had decided there would still be
no unity, which seemed to doom independence to an uncertain future.
It was, in the view of many historians, inevitable there would be
strife, born directly out of the decision to fight the elections separately.
So, on to Gukurahundi, in which 20 000 perished, on top of the 30 000
who had died during the fight for independence.
Is it possible this bloodshed inured the leaders against any future
blood-letting, that on the basis that “the end justifies the means”, human
life was worth only so much?
You couldn’t’ be overly sentimental about loss of life. After all, 50
000 had died in a very short time.
The soldiers, the police and the war veterans all garnered a
reputation for treating civilians as if they were in permanent combat with
them. During the state of emergency, inherited from Ian Smith, many
civilians were bashed on the flimsiest pretexts.
Still, thousands turned up to hear Robert Mugabe speak of the future
and what it held for the newly-freed people.
But most were sobered up by the savagery of Gukurahundi. They were
even more flabbergasted when Mugabe’s government initially labelled the
massacre “part of the struggle”. It was not until the Catholic Peace and
Justice Commission published its frightening report that Mugabe changed his
verdict to “a moment of madness”.
People now say it was then they decided independence was not going to
be this one long picnic in the Harare Gardens that they had initially
The government became more hostile to the people, handling them as if
they were being a damned nuisance.
Then Edgar Tekere was expelled from Zanu PF and formed his own party.
Margaret Dongo soon followed him out of the party. When Patrick Kombayi
survived an assassination attempt in 1990, Zanu PF had launched itself on
the road to perdition. By the time the MDC came on the scene in 2000, Zanu
PF had become one of the most unpopular ruling parties in southern Africa.
It hung on to power by the skin of its teeth — by dint of
intimidation, violence and murder. Mugabe himself recognized this decline,
and coined such phrases as “degrees of violence” and “bashing” to remind
detractors the party could always kill its way to power.
After 29 March, the party was firmly set on its last legs. Most people
cannot possibly miss it on the political scene, except for those who reaped
filthy lucre from its existence. The party has ruined Zimbabwe perhaps
It will probably take quadrillions of dollars to restore it to what it
was before 2000. There is absolutely nothing I can miss from the absence of
Zanu PF on the political scene. All it reminds me of is the grief of
deprivation, mostly of fundamental freedoms.
Personally, I will remember being knocked down by a CIO vehicle in
1980, a month after returning to the country from Zambia. People say it had
to be an accident, pure and simple: a journalist recently returned from
Zambia, where he had a few brushes with the two parties; a journalist who
worked in a key position for a newspaper critical of the political parties?
The newspapers’ offices were struck by a rocket in Lusaka, the
investigation of which was, by all accounts, eminently lackadaisical.
For me there is the memory of the bombing of the printing press of The
Daily News in 2001. The paper was the first independent daily to outsell
the government mouthpiece, The Herald in its entire 100-something-years of
Which reinforces the argument for an independent daily newspaper, even
though most people have completely lost faith in the government media. The
election results confirmed that the government’s nest of propaganda vipers
was ineffective in the extreme.
Yet it also reaffirms the vital role of an independent media, for
democracy to thrive.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:58
What have you got to say about your shameful pronou-ncements,
of Prisons; Paradzai Zimondi?
What will you tell your children when you get home with no money, no
job and no pride left? What will you say to the people you once tortured in
Chikurubi Prison? What will you say to your wife when the pangs of
joblessness strike? Believe me; I know how it feels. When I lost my income
due to the banning of the Daily News the effects were painful.
I only hope the new dispensation will not engage in a vengeful orgy of
the proportion I dream. Pray that there will be a pardon of criminals like
you and your pay master.
It will be improper to mention the ills brought to the people by
Mugabe leaving out the big fish in Zanu PF. The list is long with corpulent
and opulent souls; the fat ones, the rich ones, the tall ones and the
arrogant ones. These are the people who persistently oiled the wheels of
Mugabe’s Zanu PF on its onslaught on the people. These are men and women who
behaved as if Mugabe was a god who had the power to switch off their air
Patrick Chinamasa where the hell are you?
Comrade Joseph Chinotimba?
It is not a secret that Mugabe behaved in the way he did because he
had so many “male wives” who kowtowed to him and belly-danced their manhood
to oblivion for a few more favours. Historians like Stan Mudenge forgot the
lessons they had learnt from history and loudly “hailed Hitler”. How could
so many men and women educated to the highest degree possibly behave like
lovelorn morons? In their educated-ness, they allowed Mugabe to violate them
in a fashion very foreign to Zimbabwe.
Their uneducated behaviour puzzled our brains. Their actions were too
unintelligent for educated people.
Perhaps the minimally educated ones also deserve some mention. This
goes to my uncles and aunties who by fate or by design found themselves
punching the air with clenched fists in response to demeaning slogans
chanted by Mugabe. How could men and women who had suffered at the hands of
this vile character suddenly turn around and adore him as if he was the
provider of their short lives? I particularly recall my maternal uncle; call
him the Duke of Lupane! He was one man who could not come to terms with
Mugabe’s victory in 1980. He hated all that Mugabe stood for with gusto. In
1983 he was terribly tortured by Mugabe’s State security agents for being an
ex-ZIPRA fighter. In 2000 he was praising Mugabe for giving him a paltry $50
I believe it is easy for people to become their own worst enemies.
Presently, my uncle cannot bear the thought that Mugabe could be leaving
office. He cannot leave with the thought that Mugabe will soon be gone; one
way or the other. For the fun of it and without being sadistic, I am obliged
to remind him again that just as the sun set in the Manchu dynasty; so shall
it be with the Mugabe hegemony.
The misguided acts of some relatives of mine are equally matched by
some women in the Zanu PF women’s league. I hate to recall the way they used
to wriggle their bottoms in sexually suggestive manner to the Il Duce
Mugabe. I have vivid memories of the likes of Vivian Mwashita, Shuvai Mahofa
and others of similar ilk. I recall their dances for the dictator and their
disrespect for their husbands.
I cannot rebuke the youth any more than I have done the women. Save
for the grown up youths like the late Border Gezi, Elliot Manyika, Saviour
Kasukuwere and Absolom Sikhosana; the rest were young gullible souls whose
youthful lives were exploited by Mugabe’s quest for total political
domination. Some of them are beyond redemption yet the majority may still be
rehabilitated in a friendly fashion.
The need to redeem Zimbabweans from the mess they have been landed
into by Mugabe cannot be over-emphasised. We are a traumatised nation that
needs slow but intensive rehabilitation. We have been turned into beggars,
robbers, thieves, liars, killers, murderers, sorcerers, hoodlum and
destitute. We are now what we were never meant to be and never wanted to be.
While the people get rehabilitated, Mugabe has to face the fullest wrath of
All other considerations made, drastic measures have to be taken
against Mugabe and his inner-circle. Such action will be a reminder to
future leaders of the consequences of dishonourable governance.
Sunday View with Masola Wa Dabu dabu
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:56
THE lengths to which the Zanu PF regime is going to establish whatever
remains of the legitimacy of its authority over Zimbabwe are truly shocking
and in many ways embarrassing.
In a piece entitled Cabinet Still Functional in The Herald of 10 April
2008, Justice Bharat Patel, the Acting Attorney-General (AAG), is reported
to have given a legal opinion that the “dissolution” of the Cabinet on 27
March 2008, was no more than “administrative practice” with no effect on the
tenure of its members.
This article questions both the legal and moral legitimacy of the
continued authority of ministers appointed by President Robert Mugabe.
I have to acknowledge that The Herald may have been selective in its
representation of the AAG’s opinion so that it probably omitted some of the
more unfavourable and cautious advice that the honourable man may have
The AAG is quoted as having opined that “the reconstitution of Cabinet
after its ‘dissolution’ is not attended by any constitutional formality and
likewise the Cabinet’s reconstitution may be effected by dint of
administrative practice” (sic).
One can understand that Zanu PF is frantically trying to get out of
the hole it dug for itself by re-asserting its authority using the State
But with respect, it is not correct to suggest that there is no
formality attendant upon the “reconstitution” of the Cabinet. The Cabinet is
a Constitutional body established in terms of Section 31G of the
Constitution and its “reconstitution” cannot simply be reduced to the status
of a mere administrative matter.
It is clearly stated that a member of the Cabinet holds office at the
President’s pleasure and that in terms of S. 31G (3) before taking office he
has to take and subscribe an oath before the President or some other person
in a form set out under Schedule 1. When he dissolved the cabinet he was
exercising his (dis)pleasure, to disappoint those who were in his cabinet.
If he must re-appoint them they, surely, should go through the
rigmarole of subscribing and taking the oath as required by the
Constitution. But, of course, we know the embarrassment that this formal
process carries under the present circumstances, hence the attempt to
“reconstitute” the Cabinet “administratively” so that they can continue as
if nothing has happened.
Granted the Constitution has loopholes. The AAG argues that Section
31E (2) of the Constitution states that a person may hold Ministerial office
without being an MP for a period of up to three months. In fact, this does
not give the full picture.
There is a proviso to that section, which states that a person may
continue to hold ministerial office during the period of dissolution of
Parliament until such time that Parliament first meets after that
dissolution. On this generous interpretation, this suggests that the period
during which a non-MP can hold Ministerial office can even be extended
beyond three months if there is no Parliament due to dissolution until such
time that the new Parliament first meets.
In fact, the gap is so appallingly wide that if he wanted to,
President Mugabe could appoint a new set of Ministers at this stage using
Section 31D. But this too would be embarrassing. That’s why they would
rather argue that the “dissolution” was of no effect to pretend that the old
ministers are continuing in office. Why then, it must be asked, did he
dissolve Cabinet if he intended that it would continue functioning after the
If what is being suggested were to hold, Zimbabwe may be subject to
government by a whole team of unelected individuals for quite a long period.
The trouble is that the commencement of the tenure of the new Parliament is
heavily dependent on the result of the Presidential election. This is
because Section 63(4) of the Constitution provides that the period of tenure
of parliament is deemed to commence on the day the person elected as
President enters office. Therefore, until such time that the result of the
Presidential election is known and that person enters office there is
effectively no Parliament.
I do not think Parliament intended provision for non-MPs to be
appointed to the Cabinet to be used in this way except perhaps in
exceptional circumstances. This may be where Parliament is dissolved during
the period of a war, not where such continued dissolution is by reason of
deliberate refusal to complete the electoral process. What is being proposed
is a clear abuse of the Constitution.
For surely, we have here a bizarre situation in which men and women
who lost (dismally) the people’s mandate in the recent Parliamentary
elections continue to be in charge of the country’s affairs.
The AAG wants to downgrade the “dissolution” of Cabinet to a purely
administrative practice by distinguishing it from removal under Section 31 E
Why then, it has to be asked, should the President take the burden of
ordering the “dissolution” of the Cabinet when it is not required or
intended to have any legal effect? What is the purpose and effect of what is
now described as an “administrative practice”? What administrative goal is
intended to be achieved by doing something that is apparently not required
by the Constitution? Is this not, really, the practice by which Ministerial
tenure has traditionally been ended but because it does not now suit the
circumstances in which Zanu PF finds itself it is conveniently relegated to
an “administrative practice”?
The AAG’s assertions appear to be inconsistent with certain key events
showing the way these Ministers have traditionally understood to be the
effect of “dissolution”. Let us take the case of Aeneas Chigwedere, the
erstwhile Minister of Education.
Why, it must be asked, did the Chigwedere accept appointment as
Headman Mubaiwa, itself considered a public office, if indeed he was still
holding public office as a Minister? Never mind the legality or moral basis
of his appointment, this was surely a man who should have known that he
could not hold another public office during his Ministerial tenure as
Section 31D clearly states that no Minister or Deputy Minister “shall
directly or indirectly hold any other public office or any paid office in
the employment of any person”.
How does the AAG reconcile the conduct of Chigwedere, if indeed he is
still a Minister, with the argument that his Ministerial tenure still
subsists? I suspect it will be stated that Chigwedere resigned his
Ministerial office prior to becoming a Headman, even though it defies common
sense to leave the lavish lifestyle of a Minister to take up the lesser
status of Headmanship, unless of course one argues that the call of the
ancestors, which Chigwedere alleged, was too powerful to resist.
It is hard to overlook the unique political circumstances that Zanu PF
finds itself and simply accept at face value the opinion of the AAG as
reported by The Herald.
This is a party that is in serious trouble. They did things that they
should not have been done and are now looking for Constitutional loopholes
to legitimise authority.
One is left to wonder whether this is a case, perhaps of the emperor
discovering that he really has no clothes and is, therefore, running around
to gather leaves to cover his modesty.
And at the end of it all, you have to wonder, what other
Constitutional loopholes and hideouts have they asked the AG’s Office to
Alex Magaisa is based at The University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at wamagaisa @yahoo.co.uk or email@example.com..uk
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:52
THE match was eagerly awaited. For weeks the posters depicting the
star players had been plastered all over the town.
At half-time the score supposedly stood at 10 goals to two in favour
of the Rebuilders. This score line, however, was hotly disputed by their
opponents, the Destroyers.
The captain of the Destroyers was shown a red card numerous times but
his response was to wave his wizened fist around somewhat unsteadily and to
refuse to accept the jurisdiction of the referee. Indeed, he went as far as
to tear up the red card and throw the pieces in the ref’s face, muttering
something about the colour of this card which he said was a blatant
manifestation of British imperialism.
Not only did he refuse to accept his marching orders, but also he
brought onto the pitch his more militant subs. These subs immediately
started staking out the soccer ground into plots and vowed to defend the
reoccupied land against all attempts to give it to the wrong people. They
then removed their own goalposts to ensure that no goals were scored against
their team. Their captain also alerted his players to the fact that a
trainload of light skinned racists had been seen hovering around outside the
ground, ready to re-colonise the ground as soon as the match ended.
After the half-time break, the Destroyers refused to return to the
pitch, claiming that there had been brazen match rigging. They were adamant
that the match could not resume until there had been a complete recount of
the goals by an independent arbiter who would change the score line so that
the Destroyers emerged well in the lead.
The captain of the Destroyers maintained that only the highest court
in the land could possibly determine this matter, that court being the
politburo in consultation with the joint operational command. The
Rebuilders, on the other hand, insisted that the score line posted on the
official display board must stand. They said they had even obtained a sworn
affidavit from the referee that the posted score was a true and accurate
record of the tally of goals.
Ten days later the match had still not recommenced and the fans
were becoming increasingly restive. Naturally, the captain of the Destroyers
was not prepared to tolerate such impatience and insubordination so he asked
his support groups to don their blue overalls and have a friendly chat with
the fans, using their button sticks to communicate with them.
In the meantime, nothing was heard from the match referee. In the
usual manner, people engaged in wild speculation about what had happened to
him. Some said that his whistle had been removed because he had had the
effrontery to pull up members of the Destroyers team for foul play. Others
said that the ref’s suggestion that the matter be settled by a penalty shoot
out had not only found no favour but had raised all sorts of suspicions. The
two linesmen had also been arrested and charged with the serious offence of
flagging the Destroyers’ strikers off-side despite the fact that they could
never be off-side, unlike their opponents.
But the deadlock could not be allowed to continue indefinitely. The
only way out was for the captain of state, who coincidentally happened to be
the captain of the Destroyers, to act decisively. Thus did he pass a
temporary, permanent measure banning the use in the future of a soccer match
to determine who would win the game, provided that this device might still
be used if the opposing team did not pitch up because it had been prevented
from doing so.
In imperialist America, litigation is the answer to all problems and
thus there are never any deadlocks. Take the worthy case of Merv Grazinski
of Oklahoma City. Merv had purchased a brand new 32-foot motor home.
On his first trip he was on the freeway. Merv then set the cruise
control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go into the back and
make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly the vehicle left the freeway,
crashed and overturned. Merv was not the sort of person to take this lying
down so when he was back on his feet again, he sued the manufacturer of the
vehicle on the grounds that it had caused his accident by failing to advise
him that he could not do what he did. The fair minded jury awarded him $1
750 000 plus a new motor home.
The company then put a prominent entry into their instruction manual
warning that owners of their vehicles should not do what Merv had done. They
were forced to do this just in case there were any other complete morons who
might do the same thing as Merv.
But perhaps we are not too far behind the yanks, as we too seem to
Hypocrisy cost MDC outright poll victory
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:49
AS the nation continues with the long wait for presidential election
results, Zanu PF candidate Robert Mugabe is already preparing for a run-off.
Anything can happen during the campaign for the run-off. As I write this
letter I have strong memories of the Bikita West by-election in 2000.
I am not only worried about prospects of a run-off, but I am also very
sad that this is one election we could have embarrassed the dictator and his
surrogates once and for all.
Politicians must desist from pursuing personal agendas at the expense
of the nation. This is the biggest lesson we draw from this election as the
The first major step towards splitting the 2008 election took place at
Harvest House on 12 October 2005 when the MDC split following disagreements
over whether to participate in Senate elections or not.
As far as the Senate issue is concerned, hypocrisy and double
standards have been exposed, as none of the two MDCs was “anti-Senate” this
time around. I am not opening up old wounds, but I am highlighting the fact
that those wounds still need healing.
I believe it was insincere for one side of the MDC to label the other
side a protagonist of Zanu PF for advocating participation of the party in
the Senate elections when debate had been opened to accommodate diverse
views. And only two years down the line you go around the country urging
people to vote for your candidates as senators — a “Zanu PF project”. What
I was surprised last week when I bought a copy of a local weekly
newspaper and I came across an article that said the MDC (Morgan Tsvangirai)
was in negotiations with officials from Mavambo aimed at finding a working
relationship with Dr Simba Makoni during the campaign for the presidential
I believe that as politicians we must be honest and sincere in our
conduct and desist from cheap and false propaganda. Why should opposition
forces be scoring points against each other? Two years ago Tsvangirai’s team
dismissed the Arthur Mutambara camp as a side-kick of Zanu PF for having
participated in the Senate, but today they find themselves with 24 senators.
Was the agenda about the Senate or splitting the party? Then only two
weeks ago the electorate was told the Mutambara group had re-affirmed its
position as a Zanu PF side-kick by working with Makoni, but today the same
architects of that propaganda are trying to find a way of working with the
same Makoni, whom they labelled Zanu PF (B) in their campaigns.
What have we achieved now by our shameless tactics of seeking to score
points against our own brothers and sisters at the expense of the real
opponent? Yes, the point has been proven, Tsvangirai is 10 times more
popular than both Mutambara and Makoni combined. But is that the point we
seek to prove?
What has been proven is that united, Mugabe and Zanu PF can be
destroyed beyond recognition, yet divided the dictator and his bootlickers
can still have breathing space from which they can still direct their
venom — a violent campaign.
Our efforts should be united towards sending the dictator packing. Let’s
have the energy to make mockery coffins for Chris Pasipamire (Zanu PF) not
Job Sikhala (MDC-Mutambara).
In situations where opposition parties seek to remove a dictator, they
must all accommodate one another by avoiding contesting fellow opposition
comrades. The bigger opposition parties must give opposition activists such
as Margaret Dongo and Fay Chung who may not want to be in the MDC for some
reasons the opportunity to contest for parliamentary seats. We may have
divergent views but there is more that unites us than that which divides us.
I hope when the run-off comes, the majority opposition will not seek
support from the “smaller” Mutambara faction and the Mavambo formation for
selfish reasons. They must do so in the realisation that big and small, we
all need to work together to send Mugabe to a long overdue rest.
Let's pray for Zimbabwe
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:47
TO Zimbabweans right round the globe, it’s time not to lose hope but
to pray. Let’s unite to defeat the devil in our nation. If you can fast it’s
The devil is trying to bring war and confusion but we will stop this
through prayer. We are not asking God for anything because prophecy has gone
forth already. Instead we will declare what we want to see happen in our
nation. The Bible says: “The kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent
ones will take it by force.”(Matthew 11:11-12).
We are taking the prosperity and peace of Zimbabwe by force. The
forces that have held Zimbabwe in bondage have to bow down to the name of
Jesus now! We are going to dispatch angels to make sure that God’s agenda
for Zimbabwe will come to pass. We are going to dispatch angels to stop any
violence and expose any wicked plan of the devil and to make sure any such
plans are frustrated. The enemies of Zimbabwe will destroy one another.
Prayer: “Father in the Name of Jesus we thank you for Zimbabwe! I
declare that no weapon formed against Zimbabwe shall prosper. The hand of
God is upon our nation. I frustrate every wicked plan of the enemy against
Zimbabwe. I declare peace, order and prosperity in Zimbabwe. I command
angels of peace and order to surround the nation of Zimbabwe. Every wicked
plan of the enemy is exposed and God’s will for Zimbabwe will prevail. Every
plan to defeat the course of justice will be stopped by the angels of God.
The enemies of Zimbabwe are getting weaker and weaker and their plans will
not come to pass.”
People's march to Uhuru unstoppable
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:46
FAILURE by ZEC to announce results of the Presidential election is a
manifestation of the extent of shock on the part of the “Old Man” and his
This time let all progressive forces refuse to be cowed by a few
“senior army personnel” and misguided so-called “war veterans” who think
they can stand in the way of a “New Beginning”.
The people have spoken and Morgan Tsvangirai must now take over. Let
people like “Your Governor” know that the net is closing in despite the
final looting I understand he and his surrogates have embarked on; pending
their inevitable departure!
Shame on them for trying to prop up a regime that was undoubtedly on
its knees. Meantime I urge Zimbabweans to remain calm while we watch the
next move by these thugs. Should the silence on the results continue up to
Independence Day, we must refuse to be addressed by a “fraudster” by staying
To army officers and policemen who continue to be overzealous, be
warned that Zimbabweans are watching; and they know who you are and where
“Comrade” Reuben and Ladies, Judith & Lillian M, you can also still
join the “Freedom Train”.