Staff Reporter 18 hours 31 minutes ago
HARARE - Under-fire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) claims over 60 000
new voters have registered in time for this year’s polls while about 345 400
names of deceased people have been struck off the national voters’ roll in
the last five months.
The latest developments bring the total number of registered voters to
almost 5, 7 million.
In 2008, the national voters’ roll stood at 5 934 769. The figure had been
trimmed to 5 589 355 by last November after which it rose to 5 651 600.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, said
many Zimbabweans were showing interest to register as voters as the
harmonised elections drew closer.
She said contrary to claims by some political parties that the roll was full
of dead people, the voters’ register was being updated constantly.
“We are noticing a growing interest to register as voters. Currently, there
are 5 651 600 voters registered on the national roll,” she said.
“Our voters’ roll is not static, but, is updated from time to time to
accommodate additions and removals.
Voter registration is continuous and
people can register as voters at the various centers across the country.”
Justice Makarau said the mobile voter registration exercise, which was
expected to begin in January this year, would be rolled out once funds were
available adding that her commission was ready to run this year’s
“As soon as our funding position permits, it is the intention of ZEC to
ensure that the Registrar-General of Voters embarks on a mobile voter
registration exercise so that we bring registration to the people rather
that requesting them to travel to registration centres.
“ZEC is prepared to hold an election in accordance to the Electoral Law as
soon as proclamation of the polling is gazetted. ZEC requires adequate time
to prepare for elections within the time frame laid by the law; whatever
number of days that may translate into.”
Responding to allegations that the March 16 referendum outcome was
inaccurate, Justice Makarau said the commission had not received any formal
objection to the referendum result.
“In terms of the Electoral Law, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has the
sole responsibility to announce the results and anybody who purports to do
so will be acting contrary to the law.
“In fact, the Chief Elections Officer is legally authorised to announce
election results. Any other announcements are not only unlawful but without
any legal force or effect,’’ she added.
Zimbabwe is due to hold harmonised elections this year following the March
16 referendum which endorsed the Draft Constitution. Although prospective
voters have been registering at designated centres, mobile registration,
which usually draws much larger numbers, has been on hold owing to a lack of
Meanwhile, three members from the National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) in
Bulawayo, who were arrested on Wednesday over a voter mobilisation exercise,
were released on the same day without charge.
Garikai Mhendo, Lucky Mutiti, and a third member identified only as
Mayibongwe, were released Wednesday evening, after spending the whole day
being interrogated by officers at Pumula Police Station.
It is understood that the police quizzed the trio over their motives for
conducting the voter awareness exercise.
Liberty Bhebhe, who heads the NYDT, told media from Washington that his
colleagues were arrested on allegations that they were buying Econet mobile
phone lines for youths to enable them to register.
However, no evidence of this was found forcing the police to release the
three who were represented by Bulawayo lawyer Nontokozo Dube-Tachiwona.
“As a youth organisation most of our members are young people who do not own
homes or properties. As a result, providing proof of address is difficult
for them especially when they have to register as voters,” Bhebhe said.
Concerned that this was affecting eligible residents’ participation in
electoral processes, the NYDT devised a plan which involves using sim-card
certificates issued by mobile phone network Econet, which contain acceptable
proof of residence.
It was during the process of encouraging residents to use these certificates
to register that Mhendo, Mutiti, and Mayibongwe were arrested outside Pumula
The housing office doubles up as the Registrar-General’s office where
residents from Pumula and the surrounding residential suburbs can register
As reported by SW Radio Africa Wednesday, a lot of tenants in the suburb are
lodgers (a scheme where landlords sublet rooms to tenants) and therefore
face problems getting the letters confirming their tenant-status from
This is not the first time that the NYDT has been targeted by the police
over its voter and civic education efforts.
In February, heavily armed officers raided the organisation’s offices
looking for ‘illegal voter registration certificates’. This was in response
to a nationwide campaign by the Trust, which was encouraging youths to
register to vote in the March constitutional referendum and the forthcoming
However the officers went away empty-handed, with a threat to return at a
later date: “We suspect the police were just after frustrating our work and
these latest arrests are meant to intimidate and harass us.
“There is nothing illegal in encouraging and educating citizens,
particularly young people, about their voting rights ahead of a crucial
general election,” Bhebhe said.
Sunday, 14 April 2013 15:05
HARARE - At least 100 people have succumbed to malaria since January, with
over a fifth of the deaths recorded last week alone.
Officials say the majority of the cases were recorded in Manicaland
Statistics just released by the ministry of Health and Child Welfare show
that about 200 000 malaria cases have been reported since the beginning of
According to the statistics, 19 536 cases and 21 deaths were recorded last
“Of the cases reported 3 417 (17,5 percent) and five deaths were (people)
under the age of five years,” reads the report.
Mutare was the most affected with six deaths, followed by Chimanimani, which
recorded three deaths last week.
“The provinces which reported the highest number of malaria cases were
Manicaland (8 393) and Mashonaland Central (4 409),” reads the report.
Mutoko, Buhera and Makonde were third highest with two fatalities each. In
Harare two people died, one at Harare Hospital and another at Parirenyatwa
Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Chirimhanzu and Bindura recorded one death each.
Officials say while government and other stakeholders have been focussing on
issues such as HIV and cholera, malaria is fast growing into a silent
Donors under the Global Fund have for the past decade dedicated a fund for
malaria prevention and treatment. Reports suggest government and development
partners have distributed over 20 000 mosquito nets in the most vulnerable
But this could be too little for a country with a population of over 12
million spread across provinces which are vulnerable to the disease.
Figures show that malaria cases are on the rise.
The 13th week of 2012 had about 12 000 cases reported compared to this year’s
In the first quarter of 2009, 329 people were killed by the disease from 267
396 reported cases.
Zimbabwe’s health sector is suffering from funding shortages following a
decade of political and economic turmoil that resulted in some hospitals
being shut while prevention and treatment programmes received a knock.
Many of the institutions have since opened after the formation of a
coalition government in 2009, with donors providing most of the funding as
government struggles with underfunding and what many see as warped
prioritisation of available resources.
In the case of malaria, some health experts argue that communities can help
combat the disease if they become keen on self-care.
A study last year by the programme manager for non communicable diseases,
Lillian Muchena examining the relationship between Malaria prevention and
cleanliness affirmed the effectiveness of good self-care. - Wendy Muperi
Sunday, 14 April 2013 15:10
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF is teetering on the brink of
collapse in Manicaland province after the party yesterday overwhelmingly
voted to have the provincial structure, which is embroiled in corruption and
factionalism, to be dissolved.
The turbulence in the former ruling party, not only in Manicaland but across
other provinces, has left the former guerrilla movement reeling and
disintegrating right before a crunch election which could be held as early
as end of June.
Informed sources told the Daily News that a fire-fighting meeting in Mutare
agreed that the provincial executive should be dissolved since it was
failing to further the interests of the party.
“The view of the majority was that the province should be dissolved because
it has failed to run the province. I can assure you that it is going to be
dissolved. Members of the province indicated that they are even prepared to
resign,” said a source within Zanu PF who attended yesterday’s meeting.
At last week’s politburo meeting, Zanu PF deferred announcing guidelines for
primary elections as in-fighting took centre stage, forcing Mugabe to
dispatch a special team led by national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo to
probe in-fighting in the troubled province of Manicaland.
Khaya Moyo yesterday said his team would make its presentations to the party
He refused to shed more light.
In Manicaland, Madiro and Zanu PF women’s league chairperson Oppah
Muchinguri are up against Mutasa, who is the fourth most powerful person in
Zanu PF. Sources said the move to dissolve the provincial executive would
strengthen Mutasa’s bid to pack the provincial structure with his own
Although Mutasa refused to speak on the matter yesterday, sources in the
party said he proved at the meeting that he was the most senior politician
in the province, which Zanu PF is losing to the MDC.
“They want to set up an interim committee and co-opt many people, including
war veterans who will work for the party ahead of elections. Obviously,
those in court like Madiro are ineffectual and they should be replaced,”
said a source close to Mutasa.
The in-fighting raises questions about Mugabe and Zanu PF’s preparedness for
an election likely to be the hardest fought since independence from Britain
Insiders say the Manicaland chaos is just a tip of the iceberg in Mugabe’s
crisis-torn party amid indications that the party’s structures across the
country are in disarray before a do-or-die election that insiders fear could
consign the liberation war movement into the dustbin of history.
They say Manicaland province is simply turning into the epicentre of the
unfolding tsunami which has seen most provinces struggling to keep a united
front that Mugabe badly needs to beat Tsvangirai without resorting to
violence and rigging.
The insiders say the situation in Manicaland mirrors the national picture,
with Zanu PF embroiled in massive in-fighting caused by factionalism which
has its roots in the war to succeed Mugabe, who at 89 could be contesting
his last election.
In a veiled admission that all was not well within the party, the politburo
last week unilaterally demoted its Bulawayo provincial chairperson Killian
Sibanda to the position of deputy chairperson with Callistus Ndlovu taking
over as provincial boss.
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Sunday, 14 April 2013 15:09
HARARE - Gone are the days when President Robert Mugabe would unilaterally
run the country, including calling for elections, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai told his supporters in Chiredzi yesterday.
Tsvangirai, who formed the coalition government with bitter rival Mugabe
after marginally winning the March 2008 elections and boycotting a
subsequent run-off due to violence, said the power-sharing Global Political
Agreement (GPA) had severely curtailed Mugabe’s hold on power.
Under the agreement, Mugabe has to consult Tsvangirai on key decisions such
as election timing.
Addressing thousands of MDC supporters in Chiredzi yesterday, the former
trade union leader described Mugabe’s public pronouncements of a June 29
general election as a “hallucination”.
Tsvangirai, who had to intervene to stop Mugabe from smuggling into the High
Court the June 29 poll plot, yesterday said the former guerrilla leader is
hoodwinking his supporters as he is aware that under the GPA, he has been
stripped of power to act without consulting other players.
“Mugabe and I will agree on the election date. Mugabe knows that he cannot
declare a date unilaterally,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai, who prefers a September 16 general election, said polls would
only be held after the full implementation of the GPA. The reforms include
media and security sector realignment.
“We do not hate the police or the army but we want them to be professional,
non-partisan and apolitical,” he said.
Tsvangirai, whose duel with Mugabe is likely to be the main attraction
during the general election, promised cheering loyalists that this time
around the vote “will not be stolen as was the case in 2008”.
“We are here in Chiredzi to prepare for a new beginning. You will deliver
the victory and you have a job to make sure that the journey we started in
1999 will be achieved as you know that the vote was stolen from us in 2008,”
“At the congress in 2006, we agreed to pressurise Mugabe and Zanu PF to the
negotiating table. Our main objectives were a new constitution then a free
and fair election but there was a price to pay. Others were killed while
others were raped but we took the sacrifice,” said Tsvangirai.
Civil society, churches and Tsvangirai’s MDC say over 200 people were killed
in the violence that followed Mugabe’s March 2008 first round poll defeat.
Thousands were maimed while others fled their homes to become refugees in
their own country, he said, adding that the formation of a coalition
government was meant to clip Mugabe and his militant backers.
“We had to figure out how to handle a dictator using democratic means. We
didn’t want war. We now have a new constitution which will introduce a new
democratic political culture,” said Tsvangirai.
Last month, Tsvangirai and Mugabe agreed to a new constitution, which among
other things curtails imperial presidential powers, guarantees civil
liberties and gives women an advantage over men in elections and issues such
as the death penalty.
With millions of Zimbabweans still unemployed, Tsvangirai said the new
constitutional dispensation would address such challenges.
“The four years we have spent in the Government of National Unity (GNU) have
been useful in soft landing Zimbabwe’s crisis. These years in government
have shown that we are able to deliver. We encourage people to register and
vote in the coming elections,” said Tsvangirai.
“We must all mobilise to register and vote to complete the change. It is not
Zanu PF that can solve our problems because they were the ones who destroyed
“The MDC can create jobs, which can bring investment and make the economy
functional,” he said.
Sunday, 14 April 2013 14:57
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans should go for a general
election on June 29. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai argues it can only be
on September 16. And now, Zimbabwe has a third alternative.
The smaller MDC formation led by Industry minister Welshman Ncube says
Nothing exposes the wide fissures within the shaky coalition than the
differences over election timing.
All three parties in the coalition agree that their union is untenable and
elections should be held to end the “monster” administration. But it seems
that is where the consensus ends.
Ncube’s party, which had been silent on election timing all along, has
thrown its dates.
Party secretary general Priscilla Misihairambwi- Mushonga says Mugabe’s
demands for a June 29 election are a “mere dream”.
Speaking during a debate on elections in Bulawayo on Friday Misihairambwi-
Mushonga said her party had settled for August 26 as the ideal election
“We would like the elections to be held on August 26 and the (presidential
election) run-off on September 26,” she said.
“In coming up with this date we factored issues to do with the hosting of
the United Nations World Tourism Organisation(UNWTO) general assembly and
the legal requirements in accordance to the law,” Misihairambwi-Mushonga
said. Zimbabwe is co-hosting the UNWTO with Zambia from 24 to 29 August.
Tapiwa Mashakada, the deputy secretary in Tsvangirai’s MDC told the same
debate that the nation must not gamble with the hosting of the UNWTO, hence
the elections should be held in September.
“We cannot hold the elections in August because of the UNWTO. Hence we can
only hold elections in September,” Mashakada said.
Mashakada said a September election would allow for the realignment of a
raft of laws with the new constitution.
Commenting on the country’s state of preparedness to hold a free and fair
election, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chief elections officer
Utoile Silaigwana said the body is ready provided the State fully funds the
He said political parties should ensure a free-fair electoral environment.
Speaking to the Daily News on the sidelines of the debate, National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations national chairperson Effie
Ncube said Zimbabwe will only be ready or an election if institutional and
legislative reforms are implemented.
“Zimbabwe is not at all ready for an election. We still need electoral,
institutional, political and legislative reforms. While the intention is
there on the part of some actors; the key actor, Zanu PF is not ready to
allow Zimbabweans the freedom to choose,” Ncube said. - Nyasha Chingono
FOR more than a decade African governments have rolled out the red carpet
for Chinese investors, trading oil, coal, iron ore and other resources for
badly needed ports, roads and railways.
But policymakers and executives, worried the flood of cheap Chinese imports
is sapping Africa's own manufacturing potential, say the continent must
drive harder bargains with China.
The time has come, some say, to jettison the view of Beijing as Africa's
benevolent partner, bound by a common resistance to the meddling West.
"The sad reality is that they are not comrades. Their companies are there to
make profits like everyone else," Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti
told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit this week.
"The African textile industry has basically collapsed because of cheap
Chinese imports ... Africa needs China but let's create an equitable
China's trade with Africa has surged from about $10 billion in 2000 to $166
billion in 2011, with much of that an exchange of African minerals for
Chinese manufactured goods.
Nigerian Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi warned last month it was time
for Africans to wake up to the realities of their relationship with China.
"It is a significant contributor to Africa's deindustrialization and
underdevelopment," he said in an opinion piece in the Financial Times that
ruffled feathers in Beijing.
Even in South Africa, the continent's largest and most developed economy,
manufacturing accounts for just 15 percent of GDP. It is even lower
elsewhere, under 11 percent in Kenya and 10 percent in Nigeria.
Africa to blame?
Part of the fault may lie with African policymakers, for not demanding
enough from their Chinese counterparts at the bargaining table.
"If you allow the Chinese to come and rape you and take whatever they do
because you're just looking at the money they bring, and if you're looking
on a short-term basis, the country will suffer, there's no two ways about
it," said Sipho Nkosi, CEO of South African mining company Exxaro Resources.
Africa must demand that China transfer skills and technology to the
continent instead of allowing it to simply export raw materials, he said.
For some African politicians, part of China's attraction lies in its
unwillingness to criticize local governments over human rights or
corruption, unlike the West.
"You can't blame the donor only. You need to blame the receiving government
as well," said Elias Masilela, the chief executive of South Africa's
government pension fund.
African governments also needed to do more to put in place the
infrastructure - including power and transport - that can support a domestic
manufacturing industry, speakers said.
Sensitive to the criticism, China has been careful to frame its role in
Africa as one that is mutually beneficial.
"Africa had a long colonial history and should know the nature of
colonialism," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last month in
response to Sanusi's comments.
"Comparing China-Africa cooperation to the old colonial Western powers lacks
any sense of logic."
Beijing has also responded with a charm offensive to ease concerns about its
role on the world's poorest continent, including lobbying for South Africa's
addition to the group of developing countries now called BRICS.
President Xi Jinping last month visited Africa on his first trip abroad as
While Xi outlined his Africa policy as a partnership among equals, China
clearly holds the cash: it is offering $20 billion of loans to the continent
between 2013 and 2015.
China's strength in low-cost, large-volume manufacturing has also helped
some local industries, most notably telecoms, where handsets and equipment
from the likes of Huawei and ZTE have made mobile phones affordable for
millions of Africans.
"It probably has been more beneficial if one looks at it from our industry,"
said Sifiso Dabengwa, chief executive of South African telecommunications
company MTN Group, told the Summit.
"They have driven prices down quite significantly."
Sunday, 14 April 2013 15:10
HARARE - As the election season heats up, MPs have all but withdrawn from
Harare to keep permanent base in their constituencies in a bid to ward off
Some MPs last visited their constituencies’ five years ago. But, thanks to
the election season, they seem to have found their “connection” to the
Many are facing stiff competition from newcomers, hence the rush by sitting
MPs to appease potential voters.
Zanu PF and MDC, the leading political parties in the country, are in the
process of selecting candidates for the crunch polls although the Zanu PF
party is yet to kick-start the process owing to deep-rooted factionalism.
The parliamentary highlight is perhaps the decision by some MPs from
Matabeleland Region, who entered the Seventh Parliament on an MDC ticket
under Welshman Ncube to cross the floor and join the MDC led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The “rebel” MPs who initially dumped Ncube for Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara recently submitted their credentials seeking to represent the
Following the defection from Ncube the MPs managed to continue their tenure
in the Seventh Parliament after Mutambara wrote letters to the Speaker of
the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo and senate president Ednah Madzongwe,
advising them to disregard attempts by Ncube-led MDC to have legislators
fired from Parliament for allegedly crossing the floor claiming that they
belonged to his faction.
Nomalanga Khumalo the deputy Speaker of Parliament (Umzingwane), Dalimazi
Khumalo (Lupane) Kembo Dube (Umzingwane) Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South.),
Thandeko Mkandla MP for (Gwanda North) all ditched the crisis-torn smaller
MDC formation to join forces with the mainstream MDC.
Mkandla and Dube told the Daily News that they joined the Tsvangirai-led MDC
since it has a realistic chance of ending Mugabe’s rule joining three more
MPs who defected from Ncube in 2010.
Abdenico Bhebhe (Nkayi South) Njabuliso Mguni (Bulilima East) and Norman
Mpofu (Lupane East), whose applications to stand in the primary elections in
Tsvangirai’s MDC have also been accepted, were the first MPs to come out in
the open ditching Ncube and Mutambara — and were subsequently expelled from
Reasons for defection.
Dube justified his crossover saying he was obeying the wishes of people in
his constituency, who wanted to vote for a united MDC under the leadership
“People in my constituency wanted me to re-join the main MDC. I did that by
submitting my CV to represent the constituency. We need a formidable force
to win the coming elections so I had no option but to follow their
dictates,” said Dube.
He also said Ncube was difficult to work with and did not trust them as
“We had been having difficulties in working with Ncube and this is why we
decided to re-join our colleagues in the MDC T,” said Dube.
Mkandla also shares Dube sentiments.
Ncube’s faction response
MDC Chief Whip Edward Mkhosi dismissed the MPs as rebels who have been
dismissed by the party leadership.
“These MPs were no longer working with us in Parliament as we have dismissed
them from our party. They were not adding any value to us and they were
working with Tsvangirai. We are not going to miss them,” said Mkhosi.
Mkhosi said other MPs namely Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, (Bulilima West) Siyabonga
Ncube (Insiza) Patrick Dube (Gwanda Central) and senators, Believe Gaule
(Tsholotsho) David Coltart (Khumalo) and Lutho Addington Tapela
(Bulilima-Magwe) were still part of Ncube’s political party.
Kurauone Chihwayi deputy spokesperson for Ncube’s MDC faction said they are
not bothered by the departure of these rebel legislators.
“We are united and not going to mourn these MPs who are rebels and political
‘prostitutes’ that have joined the MDC. Ncube will not hesitate to punish
anyone found politically prostituting and working as a rebel against his
party, “said Chihwayi.
Meanwhile, this week parliamentary portfolio committee on Natural Resources
and Environment held a two-day workshop for legislators to familiarise
themselves with climate and environmental issues.
Dube, who is the chairperson of the committee, told delegates at the
workshop that it is important for the local community to understand climate
matters as weather patterns are rapidly changing.
SW Radio Africa transcript
SW Radio Africa’s Violet Gonda’s guest on the Hot Seat programme is Njabuliso Mguni, one of three former legislators engaged in a tug of war with President Robert Mugabe over election dates in the Supreme Court. Why do they want to pursue a case that will only give them a month in parliament if by-elections are held? Are the three, who plan to also contest as MPs for the MDC-T in general elections, creating confusion in opposition ranks and giving ZANU PF an advantage and an excuse to call for general elections by June – a timeline opposed by both MDC formations?
Broadcast: 11 April 2013
VIOLET GONDA: My guest on the Hot Seat programme is Njabuliso Mguni, one of three former legislators from Matabeleland engaged in a tug of war with president Robert Mugabe in the Supreme Court. Mguni, Abednico Bhebhe and Norman Mpofu are trying to force Mugabe to call for by-elections in constituencies they used to represent following their expulsion from the Ncube led MDC after they were accused of supporting the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. High Court Judge Justice George Chiweshe recently ruled in Mugabe’s favour saying the holding of by-elections now would be costly and unnecessary because the life of Parliament would end by June 29th. Mugabe also argues there are about 40 vacant constituencies and he’d have to hold by-elections in all these areas and that there are no resources to hold mini elections on top of general or harmonized polls. I started by asking Mr Mguni for an update on the Supreme Court challenge.
MGUNI: Well I’m sure Zimbabweans have been following this case from 2009 when we were expelled for the reasons that we stated. Normally and constitutionally one would have expected that the president of the country would have declared re-elections or would have called for elections within 90 days but that never happened and as a result, we are forced to approach the courts for redress of this situation on behalf of our constituencies. And let me say out clearly without any ambiguity that whatever action we took to challenge Mugabe to court, we would have taken Mugabe to court so that to force a by-election, we were doing that on behalf of our constituencies that we represent – because constitutionally, each and every constituent has got a right to be represented and we felt as representatives for the people that our people have been robbed, they could not go for all those years without any representation. So as it is now, we are actually fighting the war in the courts and we continue to fight.
GONDA: This case seems to be dragging on and on. Why didn’t you appeal over a year ago when the High Court first gave an extension?
MGUNI: Well our understanding was, remember this case had actually started from the High Court then it went to the Supreme Court, it was thrown back to High Court and to High Court for whatever reason – I don’t know I’m not a lawyer because we have employed people to do the thinking on our behalf. We understand the High Court had actually made an agreement with Robert Mugabe to call the dates by the 30th of March. So that was our understanding that by that date Mugabe would have announced the dates for the by-election.
GONDA: High Court Judge Justice Chiweshe said holding by-elections right now would be costly and also unnecessary because the life of parliament would end by June 29th. What’s your reaction to this?
MGUNI: Well that was never the contention. The contention was that the law has been broken and the law stated clearly and categorically that elections must be held within 90 days and that each and every constituent has got a right to be represented. Being a layman, without any legal background, my simple understanding is that those issues of inability, costly and so on are not enshrined in the constitution; they will just be personal interpretation from a learned judge, not what the law actually says. But the law talks about the three months and all the constituencies have got the right to be represented – so I don’t know where he was getting that one from. I think that was just his own opinion but that doesn’t exist in law.
GONDA: Now if the Supreme Court rules in your favour President Mugabe will have to start the process of calling for by-elections and correct me if I’m wrong – it will take 40 days for the nomination court and there will be another 40 days from nominations to elections which means if you are elected you are likely to have about a month as an MP before parliament is actually dissolved on June 29th. Why do you then want to be an MP for just 25 days, if the president is ordered to call for by-elections immediately?
MGUNI: It’s not that we want to be MPs, that’s not the point. The point is we want to correct an anomaly, it’s just a question of principle -it’s not that we want to be MPs. We are being pushed by our own people that we must push this thing right up to the end. You know whether elections are there or not but the correct message must be sent to the system. Secondly I don’t know who says that elections are going to be on the 29th. If for argument purposes let’s say elections are going to be on the 29th, if you read our constitution in Zimbabwe it reads; ‘proclamation must be done within 90 days, and there’s a 90 day process to elections. But if you count from now the proclamation hasn’t been done – the 90 days is not even enough and it possibly rules out having any elections in June.
Remember there are 90 days for proclamation that is in our constitution, so if the president hasn’t proclaimed or even announce now the dates of elections when it is supposed to be announced within 90 days, when is he going to do that? 90 days now falls after 29th of June.
And let me say it again I did not ask to be MP, it’s not that we want to be MPs, we are just pushing a principle here that the system must be very clear. There people have been doing things that are wrong and have been left to go off scot free and we are saying we are going to challenge that, we are going to fight that – and we are simply doing that on behalf of our people. And as politicians and as leaders, if you cannot fight for yourself there is no way you can fight for people. So it must be understood in the sense of the principle. It’s not about me going to parliament or whatever, it’s not about that. A law has been broken and that issue must be addressed. Mugabe must be exposed, Mugabe must be made to feel very uncomfortable about what he has done and that there is going to be a lesson that is going to be learned in future about that.
GONDA: So your appeal is simply for a precedent to be shown that what was has happened is not right and to force the president to comply with a court order?
MGUNI: Precisely, that is what we are doing. As I said, we are political leaders and that’s one of our roles as political leaders that we must fight out systems that are wrong and try and correct things so that people out there can learn how to do things. If we are politicians and see things that are messed up and we just look at it and fold our hands and say ah okay the president has said this, the president has done that – Zimbabwe is where it is today because of such kind of thinking. People see things going wrong but don’t challenge, as a result that is why we find ourselves in this current situation.
Let me just give a simple reference about yourself – you are where you are simply because of failure of Zimbabwe to follow our own constitution. People are all over the world simply because the system has failed to follow its own laws or its own constitution – so the result is there is no order, things are just up side down, our economy is very poor, refugees all over, I think everybody is fed up of Zimbabweans. There are so many effects that come about as a result of non-constitutionalism. So we want to address that.
GONDA: On the other hand isn’t it possible that the harmonized elections will be held while your appeal is pending?
MGUNI: Well there is that possibility but I think Madam the most important thing is that the message has been sent home, the message has been driven home, Mugabe has been embarrassed enough. We will continue to embarrass Mugabe – history is going to judge him. I think we have put up a good fight. The message has been sent for those that have got ears, they have heard what is happening; for those with eyes they have seen what is happening, for those with enough brains they’ve really looked at it and interrogated and realized that Mugabe really messed up. We have really exposed him. I think we have done our part.
GONDA: I understand you are all also planning to contest as parliamentarians on an MDC ticket in general elections.
MGUNI: This is very correct. Remember I was fired simply because I supported Morgan Tsvangirai in the MDC-T when we were in parliament. And remember the background to that was Mugabe, Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube had cut a deal including, this was directed by Thabo Mbeki to close out MDC-T. So they wanted people to vote for a Speaker of Parliament that was going to be supported by Zanu PF so that the MDC-T was going to be closed out of the system. But we worked against that hence we were told we were rebels, we don’t follow the party and so on and so forth. So with that in mind there is no way we would not support the MDC-T or be candidates of MDC-T because we have got the support of our people in our constituencies. And the person who’s got the capacity to remove Mugabe is Morgan Tsvangirai the prime minister of this country.
GONDA: So how do you respond to people who say you are now creating confusion and giving Zanu PF an excuse to say ‘they have been ordered to call for by-elections so they will just call for general elections for everything,’ something that your party does not want?
MGUNI: Well I think you must make a d between facts and opinions and to me that’s an opinion and people are entitled to make their own opinion. You know it’s that kind of thinking that has brought Zimbabwe to its knees. We have been fighting for three, four years and why didn’t those people assist us to fight Mugabe so that Mugabe will actually follow the dictates of the constitution. So I don’t think that is the case. As I have said we are not really interested in the by-election but we want to send the correct message in terms of the principle. People can say whatever they want to say, I don’t know where they are getting that from but I would like to say that is an opinion, it is not a fact.
GONDA: The Prime Minister was a fourth respondent in this case and he had tried to block President Mugabe from calling for harmonized elections saying it is too soon to have polls by June. So what is the greater interest in your party – is it not to have reforms and prepare for elections since your critics say if you win this case, this will give the president an excuse to either call for mini by-elections, as there are at least 40 vacant constituencies or just have harmonized elections which your party does not want right now?
MGUNI: Well I take those as just merely scapegoats. To me as I said they are opinions and I will continue saying there are opinions. Look here madam those are two different items that we are talking about. Somebody’s hunting for a hare, the other one is hunting for a kudu, and then you say to this one who is hunting for a hare no I don’t want to hunt for a hare. If you hunt for a hare you will shoot a kudu so those are two different scenarios.
What I know is: when it comes to harmonized elections, there is a laid out road map and that road map must be fulfilled before a general election is called. So for somebody to say because there’s a by-election when the road map hasn’t been fulfilled then I don’t know what kind of thinking that is – so it means Mugabe is still in control. This is a different set-up. They should be doing their part and we’re doing our part as well. So I don’t see any conflict there. In any case if our party has a problem, it will actually tell us that is has a problem. We would not do anything that goes against our own party. I think these are just philosophies and fantasies that are coming from other quarters. My party wouldn’t have a problem in approaching us and telling us to wait and hold fire. I’m saying I haven’t been approached; nobody’s ever approached me to say okay, hold the fire. In any case we are doing it on behalf of the part of the party we are not doing it on our own. If I win the MDC has won. For the past two years we have been saying let us go for by-elections so that we test the waters and see how Mugabe is sincere in terms of reform, in terms of peace and see how the by-elections will to be conducted.
GONDA: So does this application cover all the other 40 or so vacant constituencies in the country?
MGUNI: No we are only fighting for our own constituencies, the three constituencies, – that position is very clear. But just for the purposes of trying to clear up everything people are now just bunching everything together but if they were all that interested in holding elections for the 40 constituencies, 28 constituencies, that was supposed to have been done two, three years ago. But now that we have started to talk about things, started to sort out things, trying to make Mugabe comply, people are starting to complain when they have been doing nothing about it. I’ve got a problem with that kind of thinking – that when other people are trying to sort out things others are trying to defend Mugabe.
GONDA: You said earlier on that people did not assist you to fight Mugabe to follow the constitution but do you think your party, which is also in government, has done enough about this, especially as these seats have been vacant since 2009 and there are many other vacant constituencies that have not had representatives for several years? Is it only Mugabe to blame here?
MGUNI: I’ll not comment much about that but from what I know in the constitution and what I heard from our lawyers is that it is the president who is supposed to proclaim, it is the president not the prime minister. It says the president is supposed to do that after having received the letter from the speaker. It’s the president of the country. In this case the president of the country is Robert Gabriel Mugabe this is why we are fighting against him.
GONDA: I understand that, that the president is the one who is supposed to proclaim and call for these by-elections but I’m saying what have the other partners in the unity government done to put pressure on the president, besides your action as individuals? What has your party also done because it means there are 40 constituencies in Zimbabwe that went without representation? Surely the people are the ones who have been shortchanged during this period?
MGUNI: Well I agree with you that the people have been shortchanged but I have a problem about commenting about what my party has done or said because I don’t know much about what is happening there. I think I’m not qualified to comment on that.
GONDA: But as a legislator surely you will be able to comment on the political situation in the country and these are issues that affect the people who vote for you?
MGUNI: Well this is why I’m talking about Lupane, this is why I’m talking about Nkayi and this is why I’m talking about Bulilima, because we are the people that were mandated by the people. We were given the right to represent the people, and this is why we are still fighting even today because we were elected, we were given the mandate.
GONDA: So when are you likely to receive a decision in the Supreme Court?
MGUNI: Well I’m not so sure; I haven’t heard when the Supreme Court would be sitting. I wait to be advised by our lawyers.
GONDA: Alright, thank you very much Mr Njabuliso Mguni for talking to us on the programme Hot Seat.
MGUNI: Thank you Violet, thank you so much, good day.
That prosecutors have now charged civil rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa with calling police ‘cockroaches’ shows an unexpected sensitivity. Mind you, the police do seem to be all over the place, scuttling away as soon as the light shines on them, only to regather in the dark.
But their boss Patrick Chinamasa shows more than sensitivity. He says the UN cannot visit Zimbabwe to discuss funding the elections. To check if things are ok would, in his paranoid mind, be furthering the regime change agenda. The UN must instead just hand the money over. The cockroaches will look after it (see: Chinamasa blocks UN election assessment team – http://www.swradioafrica.com/2013/04/12/chinamasa-blocks-un-election-assessment-team/).
The Vigil believes that Zanu PF is putting every obstacle in the way of fair elections and we will mark the 16th monthly 21st movement diaspora protest next Saturday by appealing to SADC to stop Zanu PF foot dragging and, in particular, its determined efforts to prevent MDC supporters registering to vote while itself engaging in vote rigging (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/old/apr11_2013.html#Z8 – Zanu PF in massive rigging jamboree).
At the same Vigil we will mark the 33rd anniversary of Zimbabwe’s Independence, joined by activists from Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Not that many Zimbabweans have much to celebrate, as Herbert Moyo made clear in an article on cockroach-infested Mbare (see: Zim Independence: Betrayal of hope – http://www.theindependent.co.zw/2013/04/12/zim-independence-betrayal-of-hope/). After the Vigil there will be one of the bi-monthly Zimbabwe Action Forums at which Vigil Founder member Ephraim Tapa will talk about his recent undercover trip to Southern Africa (For details see ‘Events and Notices’).
It was yet another sodden Vigil, raining from beginning to end. Water dripped through our tarpaulin making it difficult for people to sign our wet petitions. This winter has been particularly difficult weatherwise: freezing winds, snow and rain!
During the week a Vigil delegation (Ephraim Tapa, Fungayi Mabhunu, Rose and Dennis Benton) had a useful meeting with the Zimbabwe Desk at the UK Foreign Office. We told them that we expected rigged elections and Ephraim Tapa spoke of the tangible fear he detected during his undercover visit to Zimbabwe (see: Diaspora Diaries of 09/04/2013 – http://www.swradioafrica.com/podcasts/wordpress/?p=20668S). Ephraim said that Mashonaland East had effectively been sealed off. He found a cowed nation that had accepted its fate and predicted that disillusionment with the MDC would produce apathy during the elections.
We were assured that the British government’s only aim was to see free and fair elections resulting in a government of the people’s choice. The Foreign Office expressed confidence in the facilitation of SADC. They categorically dismissed allegations that Britain was softening its approach to Zimbabwe to reclaim economic ground lost to the Chinese. They pointed out that, in the recent easing of sanctions, the measures had only been suspended and not lifted and this was well understood by Zanu PF.
For our part we explained the activist role played by the Vigil together with our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement, both led by Ephraim. We told them all three organisations participate in our bi-monthly Zimbabwe Action Forums where we discuss ways to help those back home fight oppression and achieve true democracy. We also cautioned the Foreign Office about Zanu PF infiltration in the UK.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.
FOR THE RECORD: 39 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
· Round 16 of the Free Zimbabwe Global Campaign (FZGC). Saturday 20th April when we will also mark Zimbabwe’s Independence Day.
· Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 20th April from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. ROHR President Ephraim Tapa, recently back from Southern Africa, will talk to us about his trip. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
· ROHR Leicester Branch meeting. Saturday 20th April from 12.30 – 4.30 pm. Venue: The Brite Centre, Braunstone Ave, Braunstone LE3 1LE. For more details please contact Christopher Kamuzonde 07449150041, Pardon Gurupira 07914641784, Enniah Dube 07403439707 and Bryne Mashonganyika 07450547313.
· ROHR Milton Keynes Branch Re-launch. Saturday 27th April from 2 – 5.30 pm. Venue Coffee Hall Meeting Place (Coffee Hall Community Hall), 60 Garraways, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes MK6 5E. For more information please contact: Casper Nyamakura (07577666912), Epiphania Phiri (07426 136 124) and William Muchayi (07826311731).
· ROHR Executive meeting. Saturday 4th May from 12 noon. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For full directions check entry for Zimbabwe Action Forum.
· ROHR Birmingham Branch meeting. Saturday 11th May from 12.30 – 3.30 pm. Venue: All Saints Centre, Vicarage Road, Kings Heath B14 7RA. For more information, contact: Zenzile Chabuka 07951418577, Anne Chikumba 07857528546, Petronella Mapara 07903644612, Jane Mary Mapfumo 07412310429, Pedzisai James 07428180518 and Tecla Bandawe 07450507650.
· ROHR Southampton Branch meeting. Saturday 11th May from 12.30 – 4 pm. Venue: Swaythling Neighbourhood Centre off Broadlands Rd, Southampton SO16 3AY. For more information contact: Wellington Mukucha 07450264733, Sally Mutseyami 07969029752, Manfred Mambo 07774538359 and Taylor Madondo.
· ROHR Central London Branch meeting. Saturday 18th May from 12 – 1.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Contact Fungayi Mabhunu 07746552597. For full directions check entry for Zimbabwe Action Forum.
· Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2012 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/467-vigil-highlights-2012. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2012 Highlights page.
· The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
· Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
· Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil...
· Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
Friday, 12 April 2013 21:18
By Fidelis Butahe
The Citizen Correspondent
Dar es Salaam. As Tanzanians are eagerly waiting for the draft Constitution,
which will be released by the Constitutional Review Commission soon (CRC),
their counterparts in Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly voted in their draft
Zimbabwe’s draft Constitution which limits the presidential term and
protects a wide range of human rights needs only the endorsement of the
Parliament to become the fundamental law.
The new Constitution draft seeks to replace the current one written at
Lancaster House, London, before Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in
The Constitution is expected to be a guiding force for the general election
scheduled for late this year. It, for the first time, limits the president
to two five-year term.
However, it is not ex post facto, thus, President Mugabe, already the eldest
African leader at the age of 89, could continue to rule Zimbabwe until he
turns 99 in 2023 if he will win in the forthcoming general election.
The constitutional making process started after the violence-marred
presidential election in 2008 which resulted in a power-sharing government
between President Mugabe’s ZANU PF and Premier Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T.
Unlike the case of Zimbabwe and Kenya, the ongoing process in Tanzania was
not triggered by political unrests or turmoil. This places Tanzania in a
better position to write a Constitution which can be the ultimate solution
to Tanzania’s problems.
The Citizen on Sunday Correspondent Fidelis Butahe met with Tanzania
Constitutional Forum (TCF)chairman Deus Kibamba who went to observe the
referendum in Zimbabwe and shared the Zimbabwe experience which could be
employed in Tanzania to strengthen the constitution making process.
According to Mr Kibamba, civic education on the referendum was given only
four days before the voting day and that was largely associated with a
shortage of funds after the money which Zimbabwe asked for from donor
countries came in late.
Out of 6 million eligible voters across Zimbabwe, only over 3 million voters
participated in the referendum and above 3 million passed the draft while
only less than 180,000 people voted against it. Mr Kibamba believes voter
apathy was a result of poor civic education.
“The people of Zimbabwe casted their votes without understanding the draft
Constitution that much, they were only mobilised to vote. To avoid this in
Tanzania, the draft Constitution should be disseminated to people as soon as
possible so they can informed decisions,” he said.
Mr Kibamba also suggests civic education over the constitution making should
not left to the CRC alone, other key players such as civil society
organisations should participate and contribute to the process by educating
Absence of civil society and political party agents at polling stations was
another problem experienced in Zimbabwe. The process was only witnessed by
the staff from Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Special Committee (COPAC) and
“To avoid any foul play in Tanzania, political parties and civil society
organisations should enlist their agents to observe the voting process until
the results are made public. The agents should be allowed to participate
fully without any obstacles,” he said.
Campaigns for or against the referendum ought to be free and fair, and the
commission entrusted to supervise the process is not supposed to lean on any
side of the campaigns. That, however, was not the case in Zimbabwe whereby
COPAC travelled across the country campaigning for the draft Constitution.
“The CRC should not repeat the mistakes of COPAC, campaigns should be left
to parties and pressure groups who will debate the draft Constitution and
convince Tanzanians why they should vote for or against it,” said Mr
Once the Parliament in Zimbabwe adopts the draft Constitution, which is
likely it will be done since there will be no one to scrutinise its
implementation: “That is very tricky… they failed to learn from Kenya, to
have new and good Constitution is one thing and implementation is another
“You need a independent commission which will ensure the Constitution is
fully applied. Tanzania should go the way of Kenya and not Zimbabwe,” he
– By Simukai Tinhu
April 12, 2013
Fourteen years ago, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) launched itself onto Zimbabwe’s political scene with
great local and international fanfare. The MDC was seen as having given rise
to a new understanding of Zimbabwean politics, which sought to explain the
vulnerability of President Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National
Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU – PF). Not since independence from British rule
in 1980, had an opposition party played such a significant role in the
Southern African nation’s politics.
Indeed, for the first time ever, ZANU–PF went on to lose a majority in
parliament, and its octogenarian leader was relegated to second place after
being beaten by MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of the 2008
presidential elections. Many Zimbabweans predicted that the MDC juggernaut
would sweep to victory in the elections, which have been scheduled to take
place at the end of the coalition government (formed after the 2008
Based on the evidence of voter surveys (notably, Afrobarometer and Freedom
House) and some not-so-well-attended MDC political rallies (in comparison to
2002 and 2008 election campaigns), a feeling has developed that the MDC may
have indulged in undue optimism. Indeed, the words ‘MDC’ and ‘lose’ are
being flung around liberally these days by both local and international
Why are Zimbabwean voters deserting the MDC?
One contention is that, whilst in government, MDC politicians have been
caught up in corruption scandals, which has made some voters doubt the party’s
ability to run the country differently from ZANU-PF. Another contention is
that ZANU–PF’s populist policies, such as the campaign for the
indigenisation of foreign owned companies, have won sympathy from many
Zimbabweans, who being largely unemployed, have aspirations towards
entrepreneurialism. The MDC’s opposition to this policy has also been
propagandised by ZANU–PF as evidence that Tsvangirai’s party is against
In addition, the recently improved performance of the Zimbabwean economy, in
comparison to the period prior to the formation of the coalition government
in 2008, has been a double edged sword for the MDC. Tsvangirai’s party put
forth the argument that with the Finance and Industry ministries in its
hands, the party has successfully transformed the economy from an
inflationary nightmare to one that has consistently recorded growth
(following years of ZANU–PF’s mismanagement), and the land grab policy that
destroyed the agriculture sector (formerly the backbone of the economy).
However, restoring the economic fortunes of the country has meant the end of
the worst food shortages and tackling of hyperinflation. This means that the
previously successful message on the need to fix the economy holds less
Lastly, it appears the opposition has been unable to guard against an attack
on the person of their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. ZANU-PF has successfully
turned nasty rumours into political currency, damaging Tsvangirai’s
political fortunes. For example, the antics of the MDC leader in bed and the
caricature of him as indecisive have seen some of his ardent supporters
doubting his sincerity and capacity to lead the country.
Even Core Voters deserting MDC
These explanations suggest reasons why Zimbabweans in general are deserting
the MDC, but not its core supporters. The majority of the party’s votes have
traditionally come from urban areas and the Matabeleland and Midlands
regions. Why is it that the attitudes of voters from these areas have
Unnoticed, within the last five years, there has been a development that has
had a significant impact on Zimbabwe’s political landscape; the mushrooming
of urban based Pentecostal churches that target young urbanites doing well
economically, or those poor who aspire to do so. These groups have
traditionally been the core of the MDC support. Whereas ten years ago, the
MDC had the capacity to attract sixty thousand young urban dwellers to a
political rally, today it is the Pentecostal church leaders who get the
Led by the likes of the charismatic Emmanuel Makandiwa and Hubert Angel,
these churches have built a strong following of mostly young urbanites,
would be MDC voters. One characteristic of the groups is apathy towards
politics, particularly as a product of religious teachings, and also a
disturbing tendency towards a sort of puritanism that politics cannot
provide. These young born-again believers have a moral repulsion towards
politicians, and it is not surprising that a promiscuous presidential
aspirant will have little chance in winning their vote.
ZANU–PF has also seized on a heightened anti–western mood amongst the young
to intensify its portrayal of Tsvangirai as a front for neo-colonialists.
Buoyed by the ‘Africa Rising’ meta-narrative, this message appears to be
resonating with mostly young and educated Africans, and Zimbabweans are no
exception. Judging from the two most recent elections in Africa; Kenya and
Zambia, where Uhuru Kenyatta and Michael Sata ran campaigns based on
sustained anti–western rhetoric, the MDC might need to devise a strategy to
guard itself against being portrayed as its stooges.
The MDC’s alienation of voters from the Mateleland and the Midlands regions
appear to have been shaped by a number of factors. First, people from
Matebeleland and the Midlands state that they are dissatisfied with the MDC’s
failure to secure decentralisation of the state, both politically and
constitutionally. Second, voters from these regions, who are predominantly
Ndebele speaking, have accused Tsvangirai of not doing enough to ensure that
the issue of Gukurahundi, where 2000 civilians were allegedly killed by the
state, is resolved or at least kept in the limelight. Third, some of
Tsvangirai’s personal behaviour, such as impregnating a 23 year old girl
from Matebeleland, denying responsibility and later on admitting that he was
the father, seems to have helped reverse inroads that the party had made in
this constituency in the last 10 years.
Finally, the Matebeleland and Midlands regions have become targets of
competition by the resurrected Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU–PF), a
party that was once led by Joshua Nkomo before he was forced into a
political union with ZANU–PF, and the smaller MDC formation led by Welshman
Ncube, crowding the MDC in the process.
ZANU–PF has its problems too
There have been a number of developments within ZANU–PF, which the MDC
should use to increase its leverage and electoral punch. Most important is
President Mugabe’s age and health which remain something of a liability for
the party. It will be interesting to see how much campaigning Mugabe will be
capable of in the run up to the elections. The younger Tsvangirai should use
this opportunity to outdo Mugabe on the campaign trail.
Until recently, it was difficult to deny that ZANU–PF had a disproportionate
advantage over the nation’s most precious resource; talented politicians.
These chilly political entrepreneurs, who tossed aside democracy at the
expense of power, have masterminded ZANU–PF’s stranglehold on Zimbabwean
politics since 1980. However, some of these leaders have either recently
died (Mujuru; Mudenge) or are now old and frail (Shamhuyarira; Murerwa,
amongst others) or have deserted the party (Makoni; Dabengwa). Those who
have remained have either been thoroughly discredited (Mahoso; Moyo), or
fatigued and have withdrawn to the backstage of politics.
What are the Options for the MDC?
There are three possible options for the MDC. The first is to join a
‘coalition of the opposition’ and formulate an effective ‘grand’ campaign
strategy that would articulate the parties’ policies using nationalist
rhetoric. The advantage of creating an opposition with ZAPU–PF and the
smaller MDC formation is that the ‘coalition of opposition forces’ have a
chance at retaining votes from the Matabeleland and the Midlands. However,
this might be problematic given enmity that exists between Tsvangirai and
The second option is to scale back, and to be realistic in terms of what the
party wants to win. The MDC must decide if it wants the presidency or a
majority in parliament, or both. The reality is that winning the presidency
now seems a very difficult task, considering Tsvangirai’s tainted
leadership. Indeed, based on recent surveys, his chances are much slimmer
than in the last two elections. This leaves the MDC with one option;
recapturing the majority in parliament, this time with a much wider gap that
will give the party a shot at pushing for reformist legislation. It seems
the party will have to wait for Tsvangirai’s svengali, Tendai Biti, probably
a more capable leader, to take over if they want to win Presidency too.
The third option is simply to ignore the polls. This ‘strategic denial’
appears to be the course that the MDC has opted for so far. Such a calculus,
it appears, is based on the premise that these polls are in most cases
The shot at winning is long for the MDC
The demise of authoritarianism in Zimbabwe will surely come. But there is
little reason to think that the day is near, and even less to think that the
opposition MDC is the party that will torpedo the current dictatorship.
Today the party is more dysfunctional and commands less authority and
support than ever before, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise when it loses,
even in a free and fair election.
If the MDC wants to enter the nation’s history books, and not end up as a
footnote like Edgar Tekere’s Zimbabwe Unit Movement, they need, sooner
rather than later, to win back the hearts and minds of those Zimbabweans who
had so much hope and belief in them.
Simukai Tinhu recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an
Mphil in African Studies.
I was born into a world that was literally at war with itself. This tiny
country joined the global conflict that became known as World War Two with
an enthusiasm that was not matched by any other country in what was left of
the British Empire and now constituted the Commonwealth. At the age of four
I can recall the streets being empty of men – they were all away at war.
Eventually victory came and Europe was rebuilt by its new leadership who
together constituted some of the most extraordinary men and women ever to
have such awesome responsibility and opportunity. Russian hegemony over much
of Europe became established and the Iron Curtain fell – dividing Europe
into vastly different ideological and political spheres.
Social Democracy became the dominant political culture of much of Europe
including Germany, the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands.
Reconstructed nations looked very different to their pre war character and
Europe entered a period of protracted and rapid growth. But what many of
those who lived through this period of history did not see or appreciate was
that the world had changed and would never be the same again.
The changes laid the foundation for the conflicts of ideology and economic
policy between East and West and the rise of Marxist regimes across the
globe appeared irreversible and the communist bloc unassailable. But the
forces of freedom – freedom of choice in economic terms and freedom in
political and social terms, proved to be unstoppable and universal and in
1987, the leaders of the “Free World” were eventually able to watch as the
Soviet empire disintegrated and associated regimes across the globe
collapsed and were transformed into varying forms of democratic regimes.
When the World changed, those who were prisoners of the past failed to see
it coming. In Rumania the communist totalitarian dictator climbed onto a
podium to make a speech, he was interrupted by an elderly woman who shouted
that he was a “liar”. In minutes it was over and the regime was swept away
by the tide of change. My son travelled to Germany – denied a visa to visit
East Germany by the Embassy in Harare and while asleep in Berlin, the wall
collapsed and the regime in the East was swept away. In the following year I
visited the reunited Germany and found the former East German Ambassador who
had denied my son a visa, selling fast food and wearing a paper hat in a
fast food outlet.
The world still has the power and capacity to shock us all – when that
informal sector vendor lost his means of livelihood to the greed and avarice
of the local Police, he stood on the street, poured petrol over his body and
set himself alight and the Arab Spring was born. Now here we are, three
years later and Gaddafi has gone, Mubarak is in Prison and there is hardly a
country in the Arab world that does not suddenly feel vulnerable to change.
What astonishes me is that those who were embedded in these regimes had no
clue about how vulnerable they were or how easily their world would and did
change. They simply did not see it coming – for them they were secure in
their belief that their grip on power and their control of their regimes was
simply going to go on forever. They all had their own succession plans and
ideas about what sort of future lay ahead.
The regime in North Korea is a good example, its 25 million people cowed by
decades of totalitarian leadership and control. Its leadership totally
confident that life as they have always known it would not change and that
they could carry on in defiance of the changes that are taking place all
around them, especially in China. They appoint new leadership in the form of
the youngest son of the previous dictator and he now struts the world stage
like an over fed cockerel. We watch from the sidelines and can see the
forces of change rising like the tide all around them and are fascinated as
they continue to play on the beach as if the tide of change was not coming.
In many ways the same thing is happening here in Zimbabwe, the remnants of
the regime that brought us our Independence in 1980 and who hold that they
have a right to govern in perpetuity, are refusing to recognise that in fact
the world around them has changed and the circumstances under which they now
live are shortly going to push them off the stage in Zimbabwe and into
It is pathetic to see their propaganda machine churn out the same old
mantras and their statements reveal clearly that they have little
understanding of what the changes in the world around us mean for
themselves. The only hope of such regimes is change – radical change in both
leadership and policy and failure inevitably leads to what we have witnessed
all over the world in the past 70 years.
But they refuse to recognise the need for change and are therefore
condemned, not by the forces ranged against them but by the tide of history
that we are all vulnerable to.
Regional states that have always held the power to influence and even direct
events here are united behind the idea that the only way to resolve the
seemingly endless crisis in Zimbabwe, is to force democratic change. This is
now happening and when elections are finally held later this year, the old
regime, fighting with their old, unreformed leadership and policies, will
face the tide of change and find that they are helpless to save themselves
when they are swept away onto the rubbish heap of history.
We are all debating the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in the UK but take it or
leave it, her great contribution to the life of Britain was to recognise
that the “old Britain” had to change or die. Britain was in many ways the
same country that had fought and “won” the War but while the rest of Europe
had rushed to reform the way they did things and how they organised their
society and leadership, the UK had remained locked into a political and
economic culture that was largely unchanged. New Britain and even “New
labour” is in many ways her creation and with it she brought Britain into
the new World order and in doing so restored her dignity, power and
influence. This is the essential failure of Zanu PF and they are about to
pay the awful price.
Harare, 12th April 2013