Mugabe to extend term Dumisani Muleya RULING Zanu
PF leaders are contemplating extending President Robert Mugabe's current
term of office by two years through a constitutional amendment to hold
general and presidential elections concurrently in 2010.
said a ruling-party clique close to Mugabe was mulling the issue which could
be part of Zanu PF's legislative agenda during the course of the new
If Zanu PF manages to railroad this initiative through,
it means the 2008 presidential poll would be moved to
Mugabe said after the recent hotly disputed election results he
would favour having the two main elections held simultaneously. He said his
party would initiate constitutional amendments to reintroduce the senate
among other changes.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus
Mutasa said his party would pursue its legislative programme as soon as
possible. He said changes were coming but referred queries to Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa, who declined to comment on the latest
Mutasa said the idea of concurrent elections could be one
of the issues considered. Asked how it would be done, he said Mugabe's term
could be extended by two years.
"The easiest way of doing it
would be to delay the presidential election until 2010," he said. "If we
hold the parliamentary election early in 2008 that would be
A column in the state-controlled Herald, The Other Side by
"Nathaniel Manheru", believed to be written by Mugabe's press secretary,
George Charamba, hinted at the issue on Saturday.
"Zanu PF now
wields the democratic wherewithal to write the rules and call the tune of
governance for the next five years," Manheru said. "The ruling party seems
clear on the legislative agenda which no doubt will consolidate its
electoral grip in anticipation of both the presidential poll three years
hence, and of course the parliamentary one in a remote
"That of course assumes there will still be a presidential poll
in 2008," Manheru continued, "and the MDC can only hope and pray Zanu PF
suffers a giant seizure of political silliness to countenance it in
Zanu PF is also planning to amend the constitution - already
amended 17 times - to scrap the Electoral Supervisory Commission and replace
it with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), mandated to conduct all
elections and referendums.
It failed during the last parliament
to make ZEC, now under attack for bungling the running of the recent poll, a
constitutional body because it did not have a two-thirds
l Meanwhile, sources said Zanu PF's central committee on
Sunday decided to amend the constitution to make Harare and Bulawayo
administrative provinces. This would bring the number of provinces
officially to 10.
However, there was an embarrassing episode on
Tuesday when the two Harare and Bulawayo resident ministers, David
Karimanzira and Cain Mathema, respectively, pitched up at Parliament
Building hoping to be sworn in as MPs, only to be told they were "strangers
in the House". The two had to leave the function with red faces.
$5 trillion diverted to maize imports
Conrad Dube/Shakeman Mugari
GOVERNMENT plans to divert $5 trillion
from the 2005 budget towards maize imports after failing to sustain initial
claims that the country had enough grain to feed itself until the next
The money was originally earmarked for infrastructure
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira confirmed in an
interview last week that government would divert resources for
infrastructural development to feed starving Zimbabweans.
"We are looking forward to turning around the economy but we have a major
setback due to last year's drought. We will therefore divert resources for
infrastructure development to feeding the people," Shamuyarira
"We will make sure that no one starves," he
This is a major climb-down by government which before the
election insisted the country had enough maize reserves to meet national
requirements. An estimated 4,2 million people are in urgent need of food,
President Robert Mugabe and senior government
officials have in the past insisted the country has enough food. Agriculture
minister Joseph Made is on record as having said the country had produced
2,4 million tonnes of maize.
His claims were buttressed by
Mugabe who immediately used the unproven figures to bar non-governmental
organisations from distributing food aid.
Zimbabwe requires 1,8
million tonnes of maize annually for human consumption and for stockfeed.
Currently the country is estimated to have less than 30 000 tonnes in its
depots imported from South Africa.
Government needs to import
1,2 million tonnes of maize at a total cost of about US$156 million (almost
$1 trillion) to make up for the shortfall. The country consumes just under 5
000 tonnes of maize a day.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe
Independent this week revealed that the sole grain-acquiring authority, the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB), has about 20 000 tonnes - less than a week's
supply of grain - in Bulawayo destined for Harare.
in Harare, Mashonaland West, East and Central and in Manicaland are
reportedly empty. An official at the GMB HQ in Harare said there was no food
at the main depots in Harare. The few tonnes of maize supplied to Harare's
Aspindale depot last week were immediately distributed to
As of yesterday the GMB HQ was turning away millers
who had applied for grain. The GMB told millers that it was waiting for
supplies from Bulawayo by rail. It said the maize was likely to arrive in
Harare by today.
The Independent, however, understands that the
train referred to by the GMB can only carry 500 tonnes, not enough to feed
Harare for one day.
NCA to ratchet up protests Ray Matikinye THE
National Constitutional Assembly has begun ratcheting up pressure on
government to draw up a new constitution that opens up democratic
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku told a press briefing in Harare
yesterday that their taskforce had resolved to convene a stakeholders'
conference to chart "the means and strategies by which Zimbabweans can craft
their own comprehensive and democratic constitution".
organisation will soon convene an all-stakeholders' conference to map the
Madhuku said the NCA would intensify pressure for a new
homegrown constitution despite threats by government to crush any protest.
President Mugabe promised to crush any mass action by those who were not
happy with his party's victory in the March 31 parliamentary
Madhuku said he was confident government would accede to
his organisation and the people of Zimbabwe's demands. "Our protest are
different in that we are not protesting to remove a government. Unlike
political parties, we are mobilising Zimbabweans to demand a new
constitution," Madhuku said.
Madhuku said the NCA was opposed to
President Mugabe's intended use of his party's parliamentary majority to
tinker with the constitution. "We do not want a constitution crafted by the
Zanu PF central committee because the constitutional amendments Mugabe
envisages include packing the proposed Senate with compliant Zanu PF members
who will endorse whatever he says," Madhuku said.
The NCA was
prepared to incorporate democratic reform elements suggested in the
Chidyausiku constitutional draft that was rejected in a referendum in 2000
and the NCA's own draft.
"What is fatally wrong with the Chidyausiku
constitutional draft is the concentration of powers in the president. There
are good elements in that draft but those democratic elements come unstuck
and are grossly overshadowed by powers vested in one individual," Madhuku
The NCA has railed against Sadc and AU's endorsement of flawed
elections last month saying this was a serious indictment on the competence
and integrity of the two organisations.
It accuses both the Sadc
and AU observer missions of dereliction of duty in failing to appreciate
that the election results are the whole point of an election and that the
serious discrepancies in results announced by the ZEC totally discredited
the whole process.
"All that the so-called election has achieved is
leave in its wake a sorry mess characterised by improbable and contradictory
results as well as a nation divided along rural and urban as well as tribal
lines," Madhuku said.
"Zimbabwe is yet again left with a parliament that
is impotent in resolving the
country's political and economic
stalemate," he said.
China route too costly for Airzim Shakeman
Mugari AIR Zimbabwe continues to suffer heavy losses on its Asian route and
plans to introduce changes to its flight schedule to cut costs.
national carrier is battling to sustain its Beijing route which was
inaugurated by the airline last year as part of government's "Look East"
Air Zimbabwe is unable to break-even on its Far East
schedule due to fierce competition from other airlines on the route. There
is also insufficient business between Zimbabwe and China to justify the
carrier's twice weekly flights to China.
Sources say Air
Zimbabwe's Boeing 767 has been flying to Beijing with less than half its
passenger capacity. The plane has a capacity of 197 passengers (167 economy
class and 30 business class).
In a bid to sustain the route the
airline plans to make changes to its Far Eastern schedule. Currently the
airline flies to China via Singapore twice a week, on Mondays and
However, from next month it will drop Singapore from its
Friday trip and instead fly to China via Thailand's capital, Bangkok, a move
an official at the reservations office said was caused by "operational
problems" in the current routing.
Sources say the troubled
airline has been forced to drop Singapore from the Friday trip because of
stiff competition. They say the route is already dominated by Singapore
Airlines which flies daily from Johannesburg and operates a direct flight
from Cape Town. It is said Airzim intends to make up for its Beijing losses
by flying via Bangkok.
The airline has also slashed its fares on the
Asian route as it battles to lure passengers in light of the fierce
competition to the Far East, particularly from Kenya
Fares for a trip from Harare to China have been cut to $6
140 000 from the initial $8 781 200. The rates for a trip to Singapore from
Harare have been cut by almost 40% from $8 051 350 to $4 976
The airline has also introduced new routes to Asia to make up
for unsustainable losses on the China route. Another new route will see
Airzim flying from Harare to Beijing via Entebbe, Uganda.
are also proposals for a Dubai flight to be launched on May 16, four days
before the Bangkok route is due to be inaugurated
Shake-up looms at Zimpapers Loughty Dube/Conrad
Dube ZANU PF's information department plans to overhaul the state media,
including Zimpapers, to introduce a new order that will replace the one
created by former minister Jonathan Moyo.
Reliable sources in the
Zimpapers group said disgruntled staffers, especially from the Herald, met
Zanu PF information department officials last week over the state of the
editorial structure in the media company.
The sources said Zanu PF
officials had been receiving submissions on how Moyo allegedly re-engineered
the group to serve his own interests.
The staffers alleged at their
meetings with ruling party officials that senior
Herald staffers were
involved in clandestine business deals with officials in the information
It was also claimed that Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke
was involved in Media Unlimited, a media consultancy being run by his
However, Deketeke accused suspended Herald journalists of
"peddling malice". He said Media Unlimited was his younger brother's company
and he had no interest in it.
On accusations that he promoted
cronyism by selecting his "yes men" to cover presidential and diplomatic
beats, Deketeke said it was common practice for editors to send their "best
reporters" to accompany the president to avoid cases of the president being
Meanwhile, panic has gripped beleaguered Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings staffers after management ordered workers to furnish
details of their employment history to the Department of Information.
Corruption gnaws away at body politic Ray
Matikinye NO other evidence of petty corruption can beat the admission by a
long haulage truck driver who openly declared in the glare of television
cameras: "I would rather bribe a policeman at a road checkpoint than pay a
million dollars for a traffic offence. My boss will reprimand me and take me
for an idiot for failing to part with $100 000 to avert a million dollar
That admission is a microcosm of endemic corruption that pervades
The police have become past masters at extracting
bribes. A driver that insists on being ticketed for a traffic offence courts
a thorough inspection for every fault they can come upon rendering the
vehicle a perfect contender for impounding.
For more than a
quarter of a century President Robert Mugabe has ignored advice never to put
a loaded cannon on stage if no one on the set is thinking of using
During the early years of his two decades of unbroken rule,
Mugabe had a useful advisor in party secretary-general Edgar Tekere, whom he
chose to punish and banish for daring to warn him against surrounding
himself with avaricious and corrupt lieutenants.
others of corruption in public without first letting us know. When we ask
him to name the individuals he does not do so," Mugabe explained to justify
Tekere's expulsion in 1994.
Neither has Mugabe heeded calls in the
past by student unions that routinely paraded the streets in protest against
corruption in high places. Instead, he has given a free rein to baton
wielding riot police, unleashing them on the students for daring show him
publicly their disdain for commonplace graft.
Of all the
weaknesses inherent in the Zimbabwean strongman, allowing crony capitalism
to flourish appears to be the most obvious. That weak trait has nourished a
retinue of party hangers on and other petty government officers whose pet
whim has been to abuse their authority and swindle well-intentioned
The long list of instances of graft involving
bureaucrats, among them the abuse of the VIP Housing scheme and the War
Victims Compensation Fund, proves a serious indictment of Mugabe's weakness
in stamping out graft.
Culprits have often been let off the hook with
just a slight slap on the wrist.
Since the Willowgate motor vehicle
procurement scandal in 1988 that claimed the life of the then third most
powerful man in the Zanu PF hierarchy, Maurice Nyagumbo, and the resignation
of a handful of ministers followed by the subsequent pardoning of the likes
of Frederick Shava hours after his conviction for graft, Mugabe's henchman
and cronies have taken his threats and pledges to stamp out corruption as
merely putting a loaded gun on stage that he does not intend to
Five years into the land redistribution programme, Mugabe is
still wringing his hands in frustration over some of his close henchmen who
have taken more than a fair share of the land and still cling to
The agrarian reform can easily be likened to a revolution that
has lost its way for the corruption and abuse by high-ranking officials that
it has become associated with. Apart from calling them "gomandisers" at a
public rally recently, Mugabe still has to grapple with institutionalised
corruption and show he means what he says.
Studies indicate that
governments lacking a strong framework of good governance, the rule of law
and adequate banking regulations while clinging on to unsound investment
decisions, provide fertile grounds for corruption to
Currently, Zimbabwe has all those ingredients.
systematic policy of creating self-serving quasi-governmental organisations
headed by well-connected acquaintances has also accelerated the
Corruption scandals have rocked the Grain Marketing Board and the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe as well as the private sector. The
seemingly flourishing banking sector has been hobbled by corruption scandals
which misdirected vital black empowerment resources essential for economic
Director in the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies ministry
in the Office of the President, Patrick Machaya, said his department was
contemplating conducting a corruption survey nationwide to come up with an
index to determine its levels.
"We want to find out what our
people's perception of corruption is as they have done in Mauritius, Zambia
and Tanzania and come up with data which we can use as benchmarks to
validate our findings rather than depend on index from organisations such as
Transparent International," Machaya said.
The annual corruption
perception index published by Transparency International, a leading
international NGO devoted to fighting corruption worldwide, reflects the
perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident
and non-resident. It rates Zimbabwe at 106 out of 133 countries while its
neighbours, Mozambique and Malawi, rank 86 and 83
Machaya says the survey will be conducted as soon
as an Anti-Corruption Commission has been sworn in following the enactment
of the Anti-Corruption Act.
Other countries in the sub-region
have not only put loaded cannons on stage that no one intends to use. The
have used it to blow holes in corruption syndicates and nip the scourge in
The anti-corruption drive in South Africa, involving, for
instance, abuse of the black economic empowerment programme has witnessed
high ranking officials in both national and provincial government quit their
posts in disgrace.
Twenty sitting MPs have appeared in court over
a travel allowance scam. Although a similar swindle involving MPs inflating
travel allowance claims, netting up to 2 000% of their monthly salaries was
exposed by the media in Zimbabwe, nothing was ever heard of its
That aside, prominent South Africans such as deputy
President Jacob Zuma, former transport minister Mac Maharaj, head of Hyundai
South Africa Billy Rautenbach, Jeff Levenstein, Regal Bank CEO, Irvin Khoza
chairman of South Africa 2010 World Cup bid, among others, have been taken
to task about suspected shady deals.
Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki
put a loaded cannon on stage. But John Githongo resigned in frustration when
he realised Kibaki did not have the nerve to allow someone to use
In Botswana, the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime has
dealt with more than 4 200 cases in a period of four years owing to
government belief that the fight against corruption advances national
interests and economic progress.
But Zimbabweans still hope the
creation of a ministry to deal with corruption was not merely putting a
loaded cannon on a set when no one is going to use it.
the overdue swearing in of an Anti-Corruption Commission hoping to see
positive action taken against miscreants.
Bloch gives roadmap to economic revival Susan
Mateko THE disputed result of the recent parliamentary election will not have
any material effect on economic recovery if government addresses fundamental
economic issues, a leading economist has said.
Eric Bloch said in an interview last week the revival of the country's
economy lay in sorting out the land reform programme, creating a conducive
environment for investment and providing meaningful incentives for the
"Government needs to restructure the land reform
programme in a way that will restore viability, development and a
co-operative relationship between white commercial farmers and the new
farmers to ensure that there is tenure to the land and farmers have the
collateral and capital they need," Bloch said.
"Linked with that,
the government should introduce meaningful investment incentives and a
general facilitation of investments to create new economic activity that
will create new jobs and foreign currency generation."
government needed to show that there was land tenure and democracy in the
country in order to restore investor confidence.
"Government needs to
show that there is land tenure and democracy in the country, which means
that they must repeal legislation like Aippa (Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act) and Posa (Public Order and Security Act)," he
"We must put in place a truly free and independent judiciary
and a restoration of law and order."
Bloch said furthermore, the
government should restore good relations with the international community
while at the same time cultivating a genuine working relationship between
government itself, business and labour.
"We need to reconcile with
the international community and to do so we need to stop this
confrontational approach to our foreign relations," he said.
there has to be an ushering in of "a genuine social complex of enterprise
and labour in terms of which over a period of time there will be a freeze of
all prices and incomes, whilst other economic measures are put into
"Foreign currency will increase when we start doing other
features such as the lowering of the exchange rate to realistic levels so
that we restore export viability," he said. "We need to have increased
exports and for that to happen, we need a significant exchange rate
Bloch said failure to implement some of these measures
would result in gains on inflation being lost.
Zimpapers faces $50m suit Conrad Dube FORMER
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) corporate affairs director and
lawyer Gugulethu Moyo is pursuing her case for damages against Zimpapers
over an allegedly defamatory article published in the group's flagship
dailies, the Herald and the Chronicle.
Moyo has sued the Herald and
Chronicle and former Chronicle editor, Stephen Ndlovu, in his personal
capacity, for claiming she had urged an invasion of Zimbabwe by foreign
powers at a media seminar in Namibia last year.
A senior Scanlen
& Holderness lawyer said on Wednesday the case filed last year was being
pursued. The law firm is representing Moyo and Luckson Chipare, Media
Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) regional director, in the
The attorneys said the Herald and Chronicle "unlawfully,
falsely and intentionally published information to the effect that Moyo was
hand-picked to spearhead a campaign to demonise Zimbabwe from all
The article alleged that Moyo "ran away to join Idasa
(Institute for Democracy in South Africa) leaving the embattled ANZ and
hundreds of Daily News workers with no legal representative only to reappear
as a messiah".
But Moyo's lawyers said this was false as their client
worked for Misa in Namibia before she went to the United
The Herald and Chronicle alleged in the article that Moyo
had abandoned a
sinking ship at a time when she was needed most, in
reference to the termination of her contract with the ANZ when it was closed
by the Media and Information Commission.
The papers also alleged
Moyo urged the international community to put more pressure on Zimbabwe even
if it meant taking the Saddam route, meaning military invasion. She called
for more or less another war, the papers alleged in the articles in
"The said unlawful, false and intentional publication
portrayed the first defendant (Moyo) as a reckless, unprofessional,
irresponsible, unpatriotic, subversive, seditious, deceitful, treacherous
and irresponsible opportunist," court papers say.
said that "as a consequence of the said unlawful, false and intentional
publications by the defendants, the first plaintiff (Moyo) has suffered
considerable loss of her good name and reputation".
They said Ndlovu
and the newspapers concerned aggravated their defamatory conduct by
repeating their allegations, and describing her as an errant lawyer, and by
refusing to respond to a written demand that they retract the defamatory
allegations and publish an apology.
Moyo is claiming damages for
injury to her "good name and reputation" in the sum of $50 million including
Chipare is also claiming damages of $50 million, including
interest, against the defendants for alleging that he had suggested that
there was a need for countries like South Africa to follow the route of
allowing pirate radio stations to beam anti-Zimbabwe propaganda to oust
President Robert Mugabe.
Zimpapers, Chipare said, alleged that he had
suggested that Misa had no money to fund such radio stations but was
encountering difficulties in obtaining countries willing to allow such
"The false, defamatory and intentional publications
regarding Chipare have injured his name and reputation by suggesting that he
is unpatriotic, reckless, indiscreet, unprofessional, irresponsible,
seditious (and) engaged in clandestine and dishonest arrangements to cause
hostile propaganda against his own country," the court papers say.
Zanu PF's past glory brings no joy Dumisani
Muleya WHILE Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF mandarins celebrate their disputed
triumph in the recent general election, their Pyrrhic victory has thrown the
country's economic recovery agenda into disarray.
It is now clear to
everybody - except perhaps President Robert Mugabe - that Zimbabwe's
structural economic problems cannot be resolved without fundamental
Although in theory the border between politics and
economics is open, the
reality is that politics and economics overlap.
Often bad politics breed economic failure. Politics affects economics big
time and vice-versa.
Zimbabwean leaders are either off message or are
deliberately ignoring this reality. That is why Mugabe seems to entertain
the delusion that he can resolve the economic crisis without cleaning up the
political mess first.
Whatever achievements Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono has managed to chalk up, in particular on the inflation
front, they count for nothing without being linked to the broad political
Gono's attempt to deal with the economic crisis outside its
political context has exposed either his naivety or an attempt to do the
His claims that the economy is recovering and is set for
positive growth - after a cumulative real gross domestic product shrinkage
of 30% over the past five years - further show that he has a shallow
appreciation of the broad structural problems the country is
This perfunctory approach was revealed in the banking sector
crisis. An ad hoc, inconsistent and politically driven line of attack of the
problem failed to save the banks, except weakening the whole sector,
precipitating the decline of companies, impoverishment of depositors and
magnifying the country's political risk.
Gono and his government
colleagues must not seek to bury their heads in the sand and seriously hope
to come up with an economic miracle on the basis of political
The political problems in Zimbabwe are clear. The country
has a ruling party suffering from the malaise of a highly repressive former
liberation movement that has failed to renew itself and is now unable to
cope with new political and economic dynamics.
agree Zanu PF needs to open up and renew its closed leadership structure,
repackage itself, and catch up with a society that has moved ahead of
But the party appears unable to adjust to the rapidly changing
political and socio-economic conditions. It has resorted to coercive
measures to maintain its faltering grip on a society rejecting its
antiquated philosophy and discredited ideological
Zimbabwe's institutional failures, as well as shifts in the
global political economy, largely created the current crisis. This led to
the emergence of a new political formation which managed to rope in most
other social forces gathering against the ruling elite.
socio-economic conditions and attendant political instability created a
number of key social formations that later coalesced into the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The main labour movement was
instrumental in this and that is why most MDC leaders came from
The present political impasse was caused by the three disputed
elections - including the recent one - since 2000. While Mugabe still claims
the MDC is a front for Western powers, his argument has long lost
credibility and no longer sells - even to his closest allies in South
This means Mugabe must get real and recognise he cannot wish
away the MDC unless he performs an economic miracle to eliminate the
conditions which brought it into being.
argument against the MDC is riddled with fundamental contradictions built
into it by his anti-intellectual attempt to reason through
On the one hand, he says the MDC is driven by protest
votes, meaning he appreciates the local environment that created it, while
on the other he claims it is by definition a British-sponsored creature.
This leaves a yawning credibility gap. Still, he has used this flawed
reasoning to reject talks on political reforms with the
The reality is that without political consensus,
fashioned out of a negotiated political settlement, economic problems will
remain. The international community will continue to isolate Zimbabwe and
desperately needed bilateral and multilateral aid will not
Diplomats have told Gono there will be no balance-of-payments
support without a political settlement.
This is the grim reality
Mugabe appears reluctant to face. The past week demonstrated that Mugabe and
his government are either unwilling or simply unable to resolve Zimbabwe's
A few days after the contentious election, shortages of basic
commodities - including bread, milk, sugar and maize meal - resurfaced. The
fuel crisis also returned.
Other problems, the distorted economic
fundamentals, mounting debt, de-industrialisation, disinvestment and capital
flight, increasing emigration, and foreign currency shortages remain and
they will continue unless there is a dramatic intervention by all
But Mugabe and his government's reaction to the
situation was, to say the least, inadequate. Instead of moving with
calculated urgency to ease the sea of troubles, they resorted to populist
excuses and threats.
They took refuge in the failed command economy
building block - price controls. This shows that government does not learn
from past mistakes. Price controls were tried in the 1980s and three years
ago with disastrous consequences, but official proclivity is to resort to
them in times of political desperation.
Zanu PF met last
Wednesday and on Sunday, but the economy did not feature in its proceedings.
The party is preoccupied with trivial pursuits such as piecemeal
The Zanu PF old guard is retreating into
the certainties of the past and digging in, while reciting slogans -- such
as "Look East" - and demagoguery as a substitute for a sound economic
This reactionary posturing and bankruptcy in terms of ideas
will not help anybody or change anything, except for the worse.
CZI meets over price controls Godfrey
Marawanyika/Roadwin Chirara THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)'s
highest decision-making body, the National Council, on Tuesday met to debate
the contentious decision by government to reverse price increases for basic
The National Council is composed of the country's captains
Prices shot up by as much as 100% after the March 31
parliamentary election in which Zanu PF defeated the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). The government swiftly moved in, ordering
businesses to reverse the increases, which it claimed were
politically-motivated and meant to sabotage the economy by the ruling
The order to reverse the price increases in turn
resulted in shortages of the same commodities.
said the shortages are not artificial as alleged by government, arguing that
production is declining largely because of unrealistic pricing
Goods such as the staple maize-meal, sugar and cooking
oil have disappeared from most shop shelves in Harare.
supplies have been erratic in the country in recent months with supermarkets
out of stocks for days on end and long queues quickly forming where the
commodity is available.
CZI president Pattison Sithole confirmed the
meeting but refused to disclose details or their recommendations to
"The decision by the CZI National Council was that we
will be taking the issue of price controls and shortages to the minister,"
"We also agreed that we cannot say anything about the
meeting to the press, so I cannot say anything."
Of concern to
government is the fact that price hikes could trigger inflationary
Currently, Zimbabwe's inflation is at 123,7% with the
central bank having set a target of between 30-50% by
At its peak the country's inflation reached 622,8% in
January last year.
Industry and Trade minister Samuel Mumbengegwi on
Tuesday could not be drawn into commenting on the issue of price
"There is nothing I can say on the issue as there is bound
to be a new minister soon. So why should I comment on something that can be
changed by someone new when the appointments are made?" Mumbengegwi
"Maybe talk to Mr (Kenneth) Manyonda."
deputy minister, could not be reached for comment this week.
Post-poll monetary policy review this month Godfrey
Marawanyika RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono is set to
announce the fifth review of the country's monetary policy before the end of
The review is expected to take into account the post-election
scenario and drought.
The last review for 2004 was announced on
The monetary policy review will take into account the
challenges which the country is facing in terms of food import requirements.
In his 2005 national budget, acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa
projected economic growth of between 2 and 3,5% on the back of a 28%
This has turned out to be a mirage.
drought which has swept across the region has forced Zimbabwe's northern
neighbour Zambia to stop maize exports.
have since put the food import bill at $3 trillion.
One of the major
challenges will be the containment of inflation at manageable levels in the
face of sharp food price hikes and rental increases which were effected this
Zimbabwe's inflation reached a peak of 622,8% in January 2004.
It has since declined to about 123,7%. There are fears the trend could be
reversed by negative economic fundamentals.
Despite the crisis,
Gono has remained upbeat that he will be able to meet his US$3 billion
foreign currency target inflows for this year.
Last month the
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) produced a report on Zimbabwe focusing on
the post-election scenario.
The EIU said it expected the country's
rate of economic decline to slow as it achieves a new equilibrium with a
much lower level of income compared with levels prior to
"In particular, although many firms have now scaled down their
operations to adjust to lower income levels, the collapse of commercial
farming and falling government capital spending, and ongoing foreign
exchange shortages will continue to create a difficult operating
environment," the report said.
"The adverse impact of the country's
HIV and Aids pandemic will also start to be felt in many sectors of the
economy in coming years -notably farming and will constrain recovery," it
The other challenge which the central bank will be facing is
how to make underperforming parastatals contribute positively to the
country's economic recovery.
In January, Gono announced a plan to
restructure non-performing public firms. He announced a $10 trillion
Parastatal and Local Authorities Reorientation Programme, which will run for
a period of 18-24 months.
The EIU attributed the poor performance of
parastatals to "political
appointments of incompetent executives, through
to blatant corruption and incorrect pricing".
The acute shortage
of foreign currency is having a telling effect on importers across the whole
economy and the Homelink initiative launched by the central bank in January
last year has woefully failed to generate significant inflows.
Agric production estimates up in smoke? By Admire
Mavolwane THERE is a maxim, popularly referred to as Murphy's Law which says:
"If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will
cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong."
normally appended to the famous adage reads: "If there is a worse time for
something to go wrong, it will happen then".
Whether the above law
could be said to apply to the Zimbabwean situation or not, evidence on the
ground seems to suggest so.
Official real GDP growth is forecast
between 3,5 to 5%, predicated upon a 28% growth in agricultural
The working assumption and the attendant efforts were all
directed towards the achievement of a flue-cured tobacco crop size of 160
Everything that could go wrong did, and the target had to be
revised down to between 100 and 112 million kg.
private opinion is of a crop size of between 80 and 85 million kg. A wide
spectrum of factors including late planting, disease, insufficient inputs,
reduced reaping, and curing capacity, meant the guess estimate figures had
to be scaled down.
However, a problem which had been foreseen by many
in the sector and seems to have caught the authorities with their pants down
is the issue of pricing at the auction floors.
As early as
January this year, it was known that international prices would not be
favourable as a result of relatively poor quality local crop and
international market oversupply due to an above average Brazilian
This would in turn impact negatively on the auction prices, thus
threatening the viability of growers. Surprisingly, and maybe not so, no
measures had been put in place to insulate the tobacco farmers from the
ravages of the international markets. Although we have in the past been
against subsidies, international events like this at least warrant
interventions through stop-gap measures in the form of quantified
At the moment, merchants are said to be offering
US$0,90/kg, against last year's average of US$2,11/kg whilst the growers
would require a price of at least US$3 to break even, before talking of
making the whole exercise worthwhile to them.
The other important
foreign currency earning crop, cotton, has seen production targets being
revised downwards several times. Initially estimates of approximately 400
000 tonnes were being thrown around; by the end of December 50 000 had been
debited from that figure and by mid-February the numbers had come down to
between 250 000 and 310 000 tonnes.
An unfavourable rain distribution
pattern characterised by prolonged dry spells, shortages of top dressing
fertiliser, ammonium nitrate and reduced funding all impacted negatively on
A similar pricing dilemma exists in the "white gold" industry
with merchants proposing to reduce their producer price from the $1 800/kg
in 2004 to $1 040/kg, whilst the farmers are looking for a minimum $4
The stand-off is a result of a significant softening of
international lint prices now trading at around US$0,56/lb compared with the
lofty levels of US$0,80c/lb last year. Reduced demand from major producer
and consumer China, resulting in a market oversupply, has been cited as the
major reason for the softer prices. Negotiations for a support price are
The situation becomes critical, if one considers the impact
this will have on the farmers and the agriculture industry. Unviable prices
are likely to push farmers off the fields as many of them have debts and
inputs to repay. At the end of the day, the farmers are not likely to get a
profit from their endeavours.
Although tobacco growing areas are
not necessarily the same as cotton growing areas, the impasse between
growers and merchants is likely to lead to a switch into other crops.
However, this may not happen given the fact that alternatives are
It comes as a welcome relief to many economic watchers that
figures and estimates are at least available for important commodities like
tobacco and cotton. Impact on economic variables can be assessed and
What is worrying, however, is that when it comes to
commodities that have to do with bread and butter issues, no official
figures or even estimates, accurate, reasonable or otherwise, are
forthcoming from the authorities.
The country is still waiting with
bated breath for confirmation of the 2,4 million tonnes of maize produced in
the 2003/4 season.
With the 2004/5 harvesting season of cereals,
particularly maize that made it to maturity already underway, it appears as
if no assessment of production has been done, and if it was indeed done, the
figures are not publicly to hand. As a result, no estimates have been put
forward of what the country is likely to produce, how much it would need to
import and from where, given the fact that the whole region was
Zambia, from where we were reportedly importing our grain,
has since suspended exports. We will not dwell on the issue of wheat at the
moment; suffice to say bread shortages have started to be experienced in
some parts of the country.
The other major crop and foreign
currency earner that was projected to record an increase in production was
Recent developments regarding the listing of major sugar cane
producing estates for compulsory acquisition and the unresolved illegal
occupation of portions of cane land are expected to see cane deliveries
being significantly lower than in 2004.
production has been constrained by shortages of ammonium nitrate and
consequently sugar production is estimated to remain at last year's
As the collary to the law implies, this could be the worst
time for the economy. The unfavourable international tobacco and lint prices
could well mean reduced foreign currency inflows.
One can safely
conclude that given what has happened, the 28% growth in agricultural
production, which contributes 17% to the GDP and accounts for a third of the
foreign currency earnings may not be attainable and hence the real growth in
GDP estimate is beginning to look a bit over-optimistic at this point in
Zim crisis could blight Makoni's chances Godfrey
Marawanyika THE diplomatic stand-off between Zimbabwe, the European Union and
the United States could affect Dr Simba Makoni's bid for the powerful post
of president of the African Development Bank.
Makoni is the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) candidate for the
Makoni is facing stiff challenge from current ADB
vice-president Bisi Ogunjobi, backed by five nations - Ghana, Egypt, Gabon,
Rwanda and Cameroon, in the May election.
Ogunjobi was last week
in the country on a tour of Sadc where he is
understood to have been
lobbying for support.
Before his appointment to the ADB, Ogunjobi,
who has more than two decades in banking, worked for the Zimbabwe
Development Bank for seven years.
Makoni was once Zimbabwe's Finance
minister and was the first executive secretary of Sadc.
his visit, the Nigerian met central bank governor Gideon Gono.
privy to the goings-on at the ADB noted that although Makoni had strong
credentials for the post, there were concerns from both the EU and the US on
the way Sadc had failed to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis when compared to the
Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas)'s handling of the
Both the EU and the US finance the ADB to an
Earlier this year, Ecowas managed to fend off a diplomatic
and political impasse when it refused to recognise the son of the late
Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe as its leader.
been imposed by the army following his father's death.
Ecowas is a
regional group of 16 countries founded in 1975 to foster economic
integration in West Africa.
According to Ecowas' profile, there were
16 nations in the group until recently when Mauritania withdrew its
The organisation says its main objective is to achieve
economic integration and form a unified economic zone in West
Its scope was broadened later to include socio-political
interaction and mutual development in related spheres.
acknowledged that he would be facing stiff competition from the other
aspiring candidates - including Makoni.
"Yes, there will be
competition but I know that I will bring wonders to Zimbabwe for both
government and the private sector," he said.
"This is not a question
between Makoni and me."
Relations between Harare and the West have hit
their lowest ebb since the disputed presidential election of 2002, which
resulted in President Robert Mugabe retaining power.
Mugabe and senior members of his party have been slapped with travel
restrictions and targeted sanctions by the EU and the US.
Mugabe argues that the targeted sanctions have seriously affected the
country's economic performance and denies rigging his way back into
Makoni could not be reached for comment this week, but the
League of Arab States is expected to endorse Makoni as the candidate for the
Harare city pleads for cheap forex Eric Chiriga THE
cash-strapped Harare city council wants the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
to allow it to access foreign currency at the lower rate of the auction
The council is battling to raise money to import essential
chemicals and spare parts.
The Commission-led council also wants
to be exempted from paying Value
Currently at the
auction floor the American dollar fetches $6 086,78, whilst the South
African rand is $975,05 and the British pound is $11
According to the 2005 budget proposals by the acting chairman
for Harare, Priscilla Mupfumira, the city's finances continue to deteriorate
because of a severe cash-flow problem.
"Your council's operations
have been greatly compromised by shortages of foreign currency. The city has
not been able to acquire any plant and equipment, spares for road
maintenance vehicles and refuse trucks as forex problems persist," she
She said council wanted to negotiate with the RBZ with a view
to obtaining foreign currency at the lower official rate. The commission
also wants the Ministry of Finance to exempt it from paying duty and VAT on
water treatment chemicals and related equipment.
most of the credit facilities with various suppliers had been closed and
council was now paying cash upfront, noting that the price of general
commodities rose by about 150% resulting in increased operational costs by
the same percentage.
The time is now to indict Mugabe By Mark S
Ellis THE recent United Nations Security Council's resolution authorising the
International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Sudanese war crime suspects
is a significant advancement of international law. It is the first time that
the UN Security Council has used the "trigger mechanism" to initiate
proceedings before the ICC for the prosecution of international
The resolution also marks a fundamental shift by the United
States in acknowledging the ICC's potential role in maintaining
international peace and security. The United States, which has vehemently
opposed the ICC, took the extraordinary step of dropping its opposition to
the resolution in order to ensure that the perpetrators of the atrocities in
Sudan's western Darfur region are brought to justice.
Security Council should now turn its attention to Zimbabwe in order to end
the government's policies that sanction systematic human rights abuses. It
should request the ICC to investigate President Robert Mugabe for committing
crimes against humanity.
The ICC was established on July 1 2002 as
the first permanent international court to investigate and try individuals
for the most heinous violations of international humanitarian law, including
genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Under the UN
Charter, the Security Council can decide what measures should be taken to
maintain or restore international peace and security. Ending crimes against
humanity has long been considered a crucial step in maintaining this peace
and security. Thus, the referral to the ICC to immediately investigate the
crisis in Zimbabwe would fall squarely within the powers of the Security
Furthermore, in the exercise of its wide discretionary
powers under the UN Charter, the Security Council could specifically name
Mugabe as per se an ongoing threat to the peace and security of the region
and authorise an ICC investigation. This request for an investigation of the
crimes committed by Mugabe could occur even though Zimbabwe has refused to
acquiesce to the jurisdiction of the ICC.
It is the right time
for the UN Security Council to instruct the ICC to initiate a preliminary
investigation against Mugabe for crimes against humanity. The recent flawed
parliamentary election in Zimbabwe means that the country will languish in
crisis and Mugabe's flagrant violations of international law will continue
It would be decisively straightforward for the ICC
prosecutor to show a prima facie case that Mugabe has committed crimes
against humanity. It requires showing that the general policy of the
government is to commit multiple crimes that are part of a widespread and
systematic attack against any civilian population.
could include, among others, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment and
rape. The well-documented and mounting evidence of these same crimes
committed by Mugabe's regime is both staggering and
However, Mugabe's atrocities are not limited to
inflicting egregious physical pain on his own citizens. Under the ICC
statute, Mugabe can be held accountable for other inhumane treatment
perpetrated by his government that causes severe mental or physical
This would include the deprivation of access to food
through Mugabe's widespread and systematic policy of using food as a
political weapon. It is widely acknowledged that those Zimbabweans who
support Mugabe's Zanu PF party have access to the dwindling supply of
government food aid. However, if you are in opposition to Mugabe, you will
be refused even a single morsel of this life-sustaining
This nefarious government policy is particularly deadly in the
current drought that is prevailing in the country. Zimbabwe's agricultural
output had already been so ravaged by the government's policies that the
country now has the highest number of citizens starving in
Zimbabwe is a country in ruin. Its people are destitute.
Zimbabwe's demise has been long and painful. Since 1998, annual foreign
investment inflows have dropped from US$436 million to less than US$5
million today. The unemployment rate exceeds 80%. Zimbabwe is experiencing
hyperinflation that is over 100%, and climbing.
pandemic Aids crisis means that one in four Zimbabweans is HIV-positive.
Life expectancy has plummeted from 61 to 34 during the last 15 years.
Primary school completion rates in Zimbabwe have dropped by 20% during the
last 13 years. Unicef has estimated that over one million children are
orphaned; this number will dramatically increase during the next
The people of Zimbabwe have been courageous in their struggle
to defeat Mugabe, and, in turn, regain their liberty and their country.
However, Mugabe's state machine is simply too powerful and too corrupt to be
defeated by a weakened and demoralised citizenship. The citizens of Zimbabwe
need to hear a stronger international voice for holding Mugabe accountable
for his crimes.
A request by the UN Security Council for the ICC
to investigate Mugabe for crimes against humanity will provide an enormous
boost to the people of Zimbabwe. Those who have been victimised by Mugabe's
policies will know that justice is not expendable.
investigation will also send an unmistakable message to Mugabe that he can
try to manipulate and evade domestic justice, but he will not escape
international justice. There is no impunity for those who commit crimes
*Mark Ellis is executive director of the
International Bar Association, London.
Zim unacceptable as long as Mugabe rules By Denford
Magora IT is always dangerous to personalise issues. It is dangerous to
swallow the tripe that one man and one man alone can bring an entire country
to its knees. Very rarely is this accusation justified or true.
Zimbabwe's case, there are people who have been trying to tell us that
President Robert Mugabe alone is the cause of the country's state of
disarray. No one else, we are told, has contributed anything to the demise
of this country.
It matters not what the West has done. It
matters not there are people outside Zimbabwe so miffed at the treatment of
white farmers that they would gladly see this country reduced to
It matters not that tourism to this country is discouraged by
vigilantes who have taken it upon themselves to tell South Africans, the
British and Americans that it is "immoral" to visit the country and leave
foreign currency behind to "prop up the Mugabe regime". (Ordinary
Zimbabweans working in the tourism industry who suffer as a result are not
considered part of the equation.)
There is no doubt that Mugabe
himself has done some damage. This man, who was so renowned for his
diplomatic skills that he convinced Zimbabweans for a long time that he
himself was a "reasonable fellow let down by his ministers", certainly went
astray in recent years. That is beyond doubt.
The reaction of the
"white world" to Mugabe, which the president says is informed by "racism",
certainly makes sense when viewed against the following
Upon returning from one foreign trip or the other a
couple of years back, the
president was greeted at the airport by
buttock-waving members of the ruling party's Women's League. The president
made what I still consider one of his most glaring gaffes during the little
speech he gave to the women afterwards.
"We must make the white
man tremble," he thundered. Note that the comment was directed at "white
man". Not the "racist Rhodesian white farmer", not the "racist Tony Blair",
but "the white man" in general.
It was a comment that was certainly
ill-advised and it did more to damage the president's image than anything
else he has done since then. It allowed the world to realistically portray
Mugabe as a racist himself, full of hatred for all white people. If Blair
was to make a comment asking his supporters to "make the black man tremble",
I think he would be out of office faster than he could blink. He would be
reviled by every black man alive today.
Why then does it surprise
the president that the white world is nakedly ranged against him? I have
heard that comment played back every time a white man wants to justify why
they think Mugabe's land crusade is nothing but "genocide" and "ethnic
These were charges levelled against Mugabe as Zimbabwe's
problems started. They have since taken a back seat now because his critics
have realised that there is little sympathy for the Zimbabwean white farmer
even in traditionally conservative British newspapers like The
It also bears keeping in mind that, although this comment
from Mugabe was clearly wrong primarily because it was a generalised comment
that seems more racist than anything else he had said before, he still has
not apologised to "good white people". This has given rise to the British
urban legend currently circulating which says that Mugabe told a rally in
2002 that "the only good white man is a dead white man". I know that the
president never said this, but it becomes credible because of that comment
at the airport, which practically every television news organisation in the
world still has on file.
The white man, therefore, fails to
understand it when Mugabe is elected into power by the people of Zimbabwe.
It has now become a case of if you can support such a nakedly racist man, a
latter-day Hitler, then you do not deserve our help or our
Which in turn explains why the white world has no qualms
about ensuring the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. If they get cheated
at elections and accept it without protest, without marching in the streets,
then they are no better than "the racist who wants all whites to tremble
simply because of their skin colour".
If, on the other
(unthinkable) hand, they are actually voting for this man, then they are all
racists as well, for they support his call to make whites suffer. So the
attitude then becomes: "To hell with Zimbabwe and its people." Why would
you want foreign currency from countries that are populated by the very same
people you want to suffer?
This, in my view, is how our suffering has
become a product of the actions of not only Mugabe, but his detractors as
well. His international (white) opponents seem not to be making any
distinction between Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe.
all the talk about the world "feeling for the oppressed people of Zimbabwe",
one thing is certain: should the people of Zimbabwe actually vote for Mugabe
freely and fairly, they would still not get any balance of payments support.
The West would still be urging each other to boycott holidays in Zimbabwe
because they are "immoral".
This explains, quite rationally, in my
view, why it is correct to say Zimbabwe will only be accepted by the West if
Mugabe is no longer president, regardless of whether the people of Zimbabwe
want him or not. As long as Mugabe is in power, no matter how fairly that
power is achieved, Zimbabwe can consider itself a pariah as far as the West
* Denford Magora is a marketing executive and freelance
Poll statistics stir familiar dispute Ray
ZIMBABWE'S election results in the 21st century have broken
their own record. Two general elections and a presidential poll in the past
five years raised the losing contestants' hackles and generated intense
disputes that the nature of their outcome appears cloned from a
prototype. Investing so much faith in translucent ballot boxes and the new
arrangement of one-day voting, followed by counting of ballots at each
polling station, did not guarantee transparency as many Zimbabweans
believed. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has rejected
the results of last Thursday's polls outright while the ruling Zanu PF is
basking in the glory of having handed the opposition party a crushing
defeat, garnering the elusive two-thirds majority it needs for
constitutional change. Mugabe direly needed the required majority to
consolidate his grip on power. The ruling Zanu PF had predicted a landslide
even before the final vote count was announced. "We are going to win. By
how much is what we are going to see," President Robert Mugabe beamed after
casting his vote at Cyril Jennings Hall on Thursday before discussing his
party's intention to make constitutional changes after garnering the
required two-thirds majority. Pollsters have remained unsurprised by the
source of dispute - statistics. Political pundits have often described
statistics as the most vulnerable and unreliable form of determinant,
particularly because these are susceptible to manipulation and easily
convert into counterfeit data, often employed to achieve an
end. Zimbabwe's bureaucracy has become a master at using counterfeit data to
prolong the lifespan of a moribund regime. Oddly enough, the MDC, which
said it had reversed its decision to boycott the election in response to
pressure from 95% of its members and took the decision with " a heavy
heart", fully aware that the odds were heavily skewed in their opponent's
favour, came out of the poll battle with an even heavier heart. The election
outcome inflicted on the opposition party untold heartaches and left it
wondering whether it was worth all the effort.
Voter figures released by
the newly constituted Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) appear at variance
with those announced as polled by Zanu PF candidates in several
constituencies. But the African Union (AU), the 13-member regional Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) and government delegations from Zambia,
Mozambique and Malawi joined economic powerhouse South Africa in saying the
poll was free, credible and reflected the will of the people. For the
South African observer teams giving the election a clean bill of health
seems to be a clone from a prototype too. When polling day came, about a
tenth of the voters were turned away from polling stations for various
One constituency, in which 14 812 people voted, according to
ZEC, was announced the next day to have awarded more than 15 000 votes to
the president's nephew, Patrick Zhuwawo. Bulawayo South MP David Coltart,
who is also an attorney, said the party was preparing a report on election
fraud. He said it would document "major disparities" in the vote, including
an unexplained 244 000-vote increase in the turnout, hours after the
official vote had been announced. Although MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai ruled
out taking legal action to contest the results on the back of past
experience of the 35 contested cases whose outcome had been stayed by the
Supreme Court since 2000, Coltart said the party may consider contesting as
many as 10 individual races to document the poll abuses. An analysis of
the election results indicates that in a number of districts where Zanu PF
candidates won narrowly, the number of people who tried to vote but were
turned away on technical grounds exceeded the margin of the opposition
According to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(Zesn), in Makoni East for instance, where Zanu PF won by 9 201 votes
compared to the MDC's 7 708, a total of 2 223 voters were turned away. In
addition, in Mutasa South, where Zanu PF got 9 715 and MDC 9 380 votes, a
total of 1 460 voters were turned away. In both cases, the number of voters
turned away was higher than the margin of victory.
Sadc principles and guidelines which oblige all states to allow all citizens
the right to participate in the political process and afford them equal
opportunity to vote. Tsvangirai told a media briefing that among the
irregularities his team had uncovered was subjective use of postal votes,
citing 800 party militia he said had been deployed into one constituency to
bolster Zanu PF support. Glaring variances are evident in the Beitbridge
constituency where 36 821 people had voted by close of voting, according to
announcements by the ZEC. But the winning Zanu PF candidate polled 14 305
votes while his opponent garnered 6 297 votes, giving a total of 20 602
votes. The total leaves 16 219 votes unaccounted for. Five years ago only 21
680 people voted in the constituency, pointing to a phenomenal increase of
15 141 more registered voters this year. By contrast, Mutare South
recorded 8 558 less voters than those who voted in 2000. This time the
constituency had 14 054 ballots cast last Thursday although the final result
showed the total votes were 19 772, with 11 552 going to the ruling
The discrepancies in the number of people who cast their votes in
six of the 13 constituencies as announced by ZEC exactly equals the number
of voters turned away in the whole province. These discrepancies are in
Chegutu (8 221), Hurungwe East (3 227), Hurungwe West (2 789), Manyame (8
948), Zvimba North (7 931) and Zvimba South (4 447). ZEC announced that 250
806 voters had cast their votes in Mashonaland West province with 35 267
voters turned away.
When an election official in Harare South
constituency heard election figures announced over national radio, he was
taken aback: "Those are not the total votes our team agreed with the
contesting parties as the final figures for the election," he
remarked. With the European Union (EU) condemning the election and the US
damning it as a "sham" for its inconsistencies, Zimbabwe is set for a long
haul of economic stagnation. The cost of a landslide victory could be a
worsening of economic prospects for a country that desperately
needs foreign direct investment to survive. It could prolong Zimbabwe's
isolation from the international community.
While the poll outcome
has entrenched Mugabe's grip on power, the chorus of condemnation about his
manner of victory from important international quarters is only likely to
worsen Zimbabwe's isolation.
University of Zimbabwe head of political and
administrative studies Eldred Masunungure says more targeted European and
American sanctions are likely to follow Mugabe's victory. "Some of the EU
countries and America will contemplate stiffening and broadening the
sanctions unless there is a fundamental policy shift by the government.
There has to be a serious paradigm shift and Mugabe must make a conscious
decision to change his domestic and foreign policies if he expects a
reprieve from the international community," says Masunungure.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's "landslide" election win last week may
turn out to be less than that. Once the self-congratulatory euphoria has
died down, Zanu PF will wake up to the cold reality that it won a Pyrrhic
victory. Not a single urban constituency fell to the ruling
Harare South is a mixed rural/urban seat which has been the
location of intensive resettlement, not to mention gerrymandering. But
elsewhere Mugabe's threats and blandishments made no impression on the
country's most important concentrations of population where a younger, more
educated generation - the nation's future - resides.
At the end
of last week, Mugabe remained what he had been before: the ruler of rural
Zimbabwe where voters, in the absence of independent newspapers and
alternative voices on the radio, were denied their right to make an informed
This is hardly the unambiguous declaration of support he said
was necessary to confront Tony Blair and George Bush. They will have seen a
failed autocrat unable to carry his message to Zimbabwe's teeming towns and
cities. They will have seen the scepticism of a younger generation who know
perfectly well who is responsible for their unemployment and growing
poverty. Mugabe's electoral deceit worked only where there was nobody to
expose it. Similarly, his racist pursuit of a handful of whites left in the
country failed to do the trick in Harare North or Bulawayo
Trudy Stevenson and David Coltart were retained with large
majorities. Even in the ruling party's rural heartland, seats such as
Chinhoyi, Kariba, Makoni East, Manyame, Bikita East, Gutu South, and Zhombe
showed significant support for the MDC. So did large parts of Manicaland
while the MDC held on to eight of its Matabeleland constituencies in
situations where voters were susceptible to threats to their food
supplies. The MDC won back Lupane which had been lost to Zanu PF in a
by-election and which we were told at the time had been restored to its
Far from being the "flash in the pan" of Zanu
PF's propaganda, the "fluke" winner of 57 seats in 2000, the MDC has emerged
from this battle intact and with its core support base in good order. Zanu
PF's fiction that 2000 represented some aberration has been exposed for the
lie it is. Zanu PF is the aberration, an anachronism in modern Africa still
clinging to the mantras of the liberation war.
Meanwhile, Mugabe will
have difficulty selling himself as the unchallenged voice of Zimbabwe. He
does not speak for the cities, for the youths, or for commerce and industry.
And when the blatant cheating is taken into account, there are many rural
people he manifestly doesn't speak for. Mugabe's legitimacy remains in doubt
so long as the many discrepancies in the final figures are open to
challenge. How does the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission explain the huge gap
between its totals for those voting and the votes won by the individual
Apart from these anomalies, the institutional framework
remains defective. Military and intelligence officers continue to serve on
the Electoral Supervisory Commission which is appointed by and answerable to
Mugabe. The National Command Centre is a gaping black hole. And the ZEC is
anyway fatally compromised. It appears not to have found a single problem in
last week's poll!
The state media, while allowing the occasional
appearance of MDC spokesmen in the final weeks of campaigning, churned out a
diet of Zanu PF propaganda and hate speech - not to mention transparent lies
- directed at the opposition. Zimbabwe does not have a democratic system
that permits voters access to differing views. It remains essentially a
dictatorship manipulating the levers of state power. Perhaps the worst
dimension of this is a suborned judiciary unwilling to uphold rights
enshrined in the constitution. The fact that MDC court applications against
violence and fraud in 2000 remain outstanding underlines this
At the end of the day the country remains as divided as ever
between those struggling for freedom because it can improve their lives and
the rest who have no idea what it means and for whom hunger is the price of
Mugabe is either unwilling or unable to bridge
this chasm. Nothing will change until he goes. That much must be obvious to
even his closest associates who thought, until recently, their loyalty to
tyranny was a ladder to power. What do they say now?
the MDC should stop licking its wounds and instead congratulate the hundreds
of thousands of voters who successfully defended its turf against a
predatory ruling party which, as this election has proved, is incapable of
winning a free and fair poll and long ago lost its national mandate.
DESPITE the government's vociferous contentions to the contrary,
few will agree that last week's parliamentary elections were truly free and
fair. Even if there had been no ulterior motives for the Delimitation
Commission's revision of constituencies, and even if there had been no
tampering with the registration of voters, and even though there was
evidently no "stuffing" of ballot boxes, the elections were not wholly free
and fair. Admittedly, various regional observer teams gave the "thumbs up"
to the conduct of the elections, but they were clearly duped or unaware of
Although the state-controlled media pretended to give
equal time or space to all contenders, that did not happen in practice. That
applied only to paid advertising and to so-called party political
broadcasts. But for months there was not a day when the news reports,
commentaries and articles did not focus exclusively upon promoting Zanu PF
and castigating the Movement for Democratic Change. While the elections were
relatively peaceful and without the violence that had characterised previous
polls, nevertheless there was intimidation, even though the government
On the one hand, many constituencies having been the victims
of intimidation in 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2002, there was an
entrenched fear that if any constituency failed to elect the ruling party
candidate, there would be retribution in due course.
On the other
hand, the president, addressing a Tsholotsho rally, threatened that if Zanu
PF did not win that constituency there would never be further development
there. That made many in other constituencies fear similar
repercussions. Be that as it may be, Zimbabwe needs to accept the result,
for every attention should now be directed vigorously to achieving the
long-talked-about economic turnaround, for the ever greater slide into the
depths of poverty for most of the population must be halted.
PF's resounding victory, howsoever attained, makes it possible for the
government to concentrate intensively upon bringing about the desperately
needed, long overdue economic recovery. Inclusive of the 30
president-appointed members of parliament, Zanu PF will have 108 seats in
parliament out of 150, or almost three-quarters of the legislature. With
that strength, the government can afford to abandon past destructive
policies and to embark upon others which can restore the Zimbabwe economy to
its 1997 levels, and then build thereon.
The first focus should be
upon the dismal failure of the land reform programme. Few can deny that, for
the greater part of the 20th century, Zimbabwe had appalling, racially
discriminatory land policies, and that reform was needed. But if there had
been a deliberate attempt to destroy agriculture - the foundation of the
economy - the government could not have done so more effectively than it did
with its unjust and ill-conceived programme of land acquisition and
That programme displaced over 4 000 successful farmers,
300 000 farm workers and more than a million of their dependants. It reduced
Zimbabwe from self-sufficiency in food to a nation of under-nourished. It
lowered agricultural production by almost two-thirds. The government
attributed the collapse of agriculture to drought. But the government, the
populace and the world know otherwise.
Only two weeks before the
election, Vice President Joseph Msika appealed to new farmers to cooperate
and work with white commercial farmers. That appeal should be progressed, in
the interests of the white farmers, the new farmers and the Zimbabwean
economy. At the outset, the government should make a sincere endeavour to
attract the former white commercial farmers back to their farms or, in the
case of larger farms, to parts thereof.
Concurrently, it should implement
a genuine compensation for those lands not returned, for the improvements
thereon, the vandalisation and looting that has decimated many of the farms,
and for years of loss of income.
While doing so, the government must
unhesitatingly, although belatedly, return all farms as were protected by
international bilateral investment agreements, such as exist between
Zimbabwe on the one hand and Germany, Italy and the Netherlands on the
other, among others. Failure to do so is not only to the prejudice of
agriculture, but also an overwhelming deterrent to procuring foreign direct
investment, although the president has declared 2005 as the year of
The second key task is to intensify the war on inflation. The
Reserve Bank has done much to reduce inflation from its January 2004
all-time high of 622,8% to 127,2% for the year to February 2005.
rising world oil prices, an inevitable need to import food, declining
industrial productivity and significant real depreciation of the Zimbabwe
dollar (within the unlawful parallel market which fuels much of the
country's imports) are all likely to force inflation upwards once
more. That is unless the government does something about it. Its actions must
be to reduce its own spending very considerably. Perhaps the first step
would be to abandon the intent to establish a senate to complement
parliament. Zimbabwe cannot afford to create "more jobs for the boys"!
Foreign Zimbabwean embassies in excess of real need should be closed,
parastatals privatised, the number of state residences reduced, provincial
governorships dispensed with, presidential entourages cut in size and the
budget of the Information and Publicity department substantially
Motivating investment is critical, in order to achieve job
creation, access technologies, source new markets, generate economic
activity and source foreign exchange. But attracting investment is not easy
when an economy is derelict, and especially so when potential investors are
given grounds to doubt the future security of their investments. The
blatant disregard for bilateral international investment protection
agreements was a major nail in the coffin of investment promotion. Then the
government hammered in another big nail when the president first stated that
at leas 50% of all mines must be owned by Zimbabwean blacks (which is how he
defines "indigenous"), subsequently modifying the demand to 20%, and more
recently there have been statements that the countries of the region intend
"to repossess the mineral wealth bequeathed to them by Cecil
And recurrently the government makes statements demanding
indigenous participation in all enterprises. It is time that it learned that
coercion is counterproductive. Motivation, incentivisation and facilitation
is more effective. Who will invest, be they residents or non-residents, when
they must live in continuing uncertainty as to whether they will, at some
stage, be forcibly deprived of some or all of their investments,
particularly without even receiving fair compensation?
foreign investment, Zimbabwe must also demonstrate that it is a genuine
democracy. The government will argue that the recent parliamentary election
is the proof of that democracy, but many will remain unconvinced. However,
were the government to repeal the oppressive, iniquitous and undemocratic
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and
Security Act and facilitate the re-establishment of a free and independent
daily press, it will go a long way towards conversion of the
That would be strengthened if, concurrently, a genuine
independent, free and fair judiciary and judicial system would once again
come into being. And that should be further augmented by demonstrating real
intent to re-establish law and order throughout Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF celebrate a "victory" in which they failed to win a single urban
seat and lost several they had flagged as marking their return to national
ascendancy such as Zengeza, Kadoma and Lupane Turning a blind eye to their
failure to make any inroads in the MDC's core constituencies, the ruling
party's propagandists tried to turn this disappointing outcome on its
head. "What stronghold can the MDC talk of when Zanu PF has won Harare South,
Bubi/Umguza, Manyame, Gwanda and many other seats that opposition myths
branded as untouchables.?" one gloating commentator asked in the state
press. The answer to that is obvious: the cities and towns of Zimbabwe.
That stronghold populated by the people who were able to make an informed
choice, unlike their country cousins! Harare South, as the Herald pointed
out in its remarkably sober account on Saturday, is a mixed urban/rural
constituency. Zanu PF candidates were utterly crushed in Bulawayo, Harare,
Kadoma, and Mutare. Only in Masvingo was it a close-run thing. What did
poor old Victoria Chitepo do to deserve being humiliated in this way (4 648
votes to Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga's 14 841) in Glen Norah? And why
couldn't Zanu PF manage more than a pathetic 5 555 in Kambuzuma to the MDC's
17 394? Now let's hear Zanu PF claim the MDC is only a "flash in the pan"! It
was Zanu PF's capture of Zengeza and Lupane that were the flashes in the
pan. Trudy Stevenson's core vote came from the Hatcliffe Estate. Evidently,
President Mugabe's pernicious message about whites failed to travel there.
And does anybody for one minute doubt that Heather Bennett would have won
Chimanimani in a free and fair poll? And what of Emmerson Mnangagwa? How
come there hasn't been a single mention in the government media of his
fate? Didymus Mutasa said the MDC would win a maximum of 15 seats. What can
we say now of his analytical powers? And Mugabe, speaking of Jonathan Moyo
in Tsholotsho, said "the real Tsholotsho doesn't belong to this man - the
chiefs don't even know him". They don't know Mugabe either, it would
seem. He clearly miscalculated in the inducements offered to chiefs and
headmen. The real Tsholotsho placed the president's party third in its list
of loyalties. And Binga, Hwange East, Hwange West, Nkayi, Bulilima, Mangwe,
Matobo and Umzingwane remained loyal to the opposition. Hardly a Zanu PF
clean sweep even in rural Zimbabwe! Meanwhile, Zanu PF apologists did their
best to make the best of a bad job. We particularly liked the report on
election day from the ZTV man with the helicopter rotor blade churning in
the background. He was completely drowned out and so was Augustine Chihuri.
But ZTV ran the clip anyway! Then there was the Zimbabwe/Mozambique music
festival filler interspersed with a very old cricket match that popped up in
the middle of it. ZTV must ensure when recording over old tapes that we don't
see the original footage in the middle of a concert!
Mugabe, voting in Highfield, said "the people are behind us". Indeed they
were. He had jumped the queue. But alas, when it came to the count, the
people were no longer behind him. His party managed only a miserable 4 296
against the MDC's 12 600. And this was the cradle of the revolution we are
always being told! Somebody else the people were behind was land-recipient
Reuben Barwe. He referred to the long line of voters behind him.
Unfortunately it was rather difficult to see behind Reuben as he occupied
most of the screen. And let's hope in his final term as president that Mugabe
mellows a bit. Every time he was asked an awkward question by Western
journalists he appeared to be on the verge of losing it, then caught himself
and calmed down. But he shouldn't be so disconcerted by every question put
to him by Sky and others. It's all part of the business of politics and he
should be able to handle that by now. Asked about the MDC's response to
defeat, Mugabe said: "History has shown us that (the MDC) are a very violent
people." We recall him saying the same thing when Cain Nkala's body was found
in November 2001. We now know that information was false. So does he - but
he repeats it. Why wasn't he asked where Joseph Mwale was hiding? That
was a perfect opportunity while he was claiming that Tony Blair was lying
when he said there was no rule of law in Zimbabwe. If there is rule of law
why do political killers and bombers continue to run loose? He should answer
that. We liked the Sunday Mail's commentary on Zanu PF's defeat in Masvingo
Central. Governor Josiah Hungwe said Mugabe had wanted the party to win the
seat back. Hungwe said he had wanted to deliver the seat back "but failed
because of circumstances". And Dr Joseph Kurebwa appears to think "Harare
is unique because it is a city of government, hence voters in this area tend
to be polarised". What is he talking about? The message to the president from
Harare was the same as that from Bulawayo, Mutare, and every other urban
centre. It was unambiguous: "We don't want your lame excuses
The Sunday News published a set of six pictures on its front page.
The top three were winners: Obert Mpofu, Bright Matonga, and Samuel Udenge;
the bottom three were losers: Renson Gasela, Paul Themba Nyathi and Amos
Midzi. Now, wasn't there somebody who should have been in the bottom row
ahead of the other losers; somebody who has now lost three elections, one in
1999, the other in 2000, and the latest last week? Strange how the Sunday
News didn't find that noteworthy. The newspaper told us the election outcome
was "a moment to savour". Indeed it was in many constituencies! While the
state press was congratulating itself on a free and fair outcome, the
government was busy arresting and deporting journalists whose reporting
proved inconvenient. A Swedish journalist was deported for "stage-managing
an incident". And what was this incident? He tried to interview former farm
workers in Norton about their plight. He was arrested after a complaint by
the farm owner, Chester Mhende who had taken possession from Mr Whaley. Free
speech has it limits, it would seem, especially when it comes to ex-farm
workers! The Department of Information should understand that any
goodwill built up by allowing so many journalists in during the election
would have been dissipated at one stroke by the deportation of the Swedish
journalist - who was accredited and therefore free to ask whatever questions
he liked - and the detention without bail of the two Telegraph journalists
who will tell the world about Aippa and our prison system. Another own
goal! Meanwhile, the Herald thought we would be impressed by the news that
Zvimba MP Sabina Mugabe had scored a first in the region by being the only
mother to sit in parliament with her two sons. The paper seems blissfully
unaware that having the head of state's relatives occupying seats in
parliament is not something most countries - except perhaps Swaziland - like
to boast of!
Should Tafataona Mahoso be getting himself into a messy
media spat with the Law Society over Aippa? He was responding to an LSZ
statement on electoral preparations. Mahoso seems to think he is obliged
to leap to the defence of this thoroughly bad law - and Posa for good
measure - every time it is criticised, or in this case, because the
legislation impinged on a free and fair electoral outcome. He called the LSZ
statement an "absurdity". Not content with this maladroit foray, he goes on
to defend his Media Ethics Committee's survey that long ago sunk into
oblivion and deserves to remain there. Did anybody, apart from Mahoso
himself, take its conclusion seriously that the "overwhelming majority of
Zimbabweans" wanted statutory regulation of all mass media services? Can
you imagine thousands of Zimbabweans out on the streets carrying placards
saying "We demand statutory regulation of all mass media services"? The
Supreme Court has already commented on Mahoso's alleged bias emanating from
his newspaper articles. Many would say he is well qualified to comment on
"absurdity" when he finds it in others. But he should understand there are
times when silence is golden if he hopes to earn public respect. This was
one of them.
We must thank presidential spokesperson George Charamba for
setting the record straight about Aippa. According to the Daily Mirror,
Charamba let it be known last week that he was the brains behind Aippa and
was proud of his product. This could explain why it was so sloppily
drafted, not to mention malignant. Eddison Zvobgo described it as the most
serious assault on civil liberties he had ever seen in his career in
parliament. Charamba told reporters in Harare: "Aippa was an attempt to have
a rule that manages the media. It has gone a long way in doing that and I am
proud of it." He claimed to have done a lot of research into the law. We
all know the result of that law was the closure of four newspapers in two
years. One proud promoter of that legislation was his former boss who now
wants to seize every opportunity to get coverage from the same media he
sought to close down. We hope Charamba is learning something from Moyo's
folly instead of indulging in braggadocio.
Muckraker was amused to
read the silly article in the Herald on Tuesday saying "some" manufacturers
and the MDC were in cahoots to push up food prices in order to "cause
unrest". This is the sort of childish conspiracy-theory economics that has
caused so much damage in the past. The reality is of course that the
government artificially held down prices in order to buy votes and is now
facing the consequences of its populist policies. One of the things MDC
youths were accused of in their fliers this week was saying there would be
petrol shortages. We recall the head of the fuel marketers association
before the election telling his members how unpatriotic it was to charge
realistic prices. This could sabotage Zanu PF's chances in the poll, he
helpfully said. He should be held accountable for partisan collaboration and
subsequent fuel shortages.
Has Lowani Ndlovu undergone a sudden
transformation or has he left the Sunday Mail? This week's contribution was
remarkable for its lack of the usual venom and use of profane language.
Instead, there was a call for unity of purpose among all Zimbabweans for the
country to move forward. Is this the same fellow who before the election was
seeing running dogs of imperialism at every turn? But he appears to take
President Mugabe's offer to talk to the MDC too seriously. He has given us
no precedent for fair-dealing with the opposition. Those who are in doubt
can check with former PF-Zapu leaders who negotiated the 1987 Unity Accord.
The result was complete capitulation. Lowani said: "Constructive engagement
between Zanu PF and the MDC is the best and shortest way forward for
Zimbabwe ." to limit the pain that people are going through. This has been
evident to all Zimbabweans and foreigners of goodwill since the 2000
election. It is only Zanu PF, Mugabe and the new Lowani who are making the
discovery now! Soon after the February 2000 constitutional referendum Mugabe
made similar unctuous remarks about peace and accepting the people's
verdict. Many are still licking their wounds from the retribution that
followed. There were similarly half-hearted overtures about talks after the
presidential election. But that was only up to a time when Mugabe started
setting his own terms of trying to swallow the MDC which he routinely
attacked as an imperialist outfit. Why should we trust him now to honour
his word? Why does Lowani believe Mugabe now means it, although in truth
everybody knows that is the best option for Zimbabwe? For the painful
truth for Mugabe and his Zanu PF is that their victory is as hollow as a
tunnel echoing to itself. It cannot bring together the key stakeholders that
the country needs to move forward. It has spawned a debilitating national
depression and cynical disillusion about the entire electoral process.
Nobody takes the rural result seriously. Not even Mugabe himself can be
proud of the so-called electoral mandate he has got.
This is in sharp
contrast to the delusional Mzala Joe of the Sunday News. Still pursuing the
discredited line that British prime minister Tony Blair wants to colonise
Zimbabwe, Mzala Joe asserted this scheme had been thwarted by his party's
victory. The landslide victory, proclaimed Cde Joe, would enable Zimbabweans
to focus their energies on socio-economic development and "get on with life
as we know it". If Mzala Joe is not a Martian he will know that the last five
years have been the darkest part of the Zanu PF nightmare and political
stalemate. Nobody would want to get on with life as we have known it in past
few years. In fact Zimbabweans were praying for a break from their misery
and have no illusions about the causes. But we enjoyed the macabre irony
in the heading of his article: "Zanu PF tsunami buries MDC." Unfortunately,
in his short-sighted euphoria he could not realise it was more than the MDC
that has been hit by this Zanu PF calamity. Only irredeemable idiots would
see a positive result out of a tsunami.
And what could be more
alarmist than the Herald lead headline on Tuesday: "MDC unleashes violence"?
The self-serving story then claimed rowdy MDC youths had "rampaged" in the
Harare city centre in the afternoon "beating up people and stoning shops" in
order to "misinform and confuse" the public about the situation in the
country. The alleged rowdy youths were moving in "several groups" across
Nelson Mandela Avenue when they were spotted by the alert Herald reporter
who was standing in a bank queue. The reporter claims to have been "kicked
all over the body" before the youths disappeared. Police at the time managed
to arrest only two of the youths from the "several groups" terrorising
people in the city centre in broad daylight! One wonders what the
situation is like in the rural areas if it's so easy to cause mayhem in the
city centre and police can only apprehend two offenders. Where was Newsnet
to capture the horror as it unfolded we wonder?
Finally, now Tony Blair
has announced an election date in the UK, will it be an anti-Mugabe
THE recent announcement of wages for domestic workers has created
near panic in many homes.
The new wages are so outrageous that the
general expectation is that they will be revised shortly. We understand that
the new wages are as follows:
Garden worker $800 000 per
House worker $850 000 per month;
Child minder $900 000 per
Qualified disabled minder $950 000 per
Allowances if workers live off the
Accommodation $100 000 per month;
Lights $60 000;
Fuel $86 600;
The Government Gazette notice says these new wages apply from
However, legal advice is that they cannot be applied
retrospectively and we suggest that you ignore this aspect and simply pay
your domestic workers their normal salaries and allowances for March at the
As regards the application of the new rates, it is clear
that these are beyond the ability of most people to pay. We suggest, if
these new rates exceed 20% of your take-home income after tax, that you
The Permanent Secretary, The Ministry of Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare.
In your letter you should state
your address, the staff you employ as domestic workers, their salaries and
allowances, and that your take-home income after tax does not enable you to
afford the salaries listed in the Statutory Instrument Number 15 of 2005
published on March 25.
The actual minimum wage agreed by the board
that deals with these matters was half the salaries shown
If you can afford this then you should state that in your
submission. If not, you should indicate what you can afford and state that
with effect from April 1 you will pay your staff at this
You should then tell the secretary that you wish to formally
apply for exemption from the regulations on the grounds that you cannot
afford the wages shown in the Statutory Instrument.
of your income after tax would be essential and should be included as an
attachment to the letter.
Inform your staff of what you have done and
if you feel comfortable with this, give them a copy of your letter. Keep a
copy of the letter and any attachments.
If you are subsequently
visited by the trade union officials do not discuss this issue with them -
simply direct them to the ministry where your appeal will eventually be
PITY the poor
urban voter. President Robert Mugabe was this week full of praise for his
loyal rural electorate. But he didn't have kind words for the "habitually
fickle" urban voters who do not share his revolutionary zeal amid poverty
and general deprivation.
Worse still for the urban voter who punctured
the Zanu PF myth that it had made significant inroads into towns and cities,
there was no heartfelt thank you from the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. A few feeble adverts appeared almost a week later, all complaining
about how "we woz robbed", not praising the electorate who saved the party
from a Zanu PF avalanche, and hoped for change at last.
noting that rural support for Zanu PF was most "consistent, reliable and a
formidable defence for our revolution", Mugabe conceded his party's "appeal"
in urban areas was "limited and mixed" in a constituency that is more
discerning and has clear needs such as accommodation, employment, transport,
housing, health and affordable education.
He didn't say how his party
managed to appeal to voters in rural areas short of using discredited
coercive methods such as violence or threats of it, denial of food and use
of traditional leaders to marshal terrified villagers into polling stations.
Most villagers were told it was very easy to discover who they voted for. In
rural areas it's a believable lie. Not once did Mugabe say "Your vote is
Still those who voted got a presidential thank
What we couldn't understand was the MDC leadership's reaction to
the election outcome. It is not about rigging or not. When they were asked
by the Sadc observer mission to produce evidence of rigging, they could not.
When foreign media organisations wanted to interview party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai at his home, we understand he slammed the gate in their face. He
didn't want to take advantage of the media publicity to make his case.
Supporters and voters felt let down in a big way. There was clearly no
leadership to articulate their frustrations and concerns about the result of
the vote. Instead MDC leaders chose to hold a press conference in
The MDC leadership appeared thoroughly
devastated by the result as if it was unexpected. It was as if they had
expected to win, which would be naïve in the extreme.
issue is not anymore about whether the party should have participated in the
election or not. That decision was taken and the MDC lost so to speak. They
have given legitimacy to a fraudulent process and made South African
president Thabo Mbeki's job of defending his "quiet diplomacy" that much
easier. The issue is about leadership paralysis in the MDC, lack of Plan B
when it was most urgently needed. Forty-one seats is not a small number and
the MDC should have shown gratitude to the urban electorate while protesting
the alleged "theft".
It is one thing for the party to allege
irregularities which it may fail to prove but quite another to examine its
own shortcomings objectively. We all know that they were given only a few
appearances on TV and on national radio to campaign. We know that Posa and
Aippa were always going to militate against their campaign strategies. Then
there was the massive onslaught by the very media that denied them the right
of reply. That appears to be ongoing.
In fact, you would think
the MDC had nearly won the election given the abuse the state media is
heaping on them.
But the opposition party's effectiveness on the
ground is now compromised given its loss of heart. In addition to electoral
manipulation, Zanu PF has a built-in majority when the 30 presidential
appointees are weighed in the balance.
Another big drawback
reinforced by the current leadership paralysis is the MDC's inability to
take swift decisions. We warned towards the end of last year that the party
was taking too long to make up its mind about whether or not to take part in
the election. We said voters would need time as well to make up their mind
once the MDC decided to participate.
Even after President Mugabe
announced the March 31 date, the party remained encumbered by a ponderous
decision-making process until the very last minute.
decision was finally made, the party took its "heavy heart" to the voters
when it was too late in the day, as if it had limitless resources and
capacity to reach all corners of the country. Yet its advertising reach was
less than adequate.
Its tug-of-war with the National
Constitutional Assembly about whether to vote or not could only have made
matters worse. Even those who were registered were caught in a web of
conflicting signals about what they were supposed to do.
of galvanising potential supporters with the beauty of its programmes, the
MDC adopted the same blame strategies that Zanu PF has perfected over the
Mugabe is wrong to blame all the country's problems on a
treacherous opposition and imperialist machinations, but he may well be
right in his assessment that his party's poor performance in the cities was
due "more to our weakness than to opposition strength".
mind what the Sadc protocols say, the political playing field will never be
even when you have a flawed constitution and government has overwhelming
influence on what constitutes voter education and by whom. It is a cliché
that no government will legislate itself out of power. Politics would have
lost its fatal allure.
Yet the MDC went into the electoral race as if
victory was guaranteed. People may not love Zanu PF, but they hate an
alternative that is indecisive and cannot be trusted to provide leadership
when this is sorely required.
What party supporters now want to know is
what the MDC plans to do next. Zimbabweans have been on tenterhooks for far
too long. The country cannot endure another five years of enervating
political stalemate between the MDC and a visionless Zanu PF.
MDC will also need to sort out the evident division between its hawkish "no
to voting, no to talks, no to compromise" camp and those who feel there are
no absolute victors in political games. Otherwise the party risks political