The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

A small sign of big things to come?

Zimbabwe Today

The words of a government mouthpiece may betray a change of thinking at the

An article in today's (April 23) Herald, the state-run newspaper normally
considered to be the direct voice of the Zimbabwe government, appears to
concede that Zanu-PF cannot claim victory in the current elections, and
calls instead for a "transitional government of national unity."

It criticises leaders of Zanu-PF, and seems to suggest that for the first
time the government must accept the prospect of sharing power with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The author of the article is Dr. Obediah Mukura Mazombwe, and much of his
piece rehearses the familiar arguments that blame all Zimbabwe's ills on the
West, particularly what he calls the "Anglo-American establishment."

But he goes on to say this: "Indeed the Zimbabwean situation is 'dire', but
not all is lost. Zimbabwe and Africa and the progressive international
community can turn it around."

He then apears to dismiss the prospect of a run-off election. "The current
socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe is not conducive, and the country's
political dynamics so distorted, that holding a free and fair election
run-off in the immediate term is literally impossible."

He goes on to suggest a new constitution for the country be written, with
the help of SADC and the "international community", to be adopted after a
national referendum.

Then, in co-operation with SADC and "invited" members of the international
community, fresh free and fair elections should be held. Meanwhile, he
maintains - and this is no surprise - that any government of national unity
should retain Robert Mugabe as President.

Then, unusually for a government mouthpiece, Dr. Mazombwe's article goes on
to criticise the leadership of both main political parties. With a possible
eye on the violence currently being wreaked by Mugabe's men across the
nation, he says this:

"The peace and independence of Zimbabwe, that it has enjoyed since
independence, is at great risk. Whilst the ruling party must stop behaving
like a wounded buffalo, the opposition party must stop its hysterica and
lapses into delusion.

"The ruling party, as the senior and more experienced organisation, both
nationally and internationally, needs to show greater self-restraint and

The criticisms of Morgan Tzvangirai and his MDC are swingeing, of course,
while those of Mugabe and his men remain mild. But the fact that they are
there at all is something to behold. And one wonders what the "wounded
buffalo" in State House makes of it.

Posted on Wednesday, 23 April 2008 at 08:10

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Farmers on high alert as army unleashes terror campaign

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:44
BULAWAYO - Farmers in the Nymandhlovu area have received information
that a major onslaught on MDC supporters has been planned.
While a plan is in place for all areas who did not vote for Zanu (PF)
in the March 29 election, special attention is being given to the
Nymandhlovu area. The campaign is being overseen by the ruling party MP for
the Umgusa area, Obert Mpofu, who was closely implicated in the death of
MDC supporter Martin Olds in 2000.
Sources say Mpofu has a comprehensive list of MDC supporters. "An army
camp is being set up so that these supporters can be terrorised. All the
farmers in this area have been known to support the opposition and already
farm workers have been intimidated and prevented from coming to work," said
the source.
Mpofu has allegedly said he wants one man killed as soon as possible
so that a lesson is learnt by all people. The victim must be a known MDC
supporter .
Police officers in Nymandhlovu have been instructed to turn a blind
eye to "political matters". Meetings have been held to plan the run- up to
the re-run of the presidential election.
"There is a deliberate delaying tactic to the announcement of results
to give the army time to re-educate the people. When the results come out
then there will 21 days to get the environment conducive to elections," said
the source.
Albert Ncube and a cohort, known as "Nhliziyo," from Pumula township
who were both known to be involved in the murder of  Gloria Olds have been
"drafted back into the fray", said the source. In addition, a gang of people
have been drafted in from Pumula township with the promise of land, he said.
"This is all very bad, we are all on high alert," the source said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Junta swaps ivory for arms

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:43
HARARE - Robert Mugabe's military junta has illegally sold more than
eight tonnes of ivory to China as part payment for a consignment of arms
supplies that provoked an international storm this week.
The Zimbabwean heard that the cash-strapped military junta had in
March this year flown to China ivory worth US$1 million as part payment for
thousands of AK rifles, shipped from Beijing around the same time.
The Geneva-based secretariat of the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species (CITES), to which Zimbabwe belongs, had already begun
investigating the alleged illicit ivory sale which, if found true, could be
a serious breach of CITES rules.
Zimbabwe this week dismissed the allegations.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

CIO rank and file want Mugabe to go

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:42
HARARE - Middle and junior-ranking officers of the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) have recommended that Robert Mugabe concede
defeat and step down.
However, the CIO's top directors, who report directly to the
President, were blocking this message from reaching him. The CIO officers
said several of their colleagues working on the "2008 elections assignment"
emphasized that intelligence reports suggest that Mugabe has lost support
even of his key allies in Zanu (PF), except a radical clique which is urging
him to fight another day, mainly because they were eager to protect their
These include Emmerson Mnangagwa, Ignatius Chombo, Chris Mushowe,
Oppah Muchinguri, Kembo Mohadi, Elliot Manyika and Didymus Mutasa.
The Zimbabwean heard that all CIO provinces headed by provincial
intelligence officers (PIOs) have recommended that Mugabe step down to save
the country from further collapse.
This has been shot down by senior CIO chiefs Elisha Muzonzini,
director Internal; his deputy Alexander Kanengoni, and the deputy director
general Maynard Muzariri.
"Our major task as CIO officers is to report frankly and accurately to
our top bosses on what is happening on the ground," said one junior officer.
"Several of our officers have presented several reports to the chiefs but
they have no guts to tell mukuru to go, a move that has angered and
frustrated many junior officers."
Junior and middle ranking officers said they were also livid with the
purchase of luxury vehicles for the CIO chiefs. All directors and their
deputies have taken delivery of luxury cars, while the junior and middle
raking officers have been left wallowing in poverty, with inadequate pool
"The President used to interact a lot with lower ranking officers,
apart from his formal contacts with the directors," one middle-ranking
officer said. "But that suddenly stopped and he now relies on his favoured
officers who are badly advising him."
Discussion on succession has been banned in the spy agency, according
to our sources. Intelligence reports also suggest that the disillusionment
is also simmering in the rank-and-file of the army and police over mounting
economic hardships, amid reports the National Reaction Force is now relying
on robbery and looting during raids to sustain their families.
The CIO's intelligence officers, who are deployed to mingle and
interact with the ordinary people - the heart and soul of the organisation -
had in the past few months conducted an "intelligence census" which
supported the theory that "Zanu (PF) was deeply divided over Mugabe's
continued rule."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Security forces' joint operation in high-density suburbs

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:39
The MDC has written to the defence forces chief and the police
commissioner complaining about the security forces' joint operation in
high –density suburbs. A local residents association has also called for
them to restrain the police and soldiers, who are beating up innocent
The Combined Harare Residents Association said it had received reports
of escalating State-sponsored post-election violence, with residents in most
wards complaining of beatings by the uniformed forces.
"Ten of our members have died, four of them in the last few days, due
to political violence perpetrated by ruling party supporters in the
aftermath of the elections," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
"History is replete with evidence that violence as an instrument of
political coercion is ineffective and counter-productive," said CHRA's
Israel Mabhoho.
A police spokesman said people who felt they had been wronged or
unfairly treated during the operation should report to the police. The
police appeared to exonerate the army on allegations of high-handedness,
saying the police were fully responsible for the operation.
"All operations in Harare and elsewhere are police operations," he
said. "Members of the military or police committing any offences should be
reported at the nearest police station. They must not harass anyone but
suppress lawlessness."
People are convinced the beatings are being carried out as punishment
for voting overwhelmingly for the MDC in last month's controversial
election. The MDC won all but one seat in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC appeals to Red Cross

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:42
JOHANNESBURG - The MDC has made an impassioned plea for the
International Committee of the Red Cross to attend to the thousands of
Zimbabweans around the country who have beaten or tortured by Robert
Mugabe's vicious militia and police thugs since it became apparent that the
aged dictator lost the March 29 elections.
Tendai Biti, the party's secretary general, told a news conference
here this week that international humanitarian help was desperately needed
to save lives in Zimbabwe, where more than 10 defenceless civilians have
already been killed by rampaging armed, supporters of Zanu (PF).
"What is happening now is worse than what happened during the war of
liberation. We have to deal with thousands of refugees inside our country
and we call on the ICRC to come to our aid. There is a war going on inside
Zimbabwe today," said Biti.
He also appealed to various United Nations bodies to assist with the
increasing flood of internally displaced people.
Doctors without Borders has already established a camp in Musina (on
the border) to house and treat the thousands who are fleeing southwards from
the reign of terror.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Blood on their hands

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:38
It is now clear that the Chinese hurriedly sent to Zimbabwe deadly
arms of war to aide the Mugabe regime as soon as it became apparent that the
regime had lost the March elections. Why losers of an election would need
such a massive supply of weapons needs little imagination.
The delayed release of the presidential results and the fraudulently
engineered process of recounting occurred while the ship was steaming across
the Indian Ocean from China. We don't yet know if this is the only
consignment of weapons ordered, or what else is en route.
We condemn the Chinese government in the strongest terms for sending
arms to fuel such a clearly volatile situation. The people of Zimbabwe will
hold the Chinese government personally responsible for the injury and death
of any Zimbabwean following the supply of weapons to Mugabe's military
We urge Zimbabweans around the world to express their disgust at the
contempt for civilian life displayed by the Chinese government in aiding
Mugabe in this callous way. Zimbabweans should make known their anger and
disgust by joining Tibetans in their demonstrations against the holding of
the Olympics in Beijing.
We also urge them to boycott Chinese products. China's open disregard
for human rights, human lives and the international rule of law in their own
country, and their aiding and abetting the brutal Mugabe regime to do
likewise, is unacceptable in the 21st Century and the world must send
Beijing a clear signal to this effect.
Let us show the world that we will not allow China to fundraise to
build Olympic Stadia by selling arms to an illegal and tyrannical regime in
Africa so that it can enjoy the prestige of hosting the world games while
Zimbabweans die.
We call upon all friends of Zimbabwe to join us in our fight and to
stand beside us as we display our abhorrence of the Chinese actions in
Zimbabwe's desperate crisis.
There is no need for Zimbabwe to arm itself. Zimbabwe is not under
threat from any of its neighbours, nor is it at war with any other nation.
These arms can serve no other purpose other than to further repress the
people. In the weeks since the elections, more than 3000 families have
already been displaced and 10 opposition activists murdered.
We take our hats off to COSATU and its members in Durban for refusing
to offload this sinister cargo and we urge other unions in Africa to follow
their progressive lead. They have proved that they are true friends of
Zimbabwe and their actions were well calculated to preserve Zimbabwean
What is the critical number of deaths necessary to compel the world to
act? If we have learned anything from any previous African political
conflict it is that evil prevails while good men exercise quiet diplomacy

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki scared of Mugabe

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:38
… traumatised by 1982 jail term
Former ZIPRA army commander, Ackim Ndlovu,  and intelligence security
chief, Dumiso Dabengwa, have said the reason why South African president
Thabo Mbeki is scared of Robert Mugabe is because he was once detained for
four months in Matabeleland together with several members of  the ANC who
were operating from  inside Zimbabwe.
Speaking to The Zimbabwean this week Ndlovu said there was no way
Mbeki could criticise Mugabe considering that he "was jailed at Khami Prison
in 1982 without trial for four months accused of supplying Zapu with arms
and he knows how evil the man is and he is sacred of him".
"I think Mbeki is still being traumatized by that incident and every
time he meets Mugabe he is sacred even to talk," said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu's sentiments were supported by former Zanu (PF) politburo
member Dumiso Dabengwa who was also in detention at the time.
"It's obvious Mbeki is still sacred of this old man after what he did
to him in the early 1980s. We were with him in jail," said Dabengwa.
After meeting Mugabe on his way to Lusaka to the SADC emergency
meeting called to prevent Zimbabwe's disputed elections from erupting into
war, Mbeki told reporters in Harare that the election stalemate was not a
crisis and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be given time to release
the presidential results.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Sovereignty? Whose sovereignty?

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 22 April 2008 15:45
Fr. Oskar Wermter SJ
When the European powers had their "land grab" in Africa in the 19th
century, there was fierce competition between those proud nation states.
Each claimed "national sovereignty" as an absolute right in whose name each
occupied colonies on the empty continent.
The colonies became little replicas of the metropolitan powers,
enhancing their glory and might. In the name of this sovereignty the
colonial powers later fought each other in two 'World Wars', which turned
Europe into a slaughterhouse.
The African nations into which the colonies developed have proved very
docile pupils of their masters. Impoverished Zimbabwe treasures "national
sovereignty" as its most prized possession, together with "land", and claims
total power over its disenfranchised people on this basis.
Out of respect for "national sovereignty" African leaders avert their
eyes from the suffering of their brothers and sisters elsewhere, who are
beaten to bloody pulp by their tyrannical rulers.
What happened to the Pan-Africanism of the first generation of African
leaders?  The present generation pays only lip service to it since a real
Pan-African union would reduce the power of the nation states and lessen the
status of their leaders.
"National sovereignty" and "non-interference in the internal affairs
of sovereign nations" are sacred cows that must be called into question in
the name of the people who are the real owners of any sovereignty.
In our more and more open, globalised world there is a danger that
some powerful bullies push the smaller and weaker nations around. "National
sovereignty" might be considered necessary as a protection against such
But even this danger is no reason to stick to the isolated nation
state. To the contrary, it should persuade us to join forces. Africa, split
up into 53 "sovereign nations", cannot withstand the pressure. Only a
brotherhood of nations in solidarity with all its suffering people can.
African leaders must begin to think big about the continent and little
about themselves; they must cease to take themselves so deadly seriously.
If "national sovereignty" and "non-interference" prevents the people
of Africa from coming to the aid of their oppressed, abused, starved
brothers and sisters then we must question the value of such concepts,
inherited from 19th century colonial powers, and redefine them according to
our present-day needs.
The real people of Africa, men, women and children, their welfare,
health, education, work and shelter, must be the centre and focus of all
political endeavours and the attention of statesmen.
The state (its authority, sovereignty, power) is there for the people.
People must no longer be sacrificed in orgies of blood and violence to
the state, turned into a man-eating idol.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Walking the only choice for many

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 22 April 2008 15:45
Every day thousands of Zimbabweans take to the streets on their way to
work and then back home again. They walk in some cases for distances as long
as 25km because they cannot afford the transport costs that have been rising
on a weekly basis.
Edward, 27, stays in Epworth and is one of the few people who are
still in the light industries of Zimbabwe. He like his workmates wakes up as
early 5 a.m. to prepare to engage in a journey that has ceased to wear him
I'm used to the walking because I have been doing it since 2003. If I
am to go to work by bus then I will be working for transport only. I do not
even get to eat lunch because it's very expensive.
The government fleet of buses is down and the few that are still
roadworthy have been diverted to carrying policemen and soldiers as Robert
Mugabe tries to come to grips with the poll results. The uniformed forces
are bused into town everyday in their droves.
"ZUPCO buses are cheaper but, there are no longer coming to our places
we only see them in town parked at police stations. The kombis are expensive
and they hike there rates willy nilly. I have resorted to cycling from my
home in Chitungwiza," says Moses, who wakes up as early as 4am to cover a
distance of 30km from the dormitory town were the majority of workers
Every morning people in groups with an assortment of regalia from work
suits to business suits dash to work. They share jokes and discuss politics.
The numbers thin as they pass the posh suburbs of Hillside. Some of the
trekkers, who are domestic workers, will have reached their workplaces.
"My boss used to give me bus fare, but he has since stopped because
the transport costs are now very expensive. My co-workers have since left,
but I have to persevere since my kids need to eat," said Thelma Moyo who
works in the industrial area of Graniteside.
Thelma earns less than $1.5billion. She is  mother of three and her
combined earnings with her husband's are still under the poverty datum line
of $1.5.
With a monthly inflation in excess of over 150% the poverty datum line
for an average family of six is likely to increase to over $3billion. This
is not augured by pay increases so many people will have to walk to save
something from their earnings that are corroded by inflation.
The government established an affordable rail facility, but the
location makes it difficult to use. "Its almost the same with walking
straight to work and going to the railway station in Ruwa," said Thelma.
The trains are also not reliable and one risks not going to work
altogether if one waits for the train. Apart from that, many people have
lost trust in rail transport because of accidents that have been regular in
the country rail network due to vandalism.
Places like Chitungwiza, where many people live, do not have a rail
line. The sign that proclaims its construction is rusty and one has to get
closer to read it . The sign was put in the '80s and up to date there is not
a sign that it will ever be constructed.
Many skilled workers have left the country for greener pastures, the
few that are still in the country are either part of the 85% who are
unemployed, or are those with the stamina to endure the economic meltdown.
Walking to work is one preferred method of saving the meagre remunerations.
The Southern African country that is teetering on the brink of
economic social and political oblivion is home to the region highest taxed
workers. Economist and trade unionist condemned the government review of the
tax threshold and described it as total madness. What the worker is left
with is not enough to cover transport costs, medication and basic needs.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SA cops arrest activist for being late!

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:37
On 17 April we protested outside of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
(IPU) meeting in Cape Town and handed over a memorandum demanding that
parliaments no longer label Mugabe as the president of Zimbabwe, but as a
presidential candidate. We also demanded that deportations from South Africa
be discontinued until the crisis is resolved.
It was a successful demonstration, with about 200 people, but most
importantly it was covered on by SABC news, Etv news, the Cape Times, the
Argus, the Daily Sun and lots of radio stations. The protest was peaceful
with no incidents. Shockingly, after the protest a policeman, who has
harrassed me before, arrested me. I would write a reason, but he really had
none. He could only claim I was 15 minutes late in finishing the protest.
I realised that I had now been arrested for the fourth time in six
months. I had successfully made myself a target for racist and xenophobic
police. I went through the routine – name, fingerprints, hand in all
belongings and take off shoe laces. I did not feel nervous, excited or even
slightly afraid, only bored. My mind started to wonder, while I went through
the routine, what was it like to be in Zimbabwe right now?
I was taken to my cell, a small room with a toilet, a tap, five beds
and 12 fellow inmates. I greeted everyone and went on to find out why they
were in jail and explained my own story. I then sat there, quietly,
struggling to understand the others. There five black men all speaking Xhosa
and seven Cape coloureds speaking Afrikaans. Every now and then an English
word was spoken. It was now six and dinner time, we queued and were served
spaghetti bolognaise on plastic plates, through the bars. I had become used
to the terrible smell of the toilets and could easily ignore it while I ate
the prison food. We ate with our hands, as we obviously were not allowed
spoons, knives or folks.
As I sat there eating I thought to myself, this food is not so bad. My
mind quickly wandered back to Zimbabwe and then it struck me. It was better
to be in jail in South Africa than to be poor in Zimbabwe. I had food,
water, toilet paper and probably decent health care. No matter what South
Africa does to be rid of us it will never stop Zimbabweans from seeking
basic survival.
I was released seven hours later, thanks to a human rights lawyer I
have learnt to love and respect, William Kerfoot. I appeared in court the
next morning where the charges were withdrawn, as police should never have
arrested me in the first place. I will most likely be suing for damages.
We will be having more protests, in the near future. Zimbabwe, we are
fighting for you. Now stay strong and don't let Mugabe corrupt you! Thank
you all for you text messages and calls, whenever I feel disheartened I seem
to receive another amazing text message!

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

COSATU slams Zanu (PF)

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 21:39
HARARE - Zanu (PF) was a clear example of a liberation movement gone
astray, and it was worth asking whether the country's independence needed to
be celebrated this year, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) said this
COSATU spoke as it mobilized the 300,000-strong South African
Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) to refuse to unload a weapons
ship laden with weapons of war because of concerns Robert Mugabe's military
junta might use them against opponents in the post-election stalemate.
"We are absolutely disgusted at the level at which human rights are
abused in Zimbabwe," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said in a
statement issued in the wake of Zimbabwe's independence last Friday.
Vavi said the beating, torture and dehumanisation of President
Mugabe's political opponents was an embarrassment to what Zimbabweans fought
He asked how the African Union (AU) planned to morally deal with the
situation in Zimbabwe, especially in light of purchases of arms of war by
the Mugabe regime to retain power.
Meanwhile South African government action that succeeded in blocking
an examination of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe by the United
Nations Security Council has been criticised at home and abroad.
Zimbabwe escaped international scrutiny over the delay in results
after South African President Thabo Mbeki made a "no action" motion on a UN
resolution calling for debate on the issue.
The draft resolution had expressed deep concern over continuing abuse
by the Zimbabwean government, including the hold-up in results, assaults,
torture, cases of rape and arbitrary arrests.
This week, SA opposition Democratic Alliance said it was "deeply
disturbed and shocked" to learn South Africa had led such a proposal.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim women’s group appeals to MaMbeki

Dispatch, SA

Apr 24 2008 2:41AM



A ZIMBABWEAN women’s organisation has written to President
Thabo Mbeki’s mother, Epainette Mbeki, asking her to convince her son about
the crisis in their country.

The open letter by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) is a
response to Mbeki’s comments that “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe”.

The letter read in part: “Dear mother of Thabo ... We are
writing to you as mother of the suffering masses of Zimbabwe to ask for your
help. On Saturday April 12, your child ... came to Zimbabwe to meet Robert
Mugabe ... We want to comment about the word he used when he was leaving.

“He said there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. This has provoked
us ... Zimbabwe is in an economic, political and social crisis. We cannot
afford three meals a day .. . The political crisis has been worsened by the
recent election ... We have been annoyed by the refusal of Mugabe to release
the presidential results.

“MaThabo, please correct your son . ”

Jenni Williams, spokesperson of WOZA, said they wrote the
letter hoping that Ma-Mbeki would be able to talk “some sense to her son”.

“Daily life is so hard in Zimbabwe and mothers bear the
brunt,” she said.

Yesterday MaMbeki said she had not seen the letter. And
even if she had , she would not have responded.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Inconvenient Truth about presidential poll

Zimbabwe Metro


The media and several political analysts seem to be confused as what precisely ought to have happened after people went to the polls in Zimbabwe on March 29th 2008 to vote in four “harmonised” elections – those for Local Government, the House of Assembly, the Senate and the President. This confusion could have been avoided by ignoring what ZANU PF and ZEC
(Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) spin doctors said after the initial results began to reveal that the opposition had won the elections, and looking to see what the Electoral Act (“the Act”) prescribed. For example, when the results were not announced within a few days of the election, ZANU PF spokesperson Bright Matonga informed the media that this was normal as ZEC had six days within which to announce the result.

The international media immediately accepted this statement at face value and the six day deadline was repeated as a fact in numerous broadcasts. After the six days had come and gone without the announcement of the presidential result, this “time limit” was quietly forgotten. Presumably the international media was too embarrassed at having been so easily duped, to remind Matonga subsequently of his earlier statement. In fact, as will be seen below, the time for announcing the results is not six days or any explicitly prescribed number of days.

However, Section 110(3) of the Act does provide that if no candidate receives an absolute majority in the presidential election, a run off between the two frontrunners must be held “within 21 days of the previous election”. It has been suggested that this means 21 days from the declaration of the result. This is not the case. If the legislature had meant 21 days from “the declaration of the result” it would have said so. Elsewhere, it managed to use the phrase within 48 hours of “the declaration of the result” for purposes of the president elect’s assumption of office. And it could have used this phrase if this is what was intended for the commencement of the 21 day period.

It did not. “Election” cannot refer to the day the President is declared elected as in the case of a run off this will not have happened. It can only mean polling day. ZEC itself, in an announcement from its public relations office, accepting the need for a run off if none of the candidates achieved an absolute majority, stated that the 21 days runs from polling day.

By delaying the announcement of the result of the presidential poll by over 21 days there cannot be compliance with the 21 day requirement, which will expire on the 19th April, 2008, the day upon which ZEC has declared it will conduct a recount. This “difficulty is likely to be resolved either by ZEC ignoring its previous announcement and holding that the phrase “previous election” means the announcement of the result (contrary to the plain language of the Act) or through Mugabe controversially (and probably unconstitutionally)1 exercising his power under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act which
1 1 1 “Prior to the Elections in 2005 Mugabe sought to appease SADC by introducing a new Electoral Act which paid passing regard to the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections adopted by SADC in Mauritius in August 2004.

The new Electoral Act did not repeat section 158 of the old Act (Chapter 2:01) which gave Mugabe a broad power to amend the Electoral Act and make regulations for the conduct of elections. It is obviously inappropriate that the president be empowered to make the rules for an election in which he allows him to amend and enact legislation. He may thus purport to amend the 21 days to a period he finds amenable.

A second point of confusion that has arisen due to several articles in the media, is the legitimacy of the continued exercise of power by the President and his Ministers during the hiatus while the presidential results are announced. The President is reported to have “dissolved” his cabinet at the same time as parliament before the elections and it has thus been suggested that Ministers cannot continue to exercise their executive duties and privileges. This is not the case. In fact, a position as a member of Cabinet is different from a Ministerial appointment. In terms of section 31E(c) of the Constitution, Ministers remain in office until the assumption of office of the new President. It is also a misapprehension that a Minister must be a Member of Parliament. The requirement under section 31(E)(2) is that no person shall hold office as Vice-President, Minister or Deputy Minister for longer than three months unless he is a member of Parliament.

However, after Parliament is dissolved, he may continue to hold such office without being a Member of Parliament until Parliament first meets after the dissolution. The President need not convene parliament for six months after its dissolution. The President remains in office until the assumption of office of the President Elect in term of section 29 of the constitution. The current anomaly of continued governance by those who do not have a democratic mandate has been caused by the actions of ZEC and is itself a further factor which suggests the illegitimacy of ZEC’s actions (discussed below) and that they violate the Electoral Act.

The Vote Counting Procedure and Related Processes
The procedure for the counting of the vote, the announcement of the results and the time frame for the process, obfuscated by ZEC, is reasonably straight forward and is set out in the Second Schedule and sections 61 to 67 and 112 of the Electoral Act. ZEC itself published an advertisement setting out the procedure to be adopted. The procedure indicated by ZEC is largely correct and is as follows.

himself is a contestant. However, the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act (Chapter 10:20) gives the President a general power to bring into effect overriding regulations in any urgent matter other than issues of finance. Measures enacted by the President in this way must be laid before parliament within eight days of the next session of parliament, when they may be adopted, amended or rejected. Since parliament, by not repeating an equivalent of section 158 of the old Electoral Act in the new, obviously intended that that the president should not be able to amend the Electoral Act, it is debatable whether he may lawfully achieve the same thing through the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act.

However, shortly before the March 2008 elections the president ignored this legal nicety and the egregiousness of making rules for an election in which he is a contestant, and used his presidential powers to re-introduce a provision allowing police officers into polling stations - despite the fact that this provision had been removed but two months previously as part of an agreement between the MDC and ZANU PF during the SADC mandated negotiations between the two parties.

Mugabe has thus indicated that he has no qulams in using his presidential powers in this manner. Furthermore, in extending the 21 days in this manner, Mugabe would effectively be extending his constitutionally prescribed term of office which ought clearly to be beyond his powers. “.
The process for the counting of the votes begins “immediately after the close of the poll” (section 61). The candidate or their polling agents may be present at the counting of the votes.

After the counting is completed the presiding officer shall “without delay” (section 64) and in the presence of the candidates or polling agents:
a) record the number of votes for each candidate in each of the four elections on the polling station returns;
b) display the completed polling station returns to each candidate or his or her polling agent and invite them to sign the same;
c) affix copies of the returns to the outside of the polling station;
d) send the returns, certified by the polling officer to the Ward Collation Centre.

Accordingly, though no specific time is stipulated, the steps outlined above must take place without delay.

At the Ward Collation Centre the polling station returns are collated and verified in the presence of the candidates or their polling agents. ZEC has mystified the “verification” process as one of several varying excuses given for the delay in releasing the results. Verification is the simple process set out in section 65(2) of the Electoral Act and refers to the fact that the presiding officer must display each polling-station return to those present and shall, on request, allow a candidate or chief election agent of a candidate to make notes of the contents of each polling station return. Nothing more and nothing less.

The idea is that the election agents can “verify” that the figures on the returns received match those on the returns at the polling station whence they came –which have already been verified by the polling agents there. The presiding officer then repeats the steps set out in a) to c) above. Accordingly, returns displaying the results of all four elections up to the level of that Ward are displayed outside the Ward Collation Centre. The presiding officer declares the winner of the most votes in the council poll duly elected. “Immediately” after posting the results outside the polling station the presiding officer must transmit the returns to the constituency elections officer, who will declare the House of Assembly results.

The process is repeated by the constituency elections officer “on receipt of the polling station returns”. The only part of the process where a time is not stipulated is that requiring the constituency elections officer to give reasonable notice to the candidates of the time and place for the collation and verification of the returns. Since there is nothing to be done prior to the verification and collation of the returns, it is implicit that the notice period is no longer than that required to give the candidates sufficient notice and time to be at the venue, a matter of hours, not days. This point was accepted by Justice Uchena in a recent court application discussed below. The Ward Collation Centre polling station returns are then
“verified” and collated in the manner stated. As indicated, the verification process does not involve a check on the veracity of the count at the polling stations, as ZEC and ZANU PF have sought to imply, but is merely a means by which the candidates may confirm that the figures received and displayed at the constituency center are the same as the ones transmitted from the Ward Collation Centres.

The constituency elections officer is then required to “forthwith” declare the candidate with the most votes duly elected to the House of Assembly. The results for all the elections are posted outside the Constituency Collation Centre, including the results for the concluded count pertaining to the local government elections.

There is some slight confusion with the next step. ZEC indicated, on the basis of section 65(5), that the procedure to be followed is that the constituency returns are then sent to the Senatorial Constituency Collation Centre and the process of verification, collation, declaration of the result and posting of the results repeated. The returns are then sent to the National Command Centre for the determination of the presidential result. However, section 65(5) only indicates that returns relating to the senatorial election should be transmitted “as soon as may be” to the Senatorial Election Officers. The Second Schedule to the Act sets out special procedures in relation to a presidential election. It appears that, due to legislative oversight, the Second Schedule has not been amended to accord with various amendments made to the body of the Act. Be this as it may, reading the body of the Act with the Second Schedule it is clear that a Constituency Elections Officer, after completing the processes required at constituency level, is required to “forthwith” dispatch the returns to the Chief Elections Officer at the National Collation Centre.

Accordingly, the difference with the procedure set out by ZEC is that these returns reach the National Collation Centre via the Senatorial Collation Centre, rather than directly from the Constituency Election Officers as required by the Second Schedule. The difference for the chronology should be one of hours, not days.

In either case, according to the Second Schedule “on receipt of the constituency returns”, the Chief Elections Officer dispatches “reasonable” notice in writing to the candidates of the time and place for the verification and collation of the results. Once again, since there is nothing required of the Chief Elections Officer prior to giving such notice, and by the use of the word “time” rather than “date” it is implicit that the notice period will be a matter of hours rather than days. When the number of votes in the constituency returns have been added together the Chief Elections Officer shall “forthwith” declare the person with the greatest number of votes as the winner. This declaration must be read subject to section 110(3) which requires that the winner must obtain an absolute majority (i.e. 50% of the total votes cast, plus one vote) failing which there will be a run off of the two candidates with the highest number of votes. The run off must take place with 21 days of “the previous election”. Where there isan outright winner, the person is declared duly elected as President with effect from the “day of such declaration”. The President elect assumes office immediately upon taking the oath of office, which takes no later than 48 hours after the declaration of election to office.

The Time Limits
From the procedures outlined above it is clear that there is no six day or any other time limited stipulated in the Electoral Act. However, it is clear that the legislation contemplates an unbroken and fluid sequence with each step taking place “immediately”, “forthwith”, “without delay”, “on receipt of” or “as soon as may be” after the other. The process thus must only take so long as is required to complete each of the prescribed steps.

A look at the figures around the voting process gives a rough indication of reasonable time frames. ZEC stated that by polling day there were 5.9 million registered voters. Of these 2 388 381 turned out to cast their votes (just over 40%) at roughly 9 000 polling stations country wide. This makes for 265 voters per polling station. However, polling stations were more heavily concentrated in the rural areas, often by a factor of 2:1. Even so this would make for 530 an average of voters per polling station in an urban area. The maximum voter turn out was 58% but this was in a rural constituency. With 9000 polling stations for 210 constituencies, this makes for an average of 43 polling stations per constituency, somewhat less in the urban areas and somewhat more in the rural areas. There are 1958 Wards, 210 House of Assembly Constituencies and 60 Senatorial Constituencies.

One can now put these figures into the voting procedure outlined above. The average polling station would have between 265 and 530 ballots to count in four elections – the average maximum thus being 2 120 ballots in each polling station. The counting process should have been completed within a few hours, and most polling stations had indeed finished the count and completion of the returns by the early hours of Sunday morning at the latest.

The 43 polling stations in each constituency should have sent their returns immediately to the Ward Collation Centres, nine or ten per constituency, meaning that each Ward Collation Centre would receive returns for the four elections from four or five polling stations. Accordingly, once the counting process is complete, the work of those tasked with collation at the succeeding levels is not particularly onerous. The Ward Collation Centres would this receive 16 to 20 returns to verify and collate.

The process should not have taken much longer than an hour. Each Constituency Elections Officer would have received the result of the Local Government Election and the returns for the remaining three elections from the nine or ten Ward Collation Centres giving them 27 or 30 returns to verify and collate, of which only nine would relate to the House of Assembly Election. The Chief Elections Officer would receive the results of the Local Government Election, the result of the House of Assembly Election and 210 returns from the Presidential Election giving him 210 returns to collate. The result could be compared with the 60 returns from Senatorial Election officer, though the Act requires that the collation be done from the
constituency returns. Once again the verification and collation of the 210 constituency returns ought not to have taken more than a few hours. The result should then have been announced immediately. Accordingly, the results for all four polls should have been known late on Sunday night. And reports suggest that they were, but not released. As stated by Justice Uchena in the application discussed below:

The work to be done by the Chief Elections Officer is made simpler by the counting and collation done at polling stations and constituency levels. All he has to do is verify and display the constituency returns and add the figures thereon to identify the winning candidate who he should forthwith declare the President of Zimbabwe (at page 11 of MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai v the Chairperson of ZEC and the Chief Elections Officer E/P 24/08)

What Happened in Practice and the Explanations Proffered.
ZEC did not comply with the procedures it had itself spelt out, particularly, as is now notorious in relation to the announcement of the results, prompting a court application by the MDC. Firstly, ZEC arrogated to itself the right to announce the results for the Houses of Parliament, despite the fact that the Constituency Elections Officers had announced the results forthwith as required at constituency level many days before the results were announced by the National Command Centre and all that was required was for these results to be made more widely known.

This was the first of a sequence of events which put the partiality of ZEC (and the state owned media) in relation to the whole process beyond doubt. When ZEC was challenged on this point in the MDC’s court application, the Chairperson of ZEC conceded that the results are announced at constituency level and that ZEC was merely assisting the nation by revealing the results nationally. The manner in which it did so again revealed its partisan nature. The results were released painfully slowly and initially for the House of Assembly only, at the rate of about 40 a day. Furthermore, the manner in which they were released was both curious and revealing. The results were released as if ZEC were dealing a pack of cards to the two parties, adopting a one each approach. Hence, at the end of each broadcast there was a rough parity of seats won between the two parties. In order to accomplish this, ZEC must have had the results of all constituencies to know that the process could be continued until all results had been disclosed.

Yet ZEC sought to explain the delay by maintaining that results were still awaited from far flung polling stations. In view of the “one each approach” this explanation was already implausible, but rendered more so by the fact that the results released bore no relation to their distance from the command centre. Results from outlying rural areas were given well in advance of results for constituencies in Harare. Given that the National Command Centre must have had all the House of Assembly results in order to release them in this manner, the presidential returns must also have been received and the Chief Elections Officer was obliged to proceed as described above. He did not.

It is clear that the process was deliberately delayed in order to avoid disclosure of the result of the presidential poll. After the explanation that results were still awaited from far flung areas was no longer sustainable, ZEC then said it was unable to release the presidential poll result until the senate result had been released. This explanation had no legal basis and the MDC filed an urgent application for the release of the results on the 6th April, having first attempted to do so on the 5th April, 2008. There is no requirement that the Chief Elections Officer await the Command Centre’s disclosure of senatorial results (which should have been declared by the senatorial elections officer in any event) before releasing the presidential result. When this explanation could also no longer be sustained, the results of the senate poll having been eked out by ZEC, a report appeared in the state owned Sunday Mail of the 6th April, 2008, that ZANU PF had reported irregularities affecting the count in four constituencies.

The complaints were reported as being follows:
1. “In Ward 25 of Mberengwa South, Mr. Tsvangirai is said to have garnered 98 votes instead of 116. A total of 8 533 votes were recorded against Cde Mugabe’s name. The figure should have been 9001, thereby showing a difference of 448 votes. Dr. Simba Makoni total in the same constituency was recorded as 3 191 instead of 1 191”.
2. “In Mberengwa East, the subtotal was recorded as 2 718 instead of 2 618”. [What the subtotal refers to is not stated]
3. “In Mberengwa North, according to the party it was discovered that Dr. Makoni’s ballots were recorded as 564 instead of 568, while Mr. Tsvangirai’s were captured as 2 153 instead of 2 146.”
4. “In Mberengwa West, Mr Tsvangirai was said to have received 77 ballots instead of 189”
The report went onto allege that ZEC was obliged to order a recount as ZANU PF had written to ZEC stating that “ZEC may be faced with a serious, profound and far-reaching case of miscounting”.

On the same day, the 6th April, 2008 the head of ZEC Justice George Chiweshe attested to an affidavit opposing the immediate release of the results in response to the MDC’s urgent application. In this affidavit he claimed that ZEC was not in possession of the presidential results as the polling station returns had not been collated. He asserted that the polling station returns are submitted as “raw data” ignoring ZEC’s own pronouncement that the constituency summations of the ward returns would be sent to the National Collation Centre. He denied that there was any time limit for the release of the result or even that there was any requirement that the presidential results “be immediately submitted to the National Collation Centre”, despite the fact that the Second Schedule requires their transmission to the National Collation Centre “forthwith”.
More tellingly, Chiweshe attached to his court papers what he averred was a statement he had prepared which would be released to the nation explaining the reason for the delay in releasing the presidential result. The statement echoed the report in the Sunday Mail.

Chiweshe pointed out that in terms of section 67A(1) of the Act that:
“Within 48 hours after a constituency elections officer has declared a candidate to be duly elected in terms of section 66(1) any political party or candidate that contested the election in the ward or constituency concerned may request the Commission to conduct a recount of the votes in one or more of the polling stations in the ward or constituency.”
This section applies, with appropriate changes to the presidential poll. ZEC must act on the request if there are reasonable grounds for believing that an alleged miscount of the vote occurred, and that if it did occur, it could affect the results of the election. Chiweshe averred, like the Sunday Mail, that several such requests for a recount had been received. Significantly, he did not disclose how many or when they had been received. He stated that the “complaints” were currently being considered by ZEC, and that this was the reason for the delay in releasing the presidential result.

However, legal argument advanced during the application would have convinced Mr. Chiweshe that this excuse for not releasing the result did not pass muster. Firstly, it appeared that the complaints had been made well after the 48 hour period – hence Chiweshe’s failure to indicate in his affidavit the date upon which the “complaints” had been received as would be expected and normal. Secondly, the complaint may only be made after a candidate has been declared duly elected, when the presidential candidate patently had not been so declared.

Thirdly, the miscount must be significant enough to effect the result. If the state owned Sunday Mail accurately captured the complaints, it will be noted that rather oddly, two of the alleged miscounts were in the ZANU PF candidate’s favour and involved a paltry 102 and 18 votes. A further two involved a prejudice to ZANU PF of four and seven votes to Makoni and Tsvangirai respectively. The only two complaints of any possible significance were an alleged misallocation of 488 votes for Mugabe and an alleged overstatement of 2000 votes for Makoni (without any corresponding allegation that these votes ought to have been allocated to another candidate).

Clearly, this would not suffice as an excuse for not releasing the result. Although Chiweshe had not contended as much in his affidavit, his lawyer advanced section 67(A)(4) as an excuse for not releasing the results. Justice Uchena accepted this section as a valid basis to delaying the results effectively accepting evidence “from the bar” which had not been averred by Chiweshe.

The subsection provides:
The Commission may on its own initiative order a recount of votes in any polling stations if it considers there are reasonable grounds for believing that the votes were miscounted and that, if they were, the miscount would have affected the result of the election.

It is probably due to misparagraphing on the part of the draftsperson that the requirements of 48 hours and the declaration of the candidate seem not to apply to subsection 67A(4), when they apply to the preceding subsections. Accordingly, Justice Uchena felt able to hold that this provision allowed ZEC the discretion to order a recount and that there were no time provisions to be followed in this regard. Chiweshe thus did not publish the statement to the nation on the reasons for the delay attached to his court papers based on section 67A(1) as he had claimed he would do. Instead he published notice GN 58A/2008 dated Saturday 12th April which appeared in the State owned Herald newspaper, on the 15th April purporting to order a recount “in respect of the Presidential, House of Assembly, Senatorial and local authority elections” at all polling stations that were counted at the scheduled constituency centres”. A schedule of some 23 constituencies then follows. The notice is remarkable. It suggests, using the average of 43 polling stations per constituency (and since the constituencies are all rural, the number would be somewhat more) that Chiweshe has received credible complaints of miscounts or reasonable grounds to believe the same at over 989 polling stations, all of which complaints are neatly confined to 23 constituencies rather than scattered throughout the 210 constituencies.

To be Continued tomorrow.

Excerpts from The Inconvenient Truth A complete guide to the delay in releasing the results of Zimbabwe’s presidential poll.
Prepared by Derek Matyszak of the Research and Advocacy Unit, Zimbabwe.SITO – States in Transition Observatory

Back to the Top
Back to Index