By Liberty Mupakati,
The ruling Zanu-PF party definitely lost the March 29 elections, while
President Robert Mugabe was thoroughly thrashed by opposition Movement for
Democratic Change leasder, Morgan Tsvangirai. The delay in announcing the
election results confirms this.
Having worked in the Civil Service in Zimbabwe and having taken part in the
election processes that were being run under the aegis of the much maligned
and discredited Tobaiwa Mudede, I find it inconceivable that the newly
constituted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is coming up with flimsy
excuses to justify their utter failure to announce the victor in the
The real reason why the results have not been released is to enable Mugabe
and his party to explore alternatives, specifically to increase the number
of votes that he received in the just ended elections. Forget the mantra
about Morgan Tsvangirai failing to attain the 50 percent plus 1 majority
that would curtail the need for a run-off. Forget everything that Zanu-PF is
saying to the contrary, such as the absurd claims that MDC bribed election
officials. Even die hard Zanu-PF people talk openly about Mugabe having
comprehensively lost to Tsvangirai.
As I write members of the top echelons of ZEC are more or less under house
arrest as they are not allowed to leave the cosy confines of their hotel
which also doubles up as the collation centre and are literally under CIO
I find it absurd that Utoile Saigwana, a former education officer in the
Army Education Corps, with little or negligible experience in running
elections, has the audacity and temerity to attribute the delay to the
difficult terrain that they have to access to get the results from the
various polling stations in the country, citing as an example Binga
District. What I find difficult to understand is why they were previously
able to get the results from these same areas without any trouble when the
elections were in favour of Mugabe?
It beggars belief that Saigwana could tell such a white lie when he is fully
aware that this statement cannot withstand any scrutiny and that there are
people in ZEC who know that this is patently untrue. He would have saved
himself from ridicule by asking Japhet R Murenje, ZEC's Director of Polling
Logistics and Ignatius Mushangwe, the Director of Training who between them,
have run several elections in their former capacities as Provincial
Registrars for Mashonaland East and Masvingo Provinces respectively. In
those ancient times, elections were not transported to district centres, but
were counted at the polling stations and results relayed to the district and
provincial centres, either by telephone or radio.
The then PTC would commandeer telephone lines from other establishments to
the district and provincial centres that were dubbed “hotlines” as they
could not be used to make any telephone calls to other numbers. Where there
no were telephones, results were transmitted to the various centres through
DDF and ZRP radio systems. In this day and age of mobile phone technology
and with Zimbabwe being touted as one of the fastest growing markets for
mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa, it would be treasonous to let Saigwana
and Lovemore Sekeramayi (formerly Deputy Registrar General) get away with
such lame excuses.
The CMED would also commandeer all government vehicles and hire others from
parastatals for use during the elections and these were at the disposal of
logistics teams, whose remit was to move around the polling stations in a
constituency collecting results and taking them to the nearest centre where
there was a telephone.
Zimbabweans know that the reason why the election results are being held up
is to enable Mugabe to prevent the winner of those elections from winning an
outright majority. They also know that the people who have been running the
election machinery are the same despite the change of name.
They also need to know that the National Collation Centre is the same as the
National Elections Directorate (National Command Centre) that is staffed by
Mariyawanda Nzuwa, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Tobaiwa
Mudede, Defence Forces Commander, Costantine Chiwenga and his Chief of
Staff, Major-General Martin Chedondo, Air Force Chief, Perence Shiri, Police
Chief, Augustine Chihuri, the Secretary of Local Government, Patson Mbiriri
and his two deputies, Killian Mupingo, in charge of Local Authorities and
Fanuel Mukwaira, in charge of Traditional Leaders, (chiefs and headmen),
Secretary of Home Affairs, November Melusi Mtshiya, CIO Director General,
Happyton Bonyongwe, Fortune Zengeni, the Officer Commanding Support Unit,
and Godwin Matanga as well as the ZEC senior staffers (Chiweshe, Saigwana,
Murenje and Mushangwe) and a host of other senior staffers from the
The public should also know that the intimate and minute details of the
elections are discussed by a cabal of military officers without the
knowledge of the civilian staff as the current sidelining of Murenje and
Mushangwe attests to. This same structure is replicated at the provincial
and district levels, with provincial and district administrators chairing
them, although during the 2002 presidential elections, this situation was
tenuous as the CIO and the military, with the tacit approval of the highest
office in the land, were flexing their muscles and I am told that any
civilian staff that remain in the election machinery is only for window
dressing purposes as real power rests with the CIO and the military staff
seconded to these committees.
I would imagine that by now the provincial and district structures have been
disbanded and that the staff that would have been seconded to the elections
has since returned to their normal places of work, leaving only a skeleton
staff to wind up the process.
I can testify that late on Sunday I was informed by one of these officials
that Mugabe had been beaten by Tsvangirai by 57,8 percent of the poll to
39,9 percent. Armed with these results Chiwenga, Chihuri, Bonyongwe, Shiri
and Paradzai Zimondi of prisons then approached Mugabe at State House.
Mugabe, in a state of shock, sent them back to Chiweshe to ask him to
reverse the result. Chiweshe told them he was bound by his professional
ethics as a lawyer and could not reverse the election result. They pleaded
with him to try his best to save the situation. Chiweshe tried his best –
the results of the presidential election have not been announced since
then - for a week.
I participated in three elections in Zimbabwe in various capacities and to
the best of my knowledge results are always relayed, first to the district
centres which in turn forwarded them to the provincial centres for onward
transmission to the national command centre.
In those days, there was no mobile phone coverage in most parts of the
country, yet results were always religiously announced by Mudede on ZTV
throughout the night without fail and we would almost always know the winner
of the elections within 18 to 24 hours of the close of polling.
The current prolonged delay in announcing the election results is a clear
testament that Robert Mugabe lost the lections and that Zanu PF is using
this window to strategize. Witness how, its foot soldiers, the war vets were
hastily commandeered to march in the streets of Harare without any hindrance
from the police, immediately before the Politburo meeting on Friday. They
were commanded by Jabulani Sibanda who apparently was recently allocated a
beautiful house in Borrowdale and a four-by-four vehicle. The march itself
is an ominous precursor of the intimidation that is going to be brought to
bear on the courageous people of Zimbabwe for having had the valour to vote
Zimbabweans are now confronted by, perhaps, a first in the world, a
situation where a defeated incumbent refuses to accept defeat and insists on
presiding and crafting his way back into power through the back door.
I saw, first hand how the whole state machinery was rolled out in full and
brute force to subdue the will of the people and cajole as well as coax them
to vote for Mugabe. After the near defeat of Zanu-PF in the 2000
parliamentary elections, a new department was created in the Ministry of
Local Government, the department for Traditional Leadership (Chiefs and
Headmen) and this became the basis of enlisting the village headmen and
chiefs’ services to work for Zanu-PF. In an instant, village headmen became
salaried officers of Rural District Councils and in the presidential
elections, were required to ensure that their “subjects” voted for Mugabe.
They were made to queue according to villages and were called into polling
booths to vote according to villages. It is likely that Zanu-PF is going to
revert to this same method in its bid to remain in office. Part of the 2002
strategy was also to attach a war veteran to each village who was meant to
act as their chaperone. Local government administration was rolled back to
the early 1980s when hoards of war veterans were employed as Local
Government Promotion Officers, a meaningless job whose real purpose was the
propagation of Zanu-PF ideas and propaganda, albeit at no cost to the party,
as their salaries were met by the state. Post the 2000 referendum, soldiers
and war veterans were hired to act as Administrative Officers although in
real essence, they were and still are Zanu PF commissars.
Mutasa was quoted in the local and international press last week as saying
that Zanu-PF would be challenging results of 16 constituencies because the
MDC had allegedly bribed ZEC officials.
This is a blatant lie. There is such thorough vetting (by both the ZRP and
CIO to ascertain where their political loyalties lie) of all people who are
engaged, especially at constituency registrar level. Zanu-PF actually sits
in the planning meetings through their Provincial Chairman, Provincial Women’s
League Chairwoman, Youth Chair and this is replicated at the district level
with the District Coordinating Committee Chairman sitting in the planning
meetings. I know of several people whose appointments to the role of either
Constituency Registrar or Senior Polling Officer were vetoed by Zanu-PF
officials and in the rare occasions that they would have made it to the next
level, by the Governor as he had the final say.
I simply cannot imagine that anyone would slip through the net especially
now, given the militarization of the civil service and how everything has to
be run through the President's office, even in districts and provinces.
Furthermore, such appointments are made at the provincial level and with the
tight security that exists in polling centres and constituency offices; I
doubt that anyone would endanger their life by tampering with the figures as
Mutasa would glibly want us to believe. In my experiences, I found it was
always the other way round, as figures tended to be inflated in the presence
of members of the National Elections Directorate led by Mariyawanda Nzuwa.
The modus operandi was that if there were fears that a Zanu-PF candidate was
at risk of losing an election, these chiefs would land in their helicopter
and frighten the hell out of the polling officers who would just watch as
the deed was done.
Nzuwa, by virtue of being the Public Service Commission chairman, could make
or break a career and many a career was broken during elections and
conversely others made it to the top, thanks to toeing the line. He
instilled fear in any civil servant and his word carried the day. The
presence of military officers in full military regalia did not help matters.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi won against
Didimus Munhenzva of the MDC courtesy of this method. He had lost the
election and was declared the winner by a margin of only 10 votes. As for
the 2002 Presidential elections, handichatauri (I need not go into detail).
The same situation is repeating itself, especially with the results that
have been announced in parliamentary elections in Uzumba and Maramba. Jerry
Gotora, he of the Campfire and Local Government Association fame hails from
there and unless he has recently retired, was the Council Chairman of UMP
Rural District Council. Need I say more?
Now that there is likely to be a run-off, the MDC should be extra vigilant
to the spectre of ghost voters. In the referendum elections of 12/13
February 2000, I was aware of many Zimbabweans who were already in exile but
were said to have voted. Impeccable sources have told me that there already
is a team trawling though the records to ensure that there is a large number
of “Diaspora votes” for Mugabe.
“Your Governor””, Gideon Gono and the holder of the Western Union franchise
in Zimbabwe, are said to be critical players in this plan as they are
allegedly playing an integral role in the remittance industry. Gono has a
vested interest in the outcome of this election, specifically the possible
departure of Mugabe as he has amassed enormous wealth beyond anyone’s
His interests are predominantly in the lucrative horticultural sector. Of
all of Zimbabwe’s economic sectors this sector enjoys the most favourable
benefits from the foreign currency retention policy. I need not explain that
the author of these economic and monetary policies is, of course, none other
than “Your Governor”.
Is there conflict of interest here? The foreign currency retention policy is
hugely skewed in favour of the horticultural industry because Gono owns a
swathe of farms that transcend both Mashonaland East along Shamva Road,
Chabwido Farm in the Enterprise area and in Bromley next to Surrey Farm). He
also owns the magnificent Kintyre Estates along the Bulawayo Road, just
before the Norton turn-off. He subsided this vast estate and let out
sections to fellow indigenous entrepreneurs and friends.
He continues to export horticultural produce to the EU through some
unscrupulous middlemen who are resident in the UK and the Netherlands in
clear breach of the EU trade policies with members of the Zanu-PF regime.
Gono knows that he stands to lose everything should, as expected; an MDC
government come to power. He would rather, work strenuously hard for the
maintenance of the status quo, hence his decision to play a role in the
It is absurd that the ruling party would request for a vote recount when the
official result is yet to be released. This means they are fully aware of
the defeat that MDC inflicted on them a week ago. They just do not want to
make it official. The courts should not allow any such recount as this will
allow Zanu PF to manipulate the dead voters that were planted on the voters
roll to participate in this election. Obviously a lot has been happening
behind closed doors, since March 29.The ballot boxes have been in the
custody of a police force that is Zanu PF controlled. Who is going to
believe the vote recount? Certainly what needs to happen now is a United
Nations enforced transition of power from the old guards to the new.
I believe that in the last eight days since the elections, somebody has been
working hard to distribute the dead voters that were planted on the voters
roll to places that Mugabe suffered defeat and by now real votes for these
dead people may have been cast into the ballot boxes. Mugabe should not be
allowed to have everything his way. He cannot have his cake and eat it too.
If the MDC had a vote recount request and Mugabe was purported to be in the
lead, he would be refusing the same request. Therefore he should find
himself in the same predicament, especially after sitting on the election
results for eight days. A recount 48 hours after the election would have
been understandable.They have forfeited this right.
The recent spats of violence which we have witnessed is a clear indication
that this Party will stop at nothing to put themselves back in power. My
heart goes out to those people who will be butchered just so Mugabe can rule
again. The international community should be putting up a United Nations
armed force to manage the situation before innocent lives are lost. Surely
they cannot wait until blood has been lost. Most of the rude elements that
are running the streets claiming to be war veterans are not the real war
vets, they are thugs. The real war vets are old and frail. I know this
because my own brother who lost his life in that war was twenty four at the
time. And if he had lived to this day he would have been fifty two. On the
contrary the average age of the people masquerading as war veterans is about
thirty. No sane person in their fifties would be running the streets
campaigning for Mugabe in this day and age. Besides the average life
expectancy in Zimbabwe is thirty five.
It is unfortunate that Mugabe and his Zanu PF have chosen to sink this low
instead of accepting defeat and waiting their turn in the next general
election. Everybody knows that the land question needed to be addressed but
for Mugabe to play propaganda with land and cause people to kill each other
over his failed policies is unfortunate. Regardless of when Mugabe
eventually leaves office, land will still need to be revisited. We cannot
allow his cronies to be sitting on three, four farms just because they are
black Zimbabweans. Equitable and well calculated distribution needs to
prevail, if Zimbabwe is going to be productive agriculturally.
For now the international community needs to say enough is enough. When
Mugabe begins to let his mouth run loose like this, causing these “war vets
“ to start another campaign of terror which we have seen in the last two
days ,somebody needs to say not this time. Surely the memories of the 1500
,lives lost in Kenya should be fresh in the minds of all the world leaders,
and if the UN thinks Mugabe will stop short of that, they are mistaken. They
need to quickly take action to ensure not a single life is lost for Mugabe!
I shudder to think why Thabo Mbeki would urge calm and suggest that now is
not the time for international intervention. His quiet diplomacy has done
nothing but worsen Zimbabwe’s situation. His judgement should be in question
here, and unfortunately, it cannot be trusted anymore. The international
community needs to stop Mugabe in his tracks.
Monday April 07 2008
Observers are expressing growing concern about the possibility that the
authorities are trying to subvert the result of the recent presidential
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party has demanded a recount, even
though the results of the vote have still not been released.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change claims its leader, Morgan
Tzvangirai, has secured an overall majority.
However, the authorities appear to be preparing for a run-off vote on the
grounds that neither candidate has secured more than 50%.
The MDC has taken a court case to try to force the release of the results
and a judge in Harare is due to rule today on whether the courts have the
power to force an announcement.
JOHANNESBURG, April 7 (AFP)
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai visited South Africa Monday for
private meetings, his first time out of the country since the March 29
presidential elections, a party official said.
"He is attending private meetings and going back this evening," exiled
Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Roy Bennett told AFP, refusing to
be drawn on the purpose of his meetings.
The visit by Tsvangirai, who has declared himself the outright victor of
last week's presidential election, comes as MDC lawyers await the outcome of
a legal bid to force the official declaration of the poll results.
Monday April 7 2008
JOHANNESBURG - President Thabo Mbeki’s inaction and calls for patience with
Zimbabwe have been slammed by the Zimbabwe opposition and South African
“I think there is time to wait, let’s see the outcome of the election
results,” Mbeki told reporters in London on Saturday, after meeting Gordon
Brown, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe’s former colonial ruler Britain.
Brown also urged people to wait. But he said if there was a run-off election
he, Mbeki and other African leaders had “reached agreement for foreign
observers to monitor it”.
But time is the one thing the people of Zimbabwe do not have.
Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) warned the
masses that violence would be used as a “weapon to reverse the people’s
victory” during a run-off election.
His statement followed a march by Mugabe’s army of war veterans.
He urged the Southern African Development Community and Mbeki to act
The leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, Kenneth Meshoe, said:
“Mbeki should be in Zimbabwe mediating a peaceful settlement.
“We disagree with Mbeki who says the international community should ‘wait
and see’ while the so-called war veterans march through the streets of
Harare intimidating people, and saying that they will ‘defend the country’s
sovereignty’ against an opposition take-over,” said Meshoe.
Independent Democrats leader, Patricia de Lille and Tony Leon, spokesman for
the Democratic Alliance on foreign affairs, also urged Mbeki to intervene.
“The DA calls upon Mbeki to urgently consider requesting that the African
Union’s Peace and Security Council intervene, by deploying monitors or a
peace-keeping force to Zimbabwe.”
Mon, April 7, 2008
By PETER WORTHINGTON, TORONTO SUN
Now that Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has lost the election in
Zimbabwe --although he's still clinging to power until a runoff election is
held -- there's speculation whether there will be an investigation into the
brutalities waged by Mugabe over the years.
The most brutal period of Mugabe's reign was 1982-85 when he used his
infamous Fifth Brigade, trained by North Koreans, to tame Matabeleland,
controlled by Joshua Nkomo, whom he had fired from his cabinet. Nkomo's
record as a fighter for independence was greater than Mugabe's. Nkomo headed
the rival ZAPU, eventually crushed by Mugabe.
I was in the heart of Matebeleland in 1982, a witness to the Fifth Brigade's
treatment of civilians and tribes people.
That summer of 1982, the big international story out of Zimbabwe was six
young tourists -- two Americans, two Brits and two Aussies -- who had been
ambushed and kidnapped near Victoria Falls, and being held by insurgents who
said the tourists would be killed unless 200 political prisoners held by
Mugabe were released.
The tour leader and three women were released with the ransom demand, while
the six were taken away at gunpoint: Aussies Tony Bajzell, 25, and Bill
Butler, 32; Americans Bruce Baldwin, 23, and Kevin Ellis, 24; Britons Jim
Greenwell, 18, and Martyn Hodgson, 35.
Negotiations and counter-demands went on all summer, with various sightings
of the hostages being reported.
Mugabe unleashed his Fifth Brigade to scour Matebeleland villages for the
I had been travelling in the southern U.S. when I got a call from a longtime
family friend -- Lt.-Col. Tom Finan, retired commanding officer of the Royal
Canadian Dragoons (RCD) and a tank officer with an enviable record in war
Finan, since deceased, was a newsworthy personality at the time. The British
media had discovered he'd become an international mercenary soldier and arms
dealer, allegedly heading an abortive coup in Togo.
Finan was widely reputed to have been the inspiration for Frederick
Forsyth's best-selling novel, The Dogs of War -- which both Finan and
Forsyth vehemently denied, but which not everyone believed.
Tommy Finan -- known as "Colonel Tom" -- was mentioned in various media
stories involving trouble in Libya, Lebanon, Tanzania, even Idi Amin's
Uganda. In our conversations, Finan was guarded but adamant that his arms
dealing and mercenary business was never against the West. He considered
himself a "patriot" using unconventional means to advance Western interests.
To cut to the chase, Finan had contacted families and lawyers of the
kidnapped tourists, and had arranged for $500,000 to be paid to the
kidnappers for their release. He had no way of reaching them, and wanted me
to go to Zimbabwe and try to contact the dissidents with the offer, which
would be deposited in a Swiss bank.
He teamed me up with one Bill Howe, an all-purpose journalistic adventurer
who had worked in far eastern hot spots, and was said to have good contacts
among Mugabe's people in Zimbabwe.
The Sun financed the trip -- their reward to be the stories I'd write. I
wrote at the time that our mission was more mindful of the comedy TV show
Get Smart than the Scarlet Pimpernel, but it had touches of Evelyn Waugh's
great journalistic novel, Scoop.
Our idea was to rent a car in Bulawayo, capital of Matebeleland, and drive
into what was regarded as the wild west -- nether regions beyond the domain
of local police, where small villages existed and where it was believed the
kidnappers held the young tourists. Our goal was to make contact with the
kidnappers and persuade them to take the money, which would be transferred
to a bank of their choice. We had no substantial cash.
We first visited Joshua Nkomo, whom we assumed might know who the kidnappers
were and get word to them that we had $500,000 for the return of the
I liked Nkomo. I found him brave and curiously honest -- and in considerable
danger from Mugabe's vindictiveness. Nkomo eventually sent his wife and
family to live in Canada, fearing for their safety in Zimbabwe. He warned us
of the Fifth Brigade, which was hated by all who had encountered them.
Looking back, until it was disbanded around 1984, the Fifth Brigade ran
rough in Matebeleland, killing and beating, and burying their crimes in mass
graves -- some 20,000 to 40,000 victims.
The Fifth Brigade were not regular soldiers. They were Mugabe's personal
army, answerable only to him and his appointees. Often they operated in
civilian clothes, to infiltrate and intimidate, and were a law unto
themselves in the bush.
After our meeting with Nkomo, Howe and I waited a day or so for him to pass
the word that we were here to deal (assuming he knew how to reach the
INTO THE UNKNOWN
Then we headed into the unknown. We checked with police posts as we
encountered them, wanting to leave a record that we'd been there. We were
regarded as nuts. We didn't tell the police what our mission was, since that
might alert authorities who'd take a dim view of the project.
We veered off the road to visit villages -- some comprising a few dozen
people, others maybe 100 or more inhabitants. Questions about the tourists
caused considerable alarm. No one had seen anything.
But we got tales of horror about how the Fifth Brigade operated. In general,
when Fifth Brigade troops moved in, villagers were questioned and then
individually were beaten until they confessed to whatever was being asked.
After everyone in the village had been beaten, confessions and statements
were compared, and the majority opinion or answers was regarded as the
It was a brutal albeit efficient way to get answers, but a sorry way to
establish either truth or justice.
The fear and hate generated was palpable, and both Howe and I worried at
what would happen if these villagers were ever questioned about us -- or us
if we were questioned by the Fifth Brigade.
A rough alternative plan, had we found the tourists and paid the ransom, was
to dash for the relatively close Botswana border where, by previous
arrangement, a South African helicopter would lift us out.
We hoped it wouldn't come to that and had let the Zimbabwe CIO (Central
Intelligence Organization) know what we were trying to do. They already
knew, of course, because we had likely been bugged, or others had told. We
were not being foolishly secretive.
At the time, my contact with Finan (persona non grata in African countries)
was through Barbara Amiel, at the time deputy editor at the Sun and my
eventual successor. We had a series of code words and phrases with double
meanings: "Danielle is well ... mother is sick ... weather looks threatening
... how's your health?" That sort of thing.
I couldn't resist the occasional quip: "Send 200 Rembrandts, size 12 x 22 x
6 ... code blue ... the swallows fly at midnight." Spy novel talk. Amiel
would disintegrate into giggles.
Anyway, the venture turned to naught. We found no tourists -- or kidnappers.
It later turned out that the tourists had all died soon after capture -- by
infections and disease.
I returned to Canada with a relatively positive series on Zimbabwe -- years
ahead of most other black countries, if Mugabe remained reasonable.
Mugabe, of course, got worse, not better. After initially thanking Ian Smith
for making what used to be Rhodesia into an economically self-sufficient
country, Mugabe became more paranoid, corrupt and brutal. He blamed
colonialism for the ills he forced on what could have been Africa's most
contented and racially harmonious country.
For that, he cannot and should not be forgiven.
Sunday Independent, SA
April 06, 2008 Edition 1
Harare - Lawyers for a British and an American journalist languishing in a
Zimbabwean jail yesterday tried to lodge a legal bid for their release at
the high court but were turned away.
New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak, 58, and a 45-year-old journalist
from Britain were picked up at a Harare guest house on Thursday and later
charged with illegally reporting on Zimbabwe's general elections.
Their lawyers say the attorney general has decided there is no case against
the journalists and went to the high court yesterday to deliver an urgent
application calling for police to release them immediately.
But they were cleared away from the high court building, which is opposite
President Robert Mugabe's office, by someone wearing a Zanu-PF T-shirt
accompanied by two policemen.
"We were about to be let in when we were informed that we could not go in,"
lawyer Andrew Makoni said. "We are now being barred from going to argue the
The New York Times reported yesterday that their correspondent had been
recharged with "falsely presenting himself as a journalist" after police
realised that an earlier charge of working without accreditation was