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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zim Independent

Zim voted for economic collapse?
By Allister Sparks
IF one is to accept, as our Southern African observer teams apparently do,
that the result of the Zimbabwe election "reflected the will of the people
of Zimbabwe", then one should also accept its corollary. Which is that the
people of Zimbabwe enjoy economic collapse, unemployment and starvation and
so turned out in record numbers to vote for more of the same.

Either that or they are crazy and wilfully voted against their own

I do not accept either proposition. The election was rigged. This was not
only predictable; it was predicted by just about every independent analyst
in the business. They noted that the regime was permitting freer
electioneering in the closing weeks of the campaign to make it easier for
the "friendly" observer teams to declare the poll free and fair, but that
plans were afoot to rig the election in less visible ways. That is exactly
what happened.

The playing field was skewed from the beginning. The constitution enabled
President Mugabe to handpick 30 MPs, which meant the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) needed 76 of the 120 contested seats to win a
majority of one while the ruling Zanu PF needed only 71 for a two-thirds
majority. Add to that the years of intimidation of opposition voters, no
access for the opposition to the state-controlled media, the closure of the
country's only independent daily newspaper, the shutting out of foreign
observers and correspondents, the redrawing of constituency boundaries to
eliminate several safe MDC seats and make others marginal, a hopelessly
outdated voters roll which opened the way for nearly two million "ghost"
votes to be cast, and you begin to get the picture.

Ghost voters aside, more than 133 000 living voters were turned away from

the polls because of the defective roll. But it was the count which proved
decisive - something which was also widely predicted but which the friendly
observer teams appear not to have observed.

With the pro-Mugabe police and troops appointed as the only electoral
officers, opposition election agents around the country found themselves
denied entry to the polling booths where the ballots were counted. In the
urban constituencies, legally wise MDC candidates were able to challenge
these illegal restrictions and gain access, but not in the rural polling

There the count took place with only the pro-government electoral officers
and Zanu PF candidates and agents present, making the manipulation of
figures easy. The MDC claims this took place on a massive scale, citing
discrepancies between figures released before the count began of the total
number of votes cast and the numbers for each party announced after the
count. In Kariba constituency, for example, it was announced as the polls
closed on Thursday night that 16 676 people had voted. But when the result
was announced on Friday morning the electoral officers reported that Zanu PF
has received 13 719 votes and the MDC 9 540 - a total of 24 142, or 7 466
more than the total given the night before. An MDC candidate in a Gweru
rural constituency noted the anomaly that in a densely populated communal
land area favourable to the opposition the polling stations reported an
average of between 250 and 300 votes each, while polling stations in a much
more sparsely populated part of the constituency more favourable to Zanu PF
reported an average of 700 votes each.

More insidious still was a back-up system intended to impress the observer
teams. Voters were required to dip their fingers in indelible ink to ensure
they could not vote a second time. But the ink was not indelible. A little
Vaseline or Jik and it could be washed off in minutes. But all this venality
is now history. President Robert Mugabe remains in command with a stronger
grip on power than ever. He has total control over the executive, the
legislature, the judiciary, the police and the military - added to which he
now has the power to rewrite the country's constitution to his liking. But
what he does not have is a solution to Zimbabwe's deepening economic crisis.
That cannot be resolved without international aid, and Mugabe is not going
to get that as long as the Western powers perceive him to be stealing
elections and violating human rights. So where does that leave Zimbabwe and
its people? With more of what they have been suffering for the past five

Mugabe says he will use his two-thirds majority to change the constitution
within the first four months. He says he will establish a senate, a second
parliamentary chamber to "cater for those people who, because of their age,
are no longer as energetic as they were, and for traditional chiefs". Faced
with a deepening rift between a party old guard still clinging to office and
younger members champing at the bit as they wait for the succession issue to
be resolved, Mugabe may use the senate as a dumping ground for old cronies
while introducing some new blood into his government. But which new blood?
Is there any in that atrophied and pervasively corrupt party? If so, it is
well hidden.

I suspect this is the moment President Thabo Mbeki has been waiting for,
hoping Mugabe will seize the opportunity to shape a constitution that will
enable him to proclaim himself a purely ceremonial president and appoint a
prime minister to head a government of national unity which would include
the MDC.

Mbeki's choice for such a prime minister would presumably be Emmerson
Mnangagwa, whom he pointedly invited to the last ANC national congress in
December 2002. That would be a satisfying culmination to all these years of
"quiet diplomacy", and Mbeki would doubtless be rewarded with international

But there are snags. Mugabe has already shouldered Mnangagwa aside, having
appointed the more obscure Joyce Mujuru to the key vacancy of vice-president
at his party congress last December. Now Mnangagwa has suffered the further
setback of losing to the MDC in his home constituency of Kwekwe.

It is the second time he has lost in successive elections, and this surely
puts paid to his prospects of being named heir apparent. As for the
government of national unity, Mugabe is unlikely to make a serious offer to
the MDC - and the MDC would be unlikely to accept even if he did. It is too
outraged at having been abused and cheated for so long by the Mugabe regime,
and too sceptical of Zanu PF's ability to undo its disastrous economic

Mugabe may make some gesture in the context of his constitutional changes as
a token of gratitude to his southern neighbour for his long and patient
support, but it is unlikely to mean much in real terms. More like
rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Which, the election observers
would have us believe, is in accordance with the will of the doomed ship's

*Allister Sparks is a veteran South African journalist and former editor of
the Rand Daily Mail.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Line of fire

LAST Wednesday I spent two interesting hours under heavy fire from the
military at the KG VI garrison. The assault from the four dozen or so mostly
three-star officers was incessant.

I survived because they were not using guns. I had entered their territory
and provoked them. But I would like to think I held my own against the men
in uniform who displayed undisguised partisanship and gullibility not
expected of soldiers.

I had been invited to KG VI to make a presentation on an expansive subject
of "The Zimbabwe Defence Forces' image in the eyes of the public and the
role of the media in military issues".

Two other media colleagues, Dr Rino Zhuwarara, the executive chair of

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, and Herald editor, Pikirayi Deketeke, were
also part of the panel discussion aimed at helping the military understand
the role of the media.

In the end I felt the officers had not learnt much from the three of us as
they took defensive positions in aid of the political establishment. Some of
them sounded like party commissars.

Forget about Deketeke and Zhuwarara, they all wanted a piece of me because
my brief presentation in kicking off the discussion, accused the military of
partisanship, unnecessary secretiveness and occasional lapses of

The officers were not impressed. They had to defend themselves from this
civilian invader with no respect for the military.

The officers believe that Zimbabwe is under threat of attack from the West.
They believe the media has been used as part of the military build-up to
create a crisis, mobilise international opinion against Zimbabwe and to
justify military intervention.

They believe in particular that the Zimbabwe Independent and other critical
media have been "demonising" (this appeared to be the buzzword for the
officers) President Mugabe and government as part of this build-up.

"By demonising the president and the government, does that mean you do not
have a sense of belonging - you do not feel you are a Zimbabwean?" asked a
female officer in civilian attire.

"Highlighting corruption, inefficiency and repression by government is not
the same as demonising the president or the country. It is a way of
providing checks and balances on the ruling elite," was my answer.

Part of the exchange went something like this:

"Why do you think that the army buying motor vehicles is a story?"

"Because they are using my tax money to do so."

"Can you deny that your paper is demonising the government as part of the
build-up to justify the invasion of Zimbabwe?"

"Yes, I deny that. It is absolutely not true."

"I fought for this country in the liberation war. Do you think I should sit
back and allow a traitor to come in and run this country?"

"I think the army has been sucked into this unfortunate belief by African
leaders, including ours, that because they liberated their countries from
colonial rule they hold a monopoly over our freedoms and should prescribe
them in measured doses. As a modern army you should break from that

There were interesting questions from a South African officer who wanted to
know if Zimbabwe had a properly constituted media complaints council to deal
with complaints from the public. Another officer in civvies wanted to know
what was wrong with Aippa.

Then came the issue of regime change. The army is taking the statements by
Tony Blair that "there is no salvation for the people of Zimbabwe until that
(Mugabe's) regime is changed" and another by United States secretary of
state Condoleezza Rice that Zimbabwe is an "outpost of tyranny", seriously.

President George Bush announced last month that Zimbabwe posed a major
threat to America's foreign policy aspirations.

There is all the evidence of serious indoctrination of military officers.
They seriously believe, as propounded by Mugabe, that the MDC is a creation
of the British and the party's ascendency to power means a return to British

While there might not be visible evidence of military readiness, the army
has been readied for the psychological warfare which is crucial in
protecting ideologies and ultimately the ruling order. The military has
donned its gloves to mimick Mugabe in shadow-boxing the apparitions of Bush
and Blair.

A senior officer conducting the course had this to say about regime change:
"There can never be regime change in the United States unless a communist
government takes over. A regime change in Zimbabwe means replacing the
legitimate elected government with one that does not believe in the values
and ideals of the liberation struggle."

That rang a bell. Remember former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander

General Vitalis Zvinavashe in 2002 threatening not to salute anyone without
liberation war credentials? The indoctrination started long back and is
being consolidated.

Perhaps the officers have seen this definition by online free encyclopedia
Wikipedia: "Regime change is an overthrow of a government (or regime)
considered illegitimate by an external force (usually military), and its
replacement with a new government according to the ideas and/or interests
promoted by that force.

"In contrast to a revolution or a coup d'ιtat, regime change happens as the
result of an external force. Regime change may or may not replace the whole
administrative apparatus, existing bureaucracy and/or other regime

But do you know that during the heat of the campaining for the US presidency
last year, Senator John Kerry, who eventually lost the poll, called for a
regime change in that country? Does anyone believe he meant bringing Fidel
Castro into the White House?

Regimes that permit indoctrination of the armed forces, and few can now
doubt ours, have been thoroughly immersed in the puerile mantras of the
ruling party, should be careful. Egypt (1952), Nigeria (1966, 1983, 1985),
Libya (1969), Ghana (1966, 1972, 1978, 1979, 1981), and Uganda (1971, 1985),
among others, all suffered military interventions by young officers who had
been introduced to political ideas by their rulers in the hope of securing
their loyalty. Instead they got the opposite.

Of course that couldn't happen here!
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Zim Independent

We let ourselves down
By Blessing-Miles Tendi
THAT Zanu PF would win the 2005 parliamentary election was a forgone
conclusion. Zanu PF saw it coming. The electorate saw it coming. Civic
groups saw it coming. The media saw it coming. And, for all the posturing,
even the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) saw it coming.

In fact, we all saw it coming because nobody could fail to see that the deck
was unfairly stacked in Zanu PF's favour. Zanu PF held all the key cards,
the ace in the pack being Zimbabwe's existing constitution which renders
palpable electoral advantages to the ruling party.

What many of us did not see coming was that Zanu PF would secure a
two-thirds majority in parliament. Zanu PF, and President Robert Mugabe in
particular, was effervescent in his proclamations that obtaining a
two-thirds majority was a must. It was an open secret that the party took
the matter of winning a two- thirds majority seriously.

An open secret that the MDC seemed not to acutely consider. It was an open
secret which, in hindsight, we all seemed not to take so seriously.

During the campaign, we were guilty, as Zimbabweans, of not taking Zanu PF's
increasingly authoritarian designs seriously, and leaving our human rights
at the mercy of others. Zanu PF's trusted and abominable political violence
of old did not transpire this time, but the MDC still has legitimate

The high number of voters who were turned away at polling stations - because
they were "improperly registered" - was a highly questionable irregularity.
And the chaotic state of the voters' roll meant that it was open to

Nonetheless, the MDC's failure to acknowledge the shortcomings of its 2005
campaign is dumbfounding. Zanu PF blames the "white neo-colonial Western
world" for everything, while the MDC blames Zanu PF for everything. The art
of naming and blaming the other, and never self, is a quality that marries
Zanu PF and the MDC. It is an unholy marriage of convenience that is
symptomatic of both sides' inability to be self-critical - a refusal to be

Just as in the 2000 election, the MDC triumphed in the urban constituencies
and was routed in the rural areas, five years on the opposition remains
cocooned in the cities. And yet it goes without saying in Zimbabwean
politics that if you cannot clinch the majority rural vote, you are doomed
to political subordination.

The MDC may also have dithered for too long on the question of whether to
run in the 2005 election or not. It entered the contest belatedly and, in
the process, disillusioned and confounded some of its support base. There is
also no doubt that the MDC's final decision to contest served to alienate
old allies such as the Lovemore Madhuku-led National Constitutional Assembly

Furthermore, the MDC's success in the Matabeleland province must be treated
with scepticism. Generally, the Ndebele people despise Zanu PF for
legitimate historical reasons and appear to vote for the MDC because of the
absence of a potent alternative party. Anything but Zanu PF seems to be what
the Ndebele people are resigned to.

This is not to say that the Ndebele people are tribalists. This is merely to
say that it would be foolhardy to discount ethnicity as an influential
aspect in Zimbabwean politics.

Jonathan Moyo's victory in Tsholotsho as an independent candidate
demonstrates that if there were noteworthy Ndebele politicians to emerge and
form a credible Ndebele party, the Ndebele vote would cease to be a
guarantee for the MDC.

During the campaign period, Mugabe maintained that the 2005 election would
bury the MDC for good. That did not happen. But after last week's heavy
defeat, the alarm bells are certainly ringing for the MDC.

If the MDC does not take heed, Mugabe's seemingly madcap declaration may
eventually prove to be a very sane one. The MDC is, undoubtedly, in need of
a major overhaul in terms of vision, image, stratagems and, perhaps,
leadership. All of this can be done, and should be done.

At first glance, the growing chorus of voices calling for a "third force" in
Zimbabwean politics seems valid, but, in spite of everything, premature.

The groundwork and able political actors for the emergence of a formidable
third party are, at present, non-existent. There is no point having a "third
force" for the sake of it.

What is simply needed is political rethinking and reconfiguration on the
part of the MDC. The MDC must begin to actively engage Zanu PF on its
fundamental tenets, especially history. It must realign itself with civic
groups like the NCA and press for a national constitutional reform exercise
by means of a broad-based mass movement. This, more than ever before, is a
time for lobbying the grassroots and marching on the streets for a
democratic constitution.

Brian Raftopoulos once made the point that "the lesson has to be learnt that
politics is not out there for other people to engage in; that if people
retreat into their personal and family lives, and ignore their loss of
rights and liberties for long enough, then the realities of such repressive
encroachments will follow them into their particular retreats".

This is the mistake, we, as Zimbabweans, made last week. Only 40% of the
electorate turned out to vote. Had the independent media not been so fixated
with the sideshow that was and is Jonathan Moyo and focused more on rallying
the electorate to come out on election day, a Zanu PF two-thirds majority
might have been averted.

Had we, the electorate, turned out in droves, it would have been more
difficult for the powers-that-be to rig the 2005 election.

We took Zanu PF's bid to win a two-thirds majority lightly. With a
two-thirds majority, Zanu PF can now amend the constitution whenever it

Zanu PF amended our constitution to suit its self-serving ends in the past.

There is no reason to believe that it will not continue to do the same

The starting premise to the 2005 election should have been to ensure that
the MDC did not forfeit any of the 57 seats it won in the 2000 election,
which would have effectively denied Zanu PF a two-thirds majority.

However, the MDC, the media, civil society and the electorate's misplaced
sense of impotence in the 2005 election meant 16 opposition seats were
forfeited. This is what carried the day for Zanu PF.

We should have been out there casting our vote, even if the deck was
unjustly stacked in Zanu PF's favour. At the very least, we could have
averted the two-thirds majority Zanu PF gained. Now we have to bear the
brunt of a resurgent, confident and increasingly intolerant regime. We let
ourselves down last week.

*Blessing-Miles Tendi is a freelance writer based in the UK.
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Zim Independent

Horror in the polling station

MARCH 31 will go down as the day I was cheated the most. As I was standing
in the queue awaiting the turn to cast my vote, little did I know the horror
awaiting me in the polling station.

I was told that my name did not appear on the voters' roll despite having
registered in January and inspecting the roll before the February 4

I even went to the extent of producing a receipt of registration to prove my
claim but the polling officer simply acknowledged the validity of my claim
but indicated there was nothing that could be done.

What irks me is the fact that Zanu PF romped to victory in my constituency -
the only one in Harare - and I know of two colleagues who faced the same

If this is not a classic example of rigging, then what else is?


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Zim Independent


This is not a victory

HOW can 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
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!

President 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 here."

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
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
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
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
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

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

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 poll?
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Zim Independent

The election: what they said
Grace Kombora/Ndamu Sandu
AS controversy swirls around the just-ended parliamentary election,
observers and individuals are unable to agree on a final verdict.

*Movement for Democratic Change: "The MDC and the people of Zimbabwe know
very well who the real winners are. This election was stolen. The results
are in no way an accurate reflection of the sovereign wishes of the people
of Zimbabwe.

*There are serious and unaccountable gaps between the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC)'s official pronouncements on the number of votes cast and
final totals accorded to each candidate. This indicates massive electoral
fraud by the ruling party."

*Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights: "Not all Zimbabweans have been able to
freely exercise their right to vote or be voted for in the March 2005
election. The election has produced a situation of selective rather than
universal suffrage which should be condemned."

*South African parliamentary observer mission: "The mission unanimously
agreed that the elections were credible, legitimate, free and fair and
conformed to the Sadc election guidelines."

(However, the mission's statement has drawn the ire of opposition political
parties in South Africa such as the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front and
Independent Democrats which have disagreed with the "unanimous" verdict,
saying the election had been "anything but free and fair".)

*African Union observer team: "The MDC has alleged that there are serious
discrepancies in the official results released by ZEC for several
constituencies. It is hoped that both ZEC and ESC will promptly look into
the allegations with a view to assuring the Zimbabwean people of the
authenticity of the results of the election."

*US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "Although the campaign and election
day itself was generally peaceful, the election process was not free and
fair. The electoral field was heavily tilted in government's favour. The
independent press was muzzled, freedom of assembly was constrained, food was
used as a weapon to sway hungry voters, and millions of Zimbabweans who have
been forced by the nation's economic collapse to emigrate were

*The SADC Election Observer Mission specifically took issue with the
following, which they indicated needed "recasting and or improvement": The
need to simplify the procedure and to ensure that authorisations for voter
education are provided easily and timeously by the relevant institutions;
the need for wide publication of updating and verification of the voters'

In addition they stated that:

"SADC Mission was concerned about the number of people who were turned away
from polling stations. Notwithstanding [the] reasons [provided by the ZEC
and the Registrar of Voters] it is the Mission's view that the voters'
registration process requires improvement."

*United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the peaceful election
contrasting it with previous elections which were marred by violence. Annan
expressed concern "that the electoral process has not countered the sense of
disadvantage felt by opposition political parties who consider the
conditions were unfair" and called on all sides to "engage in constructive
dialogue in the period ahead".

*British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw: "The elections were seriously flawed.
Zimbabwe had yet again denied ordinary Zimbabweans a free and fair
opportunity to vote, further prolonging the political and economic crisis
Mugabe has inflicted on their country."

*Australian Foreign minister Alexander Downer said there had been "a
pleasing reduction in political violence during the campaign and greater
freedom for opposition parties to campaign compared to earlier elections.
But the electoral playing field remains strongly tilted in favour of the
ruling party. Intimidation of voters is pervasive including through the use
of food supplies.

There are also significant question marks over the state of the electoral
rolls, recent changes to electoral boundaries and the independence of the
electoral machinery supervising the election."

*German junior Foreign minister Kerstin Mueller: "President Mugabe's
government has again abused fundamental principles for holding free and fair

*Sweden's Foreign Affairs minister Laila Freivalds: said she regrets "the
obstacles that the government has placed in the way of a free and democratic
election process".

*Zimbabwe National Students Union: "Zinasu deplores the whole electoral
process as fundamentally flawed in favour of the ruling party both in terms
of the Electoral Act and constitution and hereby states unequivocally that
Zimbabwean elections can never be free and fair until Aippa and Posa are
repealed and the law begins to apply uniformly to all political parties in
the country."
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Zim Independent

Electoral Court independence questionable - lawyers
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE Electoral Court is susceptible to manipulation by the executive which
effectively results in it failing to operate independently, Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights has said in its report on last week's parliamentary

Mordecai Mahlangu, a board member of the legal umbrella group, said the
impartiality of electoral institutions in the country was also questionable.

"The Electoral Court has been found susceptible to executive manipulation
and ZLHR is unable to express full confidence that it will be able to deal
effectively, independently and timeously with any and all cases lodged with
it," Mahlangu said.

"The impartiality of the electoral institutions is questionable. They have
failed during the electoral period (especially the counting of votes phase)
to exhibit full transparency and assistance to those observing the process.
In light of the serious questions raised in respect of the inconsistent
statistics provided by the ZEC, it is to be hoped that answers are
forthcoming sooner rather than later to deal exhaustively with all

The Electoral Court was set up by the government to handle election-related
disputes. Last month it came under pressure following President Mugabe's
comments that he would not recognise a ruling enabling jailed MDC legislator
Roy Bennett to stand in Chimanimani.

The court had ruled that Chimanimani polls be held at the end of this month
and not last week.

Mahlangu said that as long as the ZEC fails to deal publicly and decisively
with the allegations made, it continues to be seen "as an ineffective
institution with something to hide".

ZLHR has made recommendations to improve the integrity of future elections.

Among its recommendations, it wants constitutional reviews involving all
sectors of society. The lawyers want measures to ensure an efficient,
adequate and impartial system of voter education, including the youth who
will vote in future elections.

They said: "The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act should be revisited and
reviewed to ensure that well-equipped non-governmental organisations are
provided with help, not hindrance, in carrying out such a mandate," Mahlangu

"The process of voter registration needs to be overhauled. ZLHR calls for a
new voters roll to be prepared, for the process to be effected
transparently, in a manner which is facilitative to all sectors of the
electorate, and for access to the roll to be drastically improved and made
available in electronic and hard-copy forms."

The ZLHR also recommended a repeal of all repressive legislation in force
today, adding that the authorities must provide avenues for the entire
Zimbabwean electorate to participate in parliamentary and presidential
elections. The lawyers also believe there should be one body to deal with
electoral issues.

"The Electoral Court needs to be revisited and form a separate structure
with its own administrative and substantive personnel. Without such
resources it will never be able to satisfy its mandate in terms of the
Electoral Act."

The lawyers' body also believes that not enough was done and "not enough
political will was shown to reassure the people that their will remained

at all times in the electoral and political process".
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Houston Chronicle
Mugabe, Milosevic and Zimbabwe's 'John Paul' option

Zimabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe combines the worst aspects of Cold War and War on Terror tyranny.
Think of Mugabe as an African Slobodan Milosevic. When the Cold War closed down, Milosevic morphed from Yugoslav communist to Serb fascist. As time passed in southern Africa, shape-shifting Mugabe adjusted his schtick, moving from Marx-spouting revolutionary to kleptocrat tribal dictator. Both thugs are ethnic cleansers and cynical thieves who murder rivals, silence the press and brutally intimidate domestic opposition.
There is a major difference: Milosevic is under arrest, while Mugabe continues to destroy a once wealthy nation, while hiding behind a slick PR campaign that co-opts and corrupts classic "human rights" themes.
Mugabe can give Milosevic — and, for that matter, Russia's Vladimir Putin — lessons in rigging elections. On March 31, Mugabe stole his third election in five years, making Zimbabwe the world's current leader in charade democracy.
Mugabe and his thugs tried to steal the last one quietly. As elections approached, Mugabe began denying foreign reporters entry visas. He imposed a law that made "unauthorized demonstrations" a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail — a law aimed at his democratic opponents in The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). And then there's the food weapon. Mugabe's government controls Zimbabwe's food supplies. Cooperate, and you get your loaf of bread. Oppose Mugabe, and food's denied.
Ah, but those pesky priests who won't shut up. Mugabe has had to threaten church leaders he deems responsible for "encouraging" street protests. Catholic Bishop Pius Ncube — a major domestic critic of Mugabe and his dictatorship — has been a special target.
Ncube predicted last week's election would be rigged, and Ncube was right. The "final tally" gave Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) 74 seats and the MDC 40
There's no question Mugabe committed mass fraud — and the MDC has refused to accept the results.
Mugabe may get away with it, breaking the democratic pulse surging through Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, and testing the Bush administration's "pro-democracy" doctrine. The man is ruthless, and in the past ruthless has worked. Though Mugabe's ethnic cleansing of the Mdebele in 1980 brought extensive criticism, criticism never became international opposition to his regime. Whenever international outrage builds, Mugabe trots out two themes that have been political trumps for too many African tyrants, "combating colonialism" and "fighting racism." This mantra stymies a fossil segment of the "human rights Left" — a crowd that railed against Milosevic.
Mugabe also appears to have another hole card — South Africa's Thabo Mbeki has not played pro-democracy Poland to the Zimbabwe democrats' would-be Ukraine. In fact, Mbeki looks increasingly weak, ineffectual and churlish — a man who knows he stands in Nelson Mandela's shadow and resents it. Mbeki declared Zimbabwe's elections "free and fair" before the vote. A few commentators conclude this is Mbeki and Mugabe acting out a senescent form of "freedom fighter" solidarity, and it may be just that, another mid-20th century political relic thwarting 21st century democratic change.
Still, international criticism is mounting — if Kyrgyzstan can rally for freedom, why not Zimbabwe?
What can be done to support the democrats? Any effective military action or political-economic sanctions regimen requires South African cooperation, and Mbeki looks like he's been bought off.
The priests, however, haven't been co-opted. Pope John Paul II's death has kept Mugabe's electoral fraud out of the news cycle, but there is a "John Paul" option that could benefit peaceful change throughout sub-Sahran Africa. The Polish pope inspired Eastern European resistance to communism and inspired billions with his spiritual and moral leadership. An African pope could do the same for African democrats.
There are signals that this could happen. French Cardinal Bernard Panafieu, when asked about electing a "Third World" pope, replied, "Everything is possible."
An African pope would change the political dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa, and put dictators like Mugabe under insistent global scrutiny — the first step to putting them all in jail.
Bay, a nationally syndicated columnist based in Texas, specializes in military and foreign affairs.
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Zim Independent

Mbeki's dilemma over Zimbabwe worsens
By Charles Mangongera
A FEW years ago I wrote about South African President Thabo Mbeki's dilemma
in dealing with President Robert Mugabe. In that submission, I argued that
Mbeki's policy on Zimbabwe was fundamentally flawed in that he was pursuing
"quiet diplomacy" in the hope that Mugabe would see the light, but he would

The problem with Mbeki's foreign policy on Zimbabwe, I argued, is that it
puts into jeopardy his ambitious projects of African Renaissance and Nepad.
I also warned that Mbeki would be judged harshly by history for having
protected a stubborn dictator by failing to condemn his evil deeds.

I still hold the same views. In fact, I think things are getting worse in
Zimbabwe and Mbeki is facing more and more dilemmas. As the situation
continues to deteriorate Mbeki has continued with his crusade to convince
everyone who cares to listen that everything is normal in Zimbabwe. His
public posture as an African political godfather with intricate knowledge of
the goings-on in Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zanu PF is in pursuit of that goal.

I find Mbeki's actions mind-boggling. I also think he is not very
perceptive. Remember his warped ideas about the HIV/Aids-poverty nexus? And
his disrespectful chiding of the good Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the man
of the cloth had complained about the culture of sycophancy in the African
National Congress?

Not that there is anything wrong with not being perceptive. There are many
of us that are not so gifted with mental prowess.

The reason I think Mbeki has got more beard than brains is because of how

he has been handling Uncle Bob and the Zimbabwe circus. The man has been
desperately trotting the globe attempting to portray himself as a great
statesman of Africa. Yet he lacks the guts to stand up to our dear leader
and implore him to see reason for the benefit of the entire region.

Why he lets his paranoid delusions about a non-existent white man's
conspiracy against the black man cloud his judgement baffles the mind. We
all know that Mbeki thinks he owes a lot to Uncle Bob, given that he was
given refuge in Harare at the height of apartheid in South Africa.

But there comes a point where you let go of personal friendships and act
like a statesman, especially when you want to be remembered as one.
Moreover, he was not living on Uncle Bob's personal funds at the time. It
was taxpayers' money. He therefore owes everything to Zimbabweans.

If the truth be told, Mbeki has not been sincere about Zimbabwe. Firstly, he
has lied to the world that the crisis in Zimbabwe is about land. And yet
every right-thinking Zimbabwean knows that the crisis is about Mugabe's
obsession with political power.

The crisis had nothing to do with land, because Uncle Bob had more than two
decades to give land to his people - meaning his friends and relatives in
the higher echelons of power. Genuine beneficiaries of the process had not
received an ounce of soil,while those that had received the land had, by
Mugabe's own admission, become "cell-phone farmers" using the farms as
"weekend braai resorts". What does Mbeki say about this?

He whines about not wanting to be pushed to use "megaphone diplomacy" in
place of his "quiet diplomacy". And in Mbeki-speak "quiet diplomacy" means
employing every trick in the book to protect his ageing ally. It means lying
to the whole world that the autocrat is talking to his political foes and
that before everyone knows it, there will be a "political breakthrough" in
Zimbabwe, after which we all can sit back in the VIP lounge of the Cigar Bar
in Cape Town, puffing on Havanas and sipping the finest whisky.

Don't we all remember being told this when George Bush came on his whirlwind
tour of Africa a couple of years ago? Of course some of us never believed
what the political quack had to say, although Dubya did.

The point I am making is that Mbeki is attempting to do the impossible on
Zimbabwe. In fact, I think he has failed in whatever he was attempting to
do. This is because his attempts at packaging and repackaging the "Mugabe
product" in the hope that it would become a bestseller on the global market
have come to nought.

My marketing friends tell me that when a product has overstayed its welcome
in the market, the best thing to do is withdraw it and introduce another
one, with a completely new marketing strategy. Perhaps Mbeki needs a bit of
tuition on this.

The tuition might have to wait a bit though. I suspect the man is busy
penning the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) verdict on the
2005 parliamentary election in Zimbabwe, which will obviously be filled with
the usual Mbeki innuendos:

"The people of Zimbabwe have expressed their democratic will and despite the
few mishaps that were encountered, we are confident that the result of the
election is a true reflection of their wishes."

So much for the Sadc guidelines on elections.

*Charles Mangongera is a political researcher.

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Zim Independent

What transition, what dialogue?
Vincent Kahiya
WHEN President Mugabe said he would win back the urban constituencies from
the opposition MDC in the general election held last week, he was wrong.
Equally, when the MDC confidently told us it would snatch rural seats from
Zanu PF, it was also wrong.

Zanu PF, which won 78 seats, maintained its grip on the rural areas while
the opposition, with 41 seats, held on to its urban fortress. This was
almost the same story as in the 2000 general election. The 2005 election was
a poll no party really won if we are to move away from the posturing by
Mugabe about a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Two weeks before the election Mugabe appeared to relent on his strong-arm
tactics. Opposition parties were seen on national television.

(They are disappearing fast.) The opposition was allowed to campaign in the
rural areas where it had virtually been banned. Mugabe preached peace with
the passion of a saint while the state media was told to sing the latest
mantra that the country was now a "mature" democracy.

The gullible saw a country in transition which would continue after the
election. Zanu PF, they believed, would build on the miniscule goodwill it
had secured on the eve of the election to implement progressive policies
that would integrate Zimbabwe back into the international community.

That is all a bit far-fetched, because as soon as the last observer leaves
it will be back to repressive business as usual for our ruling elite. Mugabe
will sign the NGO Bill, opposition faces will disappear from television
screens, while the police will be back to their heavy-handedness. Computer
donations and government largesse will dry up. The MDC and Zanu PF are still
worlds apart and are likely to remain so. There is no transition to marvel
at. It is the same old story of deprivation and retrogression.

The election result is a harbinger of tougher times to come for Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's landslide win is just that because in it, there is no guarantee of
food on the table for the hungry populace, jobs, foreign investment,
balance-of-payments support, affordable health care and housing.

The election result is a further complication of the political logjam that
has been the hallmark of Zimbabwe politics over the past five years. The
economic meltdown is a product of Mugabe's failure to come up with an
acceptable internal settlement that takes on board the opposition and civic
groups. Dialogue has in the past failed due to Mugabe's insistence that
talks should be solely on his own anti-Blair terms.

At a press conference at State House last Saturday, Mugabe tried to be
magnanimous. He appeared to be handing an olive branch to the opposition. I
doubt his sincerity.

This is not the first time that such magnanimity has failed to sway the
public into believing that Mugabe is now amenable to dialogue with the
opposition. At his inauguration as president in 2002, he spoke in the same
vein but the ruse did not wash.

The political tension in Zimbabwe will be heightened by the refusal of the
opposition MDC to accept the results of the poll which they said was rigged.
There are likely to be court challenges, which will only increase Mugabe's
anger at the opposition. The more militant fringe in the MDC has been
limbering up for streets protests. The dress rehearsal in central Harare on
Monday brought out the best in our heavy-handed police.

Then there is a group which is pushing for the 41 MDC-elected MPs to boycott
parliament. All the actions being mooted by the opposition constitute a
major threat to Mugabe's quest for legitimacy. Stories of the opposition's
defiance will have Mugabe under the glare of international media for the
wrong reasons. He does not like that and with it Zanu PF and the MDC will
struggle to find common ground.

The first stage of any useful dialogue should be premised on the two parties
agreeing on election results. The debate about Mugabe's legitimacy has
bogged down the country since the disputed 2000 general election. It is not
over yet and Mugabe is aware that legitimacy and international acceptance of
his rule require the blessings of the opposition, hence the subterfuge that
he wants dialogue.

Apart from the nagging issue of legitimacy, Mugabe has to tell the nation
when he is leaving office. He has tried to make it a big secret as if he is
getting any younger. Mugabe is the embodiment of the systems and processes
of government which international investors abhor. Any national discourse to
mend the politics and the economy has to include the shelf-life of the

The issue of leadership renewal will not also escape the opposition. There
is simmering discontent in the ranks of the MDC on the leadership
capabilities of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The various interest groups
which created the opposition party in 1999 do not seem to agree on an
alternative leader. The internal dynamics in the party sometimes mirror the
embarrassing factional squabbles that have become the hallmark of Zanu PF
over the years. Despite his shortcomings, especially in articulating
national issues and taking crucial decisions, Tsvangirai has been the glue
holding the various voices together. But he has to be more than just an
adhesive. The centre has to radiate diligence that is required to keep the
party relevant after this election. His leadership is under scrutiny.

Tsvangirai has to ensure that leaders in his party march in step towards
important policy issues. MDC leaders have in the past failed to agree on how
to engage Zanu PF in dialogue. There was also no homogeneity among them on
whether to participate in last week's election or not.

This fragmentation threatens any prospects of successful dialogue between
Zanu PF and the opposition. With it, President Thabo Mbeki's diplomacy,
geared to achieving a government of national unity, is in jeopardy. The
South African election observer team which was in Harare has endorsed the
poll results. So has the Sadc team and the African Union mission.

This endorsement of Mugabe by his African brothers will only inflate his ego
and strengthen his obdurate grip on power. There is currently no love lost
between the opposition and Mbeki, who has tried to broker dialogue between
Zanu PF and the MDC. The MDC will now question Mbeki's integrity if he tries
to mediate. Just when Mbeki is about to come under increased pressure from
London, Washington and Brussels, his leverage is reduced by his own

Meanwhile, the political and economic climate will continue to fester. This
has been a "no-change" election just when the country most needed it.
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Zim Independent

The case for a democratic constitution
By Wilfred Mhanda
THE 2005 parliamentary elections have come and gone. Whether they were
rigged or "free and fair" is neither here nor there.

It is as immaterial that Zanu PF won the election as it is that the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) lost the election. The material outcome of that
election is that Zimbabwe as a country and its inhabitants were the biggest

Where a democratic dispensation does not obtain, the will of the people will
not prevail. Those political parties that participated in this election
including Zanu PF and the MDC were taking people for a ride and hoping to
salvage the most from the political charade.

Zanu PF is now claiming to have garnered a two-thirds majority in the
election. This is being deliberately disingenuous. The party by fair means
or foul got 78 seats in an elective parliament of 120 seats. Simple
arithmetic clearly shows that 78 is less than two-thirds of 120, which is 80

To claim a two-thirds popular mandate is therefore tantamount to no less
than political fraud and electoral rape. Zanu PF's claim of the two-thirds
majority is based on borrowing two or three seats from the 30 seats
appointed by the president without an electoral mandate.

This may be legal in terms of the present constitution but it remains
undemocratic all the same. It is doubtful whether the spirit of the
constitution ascribes the 30 seats appointed by the president to a given
political party. If that were the case it would only serve to underline the
deficiency, unsuitability and undesirability of the present constitution. In
technical terms, those appointed members should be nothing more than
alternate MPs with restricted voting rights.

If Zanu PF is as popular as it claims, then it should have won the
two-thirds majority from the contested seats.

If they hold that the elections were free and fair, then they should accept

the people's verdict which denied them the two-thirds majority as their free
expression. To act otherwise would be to flout the will of the people and
behave like bad losers. The claim of a two-thirds majority therefore does
not pass the test of legitimacy based on either consent or the popular will
of the electorate.

Zanu PF will obviously argue that their claim is based on the provisions of
the current constitution. But was that constitution ever subjected to the
electorate to confer legitimacy on it? Is it the will of the electorate that
the president arrogates to himself the equivalent of one third of the power
of the electorate to appoint MPs of his choice? What brand of democracy
would that be?

Fair and fine, even the devil himself and the numerous tin-pot dictators may
have their own "constitutions" and their brand of the rule of law but the
bottom line for a truly democratic constitution is the involvement of the
populace in crafting the constitution - a people- driven constitution as
opposed to an imposed one.

We may have whatever constitution but it has to pass the legitimacy test. If
it does not, then it cannot be democratic. Dictators like Saddam Hussein
used to boast of over 95% popular support in elections but that was not a
true reflection of the will of the people of Iraq.

The same applies to the former communist regimes in Eastern Europe that used
to invariably lay claim to electoral victories in excess of 90% of the
'electorate'. But when the people finally spoke as they will inevitably do
in Zimbabwe, those huge majorities vanished into thin air!

Zimbabwe's electorate, according to the voters roll used for the March 2005
General Election, comprises approximately 5,7 million registered voters. It
is common cause that inclusive in this roll are over three million
Zimbabweans in the diaspora who are either economic or political refugees.
This clearly represents almost 50% of the registered voters by any means of
calculation. What sort of legitimacy can Mugabe claim, which is based on
less than 50% of the electorate?

When this reality is taken into account, Zanu PF's 78 seats translate to
less than a 33% electoral mandate which is a far cry from the two thirds
they claim to have secured. What sort of democracy would justify a political
party or an individual for that matter to claim the right to change a people's
destiny by tampering with the constitution on the basis of less than 33%
electoral support? Are we talking of genuine democracy? This is democracy -
Zanu PF style, characterised by the chastisement of more than 60% of the
provincial chairpersons for daring to think differently. Just as President
Mugabe correctly maintains that the West does not have a monopoly of
democratic values, neither does he or his political party hold that
monopoly. Democracy, whether in the West or in Zimbabwe, should be
characterised by the unfettered expression of the will of the electorate
which was obviously not the case in the just- ended election.

If Zimbabweans in the diaspora are not qualified to vote, why on earth
should their names be retained on the voters roll? Would it not make sense
to compile a voters roll of only those citizens of voting age resident in
the country? Can the Zanu PF government claim to represent people, whose
names are on the voters roll but are denied the right to vote? Is there
consent from the disenfranchised people for Zanu PF to purport to act on
their behalf when the party talks of the will of the electorate? Those
political parties that participated in the elections should respond to these
very pertinent democratic questions.

It is plain to all Zimbabweans that the result of this election will not
bring respite to the country and its suffering people. How long are
Zimbabweans prepared to wallow in poverty at the whims of undemocratic
leaders and political parties? Zimbabwe does not belong to President Mugabe
or his political party for that matter. If that were the case why would they
bother calling elections at all? If they call those elections then it is
incumbent upon them to respect the will of the electorate even if it denies
them the two thirds majority. Otherwise they become guilty of being bad

Just as Zanu PF had a legitimate right to advocate land reform (never mind
the implementation and outcome and the corruption associated with it!) to
correct historically engendered inequities, the people of Zimbabwe have an
even greater legitimate and sovereign right to demand constitutional reform
to correct the democratic inadequacies and deficiencies that have plagued
Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980.

The people-driven constitution should serve as a contract between those who
wield power in the name of the people on the one hand and the people
themselves on the other as the custodians of the power and the right to be
governed well. Democracy can never prevail in the absence of such a
political and social contract that confers legitimacy on a political
dispensation. The people of Zimbabwe have never had such a contract. The
British-imposed Lancaster House Constitution cannot by any stretch of
imagination be considered to be such a contract.

To argue about free and fair elections and their outcome in the absence of a
homegrown national contract is at best to miss the point of the true meaning
of democracy and at worst an unscrupulous and irresponsible attempt to usurp
the people's sovereign right to demand accountability of those who govern
them on their behalf.

*Wilfred Mhanda is the chairman of the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform.

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Zim Independent

How Zanu PF stole the ballot
By Benjamin Chitate
WHAT happened during the 2005 parliamentary elections is really a sad
development. Zanu PF has turned traditional leaders into masters of
repression; it has oriented chiefs and kraal heads to hate their subjects
because of their political choice.

In a way, the ruling party is indirectly declaring a one-party state in the
rural areas where it knows the people there are gullible and can easily be

That the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has become popular
with the rural electorate is fact, as evident from the large turnout of
supporters at its rallies in the rural areas - some of which were screened
on television.

However, Zanu PF came up with a strategy where it would hold its own rallies
after the MDC. Police officers who gave the MDC clearance to hold rallies
were instructed to pass on that information to Zanu PF so that the ruling
party would hold its own rallies after the opposition's.

At all those rallies held in the rural areas, Zanu PF would first have
meetings with the chiefs, kraal heads and headmen, where they were allegedly
tasked to come up with programmes of action to intimidate the electorate
into voting for Zanu PF.

The traditional leaders would compile lists of all people under their
jurisdiction. They would then identify from the lists those who were Zanu PF
and those who were MDC. MDC rallies were also used to identify MDC activists
as some Zanu PF spies would attend the same rallies.

All MDC supporters were systematically denied access to maize sold through
the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). MDC activists were subjected to various
forms of harassment. Some had their identification documents defaced so that
they could not vote, others had the same documents confiscated and were
instructed to collect them at specific polling stations on voting day.

Kraal heads were instructed to hold village meetings where they lied to the
people that because of the use of transparent ballot boxes, and because
counting of votes would be done at the same polling stations and that Zanu
PF activists would write down the names of the people voting on the election
day, it was easy to know who one voted for and all those who voted for the
MDC would be evicted, or denied access to GMB-sold maize and agricultural

Villagers were told that it was a punishable offence not to vote, and voting
meant putting their X against the Zanu PF candidate. For the sake of their
survival, the villagers had no choice but to vote in a way that would ensure
that they were not denied access to agricultural inputs and, above all, vote
in a way that would ensure that they were not harmed in any way by Zanu PF

That is how Zanu PF stole the election from the MDC.

This method of rigging is one which most observers would not easily detect,
and that is why some of them are saying the election was free and fair.

Zimbabwe needs not just observers, it needs some investigation conducted by
bodies such as the African Union and the United Nations to establish the
extent of such human rights abuse by the regime.

Bodies such as the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights can submit reports that
would persuade these bodies to take a closer look. The MDC could also help
compile the cases of human rights abuses for political purposes and present
them to the same bodies.

But we know very well how Zanu PF is the party that has made life so
unbearable for most Zimbabweans. The rural electorate knows this, and had
they been allowed to vote the way they wanted, they could have voted for a
new beginning for our beloved Zimbabwe.

It is a challenge to those who are more enlightened about the voting process
to educate our relatives who have been misled into thinking that someone
will know who they voted for. Each individual who is enlightened must spread
the message to all their close relatives who could be gullible.

Voter education is best done at family level, and should start now for the
2008 presidential election. It is only three years away and that is not a
lot of time from now.

But with an economy that is in tatters, will Zanu PF be able to deliver on
its election promises? Will the people of Zimbabwe want to suffer all their
lives under a government that has failed to deliver in 25 years?

The answer lies in our hands, and it is a question of choice.

*Benjamin Chitate is a freelance writer based in Harare.

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Zim Independent

Way forward for the MDC

EVERYBODY knows what has happened. Not that it was unexpected. What was
painfully unexpected was the absence of Plan B.

Notable leaders have been noted throughout history for their vision. Vision
can be described as the ability to look into the fog of the future, and be
able to read the terrain as accurately as possible, and work out how they
would navigate the terrain once the fog cleared.

Those who can only plan their strategy when the fog has cleared, history has
always relegated to the role of management, and not leadership. What has
just happened cries loudly for a visionary.

I propose that we in the MDC should seriously consider merging with the NCA
without delay with the view to finding a vision.

That way we will keep our trusted organiser and manager of the people,
Morgan Tsvangirai, whilst at the same time continuing with the programme of
regime change in Zimbabwe.

After all, the programme has always been the same but taken different
routes. Think clearly on this.

Shupiko Mudzamiri,

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Zim Independent

It's the people, not MDC who lost

I RECEIVED the news that Zanu PF had won the Zimbabwean election with great

President Robert Mugabe says that the MDC must accept defeat with grace. Am
I the only one seeing that the MDC did not lose. Losers are the people of
Uzumba and indeed all the people of Zimbabwe.

They lost a chance to get jobs so that they can stop being used by Zanu PF
for a plate of sadza. They lost a chance to be able to feed their children.
They lost a chance of attracting investment.

As the Zanu PF supporters celebrated their "win" the price of soft drinks,
cigarettes and beer went up. Inflation is over 100% and the black market is
running away with all the foreign currency. For Mugabe to insist that the
MDC has lost shows that he has lost his soul to the devil.

I know that after Zanu PF supporters are through with their celebrations,
they will return to their empty homes to face hunger. They will go back to
the hospitals with neither drugs nor doctors. They will return to the fuel
and mealie-meal queues. I hope that as Mugabe says, they will accept their
defeat with grace.

Busani Moyo,

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Zim Independent

IMF team to arrive next month
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) team will arrive in the country next
month for Article IV consultations, a month after Zimbabwe's parliamentary

The IMF team is set to arrive on May 3 and depart on May 16.

During its visit, the IMF team will meet Zimbabwean authorities on issues
pertaining to the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group and the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe (Noczim).

On Noczim, the fund will discuss the issue of external debt arrears, import
of fuel, operating results and restructuring.

The IMF delegation will comprise Sharmini Coorey (head of delegation), Paul
Heytens, Sonia Munoz and Sanket Mohapatra.

Article IV consultations are held by the fund with each member country.
During the visit the Washington group will meet with officials from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Finance, the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Central
Statistical Office and the opposition MDC.

The Coorey-led team is expected to discuss monetary and exchange rate
developments, capital markets and concessional lending with the central bank
and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development officials.

On May 4, the IMF is expected to meet with central bank governor Gideon

On May 5, the fund will meet officials from the Grain Marketing Board and
the newly-established Agricultural Marketing Authority.

During its last visit in September last year, the IMF noted that fiscal
operations were almost balanced in 2003, but said the 2004 budget was
expansionary, with a deficit target of 7,3% of gross domestic product.

The mission noted that expenditure fell sharply in real terms in 2003 as
wages were eroded by inflation while the domestic interest bill declined
owing to negative real interest rates. It said other government spending was
constrained by shortages of foreign exchange and weak administrative

During the first quarter of last year, the budget deficit rose to 13,4%
largely because of a 220% wage increase in January and "a catch up in
current and capital spending", the IMF said after its visit.

The external current account deficit narrowed to 6% in 2003 from 7,3% in

"In the absence of foreign financing, arrears continued to accumulate to
reach US$2,1 billion or 44% of external debt," the IMF said.

"The average exchange rate in the economy strongly appreciated in early
2004. This resulted from the introduction of a heavily managed foreign
exchange tender system in January and the clamping down on the parallel
market, where the bulk of foreign exchange transactions took place in 2003."

On May 11, the IMF will meet with officials from the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority to discuss the power utility's external debt and other

The same day, the fund is also set to meet with Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
boss, Emmanuel Munyukwi.

On May 13, the IMF will meet with the Office of the President to discuss the
issue of land reform, anti-corruption and anti-monopolies.

In February, the IMF's executive board spared Zimbabwe from expulsion but
noted the country's payment of US$16,5 million since the last review which
it said fell short of stabilising its arrears with the Bretton Woods

The board noted the authorities' intention to further increase payments to
the IMF from the second quarter of 2005, and urged Zimbabwe to resolve its
overdue financial obligations to the IMF.

Zimbabwe has been in continuous arrears to the IMF since February 2001.

As of February 15 this year, Zimbabwe's arrears to the IMF amounted to
Special Drawing Rights 202 million (US$306 million) or about 57% of its IMF
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Zim Independent

Police force or party thugs?

ON April 4 I witnessed two ZRP open trucks weaving dangerously in heavy
traffic, whilst laden to the brim with ZRP members chanting Zanu PF slogans.

I always knew that the ZRP was an extension of Zanu PF, but it was only on
Monday when I realised the extent of their unprofessional bias.

They were behaving like thugs: chanting, wielding and pointing their
truncheons menacingly at passers-by.

They were obviously trying to instill fear in innocent civilians, letting
them know who is in charge.

If this is a taste of things to come, then God help us. Be afraid, be very,
very afraid...

Tony Namate,

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Zim Independent

Parliament's unfinished business
Godfrey Marawanyika
DESPITE parliament last year passing a record 22 Bills that were
subsequently signed into law, there were still four outstanding reports when
the House adjourned for business in January.

Among measures passed, the NGO Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
Bill are still to be gazetted.

The outstanding reports are from the Portfolio Committee on Transport and
Communication on broadcasting licences, the Portfolio Committee on Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare on the half-year budget performance, and
from the Phillip Chiyangwa-chaired Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Industry and International Trade on the influx of foreign goods.

The Fidelis Mhashu-chaired portfolio committee on Education, Sport and

Culture failed to submit its report on the review of the Education Act.

The NGO Bill has attracted fierce criticism from both local and
international human rights groups as it will make it illegal for NGOs
engaged in human rights and governance issues to receive foreign funding for
their activities.

There have been concerns that if the Bill is promulgated into law, it will
result in 10 000 people losing their jobs.

Local NGO groups, led by the National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations, have even lobbied Mugabe not assent to the Bill.

Under the Criminal Law amendment, any person who makes a statement which may
cause ridicule, hatred or contempt of the head of state, faces a term of
imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $400 000.

Under the law, if a person recruits or trains insurgents, bandits, saboteurs
or terrorists, he shall be guilty and liable to imprisonment for life or any
shorter period.

The failure by the previous legislators to submit the reports effectively
means the new members of parliament will have to either adopt the reports or
start their own fact-finding investigations.

Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said both the NGO Bill and
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Bill could still be gazetted.

"The Bills can still be gazetted after the elections, it will still be
permissible," Madhuku said.

"Mugabe probably signed both Bills a long time ago, but did not want them to
be part of the debate during the election campaign. I suspect that they will
soon be gazetted."

Some of the Bills passed between 2004 and 2005 include the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Bill, Balance of Payments reporting Bill, Acquisition
of Farm Equipment Material Bill, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Debt Assumption Bill,
Asset Management Bill, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Amendment Bill and the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill.

Also passed during the 2004-2005 session was the Ex-Political Prisoners,
Detainees and Restrictees Act, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and the
Electoral Act.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Another chance for economic revival

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 certain realities.

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 denies it.

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
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.

And Zanu 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 redistribution.

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 investment.

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.

But 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 slashed.

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 Rhodes".

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?

To motivate 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.
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Zim Independent


Zanu PF's triumph a Pyrrhic victory

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 party.

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
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 South.

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 "natural"

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 candidates?

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
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 point.

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 political

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?

Meanwhile, 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
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Zim Independent

Poll statistics stir familiar dispute
Ray Matikinye

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 reasons.

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 candidates' defeat.

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.

This contravenes 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 party.

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

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.
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