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Makoni rubbishes $3 trillion Mugabe bash

Zim Standard


INDEPENDENT Presidential candidate Simba Makoni yesterday criticised
President Robert Mugabe's $3 trillion birthday bash held in Beitbridge
yesterday, describing it as "an alien concept".

Makoni said he was against the creation of personality cults, shortly
after chairing a top-level meeting of his management committee in Harare.

"I am not a cultist," he said. "If I am going to celebrate my
birthday, I have to go to my family, my home. We don't have to coerce the
whole nation to celebrate an individual's birthday."

The committee charged with fund-raising for President Mugabe's
birthday has sought $3 trillion for the occasion, held every year under the
auspices of the North Korean-style 21st February Movement.

Mugabe turned 84 on Thursday.

Makoni, who is running for president in the 29 March harmonised
elections, said under his government the community and the nation would be
more important than individuals.

"We are talking about service. Therefore all those concepts that are
alien to service are not part of our mission," Makoni said.

Responding to criticism by Mugabe that he was a "political prostitute"
Makoni said: "That is his view. I will not discuss the gravity of the
Zimbabwe crisis at a personal level. I am not motivated by negatives. Let
people judge for themselves."

Makoni revealed for the first time what had motivated him to seek the
highest political office in the land: it was after he had personally
experienced how Zimbabweans were suffering.

He said his experiences were the same as those of 14 million people,
"minus a few" who did not experience the suffering of the people.

He said he was among Zimbabweans who, having queued for long hours,
failed to get fuel at service stations and goods at supermarkets.

Makoni said that he preferred to appeal directly to Zimbabweans for
support in the elections, rather than relying on alliances with political

"I am an independent candidate. How can you be an independent and have
an alliance at the same time? I don't have to be in an alliance (with
political parties). I am with the people and for the people.

"These people are trade unions, churches, industries, ex-combatants,
women, men, the youth. I am in alliance with all these people. I don't need
to be fenced, paddocked," he said.

Makoni was reported to have forged an alliance with the Arthur
Mutambara-led faction of the MDC and was also said to be seeking to work
with Morgan Tsvangirai's faction to launch a united front against Mugabe.

If elected to power, Makoni said he would form a government of
national unity which he preferred to call the "National Authority", which
would spearhead national re-engagement.

"We will look in the legislature for the best from the MDC, Zanu PF,
Independents and people from other smaller parties to be in government."

Top on the priority list of the National Authority would be solving
the food, energy and water crises facing the country. Zimbabweans would be
encouraged to do things for themselves, he said, as he attacked the Reserve
Bank-funded farm mechanisation programme.

"Why do we mock our people by making them indigent and hopeless, by
giving them zvikochikari nemagejo (scotchcarts and ploughs)?"

On the land issue, Makoni said he would embark on an agrarian reform
which would result in equitable and transparent distribution of land. The
focus would be to ensure full utilisation of the land and the improvement of
people working on the land.

Makoni emphasised that "due process of the law" would be a guiding
principle in the process.

"While the government has affirmed the one- person-one-farm policy, we
know of individuals who have not two, but eight farms. The government knows
them. The National Authority will correct all these distortions."

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'Elections could be postponed'

Zim Standard

  By Vusumuzi Sifile

ON Friday last week, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was still
"working flat out" to finalise the list of candidates to contest the 1 958
wards in next month's harmonised elections, a week after nomination courts
sat across the country.

This, and the way a few nomination courts failed to complete their
business on time, in some instances continuing until the next morning, has
sparked speculation on the commission's preparedness to run the harmonised

Observers and analysts last week said if the confusion at the
nomination courts were to be taken as an example, then the ZEC has shown
"very little by way of readiness" for the 29 March polls. Commentators noted
"it is still legally possible to postpone the elections" as there are still
a number of "fundamental issues requiring more time to correct".

Noel Kututwa, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN), said the same problems encountered at nomination could spill into
the elections.

"This was to be expected," Kututwa said. "I anticipate the same
problem with the voting ... It would be undesirable for polling to go on and
on beyond 7PM given the on-going power cuts and no electricity in some rural

Last week, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) said
the situation was not ideal for elections next month.

But ZEC officials insist they are ready, as they have been "preparing
for over a year".

ZEC spokesperson, Shupikai Mashereni, on Thursday acknowledged they
faced challenges putting together results of the nomination court.

"We had nomination courts sitting throughout the country," Mashereni
said. "Results were sent mostly by phone or fax, but when we got them, some
of them were not very clear. Each ward had an average of six contestants,
and we had to tabulate the information ward by ward," he said.

Asked whether this was not an indication that ZEC was not fully
prepared for such a massive election, Mashereni said: "ZEC now has all the
logistics required for the elections...We did not start preparing for the
elections this year. Remember, we are employed full-time and our job is to
prepare for and run elections. So what do you think we have been doing all

But Mashereni could not disclose the exact figures of the various
logistical requirements, such as the translucent ballot boxes, indelible
ink, motor vehicles, generators, fuel and mobile phones, among others.

Early this month, Mashereni told The Standard "ZEC has arranged for
air transport" to access areas rendered inaccessible by the recent floods".

Among other things, it was reported last week that the commission
would set up 11 000 polling stations for the harmonised elections.

Kututwa said considering what had happened in previous elections "11
000 polling stations may not be enough to allow all voters to exercise their
right to vote within a reasonable time in this election".

"These harmonised elections are the first time that Zimbabwe will be
holding four elections at the same time," he said. "This has never been done
before. I would have expected that the polling stations would have been
doubled to take into account the fact that each voter will be given four
ballot papers to cast. Just the time that it will take to go through four
ballot papers will unduly lengthen the voting process and it would have been
preferable to increase the number of polling stations."

But others believe if the number of polling stations is increased,
political parties and their candidates would face another challenge:
spending a lot of money on polling agents.

Every candidate needs at least one agent at each polling station.
Considering there would be four elections running simultaneously at 11 000
polling stations, each political party would need to field at least four
candidates at each polling station. Parties fielding candidates in all
constituencies would need 44 000 polling agents. They don't come cheap

But Kututwa said "it is better for the election to be expensive for
parties than to have voters' democratic rights to vote prejudiced by having
few polling stations".

He proposed that the political "parties would rather take the risk"
than let people fail to vote because there were fewer polling stations than
could cater for all the voters.

He said some candidates could also volunteer their services.

David Coltart of the MDC Mutambara faction said this was not likely to
be a problem for the "serious political parties".

"For example, in Bulawayo we already have a surplus of people who want
to be polling agents," said Coltart. "Maybe this could be a problem for the
smaller parties and independents. But generally, we share the same concerns
with them. So we can say they will be covered by other opposition party

In the past, voters could vote anywhere in their constituency. This
year, voting will be ward-based, but not much has been done to enlighten
voters on the new arrangements.

"Very little voter education is being conducted by the ZEC," Kututwa
said. "The solution is to change the whole administrative set-up and ensure
that adequate human and financial resources are in place to be able to carry
out these activities properly."

Paul Themba Nyathi, also from the Mutambara faction, said the
distribution of polling stations "should be based on the mathematical factor
that there are four entities being voted for simultaneously. It is not
something one can just do from the air."

Political analyst, Felix Mafa, the spokesperson for the MDC Tsvangirai
faction in Bulawayo, said with the current number of polling stations, the
"voting process will definitely need more time for each voter to cast four

"If each voter takes about 10 minutes inside the polling station in
order to cast his/her votes, there are many votes that will be lost, as many
eligible voters might not afford to spend the whole day in a queue to cast
their votes," he said.

Some candidates - especially those from newly established political
parties - appear not conversant with the new regulations relating to the
election, which could result in their papers being rejected as not being in

Others, like perennial loser Egypt Dzinemunhenzwa, went to the court
without enough money to file the papers.

Others, like Moreprecision Muzadzi of the obscure Vox Populi, were not
aware that presidential candidates, for example, have to be over 40 years
old. The Christian Democratic Party (CDP) says it would have fielded eight
candidates "but many fell by the wayside for various reasons".

The party ended up fielding only two.

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Polls a referendum on Mugabe misrule'

Zim Standard


MUTARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday avoided the
contentious Simba Makoni issue during the launch of his party's 2008
election campaign at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare.

In the sweltering mid-afternoon heat in front of over 25 000 people,
Tsvangirai unveiled his party's manifesto and announced the elections were a
referendum on President Robert Mugabe's misrule.

"The election is about dealing with generational and political
transitional challenges. We have to understand that this election is a
referendum on Mugabe's misrule over the past 30 years," Tsvangirai said.

The MDC leader is expected to hold talks with Ibbo Mandaza, a
representative of Makoni, today, to discuss the prospects of an electoral
deal between the two.

Makoni himself has indicated he is not keen on any alliances.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday said Tsvangirai did not
speak on Makoni because this was not an issue.

Unveiling the party's manifesto, Tsvangirai said the MDC put the issue
of the constitution at the centre of the people's struggle against the
tyranny of President Mugabe, who had destroyed the country's economy.

He said the MDC would craft a people-driven constitution that would
engender trust and confidence among the people.

He said the MDC's economic revival policy would be centred on the
participation of all stakeholders through the Zimbabwe Economic Development

The MDC leader promised to fight against inflation, ensure exchange
control stability as a prerequisite to stimulate economic growth.

On the contentious land issue, Tsvangirai said his land policy would
recognise the country's brutal colonial history of plunder, deal with the
injustices and carry out an independent audit of land to establish the
status of current holdings.

In its manifesto, the MDC promises just and equitable compensation to
all farmers whose land was acquired since the 2000 land invasions by war

The manifesto concedes that the country's economy does not have the
capacity to offer enough compensation. "In this regard, the MDC will
internationalise the issue of compensation so that multilateral institutions
and countries inextricably connected to the Zimbabwe crisis will bring in
their resources to adequately compensate the erstwhile land owners."

Tsvangirai also promised to compensate the victims of Gukurahundi in
which more than 20 000 people were butchered by Mugabe's North
Korean-trained 5 Brigade in the 1980s.

"We cannot restore the life that was lost during Gukurahundi. But we
can rebuild the devastated communities. We can build roads and schools and
give loans to people to establish income-generating projects," he said.

Upbeat about winning the 29 March elections, the MDC leader also
promised free primary education and to address housing, transport problems,
empower women and youths as well as deal with the HIV and Aids pandemic.


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Sodomy poser for Zanu PF Senate hopeful

Zim Standard


BULAWAYO - The forthcoming harmonised elections have drawn
unprecedented interest from aspiring candidates, all promising to work to
improve the lot of Zimbabweans.

But a look at the list of aspiring candidates, including those from
Zanu PF, reveals that a number of them have skeletons in their cabinets
which might cause the electorate to be wary.

Some of them were convicted of crimes involving dishonesty, while
others have allegations of serious offences, such as rape, hanging over

But one candidate whose record might leave Zanu PF leaders, including
President Robert Mugabe, with egg on their faces, is Bill Tshuma who is
seeking to represent the ruling party in the Gwabalanda Senatorial seat.

On 27 January 2004, Tshuma was convicted of attempted sodomy. Court
records show he tried his luck on a 23-year-old Harare man he had lured from
a local supermarket with the promise of a job.

Tshuma tricked the desperate man to accompany him to Aisbley Farm,
owned by the city council, which he claimed was his.

On arrival at the farm, he told the man that he was "handsome and

He also told the terrified man to fondle him in order to arouse his
feelings. He proceeded to kiss the man, according to the court records.

After a short trial the magistrate found Tshuma, who could become a
Zanu PF senator, guilty of trying to sodomise his victim and fined him $20
000 or 30 days in prison.

Mugabe describes homosexuals as "worse than pigs and dogs". He also
accuses his enemies in the West of being "gay gangsters" bent on effecting
legal regime change in Zimbabwe.

Constitutional expert, Lovemore Madhuku said Zimbabwean law does not
bar anyone with a criminal conviction from standing for political office.

But he added it was up to political parties, as private organisations,
to set specific parameters on the type of candidates they wanted to send to

"Perhaps it is his opponents who could use the conviction against him
to say, 'Don't vote for that man because he was convicted of this and that',"
Madhuku said.

Zanu PF spokesman Effort Nkomo was not available for comment last

In 2002, Mugabe made political capital out of an incident in which the
late MDC spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, killed his wife before subsequently
committing suicide in prison.

He said Zimbabweans could not entrust their future into the hands of
violent leaders.

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Brain drain shatters aspiring doctor's dream

Zim Standard


TINASHE Mangunda's dream was to become a medical doctor. Her parents
even struggled to raise money to pay a private tutor for her during school

But Tinashe's dream has been shattered.

She returned to her missionary boarding school in Mashonaland East to
complete her Ordinary Levels, to be welcomed by the sad news that she could
no longer pursue science subjects, her only door to the world of

The reason: biology, chemistry and physics teachers had left the
school, like many other members of their previously hallowed fraternity, in
search of greener pastures.

Now Tinashe is studying Integrated Science.

It looks like the country has been robbed of another aspiring doctor.

Tinashe said: "I did science subjects the whole of last year, but when
we came back to school this term we were told that our chemistry, physics
and biology teachers had left. So we had to drop the subjects. I was really

Tinashe, at just 16 years, has become another victim of the brain
drain of teachers who continue to flee low pay and appalling working
conditions in this country because of the never-ending economic crisis.

Zimbabwean teachers have been migrating to neighbouring Botswana,
Mozambique and South Africa with some of them even taking up menial jobs to
earn enough money to send back home to their families.

Reports say rural areas are the most affected.

Most teachers believed to be leaving the country are science teachers
who are in great demand in other countries.

Peter Mabande, the chief executive officer of Zimbabwe Teachers'
Association (ZTA) told The Standard there was a general shortage of teachers
for Mathematics, Sciences and technical subjects.

"The situation is being made worse by the massive brain drain of
teachers, who are going down South. Our teachers are also in demand there
because they are considered to be very good," he said.

The ZTA recently held talks with officials from the Ministry of
Education, Sport and Culture to address the issue but nothing positive
emerged, Mabande said.

The Secretary for Education, Stephen Mahere, could not be reached for
comment as his secretary said he was busy attending important meetings.

But it is believed that many schools all over the country, with the
exception of private schools, are facing shortages of teachers.

Mabande said they could not possibly know the exact number of teachers
who had left because some of them just left out of frustration, without
telling anyone or resigning.

But according to Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), at
least 25 000 teachers left the profession in 2007.

Mabande said some parents had resorted to buying groceries for
teachers so that they could be persuaded to stay.

One school affected by the teachers' exodus is Hanke Adventist High
School in Shurungwi, which advertised in the national newspaper for
chemistry, physics and accounts teachers.

They were offering successful applicants incentives, including
groceries, transport allowances and salary complement.

Last week, some teachers were brutally beaten up by Zanu PF youths in
Harare when they were seen tossing flyers to the public, explaining why
teachers were on strike.

Among those who were arrested is the secretary-general of PTUZ Raymond

He and eight others were attacked viciously by Zanu PF youths when
they went around the city centre, explaining why teachers were on strike.

"Mugabe is giving salary hikes to soldiers and the police and
neglecting the teachers because we are labelled anti-Zanu PF," said a
furious Majongwe. "Teachers are running away from rural areas because they
are being tortured there."

They have been on strike since 24 January, demanding a basic monthly
salary of Z$1.7 billion and about $600 million in housing and transport

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Polls: It's the personality, not manifesto

Zim Standard


WITH just four weeks to go to the harmonised elections, Zimbabweans
will be bombarded with promises of a better future, with the four
presidential aspirants pledging what they will do once in power.

They will sing every line in their manifestos until their voices
become hoarse, to convince the electorate to vote for them on 29 March.

Eighty-four-year-old President Robert Mugabe, in the saddle for nearly
three decades, will be warding off challenges from Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Zanu PF "reformist" Simba Makoni, and
little-known Langton Tawungana.

Tsvangirai officially launched his campaign yesterday in Mutare while
Mugabe used his 84th birthday celebrations in Beitbridge to start the ball
rolling for his bid for another term.

Political analysts say the largely poverty-stricken electorate would
not be concerned much about the parties' manifestos - as the issues are
almost similar.

Instead, voters will be preoccupied with the quality and personality
of the presidential aspirants.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, John Makumbe, said
the presidential candidates' campaigns all centred on obvious issues:
"bringing from the near-dead" the economy, reducing staggering poverty
levels and a genuinely equitable redistribution of the land - not the
aftermath of the 2000 land grab which created a new Zimbabwean "landed

"It's going to be about parties and personalities. They will be saying
almost the same things. But they will differ on the methodologies of
resolving the problems affecting the country," said Makumbe.

Analysts predict Mugabe, facing possibly the stiffest opposition
challenge since 1980, would promise to dish out more land, tractors, combine
harvesters, seed and fertiliser to lure thousands of rural voters,
undoubtedly his strongest supporters.

He will also remind Zimbabweans of the liberation credentials of the
ruling party and how he still has a vision to revive the economy.

In his manifesto Mugabe's former Finance Minister, Makoni, promised to
revive the country's social, political and economic status.

He promised national re-engagement and dialogue among the people of
Zimbabwe to ensure economic, social and political revival. He says he would
revive the country's productive capacity through a transparent and equitable
land redistribution process.

Makoni has promised to restore the rule of law and normalcy in the
financial sector as well as ensuring that Zimbabweans get decent education,
health, housing and other social services.

He says his mission is to "restore people's independence, dignity and
confidence, increase respect for our institutions and values, project
national interests before personal interests, and restore Zimbabwe's
standing within the international community."

But Makumbe believes Makoni and Mugabe are no different: "If you look
at the synopsis of Makoni's manifesto it's not different from Zanu PF,"
Makumbe said.

However, University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Eldred
Masunungure said Makoni differs from Mugabe in that the ex-finance minister
talks about re-engaging the West and the Bretton Woods Institutions - the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Makoni's candidature lies in between the MDC and Zanu PF regarding
re-engagement with the West, the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund. You won't have that from Zanu
PF which has decided to look East," said Masunungure. "Nothing much
will come from the East."

He said Makoni would steal most of his votes from disgruntled members
of both Zanu PF and the MDC.

"Makoni is viewed as a reformer in Zanu PF and he would capture some
votes mostly from his former political home. Note also that many of those
who stood as independents are aligning themselves with Makoni," Masunungure

Another political analyst, who requested anonymity, said MDC could
lose more voters because there will be less protest votes in next month's
polls than in previous elections.

"People have another choice and some MDC supporters will definitely
vote for Makoni because they see Tsvangirai as having failed to remove
Mugabe. They will put their vote on a promising Makoni," he said. "Look at
the number of people who registered as voters when Makoni announced his

Ibbo Mandaza, Makoni's election co-ordinator, last week claimed that
voter registration increased by at least 45% soon after Makoni announced his
presidential bid. Makoni also claimed credit for the increase in the number
of people who visited registration centres across the country after he
announced he would run for President.

"For us this is a huge sign and a positive development. This shows us
that Makoni has given hope back to the people of Zimbabwe," Mandaza said.

But MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said his party would prevail in
next month's polls because they are fighting "a weaker, confused and divided
Zanu PF".

"We will prevail. The division in Zanu PF is God-given and divine. We
will take good advantage of that to defeat Zanu PF once and for all,"
Chamisa said, adding that the MDC now knows Zanu PF's rigging strategies
from previous polls.

Chamisa believes that the MDC has matured in strategy, experience and
has grown in numbers since its formation in 1999.

But Makumbe warned Chamisa of such complacency. He said if Mugabe was
cornered, he would fall back on his rigging machinery. In previous polls
Zanu PF has used war veterans and youth militia to intimidate and beat the
electorate into submission.

"Everyone knows when Mugabe fears defeat, he unleashes violence and
employs all sorts of tricks to ensure he is declared the winner," Makumbe

Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira could not be reached for

Whoever the winner will be, Zimbabweans need a President who respects
human rights, the rule of law, promotes democracy, fosters economic growth
and delivers them from the poverty they are currently wallowing in.

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Varichem donates ARVs

Zim Standard


VARICHEM Pharmaceuticals (Pvt) Limited has donated over 200 units of
the life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) to the Zimbabwe HIV/Aids
Activists Union (ZHAAU) for distribution to its members.

The drugs include stavudine, indinavir capsules, varicomb tablets as
well as zidovudine tablets and would last for one month if distributed to
226 people living with HIV/Aids.

ZHAAU president Bernard Nyathi said the donation would go a long way
in assisting HIV positive people who cannot afford to buy the drugs from
private pharmacies.

"We are appealing to other people out there who cannot afford buying
ARVs from pharmacies to come forward and save their lives," said Nyathi.

He urged other companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to
help people living with HIV/Aids.

Among the drugs is indinavir, a second line drug which is prescribed
to HIV-positive people who would have developed resistance to first-line

Nyathi said in private pharmacies, the drug costs about $2 billion for
a month's supply, out of the reach for most Zimbabweans.

ZHAAU, established in 2006, has a membership of 1 500.

Varichem Pharmaceuticals national sales and marketing manager, Joe
Simango, said the donation was part of the company's social responsibility.

"We hope this small contribution will strengthen our partnership,"
said Simango.

It is estimated that about 3 500 people die of HIV/Aids-related
illnesses every week in Zimbabwe.

Nationally, between 300 000 and 500 000 people living with HIV/Aids
are in urgent need of ARVs.

But official government statistics indicate that only about 80 000
people are receiving ARVs under the government-funded programme.

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Byo poll candidates clash in 'debate series'

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - A local pressure group has injected excitement into the
forthcoming harmonised election campaign by introducing a
"meet-the-candidates" debate series that promises fireworks in hotly
contested constituencies.

Bulawayo Agenda says the meetings are designed to offer candidates an
opportunity to present their manifestos and election platforms to the

Matabeleland has some of the most interesting pairings in the
parliamentary (House of Assembly and Senate) elections after the two
factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) failed to reunite.

Such constituencies include the battle in the Makokoba parliamentary
seat, featuring MDC-Tsvangirai vice-president Thoko Khupe and MDC-Mutambara's
secretary general, Welshman Ncube.

The third candidate is Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss, Tshinga Dube,
who has established a presence in the constituency with his philanthropic

There is also the Nkulumane parliamentary seat where MDC-Mutambara
vice-president Gibson Sibanda faces the rival faction's youth chairman,
Thamsanqa Mahlangu.

The meetings kicked off yesterday, where in some of the most
interesting duels, former minister of state for Information and Publicity,
Jonathan Moyo, an independent candidate, was expected to face off with his
MDC and Zanu PF challengers in rural Tsholotsho.

Speaking at the launch of the series on Thursday, Bulawayo Agenda
director, Gorden Moyo, said they were trying to promote tolerance in the
run-up to the elections.

"When politicians are in such functions they exhibit maturity and you
tend to wonder why they want to kill each when they are out campaigning," he

The launch was attended by several aspiring candidates from across the
political divide.

Meanwhile, a glut of independent candidates is threatening to undo the
divided MDC's chances of maintaining its stranglehold on the city.

The independents claim to be aligned to former finance minister, Simba
Makoni who is standing as an independent presidential candidate.

Bulawayo province has a staggering 15 independent candidates in the 16
parliamentary seats.

One of the aspiring candidates, Kidwell Mujuru is eyeing the Luveve
parliamentary seat. He said the independents stood a chance of winning
because they were not "tainted by Zanu PF or MDC" politics.

"People are tired of Zanu PF, which has not delivered for the past 27
years," he said. "The MDC has also disappointed a lot of its supporters
because it could not re-unite to fight the common enemy.

"Besides, some of us grew up in these constituencies and the people
know us."

Mujuru will have to contend with long-serving legislator, Essaph
Mdlongwa of the MDC-Mutambara faction, Getrude Moyo (Zanu PF), Reggie Moyo
(MDC- Tsvangirai) and Simba Phiri of the Federal Democratic Union.

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Mpofu threatens political rival

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International
Trade has ordered the immediate eviction of a senior Zanu PF official
leasing a beer garden in his constituency for allegedly backing a political

Mpofu, the outgoing MP for Bubi-Umguza constituency is facing a
potentially bruising challenge from Bulawayo based businessman, Mark
Mbayiwa, a ZIPRA ex-combatant and a popular figure among war veterans in the

Mbayiwa, who has been linked to Zanu PF heavyweights backing former
Finance Minister Simba Makoni's presidential bid, chose to stand as an
independent candidate after Zanu PF ignored a provisional High Court order
barring it from declaring Mpofu the sole candidate for the constituency
until a dispute on his endorsement was settled.

While officially launching his campaign in Nyamandlovu, Mpofu issued
thinly veiled threats to some members of the Zanu PF Matabeleland provincial
executive claiming they were supporting Mbayiwa.

An angry Mpofu then ordered that Zanu PF Matabeleland North security
chief, Naison Ndlovu be evicted from an Umguza rural district council beer
garden. Mpofu charged that Ndlovu, who has been leasing the Nyamandlovu bar
for four years, had nominated Mbayiwa to stand in the elections.

"As we speak right now, there are people who are using party resources
campaigning for independent candidates," Mpofu told the meeting.

"One of them is a provincial member who is amongst us here. Naison
Ndlovu is busy campaigning for Mark Mbayiwa and you begin to wonder what his
interest is and he is actually one of the people who nominated him."

He warned that those who poke their nose in his constituency "should
be wary of the consequences".

Mpofu added: "I am actually interested in the heavyweights that are
said to have sent him."

But on Wednesday, Ndlovu had still not been evicted from the beer
garden, which is lying idle because council has not been able to secure a
liquor licence.

Mbayiwa said the threats betrayed Mpofu's fears that he was no longer
wanted by even Zanu PF supporters in the constituency.

"The kind of language that he was using is shocking for a Minister,"
he said. "But I am not surprised because he has been trying to block me from
standing in the constituency since the delimitation exercise started.

"He was also claiming that I am not a member of Zanu PF but as far as
I know I have been in the party longer than him as a member of PF Zapu.
Unless he means that he was the first to join Zanu when he deserted Zapu
before the Unity Accord."

He claimed that Mpofu had become so unpopular in the constituency to
the extent that he "will not win a free and fair election".

The constituency is likely to have the most exciting contest after
five candidates entered the race. Other candidates are from the MDC factions
and United People's Party.

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Villagers endure three weeks in maize queue

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - Scores of villagers are spending up to three weeks queuing
for maize-meal in Lupane, because the miller contracted by the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) is struggling to meet spiralling demand amid worsening
food shortages.

Several parts of Matabeleland have been facing a severe shortage of
maize-meal since November last year, with the GMB citing transport problems.

But government officials and aid agencies warned last week the
situation had worsened dramatically following heavy rains that rendered most
parts of the province inaccessible.

The most affected areas are Binga, some parts of Hwange and
Tsholotsho, hit by floods towards the end of January.

Binga district administrator, Christopher Mutale, said a number of
areas had not received maize for the two months because bridges had been
washed away.

"Due to heavy rains, boulders were washed down the mountains right
into the roads," Mutale said.

That forced desperate villagers to camp at the provincial capital,
where the miller is based but the GMB has reportedly not been able to
satisfy demand.

The villagers sleep in the open every night.

"The situation has become so bad that people can even spend a month
waiting for maize-meal," said Carswell Moyo, a non-governmental organisation
worker in Lupane.

"When it is available they can only buy 10kg, not enough to sustain a
normal rural household for a few days."

Zimbabwe is struggling to import maize to meet a huge deficit recorded
during the 2006/7 agriculture season due to an acute shortage of foreign

But the GMB says it imports adequate maize from Malawi, Zambia and
Tanzania to meet local demand.

The maize-meal has also disappeared from the formal market in Bulawayo
as millers allegedly prefer trading the limited quantities on the black
market, where it fetches more.

According to the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), 10kg
of maize must be sold for $5 million but it fetches over $20 million on the
parallel market.

Last week GMB spokesperson, Joseph Katete, claimed it was false that
the parastatal was failing to deliver enough maize and blamed the shortages
on millers he accused of hoarding.

"The media must do something about the plight of these people. Maybe
the authorities will be forced to act," said a civil servant based in
Lupane, who requested anonymity.

He said he had been touched by the plight of a blind couple, who spent
"several days" queuing for maize-meal.

In Tsholotsho, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) appealed for urgent
donations for villagers affected by the floods.

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Mugabe admits party faces tough fight

Zim Standard

  By our staff

BEITBRIDGE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday admitted Zanu PF faces
a tough fight from "renegades" challenging its candidates in the 29 March

Speaking at his lavish 84th birthday bash, Mugabe said the polls would
be the biggest test of the party's claims of being a mass party.

Mugabe himself faces what is probably his greatest electoral challenge
from former Zanu PF politburo member, Simba Makoni and MDC leader Morgan

Snubbed by a number of his lieutenants, all linked to Makoni,
including politburo members Solomon Mujuru and Dumiso Dabengwa, Mugabe said
the defections threatened to rock Zanu PF to its foundations.

A number of senior party leaders from the region were conspicuous by
their absence at the communist-style event whose organisers claimed they
spent $3 trillion on food and drinks.

"Are we still the party that went to the war being supported by the
masses and by the communities . . . when it was just us?" Mugabe asked the
sizeable crowd of mostly school children. "Are we still together?"

He said Makoni's decision to challenge him was a "big provocation".
But he said he was ready for the fight and called on his supporters not to
concede defeat yet.

"We must never accept defeat as something coming our way," he said.
"Let's tell the people the truth about the economic hardships and what the
government can do and can't do about them."

Mugabe, who called Makoni "a political prostitute" in a televised
interview marking his birthday on Thursday, said those who had predicted his
inner circle would desert him had been proved wrong.

He claimed Makoni's campaign was being bankrolled by Australia and
Britain who were sponsoring him through non-governmental organisations, but
offered no proof.

"I am ready for the fight," he said. "It doesn't matter what (British
prime minister) Gordon Brown or (US president) George W Bush say about us."

Mugabe, who made an overnight stopover in Bulawayo on his way to
Beitbridge, only arrived at lunchtime after sun-scorched youths bused in
from all the country's provinces had waited for him since 9AM.

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RBZ non-payment grounds farmers

Zim Standard


ABOUT 70% of tobacco and wheat farmers might not plant this season
because the government has not paid them for last year's deliveries, The
Standard has been told.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) promised to pay tobacco farmers 20%
of their receipts in foreign currency under a programme the bank put in
place last year to boost crop production.

Presenting his mid-year monetary policy statement late last year, the
governor, Gideon Gono promised to settle outstanding Foreign Currency
Accounts payments to tobacco farmers by the end of October last year.

Last week, the farmers said they had still not been paid.

Farmers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said non-payment from the
RBZ and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the unviable prices of commodities
and the shortage of farming inputs were eroding their confidence in farming.

They predicted Zimbabwe would experience another poor harvest this
season if farmers were not paid in time.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) president Wilson Nyabonda
confirmed the majority of tobacco and wheat farmers had not been paid.

He said they were in a quandary over the non-payment and appealed to
the RBZ and the GMB to pay them soon the inflation-adjusted prices for their

"Farmers can't prepare for the next season because they cannot buy
fertiliser, seed or chemicals. They will soon be unable to pay their
workers," he said.

Nyabonda said it was no longer sustainable to get the $42 million a
tonne of wheat that the government agreed with farmers last year because it
had been eroded by hyperinflation.

"With that figure a farmer needs to sell over 200 tonnes of wheat to
buy a 200 litre drum of oil (lubricant) which, in short, means we need
supplementary payment," he said.

Apart from that, Nyabonda said farm workers, paid $3 million a month
last October, were now earning 20 times that amount.

Last week the farmers held an all-stakeholders' meeting in Harare
where they resolved to send emissaries to the RBZ and GMB to press for

Nyabonda urged the government to adopt a market-driven pricing policy
to address the agriculture sector's problems.

"The answer to our problems is to have an open market policy at farmer
level," he said.

The GMB's public relations officer, Joseph Katete, had not responded
to questions e-mailed to him while RBZ spokesperson Kumbirai Nhongo said he
was in a meeting and would call back.

Questions sent to Nhongo's office were not responded to by the time of
going to press.

Reports of non-payment by the RBZ and the GMB would worsen the food
shortages, especially in the wake of estimates that Zimbabwe would only
produce 30% of its national maize requirements this year.

Already, about 3,5 million people are surviving on food aid, according
to UN estimates.

Agriculture experts blame the food crisis on poor agricultural
planning by government, and the excessive rains which fell especially in
December last year.

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Prospects of economic recovery fizzle out

Zim Standard


ZIMBABWE'S annual inflation, having breezed past the 100 000% mark in
January, will continue to break new ground as government policies continue
to fuel price increases of goods and services, analysts warned last week.

Figures from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) showed annual
inflation had risen to 100 580.2% in January, from December's 66 212.3%.

The figures from the government's own statistical agency did not
surprise analysts, who say they reflect the economic meltdown is far from
being subdued.

Analysts say inflation has excluded the poor from the economy, eroding
their incomes.

"This is the total collapse of the society and the only people who
remain in the economy are those with liquid assets. The ordinary workers are
living outside the economy," said Dr Daniel Ndlela, an independent economic

Although month-on-month inflation slowed down to 119.3% points to
120.8% from the December figure of 240.1%, this is the seventh month that
the country is in hyper-inflationary mode, breaking new ground.

"It's unheard of," said Ndlela. "The average lifespan of
hyperinflation before the government collapses is six months." Ndlela said.

"The wheels are off on that front," said David Mupamhadzi, group
economist at the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group.

He said the figures were not surprising, typical of the
hyper-inflationary environment and would rise further if the government did
not "use extraordinary measures to deal with the problem".

"We need a cocktail of measures . . . we need to go back to the social
contract and have all stakeholders together to resolve the problem,"
Mupamhadzi said.

"You can't use one instrument alone. All stakeholders - government,
labour and business - have to sit down and map out the way forward."

But Callisto Jokonya, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)
president believes the nation does not need a social contract but needs to
deal with the issue realistically. Business is not to blame for the
ballooning inflation dragon, he said.

"The basic definition of inflation is too much money chasing too few
goods. You cut the money and you have cut inflation," he said.

In June business, government, the Apex Council and the Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions signed two other protocols: Protocol on
Restoration of Production Viability and Mobilisation, Pricing and Management
of Foreign Currency while the ZCTU said it would inform its constituency.

The protocols aimed to achieve a 25% inflation rate by the end of this
year while the government budget deficit would come down to 10% of the Gross
Domestic Product.

No sooner had the ink dried than the government scored an own goal:
Statutory Instrument 159A of 2007 [Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
(Amendment of National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act and Education Act)
Regulations 2007] was promulgated.

The instrument decreed a salary increment freeze as well as a freeze
on service charges for a period of six months, undermining the spirit of
smart partnership.

Analysts note that inflation drivers were in super gear as the
exchange rate is deteriorating and the printing press is busy with civil
servants' salaries and election campaign material.

Ndlela says only a government adhering to the rule of law and with
international community support to benchmark the foreign exchange to the
level of the parallel market rate will neutralize rising inflation.

Jokonya says business does not need price controls but foreign
currency to procure raw materials and boost production.

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Disqualify candidates promoting violence

Zim Standard


THERE is so much at stake for the ruling party in this year's
harmonised elections that it would be impossible for it not to resort to

In previous elections where Zanu PF appeared to command support,
violence was always part of its winning strategy and this year it is
difficult to see how it can all of a sudden abandon recourse to coercion
when it is under unprecedented pressure, and is keenly aware that it cannot
claim to have the majority of voters behind it.

President Robert Mugabe has been silent ever since Dr Simba Makoni
announced his intention to run for the presidency. In his reaction last week
in an interview on the occasion of his 84th birthday, Mugabe attacked
Makoni, describing him as a "political prostitute".

Violence is not just physical. It assumes diverse forms and it could
be argued the language Mugabe used is violent and engenders hostility
towards Makoni.

Mugabe has previously boasted of his party having "degrees in
violence", of threatening to "drive fear into their hearts (white community
in this country)" and giving the law enforcement agents the green light to
"bash" opposition figures and their supporters. Criticism of Makoni by
Mugabe could just be a prelude to opening the floodgates of violence. After
all it is Zanu PF which risks losing this election.

Instead of disparaging other contestants Mugabe and his party should
tell voters what it is they think they can offer after 28 years in power.

Under the amended Constitution, only elected MPs can be appointed
government ministers. The desperation on the part of the ruling party
politicians to ensure they are victorious at the polls and therefore
eligible for a Cabinet position is going to be enormous. Given the on-going
fuel shortages, power and water cuts, the shortage of basic commodities,
soaring school fees and bus fares, a collapsing health and education sector,
as well as the highest inflation and unemployment rate in the world, it is
increasingly difficult to find anything positive they can offer voters.

Zanu PF is probably at its most vulnerable since 2000 when the MDC
mounted a serious challenge that nearly dislodged the ruling party from
power. But the difference between 2000 and March 2008 is that in 2000 the
government and the ruling party did not fully appreciate the extent of the
opposition's support. Right now they know how little their own support is
and that this is a common phenomenon even among those who claim publicly to
be "solidly behind Gushungo".

They make these declarations while secretly making overtures to the
opposition. They know their days are numbered and this can only heighten
their desperation. The protests, which gave rise to multiple Zanu PF
candidates in some constituencies, signal levels of disgruntlement which
point to a potentially violent election.

Calls by the law enforcement agents for zero tolerance to violence
should be viewed with scepticism. These are the same forces that cheered on
when Zanu PF was staging its so-called "million men march" but were quick to
thwart similar attempts by the opposition soon after the ruling party's own

Last week police were accused of intimidating opposition workers who
were discussing election campaign strategy in Bulawayo, while earlier in
Harare two opposition candidates ended up approaching the High Court after
they were impeded from inspecting the voters' roll.

The absence of foreign observers a month before the harmonised
elections, suggests that this is being done so the ruling party can conduct
its dastardly acts in order to cow and condition voters ahead of the arrival
of selected foreign observers.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission needs to get tough: Any candidate
found encouraging violence against others must be kicked out of the

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Confessions of a vote rigger

Zim Standard

BY Bill Saidi

NOBODY is born a vote rigger. I doubt that being a vote rigger can be thrust
upon someone by Fate, like greatness, fame or sainthood. Vote rigging cannot
grow on you either, as a beautiful tune might, or as someone beautiful

Sigmund Freud, my favourite psychoanalyst, is not quoted on the psyche of
the vote rigger, which is a great pity. He probably would have done an
illuminating job of it, if he examined one of Zimbabwe's notorious vote

In Zimbabwe, elections have been rigged since independence, perhaps not
right, left and centre. But they have been rigged. After the 2000
parliamentary elections 30-something results were nullified by the courts.

What that amounted to was this: the victorious candidates had not won freely
and fairly. Someone had effectively "rigged" their election - how that had
been achieved smacked of "high crime" chicanery.

Previously, Tobaiwa Mudede, probably one of the longest-serving
registrar-generals in the world, told us it was impossible to rig an
election in this country. Our elections, he seemed to be saying, were

Incidentally, I have not heard him make that ultra-confident statement
recently. Perhaps he has seen the light.

A dastardlier act of rigging was committed in the 1990 parliamentary
elections in Gweru. Many in Zanu PF would probably be outraged at this
suggestion, but let us all maintain a calm demeanour, be objective,
difficult as this may be.

Someone almost killed Patrick Kombayi in that election. He was not a
criminal. His opponent was Simon Muzenda of Zanu PF. Kombayi,
once-upon-a-time a big noise in the party, was standing for the Zimbabwe
Unity Movement (ZUM).

Kombayi lost that election and almost his life as well, and is now crippled
for life. Muzenda won but is now deceased. It's important to revisit that
bloody incident. It's part of our blood-spattered electoral history. Most
people in Zanu PF hate to be reminded of another incident, the double murder
of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in the 2000 parliamentary election

The contest in Buhera was between the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu PF's
Kenneth Manyonda, who won. Subsequently, a court decided there was something
rotten and declared the election null and void.

It may be far-fetched to conclude that the double murder constituted
rigging, but if there hadn't been this cold-blooded incineration of the two,
who knows who might have won?

The real vote rigger is someone driven by fanaticism - excessive, mistaken
belief in something. Psychologists have hesitated to describe the mental
state of suicide-bombers as being driven by fanaticism.

In Zimbabwe, the typical vote rigger must be a person fanatically convinced
of the righteousness of their party. Much evidence exists that such people
are to be found in Zanu PF.

The people accused, charged, convicted, but then pardoned by the President,
for the attempt on Kombayi's life, worked for a government agency, our
version of the "licensed to kill" brigade.

Similarly, the people accused - but so far not convicted - of the Buhera
atrocity, worked for the government. They are roaming the land unchallenged.

I checked a recent rumour that one of them was standing for election on a
Zanu PF ticket. It is not true, thank God.

Advocate Pansy Tlakula, a South African who has dealt with elections for a
long time, both in Africa and elsewhere, told a startled audience in Harare
last month people - from Tokyo to Timbuktu - will rig elections. There was
precious little you could do to prevent it.

I remember concluding that election rigging was, like death and taxes, here
to stay. But Advocate Tlakula told us of a silver lining. With safeguards in
the law, rigging could be curbed, she said. Yet the real challenge is,
again, with people who run the elections and who lead political parties.

In Zimbabwe this time around, the elections could be rigged by-you-know-who
as sure as inflation is going to soar tomorrow.

I have always maintained the inevitability of rigging should not lead us to
give up voting altogether, for that would be giving up on democracy, and if
there is one country in the world that needs democracy like oxygen it is

We go into an election in which - so the pundits tell us - the front-runner
is an 84-year-old self-confessed Marxist-Leninist with "many degrees in

Some people will vote for this geriatric politician, knowing that Fidel
Castro of Cuba, slightly younger than Robert Mugabe and ailing, has at last
given up the job.

They know Pervez Musharaff, the dictator of Pakistan, has lost an election,
but seems determined to hang on.

All these are omens for Mugabe. His time is up. Even the vote rigger who
confesses "I did it for my party and my president" might not change things
at all. The die is cast.


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Makoni's battle against culture of conspiracy University of Zimbabwe

Zim Standard

  "Have you not heard that Makoni is actually being put forward by Mugabe in order
to divide the opposition vote? My sekuru, you know, my mother's elder
brother who works at the Reserve Bank? Yes, that old man. He heard it from
one of the very top guys. Zanu PF is just pretending that Makoni is now an

The speaker may even check his mobile phonebook to prove that he
really has an influential sekuru, as if that is enough to authenticate his
story. Friends at the bar listen attentively to this "revelation".

From the pub, the story can take any number of new lives. The story
may soon find new form on emails sent to all friends and associates in the
address book.

Within hours there is an avalanche of information, none of it based on
fact. By the end of the week, there may be so many theories doing the rounds
the ordinary reader simply struggles to make sense of it all.

This is what happens in a society where conspiracy theorising becomes
the norm. It is hardly surprising that any significant political development
in Zimbabwe is often met with scepticism and conspiracy theorising.

This is the fate that has befallen Simba Makoni's bid for the
presidency. What most citizens may not realise, is that conspiracy
theorising can be part of a regime's architecture for maintaining its grip
on power.

It works in at least three ways:

First, the regime is adept at creating its own conspiracy theories for
at least two purposes: to denigrate a potential opponent and also to
exonerate itself from responsibility for obvious failure. Conspiracies help
to apportion blame.

Second, because of limited sources of information and mistrust built
over time, citizens become overly sceptical of otherwise normal events.

Whilst healthy scepticism is essential in any society, it becomes
counterproductive when citizens can longer see anything outside the mist of

This leads to the third problem, whereby ordinary citizens feel
disempowered by the apparent multiplicity of conspiracies. It can reach
dangerous proportions when citizens cannot even trust their own shadows.

In Zimbabwe all this works in favour of Mugabe and Zanu PF. In fact,
some of the conspiracy theories against Makoni and members of the opposition
may be encouraged or even created by the regime. Ironically, the Internet,
with the cover of anonymity that it offers, has provided boundless
opportunities for the regime and citizens to peddle all types of conspiracy

In Makoni's case, whilst secretly acknowledging the usefulness of
theorising which positions Makoni as a Zanu PF agent (and therefore reducing
his likeability factor among the pro-MDC supporters), the regime is also
promoting a contradictory conspiracy theory, which posits that Makoni is
(like the MDC) a Western agent and therefore part of a grand neo-colonialist
conspiracy to unseat Mugabe and undo the gains of the "revolution". The
latter is intended to reduce Makoni's likeability factor among Zanu PF
supporters for whom the term mutengesi always bears ominous messages.

To illustrate the emptiness of this approach, it is necessary to go
back in time and far away to the west coast of Africa for a regime that used
similar notions of conspiracy in order to perpetuate an unsavoury
dictatorship. In doing so, I rely shamelessly on the work of veteran writer,
Martin Meredith whose book The State of Africa makes both interesting and
sad reading on the plight of a whole continent since independence.

In the 1960s, the West African country of Guinea was ruled by a man
called Ahmed Sekou Toure. According to Meredith, Toure "inhabited a world of
conspiracies" and often referred to what he termed a "permanent conspiracy"
to unseat his regime. The culprits were Western powers and all others that
he called the enemies of the "revolution". Whilst Meredith admits that there
were some real plots against Toure, it appears most were either "contrived"
or "fictitious". These plots provided the pretext under which opponents were
purged, often without getting opportunities to defend themselves in the
courts of law.

What emerges from this is how these conspiracies and plots became
instruments of control and marginalisation of the opposition. When teachers
went on strike, Toure referred to it as the teachers' plot against the

Similarly, when there were shortages of medicines, Toure claimed that
it was the doctors' plot to denigrate the "revolution". It got so absurd
that even news of a cholera epidemic was interpreted as a
"counter-revolutionary plot". It is said that Guinea national football team's
loss in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1976 was also interpreted
as a conspiracy.

In fact, Toure saw enemies everywhere, including the ordinary market
traders so that by 1977 the informal markets were closed and substituted by
huge state enterprises. When the traders demonstrated against the closures,
the soldiers were ordered to shoot on sight.

Poor planning and bad management meant that the state enterprises
largely failed and the result was that whereas Guinea had been
self-sufficient at independence, it became a net importer of food hardly 20
years later.

Now, when one observes the agricultural decline, suffocating state
intervention in industry, Operation Murambatsvina, allegations of opposition
plots to bomb Harare and trains, general economic decline in Zimbabwe, etc
the Guinea account bears several similarities in terms of tactics and
trends. Even the late veteran nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole was put on
trial on the basis of an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe.

The problem is that ordinary citizens have become victims of the
notion of conspiracy, giving rise to a more subtle form of conspiracy
theorising among them. The trouble with the conspiracy theory culture is
that ordinary citizens begin to withdraw - through a process of
self-exclusion - from participation in the affairs of the state, in the
belief they do not have control over the mystic forces. They retreat because
they feel powerless in the face of seemingly omnipotent and shadowy forces
over which they have no levers. This may also explain high levels of the
apathy. This conspiracy theory culture among the public is a form of mental
torture that is just as disempowering as physical violence.

The challenge for Makoni and his opposition counterparts is to
neutralise and overcome these conspiracies by providing clear and decisive
information. A more informed public is unlikely to resort to conspiracy

But above all, they need to form a clear front that demonstrates to
the public that they are serious about effecting change. The public itself
needs to be careful. By wilfully peddling these theories, they have become
willing tools for their own disempowerment.

They, too, may soon start running away from their own shadows,
thinking they are products of a conspiracy.

* Dr Magaisa is based at The University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at or

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Getting it right

Zim Standard

  THE media are an essential part of the election process.
We are the main channel for getting information to voters on their right to
vote, reporting what the various parties stand for and what the main issues
in the campaign are.

Below we publish a summary of key standards produced by the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network, drawn from material used by the International
Federation of Journalists and media watchdog Article 19, to which The
Standard and our sister paper the Zimbabwe Independent are happy to
subscribe. We have made changes where we think necessary to update the
material but essentially it remains a timeless statement of elementary

If you think we have departed from these principles in any way please
do not hesitate to contact me on 773930/8 or at

The first duty of a journalist is to:

*report accurately and without bias;

*report only in accordance with facts whose origin are known and not
suppress essential information;

*observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information
obtained in confidence;

*report in a balanced manner. (If a candidate makes an allegation
against another candidate, the journalist should seek comment from both
sides wherever possible);

*do his/her utmost to correct any inaccurate published information
that is found to be prejudicial to a candidate;

*report as far as possible the views of candidates and political
parties directly and in their own words, rather than as they are described
by others;

*avoid using language or expressing sentiments that may promote
discrimination or violence on any grounds, including race, gender, sexual
orientation, language, or religion;

*do his/her utmost when reporting the opinions of those who do
advocate discrimination or violence to put such views in a clear context and
to report the opinions of those against whom such sentiments are directed;

*not accept any inducement from a politician or candidate;

*not make any promise to a politician about the content of a news

*take care in reporting the findings of opinion polls.

Any opinion poll report should wherever possible include the following

*who commissioned and carried out the poll and when;

*how many people were interviewed, where and how they were interviewed
and the margin of error;

*the exact wording of the questions.

A journalist shall regard the following as grave professional


*malicious misrepresentation;

*acceptance of a bribe or favours in any form in consideration of
either publication or suppression of views.

There should be a clear separation between fact and comment. News
reporting should reflect the facts as honestly perceived by journalists.
Comment may reflect the editorial line of our publications but should be
clearly flagged as such.

Our journalists reporting an election campaign have a number of duties
which include:

*Reporting what the candidates say, and;

*Digging beneath the surface to uncover hidden campaign issues.

Our reporters will report what they see and hear without exaggeration.

Over the years, we have witnessed the increased use of hate speech and
inflammatory language during the campaign period. The campaigns have also
been marred by violence and damage to property. Politicians have inflamed
this through violent language. It is not our job to censor what they say but
to report accurately what they say. But when reporting inflammatory
language, we will balance it by reporting the view of those who are being

It is not the job of a reporter to criticise what a politician says.

That can be done on the editorial pages. But it is also imperative
that we point out where they are not being consistent or where they are
applying double standards.

Is a candidate saying the same thing this week as he was last week? Is
he saying the same as other candidates from the same party on the same

We will be guided by these basic journalistic tenets in our coverage
of the polls and sincerely hope that parties will understand that the role
of the media is to report events even if the reportage turns out to be
unpalatable to them.

Above all we hope that by applying the standards above we can help
produce an electorate capable of making informed choices.

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Zim Standard Letters

Who would Jesus vote for?

THE above question would elicit a multitude of responses immediately,
even from those who claim to be neutral.

With crucial elections just around the corner, our nation has been
torn once again with the distinct atmosphere of hatred and intolerance
polluting our people's minds. Some religious figures have come out in
support of certain candidates and even respected newspapers, their
columnists and publisher, have been openly campaigning for one of the
candidates in the forthcoming presidential election of 29 March.

Such is the level of desperation in our country. This is not
surprising as almost everyone in our country and outside considers the cause
of our crisis as a nation to be purely political. I have deliberately
focused on the presidential election as it has generated the most

All candidates in the upcoming presidential election would want to
claim the religious vote and all the candidates may have at some point
sought to portray themselves as religious people. The question then is,
shall we vote for Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni or Langton

In trying to decide on a candidate, should Christians simply try to
find the more religious of the contestants? Or should we perhaps look at a
list of issues to find out which candidate best articulates our concerns on
all these issues? For many of us the major issues could be the economy,
human rights, a new constitution, land, sovereignty, health and education or
other issues that we may consider most important.

For true Christians there is only one yardstick by which we may decide
how we shall vote. This measure is God's viewpoint on the elections. All
Christians have an obligation to follow Christ and to adopt His view on
issues affecting their lives (Colossians 3:2). In the minds of many people
elections are built around modern issues, hence it may seem difficult to
determine how issues that affect us today are relevant to Jesus Christ, who
lived on earth over 2 000 years ago. For us to know who would get Jesus'
vote we need to understand these issues and to have a mind similar to that
which was in Christ (Philippians 2:5). Let us take a look at these issues.

In Genesis 1:1 the Bible tells us that God created the heavens and the
earth, thus establishing God as the sole authority on earth. God also
created angels, among who was Lucifer, a perfect angel on whom God bestowed
the authority to rule over the earth (Ezekiel 28: 12-15). Lucifer, the great
archangel rebelled against God, deceiving one third of the angels and sought
to overthrow God Himself (Isaiah 14:12-15). This same Lucifer is known today
in Christendom as Satan the Devil. Satan was cast down from heaven to earth,
together with his angels, by God after his rebellion. Those angels who
rebelled with Satan are today known as demons.

Even after the 29 March elections, Satan will still be the ruler of
this world! This knowledge is very important in deciding how to cast your
vote because it reveals the true nature and origin of our modern world as we
know it.

There are no Christian governments anywhere in the world, just as God's
principles cannot be seen in modern governments. No matter who holds office,
we will always see untold evils. No man-made government has been able or
will be able to bring about universal benefits for all humanity.

Some politicians may appear more pious than others but they can never
run their governments by the law of God. In fact, they make strenuous
efforts to keep the church and state separate.

Some Christians may feel that it is their duty to "do their part" to
make this world a better place to live in by voting or taking part in active
politics. If Christ were to appear on ZTV, He would urge all His followers
to "come out of her my people, that ye may not be partakers" in the sins of
the world (Revelation 18:4). He would reiterate His message of the imminent
Kingdom of God. Christ would never run for office, and He would certainly
not vote for a candidate who is working to further a system that will soon
be completely destroyed and replaced by the perfect government of God with
Him as its head.

The Kingdom of God will "crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an
end, but will itself endure forever." (Daniel 2:44). In the perfect Kingdom
of God there will not be any candidates to vote for. The duty of all
Christians today is not to try to reform human government, but to give the
desperate people of this nation and this world hope by showing them the
perfect future God has in store for all who follow Him.

Michael Chifamba



 Makoni a refreshing candidate

ALLOW me, through your paper, to express my
observations on the forthcoming presidential elections.

I have always believed that a national leader should personify the
character, aspirations and fabric of the nation they wish to lead.

It is therefore refreshing to note the utterances from Simba Makoni
that avoid vitriol and enmity against other presidential candidates.

"No person is worth killing for or dying for, neither Mr Mugabe nor
Simba Makoni.

"I am not challenging President Mugabe, but I am offering myself to be
the president instead of President Mugabe."

Simba Makoni consistently asserts that he is not "fighting or against"
Tsvangirai or Mutambara or Mugabe. How refreshing! There is no hate or
antagonistic language here. Zimbabweans are a polite, respectful and
peace-loving people. These are virtues, not weaknesses, as some would have
us believe. They do not wish to attain "degrees in violence" but degrees and
doctorates in self-development and that of their country.

So far, journalists have been unable to corner Makoni into verbal
sparring sessions with the other presidential candidates. I am not ashamed
to be in Makoni's corner!

Remember, his election manifesto stipulates the need for national
healing and reconciliation. The man hates divisions and senseless 'isms'.

Petros Ruwocha


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