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Mugabe moves to fast-track elections

Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:29

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party want to fast-track the
on-and-off constitution-making process to ensure fresh elections are held by
spring this year, in a move which could set off a renewed wave of political
instability and fierce clashes around the country.

Zanu PF’s intentions became clearer yesterday after the party’s crucial
politburo meeting on Wednesday.

The politburo meeting, which outlined the party’s 2011 agenda, discussed the
constitution-making process targeting elections. Party restructuring and
mobilisation of voters featured prominently as part of the strategy.
Indigenisation and sanctions, the campaign centerpiece of the party, was
also discussed, suggesting an intensifying drive for elections.

Zanu PF is planning to come up with an Anti-Sanctions Bill and two-million-
signature petition, signed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as well, to
facilitate grabbing foreign companies. The MDC factions would be pressed to
support the Bill and foreign companies to denounce sanctions. If they refuse
to support Zanu PF’s agenda, they would be labelled “confirmed and
incorrigible puppets”, according to one official. Companies which refuse to
back anti-sanctions measures would be targeted for seizures.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, a senior Zanu PF politburo member, recently alluded to

Zanu PF confirmed yesterday it wants the constitution-making process to be
done by June and a referendum to follow soon afterwards before elections
later in the year. It would take a fast-track process to meet Zanu PF’s
tight timelines.

Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said yesterday it was “absolutely possible”
to finish the constitution-making process by June and for a referendum after
that before holding elections in a quick succession of political events.

“From the brief that we got in the politburo we will finish the
constitution-making around June. After that we go for the referendum and
then elections,” he said.

While Zanu PF is targeting September for elections, MDC-T says that is when
the referendum is possible, while MDC-N argues the constitution- making
process and referendum could spill into next year if properly done.

The clash of agendas and positions between the three parties in the Global
Political Agreement triggered militant rhetoric yesterday, with party
officials accusing each other of engaging in dangerous manoeuvres and
harbouring sinister plots.

Gumbo accused the MDC factions of trying to sabotage the constitution-making
process to delay elections.

“They are trying to delay the process and the question is: Why are they
afraid of elections?” he said.

Mugabe has threatened to unilaterally dissolve parliament and call for
elections if the constitution-making process is held up.

MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa hit back, saying: “Why is Zanu PF afraid of
free and fair elections? That is the real question.” Chamisa also accused
Zanu PF of hatching a “sinister plot” to steal elections. He said its
hysteria about elections showed it was “seized by political demons and
Satanist tendencies” to fraudulently claim victory after a flawed process.

MDC-N leader Welshman Ncube said Zanu PF was “caught in a one-party-state
time warp” and was trying to impose an “impracticable” political agenda on
the country.

“Zanu PF must understand it can’t fast-track a negotiated political process,
which is not even under its absolute control. They still have a one-party-
state mentality and want to impose an impracticable political agenda on the
country,” he said.

Ncube said the constitution-making process would take long because
inevitably some disputes would erupt, issues have to be negotiated and
processes followed properly. “It’s an act of bad faith on Zanu PF’s part,”
he said.

The push by Mugabe and Zanu PF for elections could plunge Zimbabwe, still
struggling to emerge from the rubble of the decade-long political crisis and
economic meltdown, into a new cycle of instability and violence.

The two MDC formations have accused Zanu PF of deploying security forces
around the country to engage in a para-military campaign to win the next
elections after its defeat in 2008. MDC-T narrowly beat Zanu PF which for
the first time since 1980 lost its majority in parliament.

Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena, supported by state
security machinery, is leading the campaign.

“If Zanu PF is not afraid of elections why are they deploying soldiers
around the country to campaign for them,” Chamisa asked? “Why are they
setting up bases and arming their supporters? Why are they planning, as
usual, to resort to violence and intimidation? Why are they afraid of the

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti last week warned of a “bloodbath” if the
country rushes to elections.

Chamisa said MDC-T wants free and fair elections, “not war, killings and
bloodletting. Fast-tracking political processes towards elections would not
work. We want free and fair elections. We need a roadmap with benchmarks,
timelines and dates before elections,” he said.

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... AU demands free, fair Zimbabwe polls

Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:24

Faith Zaba in Addis Ababa

THE AFRICAN Union Commission is opposed to elections in Zimbabwe this year
and is now trying to persuade President Robert Mugabe to postpone them to
2013 to allow for necessary reforms that can ensure violence-free, credible,
free and fair polls, top officials in the commission revealed this week.

In separate interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent, senior officials in
the Political Affairs’ Department of Human Rights, Elections and Peace and
Security of the AU Commission, who preferred anonymity because they are not
authorised to speak to the media, said the commission was planning to send
an AU assessment team to Zimbabwe to find out if conditions were right for

They were, however, quick to point out that due to financial constraints,
the AU could not send observer and monitoring teams six months before an
election as the MDC-T wanted.

While the head of the Department of Human Rights and Elections of the AU
Commission, Mamadou Dia, could neither confirm nor deny that the commission
wanted polls in Zimbabwe held in 2013, he said elections should only take
place in a conducive environment.

“What needs to be done in Zimbabwe before elections is to ensure that the
environment is conducive for free and fair elections and this has to be done
by Zimbabweans themselves,” Dia said.

Top commission officials said members of the commission would be meeting
with Zimbabwe’s Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi before the heads of
state and government summit starting on Sunday to express their reservations
on an early election.

The officials said the commission is in agreement that the current
environment prevailing in Zimbabwe was not conducive to hold credible
elections free of violence and intimidation.

They believe the country has not carried out sufficient institutional and
legislative reforms to enable it to hold free and fair elections.

“The AU commission is against elections this year — we are in agreement on
this,” said an official in the Department of Human Rights and Elections.

“We believe conditions in Zimbabwe are not ideal for free and fair
elections. We are planning to meet with minister Mumbengegwi to advise and
persuade him as the commission that elections should ideally be held in

The official said if efforts to meet with Mumbengegwi fail, they would find
a way of making sure Mugabe gets the message during the summit and is well
advised of the implications of having an election this year under the
current conditions.

“If we feel that he (Mumbengegwi) is too scared to meet and convey this
message to Mugabe, we will make sure that the message gets to the president,
even if it means forcing a meeting with him during the summit. Everyone is
worried about what is happening in Ivory Coast and what we want is to avoid
a possible conflict (in Zimbabwe),” he said.

“The country needs years to prepare for a proper and clean election.
Zimbabwe’s rush into prematurely prepared elections in 2011 can only provide
further (ammunition) to the West to find an opening to mess up Zimbabwe. The
people are being rushed by their leaders and that is a recipe for disaster.”

This follows Mugabe’s statement last Sunday on his return from Singapore
that elections would be held with or without a new constitution.

Mugabe said he had the right to dissolve parliament and call for elections
this year, despite strong opposition for an early election being held
without necessary electoral, security and media reforms and a guarantee that
it will be violence and intimidation-free.

“Just imagine elections in Zimbabwe in 2011,” queried an AU official. “What
solution will they bring to the socio-economic woes facing the majority of
poor Zimbabweans? Is it not that such rushed elections would only aggravate
a situation that already has had enough? Why should Zimbabwe follow wrong
priorities at this critical time of its history? Surely, holding an election
in 2011, even in 2012, is not a real priority for Zimbabwe in the present
situation. The priority is immediate socio-economic recovery.”

Dia said the AU could not afford to send a mission for a long period of

He said: “We don’t have funds to send an observer mission six months before
or stay on six months after. It is very, very difficult because the means of
the union does not allow for such a long period of observation, but the AU
will send an observer mission like what they did the last time and observe
together with Sadc. Normally, we just go two months before.”

Asked what the commission would do to ensure that the AU observer mission’s
report, which in past elections always okayed the results despite reports of
violence, intimidation and rigging, reflected the situation on the ground,
Dia said they are hoping that the summit of heads of state would discuss
this issue and agree on how observer missions could be more decisive when
dealing with these issues.

“You know it is difficult because observer missions are composed of people
from various countries with different views and experiences,” he said.

But when pressed to respond to the general view that the AU is not doing
enough for Zimbabwe as guarantors of the global political agreement (GPA),
Dia said the diverse views, positions and alliances of the 53-member
continental grouping made it difficult to take a common position.

“The AU is also a group of member states with diverse positions, views and
alliances and it has not been easy to take up a position. The member states
have to consider so many things and yes, this brotherly thing also comes
into play,” he said.

“It is not as easy but what we want and our main strategy as the commission
is to make sure that Africa is peaceful, be it in Zimbabwe or in Ivory
Coast. We want to see people make elections peaceful - that is the major
goal because we also don’t need processes that lead to chaos like civil war
because this has an impact on the population.”

Dia said there was willingness in the continent to ensure that there is
peace and stability in Africa so that it can progress economically.

Meanwhile, an MDC-T delegation headed by its deputy secretary for
international affairs Willis Madzimure is in Addis Ababa to lobby the AU
commission to keep Zimbabwe on its radar as the country prepares for
possible elections in 2011.

Madzimure told the Independent that: “Mugabe’s statement (at Harare airport)
should have frightened the AU that Zimbabwe is going back to its old crisis.
We are here just to sensitise the leadership and also some important
institutions of the AU so that they keep Zimbabwe in check. We actually want
a situation where someone is appointed to come and visit Zimbabwe
periodically and start engaging the principals and monitor how we are
meeting certain requirements that will allow for free and fair elections.

“The AU knows that our electoral laws are flawed and that we have security
forces being involved in the processes. The AU should also deal with issue
of power transfer. It has to guarantee power transfer.”

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Mutambara rejects smooth exit package

Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:16

Dumisani Muleya

DEPOSED MDC-M leader Arthur Mutambara was reportedly offered a smooth exit
package six months before the party’s controversial congress earlier this
month but rejected it, insisting that the party must not “subvert democracy”,
it emerged this week.

A briefing of the Zimbabwe Independent by senior MDC-M (now MDC-N) officials
this week shows that Mutambara was offered a “soft landing” by the party’s
new secretary general Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga mid last year. But he
eventually refused to take the offer after initially accepting it.

The offer made to Mutambara by Misihairabwi-Mushonga in June last year was
that the MDC-M leader would, after congress, become deputy president of the
party and remain as deputy prime minister in the inclusive government.

“Sometime last year, after realising that Mutambara was not going to win
because party structures were geared against him and in an attempt to ensure
his dignified exit, we offered him a deal to become deputy president after
congress and to remain as deputy prime minister,” a senior party official

“Misihairabwi-Mushonga went to meet him and discuss the issue. Mutambara
initially agreed and said he wanted to talk to Welshman Ncube about it.

Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga then went to him. When they got there
Mutambara said he wanted to discuss the issue one-on-one with Ncube and in
that meeting he changed his position. Mutambara said he was a democrat and
would not want to subvert the democratic process in the party. He rejected
the deal and said he would contest for the party leadership in the next
congress. They agreed whoever loses would accept the result and allow the
party to move forward.”

Mutambara, Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga were not available for comment
this week. Mutambara and Misihairabwi-Mushonga were apparently out of the
country, while Ncube could not be located.

Ncube squared up with Mutambara before their recent congress and defeated
his former boss to assume the party leadership. A group of disgruntled party
officials are however challenging Ncube’s election and subsequent actions in
the courts. Ncube and his party have now redeployed Mutambara in government
to become minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation.

Ncube, former Bulawayo East MP and party secretary-general, was redeployed
by his party to become deputy prime minister, while Misihairabwi-Mushonga,
an ex-Glen Norah MP and party deputy secretary-general, was proposed to
become Industry and Trade minister.

Another MDC-N leader said after Mutambara’s meeting with Ncube to discuss
the leadership issue in the run-up to congress, the robotics professor
formed his campaign team in a bid to retain his position and fight off a
challenge from his rival. In response Ncube, a professor of law, stepped up
his campaign against Mutambara.

“The power struggle then became real and serious after the deal fell
through. Mutambara’s campaign team worked hard around the country and party
structures and was convinced he would win. Ncube’s team also intensified its
campaign and believed he would win,” the official said.

“Both candidates, Mutambara and Ncube, thought they had a good chance,
although Ncube’s team thought they would easily win because their candidate
had been working with structures for much longer than Mutambara.”

Party officials said the battle between Ncube and Mutambara had been going
for a long time. They said Ncube was sceptical about Mutambara from the
beginning but had no choice at the time after the split of the original MDC.

“For the record Mutambara was not brought in by Ncube,”  an official said.

“It was Job Sikhala and Gabriel Chaibva who brought him to the party just
before the 2006 congress. What happened was that the late Gibson Sibanda and
Ncube were offered the opportunity to lead the party and refused on grounds
that a Ndebele could not lead the party because of the ethnic demographics
of the country.

“Chaibva and Sikhala said that was a false assumption because Joshua Nkomo
once became the undisputed leader of the nationalist movement but after
Sibanda and Ncube flatly refused, they came up with Mutambara’s name.”

It was said that Ncube was reluctant but Chaibva and Sikhala — later
supported by Misihairabwi-Mushonga — pushed for Mutambara. Ncube gave in and
he was assigned later to contact Mutambara who was in the United States at
the time.

“Sikhala and Chaibva were the ones who had contact with Mutambara”, another
party official said. “So they gave Ncube Mutambara’s contact details in the
United States and the two later arranged a meeting in South Africa to deal
with the issue. Mutambara was clear from the beginning that he wanted to
situate the MDC-M within a pan-Africanist context because he thought the
original MDC was too closely associated with imperialist powers,” the
official said.

“That is why right from the beginning Mutambara came saying he was standing
on the shoulders of Sekuru Kaguvi and Mbuya Nehanda and Josiah Tongogara and
Nikita Mangena. Mutambara was his own man and Ncube accepted that because he
had no choice.”

There were many other names, including some top business executives and
senior officials in MDC-T, who were initially considered for that post
before Mutambara was roped in. The reason why Mutambara became a compelling
choice was because of his history as a student leader, an academic and the
desire to block Gift Chimanikire who was manoeuvring to take over.

However, after taking over, Mutambara found himself at loggerheads with
senior party officials because of his rhetoric which they considered
“immature and smacking of student politics. It was also felt that his
anti-imperialist rhetoric was out of sync with the political mood of the
time and made the party sound too much like Zanu PF,” an official said.

“However, Mutambara sincerely believed that was what was needed to shift the
MDC politics and agenda. This created an explosive situation and started
making Ncube and others uncomfortable because they thought their party was
going to lose ground to MDC-T if it appears like an extension of Zanu PF.”

Serious tensions and divisions developed as a result of Mutambara’s
ideological drift and pronouncements, leading to threats of resignation by
senior party officials such as David Coltart, Trudy Stevenson and Miriam
Mushayi, among others.

After that, a committee of senior officials led by the late Renson Gasela
was formed to engage him to “tone down” his “unhelpful grandstanding and
rhetoric” but he effectively refused to change course. That angered many
party official and they started plots to remove him.

“There was actually a serious attempt to overthrow him just after the
signing of the GPA around November and December 2008 but Ncube blocked it,
saying it would appear as if it was an attempt to stop him from becoming
deputy prime minister,” an MDC-N official said. “It was then agreed that he
should be allowed to lead the party until congress by which time he would
have no chance of political survival.”

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Mugabe absence leaves Zim on autopilot

Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:10

Paidamoyo Muzulu

CABINET has not been meeting to deliberate on urgent government business
since December because President Robert Mugabe and most ministers have been
on annual leave that ends next week.
The absence of cabinet meetings means government has not been able to
address pressing issues like the threat of industrial action by civil
servants, fuel shortages and the stalled Essar/Ziscosteel deal and the
country’s position on Ivory Coast at the ongoing African Union Summit in
Ethopia, among other things.

Civil servantsare threatening to go on strike if they do not receive a
substantial salary raise that matches the poverty datum line, currently at
US$504 a month.

Cabinet is expected to resume sitting on February 8 after Mugabe returns
from the AU summit.

University of Zimbabwe constitutional Law lecturer Greg Linnington said the
failure to meet by cabinet for more than a month was both disturbing and
wrong particularly in light of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which
gave birth to the inclusive government.

“This is a disturbing development. What’s happening is wrong,” Linnington
said, “This is a clear case of poor governance. The acting president should
preside over cabinet when the president is absent.”

The genesis of the power vacuum when Mugabe is away can be traced to well
before the inclusive government but became more pronounced when Morgan
Tsvangirai was appointed to the premiership in February 2009.

MDC-T ministers boycotted cabinet in June 2009 after Mugabe brought forward
the government’s sitting day to a Monday instead of the usual Tuesday to
accommodate his schedule that included travelling to Libya for an AU Summit.
The MDC-T interpreted the move as calculated to prevent Tsvangirai from
chairing cabinet in Mugabe’s absence.

“Innocent and innocuous as this decision may be, the fact of the matter is
that it underpins everything wrong about the present agreement,” Deputy
Prime-minister and MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe said at the time.
“The decision seeks to deny the recognition of the Prime Minister as chair
of cabinet when the president is away.”

The GPA position was, however, altered after further political negotiations
among the three parties in the inclusive government and agreed that
Tsvangirai would only chair cabinet in the absence of any member of the

Tsvangirai chairs the council of ministers.

It was categorically stated that while Tsvangirai was nominally the deputy
chair of the cabinet, he is number four in the hierarchy of the inclusive
government, and is subordinate to Mugabe and his deputies, who should chair
the cabinet in the absence of the octogenarian leader — a position
Tsvangirai reportedly accepted.

Constitutional Law expert Lovemore Madhuku said that the GPA legimatised
Mugabe and did not give any power to the MDC formations.

“Zanu PF behaves as if it’s still the big partner in the government,”
Madhuku said: “Tsvangirai is just a glorified minister with little power to
do anything.

Mugabe is still powerful and determines the government agenda in the
inclusive government. The GPA was not properly executed on how power was to
be shared.”

Linnington said Mugabe’s consultations with Zanu PF’s politburo ahead of the
AU summit was not a good step as his presentation at the summit will be a
party position instead of representing government views.

“Zanu PF politburo is a political body that is not part of the state. That
position is bad,” Linnington said, “The president should get advice from
cabinet on so many decisions he will have to make.”

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Violence flares in Harare

Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:06

Paidamoyo Muzulu/Wongai Zhangazha

HARARE has witnessed a resurgence of politically motivated violence and
intimidation after Zanu PF launched its not-so-subtle 2011 election campaign
across the country code-named “Operation Ngatizivanei”, the Zimbabwe
Independent can reveal.
“Operation Ngatizivanei” requires all eligible voters in a ward to be
recorded in a Zanu PF membership ward register so that the party can
supposedly follow up on its members.  The operation comes hard on the heels
of the party’s December conference that resolved that elections should be
held this year.

The operation triggered clashes between Zanu PF and MDC youths at the
weekend in many high density suburbs across Harare.

Violence was recorded in Budiriro, Chitungwiza and Mbare at the weekend when
youths from Zanu PF and the MDC-T clashed.

A number of people were injured while houses and property has been destroyed
with the MDC-T accusing the police and soldiers of taking part. In Epworth,
suspected war veterans and youths have threatened to evict residents
regarded as MDC-T supporters.

According to doctors who treated the injured but preferred anonymity for
fear of victimisation, three victims of the clashes that took place between
Friday and Saturday suffered soft tissue injuries while one had a gunshot

“We attended to five males between the ages of 27-30 and a female aged 33,
all from Harare. They were injured on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of January at
different high density suburbs in Harare,” one of the doctors said. “The six
so far are the ones we considered to have suffered serious injuries, though
now and again we attend to minor injuries incurred from the isolated
violence. One had a surgery to set the broken bone and debridement left
tibia for gunshot injury. We had a patient from Mbare who suffered a
fracture on right ulna, an open reduction and internal fixation was done and
he had lacerations on scalp and face while the female victim suffered
arthroscopy doe to left knee post trauma.”

The Independent on Wednesday visited some of the victims at a local private
hospital and interviewed Barnabas Mwanaka, an MDC-T youth from Mbare who was
beaten on Friday night by suspected Zanu PF youths.

Mwanaka said although there has been widespread intimidation in Mbare, the
attack on their offices caught them unawares.

He said:  “It was Saturday night when we were at the MDC offices in Mbare
near the Engen garage when a mob of hundreds of Zanu PF youths whom we
suspected to be Chipangano (a notorious pro-Zanu PF group based in Mbare)
came to our offices chanting slogans. There were 20 of us and we were
guarding our offices.

“They pulled down the wall and we locked ourselves indoors.  I understand
there was a policeman close by who then alerted other police and in no time
about 16 police officers were at the scene. We were relieved that we were
going to get some help and protection and they even told us to open the door
so that they could take us to a safe place.”

He said the police instead locked up his colleagues while he was attacked
and beaten heavily with sharp objects when he stayed behind to collect
valuables and documents from the office.

In Epworth, MDC–T youth Samson Ketulo said suspected war veterans were
forcing residents to attend Zanu PF meetings at a Zanu PF base at Dhonoro.

“There is a popular base at Dhonoro where the (Zanu PF) party members meet
occasionally and those perceived to be MDC-T supporters are taken and
threatened,” he said. “In Ward 2, especially the Domboramwari area, they are
going around telling landlords that notices should be given to tenants who
support MDC-T to vacate the area. They tell people that the GPA is expiring
on 15 February and there won’t be anything called an inclusive government
and Zanu PF will be the only party ruling.”

MDC-T claimed that violence against its members was well orchestrated and
intended to cow its supporters in the face of potential elections later in
the year.

In a statement, the party said: “Zanu PF has begun resorting to the language
they understand most, the language of violence. In Budiriro, Mbare and
Chitungwiza violence has resurfaced with soldiers, police details and the
youth militia descending on the people with brutality; assaulting,
destroying homes and arresting perceived MDC supporters.

“Zanu PF mobilised and bused youth from as far as Gutu, Tsholotsho, Shamva
and Bindura into Harare to demonstrate against the so-called maize slashing
by Harare City council.”

However, police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the attack in Budiriro
was perpetrated by MDC-T youths who demonstrated against unfair distribution
of stands at a housing co-operative.

“About 200 MDC supporters went to a housing co-operative within that area
challenging the allocation of stands,” he said. “That is when the clashes
started with some of them attacking residents of that area. It is not true
that some of them will just be going on with their businesses. They also
take part in the attacks.”

He said he was not aware that one MDC-T supporter had been shot.

Bvudzijena said most of the clashes between Zanu PF and MDC-T in the high
density suburbs were as a result of both parties provoking each other.
“In some areas one may be attacked for wearing party colours and this is
regardless of which political party.   People should understand they achieve
nothing in violence,” he said dismissing claims by MDC-T that police and
soldiers were involved in the violence.

Zanu PF national commissar Webster Shamu declined to comment on the matters
over the phone saying he needed the questions in writing.

“I do not comment to the press over the phone. Get an appointment with my
office or send questions,” Shamu said.

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War vets factions battle for control

Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:58

Nqobile Bhebhe

THE fight to control the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association (ZNWVA)
has taken another twist with a new “non-partisan” splinter group saying that
existing factions are not led by true liberation fighters.
But Zanu PF immediately shot down the new group, arguing that Jabulani
Sibanda, who is allegedly leading violent campaigns in rural areas, is the
country’s only true leader of the ex-combatants.

The formation of the new splinter group brings to three the formations that
claim legitimacy over the war veterans’ body. 

Currently, one faction is led by Sibanda and another by Joseph Chinotimba –
both fierce supporters of President Robert Mugabe who is the patron of the
country’s ex-combatants association.

In 2008 another group which suffered a still-birth – the Zimbabwe National
Association of Liberation War Veterans Cadres -- was mooted by disgruntled
veterans over the way the association was being administered.

The proposed “non-partisan” group of war veterans is under the chairmanship
of Retired Colonel Basten Beta.

Beta told the Zimbabwe Independent last week that his association will be
“the real” liberation fighters’ representatives since the country has not
had a true war veterans association since 1980.

“Since 1980, there has not been a true war veterans association….all two
(sic) current groupings are subscription-driven,” said Beta. “However, this
new non-partisan association does not require anyone who participated in the
struggle to pay subscription and be a card-carrying person to be a member.

The fact that one went to the bush means they are a war veteran.”

Asked how they would bring together the existing factions, Beta said: “if
they are true war veterans they would not have problems joining us.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo on Wednesday said the party only
recognised the Sibanda-led faction.

“This was made clear at our conference in Mutare last year that Zanu PF
recognises Jabulani Sibanda as chairman of war veterans,” Gumbo said. “The
president told us that he cannot be patron of several factions, hence the
party only supports Sibanda.”

Sibanda was given the platform to address conference delegates.

Mugabe has in the past repeatedly urged the factions to unite and work
together, pointing out that divisions will hamper the party’s efforts to
The war veterans’ association split last year following the expiry of
Sibanda’s five year-term as chairman, but he got the backing of some
veterans for another term.

Other war veterans led by Joseph Chinotimba opposed Sibanda’s term extension
and claimed chairmanship of the organisation. The two factions subsequently
organised separate congresses.

Sibanda was retained as chairman in Mt Darwin, but Chinotimba’s formation
failed to hold a congress in Chinhoyi.

In a statement this week Beta said: “In an effort to unite all war veterans,
the coordinating committee is now finalising consultations with all
stakeholders in order to form a new non-partisan organisation which will
represent all war veterans.

“The current confusion and conflict within war veterans is caused by
politicians who want to use war veterans for personal political gain,” he
said. “The new organisation will represent all war veterans regardless of
their political affiliations by striving to improve their welfare, and give
them recognition, dignity and respect for liberating and serving the

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‘MDC-T can’t stop Zanu PF abuses’

Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:55

NEW York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the MDC-T
lacks “real power” to institute a political agenda that can put an end to
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
In a report “World Report 2011” released on Monday, the human rights
watchdog  said almost two years into the joint rule of President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC-T has failed to stop or
reduce politically motivated prosecutions.

“Two years into Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government, President Robert Mugabe
and the Zanu PF, have used violence and repression to continue to dominate
government institutions and hamper meaningful human rights progress,” HRW
said. “The former opposition party, the MDC, lacks real power to institute
its political agenda and end human rights abuses.”

At a spirited rally in Harare shortly after being sworn in by his political
rival in February 2009, Tsvangirai pledged to end the vicious cycle of
political violence and human rights abuses.

Said Tsvangirai in 2009: “Political violence must end today…We can no longer
afford brother against brother, because one happened to have a different
political opinion.

“I can assure you that the culture of impunity and of violation of human
rights must end, and it must end today.”

 But the HRW says the MDC has failed in that regard.

HRW  also blamed the inclusive government  for not investigating widespread
abuses, including torture, beatings, and other ill-treatment allegedly
committed by security forces, Zanu PF supporters, and officials against real
and perceived supporters of the MDC-T.

Politically-motivated violence has flared up in the country especially in
Harare, mainly targeting MDC-T supporters.

This past weekend, MDC-T claimed Zanu PF youths attacked their supporters in
Budiriro, Mbare, Hatcliffe and Chitungwiza.

The human rights group said the Marange diamonds provided a “parallel source
of revenue for Zanu PF and its repressive state apparatus”

 “Corruption is rife, and smuggling of diamonds by soldiers in the fields is
prolific. The diamond revenues continue to benefit a few senior people in
the government and their associates rather than the people of Zimbabwe,”
observed HRW.

The HRW report also said soldiers continue to perpetrate abuses at the
controversial diamond fields in Marange, including forced labour, beatings,
and harassment, which Zimbabwe’s government has failed to investigate or

But government has repeatedly denied the alleged plunder of the diamonds by
the army and other security forces. It has also denied human rights abuses
in Marange.

On the Kimberley Process, the report said MDC-T had “struggled to address
state abuses in the diamond fields. Its mandate narrowly defines “blood
diamonds” as those mined by abusive rebel groups, not abusive governments”

The rights group observed that the constitution-making outreach programme
meetings were marked by violence and intimidation, mainly by Zanu PF
supporters and war veterans allied to the former ruling party.  –– Staff

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Women fail to register as voters

Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:53

Wongai Zhangazha

WOMEN constitute the majority of the population in Zimbabwe and often make
up the bulk of participants at any rally or big political event, but a new
report shows very few are registering as voters.

According to a recent report on the audit of the voters’ roll by the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), few women are registered to vote
while the youths who feature so prominently in violent campaigns are almost
absent from the voters’ roll.

The Zesn report, launched last week, was based on a sample of 102 wards out
of the 1 958 used in the March 2008 harmonised elections. The sampled
sections of the voters’ roll indicate that few women and youths were
registered as voters.

More males (52%) than females (48%) were registered as voters in 2010 while
distribution by gender reveals more registered males (25%) than females
(19%) in Harare province (25%), Bulawayo (17% vs 16%), and Matabeleland
North (4% vs 3%).

“Such a finding is a culmination of voter registration stringent measures
(like providing proof of residence), that mostly affect women due to the
dominant patriarchal society, hence impinging on their active participation
in such democratic processes,” reads the report
“This is an indication that more males are registered in urban areas than
rural since the two provinces, Harare and Bulawayo, are mainly urban.
Bulawayo is purely urban, Harare has 99% of its population residing in urban
Harare and 1% in rural Harare.”

Former MDC-T Women’s Assembly chairperson Lucia Matibenga blamed the low
registration of women to the lack of documentation and the patriarchal
system of the society.

Matibenga said: “Women struggle to get basic things like national
identification and birth certificates. This hinders most of the women to go
and register as one is required to bring a valid passport and national

“Apart from that, the voter registration process is not user-friendly. Women
are more family conscious. They cannot take the dollar they have saved to
buy bread for the family or exercise books for their children to go to
Chachacha (in Chipinge) to register to vote. This boils down to family
level. Do we allow women to use their resources to further their interests
as citizens?”

She said there was a need to motivate women to register to vote and that the
process should be decentralised.

“Voter registration should be taken to the people and as closest as possible
to communities so that those who can’t afford to travel, especially in rural
communities, can take part in the process. There should be community
programmes that target women specifically, educating them on the importance
of voter registration,” Matibenga said.

Zanu PF women’s league has already embarked on a voter registration
campaign, encouraging their members and supporters to register in
preparation for the elections which are likely to be held later this year.

Last week, Zanu PF women’s league secretary for information and publicity
Monica Mutsvangwa told online media that the party had started a campaign
for voter registration in line with the resolutions agreed at the Zanu PF
annual conference in Mutare last December.

Mutsvangwa said party teams were conducting voter education and encouraging
women to register ahead of the elections.

According to a report entitled Women, Politics and the Zimbabwe Crisis
jointly released recently by the African Democracy Institute, International
Centre for Transitional Justice, the Research Advocacy Unit and the Women’s
Coalition of Zimbabwe, women have felt the most unsafe during elections
since the year 2000.

Another concern raised by Zesn is the absence of youths between 18-30 years
of age on the voters roll, with only 18% of youths registered. The report
suggested that the youth had lost “active interest in participating in
national elections”.

The report highlights the difficulties faced by youths in acquiring proof of
residence, as one major stumbling block to voter registration.

“In some instances, youths have been denied access to registration by
partisan (mostly Zanu PF) agents, on allegations of allegiance to opposition
parties, especially MDC-T,” said the report.

Darlington Muyambwa, director of a youth organisation calling itself
SAYWHAT, noted that youths in Zimbabwe have been “very inactive” in most
national processes.

“Youths in this country have not only be inactive in voter registration, but
even the constitutional  process that was held last year  where their
participation was around 6% while they constitute about 40% of the
population in Zimbabwe,” Muyambwa said.

“The problem is that there are no specific strategies that encourage
engagement with young people. Young people have so many demands that include
education, good jobs, food, technology and so on as they grow. If they don’t
see a direction in their demands they become a bit sceptical.”

Muyambwa said online voter registration and use of social networks was one
way that could attract youths to vote considering their affinity to

Zimbabweans living abroad have also been deprived of the vote.

Sudanese expatriates abroad were allowed to vote in the recent Southern
Sudanese referendum, observers point out.

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‘Mugabe can’t dissolve parly under GPA’

Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:41

Paidamoyo Muzulu

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe does not have powers to dissolve parliament and call
for fresh elections during the existence of the Global Political Agreement
(GPA), constitutional and political analysts said this week.

Mugabe claimed on his return from Singapore on Sunday that he could invoke
his constitutional powers and dissolve parliament should the inclusive
government deteriorate into a dysfunctional entity due to disagreements
among the parties making up the coalition.

Constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku said Mugabe cannot go it alone under
the present constitution as he is circumscribed by GPA and constitutional
Amendment No 19.

The relevant GPA section 20.1.3 (q) says: “The President … may, acting in
consultation with the Prime-Minister, dissolve Parliament.” The provision is
also captured in constitutional Amendment 19.

“Under the GPA, the president requires the consent of the prime minister,
but my reading is that Mugabe can cause the collapse of the inclusive
government by pulling out consequently reverting the situation to the
pre-inclusive government period,” said Madhuku.

The collapse of the inclusive government, he said, will automatically
trigger the holding of harmonised elections as spelt out “clearly” by
constitutional Amendment 18 of January 2008.

“If the GPA collapses, Mugabe will remain the president through the
controversial June 2008 mandate,” Madhuku said, “Mugabe will thus call for
fresh harmonised elections and that is a correct position legally.”

Analysts explained that the harmonisation of elections was done through
constitutional Amendment 18 long before the coalition government was in
place, voiding the interpretation by MDC-T that only presidential elections
will be held if the inclusive government collapses.

Greg Linnington, a constitutional law lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, said that while Mugabe had no mandate under the GPA to dissolve
parliament, it was still feasible for him to call for fresh elections if his
party pulled out of the government.

“Mugabe can only exercise the discretion to dissolve parliament in
consultation with the prime minister according to Amendment19,” Linnington
said. “MDC-T’s position that only the presidential election is due is null.
All elections in Zimbabwe have been harmonised through Amendment 18.”

Mass Public Opinion Institute director and political science lecturer at the
University of Zimbabwe, Eldred Masunungure, opined that Mugabe was
constitutionally mandated to dissolve parliament but questioned the
political correctness of such a move.

“Mugabe is constitutionally empowered to do what he said,” Masunungure said,
“However, the question that has not been analysed is –– ‘Is it politically
correct to dissolve parliament now and call for elections?’”

But MDC-T Chief Whip in the House of Assembly, who is also the Mutare
Central MP, Innocent Gonese, had a contrary view.

“It is not correct that Mugabe can call for elections because Constitution
Amendment Number 19 stipulates it is no longer the sole prerogative of
President Mugabe to call for elections,” Gonese told NewsDay. “In terms of
Constitutional Amendment 19 he has to consult Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, which means they must
agree if parliament has to be dissolved.”

Gonese, a lawyer, said everything to do with elections had to be agreed upon
by the three political parties in the GPA. Mugabe has openly expressed his
unhappiness with the GPA in December after separately meeting South African
President and Sadc mediator Jacob Zuma and his facilitation team that had
come to assess the implementation of the agreement.

Mugabe said: “I told President Zuma I am a lawyer and I am unhappy to be in
a thing which is semi-legal,” he said. “We have to be in a thing which is
proper; which is constitutional. I feel awkward in a thing like that (the
GPA), absolutely awkward.

“Our authority as a government does not derive from a properly constituted
constitutional position but from a makeshift arrangement and should never be
governed on such a makeshift arrangement for too long.”
Since then and possibly preparing groundwork for the eventual break-up of
the unity government, Zanu PF senior figures have taken up the mantra.

Writing in the Sunday Mail last weekend, the recently recalled Zanu PF
politburo member Jonathan Moyo called for the dissolution of the inclusive
government, which he called “a mix of water and oil”.

“The coalition government was, right from the signing of the GPA on
September 15 2008, a doomed creature whose semi-legal nature was made worse
by the bringing together of ideologically irreconcilable political forces
with the inevitable result of producing an awkward and dysfunctional
structure called an ‘inclusive government’ which existed only in name,” Moyo

Analysts say it is likely that Mugabe and Zanu PF are trying to engineer the
demise of the inclusive government, which would give the ageing leader
exclusive executive powers legally and then force through elections on their

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Biti’s growth forecast ‘unrealistic’

Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:56

Bernard Mpofu

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti’s forecast of a double digit economic growth
this year is unrealistic for a country struggling to attract foreign direct
investments and also facing political uncertainty, analysts said this week.

Economic commentators and analysts said it is highly unmlikely that the
finance minister’s projections of between eight and 15% growth in the Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) would be achieved given the political uncertainty and
the likelihood of a violent election later in the year.

Violence is already on the increase in both rural areas and cities as Zanu
PF and its nemesis MDC-T jostle for support.

A controversial “indigenisation policy” theme adopted by Zanu PF —
criticised for being a systematic “expropriation” of foreign-owned
companies — sends capital elsewhere despite Zimbabwe’s dire need for

Saddled with a soaring external debt, now nearing US$10 billion, limited
foreign direct investment averaging 5% of GDP, limited fiscal space and
growing wage demands from the public service, Zimbabwe faces a herculean
task in turning around its fragile economy.

But Zimbabwe’s political parties — Zanu PF and the two MDC  formations —
seem to be frantically fighting from different fronts. An early poll
according to analysts could be inconclusive and further plunge the country
into economic turmoil.

Recent pronouncements by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa on
foreign-owned companies, a thwarted invasion of lakeside properties last
weekend and chaos at city council offices, according to analysts points to
post election gloom and doom.

Biti however thinks otherwise.

He was quoted by wire services in South Africa last week saying a single
digit growth this year is “conservative”, adding that economic growth could
be as high as 15%.

Encouraged by the resurgence of the tobacco industry, emerging from a low
base and surging mining industry output, the Finance minister believes
Zimbabwe will shout hooray on December 31 if the economic environment
remains generally peaceful. But the odds are there to defy.

“A unilateral unplanned election would basically be a bloodbath,” Biti said.
“Capital will flee. I have to discount robust growth figures because of the
fear of a violent election.”

Mnangagwa, Biti’s counterpart in the fragile coalition, is determined to toe
the Zanu PF line on sanctions before Zimbabwe fully recovers.

He said government would soon summon business leaders running foreign-owned
companies and make them announce their position on economic sanctions
imposed by the United States and the European Union, which his party blames
for the slow growth rate.

On the contrary, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, widely perceived as the
Defence minister’s rival within Zanu PF politics, last December engaged
business leaders in the capital in a bid to remove the party’s bad-boy tag.

In the meantime, local companies are struggling to operate profitably owing
to limited access to lines of credit and a potentially paralysing energy
crisis, worsening by the day.

“This statement is yet another nail in the investment coffin, for such
threatened actions are a gargantuan deterrent to any investor,” writes
economic commentator and columnist Eric Bloch, responding to Mnangagwa’s

“Those who apply the sanctions have no malice against Zimbabwe or its
people, but only against oppressive, non-democratic policies of those who
have abysmally and disastrously misruled Zimbabwe. Now to resort to
expropriation of their companies is tantamount to piracy and theft.”

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce research economist Kipson Gundani said
although Zimbabwe could maintain an upward trend, 15% growth could be

“Assuming that economic stability prevails—with or without elections,
Zimbabwe could register up to 10% growth,” Gundani said.

“Mining, driven by an anticipated rise in mineral prices on the back of
demand from China and India could be a key economic driver this year.
Information Communication Technology sector could be second or third
contributor to GDP competing with agriculture.”

He said a three-year moratorium on elections could help Zimbabwe on its
recovery path.

Apart from the politics, Biti also sees the country’s run down
infrastructure and loss-making parastatal inhibiting growth.

Ranga Makwata, an investment analyst contends that a double digit growth
could be possible buoyed by mining and agriculture, should tranquility
prevail. But he said 15%  growth could be overambitious.

“I believe that it is possible to surpass the projected 9,3% (announced by
Biti during last year’s budget presentation) because of an anticipated
strong growth in mining and agriculture although a projection of 15% could
be pushing the envelope much higher,” Makwata said. “It could be too
optimistic given the high level of country risk.”

He said economic growth would be driven by “small investments” in mining
which are attracting significant capital.

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Zim to sign Epas only after tax resolution

Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:36

Taurai Mangudhla

INDUSTRY and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube says Zimbabwe will only sign
the full Economic Partnership Agreements (Epas) between the European Union
(EU) and regional bodies in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACPs)
after contentious issues relating to taxation are solved.
Zimbabwe, which is currently negotiating Epas under the Eastern and Southern
African (Esa) grouping, feels that controversial issues such as taxation had
major consequences in development of ACPs.

“There are about seven contentious issues…We will not sign the full Epa
without negotiating to the end,” said Ncube. “We (Zimbabwe) will not sign
unless we have clauses that are consistent with national interest. We have
to come up with a solution on clauses that are negative to us.”

Epas are a scheme to create a free trade area  between the European
Commission of the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific
Group of States (ACP) countries.

They are a response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and
discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are
incompatible with WTO rules.

Epas, being negotiated with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions
engaged in a regional economic integration process, aims to promote trade
between the two groupings through trade development, sustainable growth and
poverty reduction.

This will assist ACP countries integrate into the world economy to share
opportunities offered by globalisation.
“It is our preferred position that all issues be negotiated to the end,”
Ncube said.

“We want ACPs to be taxed for exporting raw material to encourage processing
our own produce…the EU insists on a stand still clause on the tariffs, but
we need to be flexible on the tariffs,” he said.

The stand-still clause stipulates that Epas come into force, the parties may
not introduce new tariffs, raise existing tariffs and once eliminated,
tariffs may not be re-imposed.

ACPs are pushing for the removal of this clause citing impingement on policy

While the EU’s mantains export taxes restrict supply of raw materials to its
industries, ACP maintains that export taxes are development tools used for
value addition and revenue collection and will not be eliminated.

Ncube, however, emphasised the country’s need to commit to a comprehensive

“If we politic and walk way from Epas, we will have to pay full duty for
exports to Europe and the consequences will be severe. Zimbabwe is not
regarded to be amongst the Least Developed Countries  that are exempted from
paying duty,” Ncube said.

“Imagine competing against Swaziland to sell sugar in Europe. if we pay
heavy trade tariffs, no one will buy it (the sugar) because it will be
expensive” he added.

Ncube dismissed possible threats to the Zimbabwean economy should Sadc sign
a comprehensive Epa by mid 2011 as scheduled.

He said Sadc configuration was essentially about the member states accessing
European goods and not about local trade.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries  economist, Dephine Mazambani,
commended Epas as not only lucrative for competition but likely to provide
consumers with quality products.  She also encouraged government to delay
ratification of Epas to protect local industries.

“It (delaying ratification of Epas) can be a measure to protect the country
but what you have to ask is what products we import from EU and export to
EU. Mainly we import capital goods and we export horticultural products,
sugar and a bit of processed food items,” she said.

“Do we have the capacity to produce capital goods at the moment. The answer
is no and what is happening to our exports to the EU? They are becoming
expensive due to the duties that prevail for the different commodities” she

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Jomic continuing to lose currency

Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:47

Brian Chitemba

THE role of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) in the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) is increasingly coming into question amid
growing cracks in the coalition government.
Constituted after the formation of the inclusive government in February
2009, Jomic was mandated to assess the full implementation of the GPA signed
by President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Arthur Mutambara on
September 15 2008.

The multi-party body seems to be relevant in theory but has not achieved
anything practical, analysts say. There also appears to be a lack of
political will.
Jomic, analysts say, has failed to deal with sensitive issues which are
mostly handled by the principals, rendering the 12-member committee
As a result, pundits say, it is losing currency due to its incapacity to
tackle complaints from the GPA signatories.

The committee was formed in accordance with Article 22 of the GPA, which
states that Jomic should ensure the implementation of the letter and spirit
of the agreement, assess the implementation of the agreement from time to
time and to bear in mind steps that might be taken to make certain the full
and speedy implementation of this agreement and to influence the creation
and promotion of an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the
parties concerned.

But for the past two years, it has become visible that the will of
principals, especially  Mugabe, always prevails without intervention from
the implementation monitoring committee.

Mugabe has already declared his displeasure with the GPA arrangement, which
he said was not working. Signs are that the GNU could crumble, with Zanu PF
in particular pushing for its abandonment.

Therefore, the question on many minds still remains: is Jomic capable of
fulfilling its responsibilities? Other analysts say the body is weak due to
lack of statutory powers to enforce compliance of the GPA.

Analysts said whenever there are squabbles in the inclusive government among
the principals, none of them has asked for Jomic’s intervention to resolve
the feud. The principals have publicly disparaged each other over the
non-compliance of the GPA and have on many occasions turned to the Southern
African Development Community  for arbitration.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have bickered endlessly over the appointment of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, the Attorney-General, provincial
governors, ambassadors and the swearing-in of the MDC-T nominee for the
agriculture deputy minister’s post, Roy Bennett.

National University of Science and Technology lecturer Dr Lawson Hikwa, said
the failure to conclude the GPA outstanding issues for the past two years
was a glaring sign that Jomic was unable to accomplish its mandate.

“Jomic’s role so far has just been limited to looking at what has been
implemented; what about the outstanding issues, which are causing infighting
in the inclusive government? Jomic has to prove that it is up to the
mandated task,” he said.

Hikwa said Constitutional Amendment Number 19 does not articulate issues to
be dealt with under the GPA, which itself is not law. He noted that the GPA’s
lack of legal basis made it difficult for Jomic to push for the full
implementation of the agreement.

Jomic had a two-day retreat last week in Nyanga to scrutinise its role since
the committee’s formation.

Jomic co-chairperson Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga admitted this week that
the body was ineffective because of limited interaction with Sadc to brief
the mediator on the situation the in country.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC) replaced Welshman Ncube as Jomic co-chair while
other co-chairpersons are Elton Mangoma (MDC-T) and Nicholas Goche (Zanu

In Nyanga, Jomic only resolved to form an operations committee to handle
administration issues as well as media, land and sanctions committees to
look at ways to address the outstanding issues.

Research scholar and political analyst Macdonald Chibika blamed Zanu PF for
Jomic’s failure because the party wanted the status quo to remain.

“Mugabe always wants to remain with absolute power. He doesn’t want to share
with Tsvangirai. This is why the GPA will never work and unfortunately Jomic
can’t tame Mugabe,” he said.

Political analyst Takura Zhangazha likened Jomic to the Organ on National
Healing which he said has not achieved anything since its inception, also
two years ago.

“Jomic is largely ceremonial. It has no power to rein in political parties
to resolve disputes. The same with the Organ on National Healing; they haven’t
done anything,” he said.

“Jomic is not known to the public or has no public support. That shows we
have a long way to go.”

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Muckraker: ‘Totem-less aliens’ raise bootlicking bar

Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:45

THE Lake Chivero invaders got the publicity they deserved last weekend.
Mounting an illegal occupation of chalets, restaurants, a caravan site and
the internationally-renowned Kuimba Shiri bird park, 200 Zanu PF activists
from Zvimba occupied the lakeshore residences and businesses claiming to be
fulfilling President Mugabe’s indigenisation project.
Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere and ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke tried to
distance themselves from this anarchy. But by then it was too late. The
damage had been done.
Tourism minister Walter Mzembi in Spain had just launched Zimbabwe’s new
brand, “World of Wonders”. But delegates to the event, having read the
papers, asked him if this was the same country he had been talking about?
That is what happens when lawlessness runs rampant. Who promoted this
illegal occupation in the first place? We know what their agenda was. We
just want the names.
There was nothing remotely “swift” or “decisive” about the authorities’
response as they claimed.
The leaders of the gang were described by Kaseke as “dignified individuals”,
who claimed to be acting against racism.
Whatever Kasukuwere or Kaseke might claim, this was the ugly face of
empowerment; helping yourself to other people’s property. It is called
theft. Fortunately the world was able to share our view of this assault.

A reader mailed us to say he was pleasantly surprised to see a picture of Hu
Jintao and a grinning President Obama together with Michelle Obama under the
caption “Heavyweights”, in last Friday’s edition of the Herald.
“I thought the official line would have dictated that the Herald should have
been screaming, what is Cde Hu doing, hobnobbing with imperialists?”
Our reader makes the obvious point that “if our friends in the East have the
sense to look West why is it a sin for us to even consider mentioning the
West in good light?
“Why should we continue to exclusively look East? What kind of a tantrum is
it that lasts more than 10 years? And come to think of it why should one man’s
tantrum form the basis of national policy?”

The president’s whereabouts was the subject of a disinformation campaign
last weekend. We had heard that he was due back on Sunday, January 23.
NewsDay carried the story which emanated from a politburo member. But dozens
of influential people were certain he was already back on the Thursday and
were trying to convince us that this was the case. We declined to take the
bait. But what prompted the pressure to mislead our readers? We can only
assume it was designed to wrong-foot his detractors.
When Mugabe did at last land in Harare on Sunday, he put an end to rumours
of ill-health by revealing that he had been holidaying with his family in
Singapore. The Herald’s Tendai Mugabe thought we should know that Singapore
is “near Hong Kong where his daughter Bona is pursuing university studies”.
The president said he had not even been in Malaysia.
Muckraker’s information is that Mugabe’s plane landed in Kuala Lumpur on
December 31, then diverted with passengers to Singapore where its VIPs
disembarked (or deplaned as the Americans say) and then returned to KL where
it resumed its scheduled flight. Several connections were missed as a

If the press speculated about Malaysia being the destination, that’s perhaps
because it so often has been in the past. Have we forgotten Langkawi so
soon? And those photo ops with Mahathir? And were reports of the Malaysian
urologist who often accompanies the president all part of the Western
campaign of “lies”?
Anyway, we are delighted to hear that the president is in robust health. But
rumours about his health are the product of a rumour mill starved of
accurate information.
When Obama or David Cameron go on holiday — or even Vladimir Putin — they
provide the press with a photo opportunity on condition that they make
themselves scarce thereafter.
Silvio Berlusconi chooses Sardinia — a rocky island — so the pesky press can’t
film his um, er “visitors”!
It is to be hoped that Mugabe benefited from his Singapore sojourn to see
how a small country with no natural resources became a success story almost
overnight as a result of wise governance. Singapore is today a wealthy
multi-racial society with a keen respect for its British founder, Sir
Stamford Raffles, whose statue occupies pride of place in downtown
Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew who was educated at Cambridge and
presided over the country’s dramatic growth may have been a stickler for
discipline (dropping litter is a major offence). But he marshalled his
people into a modern, investor-friendly, financial hub.One of his first
success stories was the transformation in the 1970s of national airline,
Singapore Airlines, into a flagship business. It is about the same age as
Air Zimbabwe. But try flying Singapore Airlines and see the difference!
Did Mugabe notice any of this? Somehow we doubt it.

Did you know when buying the little Zimbabwe flags on sale at the traffic
lights that you are contributing to Zanu PF’s election campaign? The Sunday
Mail helpfully revealed this over the weekend.
“The Zimbabwe flag is being embraced by all and sundry,” an editorial told
us. “There is a reawakening. Something is happening to our national
consciousness. Something is happening to our national identity.”
Something was happening at the Sunday Mail, that’s for sure. It should have
kept a lid on this disclosure. Sales could plummet when people find out
where the campaign comes from. And is it a good idea for one party to wrap
itself in the flag? Shouldn’t the flag belong to all Zimbabweans?
We wonder what “awakening” is referred to. All we have heard about is
internecine warfare as ambitious personalities fight it out for turf.

And the other thing we noticed on Sunday was an assault on the roadmap to
elections which President Zuma has been working hard with the Zimbabwe
negotiators to bring to fulfilment.
“This roadmap nonsense,” Jonathan Moyo scoffed, “which has been conveniently
if not mischievously associated with Sadc and…President Jacob Zuma is
totally unacceptable… not only because it is borrowed from a tired American
concept that has failed in the Middle East but also because it seeks to
subvert our national sovereignty enshrined in our constitution.”
“The point must be made,” Moyo asserted, “and made in the strongest possible
way, and those with ears must hear, that no election in Zimbabwe will be set
and conducted on the basis of any roadmap.”
So there you have it. A kick in the teeth for Zuma!

Meanwhile, we wonder what business people like Joseph Kanyekanye are
thinking when Emmerson Mnangagwa advertises his damaging Stalinist proposal
to make business leaders of foreign-based companies denounce sanctions on
Kanyekanye has said he opposes sanctions. So how can he and his outfit, the
CZI, allow this dangerous demagoguery to pass unremarked? What sort of
business organisation is it that remains silent in the face of threats of
this sort against its members? The CZI doesn’t deserve to have any members.
Zanu PF’s leaders should get it into their thick heads that most people in
this country hold them responsible for sanctions. The CZI didn’t impose
sanctions, nor did the MDC. Zanu PF’s misrule did.

Muckraker has always regarded the Law Society as a competent and
professional body.
But a full page advert taken out in the press recently would suggest the
description of “clumsy and careless”.
First of all, unforgivably, they managed to misspell the first name of the
Chief Justice. Then they said “retaliates” when they meant “reiterates”.
The LSZ needs to get itself a proof reader!
It does raise a useful point that hasn’t been commented upon. Some 82% of
civil appeals noted in 2010 are not yet ready for set-down. As the LSZ
points out, this scenario is not condonable as delay in execution of justice
may at times end in denial of a basic right of access to justice.”
Muckraker would simply ask: what are those responsible for hearing cases
doing that is occupying most of their time?

Is it not ironic that “sell-outs” and “totem-less aliens” are the ones now
singing Zanu PF’s praises. President Mugabe, in a fit of pique during the
2000 parliamentary election made these disparaging comments referring to
Mbare residents.
However, it seems that Zanu PF has seen the error of its ways and is now
using the Mbare Chimurenga Choir which has released its second album
accompanied by a video of the track titled Mahwindi with the aim of
“encouraging oneness in the country”.
Mahwindi is the group’s second album following Nyatsoteerera which according
to ZBC “set a new standard in the production of Chimurenga music videos”.
They did set a new standard in bootlicking and mediocrity which many a
musician –– even Last Tambaoga Chiyangwa –– will find hard to match.
The track Simukai Tiverengane, we were told by the Herald, urges people to
take stock of one another, urging everyone to be visible when the time to be
counted by the shepherd, in this case President Mugabe, comes.
We liked the bit about the shepherd and his flock. They are all sheep aren’t
they? And we understand what the counting involves. Baaa!
We could only commiserate with ZTV Sunday Edition anchors Marion Shaba and
Juliet Muzenda who tried their best to portray their enthusiasm by bobbing
their heads when the video was played. It is very likely that it was more
out of duty than pleasure since the powers that be at Pockets Hill last year
read the riot act to presenters who did not show acceptable levels of
enthusiasm in spewing out propaganda.

NewsDay reports that former Zanu PF Masvingo provincial Information and
publicity secretary Kudzai Mbudzi has rejoined the party after a brief foray
in opposition politics. Mbudzi was suspended from Zanu PF in 2007 after
sharply criticising President Mugabe and his old guard over failure to
institute leadership renewal in the revolutionary party.
“It  is   important  to  realise  the  reasons why I left in the first
place,” Mbudzi said. “I was agitating for leadership renewal, organisational
transformation and regeneration in the party.
“Ultimately, I saw that in spite of my own thinking as an individual, that
same thinking must be subordinated to majority thinking.”
No guesses will be required over what might have prompted Mbudzi to return
to the feeding trough. It reminds us of the Zanu PF official, identified as
Mudarikwa who according to WikiLeaks likened Zanu PF to a troop of baboons
incessantly fighting among themselves but coming together to face external
Here is the clincher from Mbudzi: “The party is now making up on the same
reasons which had caused me to leave. Organisational transformation and
renewal in Zanu PF is now a fact, so I decided to come back.”
Is he talking about the same party we know? Mugabe and his old guard are
still there and so are the same failed policies and yet by some freak of
nature Mbudzi sees “organisational transformation and renewal.”

Finally, analysts are commenting on the role of social media in the Tunisian
revolution. Now that it has spread to Egypt should we call it Fezbook?

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Eric Bloch: The disastrous impact of fuel crisis

Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:43

By Eric Bloch

MEDIA reports last week claimed that the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
(Noczim) had had their entire cash resources seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (Zimra) due to default in payment of fuel importation duties and
other imposts.

The reports stated that, with the seizure of its funds, Noczim was unable to
effect payment for the petroleum which it had purchased, which petroleum was
in tanks at Beira, in Mozambique, pending forwarding to Zimbabwe through the
Beira Corridor pipeline.  As a result, the reports said, a fuel shortage in
Zimbabwe was imminent, with a major scarcity already prevailing in Harare.

Zimbabwe is not unaccustomed to fuel shortages, and most of the populace
will readily recall the many hours, and days, expended in very long queues
at all the country’s filling stations, awaiting arrival of critically needed
fuel supplies.  The economic impact was great; there was loss of thousands
of working hours with concomitant minimal availability of public transport
services. Commerce and industry were unable to transport manufacturing
inputs and operational requirements and to deliver goods from factories to
wholesalers and retailers, as well as innumerable other transportation needs
essential to any economy.

With the already operationally-emaciated Noczim likely to be wholly inert, a
calamitous recurrence of those disastrous economic circumstances is almost a
certainty, already (within days of Zimra’s seizure of Noczim’s funds)
beginning to evidence itself.

Bearing in mind that Noczim is a government parastatal, and that Zimra is
government’s revenue collection vehicle, it is wholly attributable to
government that, once again, the greatly embattled economy is to be further

Zimra cannot be condemned for taking actions incumbent upon it to ensure
receipt of revenues due to — and greatly needed by — the state. Noczim is
the indisputable culprit for the consequences of its defaults in effecting
payments of such revenues, but nevertheless the onus is upon government to
act speedily to minimise, and thereafter avoid, the decimation of the
economy which is an inevitable consequence of insufficient, and belated,
supply of the nation’s essential petroleum requirements.

Failure to do so will not only grievously retard the working of the wheels
of the economy, but will also have the by-product effects of diminishing
government’s other revenue flows from the economy, as well as markedly
further diminishing the already pronouncedly low levels of business
confidence and national morale.

As an immediate, first remedial measure, government needs to advance to
Noczim a loan to enable it forthwith to resume sufficient of fuel imports
(to all intents and purposes, loaning to Noczim the very funds of which it
was dispossessed).  However, that is only a transitional and very necessary
governmental action for whilst it will temporarily address the looming
crisis, it will not resolve the underlying core Noczim deficiencies (common
to most parastatals) of great undercapitalisation, and extreme mismanagement
of resources.

Government has an intense, paranoid belief that it must have absolute
control of anything and everything, and hence its recurrent resistance to
the privatisation of parastatals, wholly or partially, despite more than 20
years of declared intentions to do so. Exceptionally, however, it did
recently divest itself of Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, but that is only
one of the more than 40 parastatals of which government is possessed.
Recently, government has vociferously contended that it now intends to
vigorously pursue privatisations, but that intent has yet to be

With the impending fuel crisis, one of the first privatisations that must be
pursued with great haste is that of Noczim, not only because of the imminent
crisis, but also because for years it has been incontrovertibly evident that
Noczim fulfills no functions that cannot more effectively and beneficially
be pursued by the private sector, as is the case in the majority of the
world’s economies.

Admittedly, Noczim fulfilled a valuable purpose at a time when Zimbabwe was
confronted by major international trade sanctions impeding the purchase and
importation of petroleum, but that ceased when Zimbabwe became independent
in 1980.  Now, the economic role of Noczim can be wholly, and more
effectively, addressed by international and domestic fuel companies, of
which there are very many with proven track records of successful and
economically-effective operations.

As an immediate step, after temporarily funding Noczim’s importation of the
fuel awaiting inflow to Zimbabwe from Beira, and any fuel enroute to Beira
from international fuel-supplying countries, government needs to empower any
private sector enterprises that wish to import and distribute petroleum
products to do so.

Naturally, such enterprises must be compliant with all normal importation
formalities and procedures, including timeous payment of all governmental

Thereafter, government should speedily divest itself of ownership and
control of Noczim, or in the alternative should initiate the dissolution of
that entity, with disposal to the private sector of its infrastructure and
all its operations.

If government does not very rapidly fund Noczim’s immediate fuel
importations, and then speedily privatise or wind-up Noczim —with concurrent
enablement of private sector assumption of Noczim’s operations and
functions — the presently weak economy will be so massively further weakened
as to be on the verge of extinction.

Concurrently, the only fuel availability will, once again, be in illegal
black markets, at immense costs, occasioning yet another massive surge in
economy-debilitating inflation.

That, in turn, will intensify the already extensive poverty and suffering
which is the burden of the majority of Zimbabweans. A looming, almost
immediate, massive fuel crisis is about to confront Zimbabwe, unless
government immediately acts constructively and dynamically.

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MDC-N: Political landscape, pitfalls and critical factors

Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:31

By Dumisani Nkomo

THE recent ascendance of Professor Welshman Ncube to the presidency of the
smaller MDC formation has been dismissed by some critics as a non-event and

I would like to argue that in politics, “a day is like a thousand years and
a thousand years like a day”, and as such to dismiss the MDC- N (formerly
MDC-M) —  especially in the light of leadership renewal in that party —
would be foolish and dangerous.

Whilst at a national level it is clear that Ncube’s MDC is unlikely to win a
single seat outside Matabeleland or Midlands, the party is likely to have an
impact on the electoral landscape for better or for worse.

In the event of an election just 10 seats will be enough for the party to
have a say once again in the political texture and indeed destiny of the
next government. Importantly considerations must be made to the politics of
Matabeleland which have evolved a lot since the last elections in 2008.
Undoubtedly the Matabeleland vote, small as it is, will be crucial in
deciding who will make their road to State House or have a majority in

Political objectives

Quite clearly the MDC-N has no intention of winning the elections if they
are held in the next 18 months as they stand no chance of winning a national
plebiscite in the near future. To think otherwise would be the worst case of
self-delusion as to all practical intents the party is unable and incapable
of conquering the Mashonaland provinces, Manicaland, Masvingo and most of

They have realistically weighed their chances and positioned themselves to
be the “kingmakers” of Zimbabwean politics, assuming that neither MDC-T nor
the former ruling party Zanu PF fail to garner a majority.

They have strategically decided to concentrate on where they stand the best
chances of winning anything and that happens to be in Matabeleland.

There are however numerous impediments, constraints and pitfalls that the
party will have to deal with if it is to have an impact on the Zimbabwean
political landscape.

An election held in the next 12 months could be genocidal for the MDC-N as
they could be buried in an electoral landslide.

If the election is held 12 - 36 months later the MDC-N will definitely have
time to regroup, re-strategise and have a huge impact on the electoral
landscape especially in Matabeleland. They would be praying (and fasting)
that during this time MDC-T commits gigantic blunders and scores one or two
own goals whilst Zanu PF continues to lose popularity.

Failure to effectively re-strategise within this time frame will result in
the party being literally obliterated from the political landscape just like
what happened to the Forum party of Zimbabwe along with its galaxy of “stars
and political talents”.

The following internal weaknesses will militate against the MDC-N in its

Disconnect with masses/grassroots

Whilst the MDC-N is blessed with abundant political talent, academic acumen
and experience, this all counts for nothing in politics. After all Zanu PF
reduced the country’s economy to a rubble in spite of the fact that they
boasted of “one of the most brilliant cabinets in Africa in 1980”.The MDC-N’s
fatal flaw would be that it has disconnected with grassroots issues and

The fact that the party’s congress had 1 000 or 5 000 people (depending on
whose statistics you use) counts for nothing as presence of party members at
a congress does not necessarily reflect or translate into growth or increase
in the party’s magnitude. The MDC-N has been pre-occupied with elitist
politics which does not resonate with the grassroots.

They have failed to understand that whilst the middle class and upper class
play a major role in the destiny of elections in Europe and America, in
Africa it is the working class, the peasantry and the informal sector that
determine electoral and indeed political outcomes. Lately they have seized
on such grassroots issues in Matabeleland but it may be a case of too
little, too late.

Zanu PF alignment perception

The MDC-N formation has at times made strategic blunders by appearing to
align itself with Zanu PF in the context of a polarised political

On a number of occasions its former president Arthur Mutambara seemed to be
Mugabe’s “praise singer”, and at times the party appeared ambiguous about
their position about Zanu PF. This was worsened by the fact that on a number
of occasions MDC-N officials used the state media to lambast their MDC-T
rivals, further adding credence to those who believed the party was a “Zanu
PF project”. To give an example Simba Makoni, who was backed by the MDC-M in
the 2008 elections, committed a fatal error by failing to articulate his
position about Zanu PF and as such was viewed by many as Zanu PF project.

Failure to read politics

Whilst blessed with abundant talent the MDC-N seems to fail to read
political events.

At times they speak when they are supposed to refrain from speaking and
refrain from speaking when they are supposed to speak. I would like to argue
that if the MDC-N wanted to attack the MDC-T they should have done so at the
time when the split occurred. Instead they kept quiet and were labelled as
appendages of Zanu PF without putting up much of a fight.

They ultimately lost the propaganda war and tried to win it years afterwards
by starting on a fresh tirade of attacks against the MDC-T.

Unfortunately in Zimbabwe’s highly polarised political environment such
attacks have not translated to more support for the MDC-N, but have been
perceived by some as an attempt to split the vote and give Zanu PF an

Whilst this may not be true the MDC-N does not seem to understand the
difference between what they believe and what people perceive to be the

Their “holier than thou” approach to politics does not work in the rough
terrains of African politics where there is little or no room at all for
moderates. Moderates are often hit by traffic coming from both sides of the
road which explains why their party has lost so many of its members to
MDC-T, Zapu and yes even Zanu PF (remember Fidelis Mhashu).

Intellectual/moral arrogance

Arrogance or perceptions of arrogance in politics can be very suicidal and,
unfortunately for the MDC-N, whilst priding itself as a party of
intellectuals it projects itself as being arrogant. Some of the party’s
leaders have poured scorn on Morgan Tsvangirai accusing him of being an
“intellectual dwarf”, conveniently forgetting that Zanu PF and their string
of degrees both academic and in “violence” ran the country down in spite of
their so called intellectual stamina.

Conversely Jacob Zuma, the South African president who has little formal
education, not only outfoxed Thabo Mbeki in the battle for the leadership of
the ANC but has also proved to be a competent leader


over one of the biggest economies in Africa. The tragedy of some academics
and intellectuals is that their strength is their weakness. Because of the
confidence they have in themselves they end up sacrificing relationships,
networks and the imperative of consultation.

The tragedy of intellectuals is that they believe that they do not need
anybody else and can do it on their own but the reality of politics is that,
in the words of James Dobson, “people do not care about what you know but
they want to know whether you care”.

Weak civil society linkages

The MDC-N has weak linkages with labour, the student body, informal traders
associations and church related groups. It however has the increasing
support of a lot of Matabeleland-based cultural and social groups.
External factors

Tribalisation of politics

The tribalisation of Zimbabwean politics means that the party is viewed by
people from outside Matabeleland as a regional outfit. However, ironically
and paradoxically many people in the region of Matabeleland view the
persecution of Ncube’s political ascent as an assault on the Ndebele people
which could give currency and popularity to him.

Politics in Zimbabwe has been dichotomised into those who support Zanu PF
and those against it. Popularly MDC-T is seen as an embodiment of resistance
to Zanu PF. This will militate against the MDC-N, at least at a national
The electoral system

The “first past the post” system gives bigger parties such as Zanu PF and
MDC-T an advantage at the expense of the MDC-N and Zapu. The MDC-M could
actually have won at least four to five seats more if proportional
representation had been used in the last election.

The Zapu threat

The emergence of Zapu could swing some votes and support away from MDC-N in
Matabeleland. The two parties could find themselves “fishing from the same
fish pond”.


The Ncube factor

Whilst many people view the ascendance of Ncube as an elitist transfer of
power, nothing could be further from the truth as many people in
Matabeleland region view this as a positive move. People in the region are
now tired of being used as political ornaments to provide “ethnic décor to”
national parties.

People are asking themselves “is it wrong to have a Ndebele leader?” The
critical emerging issue in Matabeleland is no longer just removing Mugabe
from power but what is in it for Matabeleland, and these are the dynamics of
the political season. The flurry of criticism against Ncube from the state
and independent media has made him something of a hero to many people in
Matabeleland. People love tragic figures or martyrs and the crucifixion of
Ncube has given him fresh credibility and impetus.

Whilst he is aloof, uncharismatic and appears to be cold and distant, a lot
of people are beginning to believe in him because of all the hullaballoo
about somebody from Matabeleland leading a national party.

Talent and experience

The MDC-N has in its ranks talented politicians, experienced activists and
academics. They need to translate this into political advantage through
grassroots based strategies.

The MDC- N has been fairly consistent in its positions about a wide variety
of issues including the issue of the re-introduction of the senate (which
led to the split of the party), the negotiated Kariba constitution and the
need for full implementation of the Global Political Agreement before

As to whether they will have an effect, they definitely cause a shift in the
country’s political terrain albeit to minor extent. If they fail to adapt to
the political terrain and do not strategise on grassroots mobilisation they
will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

Dumisani Nkomo is the chief executive officer of Habakkuk Trust and
spokesperson of the Matabeleland Civil Society Consortium. He can be
contacted on This e-mail address is being protected
from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Comment: Mugabe holding cabinet hostage

Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:49

THERE exists a madcap state of affairs in the governance of Zimbabwe: when
president Robert Mugabe is on leave, there is no government business to talk
of as the entire administration is forced into recess leaving the country to
run on autopilot.
This may sound like hyperbole but that is exactly what is happening. When
the president goes on leave, the man takes all the keys with him and
ministers are left twiddling their thumbs. In fact many of them also take
their leave as well because the cabinet will be closed, literally.

Cabinet last met on December 18 and shortly thereafter Mugabe took his
annual leave. While at any one time in Zimbabwe there is an acting president
in Mugabe’ absence, it appears that he has no confidence in his lieutenants
to chair cabinet while he is away.

MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is the nominal deputy
chair of the cabinet but as it stands he is only a distant number four in
the hierarchy of the so-called government of national unity (GNU).

Mugabe’s way of doing business as the chairman of cabinet has shown an
archaic approach to governance and policy-making which has no place in a
modern state.

Cabinet is an important organ in modern government administration and this
explains why in Zimbabwe as well as many other states it sits weekly to
implement policies.

However, while on paper the Zimbabwe cabinet sits weekly and mostly on
Tuesdays, this rule only applies when Mugabe is present.

When he is not present and an acting president appointed, the weekly meeting
is rescheduled or not held at all. When Mugabe went on his annual leave,
John Nkomo was appointed acting president only to be replaced by Joice
Mujuru at the beginning of the New Year.

Neither of the two was trusted to chair the weekly meetings and the
government went on autopilot. There has been no cabinet meeting in more than
a month.

At a time like this, it is incumbent upon the other partners in the GNU to
show leadership and insist on a meeting so crucial to the governance of the

Instead, Tsvangirai also took a break, only returning to his office a few
days before Mugabe. The other MDC faction was preoccupied with leadership
jostling, with Welshman Ncube eventually taking over the reins from Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

So who then was making the crucial decisions on the sale of diamonds,
indigenisation legislation, the pending civil servants strike and the sudden
shortage of fuel which required the attention of Cabinet?

There were attempts by responsible ministers to address the issues but any
serious analyst would have seen the half-heartedness and hesitancy shown
when their decisions need cabinet ratification.

It is interesting to note that Mugabe, who literally holds the cabinet
hostage and only convenes it at his whim, chose to chair a Zanu PF
politiburo meeting on Wednesday, confirming a long-held belief that his
party takes precedence over government. I

t is presumed that he wanted to get his party’s position on various issues
to be discussed at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, most likely on the
Ivory Coast standoff, the inevitable breakup of Sudan and the revolts
engulfing the Arab nations of Tunisia and Egypt.

It is clear that Mugabe, who is accustomed to substituting government with
the party which he controls, would set out Zanu PF’s position which would
become the country’s position on such critical issues.

This is one of the tragedies of the type of government that has been
adopted. While Mugabe, who has been at the apex of the party since 1976 and
government for 31 years, may be impervious to changes occasioned by the
unity government, the MDC has shown serious administrative failure at a time
when Zimbabwe is rudderless.

People are asking, where is the MDC? That is a legitimate question.

They are virtually invisible. Is it not time for the MDC leadership to show
decisiveness and aptitude, providing policy direction at a time when the
country has run out of fuel which saw a 100% hike in fares? The MDC, it
appears, has been afflicted by Zanu PF’s delinquency and does not take its
role in government seriously.

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Editor's Memo: AU should be proactive, not reactive

Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:37

THE African Union (AU) is meeting for its annual summit in Addis Ababa. Top
on the agenda will obviously be the political unrest in Ivory Coast and
Tunisia as well as increasing protests in Egypt.
It would be a folly, however, for the AU to completely ignore Zimbabwe at
this summit as the country faces the risk of going back to the dark days of
2008 if recent events are anything to go by.

On Sunday President Robert Mugabe threatened to dissolve parliament and call
for elections if there was no consensus on a new constitution as required by
the Global Political Agreement.

It is clear by his recent pronouncements that Mugabe wants elections soon
and clearly does not give a hoot whether the environment is conducive for
the polls.

This is where the AU and Sadc should flex their muscles as continental and
regional bodies and intervene in stopping this madness.

We have witnessed an increase in incidents of violence in both urban and
rural areas with soldiers deployed countrywide to intimidate the electorate
ahead of the polls. There have been reports of houses belonging to MDC-T
supporters being burnt by Zanu PF thugs as well as efforts to sabotage the
constitution process.

Just last week Zanu PF supporters invaded resort lodges and camps at Lake
Chivero under the guise of indigenisation. It was only thwarted by JOC which
ordered riot police to remove them.

There has been increasing stories in the public media denigrating the MDC-T
as Zanu PF dominates the airwaves with jingles praising Mugabe. In all
fairness, labelling the supposedly national broadcaster as Zanu PF TV would
not be far off the mark. Reactionaries within the former ruling party are
now agitating against the road map South African president Jacob Zuma is
pushing for using the all too obvious “sovereignty” posture.

It is hard to justify the existence of an organ of national healing and
reconciliation given the increasingly polarised environment in the country.
It has truly proved to be a white elephant.

The three principals to the GPA have failed to implement what they agreed
and signed on September 15 2008. There has been very little done in terms of
security, legislative and media reforms with no new players in the
electronic media.

This clearly illustrates that the country is not prepared for an election as
it will only lead to another political crisis. This is the last thing the
country and the continent needs especially at a time the country’s economy
has stabilised.

While we agree that elections are the only solution to unlock the political
logjam in the country, we contend that holding an election without proper
reforms will only produce a similar result to that of 2008 with possibly
more devastating consequences.

The AU need to be more vigilant and ensure that elections are not held in
the current environment as doing so would only leave them with a much bigger
problem when the situation spirals out of control.

The AU must support the GPA facilitator, President Jacob Zuma, in calling
for a clear roadmap for elections which includes extensive media and
security reforms, a proper national healing process as well as ensuring that
a democratic, all-inclusive constitution is in place.

In addition, the AU should send an assessment team that will complement
efforts by Sadc to bring about conclusive and satisfactory elections in

The AU must take heed of the adage that a stitch in time saves nine. It
needs to demonstrate its concern before the all-too-predictable chaos takes

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Candid Comment: Elections: Propaganda, lies and deception

Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:36

GOVERNMENTS or political parties the world over seize every opportunity to
lie and mislead, not only to their enemies but also to their own populaces.
This makes politics, throughout the world, more or less the business of
strategic manoeuvring and manipulation of information to mobilise support
for the agendas of those in power.
President Robert Mugabe’s previous regimes and Zanu PF have always thrived
on that. Propaganda, lies and deception are part of their political DNA.

Of late Zanu PF leaders and their apologists, some masquerading as analysts,
have been pushing and shoving on the political scene trying to mislead the
nation and voters on the GPA and elections in a bid to justify stampeding
the country into polls where violence, intimidation and fraud would be key
determinants in the outcome.

Despite the clarity of the GPA, its well-known political context and
circumstances, we are nonetheless now being told, rather ineptly, that
Mugabe has the constitutional authority to unilaterally dissolve parliament
and call for elections on his own under the current dispensation.

The only redeeming thing about this is that Mugabe himself understands his
powers and obligations under the GPA. Mugabe acknowledged last Sunday he can’t
dissolve parliament and call for elections under the GPA dispensation.

We are also being told that there is no necessary connection between
elections and the constitution-making process in the context of the GPA.
Furthermore, Mugabe and Zanu PF claim that the inclusive government
automatically and necessarily comes to end on February 13. Another claim
from Zanu PF, or more accurately its ideologues, is that the inclusive
government is dysfunctional because no party has a clear and working
majority in parliament.

These misleading assertions can only be deliberate misrepresentations.

There is no serious person who understands the GPA, its context and
circumstances who wouldn’t know that it’s a transitional arrangement or a
roadmap, with guidelines or signposts to the next elections.

The other propaganda claim –– this time by MDC-T, which is incredibly
ridiculous –– is that a new presidential election can be held  alone in the
context of harmonised polls under the current constitution and laws before
2013 when all polls are due.

MDC-M (now MDC-N) wants to give us the impression elections can only be held
in 2013. The assumption being that only in 2013 can the country be ready for
fresh elections.

These claims by the three political parties in the GPA fit into their
propaganda templates, despite attendant lies and deception.

The GPA, whether on the surface or nuanced levels of understanding and
analysis, was envisaged to last for two years although that duration was not
automatically and necessarily its lifespan or natural life. It was a working
arrangement. That’s why there were supposed to be annual reviews and a final
assessment after two years to determine the way forward.

The GPA was predicated on the assumption that after two years its nucleus
elements –– the constitution-making process and other critical reforms ––
would have been completed. However, the GPA’s timetable on the
constitution-making process is behind by almost a year.

So issues of GPA duration, implementation mechanisms, review,
constitution-making process and referendum, and elections, including their
conditions, timing and quality, have to be done by consensus. There is no
room for unilateral actions or smoke-and-mirrors politics.

What political parties and their publicists are now saying is a
well-packaged web of lies. If this sort of politicking is allowed to
succeed, truth will in the end sound utterly preposterous and its speakers
raving lunatics, while liars appear entirely plausible.

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