Stealing the ballot
(Financial Gazette 8 June 2000) -
ALL right-thinking Zimbabweans must be alarmed to learn that the government intends to proceed with the staging of this month’s general election while mobs of ruling party supporters remain on farms they have seized in the past three months.
ZANU PF supporters have not only seized more than 1 500 farms, but have used the illegal occupations to unleash an unprecedented reign of terror on farmers and thousands of their workers to cow them to back the party in the June 24-25 election.
With almost 400 000 workers on commercial farms, plus an unknown number of people who constitute their families and dependants, this is a significant slice of voters who will participate in the poll.
As if this was not enough, ZANU PF thugs have virtually sealed off most rural areas from other poll contenders through a heightened campaign of violence, thus making it impossible for both the rural populace, which constitutes 70 percent of the population, and farm workers to cast their ballots freely.
No sane person can ever hope for a semblance of a free and fair plebiscite under these intolerable conditions and it is to be hoped that all impartial election observers will see through this charade for what it is.
In the case of farms, President Robert Mugabe must immediately order his supporters off these properties before the poll or risk turning the entire election into a gigantic fraud.
After all, there is no longer any reason for any ZANU PF supporter to remain on the farms because the government has amended the constitution and promulgated the enabling legislation to seize these properties without compensation.
Any ZANU PF supporter refusing to quit the farms will be doing so not because of the burning land question but to continue with the intimidation of farm workers and nothing more.
In rural areas, election observers should rapidly deploy there in large numbers to check if all contenders are being allowed to campaign without let or hindrance.
The police, who in the past few months have looked the other way in the face of mounting assaults and murder of opposition supporters, must swiftly crack down on anyone perpetrating violence, no matter which party that offender belongs to.
The crackdown must be visible and be seen to be so by all in the land who have borne so much suffering and humiliation in the past three months of terror.
But ZANU PF has predictably gone further. Evidence is emerging that there could be thousands of potential young voters whose names do not appear on the shambolic voters’ roll, raising the prospect of them being unable to participate in the election.
It is imperative that all Zimbabweans who registered for the poll do urgently check if their names are on the roll and re-register immediately if necessary.
For Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, he must immediately instruct his officials to issue all re-registering candidates with proof that they have registered and are now eligible to vote and not wait for the compilation of the so-called supplementary roll, which predictably will again fail to “capture” some voters.
Armed with this proof, no one who has registered should be denied an opportunity to exercise his or her right to vote, even if their names are not on the register.
Should Mudede refuse to do this — as he staunchly did when the registration started — then all should and will know what he is up to.
Failure to act against the intimidation of voters and to embrace the minimum measures outlined here will render the whole election null and void, with ghastly consequences for the future of this once proud and prosperous nation.
Letters to the EDITOR Financial Gazette 8 June 2000
John Sogolani, Harare.
EDITOR — This is an open letter to President Robert Mugabe.
I write to bring to your attention some fundamental points that you are missing in your political philosophy.
What you need to know is that the majority of whites in this country were born here in Zimbabwe and, needless to say, are very Zimbabwean.
These whites, therefore, have a right to support political parties of their choice.
Now, if some whites are supporting Morgan Tsvangi-rai’s Movement for Democratic Change, why are you angry?
Your own party, ZANU PF, received millions of dollars from Roland “Tiny” Rowland, a white man, but nobody criticised you or saw anything wrong with that arrangement.
Now, Mugabe, if you sincerely believe that the white man’s money is dirty, why are you taking money from whit-es to support your political programmes through the Political Parties (Finance) Act?
If you want us to appeal to Tsvangirai to stop getting moral and financial support from whites, you must immediately direct the Commissioner of Taxes to stop getting taxes from all the whites in this country. This arrangement would ensure that your party wouldn’t have access to the white man’s wallet through the dubious Political Parties (Finance) Act.
But I know that you are a hypocrite so you won’t take up my challenge.
Mugabe, you are better advised that instead of having sleepless nights over the support that Tsvangirai is getting not only form whites but from the majority of blacks in this country, you should stop violence on our farms which is being spearheaded by ZANU PF’s chief political hooligan — Chenjerai Hunzvi.
Because you and Hunzvi are just messing up the country for future generations.
Mbeki’s actions speak louder than words
Lance H Reynolds, Harare.
(Financial Gazette 8 June 2000) - EDITOR — Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa and a leading figure of intellect and clout in our region, holds views of great importance to Zimbabweans.
He has spoken recently at several venues, with “politically correct” statements for each audience. How do we know what his real beliefs are?
We have just seen his action — an international fund to purchase white-owned commercial farms on a willing buyer, willing seller basis in Zimbabwe to resettle landless black peasants.
This is a first step to resolving the land issue in Zimbabwe, and later in South Africa.
This action proves that he believes in the following, all quoted from the British Broadcasting Corporation phone-in programme “Talking Point” of May 18 2000:
Mbeki is taking us back to the 1998 donors’ conference, where an agreed method to resolve the land issue was signed by our President Robert Mugabe, and restated as Zimba-bwean government policy as recently as September 1999.
- - “The killing is driven by a level of greed, a level of selfishness among people who are in leading positions, people who think that to be in a position of power is to create a space for yourself to fill yourself up with pockets of money and get it by any means.”
- - “The people of Zimbabwe have a responsibility to ensure that the government they elected behaves properly. And it’s for you people as Zimbabweans to make sure that you act to ensure that the government does those things which are legally correct constitutionally and so on.”
- - “We have to end the violence in Zimbabwe. We have to end the confrontation around this land question. We’ve got to abandon an approach which does not seek a solution which benefits all the people of Zimbabwe, and you can’t address this land question by generating conflict and therefore we need to end that conflict.”
Planned, transparent, compensated transfers, supported by financial and technical inputs for the new settler farmers — all from the donor community.
Why, Cde Mugabe, did you not work from the 1998 agreement?
After 20 years, you have failed to do the hard work and lead us into a better future of cooperation, harmony, settlement and economic growth.
Instead, for cheap power reasons, you have turned on our people and our friends with vitriol and violence.
Now, the way out of the mess is coming not from your Cabinet but from the international community, led by a man of stature and ability. Thank goodness for Thabo Mbeki!
New motto: go for broke
''Geriatric Rule'', Harare.
EDITOR — Does President Robert Mugabe realise that in taking white-owned farms without compensation, the fiscus will lose millions in capital gains tax, apart from the taxes which the farmers usually pay?
Go for broke appears to be Mugabe’s new motto.
His statement that the British can compensate the farmers if they wish, I hope, means that if they do, they can choose to compensate the farmers “outside Zimbabwe”.
Why should Mugabe be allowed to dictate what the British do with their money? If he had complied with their suggestions that the land issue be handled in a transparent and equitable manner, Zimbabwe would have benefited from the millions of dollars which would have poured in from the British and the rest of the world.
The signs of megalomania and erratic judgment are clear from the Presi-dent’s apparent conviction that Zimbabwe, which has a smaller population than what London alone probably has, can take on the might of such countries.
The war veterans are expecting a lot more than land. Where are they going to get it from — tractors and implements, fertiliser and other inputs, payment for electricity for their pumps and maintenance thereof and the sinking of hundreds of boreholes and the provision of pumps, an infrastructure which includes schools with teachers and clinics which are capable of treating people with more than Panadol and Malaria pills . . ?
I will not mention an income while they wait for their huge crops, not for just one year but on a permanent basis.
When questioned about the above they have already said: “The government will provide.”
Mugabe should realise that this has all got to be paid for. Apart from resorting to printing more money, where is he going to get it from?
His says: “Our land is going to make the money for us . . . the British can keep their money.”
Hollow words indeed and totally without logic or reason.
What about title for the land? Or does the same maxim apply: “The land is the property of the state and not the people . . .”? Communist to the core.
I used to give the President credit for a lot more logic and intelligence but one can see that age is taking its toll .
Nothing wrong with that — except that there are younger people who can do a better job now.
Mugabe regime has outlived its usefulness
Zimbabwean Political Activist, Manchester, United Kingdom.
EDITOR — Zimbabweans should not be held to ransom by a dictator such as Robert Mugabe.
As a Zimbabwean citizen, I am really shocked by the recent assaults and murders perpetrated by the Mugabe regime.
The attacks on innocent farm workers, commercial farmers and members of the opposition by a government which is supposed to protect its citizens are a clear indication of inhuman political rights violations, a barbaric act.
The actions of the Zimbabwe government of late indicate that it has outlived its usefulness.
The rejection of Mugabe’s tailor-made constitution in the February referendum indicates that Zimbabwean citizens are hungry for a change of governance.
I view the tactics being employed by Mugabe as a ploy to physically destroy all Zimbabwean citizens who are not sympathetic to ZANU PF’s tyrannical rule.
Zimbabweans need land, but thousands of farms already acquired by the government have been grabbed by greedy senior ruling party officials.
How many ordinary citizens have benefited from the land redistribution which was implemented by Mugabe since 1980?
Mugabe is not the right person to implement the land redistribution exercise. Land does not belong to a political party, but is a prime national asset which is the backbone of the economy, the basic source of livelihood for the general populace, and not a political football for those in power.
The survival of this government is dependent on the continued suffering of Zimbabweans. The current crop of leaders fears that if the majority of people are above the poverty datum line, it will not be easy to buy votes.
Zimbabwe Police Vow Order, Opposition Slams Mugabe
Reuters - Jun 9 2000 3:05PM ET
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's police commissioner vowed Friday to maintain law and order during upcoming elections this month and dismissed an opposition leader's prediction that violence would escalate because President Robert Mugabe was ''behaving like a gangster.''
``We have put in place a mechanism to ensure that we discharge our duty, which is that of maintaining law and order,'' Police Commissioner Augustine Chiuri told a news conference.
Chiuri said at least six police officers would be deployed at each of the country's 4,000 voting stations for the parliamentary elections June 24 and 25.
At least 27 people have died and hundreds, mainly supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes in the past few months.
The violence followed the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by liberation war veterans and Mugabe supporters claiming land they say was stolen a century ago during the British colonial era. Mugabe has approved the invasions but denies responsibility for the violence.
The United Nations said it had pulled out of the election process in Zimbabwe after the Harare government rejected its offer to coordinate international observers, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York Friday.
International concern over the election was evident when Belgium warned against travel to Zimbabwe, saying violence could increase in advance of the elections.
OPPOSITION LEADER BLASTS MUGABE
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe had encouraged the violence by refusing to order the veterans off the farms.
``Mugabe is allowing these land invaders to act like outlaws. It is the responsibility of this government to call people to order, but instead Mugabe is behaving like a gangster,'' Tsvangirai said in a statement.
At a rally southeast of Harare Thursday, Mugabe praised the veterans and said they would not be moved off the land until the program of seizing 804 white-owned farms had begun.
``Elections cannot be free and fair when there are war veterans on the farms, which have become concentration camps for our people,'' Tsvangirai said.
He predicted violence would intensify on voting weekend as Mugabe supporters tried to intimidate people right to the vote.
The police commissioner rejected opposition fears that the violence would get worse in the weeks ahead. ``I want to advise that the situation is calm and that we are working with all stakeholders to ensure that it remains calm,'' Chiuri said.
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, which faces its first serious electoral challenge in 20 years of post-independence rule, dismissed a report by Amnesty International that the state is sponsoring terrorism against its opponents.
Jonathan Moyo, a member of ZANU-PF's campaign directorate, said the London-based human rights group's report Thursday was designed to aid the MDC and demonize the government.
``It is a biased report that purports to cover what is happening in this country, but all it does is repeat the stories we have been hearing from the MDC, clearly one-sided versions,'' he told Reuters.
``It does not include cases of violence against ZANU-PF candidates and supporters that are a matter of public record, and so in our view the Amnesty report is a crude piece of propaganda for the MDC and is part of sinister campaign in Britain to demonize the ZANU-PF government,'' he added.
Amnesty said in the report that a wave of ``state sponsored terrorism'' against Mugabe opponents was threatening free and fair elections and Amnesty's Africa Director Maina Kiai accused the government of using veterans to intimidate the electorate.
``There is a deliberate plan. It started with the farmers, then moved to the farm workers and on to teachers and businessman and now to the opposition,'' Kiai told reporters on Thursday. ``It is clearly state-sponsored terrorism.''
Analysts say they believe the land invasions are part of a campaign against the MDC, which political analysts say poses the greatest challenge to ZANU-PF since it won power when the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980.
Moyo said ZANU-PF's Western opponents had stepped up their propaganda campaign ahead of the parliamentary election, claiming some international news agencies had distorted remarks by Mugabe Thursday at a rally in southeastern Zimbabwe on the deaths of white farmers so it could tally with Amnesty's report.
``While Amnesty was releasing its rubbish, they were misquoting the president, suggesting he had warned that more whites would be killed. He said nothing of that sort,'' he said.
UN pulls out of election process in Zimbabwe
Reuters - Jun 9 2000 2:00PM ET
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations has pulled out of the election process in Zimbabwe after the Harare government rejected its offer to coordinate international observers, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Friday.
Instead President Robert Mugabe demoted the United Nations to participate as an observer group monitoring crucial parliamentary elections, scheduled for June 24 and June 24.
``If we are not coordinating there is no reason for us to stay there,'' Eckhard said in answer to queries.
He said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had understood in his conversations with Mugabe there was an agreement on the type of operation the United Nations wanted to conduct as a coordinator for all international poll watchers.
The European Union, the Southern African Development Community, known as SADC, and the Commonwealth are among the 16,000 foreign and local observers monitoring the campaign and the elections themselves.
Reports from Zimbabwe say at least 27 people have died and hundreds, mainly supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change , have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes and the last few months.
The violence followed the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by war veterans and other Mugabe supporter, contending the land was stolen from them a century ago during the British colonial era.
Mugabe has approved the invasions but denies responsibility for the violence.