International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 11, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission has put too few polling
stations in the cities, where the opposition has strongest support, an
independent election support and monitoring group said Tuesday.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said a list of polling stations
released by the state Electoral Commission for March 29 presidential and
other voting showed "a significant discrepancy" that favored the ruling
party in its rural strongholds.
No comment was immediately available from the Electoral Commission.
The monitoring group said Harare had 379 polling stations for about 760,000
registered voters, leaving an average number of 2,022 voting at each polling
station over 12 hours of polling - or 22 second for each vote if there was
In one city district it came down to nine seconds if all 4,600 registered
voters showed up to cast their ballots at their designated polling station
on voting day.
Even if voting hours were extended many voters were likely to be turned away
when polling stations were finally closed, the network said.
Most rural polling stations would handle only about 600 voters each, the
Noel Kututwa, head of the support network, said unless more polling stations
were set up in all urban areas many voters would not have a reasonable
opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
Kututwa said the number of registered voters per polling station in the
cities of Gweru and Mutare was also more than double those registered in
surrounding rural districts
"It would be unfortunate if the problem of too few polling stations in 2002
is repeated," Kututwa said.
Tens of thousands of voters were turned away across the country in those
presidential elections when the polls closed.
Elections in 2002 and 2005 won by President Robert Mugabe's ruling party
were marred by administrative chaos and plagued by allegations of vote
rigging, irregularities in voters' lists and charges that violence and
political intimidation influenced voting.
On March 29, Mugabe, 84, is running against a former ally, ex-finance
minister Simba Makoni, 57, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 55.
Makoni draws his support from ruling party rebels and disillusioned
supporters of Tsvangirai's fractured Movement for Democratic Change, mostly
in urban areas.
The vote takes place amid an economic meltdown - including a shrinking
economy, rocketing inflation, shortages of most basic goods and collapsing
public services - in the nation once known as a regional bread basket.
Since the government began ordering the seizure of white-owned farms in
2000, production of food and agricultural exports has slumped drastically.
Zimbabwe has the world's highest official rate of inflation of 100,500
Mugabe blames the crisis on economic sanctions imposed by Britain,
Zimbabwe's former colonial power, and its Western allies to protest his land
reforms and accuse him of violating of human and democratic rights.
Tue 11 Mar 2008, 17:00 GMT
WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - Last year was the worst ever for human
rights in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe's government stepped up
its assault on dissenters as well as ordinary citizens, the U.S. State
Department said on Tuesday.
Over 8,000 instances of human rights abuse were recorded in Zimbabwe and at
least 1,600 unlawful arrests and detentions, the annual U.S. report on human
rights around the world said. "The year 2007 was the worst year yet for
human rights defenders in Zimbabwe," it said.
"Security forces harassed, beat and arbitrarily arrested opposition
supporters and critics within human rights NGOs (non-governmental
organizations), the media and organized labor, as well as ordinary
citizens," the document said.
Human rights groups reported more physical and psychological torture by
security agents and government supporters.
"Victims reported beatings with whips and cables, suspension and electric
shock," the State Department said.
It said the abuses increased despite efforts by regional leaders to resolve
the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe, 83, has blamed a ruined
economy on sabotage by political opponents. He has been in power since
independence from Britain in 1980.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)
By Peta Thornycroft
11 March 2008
An advance team of fifty election observers from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) arrived in Zimbabwe ahead of national elections
on March 29. Peta Thornycroft reports that no observers from Western
countries have been invited to the elections because the Zimbabwe government
says it is only inviting friendly states.
The SADC observers, and those from forty six invited groups, will have to
monitor 210 voting districts or about two thousand polling stations. For
the first time, voters there will have to cast ballots in four simultaneous
polls: for the president, for parliament, for the senate; and, for local
Most of Zimbabwe's voters live in the rural areas, and access to some of the
districts is difficult as many roads have badly deteriorated during the
economic crisis over the last eight years.
All the voting districts are new, as the number of elected legislators has
been increased by 90 to 210.
There are several electoral reforms for these elections. They were agreed to
during South African mediated negotiations between the ruling ZANU-PF and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. But a new constitution,
agreed to early in the talks, has not been implemented because President
Robert Mugabe refused to do so.
Opposition leaders say that even the reforms that were legislated are not
being properly implemented. The MDC has filed an urgent application Monday
with the new Electoral Court to demand an electronic version of the voters'
roll, which it says it has so far been denied.
In elections since 2000, the MDC has said polls were rigged via the voters'
roll of more than five million voters. The party has complained the
document still includes as registered voters, people who are deceased or who
emigrated many years ago.
The MDC is also demanding that the voters roll be under the control of the
Zimbabwe Election Commission, and not with the office of the Registrar
General where it has always been held before.
Only with access to the voters roll can people find out where they can vote
as each voter is assigned to one of the 2000 polling stations. The Zimbabwe
Election Support Network says it is concerned there is not enough voter
education to let people know where they are supposed to vote.
The MDC faction loyal to founding president Morgan Tsvangirai is also
gathering evidence for a legal challenge to the state controlled media.
There are no independent daily newspapers, radio or television in Zimbabwe.
The MDC says the coverage of the election campaigns so far has been biased
in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF. That view is shared by the only media
analysts in Zimbabwe, the independent Media Monitoring Project which
produces weekly statistical reports. Those reports have consistently
demonstrated a bias in favor of ZANU-PF in the state media.
At the last presidential election in 2002, a delegation of parliamentarians
from the SADC member states said the poll was neither free nor fair. The
Commonwealth, of which Zimbabwe was then a member, agreed with that verdict.
Zimbabwe expelled the head of the European Union's election observer team
shortly before election day.
South African observers declared the elections legitimate and credible while
an African Union delegation found them to be fully free and fair.
Zimbabwe consistently rejects allegations that elections have been rigged,
arguing those assessments were biased and untrue. Now the government has
decided it will only invite what it describes as friendly countries. The
only European country invited is Russia and the only delegation that could
include European representatives is that from the Community of Lusophone
Countries, a grouping of Portuguese speaking nations.
By Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: March 11 2008 17:13 | Last updated: March 11 2008 17:13
Following fierce international and local criticism of its new
nationalisation legislation, Paul Mangwana, indigenisation minister,
insisted that not all foreign-owned firms would be forced to sell 51 per
cent of their shares to indigenous Zimbabweans.
Mr Mangwana said: "Not every business would be forced to have 51 per cent
indigenous ownership. The Minister will prescribe on the basis of capital
(investment) and employment levels".
Although some businessmen here have been quick to interpret his remarks as a
climbdown, the reality is that the legislation is full of discretionary
Critics say this is deliberate as the main aim is to enable ministers to
"cherrypick" firms for takeover rather than a blanket provision that the
state could not afford to finance anyway.
One businessman who cannot be named for fear of attracting unwelcome
government attention to his business, said: "The minister has hit the nail
on the head. He, or the Cabinet, will choose which firms to take over, and
if the businesses do not comply, then they will be told to whom they must
sell their shares and, probably at what price".
Although the main media focus on the nationalisation act has been its
implications for foreign owners, it applies to domestic non-indigenous
owners as well. Although it is not phrased in overtly racial terms, because
this would contravene Zimbabwe's constitution, an indigenous person is
defined as one who was disadvantaged under the pre-independence regime. The
decision of who was disadvantaged is left to the government, highlighting
the discretionary, rather than rule-based, content of the law.
In his response, the president of Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines, Mr Jack
Murehwa insisted that the minister's clarification had not helped. "A
different explanation outside the law cannot allay fears" he said. "The most
important thing is the form and content of the act."
Some managers of non-indigenous and foreign-owned firms are already seeking
to exploit the situation by suggesting to owners and head offices that it
might be better to "sell" shares, usually at a substantial discount, to
people they know rather than risk having a partner thrust upon them by the
government, as threatened by Mr Mangwana.
It is unclear how the issue is playing in the election campaign because
while President Mugabe is using the law to demonstrate his determination to
ensure that "Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans," Mr Simba Makoni, the president's
challenger from within his ruling Zanu-PF party is keeping quiet in public,
partly because he is anxious to portray himself as a supporter of the
The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, which
strongly opposed the bill in parliament, launched its policy manifesto in
Harare on Tuesday. It favours more foreign investment, promising to build "a
strong economy, using market principles with strong redistributive
characteristics and carefully-targeted state-intervention policies to
promote economic and social justice".
March 11, 2008, 17:15
Thulasizwe Simelane, Harare
The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
Morgan Tsvangirai, says the warning by the country's police that they will
not hesitate to use force in the run up to the elections, is a clear sign
that government plans to rig the polls.
The opposition commemorates one year since its leaders, including
Tsvangirai, were severely assaulted by police in Harare during an
unauthorised rally in March last year.
The first group of Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers
has landed in that country to monitor the March 29 polls. With the
tug-of-war for power intensifying, police are also gearing themselves up for
any form of uprising.
Zimbabwe police spokesperson, Augustine Chihuri, says: "The police are
authorised to use minimum force, but in some instances, we are authorised to
use maximum force, which includes the use of firearms."
The MDC, however, maintains that violence is continuing despite amendments
to the notorious Public Order and Security Act. "Why would anyone even
contemplate using live ammunition, if the elections (would be) free and
fair? Why would they predict that that the election would cause violence?"
Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:57
ZIMBABWE is facing a potential descent into chaos, as army generals
intensify their thinly veiled threats of a coup if any opposition candidate
defeats President Robert Mugabe in the upcoming elections.
The threats signify a looming conflict between Mugabe's loyalists, within
the security forces, and supporters of opposition candidates Simba Makoni
and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who are
pulling out all the stops to win. The situation has been worsened by the
recent remarks of police, that they would crush any Kenya-style
antigovernment riots the MDC has been threatening.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Gen Constantine Chiwenga, said at the
weekend he would support neither a Makoni nor Tsvangirai government after
the elections, claiming they were "sellouts" and "agents of the west".
Mugabe has also described them as such.
"We will not support any other candidate than President Mugabe, who has
sacrificed a lot for the country," Chiwenga said.
Mugabe, who in the past has deployed the army to suppress civilian
antigovernment protests, recently said there would "never, ever be a regime
change in Zimbabwe".
Asked if it was acceptable for the army to dabble in politics, in violation
of the constitution, Chiwenga said, "Are you mad? What is wrong with the
army supporting the president against the election of sellouts?" Chiwenga
and his lieutenants threatened to "deal with" journalists asking them
questions about involving the army in politics.
Last week, the head of Zimbabwe's Prisons Service, Rtd Maj-Gen Paradzai
Zimondi threatened to resign, to "go back to defend my piece of land", if
Mugabe loses power. "If you let the country go, God will not help you
anymore and, when you die, you will go to hell for failing to defend your
land against enemies," Zimondi said. His remarks were widely interpreted as
a threat of coup if an opposition candidate wins.
Army commanders say they have ordered troops to vote for Mugabe. Soldiers
were recently awarded huge salary increases ahead of the elections. Mugabe
has also been donating farming equipment and computers to voters, in what
the opposition describes as flagrant vote-buying and bribery.
On Friday, he signed into law the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Act, which requires foreign-owned companies to offer 51% of their shares to
Just before the 2002 presidential election, former army commander-general
Vitalis Zvinavashe made similar threats, sparking outrage within opposition
and civil society circles. The army did nothing, because Mugabe
controversially won the hotly disputed poll.
The MDC expressed dismay at the threats of a military takeover if Mugabe
"The MDC condemns the reckless and unmeasured utterances by the some army
commanders, that they would not salute an elected president other than
Robert Mugabe after the March 29 election," the party said.
"These utterances are being made after the realisation that Tsvangirai is a
few inches away from State House. The MDC is definitely set for a landslide
victory against a divided, confused and weakened Zanu (PF)."
The MDC said the region and the international community must express outrage
at such blatant coup threats by Mugabe's regime. "Any utterances that seek
to undermine the people's will are assaults on the fabric of democracy and
expression of free will. Reckless utterances like these invite a forced exit
from national service,"
From The Cape Times (SA), 11 March
Mugabe's lust for power has given any winner all the levers to rule
On the face of it, Simba Makoni faces a big problem even if does pull off a
shock victory in the March 29 Zimbabwean presidential election. He has no
political party contesting the parliamentary elections on the same day to
provide him with certain support, though some independent candidates are
pledged to him and some ruling Zanu PF candidates are believed to be secret
supporters. But, rather ironically, the absence of a political party will
not badly hamstring him precisely because President Robert Mugabe has loaded
the presidency with so much power that parliament is really little more than
a rubber stamp. Mugabe started off with a constitution strong on executive
powers, and carefully and strategically added to those with 18 gruesome
constitutional amendments. The president now only needs parliament to change
the constitution, make new laws and pass the budget.
The president already appoints the judges, all provincial governors, all
senior civil servants, the head of the electoral commission, the men who
accredit or ban journalists and newspapers. There are no checks and balances
in the constitution, no independent institutions, such as a human rights
commission. Zimbabwe's constitution is a hard right-wing of set controls
without any balances, which dictate every aspect of life, including the
price of bread. If Mugabe now, or perhaps someone else after March 29, can't
get enough laws passed to rule effectively, he can, in an emergency, fall
back on the handy Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act, which allows
rule by presidential decree, in six-month tranches. At the last presidential
election, Movement for Democratic Change lawyers for Morgan Tsvangirai were
in court appealing against one of Mugabe's electoral decrees 12 hours before
The present constitution is an abortion, but it may just turn out to be
useful to Makoni should he do what seems unimaginable, and that is rid
Zimbabwe of the unbearable burden of Mugabe's destructive rule. Makoni would
have to unravel, dump or, if necessary, simply ignore some appalling laws at
the beginning, and might even have to deal with some unrest if he does not
carefully manage a losing Mugabe's vanity. He would also have to move in on
the central bank governor Gideon Gono, who now wields the most day-to-day
power in Zimbabwe. Gono's term of office only expires in October and nothing
can be done about the mad, multiple exchange rates and hugely-inflationary
printing of money until he has been dispatched and the bank returned to its
traditional role of fighting inflation.
There are a few dozen "independent" MPs and senators, largely from the old
Zanu PF, the one which brought Zimbabwe to independence and who will provide
a rump of support for Makoni, if they win their seats. Makoni also has
support from the opposition MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara. Mutambara's
party will probably win most legislative seats from the second city,
Bulawayo. His candidates and some put forward by Makoni from the reformist
wing of Zanu PF, in rural areas in the two Matabeleland provinces, will
probably win a chunk of seats - and possibly enough for a coalition. The
other MDC faction led by founding president Morgan Tsvangirai, which will
probably win all the Harare seats and seems to be attracting large numbers
to its rallies in other urban areas, including in the heart of Zanu PF
strongholds, could also perhaps assist him in parliament.
There will be some Zanu PF MPs in parliament who may have been elected on
the party ticket, but - when the chips are down - will support Makoni in
parliament when necessary. So his rule, if he wins, will be easy. His
problem remains how to get there and it's not going to be as easy as his
rhetoric would suggest - and certainly not the landslide victory he is
boasting about. Many ordinary voters in urban areas who traditionally
support the MDC are genuinely convinced that Makoni is a "stalking horse":
for Mugabe. Zanu PF's violent political history, its long control of the
massively partisan daily press and all radio and TV, have produced a
population, especially in urban areas, which depends on informal
information, much of it rumour. Some of the rumours are deliberately put
about, such as some of those about Makoni being a stalking horse.
Unfortunately for Makoni, some in Tsvangirai's well-heeled faction,
including those who still supported Zanu PF until the 2000 elections, are
spreading the stalking horse smear. Or are looking for other dirt with which
to taint Makoni. Rumours however, have their advantages. On Sunday, the best
of the day was that Vice-President Joice Mujuru had locked up her husband,
former army commander Solomon Mujuru, to prevent him attending Makoni's
Harare rally. Anyone predicting Makoni's support, or lack of it, in rural
areas is relying on urban gossip among the chattering classes, which is
very, very far from the heavily populated communal areas where 60% of voters
live. These are Mugabe's strongholds. But the people there are suffering
unprecedented hardships. Makoni went into Mashonaland East for a
drive-through campaign two weeks ago and he was mobbed. That, however, is a
Mujuru stronghold, and Solomon Mujuru, whatever he might say in public, is
quietly supporting Makoni.
How will Makoni do in Mugabe's home province, Mashonaland West, or
Mashonaland Central, or in the most populous province, Masvingo? How will he
manage if Mugabe thinks he needs to cheat? As he cheated in 2002? There are
many, many ways he could do it and never be caught, or the courts could
delay any electoral challenges almost indefinitely. There are indications
from Masvingo, at least, that headmen, paid by Mugabe to be loyal, have
broken ranks, but are encouraging peasants to vote for Tsvangirai, not
Makoni. Political scientist Brian Raftopoulos said last week that, if Mugabe
lost the presidential poll, it would be less traumatic for Zimbabweans if
Makoni emerged as the winner, rather than Tsvangirai: "Mugabe has said since
2000 that Morgan Tsvangirai will never rule Zimbabwe. "There has been no
reason to believe he has changed that position. So the acrimony, a possible
fightback and the responses from state and maybe even from the army, would
be stronger against a Tsvangirai victory."
Africa News, Netherlands
Posted on Tuesday 11 March 2008 - 09:49
Munyaradzi Mugadza, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
The declared opposition candidates for the 29 March presidential election
in Zimbabwe have started mutually accusing each other, with the MDC alleging
that their rivals were not genuine opposition and arguing that they were
serving the interests of the West
The Movement for Democratic Change launched a scathing attack on former
Finance minister and a ZANU-PF runaway, Simba Makoni, for joining in the
presidential race in what they perceive as a calculation of the West.
Addressing the party supporters who gathered at the White City Stadium in
Bulawayo, Secretary General for the Tsvangirai led faction Tendai Biti said
Makoni is only serving the interests of the West. He said the whole Simba
Makoni is nothing but only initiated to bewilder Zimbabweans in the
This comes after reports that some Western nations are sponsoring the
former Finance minister for regime change in Zimbabwe. Among the companies
sponsoring Makoni are SAB Miller and Citigroup who are eyeing investment
opportunities if Dr Makoni is elected into power.
The secretary general said Makoni is tantamount to Chinese goods which
doesn't last long and urged people not to be fooled into believing that he
will harness the country's political situation regarded as among the worst
economies in the world.
Makoni shocked Zimbabweans when he announced his election bid a few days
before the nomination court and has been doing the necessary preparation to
strengthen his support both in the urban and rural areas. Makoni was not
reached for comment and has distanced himself from the public arguing that
he wants to remain focused on his presidential journey.
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
Presidential candidate Simba Makoni and his campaign team were harassed and
threatened by war veterans at Filabusi on Tuesday. They had stopped in this
town outside Bulawayo on their way to a rally in Zvishavane. Police diffused
the situation before it became violent.
Our Bulawayo correspondent Zenzele got the details from a Makoni campaign
coordinator just after the incident. He said the war veterans telephoned the
MP for Insiza, Andrew Langa, when they saw Makoni's team distributing
t-shirts at the council offices. They then blocked Makoni from meeting the
Langa, a violent official who was accused of murdering an MDC supporter at
the Insiza police station during the last parliamentary election, arrived to
find the council workers wearing the Makoni t-shirts. Zenzele said Langa
went into a rage, threatening that they would lose their jobs for supporting
Makoni, if Mugabe won the election.
Makoni and his supporters retreated to their vehicles and were allegedly
blocked from driving off by Langa and the war vets. The MP called the
police, thinking they would side with him, but the officer in charge for
Insiza came to Makoni's rescue by dispersing the war veterans.
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai warned Makoni that he would experience
harassment, intimidation, assaults and the murder of his supporters in his
new role as an opposition leader. Speaking at a press conference in South
Africa last month, Tsvangirai criticised Makoni for having watched too long
while the opposition was brutalised by ZANU-PF. The incident in Filabusi was
not violent, but it may have given Makoni a taste of what it feels like to
oppose Mugabe and ZANU-PF.
We were unable to reach Andrew Langa or the Makoni campaign team for
comment. Makoni was due to address a rally in Zvishavane Tuesday afternoon.
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
Police in Nyazura have told the MDC to cancel their rallies in Makoni south
on Wednesday, because of the anticipated presence of Vice-President Joseph
Msika in the area.
The MDC was cleared by police last week to address several rallies in Makoni
south but were told Tuesday this had changed after Msika decided to campaign
for Zanu-PF at the same venues in the area.
Huggins Kashiri, an MDC district official, said police had no right to
cancel their rallies because they notified them well in advance.
The party's parliamentary candidate for the area, Pishai Muchauraya, is in
possession of clearance letters from the police for the rallies to go ahead
'We are going to fight the cancellations at the court. This is unfair, just
because Msika has decided to make himself available tomorrow (Wednesday)
doesn't give them the right overlook the bookings done weeks ago,' Mashiri
Zanu-PF is using state machinery to buy votes for Mugabe in the coming polls
and this week people received farming implements, while Zanu-PF MPs have
been distributing stands to villagers in the district.
'This is vote buying at its very best. Surprisingly the farm implements have
come late as the farming season has ended,' Kashiri added.
Only two weeks ago Muchauraya, the MDC parliamentary candidate for Makoni
South, was attacked along with his aide and a driver. The three were on
their way to the constituency when they stopped over at a roadside store to
A mob travelling in a tractor drawn trailer approached the trio outside
Lamour supermarket close to the Africa University. The driver of the tractor
blocked Muchauraya's truck and the mob set upon the trio and ripped off the
MDC t-shirts. Muchauraya described the attack as 'vicious and callous'
Issue 19 : 11 March 2008
Executive SummaryObserver mission selection criticised as partisan
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission
comprising about 80 officials from the region was due to arrive in the
Zimbabwean capital of Harare on Sunday - 19 days ahead of the March 29
SADC said it expected to have around 150 observer delegates in place before the combined presidential, parliamentary, senate and local government elections.
South Africa is due to send an observer mission with 54 members drawn from government, parliament, the political opposition and civil society. South Africa has previously observed elections in Zimbabwe independently, but for this crucial election, the group will operate under the auspices of SADC. The controversial 2005 election was endorsed by South Africa, generating widespread criticism.
The South African-based Electoral Institute of Southern Africa has sought permission to send observers, but a spokesman for the group said it awaited a response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An application was also under consideration from the Parliamentary Forum of SADC, whose application to send observers to the 2005 general elections was turned down.
The Zimbabwean government announced last Friday that European Union member states, the United States and the Commonwealth had been excluded from the list of observers to be invited. The only European country to be invited is Russia. China, now a major trading partner and provider of surveillance equipment, is also on the list.
The EU and USA both imposed targeted sanctions on President Mugabe and his inner circle after widespread allegations that he had rigged his re-election in 2002.
Expressing grave concern about the biased selection of observer groups, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Morgan Tsvangirai said it showed the government had a lot to hide.
Similar criticism came from the Law Society of Zimbabwe, which said the exclusion of Western monitors highlighted the democratic deficit.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a domestic election-monitoring and observation group, had to submit applications for election observers to the Ministry of Justice. The ZESN said it would face major difficulties if its observer applications were rejected.
Zimbabwe's army commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, has pledged the
army's continued loyalty to President Robert Mugabe, even if he loses the
His comments come on the back of indications that hundreds of soldiers have been deployed into the rural areas, where Zanu PF has a maintained stranglehold using well-honed strategies of intimidation and vote buying. Soldiers have been told to return to their rural homes to help with the Zanu PF election campaign.
Chiwenga's statements echo those of the Zimbabwe Prisons Service (ZPS) head, Paradzai Zimondi, who has instructed the police force to vote for Mugabe. However, in surprising show of defiance, junior ZPF members are reported to have lambasted their commissioner, branding the order as "insane".
Both factions of the MDC and independent candidate Simba Makoni, who is a former Zanu PF finance minister, have criticised the police for continued harassment.
A spokesperson for the Mutambara faction, Abednico Bhebhe, said his group had lodged a complaint with the electoral authorities, protesting intimidation of supporters. He said conditions were not conducive for a free and fair election.
On March 7, the Zimbabwe Independent published information on a "hidden
strategy" to destabilise Mugabe. The article was written by leading Zimbabwean
journalist Dumisani Muleya.
According to informed sources, Simba Makoni's election strategy includes roping in state security agents, especially army officers who are currently deployed by Zanu PF in districts, constituencies and wards around the country to mobilise support for Mugabe.
Known as "Boys on Leave", the army personnel are usually deployed six months before elections. Accused of vote rigging, the "Boys on Leave" were key in Mugabe's controversial 2002 victory, which was essentially run by the military.
If true, this strategy, which may have been inadvertently revealed, is further proof that the government's practice of election rigging is initiated months before elections and well before any election observers arrive in the country.
Through ZEW we have consistently stressed that elections are not an event but a process.
The data collated in our project reflects the rigging reality on the ground - with concrete examples. Sokwanele therefore urges the observer teams to take into consideration the full scale of rigging throughout the build up to the elections and not to judge them from their arrival in the country just a couple of weeks before the poll.
An increasingly edgy Mugabe has awarded huge pay rises to the army
(reported in last week's issue of ZEW - issue 18) and is now providing them with
decent and adequate food.
Traditional chiefs, who have publicly backed Mugabe's candidacy, have also seen their financial allowances raised.
In a bid to appease rural voters, the government is once gain parcelling out farm machinery, described as "tractors for votes" by veteran commentator John Makumbe, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos, who has observed all of Zimbabwe's
elections since the arrival of the opposition MDC in late 1999, says a climate
for free and fair elections does not currently exist.
His views are endorsed by the South African Communist Party, which says there is no way the elections will be free and fair if the period leading up to the polls is not peaceful.
The South African Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU) says that each SADC country is supposed to follow the SADC guidelines, but the government of Zimbabwe blatantly deviates from the norms and the regional body never does a thing to condemn such actions.
The European Union is also reported to be very concerned about the humanitarian, political and economic situation and conditions on the ground.
The issue of postal voting for voters inside the country has once again
been raised, this time in the Zimbabwe Standard. Although postal voting is
enshrined in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not
included in the Zimbabwean constitution.
However, the Electoral Act stipulates that "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely-chosen representatives" and that "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."
Contrary to the requirements of the Electoral Act, ongoing arrests of opposition party members, the banning of voter meetings and door-to-door campaigns, as well as the disruption of rallies persists.
Media watchdogs report that the state media continues to provide preferential and blatantly biased reporting in favour of the Mugabe government.
At the recent launch of Zanu PF's manifesto, in which Mugabe offered no solutions to resolve the escalating crisis, national chairman John Nkomo reiterated that losing elections was not an option.
Western monitors barred from Zim poll
Source Date: 07-03-2008
European Union member states and the United States have been excluded
from a list of observers who will be invited to monitor the March 29 general
elections in Zimbabwe….
Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said a number of regional bodies, such as the African Union, would be asked to oversee the joint presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29.
So, too, would representatives from allies of President Robert Mugabe's regime such as China, Iran and Venezuela….
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) deplored what it said was a biased selection of observer groups for the latest election….
"If everything was being done in a fair and transparent manner, there would be no need to exclude other countries…." (said the MDC secretary for legal affairs Innocent Gonese).
Similar criticism came from the Law Society of Zimbabwe, which said the exclusion of Western monitors highlighted the democratic deficit…
Among African countries on the invitation list are Kenya and Nigeria, both of whom have staged elections in the last year which were criticised as flawed.
Regional bodies invited to send observer missions include the Southern African Development Community, the Economic Community of West African States and the Pan African Parliament….
Source: Mail and Guardian Online, The (RSA)
SADC standards breached
Zimbabwe Justice Ministry vetting applications by election
Source Date: 03-03-2008
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Monday that it is submitting
applications for election observers to the Ministry of Justice, which has taken
the responsibility for clearing applications by domestic observers before they
can be processed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, nominally the authority
in this domain….
The election support network said it will draw observers from its membership, which includes a number of civil society organizations.
The South African-based Electoral Institution of Southern Africa has sought permission to send observers, but a spokesman for the group said it awaits a response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
That ministry is also considering an application from the Parliamentary Forum of the Southern African Development Community, whose application to send observers to the 2005 general elections was turned down….
Note: For Zimbabwe’s March 2002 Presidential elections (9-11 March), the SADC Parliamentary Forum observer mission received its invitation in the form of a letter from the government of Zimbabwe dated February 4, 2002.
The observer mission constituted a delegation of 70 members who were deployed to all 10 provinces.
In a press release dated 13 March 2002, the observer mission said: “… Not only did the Forum witness some of the (incidences of violence), its mission members were themselves targets of an orchestrated attack 10 km out of Chinhoyi on 24 February….
“… Evidence indicated that the majority of those affected were supporters of the MDC or those perceived to be opponents of the ruling party and government. Violence was manifest in the number of hospitalised victims, numerous cases of alleged torture, arson, assault and incidences of false imprisonment….
“With respect to the voters’ roll, the observer mission said: “In this election, concerns have been raised regarding the timeous release of the voters’ roll which was only made available three days before the polls….
“(In conclusion), the climate of insecurity in Zimbabwe since the 2000 parliamentary elections was such that the electoral process could not be said to adequately comply with the Norms and Standards for Elections in the SADC region.”
For more information on the report:
Source: VOANews (USA)
SADC standards breached
Citizen snag could bar 'alien' voters
Source Date: 09-03-2008
Thousands of Zimbabweans with non-indigenous origins could be barred from
voting on 29 March, even if they have known only Zimbabwe as their home and
their names appear on the voters’ roll….
This could affect thousands of farm workers and urban voters.
The likelihood of disenfranchisement emerged in a letter to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) … who wrote that some "aliens" whose names appear on the voters’ roll had already been told they would not be allowed to vote.
According to the letter, MacDonald Lewanika, a Zimbabwean with Zambian ancestry, was barred from inspecting the voters’ roll on 14 February because he was considered an alien…
Lewanika, a civic activist, took up the issue with ZLHR, who in turn called Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for clarification. They insisted that Lewanika be allowed to inspect the voters’ roll as he had the right to do so under Section 21 of the Electoral Act….
"Despite his being registered as a voter under Mufakose Constituency and in fact having voted in all elections since 2000 Parliamentary elections, Mr MacDonald (Lewanika) was told that he would not be allowed to vote . . . because he was an alien, and despite the fact that he was registered to vote," ZLHR’s Nyamurundira wrote to ZEC.
With three weeks to go before the elections, ZLHR and other civic organisations fear more people could find themselves in Lewanika’s predicament — registered to vote but unable to vote.
Source: Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Dire economic straits and election politics at Hopley
Source Date: 04-03-2008
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) expresses its deep concern and
anger at the continuing miserable state of affairs at Hopley Farm just outside
Harare. The continued desperation of people residing there has become all the
more acute in light of the upcoming elections.
Hopley Farm is an area to which destitute and generally deprived people were taken in the wake of *Operation Murambatsvina which caused alarming levels of economic, social and now political dislocation. …
The residents of Hopley Farm have experienced serious problems in being able to register to vote. Some were advised that they are aliens and therefore are barred from registering in continuing misinterpretation of Zimbabwe’s citizenship laws.
Others were told they needed as proof of residence a letter confirming their residency at Hopley Farm from the local authority on the ground. This local authority is the District Chairman of the local Zanu PF Committee…
It was only after affected residents registered complaints with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that some were able to register.
Food and other aid is allegedly being grabbed for political purposes with confirmation of political allegiance allegedly required if one is to benefit from this aid. Distribution of any aid that does come has been taken over by the ruling party cadres.
ZLHR notes the failure of Hopley Farm residents to register. This is sad vindication of our warnings during the forced evictions that such disenfranchisement would occur due to the Operation.
It begs the simple question – are the homeless disentitled from voting … in which case creating homelessness as happened with Operation Murambatsvina amounts to deliberate disenfranchisement by the party in power….
*For more information on Operation Murambatsvina, visit the Sokwanele website
SADC standards breached
Zimbabwe may take week to announce poll results
Source Date: 04-03-2008
Zimbabwe authorities on Monday refused to say when they would announce
election results, as non-governmental organisations said the state’s electoral
commission lacked capacity and could take up to a week to name poll winners….
But the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said the commission did not have the logistical capacity to run the multiple elections, the first ever in which Zimbabweans will choose a new president, senators, House of Assembly representatives and local councillors….
Opposition parties and election observers have in the past argued that delays in announcing poll winners allow time to tamper with results…. analysts say an unfair playing field guarantees Mugabe victory….
SADC standards breached
Postal voting and the need for transparency
Source Date: 10-03-2008
… The opposition has repeatedly pointed out the need for the electorate
in the Diaspora to participate in elections since most of them are outside the
country not by choice, but as a result of socio, economic and political reasons
beyond their control.
… The need for postal voting facilities, however, does not start and end with citizens in the Diaspora, but includes citizens in the country … (who) might not be in their voting areas on Election Day…
The Electoral Act borrows from Article 21(1) (of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) which stipulates that, "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely-chosen representatives" and that "(3) the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."…
The postal voting system is currently available to government officials (and members of the uniformed forces) who … will be outside their voting areas on official government business but not necessarily outside the country.
The police and armed forces have currently been using this facility and concerns have been raised as to the credibility and transparency of the voting process where this facility has been used by the said government departments….
Standard, The (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Free speech and media violations in the ongoing electoral
Source Date: 04-03-2008
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) (has expressed concern
regarding) the recent conduct of the public media …(print and electronic)
(which) has over the last few weeks shown a dissatisfactory and unlawful bias in
favour of the candidates and activities of the ruling party Zanu PF.
It is disturbing to note incidents in which the national broadcaster … has essentially been flighting free advertisements for the ruling party….
The public media has given up to 10 times more airtime to the ruling party than to all other opposition candidates combined….
In many a case the little coverage being given to other parties by the public media is opinionated and negative, and is meant to present them as disjointed…
Also worrisome is the piecemeal coverage currently being given to administrative electoral matters and the absence of any effort to report cases of politically motivated violence and electoral malpractice, especially those involving ruling party members or supporters as the alleged perpetrators.
The bias of the ZBC in its news bulletins and the state-controlled print media is in clear contravention of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act …
ZLHR further deplores the punitive registration fees prescribed by government on journalists wishing to cover the elections as well as the banning last week of senior journalist, Brian Hungwe, by the Media and Information Commission, which no longer has a mandate since it was rendered obsolete under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act. …
SADC standards breached
Makoni fumes as police disrupt rally
Source Date: 03-03-2008
Zimbabwean police abruptly called time on a campaign rally for
independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni on Sunday, and turned away buses
ferrying supporters to the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, a working class suburb
Despite the heavy police presence and intimidation, some 7 000 cheering supporters turned up -- many on foot -- to hear the former finance minister speak…
Note: Dr Makoni was forced to abort a crucial meeting with his top officials after both the fire and explosives alarms were triggered in the building. Dr Makoni believes this was part of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)’s dirty campaign to frustrate his presidential bid.
Also during the week, two of Dr Makoni’s officials were attacked at a service station in Harare.
Source: NewZimbabwe.com (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Opposition complains of pre-election intimidation
Source Date: 06-03-2008
Both groups of the split main Zimbabwean opposition party have lodged
complaints with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that their candidates
are being harassed by the police ahead of the general elections on 29
(Each has claimed) that their members have either been arrested, abducted or beaten up by the police, and have also alleged acts of violence against their supporters by the ruling Zanu PF party.
"The police are acting in a partisan manner, banning our candidates and their supporters from conducting door-to-door campaigns, especially in the city," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
On 29 February, police arrested Marvelous Khumalo, an MDC parliamentary candidate, and 11 other party supporters during a campaign in Chitungwiza, a high-density satellite township 25km south of the capital, Harare. Kumalo is still in custody….
Abednico Bhebhe, a spokesman for the rival MDC faction, led by academic Arthur Mutambara, said his group had lodged a complaint with the electoral authorities, protesting intimidation of supporters. "Intimidation is rampant and the conditions are not conducive for a free and fair election," he claimed….
Civic organisations pointed out that the SADC should have deployed observers to assess pre-election conditions, including the registration of voters and public inspection of the voters' roll, as well as the general environment, more than a month ago. They argued that prevailing conditions did not favour a free and fair election….
SADC standards breached
MDC candidate missing since February
Source Date: 08-03-2008
Edson Muwengwa, an MDC council candidate in Rushinga, has been missing
since 15 February in what the MDC and the Muwengwa family fear is an abduction
following several deaths threats and an attempt on his life by Zanu PF
Information gathered by the MDC … reveals that several Zanu PF members led by Shingi Runhare went to Muwengwa’s house on 12 February, three days before the nomination court, and threatened Muwengwa’s young brother …
During the same night some yet to be identified people came and destroyed Muwengwa’s house and looted his property….
The next day Runhare ordered every person in Ward 20 to attend a Zanu PF rally, where he told the gathering Zanu PF was going to “fix” Muwengwa….
Note: In another incident, two little girls whose brother is an MDC activist were confronted by a gang of men armed with axes and clubs outside their school. The men told them they would be killed, and their bodies burnt to ashes. Their mother subsequently received similar threats.
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
SADC standards breached
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by Own Correspondent Wednesday 12 March 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has called on
the state to prosecute the country's top military commander, General
Constantine Chiwenga, for allegedly threatening voters to back President
Robert Mugabe in elections at the month-end.
The General was earlier this week quoted by local press as having said
Mugabe's rivals in the presidential election, Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba
Makoni, are sell-outs and agents of the West's regime change agenda in
Chiwenga, who is commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) that
comprises the army and air force, is said to have declared that the military
would not salute anyone else except Mugabe, in what analysts said was a
clear threat to stage a military coup in the event the veteran leader lost
the March 29 polls.
The ZLHR said Chiwenga's statements were a violation of Sections 133B (c)
and 134 (3) (b) of the Electoral Act that make it a criminal offence to
intimidate people to vote for a particular candidate or use undue influence
to force people to vote or not vote during an election.
In addition, Chiwenga had also breached Southern African Development
Community (SADC) guidelines under which member states are obliged to ensure
that elections adhere to the principles of freedom of association and
political tolerance, the lawyers' body said.
"Commander Chiwenga's statements serve to directly intimidate both members
of the ZDF and the electorate, through implied threats of violence, from
voting freely for a presidential candidate of their choice, as is their
right," the ZHLR said a statement.
"It is therefore clear that the ZDF Commander is in breach of the law and
the regional guidelines, and should be prosecuted by the appropriate
authorities forthwith," it added.
Both Zimbabwe Electoral Commission spokesman Shupikai Mashereni and acting
Attorney General Bharat Patel were not immediately available to shed light
on what, if any, action would be taken against Chiwenga.
But this is not the first time that top security commanders have attempted
to dictate how Zimbabweans should vote. In 2002 the commanders of the army,
air force, police, prison and secret services announced just before
presidential elections that year that they would not salute a leader who did
not fight in the country's 1970's independence war.
This was again seen as a threat to overthrow Tsvangirai if he defeated
Mugabe. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change party leader did not
fight in the liberation war.
The military is credited with keeping Mugabe in power, always ready to use
brutal tactics to keep public discontent in check in the face of an economic
meltdown that has spawned hyperinflation and shortages of food, fuel,
essential medicines, hard cash and just about every basic survival
Political analysts say support from the military as well as a skewed
political playing field is enough to ensure victory for Mugabe despite
Zimbabwe's deepening hunger and economic crisis. - ZimOnline
by Mutumwa Mawere Wednesday 12 March 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Lovemore Madhuku presumably on behalf of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has attempted to justify in an article
entitled:"Makoni hijacking the struggle" why Makoni poses a more significant
risk to the change agenda than the removal of President Robert Mugabe.
While accepting that in the current Zimbabwean constitutional order there is
nothing to disable Makoni like Morgan Tsvangirai from participating as
presidential candidates, he makes the case that Makoni should not benefit
from the same constitution that allows Mugabe and Tsvangirai to enter the
race as individuals seeking a direct mandate from the people of Zimbabwe.
The construction of Madhuku's argument raises a number of troubling
questions about not only the agenda of the NCA but about his understanding
of the existing constitution as it relates to the office of the President
and the basis on which such a person is legally created.
The hypothesis presented by Madhuku is that the change agenda is about
ending the dictatorship of an ill-defined ZANU-PF regime by ushering what he
describes as a "genuinely democratic dispensation".
To the extent that Makoni is historically associated with ZANU-PF he then
argues that he is a fake and anyone who dares support him is necessarily an
enemy of change.
It surprising that Madhuku's construction of the change agenda resonates
with Mugabe's own construction in so far as the participation of Makoni in
They both believe that any credible Presidential candidate has to be
pre-qualified by a political party fully knowing that there is no
constitutional impediment on Makoni running as an independent.
Madhuku rightly poses the question: how should civic society relate to the
He chooses to call it an initiative and not an exercise of Makoni's
He then raises the question whether it should be the business of civic
society organisations to pronounce their preferences among contesting
What is evident from Madhuku's analysis is that he genuinely believes that
his participation in the constitutional movement has uniquely endowed him
with extra constitutional rights to know better what is in the national
He makes the case like Mugabe that based on his superior values, beliefs and
principles, Makoni's decision to participate as an independent Presidential
candidate is fundamentally misconceived.
He then proceeds to conclude that the so-called initiative has no grassroots
support as if to suggest that the only way to become a President of Zimbabwe
contrary to the provisions of the constitution is to seek an endorsement
from civic society organisations (CSOs) who now have arrogated to themselves
the rights ordinarily reserved for citizens in any constitutional democracy.
If Madhuku cannot respect the current bill of rights enshrined in the
constitution of Zimbabwe then what are we to expect from the so-called
people driven constitution that he has been advocating.
Who are the people in Madhuku's world? Could it be the case that people
like Makoni would be stripped of rights under his proposed new order?
A case is also made by Madhuku that the so-called Makoni initiative
misunderstands the nature of the responses required to address Zimbabwean's
deepening political crisis.
It is not clear from Madhuku's analysis how and why Makoni's candidature
alone will necessarily compromise what he describes as a fatally defective
If the sole purpose of the election is to preserve the status quo, then why
would Madhuku find it acceptable for Tsvangirai to participate and not
Makoni and for that matter anyone else?
He then makes the conclusion that: "Elections under the current constitution
cannot deliver change whatever the credentials of the contestants and
however sophisticated their strategies. Until Zimbabweans put their energies
together and push the current regime to embrace a genuine and people-driven
reform process that leads to a democratic constitution, power will not
change hands through a mere election. Participation in the elections on
March 29 cannot be for the purpose of winning power. It can only be for any
other good reasons."
Based on the above construction, he then argues that power will not change
hands under the current constitution but finds it acceptable to urge people
to go and vote not for change but only for a particular party and
While purporting to accept that the elections are a farce he makes the case
that it does provide a platform for Zimbabweans to make a statement against
the Mugabe regime's sins and sees it as a stepping stone to a new phase in
the struggle for change.
In order to justify his political bias he strangely makes the case that the
election must be a statement in support of a set of values, beliefs and
principles, which guide his version of post-election struggle for change in
While accepting that Tsvangirai's leadership may not be what Zimbabwe
requires, he nevertheless concludes that to the extent that he symbolises
the founding values of the movement he deserves support.
Surprising he does not attempt to give Mugabe and Makoni the same benefit of
Having gone to a great length to justify why Tsvangirai and not Makoni
should be supported, Madhuku makes the case that a vote for either Morgan
Tsvangirai or Simba Makoni can only be for other good reasons.
He exposes his agenda in supporting Tsvangirai that this election will seal
his fate opening a window for new leadership of the change agenda. In other
words, Madhuku needs Tsvangirai to fail so that he can have new currency in
the post election period.
There is nothing in Madhuku's analysis to suggest that he is motivated by a
genuine desire for change or more fundamentally a new constitution rather it
is evident that his kind of politics is about partisanship instead of
principle and the past instead of the future.
It is remarkable that Madhuku has the audacity to make the argument that
this election should be about the "No. 2 position" and not about removing
Mugabe from office.
He concedes that the vote will not count but he nevertheless needs the
election to justify a post election agenda that he strongly feels will be
distorted by any force of reason emanating from Makoni's intervention.
He appears to be making the case that Tsvangirai has been a reliable partner
in the politics of confusion and endless bickering.
While one can appreciate the role the MDC has played over the last 8 years
in breathing life into many non-state actors including the NCA, it is
extremely irresponsible for Madhuku to attempt to recommend the continued
suffering of the Zimbabwean people for what appears to be self serving
On Tsvangirai's viability as President of Zimbabwe, this is what Madhuku had
to say: "Tsvangirai represents the route we have been following since 1997.
He is, as a person, not the answer. He represents the answer and must be
supported. A vote for Tsvangirai's presidential bid is a statement against a
"reformed ZANU-PF" agenda. It is important that this statement be made
against Simba Makoni and his group because their set of beliefs distorts our
post-election agenda of a total assault against the system."
Madhuku appears to be preoccupied by the post-election construction than by
the prospect of the election yielding the kind of change Zimbabweans have
been yearning for and deserve.
It is evident that he is constructively working for Mugabe to win so that
his broader agenda can have a new lease of life.
Instead of focusing on removing the stumbling block to Zimbabwean progress,
Madhuku is now arguing that Mugabe is not the real problem but Makoni and
He makes the case that Makoni is no naïve that he would enter a race whose
outcome is genuinely predetermined.
If anything, Makoni's participation has helped in confusing Mugabe to the
extent that he does not seem to have a coherent message anymore.
The draft constitution presented an improvement but through the efforts of
people like Madhuku it never saw the light of day.
And now on the eve of a historic election, we find Madhuku again on the side
of Mugabe arguing that chaos can replace the ballot as a change mechanism.
If Zimbabweans were inclined to follow Madhuku's suicidal politics of using
the so-called grassroots people to replace institutions of government then
surely the last eight years could have demonstrated otherwise.
Who will benefit from the post election economic and political trauma? It
is important that Zimbabweans reflect on what is at stake on 29 March and
proceed to constructively work to ensure this election be a decisive one.
Surely, if Zimbabwe at the minimum has a new leader, that will mark a new
chapter in the history of the country.
The country needs a new leader and the only constant thing since
independence is President Mugabe and there can be no doubt that a new leader
will open new possibilities for the country.
It is never too late to convert Madhuku to a genuine democrat who can rise
above personal interests. Zimbabwe is too important to be converted into a
football that can be kicked around for political expediency.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
11 March 2008
The future of one of Zimbabwe's few remaining export horticulture
enterprises, Odzi Drift Estate, looks bleak following a takeover by a top
Lands Ministry official.
Resettlement Director Christopher Mushambi of the Ministry of Lands, Land
Reform and Resettlement invaded the farm in February bearing an offer letter
from his ministry and has ignored a court order to leave the farm some 40
kilometers from Mutare.
Sources familiar with the situation said ruling ZANU-PF party youths are
guarding the farm for Mushambi, and there were reports of looting of
equipment, livestock and food. Mushambi himself could not be reached for
Odzi Drift Estate exported flowers to the Netherlands, bringing foreign
exchange that Zimbabwe desperately needs, but exports have been halted by
Odzi Drift co-owner Lynne Evans, who has fled the farm, told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mushambi has already planted
beans in her flower fields.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
11 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
As Zimbabweans prepare for national elections on 29 March, civil society
organisations have started a campaign to ensure that those in the diaspora
go home to vote.
"Power to the People - We demand: one citizen, one vote, independently-run
elections and an end to political violence", says a billboard outside Park
Station, a transport hub in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, placed by
Zimbabwe Democracy Now, an activist non-governmental organisation (NGO). The
billboard is one of several that have sprung up in South Africa, including
on the border with neighbouring Zimbabwe.
I am here illegally and if I cross the border and go home I might not be
able to come back
A 'Rock The Vote' concert, a few metres from the billboard in Park Station,
urges Zimbabweans to go home as part of the "Get out and vote" campaign, a
group initiative by NGOs like the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN),
the National Constitutional Assembly, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, and Crisis
It is estimated more than two million Zimbabweans are living in South
Africa. "We are saying that those who can go home should go and vote; those
that cannot go should pick up the phone and urge their relatives not to
forget to go and vote," said Mathula Lusinga, in charge of the NGOs' voter
education campaign. The campaign began on 4 February and runs till the end
However, Nonhlahla Sibanda, a Zimbabwean in Johannesburg, told IRIN she
would not go home to vote because "I am here illegally and if I cross the
border and go home I might not be able to come back."
Sibanda is one of thousands of Zimbabweans who have risked life and limb to
cross the border in search of a better life in South Africa. Many are
deported. According to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM),
they assisted 126,000 Zimbabweans at their reception centre in the
Zimbabwean border town of Beitbridge in 2007 alone.
The Zimbabwean government does not allow its expatriate population to vote.
Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, recently said there
was currently no legal provision for an external or online ballot.
"That is why I sometimes find it rather misinformed or simply mischievous
that there are groups, usually comprising youths picketing the [Zimbabwean]
embassy, demanding external ballot ... I have always stressed the point that
those people, if genuine, should go back home and participate in the
Lusinga, of the NGOs' voter campaign, said, "Some of them [expatriates]
would like to go, but they tell us they have no money to go home."
Tendai Mutasa, a Zimbabwean at the 'Rock the Vote' concert, who intends to
go Zimbabwe to cast his ballot, remarked: "We want to go home, we are
struggling here. I am prepared to go and stay home if I can get a job and
take care of my family."
Zimbabweans at the concert told IRIN that every time they called home they
where told how expensive it was to live in Zimbabwe. "The money that we are
sending home is no longer able to take care of our families. We just hear
the exchange rate has gone up, but you can't buy anything with the millions
of Zimbabwean dollars."
Although GDP per capita has been falling for over 10 years, it remains well
above the the median for low-income sub-Saharan African countries. But an
inflation rate running at over 100,000 percent in a country once touted as a
beacon of development has pushed households to the brink.
An IOM study in 2004 found that nearly all Zimbabwean expatriates living in
the United Kingdom and South Africa maintained regular contact with family
members back home, and about three-quarters of those interviewed said they
sent remittances. Two-thirds also sent non-monetary gifts, most often
clothing (85 percent) followed by food (43 percent).
Two-thirds of the respondents in the IOM study said they would like to
return to Zimbabwe and live there at some point in the future, and 21
percent said they might like to; only 12 percent definitely did not want to
This month's election pits President Robert Mugabe, 84, who helped bring the
country to independence and has led Zimbabwe since 1980, against two other
contenders. The outcome of the ballot is widely regarded as key to
Zimbabwe's stability and development.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
Tue 11 Mar 2008, 11:08 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party said on Tuesday that if
it won elections this month it would quickly move to float the local dollar
and issue a new currency as part of measures to stabilise the economy.
The southern African country has a multiple exchange rate system where the
Zimbabwe dollar is officially pegged at Z$30,000 to the dollar while the
national revenue authority uses a rate of Z$270,000 per dollar.
But on the black market it is trading at up to Z$40 million per dollar and
analysts say it is likely to continue weakening in tandem with the economy.
"We are going to float the Zimbabwe dollar because we realise everyone is
now trading on the black market so if you float it no one is going to be
hurt," said Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the larger faction of the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change at the launch of his party's
The MDC has promised to turn around an economy grappling with the world's
highest inflation rate at over 100,000 percent by raising production in key
mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors if elected to power in general
elections on March 29.
The key contest is the presidential race which pits President Robert Mugabe
against rival MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba
Makoni who was expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party last month.
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is also marked by rising unemployment, shortages
of food, fuel and electricity. Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy which
he blames on Western sanctions.
SW Radio Africa Transcript
HOT SEAT INTERVIEW: Journalist Violet Gonda interviews presidential candidate Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai.
Broadcast 7 March 2008
Violet Gonda: Opposition leader and presidential candidate Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is the guest on the programme Hot Seat today. Thank you for joining us Mr Tsvangirai.
Morgan Tsvangirai : Thank you Violet.
Violet : Now let's start with getting your take on the state of elections in the country.
Tsvangirai : Well as you know Violet that the conditions for elections are uneven. In fact they are contestable before we even begin. The level playing field is not there. We are going to run these elections on ZANU PF rules and you can imagine when there is a referee who throws the whistle away and joins the other team, the outcome is just predetermined.
Violet : So this is now becoming like a rhetorical question - if you know that you are going to run these elections on ZANU PF rules, why bother participating?
Tsvangirai : Well we are past the debate against participation and I want to say that, in our view we are in a struggle. We are in a democratic struggle and any struggle has various fazes and various events and this election is just one of those events in the democratic struggle. For us, we are giving Zimbabwe a fighting chance against the dictatorship; of course people will say we are legitimising Mugabe. Contrary to that, we are actually de-legitimising Mugabe. If there is any last breath or any residual line of legitimacy it would be the final left. So on that basis it's no longer the basis of participating or none participating; we are going in fully aware of the consequences, full aware of the circumstances but also fully aware that we are in a democratic struggle.
Violet : Now I would like to probe you on a number of issues to do with policy and these are the same sort of questions that we would put to the other presidential candidate Dr Simba Makoni, and of course Mr Robert Mugabe if he ever agrees to talk to us. Now a considerable amount of population require food aid, there is 80% unemployment and inflation is over 100 000%. What is your economic recovery plan?
Tsvangirai : Violet, we have to start from the basis that the economy is really on its knees and that there would be need for short term intervention even to give people things like food, drugs, schools and transport. So as far as we are concerned we have a short term intervention around those areas. We will have to provide food to people and to us that is basic. We of course have a recovery plan that is based on our policy framework which is called Restart. We do recognise that there are fundamental tenants to any economic recovery plans. One - based on a strict fiscal and monetary policy in order to address the inflationary conditions that we face, secondly- to ensure that we have a participatory people centred economic development thrust, and three - to ensure that we can recover this economy by stopping the bleeding that has been taking place through patronage and corruption.
In the medium to long term, we of course in that medium term we need a short term injection of foreign currency from those willing to assist us but also from our own savings in the country - which is quite a huge amount of money. But in the medium to long term, we need to create conditions that will allow for the economy to start re-investing itself addressing the medium to long term needs of infrastructure and institutional support that has already been affected by ZANU PF's misrule. So, we are very conscious of the thrust of economic recovery and this is what we have promised the people of Zimbabwe that if you give us the mandate; we can assure you that we will address the economic needs of a country as a key priority of our policy.
Violet : Now the International Monetary Fund offers plans to reduce the sizes of governments, to reduce inflation and also putting a ceiling mark on Government wages. Now some analysts say that such conditions, if undertaken they lead to greater poverty. What is your response to such IMF demands?
Tsvangirai : Well in our plan we are not looking into the IMF and I don't think the IMF will immediately come to our rescue because we know that the IMF does not rush to an economy which has deteriorated to our level. But there are people at the bi-lateral/multi-lateral institutions that can assist us, but it also has to depend on our own policy trust which is our fiscal policies - how do we reduce the government. But also even when you reduce the size of government and make saving, you also have to understand that you have to provide safety nets for those who will be affected in the short term but in the long term everyone will benefit. This is not an IMF prescription. It is our own home grown economic policy thrust. Any country that has gone through that level of hyper-inflation conditions has to understand there are certain sacrifices that everyone has to make before things turn around and 150 000% inflation is no joke, it's probably a record in the world.
So as you come out of the trough, there are certain sacrifices that the government, the people have to make in order to make life better for everyone.
Violet : So are there any governments that have offered to help in a new Zimbabwe . Who will you look to for help?
Tsvangirai : We look to both East and West - those governments that will be able to assist us. I cannot at this stage mention any particular governments but I am very confident that once the political conflict or the political stalemate has been resolved, there will be people who will be ready to assist the new Zimbabwe to begin again to bring it back on its feet. This country has got a lot of potential, both in terms of partnerships, business opportunities and of course bringing back the multitudes of skilled human-resource-based that Zimbabwe has got in the Diaspora, to come and build the country and I am sure that a combination of both will actually see this country pull out of this current trough.
Violet : On the issue of the educational and the health sector, what is your position on privatisation of such basic services?
Tsvangirai : I don't believe in the privatisation of public institutions like hospitals. We are a social democratic party we believe that the state must provide the basics to the majority of the people and one of those basic services that the majority must access is health care and education. I believe also that the government would be able to deal with these issues much more effectively than private hospitals because the majority cannot afford it especially in the rural areas and the urban poor. We will still have to provide government services to our health and education because the majority; 80- 85% of people have to depend on state support. I believe that will still remain our very fundamental policy.
Violet : What would be the changes you would make then to Zimbabwean tax structures where workers are complaining that they are being taxed more than the companies because they also pay service tax for water etc etc?
Tsvangirai : Well our taxation policy is based on the simple principle that it's a proportional tax system. It's based on the higher you receive the more you pay tax. You cannot afford people who are below the poverty datum line to sustain the burden of fiscal responsibilities, whilst the majority - some of whom are not even paying the taxes getting away with that. So I think we need a tax structure, every government would need to design a tax structure that will not discourage those who are able to make it in the new system but also protect those who are at the back of the relay so that they can sustain their lives. I know that the majority of the workers in this country - given the rate of inflation -should not pay taxes but once we have dealt with conditions of inflation and everyone is in a healthy state then we can start looking at the tax policy to make sure that everyone contributes.
Violet : Will you give subsidies and if so where will the money coming from?
Tsvangirai : No one is talking about subsidies here. The policy of subsidising actually benefits those who can afford. You need government intervention in areas where the poor can benefit. You cannot have a blanket subsidy so that even those who can afford also benefit from that subsidy. I think it will be very dangerous to subsidise people who can afford - you subside education, you subside health for those who can afford. We are talking about subsiding at the point of service for those that cannot afford.
Violet : Ok and for those that can afford what will you do to that, do you think it will work to subsidise - like to subsidise critical industry?
Tsvangirai : No we cannot subsidise for those who can afford it will be detrimental to freedom of choice. These have been the policies that Mugabe has been pursuing for the last 30 years and look at the result. There is no freedom of choice, even for schools, even for hospitals, even for basic services. Let those who can afford have that choice but the majority must have a standard system that can assist them to have a standard life.
Violet : Let's move on to other policy issues. The issue of Matabeleland has been a sore issue for a long time, is there any program in your government plans to address the grievances around the Gukurahundi genocide?
Tsvangirai : When I stated at our Mutare launch that whilst we are not going to bring back the lives of those who have died there is something that you can do. For instance; you can start looking at those communities and have measures that can raise the lives of those people in those communities in Matabeleland . Roads, schools, clinics and all that and above all allow for Matabeleland to be a special economic zone with special tax so that those who want to invest can invest. But overall I think the policy of devolution that we have enunciated is actually a very important policy because it allows people for self determination and I am very committed to that policy. The other thing that we can also talk about is the issue of truth and justice - not necessarily as an instrument of retribution but as an instrument of national healing. That way we can begin to atone ourselves of the past misdeeds.
Violet : What about on the issue where people like Robert Mugabe have profiteered and stripped national assets, what would you do with people like that?
Tsvangirai : Unfortunately it's not something that you can outline as a general policy to say those who have benefited from the system in a corrupt way should pay for it because you don't know how much and you don't know the amount, the extent to which the country has been compromised. I think that unless you have got the facts, you cannot make a general policy because you might find that this might just be rumours and at the end of the day when you make an analysis you are not be able to establish how far the country has been compromised. So as a general rule you will have to put a stop to corruption and corrupt practices. Maybe if you are not able to establish the level of corruption maybe you need to move on as a country and start a new chapter.
Violet : But still Mr Tsvangirai will your government try to do something to investigate these allegations of corruption I am saying this because.(interrupted)
Tsvangirai : Absolutely, absolutely you need to investigate because you need to satisfy yourselves to ensure that the country has not been compromised to an extent that through corrupt practices, the previous government has compromised elections to that extent. So you need to establish that. But I am saying that experiences elsewhere have shown that it's very difficult to establish the level of compromise the country has suffered as a result of past government misdeed but certainly we need to investigate and satisfy ourselves but as I said the underlying thing is that you need to focus on rebuilding the country as a priority.
Violet : What is your policy on the land reform programme?
Tsvangirai : The land reform programme is very, very clear. I enunciated it when I was in Mutare. It basically a three pronged strategy. First, you need to establish through a land audit who owns what, then secondly, through an independent land commission reporting to parliament with special terms of reference to rectify, find out an equitable system of rationalising the land ownership and land use in the country and thirdly to ensure that you actually make agricultural land reform a focus of your economic recovery. In other words how do you increase agricultural productivity so that the country does not go hungry again. The other thing that would be very, very fundamental is that we need to establish farm sizes of various regions and entitle people to land so that they can look after the land. It is not just an emotional issue it is also an economic asset for the country, so one needs to look at the method used in the land resettlement programme or the land reformed programme as undertaken by ZANU PF if we are going to make use of that land.
Violet : So will this include removing the people who invaded the farms illegally and people with multiple farms?
Tsvangirai : Those people are Zimbabweans. All that we are saying is that we need an equitable all inclusive participatory process so that Zimbabweans can be properly resettled and that they can make use of the land without discrimination. What ZANU PF has been doing is to discriminate against political opponents - none of these people who are there can belong to MDC without being victimised. So we are saying land reform is for all Zimbabweans we have to start from the basis that land is a national asset for everybody - ZANU PF, MDC, Ndonga and whatever political affiliation . (interrupted)
Violet : Mr Tsvangirai you are not answering my question. I asked specifically about the people with multiple farms, what are you going to do specifically with those people who invaded farms illegally and some have multiple farms, even though . (interrupted)
Tsvangirai : No I have answered. I have answered that by saying that they are Zimbabweans and they will be part of an overall land re-settlement programs if they need to be resettled, if they need to be re-adjusted that's the nationalisation policy that will come out of the land commission. I cannot determine specifically how they will be handled but I can say safely that they are Zimbabweans who are entitled to land and that there will be an all inclusive policy without discrimination of political affiliations.
Violet : Now according to the Herald the Commissioner of Prisons retired Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi said recently that if either you or Dr Makoni won you'd give back land to former colonial masters and he warned this would provoke war. He allegedly said land reform would never be reversed and he would do everything to safeguard it. What is your reaction to this ?
Tsvangirai : First of all I think that the election is that the people of Zimbabwe are going too chose a government of their choice. That's what the purpose of the election is. You cannot determine or you cannot even define how the people of Zimbabwe should vote or should choose their leadership. Once that leadership has been given the mandate, it has been given the mandate to implicate the policy according to the people's mandate. It is very unfortunate when an individual in the armed forces takes it upon himself to enunciate and actually undermine the people's will. I hope that is not shared by everyone, I hope it's an individual opinion. But even if it's an individual opinion, it would appear as it is an attempt to subvert the people's will and I think that the people will take great exception to those kind of comments. It is very unfortunate, the MDC believe that the army and all these uniformed institutions are national institutions and that they are professional institutions and that like everywhere in the world these are institutions that defend the people and not undermine the will of the people.
Violet : He is not the only person who has made threats, even Robert Mugabe himself has been on TV he has issued some veiled threats that he will not allow an opposition victory. What will you do when elections come and . (interrupted)
Tsvangirai : I am going to these elections to campaign to be elected by the people of Zimbabwe , right, and I am not going to the people of Zimbabwe to be elected by Robert Mugabe or any individual. It is the mandate of the people of Zimbabwe . Once the people of Zimbabwe have given us the mandate, we will carry out that mandate. Those are intimidatory tactics that have been reminiscent of Robert Mugabe and some of these people who have lost the will of the people, they have lost the support of the people and want to be pre-empting it by these kind of comments they are not helpful for the development of maturity in the country.
Violet : Going back to the issue of the land, women are 52% of the population but only 15% actually benefited in the last reform program, will your government look at that particular pattern of re- distribution?
Tsvangirai : Well, in our policy we don't discriminate against women, I mean look it is also a cultural issue that sometimes we get these imbalances. But certainly I don't think that the policy that will give to the land commission will necessarily insist in discriminating women. We believe that it will be an equitable all inclusive process without discrimination of gender sex or whatever. I believe that it's time we sorted out this land reform program once and for all for the good of the country and the discrimination of the women certainly should not be entertained and I hope that the land commission will approach it from that perspective.
Violet : How are you going to re-introduce this viable commercial farming, will it also include inviting back commercial farmers who have been displaced?
Tsvangirai : Commercial farming is commercial farming it is not a colour issue. It is about the productive nature and skills that are required on those farms. In other words it is the ability of the individuals that will be farming to produce. I don't look at it as bringing back the former commercial farmers. In fact in our policy we have said we are not going back to the pre 2000 situation neither should we condone what ZANU PF has done because of the method the haphazard method. So whilst we are saying we are not going to recover, we also appreciate the fact that there are so many people that has to acquire the necessary abilities to use those farms in a commercial way. I am sure that there is already sufficient manpower to do so. All they need is support and all they need is training and once that support and training is there they will start producing to the levels that any commercial farmer should produce.
Violet : Also going back to the issue of women representation. The African Union set a 50/50 aspiration that women should be in all public offices. Now in your government will you observe the same for women?
Tsvangirai : Well Violet the issue of women representation is appreciated, that is the optimum. That is the ideal. 50% is ideal but you know that development especially when you have separate development of men and women becomes slow because of discrimination of the past. So I think that starting from encouraging women to be MPs, I think we have started on a third - a quota system and I hope that we get the right quality for the people to be participating and that the women themselves will come forward and participate in the political and administrative institutions of the country. But it's not something that you wake up one morning and have 50% even if you were to wish it. It's something that has to be a deliberate policy and I think that we as a party have already started that, starting with these current parliamentary and the local government elections.
Violet : Some say there have been indications in your party of intra-party violence against women. What will you do to deal with the marginalisation of women in you party?
Tsvangirai : Well I think that the issue of violence is not an issue that is only to the MDC. I think the issue of violence is a culture that has been introduced by ZANU PF. We in the party have always condemned violence but its one thing to condemn and it's another thing to have zero tolerance on violence. We have addressed these issues by ensuring that in order to achieve parity we had to start from somewhere and we have said we have instructed and directives that all oppositions should be a third - as a way of starting to introduce women in position of authority and in positions of representation. So in the end I am sure that with that basis parity will be achieved at some stage. But you can't start with parity when you don't even have anything, and we are very cognoscente of the fact that we need to invest in women leadership to build their confidence also to address some of the cultural limitations that are very, very prevalent.
Violet : What about on the issue of the constitution. I know that the opposition has been pushing for a new constitution for a long time - but in your new government will you change the present constitution and if so what are the sort of things that you would change?
Tsvangirai : Well, in our launch we have said that if we are given the mandate by the people of Zimbabwe , within two years we should get these people driven constitution out of the way and we are committed to that. There are various areas that people are disgruntled with; It is the balance of power; It is the centralization of power that has called for all these cries for a new constitution; It is the abuse of a state by sitting government, by a sitting president that has caused people to say we need checks and balances; It is the role of parliament; It is the rights of people - definitive rights of people enshrined in the constitution; It is also the question of how the government is accountable to the people and not the people accountable to the government. Those are the fundamental issues and also the fact that we will be able to establish various commissions to oversee, to act as oversight on government excesses. I think what people are looking for is a democratic people centred government that is able to serve the people and not to act as its master. And those are the fundamental issues from the very beginning when we started agitating for a new constitution and I am sure that the civic society is very happy with the position that we have taken.
Violet: And what about Dr Simba Makoni. What is your perception of him?
Tsvangirai: I cannot comment on other political aspirants. You better ask Dr Makoni himself.
Violet: No, but you are contesting. (Interrupted)
Tsvangirai: . I can't define him. All I know he is one of the candidates. And as far as I am concerned his is one of the other aspirants and I treat him with that respect.
Violet: But what about the emergence of Dr Simba Makoni - a man who has been in ZANU PF and he announced five weeks before a crucial election that he is going to contest against yourself and Robert Mugabe. Do you think that he has more clout than you have actually admitted?
Tsvangirai: Well look, Dr Makoni is a Zimbabwe patriot who has offered himself to the people of Zimbabwe . It is the people of Zimbabwe who have to choose who is best suited to run the next government between Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, Simba Makoni and the other Toungana. There are four candidates by the way. And as we present ourselves to multi-democracy it is the people that shall determine. To me this is a split in ZANU PF and it has nothing to do with the MDC and so I think you better ask Dr Makoni what he stands for, not me.
Violet: But Mr Tsvangirai can you not see the danger of you being isolated given the fact that it appears there is a boardroom succession plan that increases Makoni's chances of pushing Mugabe out in the event that there is a run-off with Mugabe?
Tsvangirai: Well you know there have been so many assumptions in the media and I don't like to speculate on the role of Dr Simba Makoni in the whole political matrix in the country. All what you are suggesting is speculations. All we cry for is that the conditions must be ideal for the people of Zimbabwe to be able to choose their leader and not for me to define another leader or another aspirant - to the same aspirations that Zimbabweans are looking for. Let Zimbabweans be given an opportunity to choose their leadership.
Violet: But Mr Tsvangirai how realistic is that exactly - that the people shall determine this election or these results because in Zimbabwe we know it's not the number of people that voted but the number of votes that are counted? You yourselves as the opposition should know that and you have been saying, since 2000, that elections get rigged and stuff like that. So how can you say that it is the people who will determine this?
Tsvangirai: Well what do you expect me to say? I am telling you that Simba Makoni has offered himself to the people of Zimbabwe and it is not for me to define what his role is. All I can see is that it is a split in ZANU PF. The man says he is ZANU PF. So we have two candidates that I am contesting with in ZANU PF - we have Robert Mugabe's faction and Dr Simba Makoni's faction. That's what I can read and for me that is where it ends!
Violet: What about plans of forming a coalition with such formations? What are your views on that?
Tsvangirai: Well I have heard people saying that there should be coalitions. I am the first one who tried to have a coalition or a unity agreement with our erstwhile colleagues in the Mutambara formation. Unfortunately it didn't succeed. But I am the first one to call for a united front against Robert Mugabe. And I said in Mutare this election is a referendum on Robert Mugabe. It is not a referendum on any other leader other than Robert Mugabe's misrule. Therefore the question of a united front is not only a burden of responsibility on the part of Morgan Tsvangirai. It is the responsibility of everyone who wants to connect and to form that coalition.
Violet: So would you form a united front with Simba Makoni?
Tsvangirai: That is specific. Simba Makoni is one of the leaders. There is Arthur Mutambara, there is ZANU NDOGA, there are all these other formations and I am saying I am open to discussion for something that is going to lead to the outcome that can relieve the people of Zimbabwe and solve their problems. So it's not specific to Dr Simba Makoni. Dr Simba Makoni has not approached me and I hope that there will come a time when we will discuss that. But at the moment there is no discussion with regards to that particular agenda.
Violet: And on the issue of the unity talks between the two MDCs that you mentioned just now- the Mutambara MDC actually blames you for the break up of the talks and I spoke with the Deputy Secretary General Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga last week and she said you were the one who stumbled after a senior official in your party, who was under the influence of the CIO, approached you to scuttle the talks. What can you say about that?
Tsvangirai: Well you know Violet even if Morgan Tsvangirai was as they allege - what part did they play in the collapse of those unity talks? It takes two to tango isn't it? And I think I have heard this for a very long time. That the split was caused by Morgan Tsvangirai, the collapse of the unity talks was caused by Morgan Tsvangirai. When are these people ever going to own up to their responsibilities and be truthful for a while? If the truth be revealed the split was not caused by Morgan Tsvangirai and the unity talks did not collapse because of Morgan Tsvangirai. But of course anyone can go on top of the mountain and claim this platform. All I can tell you is that I was committed to the reunification agenda and they should actually make an assessment that if they wanted everything in order for the unity talks to collapse - of course they collapsed because they wanted everything! And I cannot be seen to be rewarding a rebellion.
Violet: By everything you mean the parliamentary seats in Bulawayo and some of the seat they had asked for in Harare ?
Tsvangirai: No I am not going to go into the specifics. Ask them what was the cause of the collapse?
Violet: But Mr Tsvangirai that is what I have told you that I have interviewed the Mutambara MDC and this is what Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga alleges. That is why I am asking you why the talks failed.
Tsvangirai: Well if you want to believe Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga ask them - if according to them Morgan Tsvangirai was the cause I am not a member of parliament, I have never been a member of parliament. In fact if selfish aims were to be the motivation I was more interested in the unification agenda than any of these parliamentarians. So you cannot blame me as a presidential candidate - whom both factions had endorsed - to say then that my motivation was to collapse the talks because I wanted to have certain seats here and there. So the seats are not the issue.
Violet: So what is the issue because to be fair she did say if there was anyone who. (Interrupted)
Tsvangirai: The issue is that there are people who cannot reconcile. Reconcile in the fact that you cannot have a political party coming from one ethnic group and do not want to be part of the bigger hole. They don't want to rise up to the bigger picture which is what the MDC was formed from the first place. But we are a party that is committed to national integration across the ethnic and racial divide and that some of these people who have retreated to their ethnic enclave do not even require that or regard the fact that what we have put ourselves as an agenda is to create a country which is national in character.
Violet: So, on that issue of creating a party that is national in character analysts say that Zimbabwe is deeply divided and that a leader is needed to bring about healing and national consensus. Now will your government reach out to everyone if you win the elections? Not just people in the MDC but people in ZANU PF?
Tsvangirai: Yes I am committed to the national healing process, to reach out to everyone. That is why we reached out to Ndonga, we reached out to the Siwelas, and we reached out to the faction, the formation that broke away from us. And we still think that any government that emerges out of this election would still be a transitional government that has to incorporate all facets of life across the political and economic divide because what we need is a government that heals the nation and moves forward the nation.
Violet: And what about the issue that the reason opposition politics have failed in the past is because you have always been operating from outside ZANU PF and that you can't win against liberation movements without destroying them from within? What are your thoughts on that?
Tsvangirai: Well that accusation has no basis. The liberation movement is the one that has betrayed the ideals of that liberation, undermines the freedoms of Zimbabweans; undermines the economic potential of Zimbabwe and so you expect us to say; "Let's reform it?" A liberation movement that entrenches itself as a dictatorship does not need reform! It needs transformation. And we as the MDC are committed to a transformation agenda because we don't believe that ZANU PF - even if it tries to entrench itself forever and ever it will not succeed. Look at it this way, who has caused this economic decay and economic suffering of the people? It is that same liberation movement. What justification do they have to go to the people of Zimbabwe to say; "vote for us?" If they want to stay there by proxy and by force let them declare that as a liberation movement they won't move away then everyone would know what we are dealing with. As long as they are committed to the democratic dispensation in the country - it is the people that shall define. Liberation movements or a social liberation movement that is not the issue.
Violet: And finally Mr Tsvangirai you said earlier that elections are going to be run on ZANU PF rules, now this is your second attempt to get to State House. What are your chances of winning this time especially as you say things are worse than ever?
Tsvangirai: Violet there is a difference between winning an election and winning power. I am not here to win power I am here - of course if the power is won that is fine, that is the ultimate objective - but I know I have the full support like in 2002 and in 2005 we won the support of the people. And once more we are going to emphasise that we will win these elections. What Mugabe does with it is another matter. But the people of Zimbabwe will demonstrate to him once more that they are behind the MDC and that they are going to vote for the MDC overwhelmingly.
Violet: And what will you do if he rigs the elections?
Tsvangirai: Well don't speculate about what happens. We will cross that bridge when we get there. But I am telling you that the people of Zimbabwe are going to vote and they are going to vote for the government of their choice. If Mugabe decides to steal that is his prerogative. I told you earlier that let him de-legitimise himself even in the eyes of SADC and the African leadership.
Violet Gonda: And a final word Mr Tsvangirai. Is there anything you would like to tell the people of Zimbabwe ?
Morgan Tsvangirai: My message to the people of Zimbabwe is very, very simple. We have come a long way in this democratic struggle. We have another fighting opportunity against this dictatorship for food and jobs - give it a try. If Mugabe steals it the people of Zimbabwe will know that their vote has been stolen and that he would be ruling by decree. But this is a referendum on Robert Mugabe's misrule over the last 10years. I don't think that any sane Zimbabwean will cast a vote in favour of ZANU PF or in favour of Mugabe.
Violet: Thank you very much Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai: You are welcome. Thank you.
Comments and feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
March 11, 2008, 09:15
Johannesburg Security Exchange (JSE) CEO Russell Loubser yesterday said the
JSE is not interested in working with its Zimbabwean counterparts while
President Robert Mugabe's government is in power.
Mugabe signed a law on Sunday giving Zimbabweans the right to take majority
control of foreign companies, including mines and banks. Loubser says: "It
will be disastrous which ever way you look at it. It is a completely racist
government that's in place at the moment."
However, he says that foreigners separated Zimbabwe from South Africa a long
time ago, but this kind of behaviour cannot do the region any favours
By Brian Latham
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean lenders face a shortage of bank notes
because the central bank can't keep pace with demand after the local
currency lost more than a quarter of its value this month.
The Zimbabwe dollar changed hands at 35 million to the U.S. currency on the
black market today, compared with 25 million on March 1, traders including
John Tonganyika said in interviews today from the capital, Harare. Banks
began running short of notes on March 7, said Yvette Chakaipa, a teller in a
city center branch of Kingdom Financial Holdings Ltd.
``The central bank has been delivering new notes, but they can't deliver
fast enough to keep up with demand,'' she said in an interview from Harare
Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate and the fastest-shrinking
peace-time economy, following a failed land redistribution program
implemented by President Robert Mugabe in 2000. The currency has plunged as
the government boosts spending ahead of a March 29 election, in which
Mugabe, 84, is seeking to extend his 28-year rule of the southern African
Giesecke & Devrient Gmbh, the world's second-largest printer of money,
delivers 170 trillion Zimbabwe dollars weekly to the country, Britain's
Sunday Times reported on March 3. That equates to about $4.86 million on the
black market, where most Zimbabweans buy their foreign exchange. The
Munich-based company is paid 500,000 euros ($774,750) a week for the
service, the newspaper said.
A man who answered the phone at Giesecke's office in Dubai wouldn't comment
when called today, citing confidentiality agreements. He declined to
`Product of Hyperinflation'
Inflation in Zimbabwe accelerated to 100,580 percent in January amid
shortages of basic commodities after the government imposed controls on
industries including retailers and wholesalers in June. Prices of all goods
and services from food to school fees are controlled by the government and
businesses aren't allowed to make a profit of more than 20 percent.
Cash shortages are an ``inevitable product of hyperinflation,'' John
Robertson, an independent economist, said from Harare today.
``Even at the official rate of inflation, it is stretching the central
bank's ability to print new money to keep up with inflation and the
subsequent rise in the cost of goods.''
Deliveries of bank notes need to be stepped up ``considerably'' this week to
avoid customers being deprived of cash, said Simon Kaseke, a manager at a
branch of ZB Bank Ltd. in Harare. In January, the central bank issued 13
trillion Zimbabwe dollars for circulation to ease a shortage.
No one at the central bank was available to comment when their main office
was contacted today, said a man who answered the phone without identifying
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham via the Johannesburg
bureau on firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 11 March 2008 12:33
...As employers reject union's proposal
Harare - There has been a serious wages deadlock in the agriculture sector
with the employers offering to pay a paltry $30 million as the monthly
The farmers, mainly the newly resettled, argue that they do not have the
money to pay higher wages, as they are hard pressed by the economic crisis.
A 2-kilogram packet of sugar is currently going for $50 million.
The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ),
the union that represents farm workers has since refused to sign the papers
saying the amount offered by the farmers is a mockery.
The wages for the agriculture industry are negotiated at the National
Employment Council for Agriculture, a body that constitutes representatives
from the employers and the employees.
GAPWUZ secretary general Gertrude Hambira said the wages offered are too
little to sustain anyone even for a day.
" What with a bar of soap selling for $40 million, how do you think these
workers will survive," she said.
Meanwhile workers have already started reacting to the delay in the
In Karoi and Tengwe, employees have since refused to accept the $30 million
offered by their employers.
They have since written to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare requesting to meet the registrar of the ministry over the issue.
In Mutare the employees have also written to the ministry asking to be
addressed over the issue.
A Chegutu farm worker interviewed said the situation was tense in the farms
and the workers can down hoes anytime.
"People are not happy with what our employers are offering and many are
thinking of stopping work because the wages cannot sustain us, mari yacho
haitengi, nyangwe mwana mudiki chaiyo anotoiramba," said the worker.
Farm workers wages have since January been set at $10 million a month after
the negotiations failed to reach conclusions due to the employers offers
dismissed by the union as 'poverty wages'.
"In February they offered $26 million and we refused to sign for such an
amount," said Hambira.
Zimbabwean farm workers are among the poorest in Zimbabwe as they earn wages
that are farm below the breadbasket hovering above $1 billion.
In many farms the workers are still earning $10 million as the employers are
taking advantage of the union's refusal to acknowledge the wages by paying
the January wage.
Government's controversial land redistribution policy has been put to
the test in the southern province of Masvingo as former fighters for
Zimbabwe's liberation take a cabinet minister to court after he evicted them
from a farm they occupied after evicting the former white farmer.
Tuesday 11 March 2008, by Bruce Sibanda
The war veterans who were evicted from Chikore Farm, about 20 kilometres
south of Masvingo city, to pave way for higher and tertiary education
minister Stan Mudenge, have now demanded $Z10 trillion by way of
The former freedom fighters, who invaded the farm last year, have filed the
lawsuit against the cabinet minister, arguing that they were evicted and
forced to leave without harvesting their crops.
According to papers filed at the High Court in circuit in Masvingo, the
former freedom fighters are claiming that the minister arrived just in time
to harvest the crops which included tomatoes, oranges and flowers.
"We invaded Chikore farm in 2004 on the understanding that we were going to
benefit during the land redistribution exercise," the war veterans say in an
affidavit. "We spent three years on the property and during the farming
season of 2006 we were ordered to leave the farm to pave way for the
"We were not given time to harvest our crops. To our surprise the minister
only came to harvest our crops. Several tonnes of tomatoes, oranges, flowers
and onions went down the drain and we received nothing. "We are, therefore,
demanding compensation to the tune of $10 trillion for our crops."
War veterans Masvingo chairman Isaiah Muzenda confirmed that the dispute
between the war veterans and the minister had spilled into the courts. "We
want justice to be done," said Muzenda. "Our colleagues were ill-treated and
I think they have a genuine case. We lave everything to the courts to
Mudenge, who is the Zanu-PF candidate for Masvingo North, yesterday
professed ignorance over the case. "I am yet to be briefed about that case,"
he said. "At the moment I have not seen any document relating to that
Problems at Chikore Farm started in 2004 when war veterans were used by
Mudenge to evict the former property owner, a Mr Buchan.
After evicting the former owner, the war veterans occupied the farm for
three years but Mudenge later turned against the invaders. He successfully
sought an eviction order arguing that he was the sole owner of the farm
since he had an offer later from government.
The war veterans tried unsuccessfully to block the eviction and as a result
property worth billions of dollars then was taken over by the cabinet
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
11 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
In a move that could alleviate Southern Africa's struggle to cope with the
growing demand for electricity, while helping Zimbabwe with its chronic
shortage of foreign exchange, neighbouring countries have proposed
recapitalising some power stations and coal mining.
South Africa's power utility, Eskom, and Anglo Platinum, a South African
mining company, as well as the Botswana Power Company have shown an interest
in Zimbabwean thermal power stations located in the capital, Harare, in
Bulawayo, the second largest city, and in Munyati, near the town of Kwekwe
in Midlands Province.
Anglo Platinum, which has been negatively affected by power outages in its
home country, has asked to be allowed to export electricity to South Africa
as part of its proposal.
In February, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) taskforce on
implementation of power projects held an emergency meeting in Botswana on
the state of energy supply in the region, attended by ministers of energy,
at which a resolution was adopted to source funding for the energy sector.
Southern Africa required US$46.4 billion for long-term development of the
energy sector, while US$5 billion was needed to complete current energy
projects by 2010
The meeting heard that if this resolution were not implemented, development
would be stifled, and that the region required US$46.4 billion for long-term
development of the energy sector, while US$5 billion was needed to complete
current energy projects by 2010.
Tomaz Salamao, SADC executive secretary, was quoted in the media saying:
"The current electricity supply demand balance in the SADC region is
precarious, as evidenced by the recent frequent recurrence of blackouts and
load shedding in virtually all the countries of the SADC mainland as well as
Since the beginning of 2008, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe have been
among the countries in the region hit by widespread planned and unplanned
outages, affecting every sector of the economy.
Eskom, a major regional supplier, has blamed the blackouts on heavy rain in
the coal-producing parts of the country, which it said had affected the
quality of coal required for its coal-fired plants, and breakdowns at
several of its key generating plants.
Ben Rafemoyo, chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA), recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Mines, Energy, Environment and Tourism that his organisation needed US$3.8
billion for a complete overhaul of obsolete equipment to generate at least
2,000MW needed to meet national requirements.
"We are in a precarious financial position because our tariffs are very
low," said Rafemoyo. The Hwange power station in Matabeleland North Province
was producing 280MW, when it could generate 750MW at maximum capacity.
Rafemoyo said the Kariba hydropower station on the Zambezi River, on the
northern border with Zambia, had a generating capacity of 750MW, but was
"Other power stations can generate 170MW but are not generating anything
because of lack of coal. The older the machines at power stations, the more
breakdowns we experience and these are costly to repair."
Zimbabwe generates 1,000MW, against a daily requirement of 1,500MW, and
imports 40 percent of its electricity from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Mozambique and South Africa. The country has had to resort to power
rationing because of the shortfall, which has affected many industries,
homes, schools and hospitals.
Zimbabwean power stations have also been affected by coal shortages. Energy
Minister Mike Nyambuya confirmed that failure to provide enough coal and
ageing equipment had affected the country's ability to fulfil its energy
Although energy shortages were predicted in 1995, nothing was done about the
looming problems. "Most of our machinery for energy generation have not been
replaced in the last ten years," he said.
Eskom, according to senior officials in the energy industry, was ready to
pump up to US$25 million into the Hwange Colliery Company (HCC), Zimbabwe's
sole coal producer, to ensure reliable and uninterrupted coal supplies if
the proposed takeover of the three thermal stations, with a combined
potential of 500MW, was formalised.
Burzil Dube, spokesperson for HCC, told IRIN: "I can not say offhand how
much would be needed [to resuscitate the mining company] but, certainly, we
would need a huge recapitalisation if we would have to supply enough coal
for the power stations."
If the proposal is accepted, 50 percent of the power generated would be
consumed locally and the other half exported to South Africa. The Botswana
Power Company's proposed plan to supply coal to the two power stations in
Bulawayo and Harare would also mean that half the power generated would be
exported to Botswana while the rest would be consumed locally.
ZESA Holdings is already in partnership with its Namibian counterpart,
NamPower. Under the deal, the Namibian power utility has provided a US$50
million loan for the rehabilitation of the power station at Hwange, the
Hwange is operating below capacity because the country does not have enough
money replace spare parts. When refurbishments are complete, Namibia is
expected to receive 180MW of electricity for five years as part of the power
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
March 11th marks the first anniversary of Robert Mugabe's violent crackdown
on a peaceful prayer service organised by the SAVE Zimbabwe campaign - a
coalition of civil groups, church groups, students and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. On that fateful day riot police used water
canons and live ammunition to block innocent civilians from reaching the
venue of the prayer meeting in Harare. The brutal assaults left one dead and
many seriously injured.
Activist Gabriel Shumba, director of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum in South
Africa, said this anniversary is an important reminder of the perilous state
of democracy in Zimbabwe and the continued denial of basic freedoms by the
Mugabe regime. He added that the elections on March 29 have no chance of
being free and fair under such conditions.
Shumba listed a catalogue of examples of the brutality of the Mugabe regime,
from the demolitions of Operation Murambatsvina, that displaced nearly a
million people, to the political assaults and arrests that are continuing
now. He described the mass exodus of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries
as "deplorable" and said the results of the polls cannot be considered
legitimate without their vote. According to Shumba, about four million
Zimbabweans are currently living in exile.
A statement released by the Forum on this anniversary said in part:
".......as the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum have previously urged - institutions
such as the Commonwealth, African Union, Southern African Development
Community and the United Nations should properly condemn these human rights
atrocities, as well as ensure that the upcoming vote adheres to the
guidelines for free and fair elections that were established by the SADC in
2002 and endorsed by President Mugabe himself."
Shumba believes it is important for Zimbabweans to keep in mind what sort of
country they want when they vote on March 29th. He said the anniversary of
the March 11th crackdown is a good reminder of what we do not want in
The complete statement from the ZEF can be found on our website at
Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 10:51 (GMT)
An emergency fund has been set up to support the work of the Anglican Church
in Zimbabwe as it re-establishes its mission and ministry following changes
in the leadership of Harare Diocese.
Church leaders in the region have appointed Bishop Sebastian Bakare as
Bishop of Harare to succeed the discredited Bishop Norbert Kunonga.
However, the outgoing leader has not relinquished control of diocesan
accounts, which has made it impossible for Bishop Bakare to pay clergy and
The new emergency fund will cover stipends for clergy and other essential
ministries in the diocese while Bishop Bakare endeavours to bring the
administration of the diocese back on track.
The Dioceses of Southwark and Rochester, which are both companion link
dioceses with Zimbabwe, have teamed up with Lambeth Palace, the Mothers'
Union and the Anglican mission agency USPG to provide interim support.
Together, they hope to set up a fund worth £50,000, which will be
administered by USPG.
The Rev Canon Chad Gandiya, USPG's Regional Desk Officer for Africa, said:
"The fund will initially run for one year to allow Harare Diocese to get
back on its feet and move towards self-sufficiency once again. This kind of
support is essential to ensure confidence in the new direction the church is
The need for a fund emerged during a recent visit of Bishop Bakare to the
UK, during which he was warmly received by the General Synod.
Setting up the fund follows significant work done in recent months with all
dioceses in Zimbabwe to strengthen their capacity to minister effectively
during the current political and economic crisis.
Canon Gandiya said: "We are seeking donations to the fund from anyone
interested in bringing stability to the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe as it
seeks to bring hope, reconciliation and peace to a troubled and divided
For more information about the fund, contact Canon Edgar Ruddock, USPG's
International Relations Director, on 020 7378 5674 or email@example.com
To make a donation using a credit or debit card, please contact USPG's
Supporter Care Team on 0845 273 1701.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008 10:32
BULAWAYO - I just had to ask for permition to use a friends computer.
I could not wait to share my experience this afternoon in Bulawayo with you
When I drove into Bulawayo this morning for Morgan Tsvangirai's rally, I did
not know what to expect After all Bulawayo was the stronghold of Welshman
Ncube (so we were told). The people of "Mthwakazi" were uncompromising we
were told. They were united. They would never accept the leadership of "the
bullfrog" I got to the stadium at 11 am, 3 hours early. There was a frown on
my burrow as I thought filthy Mthwakazist propaganda about Tsvangirai's lack
of support was coming true. Now I apologise for having doubted my President
The stadium filled slowly but steadily, most people walking from Bulawayo's
Western surburbs. By 1300hrs 20 000 people were in the stadium, sitting in
the stands and on the football ground. Various imbongi (praise singers) were
keeping the crowd entertained with prose and poetry in praise of our
revolutionary party and its heroic leaders. A Marimba band kept the crowd
entertained with the instrumental version of the popular theme "Tonga Zvako
Morgan". Local party leaders, led by the Bulawayo Provincial leadership were
whipping the crowd into a frenzy with slogans and chanting. Then at 1350
hrs, President Tsvangirai's motorcade swept into the stadium to a defeaning
roar. The sound of the ecstatic crowd vibrated so much that I felt a power
drill was penetrating the ground beneath my feet. President Tsvangira walked
around the perimeter of the ground acknowledging the crowd in the stands.
Echoes of Guqula, Chinja filled the stadium. Then he went to the podium to
take his seat. First to speak was National Youth Chairman Thamsanqa
Mahlangu. Followed by the Vice President Mama Thokozani Khupe whose speech
was well received. Then President Tsvangirai took the microphone with
Bulawayo Province spokesman Felix Mafa providing Ndebele translation. At the
same time dark storm clouds gathered in the sky, perhaps signifying the
anger in ordinary Zimbabweans at the Mugabe authored ruin facing the
country. President Tsvangirai narrated the history of the party since 1999,
chronicling the party's success in dividing ZANU-PF and cornering Mugabe in
the face of brutality and repression. President Tsvangirai proudly recounted
the party's victory in overcoming attempts by a gang in the party led by
Welshman Ncube to divide the party in 2005. At this moment there was a loud
wail from the crowd. An old woman, probably in her 90's made her way slowly
to the stage, walking with the help of what looked like her grand daughter.
She then got on to the podium and asked for the microphone. She said she
wanted to address "Nkosi" Tsvangirai. The old lady then narrated that she
was born in 1917 and was the great-grand daughter of Lotshe, one of
Lobengula's senior indunas. She said she had followed the rise of
nationalist politics in Zimbabwe and had attended meetings addressed by
among others Benjamin Burombo, Joshua Nkomo, Mike Hove, Stanlake Samkange,
Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa, James Chikerema among others in the early days. She
had also heard Robert Mugabe speak. But she said that none of these great
politicians had convinced her and had a sense of destiny like Morgan
Tsvangirai. She urged the entire Ndebele nation to rally behind Tsvangirai.
She castigated people who claim to be acting on behalf of the Ndebele people
even though they don't have their consent. She was particularly scathing
about Welshman Ncube who she called "Mthakathi 'mkhulu" (the big witch). She
said she was determined that before she dies she must share this with the
younger generation. She then departed the stage to wild cheers. Tsvangirai
then resumed his speech. He spoke of a vision for the future, a future under
a democratic dispensation. A future where communities are in charge of their
own destiny. A future of prosperity and plenty. Then he wound up his speech
with an appeal to people to mobilize for the party and go out in their
millions to vote for the MDC. At this point, the dark storm clouds that had
gathered began to scatter, allowing the sun to shine again. It was almost as
if a supernatural event was taking place. Then it was time to go As
President Tsvangirai and his entourage got into their cars, an army of
traditional Ndebele warriors in traditional warrior dress stood in a guard
of honour on either side of the motorcade. As the motorcade made its way out
of the stadium, the Warriors raised their spears in salute and shouted
"Bayethe". The people of Matebeleland have definitely taken Morgan
Tsvangirai and the MDC into their hearts. They shamed the tribalists and
anarchists. They demonstrated that indeed the people of Matebeleland share
the same dreams and aspirations as the rest of Zimbabwe and will not be
divided from the rest of the nation by self serving tribalist politicians
By: Njabulo Ngwenya Zimbabwe Political Activist based in UK
People of Zimbabwe 29th of March brings forth one of the most prevalent days
in our election history. This day is one whereby most of us harbour secret
or not so secret hopes and prayers that it will break the shackles of
dictatorship which bind us. We pray that this day will bring with it an end
to the hunger, poverty and feelings of hopelessness which plague us daily.
We listen to the Tsvangirayi and Makoni's with bated breaths and hang our
hopes for CHANGE with them hoping against all that their messages of an
improved Zimbabwe will come to light. We listen to them make promises to rid
us of dictatorship leadership styles, improved economic conditions and
better living condition as they try to rally us in to vote for their ideas
but do we ever really question what this all means? I mean do any of us
actually look into the fact that there are three major candidates running
instead of the usual two heavyweights and do we ever wonder what this means
in terms of the end vote results?
What is going to happen when none of them manage to secure the 51% majority
vote and who is going to end up allying with whom? As we have seen all three
major candidate are of questionable intensions and calibre.
First we have seen how Morgan has conducted himself over the years. Morgan
failed to unite the party during the Senate debate in 2005 whereby he failed
to uphold party constitution. Morgan ignored the results of the NEC 33-31
votes in favour of participation and he went to the outside world and lied
saying it was a unanimous decision not to participate. This behaviour
resulted in the split of Zimbabwe's strongest opposition party a party which
many Zimbabweans had pinned hopes of CHANGE. In a more recent illustration
of questionable leadership and intensions Morgan has failed to unite the
party and form a strong coalition against the government and put the needs
of Zimbabweans first. Morgan states that he wanted to unite the party but he
failed as a leader to convince his team from Matebeleland to unite with the
Mutambara faction because of aspiration for power and positions in that
region. So now I ask you people of Zimbabwe is this the leader to free us
from dictatorship? Do we really need another power hungry leader who
disregards our needs in favour of their own desires and aspirations?
Second we have Simba Makoni who is also of questionable intentions. Does
anyone find it worrying that Simba seems to stress the point that he is
Independent and that he is very vague about what he will bring to the people
of Zimbabwe? Yes Simba we know you are real and nobody's puppet, yes we know
that you aim to improve economic conditions and empower our people but all
of this sounds abstract to me. What do you actually commit yourself to? You
are Independent thus not bound by any party constitution and should no
candidate get the majority vote then you have the freedom to align yourself
to anyone whom you choose without being held accountable. So what will we do
as supporters if you so choose to align yourself with Mugabe? Second yes
macro-economic issues are important but how do you explain Foreign Direct
Investment to an 80 year old mama with 8 grandchildren to feed? Don't get
me wrong I am actually a Makoni supporter but I have never been one who
follows in blind folds. I have come to realise that leaders need to be
questioned and they need to be held accountable. As for Robert Mugabe I
think all that can be said about him has been said and one needs not even
wonder about his intentions
Ok people the whole point I am trying to raise is if it so happens that we
have re-run of the elections and it so happens that Makoni or Tsvangirayi
run against Mugabe will people be able to put egos aside and unite as one to
really fight for CHANGE? As we have seen from past events people like
Mutambara and ZANU reformists managed to put their egos aside for the sake
of Zimbabweans so do our current leaders have the same qualities? Current
Zimbabwe politics is beyond the normal political arena of power play that we
witness in more stable democracies such as South Africa. In Zimbabwe it is
about complete change and deliverance so that the economic conditions of
Zimbabweans are improved and issues are addressed. Looking at all the
current candidates running for Presidency Makoni seems like the candidate we
should pin our hopes upon as even though I view his promises as vague at
least he does not lie and give empty promises. He also has not shown signs
of being the next dictator in the making and most of all Makoni is CHANGE.
Some of us are tired of the same leaders contesting making promises but
failing to deliver.
By Sylvia Manika and Carole Gombakomba
11 March 2008
Zimbabwe opposition leader and presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai
Tuesday rolled out a major policy statement for his Movement for Democratic
Change detailing how his MDC formation would rule if it comes to power in
March 29 elections.
Addressing a breakfast meeting heavily attended by diplomats, Tsvangirai
said the paper offers comprehensive solutions to the economic crisis, land
reform, governance, education, industry, transport, housing and other
problematic sectors. Among other initiatives the document proposes to trim
the cabinet to 15 ministers from 52 now.
Correspondent Sylvia Manika of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.
Elsewhere, Tsvangirai's grouping of the divided MDC has registered a
complaint with the Zimbabwe Electoral commission over violence against and
arrests of its members.
The formation said it submitted evidence Friday to the commission on cases
of alleged political violence and arrests carried out by police for
seemingly partisan motives.
Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the rival MDC grouping headed by Arthur
Mutambara said that his formation is compiling evidence concerning what he
said is a rising number of cases of politically motivated assault and
A ZEC spokesman, Shupikai Machereni, declined to comment, referring
questions to Deputy Chief Operations Officer Utloile Silaigwana, who could
not be reached.
Elections Director Dennis Murira of the Tsvangirai MDC grouping told
reporter Carole Gombakomba that if ZEC fails to take action, his party will
seek relief in the courts.
By David Cronin
BRUSSELS, Mar 11 (IPS) - Zimbabwe's crackdown on political dissent may need
to be discussed by the United Nations Security Council, a prominent southern
African human rights activist declared Mar. 11.
Opponents of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party have
reported large-scale harassment and intimidation in the tense period leading
to elections due later this month. With little prospect of the poll being
conducted in a free and fair manner, political activists are calling on
international bodies to explore new ways of applying pressure on Mugabe, the
octogenarian who has led Zimbabwe ever since winning independence from
Britain in 1980.
John Stewart, vice-chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, urged
the European Union to consider invoking a clause relating to democratic
principles in the Cotonou agreement, which underpins the bloc's relations
with Africa. The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union
and the group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP countries). It
was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin in West
Africa, by 79 ACP countries and the then 15 member states of the European
In 2002, the EU decided to impose sanctions on Mugabe and his inner
circle -- such as freezing their assets and banning them from travelling to
Europe -- after initiating a 'political dialogue' under Article 8 of that
But Stewart argues that the Union should also study the possibility of
invoking Article 9 of Cotonou. This states that democracy should be built
"on the basis of universally recognised principles" and that signatories,
including Zimbabwe, should ensure respect for human rights and the rule of
According to Stewart, the level of state-approved violence in Zimbabwe is
now so serious that the EU's military officials should be addressing it.
"I am not advocating sending a Belgian platoon to Mozambique's border with
Zimbabwe," he told IPS. "But this is an issue of peace and security. It
needs to be talked about."
Stewart, who was visiting Brussels, added that an analysis of the EU on
Zimbabwe may lead to the country's situation being discussed by the UN
A day earlier the EU's foreign ministers issued a statement expressing
concern that Zimbabwe's presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled
Mar. 29 are at risk of being unfair. The EU has received no invitation to
monitor the poll's conduct, the ministers observed.
Although Stewart said he was "glad" that Zimbabwe remained on the EU's
agenda, he argued that the ministers' statement "misses the point." It is
futile, he suggested, for the EU to call for free and fair elections "when
there is no question this is going to happen."
Those wishing to observe the election have been told they need special
permits from the government. Wilbert Mandine, a former magistrate now
working for the Zimbabwean branch of the Media Institute for Southern
Africa, noted that only one organisation has so far been permitted to
monitor the poll. Unless more permits are granted, nearly all of the 11,000
polling stations in the country are not likely to face any scrutiny, he
And although Zimbabwe has a law stating that the media should cover election
campaigns fairly and impartially, Mandine alleged that television coverage
is "tilted in favour of the ruling party."
At the end of February, the launch of ZANU-PF's manifesto could be seen live
on the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation. Yet the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change did not receive the same treatment when it formally began
its campaign a day later.
Takavafina Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe,
was arrested and tortured when he took part in a 'Save our Education'
protest in Harare last month.
Labelling Mugabe a "crocodile liberator" and a "grasping kleptocrat", he
said: "We were promised paradise in 1980. What we have managed to get is a
bullet in the head and a diet of starvation."
Zhou accused the regime of operating a policy of "systematic torture"
against teachers for about eight years. As a result the number of teachers
has shrunk from 150,000 to 70,000.
"Just last year, we lost 25,000 teachers and this year we have lost 8,000,"
he said. "Of those that remain, they are 100 percent mentally resigned,
although they physically remain in the classroom. That is a dangerous
situation for any profession."
While Zimbabwe used to be known as the breadbasket of Africa, its economy
has declined dramatically over the past decade. Inflation has rocketed,
unemployment has reached 80 percent of the workforce and 45 percent of the
population are undernourished because of food shortages.
Maureen Kademaunga, a gender and human rights officer with the Zimbabwe
National Students Union, said demonstrations by students have been brutally
attacked. In one instance last month a woman who was nine months pregnant
was beaten up.
All universities in the country are now closed and are not due to reopen
until after the elections. In effect, this has disenfranchised students,
particularly those from rural areas who have returned to their families.
Zimbabwe only allows people to vote in areas where they are registered, but
Kademaunga said that poverty means students often cannot afford to travel.
Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights lawyer, argued that food aid, on which four
million Zimbabweans (in a population of 12.5 million) are dependent, is
being used as a political weapon. In rural areas, the ZANU-PF has taken
charge of food delivery and has been accused of denying vital supplies to
those it views as opponents.
A spokesman for Zimbabwe's embassy in Brussels said he had taken note of the
EU's statement this week, but refused to comment further. (END/2008)
Zimbabwe's ruling party to forcibly expel them after March 29
Published 2008-03-12 04:39 (KST)
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party, battling internal fissures over Simba
Makoni's surprise challenge against President Robert Mugabe in March 29
elections, has called on suspected backers of Makoni to voluntarily leave
the ruling party, as they face expulsion after the elections.
This comes amid indications that suspected backers of Makoni's presidential
bid within ZANU-PF have had their covert campaigns for Makoni paralyzed
after Mugabe moved in to choke their campaigns by deploying feared state
agents to monitor and record their daily activities, especially meetings,
after which they relay the information to the 84-year-old leader.
"Planned covert campaigns for Makoni by his sympathizers in ZANU-PF have
been crippled by the move since they now can't make secret campaigns for him
at meetings as whatever they say about Makoni is relayed to the President,"
said a state agent who has been following meetings addressed or attended by
ZANU-PF members and suspected sympathizers of Makoni.
State security agents have also frustrated campaigns for Makoni by
threatening publishing houses against printing campaign material for him.
Makoni has said that there are many within ZANU-PF who support his
Dumiso Dabengwa, a former home affairs minister, and Cyril Ndebele, an
ex-speaker of parliament, are some of the top ZANU-PF heavyweights who have
come out in the open to back Makoni.
Another state agent added, "No one knows their fate after the elections
should they be reported to the president to have been secretly campaigning
for Makoni's candidature by de-campaigning the president for the presidency
among the electorate."
Elliot Manyika, the ZANU-PF secretary for commissariat, could neither deny
nor confirm the developments but warned that ZANU-PF would not hesitate to
hound out suspected backers of Makoni who are still in the ruling party.
Asked when the party would kick out Makoni backers in ZANU-PF, Manyika said,
"At the present moment, all focus is on elections campaigns."
"Makoni backers have to come out in the open over their support of Makoni
and leave the party before we with-hunt them out," said Manyika in a
telephone interview yesterday.
Manyika, whose music album in support of Mugabe was once played with
nauseating frequency on state radio and television, added: "What are they
afraid of? We know them and we will not hesitate to hound them out after the
As ZANU-PF announced Makoni's expulsion, war veterans labeled Makoni a
sellout and called for him to be beaten up. The veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s
independence war are hard-line supporters of Mugabe, who has used them in
the past to intimidate opponents.
The ex-combatants last year intimidated ZANU-PF members into endorsing
Mugabe against their will. Mugabe faces his greatest challenge to his lofty
post in March 29 elections when he squares up against Makoni and opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe has predicted a resounding victory for ZANU-PF. Analysts say the
economic crisis, mirrored by inflation at over 100,000 percent, will prove
to be his major waterloo.
It has come to the attention of the Dr Simba Makoni UK Steering Committee
that some misguided individuals (names supplied), masquerading as pro-Dr
Simba Makoni's Presidential Campaign Project have been publicising and
sending unsolicited e-mails and text messages to individuals purporting to
promote the said project.
These unscrupulous elements have gone further making false announcements to
the effect that two rallies in London and Leicester were to be addressed by
Dr Makoni and his team during the weekend of 8/9 March. They even went to
the extent of asking individuals and donors to donate to The Team's airfares
and payment of rally venues.
The same individuals have been selling t-shirts and 'cards' bearing the
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn logos and Dr Makoni's picture. The whole thing smells of
a CIO sting/ scam and desperation as some of them have been expelled from
MDC and formed the so called defiance group.
We would like to warn the Zimbabwean public and our trusted donors that:
1.. Dr Makoni and his team have not considered and do not intend to
address any public gatherings, meetings or rallies in the UK soon;
2.. The Steering Committee has not as yet solicited donations from anyone
to be paid directly into individuals' account numbers since it has a bank
account in its name;
3.. The Dr Makoni Project does not have any cards since it is not a
political party and as such does not sell any;
4.. No t-shirts are on sale in The UK for fundraising purposes;
5.. The leaders are busy campaigning for elections and therefore do not
want any distractions at the moment and be seen to be gallivanting abroad;
6.. Only this committee has been given the mandate by the leaders in
Harare to represent The Dr Makoni Project in the UK.
It is not only false but also a criminal offence for any individual or group
other than this group to claim to represent The Dr Makoni Project; swindling
unsuspecting people of cash by the selling of t-shirts and 'cards' in the
name of The Project is a fraudulent crime or theft by false pretence. The
Committee would like to encourage anyone who has been approached by these
individuals or donated any resources in cash or kind to inform The Committee
as soon as possible. This will help us expedite the apprehension of the
Please feel free to contact, in confidence:
The Chairman: Mr Jennings Rukani - Mobile: 07737272179
Secretary: Mrs Saudzayi Barnes - Mobile: 07962355187
Organiser: Mr Givemore Chindawi - Mobile: 07948086037
Information and Publicity Committee details as below.
Any donations please contact:
Treasurer: Mr Silence Chihuri - Mobile: 07706376705
Thank you for your anticipated co-operation and understanding.
Simba kuvanhu! uSimba ebantwini!
By The Simba Makoni - UK Steering Committee, Information & Publicity
Department (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daily Mail, UK
Last updated at 21:49pm on 11th March 2008
Foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller interviewed Mann in Black
Simon Mann has been imprisoned for four years over allegations he led a plot
to overthrow the President of Equatorial Guinea.
The ex-SAS soldier has spoken for the first time and here is the full
interview with Channel 4 News correspondent Jonathan Miller.
Simon Mann: "Well, you know, it was a f***-up. And I have to carry the can
for that. Really and truly, I blame myself most for simply not saying 'Cut'
two months before we were arrested. That's what I should have done and
there, you know, I was bloody stupid. [Laughs]. Mea culpa.
"Basically I was kidnapped from Chikrubi and smuggled out of Zimbabwe with
Jonathan Miller: Can you be more detailed about the violence?
SM: "Well the way I was pushed and shoved around, thrown into the back of a
truck, smacked with an AK, generally moved around and also the way in which
I was held, because I was held with leg-irons.
"Not nice ones, like these, and handcuffs, behind my back which is extremely
painful. In a room with nowhere to sit down. So the only thing that you can
do is fall down. And then you can't get up."
JM: "I am conscious of the fact that you are yet come to trial. Are you
happy to speak to us?"
SM: "Yep, I am perfectly happy and this is of my own volition. I was asked
this morning whether I was prepared to do this or not. I said yes."
JM: "What have conditions been like here, and how have you been treated?"
SM: "I have been treated well. Obviously I'm a prisoner and it's not a five
star hotel, but I am mean, I am being treated well. My accommodation's good,
there's water, there's food and I am under no coercion."
JM: "Have you been interrogated since you got here?"
SM: "Well, I have been interviewed. [Laughs] I think it is a better word to
use than "interrogate" because, as I say, I have been put under no
JM: "And the 'no coercion' applies also to conditions? Have you been asked
for example to name names? Have you been offered a plea-bargain of any
SM: "Um, no, I have been helping the authorities here as best as I can with
this sorry story."
SM: "Well, I was involved. And I was, if you like, the manager. Below me
were quite a number of people. Including those who were arrested with me in
Zimbabwe, including those who are still, who have been sentenced, they are
doing prison sentences here. And of course, above me in the machine, were
other people..um as well. So I was, if you like, The Manager. Not the
architect. And not the main man."
JM: "Who was the main man?"
SM: "Ely Calil."
Shortly after his arrest in Zimbabwe, Mann signed a confession that heavily
implicated Ely Calil in the genesis of the plot. Nine months later, in an
affidavit he said was freely made, Simon Mann retracted his earlier
confession, saying it was made under duress.
JM: "That statement was made not under duress?"
SM: "Well, actually, that statement was made under duress. Yes. But, never
the less, it's true [laughs]."
SM: "I mean, if somebody wants to do me a favour, what they could is put a
pair of handcuffs on Calil and chuck him on an aeroplane to Malibu (sic)."
They accuse him of backing Severo Moto, Equatorial Guinea's would-be
President, last heard of in exile in Spain. Moto's always denied his
involvement; approached for a response to Mann's allegations, he declined to
SM: "I'm not very happy with Ely Calil. Because, quite honestly, him and
Severo Moto, Ely Calil and Severo Moto grossly misled me.
"They gave me the very strong impression that things were diabolically bad
here. And that a regime change was a crying need. They also told me that the
regime was faltering, was in a state of collapse. I mean, coming here now,
obviously I was told a load of rubbish.
"Basically. Well, either that or Equatorial Guinea has performed the most
unbelievable change in four years!"
JM: "You famously coined the term 'wonga' -- was 'wonga' everything to do
with it or was there more?
SM: "I said earlier in this interview that yes, money and business reasons
were a motivation, but the primary motivation was to help, as I saw it, the
people of Equatorial Guinea, who were in a lot of trouble.
JM: "Do you feel at all that this whole enterprise, the Equatorial Guinea
Project, was something from a bygone era, like out of a Freddie Forsyth
novel, that at heart it was an arrogant scheme cooked up by a bunch of
greedy white buccaneers?"
SM: "No, I don't think that at all actually. Now whether you want to think
that the whole thing was a swash-buckling f***-up, well, obviously it is.
Because it failed. [Laughs] You know, um, but that wasn't how it seemed at
JM: "Could you tell me about the involvement of Mark Thatcher: did it go
beyond the leasing of a helicopter?"
SM: "Um, ya, he was a part of the team." JM: "What do you know about the
alleged roles of Jeffrey Archer, in the funding, and Peter Mandelson?
SM: "They've got none at all. God knows where that came from. I mean that
really is a mystery to me."
The Obiang regime was eventually tipped-off by a South African businessman
who had learned of the plot.
SM: "We were in a desperate situation. I knew that he'd basically blown the
whistle. And we went ahead because the other indications I was getting - ie
from the Spanish government and from the South African government, and in
this case most especially, the South African government - was that 'We want
you to go, so go'. There was no nod and a wink from the UK. And there was no
nod and a wink from the United States of America. Absolutely not."
SM: "Here am I, accused of all these terrible things, when in actual fact,
nothing happened. There was no attempt. We didn't ever get any weapons. We
didn't get on an aircraft to come here. Niek de Toit never had any weapons.
"So yes, certainly the intent was there. And it was a f***-up. But now, I am
kidnapped and then smuggled out of a country with violence in complete
contravention to Zimbabwe's laws. I am actually a victim of a far more
serious crime than any crime I have committed."
SM: "I regret all that. Terribly. You know, but you go tiger shooting and
you sort of don't expect the tiger to win."
JM: "So you do have deep regrets."
SM: "Yes. I've been saying how sorry I am to everybody for four years now
actually. [Laughs] I'm going to write it on my forehead. [Laughs] 'Sorry!'"