|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Mugabe has been inventive and persistent. His violations built up over years, then months, then weeks, then days. By the end, it seemed as though the rules were changing by the hour, all with the purpose of twisting the democratic verdict he feared, and hoping to guarantee the one he felt he had to have.
He began with a reign of terror against white farmers, but that, though attracting big publicity in Britain and the US, wasn't the nub of Mugabe's assault on politics. The proof he gave of the need for democratic approval was constant harassment of his opponents in the MDC, torture of their supporters, disfranchisement of their voters; bogus legal actions against his chief rival, and the enlistment of the army for himself; expulsion of election monitors he didn't like the sound of, and subversion of many of the rest; sudden invention of new rules to deny the right to vote; incessant, hectoring, righteous intimidation, and the banning of foreign media: all to secure the magic numbers that say this brutal, corrupt old man can claim for the next six years a mandate from the people.
But the people, it seems, were not frightened. We don't yet know the turnout, still less the result. We've seen the long lines, and heard the voices of determination to vote. This is a country with, among other advantages greatly to its credit, an 80% literacy rate. The literacy is more than alphabetic. It doesn't necessarily lead a majority to vote against Zanu-PF, the president's party. But it produces an understanding of what democracy means, and an extraordinary willingness to fight for it against obstacles which, in Europe, could not be contemplated. From a country that dragged only 59% of a sullen electorate to the polls last time, without a piece of barbed wire to cross, one can only say: all hail Zimbabwe.
If the result goes to Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, that tribute will be unconditional. Such a triumph would show not only that the people had been brave, but that Mugabe was as incompetent an election-rigger as he was an economic manager. If Tsvangirai wins he will face a parliament stacked against him until the next election, and institutions of the state, from the army to the judiciary, packed with Mugabe's placemen. But his legitimacy, against such astounding odds, would be unchallengeable. He would give Zimbabwe an escape from her pariah ranking in the world. There would be no need to contest the result. Monitors from countries that have sided with Mugabe could find no possible reason to say Tsvangirai stole it. He might have at least as strong a mandate as George Bush, if not Tony Blair.
But it's more likely that Mugabe claims the numbers, and here the trouble will begin. Zimbabwe will suffer terrible trials, and continued misgovernment in every sphere. And that's not where the testing ends. The world should prepare for a challenge pitting its own proclaimed belief in democracy against the heroic example set by the voters of Zimbabwe. Let them be our model.
It was just about defensible for the Commonwealth leaders, meeting in Australia last week, to postpone a final verdict. They declined to condemn Mugabe outright, or openly challenge the run-up to the election. If we believe in democracy, it's prudent to wait for the outcome, in all its circumstances, before terminally denouncing the exercise. That's the line the majority took, against the advice of Mr Blair and others, even to the extent of producing a snivelling statement that pretended all sides were guilty of intimidation. This showed extreme, but perhaps cunning, even-handedness.
However, in the event of Mugabe reclaiming power, its honesty will be put to the question. Most of the journalism, black and white, coming out of Zimbabwe has produced a great deal of evidence to suggest the result cannot be deemed fair. The infringements of the run-up have been followed by numerous attacks on the invigilators, continuing through yesterday. The only people who will call that fair are those who find it politically convenient to do so. That's the way South Africa looks like jumping. Other Africans, including Nigeria, may follow. The Commonwealth is full of prevaricators and double-talkers, supported by propagandists who insist that African values - rather like Asian values before them - should not be tested by reference to the values of old colonialist Europeans.
This is a condescending way of denying that there are universal values, and that the honesty of democracy is one of them wherever democracy is on parade: Zimbabwe, India, Singapore, Northern Ireland. If the Commonwealth doesn't stand for such honesty, it stands for nothing. It no longer has an economic purpose, and never did have political power. What remains to it is the defence of political values, to which a Mugabe victory in this election, declared stainless and beyond reproach by Commonwealth observers among others, would be the most cynical insult since Mrs Thatcher stopped her fellow leaders from declaring Nelson Mandela a more rightful leader of South Africa than FW de Klerk.
The range of options available is limited. Now that the Commonwealth heads of government have dispersed for another two years, expulsion of Zimbabwe would be technically difficult. In theory, only the heads, in solemn assembly, can do it; and, on the precedents of Nigeria and Pakistan, only when a democratic government has been overturned by a military coup. The institution has failed to provide itself with the means to deal with a member state that murders opponents, cancels voting rights, kills off political discourse, sends in the militia, and calls the outcome democratic.
If this failure continues to prevail, and a sliver of respectability is thus conferred on Mugabe, the Commonwealth will not deserve to survive. It will have lost its last remaining purpose. Its members should stop pretending its very existence does wonderful things, however hard these may be to show.
But worst of all, it will have betrayed the people who in the last few weeks have suffered more for the cause of democratic representation than any western politician has ever had to do. We get democracy on a plate, and are beginning to yawn. Zimbabweans had to fight for it every day. Does life go on as normal, when their fight has been defeated by violence, crookery and the inert blessing of the world?
(On behalf of the Commercial Farmers Union)
The Banket 12 are still imprisoned with no indication of what the charges are!!! A further 42 persons were arrested at the Banket Farmers centre today, most of them were released by the end of the day.
This morning, we received a report that Jeremy O'Connor (a boat builder) from Lions Den had traveled to Murereka Township to transport an individual to a polling station. While in the Township O'Connor was abducted by Zanu PF youths and reportedly taken to the Zanu PF offices in Murereka. Thereafter he disappeared and it was found out much later that he had been taken to Chinhoyi Police Station and was released at approximately 5:45 p.m. this evening. His vehicle was not returned.
Another group of Zanu PF youths arrived at Bruce Douglas' house (the local butcher) in Lions Den using Mr O'Connor's vehicle, only to find Mrs Douglas was at home. The youths then left threatening to return. It was agreed to remove Mrs Douglas from her home to safety.
Early afternoon, the group of 15-20 youths returned and proceeded to loot the homestead. At 15:00hrs a group of police arrived at the homestead and declared it to be "safe" and that they would guard the homestead.
They apparently left after an hour and at 21:00hrs hours a radio message was received from the Douglas homestead to say that a group had come in again this evening and cleared out the 3 bed roomed house of all household goods including deep freezers and fridges.
Late after noon a group of police accompanied by a group of Zanu PF youths had arrived at Manengas Farm enquiring on the whereabouts of Mr Douglas. Mr Douglas' whereabouts were unknown to the household. The enquirer's name was Mr Mapira wearing a blue uniform.
This same group of youths and police then proceeded to Hill pass Farm looking for further information on Bruce Douglas' whereabouts. The farm owner, Mr J Kotze was not there and so they proceeded to assault at least 4 of the workforce in order to obtain information.
The Kotze homestead was looted of household goods this evening. The perpetrators are alleged to have arrived in the O’Connor vehicle and were said to be ZANU PF militia and members of the ZRP support unit.
These events are said to have been triggered by an accusation made by ZANU PF youths that O’Connor and Bruce Douglas were given millions of dollars to garner votes for MDC in the area. This is a falsehood.
Herewith summary of incidents from Guruve, Mash Central today.
One MDC election agent and 15 logistics support personnel (one is a farmer) were detained on pretext of possessing unlicensed radios, which interfere with ZRP frequencies.
The group was visited today in Mahuwe by ZRP ex Bindura in Land Rover registration ZRP152X during course of 10 March checking all radio serial numbers and frequencies.
Purported CIO members then visited logistics base camp near Mahuwe at 23.30hrs 10 March in very threatening manner but upon sight of cameras in hands of logistics personnel they rapidly dispersed. Members of the logistics team avow that these visitors were not bona fide CIO personnel but various militia, women and graduates of the Border Gezi camp.
Then before 0700hrs today, 11 March, ZRP arrived and confiscated all radios thus preventing logistics support for team assisting MDC election agents in Guruve North district with food etc. ZRP then escorted members of the logistics team to Guruve police camp. where (because one member of the team was able to hold down the open button on his radio) the whole process was listened to by outside members of the team who had escaped being rounded up.
One member of the detained team was assaulted by a ZRP officer and can be verified by those listening. Later all radios were switched off and locked away by ZRP.
16 personnel in detention for 48-hour period according to ZRP member in charge. Detention of the electoral agent means that he was effectively neutralized from observation of the ballot boxes from Guruve North polling stations between their closing and start of ballot counting at 0700hrs tomorrow a.m.12 March.
11th March 2002
For more information, please contact Jenni Williams
Cell 011 213 885 or 091 300 456
Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told reporters outside a Harare court:
"The charge is still treason. Now they are just bringing it formally to the court."
Ncube, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and another party official were accused of treason in late February after the airing of a video purporting to show Tsvangirai discussing a plot against Mugabe during a meeting in Canada. Ncube is the first to be formally charged.
Ncube appeared in court a day after he was arrested by police near the Botswana border.
Tsvangirai poses a strong challenge to Mugabe in the presidential elections which ended amid controversy yesterday, with thousands of people claiming they have been prevented from voting. Counting is underway with results due on Wednesday.
The three MDC officials have denied the treason charges and accused the government of trying to smear the opposition as part of a plot to steal the election.
HARARE, Zimbabwe - After an added voting day marked by confusion and a late start, the Zimbabwe government closed presidential election polls Monday night even though hundreds of angry voters remained in lines outside urban polling places.
``We have a right to vote!'' yelled Morelife Mapeture, one of 150 frustrated voters still waiting when the polling gates swung shut Monday night.
The election, the most contentious in this nation's history, pits President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front against challenger Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe has led the nation for 22 years, ever since independence.
The opposition accused Mugabe of slowing the voting to rig the election results, a charge the government denied. Most of the opposition's strength is in cities.
``If those thousands of people are not allowed to vote, this is a stillborn election,'' Tsvangirai said earlier Monday. ``The MDC will not be part of an illegitimate process to try to disenfranchise people.''
The nation's High Court on Monday night refused an opposition request to let the voting continue today. The opposition Sunday had won the court's decision to order polling across the country extended to a third day Monday to accommodate thousands of urban voters still waiting to cast their ballots.
Although the order called for the vote to be continued nationwide, the government opened polls only in the capital and a nearby township. Both areas are considered opposition strongholds.
But when crowds of voters returned to polling stations in the capital early Monday they found many did not open until afternoon and some not at all.
The government announced Monday that voter turnout in rural areas had been 80 percent, but only 30 to 50 percent in urban areas where election monitors said the turnout was "massive.''
Opposition leaders charged Monday that Mugabe's government had reduced urban polling stations in the country by 30 to 50 percent compared to the last election as part of a deliberate attempt to thwart balloting in urban areas.
Ballot-counting is to begin today, and election results are expected Wednesday.
Dismissed by the government as biased, polls before the election suggested that Tsvangirai is a 2-to-1 favorite. Many opposition backers said Monday that Zimbabwe may face some sort of popular uprising if the 78-year-old Mugabe is declared the winner after what they called a deeply flawed voting process.
An analysis of voting data from the presidential election indicates a definitive voting victory for the MDC. Based on the government’s INITIAL turnout figures, together with polling percentages from the June 2000 parliamentary election and recent opinion polling data, the electoral arithmetic shows that the way voters are likely to have decided in this watershed ballot leaves Zanu PF and their presidential candidate in trouble.
The initial overall turnout for the whole country – by the end of voting on Sunday evening as announced by ZBC - was around 2 980 000, or 53 percent of the registered electorate. Monday’s voting in Chitungwiza and Harare – disrupted and cut short by administrative obstructions – is not included in this total. By province, the turnout varied widely, according to the official release, from 46 percent in Bulawayo and Matabeleland North, to 69 percent in Mashonaland Central. Overall, the turnout was almost eight percentage points higher than in June 2000. Again, the figures vary – from under one percentage lower in Bulawayo compared with the parliamentary elections, to around 14 percentage points higher in Manicaland and Mavingo, and 17 percentage points higher in Mashonaland Central. The Harare turnout by Sunday evening, at 47 per cent of those registered, was around 2 percentage points higher than in June 2000. These initial turnout figures have been subsequently revised – considerably – by the government. But on the INITIAL figures, the calculations show that an announced Mugabe victory will be totally at odds with the likely course of voting on the ground.
In order to calculate how these turnout figures translate into support for the two main presidential candidates, we have used two sources of data. Overall actual support for the two candidates, by common agreement amongst political observers, would have largely been decided in the swing provinces of Masvingo and the Midlands, and also, crucially, how voters have changed their preferences in the three Mashonaland provinces since June 2000. For these – overwhelmingly rural - constituencies, we have taken the relative support for the two main candidates by those rural voters who were willing to reveal their intentions to researchers from the Mass Public Opinion Institute at the University of Zimbabwe. For the other areas, where the swing in the vote from June 2000 is likely to have been much lower, we have taken the relative shares of that actual vote in 2000. The arithmetic yields a total of just short of 1.7 million votes for Morgan Tsvangirai, compared with just over 1.2 million for Robert Mugabe – a victory of over 58 per cent as against 41 percent for the MDC.
As with everything else connected with this election, however, the data comes together with a number of health warnings. The February opinion poll data recorded a huge percentage of voters who were unwilling to say who they supported. The figures for Harare’s extra day of voting are not included in the calculations, and they could be crucial at the margin. And, most importantly of course there is, no allowance made for the distinct possibility of fraud between vote and count. The initial turnout figures upon which we have based our calculations have subsequently been revised by ZBC, further inflating the rural versus the urban vote. The numbers for Harare later showed a fall in votes cast versus June 2000. The initial figures showed an increase. And those for votes cast in Mashonaland Central were later raised enormously.
But of the vote itself, there is little doubt. Those who declined to reveal their voting preferences in the February opinion poll are more likely to have been MDC than Zanu PF supporters. And although we have assumed that the shares of the vote in the non-swing provinces stayed static compared with June 2000, it may have in fact increased in favour of the MDC since then. Masvingo is a particular case in point. The devil, as always, is in the detail. Why the large changes in the reports of voting totals on Monday? Those monitoring the count today will have to have their wits – and calculators - about them.
Registered Votes cast by Turnout Turnout MDC vote
Voters 2002 Sunday night % 2002 % 2000 share 2000
Bulawayo 368 028 169 000 45.9 46.7 83.6
Harare 882 176 415 000 47.0 44.7 75.9
Manicaland 658 694 363 000 55.1 41.4 47.2
Mash Central 480 092 331 000 69.0 51.7 19.8
Mash East 589 185 328 000 55.7 47.2 24.0
Mash West 572 677 293 000 51.2 43.1 32.8
Masvingo 655 122 380 000 58.0 43.8 37.0
Mat. North 338 186 157 000 46.4 43.7 73.6
Mat. South 343 993 165 000 48.0 46.4 59.3
Midlands 724 659 379 000 52.3 48.4 33.2
Total 5 612 814 2 980 000 53.1 45.5 46.7