International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 16, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwean government is screening foreign journalists
before letting them into the country before this month's elections, amid
suspicion that some may be spying for hostile Western nations, the official
media reported Sunday.
At least 300 foreign journalists have applied for accreditation under
Zimbabwe's sweeping media laws, the state Sunday Mail said.
Priority is being given to journalists from Africa and other developing
nations that are sending election monitors, it said.
Zimbabwe's government has barred Western observers from monitoring the March
29 vote. Western media organizations, including The Associated Press, have
received no word on accreditation requests submitted weeks ago.
"We have a team drawn from (the ministries) of information, foreign affairs
and the security arms that are examining each and every application,"
government spokesman George Charamba told the paper, a government
"We are mindful of attempts to turn journalists into observers and security
personnel from hostile countries," he said. "Those will be flushed out."
Critics have accused Zimbabwe of trying to keep out Western reporters by
delaying them from making travel bookings and other planning arrangements.
Leading hotels have said provisional bookings by some media organizations
have been canceled on Foreign Ministry orders, saying rooms were needed for
invited observers from Africa and mainly developing countries regarded as
friendly toward Zimbabwe.
Local independent monitoring groups say election preparations have been
chaotic with chronic shortages of gasoline, food and other basic goods amid
the nation's economic meltdown. Official inflation is by far the highest in
the world at 100,500 percent.
For the first time, Zimbabweans will vote in presidential, parliament and
local council elections on a single day at about 11,000 polling stations
countrywide - up from 4,000 polling stations in the last parliament vote in
The Zimbabwean government spokesman told the state newspaper that main
Western media organizations wanted to send their senior correspondents from
Iraq and Kenya, where 1,500 people died recent post election unrest.
"It is as if Zimbabwe is a war about to start," Charamba was quoted as
saying. "There is an expectation of blood in the streets, which explains the
deployment of war correspondents and cameramen. It's a way to psyche the
world against the results to justify the continuation of sanctions."
Charamba also alleged there was "a strange alliance" between competing
Western media networks over Zimbabwe.
"What this suggests is a shared objective. The story from Zimbabwe has to be
uniformly echoed for propaganda purposes," he said.
Zimbabwe has barred official observer delegations from its former colonial
ruler Britain, as well as from the European Union and the United States,
saying they backed the opposition and so would automatically declare any
victory for President Robert Mugabe's faction to not be free or fair.
Elections in 2002 and 2005 won by Mugabe's ruling party were marred by
administrative chaos, allegations of vote rigging, irregularities in voters'
lists and charges that violence and political intimidation influenced
On March 29, Mugabe, 84, is facing his biggest electoral challenge since the
country's 1980 independence, as his party is being challenged by groups led
by former finance minister and ruling party loyalist Simba Makoni, 57, and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 55.
Makoni draws his support from ruling party rebels and disillusioned
supporters of the fractured opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
mostly in urban areas.
Mugabe blames the economic crisis on sanctions imposed by Britain and its
Western allies to protest violations of human and democratic rights and the
often violent seizures of thousands of white owned farms that disrupted
agricultural production in the former regional breadbasket since 2000.
March 16 2008 at 10:56AM
By Peta Thornycroft
Harare - Like his hero President Robert Mugabe, the rebel Anglican
Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, is clinging desperately to power despite
his church's effort to get rid of him.
Kunonga was sacked by his superiors of the Central African Anglican
church last month but refused to leave. He is now living in the old stone
Anglican Cathedral in central Harare to make sure the church authorities do
not occupy it. Parishioners of the legitimate church have to worship in the
Kunonga's official replacement, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, says that, by
living in the church, Kunonga has defiled it and it will have to be
reconsecrated when - or perhaps that should be if - Kunonga is ever evicted.
Kunonga, 58, a fanatical supporter of Mugabe, has closed the cathedral
to the majority of Anglican worshippers who don't support him. He has
threatened to kill opponents and was put on trial by the church for breaking
its canons. The ruling Zanu-PF rewarded him for his loyalty with one of
Zimbabwe's prime white-owned farms at Nyabira, about 30km north of Harare.
Last year, Kunonga withdrew from the Anglican province of Central
Africa to set up his own province in Zimbabwe, ostensibly in a row about
But his critics claim he was really just preserving his own position.
The mother church fired him last month. He has been steadily abandoned by
all the parishes in Zimbabwe and now serves a community of only a few dozen
worshippers who fill a few pews in the cathedral on Sunday mornings.
"We will not use the cathedral for services again until we have
reconsecrated or sanctified it from the act of sacrilege done by Kunonga in
that place," said Bishop Bakare, who was brought out of retirement from
eastern Zimbabwe to take over the cathedral parish temporarily.
Kunonga keeps the cathedral locked 24 hours a day except during two
early Sunday services conducted by priests he recently ordained.
He has fought to remain in his post since he took office seven years
ago through an election that most parishioners believe was rigged.
His overtly pro-Mugabe sermons and allegedly violent conduct
eventually led to an ecclesiastical trial in Harare two years ago where he
was charged with conspiracy to murder 10 parishioners and a priest who fled
The trial was mysteriously abandoned before evidence was led.
Kunonga first made headlines when he stripped the cathedral of
artefacts and memorials which made even oblique references to white
Anglicans in Zimbabwe.
He also removed all brass plaques off benches in the cloisters which
marked the sacrifice of Rhodesian soldiers who died in the two world wars.
Kunonga is so determined to hold on to the cathedral that he has
rented out the official Anglican bishop's residence in Chisipite, a top
suburb north of Harare, and has moved into the cathedral.
Last Sunday, the smell of cooking drifted through the cloisters and
laundry piled into baskets was stacked in the nearby passage.
Bakare said: "We shall pray for a new beginning and look around at
what was defaced, and at the cloisters, and get information about whether
there is a corner where those things [plaques and memorials] were buried. We
want to restore the cathedral to its former dignity and its former glory."
Kunonga is also holding on to all the cathedral's assets, a 10-storey
office block, Pax House, mostly rented out to parastatals, and a large hall
alongside the church which is rented out several times a week for cash, for
weddings and parties.
All of Zimbabwe's Anglican wardens and priests gathered at St
Michael's Church in the high-density Mbare suburb of Harare two weeks ago to
welcome the last parish, from Lake Kariba, to leave Kunonga and join Bishop
In terms of a recent High Court order, all the cathedral's bank
accounts were frozen and Kunonga was told he must share the church for
Sunday services with Bishop Bakare. But Kunonga has defied the court order
and so Bishop Bakare's congregation worships on the lawn alongside the
Two parishioners from the cathedral are on bail from the Harare
Magistrate's Court, charged with public violence, after a clash between
congregants loyal to Kunonga and Bishop Bakare.
"Kunonga's act has disgraced us all. It has been a scandal committed
not by outsiders, but by people in the church, by people who we once thought
were part of the Catholic tradition," Bishop Bakare said.
A parishioner renting an Anglican house in Harare said: "I pay my rent
into a bank account which is frozen for withdrawals. I could never give
"I am born and bred in that cathedral," he said. "Will we ever be free
of Kunonga to worship in our own church?"
Last week Kunonga was quoted in the state-controlled daily The Herald
supporting Mugabe's bid for five more years in power.
"As the church, we see the president with different eyes. To us, he is
a prophet of God who was sent to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from
"God raised him to acquire our land and distribute it to Zimbabweans,
we call it democracy of the stomach. There is no government without soil. As
the church, we are totally against sanctions for they are destroying our
country," he said.
The telephones in Kunonga's office at the cathedral went unanswered
last week. - Foreign Service
This article was originally published on page 6 of Sunday Independent
on March 16, 2008
16/03/2008 11:52 - (SA)
Johannesburg - A dossier has been submitted to the National Prosecuting
Authority's Priority Crimes Unit by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre
(SALC) urging the unit to initiate investigations with a view to prosecuting
senior Zimbabwean police and other officials responsible for crimes against
Said SALC Director Nicole Fritz on Sunday: "The intention behind the
initiative is both to ensure some form of accountability for the people of
Zimbabwe at a time when their own justice system has all but collapsed and
also to secure South Africa's interest against becoming a 'safe haven' for
perpetrators of the most egregious international crimes."
South Africa's implementation of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court Act, No 27 of 2002, permits prosecutions for crimes against
humanity of those who are not South African nationals or have not committed
such crimes on SA's territory if such a person after the commission of the
crime, is present in South Africa.
Several of the perpetrators named in the dossier travelled to South Africa
on official business, in some instances for co-operative endeavours such as
the South Africa/Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and
Moreover, given Zimbabwe's economic collapse, many of those named travelled
to South Africa to obtain desired commodities and services, including
healthcare, Fritz said.
The Independent, UK
Gordon Brown has strongly criticised Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, but
now ministers are seeking to expel 1,000 desperate people back to Harare on
the grounds that there is 'no general risk' to them. Emily Dugan and Robert
Sunday, 16 March 2008
Ministers are preparing to expel hundreds of failed asylum-seekers back to
the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe, seriously undermining Gordon Brown's
publicly declared tough stance on Zimbabwe.
The Government has started a mass removal programme that could affect more
than 1,000 Zimbabweans who have enjoyed protection in the UK under a
moratorium on deportations.
Letters sent by the Home Office to failed asylum-seekers last week inform
the recipients that they are at "no general risk" in Zimbabwe and encourage
them to leave the UK voluntarily.
One of the letters, seen by The Independent on Sunday, says: "Your claim for
asylum has been refused... I am now writing to make sure that you know that
the Border & Immigration Agency [BIA] is expecting shortly to be able to
enforce returns to Zimbabwe. The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal [AIT] has
now found that there is no general risk on return for failed
It adds: "You have exhausted your rights of appeal and have no other basis
of stay in the UK. You should now make plans to return home."
Groups advising asylum-seekers in the UK said the change of policy follows
an immigration appeals court ruling in 2006 that paved the way for mass
The first phase of the new asylum removal drive will target 500 failed
asylum-seekers from Zimbabwe living in the north-west of England. In all,
more than 1,000 people are likely to be affected in the near future, out of
some 7,000 Zimbabwean asylum-seekers in the UK.
News of the letter could prove embarrassing for the Prime Minister, who has
made political capital out of a possible Zimbabwe cricket tour ban and
refused to sit next to Mr Mugabe at an international summit. Gordon Brown
now faces accusations of hypocrisy over his dealings with the African state.
In his first speech as leader to the Labour conference last year, Mr Brown
promised to stand up for those suffering persecution in Zimbabwe. He made
direct reference to Mugabe's regime, saying: "The message should go out to
anyone facing persecution anywhere from Burma to Zimbabwe: human rights are
universal and no injustice can last for ever."
Last night Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said the
deportations could not be justified: "With elections due to be held on 29
March, the timing could not be worse. Unfortunately the situation in
Zimbabwe has if anything deteriorated. There is no justification for
returning Zimbabweans into the hands of the Mugabe regime. It is typical but
depressing that Gordon Brown can seek to gain the moral high ground by
refusing to attend a summit with Mugabe, while his own Home Secretary seems
desperate to deport Zimbabweans at the earliest opportunity."
Kate Hoey MP, Labour chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe,
said it would be "ridiculous" if the Home Office tried to force mass returns
of asylum-seekers. "The situation in Zimbabwe is worse than ever, and to
send people back in a blanket way like this is not something that anyone
with an understanding of the country would support."
Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: "I do
not believe it is safe to return asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe. The country is
considered by many, including Amnesty, to still be in political turmoil.
Opposition to Mugabe's regime is still prohibited and political opponents
vulnerable to excessive police force. I condemn the Home Office's habit of
sending people back to unsafe countries just to look tough."
Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "We do not think
it is morally acceptable for the Government to force people to return to
Zimbabwe. There has been no improvement in the human rights situation there,
which remains dire.
"We know most Zimbabweans want to return when it is safe and to contribute
to rebuilding their country. We should be offering them a form of temporary
status here allowing them to work and retain their skills so they're fully
equipped when the situation has improved."
Beatrice Masina, 26, one of the 500 Zimbabweans who received a Home Office
letter last week, faces being sent back - along with her seven-month-old
baby, Leeroy - to people she said have already attacked her previously in
A supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), she
distributed T-shirts and leaflets at party rallies. Early one morning in May
2003, a gang of 10 Zanu-PF militia kidnapped her. The men, armed with
machetes and clubs, took her to a secret location, raped and then beat her.
A day later, they dumped her by the road.
She sought protection at her uncle's house but soon began to get threatening
letters. "The letters said they knew where I was, and that they would come
and get me," said Ms Masina. It was then that she decided to flee, arriving
in the UK in September 2003.
"If [Zanu-PF] know I'm back they might attack me again, and I might be
killed," she said. "I'm scared my baby would not survive the persecution.
They [the Home Office] are being very unfair. I don't think they're looking
at the dangers I'll face. They just want to send people back regardless. If
anything happens to me, they'll have my blood on their hands."
Patson Muzuwa, chair of the Zimbabwe Association, said it had called an
emergency meeting with solicitors to look at ways of fighting this change in
policy. He said: "How come the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says Zimbabwe
is bad on human rights, yet the Home Office wants to send people back?
"There doesn't appear to be a link between the departments; the Home Office
just wants to boast about how many people they've deported. There are
continuous human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and this seems to be deliberate
timing by the Home Office ahead of the elections."
David Banks, co-ordinator of the parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, said:
"It's baffling; the BIA doesn't seem to put what it is doing into any
context of developments in the country from where the asylum-seekers have
come. I think these letters highlight the astonishing insensitivity of the
Home Office. Most of their people have no understanding of the sense of fear
and threat that people in this country live under."
A spokesman for the BIA said last night: "The Home Office had agreed at a
High Court hearing on 26 September 2006 to defer the enforced removal of
failed asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe pending the outcome of the country
guidance litigation. This position will be maintained until any application
for permission to appeal the AIT's determination is dealt with. We expect to
be in a position to resume enforced returns of failed asylum-seekers to
Zimbabwe very shortly."
He added: "We will continue to do everything we can to ensure a better
future for Zimbabweans: a democratic and accountable government, respect for
human rights and the rule of law, and policies that ensure economic
stability and development, not humanitarian misery. However, not every
Zimbabwean in the UK qualifies for asylum and we believe it is vital that we
continue to operate a fair and robust system, enforcing the removal of those
not entitled to be in the country who refuse to leave voluntarily."
A family at risk: 'If I go back to Zimbabwe, they'll kill me'
When Rose Moyo (a pseudonym) fled Zimbabwe in 2002 she thought she had
secured a safe future. But now a letter from the Home Office has shattered
the 35-year-old's dream of life away from Mugabe's militia.
Rose worked as a farm manager with her husband just outside Bulawayo when
gangs of men from Zanu-PF began targeting them. The couple were well known
for being MDC members, and visits became more frequent.
After the most violent of these attacks in October 2001, when the militia
began whipping MDC activists, her husband disappeared. Rose has not heard
from him since and fears he is dead. A month later the men came back again:
this time they raped and beat her. "That was the worst day of my life," she
said. "And I will never be able to forget it."
After more death threats, she decided the only option left was to flee, and
her two children were forced to stay behind with her mother-in-law. But last
year her mother-in-law also went missing and is believed dead.
Relatives managed to get her two children, Lucia, 11, and Blessings, nine,
on a flight to the UK at Christmas, and for the first time in six years the
family is reunited in safety. But now her dream of them living in peace is
Choking back tears, Rose said: "When I got the letter I couldn't believe it.
If I go back to Zimbabwe they'll kill me. The Home Office is just being
cruel. Instead of helping people like me they are making our lives harder.
"If the Government doesn't believe what I'm saying they should go there and
see for themselves how bad it is."
By Alec Russell in Masvingo
Published: March 16 2008 18:13 | Last updated: March 16 2008 18:13
In the darkened provincial hall, the audience of 40-50 Zimbabweans could
hardly see the man on the stage who was claiming to have come to liberate
them from President Robert Mugabe’s autocratic rule.
Moments before he was due to speak, one of Zimbabwe’s rolling power cuts had
hit the region. Nervous spectators speculated it had been timed to undermine
the appearance of the speaker, Simba Makoni, a former finance minister and
one-time stalwart of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
But as he finished his introductory denunciation of his former boss they
threw caution aside and peppered him with questions.
“Businessmen cannot buy goods from wholesalers without giving a kickback,”
said the first to his feet, a haggard man in a tatty safari suit. “To drive
I have to bribe a policeman. To get water I have to bribe someone from the
city council. Such is the state of corruption in our country. Once in power
how will you remove this?”
“Foreign investors are afraid of investing in this country,” said a second.
“If you are elected, how will you attract foreign business? How do you
envisage engaging international countries so we become again part of the
The questions might seem run-of-the-mill given the parlous situation of
Zimbabwe after 28 years of Mr Mugabe’s rule: inflation exceeds 100,000 per
cent; headteachers earn the equivalent of US$18 (€11.70, £8.90) a month and
supermarkets lack all but the most basic goods.
But this was not a forum for Zimbabwean exiles in London or Johannesburg,
strongholds of the several million estimated to have fled deteriorating
conditions in their homeland. This was the central town of Masvingo,
traditionally a bastion of Mugabe support, and most of the audience until
recently regarded themselves as Zanu-PF supporters.
“I’m coming to say let’s join together, let’s get Zimbabwe working again,”
Mr Makoni told them to shouts of Simba, which in the language of the
majority Shona tribe means power. “People in rural areas still have the idea
that there is a hidden camera in the ballot box. Those of you who live in
towns, go home and tell your rural relations they are free to vote.”
As Mr Mugabe, 84, seeks another presidential term at elections on March 29,
his record is under open attack as never before.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the veteran leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, is touring the country addressing fervent rallies,
calling for a clear-out of Zanu-PF.
While Mr Makoni’s campaign has less overt support than the MDC leader’s, his
defection has clearly shaken Mr Mugabe’s inner circle.
Few senior party officials have publicly endorsed Mr Makoni, but his aides
insist that privately he has the backing of many more, who will direct their
constituents on polling day to vote against the president and also try to
Outwardly undaunted, Mr Mugabe is flying across the country by helicopter
addressing rallies of bussed-in supporters, painting his rivals as stooges
of the west, in particular Britain, the old colonial power. They want to
return Zimbabwe to the control of whites, he maintains. Only he is truly
interested in “empowering” black Zimbabweans.
Such nationalist rhetoric appears to have lost much of its old resonance. Mr
Mugabe himself admitted for the first time the other day that the country
faced an economic crisis. ”Even the elderly people [traditionally his
staunchest supporters] have lost hope and want him to go,” said a
head-teacher in Masvingo province. ”I am fed up. Either Simba or Morgan
would be better.”
And yet as Mr Tsvangirai, head of the larger of the MDC’s two factions,
knows all too well, it is not easy to defeat the incumbent who has all the
powers of the state at his disposal to ensure victory.
Since the MDC’s formation eight years ago, the party has lost three
elections widely condemned by independent observers as deeply flawed. While
there have been far fewer reports of state-sponsored violence against
opposition supporters than in the last three campaigns, the election remains
skewed in the president’s favour.
The national police chief made his feelings clear on Friday when he
denounced Mr Mugabe’s rivals as western “puppets”. State television and
radio, by far the most influential media, are little more than mouthpieces
for Mr Mugabe. NGOs monitoring the elections suspect that as many as 20 per
cent of the names on the voters’ roll are of dead and absentee people who
will “vote” for Zanu-PF. Diplomats highlight a shortfall of voting stations
in areas where Mr Mugabe is least popular.
Recent constitutional changes negotiated in mediation talks hosted by South
Africa are dismissed by many analysts as perfunctory. The changes were “much
too late”, said Brian Penduka, from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum.
The opposition candidates are pinning their hopes on a run-off. In theory
that happens if the winner does not get more than 50 per cent of the vote.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly of
Zimbabwe, and a veteran critic of the president, believes such hopes are
“Mugabe is not facing a serious threat. The electoral situation is so
defective and the ruling regime has a grip on the process in such a way
that, despite the uncertainty felt by most of the electorate, he will still
win.” His opponents say that at the least there will be a run-off. They are
wrong. The regime is confident the methods they have put in place will
ensure the result they need.”
In the Masvingo hall, after Mr Makoni answered the first three questions, an
aide urgently drew proceedings to a close. They had already exceeded the
30-minutes allowed for their meeting. The police could come at any time.
They dispersed into the night, hoping but not exactly expectant that an
upset was genuinely in sight.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 16 March
Rattled by mistrust within the inner core of the Zanu PF leadership,
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected to put pressure on his own
politburo members to declare their loyalty. The politburo - the most
powerful decision-making organ of the party - meets on Wednesday to discuss
its senior member, Dumiso Dabengwa, who openly defied Mugabe to support
Simba Makoni, the rival presidential candidate. Makoni was expelled from the
politburo last month for declaring that he would challenge Mugabe during
presidential elections on March 29. After Dabengwa claimed that there were
more Makoni allies in the politburo, Mugabe is expected to question members'
loyalty. Mugabe and the politburo could face a constitutional crisis on
Wednesday if they decide to expel Dabengwa. The constitution of Zanu PF
allows for expulsion only when a politburo member stands as an independent
candidate or joins another party, charges they cannot put to Dabengwa.
In fact, he still regards himself as a full politburo member. He told the
Harare-based Quill Press Club this week that he would attend the Wednesday
crisis meeting. But this week Mugabe told reporters that Dabengwa had
already decided "his fate", and accused his former cabinet minister of
betraying the liberation struggle. Dabengwa is a tribalist who will use
Makoni to buttress his Matebeleland support base and to resuscitate Zapu, a
rival party that later merged with Zanu PF, according to a Mugabe ally.
Dabengwa is not the only politburo member unsettling Mugabe's 18-year
political career as head of state. Retired general Solomon Mujuru, Mugabe's
trusted ally who put him into power in exile, was publicly silent on his
loyalty to the president when first approached by Makoni. But this week
Mugabe told reporters that Mujuru had visited him on Monday and had
distanced himself from Makoni. He added that Mujuru had said it was
"untenable" for him to support Makoni given that his wife, Joyce Mujuru, is
the vice-president in Zanu PF and in the government.
However, Mujuru did not necessarily renounce his own political standing. The
meeting lasted only a few minutes. "[Mugabe] asked him if there was anything
else. And that was it," a reliable source said this week. Unsettling Mugabe
further, Dabengwa told reporters on Wednesday that more than 60 percent of
Zanu PF's central committee supported Makoni's course. "I don't think I want
to go into mentioning names," he said. "I don't think it would benefit
anybody if I did. But I can tell you that I estimate a good 60 percent of
that membership was supportive, and is still supportive, of the move that we
have taken." He told members of the Quill Press Club that the plan to oust
Mugabe and three members of his presidium [vice-presidents] was hatched
before last year's Zanu PF congress. He said the move to get Makoni to
challenge Mugabe finally came when the central committee tried to force the
congress to endorse Mugabe.
"[At] the beginning of this year we started debating that issue among
ourselves. Are we going to an election that we will win? First, are we
ourselves convinced in our consciences that we can go and vote for the
incumbent [Mugabe] as our president?" If the answer to that question was no,
he said, how could he then work to convince others to vote for Mugabe? "No
ways, my conscience will not allow me to do that." After Dabengwa's address
at the Quill Press Club, more reports of fractures within Mugabe's inner
circle emerged, with Happyton Bonyongwe, the director of the central
intelligence agency, mentioned as supporting Makoni. However, Bonyongwe
denied this in the state-owned Herald newspaper yesterday. "On my part
really, I have no association whatsoever with the Makoni group and
everything being said is rubbish," he was quoted as saying.
Mugabe's thrust on the campaign trail this week was aimed at rubbishing
Makoni, Dabengwa, and Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change
leader who is also a presidential candidate. This is a sign of panic,
according to one Harare-based independent journalist. Zanu PF has taken out
full-page advertisements daily in the state newspapers trying to show how
Tsvangirai preferred personal comfort while most political leaders opted for
liberation war in the 1970s. Tsvangirai could not be reached for comment
yesterday. A Mugabe aide said that, although they were concerned about
Tsvangirai's campaign, they were less unnerved by "this young boy", Makoni.
"He is not a factor at all," the aide said. While Makoni's campaign is
battling in the rural areas and attracting a handful of supporters, for the
first time Tsvangirai is gathering rural support and has been addressing
large rallies. Mugabe's support has not shown a significant decline.
Early arrivals at the Vigil were Simba Chipunza and his family (wife
Madeline Kucherera and daughter Delmar) all the way from Liverpool. They
hitched a ride on a coach carrying demonstrators to a 'Stop the War' rally
in Trafalgar Square! Ours was more a 'Stop the Suffering' rally with much
anxious discussion about the coming elections.
Supporters of our partners Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe joined us
to recruit members for their campaign to empower people in Zimbabwe to stand
up for their rights.
We were glad to be joined by Dr Brighton Chireka, a human rights campaigner
from the early days of the Vigil and, on his first visit, baby Mandla
Mutyambizi-Dewa with his mother Addley. Addley's husband Julius told us
that his brother Farai Robert Mutyambizi has been charged with high treason
after being returned to Zimbabwe by the German authorities. He said that
Farai, an ex-soldier with the Zimbabwean army, has been tortured while in
the hands of the Central Intelligence Organisation. Julius is calling for a
boycott of the German airline Lufthansa for flying him out of Germany.
On a brighter note, the German news agency Deutsche Welle is showing more
compassion for the plight of Zimbabweans. They spent the afternoon with us,
mainly filming Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani who is to feature in a report
about Zimbabweans in the diaspora. He led the singing and dancing with his
usual exuberance helped by the excellent singing of Thandiwe Ndlovu, another
supporter from Liverpool.
Patson Muzuwa and Luka Phiri of the Zimbabwe Association were on hand at the
Vigil to give advice to people anxious about their asylum status following
reports that many Zimbabweans have received letters from the Home Office
advising them to make plans to go home.
We have put the photographs of Vikki Farrell's big tapestry which expresses
what is happening in Zimbabwe on our photo website (see diary of 1st March
2008). Vikki is planning to bring it to Vigil.
After the Vigil, we had another well-attended meeting to finalise plans for
our Mock Election on 29th March. Good ideas were forthcoming for our media
stunts and a news release will follow shortly.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.
FOR THE RECORD: 203 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Saturday, 22nd March, 1pm. Easter Zimbabwe debate at Scarborough
Library. Contact: Albert Weidemann (07917 056 093)
· Friday, 28th March, 2.30 - 8.30pm. Vigil of Prayer at Southwark
Cathedral on the eve of the elections. Saturday, 29th March, 9.15 am.
Special Eucharist followed by a time of prayer until 11 am. If you wish to
lead one of the prayer times on Friday afternoon, please contact Canon
Andrew Nunn 0207 367 6727. (The Diocese of Southwark is linked to the
Anglican dioceses of Manicaland, Matabeleland and Central Zimbabwe.)
· Saturday, 29th March 2008, 6 am - 6 pm: Zimbabwe Vigil's diaspora
polling station and mock ballot.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Mail and Guardian
Muchena Zigomo | Johannesburg, South Africa
16 March 2008 06:23
Zimbabwe's main labour union on Sunday called on millions of
Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa to go home to vote in the
country's March 29 elections, South Africa's Talk Radio 702 reported.
Zimbabweans will vote in presidential, parliamentary and
municipal elections in two weeks, in which analysts say President Robert
Mugabe faces the greatest challenge to his 28-year rule due to an economic
meltdown and opposition candidates including a ruling party renegade.
"The situation back home is unfolding, therefore I appeal to
them to cross the Limpopo and come and cast their votes," Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told Talk Radio
An estimated three million Zimbabweans live and work in South
Africa, out of a total Zimbabwean population of about 12-million.
The 84-year-old Zanu-PF leader Mugabe faces a strong challenge
from Simba Makoni, his former finance minister who will run as an
independent candidate, and opposition Movement for Democratc Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Working class urban dwellers are the stronghold of the
opposition MDC, but many of these have left the country as economic migrants
to countries including South Africa.
Mugabe's challengers and critics accuse him of buying votes to
win the elections.
The South African Press Agency quoted Chibebe as saying: "The
government has doled out billions of Zim dollars to the members of the armed
forces as unsolicited loans. This is daylight vote-buying."
Critics say subsidised loans and farm equipment for farmers, as
well as promises by Mugabe last week to increase government workers'
salaries also amount to vote-buying.
Zimbabweans have suffered from the world's highest inflation --
over 100 000% a year -- which has eroded incomes in the southern African
country. Some teachers, the bulk of state workers, are on strike and doctors
have also threatened to strike, crippling essential services.
In power since independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe denies
mismanaging the economy and says it has been sabotaged by Western states as
punishment for his land reforms which include confiscating farms from white
farmers. - Reuters
By Alec Russell in Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Published: March 16 2008 18:04 | Last updated: March 16 2008 18:04
Simba Makoni, the former Zimbabwe finance minister and now presidential
challenger, has said that if Robert Mugabe is defeated in this month’s
presidential elections he can retire to his village but will remain subject
to the “law of the land”.
“He is an elderly man who has a special place in our history but who also
has a lot to answer for,” Mr Makoni told the Financial Times. “There will be
no retribution, no rancour. He will retire to his village if he wants to. He
can write his memoirs as he once said he wanted to.”
Asked whether Mr Mugabe would be investigated over the Matabeleland
massacres of the 1980s when security forces killed up to 20,000 supporters
of his one-time rival liberation leader, Joshua Nkomo, Mr Makoni said the
president would be liable to “the law of the land”.
His ambiguous response reflects the difficulties he faces honing his
message. A former senior official of the ruling Zanu-PF party the
57-year-old hopes to gain the support of traditional Mugabe supporters by
presenting himself as an “in-house” successor, but he also needs to tap into
public discontent at the veteran autocrat’s mismanagement of the economy.
Only one senior member of the politburo, Dumiso Dabengwa, has joined his
campaign, but there is widespread speculation that other Zanu-PF
powerbrokers, including General Solomon Mujuru, a former army chief, are
Seemingly stung by the defection, Mr Mugabe has called his challenger a
“prostitute” and mocked him as a jumped-up junior officer from the days of
the liberation struggle.
Mr Makoni’s ties with the Zanu-PF elite have reinforced suspicions that he
would not oversee the reforms of the political and business regimes that are
widely deemed necessary in the wake of the increasingly kleptocratic rule of
If elected he would, he said, form a government of national unity reflecting
the composition of parliament and so comprising members of both Zanu-PF and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Only after consulting his new
allies would he announce his policies to reverse Zimbabwe’s economic
He was outspoken about conditions in Zimbabwe. “Today it is in a state of
fear, a nation of stress and mistrust. My vision is of a country where you
are not partitioned into little paddocks because you have the wrong card in
your pocket ... or because a relative supports the wrong party.
“If people have amassed wealth crookedly then the law will be brought to
bear on them,” he said. In spite of calling for an end to “disorderly” and
“unfair” land reform, he indicated that land forcibly taken from several
thousand white commercial farmers would not be returned.
Most analysts agree his campaign has rattled the Zanu-PF hierarchy and
foreshadows the implosion of Mr Mugabe’s authority, but many suspect his
campaign started too late for him to surmount the president’s huge built-in
advantages – patronage and dominance of the electoral machinery.
Asked why more officials had not endorsed him, Mr Makoni said: “The media
here are fond of talking about bigwigs. There are no bigger wigs than the
people of Zimbabwe.”
Friday, 14 March 2008
* TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE
First, it was Zimbabwe's Commissioner of Police, Augustine Chihuri, who
announced late last month that the Zimbabwe Republic Police were going to
use live ammunition on citizens during and after elections should
Zimbabweans protest about the conduct or results of the forthcoming
Chihuri followed it up with receiving vehicles from dictator Robert Mugabe
and passing the cars to selected members of the police force.
It's something called 'bribery.' Chihuri then cancelled leave for police
officers and recalled those who were already on leave so that these civil
servants can campaign for Mugabe.
Then this week, Army commander General Constantine Chiwenga threatened to
stage a coup if Mugabe lost the forthcoming elections because, he said, the
army would not support an opposition-led government.
"Elections are coming and the army will not support or salute sell-outs and
agents of the West before, during and after the presidential elections,"
Chiwenga is quoted as saying, adding that Mugabe had sacrificed a lot for
the country and deserved support.
Obviously, the army general has been blind for decades if he cannot see the
sacrifices the people continue to make against his master's voodoo
economics, politics of patronage, stolen elections, disregard for human
life, starving old men, women and children, corruption, absence of human and
property rights and the mysterious disappearance of political opponents.
Chiwenga has his muzzle so deep in the feeding trough that, when questioned
about the role of the army in protecting a democracy, he burst out, "Are you
mad? What is wrong with the army supporting the President against the
election of sell-outs?"
And during this verbal altercation, a woman thought to be Jocelyn Chiwenga,
the general's wife, is reported to have grabbed the phone and growled, "We
can come and take you, and deal with you."
Jocelyn, the one time bar-room waitress, is no stranger to mindless
controversy. In 2002, she was quoted as having told a white Zimbabwean
farmer, whose farm she coveted, that she had not tasted white blood in
years. She has shamelessly assaulted lawyers and journalists all the while
moronically singing Mugabe's praises and that is why she has never appeared
in court to answer to her crimes.
Where else in the world would you find an army commander openly telling the
press that he is going to stage a coup if certain things don't happen? Only
in Zimbabwe! Because there is no rule of law. Threats of a coup are coming
from the same people who grounded a planeload of alleged South African coup
plotters on their way to toppling another notorious son of Africa, Teodoro
Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, of Equatorial Guinea.
Mugabe made the South African adventurers serve prison terms saying coups
must be discouraged on the African continent. Today, a bootlicking general
ignorantly proclaims his intention to commit treason if things don't go his
way. And Mugabe smiles. A coup, for whatever reason, is a crime against the
people and the constitution. What further evidence is needed to show that
Zimbabweans are being asked to participate in an electoral charade whose
results are not going to be honoured anyway?
What further evidence is needed to prove Ian Smith's proclamation that
Mugabe and ZANU-PF are gangsters? Mugabe's government is nothing less than
organised crime. And as if that were not enough, Zimbabweans are irked that
the notorious do-nothing organisation called the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) has staked its presence in Zimbabwe "to monitor
the elections." And the big fish himself, Tomaz Salomao, SADC
Secretary-General, went there in person.
Why is he not saying anything about the bad political climate in Zimbabwe?
For sometime now, people have been harassed, refused permission to hold
rallies, bullied, arrested and some have started to disappear. It's a
typical Robert Mugabe electioneering practice.
"As we come and observe elections in Zimbabwe, we do so with confidence that
the tradition of peace encapsulated in the unquestionable political maturity
and tolerance shall, once again, guide Zimbabweans as they go to the polls,"
Salomao said at a news conference in Harare two days ago. How nauseating,
pathetic and insulting to Zimbabweans! Can anyone in their right mind, let
alone Salomao and his rancid organisation, ever talk about Zimbabwe's
"tradition of peace", "unquestionable political maturity" and "tolerance"?
And some people say my criticism of SADC and its leaders is unwarranted?
Does Salomao read news reports at all? Why is he lying? He knows fully well
that the scheduled elections in Zimbabwe are submerged in circumstances that
do not meet any of his organisation's requirements, so what is he going to
monitor? Why is Salomao and his SADC playing such a sickening an immoral
role in the continued oppression of Zimbabweans?
This leads me to one conclusion: Salomao is only in Zimbabwe so as to be the
first to congratulate and endorse General Chiwenga's coup d'Žtat while
relaxing at Victoria Falls. Paradzai Zimondi is a retired major and is the
Zimbabwe Prisons Service chief. Last week, he vowed he would resign and 'go
back to defend my piece of land' if Mugabe lost the election. He ordered his
officers to vote for Mugabe and announced his intention to resign if the
opposition won the elections.
"I am giving you an order to vote for the President," Zimondi said at a
ceremony at which he was conferring new ranks on senior officers, making one
wonder if the promotions were rewards for the votes.
Does Salomao care?
Meanwhile, another clown, deposed Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, Mugabe's
spiritual midget and partner in futility who was recently thrown out of the
Anglican Church, is urging Zimbabweans to vote for Mugabe.
Kunonga, who, like Mugabe, has lost the knack of civilised discourse, is
refusing to give up his position as Anglican Bishop of Harare. He went to
court using parish funds to stop parishioners from worshipping at the famed
Anglican Cathedral in Harare. He lost and now sleeps and lives in the church
to make sure that only those people who support dictator Mugabe have access
to the vicary.
Any comment SADC?
Mugabe has provided Kunonga with a band of the feared CIO agents to protect
him at the commandeered Cathedral as he soils God's name and that of the
church and tries to justify evil to please a murderous tyrant.
Kunonga continues 'to rely on state security for protection and continues to
receive immunity from arrest despite violating three court orders governing
the use of the cathedral.' "As the church, we see the President with
different eyes," says Kunonga. "To us he is a prophet of God who was sent to
deliver the people of Zimbabwe from bondage."
Imagine an ordained bishop of the church using words like 'anointed' and
'prophet' to describe a murderer. A bishop claiming that a man with blood on
his hands is actually our Loving God's messenger "to deliver Zimbabweans
from bondage" while it is Mugabe himself who has wreaked bondage, deaths and
misery on the people of Zimbabwe.
Talk about blasphemy!
Were Kunonga a Moslem, he would be a prime candidate for the fatwa. As I try
to organise the kaleidoscope of images in my head, confused and betrayed,
one evident and recurrent sad observation among these political morons
appears to be their total disdain and disregard for the people's lives and
wishes. To survive, these bloodsuckers must keep democracy away. To keep
Zimbabwe, they have to destroy it. To maintain their oppressive and corrupt
lives, they must stand behind Mugabe. Have those who have been killed died
in vain? No! As Zimbabweans, we can't undo the past but we can and must
reconsider the future.
If history repeats itself with us, it is us who should get the blame. When I
see the company that SADC keeps, I am afraid for our nation and continent
but, again, 'to be alive is to be afraid because to not be afraid is to be
dead.' And, as somebody said, I am secure in my sanity; I am guilty only of
running away from pain.
My country is bleeding.
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 11:50
LAST Monday's meeting between President Robert Mugabe and Retired
General Solomon Mujuru effectively ended their 30-year close relationship,
The Standard understands.
Sources close to Mugabe described the meeting as "frosty", saying it
lasted "just five minutes".
They met, the sources said, at Mujuru's request. He reportedly wanted
to distance himself from Simba Makoni's initiative, in the same way Makoni
had distanced himself from "the project" during the meeting he held with
Mugabe, before announcing he was after the president's job.
Mujuru told Mugabe that he was not the architect of the Mavambo
formation. He reportedly said this was an initiative driven by Makoni, Ibbo
Mandaza, Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, Dumiso Dabengwa and others.
Mujuru reportedly told Mugabe he would not be involved because his
wife, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, was a senior member of the politburo and
was in the government.
The sources said a petulant Mugabe reportedly told Mujuru: "Okay, I
have heard you. Is that all?" ending the meeting between two former allies.
In describing the meeting with Mujuru to the State media Mugabe
curiously used the phrase, "that's what he (Mujuru) told me", suggesting he
was sceptical of Mujuru's explanation.
Observers have said what is significant about this episode is that
Mujuru has not himself said anything while the President, in desperate need
of allies, purports to speak for him.
It was not immediately possible to confirm with Mujuru the outcome of
Monday's meeting as efforts to contact him were unsuccessful. Calls to him
But sources told The Standard Mugabe's line of questioning indicated
he had detailed information from security agencies on meetings that Mujuru
had allegedly attended, during which the "Makoni project" had been
"It was a frosty meeting," said the sources. "Mugabe wanted to contain
the fall-out. The meeting was hostile and put pressure on Mujuru to come out
in the open."
According to the sources, the meeting has left Mujuru in an untenable
position ahead of next Wednesday's politburo meeting in Harare. But it has
also sent Zanu PF into a tailspin because Mugabe is now said to believe that
50%-60% of his politburo members support Makoni.
Publicly, these members pretend to campaign for Mugabe but are in fact
urging voters to cast their ballots for the Zanu PF aspiring councillor, MP
and Senator but to vote for Makoni for president, The Standard heard.
The sources said Wednesday's meeting would be significant on at least
two grounds: whether Zanu PF has any legitimate grounds on which to expel
Dabengwa from the party, as some party hardliners are urging the party to
do, and the matter of the severed nexus between Mugabe and Mujuru, clearly
rendering redundant a friendship and trust dating back to 1975.
When Mugabe arrived in Mozambique in 1975, Mujuru came to his rescue,
persuading sceptical guerrillas to accept him, leading to Mugabe's election
at the nine-day Chimoio congress in 1977, finally sealing his leadership of
both the party and its armed wing, Zanla.
But that relationship ruptured at Monday's meeting, clearly
demonstrating for the first time in more than three decades they were now on
Dabengwa has not stood as an independent candidate and is not running
for office and has therefore not, technically, breached any sections of the
"Makoni's first statement said that the December 2007 extraordinary
congress of the ruling party was a disappointment. So did Dabengwa," The
Standard heard. "Effectively, what they have done is to take their fight to
the public. If the public endorse Makoni they can bring in other forces
working under the so-called National Authority, which Makoni has spoken of."
Dabengwa had previously denied he was one of Makoni's supporters but a
few days later he came out in the open at two well-attended meetings in
Bulawayo to announce he had dumped Mugabe and joined Makoni.
"Those who are not involved do not bother to defend themselves," said
the sources. "[But] those who are strenuous in their denials end up
Observers have said what is significant about this episode is that
Mujuru has not himself said anything while the president, in desperate need
of allies, purports to speak for him.
Others, such as Vice-President Joseph Msika, The Standard heard, are
reportedly sympathetic to Makoni because of the flagrant manner in which
suspended war veterans' leader, Jabulani Sibanda, was roped in through the
backdoor to spearhead Mugabe's re-election campaign, particularly the
leading the "solidarity marches" which culminated with the "one million men
and women march" in Harare.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 11:41
ZANU PF's major weakness is the failure to renew its leadership, says
Fay Chung, a former minister under President Robert Mugabe who, she says,
may now be remembered only for the "sewage" that litters the streets and the
"endless nights" without electricity.
Chung, a parliamentary candidate under Simba Makoni's Mavambo
formation, is widely acclaimed for her role in reforming the educational
system after independence.
In comments highlighting her disappointment with the performance of
her erstwhile comrades in Zanu PF, she said they had "run down the country".
She said there was evidence everywhere for everyone to see that the
country lacked leadership.
"Even in the streets, you see pipes spewing out raw sewage, everywhere
there is corruption, GMB (Grain Marketing Board) has no seeds, ZESA
(Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) has no electricity, there is general
neglect. It's clear Zimbabwe is like a plane without a pilot," she said in
an interview with The Standard.
"Unless you have a moral leader like a Pope or a Queen, it is wrong
for any country or organisation not to renew its leadership. You need
renewal; it's 28 years and there has been no renewal," Chung added, in a
specific attack on Mugabe's leadership.
"If he had retired early, some would have considered him greater than
Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere," she said.
Chung served in Mugabe's cabinet from 1988 to 1993 as Minister of
Education, Sport and Culture and Employment Creation, before quitting to
join UNICEF in New York and later UNESCO in Addis Ababa.
She spent 10 years with the United Nations agencies, returning to
Harare in 2004 where she maintained a low profile.
Four years down the line, Chung is out in the open fighting for
She is among the candidates lined up by Makoni for the 29 March
elections. She is standing in the Mvurachena Senatorial Constituency.
She said she could not sit and watch while Zimbabwe slipped further
into an economic and political quagmire.
Unlike many Zimbabweans, Chung counts herself among the few people in
Mugabe's government who realised 15 years ago that Zanu PF was heading for
disaster. This prompted her to leave the government.
While it was generally thought that she had quit her Minister of
Employment Creation position, to pursue greener pastures at UNICEF, Chung
says she packed her bags after her comrades failed to heed her advice on
Chung realised that government had no plans for the 350 000 students
who were leaving the schools each year while she was serving as Minister of
Education, Sport and Culture. In 1992, determined to have this situation
corrected, she asked President Mugabe to move her to the Ministry of
Employment Creation, hoping that she would be able to implement policies
that could generate employment.
But in 18 months' time, Chung had quit her position.
Chung said she decided to leave after realising that her comrades were
not taking her proposals seriously.
"I realised they were never keen on employment. About 350 000 children
were leaving schools but just 30 000 were getting jobs. I thought this was a
bomb, this bomb would explode one day," Chung said.
Chung recalls that she requested $400 million for employment creation
in 1993 but was only given $4 million "to keep me quiet".
By this time, she noted, the government was in the midst of the
Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP).
"It was clear the government would not do anything with it (employment
creation). They really believed in structural adjustment," she said.
The former Minister said she prepared "papers and papers" which
outlined what she then thought would spur employment creation. These centred
on public works programmes and proposals on how government could assist
private industries to increase production, which would translate into more
employment opportunities for the Zimbabweans leaving school.
Chung had reason to be concerned by lack of a proper employment
Her Curriculum Vitae shows she quit a teaching job at the University
of Zambia in 1975, venturing to the Mozambican bush to run schools for
refugees and combatants.
At independence she was the Chief Education Officer responsible for
planning from 1980 to 1982 and assisted in dismantling a "bantu style
education" that prevented blacks from realising their potential.
During this period, enrollment for black students in primary schools
rose from 35% to 114%, after taking into consideration adults who were
joining schools. For secondary schools it jumped from 4% to 65%.
From 1983 to 1987, she was in charge of the curriculum development
unit which developed new textbooks for pupils up to Ordinary Level.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:44
THE determination of a winner in next week's Presidential election has
been thrown into uncertainty amid revelations that Section 110 of the
Electoral Act contradicts the Second Schedule of the same legislation which
outlines how the winner will be determined. This, lawyers said, had the
potential to cause confusion as it remained unclear how the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) would read the provisions.
Section 110 (3) of the Electoral Act says in the event that none of
the candidates gets a majority, there has to be a run-off within 21 days.
"Where . . . no candidate receives a majority of the total number of
valid votes cast, a second election shall be held within twenty-one days
after the previous election in accordance with this Act."
But unknown to many political activists, the Second Schedule to the
Electoral Act states otherwise. It says that "the Chief Elections Officer
shall forthwith declare the candidate who has received . . . the greatest
number of votes; to be duly elected as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
with effect from the day of such declaration".
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) warned "this
inconsistency has the potential to cause serious problems in the event that
none of the Presidential candidates obtain a majority of the votes cast".
The ZLHR said there was a need for an "immediate clarification" of the
position regarding a run-off. It sent questions to the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) which were not responded to, at the time of going to press.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa could not clarify
the inconsistencies. He said he was addressing a campaign rally in the rural
Repeated attempts to get clarification from the ZEC were in vain. ZEC
spokesperson, Shupikai Mashereni, referred questions to the commission's
legal team, who in turn referred the matter back to Mashereni.
But David Coltart, the Legal Affairs Secretary in the MDC faction led
by Arthur Mutambara, said if no candidate obtained a majority, there would
be a run-off as "the requirement for a run-off in section 110 (3) prevails
over the more general provision in the Schedule".
"The usual rule is that where there is a conflict between a section of
an Act and that one of the provisions in a schedule, the enactment in this
section prevails over that in the schedule," Coltart said.
A Harare lawyer said he suspected "a drafting error in the wording" of
the Second Schedule.
"Regrettably paragraph 3 creates confusion because it is somewhat
inconsistent with section 110 of the Act," said the lawyer. "It also makes
no provision for the run-off election as envisaged in Section 100 in the
event of no candidate receiving a majority of the total valid votes cast."
nMeanwhile, an MDC MP has filed an urgent applicant in the High Court
seeking to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Registrar
General to provide her with a readable and proper electronic copy of the
Mount Pleasant voters' roll.
Trudy Stevenson made the application as the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) also refused to avail hard copies of the voters' roll to
the Morgan Tsvangirai led faction of the MDC.
In her application, Stevenson observed the bits and pieces of the
electronic voters' roll she obtained would not help her as a candidate to
prepare for the elections.
She also pointed out the roll was seriously flawed, and contained
people who should not be on the list of voters.
"I have noticed that Desmond William Lardner- Burke is listed as a
voter . . . Desmond William Lardner Burke was minister of Law and Order
under Ian Smith and I cannot believe that he is still alive and residing in
Born in 1908, Lardner-Burke died in SA years ago.
Tsvangirai's MDC said it has received only 50 compact disks containing
the electronic voters' rolls and repeated requests to ZEC to get more "have
been met by various excuses, the main one being that their machines have
Apart from that, said the MDC, the format in which the voters' rolls
are saved makes them "materially deficient" in various respects.
"Even this is difficult in respect of some of the compact disks
supplied to us because the JPEG image has a watermark obliterating some of
the names. We are unable to analyse and interrogate the voters' rolls
because it is an electronic picture and not electronic data."
In a letter dated 11 March 2008 to ZEC chairman George Chiweshe, MDC
Tsvangirai secretary general Tendai Biti said it was illegal for the
commission to deny the party the voters' roll.
He said the Electoral Act clearly states that the commission shall
provide any person "without delay" who requests it, with a copy of the
Biti said in the past two weeks, MDC national director of elections
Dennis Murira had been trying to get copies of the voters' roll and was
informed by a ZEC official that copies would only be available after
elections "since production centre is busy".
Biti also sought assurance from ZEC that the ink to be used by in the
election could not be washed away after voting, making it possible for
voters to vote more than once.
ZEC chairman George Chiweshe could not be reached for comment as he
was said to be out of town on business.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:35
HARARE jails have been emptied of about 1 000 prisoners in
anticipation of the arrest of people in connection with the 29 March
elections, prison sources told The Standard. But the Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday denied that Harare prisoners had
been moved to other cities and towns for this specific purpose.
Patrick Chinamasa said prisons have "finite space" and if they had
problems with space they would build more prisons.
"This is nonsense," he said of the reports of prisoners being
relocated from Harare jails. "The political atmosphere is very peaceful
these days. Zimbabwe is not Kenya."
Harare is a stronghold of the opposition MDC and other opposition
But prison sources insisted that prisoners were driven out of Harare
to Bulawayo, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare where the jail population is lower.
Ironically, the sources identified Chinamasa as behind the plan.
They said the movement of prisoners started last month but was at one
time hampered by the current shortage of fuel
"A lot of arrests are expected in Harare prior, during and after the
elections, especially if the elections are disputed. It's the minister who
came up with the idea," said a source.
There are an estimated 22 500 prisoners in Zimbabwe jails, but this is
well over their intended capacity of about 18 000.
Only last week, the police said they had arrested 29 Zanu PF activists
and 39 supporters of the two MDC formations on allegations of violence.
But Chinamasa insisted campaigning had been peaceful throughout the
country. He said he held a rally in Manicaland on Friday, "side by side"
with an MDC rally, and there was no violence.
He claimed he had an audience of over 10 000 people while the MDC had
less than 15 people.
Chinamasa said the story of the Harare jails being prepared for an
influx of political prisoners was "the creation of the MDC" which was afraid
of losing the election.
"They are never short of excuses but we are again going to trounce
them and bury them politically," he said.
Last month police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri said the
police would not hesitate to use force, including firearms to quell
politically motivated violence.
He said the police were empowered to use minimum force when necessary
to deal with rowdy political elements.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:14
BULAWAYO - As the campaign for this month end's elections gathered
pace last week, Matabeleland emerged as the major battle ground in the
presidential race with the three main contenders fighting to show they enjoy
majority support in the restive region. President Robert Mugabe and his
major challengers, independent candidate Simba Makoni and Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai made a staggering 16
campaign stops in the last five days up to Tuesday last week as they drummed
up support for their causes.
Analysts say the interest in the region, a hotbed of opposition
politics since independence was motivated by two major political
developments this year.
One was the failure by the two MDC factions to re-unite, and the other
the decision by former Zanu PF heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa to dump Mugabe
Mugabe, bidding for a sixth consecutive term in office, used his four
poorly-attended "star" rallies in the provinces to lash out at Dabengwa,
describing his defection as a great betrayal.
Observers said it was an admission the shaky Unity Accord, which has
held Zanu PF together since 1987, was under severe test.
On Saturday, Tsvangirai's MDC pulled out all the stops, including
allegedly busing students from other towns for its first rally in
Matabeleland in a major show of support.
Two of the pro-Senate MDC's most senior leaders, Welshman Ncube and
Gibson Sibanda, have their roots in the provinces and when the party
splintered in 2005, it was always believed they carried the supporters with
"Every political party wants to launch its campaign here in Bulawayo,"
said MDC Tsvangirai secretary-general, Tendai Biti.
He was buoyed by the crowd of about 12 000 which thronged White City
Stadium, raising questions about which party controls Matabeleland.
"We have come to re-claim the city from the pretenders," Biti said. He
was probably referring to Makoni and the pro-Senate MDC, who officially
launched their campaigns at the same venue weeks earlier.
On Sunday, Tsvangirai's road show rolled into Gwanda in Matabeleland
South and was met with similar enthusiasm.
But Makoni was breathing down their neck, sweeping into Esigodini and
Mawabeni Business Centre along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway on the same
day with his suave meet-the-people brand of campaigning before heading for
On Monday, the former finance minister went to Tsholotsho, Nyamandlovu
and Plumtree drumming home the message that he was best positioned to deal
with problems afflicting Matabeleland. The whirlwind tour also took his to
Mbalabala and Filabusi on his way to Zvishavane.
Federal Democratic Union (FDU) president, Paul Siwela who was a losing
candidate in the 2002 presidential election says the three protagonists seem
to have realised that whoever garners enough support in Matabeleland would
be in a good position to win the presidency.
"Mugabe is worried Dabengwa's departure will seal his fate in
Matabeleland because of its implications on the Unity Accord," Siwela said.
"Deep down Mugabe knows the remaining PF Zapu heavyweights - John
Nkomo and Joseph Msika - are not as formidable in Matabeleland as Dabengwa.
"The people of Matabeleland have for a long time called for the PF
Zapu people to pull out of the Unity Accord as demonstrated in elections
since 2000 and Dabengwa's move is undoubtedly a popular one.
"As for Tsvangirai, he wanted to assure the people of Matabeleland
that he remains their legitimate voice after the split of the MDC."
Siwela said this explained why Tsvangirai dwelt on the perceived
marginilisation of Matabeleland by the government and his promise to set up
a compensation fund for the victims of Gukurahundi.
"Matabeleland is going to vote as a bloc because of the common
problems it faces such as Gukurahundi and underdevelopment," said Siwela.
"Whoever wins here will be in good position to win the presidency."
Jethro Mpofu, a political analyst agreed, adding it would have been
suicidal for any of the contestants to ignore the "decisive Matabeleland
"It was only natural that politicians would fall over each other to
show they have support in Matabeleland because it is a critical
constituency," Mpofu said.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:28
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association
(ZNLWA) chairman Jabulani Sibanda has threatened "extraordinary measures"
against veterans not showing commitment in the re-election campaign for
President Robert Mugabe. Sibanda's threats follow news of former Home
Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa's defection to independent presidential
candidate Simba Makoni's camp.
This has rekindled the turf war pitting factions of the war veterans
association that marred Mugabe's campaign for endorsement last year.
"In the light of the confusion caused by some figures in and out of
the party," Sibanda said, "we will step up our campaign and enhance our
closeness to the people.
"Let me also indicate that we will take decisions, for example, on
those who come late for rallies or leave early before the end of
Asked to elaborate on these threats during a recent address at the
Bulawayo Press Club, Sibanda said there was no need for those outside Zanu
PF to know what he meant as the instructions were directed at war veterans.
War veterans' sources told The Standard Sibanda was directing his
threats at war vets who had dumped Mugabe.
They said Zanu PF structures in the Matabeleland provinces, dominated
by the former Zipra cadres, had virtually collapsed with war veterans openly
campaigning for Makoni.
All this started after Dabengwa openly declared his support for Makoni
at a rally in Bulawayo.
Dabengwa was flanked by former Zipra commanders when he made the
Among war vets campaigning for Makoni are those from a faction led by
Sibanda's rival, Andrew Ndlovu.
This group, linked to the region's political heavyweights, petitioned
Vice-President Joseph Msika against the solidarity marches led by Sibanda in
the run-up to the December congress.
Before ditching Mugabe two weeks ago, Dabengwa was one of the most
senior Zipra commanders still commanding respect among war veterans.
One war veteran close to the Zanu PF provincial executives in
Matabeleland said: "When a commander (Dabengwa) tells his soldiers that we
are now taking this course of action, as disciplined people, we follow the
"As part of our strategy, we will not be leaving the party but will
continue to campaign for Zanu PF candidates in the council, parliamentary
and senatorial elections, but we are telling people that when it comes to
the presidential election they must vote for Makoni because Mugabe has
failed in the 27 years that he has led us."
The shift in the war veterans' position was also laid bare at a recent
campaign rally in Insiza district in Matabeleland South where the deputy
president of the Senate, Naison Ndlovu, was told to "shut up" by war veteran
Tennyson "Thambolenyoka" Ndlovu.
Naison Ndlovu had told the meeting Dabengwa was "a sell-out" but
Thambolenyoka reportedly told him to stop insulting Dabengwa, "my
Sibanda had addressed the same meeting.
Information and Publicity minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was forced to
issue a conciliatory statement on Dabengwa after he slammed the former Zipra
intelligence supremo in comments published by The Sunday News, a government
Sources said this was after a backlash from war veterans who
criticised his statement.
Ndlovu urged Zanu PF leaders to avoid "the holier than thou attitude
and trying to outdo one another to prove our loyalty to the party and to the
Even more revealing comments about the loyalty of former Zipra
commanders, were made by the Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss, Tshinga Dube.
He told the state-owned SiNdebele newspaper Umthunywa he still
respected Dabengwa as his commander.
Dube, the Zanu PF candidate for the Makokoba parliamentary seat, said
it was through "sheer luck that Dabengwa" was still alive because of his
"heroic political role"
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:23
GWERU - Simba Makoni has threatened to take over land from multiple
farm owners and those who did not deserve the farms given to them under the
government's land reform fiasco. Makoni, one of the four presidential
candidates in the 29 March harmonised elections, spoke to
5 000 supporters at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru during his presidential
The former finance minister said he would seize land and redistribute
it to deserving and needy people.
Makoni accused President Robert Mugabe of "lying to the nation" that
he (Makoni) would return land to the whites once elected as president.
"As Mavambo, we are saying land has already been redistributed and we
respect that but we warn those who have more than one farm and those who did
not deserve the farms that we will address this (anomaly). Indeed there will
be gnashing of teeth."
Makoni said he was surprised that Mugabe had accused him of being "a
stooge" of the West and yet they had worked together for over 27 years.
He said while he was in the government he was "working for the good of
the nation", but his efforts were frustrated by Mugabe.
Makoni acknowledged the support he had received from both the MDC
Arthur Mutambara faction and Zanu (Ndonga) leader Wilson Kumbula but
maintained he was not in alliance with any party.
Although some aspiring MDC MPs from the Mutambara faction were seated
in the same tent with him, Makoni only introduced the independent candidates
aligned to him.
He did not introduce MDC Mutambara candidates namely, Renson Gasela,
Lyson Mlambo and Timothy Mukahlera.
Makoni said in constituencies where there were no representatives from
Mavambo, the voters should choose a candidate of their choice.
The Gweru rally was part of a campaign trail that also took the
Mavambo formation to Silobela and Kwekwe, where officials described the
turnout as "excellent".
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:16
THE MDC claims several of its supporters have fled their homes in
Mashonaland Central for urban areas because Zanu PF youth militia have
launched a reign of terror against them.
The youths are said to have threatened to kill the opposition
supporters and burn down their homes if they continued to campaign for the
The victimisation and threats were most pronounced in Bindura and
Shamva, MDC officials said.
MDC parliamentary candidate for Shamva North constituency, Godfrey
Chimombe, said campaigning was increasingly becoming difficult in the
province, viewed as a Zanu PF stronghold.
He said intimidation, allegedly spearheaded by youths loyal to the
Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Nicholas Goche, was
most prevalent in Gowora Ward 3, from where a number of people have fled to
seek haven in urban areas, where campaigning is said to be relatively
"Our supporters are fleeing to Bindura and Shamva. Our aspiring
councillor, John Tore Kawara fled to Bindura after the youths threatened to
burn down his home," Chimombe said. "For a number of days some were not
sleeping in their houses."
The Shamva North constituency candidate complained that MDC posters
were being pulled down by known Zanu PF youths in broad daylight.
Chimombe claimed police at Madziwa police station had done nothing
although the MDC had made several reports of intimidation and harassment of
Goche, the MP for Shamva, is reportedly distributing free maize
whenever he addresses a rally. The MDC alleges this is tantamount to
Goche could not be reached for comment. His secretary said the
minister was out of the office and would return the calls.
He never did.
Zanu PF deputy spokesperson Ephraim Masawi professed ignorance of
political violence in Mashonaland Central Province. "I am not aware of any
violence. I will get a brief from both the police and our structures and
then I will be in a position to comment."
Masawi is the governor for Mashonaland Central, based in Bindura.
Shamva is about 30km north east of Bindura.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri said they had not
received a complaint against officers at Madziwa Police Station. He urged
the MDC to approach the Officer Commanding the District for assistance if
they were not happy with the way the cases are being handled.
"First they should see the officer-in-charge and if they are not
satisfied they can go to the Officer Commanding the District for help. The
cases will be swiftly investigated," he said.
Phiri said the police have so far arrested 29 Zanu PF supporters and
39 activists from the two MDC factions on allegations of intimidation and
tearing up campaign material of rival parties.
MDC national director of elections Dennis Murira said violence against
opposition supporters had become a tradition in every election. He insisted
that the police were virtually doing nothing to protect MDC supporters.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:39
A YEAR after their attack by the police on 11 March 2007, opposition,
civic leaders and activists who survived the ordeal last week remembered the
trauma they went through with chilling accounts of police brutality. The MDC
on Tuesday commemorated last year's beatings at a lecture series it hosted
where constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku and MDC secretary for policy
and research Sekai Holland remembered how the police battered them.
On 11 March last year, police blocked a scheduled prayer meeting
organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign and arrested scores of activists and
In the commotion, the police shot and killed National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) activist Gift Tandare.
While in police custody the arrested leaders, who included MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, were severely assaulted.
Speaking at the New Zimbabwe Lecture series, held every month by the
MDC, Holland said up to this day the torture she went through was something
she had failed to understand.
Holland was arrested together with Grace Kwinjeh in Highfield after
they had gone to the police to enquire about the arrests of MDC spokesperson
and secretary general, Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti respectively.
Holland, who sustained a fractured leg and broken ribs in the attacks,
said she was hurt by the fact that the police who are supposed to be
custodians of the law were actually the perpetrators of such violence.
She said she was convinced the police were under instructions to "kill
the whole MDC leadership". From her experience in Zanu PF she said she had
learnt of the party's ruthlessness. "The children of democrats are seen as
baby snakes and they are killed," she said.
"When Zanu PF beats you up - I was once in Zanu PF, mind you -there
are no old women, no youths, no women, no children, no babies, no old men.
They beat you up because they want to kill you. I believe this was Zanu PF's
intention but the problem was that word of our arrests got out too soon and
there was panic," Holland said.
After the attacks, Holland sees herself as a survivor, not a victim,
as the ordeal had made her stronger and more determined to bring change to
She said: "All those who went through 11 March, are survivors. It took
me four weeks for the 11 March attack shock to wear off but in Australia
where I was receiving treatment and counselling we were taught that we were
not victims but survivors. Since then I have regained my strength and sense
of being after this trauma. Change must come to Zimbabwe."
Holland recalled how she almost had a heart attack after she was taken
into a corridor where she saw Madhuku sitting with his head slumped, as if
he was dead.
"I was relieved later on when I was asked to sit on floor near him and
nudged his feet with mine. When he moved I sighed with relief. It was really
a traumatic time," she said.
Holland recalls how the police kicked, punched and hit her and other
MDC officials and activists with iron bars and called them whores.
Giving his testimony, Madhuku, the NCA chairman, said the attacks had
made him more determined to challenge an unjust system.
"We were tortured for hours. Even after we had fainted, the beating
would continue. We ended up not feeling the pain at all as the iron bars hit
Madhuku remembered how he fractured his hand after trying to fend off
an iron bar on his head. He said he feels today very fortunate to be alive
and will never forgive President Robert Mugabe's government for allowing
such human rights abuses to happen under its nose.
"We must have the courage to fight this system, to go into the streets
and demand what we want from the government. We must not fear the police and
not take part in demonstrations or protests," Madhuku said.
"It is our democratic right to go into the streets and make the
current government accountable. My clashes with the police have made me
stronger. They can never break us. God is on our side. I am much tougher now
and stronger to push for change in Zimbabwe."
Other opposition leaders beaten on the same day include Biti, Chamisa
and MDC secretary for elections, Ian Makone.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:26
BULAWAYO - All police officers have been barred from taking days off
until after the March 29 elections. Sources said there was fear of a repeat
of the post-election violence that rocked Kenya last year.
This follows threats by police commissioner general, Augustine Chihuri
that police would be allowed to use live ammunition to quell protests during
and after the elections.
Fears have mounted the polls might not be entirely free and fair as
President Robert Mugabe, facing what is probably his greatest electoral
challenge since independence, appears determined to win at all costs.
Sources told The Standard the police were now working seven days a
week, while those on annual leave were forced to cut short their vacation.
But this has reportedly dampened morale in the force amid concerns the
long working hours do not correspond with what most officers view as their
"We have been told leave and off days would only be approved after the
elections, but there are no financial incentives to go with the new
measures," said a disgruntled police officer who asked not to be named.
Another officer said: "Many police officers are not happy about this
move. The government must recruit more officers if it feels that we are
short-staffed, rather than forcing us to work like slaves."
Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena on Friday confirmed the latest
developments, but insisted there was "nothing unusual about the force
cancelling vacation for its members".
"It's very normal and procedural for police officers to be recalled
from leave and for the cancellations of leave and off days," he said.
"Members of the police force will only be allowed to take leave after the
Meanwhile, the Progressive Teachers' Union (PTUZ) has called on the
police to ensure the safety of teachers facing political harassment in the
run-up to the elections.
"In previous elections, hundreds of teachers and students were raped
and teachers were displaced, assaulted, killed and maimed," the PTUZ said in
"There were uncountable cases of extortion. In all those sad events,
the ultimate losers were school children."
PTUZ secretary general, Raymond Majongwe and several trade unionists
were recently battered by suspected Zanu PF youths in Harare after they
tried to distribute flyers bemoaning the state of the country's education
Sunday, 16 March 2008 09:39
A company manufacturing water-purification chemicals has threatened to
cut off supplies to the state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(Zinwa) over a $6.5 trillion debt, sources told Standardbusiness last week.
The ban could compromise the quality and supply of clean water
countrywide, the sources said.
Senior managers from Zinwa and the Zimbabwe Phosphate Industries are
reported to have met two weeks ago to thrash out an agreement under which
Zinwa would pay Zimphos $5 billion every day until the debt is cleared.
"Zinwa has failed to honour the arrangement and the debt is mounting,"
said one source. "Zimphos has now threatened not to supply the parastatal
with the chemical, which would be disastrous in terms of the health and
safety of the population."
Zimphos supplies one of the eight chemicals vital in the purification
and treatment of water, aluminum sulphate.
Zinwa public relations manager Marjorie Manyonga confirmed the $6.5
trillion debt, insisting negotiations were in progress to devise a
She said: "We are also engaging the Ministry of Finance to see if we
can get a loan so that we can pay off the debt. We are still talking with
Zimphos chief executive officer, Misheck Kachere, was said to be
attending meetings last week.
Water experts said the absence of enough water treatment chemicals
could trigger an outbreak of water-borne diseases, among them cholera and
dysentery in urban centres.
Cholera has killed 15 people countrywide in the past month, four of
them in Shamva last week.
Last year, cholera claimed 14 lives and over 800 people received
treatment at various health centres countrywide.
Secretary for Health and Child Welfare Edward Mabhiza last week
attributed the latest outbreak of cholera and dysentery to the sporadic
water supply that has forced residents to fetch water from unprotected
For over two weeks last month, effluent into Harare's water bodies and
drinking water was not being "independently tested" because Environmental
Management Agency (EMA) workers had gone on strike over improved pay.
The agency monitors effluent discharges into the water bodies, as well
as conducting verification tests of the cleanliness of drinking water.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
Sunday, 16 March 2008 09:36
THE National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) has
approached the Ministry of Finance over its members' failure to access their
Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs).
Standardbusiness was told last week that, since last year, the NGOs
could not obtain the funds from their FCAs as quickly as they did in the
They had asked Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono to
intervene, but to date their efforts have not succeeded.
So critical was the issue that some NGOs are still to pay employees
their January and February salaries, while others have had to suspend
The NANGO had written to Willard Manungo, finance ministry permanent
secretary on Tuesday to highlight the plight of their members.
An insider said that since last year NANGO had been trying to meet
Gono over the issue, so far without success.
"We raised the issue last year," an official said, "and they (RBZ)
said individual banks were delaying in processing the money. We have tried
to arrange a meeting with Gono but every time they say he is busy.
"The issue has become so serious that the December salaries came in
January, the January salaries came last month and the February salaries are
still to be processed for some NGOs."
Cephas Zinhumwe, the NANGO chief executive officer confirmed they had
written to the Ministry of Finance and that they had sought a meeting with
the central bank but to no avail.
On allegations that some NGOs were engaging in the parallel market
business, the NANGO boss said: "If our members are going to the black
market, they should be arrested. The laws of the country should be
Murmurs of disapproval from the NGOs come hard on the heels of
concerns raised by miners and industry last month to the Ministry of Finance
over the RBZ's failure to release funds into FCAs.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Mines have all pleaded with the
ministry to intervene and save their member organisations from imminent
The RBZ had not responded to questions sent to their office at the
time of going to press.
Manungo was said to be attending a meeting when Standardbusiness
called on Friday. His advisor, identified only as a Mr Nyamurowa, was said
to be in a meeting.
The central bank has been, on a number of occasions, accused of
"raiding" corporate FCAs to finance critical food imports and pay
electricity bills, a charge the central bank has vehemently denied.
Zimbabwe is facing a critical foreign currency shortage attributed to
low exports and the drying up of foreign inflows.
The country requires foreign currency to import food after another
dismal performance by agriculture for the seventh successive year.
Zimbabwe requires foreign currency for drugs and electricity imports
and will import farming equipment for the agricultural mechanization
Since the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe has not received any
support from multilateral finance agencies such as the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund due to default in settling its arrears.
The IMF arrears were settled after the global lending institution had
threatened to expel the country from its ranks.
Zimbabwe has also not received meaningful Foreign Direct Investment
(FDI) as a result of the country's "bad boy" image that scaled new highs
last week after legislation allowing the expropriation of foreign-owned
companies operating in Zimbabwe was signed into law.
A World Investment Report released by the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development showed that FDI inflows into the country had plunged
to US$40 million in 2006 from US$103 million in 2005.
BY NDAMU SANDU
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:10
IF the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is serious about ensuring
the 29 March polls are seen as free and fair it will increase polling
stations in urban areas. However if it has problems with the proposal then
it will allow voting to continue on Sunday 30 March in order to avoid
accusations of appearing to tilt the scales in favour of the ruling party.
Findings of a non-governmental organisation, covering the period up to
the end of last month (February), identified areas where significant steps
need to be taken in order to ensure an even electoral playing field.
During the 2002 presidential election hundreds of voters were turned
away at the close of polling because of inadequate polling stations. Given
that voters will have to decide on four choices of councillors, MPs,
senators and presidential candidates, they will take more time to vote.
Increasing the number of polling stations will mean a greater number of
voters will be able to participate in the election.
ZEC has withdrawn some of its literature such as that on use of
cardboard boxes instead of translucent boxes, after discovering that it was
misleading. Latest findings by the NGO which has 210 staffers, covering
constituencies nationwide, show for example, Victoria Pre-School polling
station is listed in Ward 1 of Binga Rural District Council (RDC). In fact,
the polling station is in Victoria Falls Municipality. It is important that
all registered voters are furnished with the correct information on their
The ZEC list of polling stations for the 29 March harmonised elections
gives fewer polling stations in Bulawayo and Harare. But such information is
critical for it to be published on just a few occasions. It should be
published repeatedly until 29 March in order to ensure voters have adequate
information. Most of the district offices where such information should be
available by now don't have it, while ZEC voter educators have not covered
anything like enough people to prepare them for Election. Limiting
publication of the information on polling stations in constituencies and
wards can only be preparing ourselves for failure.
In areas such as Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare and Mutare, the number of
registered voters is more than in other provinces. As a result, the average
voter in Harare province would need to be processed in 22 seconds and in
cases such as Chitungwiza Ward 2 and two polling stations, they will require
as little as nine seconds.
It is therefore clear that for all voters to have a reasonable chance
of voting they will require more than nine or 22 seconds and that the only
way to dispel suspicions of manipulation of the electoral process is to
increase the number of polling stations or to extend voting to Sunday 30
ZEC could have a legitimate argument - that it does not have the
resources to increase the number of polling stations and the officers to
oversee the process. But at SADC level there exists an arrangement for
electoral management boards to request resources - such as ballot boxes -
from regional counterparts. An argument over inadequacy of resources could
only strengthen voting over two days.
The continued flaunting of State resources for the purposes of
enhancing the prospects of the ruling party and repeated comments by
security chiefs make it imperative for ZEC to act and safeguard the conduct
of the polls.
Sunday, 16 March 2008 10:03
UNTIL he made the admission himself in public, I had no idea President
Robert Mugabe could not speak French.
Like many others who admired him before he unsheathed his claws of
intolerance, I had always harboured this inexplicable certainty that a man
of such erudition would know, not just some, but a lot of French.
But I almost shouted the equivalent of the French "Maihwe!" when he
told his tale of woe.
After all, the man can quote from Aesop's Fables, which may or may not
be testimony to his being truly "a man of letters".
A reviewer once said of the Fables:
"Still a good read 2 600 years on, this famous collection of Greek
fables dates from about 600BC onwards, all attributed to the wise old Aesop.
Like Animal Farm, the animals generally take on the human roles and keep the
whole thing humorous while delivering a good point at the end. In general it
is aimed at adults, not children."
Right now, Mugabe might be paging feverishly through Shakespeare's
Julius Caesar, trying to trace the scene in which Brutus decides to commit
The president feels grievously betrayed, although, personally, this is
surprising. He has lost enough friends and allies recently to possess a
hatful of anecdotes on how it feels to be friendless - or almost.
But his admission struck me as a great mea culpa. He has always put
education as the jewel in his crown of achievements since independence. Yet
when a man after his own heart, as Paul Biya must be, called him on the
telephone in the middle of a cabinet meeting, he was stumped because he
couldn't speak French.
You felt mildly sorry for him (he is not an easy man to feel sorry
for, under any circumstances) as he narrated how he made frantic efforts to
find someone who spoke French.
Not even the foreign minister speaks French. So, they ended up calling
the minister's secretary to do the translation. We were not filled in on the
exact content of the conversation between these two men of kindred political
philosophies (if ever-lasting, one-man rule of dubious democracy can be
called a philosophy.)
Biya has ruled Cameroon almost forever. Was he sharing his woes with
Mugabe and perhaps warning him of his own impending Armageddon?
Yet, throughout the past week my thoughts were firmly with Festus
Mogae, the outgoing president of Botswana. On their emphatically state-owned
TV station, he was shown being feted as he bade farewell to this or that
group of well-wishers. They all seemed so happy, Mogae and his compatriots.
Mogae (69), became president when he was 59, succeeding Sir Ketumile
Masire, who had taken over after the death of the founding president, Sir
Seretse Khama, in 1980, a few months after Zimbabwe's independence, which
he had helped see to fruition as one of the frontline presidents.
Why has Mugabe ruled us for so long? The old lie that it's because we
were born spineless - spiritually, that is - cannot survive close scrutiny.
Cecil Rhodes and company didn't just stroll into what they were later to
call Salisbury, without firing a shot.
In fact, there were rebellions which the settlers eventually overcame
with their superior weapons. And I doubt that Ian Smith and his white
supremacist brigade gave up the country out of the goodness of their hearts.
From the evidence piling up like huge, dark, storm clouds, on the
horizon there will soon be other rebellions.
This is the nature of Humankind since time immemorial: all chains are
made to be broken.
Mugabe has survived in power through a combination of instilling fear
in the faint-hearted around him and doling out juicy favours to those who
would not be cowed by his threats. All of them know from experience that
defying this man can entail a very high price.
Mugabe has an explosive temper, or what others prefer to call a "short
fuse". Nobody has gone as far as to describe him as someone of whom it
could be said "there but for the grace of god goes God".
During this election campaign, he has been quite unable to restrain
his fury, in condemning Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa.
Yet, as has been predicted for so long, we are now witnessing the
inevitable implosion of Zanu PF, a party built in bloodshed, probably
heading for its own gory Apocalypse.
For Mugabe, the lesson must be the finiteness of leadership. In any
language, it spells finis. Whether he can make his exit with grace will
depend entirely on him.
'Without drugs,testing HIV+ is a death sentence'
Sunday, 16 March 2008 09:51
AS the Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Activist Union (ZHAAU), we are concerned
many of our members are getting tested by various service providers
but are later unable to access the Anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) or the
treatment against opportunistic infections.
This incomplete service being given by the service providers to people
living with HIV and Aids (PLWAs) is our main concern.
When a service provider tests someone and finds them HIV-positive and
in need of ARVs, that service provider should be able to give them follow-up
services, or if they cannot, refer that person to an organisation that can
assist them to obtain these drugs.
We believe that it's unfair to expose people to their HIV-positive
status, only to abandon them. PLWAs believe that revealing someone's HIV
status and later failing to provide treatment is like handing them a death
There would therefore be no purpose in encouraging people to be tested
when, later these same service providers just forget about the welfare of
the person they have tested. What we have noted, as an organisation, is that
people come to us in desperation when their CD4 count is very low and their
immune systems have succumbed to the disease because they cannot afford the
It is very frustrating to see our members in this state and we have
seen many of them dying from stress, after failing to get a sponsor or
because they cannot afford or access the ARVs.
Non-governmental organisations providing voluntary counselling and
testing should go further and provide ARVs and other relevant treatment to
the people they have tested.
We are also concerned about people who buy drugs on their own with
prescriptions from private doctors, but have very little information on how
to administer the drugs.
The result is that some people do not take the medication as regularly
as prescribed, skipping dosages for days because they have no money to buy
Our fear is that some of the private doctors are not counselling PLWAs
comprehensively on how important it is to follow the prescribed dosages.
President, Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Activists Union
Gono trash polluting streets .
Sunday, 16 March 2008 09:49
GIDEON Gono's papers are littering our landscape. I want to raise my
concern over the bearer cheques, ranging from the 1c to the $10 000 (in
reality $10 000 000) which seem to be competing with litter in polluting
street corners, the landscape and even the forests.
Gono was quoted as saying just under half of the cash he put into
circulation was still in circulation. He believes that so-called cash barons
are holding the rest of the cash. I am in total disagreement with this
because the truth is that the rest of the cash is polluting the street
corners and the rest of the country.
Madhuku antics at People's Convention unacceptable
Sunday, 16 March 2008 09:48
WHEN those who purport to be fighters for democracy and plurality of
ideas turn around and seek to coerce others into believing only their view
you begin to appreciate the tragedy we are in as a nation.
What I witnessed recently at the People's Convention dismayed me. Dr
Lovemore Madhuku's attempt to sway those gathered to vote for Morgan
Tsvangirai was in bad taste. He should have used other underhand tactics but
not to openly tell people not to vote for Dr Simba Makoni or President
It was my understanding that the convention was a gathering of people
from various civic and political formations but with progressive minds.
But not everyone who attends such meetings is like a robot. Certainly,
we are not like the youths he called out to toyi-toyi around the tent in
support of his views.
Thank God, we still have other voices of reason. Thanks to Munyaradzi
Gwisai, Jenni Williams, Lovemore Matombo and Raymond Majongwe, among others,
for promptly rebuking Madhuku for such blatant lack of respect for others
because we were not gathered as Madhuku's people.
When one addresses the public, one should try and avoid copying
President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has a habit of doing this but this is
usually to members of the Apostolic faith and naïve youths, not
Madhuku surprised us when he said that given a choice between Mugabe,
Makoni and Tsvangirai, those gathered should vote for Tsvangirai. That was
arrogance! The same Zanu PF mentality that we are fighting. Since when did
civil society formations start advocating for specific individuals?
We respect an individual's right to associate with whoever they so
wish. We are all political animals, but our own views should not supercede
those of the umbrella body.
Madhuku called his National Constitutional Assembly members outside
the tent and we saw them toyi-toying. Only half-baked activists allow
themselves to be abused like that.
When one's charges sing that after Saddam Hussein's hanging Mugabe is
next, does one think that Zanu PF loyalists will take that lying down? Of
course not.That is provoking them. Given the machinery at Mugabe's disposal
was this not suicidal? Such provocation should not be tolerated regardless
of where it is coming from. We cherish peace!
Fortunately, Madhuku was dressed down by his fellow leaders. Next time
I will think twice before attending such gatherings. The first NCA
convention at the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex was much more respectable. We
had level-headed people.
Polling officers too must vote
Sunday, 16 March 2008 09:46
THE increase in the number of polling stations and polling officers
might disenfranchise the majority of civil servants and some employees of
quasi-governmental institutions as they will be polling officers.
If 107 000 polling officers are needed to conduct the elections on 29
March 2008, this number will represent an average of four constituencies,
and this figure is almost the same margin by which the opposition candidate
lost to the ruling party during the 2002 presidential election.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) needs to come up with a system
that allows polling officers a chance to vote. Our elections maybe
ward-based but ZEC should allow the polling officers to cast their votes