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DANIEL FORTUNE MOLOKELE: FACING REALITY
Every vote counts!
Last updated: 02/28/2005 21:12:09
THIS week we celebrate a key historic date in our nation's history. On
4th March 1980, for the first time ever, millions of Zimbabweans were
afforded the opportunity to cast their votes. This was of course a turning
moment in the sense that until then, not many people had expected themselves
to vote. No, not even in their lifetime!
Subsequently, Zimbabwe became independent from British colonial rule
on 18th April 1980. This was after the bloody guerilla war that was waged by
the nationalist movement against the minority UDI regime as led by Ian
It is critical for all Zimbabweans at this time of national crisis
that we never lose sight of the crucial fact about the gains of the
liberation war. Indeed, one of the major rallying points of the liberation
struggle was a demand for an unconditional right to universal suffrage and
The nationalists contended with validity, that the UDI regime's
electoral assumption that only some certain race groups were entitled to
participate in national elections was totally unacceptable.
Up to 4th March 1980, only the Rhodesians of European and Asian
descent, coupled with the colored or mixed race were entitled to stand for
election or elect candidates. To this end, the nationalists demanded a new
electoral system based on a 'one person, one vote' system.
It was thus a major assumption in the aftermath of the Lancaster house
constitutional agreement in December 1979 that all nationals over the age of
18 years would be entitled to the right to universal suffrage.
The first popular elections were thus held on 4th March 1980.
Thereafter, regular elections have been held under the revised electoral
provisions of the original Lancaster House conference Constitution. As it
is, Zimbabwe is now due to hold its sixth ever legislative elections to
elect a new Parliament.
It is however very unfortunate that the elections have once again been
mired in controversial issue of their democratic legitimacy. In fact, a lot
of concern has been raised on whether the elections will be conducted in a
free and fair environment. Some parties as led by the MDC argue that the
current electoral process is so fundamentally flawed that it is in effect,
heavily tilted in favor of Zanu-PF.
One of the major borne of contentions has been that of the Diaspora
vote. In terms of the current system, all Zimbabweans are supposed to cast
their ballots only at a constituency level. That then means that no voter
can cast their ballot from anywhere else except at the original constituency
of registration. One has to travel to that same constituency at their own
This of course might not be difficult in urban areas where voters
change homes from time to time. They can still hop into a kombi and cross
over to their respective constituency.
That however, becomes a problem when one has left Zimbabwe and is now
residing in another country. Unfortunately as we gear up for the next
elections, it is common cause that that up to half of the prospective voters
are no longer based in Zimbabwe. Over the last five years, the nation has
witnessed a huge exodus of at least four million people. This is largely as
a result over the negative ramifications of the never unending political and
socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
Worse still, the government has announced that the updated voters roll
now has 5.6 million potential voters. The figure is further compromised by
the undeniable fact that included in the list are up to hundreds of
thousands of deceased persons. There is thus the key factor of potential
'ghost voters' that needs to be duly considered.
Added to that, many electoral experts are agreed that a large
percentage of the updated voters roll includes more than one million of
Zimbabweans now living in the Diaspora.
Then there is also the valid fear that there might be a low turnout in
the elections. As such, less than 3 million Zimbabweans might cast their
ballots on 31st March. The net effect of that is simple arithmetic's. Less
than half of the Zimbabwean adult population will vote in the elections.
This then means that the new parliament will have to be regarded as a
minority regime since the majority of voters would have been denied their
right to universal suffrage.
The net effect of that is that as we celebrate the nation's 25 years
of independence, it will be under the negative context of a subtle but clear
return to a government elected by a minority group of Zimbabwe. This is a
serious cause of concern that I am sure many of the nation's liberation war
heroes will condemn in no uncertain terms. It is a clear affront to the
democratic ideals of the liberation struggle. It totally smacks of unjust
fascist political dishonesty.
To this end, it is submitted that the decision to take the Harare
regime to court over the Diaspora vote should be welcomed by all progressive
Zimbabweans. It is hoped that the action from the UK based Zimbabwe Diaspora
Vote Action Group will result in a positive outcome for all Zimbabweans
living abroad. But if the court action fails, it would have achieved the
good effect of raising the political concerns of the Diaspora over the
seriousness of the matter.
But whatever the outcome of the court case, it is submitted that when
the constitutional debate is resuscitated in the future, the issue of the
Diaspora vote should be placed high on the electoral reform agenda. The
ZDVAG and other foreign based NGOs should lead the process of ensuring that
this unjust situation is totally abrogated in the best interest of the
nation's developmental agenda.
Put up the polling stations
Set up the voting booths
Let the people queue to vote
One woman one vote
One man one vote
Let everyone come and vote
Every Zimbabwean vote counts!
Indeed, every Zimbabwean vote counts! No matter what race, tribe,
creed, sex, class, gender, or any other background, let them all vote. Let
all Zimbabweans vote for a new leadership for the nation. Let every
Zimbabwean exercise their democratic right to choose their Parliamentary
representatives. Whoever they are! Wherever they are! When ever Zimbabwe
goes to vote as a nation.
CONTACT DANIEL BY E-MAIL: email@example.com
Daniel Molokele is a lawyer and a former student leader. He is
currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His column appears here every
Daily News online edition
SADC, Zimbabwe: Time for honesty on both sides
Date: 28-Feb, 2005
THE politics of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa could be
the major cause of Zimbabwe's unsettled relationships with a few members of
the regional grouping. There is an urgent need for both sides to be honest
with each other. The past may be important to nourish the present, but we
cannot all live in it.
President Robert Mugabe is now portrayed, by his admirers in the
region, as a fighter against neo-colonialism and imperialism. Is he really
that? To many Zimbabweans, he is an 81-year-old man who failed, during 25
years in power, in his ambition to turn his country into a Marxist-Leninist
In 2000, his plan to alter the constitution so that he could rule
almost as an emperor came unstuck when the people rejected the amendments
proposed by his party. He was deeply hurt and sought revenge against the
people he suspected had poisoned his voters' minds against his proposals.
The rest is history: he confiscated the white commercial farms,
killing many people in the process. He was continuing the struggle against
the British, which his party has called the Third Chimurenga, the First
Chimurenga having been against Cecil John Rhodes and the Second against Ian
What many member-states may not appreciate is that once the war of
liberation was won ordinary people expected to develop their country to its
full potential: self-sufficiency in food, availability of jobs, roads,
hospitals,clinics, schools, universities, technical colleges, houses, a free
press and democracy.
Most of these aspirations have not been achieved, or Mugabe's party
would not have lost 57 parliamentary seats, almost at the snap of a finger,
in the 2000 elections.
At the end of March the country goes to the polls again. This time,
the SADC group has a chance to ensure the elections are free and fair. They
owe it to themselves to make this a reality.
Zimbabwe's intransigence on giving voters a fair chance to choose
their MPs could cost the regional grouping much of the political and
economic support it enjoys internationally.
The politics of the liberation struggle can be remembered with
fondness, but in the 21st century of today, 48 years after Ghana's
independence, the people of Zimbabwe are more concerned about their living
standards - just as those of every other country in Southern Africa and
Africa at large.
The only heroes recognised now are those who can ensure their people
don't die of hunger, curable diseases and their own soldiers' guns - not
those who love to dwell on the glorious past.
Daily News online edition
Tsvangirai confident of MDC victory
Date: 28-Feb, 2005
HARARE - The Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) president, Morgan
Tsvangirai, says the March 31 poll is an opportunity for Zimbabweans to put
to rest a multitude of anxieties about the future, peace and security on
investment, if the country is to take its rightful position as an economic
hub on the African continent.
Writing in his "Every Tuesday Message" on the MDC website, Tsvangirai,
whose party is set to lock horns with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF in the March
poll, also said although Zanu PF had created a hostile electoral
environment, all signs were now indicative to the spirit of 1999 when MDC
"We are confident of victory because our promise and our concerns
resonate with the people. Our manifesto is a result of intense consultations
with the people. We are aware of the immense challenges that we shall face
as an MDC government after winning the election in March. Despite the odds,
the people are keen to re-organize their lives and to start afresh. They are
determined to see a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe," said Tsvangirai.
On food security, Tsvangirai said there was need for the restoration
of sanity in agriculture in order to stabilise food supply and food
availability. Contrary to claims that the country had sufficient food
stocks, most households - particularly in the south and western parts of the
country - had erratic food supplies.
He said Zimbabweans lived with the crude fact that the past five years
had turned the entire national resource base into dead capital, with land no
longer having any economic value and labour, despite its high quality,
impressive literacy levels and agility, lying untapped and dead.
He added that agricultural recovery should be rooted on a
non-negotiable return to the rule of law, the restoration of private
property rights and a strict adherence to the fundamental rights enshrined
in a people-driven Constitution.
"We believe agriculture shall once again assume its economic
leadership position, with new opportunities for the revival of industry,
food security, increased exports, new jobs and foreign exchange for
essential imports," Tsvangirai said, adding that for an economy largely
dependent on agriculture, what had happened over the past five years was
"If you tamper with the land, you destroy your revenue base. You blow
life out of all essential services: health, education, taxation, public
services and employment. We must restore sanity in agriculture to use that
industry in order to revive education, to repair our health services, to
restart the economy and to create jobs," he said.
Tsvangirai launched his election campaign in the small town of
Masvingo on Sunday last weekend, urging Zimbabweans to go and vote out Zanu
PF, which he said had become a liability to the country's economy and the
people at large.
He will lead his party into the March 31 polls amid concerns that the
electoral playing field is heavily tilted against him, as a number of MDC
candidates have already suffrered restrictions to their ability to campaign.
Three parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming polls were
reportedly assaulted by members of the army on their way back to Mutare
after the Masvingo campaign launch.
A candidate for Shamva in the volatile Mashonaland Central province,
Godfrey Chimombe, and five supporters were arrested last Tuesday while
putting up campaign posters.
Daily News online edition
More join Cosatu anti-Mugabe campaign
Date: 28-Feb, 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Plans by the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu) to blockade Zimbabwe's lifeline, Beitbridge border post, appear to
be gaining momentum amid reports that several other organisations have
joined the campaign.
Cosatu said it will organise mass action against President Mugabe's
government from March 9 until the parliamentary election on March 31. The
action is in protest at the deportation of its fact finding mission by
The labour movement said it would picket at the Zimbabwean embassy,
before proceeding to blockade the border.
The latest to join Cosatu's campaign is the Young Communist League
(YCL), the youth wing of the South African Communist Party, which is part of
a tripartite with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Cosatu.
The YCL follows hot on the heels of trade union Solidarity which
announced last week that it too will join the protests.
The South African Council of Churches, an umbrella body of all the
churches in South Africa has also vowed to participate in the action against
the Harare government.
Buti Manamela, the national secretary of the YCL, said they were
concerned that freedom of speech and rights relating to the electoral
process were being suppressed in Zimbabwe.
Manamela said as young communists they should act because they enjoy
these particular rights in South Africa and therefore cannot allow others to
be refused such rights on the continent.
President Mugabe's Zanu PF government is widely condemned at home and
abroad for violating human rights, harassing opposition supporters and
journalists from the independent media . It is charged with creating an
environment which is not conducive for free and fair elections.
The 81-year-old leader, however, denies the charges saying they are
being drummed up by Western "imperialists" who are unhappy with Zimbabwe's
land reform programme.
Meanwhile, Business Day reports that Cosatu has called on white union
members to join its campaign against Zimbabwe's human and workers' rights
violations, saying there was evidence that members of Cosatu's Zimbabwean
counterparts were being "beaten, maimed and killed".
Cosatu used the Solidarity union's congresslast week to forge links
with the predominantly white trade union in the move to solicit national
support and participation in its planned blockades at Beitbridge.
Cosatu president Willie Madisha called for unity among workers, saying
they were "an endangered species" no matter what their race or place in the
world. He said the only way to survive and protect themselves was through
unity and co-operation, which could not be "dependent on political
"Whether black of white, or whether they belong to Cosatu or
Solidarity, workers belong to the same class," he told the congress.
Madisha added that Zanu (PF) in Zimbabwe had lost its status as a
revolutionary party by resorting to killings and harassment as tools of
subjugation. He stressed that Cosatu did not support the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, ruling Zanu (PF) or any other party.
"What we support are the working class and the poor," Madisha said.
He said workers needed to make sure that Zanu (PF) leaders visiting
South Africa were not comfortable in their beds, "otherwise history will not
Mugabe says 'spies' won't be let off the hook
February 28 2005 at 04:22PM
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has blasted ruling party
officials for selling secrets to foreign governments in his first reaction
on an alleged espionage ring involving senior Zanu-PF members and a South
On Monday state-run daily newspaper quoted the octogenarian leader as
saying that nobody involved in spying would be let off the hook.
Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) lawmaker,
Phillip Chiyangwa - a flamboyant businessman and Mugabe's nephew - and three
others were arrested last year on charges of spying for neighbouring South
They were accused of providing South African President Thabo Mbeki's
government with information on internal Zanu-PF affairs.
"It does not matter whether you are my relative or close friend, a
sell-out is a sell-out," the Herald quoted Mugabe as telling a rally in the
northern town of Chinhoyi.
"Even my own mother's child, if he sells out, we condemn him," Mugabe
said at the town where Chiyangwa, his disgraced nephew, was the member of
Chiyangwa, until recently a provincial chairperson of the ruling
party, is alleged to have led a spy ring with five others, including Zanu-PF
security officials, a diplomat and a banker.
The High Court freed Chiyangwa last week, days after three others had
been jailed by a lower court for up to six years on similar spying charges.
One Zanu-PF official is awaiting trial while another diplomat is on
Mugabe also attacked his former information minister, Jonathan Moyo,
whom he accused of having presidential ambitions.
Mugabe sacked his former protege last week following Moyo's decision
to stand as an independent in the March 31 parliamentary elections after the
Zanu-PF barred him from running for the polls over an alleged plot against
"The president said there were some who joined the ruling party five
years ago but already wanted to be vice-president and had rallied some party
chairpersons last year ... with the purpose of garnering support," said the
Herald. - AFP
Zimbabwean dollar depreciates by six percent in January
www.chinaview.cn 2005-03-01 02:35:17
HARARE, Feb. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- The Zimbabwean dollar depreciated
by an average of six percent in January against a basket of six major
trading partner currencies, a local financial institution said on Monday.
In its latest financial monthly update, Financial Holdings Limited
(Finhold) said the local currency fell by eight percent, seven percent and
six percent against the Japanese yen, British pound and South African rand,
It fell by four percent against the US dollar, six percent against
the euro and five percent against the Botswana Pula.
The Zimbabwe dollar was expected to fall further to about 6, 300
Zimbabwean dollars against the US dollar on the foreign currency auction
market by March on the back of the continuously low foreign currency
inflows, it said. Enditem
Costly And Questionable Campaigns
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
February 27, 2005
Posted to the web February 28, 2005
ZIMBABWE should stop pouring money down the drain in pursuit of campaigns
and projects that have no chance in hell of producing significant and
measurable benefits for this country and its people.
During the past five years, the country has pursued the Miss Malaika beauty
pageant, aimed at sprucing up the country's image, supposedly into a
must-visit tourist destination and promising a massive run on its resorts
and natural wonders by foreign visitors.
Curiously, there has been no discernible increase in the volume of traffic
from the markets where the pageant was reportedly beamed to and targeted at.
Miss Malaika was followed by the "Come to Victoria Falls video", which saw
its external launch in South Africa, among other places.
In between, there have been several equally doubtful facility tours for
travel writers from Europe and America, but the country is yet to reap the
benefits of all these investments. The latest venture in the country's
propensity to waste money on questionable projects is the Miss Tourism World
The only boost it has brought to tourism in Zimbabwe is the hotel bookings
by the pageant's finalists. For a brief period, they kept different hotels
at different times busy. Their impact, overally, is negligible. The impact
of their safari is quite questionable, in fact so questionable that there is
need for an audit in order to establish what returns this country is getting
from these "amusing" visits.
There is no doubt Zimbabwe has some of the most breathtaking tourist resorts
in the world. There is also no doubt that, in normal times, it is a paradise
on earth. But things are not normal and this is the area where those behind
these pageants, facility trips and video promotions are missing the point.
What this country needs is to create the kind of environment that compels
foreigners to tell their fellow nationals about the natural wonders waiting
to be explored here.
This is not about creating safety zones, such as police-patrolled tourist
resorts designed to deter crooks and thieves from preying on the foreign
visitors. It is about ensuring that we live in a society, where there is no
siege mentality, where locals and visitors alike feel secure and can always
count on security agents for protection, if the need arises.
Once Zimbabwe becomes a safety zone again, the tourist traffic will come
streaming back. There are tourists keen on visiting this country, but for
the time being they are doing so from the safety of Botswana, South Africa,
and Zambia, which thanks to our problems has developed infrastructure in
Livingstone, rivaling those on the southern side of the Zambezi River.
Those who profess an interest in promoting Zimbabwe's tourism sector, could
do themselves a favour by studying why the international tourist traffic
flow into countries around Zimbabwe is growing, while in our case hotels are
registering embarrassingly low occupancy rates.
The truth of the matter is that those who come to us promising to polish up
the country's image know very well how we revel in flattery. They come,
flatter us, tell us how we are squandering opportunities to market our
natural treasures and then produce strategies that leave us dazzled - after
they have conned us of our hard-earned foreign exchange. They prescribe
solutions that they know very well Zimbabweans will never attempt beyond
receptions for the handover of the consultants' reports.
Even among ourselves, we can identify and isolate the problem factors, but
we are woefully inept at implementing plans to rectify the problems. Somehow
we seem to believe that anyone but ourselves will sort out our problems and
we can carry on living happily ever after.
We will cite one immediate example: Zimbabwe poured resources into a
commission of inquiry into education and training, but five years later no
one can point to how many of Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga's
recommendations, if any, have been implemented.
Some of the problems that continue to show themselves in the educational
sector were identified during the commission's findings, but no attempt has
ever been made to ensure its implementation - this despite enormous
resources and energy expended on the strenuous undertaking. That, sadly, is
the measure of commitment we have to make this country and ourselves better.
Soon after Independence, Zimbabwe had a fleet of aircraft that today stands
reduced to a pale shadow of itself. The problems are known, yet the
government pretends that somehow the mess will sort itself out and we will
once again be flying to far out destinations bringing foreign tourists.Those
charged with making decisions revel in these delusional fantasies because
they have no guts to confront and deal with the self-inflicted crises.
Harare city provides an instructive lesson. Here we are trying to persuade
the world that we are reclaiming Sunshine City, yet how many times have the
water supply pipes between Kwame Nkrumah and Jason Moyo, along Sam Nujoma,
for example, burst. There is not one soul at Town House who appears to
realize that what needs to be done for a long-term solution is to relay the
whole stretch from Kwame Nkrumah to Jason Moyo with new pipes. It is
possible to invite tourists to come and marvel at craters in our roads and
show off how adept we have become at skirting around them as we drive. The
tragedy of it is that there are people who take home obscene salaries and
enjoy outrageous perks for failing to improve on the standards we inherited
We allowed game parks to be invaded, occupied and their animals slaughtered
and yet we pretend nothing really happened and seek to persuade the outside
to join in the amnesia. A country at peace with itself requires no expensive
campaigns that enrich no one but their purveyors.
Organisers of the latest pageant will collect their paychecks and leave us
no better, and more significantly, without any appreciable increase in
volumes of tourist traffic.
Reporters sans frontieres
Weekly Times closed down just two months after launch
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the announcement by the Zimbabwean
government's Media and Information Commission (MIC) on 25 February that it
is closing the independent Weekly Times for a year for "violating the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
"As usual, the Zimbabwean authorities find any old pretext for gagging
independent media that might spoil things for them at the height of an
election campaign," the press freedom organization said, calling it "the
second serious press freedom violation in two weeks," after three foreign
press correspondents were forced to flee the country.
"The government does not hesitate to step up the repression one month before
the 31 March legislative elections," the organization added, "although it
ratified the Southern African Development Community's protocol on principles
and rules for democratic elections which ought, in theory, to guarantee
MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso, who had threatened to close the Weekly Times
in January just a week after the first issue came out, said its licence was
being withdrawn because of a false statement and the failure of its owners
to reveal facts. The newspaper had tricked him when it registered its
licence by hiding certain aspects of its editorial line, Mahoso alleged.
According to its statutes, the Weekly Times is a privately-owned news weekly
focussing on development issues.
It is the fourth privately-owned, independent newspaper to be closed in less
than two years, following the Daily News, the Daily News On Sunday and The
Army to Act On Illegal Gold Panning
The Herald (Harare)
February 26, 2005
Posted to the web February 28, 2005
THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism has invited the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces to combine forces with the police to arrest rampant illegal gold
panning in the countryside.
Illegal gold panning has reached alarming proportions along the country's
rivers, streams and valleys making it difficult for police alone to contain
On many occasions police have fought running battles with violent gold
panners and the ministry believes that the engaging of soldiers could
strengthen the Government's position.
The ministry's permanent secretary, Ms Margaret Sangarwa, said she was
looking forward to working "hand in glove" with the police and army to
overcome the environmental challenges.
She said the panners were violent that the police and officers from the
ministry alone could not achieve the expected results.
"We are concerned with the violent nature of the panners to such an extent
that unarmed police officers fail to arrest them.
"In an effort to curb illegal gold panning in the country, the ministry has
initiated joint operations with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) resulting
in thousand illegal gold panners being arrested.
"The violent nature of the panners, makes it impossible for my officers to
carry out inspection alone," said Ms Sangarwa who was addressing ZDF
students at the Zimbabwe Staff College yesterday.
Ms Sangarwe said the ministry had done a lot in terms of information
campaigns but failed to yield the intended results as such they have to try
"Despite environmental education campaigns, which my ministry has held
throughout the country with the view to raise awareness on environment
issues as well as engendering in people values, skills, attitudes and
behaviour consistent with environmental management, illegal gold panning has
continued unabated," she said.
She said illegal gold panning activities upstream have reached alarming
rates in the countryside, drastically reducing the amount of water that
flows into dams like Mazowe.
"It is estimated that over 600 000 people are practising illegal gold
panning countrywide in districts like Mazowe, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Shamva,
Makonde Chimanimani and Insiza and this has resulted in severe environmental
"Currently, Mazowe dam is holding about 20 percent of water its maximum
capacity," she said.
The permanent secretary also said she was concerned with the recent illegal
gold panning activities in the game parks and forestry estates.
"Of concern to me is the recent spontaneous sprouting of illegal mines in
game parks and forest estates such as Mpfuri Game Park and Tarka Estates.
"I understand that these mines have not undergone the Environmental Impact
Assessment process in terms of the requirements of the environment
management," Ms Sangarwe said.