Thu 20 Mar 2008, 0:23 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
MASVINGO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe is urging Zimbabweans
to 'Vote For The Fist'.
His campaign posters -- portraits of Mugabe wearing an olive green
military-type shirt and holding a clenched fist aloft -- reflect his
hard-line politics, and remind voters of the crack troops who have helped
keep him in power for 28 years.
Mugabe is again counting on his army of war veterans and ruling party youth
brigades, known as "green bombers" because of the military-style clothes
they wear, to crank up support in his rural power base ahead of the March 29
The veteran leader is facing his strongest challenge in nearly three decades
because of defections by senior ruling ZANU-PF party officials and a
deepening economic crisis.
The opposition charges that the "green bombers", war veterans and some
members of the Zimbabwean army were behind violent campaigns that helped
Mugabe's party retain power in elections in 2000 and 2002. Mugabe denies the
This week, Human Rights Watch said Mugabe's supporters, including police and
central intelligence, had used violence in the run-up to this month's poll
to intimidate opponents, undermining chances of a fair vote.
ZANU-PF denies its militant supporters are guilty of intimidation but
Zimbabwean rights activists say they have documented years of systematic
"We have heard some horror stories. In 2000 and 2002 ... we had people being
dragged out of buses, after being identified as opposition activists, and
getting assaulted with clubs and machetes," said an official with Zimbabwe
Human Rights Forum.
"We had cases of people being stabbed by mobs at open markets, and ... youth
brigades moving around in large groups, disrupting opposition rallies,
singing war songs and sowing fear in townships and villages," said the
official, who did not want to be named.
"Fortunately, it's not happening at the same level this time round. But the
fear remains," he added.
Mugabe, an 84-year-old former guerrilla leader, is facing a fierce fight
from ex-ally Simba Makoni and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai in his bid
for another five-year term.
Both Makoni, a former finance minister, and Tsvangirai, who heads the main
faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), say Mugabe
has ruined Zimbabwe's economy.
Mugabe says the mounting problems Zimbabweans are battling, including food
and fuel shortages and the highest inflation in the world, are a result of
sanctions imposed by Western powers.
"They want to turn back this country into a British colony again, and I urge
you to demonstrate to the world again that their chosen puppets have no
support and will never rule this country," Mugabe said at a rally in
SENSE OF FEAR
The ZANU-PF party planted its roots in rural areas -- where at least 60
percent of Zimbabwe's population lives -- during the 1970s war for
independence from Britain and left behind a mixture of military and civilian
Critics say that for some of Mugabe's loyalists, the image of their leader's
clenched fist is still a call to war.
At least 50,000 people died during the 1970s war and ruling party militants
constantly remind voters that they will go back to the bush if ZANU-PF loses
Members of the youth brigades who act as security guards at ZANU-PF rallies
are seen in the countryside as the party's eyes, ears -- and fists. Critics
say the "green bombers", graduates of a national youth service, have become
a private party militia.
"Although it is wearing off, I think there is still a pervasive sense of
fear of the party, of youth brigades, the war veterans, the ZANU-PF
militants," said Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the
University of Zimbabwe.
"There are some notable cracks and divisions in their ranks now, but these
people have kept ZANU-PF structures alive despite the economic crisis," he
Analysts say Mugabe, who is accused of rigging previous elections, is keen
to win regional endorsement of this year's poll as free and fair, and has
kept ZANU-PF militants on a short leash. But critics maintain that many of
the tens of thousands of people turning up at his rallies do so out of fear.
FIST OR HAMMER?
In the past few weeks, a combative Mugabe has travelled to his traditional
rural strongholds to drum up support as his rivals pile pressure on him,
largely in urban areas where people are bearing the brunt of the economic
Zimbabwe's inflation rate is over 100,000 percent, and its towns are
suffering severe water, power and transport shortages and choking on
The message his supporters are taking to rural voters has not changed since
the last vote in 2005: they say ZANU-PF is the only trustworthy custodian of
black interests and that the opposition is made up of stooges sponsored by
Britain and ZANU-PF's Western enemies.
Mugabe is also trying to woo voters with massive government handouts of farm
equipment, including tractors and ox-drawn ploughs meant to support his
controversial land reforms which included confiscating land from white
In the countryside, villagers privately say life has become harder but there
is little overt criticism of the government.
And although this year's election campaign has been relatively peaceful,
opposition leader Tsvangirai, who was beaten up by security forces at a
rally last year, says "for Mugabe, political thuggery is always an option."
In a response to Mugabe's "vote for the fist" campaign, Tsvangirai's MDC
said in a newspaper advert: "The war is over. We cannot feed people with
The other challenger, Makoni, has been even more direct.
"Don't vote for the fist. The fist has become a hammer smashing the
(Editing by Clar Ni Chonghaile)
20 March 2008
SOUTH African MPs deployed in Zimbabwe under the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) observer mission have been warned against
issuing independent statements that could contradict or bring into disrepute
the spirit of the Angolan-le d delegation.
Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo, foreign affairs deputy director-general for
Africa, was briefing the media in Pretoria yesterday before the 54-member
delegation of MPs, government officials, nongovernmental organisations and
electoral commission representatives left for Zimbabwe.
He said that unlike in the past when the government sent its own observer
mission, the South African MPs had to accept the fact that they were going
to Zimbabwe as representatives of the SADC mission, and not as individuals.
They would be expected to be guided by the SADC's code of conduct, which
meant that they would "not seek to score cheap political points" by
pronouncing their individual views .
Instead, they should share the sentiments that would be expressed by "the
SADC collective" after the elections.
"It should be understood that they are not going to Zimbabwe to endorse any
situation, but to objectively monitor the elections," Mamabolo said.
He said that there was nothing stopping the ruling African National Congress
or other parties from sending their observer teams, which could then express
their own views about the elections to satisfy the political agendas of
their respective parties.
"We are part of the collective that in the end must be guided by the SADC
code of conduct and must take ownership to the decisions of the mission," he
The SADC delegation would be expected to spare no effort in intervening
This was to ensure that Zimbabwe's stakeholders were left with no doubt that
they acted fairly when dealing with concerns and complaints .
He said the mission must endeavour not to endorse anything, but rather
verify every statement by some or allegation by others.
HARARE, March 20 (AFP)
Denias Rukuni, a security guard living in a slum on the northern fringes of
Zimbabwe's capital, is a bitter man.
A victim of a government demolitions campaign that left at least 700,000
homeless, the 34-year-old is living in a shack improvised out of plastic,
nearly three years after the operation that President Robert Mugabe said was
"to rid our cities of slime and grime" and "build our people decent
"They promised to build us better shelter," Rukuni told AFP pointing to
shacks around Hatcliffe extension.
"You can't forgive people who lie and make empty promises to you. We are
going to show them at the elections we are tired of this suffering," said
the father of three who runs a cycle repair shop at home to supplement his
"Things are just not working. We are paying school fees for our children and
yet the teachers are on strike every two months. We don't have running water
and we are forced to have several jobs to be able to buy basic goods like
An equally disillusioned Ruramai Dzvangwa, from the populous Tafara suburb
in Harare, deplored the plummetting living standards in the cities and vowed
she would not vote Mugabe who is seeking a sixth term in joint presidential,
legislative and local council elections on March 29.
"We have been reduced to villagers now as our water taps are always dry and
we are forced to draw water from unprotected wells," said Dzvangwa whose
suburb is renowned for frequent water cuts and diarrhoea threats.
"We have lost hope in President Mugabe and his government. We are just
waiting for the election and I for one will not give him my vote."
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe
will get a "no confidence" vote at the polls where he squares off with his
former finance minister Simba Makoni and opposition leader Morgan
"The urban dwellers have given him (Mugabe) a fail grade as they evaluate
his performance over the years," Masunungure told AFP.
"His support is also reduced in rural areas and the talk of a rural
stronghold for the ruling party will soon become history as we are now
witnessing a convergence between rural and urban dwellers on a wide range of
Mugabe himself has expressed doubts about his urban support and often
praises his rural supporters for their "unwavering support".
But recent rallies by his party candidates are drawing fewer followers.
"Those in the cities love the sweet taste of sugar so much and when they
can't find sugar they blame it on ZANU-PF saying it's a bad party," Mugabe
told supporters at the rural services centre of Hama in the central Midlands
province last week.
"And where do they think Tsvangirai will get the sugar to give them?"
Zimbabweans are going to the polls reeling under economic crisis
characterised by six-digit inflation, unemployment over 80 percent, more
than two thirds of the population living below the poverty threshold with
basic food stuff in short supply.
The urban population is feeling the pinch of the economic meltdown often
putting up with power cuts lasting up to 10 hours with some parts of the
city going for months without electricity.
Surgeons at the country's largest state hospital suspended operations last
month citing shortages of drugs and theatre equipment.
In a hyperbolic portrayal of the state of the roads, Makoni said at his
inaugural rally in Harare some of the potholes were so large they could
swallow an entire freight truck.
Mugabe blames the economic decline on sanctions imposed on him and members
of his ruling party elite following the country's presidential elections in
2002 described by the main opposition and western observers as
20 March 2008
Digby and Jessie Nesbitt have been held captive on their Farm by the Commissioner of Police – Edmore Veterai. He has stated he is “above the law” and continues to defy court orders, to leave the Nesbitts and their farming operation, that supports the community and an orphanage in peace.
This is Jessie’s story of the happenings in their house hat they have not left for over a month.
INVASION OF FARM 30 – N & B SUGAR ESTATES – D.NESBITT
The following is the story of our nightmare that began weeks ago with no end in sight as yet. We had numerous phone calls from various people wanting us to go public with what was happening on the farm. However, we were reluctant to do so, hoping that the justice system in this country would prevail because we had various court orders supposedly preventing this nightmare from happening.
Because we had not evacuated our farm by 30th November, 2007 we were
summonsed to court at 9 a.m. on the morning of 28th January, 2008
The reason we had not left our farm by that date was because we had been informed by four top government officials, one of which was a minister who informed us that the honourable minister Mutasa was coming down to the Lowveld on the 19th December to resolve our issue on the farm.
On the 18th we were informed that the honourable minister Mutusa could not come down on that date due to other commitments but would come in early January. During the month of January my husband, Digby was asked to report to the Police Station in Chiredzi to be charged. He had to give a statement and was told to report to the court on the 28th January at 9 a.m. When he arrived there, he was told that the court case was postponed to 12 p.m. He went back at 12 p.m. only to be told that it was now postponed to the 10th March 2008.
That afternoon when returning to work in Chiredzi from farm 30, Digby met up with Mr Veterai, the assist commissioner in the Police. He stopped Digby and said that he did not care about the court case as he was above the law and that he was taking over the farm immediately. He ranted and raved like a madman and said that he was going to kick Digby’s white arse of the farm no matter what. Digby drove to town and reported the incident to the member-in-charge at the Police Station, who said that they could only intervene if there was violence as this was a land issue and unless he had some kind of court order, they could do nothing. He then went straight home as he was afraid for my safety as we had had previous altercations with Veterai before and he has a temper on him and always walks around armed with a pistol and sometimes also a folding buttAK 47 rifle.
On the Tuesday morning at 6.30 Veterai arrived at our house with about 15
people including his wife and green bombers. Veterai showed us his new offer
letter which said that he was taking over 71 hectares instead of the original 40
that he had been allocated. This meant that absolutely nothing was left for us.
When I told the governor, Mr Chiwewe, he said that Veterai’s offer letter was
fraudulent and he said that I should tell Veterai that he had said that. Veterai
said that he did not care and that he was taking his 71 hectares and that no
politician would stop him because they are all corrupt.
Veterai had just broken into our office down at the compound and taken everything out and dumped it on the lawn. He also broke into my mother’s cottage and took all the keys with the result that every time I went to feed her cats, I had to climb through the lounge window where two louvers were missing. Veterai threatened our crocodile manager, Sam and said that he was going to kill him and throw his body into the croc pen. A couple of weeks before, Sam was told that he was going to be castrated if he did not move out of his house.
While we were in South Africa during the month of December, his furniture was thrown out of his house into the mud as it had been raining. Since then he and his family had been living in the little cottage next to our house. He was scared out of his wits. Veterai came into our lounge and sat down, saying that he and his family and guards would be moving in with us that day, whether we liked it or not. When I said that I objected, he called me a racist and said that it was because he is black that we did not want him living with us.
He shouted and ranted and raved like a madman again, saying that he knew how to eat with a knife and fork and that he knew how to use the bathroom properly. Anyway, he just made himself at home in the lounge for the rest of the day while his family moved their pots and pans etc into our kitchen. They took over the three guest rooms down the passage and the guards were posted in the lounge and dining room. Our front gate was locked and two booms were put up, one down at the compound and one just outside by the stables. We were prevented from leaving the house - just pure intimidation.
On the Wednesday morning–the guards unlocked our front gate obviously wanting
us to leave everything and run. Our minister’s wife and another friend came to
see how we were doing and we were sitting in the one section of the lounge, away
from where the guards were. Veterai walked in from the bedroom where he had
locked himself in until that time. He said that I had called him a baboon and
started shouting and screaming and going beserk like a lunatic. I was
flabbergasted as it was a total lie – I would never insult anyone like that, no
matter what. Anyway, he calmed down eventually and went out of the room.
After my visitors had left and I was walking back to the lounge, Veterai came walking out and as I passed him, my dogs (dachsi, jack Russell and two very gentle mongrel crosses) started barking at him. He immediately lashed out at me, saying that I had set the dogs on him and kicked them, at the same time pulling out his pistol and pointing it at them, saying that he would shoot them and anyone else who got in his way. That night we locked ourselves in our bedroom at about 5.30 and went to bed absolutely exhausted. My poor dogs and cats were absolutely terrified with all these strangers traipsing in out of our house like they owned the place.
On the Thursday morning we woke up, got dressed and went through to the kitchen to organize breakfast only to find about four women busy cooking sadza on our stove. We then proceeded to the lounge and found an absolute mess, obviously a party had been held the previous night as there were empty beer, liquor and coke bottles scattered all over the carpet and the furniture was in disarray. When Digby confronted Veterai about the mess and said that it was disgusting, he immediately twisted what he said and accused Digby of calling him disgusting. Later that morning the member-in-charge from the Police Station in Chiredzi came out to the farm and basically informed us that there was nothing they could do about the situation unless there was any violence as this is a land issue.
On the Friday morning no visitors were allowed to come out and see us at the
house. We were sitting in the one section of the lounge listening to some
Christian music and minding our own business. What happened next was just pure
intimidation and when I think about it now I can’t believe what a cheek these
people had – doing this to us in our own home where we have lived since 1983.
One of Veterai’s green bombers came and put a C.D. player on the little table
right next to me where I was sitting and plugged it in. He then put a C.D. in
and turned the volume up, trying his utmost to really irritate and infuriate me.
My immediate reaction was to get up and turn up the volume of my Christian music that we had been listening to. This carried on for some time and then we decided we would move to the other part of the lounge and turn our music down and just pretend that we could not even hear their music. They were trying their level best to irritate us and get us all worked up, so that we would say “enough, I am out of here” but they were wrong as it takes a lot more than that to get us out of our home where we have spent so many happy years. This is the house where our three children had grown up and also, it had taken us many years to pay the farm off when we bought it. We had to sell our transport business to pay the deposit.
Veterai carried his pistol with him at all times but when he arrived back from Harare which was normally late at night, he always arrived carrying his folding AK 47 machine gun as well. It was almost like he feared for his life and seemed to think that we might try to harm him during the night, as he always locked his bedroom door as well. Our staff were prevented from coming to work for two days as they were told by the green bombers to stay away. My poor maid, Chipo, at this stage, was crying constantly and was suffering from severe headaches. She had also been chased away from her house in December and was having to share a room with a friend in the main compound.
On the Saturday we had a few visitors during the morning which we really
appreciated as they brought us groceries which we really needed by this time and
it was just no nice to see some friendly faces. While we were talking, the green
bombers and Veterai’s relatives were playing their music loudly, trying to
irritate us. That evening while we were sitting on the steps outside the lounge
with our doctor and his wife ; our lounge had people coming in and out all
afternoon– the doctor had come out to check our blood pressure just to make sure
we were okay – men dressed in army uniforms started arriving as well as other
Next minute we saw crates of beer, liquor and cokes being carried into the lounge so obviously a big party was being planned for that night. We just sat chatting, pretending we were not perturbed but knew we were in for a night of intimidation. As soon as our guests had left, we went through to the bedroom and locked ourselves in for the night. Fortunately the power that had gone out at 5 p.m. stayed off until 11 p.m. and it seemed that the party was a flop as the whole house was in darkness. We had our invertor on in the bedroom so we had a light and a fan. As you can imagine, we did not fall asleep for a long time as there were vehicles coming and going throughout the night and we heard people walking past our bedroom until late.
On the Sunday morning I went to my mother’s cottage (she is in South Africa with her sister and is unable to come back until things are back to normal) to feed her two cats. I had to climb through the window again. Veterai’s manager and another man have been sleeping in the lounge every night. On the way back I saw Veterai and about 12 of his guards sitting with him having a meeting. He was speaking on his cell phone at the time. Later that morning about ten or twelve members from our church tried to come and visit us after church but were not allowed in. They tried everything to persuade the guards to let them in and spent a couple of hours arguing with them until eventually our minister and his wife were allowed through. They gave us communion and were only allowed to stay for about 15 minutes.
On the Monday I went to my mother’s cottage to feed the cats and when I arrived there, I saw that the lounge door was open. I walked in, only to find Veterai sprawled on the couch in the lounge with three or four men around him having a meeting. I was taken aback but said nothing and just walked through to the kitchen and fed the cats. I then walked straight through the lounge again and pretended they were not there. They said nothing. The reason I did not say anything is because I had sworn on the Bible that I would never in my life say another word to Veterai because I had realized by this time that he was trying to provoke me and if I said nothing, then he could not accuse me of saying something I did not say, which was his way of provoking me and intimidating us.
By Tuesday our lawyers in Masvingo had managed to draw up a court order to
have Veterai evicted from the farm until such time as the court case on 10th
March. The court order stated that he had to evacuate the farm with immediate
effect and that he could not come within 30 metres of the farm. Needless to say,
this was totally ignored and nothing appened.
By this time the guards were allowing us to have visitors but not more than two cars at one time. They wanted everyone’s names, I.D. numbers, vehicle registration numbers and the reason for visiting.
For the rest of the week there were comings and goings of Veterai and his family and staff. The only way we were coping with this unbelievable invasion of our privacy and intimidation was through our faith in God and our many friends and family who prayed continually and sent many sms’s giving us encouragement and support. Many people brought us groceries which were accepted with gratitude because by this time we had very little food left in our kitchen. I just want to mention that we had incredible support from many blacks as well as whites. We had many visits and phone calls from black friends and people we hardly knew which we really appreciated.
On the Saturday afternoon we were in our bedroom when the dogs started
barking like mad. We saw two black men walking past from our bedroom, one who
was carrying a firearm. I thought “what now?” Digby went outside only to find
that it was our groom who was bringing the war veteran by the name of Satan from
the farm next door. He wanted to see Digby and said to Digby that he is on our
side and that he does not want to us leave our farm. He also said that he does
not want Digby to get BP (blood pressure) which I found rather amusing.
This guy Satan is one of the genuine war vets and has been on the farm next door for about six years now. He said that all the local war vets support us as they do not want Veterai taking over our farm. He said that Veterai had approached him and other war vets in the area and asked them to help jambanja us and they refused as they have the utmost respect for Digby He said he knew how much we have done for the community in the Lowveld, such as building an orphanage in Chiredzi which has 47 orphans in at present. He also built a clinic on the farm (which has been occupied by some of Veterai’s staff for the past year)and he had helped many people over the years.
On the Sunday morning we woke up to the sound of rapid gun fire just outside
our yard. We immediately panicked, wondering what on earth was going on. The
dogs were barking like crazy so I went through to the kitchen to find about four
women cooking on my stove. I then went through to the dining room and there was
Veterai sitting at my dining room table with about six other men, eating sadza
and having a meeting. They stayed most of the morning and we had people all over
the house and in the garden. Our friend, Leon Kruger came around for tea and a
visit so we went to sit outside in the corner of the garden, far from the
While we were sitting there, I felt like I had such a weight on my chest and I put my hand on my heart which by this time was beating so fast, I thought I was on the verge of having a heart attack. I got up, went to the lounge, passed Veterai who was still sitting in the dining room with his children and another man, just ignored him and went to sit in the lounge and listened to my Christian C.D. I just needed something to calm my nerves – the green bombers stared at me as though I was mad because I was singing with the music.
I then sat on the carpet, in full view of Veterai, and played with my dogs while listening to the music. The next minute Veterai disappeared down the passage and came back with two bags in his hands and went out the door. He must have gone to Harare because with the elections coming on so soon and with him being so high up in the Police, he no doubt has his work cut out for him. We discovered later that the gun shots that we had heard that morning was some of Veterai’s men doing target practice right outside our yard!! Pure intimidation!!
By the Thursday Leon Kruger, a director in our company and Johan Hundermark,
a member of our staff at the head office were no longer allowed to come and see
us – what the reason is, I don’t know but I can only guess it is because they
always bring us papers from the office or come to discuss business and it seems
that, according to stories we have heard from various staff members, mine and
his, is that Veterai wants us to go off the farm, to work or church and then he
has given his guards instructions to lock us out once we go through the boom.
Another two people who were banned from coming to see us was our son Rory and
also Mike Clark.
Later that morning Veterai’s manager came up the driveway in his pick-up to ask Digby when the pump, which had broken a few days before, was going to be ready and he must hurry up and get it fixed. Incidently the quote Digby got for having the pump repaired, was$15 billion. On Sunday morning at about 2 a.m. we were woken up to the sound of a vehicle coming up our driveway and car lights shining through our bedroom window. Digby peeped through the curtain and saw Veterai and his wife get of the vehicle which was a brand new silver twin cab. Veterai was armed with a pistol and his AK47. He and his wife came inside and went and slept in the guestrooms down the passage. The dogs were at this stage barking like crazy and needless to say, we hardly slept for the rest of the night. Thankfully he left early the next morning.
We could not believe that we had now been prisoners in our own home for almost three weeks. If it was not for the incredible support of our family, friends and church members, we would never have survived up to now. We had so many sms’s, phone calls and e-mails from people near and far. They were so worried about our safety especially with Veterai walking around armed all the time.On the Sunday we were lying on our bed feeling very despondent as the court order had been totally ignored and we did know which way to turn now.
We think back to 1980 and where we are right now. The honourable president Robert Mugabe said in his speech that any whites who wanted to stay after Independence and help to build a new Zimbabwe, were welcome. In 1990 when he said “one man, one farm” we realized that land reform was inevitable and we did not contest it when our two ranches, totaling 15,000 acres was taken for resettlement. These ranches were in the Chiredzi River Conservancy which would eventually become part of the trans-frontier park and we had bought all the game that was on the ranch and built a safari camp and a compound for our staff. Both properties were totally resettled and we did not protest as we believed in land reform even though this safari camp would have attracted tourists and brought in foreign currency. We thought back to what the President had said about one man, one farm and accepted the inevitable.
After that, suddenly three A2 settlers were allocated 20 hectares of sugar cane each on my remaining sugar cane farm. This cane had just been replanted. The farm is only 126 hectares altogether so this left us with 66 hectares which included the houses, compounds, crocodile operation and a hill behind the house.
Then in March 2007 Veterai arrived on the farm with an offer letter for 40
hectares which would mean that we were only left with 26 hectares which we did
not agree with but we thought at least our house, my mothers’ cottage, our
manager’s house and small compound and the crocodile set-up (a total of 8000
crocodiles) would not be included in the deal. Veterai said he wanted all the
houses for himself, his family and staff and that afternoon he arrived at the
house while Digby was at work and said that if we did not move out, he and I
would sleep together that night.
He then left and that night he returned at about 9.30 and said that he wanted the houses immediately. He got in his car and drove to our manager’s house where our operations manager was living and started harassing her and intimidating her, banging on the windows and scaring her half to death. Digby got a frantic sms from her and immediately got in his truck and drove over there. When he got there, there was Veterai at the house armed with an AK 47 and his wife was standing next to him, also armed and six armed guards were standing behind them. Digby, who was unarmed and had no weapon on him whatsoever, thought that this was the end of the road and expected to be shot any minute. Anyway he managed to get the operations manager out of the house and they came home shaken but thankfully unharmed, where she spent the night. She was totally traumatized by this event.
The next morning we found that our gates were locked and that we were unable to get to work. There were armed guards at the gate. At about 11 a.m. the D.A., the lands committee and about eight other people arrived to tell me that my manager had 24 hours to move out of her house because Veterai wanted to move in with his family. Digby kept asking them which 40 hectares was Mr Veterai taking over and they could not answer but they insisted that he was allowed to move into that house immediately. By this time our manager was so distraught that she just wanted to move out of her house and move into town where fortunately we had a little flat available.
Digby took the incident up with the local authorities and various ministers and was told that a meeting had been held with minister Mutasa and he had agreed that Veterai’s offer letter had been withdrawn and that he himself would come down to sort out the matter in December. During the second week of December, we went to Pretoria to visit my brother for four days. While we were away, we got an urgent phone call from our manager to say that Veterai had chased all our senior staff and domestic staff out of their houses on the farm. Their furniture had been thrown out in the mud as it had been raining and they had to ask various friends if they had a spare room for them to move into. Veterai did this in the same way that he had conducted Operation Murambatsvina in Harare in 2006. He seemed to care very little about people’s feelings.
We left as soon as we could and wondered what was going to happen when we crossed the border at Beit Bridge as our staff had been told that Digby was going to be arrested and put in jail the moment we arrived in Zimbabwe. When we arrived home, there was a seven ton trailer parked in our driveway that prevented us from driving up to the house. We had picked up some of our staff from our office in town and they towed the trailer out of the way. Veterai had taken our landcruiser out of our garage and towed it to the compound and then parked his landrover in our garage in its place. He took our four vintage cars that were parked in our hangar and towed them to the compound too and then put some of his equipment there. He had also parked an old trailer full of old tyres on our lawn. Our staff took everything of Veterai’s out of our yard and left them outside our gate.
Our crocodile manager, Sam moved into the little cottage right next to our house where he and his family are still living. Six weeks later Veterai moved into our house with his family and staff. And that is where we are now.
By Peter Clottey
20 March 2008
Zimbabwe's government has described as rubbish accusations that general
elections scheduled for March 29 would not be free and fair. This follows a
report by US-based Human Rights Watch, which suggests that supporters of
incumbent President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government use violence to
intimidate partisans of opposition parties. Mugabe's government contends
that significant changes have been made to ensure that this month's
elections are credible.
It adds that the country's electoral commission is adequately prepared and
would be unbiased in discharging its duties. Gordon Moyo is the executive
director of the Bulawayo project, a non-governmental organization based in
the country's commercial capital. From Bulawayo, he tells reporter Peter
Clottey that the elections would not be credible.
"The facts on the ground are that the government has engaged on its cultural
violence, which it has been practicing over the years. We had a situation
over the past two weeks where the commissioner of prison services addressed
the police and told them that they should vote for ZANU-PF, ordering them to
vote for ZANU-PF. That sends signals to the military structures that they
should defend ZANU-PF, disrupt opposition campaigns, and disturb people's
peace. That alone is violence because it is a precursor to what is likely to
take place if Mugabe were to lose," Moyo pointed out.
He denied President Mugabe's government has made significant strides in
ensuring this month's elections are credible.
"We are actually havening the police commissioner. We are actually having
the military structures at a very senior level making such statements. Any
other statement becomes a political statement, but the statements that are
coming from military structures and from the security community are serious
violations of electoral guidelines that govern democratic elections in the
SADC (Southern African Development Community)," he said.
Moyo accused the government of employing tactics that undermine basic
election practices in a democracy.
"So, it's violence, threats, and it is about manipulation. Not only that we
know that the chiefs around the rural areas are going around telling people
that only ZANU-PF supporters are going to vote on 29 March. And that anyone
who is not going to vote for ZANU-PF should go and vote on 30th March. These
are strategies from the ZANU-PF, and are part of intimidation because if you
are telling people not to go and vote on 29 March, then you are intimidating
them. You are disenfranchising them and that kind of election can never be
free, can never be fair," Moyo noted.
He expressed confidence in the ordinary Zimbabwean to change the government.
"Indeed, Zimbabweans are resolved to vote this dictatorship out. They are
prepared to vote for change, and for change that they trust. But this
government of Robert Mugabe is going to steal the election. We know that
they are saying they are going to use helicopters to carry ballot papers,
and they are not going to allow polling agents to accompany the ballot
papers," he said.
Moyo said President Mugabe's recent statements ahead of next week's
elections amount to intimidation.
"And again the president has issued a decree at the end of last week that
police officers are going to be inside the polling booths, and they are
going to be assisting people to vote. Those are threats and you cannot have
free and fair elections. But Zimbabweans at all levels are resolved to vote
for change," Moyo said.
Issue 20 : 20 March 2008
Mugabe amends electoral laws
With Zimbabwe's crucial 29 March elections just over a week away, President Mugabe has once again backtracked on changes agreed to at the South African-brokered talks between the government opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Under the agreed electoral laws, to avoid intimidation of voters, police were not allowed within 100 metres of a polling station. However, according to state radio, the newly amended electoral laws allow policemen into polling stations so they can "assist" illiterate people to vote.
Members of the politicised Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have been brutal in their attempts to suppress all forms of opposition in the country, and according to data collected by organisations such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, they are major perpetrators of human rights abuses. The police have been named as torturers, and police premises as places of torture in hundreds of cases recorded by the Forum.
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri said police officers will not hesitate to use "full force" to stop politically motivated violence
A warming by Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri at the end of February that the police will not hesitate to use force prior to the elections is beliefed to be a clear indication that the government plans to rig the polls.
Insufficient polling stations in cities
The MDC has filed an urgent court application to compel the country's electoral body to increase the number of polling stations. The MDC took the move after the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), an independent election monitoring group, warned that thousands of voters in Zimbabwe's cities - strongholds of the opposition - may not have time to cast ballots because too few polling stations have been provided.
The ZESN said it feared a repeat of the 2002 presidential elections when tens of thousands of voters were turned away across the country after polls had closed.
A list of polling stations released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), whose members are appointed by President Mugabe, showed "a significant discrepancy" that favoured the ruling party in its rural strongholds, ZESN said.
According to ZESN, Harare has 379 polling centres for about 760 000 registered voters, leaving an average number of 2 022 voting at each station over 12 hours. If there is maximum turnout, that gives each citizen an average of 22 seconds to vote. In one city district, it came down to nine seconds if all 4 600 registered voters showed up.
In contrast, most rural polling stations would handle only about 600 voters each, the network said.
Faced with the potential of mass-scale rigging, the opposition says it is vital that most regional and foreign observers be deployed to all rural areas, traditionally the flash points of political violence and intimidation. In the past, observers have rarely set foot in the Zanu PF strongholds of the three Mashonaland provinces.
Resorting to High Court action for voters' roll
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has had to resort to Harare's High Court to obtain an electronic version of the voters' roll. Widely described as "shambolic", the roll is said to be stuffed with voters who are long-dead, duplicated names and non-existent people or those with fake identities.
Last week, the Electoral Court turned down an opposition application to have the court order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to disclose the number of ballot papers printed for the joint presidential, parliamentary, senate and local government elections.
Voters' roll discrepancies
SW Radio Africa has published a brief analysis of scanned voters' rolls which reveal major discrepancies between what the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has declared as the number of voters per constituency, and those actually on the voters' roll. In Goromonzi South, for example, the discrepancy is -30.8 percent, while in the Harare suburb of Glen Norah it is +19.9 percent.
Observers selected on basis of reciprocity
Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said that election observers had been selected on the basis of "reciprocity, objectivity and impartiality" with regards to their relationship with Zimbabwe.
"Clearly, those who believe the only free and fair election is (one) where the opposition wins have been excluded, since the ruling party, Zanu PF, is poised to score another triumph," he said.
The government has invited 47 regional and sub-regional organisations as well as countries from Africa, the Americas and Asia - notably China and Malaysia - to view the elections. The only European country on the list is Russia.
As the first contingent of Southern African Development Community (SADC) election observers started arriving, the opposition reported a resurgence of incidents of violence, especially in perceived Zanu PF strongholds.
Presidential challenger Dr Simba Makoni has repeatedly described the rural areas as places where people are consumed with fear (due to years of relentless government perpetrated intimidation).
Jan Raath, Times (UK) describes the rural areas as places where "the ruling party card is the key to receiving famine relief when (one is) starving, while dissent has meant death for hundreds."
Mugabe in panic mode
Mugabe is reported by the Zimbabwe Independent to be "in panic mode due to the turmoil in Zanu PF, and in the face of a surging tide of support for his main rivals".
He has stepped up his strategy of vote buying - handing out millions of US dollars worth of agricultural equipment, as well as awarding pay rises to the armed forces and teachers. Mugabe continues to hijack the state media and is widely believed to have geared up the electoral machinery in order to manipulate the vote in his favour.
Violence against opposition parties has intensified
SW Radio Africa reports that violence against opposition members has also intensified, despite the arrival of a regional observer team in Harare on Wednesday. At least five MDC (MT) supporters were attacked recently by a gang of Zanu PF youths and had to be hospitalised. One of the victims is in intensive care.
A parliamentary candidate from the United People's Party was also assaulted by Zanu PF youth militants and is receiving medical care.
Presidential candidate Simba Makoni and his campaign team have been harassed and threatened by war veterans.
Stakes are high for SADC observer mission
Business Day reports that "stakes are high for the SADC observer team" which is expected to ensure that the credibility of SADC is not compromised.
However, Zim Online reports that the SADC executive secretary, Dr Tomaz Salomao, a former planning minister in Mozambique, has expressed confidence that the elections will be peaceful.
"As we come and observe the elections in Zimbabwe, we do so with confidence that the tradition of peace encapsulated in the unquestionable political mutuality and tolerance shall again guide Zimbabweans as they go to the polls," he said.
"Peaceful, beautiful and fantastic"
This week Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, described campaigning in the country as "peaceful, beautiful and fantastic."
Earlier this month however, Moyo was scathing about a series of protests staged outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria by the Revolutionary Youth Movement of Zimbabwe (RYMZ) and other pro-democracy groups. RYMZ president Simon Mudekwa said they were protesting about the ongoing human rights abuses, electoral irregularities and the uneven playing field which favours Zanu PF.
Mudekwa said his group wanted the Zimbabwean people to be liberated from oppression, just as South Africans had been.
Mugabe amends electoral laws
Source Date: 18-03-2008
President Robert Mugabe has amended electoral laws to allow policemen
into polling stations later this month to "assist" illiterate people to vote,
state radio said on Tuesday.
The amendment, which was published as a presidential proclamation on Monday, comes less than two weeks ahead of make-or-break polls on March 29.
The amendment appears to backtrack on changes agreed at recently during South African-brokered talks that restricted police from doubling up as election officers.
Under the electoral laws, police were not to be allowed within 100 metres of a polling station to avoid intimidating voters.
"Section 59 of the act has also been amended and will allow two electoral officers and a police officer on duty to assist semi-literate voters," the radio quoted part of the presidential proclamation as saying.
Voters who are "physically incapacitated" will also be assisted to vote by two electoral officials and a policeman, the report said...
Source: News24 (RSA)
SADC standards breached
Polling station row spills into High Court
Source Date: 12-03-2008
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Wednesday
filed an urgent court application to compel the country's electoral body to
increase the number of polling stations, a lawyer confirmed….
The MDC moved after an independent election monitoring group warned that thousands of voters in Zimbabwe's cities - strongholds of the opposition - may not have time to cast ballots in the March 29 elections because too few polling stations have been provided.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said it feared a repeat of the 2002 presidential elections when tens of thousands of voters were turned away across the country after polls closed.
A list of polling stations released by the Electoral Commission, whose members are appointed by President Robert Mugabe, showed "a significant discrepancy" that favoured the ruling party in its rural strongholds, the network said.
The ZESN group said Harare has 379 polling centres for about 760,000 registered voters, leaving an average number of 2,022 voting at each station over 12 hours. If there is maximum turnout, that gives each citizen an average of 22 seconds to vote.
In one city district, it came down to nine seconds if all 4,600 registered voters showed up.
In contrast, most rural polling stations would handle only about 600 voters each, the network said.
Source: NewZimbabwe.com (ZW)
SADC standards breached
MDC court bid over voters' roll
Source Date: 09-03-2008
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has resorted to Harare's
High Court to try to get an electronic version of the voters' roll for the March
29 presidential and parliamentary elections so he can check that all voters are
The negotiations President Thabo Mbeki mediated between (the two formations of) the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu PF produced amendments to the Electoral Act, enabling any interested party to buy an electronic version of the voters' roll.
In previous elections, the state only had to produce a printed version of more than five million names, which made checking identity numbers almost impossible….
Every constituency has been changed for the March 29 elections, as the number of contested parliamentary seats has increased from 120 to 210. In addition, four elections are being held simultaneously for the first time, including local government elections.
The election laws state that people will only be allowed to vote at the polling station situated in the ward to which they have been allocated. With the huge redrafting of constituencies and wards, many people still have no idea what ward they are in, said Makone...
SADC standards breached
President Robert Mugabe 'raises the dead' to secure electoral
victory in Zimbabwe
Source Date: 18-03-2008
Zimbabwe has the highest proportion of elderly voters in the world*,
according to the voters' roll being used for elections next week.
A glance at one page of the roll yesterday for a ward in the Mount Pleasant suburb of Harare turned up a Fodias Kunyepa, who was born in 1901. Over the page was Rebecca Armstrong, born 1900.
Somewhat younger was Desmond Lardner-Burke, born 1909, who was the notorious Minister for Justice in the rebel Rhodesian Government … (He left the country soon after1980 and died shortly afterwards in South Africa)….
Opposition campaign workers say that the voters' roll is stuffed with the names of the dead, of non-existent people, of those with fake identity numbers and with names repeated numerous times in different constituencies, sometimes in the same ward.
That way, supporters of Mr Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party will be allowed by compliant electoral officials to vote repeatedly.
“It also means that when they stuff the ballot boxes, a huge majority will not appear unreasonable,” said one campaigner who asked not to be named….
“There's one [person at least 100 years old] on nearly every page of the voters' roll for Mount Pleasant,” said Trudy Stevenson, parliamentary candidate for one of the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The roll has 212 pages with 55 names on each.
Before the last elections, in 2005, the MDC was able to get hold of CDs of the voters' rolls for 12 constituencies, subjected them to digital analysis and found that 45 per cent of the names on the list were false. Since then Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar-General, has kept a tight lid on the roll….
Note: *In 2006, the United Nations' World Health Organisation published a report stating that the life expectancy of a Zimbabwean woman by early 2006 was only 34 years, down from 62 in 1990. Life expectancy for men was 37 years. Since then, conditions have deteriorated significantly.
Source: Times, The (UK)
SADC standards breached
Electoral court refuses to hear MDC application
Source Date: 14-03-2008
Zimbabwe's Electoral Court on Thursday turned down an opposition
application seeking an order compelling election authorities to disclose
information pertaining to ballot papers printed for month-end polls, saying it
did not have jurisdiction over the matter.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had wanted the court to order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to disclose the number of ballot papers printed for the joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections on March 29.
The opposition party ... believes that more ballots were printed to allow for easier manipulation of the vote (and therefore wants) the court to order the ZEC to disclose the identity of the firm contracted to print ballot papers and for the commission to allow inspection and auditing of ballot papers.
The MDC also wanted the ZEC ordered to increase the number of polling stations in its stronghold urban areas. Analysts say fewer polling booths allocated in cities and towns could turn away voters (as happened in 2002 when tens of thousands of voters were turned away across the country.)...
The Electoral Court was set up to specifically hear disputes related to ... elections as part of reforms that were said would help speed up resolution of electoral disputes and enhance transparency in the country's election systems and processes.
Source: NewZimbabwe.com (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Observers not allowed near ballot boxes
Source Date: 14-03-2008
(It has emerged that) domestic and international election observers will
not be allowed to stay with the ballot boxes between the polling booth and the
place where votes are counted, it has emerged.
In effect, this means that only the monitors assigned by the official Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), who are civil servants, will be able to deliver a verdict on how free and fair the elections have been.
Observers, on the other hand, will be given free access to observe the electoral process across the country, but their findings will not be taken into account by the ZEC.
Political observers say this is tantamount to the ZEC policing itself - and refusing any outside monitoring….
The Zimbabwe Government has only issued invitations to a few 'friendly' countries…. This raises serious doubts about the impartiality of the entire election observer process.
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Lawyers urge Mugabe to charge defence chief
Source Date: 12-03-2008
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has called on the state to
prosecute the country's top military commander, General Constantine Chiwenga,
for allegedly threatening voters to back President Robert Mugabe in elections at
The ZLHR said Chiwenga's statements were a violation of Sections 133B (c) and 134 (3) (b) of the Electoral Act which make it a criminal offence to intimidate people to vote for a particular candidate or use undue influence to force people to vote or not vote during an election.
In addition, Chiwenga had also breached the Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines under which member states are obliged to ensure that elections adhere to the principles of freedom of association and political tolerance...
SADC standards breached
Mugabe in massive vote-buying handout of tractors, buses,
Source Date: 09-03-2008
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has handed out millions of US dollars
worth of imported brand new agricultural equipment, vehicles, generators and
cattle in what critics said was a massive vote-buying exercise ahead of
elections this month...
On Saturday, according to the ruling party-run Sunday Mail, Mugabe presided over the distribution of 300 40-seater buses, 500 tractors, 20 combine harvesters and a range of other modern farming machinery, as well as 50,000 ox-drawn ploughs and thousands of other peasant farming implements, 5,000 electricity generators, 3,000 mills for grinding maize, 680 motorcycles and 100,000 litres of diesel...
The newspaper did not say who received the goods, but in two similar handouts last year - where 25 million US dollars worth of farm equipment was distributed - the recipients have been identified mostly as cabinet ministers, legislators and ruling party bosses.
Human rights groups say they have evidence that the manual implements were given out in peasant farming areas only to people who could produce ruling party cards or chant ruling party slogans.
'Your vote will ensure you benefit from the agricultural mechanization programme,' Mugabe said last week...
Source: Monsters and Critics
SADC standards breached
MDC says Mugabe using food to buy votes
Source Date: 11-03-2008
Zimbabwe's opposition on Monday accused the government of using scarce
food to buy votes,* barely 48 hours after President Robert Mugabe distributed
millions of dollars worth of farm equipment in what critics said was an attempt
to placate a disgruntled electorate.
Both factions of the ... Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said politicization of food had become rampant in rural areas where in some cases entire communities rely on grain from the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Some villagers who spoke to ZimOnline said the GMB - the only firm permitted to trade in maize and wheat - had since campaigning for the March 29 elections started in earnest about three weeks ago distributed food through traditional leaders known for supporting Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party...
*Note: The World Food Program estimated that, by January 2008, Zimbabwe's population (urban and rural) in need of food assistance would have risen to around 4.1million. Independent experts suggest the population could have dropped to as low as 7-8 million people.
SADC standards breached
Mugabe woos teachers with massive pay rise
Source Date: 14-03-2008
President Robert Mugabe's government has awarded teachers hefty salary
increments of over 750 percents as it moved to placate restless workers ahead of
a key election at the end of the month...
"We certainly wonder why the government left it until this late to give teachers what they are worth. The whole move smacks of an election gimmick to buy votes," said Raymond Majongwe, (secretary general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe)...
Note: In ZEW issue 18, we reported that Mugabe had awarded huge pay rises to the military.
SADC standards breached
Mugabe sees votes in black ownership law
Source Date: 09-03-2008
President Robert Mugabe... has signed into law the country's
indigenisation legislation, empowering the state to take over control of
foreign- and white-owned businesses... just three weeks before presidential and
.. political analysts believe that the legislation would be used to win votes, in exactly the same way as the land takeovers were used for political gain in previous elections in 2000 and 2002.
Source: Financial Times, The (UK)
SADC standards breached
We deserve better in these elections
Source Date: 14-03-2008
The public media is in violation of the SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections as it has failed to afford equal and unbiased
coverage of the March 29 harmonised elections.
Media monitoring groups, analysts and opposition parties accused national broadcaster, the ZBC, and the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers - 51% state owned) of biased reporting, qualitatively and quantitatively in favour of the ruling Zanu PF...
The public media were also accused of contravening provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
The SADC guidelines require all political parties to have "equal access and opportunity to the state media." However, in Zimbabwe opposition parties have hardly been covered equitably by the public media as has been Zanu PF.
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) has over the past month complained of what it termed unfair coverage of the pre-election period, especially in the public media. It called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to put an end to the "intolerable" bias demonstrated by the national broadcaster, the ZBC, and the government controlled newspapers...
The MMPZ said between February 24 and March 2, ZTV devoted 64 minutes of news bulletins to reporting favourably on Zanu PF's campaigns, compared to just three minutes given to the two MDC factions and eight minutes to (independent presidential candidate) Dr Simba Makoni...
Source: Zimbabwe Independent, The (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Opposition candidates allege ruling party political
Source Date: 13-03-2008
Zimbabwean parliamentary candidate Rainos Tivatye of the United People's
Party, who seeks the house seat for Zengeza East, Harare Metropolitan Province,
said he was assaulted on Tuesday by youth militants of the ruling Zanu PF
Now receiving medical care, Tivatye ... told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that police briefly detained the youths but released them without charges.
Identified victims: Parliamentary candidate Rainos Tivatye of the United People's Party
Source: VOANews (USA)
SADC standards breached
5 MDC members hospitalised after Mbare attack by Zanu PF
Source Date: 13-03-2008
Violence against officials and members of the opposition has intensified,
despite the arrival of a regional observer team in Harare on
At least 5 supporters of the Tsvangirai MDC were hospitalised on Wednesday after they were attacked by a gang of youths known to be Zanu PF members in Mbare high-density suburb of Harare. One of the victims, Simba Maringwa, is reported to be in intensive care battling for his life.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said a group of about 200 Zanu PF supporters, affiliated with the infamous Mbare gang called Chipangano, ambushed 20 MDC supporters as they were campaigning for MDC candidate Piniel Denga in Mbare.
Tendai Savanhu, Zanu PF candidate for Mbare, has been implicated in this incident...
Several MDC members were wounded seriously and were taken to the Avenues Clinic in Harare...
Identified perpetrators: Tendai Savanhu, Zanu PF
candidate for Mbare has been implicated
Identified victims: Simba Maringwa, Trymore Matsitsira, Wellington Chigumaze, Jeffrey Chikwavayera and Mazhinji
Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
SADC standards breached
Sekai Holland detained in Zimbabwe
Source Date: 14-03-2008
Sekai Holland, an MDC national executive member and aspiring Senator for
Chizhanje constituency, was today detained without charge for two hours at
Harare Central Police Station for what the police said was in connection with
the aborted prayer meeting in Highfield on 11 March 2007.
Holland, who is in her late 60s, was savagely beaten up and hospitalised, together with other political and civic leaders last year...
Holland's leg would have been amputated if she had not sought specialist treatment.
On Wednesday, Holland made an emotional address at a public meeting to commemorate the state brutality of 11 March in which she narrated her horrific ordeal at the hands of the police...
The police released Holland after harassing her for more than five hours...
Identified victims: Sekai Holland
Source: MDC (MT) Press
SADC standards breached
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20th Mar 2008 00:23 GMT
By Ntando Ncube
KAROI - The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) yesterday called on
Zimbabweans to stand against voter apathy and turn out in large numbers to
participate during the March 29 harmonised elections.
Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said Zimbabweans should not shun the elections
regardless of the flaws being cited by human rights groups and the
opposition. He said this at the NCA's community outreach programme held in
Madhuku said Zimbabwe's current election was "beyond change of leadership
but change of politics"
He said the elections presented an opportunity for Zimbabweans to register
their displeasure at the way the country has been run down by the Zanu PF
government, whose leader, Robert Mugabe would be seeking a record sixth term
"Whilst acknowledging that the elections present an opportunity for
Zimbabweans to impact on political direction of the country, public
participation will be very critical in the post March 29 processes," Madhuku
"The agenda is beyond change of leadership, it is about the change of our
politics and the importance of placing ordinary Zimbabweans at the centre of
The NCA said elections were not the epicentre of democracy but in democratic
societies citizens were continually engaged in issues that affect their
"Democracy is not just about elections every now and again. Democracy is
about the continued engagement of all people in al matters that affect
them," said Madhuku.
Mugabe (84), goes into the March 29 election under siege as the prices of
basic good continues to skyrocket in the hyperinflationary environment.
Contesting him for the presidency are three others including his ex-finance
minister Simba Makoni (57) and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (55).
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:26
BY CHIEF REPORTER
President Robert Mugabe has predicted a "thunderous victory" in the
crucial March 29 vote and has dismissed his challengers as "Mbare
But MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, addressing bumper crowds on Sunday,
said the Mugabe regime's days were numbered and that he would re-establish
contacts with the international community for bilateral and multilateral
support needed to breathe new life into the vandalised economy and undo
Mugabe's isolationist legacy.
"The end is near," Tsvangirai said in a fiery declaration. "Nine years
of your efforts in fighting against this illegitimate regime will be ending
on March 29.
Tsvangirai told around 20,000 supporters at a campaign rally in the
south eastern Masvingo region to "Vote MDC for change you can trust".
Mugabe, addressing more than 3,000 supporters at his former stronghold
in Mashonaland, promised a free vote and predicted a "huge, thunderous,
Mugabe said Makoni was worse than prostitutes in Mbare. "Joki
rekuMbare riri nani panaMakoni (A Mbare prostitute is better than Makoni),"
Mugabe alleged Makoni loved "dirty British money like a whore" and
said Tsvangirai was much better than Makoni because "at least he has some
Tsvangirai, on the other hand, told his supporters that Mugabe, and
not Britain, was to blame for Zimbabwe's condition. "Baba Chatunga musi wa29
varikutoenda kwaZvimba chete (Mugabe is definitely retreating to his Zvimba
rural home after losing the election against me." Tsvangirai said to roaring
Tsvangirai also unveiled his 100-page programme of action and said he
was ready to govern.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:24
BY OWN REPORTER
Devolved provincial powers, a new constitution, no return to pre-2000
land ownership and an autonomous Reserve Bank - the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) unveiled its policies for government last week.
The MDC proposes to decentralise administration and governance by
dividing the country into provincial administrations. But, says the party,
this will not be the type of federal system advocated by Zapu (PF), nor will
it be based on tribal demography.
"The MDC will establish provincial authorities that are democratically
elected and have clearly defined [goals] for the development of regions for
which they have responsibility. The delivery of such services as water,
housing, electricity, road infrastructure and waste disposal will be
delegated to locally elected officials and institutions," said a statement.
The revenue collected by the provincial authorities will be available
for the development of their areas.
With regards to issues of governance, law and justice, the MDC says
fundamental human rights and freedoms are universal and inviolable.
The country's constitution, as its supreme law, must be consistent
with this and be in accordance with the people's wishes for all governance
structures," it states.
Based on that principle, the MDC says it prioritises establishing a
new people-driven constitution. It also promises to "correct the current
situation in the area of judiciary operations and justice delivery systems
that have been destroyed by patronage, subversion of the rule of law as well
as usurping of powers by the executive and the ruling party".
The MDC also promises to depoliticise the defence forces and other
state security agencies such as the Central Intelligence Organisation.
As part of the measures to address economic distortions and
malpractices, the MDC says it will make the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe fully
autonomous and task it with "managing inflation.Its role will be restricted
to interest rate management and exchange rate policy as well as the
supervision of the commercial banking system".
Other features of the policy are a complete review of the tax system
and of all forms of state expenditure.
On the monetary issue, the MDC says "the present system of bearer
bonds as a substitute for conventional money will be retained until
inflation is brought down to two-digit levels, at which point consideration
will be given to introducing a new currency".
On the land issue, the MDC says it will clear the mess created by the
Zanu (PF) regime by instituting a Land Commission, which will start by
carrying out an audit to establish landholding patterns, legal issues and
"While respecting the historical, constitutional and legal rights of
commercial farmers, the MDC will not return to the pre-2000 land-ownership
patterns, neither will it condone the inequitable and aberrant land
redistribution that has resulted from the 'fast-track land
reform' process," it states.
The party's mining policy of the MDC is based on its desire to attract
huge investments into the sector for both small- and large-scale operators.
This will include the introduction of "special mining leases for investments
The MDC says it will do away with policies that have killed the
manufacturing industry, such as price controls.
In the areas of health and education, the MDC says it does not intend
to privatise the entire health delivery system because it believes it is the
role of government to provide for its people. It also says it intends to
make primary education free, whilst introducing a change in the secondary
education system to provide skills training for students not able to qualify
for A levels or university studies.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:24
People in Chiredzi and Zaka are without meal or grain, despite
supplies being available at nearby depots, The Zimbabwean has learnt.
Reports from the area say that people are now suffering because of the
lack of the staple grains and some have resorted to sleeping outside the
Grain Marketing Board depots in the hope of food.
"It is being described as the worst that it has ever been," said one
source. "There is however a large stack of grain at the Grain Marketing
Board depot 10km out of Chiredzi. This is controlled by Zanu (PF), and there
is also grain at PG Timbers in Chiredzi, which is supposedly controlled by
one of the NGOs. What are they waiting for; why are they not distributing
this grain now?"
In Zaka, opposition candidates have said the army and police, aware of
how hungry the people are, are now backing them.
"[They] say that they must work hard and win the elections before
everybody dies of hunger and sickness," said the source.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:20
Defence Forces Chief Constantine Chiwenga (right) is reported as
saying he would stage a coup if Mugabe loses the race. Here, he stands
beside the podium as President Mugabe addresses independence day
celebrations in Harare last year.
Streets, buses, shops and homes are abuzz with talk of the elections.
Here PIUS WAKATAMA explains why he believes renewed interest in politics
gives real hope that change might happen.
The forthcoming general elections to be held on March 29 were going to
be a non-event as far as most Zimbabweans were concerned. Some, including
respected political analyst, Prof. John Makumbe, felt that opposition
parties should not bother to participate because they would be rigged by the
Zanu (PF) Government as usual. He jokingly said the results were already in
President Mugabe's laptop computer.
"Why should we bother to vote again?" ordinary people asked. "Our
votes will just be stolen as usual and Mugabe will be declared the winner
Today this has all changed. When former Zanu (PF) Finance Minister
Simba Makoni threw his glove into the ring to challenge R. G. Mugabe for the
presidency, all hell broke loose. Forty-five per cent of eligible voters who
had hitherto not bothered to register rushed to register so that they could
participate in the elections. They saw his entrance into the fray as
ushering in the real possibility of change in Zimbabwe.
Excitement was first kindled when rumours started to circulate that
Makoni was going to challenge Robert Mugabe for the presidency backed by
former army commander Solomon Mujuru. The rumour was so strong and
persistent that Mugabe summoned the young politburo member and quizzed him
about it. Makoni swore by all his royal Nyathi ancestors that he would never
even contemplate such insubordination against his mentor, the President.
However, after a few days he dropped the bombshell. He declared publicly
that he was going to challenge Mugabe for the top job in the country.
People were suspicious
Some people were suspicious. Even today others are still sceptical.
They feel that he could be a plant by the clever Mugabe in some ploy to fool
the electorate. Why had he first denied that he was going to stand, they
ask. One old man answered the question for me. He said: "Simba is not a
fool. It was not the right time and place. If he had told Gushungo, the
crocodile, that he was going to challenge him, the young man would not have
reached home. He would now be buried at the Heroes Acre and his wife would
have joined the long line of Zanu (PF) widows."
Mugabe is now in a real quandary. He does not know whom to trust or
believe among his close lieutenants in the Russian-style politburo. Even the
trusted CIO chief Hapson Bonyongwe has declared that he backs Makoni. I must
say the old man is indeed a man of steel; not ordinary steel either but
sterner stuff. If I were in his position, I would now be a shivering nervous
Today Zimbabwe is in a frenzy of excitement. Political conversation in
public, which many were afraid to engage in, is now rife in buses, kombis
and the many queues at supermarkets for basic commodities. The political
configuration in Zimbabwe has changed drastically in a short period of time
and will never be the same again.
Political pundits are having a field day painting all manner of future
scenarios. Some are optimists who are painting near-future pictures of
Zimbabwe as again being the peaceful breadbasket of the region with either
Morgan Tsvangirai or Simba Makoni as president.
Others are talking of a future government of national unity to be
formed by both the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai and a reformed Zanu (PF) led
by Simba Makoni. Yet, others are prophets of gloom and doom. They predict
that after the elections there will be civil war and Zimbabwe will turn into
another Kenya or, worse still, another Somalia. They point to people like
army general Constantine Chiwenga, who is saying that he would stage a coup
if Bob loses the race.
Only two contenders
Hey, wait! Don't leave me out. After my many years of writing about
our political situation, you should also consider me a political pundit,
too. However, I will play it safe and not venture into speculating about the
future. I am not a n'anga so I will just stick to writing about the present
as I see it.
As far as I can see, the only real contenders for the presidency are
Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. Forget about Sekuru Mugabe. He is now
history. He is a confused and lonely straggler who has even admitted that
his closest allies are not campaigning vigorously for him.
In his public speeches, instead of addressing the real issues facing
our starving population, he is still glorying in how he fought Ian Smith's
forces in the bush decades ago. Instead of realistically analysing the
economic situation and offering plausible solutions, he is still trying to
bribe the electorate with gifts of tractors and scotchcarts. Instead of
accepting even some blame, he is still blaming Western imposed economic
sanctions for his dismal failure.
Who does not know that the little sustenance that Zimbabwe now gets
comes from our children working their butts off in the diaspora, which
includes Western countries? Who does not know that if it were not for
donations of food and cash to buy essential medicines including retrovirals
from the United States, Britain and other Western countries, our population
would now be half of what it is?
Even our desperate business people, who are forced to raise prices in
order to keep their doors open, are accused of sabotaging his election
campaign. The man is now living in cloud cuckoo land. Even semi-literate
villagers in rural Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe are fed up with this drivel. He
has no chance in hell to win in any election, whether free and fair or not.
Am I saying the 29 March elections are going to be free and fair?
Definitely not. The intimidation and violence being visited upon the
opposition MDC by our misguided partisan security forces and Zanu (PF) thugs
make that impossible. However, there is a fair chance for the opposition.
Since Zanu (PF) is now divided between Makoni and Mugabe, it stands to
reason that its rigging machine is now out of gear. Its operators are now
fighting for control. Some are stepping on the throttle in top gear, while
others are stepping hard on the brakes. They are also fighting to control
the steering with some turning left and others turning right. My considered
opinion is that there will be no rigging of these elections. As we say in
Shona: "Matsotsi haagerane". In translation, this means thieves are not
supposed to cut each other's hair with sharp scissors. When they start to do
that, you can expect anything.
Since Zanu (PF) is now divided between Makoni and Mugabe, it stands to
reason that its rigging machine is now out of gear. Its operators are now
fighting for control. Some are stepping on the throttle in top gear, while
others are stepping hard on the brakes.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:14
BY MUSA NYASA
Professor Arthur Mutambara is a man who deserves respect. He is one
man who seems to be selfless and is able to put the needs of the nation
first before his own. Mutambara, it has been reported, was willing to allow
Morgan Tsvangirai to represent a united MDC as president. When Simba Makoni
came on the scene, Mutambara stood aside and endorsed Makoni's candidature.
These are the reasons why I believe the man deserves our respect.
His reasons for standing aside may be different from those publicly
stated, but the result is the same. It is possible that Mutambara realised
that he had no chance of winning any elections, pitting himself against the
likes of Tsvangirai and Makoni in a bid to upset the incumbent Zanu (PF)
leader. All the same, I applaud him for not wasting the people's valuable
votes to a candidate who had no hope of winning. Mutambara, by this action
has also prolonged his political career by giving himself the chance to
fight another day.
I believe this month's elections are Morgan Tsvangirai's final throw
of the dice. He really cannot afford to lose. Defeat for Tsvangirai will
relegate him to the rubbish heap of Zimbabwean politics. Defeat this time
around will confirm his failure to find strategies for Mugabe's ousting.
This month's election is effectively Morgan Tsvangirai's 'final push'.
If he fails to dislodge Mugabe from power, his MDC will have to
rejuvenate itself through a change of leadership. If the party doesn't do
so, it too faces the prospect of becoming irrelevant to the nation's
If Mugabe retains power, both Makoni and Tsvangirai will have failed.
Mutambara can offer himself as the new messiah. His selfless sacrifice to
the cause of removing Mugabe will put him in good stead with people. Makoni
can always blame his late arrival on the scene and promise to do better the
second time around given enough time to prepare.
However, though both Makoni and Mutambara can claim a stake in the
future of Zimbabwe's politics, they should be well aware of the effect of a
Mugabe's victory on the hungry, frustrated and weary Zimbabwean electorate.
Zimbabweans have a tendency towards desperate optimism. This
desperation makes my countrymen unwilling and unable to consider failure.
Any suggestions of failure send them into hyperventilation. If Mugabe
retains the presidency, the nation is likely to fall into a state of shock
and depression. Zimbabweans, having characteristically raised their hopes so
high and been disappointed, are unlikely to want to hear about elections
ever again in their lifetimes. This is the very real possibility that
Mutambara and Makoni must consider. They too are unlikely to have a
political future if Mugabe wins.
President Mugabe's win will be the loss of all hope for Zimbabweans,
just as much as it will be a massive blow to opposition politics. So what is
Morgan Tsvangirai, Simba Makoni and Arthur Mutambara must work
together towards our main goal. This goal is that of orchestrating the
"downfall of Robert Mugabe" as aptly put by Edgar Tekere at Makoni's rally
at Zimbabwe Grounds. Zimbabwe has no future with Mugabe remaining at the
reins of the country's leadership. That is common knowledge. What is left is
unity of purpose.
This is the time for all the forces working for the downfall of Mugabe
to come together. This is the time for the main protagonists to fully
understand the need for true unity and patriotism. The only sure way of
removing Mugabe is through the unity of the two MDC's and Simba Makoni's
Mavambo Project, plus the selection and endorsement of one candidate to
stand against Robert Mugabe in this month's election.
A great tag-team
Both camps have considerable support. Morgan Tsvangirai is the man who
dared challenge Mugabe and is still standing in spite of the brutalisation
he has been subjected to in his fight. Simba Makoni has dared to stand as an
'independent' after internally challenging policies he believed were
detrimental to the future of the nation without success. Morgan Tsvangirai
has grassroots support whilst Makoni has the vote of the middle class.
Tsvangirai is battle-hardened whilst Makoni has the experience of having
served in cabinet and his SADCC posting. The two would make a great
Perhaps Arthur Mutambara can play another role - the role of bringing
Makoni and Tsvangirai to the negotiating table. The coming together of these
two would obviously be unpopular with their inner circles and the people
with whom they've made alliances. These people will be afraid of falling by
the wayside in a new potential power-sharing deal. Zanu (PF) would be
another horrified observer. However, the time has come for real heroes to
emerge. Zimbabwe once more has an urgent need for "amadoda sibili".
Morgan Tsvangirai could be president and Simba Makoni his minister of
finance. Simba Makoni could be president and Morgan Tsvangirai the minister
of home affairs or Justice perhaps. Either of the two could be president,
with the other his deputy in yet another scenario. The choice of president
could tilt in Tsvangirai's favour as one who is more deserving having fought
so long for the honour. It could also fall to Makoni as the one who may be
more capable of spearheading the economic revival of the nation. Mutambara's
selflessness could be rewarded with the post of minister of science and
I am well aware of the fact that Tsvangirai and Makoni have both
submitted their names as presidential candidates, but the appearance of the
two at joint rallies endorsing one of them as a presidential candidate and
explaining the future role of the other will serve to explain how the nation
should vote. It would also be the most beautiful sight Zimbabwe has seen in
a long while.
Elections for senators, MPs and councillors will be left to the people
to choose as they wish. It is the leadership of the nation we need to sort
out first before we whip the rest into line at a later stage. Splitting the
opposition vote should not be an option. Unity is a must for Zimbabwe's
A lot of pride must be swallowed and egos will be bruised, but there
is no time to procrastinate. This is not the time to worry about who
approaches whom or who will be the first person to capitulate or compromise.
It is time for ultimate sacrifices to be made. Unite now. Don't leave
everything to chance. Make victory inevitable.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:15
Zimbabwean authorities are cracking down on businesses they suspect of
backing independent candidate Simba Makoni, The Zimbabwean has learned.
Retailers and top business-people who supply basic commodities were
summoned to a meeting on February 4 at the offices of Reserve Bank Governor
On arrival, however, they were informed that the meeting had been
convened not by the central bank, but by the Joint Operations Command (JOC),
a powerful body chaired by Zimbabwean Defence Chief General Constantine
Chiwenga and consisting of military, police, intelligence and prison
sservice chiefs. The JOC co-ordinates military and security affairs and some
analysts believe it carries more clout than the cabinet.
The head of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission, Godwills
Masimirembwa, was also in attendance.
According to a source at the central bank, JOC members were waiting in
full military uniform and berated the business chiefs for defying the price
controls Mugabe ordered last June and went further, accusing them of
allocating funds to support Makoni's election campaign. Chiwenga sat with
files of bank statements, deposit slips and surveillance reports piled in
front of him.
One by one, business leaders were asked to explain why there were
shortages of basic commodities and why, if they lacked the foreign currency
to buy goods or manufacturing inputs, they had not applied to the Reserve
Bank for it.
Business chiefs arrested
According to sources at the central bank, Willard Zireva, Chief
Executive of OK supermarkets was questioned about why the shelves in his
stores were empty when other retailers such as the Spar group and corner
shops did have stock.
"They plainly told him that he was doing it deliberately and that they
knew he supported Super Tuesday," said the bank source. Super Tuesday refers
to Tuesday, February 5, when Makoni announced his election bid.
"They also told [Zireva] that they were aware that he was pouring huge
amounts of money into the Super Tuesday project."
National Foods Managing Director Jeremy Brooke was accused of
inflating the price of flour his firm sold to bakeries. Officials produced
documents that ostensibly showed two sets of accounts, one at the official
retail price, and the other reflecting the higher price the flour was really
The National Foods chief defended himself, insisting that he had sold
flour at the official price. His arguments made Vice-Air Marshal Henry
Muchena so angry that he ordered him to leave the room.
Brooke was arrested later in the week on charges of breaching the
price control legislation, and Mike Manga, who leads Blue Ribbon Foods and
is Chairman of the Millers' Association of Zimbabwe, was detained on similar
charges relating to flour pricing.
The source said subtle threats were made that they should stop
financing Makoni or face big problems.
"This was the highest level of intimidation to stop funding of Simba
Makoni," said a top executive, who did not want to be named. "It has always
been obvious that Simba had the support of the local businesspeople and it
seems that they want to end that."
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:11
BY WICKY MOFFATT
For the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, the people of
Matebeleland are likely to decide who goes to State House.
All three presidential candidates, Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni and
Morgan Tsvangirai, have very strong credentials, which makes it highly
unlikely that any of them will get the required 51 per cent of the March 29
vote to become President. This means any candidate who gets more than the
33.3 per cent threshold will definitely qualify for the second round of
Matebeleland has three of the country's 10 provinces (30 per cent of
the voting provinces). A candidate who wins in 30 per cent of the provinces,
by whatever margin, is also likely to achieve the 33.3 per cent threshold,
unless he fails dismally in all the other provinces; which is an unlikely
scenario. This, in turn, implies that whoever wins Matebeleland will most
likely proceed to the second round of voting.
Historically the people of Matebeleland have always voted and followed
one leader at a time. They were united under Joshua Nkomo and they followed
him through thick and thin. When they decided to vote for the MDC in 2000
and 2002, they all spoke with one voice.
t is argued that minority groups anywhere in the world find comfort in
their own unity. In general, when people are deprived because of tribe or
ethnicity, they tend to find solidarity. It seems that this unity was shaped
by the Gukurahundi atrocities, which left the people feeling
disenfranchised, persecuted, harassed and struggling to find a voice.
Gukurahundi stirred the pot of identity politics in Matebeleland, and
created a form of solidarity which will survive any changes in the political
landscape, until the imbalances it created have been fully addressed. It
made tribal boundaries real in our society and almost every sphere of
leadership is now linked to tribe in one way or another. The three
Matebeleland provinces will therefore come as a package to one leader; they
cannot be split.
Compensation for victims
The politicians have realised this and they have all put Matebeleland
at the heart of their presidential campaigns. This is why Morgan Tsvangirai
has promised compensation for Gukurahundi victims as bait for the Matebele
vote. He even went to the extent of hiring 40 buses to ferry people to White
City Stadium all day for his rally.
This strategy actually works because it gives him a psychological
advantage over his rivals. Everyone who did not see the free beer and free
buses now believes that Morgan is the most popular leader in Matebeleland.
This gives him an unstoppable momentum which could easily turn into votes.
His biggest let-down, though, is the lack of a local hero in his ranks.
Thokozani Khupe and Lovemore Moyo hardly define what it really means to be a
'real' Matebele leader, and whether they will deliver the vote remains to be
On the other hand, Simba Makoni decided to rope in a local hero,
Dumiso Dabengwa, to win the heart and soul of this region. Dumiso is the man
who spent five years in prison, fighting for his people. Even in 2000, when
they voted for the MDC, they openly told him: "We love you Dumiso, but we do
not like the Mugabe jacket that you are wearing."
Now he has come back to say: "I have removed that jacket." In
accepting Dabengwa, Makoni has also accepted the Matebeleland Zambezi Water
Project (MZWP), which stands at the heart of Matebeleland development. This
is the main reason why Dabengwa endorsed Makoni; to push ahead his MZWP
agenda and develop Matebeleland.
Makoni has also roped in Dr Themba Dhlodhlo, Treasurer of the
Matebeleland/Midlands Gukurahundi Victims Development Association (MGVDA).
This man and his network of chiefs and headmen have done a lot of work to
identify victims and source compensation. Makoni has publicly endorsed the
MGVDA and its vision for healing, rehabilitating and compensating
Simba has also been endorsed by Welshman Ncube, et al; the self
proclaimed or assumed new leaders of Matebeleland.
Bob's lost battle
As for uncle Bob, he already knows that Matebeleland is a lost battle.
He will concentrate on the rural areas of Mashonaland where he is busy
sharpening his rigging mechanisms. Bob is already doing his maths in rural
Mashonaland, where he has planted so many polling stations that some will
only cater for 600 registered voters. These voters are being told that, if
the opposition wins in their area, they can easily be identified and
victimised. They are also being told that the ballot boxes are transparent,
so "we can see your vote" and come after you.
In the end, Bob is likely to win the rural vote in Mashonaland by hook
or by crook, and he is likely to face a run-off against whoever wins
Manicaland, from where both Simba and Morgan hail, is shaping up to be
another interesting battle. The Buhera area obviously belongs to Morgan.
Mutare urban is likely to follow suit, albeit with a split towards Simba.
However the people of Chipinge, like the people of Matebeleland, have always
believed in one leader. Their current leader, Wilson Khumbula, has endorsed
Makoni. This is likely to deliver the Chipinge vote to him.
In the Chief Makoni area, which covers five constituencies, they are
all shouting "Nyati imhenyu" together with the Mutasa and Nyanga people. If
you take into account Bob's rigging mechanisms, it will make the battle of
the 'home of opposition' a very interesting duel. Whoever wins Matebeleland
can add Manicaland to that collection to pass the 33.3 per cent mark.
Matebeleland has spoken with one voice in the past but has not been
heard. This time they have a unique opportunity to speak loudly and be
In Matebeleland the democratic journey is more than just about voting.
It is about identity; it is about who you are, and it is about healing the
old wounds. The politics of identity, the politics of Matebeleland, is
likely to carry the day on March 29.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 08:07
President Robert Mugabe is seriously worried about his security reportedly
following the discovery by his handlers of the latest plans to eliminate or
oust him by some of his colleagues in Zanu (PF) and government structures,
The Zimbabwean has established.
The troubled geriatric leader has taken extra-measures to beef up his
security and investigations have revealed that his wife and kids are
spending much of their time away from their official residence and mansion
in the capital at some "safe" locations, including their plot in Gweru.
Intelligence and government sources revealed to this paper that Mugabe has
been constantly shuffling the presidential guard team providing security for
him and his family following yet another tip-off from his spies within the
system that his enemies within and around the axis of power are hoping for
an opportunity "to get rid of Mugabe by any means possible in order to save
the country from his plans to cling onto power despite burning the country
This follows what is believed to have been the leaking of plans by CIOs and
other organs to "get another victory for Mugabe through sophisticated means"
in the end of month presidential elections. Larger sections of the state
security services understood to be campaigning for Mugabe's opponents, MDC's
Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu (PF) faction leader Simba Makoni are said to have
been irked by learning this prompting some of them to consider ways of
getting rid of Mugabe.
Our investigations proved that Mugabe's wife, Grace, has a plot in Gweru and
we established that she and their kids are now spending much of their time
there reportedly under heavy and tight guard. Mugabe has also been seen by
neighbours close to the plot putting up there for the night and being picked
in the morning to go and address his rallies.
A government minister speaking on condition of anonymity said Mugabe
recently received anonymous letters from members of the security forces
"advising him to leave the country or withdraw from the presidential race
before some other means are used to get rid of him". That is said to have
forced Mugabe to instigate a probe through his spies who are believed to
have reported back saying they had established plans to topple him through a
coup "before the elections if possible or even after them if he rigs his way
through and wants to rule for another term".
Further to that, our reliable sources said, Mugabe was also advised by his
spies that his enemies would pounce if they got the opportunity and
physically eliminate him.
"Due to this, Mugabe did his own spying and called one by one individuals he
believes are powerful and influential who have been linked to rebellions
such as the Makoni project," an impeccable source said. "These included
Solomon Mujuru, Vitalis Zvinavashe and CIO boss Happyton Bonyongwe. Mugabe
has also been trying to seduce Dumiso Dabengwa into accepting to meet him.
He suspects these to be behind plans at getting him."
Zvinavashe and Bonyongwe have been featured on front pages of
state-controlled newspapers denouncing and distancing themselves from the
Makoni project and our sources say this was after meeting with Mugabe who
demanded their did that to demonstrate their loyalty.
Mujuru met Mugabe last week but has not spoke about it, with the geriatric
president saying he had distanced himself from the rebellion. The Zimbabwean
has also confirmed with Dabengwa that there have been overtures from Mugabe
requesting to meet him. Mujuru declined to comment and Zvinavashe and
Bonyongwe were not reachable.
The secretary in George Charamba, Mugabe's spokeman's office said he was not
interested in commenting.
Thursday, 20 March 2008 05:43
BULAWAYO:-A Zimbabwe teachers' representative body has called on the that
country's electoral commission to ban the use of schools as campaign bases
by contesting political parties ahead of the March 29 elections, saying such
activities in the past led to violence against teachers and destruction of
property at schools.
Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union
of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the militant teachers' organization has wrote to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), calling on it to ban the holding of
rallies at schools to ensure the protection and safety of teachers. "We
wrote to ZEC asking it to ban the use of schools as campaign bases. Schools
used as campaign bases in the past lost valuable school furniture and other
material. Schools were used as springboards of violence against teachers
suspected to be aligned to the opposition parties," said Majongwe
yesterday.Majongwe said PTUZ addressed the letter to Utoile Silaigwana, the
ZEC deputy chief elections director. Majongwe added: "ZEC in reply said it
would first consult the public service commission (PSC) over the matter
before making a decision. Schools should be treated like hospitals and
clinics. You will never find campaign bases at these places, so why at
"In previous elections, teachers were displaced and assaulted and forced to
flee their schools where they were campaign bases. The ultimate losers are
school children as previous incidences have shown."
Silaigwana could not be reached for comment despite repeated efforts.
Last month, scores of teachers and PTUZ leaders were severely beaten up by
ruling Zanu-PF thugs for distributing fliers outlining the fall of the
education sector. Teachers have been victims of violence in the run-up to
previous elections on suspicions by the ruling Zanu-PF thugs that they are
aligned to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
This year, however, there have been few reports of politically motivated
violence against teachers ahead of the elections. Zimbabwe holds joint
elections of March 29 to elect a new president and representatives of the
senate, local authority and house of assembly.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:25
BY OWN REPORTER
Perpetrators of crimes against humanity may be able to slip through
the legal net, but ROHR Zimbabwe's Name and Shame campaign can be harder to
ROHR (Restoration of Human Rights) targets those in the police force
and army who abuse their power.
Their latest action led to the arrest of one of the two members of the
Zimbabwe National Army who allegedly assaulted Sten Zvorwadza in February.
At 2am last Friday, ROHR Zimbabwe members, with the help of ZRP officers,
raided the house of Denford Nemutambwe in Chitungwiza, and arrested him.
The two uniformed soldiers allegedly manhandled Zvorwadza at a bus
terminal in Harare city centre. They had overheard a private discussion in
which Zvorwadza said Zanu (PF) had failed to run the country properly. They
accused him of discrediting the country and demanded an apology.
Then he refused to apologise, it is claimed the two uniformed
officials used their spiked belts to beat him. They then stole his mobile
phone before handing him over to the police for arrest.
"Thinking it [was] business as usual and that their crime was water
under the bridge, [we] had other plans," said a report from ROHR.
Nemutambwe was detained at Makoni police station in Chitungwiza,
pending trial. His accomplice is yet to be arrested for the same offences.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:23
Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and the men's group (MOZA)
held four community-based protests in Harare and Chitungwiza today, taking
to the streets of Domboramwari, Glen View, Kuwadzana and Makoni Shopping
Centre in Chitungwiza.
Supporters marched carrying balloons that read 'Stand Up for Your
Child' and handed out flyers, urging people to vote in the coming elections.
Commission calls for lawyers' independence
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has called on the
Zimbabwe Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick
Chinamasa, to take measures to restore the independence of lawyers in the
The ICJ was prompted to write to Chinamasa, after he made a statement
against the Law Society of Zimbabwe in the state-controlled Herald
newspaper. The letter expressed the Commission's "serious concern" about
developments they say threaten to undermine lawyers' independence.
"The ICJ is deeply concerned that this governmental declaration
against the Law Society of Zimbabwe could be a prelude to a new regime of
government actions aimed at discrediting, delegitimising and undermining the
independence of the legal profession in Zimbabwe," said Martin Masiga of the
ICJ Africa Programme.
The ICJ reminded the government of Zimbabwe of its obligations as a
State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights as well as a
variety of human rights instruments, to ensure that lawyers are able to
perform all their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance,
harassment or improper interference.
Attacks on lawyers in Zimbabwe have included physical assaults,
manhandling, office raids and seizure of documents, arbitrary arrests and
detentions, false prosecutions, being chased out of police stations, being
threatened with arrest when representing clients among others.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:26
BY ITAI DZAMARA
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) does not have the staff to carry
out its duties before, during and after the elections, and is recruiting
green bombers to swell its ranks.
The Zimbabwean has established that there are about 26,000 members in
the police force, which will be expected to provide manpower for 11,000
polling across the country. It is a requirement that every polling station
has two police officers. This would leave only 4,000 officers for all other
duties throughout the country.
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri has cancelled leave for
all officers and has ordered every member of the force to be on duty until
he issues a statement saying the elections are over and there is calm in the
However, sources says around 5,000 officers have already gone absent
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka confirmed that Chihuri had "taken
to ensure there is enough manpower to handle the elections and that
includes having all members on duty".
He said he was not in a position to discuss the numbers within the
Reliable sources at PGHQ revealed that the force had been trying to
fill in the huge gaps in numbers by recruiting people from the national
youth training service.
"More than 3,000 green bombers have been recruited recently and
fast-tracked into the force in order to beef up the numbers," a source said.
"There are also war veterans and Zanu (PF) youths that have been taken on
board just for the elections, but there is already a lot of concern within
the force due to the political inclinations of these new recruits."
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 17:29
The decision by South Africa's labour body, COSATU, to demand free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe is commendable. This is what Zimbabweans expect of
their fellow Africans.
We hope that this stance will be adopted by many other labour bodies
throughout the African continent. This could mark the beginning of genuine
solidarity between the people of Africa rather than the rulers of Africa.
For too long African governments have supported African dictators despite
the widespread oppression of their peoples.
It is clear that COSATU has its finger on the pulse of what is truly
happening in its northern neighbour, far more than does the SA government.
At last COSATU is trail-blazing in identifying with the broad starving
masses of Zimbabwe and not choosing to close their eyes while a heartless
dictator not only wrecks the country but brings about untold suffering to
millions of people.
We wish COSATU every success in persuading the ANC and the SA Communist
party to follow its lead. We know that it is powerful. After all it was
responsible for the election of Jacob Zuma as president of the ANC. We are
confident that its voice will be heard.
This could be a turning point in the ANC's attitude towards the Zimbabwean
COSATU has threatened to make a lot of noise if the playing field in
Zimbabwe is not levelled before the elections. It is heartening to know that
Zimbabweans do have some concerned neighbours who would like to see a
genuine resolution of their man-made disaster.
All indications at this stage are that the elections will not be free and
fair. The arrest of opposition candidates and disruption of their campaigns
are ongoing. The Zimbabwe Electoral commission is unashamedly partisan. The
voters' rolls are a complete shambles. The media is still gagged.
Journalists are still banned from reporting. Genuine international observers
are barred. We have a bunch of clowns from countries that do not hold
credible elections of their own. Some of them have never even seen a ballot
box. Special courts, set up to deal expeditiously with election disputes,
are refusing to consider applications by the opposition.
In flagrant disregard of the electoral laws, Zanu (PF) continues its
vote-buying extravaganza, dishing out food, farming implements and computers
bought with tax-payers' money. Military chiefs, also paid by the tax payers,
threaten to reverse the wil of the people if they dare vote for anyone other
than Mugabe. This threatening behaviour, widely reported in the state media,
is met with deafening silence from the government.
This does not augur well for a free and fair poll. Now is the time to make
noises about the playing field - before it is too late.