March 21, 2008
Jan Raath in Karoi, Zimbabwe
With elections only eight days away, President Mugabe looks like being
overwhelmed by a wave of support for the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
as the 84-year-old leader's grip on power falters.
Mr Tsvangirai's formidable backing in Zimbabwe's urban areas has been
consolidated since the election campaign began five weeks ago and now, after
a series of forays into the poverty-stricken rural areas where the ruling
Zanu (PF) party has hitherto held control, it is clear that Mr Mugabe has a
fight on his hands there, too.
On Wednesday Mr Tsvangirai pushed into Mashonaland West, Mr Mugabe's home
province, to draw mostly large crowds of exultant peasants responding to his
chant of chinja! - Shona for change - in a region where until very recently
it would have been almost impossible for his faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change to campaign.
In the small farming town of Karoi, 124 miles (200km) north of Harare, at
least 8,000 people filled the local rugby ground to give the 56-year-old
former national labour movement leader an ecstatic welcome, singing
handidzokera shure (no going back) and waving red plastic cards to signify
Mr Mugabe's "sending off".
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a.. In depth background on Zimbabwe
"It is unimaginable that we could have come to this place [before]," Mr
Tsvangirai said in an exclusive interview after leaving St Boniface's
Catholic mission in Urungwe district, where about 2,000 people
respondedjoyously to his promise. "Bit by bit the rooster is going to be
served up," a reference to Mr Mugabe's symbol, the cockerel.
Mr Mugabe, by contrast, has been securing large numbers at rallies but by
dragooning children and "rent-a-crowd" contingents, watched over by soldiers
with automatic rifles and secret police. On Wednesday, after he held a rally
44 miles south of Karoi in his home town of Chinhoyi, I counted 11 heavy
lorries, each laden with about 100 people, on the way back to the towns -
some as far as 60 miles away - where they had been picked up.
About 18 miles outside Karoi a farmer said that Zanu (PF) had to call off a
meeting with local officials on Sunday because only ten people turned up -
in an area dominated by ruling party settlers occupying former white-owned
land. "Zanu (PF) is finished," he said.
In Magunje, a business centre near Karoi, Mr Mugabe cut short a rally last
week after first the local electricity supply grid and then two diesel
generators failed to power the public address system. "People at the back
were shouting at him: 'Can you see what is happening to the country?'," said
one man who attended. Sources there said that two technicians of the
national electricity utility were arrested on suspicion of switching off the
Last week a poll surprised analysts by reporting that a survey had given Mr
Tsvangirai 28 per cent of the vote in the run-up to presidential elections
on March 29. Mr Mugabe had 20 per cent and Simba Makoni, Mr Mugabe's former
Finance Minister, 8 per cent. The election is being held simultaneously with
parliamentary and local council elections. Mr Mugabe previously had been
expected widely to be ahead.
The elation is overshadowed by what election watchdogs say is a determined
effort to rig the ballot.
Mr Tsvangirai said that he was concerned about changes to the electoral law
to allow policemen into polling stations, which could intimidate voters. He
also said that there were too few polling stations in urban areas to cater
for the large numbers of opposition voters. There are also fears about the
hugely inflated voters' roll, which could disguise illegal ballots, and the
denial of postal votes for three million Zimbabweans who have fled abroad
from the economic collapse.
He also claimed to have evidence of an order to the state mint to print
600,000 postal ballots, permitted only for diplomats and members of the
military serving abroad, when perhaps 20,000 might be needed. In addition,
nine million ordinary ballot papers have been printed for an official
electorate tally of 5.9 million voters.
Mr Mugabe's victories against the MDC in the last three national elections
since 2000 have been dismissed by independent election observers as the work
of violence and comprehensive rigging. With the climate of violence
significantly reduced, "fraudulent activity may be his target now", Mr
"We will declare victory because the people will have won," he said. Mr
Mugabe would claim victory again but, Mr Tsvangirai said: "We know this is a
people's victory which he is trying to deny."
The MDC went to court to challenge its previous election losses but this
time "we are not going to court," he said. "If he steals the people's
victory, what will the people do? They will not accept that.
"The people must defend their victory," he said. He would not elaborate and
declined to speculate on what might happen.
The chief and his challengers
Founder and leader of Zanu (PF). Has governed since the end of white
minority rule in 1980. In that time, life expectancy has dropped to 39.5
years, less than half his age, and inflation has hit 100,000 per cent
Founder and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change. Twice charged with
treason for organising opposition against the Government. His skull was
cracked by a beating in custody
Challenger from within Zanu (PF). Was sacked as Finance Minister after
arguing that the currency should be devalued, but retains a strong base of
Source: Times archives
Allege forced votes for the Mugabe and his Zanu PF party
Published 2008-03-21 11:51 (KST)
HARARE -- Zimbabwe's uniformed forces, fearing internal vote rigging and
being forced to vote for the ruling Zanu-PF, fear their that their
commanders and police chiefs will throw away their postal ballots cast for
the opposition when they are forwarded to the country's electoral body for
OhmyNews learnt morale has hit rock bottom among the uniformed forces ahead
of the March 29 elections over allegations that the postal voting process is
pre-determined as the ballots will be sifted before being forwarded to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
According to authoritative sources within the uniformed sources, there is
amid allegations that all members of the security forces, which comprise of
soldiers, police and prison officers, have been told that they are under
order to vote in the upcoming elections. Zimbabwe is going to joint hold
presidential ,senatorial, parliamentary and council on the 29th of March and
the uniformed forces are scheduled to vote first on Monday.
"Vote rigging is not on 29 March. It starts with the postal voting process.
The ballots are not forwarded to ZEC as they will be first sifted by the
commanders and the police chiefs and then re-sealed. Postal votes forwarded
to ZEC are not a true reflection of voting patterns," said one of the
disgruntled police officers at Borrowdale police station.
Already, the opposition has expressed concerns that the electoral playing
field is not level, accused the government of predetermining the election.
For example, a list of polling stations released by the Electoral
Commission, showed "a significant discrepancy" that favoured the ruling
party in its rural strongholds.
Independent election monitoring organizations like the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN) said they fear a repeat of the 2002 presidential
elections when tens of thousands of voters were turned away across the
country's urban centers, strongholds of the opposition, after polls closed.
Members of the security forces vote days before the elections. Analysts
credit the uniformed forces with ensuring President Robert Mugabe's
continued hold on power despite dissent to his rule. Anti-government
protests are ruthlessly put down by the police.
"We have been told that, unlike previous polls, this time everyone will
vote. The whole process is pre-determined since voting is not monitored like
in polling stations. It is a police monitoring the police process or
soldiers monitoring the soldiers. It's voting under duress and against your
will," said some soldiers based at Inkomo barracks in Harare.
Wayne Bvudzijena, the police commissioner, yesterday when contacted for
comment accused the police officers expressing fears of internal vote
rigging were not conversant with the postal voting processes.
"Postal voting is a private process. Why should it be monitored by
observers? Police officers talking of fears of internal vote rigging do not
understand the postal voting process. They have never voted before. The
votes will be sealed and taken to ZEC," said Bvudzijena yesterday.
No comment could be obtained from the national army spokesperson, Colonel
Samuel Tsatsi and Zimbabwe prisons chief, Paradzai Zimondi. However, the
head of the country's security forces have already pledged undying loyalty
to Mugabe after declaring that they will not support a change of government.
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, army commander, General Constantine
Chiwenga and Zimabwe Prisons chief, Zimondi have said they will not allow
"puppets" to rule Zimbabwe -- a reference to opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and independent candidate, Simba Makoni, who have both been
labelled as such by President Robert Mugabe.
March 20, 2008 06:02 PM
We the PEOPLE of Zimbabwe, both inside and outside the country call on YOU
as our defenders and protectors to exercise your power and role in Zimbabwe,
in the interest of your mothers, fathers, siblings and children.
We are days away from another election. The hope and expectation of every
Zimbabwean is that this election will herald the beginning of a life of
dignity and quality. The political elite is hopeful that YOU will protect
their positions and maintain the status quo. The people of Zimbabwe are
hopeful that YOU will support their yearning for change.
You have heard your commanders declare that they would not support and
salute anyone other than the current president. But it is this President and
his elite that have made the lives of you, your family and all of us, a
daily misery. The security establishment holds the key to what a post
election Zimbabwe will look like, and whether reconstruction and development
will take hold. You are recognized as a key force in Zimbabwe that holds the
balance of power. It is YOU that can ensure an environment that is conducive
for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe.
You hold an extreme amount of power. Power that can be abused and
manipulated, as has been done in the past, to hurt, intimidate and further
subjugate the ordinary people of our country. As sons and daughters of
Zimbabwe, who hold a position of strength and power, we call on you:
ACT RESPONSIBILY and HONOURABLY
DEFEND YOUR PEOPLE, NOT THE POLITICAL ELITE,
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE.
It is not too late to refuse to be used as pawns by those who hold no
allegiance to you and your families and whose only interest is in their own
personal greed and ambition.
Show your support and allegiance to the people of Zimbabwe.
ACCEPT the will of the people as manifested through the electoral process,
irrespective of the outcome.
REFUSE to be party to any form of vote-rigging and underhand attempts at
manipulating the results of the forthcoming election.
REFUSEING to intimidate, harass and carry out acts of violence. Go against
the orders of your commanders. Lay down your arms and rally behind the
people of Zimbabwe to foster reconstruction and development.
Your role as defenders and protectors in the post-election period is most
critical, especially where and when the needs and demands of people are not
met. PROTECT the people of Zimbabwe and not the narrow interests of the
greedy political elite.
USE YOUR POWER WISELY; BE COUNTED AS THE TRUE DEFENDERS OF THE INTERESTS AND
ASPIRATIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE.
DR LOVEMORE MADHUKU
|VOTERS queue to cast their votes in the last election in 2005|
BULAWAYO – Zimbabwean churches under the umbrella of the Christian Alliance civic group have begun a campaign to encourage Christians to vote in the elections and assure them that their vote next week would be secret.
The campaign is seeking to persuade about four million Christians to vote following a survey carried out by the group last year that showed that the majority of Christians in Zimbabwe were reluctant to vote in the polls.
Christian Alliance spokesperson, Useni Sibanda, told ZimOnline that the campaign would focus on reassuring voters, particularly in rural areas that their vote was a secret.
“We have heard stories where people are afraid to vote because they fear that they will be watched by the police when they cast their vote and that is the reason why we have embarked on the campaign.
“We have fliers with the message – ‘Go and Vote - God is the only one watching’. We are urging Christians to go and vote without any fear,” said Sibanda.
Zimbabweans go to the polls next week to elect a new president, parliamentarians and local government representatives.
Zimbabwe human rights groups have in the past accused President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party of intimidating voters in rural areas to vote for the party.
Mugabe earlier this week amended the country’s electoral Act by allowing police officers into polling booths to assist illiterate and physically incapacitated voters to cast their ballots.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has condemned the electoral change saying Mugabe wanted to use the police to intimidate voters into voting for Mugabe and ZANU PF.
Sibanda said the group would also distribute fliers in the local indigenous languages urging Christians around the country to go and vote on 29 March.
Mugabe faces what analysts say could be his biggest electoral test in a presidential race against his respected former finance minister Simba Makoni and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who have both promised to unseat him. - ZimOnline
by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 21 March 2008
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's last minute chopping and changing of
agreements reached with the opposition only help buttress opposition claims
that he is out to steal the ballot next week, political analysts told
Mugabe earlier this week decreed changes to Zimbabwe's Electoral Act to
allow police officers into polling booths to assist illiterate and
physically incapacitated voters to cast their ballots.
The presidential decree erased an agreement reached with the opposition
during South African-brokered talks that prohibited police from doubling up
as polling officers and banned them from coming within 100 meters of a
polling station to avoid intimidating voters.
Political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe's decision to
unilaterally change electoral laws appeared to confirm the view that the
March 29 polls will not be free and fair, especially when considered in the
context of threats by security commanders to reject an opposition victory.
Masunungure, who teaches political science at the University of Zimbabwe,
said: "It (amendment) gives impetus to allegations that ZANU PF (Mugabe's
ruling party) intends to rig the elections.
"Recent statements by Chihuri (Augustine, Police Commissioner General) and
Mugabe's move this week are worrying. You cannot blame the opposition when
it says the elections will not be free and fair."
Chihuri last week vowed he would not allow "Western-backed puppets" to rule
Zimbabwe, repeating similar comments made a fortnight ago by Zimbabwe
Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, General Constantine Chiwenga that the
military would be prepared to salute Mugabe only.
The statements by Chihuri and Chiwenga, who as ZDF chief is commander of
Zimbabwe's army and air force, were seen as threats to stage a military coup
in the event Mugabe loses next week.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party believes
police play a pivotal role in rigging of elections and intimidating
illiterate rural voters to vote for Mugabe and ZANU PF.
The opposition party said Mugabe's decree allowing police back in polling
booths was evidence that the "police are indeed used as a weapon of
intimidation in the ZANU PF power retention agenda. Secondly, in our view,
it is unacceptable that Mugabe, a participant in this election can change
the rules of the game when the game is being played."
Another UZ political scientist, John Makumbe, urged the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to condemn Mugabe for shifting goal posts just
days before elections.
The regional bloc that was the political sponsor of the President
Thabo-Mbeki-led talks between ZANU PF and the MDC should pressure the
Zimbabwean leader to reinstate the police ban agreed with the opposition, he
"SADC should condemn Mugabe and make sure that he goes back to the earlier
agreement. We cannot have a partisan police in polling stations. They are
cogs in the ZANU PF rigging machinery," said Makumbe, who is a critic of
Allegations of vote rigging have marred Zimbabwe's polls in recent years,
which have also been stained by charges of violence and intimidation of
The United States, European Union and other Western governments have
maintained sanctions against Mugabe's government they accuse of gross human
rights abuses and stealing his way to victory in elections in 2002.
Mugabe, who beat main challenger Morgan Tsvangirai by a mere 400 000 votes
in the 2002 poll, insists that he won fairly and says Western sanctions have
worsened Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
Analysts say support from the military as well as a skewed political playing
field is enough to ensure victory for Mugabe despite an economic meltdown
that has spawned hyperinflation and shortages of food, fuel, essential
medicines, hard cash and just about every basic survival
by Own Correspondent Friday 21 March 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition on Thursday expressed fear the Electoral
Commission might push to have votes for the presidential election counted at
a national command centre in Harare, which could make it easier to
manipulate the ballot.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai - who
also questioned why the commission had printed three million more ballots
than the number of registered voters - said his party would go to the courts
to force the election authority to have votes counted at polling stations.
Tsvangirai, who says President Robert Mugabe cheated him of victory in the
2002 presidential election, fears that having ballots counted at one central
venue would make it easier to cheat.
"I will not participate in the election if counting of presidential ballot
papers is done at the so-called command centre. It is against the law," said
Tsvangirai, who together with former finance minister Simba Makoni is hoping
to end President Robert Mugabe's nearly three-decade rule.
In an earlier story, ZimOnline had incorrectly reported that Tsvangirai was
threatening to pull out of the presidential election if the commission
insisted on having the votes counted at a central venue.
Instead, Tsvangirai only said his party would not accept the result if the
counting process was not done using the normal procedure.
The election commission has said counting of votes and announcing of results
of council, Senate and House of Assembly elections will be done at polling
stations while ballots for the presidential race will be tallied and results
announced at a national command centre in Harare.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said his commission
would wait for Tsvangirai to formally raise his concerns with the commission
or alternatively take his grievances to court.
Chiweshe, a former member of the army and judge of the High Court who has
been accused before of favouring Mugabe, said: "I do not understand what he
is talking about. They should put their concerns to us and we will respond.
Since this is a potentially court case, I would rather wait for their
The MDC says a new Electoral Laws Amendment Act requires counting of all
ballot papers to be done at the polling station.
Tsvangirai criticised a presidential decree by Mugabe allowing police
officers into polling booths to assist illiterate or physically
The MDC says the presence of police inside booths only serves to instill
fear among especially rural voters who may not be well informed and may
think police are there to ensure they vote for Mugabe.
The opposition party has already filed an urgent application at the High
Court seeking the an order compelling the electoral commission to among
other things disclose the number of ballots printed and permit an audit of
the ballot papers.
The MDC had has asked the court to also order the commission to disclose the
number of postal votes, identify postal voters - where they come from and
where they will cast their votes.
Tsvangirai claim the commission had ordered state-owned Fidelity Printers to
print nine million ballot papers against 5.9 million registered voters.
The opposition leader said the firm was also printing 900 000 postal ballots
for the police, army and Zimbabwean diplomats abroad.
"We need to know why there is such a big difference. ZEC has to explain
that, hence we have resorted to courts for recourse. The integrity and
credibility of ZEC and election result is very questionable," said
Zimbabwe's polls have been engulfed in controversy well before even a single
vote is cast, with for example local and international human rights groups
producing damning reports in recent days showing rising political violence
and human rights abuses they say could tilt elections in favour of the
The MDC has also complained of massive distortions on the voters' roll that
it says contains names of thousands of people who died years ago and others
who no longer live in the country.
Threats by Zimbabwe's top security commanders to reject an opposition
victory have only helped cast further doubt on the integrity of elections.
However, the Southern African Development Community observer mission on
Wednesday said it was hopeful elections would be free and fair.
The mission said threats by the commanders of the military, police and
prison services not to accept an opposition victory should be disregarded as
"irresponsible statements" by the individuals concerned. - ZimOnline
SHONGA, Nigeria, March 21 (AFP)
The white farmers who settled in Nigeria after losing their livelihoods in
Zimbabwe's controversial land reforms still have their hearts set on going
back home one day.
"If we could get a stable government, I don't mind whether it is a (ruling)
ZANU-PF or (opposition) MDC government -- what we are interested in is a
good, non-corrupt, unselfish government -- we will all go back," said Graham
Zimbabwe holds presidential elections on March 29, the first since a group
of nearly 30 of the 4,000-odd commercial farmers forcibly evicted from their
land, moved to this vast west African economic powerhouse.
The vote, in which 84-year-old leader Robert Mugabe is seeking a sixth
five-year term in office, will take place amid an unprecedented crisis in
what was once a model of economic prosperity and democracy for the whole
He squares off against his ex-finance minister Simba Makoni and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Once a net agricultural exporter, Zimbabwe is currently reeling under food
shortages, while the economy buckles under a mindboggling annual inflation
rate of 100,000-plus percent.
Both unemployment and poverty rates hover above 80 percent and at least a
quarter of the population has fled misery to seek economic refuge elsewhere.
In Nigeria, the farmers are still bitter at the way the country has been run
into the ground since the Mugabe launched the scheme in 2000 to take land
from whites and turn it over to landless blacks.
"It's a tragedy, it's the same as genocide. They did not go about randomly
shooting people, but millions of people have had their future taken away
from them," said Hatty's wife Judy, on their 1,000-hectare cassava farm in
Shonga, Kwara state, some 400 kilometres northwest of Nigeria's economic
On a personal level they are relieved at the chance to pursue their careers,
but say they are sad at not being able to produce for their own country.
"But we are excited to be here, it's been a life saver giving us something
to do at our age after we had lost everything we ever had," said Hatty, 69.
"I am just grateful for what I have," said Hatty's neighbour Pete du Toit, a
poultry farmer who is setting up a 10,000-bird-a-day abattoir.
"Zimbabwe is still home, always will be, but I want this project set up and
running and (then I) will go back home. I am going to do my best for west
Africa," said du Toit, who farmed in Zimbabwe for 25 years.
"We miss Zimbabwe, that is our home and when we retire we will go back
home," said dairy farmer Dan Swart.
"We will get our farms back and put managers there ... and produce food
again," he said. "It's depressing, there is no agriculture at home, it's a
Critics blame Zimbabwe's food shortages and economic crisis primarily on
But Mugabe says successive drought seasons are responsible for the food
crisis while he blames the economic mess on Western-backed sanctions slapped
on him and his aides for allegedly rigging his re-election in 2002.
Possible stumbling blocks for those wishing to return include the commitment
and investment already undertaken in Nigeria, as well as the massive
re-injection of capital that will be required to restart business in
"It took us 41 years to build it and it was gone in 41 days," said Hatty,
holding back tears.
Many have vainly sought legal recourse to stop the loss of their farms, but
only one case has got as far as a southern African regional tribunal. Fewer
than 400 white farmers remain in Zimbabwe.
Nigeria invited the farmers to set up shop in April 2005, five years after
Zimbabwe's land reforms. Three years down the line, the Kwara project is
shaping up as an economic success story.
Hundreds of hectares are planted with the staple cassava plants while an
on-site state-of-the-art dairy processing plant and a poultry abattoir are
set to be operational within months.
Nigerian authorities have given them five years to be fully operational.
But delays in securing long-term loans in a country previously perceived as
high-risk due to decades of political uncertainty and military rule, has
slowed down the pace.
"There is a bit of frustration, but we are happy with the progress given the
circumstances," said Olayinka Aje, the Kwara state governor's special
assistant on the project.
But "the future looks bright, and bags (of grain) are coming in," he added.
The one million residents of Shonga, initially apprehensive when some 400
families were relocated to make way for the venture, say the scheme is
starting to bear fruits.
"Huge numbers of people have been employed... sooner or later we may need to
import workers from other regions," said Idris Mohammed, a local community
leader of this district of about one million residents.
Said a farm worker who identified himself as Ndako: "Shonga has been put on
the world map, families have salaries and can send children to school. Food
prices have come down because of abundant supplies."
The farmers say their aim is to help make Nigeria, Africa's most populous
nation which imports roughly three billion dollars worth of food annually
for its 140 million people, self sufficient in food production.
Wall Street Journal
By MORGAN TSVANGIRAI
March 21, 2008
As the March 29 election in Zimbabwe approaches, the cards are clearly
stacked in favor of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. Draconian
legislation has curtailed freedom of expression and association. Daily, the
representatives of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the political
party that I lead, are harassed, tortured, imprisoned without trial and even
Economic mismanagement by Mr. Mugabe's government is an even more serious
problem. Zimbabwe's inflation and unemployment rates are 150,000% and 80%
respectively. Infrastructure is crumbling, and education and health-care
systems have collapsed. Life expectancy is now among the lowest in the
world, having declined, since 1994, to 34 years from 57 years for women, and
to 37 years from 54 for men. Some four million of my fellow citizens have
fled the country, taking with them both human and financial capital.
Out of the many reasons for Zimbabwe's decline, three stand out. First is
the ruling regime's contempt for the rule of law. The government has
repeatedly stole elections, and intimidated, beaten and murdered its
opponents. It has confiscated private property without compensation and
ignored court rulings declaring such takings illegal. Such behavior only
scares away investors, domestic and international. Current circumstances
make it impossible to have a growing economy that will create jobs for
millions of unemployed Zimbabweans.
The government of Zimbabwe must be committed to protecting persons and
property; and the restoration of political freedom and property rights is an
essential part of MDC's economic recovery strategy. This means compensation
for those who lost their possessions in an unjust way. It also means
striking a healthy balance between reconciliation and accountability by
establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission along the lines of the
South African TRC. And it means restoring the independence of the judiciary.
The second reason for Zimbabwe's decline is the government's destruction of
economic freedom, in order to satisfy an elaborate patronage system.
Today, Zimbabwe ranks last out of the 141 countries surveyed by the Fraser
Institute's Economic Freedom in the World report. According to 2007 World
Bank estimates, it takes 96 days to start a business in Zimbabwe. It takes
only two days in Australia. Waiting for necessary licenses takes 952 days in
Zimbabwe, but only 34 days in South Korea. Registering property in Zimbabwe
costs an astonishing 25% of the property's value. In the United States, it
costs only 0.5%.
The MDC is committed to slashing bureaucratic red tape and letting domestic
and foreign entrepreneurs improve their lot and, consequently, Zimbabwe's
fortunes. We will open economic opportunity to all Zimbabweans. Unlike the
ZANU-PF dictatorship, which has destroyed domestic entrepreneurship, we
consider the business acumen and creative ingenuity of the people to be the
main source of our future growth.
The third factor responsible for the country's decline is the size and
rapaciousness of the government. Today, that size is determined by the
requirements of patronage. But a government that provides hardly any public
services cannot justify the need for 45 ministers and deputy ministers, all
of whom enjoy perks ranging from expensive SUVs to farms that were
confiscated from others.
The Central Bank too has departed from its traditional role of stabilizing
prices. Instead, it dishes out money to dysfunctional, government-owned
corporations that are controlled by the ZANU-PF and are accountable to no
one. The result is runaway growth in the money supply, and the highest
inflation rate in the world. Zimbabwe's potential for economic growth cannot
be realized without macroeconomic stability. Hyperinflation must be tamed,
in part by taming the government's appetite for spending.
The MDC plans a complete restructuring of the government, including a
reduction of the number of ministers to 15. The government will have to live
within its means. It will not be allowed to inflate its way out of trouble.
To that end, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe must become independent of the
government and given the sole task of fighting inflation.
Most state-owned companies are woefully inefficient, a strain on the budget
and a much-abused vehicle for ZANU-PF patronage. They will be privatized or
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of reforms necessary to set the
Zimbabwean economy on a path to growth. Our tax code will also have to be
made simpler and flatter to encourage thrift and enterprise, and our trade
and investment regimes will have to be reopened.
The people of Zimbabwe hunger not just for food, but also for political
change. MDC rallies draw enormous crowds -- even in areas where the risk of
being murdered by government agents is highest. A recent independent poll,
conducted by the University of Zimbabwe, puts my candidacy in the first
place, with Robert Mugabe's a distant second and Simba Makoni's third.
There is still a chance that the election results will reflect the popular
will. Then the people will have the new Zimbabwe they deserve, under a
government guided by the principles dear to free people everywhere.
Mr. Tsvangirai is a presidential candidate in Zimbabwe's upcoming elections.
by Nokhutula Sibanda Friday 21 March 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition has said it would not honour what it
described as "illegitimate debts" incurred by President Robert Mugabe's
government to fund partisan projects that did not benefit the country.
Tendai Biti, secretary general of the larger faction of the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said if
elected into power the party would order audit to establish which debts were
for the good of the nation.
"Our government will not be bound to repay debts inherited from the current
government which were not geared to promote national development," said
"As such, a debt audit shall be instituted to find out the purpose borrowed
money sought to serve, it is from this exercise that we will know Zimbabwe's
legitimate debt," he added.
Mugabe, whose government owes more than US$4 billion to foreign lenders, has
over the past eight years secured loans from Libya, China and Malaysia as
well as from Equatorial Guinea in West Africa raising fears that the
Zimbabwean leader was mortgaging the country to foreigners.
Civic society groups have said they will campaign for any new government
that assumes power in next week's elections not to pay for debts that were
incurred by Mugabe to buy military hardware and other equipment that has
been used sustain repression against Zimbabweans.
Biti, who was speaking at a Wednesday meeting held by the Zimbabwe Coalition
on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), said the national debt was high because
of the implementation of economic policies that were not creating surplus
Zimbabwe, which is grappling one of the world's severest recessions and food
crises outside a war zone, chooses a new president, parliament and local
government councils next week. - ZimOnline
by Chris Nyoni Friday 21 March 2008
JOHANNESBURG - A prominent South African clergyman on Thursday said
President Robert Mugabe's government was using apartheid-era tactics to
violate the rights of Zimbabweans ahead of next week's elections.
Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg said
Mugabe's human rights violations and use of torture against critics was a
carbon copy of tactics used by the apartheid regime in the 1980s.
"Following my daily interactions with Zimbabwean victims of torture that are
seeking refuge in this country, it is as if I am reading a copy book of the
South African apartheid human rights violations.
"There is a radical alienation of human rights in Zimbabwe. The conditions
that exist in Zimbabwe today are similar to what South African experienced
in the 1980s," said Verryn.
The South African regime was notorious in the 1980s for operating death
squads with state security agents frequently resorted to torture to obtain
information as well as to terrorise political detainees and activists.
Human rights groups and major Western governments have in the past raised
similar concerns of the use of torture in Zimbabwe but the Harare
authorities have swiftly rejected the criticism denying that it used torture
Zimbabweans go to the polls next week to elect a new president,
parliamentarians and local governments.
The European Union and several Zimbabwean non-governmental groups two weeks
ago said the elections have already been tainted by incidents of political
violence against opposition supporters. - ZimOnline
Mail and Guardian
21 March 2008 07:25
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has used massive bribery,
grossly-biased state media and inflammatory language to ensure he wins next
week's polls and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC)
grouping has not been able to stop him, a local rights body said on
"The SADC initiative has failed to achieve its objective
of establishing an electoral environment in Zimbabwe in which free and fair
elections will take place," the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum said in a
lengthy pre-election report.
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki mediated talks between
Zimbabwe's government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) last year, wresting a number of concessions from both parties ahead of
the March 29 national polls.
But, the forum said, the 84-year-old Mugabe and his ruling
Zanu-PF still refuse to accept that Zimbabweans "have the right to freely
choose whom to elect into government".
It said Zanu-PF continues to intimidate the opposition and
voters, charges levelled against the party in previous contested elections
in 2000, 2002 and 2005.
Mugabe will stand in next week's polls against Morgan
Tsvangirai of the MDC for the second time.
The longtime Zimbabwean leader has two other contenders:
former finance minister Simba Makoni and the little-known Langton Towungana,
an independent candidate from Victoria Falls.
Pointing to the recent handouts of farm machinery and pay
hikes for civil servants, the forum said Mugabe had engaged in "massive
When challenged on the legality of the handouts in view of
the imminent polls, the head of the state Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), George Chiweshe, said he was "unable to comment on issues like that
because they are of a political nature", the forum said.
It also lambasted Mugabe's use of derogatory language when
referring to Tsvangirai and Makoni and his use of state media that has
provided only very negative coverage of the MDC.
Statements by defence chiefs that they would only accept
Mugabe as president amount to treason and a threat to stage a military coup,
the forum said.
A recent private opinion poll showed Tsvangirai to be in
the lead with more than 28% of the vote against just over 20% for Mugabe.
Tsvangirai threatens to withdraw
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai threatened Thursday to withdraw from
the poll if the government fails to follow electoral law on the vote count.
Tsvangirai claimed at a press conference that electoral
authorities were planning to carry out the count in a "national command
centre", instead of in each of the country's 11 000 polling stations.
"We now hear the counting of house of assembly and senate
[the lower and upper chambers in the legislature respectively] votes will be
in constituency centres, and the presidential vote will be counted in a
national command centre," he told a press conference, without elaborating on
the source of the information.
"If that happens I will not participate in such a
According to election watchdog groups, the command centre
was the final stage in the result process, staffed largely by military
officers, and where results in previous elections had been changed to suit
Mugabe. The command centre does not appear in electoral law.
Tsvangirai also said that the election would not be free
and fair, but added, "we accept all that," and said the MDC had been hoping
to "minimise" abuses and irregularities.
Zimbabwean electoral law prescribes counting of ballot
papers for candidates in each of the elections to be carried out in the
polling stations where the ballots were cast. The totals for all candidates
then have to be written out and stuck on the door of the polling station as
Tsvangirai also highlighted Mugabe's use of extraordinary
"presidential powers" published on Wednesday that abolished a new electoral
reform that excluded police from being present in polling stations.
"We know that they will be CIO [Central Intelligence
Organisation, Mugabe's secret police], military and militia [ruling party
youth militia] in police uniform," he said.
He described the voters' roll as "a shambles", and said
investigations had revealed irregularities where football fields and empty
housing lots were used as addresses for fictional voters.
He also cited an analysis by a local research body of the
number of voters in 28 constituencies which showed that the total number of
voters claimed in the constituencies by the ZEC, was 90 000 more than were
on the actual roll.
"With 210 [parliamentary] constituencies, you can imagine
the total number of people that don't exist."
He also produced a letter which he claimed was a copy of
an order from ZEC to the state mint to produce 600 000 postal votes. Mugabe
has banned ordinary Zimbabweans residing outside the country from casting
postal votes, and given the right only to diplomats and members of the
"The total number of army, police and diplomats [abroad]
do not exceed 20 000," he said.
Tsvangirai also said that the mint had been ordered to
print nine million ordinary ballot papers, when there were 5,9-million
people on the voters roll.
"What for?" he asked.
Free and fair
For their part, the SA government on Thursday urged all
Zimbabweans to ensure that they create conditions for free and fair
elections on Saturday.
"The South African government appeals to all Zimbabweans
to do everything in their power to create conditions that would ensure free
and fair elections," said the South African government statement released
after a Cabinet meeting.
"Our sole interest as a government at this moment is to
see that a free and fair election prevails in Zimbabwe and that is why we
have sent a team of observers to that country for that purpose," said
government spokesperson Themba Maseko.
Maseko declined to comment on Tsvangirai's allegations of
vote-rigging. - Sapa, Sapa-DPA
March 21 2008 at 07:39AM
Harare - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai threatened on Thursday to
withdraw from elections next week, if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's
government fails to follow electoral law on the vote count.
The head of the larger faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change claimed at a press conference that electoral authorities
were planning to carry out the count in a "national command centre," instead
of in each of the country's 11 000 polling stations.
"We now hear the counting of house of assembly and senate (the lower
and upper chambers in the legislature respectively) votes will be in
constituency centres, and the presidential vote will be counted in a
national command centre," he told a press conference, without elaborating on
the source of the information.
"If that happens I will not participate in such a process."
According to election watchdog groups, the "national command centre"
was the final stage in the result process, staffed largely by military
officers, and where results in previous elections had been changed to suit
The command centre does not appear in electoral law.
Tsvangirai also said that the election would not be free and fair, but
added, "we accept all that", and said the MDC had been hoping to "minimise"
abuses and irregularities.
Presidential, house of assembly, senate and local council elections
are due to be held on a single day on March 29.
Zimbabwean electoral law prescribes counting of ballot papers for
candidates in each of the elections to be carried out in the polling
stations where the ballots were cast.
The totals for all candidates then have to be written out and stuck on
the door of the polling station as public notices.
This law, and several others, are part of reforms that were agreed in
negotiations, sponsored by the Southern African Development Community, the
14-nation regional alliance, and held under the chairpersonship of South
African president Thabo Mbeki.
Opposition parties and human rights organisations say Mugabe has
abrogated all the significant reforms.
Tsvangirai also highlighted Mugabe's use of extraordinary
"presidential powers" published Wednesday that abolished a new electoral
reform that excluded police from being present in polling stations.
"We know that they will be CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation,
Mugabe's secret police), military and militia (ruling party youth militia)
in police uniform," he said.
He described the voters' roll as "a shambles", and said investigations
had revealed irregularities where football fields and empty housing lots
were used as addresses for fictional voters.
He also cited an analysis by a local research body of the number of
voters in 28 constituencies which showed that the total number of voters
claimed in the constituencies by the state-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, which is meant to run the elections, was 90 000 more than were
on the actual roll.
"With 210 (parliamentary) constituencies, you can imagine the total
number of people that don't exist.
He also produced a letter which he claimed was a copy of an order from
ZEC to the state mint to produce 600 000 postal votes.
Mugabe has banned ordinary Zimbabweans residing outside the country
from casting postal votes, and given the right only to diplomats and members
of the uniformed services.
"The total number of army, police and diplomats (abroad) do not exceed
20 000," he said.
Tsvangirai also said that the mint had been ordered to print 9 million
ordinary ballot papers, when there were 5,9 million people on the voters
"What for?" he asked rhetorically.
Mugabe has won all three national elections since 2000 when the
country's new pro-democracy opposed him, but independent observers say the
victories were all the result of brutal intimidation in which over 100
people have been killed, electoral and security laws severely skewed in the
regime's favour and outright cheating. - Sapa-dpa
Friday, 21 March 2008 05:42
It is mind boggling to imagine why Mugabe is trying for another term in
office. Another term! To do what?
The only explanation that can come into my mind is that, the man is hell
bend on totally destroying our Zimbabwe. He is not going to leave one single
intact brick or stone, the possible building material for anybody who might
inherit this bankrupt country. Mugabe is bending on total scorched earth
He is systematically and methodically destroying our country and he has been
doing that ever since 2000 after the ill-fated draft constitution was
rejected; overwhelmingly rejected by the people. That was the first time he
was really acquainted with the fact that he was no longer popular with the
With his mega ego that was not forgivable, he fought for this country and in
his mind this gives him the right to do whatever he likes whenever, that
gives him the right to rule this country until the day that he is going to
breathe his last breath.
It started with the land reform program, the barbaric and insane destruction
of this country's once thriving agricultural system. And the result is all
clear for everybody who really wants to; to see.
Next followed a series of equally insane economic policies, he refused to
listen to voices of reason, Simba Mkoni tried and failed and resigned, so
did Nkosana Moyo, So did Murerwa. Gono is still trying to do the impossible.
The result is the hyperinflation and the indescribable suffering of the
people; the humiliatingly total impoverishment of the citizens.
After reducing the country to such a sorry state Mugabe was still not
satisfied for reasons best known to him he embarked on a senseless
destruction of the people's homes. Thousands where left exposed to the
elements like animals.
Then came the price blitz; a government sponsored destruction of the already
struggling businesses. Today most businesses have closed shop. Those that
are still open are operating below ten percent capacity.
Now there is no educational system to talk about, the health system has all
but collapsed, leaving a lot of patients hopeless. Imagine four out of five
dialysis machines at Parerenyatwa not working; with the one that is still
functioning fully booked for a week. Imagine the pain of those who are in
need of the services of the machines are undergoing; imagine having to watch
your loved one in such a helpless situation.
That leaves a lot of people with the question of when will Mugabe be
satisfied. I really do hate to just imaging the answer to that question and
for the goodness of this country, the future of this country that we fought
for we must never wait to see what the answer to that question will be. Then
it will be way, way too late; Because Mugabe has nothing good for this
country. I doubt if he ever had any good intentions for this country. If he
has why can't he just see that he has totally failed, why cant the see this
nerve racking suffering that the people are going through?
I believe that every thing is going according to his plans. This is the
tragic script that only a heartless and vile person can write.
I say let us put an end to this tragedy that Mugabe has planned for our
country. Let us join hands to put an end to the evil scorched earth war that
Mugabe has been waging against all of us.
LET'S VOTE THE GUY OUT !!!