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Mugabe to 'steal' polls

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:33

A SECRET taskforce of security and electoral personnel has been put in
place to ensure embattled President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF win
an absolute majority in tomorrow's high-stakes elections. The team, headed
by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives tasked to ensure
Mugabe "wins power, stays in power, and keeps power", will heavily influence
the already flawed electoral process to secure a predetermined result,
well-substantiated information obtained this week shows.
Mugabe's rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni yesterday charged
that Mugabe was going to "steal" the polls.
"There is a well-thought-out and premeditated plan to steal the
election from us," Makoni said. "The credibility of the electoral process is
in doubt."
Mugabe must win more than 50% of the valid votes cast to avoid a
run-off. Independent surveys have tipped Tsvangirai to win the poll ahead of
Mugabe and Makoni. The surveys have all pointed to the possibility of a
second round of polling as Tsvangirai is tipped to get just short of 40% of
the vote.
The working group, which sources say has "electoral rigging graduates",
will go to any lengths to ensure Mugabe and Zanu PF win tomorrow. The
presidential poll results, the sources said, would be manipulated at the
National Command Centre (now renamed the National Collation Centre) by
security officers.
"There is a team of security and electoral agents in place to ensure
Mugabe wins," a well-connected source said. "All sorts of fraudulent
measures will be used to achieve this, including reducing of polling
stations and ballot papers in opposition strongholds, slowing down the
voting process, turning away voters and hence disenfranchisement, having
ghost voters and playing around with the numbers of ballots.
"They have also been fiddling with the structure of the already flawed
voters' roll to ensure there are more rural than urban voters," the source
said. "This team has virtually taken over the running of elections from the
ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) and in the process will subvert the
people's will."
Evidence that the ZEC was not entirely in charge of the electoral
process was recently displayed in public after election fliers under the ZEC
banner were distributed by unknown people - suspected to be security
agents - wearing the commission's jackets, claiming there would be cardboard
ballot boxes and permission for police to help the infirm and illiterate at
polling stations.
The ZEC was later forced to withdraw the fliers, saying it had no
knowledge of who was distributing them. Last week it became clear that the
state was implicated because Mugabe changed the law to allow police to be
involved in the electoral process, something the January amendment to the
Electoral Act had outlawed following inter-party talks.
The ZEC also recently hastily withdrew its voter education officers
from the provinces after realising ballot papers were printed in colours
different from those it was advertising. The presidential ballots were
supposed to be white, House of Assembly blue, senate green and council
But when the ballot papers came, there were three white ones
(presidential, House of Assembly and senate) and yellow for council
elections, creating chaos.
Revelations of electoral chicanery underway make the defining
elections appear decidedly rigged to retain Mugabe and Zanu PF in power
despite deepening unpopularity due to the economic crisis.
However, government has denied allegations of planning to rig
The Independent's sources said yesterday Mugabe's team was working
hand-in-glove with a group of University of Zimbabwe political science
lecturers, including Dr Joseph Kurebwa, who was last year seconded by the
CIO to be editor of the now-closed Mirror Group of Newspapers.
Kurebwa could not be reached for comment last night.
Information to hand shows that Mugabe's security and electoral
operatives - using the state bureaucracy and resources instead of party
structures - have a "winning formula" for him to secure between 52% and 53%
of the vote.
Mugabe's agents expect he will get at least three million votes out of
the total valid ballots cast. There are 5,9 million registered voters,
according to the ZEC.
Initially, Mugabe's agents had calculated that unless something was
done, he would only get between 49% and 50%. They later suggested a lot of
hard work was needed to produce a victory margin of at least 52%.
Mugabe's taskforce has given the main opposition MDC leader Tsvangirai
about 27% of the vote. They expect Tsvangirai to get a tad above 1,5 million
Mugabe's team expects ex-Finance minister Makoni to get slightly above
20% of the vote or just over a million votes.
Mugabe's working group predicts Zanu PF will win 137 seats in the
House of Assembly, Tsvangirai's MDC camp 53, Arthur Mutambara's MDC faction
18 and that there would be two independent MPs. The House of Assembly has
210 seats.
In the senate they forecast Zanu PF to win 41 seats, MDC-Tsvangirai 13
and MDC-Mutambara six out of 60 elective seats in the upper house.
The sources said there was collaboration between Mugabe's taskforce
and Kurebwa. Yesterday the senior UZ lecturer in the Department of Politics
& Administration - with strong CIO links - released a survey which had
comparable figures to those of Mugabe's taskforce.
Kurebwa said Mugabe would get between 56% and 57% of the vote. This is
similar to the 53% figure by Mugabe's agents. Tsvangirai is set to secure
between 26% and 27% of the vote. Mugabe's taskforce predicts that he will
get 27%. Makoni is expected to get between 13% and 14% of the vote,
according to Kurebwa, whereas Mugabe's team says he will get 20%.
The extent of the collaboration becomes clear when one looks at the
House of Assembly and senate figures. Kurebwa's figures are exactly the same
as those produced by Mugabe's taskforce, establishing a clear connection
between the two. It is said that the data used by Mugabe's working team was
similar to that used by Kurebwa's group.
In 2005 Kurebwa predicted that Zanu PF would win 72 seats in the
general election.  The party won 78 seats. He also forecast that the MDC
would win 45 seats; it won 41 seats.
Sources said Kurebwa's surveys - including the one released
yesterday - are designed to justify manipulation and rigging of elections by
the state.
By Dumisani Muleya

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High Court dismisses CIO application on ZimInd story

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:25

 HIGH Court judge Lavender Makoni last week dismissed an urgent
chamber application filed by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to
stop the Zimbabwe Independent from publishing a story disclosing details
relating to the spy agency’s boss, Happyton Bonyongwe. Makoni dismissed the
application before the Independent had filed its opposing papers.
The CIO last week obtained the article before the paper had published
The Independent has since suspended its senior reporter, Augustine
Mukaro, to facilitate investigations into how the article ended up with the
intelligence service after it appeared to have been sent from his e-mail.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists whose e-mail address was included in
an annexure to the CIO’s court papers, is assisting with the investigations.
The High Court judge said she could not hear the matter because it was
not urgent as the article involved had been previously published.
“The matter is not urgent …the article has been previously published
on ZimOnline.  If there was serious public alarm and despondency it would
have occurred already,” she said.
There have been several stories concerning Bonyongwe in recent weeks
including in the Herald where he pledged allegiance to President Mugabe and
distanced himself from the Simba Makoni camp.
In dismissing the application, Makoni said Bonyongwe had other
remedies available to him if the article was published and did not reflect
the proper position.
She said the papers which were filed by the CIO did not establish
serious alarm and despondency, as it claimed, for the matter to be heard on
an urgent basis.
CIO lawyer Robson Chihota of Chihota & Associates said since his
urgent application had been dismissed he was going to file an ordinary court
application to gag the Independent. The CIO yesterday duly kept the case
alive by filing the court application to interdict the paper from releasing
details of the article.
Chihota yesterday wrote to the editor of the Independent threatening
“criminal prosecution and/or civil damages” if the paper went ahead and
published the story.
In an application filed yesterday, CIO Deputy Director-General Mernard
Muzariri in a supporting affidavit to the suit said: “I restate that there
is no, and has never been any acrimony, bad blood, power struggles and any
misunderstanding of whatever nature between myself and the director
However, the Independent is still planning to publish its story
despite continued CIO efforts to block it.
Bonyongwe through Chihota last week claimed the story could not be
published as it contained information which threatened state security.
“Publication of a detailed version would cause irreversible harm, loss of
cohesion, alarm and despondency, indiscipline and multiplicity of adverse
consequences, which have the potential of militating against the operation
and effectiveness of the security organisation,” said Chihota in the urgent
chamber application that was dismissed. ”I can state positively that there
has never been any fallout between the CIO director-general and the
president,” Bonyongwe said in his affidavit.
By Lucia Makamure

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Court orders ZEC to give MDC complete voters' roll

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:24
THE High Court yesterday ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to furnish the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai with a complete copy of
the voters’ roll ahead of tomorrow’s elections.
Handing down judgement in an application by the MDC, Justice Tendayi
Uchena said the ZEC should only release the roll upon payment by the
The MDC approached the High Court to compel the ZEC to release the
roll. It also wanted to know the composition of the national command centre
and the number of polling agents allowed inside polling stations.
Uchena ruled that the ZEC should release the voters’ roll but
dismissed the other issues raised in the MDC application saying they had
been overtaken by events.
The ZEC has since announced that there will be no command centre, but
a national collation centre and all contesting parties would be invited to
send polling agents.
The commission also assented to the opposition’s demands that there be
four polling agents from each party at every polling station.
Uchena said the MDC application on these issues was justified, but he
dismissed them because the ZEC made pronouncements before he could determine
the case.
“The MDC’s quest for justice was justified and had genuine cause for
concern,” Uchena said.
On the MDC’s application to be furnished with information on where
ballot papers for the elections were printed and their quantity, Uchena
said: “The ZEC should not be subject to the control of any person or body.”
He said the law did not provide for the MDC to have access to
information regarding the printing of ballot papers.  — Staff Writer.

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Association wants police barred from polling stations

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:22
A NATIONAL association of the handicapped this week filed an urgent
High Court application seeking the reversal of the Presidential Powers
Temporary Measures (Amendment of Electoral Act)  (No 2) Regulations 2008
that allows police officers into polling booths to assist the handicapped
and the illiterate.

The organisation, the National Association of Societies for the Care
of the Handicapped, is an umbrella body of disabled people that promotes and
protects their interests.
“I respectfully submit that this is an urgent matter as it concerns
important electoral issues which have to be adjudicated upon before the
elections, which are set to take place on the 29th March 2008,” said Masimba
Kuchera, director of the association in his founding affidavit.
The association said Sections 59 and 60 of the Electoral Act as
amended by Act No 17 of 2007 takes away from applicants the right to choose
who can assist them in the voting process by imposing police officers upon
them as their sole choice.
“To safeguard the secrecy of the ballot applicants require to be
assisted by a person of their own choice, without a limitation from where to
choose,” Kuchera said in the court application. “They need to be assisted by
someone whom they can... trust, someone they can confide in and someone they
can trust with their ballot.”
Kuchera added that the imposition of police officers on the
handicapped was a gross infringement of their rights to privacy and free
expression of their political will as they would be forced to be assisted by
persons that they hardly know.
By Jesilyn Dendere

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Security forces on high alert

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:19
GOVERNMENT has put security forces on alert ahead of elections
tomorrow to quell anticipated disturbances if President Robert Mugabe wins.

The move reveals anxiety within the corridors of power that there
might be anti-government riots if Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF win the
Security sources said Zimbabwe’s military and police forces have been
placed on alert ready to act after poll results are announced.
Yesterday police armoured crowd control vehicles were patrolling the
city while there was visible movement of police and soldiers in buses and
If Mugabe fails to get 51% of the vote there will be a run-off which
analysts said he would almost certainly lose.
Opposition leaders yesterday said government is likely to rig the
They said they have unearthed overwhelming evidence of manipulation of
 “The army, police and other key security agencies have been put on
alert because government fears that there could be an eruption of protests
and violence after the elections,” a senior government official said.
“We have heard that the MDC and its allies are planning to unleash
violence in the streets if they lose.”
Senior MDC official Tendai Biti yesterday said: “The elections have
been militarised. Army tanks are moving in the suburbs of Harare and an army
from a Sadc country has been put on standby.” He could however not
substantiate the claims of the standby force.
The sources said recent statements by Zimbabwe Defence Forces
commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General
Augustine Chihuri, and director of prisons retired Major-General Paradzayi
Zimondi that the security agencies would not accept an MDC victory were a
result of the decisions taken by Mugabe and his security advisors.
Zimbabwean opposition and civil society organisations, as well as
South Africa’s governing ANC have condemned the thinly-veiled threats of a
military coup by service chiefs.
Mugabe has warned he would crush any anti-government demonstrations.
“Just dare try it,” Mugabe said. “We don’t play around while you try
to please your British allies. Just try it and you will see. We want to see
you do it.”
State Security minister Didymus Mutasa also said government would deal
with protestors.
Police on Tuesday said they would ruthlessly deal with any mass
By Bernard Mpofu

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Opposition reveals rigging plot

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:18
THE opposition was yesterday battling with the alleged rigging of
tomorrow’s harmonised elections by President Robert Mugabe, as more evidence
emerged that the ruling Zanu PF intends to steal the polls.

Both factions of the MDC and independent presidential candidate Simba
Makoni claimed that the integrity and credibility of the historic polls was
in doubt as a result of rigging by Mugabe.
Addressing a joint press conference last night, Makoni said Mugabe had
come up with a well-planned project to steal the election through the
creation of ghost voters and manipulation of the voters roll.
“There is a well thought out and premeditated plan to steal the
election from us,” Makoni said. “The credibility of the electoral process is
in doubt.”
Arthur Mutambara, the president of the other faction of the MDC, said
the Sadc and the international community should intervene to stop Mugabe
from stealing the polls.
“All we are asking for is a free and fair election,” Mutambara said.
“The irregularities we have uncovered are very fundamental, very serious.
Please Sadc, the other African countries and the international community,
help us to have a legitimate election that the losers will not challenge.”
The Morgan Tsvangirai MDC at an earlier press conference said as a
result of the rigging going on, the party was told by its electoral expert
that Mugabe would win 58% of the votes cast. Tsvangirai’s party through its
lawyer Alec Muchadehama was yesterday expected to file an urgent High Court
application claiming that Mugabe, using the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), the Registrar-General’s Office and the Reserve Bank had put in motion
a process that could secure the outcome for the incumbent.
The opposition said the polls would be rigged through computerised
manipulation of the voters’ roll.
The MDC said Zanu PF would also use the RBZ under the guise of paying
for polling officers to bribe the opposition’s agents and had since
militarised the elections by deploying the army throughout the country.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, told journalists in the
capital yesterday that as part of the rigging process, the ZEC had reduced
the number of polling stations throughout the country from the 11 000 the
commission initially announced to 8 500.
More polling stations were designated in the rural areas compared to
the urban centres.
As a result, Biti said, an urban voter would need 6,1 seconds to vote,
while a rural one will require 9,2 seconds.
“There is a disproportionate deliberate allocation of polling
stations,” Biti said. “In rural areas there will be complete adequacy of
voting time, while in urban areas it is not going to be adequate.”
The MDC, he said, had appealed for more polling stations, “but after
we asked for bread we were given a black mamba”.
Biti claimed that apart from the known polling stations, the ZEC
intended to establish shadowy stations like mobile ones, which would present
a “logistical nightmare” for the opposition. Turning to the voters’ roll,
Biti said the ZEC had contravened the Electoral Act by failing to make
available to the MDC a hard copy of the roll.
“It is the ZEC that is obliged to give us the hard copy not (the
Registrar General) Tobaiwa Mudede. It is clear to us that the ZEC is not
running this election,” Biti claimed. “Mudede is an amalgam of the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and President Mugabe.”
Biti said the ZEC provided the MDC with an electronic version of the
voters’ roll, but it was not “data-based, window-based and cannot be
analysed” because of the software used, JPEG.
“The electronic version is like a musical disc — Michael Jackson’s
album, Thriller, track number 1, Bad. You cannot breakdown the CD and
analyse it,” Biti said.
He, however, claimed that the MDC experts managed to “crack” the
electronic voters roll and discovered shocking rigging at play.
An Israeli company, Nirkuv Project Ltd, with links to the country’s
spy agency Mossad, Biti claimed, compiled the electronic voters roll.
He claimed that the opposition party’s experts discovered that in
Harare North constituency alone, 65% of registered voters are found in one
ward and in that ward, 60% are registered by the ZEC under a single block
(an electoral usage for voting areas), 81063.
Over 8 000 people are registered under the block and there are no
“Physically its an open ground in Hatclife and there are various
stands pegged on the ground and at stand number 10108 there is a little
shack where the ZEC claims 75 registered voters reside there. Fifty of them
are females,” Biti said.
Last week, it was reported that the voters’ roll still had the names
of long-dead people on it, among them the late former Law and Order minister
during the Rhodesian era, Desmond Lardner-Burke, who was born in 1908. His
name was found on a ward voters’ roll for Mt Pleasant.The ZEC also stands
accused of failing to consult political parties before it delimitated
constituencies as required by law.
The MDC also questioned why the ZEC had not produced a consolidated
voters’ roll after the extended voter registration exercise ended on
February 13.
“We should have a consolidated voters’ roll by now. We do not want to
have a supplementary voters’ roll. No one is aware of how many people
registered after the exercise was extended to February 13,” Biti said.
His party queried the ZEC figures that Zimbabwe had 5,9 million
registered voters, saying initially they were informed that there were 4,2
million voters and later 5,2 million, before it changed again.
Biti said the ZEC had printed and distributed to all provinces 8,8
million presidential papers in a clear move meant to rig the poll.
“You can’t print close to nine million ballot papers when you claim to
have 5,9 million voters even if you assume that there is a margin of error.
Normally the margin of error should be less than 5%,” Biti charged. “We
believe there are 4,2 million voters and if you add the extra three million
ballots papers added by the ZEC, the margin of error goes up to over 90%.”
As a result of the manipulation, Biti said, Mugabe and Zanu PF would
“Our experts have told us Mugabe will have an artificial majority of
58% if his rigging process succeeds,” Biti said.
The lawyer declined to explain how the party arrived at its voters’
roll figure and the percentage of votes Mugabe would win. He said the RBZ
had become the fifth pillar of stealing the elections.
“There are Mossad agents here being paid by the RBZ,” Biti charged.
“The RBZ has deployed 400 of its workers throughout the country to
purportedly pay polling officers. We are aware that the central bank wants
to pay opposition polling agents $20 billion each to be on the side of
Mugabe and Zanu PF.”
During the press conference Biti produced a letter purportedly written
by a police officer detailing how they are intimidated into voting for
Mugabe through postal voting.
The letter read: “…during postal voting our envelopes (with ballot
papers) come to us with our force numbers on them. Only a fool will vote
freely because we all know what will happen if you vote for someone not
wanted by the bosses. The voting does not take place in a secret place, but
in the presence of the (police) chief clerk.”
Biti said despite the alleged rigging, the MDC would participate in
the polls and was confident that 95% of Zimbabweans would vote for it.

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There will be no run-off:Makoni

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:14
THIS week our business editor Shakeman Mugari interviewed independent
presidential candidate Simba Makoni on his Mavambo project and prospects in
the election tomorrow.

Mugari: Zimbabwe goes to the elections tomorrow, and one of the issues
that people have raised is that you came on the scene late and therefore you
are playing catch-up. What’s your response to that?
Makoni: It is quite clear that we started late because I only
announced my candidature on the 5th of February. Mugabe announced (his
candidacy) in March 2007. Morgan (Tsvangirai) confirmed by about September.
But we don’t see it as a major disadvantage because we have been received
very well. You should have seen the enthusiasm of the people as we went
round. So yes, I came late but it was forced by other conditions. I however
feel we have had enough time. People now know Mavambo.
Mugari: What were the conditions that made you come late?
Makoni: When I was in Zanu PF, we were working with others over a long
period of time, I could say it goes back to even 1997 or 1999 but more
specifically in the 2000 elections as we were facing the election. I was one
of the people who were pushing for leadership renewal in the country and the
This picked up momentum at congress. We had expectations that we would
go to congress to elect new leaders but that was not possible for reasons
that everyone is aware of now. It wasn’t until after the failure at the
extraordinary congress in December that we started extensive and intensive
consultations both within the party and outside that led me to announce my

Mugari: Independent opinion polls have been showing that Tsvangirai
will come first followed by Mugabe and you will be a distant third. How do
you respond to that?
Makoni: Wait for March 30 when the results are out.

Mugari:  I want to know what you think will be the scenario on March
30 after the election.
Makoni: I can tell you that we are romping home to victory. There are
no two ways about it.

Mugari: Do you mean you will win so convincingly that there won’t be a
Makoni: There will be no re-run. Tsvangirai will be a distant second
and Mugabe will be a further distant third.

Mugari: But the numbers at your rallies don’t indicate as much. Where
are you getting the confidence to make such bold predictions?
Makoni: From the engagement that I have had with the people of
Zimbabwe. We have been meeting people from across the country. The Herald
conceded in the second week of my campaign that Makoni’s meet-the-people
strategy is working. Zanu PF and MDC are worried.

Mugari: What makes you think that you can win this election without a
political party? Other parties have clear structures that you lack.
Makoni: Because the people of Zimbabwe are not looking for a political
party. They are looking for a leader; a leader who unifies and connects with
them. They want a leader who is honest, does not steal, cheat and lie; a
leader who is not corrupt. That leader is me.

Mugari: You only have a few candidates contesting in the parliamentary
elections. What makes you think that Zanu PF supporters will vote for their
senator, MP and councillors but cast their vote for you as president?
Makoni: Absolutely. Don’t underestimate the people of Zimbabwe. There
are Zanu PF and MDC candidates who are campaigning for themselves in their
respective constituencies but they are telling the people that when it comes
to the presidency, vote for Simba Makoni.

Mugari: When you announced your candidature, you said there were many
people in the Zanu PF leadership behind you. Later, you said there were no
heavyweights behind you. Just recently you changed again and said you had
many supporters in the central committee and politburo of Zanu PF. Is there
no contradiction here?
Makoni: Let me make it clear and I hope you are going to write this.
This notion of heavyweights is a creation of you guys in the media. I never
talked about heavyweights. Every single voter in this country is a
heavyweight to me.

Mugari: Some observers say that you are a Zanu PF project. The
allegation is that you have been created to solve the Zanu PF succession
problem. Some say yours is a plan to rescue Zanu PF from Mugabe.
Makoni: As I have gone round in Maphisa, Checheche and Nyamapanda no
one has confronted me with this question of the bigwigs or Zanu PF
succession issue. So which people are these that you are talking about?

Mugari: What questions are you confronted with?
Makoni: The common thread is excitement and enthusiasm about the
project. I haven’t met people who doubt me or question my sincerity. What I
know is that some mischief-makers like President Mugabe and Vice-President
Msika are coming out saying who is Simba Makoni when in fact they very well
know that I was the chief representative of Zanu in Europe. I was raising
support for the liberation struggle.

Mugari: Linked to that, Mugabe has been attacking you in a very crude
way. Why do you not respond to the attacks?
Makoni: Because I don’t operate at that level. I deal with issues. I
am not silly and trivial. But it all goes to show the bankruptcy of
President Mugabe. How can a person who purports to be a leader of a country
in such a crisis sink to those levels of profanity? That is language not
befitting any mature person let alone a head of state. I won’t sink to that

Mugari: Do you think that the elections will be rigged? Ibbo Mandaza,
one of your key strategists, said as much in an article that appeared in the
Independent last week.
Makoni: Yes, this matter has been widely publicised. In fact the MDC
has taken a related matter to the courts. They have said that the integrity
of the process and the designation of the uniformed forces to assist people
in the polling stations are questionable. The process of counting the votes
and the integrity of the voters’ roll are also questionable.
The national law says that the voters’ roll should have been made
public by now but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not committing
to when the roll will be published. The roll that we have accessed is as of
December 2007 and we all know that from February 6 to the 15 when I
announced my candidature there was a deluge of people who went to register.

Mugari: So you are convinced that the election will be rigged?
Makoni: They are so scared. Some of these measures are aimed at
stealing the election.

Mugari: Do you have a Plan B if the election is stolen?
Makoni: We have one but we will not discuss it in public.

Mugari: But the people want to know what they will do if the election
is stolen. Surely you are one of the people in a position to give that plan
Makoni: We have planned to ensure that the people’s will is not

Mugari: As a politician you must keep your options open. Assuming that
you fail to get the numbers and there is a run-off between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai who will you back?
Makoni: There will be no run-off and Simba Makoni will win kaOne.

Mugari: Why are you closing those options? Why are you not alive to
the fact that you might lose these elections?
Makoni: Yes it is a possibility indeed but it is an unlikelihood. I
won’t waste my time and intellect thinking about what is not likely to

Mugari: The constitution says a president forms a government but you
are saying you will form a national authority.
Makoni: It’s a matter of words. The constitution provides for an
executive. That is constituted by elected representatives. We will proceed
to do that on March 30. We are a unifier. We will form a government from the
representatives who are not thieves or crooks.

Mugari: What if the other parties refuse to come into the alliance?
Makoni: We will still find elected Zimbabweans of integrity to form a

Mugari: What is you response to Mugabe’s statement that the opposition
will never rule this country?
Makoni: This is not his country. Mugabe does not own this country. It
is not his real estate; he has no title deeds to this country. The country
belongs to the people who will cast Mugabe into history on March 29. He
should prepare for that.

Mugari: What will you tell Mugabe if you meet him?
Makoni: That he must respect the people of Zimbabwe and not insult

Mugari: The commanders of the uniformed forces are already saying that
they will not accept anyone except Mugabe.
Makoni: I don’t know if the words of one person reflect the views of
the whole army.

Mugari: But they are the commanders.
Makoni: They are just individuals. They are just citizens like you and

Mugari: Some people say you are Solomon Mujuru’s person. They say
Mujuru is part and parcel of your initiative. How do you respond to that?
Makoni: Why should he be involved? There are many Zimbabweans who are
involved in this project. This search for big names is for you guys in the
media. Enjoy it!

Mugari: Do you think Mugabe still has key people around him?
Makoni: Didn’t you hear Mugabe in Mutawatawa asking school children
whether they are still with him? Mugabe is not with anyone. He is alone.  I
don’t think he has more than a handful of people in his cabinet who support

Mugari: A lot of people have attributed the multiple exchange rates to
the actions of the central bank. What will you do with the central bank if
you come into power?
Makoni: I have talked about the irregularities of the workings of our
national leadership and institutions. The Reserve Bank is not excluded. The
Reserve Bank has the only factory in this country that does not stop
operating because there is no power. That machine is the money printer.
All other factories are closed for hours with no power and raw
materials but the factory of the central bank works 24 hours printing
bearers’ cheques. A sound economy should not run like that. The Reserve Bank
should not be buying votes for Zanu PF with mini-buses distributed two weeks
before an election. People have seen the truck-loads of scotch carts, hoes,
ploughs and grinding mills. That is not the function of the central bank.

Mugari: You are on record as saying that if Tsvangirai thinks that the
economy will turnaround in 100 days then he is dreaming.
Makoni: No, what I have said is that I believe Tsvangirai is promising
to solve our problems in 100 days and I have asked for the method he will
use. What I have seen is that he is promising US$10 billion but I can assure
you that the amount is not enough to solve the problems that we have.

Mugari: How much time do you need to turnaround the economy? Dr Gideon
Gono is promising that there will be a new policy after the election to
drive the economy until 2010.
Makoni: That is very interesting coming from Gono because remember
according to him this year is the mother of all agricultural seasons. Why is
he talking about 2010? What has gone wrong with this season? I am not in a
position to give a time table for the turnaround. Without a deep analysis of
how this economy has been eroded and how much damage has been caused by the
quasi-fiscal buying of votes, it will be difficult to have a timetable. A
timetable is not possible without looking at how much the lying and looting
of the national assets has been done.
lOur efforts to interview MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed this
week after his spokesperson George Sibotshiwe postponed appointments.

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Mugabe swimming against the current

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:12
THE will of the suffering masses versus the gritty determination of
Robert Mugabe to stay in power: that in a nutshell is the contest taking
place across Zimbabwe this weekend.

 Put another way, how badly do Zimbabweans want to be free again and
how badly does Mugabe still want to hang onto power?
Who then will emerge triumphant, the dictator who has robbed
Zimbabweans of most of their dreams or the people’s determination to free
themselves from decades of dictatorship, economic privation and social
There is no doubt that were the people able to freely express
themselves tomorrow this would be the end for Mugabe.
The air is pregnant with expectations for change. But Mugabe has a
time- tested bag of tricks that could frustrate the will of the people once
Mugabe’s campaign has lacked the energy and bombast of previous years.
His most persuasive weapon, namely violence, has been relatively
absent largely because not many are prepared to maim and kill in his name
His message is tired and uninspiring and has been little more than a
history lesson that has no relevance to the wretched existence of many
Zimbabweans. This points to the fact that Mugabe can only win this election
by rigging and nothing else.
The situation on the ground does not point to any possible reasons why
anyone should vote for Mugabe.
 Picture the following: official inflation is at a whopping 100 580%.
Life under such levels of inflation can at best be described as a nightmare.
Unemployment is over 80% and life expectancy is down to 37 years.
The rural areas which are considered Mugabe’s stronghold have been
worst affected by price controls and the acute shortage of basic
Seed and fertiliser have been in short supply and Mother Nature has
conspired to deliver two consecutive poor agricultural seasons. The
financial ruin facing Mugabe means he has limited resources to buy rural
votes on a nationwide scale.
So to some extent he can’t afford to buy the rural votes anymore due
to his own ill-advised policies and of course the effects of Western
sanctions. So the truth is that few will vote for him this time around
because he simply has little to offer. But make no mistake, there are still
some who see him as a hero because they know no better.
Limited access to independent media, especially in the rural areas,
also means that some have been victims of government propaganda and will
vote for him for that reason despite their own personal circumstances
telling a different story. Those in receipt of Mugabe’s patronage in the
military, police, traditional chiefs and government will work hard to
deliver victory to Mugabe so that they continue looting.
 Indeed, some voters will succumb to the seductive effect of free
tractors, computers, buses, combine harvesters and food and vote for Mugabe.
The huge salary hikes for civil servants and soldiers were also meant to
purchase their support.
But many more will see Mugabe’s latest acts of generosity for what
they are, namely desperate attempts to buy their votes.
While accepting these gifts, they will realise that these inducements
will not change the economic fundamentals characterised by high inflation,
rapidly declining productivity and joblessness.
People are tired of handouts and being
made to depend on a manipulative Mugabe. They want their lives back
and not these self-serving gifts. Many Zimbabweans in the towns and rural
areas have come to realise that Mugabe is the problem, not the solution. How
then can he claim victory under these circumstances?
In this connection, it is always important to remember that rigging is
not an event but a process that has been unfolding for the past 10 years to
create an uneven playing field for the opposition. Of course, the process
reaches its climax on polling day, and more specifically in the counting of
the ballots. The announcement by service chiefs that they will not accept
any result other than a Mugabe victory is both a sign of panic in Mugabe’s
camp and an act of naked intimidation. But the people are likely to
challenge this.
The last minute decision to allow police into and around polling
stations under the pretext of helping the old and infirm will be abused to
favour the incumbent.
Only in January, Mugabe removed this piece of legislation as a
concession during the President Mbeki-led negotiations. The fact that he now
needs this shows how desperate he is to win.
To frustrate opposition voters in the urban areas, Mugabe has ensured
there are fewer polling stations compared to rural areas.
This will see a repeat of the last presidential elections which saw
long queues and many urban voters unable to cast their votes. He has ignored
opposition calls to rectify this. And yet the rural voters might have a
surprise for him.
All we can say is that the stage is set for the final showdown. All
the actors are in place. The main actors are: “We the people against our
And this is a play that we have seen so often across Africa with the
oppressors or rulers standing in the way of change being humiliated.
Remember Kamuzu Banda of Malawi who failed to read the signs and was
humiliated at the polls, and the lovable Kenneth Kaunda. Oh and Polokwane of
This has the look and feel of the end for Mugabe. The people’s
yearning for freedom appears to be greater than any other force at the
moment. If his bag of tricks helps him subvert the will of the people then
this is certainly the beginning of the end.
One thing almost certain is he will not win in the first round and
might be very lucky to make it to the run-off. Apart from rigging the only
other thing on Mugabe’s side is that Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai will
split the opposition vote and let him back in by default.
Despite this, there is reason to believe that the will of the people
will triumph over Mugabe’s wishes. It would certainly be a disaster for
Zimbabwe if Mugabe stole the election again. He simply has no capacity to
positively change the lives of Zimbabweans.
Trevor Ncube is chairman of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard, and
CEO of the Mail & Guardian.
 By Trevor Ncube

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Mugabe scorns

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:09
DURING the countdown to the 2000 general election President Robert
Mugabe told a rally in Bindura that people from Mbare were totemless
elements of alien origin and mocked them for supporting the opposition MDC.

Five years later, Mbare was the first residential suburb to bear the
brunt of Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order and just a fortnight ago
Mugabe described one of his three challengers in tomorrow’s presidential
election, Simba Makoni, as worse than a prostitute from the same suburb.
“A prostitute from Mbare is better than Makoni because she had regular
clients,” Mugabe said at a campaign rally in Mvurwi, Mashonaland Central.
Mugabe will square up with Makoni, the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and little-known independent candidate Langton Toungana.
Despite having a low opinion on people from Mbare, Mugabe was last
Saturday in the township to drum up support from the same “totemless”
electorate at Chashawasha Grounds, while Makoni had a rally in Chitungwiza
the previous day and Tsvangirai had his on Sunday at Glamis grounds in the
The presidential, legislative and council elections campaign entered
its last week last weekend with parties and independent candidates lining up
numerous rallies throughout the country in a last attempt to garner support
The real race, everybody believes, will be the presidential election.
At Mugabe’s rally in Mbare, the party had to use Zupco buses to ferry
people from neighbouring residential areas to beef up the crowd.  About 10
000 people had to wait in sweltering heat for Mugabe’s arrival five hours
after the rally was scheduled to start.
Of importance to the electorate who gathered at the grounds was how if
Mugabe secures a sixth term would he solve the country’s economic crisis as
persistent water, electricity and transport problems haunt urbanites.
However, when Mugabe took to the podium he repeated his now customary
tirade against the opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Britain and the
few white people still in Zimbabwe.
The 84-year-old Mugabe said the MDC was committing treason by
assisting former colonial master Britain to effect a regime change.
“It is treasonous for the MDC to continue to help the British so that
they have any influence here,” he said before vowing that the opposition
would never rule Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said: “They want to rule this country. That will not happen as
long as we are still alive, those of us who fought the liberation struggle,”
Mugabe said.
Mugabe threatened to take over British-owned companies in retaliation
to targeted sanctions against his cabinet and senior Zanu PF and government
“They want to deport sports people like Benjani Mwaruwari yet they
have 400 companies here, but we didn’t take them. After the election we are
going to do something,” Mugabe said.
Few economists believe there are still 400 British companies operating
here. Most put the figure at half that. Mugabe said that his government
would implement in full the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, which
require all foreign-owned companies to cede 51 % ownership to blacks.
The president accused business people of increasing prices of basic
commodities as a means to frustrate the urban electorate so they vote for
the opposition.
“These companies are joking, they don’t know us. We ask them, are you
with us or you are you working for someone else?” Mugabe asked.
He said the companies have been getting “cheap” foreign currency from
the Reserve Bank to import raw material and spares.
“The business people are lying to us about the high cost of production
yet they are getting foreign currency from the Reserve Bank in return for
them not to increase prices.”
Mugabe said at the rally that the cantral bank had helped government
to acquire new ambulances, generators and scanning machines for all major
hospitals in the country.
He also presented 10 buses as part of the 35 buses donated by
government to Harare Province as part of the “People’s Buses” government
project. The generator project is called “The President’s Light”.
The RBZ was represented at the handover ceremony by Dr Millicent
Mombeshora, a divisional chief and one of Governor Gideon Gono’s advisors.
The president declined in his speech to address the issues of urban
poverty, unemployment and poor service delivery, which are part and parcel
of the daily lives of Mbare residents.
Unemployment is currently above 80% while a substantial number of
urban people now depend on food aid
Large piles of stinking uncollected garbage which was evident at
Matapi flats, a few metres from where Mugabe held his rally, are a clear
indication of poor service delivery by the government.
At the Chitungwiza rally, Makoni - who addressed close to 3 000
people – said Zimbabweans should vote for him if Zimbabwe is to get out of
the economic woods.
He said his opponents, Makoni and Tsvangirai, do not have plausible
manifestos to extricate the country.
Makoni dismissed as a joke a promise by Tsvangirai that his party
would bring normalcy to the country’s economy within 100 days of being
elected to power.
“Those who promise that things would become normal in 100 days after
they win are daydreaming,” Makoni said. “Zimbabwe’s problems cannot be
resolved in such a short period of time. We need a united Zimbabwe to work
together and find solutions to our problems. Tsvangirai and Mugabe have no
capacity to do so.”
The former Sadc executive secretary said Mugabe had played his part in
liberating the country in the first 15 years of Independence. He added that
Mugabe should retire to his Zvimba rural home.
“We are saying to Mr Mugabe you have played your role. Your time is
up. You should retire and go home to Zvimba and tell tales to your nephews,”
Makoni said amid ululation.”
The ex-Finance minister said he had the support of most Zimbabweans
and was not worried by Zanu PF claims that no bigwigs from the ruling party
were behind him.
“Mr Mugabe and his party have gone vulgar insulting me. Some are
challenging me to show them the bigwigs behind me,” Makoni said. “Let me
make it clear, the bigwigs are the people of Zimbabwe who thronged voter
registration centres after I announced my presidential ambitions on February
5. The people of Zimbabwe yearning for change are the bigwigs.”
He said he had support in the Zanu PF central committee and politburo.
“Even in the MDC (Tsvangirai formation) national executive I have
people backing the Dawn/Mavambo/Kusile project,” Makoni said. “We are not
alone in the project as Mr Mugabe is claiming.”
The former Zanu PF politburo member explained his  policy on land
reform and foreign policy.
He said if he wins he would institute a land audit that would see
multiple farm owners evicted. He categorically denied that he would return
the land to its former white owners.
“The land belongs to Zimbabweans. We will make sure that the land is
equitably distributed. There is no room for multiple farm owners and lazy
farmers. We should ensure productivity on the land,” Makoni said. “In the
early 1990s we used to feed ourselves, but we are now importing maize from
countries like Malawi and Zambia. Is our government not ashamed of its poor
policies that has reduced its citizens to beggars when they could feed
themselves 12 years ago?”
Tsvangirai’s rally on Sunday was attended by close to 30 000 people.
He told his supporters about what his party would do if it wins the
elections. Among the things he promised is the restoration of the
impartiality of security institutions which he says have become partisan in
seeking to protect Mugabe’s rule.
“Let me say to the police, the civil service, the military and to the
CIO, you have nothing to fear. We are going to be a government that will
respect national institutions,” Tsvangirai said. “There are some people in
the civil service who vow I will not be president of Zimbabwe. “I am not
imposing myself as president. I am going to be elected by the mandate of the
people of Zimbabwe. Therefore, any amount of threats, any amount of
intimidation and any amount of threatening death will not be the issue.”
Tsvangirai vowed his party would resist any attempts by Mugabe to rig
the elections.
 “We expect the enemies of justice to engage in every trick in the
book,” he said. “We are ready for them; all of us. We are ready for all
those who would like to subvert the people’s victory. We are ready for all
those that would like to subvert the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
 He said the threats by the country’s service chiefs to block his
presidency was not the common position among all the security forces.
 “I have been assured that in spite of individual utterances by
individual members of the security forces, the army, the police and the CIO
are behind the people.”
The MDC last week alleged that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had
devised ways to rig the elections on behalf of Mugabe. The party alleged
that ZEC had printed nine million ballot papers when the country has 5,8
million registered voters. It also alleged that it printed 600 000 postal
votes ballot papers when about 20 000 were expected to vote through postal
By Constantine Chimakure and Lucia Makamure

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Mbare again

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:06
The RBZ was represented at the handover ceremony by Dr Millicent
Mombeshora, a divisional chief and one of Governor Gideon Gono’s advisors.
The president declined in his speech to address the issues of urban
poverty, unemployment and poor service delivery, which are part and parcel
of the daily lives of Mbare residents.
Unemployment is currently above 80% while a substantial number of
urban people now depend on food aid
Large piles of stinking uncollected garbage which was evident at
Matapi flats, a few metres from where Mugabe held his rally, are a clear
indication of poor service delivery by the government. At the Chitungwiza
rally, Makoni — who addressed close to 3 000 people — said Zimbabweans
should vote for him if Zimbabwe is to get out of the economic woods.
He said his opponents, Makoni and Tsvangirai, do not have plausible
manifestos to extricate the country.
Makoni dismissed as a joke a promise by Tsvangirai that his party
would bring normalcy to the country’s economy within 100 days of being
elected to power.
“Those who promise that things would become normal in 100 days after
they win are daydreaming,” Makoni said. “Zimbabwe’s problems cannot be
resolved in such a short period of time. We need a united Zimbabwe to work
together and find solutions to our problems. Tsvangirai and Mugabe have no
capacity to do so.”
The former Sadc executive secretary said Mugabe had played his part in
liberating the country in the first 15 years of Independence. He added that
Mugabe should retire to his Zvimba rural home.
“We are saying to Mr Mugabe you have played your role. Your time is
up. You should retire and go home to Zvimba and tell tales to your nephews,”
Makoni said amid ululation.”
The ex-Finance minister said he had the support of most Zimbabweans
and was not worried by Zanu PF claims that no bigwigs from the ruling party
were behind him.
“Mr Mugabe and his party have gone vulgar insulting me. Some are
challenging me to show them the bigwigs behind me,” Makoni said. “Let me
make it clear, the bigwigs are the people of Zimbabwe who thronged voter
registration centres after I announced my presidential ambitions on February
5. The people of Zimbabwe yearning for change are the bigwigs.”
He said he had support in the Zanu PF central committee and politburo.
“Even in the MDC (Tsvangirai formation) national executive I have
people backing the Dawn/Mavambo/Kusile project,” Makoni said. “We are not
alone in the project as Mr Mugabe is claiming.”
The former Zanu PF politburo member explained his  policy on land
reform and foreign policy. He said if he wins he would institute a land
audit that would see multiple farm owners evicted. He categorically denied
that he would return the land to its former white owners.
“The land belongs to Zimbabweans. We will make sure that the land is
equitably distributed. There is no room for multiple farm owners and lazy
farmers. We should ensure productivity on the land,” Makoni said. “In the
early 1990s we used to feed ourselves, but we are now importing maize from
countries like Malawi and Zambia. Is our government not ashamed of its poor
policies that has reduced its citizens to beggars when they could feed
themselves 12 years ago?”
Tsvangirai’s rally on Sunday was attended by close to 30 000 people.
He told his supporters about what his party would do if it wins the
elections. Among the things he promised is the restoration of the
impartiality of security institutions which he says have become partisan in
seeking to protect Mugabe’s rule.
“Let me say to the police, the civil service, the military and to the
CIO, you have nothing to fear. We are going to be a government that will
respect national institutions,” Tsvangirai said. “There are some people in
the civil service who vow I will not be president of Zimbabwe. “I am not
imposing myself as president. I am going to be elected by the mandate of the
people of Zimbabwe. Therefore, any amount of threats, any amount of
intimidation and any amount of threatening death will not be the issue.”
Tsvangirai vowed his party would resist any attempts by Mugabe to rig
the elections.
 “We expect the enemies of justice to engage in every trick in the
book,” he said. “We are ready for them; all of us. We are ready for all
those who would like to subvert the people’s victory. We are ready for all
those that would like to subvert the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
 He said the threats by the country’s service chiefs to block his
presidency was not the common position among all the security forces.
 “I have been assured that in spite of individual utterances by
individual members of the security forces, the army, the police and the CIO
are behind the people.”
The MDC last week alleged that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had
devised ways to rig the elections on behalf of Mugabe. The party alleged
that ZEC had printed nine million ballot papers when the country has 5,8
million registered voters. It also alleged that it printed 600 000 postal
ballot papers when only 20 000 were expected to vote through postal voting.
But the ZEC claims it needs the extra ballot papers to address unexpected
shortages on polling day.

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RBZ makes u-turn

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 22:03
BANKS are in trouble after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week made
a U-turn on measures it introduced to save the sector from collapse after
the liquidity crisis that hit the country two months ago.

The central bank told financial institutions on Tuesday night that
overnight accommodation rates had been hiked from 1 200% to
4 000% for secured lending while unsecured lending rates were raised
from 1 650% to 4 500%.
The punitive rates are meant to mop up excess liquidity which
saw the market having an average surplus of $1 quadrillion over the
past seven days.
The measures spell disaster for a sector that has been in turmoil
since the beginning of the year, according to economists.
There are fears that there will be a liquidity crunch soon after the
The RBZ also pushed statutory reserve ratios back to 50% barely two
months after they were reduced in the first quarter monetary policy to 40%
to allow banks some breathing space after a disastrous three months in the
banking sector.
The central bank also accused banks of deliberately accumulating
“All this liquidity lying idle on the banks’ positions could have been
channelled towards funding of productive activity in the economy,” said the
central bank in a circular to banks.
“With immediate effect, the holding period for the liquidity
management bonds has been adjusted upwards, from the current seven days to
three months.”
Analysts say the new measures would put banks under pressure.
“Banks will be in a crisis. The excess liquidity was buoyed by huge
increases in government and electioneering expenditure which we expect to
end this week,” said Witness Chinyama, Kingdom Bank economist.
“The post-election period is likely to coincide with a reduction of
government expenditure and the onset of a liquidity crunch of great
The turmoil in the sector has hurt both the banks and clients who have
been forced to endure several hours queuing for cash.
The money market surplus hit $1,5 quadrillion on Thursday last week,
and averaged $1 quadrillion this week before the new monetary measures.
However, the surplus dropped to $559 trillion after the RBZ measures
were introduced.
Building societies, with poor records in the high-density housing
cooperative schemes, will be levied statutory reserves of 40%, up from 10%.
In his last monetary policy presented in January Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono said the bank had no appetite to inject inflationary liquidity
into the system through the accommodation window.
“In order to promote discipline in the banking sector’s
assets-liabilities management regimes, all interest for previous
accommodations have to be paid in full prior to any new borrowings or
rollovers of past loans,” Gono said.
The new monetary measures and the raising of maximum withdrawal limits
would fasten the liquidity crunch soon after the elections, Chinyama said.
The central bank plans to review the maximum withdrawal limit from
$500 million to $4 billion with  effect from April 4.
Chinyama said cash movement would be one-way because the negative real
interest rates will force depositors to withdraw their cash as soon as the
limit is hiked.
“Unless interest rates become very attractive prompting clients to
hold their money with banks, banks will be heavily stressed,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe economist, Professor Tony Hawkins said the new
measures were an admission of guilt by the Reserve Bank that it has injected
excessive liquidity into the economy.
“It is an admission that they injected too much money financing vote
expenditure, vote buying and civil servants salaries. They are now trying to
avert an almight explosion soon after the elections. Banks will be
 squeezed,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said banks would fail to honour their obligations if the
Reserve Bank does not intervene soon after the elections.
He accused the central bank of implementing inconsistent policies that
have damaged the financial sector.
“That is the way the Reserve Bank operates, no steady path at all.
They lurch from one extreme to another. They are experts at engineering
inconsistency. Every move they have made in the past six months has created
extreme volatility in the markets,” he said.
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group economist, Newatiwa Mudzingwa, said the
combination of measures introduced by banks would kill all corporate and
individual borrowings.
“The cost of borrowing will go up. To avoid the RBZ’s punitive rates,
the sector may be forced to depend on inter-bank borrowing at rates of
around 3 000%. It means none will be able to borrow or have an appetite to
do so,” Mudzingwa said.
Statutory reserves time deposits and buybacks were increased from 35%
to 50%. Merchant banks will pay 50% on call deposits while statutory
reserves for discount houses were upped from 35% to 50%.
The new measures, if left unchanged after the elections, will mean
more trouble for the banking sector which has been advised by the central
bank of the decision to suspend and wind down concessionary interest rate
facilities on June 30 this year.
The RBZ intends to suspend the Basic Commodities Supply Side
Intervention facility while it winds down the Agricultural Support
Productivity Enhancement Facility.
The sector fears that the RBZ will garnish accounts of banks with
outstanding amounts on the cheap fund.
This would force banks to borrow under the punitive overnight
accommodation rates.

Kuda Chakwanda and Paul Nyakazeya

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The emperor's fine invisible new clothes

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 21:59
“WE are two very good tailors and after many years of research we have
invented an extraordinary method of weaving a cloth so light and fine that
it looks invisible.

As a matter of fact it is invisible to anyone who is too stupid and
incompetent to appreciate its quality.”  The captioned passage is derived
from a popular fairy tale; Emperor’s New Clothes.
It would appear that after roughly ten years or so Zimbabwean
entities, in a snake like manner, shed their old skins and grow new ones.
The technical or marketing term for such an exercise is re-branding.
In the past two years, a number of companies, particularly banks, have
undergone an identity transformation. In some instances it involved newer
Vision & Mission Statements, payoff lines and re-fashioned logos, whilst in
other instances a name change was also undertaken.
Finhold changed its name and all collateral to ZB. All its
subsidiaries, including the Intermarket Group, followed suit. FBCH, CBZH and
Kingdom also undertook similar exercises.
Another ZSE-listed company that has been recently re-branded is Circle
Cement, now known as Larfage Cement.
 This new name reflects the majority ownership and control of the
company which is held by the Lafarge Group of France.
Zimsun Ltd, which is now seeking to fulfill its dream of being a
pan-African hotel management group, sought and was recently granted
shareholder approval to change the name of the company to African Sun Ltd.
The rationale was that the new name appropriately captures the African
dream which started off with acquisition of the The Grace Hotel in Rosebank
in South Africa a couple of years back. The dream is now turning into a
Next was FML, which formally changed its name to Afre Corporation.
Afre is the short version of the name. In full it reads as Africa First
The new identity besides showing that Africa is beckoning also
highlights ReNaissance Financial Holdings’ control of the financial services
Why do Zimbabwean companies feel the need for new clothes every now
and then? For those aspiring to conquer Africa, the “Zim” part of the name
is regarded as extra baggage that makes maneuvering difficult.
 Many pioneers, particularly the old Finhold which ventured into
Botswana with the Zimbank brand, will attest to this fact.
 Even ABCH, which does not have a ‘Zimbabwe’ in its name, still
apportions a fair amount of their lucklustre showing in Zambia to the
“Zimbabwe Effect”.
Consequently most entities stepping into the region are doing so,
after shedding the Zim in their names or taking up new ones altogether.
For instance, ZSR Corporation bought new clothes labeled as StarAfrica
as it set its sights firmly on establishing its ‘star foot print’ in Africa.
However, for local shareholders the make-over does not immediately
imply a change in the performance of the companies.
In fact, most of the things associated with the companies like
reputation, business operations and management, besides business cards
hardly change.
More like an old wine in a new bottle type of scenario and perhaps
just as fruitless as the more normal reverse of this situation is said to
This week we look at the 12 months to December 31, 2007 financials of
FML, now in a new frock as Afre.
 Total income amounted to $363,9 trillion, representing a 189 348%
growth from the prior year. Firmly buttressing this performance was a 195
200% increase in investment income at $362 trillion.
Other income streams recorded rather unimpressive growth, with the
core net written premium of $1,3 trillion having grown by a paltry 30 533%.
Actuarial income of $75,7 billion was 145 658% higher than the $52
million attained in 2007.
Profits after tax of $301 trillion were realized with policyholders
laying claim to $194 trillion, leaving shareholders with $71 trillion after
stripping out minorities.
Of the $71 trillion, $6,6 trillion was derived from operations; $48,1
trillion was in the form of unrealized gains from equities and $16,6
trillion from gains on property investments.
Going forward, the group plans on attaining its pan African vision by
using African Actuarial Consultants as the trailblazer.
Currently, the unit is working on mandates from the Zambia State
Insurance and the Professional Insurance of Malawi.
 This regional adventure story line is not new.
It has been peddled since listing in 2003. That said, however, we have
to give the new team now steering the Afre ship the benefit of the doubt.

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Mugabe victory to worsen economic meltdown

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 21:57
THE possibility of mayhem in business in the event of a victory by
incumbent President Robert Mugabe in tomorrow’s election looks almost
certain with the economy already showing signs of further meltdown.

Economists have warned the possibility of a severe crisis if Mugabe
wins the elections.
Prices have been rising steeply in the past two weeks as inflation
continues to skyrocket. Prices of basic commodities have increased by an
average 240% in the past two weeks.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) continued to suffer heavy losses for
the second week in a row ahead of the elections.
A lot of businesses have shut down in the run-up to the elections with
some companies indicating that their opening will depend on the outcome of
the poll results.
The Zimbabwean dollar this week continued with its dramatic drop
against major currencies. Confidence in the business sector is at its lowest
levels following Mugabe’s threat that he will crack down on businesses that
overcharge and take over 400 British-owned companies after the elections.
Economic commentator Eric Bloch said it was highly likely that most
mining and manufacturing businesses would not re-open unless radical changes
are implemented by Mugabe upon being re-elected.
“On the basis of his track record, such radical changes would not
occur,” Bloch said.
The ZSE has been losing an average of between 5-8% daily in the past
10 working days as fears heightened of another five years under Mugabe’s
The fears have heightened on speculation that the elections are likely
to be rigged.
“The ZSE is very volatile. It reacts to news of a looming price blitz,
what more of news of a Mugabe victory and another five years of bad policy
making, deep-rooted suspicions and conspiracies that only hurt the market?”
said one Harare-based economist.
Stock market investors off-loaded their shares and raked in their
profits in the longest bear run recorded on the local bourse this year.
Investors are now holding on to foreign local currency or investing in other
non-volatile investment destinations such as real estate.
Other investors opted to liquidate shares they held in other volatile
counters to opt for more stable counters like Old Mutual and PPC.
Production also hit rock bottom this week with industry sources saying
it had declined to below 5% as many businesses shut down and adopted a “wait
and see” attitude in the wake of new threats by a Mugabe of a government
takeover made against business.
The signs of trouble are already showing. Expert estimates show that
Zimbabwe’s gold production will drop to three tonnes this year. The Chambers
of Mines has said Zimbabwe has an installed capacity to produce 125 tonnes
of gold annually.
The exporting sector is already bleeding after the central bank failed
to release their foreign currency.
University of Zimbabwe economist Professor Tony Hawkins said Mugabe’s
victory would prolong economic ills which are already characterised by
hyperinflation, negative real interest rates, an overvalued exchange rate
and a very high budget deficit.
Hawkins said inflation was likely to reach 500 000% adding that
history has shown clearly that Mugabe is not capable of reviving the economy
which has slumped by 60% over the past decade.
“He will be forced into leaving,” Hawkins said.
“If he wins, the economic will be in deeper trouble than it is now. An
international rescue package will be required and those offering it will not
negotiate with him. The price of such a rescue package is his leaving.”
Bloch said if Mugabe is re-elected but failed to implement radical
changes, he would find himself hounded out of office.
“Although Zimbabweans are very peaceful and a revolution is not the
way forward, if things do not change, it is almost certain that a revolution
will occur in the near future.”
Mugabe went on the offensive this week threatening to take over
British-owned companies.
This further entrenched the widely held view in the international
market that Zimbabwe was not an investor-friendly destination.
Analysts say that statement coupled with the new Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment Act will make it impossible for Zimbabwe to get foreign
direct investment especially if Mugabe remains in power.
Consumers are feeling the effects of a further reduction in production
through steep price hikes by retailers.
In just one week, the price of 750 ml of cooking oil shot up from $80
million to $125 million a litre, while fuel rose from $52 million to $56
million a litre.
Two litres of Mazoe Orange Crush increased from $30 million to $80
million while a 2-kg of dressed chicken rose from $80 million to $170
Transport fares went up from $15 million to $20 million and then $30
million in less than a week. Mugabe’s government has presided over 10 years
of consecutive economic decline due to poor policy making and inconsistent
policies which have scared off investors.
The dearth of foreign investment has compounded the crisis in an
economy. Instead of reforming, Mugabe has become more reactive by putting in
place price controls. This has caused company closures.
John Robertson, an independent economist, said Mugabe’s attempts to
control market forces and commandeer the economy were similar to attempts to
control gravity adding that no government in the world was strong enough to
control market forces.
“Trying to control market forces is like trying to control gravity.
The market serves those who respect it and it hurts those who oppose it,”
Robertson said.
“If you respect gravity, you won’t get hurt. If you don’t respect it
and jump out of the window, you will get hurt. Understand market forces so
they work for you, like gravity, instead of against you. Mugabe believes he
can control them though, it’s tragic.”
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) this week announced new policy
measures that are likely to cause more problems for the banks.
The measures which included raising accommodation rates and statutory
reserve requirements for banks were made after the market surplus hit one
quadrillion dollars.
This followed an astronomical increase in money supply last week to
cover salary increments for civil servants.
The bulk of the money was printed to fund the election expenses and
the farm mechanisation programme which analysts have attacked as vote
 “Mugabe has tremendous and damaging influence on people like (RBZ
governor Gideon) Gono who wanted to devalue and to run the economy with very
little intervention,” Robertson said.
“Mugabe tells him to print money and not to devalue and he has to
follow instructions if he wants to keep his job.”
The RBZ, credited with printing large sums of money to fund recurrent
government expenditure remains mum on the latest money supply figures.
However, market surplus doubled from $429 trillion to $950 trillion
signalling a very dangerous position that could stoke hyperinflation to
higher levels.
The situation was enough reason for the central bank to panic. On
Tuesday last week, when the market surplus figure hit $950 trillion, the RBZ
could get investments worth only $3,2 trillion — a figure representing 0,3%
of excess liquidity. The domestic debt surged to $1,6 quadrillion.
By Kuda Chikwanda

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Mugabe can't play god with us

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 21:00
THE enactment by President Robert Mugabe of Statutory Instrument No 46
of 2008 being the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of the
Electoral Act) regulations of 2008 summarises everything that is wrong with
this weekend’s election in particular and Zimbabwe in general.

The above regulations seek to amend Sections 55, 59 and 60 of the
Electoral Act Chapter 2:13 as amended by the Electoral Laws Act Amendment No
17 of 2007.
Amendment No17 to the Electoral Act, which became law on January 11,
was a piece of law negotiated between the MDC and Zanu PF during the
Sadc-sponsored talks facilitated by President Thabo Mbeki.
That piece of legislation was agreed to and signed by the parties in
Pretoria on October 30 2007 and presented to Sadc through Mbeki on the very
same day.
Before the Sadc dialogue, the law allowed policeman and members of the
defence forces to assist the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and most
importantly allowed policemen to be present at any polling station. Further,
in terms of section 59 and 60, the presence of the police was required when
an official assisted a physically incapacitated voter.
During the Sadc negotiations, the MDC’s position was that the police
had been abused and used systematically to generate intimidation and
What Mugabe has therefore done in the above regulation is to bring
back the old order and allow police officers back into polling stations but
most importantly allowed incapacitated voters to vote in the presence of
police officers.
Quite clearly, the re-enactment of the old law confirms the presence
of the mischief that we had dealt with in the Sadc dialogue. The mischief
being that police are indeed used as a weapon of intimidation in the Zanu PF
power retention agenda.
Secondly, it is unacceptable that Mugabe, a participant in this
election, can change the rules of the game when the game is being played.
Thirdly, sight must not be lost of the fact that it was parliament
that enacted the new law on December 20. For Mugabe to place himself above
parliament and bulldoze his way, as he has always done, reflects the
sickness of this establishment.
How can one man be above the law and play god with all of us? This
election represents a turning point for Zimbabwe.  Mugabe has no right to
privatise the same and treat this nation as Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd.
In our view, Mugabe’s regulations are unlawful in that he has usurped
the laws of ZEC under section 192 of the Electoral Act. Over and above,
Mugabe’s appetite for making presidential decrees is unacceptable as it is a
clear breach of the rule of law.

 By Tendai Biti

Tendai Biti is MDC secretary-general.

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Survey a Tsvangirai campaign ploy

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:09
I WAS interested to see the “leaked results” of the Mass Public
Opinion Institute (MPOI) survey regarding who would win this weekend’s
presidential election.

My scepticism of the survey results published on Studio 7 and in the
Zimbabwe Independent recently is based on the fact that in 2005 the MPOI
conducted a survey and then kept the result secret “because some of your top
people didn’t like it”, in the words of Professor Eldred Masunungure,
director of MPOI.
The survey conducted then was a snap survey in Harare on the issue of
the senate election.  The survey was taken in September 2005, one month
before the disastrous split of the MDC over this issue.
Masunungure told me that some 75% of respondents in Harare were in
favour of participating in the senate election, and that this is what “some
of your top people” were not happy about.
The MPOI therefore suppressed that result, and the entire world was
allowed to come under the impression that Zimbabweans as a whole rejected
the senate project. This impression was false — and Morgan Tsvangirai’s
sudden volte face in August to reject anything to do with the senate was
publicly supported by the MPOI’s silence on its findings.
So now we have the MPOI declaring that Tsvangirai will win the
presidential election, with Mugabe coming second and Makoni third, while
over 30% of voters still keep their vote their secret.
Since more than 30% of respondents would not say which presidential
candidate they would vote for, I do not believe this poll to be a very
reliable indicator of the actual election result. Was it leaked to campaign
for Tsvangirai?
 By Trudy Stevenson

Stevenson is the MDC’s outgoing Harare North MP.

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Matabeleland vote poser for analysts

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 19:51
THE Matabeleland region will decide the country’s next leader in
tomorrow’s polls where Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC and independent
candidate Simba Makoni are challenging incumbent President Robert Mugabe,
analysts have said.

Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF were earlier this year poised to cruise
to an easy victory against a divided MDC, but the entry of Makoni into the
presidential race on February 5 changed the expected outcome of the polls.
Analysts argued that Makoni has since gained significant support in
urban areas where the elite is strongly rooting for him, while Tsvangirai
had made inroads in rural areas were traditionally Mugabe and Zanu
Makoni, the analysts said, received a major boost earlier this month
when former Zapu intelligence supremo and politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa
broke ranks with Mugabe to join his camp.
But as the struggle to win votes by the three top presidential
candidates rages on, Matabeleland has emerged as a deciding factor for the
crucial election, as whoever wins in the three provinces in the region is
likely to occupy Zimbabwe House.
The analysts, however, said anyone between Mugabe, Makoni and
Tsvangirai who wins Matabeleland, should also garner substantial support
from other regions of the country.
The electorate in Matabeleland has always voted en masse for one party
since Independence in 1980. The region voted for PF-Zapu in 1980 and 1985
and changed allegiance to the MDC in 2000.
Gwanda-based analyst, Themba Nxumalo, said Matabeleland by virtue of
always voting en bloc would decide the next president.
“The candidates will split the votes countrywide and the winner will
be decided by the Matabeleland vote and this time around the region will
become the kingmaker,” Nxumalo said.
He said indicators were pointing to a Makoni victory. Presidential
contestant in 2002, Paul Siwela, said the Matabeleland vote was likely to be
won by Makoni, but was quick to add that the former Sadc executive secretary
did not enjoy much support from other provinces, including Manicaland where
he hails from.
“It is not true that Matabeleland will decide the outcome of the whole
election, but as things stand Makoni will lead in Matabeleland. However,
that vote will not count for much,” Siwela said.
He said if any of the three candidates won a third of the total votes
cast in other provinces, Matabeleland would then decide the outcome.
Ernest Mudzengi, the national director of the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), said it was a fallacy that Makoni would win outrightly in
Matabeleland and suggested that the region would be bitterly contested by
the former Finance minister and Tsvangirai.
“It will not be true to say one candidate will easily win in
Matabeleland, but the elections will be heavily contested and there is no
one candidate who will get an absolute majority,” Mudzengi postulated.
“Whoever wins will win by a small margin and that will be insignificant to
the whole national picture.”
Mudzengi tipped Tsvangirai to win the presidential polls if they were
free and fair.
Bulawayo-based political activist Gorden Moyo said Matabeleland was
not a deciding factor and will only play an endorsing role for the new
Moyo is the director of Bulawayo Agenda, a think-tank.
“Matabeleland does not decide an election but only blesses a leader,”
Moyo said. “If Matabeleland had the power of deciding an election,
Tsvangirai would be the president of Zimbabwe as he won almost everything in
Matabeleland (in 2000). The region only blesses an election.”
He added that the Matabeleland region had few voters compared to other
parts of the country. He said votes from the region would be divided between
Tsvangirai and Makoni.
Moyo, however, said Tsvangirai would win more votes nationally than
“The mood in Matabeleland has changed. Makoni will win crucial votes
in Matabeleland, but still he will come out a distant third in the whole
national picture as Mugabe will win the majority of the votes followed by
Tsvangirai,” Moyo predicted.
“What has happened is that Tsvangirai’s image in Matabeleland has been
damaged by the (Arthur) Mutambara faction in the region over the failed
unity talks.”
The three Matabeleland provinces have 1,1 million voters out of 5,9
Bulawayo has 313 459 voters, Matabeleland North 345 264 while
Matabeleland South has 342 280 voters.  The three presidential contestants
have in the last two weeks been campaigning heavily in the region.
First to come to the region was Makoni who addressed a crowd of about
4 000 enthusiastic supporters to whom he promised a new beginning and
focused on the marginalisation of the region.
Tsvangirai was the second presidential candidate to visit the region
and promised the people that he would set up a Gukurahundi Fund to mitigate
the effects of the 1980s government-engineered atrocities against civilians.
This week, Mugabe was in Bulawayo and addressed a rally at Stanley Square
where he invoked the late Vice-president Joshua Nkomo’s name and said the
people of the region should vote for Zanu PF to protect the 1987 Unity
He claimed that his government has purchased 400 new cars to be
distributed to doctors throughout the country to alleviate their transport
 At the rally, Mugabe also revealed that the government had
substantially increased salaries for nurses and doctors after negotiations.
Mugabe took a swipe at Tsvangirai and vowed that he would never rule
the country.
 “Tsvangirai will never, never, ever rule this country and those that
are voting for Tsvangirai are wasting their vote, it’s a waste of time
voting for Tsvangirai and come March 29 we (Zanu PF) will emerge
 victorious,” Mugabe said, waving his fist in the air, amid ululation from
the crowd.
 Mugabe also took a swipe at the MDC and said the British were using
the party.
“The MDC has recalled whites who were in South Africa to come and
contest the Umguza constituency. Don’t they have any black person who can
contest apart from Joubert and Goosen?” said Mugabe drawing laughter.
 The two MDC factions are fielding white candidates in Bubi
constituency. David Joubert represents the Tsvangirai faction in the
constituency while Alex Goosen represents the Mutambara faction. Mugabe said
Zanu PF was in trouble in Marondera constituency where another white was
causing havoc.
 “We are getting reports from our people in Marondera who are in
trouble with another MDC white man, Ian Kay, who speaks fluent Shona and our
people are saying he is using money to buy votes,” the president alleged.
By Loughty Dube

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Mugabe, beware the Ides of March

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 19:45
WHEN he was forewarned by the seer to “beware the Ides of March”,
Julius Caesar, the Roman ruler, did not take it seriously.

Indeed, when the Ides of March did arrive, Caesar said to the seer in
jest that the Ides of March had come, implying that contrary to his warning,
nothing had happened.
The seer acknowledged that the Ides of March had indeed come but he
still warned that they had not gone yet.
And, sure enough, later that day, the Roman general met his end at the
hands of Brutus and Cassius.
Ever since, the Ides of March, an otherwise ordinary expression
signifying the 15th day of March, has carried an ominous meaning.
For most, it is an expression that has come to signify impending doom
during the month of March.
President Robert Mugabe must, surely, wonder whether March 29
represents the modern day version of the Ides of March as he faces the
sternest challenge to his long reign by adversaries in Morgan Tsvangirai and
Simba Makoni.
It is difficult to comprehend what, if anything, would be served by
giving Mugabe another term of office.
For a man who was once great, is this not the case of one step too
far? It is a shot at the title that he did not have to take.
After 28 years, the aggregate of which has produced mass poverty and
despair, it requires more than a stretch of the imagination as to what
exactly he can achieve in the next five years.
Those of us who follow the oldest of sports, the sweet science, know
that, perhaps, the greatest weakness of any fighter is the inability to
acknowledge when to hang the gloves.
Few of the greatest boxers have been able to retire in their prime.
Instead, they have pushed on, well beyond their finest days. And they have
suffered for it.
Somehow, the old game has a force of attraction that perhaps can only
be truly appreciated by those few men who have the courage to step into the
Perhaps it is the money.
Perhaps it is just the love of this oldest of games.
Perhaps it is just the yearning for the spotlight which retirement
seems to wipe off once they are out of the ring.
Perhaps they just cannot bear watching the younger fighters hogging
the limelight which they once enjoyed in abundance during their prime.
But all too often, when they fail to heed the call of retirement, and
step into the ring, they bring tears to our eyes.
The spectacle is too painful to the eye: watching the tired, haggard
and diminished warriors — mere shadows of their former selves. It is, too
often, a pitiful sight.
They saw it that October night in 1980 when the man universally
acknowledged as The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, succumbed, in his twilight
years, to a young and fitter Larry Holmes, himself a former trainee who
idolised The Greatest.
It is said that Holmes might not have fought the man he had idolised
for years — he would not have wished to exploit what were clear weaknesses
in an ageing  master of the ring.
But the lure of the big fight, the lure of money and most of all the
undying ambition of The Greatest to relive the glory days and make history
conspired to make the fight.
Those of us who idolise Ali would not have wished him the punishment
he received that October night.
Those who witnessed the fight say, at some stage, even Holmes
eventually reduced the tempo to avoid further damage to his old master.
In Round 11, the battle was stopped, much to the relief of those
watching, who, it is said, could hardly bear witnessing the sad demise of
man they all called The Greatest.
Ali didn’t have to take that fight — he was already the greatest in
many eyes. But he, too, fell for the lure of the final shot at glory.
But The Greatest was not the first and certainly not the last of the
brave men that trade leather to fail that test.
His old nemesis, George Foreman, made a comeback at age 45.
Another great warrior, Evander Holyfield, is still fighting, well into
his 40s, against many of his admirers’ wishes.
We winced recently when news broke that Holyfield and that other
great, Mike Tyson, intend to fight again.
Why, we ask? Perhaps, it is the money.
But surely, this is a battle of old warriors that no-one seriously
wants. They ought to know, as most fans do, that their finest days are
behind them and they have nothing more to offer.
And that too has an uncanny resemblance to the old warrior of
Zimbabwean politics.
It is too sad, way too terrible, to witness the demise of the old
master, Robert Mugabe, still lumbering in the ring — a clear failure to
resist the lure of the last big fight.
His main opponents are young, fit and popular. Both once idolised
Mugabe during his prime.
They once sat in his corner and admired him, hoping one day they would
step into his boots. They never thought they would have to fight him. They
probably would not have wished to fight him.
But the old warrior is too overwhelmed by that spirit that fighters
find hard to resist — an attempt, perhaps, to recapture the glory days.
There is nothing more that Mugabe can offer. He might boast the
stamina that men of his age can, at best, vaguely remember.
But, listening to him, even the voice is slow, tired and betrays a
tortured soul. Not even the memories of a glorious past can put a veil on
the disaster around him.
This is a fighter who, like the great Ali, needed an honest corner-man
to throw in the towel to save him from further punishment and humiliation.
This is the pugilist who requires realistic advisers to tell him there was
nothing more he can offer.
But they have either been silent or screaming hysterically in his
defence — you have to wonder if they are not selfishly pushing him for
further humiliation.
Because, you see, even if he “wins” by some technicality it has become
apparent that the best days are behind him.
For, if nothing else, the economy itself is the greatest voter here;
the biggest voice of them all. Clearly, it is saying “no more”; it is saying
“no, Robert, there is nothing more you can do to make me better”.
In politics, as in boxing, the lure of another great fight can be too
powerful to resist. But the ability to know when to give up is a necessary
part of self-preservation.
As Mugabe goes into the election, we cannot help but visualise the
old, tired warrior taking unnecessary punishment from his adversaries.
But then, you pause and remember that there is always the danger — the
risk of what a beleaguered fighter might do in that ring.
We saw it on that night of June 28 1997, when Tyson, himself a former
great, resorted to raw animalistic behaviour, when he bit Holyfield’s ear.
Yes, when the going gets tough, as it surely is for Mugabe, the old
warrior could yet get very nasty.
That would be sad but the use of extra-legal methods will hardly be a
surprise, given that the old fighter really finds himself in a very
difficult position at the moment.
And here, the external referees will have to call time. They will have
to show that the
old warrior cannot get away with such behaviour.
l Dr Alex Magaisa is based at the University of Kent Law School and
can be contacted at e-mail address is being
protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or

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Defeat beckons for Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 19:40
THERE are a few visible parallels between the March 29, 2008 election
and that of 1980 which ushered Zanu PF into power.

The UANC led by Abel Muzorewa had been in office and was enjoying
considerable support in the urban centres. They confidently held
the-mother-of-all rallies at Zimbabwe’s ceremonial home of politics in
Highfield.The four-day gathering was dubbed the Huruyadzo Rally. Translated,
huruyadzo means “the biggest of them all” which was Abel Muzorewa’s slogan.
The rally rightly lasted four days. All the boys born during the four days
at the rally were named either Abel or Tendekai or both, Abel Tendekai being
the Bishop’s first names and the super patriots being what they are named
their sons Abel Tendekai Muzorewa as the first three names. Girls were
dutifully named Janet, The First Lady’s name.
For those living in towns, it was beyond imagination that the Bishop
would lose an election to guerilla leader Robert Mugabe. The little bit they
knew about the guerilla leader was negative information broadcast on
national radio and television.
There were special programmes like “Umwe Anoti” on the vernacular
radio station whose purpose was to portray Mugabe as a communist terrorist
who had no respect for the rule of law and as such would just take the
country back to the Dark Ages. In response to all this Mugabe said he was
unmoved by that criticism and was quite aware of the misinformation being
spread amongst Zimbabweans. He however said he was confident that one day
the world would know the truth about him and the war of attrition that Zanla
and Zipra were waging against Ian Smith.
True to the guerilla leader’s prediction, Zanu PF polled 56, PF Zapu
(Joshua Nkomo) 20, UANC (Abel Muzorewa) 3 and Zanu Ndonga (Ndabaningi
Sithole) 1. That was 70%, 25%, 3,75% and, 25% respectively. Someone within
the rank and file of UANC should have been kind enough to tell the Bishop
that he was way past his shelf life and that it was time for the liberation
movements to usher in a new political dispensation.
  Interestingly history is on the verge of repeating itself. Morgan
Tvsangirai has since 1999 been in the trenches of opposition politics
telling Zimbabweans not to worry about the falsehoods being spread about him
and his party. He has had no access to either radio or television which are
both government controlled. Simba Makoni is telling Zimbabweans the same
about himself and the Mavambo initiative. Both men have left President
Mugabe and Zanu PF to say what they have to say about the opposition, March
29 will set the record straight. In 2000, who in Zimbabwe except maybe
Tsvangirai himself and a handful of faithfuls would have imagined that a
party formed barely half a year earlier would almost beat Zanu PF a party
that had been in existence since 1963.
The  Zanu PF party manifesto — of potholes, empty supermarket shelves,
inflation upwards of 150 000%, 90% unemployment, a shrinking foreign
investment base, dereliction on once highly productive farms, a population
of over three million disenfranchised Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora —
has gifted the opposition all the support they currently enjoy.  If the
police should want to arrest anyone for wanting to “donate” the country back
to the whites as President Mugabe says, they should arrest the runaway
inflation, the non performing parastatals and the corruptly cancerous RBZ.
Forget Morgan and Simba, forget Gordon and George. President Mugabe’s
number one enemy is the country’s state of the economy as carefully authored
by successive archaic and narrow minded policies deeply rooted in the Zanu
PF imagined war against the British and the Americans. Once a respected
orator President Mugabe is now delivering speeches that are devoid of depth
and substance.  Apart from calling Morgan Tsvangirai a stooge of the British
and Simba Makoni a sellout, Mugabe does not have much else to say. It should
not have been allowed to end this way.
In 2000 the ruling party used the land redistribution manifesto and
the Professor Jonathan Moyo coined “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again”
cliché. Both are now tired and boring and any man who attempts to use them
in the 2008 plebiscite does so at the peril of their own embarrassment.
There is not a single Zimbabwean that has ever spoken against the
spirit of land redistribution. It was the chaotic manner, hence the term
jambanja, with which the exercise was executed that all Zimbabweans
including the progressive forces within Zanu PF itself had a problem with.
Land redistribution was the correct thing to do, but done at the wrong time
by the wrong people and the result naturally is at variance with the
aspirations of the country. Jambanja literally translated means chaos devoid
of order, transparency and accountability.
The Professor Mandivamba Rukuni Report, the Dr Charles Utete 1, 2 and
3 reports, and the Flora Bhuka Report all attested to the chaotic manner in
which land redistribution was carried out. Today the level of dereliction on
the farms and the mere fact that Zimbabwe has been reduced to a net importer
of maize from Malawi, yes Malawi and Zambia, is testimony that all is not
well on the farms.
  I am yet to hear of a country where every cabinet minister, deputy
minister, permanent secretary and all senior party officials are commercial
farmers. This is a certain recipe for disaster. The erstwhile gentlemen in
the military have weighed in with a dimension that smacks of hypocrisy and
narrow mindedness both at their worst. Seeing that their benefactor
President Mugabe stares defeat in the eye, they have proffered a thinly
veiled coup d’etat threat by hinting that they will not salute anyone not
President Mugabe.
 Why I find this particularly nauseating is that in 1980 at
Independence when most of these soldiers from both Zipra and Zanla were
attested into the Zimbabwe National Army, they saluted and took instructions
without incident from General Peter Walls.
Yes, Peter Walls who a few  weeks earlier  had been commander of the
Rhodesian forces which were responsible for the bombing of Nyadzonia,
Freedom Camp and many others which resulted in the deaths and maiming of
thousand upon thousands of black Zimbabweans. I find it sad that one
brother finds joy in saluting Peter Walls, and yet sees problems in
saluting a black compatriot whose only “crime” is holding a political
opinion divergent to that held by the status quo.
Ken Flower was on the other hand in charge of the Special Branch under
Ian Smith and was again head of the Central Intelligence Organisation in
independent Zimbabwe. Ken was as white as white can get and like Walls was a
descendent of the British. Security agents on both sides of the divide
saluted and took orders from him with zeal. How hypocritical can black
Zimbabweans get?
When you salute a President, you are not necessarily saluting the
individual but the Office that he or she holds.  That is why when they cease
to hold the office; they also cease to enjoy the salute. It’s that simple.
Maridadi is a Harare based political activist and freelance

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A tripod of evil

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 19:34
THE 29th of March 2008 is just around the corner. This day is
rightfully seen as D-day for Zimbabwe.

The country has been hurtling downhill for almost a decade now, with
those in power totally clueless about how to staunch the deterioration.
There seems to be a common view that the Zimbabwean problem is essentially a
governance one. Those old enough to remember the Rhodesian situation and
that of South Africa prior to 1994, will know that even with all the
economic creativity of the best brains in the land, when political
management becomes anachronistic, economic dysfunction is the upshot.
In Zimbabwe, we have a regime that ascended to power on the back of a
very strong anti-colonial sentiment that found expression in the War of
Liberation of the 1960s and 1970s. For a while, the regime basked in the
image of being liberators, while a significant population savoured the
euphoria of Independence. In that euphoria, regrettably, the sense of the
future was lost.
The majority of the citizens naively surrendered their power and
responsibility to be part of governance to the new rulers, the liberators.
Here were people who had gone out to fight an oppressive colonial system.
They were brave, patriotic, selfless Zimbabweans. They had finally prevailed
over a stubborn minority regime. They were heroes. Herein lies the
provenance of our present day woes.
There were early signs that indicated that, left unchecked, our
liberators could become oppressors. Soon after Independence, fellow
liberators were called counter-revolutionaries and were hounded out of the
system until we ended up with a “dissident” situation. The rest, as they
say, is history.
Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces became killing fields and
anyone who spoke with a click became a “dissident”! In Harare, Matabeleland
was derisively referred to as “Ngale”, a clear indication that it was
regarded as a far-off place with “funny” people. It was the Kosovo of
Africa. In those heady days people got blinkered by the mantra of “Pasi
naNgomo!” There was murderous zealotry for Mugabe and Zanu PF, even when it
was clear that what was happening were signs of a revolution losing its way.
It became sacrilegious to say anything remotely critical of Mugabe and Zanu
PF. You were either with them or you were a “dissident”! After the 1985
elections, miffed by being rejected in Matabeleland, Mugabe addressed a very
poorly attended rally at Barbourfields, at which he said, “The people of
Matabeleland have to choose between war and peace. By voting for Zapu, they
have chosen war. They are going to get war!” Anyway, that war was already
ongoing as the depredations of Gukurahundi dated back to 1982.
The point is that Zanu PF manipulated ideology and a gullible ethnic
majority and used scare tactics to entrench its rule. Liberation history was
redefined and re-written to give an impression that they, and they alone,
were the bearers of its greater purposes. Academics and intellectuals fell
over each other in a bid to reinforce the revolutionary project according to
Zanu PF.
In the 1990s, Zanu PF made an ideological shift by adopting the
Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap). However, politically, it
remained unreconstructed. It resisted any calls to open up political space.
Unfortunately, Esap created more problems than it solved. Zanu PF failed to
convince the population as to why things were not working out. Then economic
questions became political questions. A whole chain of events followed,
leading to the formation of the MDC with Tsvangirai as the leader.
The viciousness and ferocity of Zanu PF’s attack against the MDC in
general, and Morgan Tsvangirai in particular, was one actuated by a sense of
betrayal. The revolution was now eating its own children. Mugabe has vowed
that the MDC would never rule Zimbabwe. MDC is a puppet of the west. Zanu PF
liberated the country. They invented freedom in Zimbabwe. They have the
right to rule until donkeys grow horns, no matter how much they wreck the
They fought colonialism. They brought freedom and therefore the nation
should turn a blind eye to their obvious fallibilities. Anyone who
criticises Zanu PF is an agent of imperialism. In their scheme of things,
patriotism has a Zanu PF definition. The fact that they “delivered”
Independence grants them exclusive rights to know what is good and what is
bad for Zimbabwe. We see the service chiefs carrying out a pre-emptive coup
by announcing that they will not salute “stooges”, and that is not seen for
what it is. A national election is a constitutional process for change of
leadership. Subverting it by extra-constitutional means amounts to a coup
and that is treasonous.
Now, we have seen how Zanu PF got where it is today. In comes the MDC,
which at one point carried the hopes of millions of Zimbabweans across the
globe. The MDC split in 2005 in circumstances that were tragic. Ostensibly,
it was on the issue of whether or not to participate in senatorial
elections. A process was undertaken to arrive at a decision about the
matter. The outcome of that process is known. Morgan Tsvangirai could not
have it. He remarked that he was not going to accept the result even if it
meant the breakup of the MDC! He stormed out of the venue, called a press
conference and told a big lie. He said that there was a toss-up in the vote
and he had used his casting vote in favour of those who opposed
participation. MDC was therefore not going to participate in the elections.
From then on things were never the same for MDC.
Like Mugabe in the 1980s, Tsvangirai mobilised support on an ethnic
card, accusing rivals of tribalism when issues were very clear. Like his
former master in Zanu PF, he was adept at calling names, alleging that
rivals were agents of Zanu PF. Again, as in the case of Zanu PF,
“progressive” academics and intellectuals, at home and in the diaspora,
rallied behind Tsvangirai. Innuendos and insinuations were made that
Matabeleland politicians had a history of treachery.
One academic even blatantly accused President Thabo Mbeki of wanting
to sideline Tsvangirai in favour of his (Mbeki’s) “homeboy” (Welshman
Ncube). Issues of violence in the MDC were conveniently ignored. When Trudy
Stevenson was savagely attacked by Tsvangirai’s thugs, his own commission of
enquiry euphemistically referred to infiltration by the CIO! It is
instructive to note that this commission had in it “prominent and
respectable” lawyers. The only credit to Tsvangirai during this forgettable
episode is that he was so embarrassed he had to delay publishing the report.
I am not sure that he finally made it public.
Then there was the Lucia Matibenga drama. It was hard to find any
appropriate description of how wicked the whole thing was. You have a whole
party president shamelessly removing a popular leader to anoint a friend’s
wife in the same position. And when people
protest he unleashes his thugs. Women were clobbered in broad daylight
in the centre of Harare for attempting to demonstrate at Harvest House.
This is the same place where many senior MDC leaders were beaten and
bruised for daring to query certain things. Today, as was the case with Zanu
PF, anyone who criticises Tsvangirai and the MDC is regarded as a Zanu PF
agent or plant. Nobody has a mind of their own. Tsvangirai is said to be the
brave face of opposition in Zimbabwe. He pioneered opposition politics in
Zimbabwe. Therefore his path can or should only lead to State House. Is this
not just the reverse side of a Zanu PF coin? How history repeats itself, and
in worse forms!
I have heard the argument that now is not the time to focus on
Tsvangirai’s shortcomings. Energy and attention should be trained on Mugabe,
who is regarded as the greater evil. Only when Mugabe has been removed will
some things be “corrected”. This can meaneither of two things.
Tsvangirai must be given some opportunity (rewarded) to taste glory
for his bravery. But it could also mean that Tsvangirai is a meal ticket
because of his “popularity”. He, however, could be dispensed with after
victory and be “released to graze in the commons”.
I am not sure if the world of politics has things that simple. He has
already gone on record saying that he possesses the keys to the MDC.
 Are these just the rantings of a dullard or they are ominous signs of
a schemer who is looking well beyond “tasting”?
The theory of his malleability must be tempered with historical
precedent. Daniel arap Moi used to be ridiculed by the more lettered in Kanu
before the death of founding president, Jomo Kenyatta. He was not given a
chance on succession. What happened? He did succeed Kenyatta, not for one
year, not two tears, not 10 years, but 23 years! Politicians dig in; digging
them out is a Herculean task.
Lovemore Madhuku is not to be outdone in this “nhingi chete, chete!”
syndrome. He wrote a piece recently in the Financial Gazette in which he
rooted for Tsvangirai because he (Tsvangirai) is the embodiment of civil
society principles and values. He tried to prepare people for Tsvangirai’s
impending defeat by saying that the election is not for change but just to
signpost the direction civil society wants to go. It is a most bizarre
argument. Tsvangirai believes he will win (which, in the unlikely event that
he did, would be a disaster for Zimbabwe). What Madhuku said must have
unsettled Tsvangirai’s inner self. Madhuku’s support for Tsvangirai is
predicated on history, which is that Tsvangirai and his civil society
acolytes started the struggle for democracy in independent Zimbabwe.
They have a programme of a set of principles and values that represent
the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. It is this programme that nobody
else, save Tsvangirai and Madhuku, can implement. He says that Makoni does
not represent the aspirations of Zimbabweans, perhaps because he was not at
the so-called people’s convention that led to the formation of the MDC.
How different is this thinking from Zanu PF? Basically, Madhuku sees
himself and those around him having “right” in their pockets. It is only
they who can define what is good for Zimbabweans. Apart from the fact that
this is an insult to even those that Madhuku claims to represent, it is a
giant lie that opposition to Mugabe started with Tsvangirai. For all their
challenges, there was Zum, Forum, Zanu Ndonga, etc. Within Zanu PF Mavhaire
openly called for Mugabe’s retirement way back in 1998. The late Zvobgo was
known to resent Mugabe’s leadership. Please tell no lies and claim no easy
Lest we forget; who is Lovemore Madhuku? What moral authority does he
have to pontificate to us about values and principles when we know what his
values are? Is it not the same Madhuku who has a not-so glorious legal
practice record after he “borrowed” some funds from a Trust Account. Is he
not the same Madhuku who, when his term of office as chairman of NCA came to
an end, tweaked the constitution to award himself a further two terms? And
what was his justification? He said that he still had a number of things to
accomplish for the NCA. He could not leave unfinished business! Those who
opposed him at that meeting were beaten up by hired thugs. How can we
criticise leaders at national level for hanging on when it is time to go,
but we do the same thing in our small worlds that we call civil society? It
sucks. It is a mockery. Civil society must feel very scandalised to have a
godfather of a brazen hypocrite who talks right but walks left.
On balance we see that Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Lovemore
Madhuku are a tripod of evil. All three believe in their infallibility
despite a welter of evidence to the contrary. They are not loath to resort
to skullduggery to achieve what they want. There are records to show that
they have used violence against opponents to stay at the top. All three have
played the ethnic card to mobilise support. They are Machiavellian. They
believe in the end justifying the means. They are as trustworthy as hyenas
among sheep!
Bulelani Mokoena is a Harare-based writer.

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This time tomorrow

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:58
TOMORROW, we can say with certainty, is a special day for Zimbabweans,
a day which all of us have been waiting for. It is a day which will
determine our future as a nation, the direction Zimbabwe must take, and the
station it must occupy in the community of nations.

Tomorrow Zimbabweans go to the polls once again to elect their nation’s
leaders. It should be a solemn occasion. You may be Zanu PF, you may be MDC
or for Simba Makoni. What should preoccupy you at this hour of national
calling is that we are all Zimbabweans first.
There are many honourable men and women who, over the years of
suffering and toil, have resisted the impulse to go onto the streets in
protest because of their abiding faith and belief that peaceful change is
still possible.
There are many men and women who have been beaten, imprisoned, and
tortured for their beliefs and freedom of choice. There are many others who
have been brutalised by the state machinery. Despite all this, they have
retained their faith that peaceful change can be achieved through the ballot
box. We salute them all.
We salute them because we hope their faith in the democratic system we
are fighting to build will not be frustrated by the actions of those who
believe, very wrongly, that it is their right to rule until they die. Nor,
we hope, will such faith be betrayed by the actions of those who promise a
better future. Such promises are the only legitimate means open to them to
get into power.
Our plea to the people of Zimbabwe is that all those who are eligible
and are registered should all go and vote. Those who are not registered and
therefore can’t vote should stay away, and not cause or create unnecessary
In urging Zimbabweans to go en masse to vote, we are equally mindful
of the impediments placed in their way by the mammoth and solemn task they
must undertake. Voting for a single candidate in past elections has
presented problems. We imagine those problems will be four times more, given
the four candidates they must elect in the short time available.
We are also mindful there may not be enough ballot booths or papers
for a variety of reasons, to frustrate those who want to cast their ballot.
But tomorrow is not a day to be frustrated by mischief-makers. Tomorrow is
not a day to be discouraged by allegations of vote-rigging. Tomorrow is the
day we should all look forward with hope that our dreams and the aspirations
of our children shall find material expression in our ballot.
This is however not to pretend that as we go into this match we shall
all emerge triumphant. That is not in the nature of real life. Our hope is
based on the belief that those managing this solemn event will take it
seriously and allow the will of the people to prevail.
We have in the past warned that the Kenyan violence provides a
disturbing example of what happens after elections when the public lose
faith in those administering them.
It nonetheless serves as a timely reminder of those unintended
consequences of callous bungling in handling a sensitive issue such as the
synchronised elections which Zimbabweans will be voting in tomorrow. Any
reckless statements by the officials running the elections or the candidates
contesting could ignite a conflagration enough to consume the whole nation.
Only the devil’s foot soldiers in our midst could be working towards such a
dastardly outcome.
When all is said and done, we still must say that we hope the aspiring
leaders will be men and women of honour worthy of our trust. We must hope
they will be honourable enough to accept the result of the match.
There is a catch: that is provided the match commissioners are deemed
to have been fair and not to have influenced the result. The result may not
suit us all, but it must be clear that it was our own failure as
stakeholders which cost us the game, not tampering by people who feel that
their personal interests are under threat.
Let us therefore all go and vote. There will be mischief-makers among
us just as there will be men and women of goodwill. Let none sway us from
the course to shape our nation’s destiny.
It is for this reason that we say let the contesting leaders give the
ballot a chance by behaving themselves responsibly during and after the
elections. May those plotting mayhem live to swallow their own tongues. We
end with the title of a short play by Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o for
potential voters: “Where will you be, this time tomorrow?”

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Candid comment:Will Mugabe let the ballot speak?

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:55
I MUST say I was most perturbed to read of President Robert Mugabe’s
ominous remarks at a rally he addressed in Bulawayo on Sunday. He reportedly
told a rally at Stanley Square in Makokoba that voting for the opposition
MDC was a waste of votes.
No doubt his audience must have thought it was a horrible nightmare.
The people of Bulawayo have voted for the MDC ever since it was launched in
2000. The people of Matabeleland and Midlands in general have voted for the
party, for well-known historical grievances which President Mugabe’s
government has not had the conscience to address with the necessary
“You can vote for them (MDC) but that will be a wasted vote,” Mugabe
is quoted as saying in the Herald. “You will be cheating yourself (voting
for MDC) as there is no way we can allow them to rule this country.”
He went on to declare, the same way Ian Smith did just before he lost
power in the late 1970s: “The MDC will not rule this country. It will never
ever happen.” I hope the munificent Genie will grant Mugabe his wish to rule
On any other day, said by a lesser personage in the party, I would
have dismissed the remarks as electoral grandstanding and brinksmanship.
Politicians are allowed to put on the mask of a Goliath even in the face of
defeat. But these remarks are ascribed to a state president on the eve of
definitive national elections; words which must have a chilling effect on
all peace-loving Zimbabweans regardless of what region they come from.
There is a serious problem here. Firstly, that the people of Bulawayo
who have voted for the MDC in the past have no right to choose who should
lead them. Secondly, that they must see the folly of voting for the MDC
because there will never be development in the region. It should therefore
not be amazing that while trillions of dollars have been printed over the
years for many so-called black empowerment projects, there has been nothing
for the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
It’s all part of the retributive Zanu PF politics which have ruined
this country, from Gukurahundi to Murambatsvina. People should not “cheat
themselves” by voting for the opposition, especially the MDC, is the blatant
message. But it is also a sure way to forfeit their vote.
Mugabe said the reason the MDC should not be allowed to rule this
country was because he had “a job to do and that is to protect our heritage”.
And part of that “heritage” is that people’s votes can be invalidated by the
caprices and whims of a sitting president.
But there is a more sinister national dimension to Mugabe’s
un-statesmanlike pronouncements.
President Mugabe declared at the same venue as he has done at
countless others that the MDC cannot be “allowed to rule this country”
because it is led by “puppets of western countries” seeking to effect
“illegal” regime change in Zimbabwe.
In essence this is to validate and give concrete expression to
assertions by uniformed service chiefs who have declared they “will not
support, let alone salute” any victor in tomorrow’s elections other than
President Mugabe “who has sacrificed so much for this country”.
In the light of this, Mugabe’s comments are all the more dangerous
given that his personal and political views at party rallies have in the
past had the force of law: beating of opposition leaders and price controls.
He is in effect saying he will reject a people’s verdict.
It is a frightening prospect.
The other effect of Mugabe’s comments is to renege on all the
commitments made at the Sadc-mandated inter-party talks between Zanu PF and
the MDC which sought to level the electoral playing field ahead of the
elections to allow the free will of the people to prevail. This is an
arrangement which could be reached by parties which are both indigenous and
legitimate. Now we are being told the MDC couldn’t be such a legitimate
negotiator. It is now a crime to vote for it because those doing so will be
“cheating” themselves.
The tricky part is that there are evidently thousands of people ready
to call Mugabe’s bluff tomorrow. They see no hope for Zimbabwe in his
government and its policies. They are itching for a new dispensation. The
good thing is that they have waited for so long, waiting to use the ballot
box to make that choice. They have shunned violence despite blatant acts of
state provocation through degrading treatment, including the indignity of
spending many hours in cash and food queues.
Will Mugabe give peaceful change a chance? Or will he leave office the
same way he consolidated his grip on power at Independence: through a
bloodbath? Is that the final signature President Mugabe wants to append on
to the canvass of his controversial legacy? I hope the generals get the
message too.
Let’s give the poor a voice by letting the ballot speak loudest.

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Editor's memo;It's time up Mr President

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:05
PRESIDENT Mugabe is digging in his heels. He wants to keep his job so
badly that he is threatening the very existence of the state that he wants
to rule in the event that he wins the presidential election and his party
the parliamentary and local polls.
As his campaign reached its zenith last weekend Mugabe increasingly
displayed retrogressive tendencies that have brought this country to where
it is today - political intolerance and poor economic policy formulation.
Mugabe was this week displaying renewed menace as if that was the
virtuosity that the nation has been looking for. He was lashing out at
business, threatening to take over British-owned companies if targeted
sanctions are not lifted.
He was also brandishing the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Act as a weapon to punish companies accused of raising prices of basket
goods. He has made threatening noises against the mining industry which he
feels must be indigenised.
Investors have turned their backs on Zimbabwe largely because of
Mugabe’s swashbuckling tactics in which policies are made on the hoof and
announced at rallies.
Another policy aberration inherent in our dear leader is his belief in
retribution against perceived opponents. The government told us last year
that the Indigenisation Bill and the Mines and Minerals Bill were necessary
to redistribute the economy and to achieve equity in the control of the
means of production. But of late Mugabe has wielded the two proposed laws as
weapons with which to threaten and punish businessmen and opponents.
The two empowerment laws today – as they are being employed by Zanu
PF — are neither vehicles of economic developmement nor instruments of
social progress. They are synonymous with dispossession, retribution and
insecurity. The laws have become lethal weapons which will put paid to any
hopes of economic recovery as long as they are implemented by this
government. These are laws against business.
This same approach to policy formulation and implementation drove the
promulgation of land laws and directed the execution of the ill-fated
fast-track land reform programme. Today we hear Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono saying the full impact of the land plan will not be felt until 2010.
This is asinine governance. The process of taking over farms was done at
lightning speed as a solution to land redistribution but there is no
concomitant alacrity to achieve results. There is all the evidence that the
government is limbering up for the same tactic with industry in the
post-election period – if Mugabe wins the polls.
But threatening industry is threatening people’s livelihoods and this
will not win Mugabe votes. The electorate today no longer buys into the
cheap political announcements threatening price controls or company
In June last year the nation witnessed the damaging effects of price
controls on the economy. Manufacturers and retailers have not recovered from
the blitz as is evidenced by empty shelves in OK and TM supermarkets.
Capacity utilisation in industry dropped from just over 20% to the current
levels of less than 10%. Price controls exemplify the poor policies that our
rulers pursue blindly.
At rallies, President Mugabe was insisting that retailers should not
raise prices even though government has raised the salaries of civil
servants by up to 1 000%. The private sector has followed suit. The
president should be aware that with the vast amounts of cash floating in the
economy the shops will soon be empty again because there is minuscule
production taking place.
From his pronouncements in the past two weeks Mugabe has simply set
the scene for further economic decline if he wins the election. This economy
desperately needs stability which stems from confidence and trust in
government’s ability to deliver. There is no hope in mending it on the back
of threats and uncertainty. This country does not deserve a government which
makes it its business to fight its own people. Mugabe is preparing to open
another front after the election. What for? Mugabe’s answer: “We have a job
to do and that is to protect our heritage. The MDC will not rule this
country. It will never, ever happen. Asisoze sivume (We will not yield).”
Compare this with Ian Smith’s “No majority rule in my lifetime. The
white man is master of Rhodesia. He has built it, and he intends to keep
What heritage is Mugabe safeguarding when businesses go to the wall
and unemployment heads for 90%?

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Erich Bloch-endless threats to business unjustified

Zim Independent

Thursday, 27 March 2008 19:57
THROUGHOUT history, and throughout the world, it has been the
exceptionally rare event for any government to admit fault and error.

 Instead, whensoever such faults and errors have occurred, governments
seek vigorously to deny culpability, and to attribute responsibility to
others. And the Zimbabwean government has consistently demonstrated that it
is a past master at doing so.
Without any regard for credibility, and in contemptuous disregard for
consequences,   it has unceasingly misrepresented the nature and causes of
Zimbabwe’s economic ills, and has unreservedly blamed others for such ills,
invariably its allegations being wholly or, at the least, almost entirely,
unfounded. And, with very rare exception, it accompanies its vituperative
outpourings of criticism of others with torrents of treats, including many
that would, if carried out, be in blatant breach of law.
This has been particularly pronounced during the past two months, due
to the combination of circumstances of Zimbabwe suffering the most severe
levels of hyperinflation ever experienced by it, and forthcoming elections
which government fears could emphatically demonstrate the displeasure and
dissatisfaction of the population with the prevailing economic
circumstances, and with government’s total failure to address those
circumstances. Unhesitatingly, and  wholly unconcerned  at the lack of truth
and substance therein, the ruling party’s spokesmen at election rallies,
throughout the country, have repeatedly stated that the immense inflation
ailing Zimbabwe is due wholly to the actions of the supposedly unscrupulous
business  community, and that strong punitive actions will be taken against
that community. President Mugabe,Vice Presidents Mujuru and Msika, Ministers
Obert Mpofu and Sikanyiso Ndlovu have all stated, on numerous occasions as
the Zanu PF election campaign has progressed, that businesses and service
providers have irrationally and unjustifiably increased prices not because
of need, but in order to profiteer, and as a strategy to bring about regime
change. Most recently, only a week ago, the president addressed a rally of
supposed supporters. In his address, the president warned enterprises that
have markedly increased prices that they would be amongst the first
businesses to be transferred to black ownership. He cited the usual
allegations of profiteering and desires for regime change as the principal
motives for the price escalations, and also contended that they had been
done in order to counter and exploit the recent increases in civil service
He said that in order to take action against the so-called offenders,
government was identifying and  listing all companies profiteering at the
expense of the majority, and particularly  identified bakeries,  and
enterprises as were beneficiaries of concessionary facilities from the
Reserve Bank. Such listing would include black businessmen who “profiteer at
the expense of the majority”, but presumably such of those businessmen as
are in the Zanu PF hierarchy will be “inadvertently” omitted from the lists!
It is time that Zanu PF, the presidium, and the ministers, recognise
publicly that it is the manner in which Zimbabwe has been, and is being,
governed that is the indisputable cause of the horrendous hyperinflation
which has brought the economy to its knees, and the populace to extreme
poverty, misery, malnutrition, ill-health and, in an increasing number of
instances, death.
Amongst the foremost causes of the hyperinflation, in the last three
months,  has been that government forced the central bank to raid the
supposedly  sacrosanct “free funds” accounts of NGOs, private enterprise,
and others. This radically increased recourse by the private sector to the
“parallel” foreign currency markets. The unauthorised “borrowing” of the
legitimate foreign currency resources of Zimbabwean businesses deprived them
of access timeously to their lawful funds in order to fund essential imports
and legitimate foreign currency based expenditures, leaving them with the
alternatives of either closing their operations, or of accessing funds in
the alternative markets.
As a result, the imbalance between supply and demand in those markets
intensified exponentially, enabling the foreign currency traders to escalate
endlessly, and to massive extents, the exchange rates demanded for the
scarce currencies. The consequence has been a gargantuan increase in
production and operating costs for all businesses.
At the commencement of the year, the parallel market was operating at
exchange rates of around US1: $7 500 000, and as of a week ago rates
approximated US$1: $60 000 000. Thus, in 10 weeks, rates had increased
eight-fold, and if businesses were to continue operating, they had to
increase selling prices to cover that enormous escalation in their costs.
If government, in order to fund the elections in general, and its
party campaigning  in particular, and to fund “free” or concessionary
handouts of agricultural  machinery and implements to the favoured few and
to voters to be enticed to give the party support, had not pressurised the
central bank to abuse the sanctity of private sector foreign exchange
holdings, the parallel market-driven surge in hyperinflation would not have
occurred, the survival of many businesses would not have been jeopardised,
and NGOs would not be demotivated  into considering discontinuance of
As if this did not suffice in order to undermine an already severely
stricken economy, government has also fuelled inflation dramatically by the
magnitude of its spending in excess of its means, with consequential endless
printing of money and, therefore, continuous and excessive growth in money
Domestic debt, as at January 1, amounted to $21 trillion. By February
29, it had risen to $1,353 quadrillion! To no small degree, that is
attributable to vast loans being given to defence forces personnel, in an
attempt to assure their support in the elections.
Concurrently, with undoubted similar motivation, government has
dramatically increased all civil service salaries. Admittedly, the public
service has long been grossly and unjustly under-remunerated, and with
ongoing, exceptionally high inflation that inadequacy of remuneration was
markedly exacerbated. But funding the necessary increments by recourse to
debt and printing of money, instead of by cutting-back on other
expenditures, is inflationary suicide.
There have, of course, and are other courses of Zimbabwe’s tragically
destructive inflation, most of which are directly or indirectly triggered by
government’s actions of foreign currency expropriation and of profligacy,
but almost all as are not so triggered, have nevertheless been fuelled by
other governmental acts of commission or omission, or inflation itself, for
inflation drives inflation to a major extent.
Persisting in unwarranted endless attacks on, and threats at
businesses can only worsen Zimbabwe’s already distraught economy and hasten
government’s downfall.

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Zim Independent Letters

Polls: we will tell stories
Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:48
WHEN the children of Israel were up in arms against Moses, the Lord
said to him: “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!
Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so
that the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground . .
.”  (Exodus 14:15).

In the Zimbabwean scenario, some people were getting tired of the
struggle against tyranny. They had expected results too soon, but the change
seemed to be beyond the horizons.
And then God revived the Zanu PF leadership succession debate which
seemed to have died down to cause confusion in the ruling party camp,
paralysing the rigging machinery to allow decent Zimbabweans a clear passage
to freedom.
The bloodthirsty Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents,
police officers, prison officers, army officers and the notorious war
veterans are now divided between Mugabe and Makoni, with pardoned murderers
like Biggie Chitoro on Simba Makoni’s side while murder suspect Joseph Mwale
of the CIO remains on the Mugabe side.
The level-minded police officers, army officers, prison officers and
war veterans whose personal freedoms of choice had been suppressed for too
long are on the same side as the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Even the Zanu PF heavyweights who pushed Makoni into the presidential
race are now having a second thought, because they have realised that the
people of Zimbabwe read into their selfish desires. It will not be
surprising to find some of the so-called heavyweights pronouncing
neutrality, only calling for a free and fair election.
People of Zimbabwe have been in this struggle for almost 10 years now,
and will not be misled by the opportunistic and corrupt Zanu PF oppressors.
Come tomorrow, we will tell stories. “Zvichanaka chete zvichanaka,
zvichanaka, zvichanaka chete zvichanaka . . .” (things will be alright) sang
prophetic musician Leonard Zhakata.
Benjamin Chitate,
New Zealand.

Donations not news at all
Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:40
PLEASE allow me through your globally read paper to dismiss with
contempt the abuse readers of state-controlled newspapers have been getting
for over a year now regarding computers donated by the president to schools.

It is not news in 2008 that a president has donated computers to a
News is why schools, universities, tertiary institutions,
kindergartens, government offices etc do not have computers in this age?
News is what systems are on these computers, capacity, anti-virus
software, software licences and how they will be paid for or renewed,
programmes installed and most importantly what energy they use.
It is common cause most of the schools have no electricity in
News is how many of these computers are functioning right now.
Readers are not myopic or daft and deserve to be treated with respect.
They know there may well be 10 computers donated before cameras at each
rally and then packed up and carried to the next rally.
Having said that, the president may well be advised to put his energy
on where it is most needed. The rest will follow.
Let central government work on a conducive investor climate, build
infrastructure, power supply included, and then many containers will be
filled from all over with quality computers to schools and colleges.
Mandla Akhe Dube,
New Zealand.

'MDC within Zanu PF'
Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:35
I AM intrigued by the MDC (Mutambara) faction’s political stance.

The faction was negotiating with the Tsvangirai faction for months,
but when Simba Makoni announced he was going to stand, the Mutambara faction
quickly endorsed him.
Did they ever negotiate with Makoni on any power-sharing deal? I would
have expected them to negotiate a post-election settlement prior to
endorsing him in much the same way they were negotiating with the Tsvangirai
Suddenly all the obstacles that made the other talks break down were
not in the picture anymore. From the initial statement made by Makoni, it
shows that the faction went ahead and endorsed him without his knowledge.
Furthermore, if Makoni wins while he has stated that he is still in
Zanu PF, where is the Mutambara faction going to stand? Are they going to be
the “MDC within Zanu PF”, a sort of new unity agreement?
I would very much want to hear the MDC (Mutambara)’s position on how
they plan to integrate or be integrated within Zanu PF.
Boston, USA.

Mujuru's new spokesman
Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:34
CONGRATULATIONS to President Robert Mugabe on his new appointment as
retired General Solomon Mujuru’s spokesman.

Or is this a demonstration of the draconian censorship in Zimbabwe?
Mujuru has been denied access to speak for himself and disown Simba
Makoni. Neither would the chance be afforded to his wife, Vice-President
Joice Mujuru, to speak on his behalf.
This came barely a week after Vice-President Joseph Msika appointed
himself spokesman for Dumiso Dabengwa regarding Makoni.
Mugabe fell for the same dummy when he had a meeting with Makoni
before the famous Super Tuesday announcement.
Obviously he and many of us are also falling for the jackal tears from
Vitalis Zvinavashe, Ray Kaukonde, Constantine Chiwenga, Happyton Bonyongwe,
Paradzai Zimondi and Patrick Chinamasa who are at pains swearing undying
allegiance to the moribund leader.
Like Prophet Samuel who anointed Saul and later anointed David, Mujuru
as a guerrilla leader nominated Mugabe for leadership in the bush and now
has anointed Makoni.
What I read from Makoni’s project is that the seeds have been planted
during the pitch-dark night and in due time they will sprout even in the
king’s backyard.
Mujuru is a quiet military strategist but that does not mean he is
dumb. In appointed time, when he has something to say, he will say it
Kaiboni Matenzi,
By e-mail.

Shameful threats
Thursday, 27 March 2008 20:22
UTTERANCES and statements emerging from Zimbabwe’s uniformed forces,
starting with retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi, head of prisons, to
the effect that they will not accept or salute either opposition Movement
for Democratic Change presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai or
independent and former ruling party minister Simba Makoni should they win
tomorrow’s presidential election cannot go unchallenged.

Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Army General
Constantine Chiwenga are also on record saying they will not accept Robert
Mugabe losing to what
they derisively termed “puppets”.
There is no room for such misguided utterances in Zimbabwe. These men
of uniform must resign with immediate effect.
Zimbabweans will not be held to ransom by a bunch of men who should
know that it is highly unprofessional for the army, police and prison
service to delve into political matters or to attempt to influence the vote
by spreading fear, alarm and despondency. Political engagement and discourse
is for civilians and civilians alone. It is a fundamental right of the
people of Zimbabwe to determine through the ballot who they wish to lead
The uniformed forces must be reminded that this is none of their
business. The uniformed forces belong to the people of Zimbabwe and have an
obligation to respect democratic political processes and must swear
allegiance to whomsoever Zimbabweans choose as leader.
It must be stated clearly that it is treasonous and shameful for the
leadership of uniformed forces to issue such irresponsible statements
threatening to return to war if President Mugabe loses elections.
It is shameful for the government of Zimbabwe to remain silent and not
condemn outright such utterances. Worst of all, it is shameful and
unacceptable that Sadc and the international community should remain silent
in the face of these treasonous statements which are obviously meant to sway
and compel voters to vote for a value system that is unmarketable and can
only be forced down the throats of the masses.
Effectively, Chihuri, Chiwenga and Zimondi have become Zanu PF
campaign agents, poor ones at that, as they only know the language of
It is very strange that, in the face of all these unconstitutional and
inflammatory utterances, South African President Thabo Mbeki still has the
audacity to express hope that Zimbabwe’s elections will be free and fair.
One wonders what benchmarks Mbeki is
applying to elections in Zimbabwe; they are certainly not the Sadc
guidelines, standards and norms for the conduct of free and fair elections.
How can elections in Zimbabwe be possibly credible, free and fair when
the electorate is threatened with war should they vote out Mugabe?
Enough is enough. We cannot accept mortgaging Zimbabwe’s future to a
few cronies who selfishly cling to the past and are keen to destroy Zimbabwe
for selfish, personal interests.
In a new Zimbabwe there will be no place for unqualified and
unprofessional people in our uniformed forces. People will hold office on
the basis of merit and merit alone, so let beneficiaries of political
patronage beware.
This old guard in the army, police and prisons must know that it is
now time for professional uniformed forces who are not in any way part of
formations and that should either Tsvangirai or Makoni win in this
weekend’s elections, if they do not wish to salute they must simply resign
and go home.
Already they have outlived their usefulness in these institutions and
must be replaced in order to take our uniformed forces back to values of
impartiality, patriotism, professionalism and allegiance to Zimbabwe’s
constitutional values.
Chihuri, Chiwenga and Zimondi cannot masquerade as kingmakers and
godfathers of Zimbabwean politics. They must confine themselves to their
terms of engagement which categorically exclude meddling in political
affairs of the country.
The rank and file in the army, police and prisons must also reject
these patently partisan and unprofessional utterances and be patriotic
enough to resist illegal orders to vote for Mugabe. Soldiers, police
officers and prison officers have a right to vote, and their vote must be a
secret and a personal choice and not an order from anyone.
I am hopeful and positive that the views expressed by these cronies
are views of a tiny minority and do not reflect the views of the majority
inside and outside uniformed forces. It is my sincere hope and trust and my
prayer that sense will prevail over madness.
Dewa Mavhinga,
Human rights lawyer.

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Mugabe's last stand

The Guardian,
Friday March 28 2008

If tomorrow's election in Zimbabwe was really free and fair, Mr Mugabe would
surely be packed off to his luxurious retirement home in Harare. It is a
measure of how little faith Zimbabweans have in the electoral process that
both Mr Mugabe and the opposition are gearing up instead for a post-election
showdown. When the opposition said it was preparing Kenya-style protest
rallies, Mr Mugabe responded by saying: "Just dare try it." This is before
the first box has been stuffed with ballot papers from dead, fake or
improperly registered voters.

That assumes that an 84-year-old man who has brought his country to penury
will be able to cheat and bully his way again to an absolute majority. This
is not a foregone conclusion. The effectiveness of rigging depends on the
two factors, neither of which is easy to predict. First, the size of the
vote against Mr Mugabe could be so extensive that no amount of brute force
can alter the result. Second, the rigging could help Zanu-PF's defector
Simba Makoni, especially if those votes are split in favour of Zanu-PF for
the parliamentary elections and Mr Makoni for the presidential one. Mr
Mugabe cannot be confident that his own repressive machinery will not be
turned against him. It is impossible to gauge to what extent the same old
techniques of intimidation will work again.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate for the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, has vowed that his party will not repeat the mistake
it made six years ago, when Mr Mugabe stole the election and the MDC stayed
rooted to the spot like a rabbit caught in headlights. The MDC has split
since the 2002 election, with the more militant faction finding a new
candidate in Mr Makoni. For all his past weaknesses, Mr Tsvangirai appears
reinvigorated. There has been a surge of support for a man who was badly
beaten up by Zanu-PF thugs last year and has endured everything that the
regime has thrown at him.

There are three likely outcomes to tomorrow's poll. First, Mr Mugabe steals
the election and everybody is too scared to protest. His misrule continues,
as does the pressure building up inside his party, waiting for him to die,
or just possibly retire. Second, he steals the election but this provokes a
backlash so great that he is forced to hand over to some form of coalition
government. Third, he is forced into a fatally damaging second-round
run-off. To avoid this he needs 50% of the vote - at time when inflation is
running at anything from 100% to 300,000%.

This is a tall order, even for the most practised autocrat. No other country
will come to their rescue. Zimbabweans have to do the job themselves and
force the tyrant out.

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'It's over for you now, Robert'

The Scotsman

Opposition leader rallies support and warns Zimbabwe's president he cannot
'steal the vote this time' as landmark poll looms and fears of post-election
violence growvote this time' as landmark poll looms and fears of
post-election violence grow

"WHAT Robert (Mugabe] does not understand is he can no longer steal this
vote with the co-operation of the Movement for Democratic Change," Morgan
Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, shouted to an ecstatic crowd.

Yesterday, more than 8,000 people waited for two hours in a hot and dusty
stadium in Chitungwiza, ten miles from Harare, to catch a glimpse of Mr
Tsvangirai at his last rally before tomorrow's landmark election.

When the MDC leader finally appeared, the crowd went wild, screaming and
whistling as people surged across the stadium to see him.

There were shouts of "chinja maitiro" – "change your ways", the MDC's
slogan. Many in the crowd waved red cards to show it is time for Mr Mugabe,
Zimbabwe's 84-year-old president, to leave office.

"Watch out, Robert," Mr Tsvangirai said. "It's over now."

When, by startling coincidence, Mr Mugabe's helicopter flew over the
stadium, youths jumped to their feet and waved the MDC salute in open

In the final build-up to the election, excitement yesterday was at fever

Mr Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist, has assumed almost demi-god status
among Zimbabwe's young urban working class.

"They say Jesus Christ got beaten for mankind and Morgan got beaten for
Zimbabwe," an MDC official said a few days ago, referring to the brutal
police assault on the opposition leader at a prayer rally in March last

The man his supporters call "super-sub" – super substitute – lost by only
400,000 votes to Mr Mugabe in the last polls in 2002. Both men are
contesting tomorrow's election.

This time, however, there is a third candidate, Simba Makoni, the affable
former finance minister who appeals to the educated business class and looks
set to whittle away at support for both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai.

Earlier this month, Mr Tsvangirai was leading in one private opinion poll
with 28.3 per cent of the vote, against 20.3 per cent for Mr Mugabe and 8.6
per cent for Mr Makoni. But with fears of rigging and post-poll violence
running high, the outcome is far from certain.

Voters not only have to choose a president, they also have to vote in a new
parliament, senate and local councillors in a procedure which analysts are
warning is ripe for chaos and confusion.

Nearly every tree trunk on the dusty 280-kilometre road from the eastern
border city of Mutare and Harare has a campaign poster or two plastered to

Pedestrians waved to a passing car with open palms, Mr Tsvangirai's
trademark salute. Further on, youths clasped their hands high above their
heads in the gesture Mr Makoni uses.

In Headlands, a former commercial farming area 70 miles from the capital,
one vegetable vendor dared to voice his support for the MDC, even though he
lives in a stronghold of the ruling Zanu-PF.

"People are suffering too much," he said. "(Tomorrow] we are going to have a
new president, Mr Tsvangirai."

Both Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Makoni have made the eight-year economic crisis
sparked by Mr Mugabe's controversial white land grab in 2000 a key election

Annual inflation is believed to have surged from 100,580 per cent in January
to at least 200,000 per cent on the back of Mr Mugabe's unbudgeted pre-poll
handouts of huge salary increases for civil servants and giveaways of buses,
tractors and computers.

Prices have rocketed. A single egg cost Z$6 million (£100 at the official
exchange rate) in Harare this week. Mr Tsvangirai's supporters call Mr
Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF the "ruining" party.

In Mutare earlier this week, luxury 4x4s cruised the roads with posters of
Mr Mugabe on their windscreens. The president was due in town to address a
rally – people were frogmarched from Sakubva market to attend, an observer

Throughout the week, Mr Mugabe handed out 450 cars to hospital doctors in
what his opponents called a vote-buying tactic in a country with one of the
worst HIV/Aids infection rates in the world.

Tomorrow's presidential, parliamentary and local council polls are seen as
the most important since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, but
few expect the vote to be fair.

Earlier this week, the MDC claimed it had evidence of planned ballot
rigging, with Mr Mugabe intending to declare a majority with 58 per cent of
the vote. He must win more than half of the vote to avoid a run-off that
could unite the opposition behind a single candidate.

The full article contains 801 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 27 March 2008 11:38 PM

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Who'll save poor Zimbabwe from Mugabe's ravages?

Daily Nation, Kenya


Publication Date: 3/28/2008 THE WORLD’S EYES ARE ON Zimbabwe this weekend as
the country plunges into a historic election. For the first time in its
history, the southern African country is conducting presidential,
parliamentary and civic polls at once, thanks to a constitutional amendment
of October 2007.

Zimbabwe has acquired a special place in this part of the world over
the last decade or so. With a strongly anti-West leader who has made it his
pastime to kick white Zimbabweans around, Zimbabwe is a powder-cage in the
literal sense.

The inflation rate is more than 100,000 per cent, and over 4.5 million
Zimbabweans (out of a total population of 12.3 million) are in economic and
political exile all over the world. The majority vow never to step in
Zimbabwe as long as Robert Mugabe remains president.

What intrigues many observers is the ease with which Mugabe, the
country’s leader since independence from Britain in 1980, gets away with

IN 1983, HE CARRIED OUT WHAT HE cynically termed Operation Gukurahundi
(get rid of chaff), against the Ndebele ethnic community. The operation,
carried out by a special army brigade trained by North Korea, recorded
20,000 civilian deaths, mass destruction of property, and other crimes
against humanity.

That was Mugabe’s idea of consolidating power in the newly-independent
Zimbabwe: force the Ndebele to change their loyalty from Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu
to his Zanu-PF. It worked.

Three years ago, and if the Ndebele massacre was not enough, and
sensing his waning influence over a restive population, the independence war
hero and one of Africa’s most learned heads of state identified the capital,
Harare, as the source of his political nightmare.

According to the UN, during the government-initiated Operation
Murambatsvina (urban cleanup), over 700,000 slum-dwellers were kicked out of
Harare, and their businesses destroyed.

International condemnations and sanctions have not moved Mugabe an
inch. Indeed, it would appear he gets a kick from international pressure,
especially when the source happens to be Britain or America. He dismisses
the two as an unholy alliance inspired by imperialism.

As Zimbabwe faces tomorrow’s elections, everyone is crossing his or
her fingers. The collective prayer by the world community is, first and
foremost, that the election be peaceful, free and fair. Above all, the world’s
wishful thinking is that Mugabe loses.

Realistically speaking, however, this could be a tall order. Clever
dictators like Mugabe, rig elections well in advance. In this case,
isolating Harare, war-cries by his generals (they won’t salute traitors
before, during, and after elections), threats by the police to shoot anyone
who tries to replay the Kenya scenario, and intimidating language by Mugabe
himself, are all red flags.

Matters are made worse by a split opposition. During the 2005
(presidential) elections, whose logistics were far much less complicated
than Saturday’s poll, Mugabe trounced his only major challenger, Morgan

This time round, Tsvangirai and the other candidate, Simba Makoni, are
rated as being of equal strength. This is all a sitting African president
needs to romp home.

Of importance is that while Mugabe has no incentive to quit, he is not
faced with any substantial threat should he force his way back to State
House. The international community has never been hard enough on Zimbabwe.

THIS SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT THE country’s importance to the West. Is it
because Zimbabwe, unlike Kenya, is landlocked? Is it because the West’s
interests can better be accommodated by the neighbouring, wealthy and
economically whites-dominated South Africa?

When Kenya plunged into a post-election pogrom recently, the whole of
the Western establishment came down on us. The veiled and overt threats
issued against President Kibaki and rival Raila Odinga by the EU and US
forced the country into power-sharing talks. Calm returned and life moved on

It is plausible to argue that Mugabe’s don’t-care stance, the West’s
half-hearted onslaught on him, and the Africa Union’s policy of
non-interference have over the years immunised Mugabe against internal

The danger is that with the country already in a sheer drop, it is
anyone’s guess where else it could end, especially if the opposition elects
to take a “victorious” Mugabe head-on in the streets.

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Trillions of dollars spent on Zim election

Mail and Guardian

Charles Rukuni

28 March 2008 06:00

      The expense of Saturday’s election in Zimbabwe will be enormous,
although quantifying exact costs in a country destabilised by hyperinflation
and black-market rates is difficult.

       Administering the election
      The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission claims that it will spend
US$5,75-million on salaries for officials who will man about 11 000 polling

      Each voter will need at least four ballot papers, one each for
presidential, House of Assembly, Senate and local government elections. The
bill for printing these ballot papers, the purchase of the ballot boxes and
transporting them will be footed by overburdened taxpayers in a country
where only one in five is employed and the average person survives on less
than one US dollar a day.

      Buying votes
      Allegations of vote-buying, particularly by Zanu-PF, are
widespread. The largest expense is “Phase Three of the Agricultural
Mechanisation Programme”.

      Under it, Mugabe has handed out 300 buses, 3 120 bulls and
heifers, 500 tractors, 20 combine harvesters, 460 ploughs, 33 000 scotch
carts, 26 200 cultivators, 1 000 planters, 50 000 ploughs and 60 000
harrows. Other freebies include 3 000 grinding mills, 5 000 generators, 680
motorcycles, 100 000 litres of biodiesel and 47 000 knapsacks. Some
estimates put the cost of the machinery alone at US$25-million.

      The cost of these handouts comes on top of the billions of
Zimbabwe dollars being spent on massive pre-election pay hikes for the armed
forces and civil servants.

      The opposition
      Mugabe’s rivals have their giveaways too. Each of the major
candidates has handed out an average of 50 000 T-shirts, says Gordon Moyo,
executive director of Bulawayo Agenda, which has organised election events
for all the presidential contenders.

      Moyo said the candidates have deployed an average of 200 paid
campaign workers in every constituency at a daily salary of Z$60-million.
With 210 constituencies, this would mean their wages are gobbling up at
least Z$1,3-trillion a day. The current official exchange rate is Z$30 000
to one US dollar, but the black-market rate is 60-million:1.

       A full-page advert in the Herald costs about Z$15,6-billion,
while the Chronicle charges Z$14,7-billion. The Sunday Mail is the most
expensive at Z$19,6-billion, while other weekly papers charge about
Z$11-billion. Zanu-PF runs, on average, three adverts a day in the Herald
and the Chronicle.

      Party funding
      Political parties represented in Parliament received a total of
Z$15-trillion under the Political Finance Act. The money was divided between
Zanu-PF and the MDC’s two factions, under Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur

      Zanu-PF, which has a two-thirds majority in Parliament, got the
lion’s share, with Z$9-trillion. The Mutambara faction, with 31 legislators
in the lower and upper Houses, was allocated Z$3,3-trillion while the
Tsvangirai faction received $2,7-trillion. But with annual inflation of more
than 100 000%, Z$15-trillion is hardly enough to finance the campaign of a
single party.

      Estimates put the cost of T-shirts alone at about Z$20-trillion,
more than the total allocation for the three parties.

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Fact Sheets on Zimbabwe

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