|Friday, 28 March 2008, 15:23 GMT
By Juliet Njeri
President Mugabe has been accused of planning to rig the
As Zimbabweans prepare to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections
on 29 March, bloggers inside and outside the country have joined the political
The poll will see President Robert Mugabe face a challenge from three
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, former finance minister and Mugabe ally Simba Makoni, and a lesser
known fourth independent candidate, Langton Towungana.
BBC Monitoring was unable to locate any pro-Mugabe bloggers or internet
This is Zimbabwe run by the Sokwanele Civic Action Support Group, has
been posting regular updates.
One of them, titled "Let the world pray for Zimbabwe", sounded a sombre note:
"Sadness is the overwhelming emotion. Sadness at what could have been. So
many have fallen victim to the mad dictator," the post said.
excitement that followed Simba Makoni's entry into the race has passed; now all
everyone wants is for the next 10 days to be over."
But the post was not completely despondent.
"The depth of sadness all around us is tinged with hope, just a slight
showing [of] its colour. No one wants to hope too much, for to have hope is to
open yourself to disappointment.
"Everyone knows Mugabe is going to rig the results, but can he cope with a
massive turnout of voters?"
The posting ended with the question: "Will ordinary Zimbabweans accept
another rigged result?"
Another post on "This is Zimbabwe", from contributor "Hope", was titled
"Lies, empty promises, and kids with guns". It voiced fears that the poll would
"All election talk in Zimbabwe revolves around rigging: a certainty that
Mugabe has rigged and is doing his best to rig the elections; what tricks has he
up his sleeve this time; what has he said to SADC [Southern African Development
Community] to persuade them to look past the fraud; can we hope the police and
army and teachers etc. in the polling stations will blow the whistle and reveal
Hope wondered how anyone could believe that the poll would be free and fair.
"It has been rigged, is always rigged, is in the process of being rigged and
is going to be rigged again."
Via Zimbabwe Today, Moses
Moyo worried that voters would be disenfranchised.
In the blog, Moyo is described as an independent Zimbabwe-born journalist
based in Harare, writing under an alias.
Zimbabweans, anxious to play their part in what remains of democracy in this
country, won't get the chance," Moyo said in an entry titled "No time to vote!"
Moyo noted that there were fewer polling stations in areas where the
opposition has more supporters, compared to rural areas where President Mugabe
is said to enjoy wider support.
"The prospect of a fair and true election in Zimbabwe seems further away than
ever," Moyo said.
group has posted a map on their blog, which it says displays incidences of
The blog says the map represents "a small sample of the breaches identified
under the project since we started monitoring the government's non-cooperation
with regional standards in July 2007. All the information logged under Zimbabwe
Election Watch is derived from media sources."
In a post titled "Eating sovereignty and voting for puppies" on "This is
Zimbabwe", contributor Hope wrote about "the same old boring Zanu-PF rhetoric".
"The problem with blaming all the problems in the country on a big fat
Western conspiracy is that it strips Zanu-PF of campaign options and promises.
"Unless they can come up with real solutions for the economy, they are
finished. The problem with promising us the mines or ownership of other
businesses (or whatever it is they have robbed from Peter to give to Paul today)
is we have the experience of the land behind us now," said Hope, adding: "There
is nothing left to dangle before our noses.
, posted an entry
titled "If you want a farm, vote Zanu-PF".
"What we need in Zimbabwe right now are more defections in Zanu-PF, a viable
plan of action for what we'll do when the election is stolen (again), and
citizens with courage.
"The thing is, even if the Tsvangirai MDC does win the 29 March election,
Zanu-PF will still be around. I don't see them just up and disappearing come
She quoted a reader to the blog, who noted: "For many years the MDC has been
unable to convert their stolen elections. Why would they suddenly be able to do
so in 2008? A failing economy and an ailing dictator don't necessarily place
victory in one's lap."
Morgan Tsvangirai intends to unseat President Robert
This reader added: "If Makoni can somehow encourage the neutralization of
Mugabe and create a 'new Zanu-PF' committed to justice and Zimbabwe's social,
economic and environmental recovery then this should be seen as progress."
James Hall, via Kubatana.net, wrote about the pay hikes awarded by the
government during the campaign period. He warned Zimbabweans to be cautious.
"By all means, take the increment, you have after worked for it and deserve
it. Understand though that this is not the largesse of a political party, it is
what is due to you as long-suffering civil servants of an inefficient
government," he said.
"Take the money, then vote him out!"
Amanda Atwood, via Kubatana.net, wondered why Zimbabweans did not demand
"Why aren't we more demanding?" she wrote. "Why aren't Zimbabweans more
insistent that they deserve good leaders. Why do we settle for so much less than
On the 3rdliberation.org blog
, an anonymous blogger wrote about voters in rural areas.
"One can actually turn around and say these people in the rural areas are
partly to blame for the downfall of the economy," the blogger wrote, adding that
"they keep voting for a regime that only wants and supports them for their
The writer offered advice to rural-dwellers: "The masses in the rural areas
need to distance themselves from the false sense of security that is presented
to them by the party."
In another post, the anonymous writer declared: "Anyone with half a brain
knows change has got to come to Zimbabwe and it has got to come quick, not in
the form of a quick fix but in the form of long-lasting stability."
Independent candidate and former Zanu-PF official Simba Makoni, has been the
subject of blog comments.
A contributor on Kubatana.net commented on Mr Makoni's appearance on a South
African TV show.
Natasha Msonza said many people were convinced that Mr Makoni "was just a
stalking horse for Mugabe".
"His complacency really smacks of a boot licker with so much Zanu-PF blood
running thick in him," she wrote.
"Here are some of the questions that kept burning in my head after the show -
why does this guy sound so apologetic? Why is he so prepared to grant amnesty to
President Mugabe? And for crying in a bucket, what does he mean when he says he
doesn't stand against Mugabe but rather, stands for something else? What is the
Simba Makoni is standing as an
But another contributor to the same blog disagreed.
James Hall said Simba Makoni is "the most suitable commonsense manager for
"It is time to drop the emotional rationale and revert to the logical
rationale" he said.
"What the country needs is a good manager with the right credentials to
attract the right investors, to manage the right negotiations for the right
deals that are in the best interests of the country.
"It is time for commonsense to prevail and for Zimbabwe to reclaim a
respectable place in the league of nations," he added.
Contributing to Kubatana.net, Marko Phiri brought up election violence.
"There must be beatings, torture, and political rape as Zanu-PF activists
violently 'prove' their loyalty to the party whose leader has in the past
declared he was prepared to beat the daylights out of anyone who dared challenge
He noted that this time, however, people were defiant in their support of the
opposition, despite threats of violence.
- and not so young - opposition activists are literally daring the devil by
loudly and proudly wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the image of opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai," said the writer.
"It is a statement that they have had enough and are apparently ready to take
the punches from any bellicose political thug."
He wrote about a man who was jailed for allegedly defacing a poster of
President Mugabe, saying the authorities were applying double standards.
"Reports about opposition MDC posters being pulled down across the country by
Zanu-PF activists remain unpunished, and one has to wonder rather aloud if such
behaviour is not likely to incite violence," said the writer.
"But then this is Zimbabwe where the rule of law exists in different forms
for different folks!" he concluded.
Held to ransom
On Kubatana.net, Dewa Mavhinga criticized a statement from the army and
police chiefs which said they would not allow the opposition to win the
The entry was titled "Rantings of little men allergic to democracy and good
"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 prisons to delve in
political matters or to attempt to influence the vote by spreading fear, alarm
and despondency," said Mavhinga.
criticized the government, Zimbabwe's neighbours and the international community
for not condemning the statements.
"It is shameful and unacceptable that SADC and international community should
remain silent in the face of these treasonous statements," the blogger said,
adding: "How can elections in Zimbabwe be possibly be 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," Mavhinga said.
CM, writing in Zimbabwe
Review, said an election win by either Mr Tsvangirai or Mr
Makoni would only be the first step to a "post-Mugabe Zimbabwe".
"Zimbabwe is in for miserable times if Mugabe continues as president. There
is absolutely no reason to believe that he has any new formula to reverse the
decline he has presided over," said CM.
"Yet a win for Morgan Tsvangirai, or long-shot candidate Simba Makoni, or a
coalition between them, will not suddenly usher in some golden age of
enlightenment and prosperity. It will just be another phase in the gradual
progression of Zimbabwe's politics."
He urged Zimbabweans
to be "more realistic about the work and time frame of post-Mugabe recovery".
"Mugabe's reign is ending (whether you define this electorally or in terms of
the 84 year old man's life expectancy) with so much misery and hardship that
either of his two main opponents' win would be welcomed with overwhelming
relief," he wrote, adding that "the widespread desire that Mugabe goes does not
mean his replacement guarantees the democratic, peaceful, prosperous Zimbabwe we
had hoped to have had by now."
The blogger wondered whether the MDC's "vision of rulership is what Zimbabwe
"I am uncomfortable with what I believe to be the MDC's old-style
client-patron relationship with the West. I fear going from the one extreme of
Mugabe's self-serving, demonizing and blaming of the West for all his failures,
to another extreme of a Tsvangirai presidency in which Zimbabwe is slavishly
beholden to and controlled by that West," said CM.
CM questioned Simba Makoni's links with Zanu-PF.
"I hope for Mugabe's defeat, but would not initially be jumping up and down
with any great excitement under a Tsvangirai or Makoni presidency. Even if this
is the election that deservedly dispatches Mugabe into retirement, it would just
be the first of many steps of building a new Zimbabwe."
10 Youths Arrested for Playing Anti-Mugabe Song
SW Radio Africa
28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March
Riot police were called in Friday to stop
youths from playing anti-Mugabe
songs and distributing election material in
Madock Chivasa, Hillary Zhou, Farirai Mageza, Simbai Chivasa,
Musimiki and five others were arrested in the afternoon at Bikita
growth point. Police have not yet specified any charges and there are
that they will be held till after the elections.
are said to have been distributing educative election material and
music that encouraged people to vote against Zanu PF. Newsreel spoke
member of the youth group, Wellington Zindove, who confirmed that the
had been arrested and are still in police custody. "They were playing
that spoke of Saddam Hussain's demise and that Mugabe would be next.
song is titled Saddam wayenda sare Bobo, Saddam is gone Bob is next.
did not go down well with the police". Zindove said.
On Wednesday four
members of the same youth group were viciously attacked by
a Zanu PF mob in
Bikita. Musimiki, Chisi, Petros Mutema and Justin Mabucha
completed a 'Youth Go Vote Campaign' in seven
constituencies in rural Zaka
and Bikita. A Zanu PF mob at Nyika Growth Point
however decided to attack
them. Petros Mutema, a young entrepreneur who is
said to have financed the
'Youth Go Vote' crusade, was amongst those
The youth are
pointing the finger at a notorious Zanu PF member and army
Rungani, who has masterminded a reign of terror in the district.
blamed for directing the violent Zanu PF mob to attack the youths,
especially Mutema. On Friday the youths vowed the attacks will not deter
them from their work.
In a press release the group says "The Youth
Forum is pleased with the
results of the Youth Go Vote campaign carried out
in the rural areas, which
has seen a huge attendance by young people at
opposition rallies, including
the one addressed by the MDC President Mr.
Morgan Tsvangirai at Majembere
Stadium at Bikita Rural District
Zimbabwe after the elections
Zimbabwe Watch (2008-03-27)
collaboration with both its European andZimbabwean partners, Zimbabwe
organised a roundtable titled"Elections and Post- Elections period in
Zimbabwe: What to do after 29 March2008 - Views from Civil Society and
Dialogue with the European Union" on 13 March
2008 in Brussels. The
roundtable brought together civil society activists
from Zimbabwe, officials
of the European Union (EU) institutions and
international interest groups.
These are the recommendations from the
1. The conditions for the elections are such that they will
not be free nor
fair and therefore cannot be called a legitimate expression
of the will of
the people. The African Union (AU) and the Southern Africa
Community (SADC) should be encouraged to make objective
assessments of the
conditions and the process based on the SADC Guidelines
on Free and Fair
Elections. The European Union (EU) should welcome such
recognise the unfree and unfair environment. If the AU and
SADC fail to
recognise this, the EU needs to voice a very clear position on
unfree and unfair nature of the elections and condemn these partial
assessment. The international community must exert pressure on the
Zimbabwean government to restore the rule of law.
2. The delegation
of the European Commission in Harare will produce a report
on the election
process and outcomes. The EU Commission needs to consult
and European civil society organisations and include
their inputs in this
report as well as in the EU's common position on the
elections. This report
and the EU conclusions will should refer explicitly
to the SADC Guidelines
for free and fair elections and look at the longer
term election environment
which can already be considered as not conducive
for free and fair
3. After the elections, a new fully inclusive AU led mediation
leads to a transitional process need to take place. This
include not only the political parties but also Zimbabwean
Civil Society and
take place in an open, transparent and accountable
process. Such a process
should be actively supported by the EU.
SADC proposed and started discussing an economic recovery plan for
in 2007 but they will need the support of the international
implement this plan. The EU should work together with SADC (and
broader international community) through its regional assistance
on a broad economic, political and social recovery plan. This
be strongly inclusive of Zimbabwean Civil Society (including
Any recovery plan must reflect the demands and needs of
Society while having good governance and human rights as
5. For such a recovery plan to be devised initial audits of all
sectors (such as education, health, land, etc – not only
economy) needs to be undertaken. For example proper accounting of the
education sector is required and support to local research institutions and
universities is needed. In addition a comprehensive census, including of
Zimbabweans outside the country, is needed for planning the recovery. Such a
recovery plan needs sustainable planning and clear commitments from the EU
for at least the next ten years.
6. The new Africa strategy
emphasises common principles on human rights and
governance, the role of
civil society and regional approaches – the EU
should together with SADC
develop regional programs on governance, human
rights and crisis prevention
in which Zimbabwe can be addressed. Europe must
develop and maintain a
consistent position on Zimbabwe which also responds
to the needs and demands
of the Zimbabwean Civil Society. The EU must look
at all the policy and
financial instruments it has at its disposal (such as
the Cotonou agreement,
the EU-Africa strategy, human rights, peace and
security and crisis
prevention instruments) to engage SADC and AU partners
on Zimbabwe in a
principled manner. It must consider Zimbabwe as a military
crisis and bring
SADC and the AU to look at it in this way e.g. by having
Zimbabwe from joint military operations. The EU must
investigate if they
support regional military training which includes
Zimbabwe and pressure for
their exclusion from such programs.
7. The European Commission has
produced a draft Country Strategy Paper (CSP)
in negotiation with the
current Zimbabwean government for the spending of
the 10th EDF. It plans to
adopt it as soon as the political situation allows
it. This is not the way
to go. The EU has stopped bilateral aid because the
current government is
not following good governance rules and is not
accountable. The EU therefore
needs to re-open the negotiation of the CSP
with an eventual
(transitional) government and negotiate the key sectors with them and
Non-State actors in a very inclusive, transparent and accountable manner.
This must apply for any assistance to any new (transitional)
8. The influence of the International Labour Organisation
(ILO) should be
fostered in Zimbabwe, so that labour standards are observed
and upheld and
serious abuses stopped. Zimbabwe should be answerable to the
9. The International community should now start to plan for and
assistance programmes for the coming transition phase including
policy development plans by Zimbabwean Civil Society. Planning the
transition is campaigning for it! In the event of significant power shifts
leading to a transitional government and policy changes, swift support for
the reconstruction of institutions, especially the justice, police, banking
and education sector must be available.
10. Continued support to
civil society organisations as providers of checks
and balances for the
human rights situation is needed.
Protection of human rights defenders
(HRDs), especially in the case of
escalating post-election violence and
security/military clampdowns needs to
be prioritised and the EU and member
states must find urgent ways to provide
necessary support. Adequate actions
need to be devised in accordance with
the demands from HRD's themselves, the
EU Guidelines on Human Rights
Defenders and the Handbook linked to them
provide examples of such actions
including observation of demonstrations and
trials, visits in prison or
hospital, staying in touch with the HRD's and
providing safe houses.
11. The EU must support the strengthening of the
African Union's Peace and
Security Council and making the AU Peace and
Security instruments more
effective and operational, using Zimbabwe as a
test case. The full
implementation of the African Charter of Peoples and
Human Rights, which
Zimbabwe signed, must be demanded. In view of the
military nature of
Mugabe's regime, no Zimbabwean participation in
international peace and
military interventions, in the context of the UN or
the African Union, must
12. Silence of the United Nations
Human Rights Council to post- election
violence would not be acceptable; it
must then come up with a clear
resolution. The Mugabe government must be
pressurised particularly by
African countries to extend an open invitation
to all UN human rights
special rapporteurs (such as the one on torture) to
the country. The EU must
work with African partners to ensure such steps.
The EU must also continue
the monitoring of the human rights violations on
the ground and engage the
AU and African countries to implement the
resolutions coming out of the
Afican Commission on Human and People's Rights
condemning the human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe. Finally, in the event of
violence, Zimbabwe needs to be referred to the UN
'The Election Will Not Be Free And Fair'
Inter Press Service
28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March
Ephraim Nsingo and Tonderai Kwidini
Where to begin
with listing the concerns that surround Saturday's general
The widely-documented harassment and physical abuse of
and rights activists in the months preceding the polls
supporters and state forces -- and the lingering fear cast by
levels of intimidation during previous parliamentary elections
in 2005 and
2000, and the presidential poll of 2002?
complaints that the voters' roll includes thousands of ghost voters
be drafted into service for President Robert Mugabe and the ruling
African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and about a
process for actual voters that many have described as flawed?
manipulation of food aid to ensure support for the ruling party,
at a time
when the United Nations World Food Programme estimates that some
million Zimbabweans are in need of assistance (about a quarter of the
population, which is in the region of 13 million)?
Or, with the bias
towards Mugabe and ZANU-PF on the part of the state
of critical importance in the absence of independent
local radio and
television stations -- and given restrictions on the
The reported shortage of polling stations in urban areas known as
strongholds, alongside a redrawing of constituencies in favour of
areas said to favour ZANU-PF?
Or, with the exclusion of
election observers from countries which have
criticised the Mugabe
government, and of journalists from foreign media
organisations who have
done the same -- even as "repression and
surveillance" of local journalists
continues, according to a Mar. 21 press
release from the Paris-based
Reporters Without Borders?
Then there is the disenfranchisement of
millions of Zimbabweans who have
fled the political and economic disarray in
their country, and who might
vote for the opposition if allowed to cast
ballots abroad. Also: Statements
by various branches of the country's
security services indicating that they
would not tolerate an opposition
victory Mar. 29, allegations that the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is
not impartial -- and a presidential
ruling that allows police into polling
While officials claim this move is for the assistance of
disabled voters, others view it as another thinly veiled
attempt to rig the
vote in favour of Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Independent
monitors have questioned
recent national polls held in this Southern African
In the midst of these and other difficulties, the prospects for
election appear dim, says Takura Zhangazha, an advocacy officer at
Zimbabwean chapter of the Media Institute of Southern
"The election will not be free and fair. A lot of people make
statements that this election has been without incident, but it's
in comparison to previous elections. People are still being
parties cannot campaign freely, and because of the tough laws
are being banned from covering the elections. All this
diminishes the chance
of a free and fair election."
worrying development, "many in rural regions (are) fearful that
be retribution after the elections" against those seen as
opposition, says Simeon Mawanza, Zimbabwe researcher at
International. He was quoted in a Mar. 26 press release from the
Saturday's polls come after nearly a decade of increasingly
rule in Zimbabwe. Since being confronted some eight years ago
with its first
credible electoral challenge from an opposition party -- the
Democratic Change (MDC) -- government has engaged in a variety
rights abuses, and embarked on a controversial land redistribution
that saw farms taken from minority whites for resettlement by
blacks. This move was interpreted by certain analysts as a bid to
support among voters.
A number of confiscated farms are now
said to be in the hands of
high-ranking officials, rather than those of
Zimbabwe's poor, while
agricultural output has declined substantially.
unemployment of about 80 percent, shortages of basic goods
currency, frequent power cuts and a decline in service provision
prompt questions about how the country remains afloat, even with
the help of
remittances sent from the vast diaspora.
Efforts by the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to resolve
Zimbabwe have not been successful, and the poll will take place
of several aspects of the SADC Principles and Guidelines
Democratic Elections, adopted by the regional body in 2004.
power since independence in 1980 and now standing for a sixth
office, accuses Western nations of engineering the crisis in
response to the eviction of white farmers. The country is under
from the European Union (this in response to irregularities in the
presidential elections) and the United States; however, these are
more at senior officials than ordinary Zimbabweans.
Mugabe's main rivals
in Saturday's poll are erstwhile union leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, head of the
larger faction of a now divided MDC, and Simba
Makoni: a former finance
minister and ZANU-PF member who announced his
candidacy on Feb. 5, and who
has since been expelled from the party.
Speculation on the extent of
Makoni's support within ZANU-PF has been
intense, this as party heavyweight
Dumiso Dabengwa backed the candidate.
Makoni has also been endorsed by the
other faction of the MDC.
"As you can see, Makoni's campaign has been
gathering momentum in Bulawayo
after Dumiso Dabengwa publicly declared he
was backing him," said political
analyst John Makumbe, in reference to
Zimbabwe's second largest city. "It is
now a question of who is backing
Noted Eldred Masunungure, another analyst, "Makoni's candidature
between the MDC and ZANU-PF regarding the re-engagement with the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ZANU-PF has decided
East, although nothing much will come from that end."
of the candidates in the presidential poll fails to win 50 percent of
vote, a run-off ballot will he held to determine Zimbabwe's new head of
Thanks to a 2007 constitutional amendment, Zimbabwe will for
the first time
also hold National Assembly, Senate and local government
polls alongside the
presidential election, subjecting citizens to a complex
for which far too little preparation and voter education
have taken place,
say civic groups.
"Right now there are many
fundamental issues that have not been addressed,
yet we are just a few days
before the elections," observed Zimbabwe Election
Support Network chairman
Noel Kututwa recently.
"ZEC has shown very little by way of
readiness...Just the time that it will
take to go through four ballot papers
will unduly lengthen the voting
process, and it would have been preferable
to increase the number of polling
Last week, ZEC
chairperson George Chiweshe told journalists, observers and
there would be 8,998 polling stations across the country. He
polling stations were set up after consultations with political
According to latest figures from the ZEC, 779
candidates are contesting 210
seats in the National Assembly, and 197 the 59
Senate seats that are
available. A 60th senatorial seat has already been won
by a ZANU-PF
candidate who was elected unopposed at the nomination court,
additional 21 Senate places will be filled in part with
nominees. Figures for aspirants contesting the approximately
government seats remain elusive.
The ZEC puts the number
of registered voters at 5.9 million. Voters will
choose between 17 political
parties, of which the most prominent are ZANU-PF
and the MDC faction led by
Tsvangirai, and 116 independent candidates. The
latter are mostly grouped
under Makoni's Mavambo/Kusile banner. ("Mavambo"
is a Shona word that means
"beginning"; "kusile" is Ndebele for "dawn".)
Despite the litany of
problems surrounding Saturday's ballot, ZEC
spokesperson Shupikai Mashereni
insists voting preparations are on track.
"Most of the claims people are
making about the elections in the press and
unfounded...Everything is in order and we are all ready for
For its part, the International Crisis Group -- a
tank -- notes that "Zimbabweans desperately want change
but have little
faith that the elections will produce it."
after the 29 March elections, a negotiated compromise, including
a transitional government, will likely be the prerequisite to
crisis, but only the first step," the organisation states
further, in a Mar.
20 report titled 'Zimbabwe: Prospects From a Flawed
Zimbabwe on tenterhooks
Mar 28th 2008
No one is
confident that President Robert Mugabe will let himself be voted
OPINION polls and anecdotal evidence suggest that Robert
Mugabe would be
heavily defeated if the elections on Saturday March 29th
were fair, but few
Zimbabweans expect the incumbent to allow himself to be
beaten and stand
down. In any case, an array of imponderables make it hard
to predict the
outcome, however fairly the poll and, more important, the
conducted. But for the first time since Mr Mugabe won power in
is at least a chance that he will have to go.
imponderable is whether, even if he attempts to rig the result in
round, he will nonetheless have to submit to a run-off, which he
must do if
he gets less than 50% of the votes cast. If that were to happen,
second-round contest would have to be held within three weeks. All sorts
new calculations would then come into play.
Presuming that Mr Mugabe
were one of the two run-off candidates, much would
depend on how the
third-placed candidate in the first round behaved. If the
polls are to be
believed, Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who was
ejected last month
from the ruling ZANU-PF party after challenging Mr Mugabe
presidency, will come third by quite a margin. One of his confidants
insisted that Mr Makoni and the other main challenger, Morgan
trade-unionist who was severely beaten up by the police a year
team up in the second round, whoever came third in the first. If
happened, the momentum against the 84-year-old Mr Mugabe could be
But various other factors could then emerge. For
instance, the heads of the
army, the police and the prison service have all
flatly stated that they
would not let Mr Mugabe be beaten. He could call a
state of emergency or
somehow have the challenger disbarred. Or he could
promise to step down soon
after the election and, if ZANU-PF still has a
majority in Parliament after
the “harmonised” elections that are being held
simultaneously for four
levels of government, anoint a successor to take
over from within the ruling
party. Or he could try to woo Mr Makoni, if he
came third, back into the
ZANU-PF fold with a promise of forgiveness and
high office, though that now
Just ahead of voting,
there were hints of panic within Mr Mugabe’s inner
circle. The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC), whose chairman is a
announced procedural changes that could make it
easier to rig the result.
For one thing, it has been reported that the
vote-count will now be done at
the ZEC’s headquarters in Harare, the
capital, rather than at polling
stations in the constituencies, where
opposition monitors would have had a
better chance of vetting the local
counts. For another, the police, who have
previously overseen much of the
intimidation against opposition candidates
and their supporters, and under
new rules were to be barred from the actual
polling stations, will now be
allowed inside them, in theory to “help”
Among a string of impediments facing the challengers,
the electoral roll,
which is overseen by another Mugabe loyalist, the
notoriously flawed. The opposition says that thousands
of dead voters whose
names are still on it may have had their ballots
already marked for Mr
Mugabe. In the past week, suspicions have been further
aroused by an
acknowledgment that several million extra ballot papers have
officially in case of a shortfall in distribution. Mr
for Democratic Change says that some 9m ballot papers
have been printed for
an estimated 5.9m registered voters, suggesting that
the surplus ones could
be used to stuff ballot-boxes in Mr Mugabe's favour.
The media has been
blatantly partial. State radio, television and the sole
daily newspaper are
all ardently pro-Mugabe.
monitoring groups, including all those from Europe and the
have been banned by Mr Mugabe, who has accused them of bias
against him. But
more weight than usual will be given to the verdict of
monitors from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), a club of
15 countries, which
has endorsed Zimbabwe’s previous flawed elections out of
solidarity for a
fellow member. So far, SADC governments, including its most
Africa’s, have sounded loyal to Mr Mugabe. But if the
opposition against him within Zimbabwe becomes impossible to
may have to modify SADC’s stance. That could conceivably tilt
against him. But no one is betting on it.
Zimbabwe beyond 29 March; The win- win option
We have come to this day and Zimbabwe should be thinking of what
post the 29 March election. Surely the outcome would be contestable
sides opposition if ZANU PF wins or by Zanu –PF itself if the
wins. But is the contest going to help Zimbabwe?. The answer is
opposition has been making a number of allegations and to some
has also some concerns. We as Zimbabweans need to find middle
ground and get
our country on the path of growth and working again. As our
suffering, post 29 March scenario cannot be business as usual but
we need to
think deep as to where we want our country to be. The situation
that all of us make some sacrifices and not for a particular Party,
person but for the people of Zimbabwe. One can certainly say the 6
voters will be split between opposition and ruling party and
winner takes all formula will leave a very large group of
This is not the time to call each other names but a time to
reach out and
make bridges and for each one to see how we can turn around
Taking a cure from the post Kenya crisis I have some few
advises to whoever
wins the presidential election.
The ideal for Zimbabwe
is national reconciliation.
In a case the incumbent is declared
President, for the sake of our country I
advise all concerned to consider
• Opposition could highlight that compared to past elections;
the 2008 elections generally improved although serious
concerns may remain
prior and during the election and thus opposition could
accept the outcome.
• Mugabe could as president appoint a government of
national unity with
Morgan Tsvangirayi as first Vice President and Dumiso
Dabengwa as 2nd Vice
President. they should support the president. The point
is that name calling
is not necessary and the principle guiding of such a
move is to get our
country united and working again. Making ultimatums and
positions of the past will not help Zimbabwe anymore. This
will be an all
inclusive approach and not based on patronage and cronyism
but reaching out
to all Zimbabweans. Mugabe showed this virtue when in 1980
reconciliation and included Smith in this first government.
leaders are not foreign so it’s possible.
• The new
presidium, opposition could together with ruling party hold joint
to heal the country. Both will call upon the world to support the
outcome, new government, mobilize resources from abroad and removal of
• The new government should take appropriate policies
supportive of business
local and foreign and in particular remove economic
exchange rate, price controls. Business should be
In a case if the opposition wins the Presidency and for the
sake of the
country, the best option I advise an all inclusive approach
• The opposition should salute President Mugabe for accepting defeat and
provide him with concrete guarantees that he will live without the
harassment we have seen in other countries to past presidents. Any torture
or incrimination to him is counter productive and will only further deepen
the crisis. He sacrificed and liberated country and surely this is key.
The new president Tsvangirayi/Makoni should form a national government of
national unity with one Zanu PF (John Nkomo) as vice president and the other
being Makoni/Tsvangirayi. The issue of reconciliation should be central
namely accepting that Zanu Pf is part to the solution for the country.
The new presidium, opposition could together with ruling party hold joint
rallies to heal the country. Both will call upon the world to support the
new outcome, new government, mobilize resources from abroad and removal of
the targeted sanctions.
• The new government should take appropriate
policies supportive of business
local and foreign and in particular remove
rampant economic distortions
namely exchange rate, price
The winner take all option will spell more disaster for
Zimbabwe post 29
March. we need to first tell our people and the outside
world that we are
united. Often the outside people have little interest in
our country and
some may want to see the situation getting worse. As
Zimbabweans we share
the same heritage and therefore we need a win- win
situation and that means
taking on board everyone. The die hard positions
and naming will not be
helpful at all. Let us all stop and think deep of
the future –polarization
or unity. We need moderates in government people
who are able to reach out
to the other group build bridges and sacrifice for
This is the win-win solution for Zimbabwe after 29
Relief for white Zim farmers
28/03/2008 18:37 -
Windhoek - A Namibia-based regional tribunal on Friday granted
relief to almost 80 white farmers in Zimbabwe, allowing them to
their property until the next hearing in their suit on May
"The tribunal grants the application for interim relief," Judge Luis
Mondlane, president of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
tribunal, ruled in a case brought before him by one of the farmers, William
"All cases, including that of Campbell, will be
heard next May," he said.
Campbell had last December sought the court
relief for himself, his family
and all the employees on his Farm Mount
Carmell "from a continued onslaught
of invasions and intimidation", court
The SADC tribunal granted Campbell the interim reprieve
until May 28, when a
joint application of the other 77 farmers will be
The tribunal was officially convened last April as part of a peer
mechanism within the 14-nation organisation.
got the farms
It aims to ensure that the objectives of the SADC treaty,
such as human
rights and property rights, are upheld.
farmers who are not living on their farms any more are not granted
but all the others will be added to the matter of the Campbell
Lawyer Saima Nambinga, who represented all the applicants,
satisfaction with the ruling.
"The ruling is as we
expected and we hope the Zimbabwean government will
comply as it did with
the Campbell case," she told AFP.
Zimbabwe's deputy attorney general
Prince Machaya said that the government
would abide by the ruling, despite
"We are not satisfied with the ruling, but we will
comply," Machaya told
In 2000, a small group of 4 500 white
farmers in Zimbabwe were forced to
hand over millions of hectares of land in
what President Robert Mugabe
trumpeted as a land reform programme to right
injustices of the colonial
While landless blacks were meant to
be the beneficiaries of the
controversial programme, some farms ended up in
the hands of Mugabe
Launch of MISA-Zimbabwe Elections 2008 Media Centre
You have the Right to Access Information.
The Media Is Your Voice Use It!
MISA-Zimbabwe is today, 28 March 2008,
pleased to inform you of the opening
and availability of its 2008 Elections
Media Centre which is housed at the
Jameson Hotel in Harare.
Media Centre is available as an interactive and networking platform for
local, regional and international journalists to engage with civic society
organisations, all political parties and other stakeholders that are
relevant in the context of the 29 March 2008 elections.
internet, satellite television, access to a website:
www.263for365.com, which has links of key
stakeholders, the media centre is
designed to assist journalists access
relevant data and information on the
elections as well as ensure wide and
diverse pre-elections and post-election
coverage of the 29 March 2008
Civic Society Organisations, political parties, candidates and
international groups also have the opportunity of using the centre for
briefs, interactive meetings and posting of any relevant material on
elections which can be accessed by journalists.
In that regard
the Media Centre comes as a central venue accessible to
regional and international journalists and MISA-Zimbabwe’s
membership and is
in line with MISA-Zimbabwe’s objective of promoting free,
pluralistic media as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek
Declaration as a
principal means of nurturing democracy.
You are welcome to use the
facility for purposes of briefing the media and
information and data pertaining to the elections which we
hope will result
in extensive but quality, objective, fair and balanced
coverage of the
All the Best and Good Luck!
You Have the Right to
Access Information. The Media is Your Voice Use It.
Media Centre Programme Manager
0912929196 or 023344138
Box HR 8113
Telefax: 00 263 4
77 61 65/ 74 68 38
Cell: 00 263 11 602 448/00 263 11 639 682
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Churches Prepare for Likely Post-Poll Refugee Crisis
Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
28 March 2008
Posted to the
web 28 March 2008
The Catholic Church in Southern
Africa is readying itself for a possible
refugee crisis should violence
erupt in Zimbabwe after the Saturday
elections, which analysts say will be
The Refugee Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops
Catholic Relief Services, the Jesuit Refugee Service and
charities have been meeting over the past few months to
Church's response to a possible new refugee influx from
From Sunday March 16 to Tuesday March 18, a church
delegation visited the
north of Limpopo Province of South Africa, on the
border with Zimbabwe to
inspect some facilities which could be used as
reception centres in the
event of an influx.
The Catholic Healthcare
Association (CATHCA) was asked to try to find
medical personnel who could be
released for three to five days in an
Crisis Group warned in its latest report that a flawed
election in Zimbabwe
could spark a violent crisis. President Robert Mugabe,
Zimbabwe's only ruler
since independence 28 years ago, is fighting his
keenest challenge as he
seeks another term at the age of 84.
On Wednesday, the global human
rights organisation, Amnesty International,
said that the right to freedom
of expression, association and assembly are
being unnecessarily restricted
ahead of the poll.
"Although opposition parties appear to be enjoying a
greater degree of
access to previously 'no go areas' in rural areas compared
elections, we continue to receive reports of intimidation,
violence against perceived supporters of opposition
candidates - with many
in rural regions fearful that there will be
retribution after the
elections," said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty's Zimbabwe