|Mar 31, 2004:
March 30 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe drove 85 percent
of the country's commercial farmers off their property and sparked three
straight years of famine. His party's expected victory in tomorrow's elections
will probably prompt him to help the only major income earner left: mining.
A planned $750 million expansion by Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the
world's No. 2 platinum producer, may be in jeopardy unless Mugabe devalues the
Zimbabwe dollar after the elections. Prices are rising almost 130 percent a year
and Impala, which holds the rights to most of Zimbabwe's platinum deposits,
needs a devaluation to cut costs. At one mine they rose 63 percent in South
African rand in six months.
``The need for a devaluation is a no-brainer,'' says Ian Saunders, president
of Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines in Turk Mine, south of Harare, the capital.
``There are nickel and gold projects waiting for an exchange-rate devaluation.''
Zimbabwe, which in 2000 exported more top-grade flue-cured tobacco than any
other country except Brazil, now grows 75 percent less than it did that year.
Production of corn, once an export crop, has slumped so much that the government
now imports grain and the United Nations feeds about a 10th of the 11.8 million
population. Mugabe, 81, needs U.S. dollars from gold, chrome, nickel and
``The exchange rate is important because the exporters who make the foreign
currency needed to pay foreign debt aren't able to cover their local costs,''
says John Robertson, an economist at Robertson Economics in Harare.
The Zimbabwean dollar trades for about 14,000 to $1 on the black market.
Companies must use the central bank's official auction, where the rate is 6,082
to $1. As consumer prices surge, their costs go up as well because the exchange
rate does not adjust as it would in a country where currency values are
determined by the market.
``They need to devalue,'' says Fidelis Madavo, a platinum analyst at
Citigroup's Smith Barney unit in Johannesburg. ``Input costs are out of sync.''
Aquarius Platinum Ltd., Anglo American Plc, Anglo American Platinum Corp. and
Rio Tinto Group mine or are planning to mine in Zimbabwe, which has the world's
second-biggest deposits of both platinum and chrome. Platinum averaged $846.50
an ounce in 2004, compared with $691.82 an ounce in 2003. The 22 percent gain
was spurred by the metal's rising use in jewelry and pollution- control devices
``It's important for all exporters,'' says David Brown, Johannesburg-based
Impala's finance director. ``With inflation in triple figures, the gross margins
have been squeezed quite significantly.''
While a devaluation may cause prices of imported goods to rise, the higher
black-market currency rate is already having the same effect, Robertson says.
Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono, a former chief executive officer of the
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, was appointed by Mugabe in December 2003. A month
later, he started central bank foreign-currency auctions in a bid to curb
black-market trading, and agreed with gold miners on preferential currency rates
to boost production.
Zimbabwe last reduced its general exchange rate for the Zimbabwe dollar in
August 2000, by 24 percent. In 2003 it adjusted the rate the central bank paid
to exporters. It hasn't made any major changes to its exchange rates since the
auctions were put in place in January last year.
Gono, 45, has slowed the annual inflation rate to about 127 percent in
February 2005 from a record 623 percent in January 2004.
Now the economy -- which contracted by 40 percent from 1999 to 2003,
according to the International Monetary Fund -- may expand 3 percent to 5
percent this year, Gono said last month.
``The opportunities in Zimbabwe are very, very attractive from a
resource-sector point of view,'' says Mike Davies, an analyst at Control Risks
Group in London. ``It's going to take a while for investor confidence to
The economy started its free fall in 2000, when Mugabe began seizing
commercial farms to hand over to blacks. They had been largely deprived of land
during a century of white minority rule.
Since the land grab began, the Commercial Farmers Union says, all but 700 of
its 4,500 members have left their farms. More than 340 have moved to Zambia,
Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania, creating jobs and boosting exports from some of
the world's poorest nations.
Voting Rights Suspended
The IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting rights in the Fund in June 2003 after the
nation failed to meet its debt obligations. While Zimbabwe has taken steps to
stem an economic decline, the IMF said in a Feb. 16 statement, the measures are
``insufficient to decisively turn around the economic situation.''
Since a review last July, Zimbabwe has repaid $16.5 million of its debt, the
IMF said. It is almost $300 million in arrears to the Washington-based lender.
Mugabe's government wants to ``pay every penny'' of its $5 billion foreign
debt, Central Bank Governor Gono said on Feb. 10. ``We are not looking for any
A devaluation would increase the cost of debt payments in Zimbabwean-dollar
terms. At the same time, though, it would help export earners such as mining
companies bring in the hard currency the government needs for imports and debt
``The biggest imbalance in the Zimbabwean economy is the overvalued
currency.'' says Isaac Matshego, an economist at Standard Bank Group Ltd.,
Africa's largest bank, in Johannesburg.
Even so, he says, ``They are not servicing their debt, so the impact of a
devaluation is that their arrears will accumulate at a faster rate in Zimbabwe
At independence in 1980, a Zimbabwean dollar would buy $2; it's now worth
about a 60th of a cent at central bank-run auctions and less than half of that
on the black market. The central bank said it sold less than a 10th of the $143
million that companies bid for at its biweekly auction on March 22.
``With the currency depreciating at around 30 percent per annum, but with an
inflation rate around 130 percent, the exchange rate doesn't fully compensate
exporters for inflation,'' says Robert Bunyi, an economist at Standard Bank
Group in Johannesburg. He expects a 20 percent devaluation by July.
Platinum and metals such as nickel and chrome have risen in importance since
crop exports collapsed with the land grab.
Gono said last month that foreign-currency inflows from exports and money
repatriated by an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans living abroad in 2004 amounted
to $1.7 billion.
Of that, Zimbabwe's ferrochrome production was worth $310 million, gold
earned about $290 million, nickel $151 million and platinum $123 million,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg using current prices.
Tobacco companies such as Universal Corp. and British American Tobacco Plc
also are seeking to restore supplies of some of the world's best-quality tobacco
leaves. Earnings from tobacco sales dropped to about $138 million last year from
$400 million five years ago.
Universal's purchases of Zimbabwean tobacco fell to 14 million kilograms
(30.9 million pounds) last year from 100 million kilograms in 2000.
Without a devaluation, tobacco farmers won't be able to profit at annual
auctions that begin on April 5, says Rodney Ambrose, chief executive of the
Harare-based Zimbabwe Tobacco Association. The trade group has asked the
government to boost a subsidy of 2,000 Zimbabwean dollars per kilogram of
tobacco to 5,000 Zimbabwean dollars.
``If the floors opened today, the industry wouldn't be viable,'' Ambrose
says. ``There's not much time to work.''
Mugabe, who says he plans to retire in 2008, has ruled Zimbabwe for a
quarter-century. Now his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
party may win a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary elections, giving him
the power to change the constitution to ensure he can see out his term free of
New York-based Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and the Movement
for Democratic Change opposition party say the poll won't be fair because of
intimidation and an outdated register of voters.
A poll marred by rigging and intimidation may hurt U.K. Prime Minister Tony
Blair's plea to the Group of Eight industrial nations to double aid to Africa to
$50 billion a year, analysts say.
``If Zimbabwe's election isn't fair and most of Africa still gives it the
nod, that will make it more difficult for Tony Blair to promote his Africa
agenda at the G-8 summit because the perception will be that Africa isn't
serious about dealing with its problems,'' says Richard Dowden, director of the
Royal Africa Society in London.
Mugabe's re-election in March 2002 drew condemnation from the European Union
and the Commonwealth, an association of the U.K. and its former colonies.
They cited vote rigging and intimidation. The U.S. and the EU responded by
imposing travel restrictions on Mugabe and senior government leaders, while the
Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from membership. Donors such as the U.S. and the
U.K. cut all aid except for emergency food assistance.
Zimbabwe, where AIDS claims a life every 15 minutes, now gets $4 for each
person infected with the HIV virus, while neighboring Zambia gets $74, according
to the United Nations Children's Fund in New York.
``You don't get a sense of passion for the elections this time,'' says Eldred
Masungure, a politics lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare. ``The
concern is day-to-day survival rather than the politics of the ballot.''
Mugabe invited South Africa, the Southern African Development Community and
Russia to observe the elections. He has excluded the Commonwealth and the EU,
whose teams condemned the previous two polls.
``I don't think that a free and fair election is possible in Zimbabwe given
the technical deficiencies such as the absence of an independent electoral
commission, a proper voters' roll and the political environment,'' says Chris
Maroleng, a researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria, South
Africa. ``The question is, how overwhelming will the ZANU-PF victory be.''
ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT IS DISSOLVED
AS OF MIDNIGHT TONIGHT THE
ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT IS DISSOLVED.
SOKWANELE - ENOUGH - ZVAKWANA IS GLAD
TO SEE THE END OF THIS CHAPTER IN HISTORY!
DEMOCRACY WILL RULE THE
Armed forces say “Enough is enough”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
opened the postal ballot to all civil servants working outside the country as
well as the local army and police. Those in the armed forces within the country
were also allowed to choose to vote by postal ballot or to go to their own
registered polling station on the 31st March.
That ballot has already
closed, all ballot papers have been submitted to the relevant Constituencies, to
be opened at the end of the voting process and added to the local votes.
A mere 9500 postal ballots have been submitted. This means the armed
forces have already decided to say “Enough is enough” and refused to vote in the
presence of their commanding officers.
All activists working in the name
of democracy would like to congratulate the armed forces for joining them in
their quest for freedom!
Please put our beloved Gogo in your prayers
Selina packed some rations for her
grandchildren in her rural home this morning, enough to feed them for a few
days, but not enough to attract any tsotsis to her loot. Armed with a huge smile
and an enormous amount of determination, we hugged, shed tears for our
impoverished and battered nation and off she went to vote in her home
I am wracked with worry as to her safety, for in the
presidential elections her activist husband was beaten to a pulp and had to hide
in the bush for five days.
For any of you out there who are listening,
please put our beloved Gogo in your prayers tonight.
"Chinese brought boxes for zanu pf to win"
Along the Nyanzane river
resettlement area people are so afraid and were told that the Chinese brought
boxes for zanu pf to win. The people think that the boxes are somehow already
rigged in favour of zanu pf.
People were told to rally behind their
headman for if not, it will be known who did not comply. Some people in the area
asked for protection from zanu pf thugs. It is a 50 / 50 situation
Reported from a
Sokwanele activist on the ground: Fort Rixen . Name withheld for
COSATU Vigil in Musina, South Africa
I just returned from South Africa today. At
8am this morning, when I drove through Musina the COSATU vigil was already in
full swing. There were colourful banners and Zim flags everywhere. The people
were singing as they walked. SA police helicopters were flying overhead. There
was massive police presence all around us. Film crews are on the ground
reporting. I spoke to some of the supporters who are peacefully making their way
down the road between Musina and Beitbridge. They say they are expecting around
20 000 people to join them during the course of the day. One man commented ‘we
want our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe to know we are here in solidarity. We
are with you all the way”.
I still have a lump in my throat! I cannot
describe the joy I felt at seeing so many people turn out in support.
Zimbabwe opposition talks of protests if elections are
By Tony Hawkins and John Reed in Harare
Published: March 31 2005
03:00 | Last updated: March 31 2005 03:00
A Zimbabwean opposition leader
yesterday raised the prospect of "mass
mobilisation" in the event of
government fraud in today's parliamentary
election, and ruled out resorting
to the courts, as the opposition did in
2000 and 2002.
Ncube, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, the
opposition party, declined to be specific on the party's plans should
wish to challenge the results of the widely criticised poll.
Ncube said: "What we can say is that we won't go to court - that
proved futile and useless." He added: "These are political issues
only be solved through mass mobilisation of people."
The MDC will face
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in the election,
which is under
intense international scrutiny.
Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC president, and
Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic
archbishop of Bulawayo, have both warned of
an angry public response to
perceived voter fraud. However, the MDC has no
history of successful mass
street protests, and few in Zimbabwe expect a
response to a rigged poll on
the scale of the "people's power" in Ukraine,
Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
Zanu-PF is predicting victory in today's vote. It
hopes to secure a
two-thirds vote that would marginalise the MDC, one of
organised opposition parties.
But the MDC, despite
protesting over what it says were unfair pre-vote
conditions, says it
expects to add several mostly rural seats to its 57
seats in Zimbabwe's
After threatening to boycott the vote, the party
appears to have caught
Zanu-PF off-guard by staging a spirited and efficient
its party structures deep into ruling-party strongholds.
It has drawn crowds
of up to 20,000 at its rallies, compared with fewer than
5,000 at President
Mugabe's final rally in a Harare suburb
However, the MDC would have difficulty winning the 76 seats
needed for a
majority in parliament, as Zimbabwe's constitution allows
to appoint up to 30 MPs. Independent observers have echoed
misgivings over the fairness of today's
Opposition and watchdog groups claim the voters' roll of 5.7m
overstate the true numbers by 2m or more, allowing for potential
Further potential for rigging could come if
Zimbabwean authorities limit the
number of election agents at the 8,200
On Monday, a member of the nominally independent
Commission, charged with organising the vote, sent home
800 election agents
from the Mudzi East constituency, east of Harare, on the
grounds that they
were MDC sympathisers or supporters.
campaign has seen little of the violence that marred previous
rise in rural polling stations could increase the chances of
intimidation. "It's fair to say the election will certainly not be
fair," said Brian Kagoro, chair of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
umbrella group of non-governmental organisations.
However, any potential
fraud will be easier to detect under new electoral
rules Zimbabwe adopted
under pressure from its neighbours. Transparent
ballot boxes, the
elimination of mobile polling stations, and voting on a
single day are among
changes Zimbabwe adopted last year.
New counting methods will enable
candidates to see results before they are
officially announced. "The
electoral changes have made it harder to
manipulate the ballot," said one
The "people's power" protests in the former Soviet
Union may also make for a
greater international outcry should the vote be
deemed unfair. Yet whereas
about 17,000 observers monitored Ukraine's vote
last year - allowing foreign
diplomats to cry foul quickly - Zimbabwe has
accredited only about 400,
mostly from other African countries.
Zimbabwe denied access to Commonwealth and EU observers, about 100 of
observers will be diplomats from the US, Europe and other industrialised
countries. Zimbabwe's government has also accredited more than 300
journalists to cover the election.
ABC News Australia
Zimbabwean farmers hoping for change of
As elections begin in his country today, a Zimbabwean
farmer says he is not
looking for a change of government, despite President
Robert Mugabe's policy
of land seizures.
Once one of Africa's major
producers of grains, dairy and tobacco, farm
production in Zimbabwe has
fallen dramatically, with land owned by white
farmers seized and
redistributed to black Zimbabweans with little
But dairy farmer AJS Kirk, who is visiting Australia, says
farmers are still
optimistic and looking for a change of policy regardless
of the election
"As farmers we wouldn't advocate for a change
in government, what we'd like
is a change in policy," he said.
believe we can work with whichever government is there providing we can
the right laws in place.
"We're not opting for a change in government
we're opting for a change in
This is a transcript from
the ABC National Rural News that is broadcast
daily to all states on ABC
Regional Radio's Country Hour and in the city on
ABC News Radio.
Fighting each other to a standstill
for the MDC in today's Zimbabwean elections could force the
March 31, 2005
The Zimbabwean parliamentary elections today won't really
governing of the country even if the opposition Movement for
Change manages to pull off a surprise victory.
simple terms, such a victory would not cause any meaningful power
What might happen if the MDC wins with a clear majority
constitutional crisis or governmental stalemate, because Zimbabwe is a
presidential rather than a Westminster-style parliamentary
Unlike in SA, the party that wins Zimbabwe's
does not form the government. It is the president
who is constitutionally
empowered to form a cabinet (the executive
The rationale is that the president is directly
elected by the people.
Another paralysing effect is that the
president appoints an additional
30 MPs who do not have to contest the
elections - a presidential
President Robert Mugabe could form a minority
government from among those
appointed MPs, without Zanu-PF having to win a
single seat in the
In this year's elections, Zanu-PF needs to win 46 seats
to gain a
majority in parliament because, by virtue of having the
presidency, it has
30 seats at its discretion.
The system is an
effective form of ensuring the separation of power in
terms of democratic
theory, but it is susceptible to a constitutional
nightmare. That nightmare
is possible after today's parliamentary elections.
If the MDC won
the election today, it would have legislative influence
through its majority
in parliament, but Mugabe would not be obliged to
government (the executive arm) until the presidential
He could pass laws through presidential powers for six
months, but the
constitutional logjam would be felt when those laws had to
be endorsed by
Unless the MDC won the presidential
elections, too, it would remain a
majority that could not rule while Zanu-PF
constituted a minority
The stalemate would be
that the MDC, because of its legislative power,
would frustrate Zanu-PF and
Mugabe by not giving the ruling party the
required majority to pass laws and
approve budgets. The ruling party would
be paralysed - unable to govern
The only way out of this possible deadlock would
be for the MDC to win
the presidential elections in three years' time, or
agree to form a
government of national unity with Zanu-PF.
first alternative is a long-term solution and would not solve the
The second alternative, a government of national unity,
would be a
viable and desirable compromise, but would be highly unlikely to
because there has been no negotiated concession, and both parties
that they had the legislative and executive arms of government by
Mugabe might want to invoke a
constitutional clause to dissolve
parliament and call for elections within
90 days. But the constitutional
vicious circle and deadlock would
One could argue that a stalemate would force the two rivals
reconsider their stubborn attitudes and co-operate, or negotiate
constitutional reforms if they wanted to have an effective
But this would not be in the MDC's interest. If it won,
it would want
to see Zanu-PF frustrated and ultimately out of power -
therefore an impasse
would work to its advantage.
The hurdle is
that the MDC has not used its parliamentary power and
in the past five years.
Zanu-PF does not have a two-thirds majority
in the current government,
but the MDC has failed to influence any reforms
or changes by using its
regime-change proponents favour the deadlock scenario
because it would
weaken Mugabe's and Zanu-PF's grip on power, and would have
effect on its waning support.
They argue that the party would be so
politically fatigued and
frustrated that it would be unable to abuse the
state machinery for
presidential elections and it would be too weak to mount
But Zimbabwean society is as
unpredictable as American society when it
comes to electoral
In Zimbabwe, 'There's No Reason to Be Scared'
Violence Before Vote Kindles Hope in Opposition
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- Two weeks ago, Mike Sibanda strode down the
streets of Zimbabwe's second-largest city with a swagger, chest out,
shoulders rolling, a broad, wise-guy smile on his face. The image exuded a
single message: I'm nobody's fool.
So when the subject of Thursday's
national election came up, Sibanda, 24 and
long attracted to opposition
politics, swiped his right hand in the air and
said dismissively, "Ah, it's
useless." That week, as opposition activists
braved possible arrests by
gathering for a nighttime rally at a suburban
park near here, Sibanda
gathered instead with friends to drink beer.
But as the national
parliamentary election has drawn nearer, his interest in
voting against the
ruling party of President Robert Mugabe -- in power since
before Sibanda was
born -- has returned. Sibanda has found his faith in
democracy rekindled by
what he calls growing tolerance of dissent and
reduced threat of
Mugabe's camp still uses such rough tactics as withholding food
villagers who support the opposition, human rights workers say. And
have been dozens of arrests for participating in such political
candidate-voter meetings or hanging campaign signs.
in the face of strong international pressure, Mugabe is seeking to
the world that he can stage a fair election, analysts here say. The
tactics of recent elections, such as beatings, torture and murder by
government supporters, have declined, according to human rights workers. The
government has also eased restrictions on access to airwaves, though they
are still dominated by Mugabe's message that members of the opposition are
traitors who want to reestablish Zimbabwe as a British colony.
these small steps toward fairness, attendance at campaign rallies is at
highest level in the five-year history of the main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change.
"There's a possibility for them to
win now. There's hope," said Sibanda, who
joined throngs at a soccer stadium
on Saturday to cheer the opposition.
"There's no reason to be
The turning point came when he saw a television advertisement
opposition party. On the national network, usually reserved for
propaganda and official government pronouncements, opposition
shown flashing the party's signature open-hand
The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai -- who was on trial and
death sentence on charges of treason six months ago but was
acquitted -- was
pictured in his trademark cowboy hat addressing cheering
crowds. On the
radio, the opposition can be heard spreading its slogan, "A
New Zimbabwe, a
Up for grabs are 120 seats in a
parliament representing all parts of this
troubled southern African nation
of 13 million people. Mugabe, whose term as
president lasts until 2008, will
appoint the remaining 30 members of the
150-seat body, making it difficult
for the Movement for Democratic Change to
gain outright control. It now has
Mugabe has vowed to have a "free and fair election." He has
also called for
voters to "bury the MDC," by giving the ruling party control
of parliament, which would allow Mugabe to rewrite the
further entrench his party in power.
Leaders of the
opposition, meanwhile, say that if they could win more than
half of the
popular vote, it would undermine Mugabe's claims to credibility
his ouster. Such a result, they say, would make it easier for
attract foreign investment and end the economic decline and
hyperinflation that has ravaged the country, once an oasis of
International human rights organizations and such other
groups as the
European Union, which on Wednesday called the election
"phony," say the
outcome is unlikely to reflect the will of most
Zimbabweans. Mugabe controls
every daily newspaper, all broadcasting,
thousands of patronage jobs, the
electoral commission, the courts that would
judge accusations of rigging and
the dwindling food reserves for a populace
on the brink of starvation.
Most international election observers have
been kept away. And Mugabe
increased the budget of his secret police force
by six times in advance of
The high cost of challenging Zanu-PF's hold
Election campaign ends violently in the constituency where 25 years of
independence has delivered nothing
March 31, 2005
Harare - Alan McCormick was exhausted on Monday.
He hadn't slept for
36 hours as he had driven hundreds of kilometres across
bushveld after he
and campaign workers were attacked by veterans of
Zimbabwe's war for
independence and supporters loyal to President Robert
McCormick (55), a former commercial farmer evicted from his
years ago, is standing in today's general election in a ruling
stronghold, Guruve North, for the opposition Movement for Democratic
He knew from the start he had no chance of
winning in a constituency
where 25 years of independence has delivered
nothing, but his campaign ended
violently over Easter
"Psychological and physical violence is there, all the time. It
obvious than before but most rural people are short of food and so
vulnerable to threats about how they will vote."
farthest points of his vast constituency are about 330km apart
in between but bush.
Five hours north of Harare, the constituency
reaches up to
the cliffs on the edge of the Zambezi River and
There is no electricity, telephones or
any way of calling for help
even if the police were prepared to
McCormick's campaign was conducted on bicycles and a
bakkies, village to village.
"It started in earnest
when the election period began on February 25.
Over Easter it got too bad
and we have pulled out," he said.
He drove into Harare early on
As the campaign kicked off three weeks ago, young MDC
Chirembwe was hanged from a tree by his wrists locked together
handcuffs, with burning logs underneath his dangling
"When the branch eventually broke, he fell, rolled over into
and stayed there in the blistering heat and then crawled away at
Eventually we found him and brought him to hospital in Harare, and
now," says McCormick.
He says the latest round of
attacks began on Saturday when one of his
people, Elphas Mhamiti, was
abducted and left for dead. He was coughing up
blood when they found him, so
they sent him to Harare where he was treated.
"I have reported to
the police and given them the names of the four
war veterans, two Zanu-PF
councillors and the newly appointed local chief,
Chisungo, who were in the
forefront of the Easter attacks."
"Two of our members who went to
the police admitting they had torn
down Zanu-PF posters are still in police
cells and have sent messages saying
they have been tortured."
"One of our polling agents was beaten up in a bar. Zanu-PF began
vehicles with stones, grabbing our people and beating them. Four
injured in the first attack and have been treated in hospital for
In the second attack, their escape route
was cut off and they had to
use the back roads.
spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said reports of the violence in
had not yet reached Harare, but he would look out for them.
run-up to Zimbabwe's general election has been far less violent
last two polls, but reports come in persistently of people fleeing
to the smaller towns.
Bishop Sebastian Bakare from the Anglican
Diocese of Manicaland in
eastern Zimbabwe said: "Psychological and physical
violence is there, all
the time. It is less obvious than before, but most
rural people are short of
food and so are vulnerable to threats about how
they will vote."
There are only four functioning foreign observer
teams of about 150
people allowed to observe the election. Three are from
dominated by loyalists from the ANC, and one is from the South
Development Community, but still dominated by SA.
have been to monitor the campaign in Guruve North, nor to many
areas, particularly in the Manicaland Province and in the far
heat and mosquitoes are unbearable to anyone not hardened to
Cellphones don't work out there, and there are no landlines in
where millions will vote today.
Could Mugabe's gamble give the opposition a chance to
March 31, 2005
By oshoeshoe Monare and Christelle
Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe takes a
big gamble today
on returning his isolated and impoverished country to
legitimacy through parliamentary elections which will give the
their best shot yet at victory.
In his final rally
yesterday, Mugabe declared to his supporters that
today is "V-Day for
Zanu-PF", the party that has ruled Zimbabwe for 25
years. But riven by
internal divisions, hunger, and a crumbling economy,
Mugabe's party faces
its toughest challenge so far.
Buoyed by new freedom to campaign
even in rural areas, and boasting
huge crowds at its rallies, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) predicted victory
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said: "Our rallies
country have attracted thousands of people - 35 000 attended the
Bulawayo last Saturday and 40 000 attended the one in Harare the
In an effort to impress foreign electoral observers -
and the world -
Mugabe has ordered his party cadres to turn down the
dominated the last two electoral contests with the MDC, in
2000 and 2002.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told CNN yesterday that
"clamp-down on violence has had a very tremendous effect",
with some legislative and political reforms, made the MDC
Brian Kagoro, chairperson of the
Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition, told a
press conference yesterday that despite
many distortions still favouring
Zanu-PF, "This is an election where I think
any result is possible.
"The fact that this year the margin of
terror has been reduced means
that the MDC has had greater access to rural
Zimbabwe than in 2000 and
2002," he added.
The MDC still
fears that Zanu-PF is planning to steal the election by
cheating - including
stuffing ballot boxes in remote areas.
Yesterday MDC MP David
Coltart said the MDC had filed yet another
complaint to the electoral
commission because its election agents had not
been allowed into polling
stations in some rural constituencies.
The issue is crucial as only
one MDC officer is allowed into each of
the 8 200 polling stations to ensure
that no rigging is taking place.
Mugabe, however, insisted at his
final rally that today's contest
would be "a clean fight".
move condemned by the MDC, Mugabe's government yesterday
minimum wage for domestic workers tenfold. The MDC said it was
an attempt to
drive a wedge between employers and their employees.
of regaining international legitimacy depend heavily on
observers judging the election to be free and fair. Because
he has barred
all Western observers, most of those on the ground are South
But yesterday Welshman Ncube delivered another attack
on the SA
observers. He said: "the MDC no longer has any faith whatsoever in
capacity of Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of the SADC
African Development Community) observer mission, to act
This was because in an SABC interview yesterday the
SA Minerals and
Energy Affairs minister "contemptuously dismissed" MDC
allegations of the
use of food aid as a political weapon, the role of
chiefs, and concerns
around the voters roll. He said the observers had
failed to investigate
these charges. - Independent Foreign
What would happen if the MDC won?
legacy presents huge challenges
March 31, 2005
Even if the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) manages,
odds, to win a healthy majority in today's election in Zimbabwe,
problems that the putative government will face are deeper and more
challenging than the mainstream media convey - or than the MDC itself, at
present focused on winning the election, seems to acknowledge.
The main focus of public debate on Zimbabwe is currently on the formal
electoral provisions and actual electioneering processes on the ground. This
is understandable and essential.
However, Zimbabwe is rent by
broader and deeper economic and social
changes that have been taking place
in that country over the past five or
six years, as well as negative and
intractable patterns of political and
administrative rule that have been
entrenched over past decades.
Starting with the latter, the major
challenge facing a new government
in Zimbabwe will be the nature of the
state that has been created under
Zanu-PF since independence.
In the earlier years, public administration in Zimbabwe was relatively
efficient and effective, but there was a growing tendency towards
identification of public service with party loyalty, and the conflation of
the ruling party with the organs of the state, particularly all the security
However - apart from the outrage expressed over the
campaign against so-called dissidents in Matabeleland province
in the early
1980s - what was not given enough attention was the more
authoritarian nature of the Zimbabwean state.
This was based both on the inherited (and sustained) draconian
legislation of the settler regime, as well as the modalities of
"revolutionary discipline" and often brutal internal controls within
Zanu-PF, itself created during the armed struggle.
abuses of the much-feared Central Intelligence
Organisation, the majority of
the population "lived with" this, as long as
there was economic growth and
social delivery in the country - which was
certainly the case in the earlier
However, as problems began to arise and as opposition to the
party began to emerge in the later 1990s, the authoritarian
within the state were powerfully reinforced.
was sometimes done in blatant form with the removal of "disloyal"
other public servants, but less obviously and more pervasively
politically biased (and nepotistic?) selection and promotion of
people at every level of public administration.
These processes of
the merging of the aims and interests of Zanu-PF
with all the organs of
state in Zimbabwe has, in the past few years, been
even more deliberately
engineered. Even if the MDC wins the election, they
will face the extremely
difficult challenges of trying to work through this
The fundamental question facing Zimbabwe is whether
those running the
public services will transfer their loyalties to the
Many may have conformed in the
past through economic necessity and to
hold on to their jobs. Others, with
similar pragmatism, will accept orders
from the new ruling
Yet others may remain loyal to Zanu-PF as the liberatory
party it once
was. Many Zimbabweans have accepted Zanu-PF's projection of
itself as the
continuing liberation movement in the latest chimurenga
the remnants of white settler and European colonialism
within Zimbabwe, and
American and European imperialism internationally - on
both of which there
is ample evidence to give powerful credibility to Zanu's
It is this ideological self-projection that also gives
political legitimacy amongst sectors of the South African population
within the ANC - and throughout the continent, which the privileged
population of South Africa, and foreign interests in this country, in
region and abroad fail to understand.
However, for the MDC,
or any other party taking over in Zimbabwe, the
economic distortions and
political legacy of colonialism, the continuing
role of foreign - and
increasingly South African - capital within the
country pose serious
In the early 1990s, the Zanu-PF government, under
external economic pressures, implemented an Economic and Social
Programme (ESAP), its own package of International Monetary
prescriptions as a condition to qualify for financial
The negative impact of government financial cutbacks,
"cost-recovery" and commercialisation and related aspects of
homegrown economic "restructuring" soon led ESAP to be popularly
Extended Suffering of African People.
poverty in the rural areas led to scattered but highly
spontaneous popular land invasions which the government
up. But it was more difficult for the government to hide,
or hide from, the
demonstrations and demands of the better organised "war
the daily pinch of the new state policies.
As social tensions
mounted, and the economy deteriorated further, the
Zanu-PF government was
pulled into and, for political and economic reasons,
itself pushed the now
notorious land seizure programme.
Since then, the major focus by
the mainstream media has been mainly
with the plight of the white farmers,
the assault on established property
rights in that country and, by
extrapolation, on the security of property
rights in South Africa and
elsewhere in southern/Africa.
However, both the land distribution
programme and Zimbabwe's ESAP were
contributing towards an even more
profound "social revolution" than only
getting rid of a small, hangover
settler elite. An extensive economic
transformation was under way in that
country that went far beyond the
botched rural revolution.
Zimbabwe's ESAP and its drive to "indigenise" the economy were
significant sectors of the urban, and not only the rural,
economy into the
hands of a burgeoning business class.
Having benefited from a
decade and more of an excellent state
education system, a new professional
and technical elite were well
positioned to take advantage of Zanu-PF's
campaign against the continued
domination of the Zimbabwean economy by
whites and foreigners.
This new capitalist class owes much to
Zanu-PF. However, their
exploding wealth and related power are also an
uncomfortable new factor for
the "totalitarian" Zanu-PF old guard accustomed
to controlling everything in
The putative MDC
ruling party may have more selfless aims and
intentions than the old Zanu-PF
political elite and its partners, parasites
and sycophants - although, faced
with electoral regime change, these latter
may, as is typical of such
opportunists and careerists, transfer their claws
on to the
Either way, a more fundamental set of major problems facing
the MDC is
how to win over the new national capitalist class to a national
that must, of necessity, entail vast programmes of support to the
and starving millions of Zimbabweans devastated also by the Aids
If nothing else, this national crisis will demand another
(re)distribution - if not of the assets of the new elites, then
through extensive taxation of their obscene wealth towards urgent
The MDC will also have to decide whether
it can relaunch Zimbabwe's
economic recovery with and through the new
national capitalist class. And if
so, whether this class will happily work
in partnership with established,
returning and new South African capital, or
feel threatened by their
And, in either
case, how will the new MDC government "engage"
proactively with these
business forces, and with international investors
that it seems to be
wooing, in ways that will directly serve national
Finally, how will the IMF and World Bank, whom the MDC
looking towards, view the kind of activists and interventionist
Zimbabwe that will be absolutely essential to pull that country out
current economic and human crisis?
.. Keet is a
research associate of the Alternative Information and
New York Times
Zimbabweans Campaign in the Shadow of Mugabe's Fist
Published: March 31, 2005
March 30 - With Zimbabweans set to vote in crucial
on Thursday, President Robert G. Mugabe's opponents
have appeared to be
riding a wave of popular support that could carry them
from near oblivion to
a stunning comeback.
But as the opposition made final election day plans
on Wednesday, there were
hints that Mr. Mugabe's party would not allow
In the Bulawayo office of David Coltart, a member of Parliament and
opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, party members
from around the nation to complain that government-appointed
officers were barring the party's voting monitors from polling
claiming they had no proof of their identities.
law does not require it, the officials were demanding that the
monitors produce copies of a newspaper advertisement in which the
poll monitors are published. In rural areas, where communications
slow or nonexistent, this could be impossible.
"There's definitely a
pattern that has emerged today of trying to deny our
agents access to the
polling places," Mr. Coltart said. "And if this is
happening in urban areas,
imagine what's happening in rural areas."
His complaint appeared to
bolster what democracy advocates and opposition
party members have charged
for some time: that this election, a possible
turning point in Mr. Mugabe's
25-year rule, is rigged to favor those in
The true test will
come when the votes of millions are cast and counted
under new election laws
that critics say have been baldly rigged against the
voting rolls that critics say are both padded and wildly
Mr. Mugabe's aides deny even the hint of irregularity.
"This is a country
free to campaign," said Eliot Manyika, the political
director of the
president's party, the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, or
ZANU-PF, and a veteran of the government
intelligence service. "We have the
The stakes are
huge, the risks high. For the opposition, a strong showing
might allow it to
challenge Mr. Mugabe's legitimacy as president and demand
a share of power
in the government. A drubbing that appears rigged could
protesters into the streets for the first time.
Mr. Mugabe's party needs
a convincing victory not just to keep a grip on
Parliament, but also to
start the delicate process of succeeding Mr. Mugabe,
ends in 2008, but a bitter struggle over a successor has already
between his tribal allies within ZANU-PF, who control much of the
economic and political machinery, and party officials from other
have been sidelined.
Many in the party hope to arrange Mr. Mugabe's early
retirement and an
orderly transition to one of their own before any 2008
ballot. But that
requires changing the Constitution - and that, in turn,
two-thirds majority in the 150-seat Parliament, which ZANU-PF now
Mr. Mugabe has repeatedly predicted that ZANU-PF would win
Parliament. That would require it to claim a handful of seats
Movement for Democratic Change, which now clings to 51
To place a stamp of legitimacy on the election, Mr. Mugabe has
hundreds of foreign observers, mostly from friendly nations like
South Africa and China. He has also agreed to follow fair-election
guidelines laid down by the Southern African Development Community, 14
nations mostly friendly to Mr. Mugabe. But those rules have been haphazardly
followed, and the group's election monitors were let into Zimbabwe only
Independent election monitors and international agencies
contend - and the
government denies - that food has been widely used as a
political weapon. In
a nation beset by chronic shortages, residents are
routinely denied the
right to buy corn unless they produce a ZANU-PF party
Yet to foreign journalists, also unexpectedly admitted to report on
election, Mr. Mugabe's forecast of a sweeping victory has often seemed
a pipe dream.
The five-year-old opposition party M.D.C. lost
more than 300 members to
violence in the last two elections, which were
widely condemned as
fraudulent. The party had vowed to sit out this election
unless Mr. Mugabe
followed basic rules for fair voting but relented under
outside pressure -
and has been stunned by the results.
government, intent on convincing foreign governments that its
legitimate, has permitted relatively open campaigning in the last
months, and violence has dropped dramatically.
Perhaps because of that,
M.D.C. candidates have found a gusher of popular
support, attracting large
and frenetic crowds even in areas where its
members once were banned. In the
capital, Harare, an M.D.C. stronghold, up
to 25,000 cheering supporters
jammed a field on Sunday to hear the party's
president, Morgan Tsvangirai,
call for a wholesale change in Zimbabwe's
Mr. Mugabe's party has looked moribund, drawing scant crowds
packing campaign sites with bused-in audiences. At a listless
Monday in rural Chivhu, a town of 30,000 that has been a center of
support, barely 3,000 people showed up, a quarter of them
Mr. Mugabe's harangue against his opponents and Prime
Minster Tony Blair of
Britain - whose supposed plan to reclaim Zimbabwe as a
colony is the center
of the party's campaign - drew just seconds of polite
Still, Mr. Mugabe has seemed almost serene. While
opposition party leaders
barnstormed over the weekend, drawing tens of
thousands, the president took
a three-day vacation.
When a journalist
for The Economist asked after the soporific Chivhu rally
whether he could
govern with a dominant M.D.C. faction, Mr. Mugabe did not
"It will never happen," he said.
The ghost voters, the exiles, the non-citizens: an
March 31, 2005
Muzondidya and Karin Alexander
A political system is perhaps better
judged by who and how it excludes
rather than the ideas it professes to
While much attention was focused on who got to observe
parliamentary elections today, and who was denied, a further
become evident - which Zimbabweans get to vote and which have
Zimbabwe's population is estimated at 12 million. If
all adult voters
could register and vote, there would be approximately six
The current voters' roll confirms this, with 5.6 million
Yet despite this match of overall numbers,
concerns have been raised
about the roll's accuracy, given the many deceased
people still registered
and the continual discovery of ghost voters on the
roll. Estimates suggest
the number of dead voters registered runs into
hundreds of thousands.
Also included on the current voters' roll
are many of the over 1.5
million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora. These
Zimbabweans have learned
that they no longer have the right to vote. The
current system is designed
to allow Zimbabweans to vote only in their
constituency of original
registration - that is, a specific suburb or region
South Africa's major cities have become home-in-exile
Zimbabweans. Others have made their way elsewhere in the region
overseas, having fled economic hardship or political
Many Zimbabweans living in Zimbabwe have also found
deprived of the right to vote in these elections. Hundreds of
"invisible" and "forgotten" Zimbabweans inside the country have
disenfranchised by the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2001, which denies
citizenship to anyone whose parents were born outside of Zimbabwe unless
he/she renounces a claim to a second citizenship.
those seeking to retain or acquire Zimbabwe citizenship,
and who have a
second citizenship, to provide documentary proof to the
that they have legally renounced that foreign citizenship.
enacted following the Movement for Democratic Change's
winning of 57 of 120
contested seats in the 2000 parliamentary elections,
was reportedly designed
to disenfranchise the largely immigrant white
population (suspected of
sympathising collectively with the MDC) before the
crucial 2002 presidential
However, the act affected not just the estimated 30 000
Zimbabweans but also over two million second- and third-generation
Zimbabweans, descendant from immigrants.
Many of these
Zimbabweans trace their ancestral roots in the country
to before the
inception of modern-day Zimbabwe when their parents and
immigrated in search of better economic opportunities.
But the act
stripped them of their Zimbabwean citizenship and their
participate in the decision-making processes and structures of
because they are "not indigenous enough".
In the exclusive
concept of citizenship and nationhood promoted by
Zanu-PF, only those groups
which were in the country before the imposition
of colonial rule are true
Zimbabweans. Before the act was amended, those of
Malawian, Zambian or
Mozambican descent were regarded as aliens.
For this category of
Zimbabweans, their birthright is not sufficient
qualification for the right
to participate in the national decision-making
affected by these divisive politics are various and include
Indian descent and those of mixed race. Most members of
mixed-race community were born in the country, and descend from
between white settlers and Africans or between Indians and
Many of these second-, third- or fourth-generation
lived in the country their entire lives and have no links
to the countries
of their ancestral origin. They have lived and provided
cheap labour for the
country since the colonial period. The majority of
these Zimbabweans cannot
even legally claim citizenship in the countries of
their ancestral origin.
As such, the Citizenship Amendment Act has rendered
them utterly stateless.
While the act was amended in 2003 to exempt
from exclusion descendants
of African immigrants originating in the Southern
Community region, section 9 of the act, enforcing
continued to render many Zimbabweans
The actual process of renunciation is laborious and
Most of the people required to renounce either their
citizenship or entitlement to foreign citizenship or their parents'
citizenship, especially those in rural farming communities, have no
to information on the new laws and no access to the resources that
Other Zimbabweans find
themselves having to claim and renounce a
citizenship they have never had in
order to claim their Zimbabwean
The politics of
identity in Zimbabwe has become increasingly divisive
and alienating. The
citizenship of a huge part of the Zimbabwean electorate
has become murky and
this has had important implications for their civic and
It also has implications for today's elections, which will
vote to literally millions of Zimbabweans.
Muzondidya is a Zimbabwean academic and political analyst based in
Africa. Alexander is the project officer on the Zimbabwe desk at the
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. They are contributing authors to
the book, Zimbabwe: Injustice and Political Reconciliation.
Quo vadis, Zimbabwe?
March 31, 2005
by The Editor
The parliamentary election in Zimbabwe today is
unlikely to change the
status quo. Octogenarian despot Robert Mugabe remains
in power, the moribund
Zanu-PF ruling party will cling to its parliamentary
majority (by hook or by
crook) and the opposition MDC will again fail to
impress as a viable
Where does this leave South
Africa and the Southern African
Development Community's policy of "quiet
diplomacy" on Zimbabwe, and the
country's status as a "failed state" in many
of the world's most important
Like the Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo, who believes Zimbabwe
will know no peace until
Mugabe dies, we could start praying for divine
intervention. Mugabe "is one
of those people who would be enormously
improved by death" (to misquote HH
The good cleric's wishful thinking, however, may not be
farfetched. The timely death in the '90s of Sani Abacha, one of
most detested military rulers, paved the way for democratically
lawmakers and a president in Abuja.
But President Thabo
Mbeki has to deal with the "existential reality"
in Zimbabwe. Our proximity
to Zimbabwe as a powerful neighbour and
historical circumstances and
connections have given rise to an expectation
that South Africa could easily
effect political change in this hapless
This after the
failure of the British government to deliver on its
promise to assist Zimbabwe in the redistribution of land
and more latterly,
the futile "grandstanding" of the Blair government at the
As Zimbabweans go to the polls today with little hope their
mean or change anything, it may be opportune to ponder a number of
questions. They include: Has Mbeki had any other option but his policy of
"quiet diplomacy"? Would a more forceful approach have delivered a
different, improved situation on the ground? Have international sanctions
and the censure of the Commonwealth worked? Is South Africa not paying too
high a price for quiet diplomacy?
The conclusion we have
come to, however, is that the answer is no to
all the above questions even
though in this column we have been critical of
Mbeki's policy of "quiet
There have been many calls for Pretoria to publicly
Zimbabwe government for human rights abuses, to "switch off the
lights" and, ridiculously, to use South Africa's military might to
Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
And what's the cost of maybe having
avoided another Ivory Coast or
Congo situation on our doorstep?
As a new starting point, we can only hope today's poll, if not
and fair, will at least be credible. South Africa's continued
stance must be
to help manage a bad situation in Zimbabwe from becoming
worse. There is,
for instance, a flickering sign of an economic recovery
which we must
The next step is to prepare the ground for Mugabe's
must happen before the next presidential election in 2008.
Better still, can
Pretoria persuade the old man that an early retirement
will be in his and
the country's best interest?
diplomacy works best out of the public eye, we urge Mbeki
to, at the very
least, tell the South African public in broad terms what the
medium-term plans are regarding Zimbabwe.
If nothing else, it will
help to instil some confidence that the
policy of "quiet diplomacy" may yet
deliver a stable Zimbabwe with a better
More of the same?
March 31, 2005
by the Editor
Events in Zimbabwe seem set to unfold in a
manner over the next few days. The poll will go
ahead with occasional
complaints of irregularities and suggestions of some
ballot box tampering.
There will be little violence.
counting will take place and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party will be
declared the winner.
The South African observer missions will shrug
and say they have seen
nothing serious enough to warrant a finding that the
election was not free
And Zanu-PF will have been
given another mandate - including one from
its most powerful neighbour - to
wreak havoc in Zimbabwe for five more
This in spite of
the range of steps Mugabe has taken in recent months
to render the
And reports that Zanu-PF have indulged in
disgraceful bartering of
food for votes (not to mention Mugabe's tactic of
giving last-minute salary
increases to sectors of the community whose votes
he was wooing).
And, of course, the many reports of flaws in
the voters' roll,
including the presence of thousands of long-dead people on
the list. No
doubt some of these will manage the remarkable feat of voting
Or perhaps not.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change seems unlikely to
Mugabe's months of election fixing, there is one possible variable
That is that the South African observer missions
conscience and not the alarming example set by Labour Minister
Mdladlana. And that they take into account the events leading up
election, and not just the circumstances prevailing on the
If they do so, there is surely no way they can pronounce this
free and fair.