|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
"I live and work in the capital city Harare. Harare is a city of sunshine -- wide open, tree-lined avenues … an eclectic mix of races, colors and creeds. I have enjoyed a lifestyle that would be the envy of many in the Western world. Yes, I was one of the privileged whites who, at independence in 1980, was worried for my future in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). Then, our country had been at war since the '60s in an effort to stop black majority rule. Britain had been our sovereign, and rather than hand over the nation to the indigenous population, Prime Minister Ian Smith decided to fight what he thought was to be communist/Marxist rule. He was subsequently proved to be right, but I am sure this offers no comfort to him now. The International community at that time did not agree with him and supported and financed the Liberation forces.
"After independence in 1980, many of the white population left Zimbabwe. Those that remained worked hard at building up the country after years of war and sanctions. It was a hard task, both for the white and black members of our society. Together, we were getting this country back on track, so we thought. On the surface, the standard of living was improving; many were prospering who had never before had the opportunity; education was a priority; the health services were excellent; we were held up to the rest of Africa as an example of prosperity and democratic governance. But, below ground, a network of evil intrigue was slowly evolving that culminated in the situation in which we now find ourselves."
Added Johnston, "After independence in 1980, our president promised land redistribution (among so many promises) to the local population. This is what the Liberation forces had fought for. The land had been unfairly distributed during the colonial era, they claimed, with most of the fertile land being owned by white farmers. No one disagreed with them. We all knew and accepted that there had to be land redistribution. The British government even provided huge sums of money for compensation to the white farmers whose land would be claimed for this exercise. We all accepted that. But we watched as the land was distributed to people in high places. The common man was not getting his piece of the pie. The law of the 'right of the king' was being applied here. He could and did distribute land to whomever he chose. He could and did distribute wealth to whomever he chose. Any opposition was silenced."
Johnston said that Zimbabwe enjoyed a boom during those early years after independence. Donor agencies from far and wide poured money in to help build and create new wealth. They built hospitals, funded any number of projects, spent money on rural education and trusted the local population to continue with their work. The IMF and World Bank opened their doors wide and told Zimbabwe and President Mugabe to help themselves to whatever they needed in terms of financial assistance.
"We were all riding high on the hog (as the Americans put it)," Johnston told WND.
"So what happened? Why, by the beginning of 2000, had an opposition party begun gathering supporters by the thousands, faster than we had ever imagined? Simply because 'the rule of the African king' and 'democracy' are not one and the same thing. The former had allowed our president and his hierarchy to use, as their own, anything they wanted in this country. Government funds were at their disposal for their own personal use; travel abroad was common for the president and an entourage of more than 100 people, staying in top hotels all over the world; mansions sprung up in our posh suburbs; fleets of Mercedes were imported for our ministers; the government coffers were plundered at an alarming rate -- and any opposition to this was silenced.
"By the mid '90s, 15 years after independence, the population was becoming increasingly disenchanted with its government. The lot of the poor had not changed drastically, as was promised. The war veterans were still waiting, most in abject poverty, for the land they had fought so hard to win. Most of the donor agencies' personnel had left, continuing to send the funds but not realizing the extent of the embezzlement and theft going on within their projects.
"By midyear 1999, the population of Zimbabwe had had enough, and the strongest opposition ever to the ruling ZANU-PF was born -- the Movement for Democratic Change. This party was not considered a serious threat by the ruling party.
"A general election was coming up in June of 2000. By the beginning of that year, ZANU-PF realized that it had a challenge on its hands. More and more folk were joining the ranks of the newly formed opposition party. The land redistribution issue was brought to the fore by ZANU-PF. Twenty-one years after independence, the party went into full swing, promising to redistribute the land to the people who had voted for it all those years before. This was the first in a long line of election gimmicks that resulted in the most inhumane actions. A referendum was held in February of 2000."
Mugabe wanted a "yes" vote on his plan to change the constitution of Zimbabwe to allow him to seize land from white farmers without paying them compensation. What he got was a resounding "no."
Continued Johnston, "In his speech the following day, he graciously accepted the decision of the population and agreed to abide by it, while readying an army of war veterans, whose job it would be to subdue, avenge and intimidate, ensuring a successful victory for ZANU-PF in the June general elections. They started mid-February 2000 and invaded white-owned farms on a daily basis, beating and intimidating labor forces and management.
"We were all stunned at this move. How could they merely take what was not yet rightfully theirs? We were sure the law would step in and prevent this from happening. By Feb. 29, 2000, the Commercial Farmers Union had appealed to the government and police force to restore order. On March 2, Dumisa Dabangwa, the minister of Home Affairs, ordered the police to remove the war vets from the land. This order was ignored. On March 17, the High Court of Zimbabwe ordered that the war vets be removed from the land. This order was ignored.
"When asked to comment, President Mugabe replied 'I will not interfere with the war vets.' I saw the war vets on TV that day, some of them not more than 20 years old! By this time, we were all beginning to realize that this was state-sponsored violence and nothing more. This was not about the land; this was about votes. This was about vengeance on a people who had dared to defy their king; this was about holding onto power at all costs."
It was at this point that the violence escalated. The intimidation and torture of anyone who was thought to be a supporter of the opposition MDC, or Movement for Democratic Change, continued unabated. People were killed. Farmers were tortured and murdered. It was a witch-hunt, no more, no less, orchestrated and carried out by thugs claiming to be war veterans, on behalf of the ruling party.
Says Johnston, "My nephew Michael worked on a game farm owned by Richard Pascal on the outskirts of Bulawayo in the Matabeleland Province. On the day that 150 war veterans invaded this game farm, Michael was put down on his knees, with a gun to his head, as he was accused of being an opposition supporter. He was beaten badly in full view of police officers who stood and watched. He has since left the country with his wife and family and now lives in South Africa.
"A rally for peace was organized at this time, and the marchers gathered in Harare city center. They had not gone far when they were attacked by riot police and armed ZANU-PF supporters. The government had issued orders to subdue any illegal gathering, as they called it. This frightened a lot of people. There had been churches, women and children, and peaceful civic groups involved in this march. There were a lot of injuries. The population became more and more subdued as the weeks wore on and the violence continued. I had been very vocal, but by May, I had been silenced, and any talk of opposition was done in whispers. I received a death threat about this time. I was called on the telephone, and told by the caller that I would be sent back to my ancestors in Britain in a coffin as a result of my vocal opposition to ZANU-PF. So, I started a website on the situation in Zimbabwe. This way, I could have my say anonymously. The response was overwhelming."
Johnston says the intimidation and violence continued through June 2000, especially in the rural areas where the war veterans had full reign and the rural population was subjected to the most sadistic acts. The rural vote was secure.
"International visitors and commissions started coming over to see for themselves what was going on. Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth secretary general came, and after a day or two, went back home and declared all was well in Zimbabwe and that the climate was right for free and fair elections. Tourism -- a major foreign-exchange earner -- ground to a halt. Zimbabwe was now the focus of attention for a lot of the world press, but nothing was being done to stop the atrocities or to reprimand Robert Mugabe," said Johnston.
"Mugabe made overseas visits during this period where he was welcomed with the usual pomp and ceremony, while his hired thugs were doing their dirtiest at home. We, the general population, were appalled, but apart from appealing by means of the media, etc., our hands were tied, and there was nothing we could do to stop the madness. We had no one to turn to and felt very vulnerable. Our police force had showed its allegiance to the ruling party, not the state, and could not be called on when the war vets and hired thugs were about their evil business. We were alone."
As expected, the ZANU-PF won the majority in the June elections.
"How could they not have won when the extent of the intimidation was countrywide? The atrocities committed on the population ensured a victory. … I had many overseas folk at that time e-mailing me and asking if the violence had really been that bad. Yes, it was that bad. I live here; I saw it; I saw its results. It was that bad -- and it continues! The opposition had a good showing by winning 58 seats, and they resolved to challenge many of the results in the courts, as they were sure there had been rigging. They also stated that the intimidation had affected the results. They have since been proved right in the courts, and a few results have been overturned in the last few weeks," said Johnston.
Speaking of the current pace of events in Zimbabwe, Johnston told WorldNetDaily, "The race is now on for the presidential elections. The war vets continue to plague the farmers, and the farm invasions have been stepped up. Mugabe announced that he plans to have the fast-track land redistribution program over by December. Land is being parceled out in a haphazard manner to people who have had no experience in commercial farming. Tobacco is our greatest earner, and without the expertise of the commercial farmer, the tobacco industry is doomed, and along with it, any hope of recovery for Zimbabwe. The white farmers continue to suffer great intimidation, beatings and more at the hands of the ZANU-PF thugs. Theirs is a life I do not envy. We have many relatives who are farmers, and the land redistribution program has affected all of them. Many of them have been beaten; some have left their homes and are living in Harare, waiting for the day when they can go back to their farms. I don't think that will ever be possible again."
"The leadership of the MDC are firm believers in law and order and are convinced that peaceful change is the only way to a true resolution of our problems," Johnston said. "They have vowed not to resort to violence in their bid to wrest the power from the ruling party, so they continue with the debates in Parliament and wait for the presidentials. They predict Mugabe will lose his bid for the presidency by the vote of the electorate.
"I hate to put a damper on things, but this is Africa, and Africa does not rule that way. Here, the sword is mightier than the pen, and the sword has cut right through the masses of Zimbabwe. I predict that he will remain in power as a result of a frightened and intimidated population, the majority of whom will vote for him if they know what's good for them," added Johnston.
"I look down the road ahead and see more of what we are living through every day. Fuel shortages have become a way of life. It's not uncommon to queue for petrol for 11 hours at a stretch. Businesses are closing on a daily basis due to the current economic climate. Folk, black and white, are leaving for greener pastures. There is a major brain drain going on at the moment. Professionals are being enticed away, more on the promise of a peaceful existence, I suspect. No one likes to live and work under the current conditions, and if any have a choice to leave, they usually take it. Who can blame them?
"The white population is dwindling, and we are continually plagued by racist comments and jibes. … The man in the street is not concerned over racial issues. I think we got past that years ago, but our leaders are now encouraging racism. They have to blame someone for their inadequacies, so why not the whites who stole the country in the first place?"
Johnston has anxiety about the future of her nation.
"Our president is very quiet as his henchmen go about and do their best to keep us all under tight control. His CIO (a KGB-style outfit) instills fear in the urban population by their infiltration into every aspect of our lives. We don't know if our phones are tapped, e-mails are read, conversations are recorded. But we are all careful," she said.
"The president also waits for the presidentials next year. He is almost assured of victory, if the present intimidation is anything to go by. All that could be irrelevant -- we may not even have a country to govern by next year. Then what? Years ahead of more oppression, poverty and lack of freedom? Is it all worth it as a white in an African country -- this constant fight for survival, for basic human and civil rights? I believe it is, but I am so tired of it all. I long for a normal day, a good day, when there is no threat over my head, no constant worrying for my family and friends. I long for a peaceful night's sleep, away from it all. But it may be a long time coming.
Concluded Johnston, "We may yet live to regret our decision to stay on in Zimbabwe through the last two years or even the last 21 years since independence. The 'Dark Continent' seems to be living up to its name."
Narina Van Rensberg, a South African marketing executive now working in Hong Kong, talked to WorldNetDaily about the current violence against whites in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
"I know it's ironic that I fled from one communist country to another, but there's one huge difference. Hong Kong is one of the safest places in the world in terms of crime, and to me, that's just great for now. I went back to Cape Town last year after living in serene Dubai, and every week a bomb would go off outside some restaurant or shopping center. Every day I would hear about some little children who had been raped or young white women returning home to be confronted by a carload of rapists. Nah! Not for me, thanks. I think the Zimbabweans you interviewed are the bravest, most foolish people in the world right now. If I were there, I would climb the trees to get out, or get in a boat and see where the tide took me. I admire their bravado, but I believe they are paralyzed by fear and denial, just as South Africans are," she told WND.
"The writing is not just on the wall; it's painted on their doorsteps."
From The Star (SA), 10 May
Mugabe won't step in to end invasions
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would not intervene to end the current wave of invasions of businesses by self-styled war veterans, a spokesperson for the government said on Wednesday. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the country's biggest umbrella body for exporters and manufacturers, should instead address the grievances of workers. "The CZI is continuing to exaggerate the crisis, but the war veterans have made clear that they will not allow impostors to hijack the genuine grievances of workers which they are trying to solve," Moyo told the Zimbabwean weekly paper the Financial Gazette. "Instead of seeking President Robert Mugabe's intervention, the CZI leadership should seek to meet the workers who have genuine grievances and try to address them," he said.
The CZI has appealed to Mugabe to stop the invasion of private companies. The raids have triggered a visible split within Mugabe's cabinet, resulting in the resignation of Industry Minister Nkosana Moyo. Other senior officials who have voiced muted discontent include Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo and Vice-President Joseph Msika. The veterans, who are spearheading Mugabe's campaign for re-election next year, have in the past two months raided several private firms and kidnapped captains of industry whom they accuse of backing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change or ill-treating workers. In the ensuing disturbances, some companies have been forced to close down, while others are downscaling their operations. Political observers believe that the plan to direct invasions to private companies was hatched by the ruling Zanu-PF earlier this year to try to whip up support for Mugabe, whose party lost virtually all urban seats to the MDC in the general election in June last year. The presidential poll has to be held by April.
Meanwhile, the British High Commission formally closed its library and information centre in Harare on Wednesday, after threats by war veterans to "deal with" embassies and aid organisations they suspect of supporting the opposition. The government has stated that it could not guarantee the safety of embassies and non-governmental bodies which engaged in the internal politics of Zimbabwe. Last week, the Canadian high commissioner to Zimbabwe, James Wall, was assaulted by a gang of veterans after he had intervened to stop them from abducting Dennis O'Brien, a director of Care International, a Canadian aid organisation. Several foreign diplomats have said they are looking at a possible evacuation of their nationals.
From The Financial Gazette, 10 May
Mugabe hints at land talks with UK
President Robert Mugabe said yesterday he was prepared for possible talks with former colonial power Britain over his government’s controversial land reform programme, state-owned ZIANA news agency reported. Mugabe, speaking after talks in Harare with former Nigerian military leader Ibrahim Babangida, said Zimbabwe had taken steps to prepare for possible talks with Britain and that it would not bar British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook visiting the country. "We briefed him (Babangida) on the steps we have taken in our preparations to talk to Britain, that is if they want to talk to us," Mugabe was quoted as saying. ZIANA said Mugabe "would not stand in Cook’s way if he wanted to visit Zimbabwe". Mugabe’s comments came a week after Cook rejected sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying they would only hurt ordinary Zimbabweans.
"Mugabe said Nigeria and Zimbabwe had close bilateral ties, hence Nigeria’s mediation role in Zimbabwe’s standoff with Britain over the land issue," ZIANA said. Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth, whose request to send an urgent ministerial mission to Zimbabwe in response to an escalation in violence has been rejected by Mugabe. Babangida, whose eight-year rule ended in 1993, was in Harare as a special envoy of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to discuss the war in the DRC. There was no immediate reaction from the British embassy in Harare to the ZIANA report. Zimbabwe and Britain have been embroiled in a diplomatic standoff since self-styled war veterans violently seized white-owned farms in the lead up to parliamentary elections last year which left at least 31 people dead.
From News24 (SA), 9 May
Zimbabwe fuel supply acute
Harare - Zimbabwe's acute fuel shortage showed scant signs of easing on Wednesday despite news that the state-owned oil firm had been able to secure $10 million of scarce hard currency to import badly needed oil products. Commuters in the capital Harare struggled to get to their offices as minibuses were forced to scale back their services while thousands of motorists joined growing queues outside the few petrol stations that still had some petrol or diesel.
State oil importer Noczim had moved to ease the critical shortage by paying Kuwait-based oil firm Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) $10 million to resume supplies that had been stalled because of non-payment, The Herald newspaper reported. Zimbabwe has suffered intermittent fuel shortages since 1999 after Noczim's credit lines were cut over a Z$9 billion debt which has since more than doubled. The crisis has been worsened by an acute foreign currency squeeze which has hampered imports. President Robert Mugabe's government needs an average of $40 million a month for fuel imports but has been struggling to pay its bills to IPG.
Industry groups have warned that the fuel shortage could lead to more corporate closures while farmers say the lack of fuel is hampering their efforts to harvest vital foodstuffs and the country's major tobacco export earner. A director with a leading taxi services company said most of its 150-strong fleet had been grounded since Monday night as drivers were unable to fill up their tanks. "We don't know when our vehicles will be back on the road," he said. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has also voiced its concerns on the fuel shortage which has come as companies are being raided by self-styled war veterans who have intervened in labour disputes, demanding money on behalf of sacked workers.
"The fuel crisis is an added dimension to industry's problems which needs urgent attention, but everyone is at the moment preoccupied with the company invasions," said CZI head Malvern Rusike. "Instead of having to worry about factory invasions, we should right now be addressing key economic fundamentals like the foreign currency crisis, the fuel shortage and inflationary pressures," Rusike said. The fuel and foreign currency shortages are the most visible signs of Zimbabwe's three-year-old economic crisis - the worst since independence from Britain in 1980 - which many blame on mismanagement by Mugabe's administration over the past 21 years.
From The Financial Gazette, 10 May
Govt stops repayment of all foreign debts
THE government has stopped repayments of all foreign loans, including those owed to the IMF, and is using the little foreign currency that trickles into Zimbabwe to meet payments for fuel and electricity imports, authoritative financial sources said this week. The government owes more than US$4.5 billion to several multilateral institutions and Western countries. These include the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the United States of America, Britain, France Germany and Finland. The government’s domestic debt stands at more than $123 billion.
While in the past year the government had struggled to meet its debt obligations, with repayments to some creditors being halted last year, it had maintained payments to the IMF. Top foreign and local financial officials this week said Harare had now virtually frozen all debt servicing in yet another sign of its rapidly deteriorating economic and foreign currency crises. Defaulting on IMF debt is the last step that is taken only by the most financially desperate of governments. Nations strive to keep a clean record with the IMF because international investors and donors first consider the Bretton Woods institution’s credit rating on a country before doing business with it.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Simba Makoni and his deputy, Chris Kuruneri, could not be reached for comment up to the time of going to print late last night. Makoni is out of Zimbabwe while Kuruneri was said to be out of town yesterday, as was Nicholas Ncube, the ministry’s permanent secretary. The central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe refused to speak on the matter, saying its role was that of being the government’s banker only and that it could not comment publicly on its client’s decisions. The IMF in October 1999 suspended balance-of-payments support for Zimbabwe’s off-track economic reforms, but Harare - eager to maintain a respectable image to international financiers and donors - had continued to fulfil its obligations on its US$20 million debt to the organisation. But these had been stopped in February, the sources said.
Zimbabwe Ministry of Finance officials, who late last year repaid some of the US$47 million owed to the World Bank at the instigation of President Robert Mugabe, who regards the bank as friendlier to Zimbabwe than the IMF, had also stopped these repayments as well. An official of the embassy of Finland in Harare, Yrsa Lindholn, yesterday said Zimbabwe owed Finland US$8 million, most of it acquired through government guarantees on borrowings by some institutions and companies in Zimbabwe. The southern African nation had since last year been in default on the twice-a-year repayments to Finland. "The total sum owed is US$8 million. The government has defaulted on repayments. Their latest default was in March 2001," Lindholn said. A Germany embassy official said Zimbabwe’s arrears on its debt to Berlin had been accumulating since one-and-a-half years ago. "Indeed there are arrears that have been accumulating since one-and-a-half years ago," the official said. He did not give the sums involved.
The IMF and other development institutions and donors have cut aid to Zimbabwe over the government’s failure to uphold the rule of law, its controversial land policies, its mismanagement of the economy and its involvement in the costly Congo civil war. Suspension of balance-of-payments support by the IMF has exacerbated a biting foreign currency crisis in the country, whose economy is seen declining by nearly 10 percent this year versus about six percent in 2000. Fuel remains critically in short supply because the foreign currency coming into the country, even as the hard cash-spinning tobacco selling season is in progress, remains far below the required amounts.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 9 May
Canada upset by Zim thuggery
Johannesburg - Canada has become the latest Western government to protest to Zimbabwe over the intimidatory behaviour towards its nationals by so-called "war veterans", who have targeted foreign employees in a rash of labour disputes. Canadian high commissioner James Wall was jostled on Friday as he tried to prevent CARE director Dennis O'Brien from being abducted by veterans from the Canadian aid organisation's headquarters, the Ottawa Citizen reported on Tuesday. The veterans were protesting the dismissal of a former employee. O'Brien was forced on to a small truck and taken to the headquarters of the ruling ZANU-PF party. "He was taken against his will," Wall was quoted as saying. None of the vets carried weapons, and Wall said he wasn't hurt in the incident. "There was just a lot of them. There was a lot of yelling," he said.
In what has become a familiar pattern that has affected British, German and South African nationals, O'Brien reached a settlement in the dismissal case "under duress", said CARE deputy executive director Nancy Gordon. "He was forced into making a settlement." Sanjeev Chowdhury, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley said on Monday that the Zimbabwean government has been warned of possible negative consequences for aid to Zimbabwe. "In the course of the next few days, we'll consider what other measures need to be taken," he was quoted as saying.
The veterans have accused some Western governments and aid organisations of backing the opposition MDC. Brian Raftopulous at the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies, said the role of the veterans in urban labour disputes was a deliberate strategy to undermine the opposition. He told IRIN that by championing the rights of workers, the ruling party militants aimed to cut into the MDC's urban support base, solidly represented by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Raftopoulos alleged that the ministry of labour was colluding with the veterans by providing information on outstanding disputes, a situation exacerbated by the "slow process of labour relations" procedures in Zimbabwe. He added that recent changes within the senior leadership of the ZCTU meant that the labour movement had "responded slowly" to the challenge.
From News24 (SA), 9 May
German aid group staff released
Harare - Nine local staffers of the German aid organisation HELP have been released after being held in prison since last Friday after being accused of provoking public unrest. A member of HELP told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Harare on Wednesday that the nine had been released on Tuesday evening and would be examined by doctors since at least one had been beaten by police. They had tried to prevent a HELP warehouse from being plundered and had then been accused of trying to prevent a peaceful distribution of food. The nine would now face trial on May 18. HELP says that on April 19 up to 1000 people urged on by the so-called war veterans supported by President Robert Mugabe had plundered a warehouse in which about 150 tons of food meant for victims of storms were stored.
From The Daily News, 9 May
Ex-fighters storm car parks
About 50 war veterans and Zanu PF supporters wielding clubs and iron bars attacked youths manning four car parks in Kuwadzana Extension, Harare, on Sunday night. Two of the car parks belong to Resias Masunda’s company, Jet Security, and the others to Loss Control, run by MDC youths in the area. Masunda is an MDC youth activist. Maxwell Matombo, 22, was bitten all over the back by a group of war veterans and Zanu PF supporters who randomly attacked anyone they suspected to be an MDC member. (This story appeared on the front page of the Daily News with a picture of Maxwell Matomba showing at least half-a-dozen severe bite wounds all over his back.)
From The Financial Gazette, 10 May
Zvobgo ordered to defend MDC challenge
High Court judge Justice James Devittie yesterday ruled that Eddison Zvobgo, the ruling ZANU PF party’s MP for Masvingo South, should appear in court to defend his parliamentary seat which is being challenged by Zacharia Rioga of the opposition MDC. This follows the dismissal of an application by Zvobgo’s lawyer, Advocate Anele Matika, that the court should ignore Rioga’s petition because it was not properly filed. Justice Devittie dismissed the application with costs, saying Zvobgo should answer allegations by the losing MDC candidate that he lost the parliamentary seat during last June’s general elections because the poll was marred by violence.
The lawyer of the veteran Masvingo politician wanted Rioga’s petition to be declared null and void, saying it did not meet some requirements of the Electoral Act. The petition was not filed by Rioga himself since he was languishing in hospital after he had been brutally attacked by alleged ZANU PF supporters and their allied war veterans just three days before the elections. Zvobgo polled 14 954 votes against Rioga’s 5 549, but the MDC candidate is challenging the result, citing alleged rampant violence that preceded the ballot. The ruling by Justice Devittie means that on Monday next week Zvobgo will have to appear before the High Court to defend his parliamentary seat.
Meanwhile another High Court judge, Justice Paddington Garwe, yesterday ruled that ZANU PF’s MP for Chinhoyi Philip Chiyangwa was properly elected, throwing out a petition by MDC’s Silas Matamisa. Matamisa challenged the election of Chiyangwa on the grounds of alleged rampant vote-buying by the flamboyant Harare businessman in the run-up to the general elections. Matamisa, who lost to Chiyangwa by about 500 votes, announced immediately after yesterday’s court ruling that he would lodge an appeal. The MDC is challenging the results of a total of 37 mostly rural constituencies won by ZANU PF and has already won two cases, lost two and withdrew two petitions. Among the seats which the MDC has successfully petitioned the courts to overturn is the Buhera South, where its president Morgan Tsvangirai had lost to ZANU PF’s Kenneth Manyonda.