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 International Community must reject fraudulent election in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc


Media Release

August 2, 2013

International Community must reject fraudulent election in Zimbabwe

“The emerging victory call by Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF following Wednesday’s national elections spells disaster for the people of Zimbabwe and needs to be soundly rejected by the international community,” said Peter Murphy from the Sydney-based Zimbabwe Information Centre.

“This outcome was widely feared because the election was a unilateral initiative of ZANU-PF. It mocks the great public expectation, expressed in huge MDC rallies in the last two weeks, for democratic change for Zimbabwe,” said Mr Murphy.

The fraud was blatant and enormous in scale:

“We are hoping that the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union Observer Missions will call this fraudulent election for what it is, and we call on the Australian Government to reject this election as not ‘free and fair’. The Australian Government should use its international credibility as a major donor to Zimbabwe to build international support for the revival of a democratic transition for Zimbabwe,” said Peter Murphy.

The ZIC is very disturbed by reports from Harare that overnight police have raided homes of MDC activists without warrant, and that police have surrounded the MDC headquarters at Harvest House in Harare.

For further comment: Peter Murphy     0418 312 301

Peter Murphy


SEARCH Foundation

128 Chalmers St, Surry Hills, 2010
Ph: +61 2 9698 4918 Fx:  +61 2 9699 3717

Promoting 21st Century Democratic, Ecological Socialism  ABN 63 050 096 976  mobile: 0418 312 301

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Mai Jukwa finally takes our cue by Muckracker

August 2, 2013 

Muckraker saw a flyer from Zanu PF councillor for Ward 5, Abraham Samushonga. He said his party would “Indeginize (sic), Empower, Develop and Create Employment”.

By Muckracker

Where will they create employment we wonder, not having created any over the past 33 years!

Samushonga is unknown in his domain: Belvedere, Milton Park, Ridgeview and Monavale.

What we suggest is that he first learns how to spell indigenise before he next sends out his Pamberi Nekubatana message!

In one of the election flyers enclosed in a newspaper on Monday was a picture of Lookout Masuku, the Zipra commander. He, it may be recalled, was incarcerated despite being acquitted by the courts, and died upon his release because of the abuse he suffered in jail.

“Let us salute the memory of our armed struggle,” the caption reads. Indeed, let us remember the armed struggle and those 20 000 cadres who died, many in appalling conditions.

Smoke and mirrors

Zanu PF’s propaganda campaign has been a mix of childishness, deception and ancient history. Most people have seen the white man being carried across the river. The Herald photo would have been taken in the 1890s. In a bid to stoke the fires of racism, the caption reads: “This could have been your great grandfathers.”

Another picture of porters carrying settlers in hammocks says: “This is where we came from, we can no longer be used like this.”
Is it seriously suggested that the whites of today, of whom there are only 40 000, are planning to use rickshaw drivers to carry them around?

So much for the Human Rights Commission which has been trumped by Zanu PF’s vicious propaganda. Of course apart from roads, railways, schools and hospitals colonial rule was cruel and bad. But so was Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina.

Who dreamt up those wicked episodes? Not the generation of 1890 but the Zanu PF gang of today!

Extreme makeover
Meanwhile President Mugabe has had a makeover in his election posters. He has lost about 20 years. It is a characteristic of totalitarian states that their leaders are portrayed as forever young.

We recall portraits of Ceausescu and Shamuyarira.

How long will it take for Zec to count the votes, we wonder? This is an outfit that has hardly covered itself in glory. It took five weeks in 2008. In the UK, polling stations close at 8pm and the results are known by early the next morning.

Here, in what must be one of the most misconceived restrictions upon the democratic process and freedom of expression we are not even allowed to whisper what we think the result might be. But the Herald, we note, was permitted to forecast “President to win first round” on its front page. Clearly a different rule for some!

That darned beast
Nathaniel Manheru had a lot to say about our front-page editorial in his Saturday column. He described it as “intemperately hateful… replete with animal imagery as would shame the discourse of Rhodesiana.”

Despite having been educated in Britain, he is clearly unfamiliar with the expression regarding the “face of the beast”. Whatever the case, he has the effrontery to accuse us of hate language which was the main feature of his boss’ election speeches!

And what about the ethics of permanent secretaries adopting partisan positions? Is Manheru in any position to lecture us on that? His hypocrisy knows no bounds! We noticed he is still using a feather quill for his Saturday output. Surely they have a computer he can use!

Mai Jukwa’s epiphany
Speaking of Zanu PF hired guns, we were intrigued to note Herald columnist Mai Jukwa shares Zimbabweans’ view that ZBC’s poor coverage of Morgan Tsvangirai has boomeranged.

“Without any real coverage of the man, over the years a mythical figure of noble persuasion has grown in the minds of many Zimbabweans,” Mai Jukwa conceded.

“I am convinced that if the ZBC had covered Tsvangirai in the same manner in which it covers Zanu PF events then Tsvangirai would have been history many years ago.”

Echoing what Muckraker and many others have stated, Mai Jukwa lays into senior management at Pockets Hill for their “head-in-the-sand attitude” whereby they “do not seem to recognise that there is a problem”.

The nuggets continue: “This is worrying because the nature of the problems facing the corporation would seem obvious to many.Viewers are the only measure of success for a broadcaster. By continuing to bleed viewers the ZBC threatens our very national security.

“This is unfortunate because the national broadcaster should strive to inform.”

We never thought we would say this but preach on Mai Jukwa.

A loota continua
South of the border the ANC is working hard to improve its management of the state, Business Day columnist Songezo Zibi says.

But, he notes, the party has completely shied away from questioning whether its relationship with state institutions is not at the heart of its own problems, such as corruption and factionalism and the resultant failure to deliver public services.

“This culture has so poisoned union politics, Zibi says, “that union leadership is seen by many as a gateway to state contracts, business deals and higher political office in the ANC.

“It also guarantees membership of a consumerist elite that enjoys gluttonous lifestyles while speaking a socialist language.”
Which raises a question. What happened to the much-touted relationship between Zanu PF and the ANC?

Juju’s ‘freedom’
Julius Malema has been liberating his extensive assets to pay his SARS bills. His Sandton home went under the auctioneer’s hammer earlier this year for five million rand and his Polokwane house for not much less.

He and his friends in the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party ride around in luxury vehicles wearing red berets, the hallmark of their heroes such as the late Hugo Chavez.

We are not sure if “wee Julius” as he is known in the Sunday Times disposed of his Breitling watch and other bling bling.

The EFF guys apparently don’t see the irony of the display of ostentatious wealth while surrounded by a sea of poverty.

Zanu PF Jr
On a similar vein, the ANC on Monday said Zanu PF had single-handedly destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy and the EFF should be wary of taking inspiration from Zimbabwe.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Malema’s party was not guided by the Freedom Charter but rather was inspired by Zanu PF.

“To me the EFF has nothing to do with the Freedom Charter –– it has everything to do with Zanu PF,” he said.

In bold face
We note with concern Retired Brigadier-General Livingstone Chineka who has threatened war if Zanu PF loses the poll which took place on Wednesday.

Chineka was reported as telling villagers that the former war fighters are never too old to dislodge MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai from power if he beats President Mugabe.

“The revolution is still on,” he said, “the war continues.”

“I may be old but I know how to use a gun.”

This was reported in NewsDay and Southern Eye but we reprint the general’s remarks here in case Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says she didn’t notice them.

Iconic judge
Finally the passing of former chief justice Pius Langa in South Africa has attracted a host of tributes which are all well-deserved.

Jeremy Gauntlett SC, a former chairman of the South African bar had this to say:

“Like Zimbabwe’s outstanding chief justice, Enoch Dumbutshena, Langa was universally respected too for his obvious wisdom and sense of justice…

“He managed to be detached without being indifferent. He personified the principled judge, concerned about realising for all people what the constitution intended. He was its scrupulously independent gate-keeper.”

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Shocking Vote Rigging Video Haunts Zanu PF Before SADC | ZimEye

By Staff Reporter Published: August 2, 2013

Exclusive Video Showing Zim Vote-Rigging Shames ZANU PFA video of alleged vote rigging in Harare’s Mt Pleasant area shot on Wednesday morning has continued to haunt ZANU PF despite their celebrated win of the just ended elections.The video which shows the outgoing Finance Minister Tendai Biti exposing youths bussed in from distant areas in Manicaland provinces as evidenced by the bus screamer-tags.

In the video, MDC-T Secretary-General Tendai Biti boldly confronts ZEC officials for address verification details of hundreds of ZANU PF youths bussed from Manicaland’s Honde Valley using Zupco buses to a Mt Pleasant polling station, and the ZEC official fails to answer while agreeing that the youths are clearly not on the voters’ roll. Biti then telephones a colleague to launch an urgent chamber application to declare a cancellation of the special vote process.

In detail, the four-minute clip shows the young people disembarking one of the buses and hiding their faces upon seeing cameras as the join voters in a queue where they are given priority access.

Biti then questions the bus driver who claims he brought the bus from the nearby Belvedere surbub.

But when asked where he picked up the youths, the driver then lifts a finger asking Biti if he is threatening him.

The driver tells Biti he doesn’t trust his question when asked where these people are from.

In anger Biti then makes the phone call.

“We need to file a court application so that their ballots are disqualified. It’s unbelievable… some of them are dispersing now,” he says.

Commenting on the developments, Mavambo Kusile Dawn leader in the UK, Lloyd Nembaware said ZEC clearly has damaged its reputation.

Said Nembaware:

“Obviously the MDC will lay very heavily on that. Don’t forget that Zuma was saying he needs evidence from Tsvangirai  to say the election was rigged so clearly that they can use as evidence. Whether Zuma can go by that I am not sure but that’s a clear piece of evidence they probably could use.”

“But they might have to substantiate that, don’t forget that the presiding officer there was refusing as well saying these guys have official slips.

Nembaware said the ZEC has damaged its image for credibility.

“Unfortunately for ZEC, it has had its reputation tarnished because of a number of irregularities. We saw the fiasco that occurred during the special vote and also questions are abound about the voters roll,” he said.

He added:

“It should have been in ZEC’s interest to make sure the result is not disputed. To not publish the list of polling locations a few days before the elections is atrocious. There clearly is prejudice about this. Zanu PF need not worry too much as the dysfunctional opposition has cleared the way for it by squabbling about posts. We need serious leaders in Africa not those driven by greed, materialism and petty positions.”

Meanwhile the ZEC as expected to finalise its final result announcement on Friday afternoon and it was projected that Mugabe would win by a landslide.

via Zimbabwe: Shocking Vote Rigging Video Haunts Zanu PF Before SADC | ZimEye.

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Mugabe: African liberator, former honorary knight, aging ruler

By Faith Karimi, CNN

August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
  • He was once called a liberation hero, but rights groups now accuse him of abuses
  • Mugabe became a household name during a guerrilla war against white colonial rulers
  • He was Zimbabwe's prime minister in 1980, then its president seven years later
  • Survey last year showed his party regaining popularity

(CNN) -- After more than three decades, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not ready to give up power.

Referred by locals as "old man," the 89-year-old leader trudges on, holding on to his presidency by rigging elections, suppressing the media and intimidating his opponents, rights groups say.

Surrounded by stuffed lions in the capital of Harare this week, Mugabe vowed to concede if he loses the election held Wednesday. His camp later said it was confident of a win, though official results have not been released.

But Mugabe has never been shy about his grip on power.

"This is my territory, and that which is mine I cling (to) unto death," he once said.

War hero

Once hailed as a liberation hero, Mugabe became a household name during a guerrilla war against white colonial rulers in Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia.

The white regime threw him into prison for 10 years. After his release in 1974, he launched a fight for freedom from Mozambique. He coordinated a guerrilla war against then-Prime Minister Ian Smith's white minority rule in Rhodesia and returned home a hero in 1979.

"He was very clear of what they were looking for, which was really one person, one vote, democracy for his country," said Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of former South African President Thabo Mbeki. "He was leading this party which had an army, which was credible, which was doing a good job against the white settlers in then-Rhodesia."

He went on to lead the newly independent Zimbabwe -- first as prime minister in 1980, then as president seven years later.

Good ol' days

Zimbabwe's economy was strong in the early years of Mugabe's rule. The country was known as the breadbasket of southern Africa because of its strong agricultural sector.

But that changed in the 1990s, when the economy began a downward spiral and Mugabe's government faced charges of elitism, cronyism and corruption.

His liberation credentials brought him high regard during the early part of his leadership, with many seeing him as a unifying figure committed to the needs of the average person.

Goodwill runs out

But the goodwill from his liberation struggle slowly ran out.

In 2000, he drew criticism for his land reform program that evicted white farmers and gave the land to poor black Zimbabweans, many veterans of the struggle for independence. Most were not as familiar with commercial farming.

"Zimbabwe belongs to the Zimbabweans, pure and simple," he said in a 2009 interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

White Zimbabweans -- even those born in the country with legal ownership of their land -- have a debt to pay, he said.

Soon after, agricultural output decreased sharply. And so did his popularity overseas.

'One of Africa's bad boys'

Despite his pariah status in the West, analysts say Mugabe's anti-Western tirades have propelled his popularity at home.

To some, he commands respect for challenging the status quo and retaining his image as a critic of former colonial powers, said Ayo Johnson, director of Viewpoint Africa, which sells Africa content to media outlets.

"Mugabe ... is one of Africa's bad boys and wears his medal with pride," Johnson said in a past interview. "He who stands up and shouts the most is usually revered."

Few African leaders have as willfully and spitefully taunted the West, a major source of donor aid, as Mugabe has.

His anti-West tirades especially target Britain and the United States, which he accuses of colonialism.

"Keep your pink nose out of our affairs, please," he told the United States last week in response to criticism of his push for elections without key reforms.

No longer a breadbasket

In recent years, political rivals have accused him of turning a nation once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa into one racked by hunger and once sky-high inflation.

But Mugabe has clung to power at all costs.

In 2008, his party lost to his closest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, who did not get enough votes to avoid a runoff. Opposition party supporters were beaten, tortured and killed, rights groups said, and Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff in protest. The post-election violence left about 200 people dead and thousands injured.

Regional leaders dismissed that election as a sham and pressured the two to form a power-sharing agreement, which led to a tense coalition in 2009. Mugabe's main opponent became his prime minister, and the squabbles continued.

"I've got my fair share of criticisms and also dealt back rights and lefts and uppercuts," Mugabe has said. "But that's the game. Although we boxed each other, with Tsvangirai, it's not as hostile as before. It's all over now. We can now shake hands."

Former teacher

Born in February 1924 in then-Rhodesia to a carpenter father, Mugabe spent his early career as a teacher.

His first wife died in 1992, and he married his current wife, Grace Marufu, four years later.

He has two sons and one daughter with Marufu.

Mugabe has university degrees in education, economics, administration and law from the University of London.

Honorary knighthood, gone

In 2002, the European Union imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his allies, including travel bans, accusing Zimbabwe of human rights violations.

in 2008, the United Kingdom stripped Mugabe of an honorary knighthood awarded by Queen Elizabeth II. Later that year, the nation plunged into post-election violence.

The European Union eased the sanctions after a successful referendum on a new constitution in March of this year but called for credible elections.


As he has continued to lash out at the West, donors have distanced themselves, sending Zimbabwe on a downward economic spiral.

By 2008, the nation's inflation had soared to 200 million percent. Food shelves were empty, and a loaf of bread cost about 300 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

International isolation continued to hit the economy as corruption remained rife.

Despite widespread poverty, the nation has made major strides in its economy in recent years, experts say.

Since 2010, the nation's gross domestic product "has grown by an average of over 7% and inflation has remained in the low single digits," the International Monetary Fund said last month. "Government revenues have more than doubled from 16% of GDP in 2009 to an estimated 36% of GDP in 2012, allowing the restoration of basic public services."

Medical trips

Illness has come with Mugabe's advancing age.

He has reportedly made regular trips to Singapore for medical treatment amid growing concerns about his health. In 2011, public documents showed he amassed a staggering $29 million in travel expenses. WikiLeaks released cables detailing party members' reports that he is suffering from cancer, which he has denied.

Despite the reports, a Freedom House survey last year showed that Mugabe's party was regaining its popularity.

CNN's Paul Armstrong contributed to this report.

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Mugabe party wins huge majority in parliament

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party has won a two-thirds majority in parliament in this week's elections, officials say.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said that Zanu-PF had won 142 seats in the 210-seat chamber.

Analysts say the result is enough for Zanu-PF to change the constitution. Results in the presidential race have yet to be announced.

Mr Mugabe's main rival has already dismissed the election as "a sham".

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and is running for president against Mr Mugabe, said the vote had been a "huge farce".

A local monitoring group has also said that the poll was "seriously compromised".

However, the two main observer groups have broadly endorsed the election, saying it was free and peaceful.

African Union mission head Olusegun Obasanjo dismissed complaints of fraud, saying the election was fair and free "from the campaigning point of view".

Monitors from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) described the elections as "free and peaceful" but said it was too early to call them fair.

Zanu-PF and the MDC have formed an uneasy coalition government since 2009. That deal ended deadly violence that erupted after a disputed presidential poll the previous year.

Before the latest results were announced, Zanu-PF spokesman Rugaro Gumbo predicted that Mr Mugabe, 89, - who is running for a seventh term - would get at least 70% of the vote in the presidential poll.

"We are expecting a landslide victory," he was quoted as saying in Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper.

via BBC News - Zimbabwe election: Mugabe party wins huge majority in parliament.

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Zimbabwe elections free, credible: AU

Sapa-AFP, dpa | 02 August, 2013

The African Union on Friday declared Zimbabwe's vote free and credible, saying flaws had not stopped the will of the people from being expressed.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. File photo. Image by: PHILIMON BULAWAYO/ REUTERS
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. File photo.

"This election is free, ... credible," said former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the AU's vote monitoring mission.

"There are incidences that could have been avoided, but all in all we do not believe that these incidents will amount to the results not reflecting the will of the people," he said.

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF appeared confident of a sweeping victory, while the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said the "sham" polls would plunge the country into crisis.

"We are very happy this morning. We are very confident and excited. We think there is a sense of victory for us," ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told dpa.

He said the party expected to get between 130 and 140 seats in the 210-member parliament.

Results from about 30 per cent of seats in parliament showed Zanu-PF taking a strong early lead, with 52 to the MDC's 10.

Mugabe's party managed to wrest control of some urban constituencies previously held by the rival MDC.

The final results of Wednesday's election must be announced by Monday.

Local elections observers noted there were serious problems with the voters roll in urban areas - long considered MDC strongholds.

Tsvangirai has declared the elections to be "null and void" because of allegations of vote rigging.

Zanu-PF insists the poll were conducted in a "free and fair" manner, as does the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

In the 2008 election that was marred by violence, Tsvangirai won the first round but did not get enough votes to avoid a run-off. Widespread intimidation, including the deaths of some 200 of his supporters, forced him to pull out of the runoff.

The presidential poll results are only expected in the coming days. If no candidate gets at least 50 per cent of the vote, a second round will be held September 11.

The 89-year-old Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, has vowed to step down if he loses.

Africa's oldest head of state presided over a decade-long economic collapse, in part blamed on his policy of grabbing white-owned farms without compensation and fueling hyper inflation.

via Zimbabwe elections free, credible: AU - Times LIVE.

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Outgoing minister says breaches of electoral law render result illegal

Posted by Nomalanga Moyo on Friday, August 2, 2013

Outgoing Education Minister and MDC legal secretary David Coltart

Outgoing Education Minister and MDC legal secretary David Coltart has said the context in which Zimbabweans went to the polls has been fraught with many irregularities that render the whole process ‘illegal’.

Coltart was speaking to SW Radio Africa Friday after he raised concerns of massive rigging in the Bulawayo East Constituency, which he had hoped to represent in the next parliament.

Coltart lost the bid to the MDC-T’s Tabitha Khumalo.

In a statement conceding defeat, Coltart noted what he said were serious irregularities and breaches to the Electoral Act, especially the absence of an electronic voters’ roll prior to the election.

He told SW Radio Africa: “But on the (polling) day, we started to see why the failure to make us have the voters’ roll was so critical, and I saw it in two ways.”

“Firstly, earlier in the morning I became aware of a strange number of shaven youngsters around the Brady Barracks area, and that had been allocated seven polling stations all within a 2-km radius.

“The results that came out of those seven polling stations were completely out of keeping with the historical voting patterns in an area where ZANU PF has always lost,” Coltart added.

“Secondly, many people were turned away from polling stations, with their names not appearing on the roll. 85 at a station close to the United Bulawayo Hospitals.”

Coltart said this doubtless affected the election result. He also cited the involvement of police officers in the vote counting process as another Electoral Act breach that occurred on polling day.

“The law is clear that the police should neither be inside the counting station nor be involved in the counting process, yet in Bulawayo East, they were.

“So it is all of these breaches to the law and the constitution which make us say that the entire election has been unfair and illegal,” Coltart said.

Asked why both MDC formations went ahead and participated in an election whose lead-up was already discredited, Coltart said it was a difficult decision to make, as they would have been blamed if they had not.

He said the parties did all they could to raise the issue of the compromised electoral environment to SADC, including at the June 15th Maputo summit.But to no avail.

Coltart said it would be pointless to challenge the election result in the courts: “If you look at the electoral challenges from the 2002 election, none of them have yielded any meaningful change to the result or the system. And to that extent, going to court will be an entirely fruitless exercise.”

The outgoing minister called for calm despite this “massive electoral fraud”. He added that ZANU PF had this time overplayed its hand and, having engineered the result, will have to answer to the people to whom it owes its “landslide victory”, by reviving an economy it has consistently run down.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, who came face-to-face with some youths who had been bused in to vote in Mount Pleasant, has described the ZANU PF poll victory as “monumental rigging”: “It was done in a manner so crude it is unbelievable,” said Biti.

via Outgoing minister says breaches of electoral law render result illegal | SW Radio Africa.

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Preliminary Statement by African Union Election

Get the original file here:

via African Union Election Observation Mission to the Harmonised Elections of 31 July 2013 in the Republic of Zimbabwe Preliminary Statement | African Union.

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ZEC Results mapped by Sokwanele

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started to release results for the harmonised polls yesterday evening. Sokwanele is collating these on our website and mapping them.

The map below represents the results declared so far. Full details available on our website. Please note that our website maps have been heavily cached to make them as quick as possible with traffic. But this means you may have to empty your browser caches to view updates.

These results are being collated from the state media as they are announced. We have been as accurate as we can, but plan to make small adjustments if necessary over the course of the next day or so.

Our website also contains data for 2008 and we have provided a margin of victory map as well. Toggle between the two maps for quick comparison.

via ZEC Results: announced 1 August 2013 | Sokwanele.

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Why a Robert Mugabe victory would be good for Zimbabwe

Roy Agyemang in Harare
Robert Mugabe belongs to a dying breed of politicians on the African continent. Molded in the crucible of politics of nationalism, he emerges as the surviving face of African nationalism radicalised through armed resistance to settler colonialism. It is this dimension of his generational politics, this trait of his character, which Britain and the western world has not been able to comprehend.
Robert Mugabe shows his finger after casting his vote during presidential elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Wednesday. Photograph: Meng Chenguang/Rex Features
Robert Mugabe shows his finger after casting his vote during presidential elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Wednesday. Photograph: Meng Chenguang/Rex Features

Mugabe is more than just a politician, he leads a cause, or as his militant supporters would say, he has become the cause itself. And the cause has something to do with giving back the African his dignity well beyond symbols of nominal independence. A few days ago he told his supporters political independence was inadequate if it did not yield economic freedom. While it is fashionable to charge Mugabe with destroyingZimbabwe in its prime, little regard is given to the fact that the average African country has been granted nominal political independence amid economic subservience. And as the convulsions in northern Africa and even Brazil show, the flag does not always fly away.

What continues to confound Mugabe's western opponents – and there are many in the west who want to see the back of him – is that his brand of post-colonial politics is steeped in the economic self-empowerment of the Zimbabweans, which resonates with the continent. More than many other African leaders, Mugabe draws cheers across the continent.

In western lore he has been a terrorist, a Marxist ideologue, now a bloodthirsty tyrant, stereotypes that he alone on the continent has been able to mock and laugh off. "If standing for my people's aspirations makes me a Hitler," he once said, "let me be a Hitler a thousand times."

With seven earned degrees spanning disciplines, he is not your archetypal tin pot dictator. "The trouble with Mugabe," the former British foreign secretary Douglas Hurd once said, is that "he thinks like us". And knows us, one could have added.

From Margaret Thatcher's grudging acknowledgement to Tony Blair's open hostility, the British establishment has had to contend with an assertive Mugabe, ironically himself an epitome of British success. Educated by the Jesuits in the British settler colony of Rhodesia, he is what the late Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe would have called an educated "British-protected person". And like Caliban in The Tempest, his profit from this British education is that he knows the British language well enough and uses it to curse them. "It is those demons at No 10 Downing Street that need exorcising," Mugabe once castigated Blair, yet still escaping the fate that visited Patrice Lumumba, the elected leader of the DRC assassinated in a US-sponsored plot, for a milder chastisement of the Belgian king in 1960.

The land issue, a question which only history is still to settle. Despoiled of its land through a series of racial colonial measures, Zimbabwe at independence inherited a gross skew in land ownership. A small, reclusive white settler population of 4,000 owned nearly half of arable Zimbabwe – the best half at that – with the other half, packing over 10 million black Zimbabweans. History had fated Zimbabwe to a racial conflict, preordained a racially polarising fight for Mugabe. And to make matters worse, land was the casus belli of the 15-year bush war which Mugabe led, and had dominated decolonisation talks at Lancaster House on the last quarter of 1979. That gave this issue a surfeit of emotion, in equal measure across the racial divide.

Mugabe decided to tackle this matter conclusively, and defiantly after the Blair government reneged on promises to fund land redistribution made under the Lancaster House agreement.

What followed was more than a decade of a damaging standoff with the former colonial master, Britain. More damaging to Zimbabwe, the underdog. And here history gets split in its verdict: was Mugabe reckless and selfish, or did he lead his people through yet another revolution? The western world thinks he did it to spite competent white farmers who owned the land by a colonial right that persisted into independence; that he led a wholesale expropriation of "white-owned" land to win votes against the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, a new, labour-led party which posed a real threat to his rule. And the consequences have been there for all to see: an economic meltdown; a descent from breadbasket to a basket case; a rollback in civil liberties. The list of charges against him is endless.

I have seen Mugabe fight for his political life before, in the controversial and contested 2008 elections. Then his back was against the wall.

The economy had spun out of control, threatening to sweep him under politically. Sanctions which the western world had unleashed on Zimbabwe, ostensibly for imperiling human rights, many say as punishment for taking back the land, were biting his people as never before. The adversities were overwhelming. Yet he hung on, just. It is this ability to ride the storm, which attracted me to make the film Mugabe: Villain or Hero?, where I spent three years in Zimbabwe gaining rare access to the Zimbabwean leader.

Today Mugabe is back in the election trenches in a radically different political environment. Blair, Gordon Brown and George W Bush, his foremost opponents are gone.

More dramatically, the MDC, Mugabe's supposed bete noire, is on course to a crushing defeat in the latest election. Morgan Tsvangirai's claims of vote rigging will fall on deaf ears, even if David Cameron and Barack Obama stick their noses in. The official observers passed the election off as free, fair and credible. The Zimbabwean people will inevitably accept the winner.

Will Cameron and Obama have the appetite for a further fight with Mugabe, when they know that Tsvangirai is a flawed candidate?

Mugabe and his Zanu-PF are on a surge, seemingly unstoppable towards a second coming. And tellingly, the election is being fought on the theme of "indigenisation and economic empowerment" by which Mugabe, following up on his land reforms, now seeks a 51% stake in the economy for his people. That this is another racially polarising policy is without doubt. But the amazing thing is that it is a policy which seems to give Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party a marked edge over the MDC with its neo-liberal agenda of foreign-investment-led job-creation.

Even more surprising is that the youth – history's motive force in north Africa and around the world – are finding favour with Mugabe's fiery rhetoric, already founded in the land reform programme whose benefits are beginning to show. Mugabe, the man reviled in the west, may very well have infected a successor generation in ways African politics and politicians – present and future – may find hard to ignore, let alone cure. At 89, the infirmities of time may very well make this election his last stand against the west. The issue may boil down to what after him. But for now, all indications point to his bagging the latest poll.

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MDC considers protests against Mugabe landslide

By Ed Cropley  HARARE | Fri Aug 2, 2013

(Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Friday it could take to the streets to challenge President Robert Mugabe's victory in an election it rejects as a farce and which faces skepticism from the West.

No results of the presidential vote on July 31 have been announced. But Mugabe's ZANU-PF has already claimed a resounding win and interim tallies of the parliamentary count suggest a massive victory for the 89-year-old, Africa's oldest president, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980.

While the African Union's monitoring mission chief has called Wednesday's peaceful polls generally "free and fair" - Western observers were kept out by Harare - domestic monitors have described them as "seriously compromised" by registration flaws that may have disenfranchised up to a million people.

Observers from the Southern African Development Community, a regional grouping, described the elections as "free and peaceful" and called on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the result.

Tsvangirai, who faces political annihilation in his third attempt to oust Mugabe at the ballot box, has already denounced the election as a "huge farce" marked by polling day irregularities and intimidation by ZANU-PF.

Western rejection of the regional African verdict on the Zimbabwean election could stir tensions with the continent, while acceptance of Mugabe's victory will be slammed in countries where he is derided as a ruthless despot responsible for rights abuses and trashing the economy.

The mood on the streets of the capital Harare was subdued on Friday as the MDC's top leadership met at its headquarters to chart their next move, with everything from a legal challenge to street protests on the table.

"Demonstrations and mass action are options," party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said.


Some disappointed voters expressed disbelief at the election outcome. "This is daylight robbery, but I think the MDC should have realized that, without violence, ZANU-PF would still do something to cheat," said McDonald Sibanda, a 34-year old insurance salesman.

"I'm disgusted by all this."

An MDC protest campaign against the results could elicit a fierce response from security forces and pro-Mugabe militias, who were accused of killing 200 MDC supporters after Mugabe lost the first round of the last election in 2008.

"We didn't expect this to happen," one senior MDC official who lost his seat told Reuters. "We're gutted."

Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler Britain, a sharp critic of Mugabe in the past, said it was concerned that Zimbabwe had not enacted important electoral reforms before the vote and by reports that large numbers of voters had been turned away.

The U.S. government, which maintains sanctions in place against Mugabe, said "a peaceful and orderly election day does not by itself guarantee a free and fair outcome".

"Now the critical test is whether voting tabulation is conducted in a credible and transparent manner, and whether the outcome truly reflects the will of the people of Zimbabwe," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington.

Europe and the United States now face the awkward decision of what to do with the sanctions they have in place against Mugabe and his inner circle.


The Western skepticism contrasted with the assessment made by the AU election observer team leader, former Nigerian military leader and civilian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who while acknowledging "minor incidents" surrounding the July 31 poll said they were not enough to affect the overall result.

Obasanjo, whose own re-election in Nigeria in 2003 was marked by violence and widespread fraud allegations, broadly declared Zimbabwe's elections 'free and fair' on Wednesday within half an hour of the polls closing. He repeated that line after a meeting with Mugabe on Thursday.

Tsvangirai has emphatically called the election "not credible" and appealed to the AU to investigate.

But Obasanjo declined to comment on his assertion, calling him "an interested party".

The AU verdict, echoed by President Jacob Zuma of Zimbabwe's powerful neighbor South Africa, suggest the MDC's appeals for external pressure on Mugabe may be falling on deaf ears

Zuma, main guarantor of the unity government in Zimbabwe brokered after the 2008 unrest, focused on the orderly conduct of the poll. He ignored Mugabe's refusal to heed calls from the MDC and international observers to reform bias in the state media and security forces, conditions specifically stipulated in the unity administration deal.

"Something good has happened in Zimbabwe. The elections were so peaceful," he told the SABC state broadcaster.

But a Mugabe victory would pose problems for the West.

"This leaves the EU and U.S. in an extremely difficult situation," said Piers Pigou, director of the southern Africa project of International Crisis Group in Johannesburg.

The European Union, which relaxed some sanctions early this year after a new constitution was approved in a referendum, said it was too early to assess the election's fairness.

Given the sanctions, the view from the West is key to the future of Zimbabwe's economy, which is still struggling with the aftermath of a decade-long slump and hyperinflation that ended in 2009 when the worthless Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped.

(Additional reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa and Cris Chinaka in Harare, Jon Herskovitz and Pascal Fletcher in Johannesburg; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Giles Elgood)

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Bloated Zimbabwe parliament set to further strain fiscus

August 2, 2013

ZIMBABWE should be braced for the largest National Assembly with 270 MPs since independence with limited financial resources and working space at a parliament building that was designed to accommodate only 100 members.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

The increase occasioned by the creation of 60 new seats in the constitution reserved for women who are elected through proportional representation on party lists will further strain the national fiscus.

However, analysts argue that parliament’s enlargement was meant to accommodate political allies from across the political divide. Political analyst Ricky Mukonza said the decision was made for political expediency and patronage without considering its financial implications.

“Zimbabwe has a relatively small economy which is struggling and therefore cannot sustain such a big number. I think what motivated politicians is the need to accommodate each other,” Mukonza said.

The last parliament witnessed MPs failing to find sitting space in the august house forcing some members to sit on extra chairs placed in aisles especially on ceremonial occasions like official openings and budget days.

However, analysts do not see how the enlarged parliament will qualitatively improve debates and accountability besides acquiescing to pressure for gender equality in both private and public spheres.

The new constitution further allows the president to appoint ministers from persons outside parliament thus creating extra seats in the house.

Legal analyst Petina Gappah said the new constitution was clearly a “politicians’ charter”.

“The failure to specify a maximum number of ministers would be fine if we had an austerity-minded president,” said Gappah. “But I fear this will be used to reward the party faithfuls. I see a more bloated cabinet on the cards. I am very disappointed by these sections.”

Political commentator and international relations specialist Jonathan Gandari said these developments will spawn unnecessary expenditures and waste of public resources.

“I think an enlarged parliament and unlimited cabinet is a big let-down and misrepresentation of the aspirations and dreams of the nation,” Gandari said. “It’s a scandal and unbridled greed meant to create jobs for politicians when 90% of this nation is unemployed.”

Public officials are showered with luxury vehicles and allowances, and stay in posh hotels when on official business locally and internationally.

via Bloated Zimbabwe parliament set to further strain fiscusThe Zimbabwe Independent.

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Mbanga in debate at Frontline Club

Zimbabwean exiles, journalists and academics gathered in London on Wednesday night to discuss the election. The Editor of The Zimbabwean, Wilf Mbanga, was on the panel. See the full debate here:

via Mbanga in debate at Frontline Club | The Zimbabwean.