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Chaos mars special voting countrywide

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
15 July 2013

Special voting for about 90,000 government workers, who will be on duty
during the elections on July 31st, has been marred by chaotic scenes after
voting material failed to arrive in many areas.

The voting began on Sunday with some provinces in the South of the country
only receiving their voting material after midday. Scores of police officers
could be seen milling around the polling stations Monday still eager to
exercise their right to cast their votes.

This is a major blow to hopes of a break with a history of rigged elections
in a country that has only known one leader since independence in 1980.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, who has been on a crusade to remind
President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party that the country was not yet
ready for elections, described the special vote as ‘the mother of all

The special voters had trooped early to the 209 polling stations, eager for
a ballot not tainted by fraud and intimidation, but hope soon turned to
bitter disappointment.

The exercise had been seen as a litmus test ahead of the elections in 16
days’ time, as this was going to be the first time police officers and
soldiers were going to cast their ballots away from their police camps and
military barracks.

Confusion added to the frustration as most of the police officers were
turned away because their names did not appear on the voters roll, despite
strenuous efforts by their commanders to ensure they were able to register
and vote.

In other areas, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) brought handwritten
voters’ roll for the special vote, in direct contravention of the electoral

Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us it was clear it was gross
incompetence by ZEC after the electoral body failed to account for the
number of ballots printed for the special vote.

‘I think if ZEC must do something, it is better to delay it and do it well,’
said Muchemwa. He said ZEC deputy chair Joyce Kazembe blamed the delay on
the failure of the suppliers to get materials dispatched on time.

‘They have been saying they are ready for the elections for the past few
months and yet they can’t even get ballot papers printed on time. ZEC has
created a national fiasco of monumental significance,’ Muchemwa added.

As of Sunday night ZEC said it has shipped out 1,724 ballot to Matebeleland
North, 153 to Matebeleland South, 450 Mashonaland Central, 127 Manicaland,
569 Mashonaland East, 435 Mashonaland West, 1204 Midlands, 566 Harare, 864
Bulawayo and no ballots to Masvingo, though in some areas ballots arrived
after 12 midday.

Lionel Saungweme said a lot of questions are being asked about the staffing
of the police force after it emerged that less than 10,000 officers from the
force will vote in the two days allocated to the special voting.

‘We know the police said they had close to 70,000 members to take part but
it appears most of them did not even bother to fill in their applications
and send them back to ZEC. It’s actually a big blow for the
Commissioner –General who had thought that Mugabe would get votes from the
inflated figures he supplied to ZEC,’ Saungweme said.

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Chaotic Special Vote exposes ZEC’s lack of readiness for polls

By Violet Gonda
SW Radio Africa
15 July 2013

The two-day Special Vote was engulfed by massive irregularities that have
exposed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s lack of readiness to conduct
credible one –day harmonized elections in two week’s time.

ZEC confirmed the Special Voting failed to take place in Masvingo on Sunday
because there were no voting materials at all. The electoral body only
distributed just over 6,000 Special Vote ballots to the other nine

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reported that 81,000 special vote
ballots had not yet been distributed by 5 pm on Sunday and printing was
still being done, resulting in many polling stations opening late

Many organizations criticized ZEC’s lack of preparedness, with the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) expressing concern over ZEC’s inability to
conduct a two day special vote election of only 89,000 people.

The monitoring group raised questions as to how the electoral body will be
able to run credible presidential, parliamentary and council elections with
at least six million registered voters expected to cast the votes in one
day, if it couldn’t manage a two day poll for just 89,000.

The group also noted that voting was conducted at an extremely slow pace
that resulted in many people being unable to cast their votes. At Lupane
Primary School in Matabeleland North for example, voters could not cast
their ballots on Monday because their special vote envelopes had not yet
arrived by lunchtime

ZESN noted inconsistencies with the voters’ roll availability, with some
polling stations having informal handwritten lists such as at Mt Pleasant
Hall and Town House in Harare. In addition they also received reports that
some senior police officers were bringing their own lists for use at some
polling stations. The law says each polling station should have an approved
list coming from the Chief Elections Officer.

ZESN board chairperson Solomon Zwana said the two-day poll also exposed
inadequate resourcing for ZEC.

“I think if they are willing to learn from the mistakes that have been
committed; I think it’s still possible for them to run a credible poll. But
a lot also depends on other factors like adequate funding that should enable
them to carry out their responsibilities,” Dr. Zwana told SW Radio Africa.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has repeatedly said the government is broke and
has no money, although he has said if there was political will President
Robert Mugabe could mobilize resources from the country’s diamonds to enable
the elections to take place smoothly.

Meanwhile the MDC-T filed an urgent High Court application on Sunday to have
the special ballot nullified. The party accuses ZANU PF of attempting to
manipulate the national vote through this voting system for police, soldiers
and election officials.

The party said more police officers are registered to vote than are actually
in the force, a similar discrepancy that was uncovered on the general voters’
roll which shows there are more people who applied to vote in elections than
the actual people who reside in most of the country’s 210 constituencies.

MDC-T lawyer Harrison Nkomo said there are 44,113 police officers but police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri made an application for 69,322
special votes.

Nkomo said the voting for security and election officials was fraudulent.
The former opposition party argues that there is a voters’ roll for the
special group which all contesting parties should have access to. They also
want the electoral body to remove the people who voted in this early round
from the final voters roll, so that officers won’t vote twice in the general

The MDC-T application is expected to be heard in the High Court on

However ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe told reporters it was not the
electoral body’s responsibility to justify the police’s 69,322 figure. She
admitted they “underestimated the process” but said all ballot papers will
be ready for the month-end election by next week.

“I wish to advise that the printing of ballot papers delayed even beyond our
expectation. This was due to a number of reasons, chief of which was the
delay in finalising the designing of ballot papers in those wards and
constituencies where nomination was under challenge.

“We were hoping that the printer providing printing services to us would
complete the printing of ballot papers on time, but this has not happened as
printing is still in progress,” Kazembe said.

Journalist Innocent Chofamba Sithole said: “It’s now quite clear that
Zimbabwe isn’t ready to hold credible elections on July 31ST. The woeful
experience with special voting is a taste of bigger chaos to come when the
whole country goes to the polls. Was all this chaos unforeseen, or is it all

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Cops smash windows in special voting chaos

Patient ... Police officers await their turn to vote at Town House in Harare
on Sunday

14/07/2013 00:00:00
     by Staff Reporter

ANGRY police officer on Sunday smashed windows of a polling station in Mount
Pleasant protesting the slow special voting process as the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) admitted bungling.

Hundreds of uniformed police officers had gone to the Mt Pleasant Hall in
the early hours of the day but by 4PM, less than 100 had voted.

In Masvingo Province, no voting took place and in various parts of the
country voting kicked off late as the ZEC blamed MDC court challenges
against the disqualification of candidates by the Nomination Court for the

Final court rulings on the disputes were handed down late Friday, and the
ZEC said only then were ballot papers for the special vote printed. Delays
in getting the ballots to various polling centres caused chaos countrywide
and sparked calls by the MDC-T for the process to be restarted afresh.

Special voting, which replaced postal ballots used in previous elections,
allows security sector workers and other government workers – including
teachers – who will be on duty during the July 31 general elections the
chance to cast their ballots.

Angry police officers at Mount Pleasant Hall, after hours of waiting in
queues, first demanded to see the presiding officers who refused to face

This did not go down well with the police officers who then tried to force
themselves into the hall, and witnesses said several window panes were
broken in the melee.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission Deputy Chair Joyce Kazembe admitted the special voting had not
goner according to plan.

“The printing of the ballot papers delayed even beyond our expectations
.This was due to a number of reasons chief of which was the delay in
finalising the designing of ballot papers in those wards and constituencies
where the nomination court decision was under challenge,” Kazembe said.

“Our designers were waiting not only for the decision of the Electoral Court
but in some cases for the details and pictures of the successful candidates,
some of which were submitted to us on Friday, July 12, leaving us with only
Saturday to finalise all the necessary processes.

“We were hoping that the printer providing printing services to us would
complete the printing of ballot papers on time, but this has not happened as
printing is still in progress.”

She could neither confirm nor deny the smashing of windows by police
officers at Mount Pleasant Hall.
“I was not there when that happened and I don’t know who broke the windows
and why he or she did so,” she said, responding to questions by journalists.

On the ballooning number of police officers who applied to vote, Kazembe
reiterated that they worked on trust of the security organisations which
applied on behalf of their members.

Kazembe said in Masvingo special voting is yet to start.
Voting in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West began
after 4PM owing to delays in delivering the ballot papers. In Chitungwiza,
insufficient ballot papers had been provided leading to chaotic scenes.

In Matabeleland North, Midlands, Bulawayo, Manicaland and Matabeleland
South, voting began around mid-day.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party called for the nullification
of Sunday’s votes and demanded that the process be started afresh.

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Judge Chiweshe deferred MDC-T special ballot hearing to Wednesday


by Tavada Mafa

Judge President George Chiweshe has postponed the matter in which the Morgan
Tsvangirai led MDC wants the special voting currently underway nullified.

MDC-T filed an urgent application to the High Court on Sunday challenging
that the process should stop until the Zimbabwe Republic Police clarify the
number of police officer legible to vote under the special voting

The police had applied for 69322 police officers it wanted to vote on
special ballot, while there are only are 44 113 police officers on the pay
roll, according to Finance Minister Tendai Biti the paymaster of the civil

On Monday MDC-T, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission lawyers and Judge
President George Chiweshe meet in chambers and had a “sensitive” discussion.

Lewis Uriri who was being instructed by Harrison Nkomo representing the
MDC-T told reporters after the one hour long chamber hearing that the case
had been differed to Wednesday.

“The certain consultations that are presently going on between ourselves and
the legal practitioners representing the other parties the judge will hear
us Wednesday afternoon. The nature of the consultations is too sensitive for
public consumption at this stage. That is all we can say at the moment,”
Uriri said.

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ZANU PF intimidation leaves Gokwe residents ‘living in fear’

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
15 July 2013

Residents in Gokwe are said to be living in fear because of worsening ZANU
PF led intimidation and harassment, with suspected supporters of the MDC-T
being threatened.

According to the Midlands based Zimbabwe Organization For The Youth In
Politics (ZOYP), ZANU PF is terrorizing people in Ward 7, Huchu in Gokwe.
The group has received reports about a door-to-door ‘decampaigning’ exercise
taking place, with ZANU PF supporters threatening all MDC-T supporters.

ZANU PF members in the area have also been accused of defacing posters
advertising a MDC-T rally happening there next Wednesday. ZOYP also reported
that people were being forced to hand over any MDC-T party regalia, and were
threatened with expulsion from the area if they did not.

ZOYP Director Nkosilathi Moyo told SW Radio Africa that people “are now
living in fear as the situation is now highlighting another 2008 scenario
knocking at their doors.”

“This election has already lost credibility, because it is becoming
increasing difficult for people to freely participate in the electoral
process,” Moyo said.

Incidents of intimidation are also being reported with increasing frequency
in other parts of the country. Sources told SW Radio Africa on Monday that
in Marondera, ZANU PF supporters allegedly ‘frog marched’ residents to a
rally being addressed by Robert Mugabe.

A similar incident saw market stalls and shops in Mbare being shut down by
members of the ZANU PF youth gang, Chipangano, who forced residents to
attend ZANU PF rally addressed by Joice Mujuru.

SW Radio Africa was unable to contact ZANU PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo. But
he told the NewsDay newspaper that he was not aware of people being forced
to attend ZANU PF rallies.
“I don’t know what is happening in Harare, but where I am we have more than
3 000 people whom we are giving party regalia and they came on their own.
The truth of the matter will be seen on voting day,” Gumbo said.

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'This is the last mile'

GODFREY MTIMBA  •  15 JULY 2013 3:44PM

MASVINGO - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday made a passionate
appeal to MDC supporters to overwhelmingly vote for him and his MDC party on
July 31, saying this was the last mile to a new Zimbabwe.

The MDC leader told tens of thousands packed at Mucheke Stadium to vote for
the MDC saying voting for Zanu PF will take back the country to the
pre-dollarisation era when many scrounged for basics.

Since the formation of the inclusive government in 2009, Zimbabwe’s economy
has started to recover from a decade-long crisis that saw economic output
decline yearly during the period 1999 to 2008, for a cumulative decline of
more than   45 percent.

“We must be careful and vote for MDC on July 31 or else we will go back to
the old days of suffering,” Tsvangirai warned.

“Remember 2008 when all the shops had nothing and people could hardly get
food. If you vote for Zanu PF you will be voting for that suffrage.

“Vote for MDC and you will live a better life. If you vote for us and form a
new government, there will be plenty of money that you will not be able to
finish spending.

“If you vote for Zanu PF, the Zim dollars will be back and you won’t be able
to buy anything just like what happened during those days.”

President Robert Mugabe told thousands of his Zanu PF supporters during the
party’s election manifesto launch in Harare a fortnight ago that it was
possible to restore the local currency which was dropped for the
multi-currency regime in 2009 if he wins re-election in the July 31 vote.

Tsvangirai said voting Mugabe will be voting for the return of the Zimbabwe
dollar and economic hardships.
The 61-year-old Prime Minister said he was confident if given the mandate by
the people to rule Zimbabwe, the MDC will deliver and govern with respect
for the rule of law and democracy.

He said an MDC government will revive the country’s economic fortunes.

“We are very confident that we will transform the lives of the people and
the economy once we are voted into power and form an exclusive MDC
government,” Tsvangirai said.

“We will create one million jobs in the first five years and attract
investment that will turn the fortunes of struggling Zimbabweans, something
that Zanu PF has failed to do in the past 33 years.”

Tsvangirai said he had plans to create jobs and revive investor confidence
and usher the country back into the community of nations.

“We will create jobs in the energy sector where we need power stations at
Batoka, revive Hwange and Kariba (power stations) and establish gas plants
to generate electricity in Lupane and Bindura and other provinces and end
power shortages,” Tsvangirai said.

“And in doing so, we will be creating jobs for our young people who are not

“We will also dualise the highway from Beitbridge to Chirundu and other
roads and this will create jobs again for the people in the country and as
you know, the tourism industry has lots of jobs for the people  and we can
do that only if you vote for us and end Mugabe’s misrule.”

The tough-talking former trade unionist said his party was ripe and ready to
govern a country he said has been plunged into ruin by Zanu PF over the past
33 years.

Tsvangirai expressed disappointment at the ongoing special voting for
security sector members, saying if the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was
struggling to facilitate a vote for 80 000 officers, he shudders to think
what will happen in the July 31 poll when over   6 million Zimbabweans go to
the polls.

“I want to express my disappointment in the people we have entrusted to run
the country’s elections and this is Zec,” Tsvangirai said.

“I have received reports that police officers and their special
constabularies and soldiers have not started voting.

“If Zec has no capacity to run an election for only 80 000 people, then what
will happen at the end of the month when 6 million people will be voting?

“We no longer have confidence in this commission and it can be disastrous
come the real polls.”

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Mujuru promises church leaders houses, farms

GODFREY MTIMBA  •  15 JULY 2013 5:01AM

MASVINGO - Vice President Joice Mujuru has promised church leaders farms and
houses if they ensure Zanu PF wins the forthcoming vote.

Mujuru told church and cooperatives leaders at the Civic Centre last week
that her party would allocate farms to leaders of indigenous churches,
saying they were left out during the land reform programme.

“We know that church leaders, who are important to the nation and our party,
did not get land  when others were given,” Mujuru said.

“So we want you to come and get it from us.

“We will give you land because you are just like everyone else who should
benefit from our programmes since we also rely on you.”

She instructed Masvingo governor, Titus Maluleke, politiburo member Dzikamai
Mavhaire and provincial administrator, Felix Chikovo to immediately allocate
farms to the church leaders ahead of the polls.

“I instruct our party leaders here who form the Lands Committee, Maluleke,
Mavhaire and Chikovo the PA to immediately see to it that the men of cloth
get land,” she said.

Mujuru also promised church leaders houses.

“We have read so many stories of church leaders refusing to leave church
houses when their mission to lead the people is over,” Mujuru said.

“This is because they do not have proper houses for their families as they
spend most of their time preaching the word of God.

“Our party will see to it that they get nice houses for their families
because it is because of them that President Robert Mugabe continues to rule
this country.”

She urged housing co-operatives sympathetic to Zanu PF to give church
leaders first preference in distribution of housing stands.

Mujuru later paraded Zanu PF candidates at the meeting and asked the people
to vote for them and Mugabe.

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Hate speech and misinformation on the rise ahead of poll

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
15 July 2013

Incidents of hate speech and suspected misinformation are on the rise as
Zimbabwe heads ever closer to the July 31st election, with observers saying
this ‘psychological warfare’ threatens any chance of a credible poll.

The worst hate speech has been seen in the Herald newspaper, which serves as
the voice of ZANU PF propaganda and anti-opposition spin. Regular columnist
Nathaniel Manheru, said to be Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, has
ratcheted up his rhetoric to new levels in his recent columns, lashing out
at the MDC-T with acerbic regularity.

The hate speech has also come from other quarters, including the much
praised ‘Baba Jukwa’ personality that has set tongues wagging in Zimbabwe.
Using Facebook as his platform, the alleged ZANU PF insider has amassed a
huge following with his ‘inside information’ of ZANU PF.

But he drew harsh criticism with his open hate speech last week, when he
threatened people of Jewish descent living in Zimbabwe. This was in an
attempt to lash out at the Israeli owned company Nikuv, which is accused of
manipulating the voters roll.

“…and to these Jews who are manipulating our voters roll, your days are
numbered in our country, we will surely do the Hitler style on you because
you don’t want people respecting you,” Baba Jukwa wrote.

Political analyst Clifford Mashiri said any hate speech, from whatever
quarter, must be condemned. He said it threatens a peaceful election
process, because “it can cause violence.”

“The state media in particular is very provocative, and it can result in a
violent reaction. So hate speech of any kind must not be tolerated,” Mashiri

He also warned that misinformation can be just as damaging, reacting to
reports of an alleged assassination plot Mugabe had brokered, targeting
South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Lindiwe Zulu. The reports, citing leaked
documents, have been received with luke warm attention, with many people
dismissing it as deliberate misinformation aimed at undermining ZANU PF.

Mashiri said this tactic does not work, saying it is “propaganda and
psychological warfare that could have a serious impact on the elections.”

Misinformation has turned Zimbabwe’s news space into a mine-field, often
making it difficult for journalists to do their job properly. The media is
repeatedly blamed in Zimbabwe for getting things wrong, and a pool of
incorrect information being fed into the media space makes it even more

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Police Constabulary establishment by Isaac Dziya

By Isaac Dziya, a former Assistant Commissioner with the Zimbabwe Republic
Monday 15 July 2013

Police Constabulary establishment.

As of 1999 the whole country Police Constabulary establishment was around
1700-1900 members and this figure was inclusive of the Police air wing which
was predominantly a wing comprised of white farmers. However, since then
there has been a massive re-integration of members of the Police
constabulary into the regular force in the early 2000s and following this
integration exercise recruitment into the Police Constabulary was frozen.

It is also important to note that getting the correct figures of these
members could be very easy, because those who are active and perform duties
get monthly allowances from the SSB i.e. Salary Services Bureau at Mukwati
building. Their allowances schedule will show active and non-active members
throughout the country.

This is in fact a nominal role that shows all attested members of the Police
constabulary. It is absurd for the National Police spokeswoman to massively
overstate the membership of this unit which according to her estimates is
almost 29000. I know that some of the top guys  in the banking sector as
well as the majority of the ZANU PF top guys and school Headmasters are
members of this unit.

This is correct information that is confidential and should be treated with
absolute care, because I know inside out all the activities of this unit. I
would doubt very much if this unit can have more than 2000 members
considering the re-integration process that I have mentioned above. The
economic situation at the present moment cannot make it possible for the
Police to utilize the services of this unit. Although they are a voluntary
unit they get paid when they perform duties. Their allowances used to be
Z$700.00, but I do not know the level of their allowances since the adoption
of the multi-currencies.

It is possible to can create a force number for a non-existent member, or
even non active and even give friends or relatives  numbers so as to claim
allowances, this has happened and there court cases to prove this! It is
therefore impossible for the constabulary of 29 000 and regulars of 40 000
as the government cannot afford this. The ministry of finance can prove the
financial outlays. These figures are therefore meant for rigging purposes!

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Zanu PF thugs attack Tsunga volunteers


By Lance Guma

MUTARE – Three volunteers working for MDC-T parliamentary candidate Arnold
Tsunga have been attacked in the Chikanga suburb of the city this evening.
15 Zanu PF thugs were allegedly behind the attack.

Nehanda Radio understands the matter has been reported at Chikanga Police
Station. The volunteers were conducting a door to door campaign on behalf of
Tsunga before the war vets and Zanu PF militants set on them.

The MDC-T is fielding two candidates in Chikanga-Dangamvura after both
Tsunga and incumbent MP Giles Mutsekwa filed papers with the nomination
court when the party failed to conclude aborted primary elections on time.

Although it was agreed whoever lost the primary would withdraw their
candidature, this did not happen after the primaries failed to take off and
the 7 days window from nomination day expired.

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MDC candidates threaten pullout


by Sofia Mapuranga

More than ten candidates from the Welshman Ncube led Movement for Democratic
Change from Mashonaland East are reportedly contemplating pulling out of the
election race under the party ticket and running as independents.

The candidates, who accused their party of neglecting them at ‘the last hour
financially’ allege that their party had not offered any candidate financial
assistance despite the party getting funding for elections from government.

Zimbabwe’s Political Parties Finance Act provides for funding of political
parties by the state, provided that the party garners five percent of the
vote in election.

In his 2013 National Budget presentation, Finance minister, Tendai Biti
allocated $5 million towards financing political parties as stipulated by
the law.

Concerns have been raised by various political parties that the government
through the finance ministry failed to avail the money to the political
parties on time to ensure that the parties have the capacity to campaign
effectively in the forthcoming elections.

One of the candidates vying for a parliamentary seat under the MDC ticket,
said 11 candidates had indicated that they are going to withdraw their
candidature as party representatives and stand as independents because they
were not getting any assistance from their party.

He said: “It is disheartening because other political parties have been
holding rallies and posters of their candidates are strewn all over
Mashonaland East.

“We are not visible and already the special vote has been cast without us
campaigning in our constituencies.”

He lamented an unequal playing field and said in Zimbabwe, the rich have an
upper hand in politics.

Another candidate who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that the
party was failing to fulfil its promises on time and this had the potential
to cost the party several seats, not only in Mashonaland East but

“We only have 16 days until election day and we have not even put up our
campaign posters. We have been told to finance the campaign on our own. It
is as good as being independent candidates,” he said.

MDC Spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi confirmed that his party had not yet
availed money to the party’s candidates.

Chihwayi attributed this to the election date which he said was an ambuish
not only for his party but for all progressive Zimbabweans.

“It is not correct that we dumped our candidates and we are not going to
assist them with money to boost their campaign strategies.

“We acknowledge that the assistance is a bit late but the party is working
flat out to ensure that everyone gets the assistance that they deserve so
that the party wins the majority of seats countrywide,” said Chihwayi.

He said the party had not received any complaints relating to the late
disbursement of financial assistance.

“Our team is currently on the ground and in no time, everyone is guaranteed
that they are going to receive their allocation of funding and material to
boost the party’s campaign. The party are the people so we will ensure that
all our representatives are assisted in every way possible to save the
people of Zimbabwe from the merciless jaws of ruthless leaders,” he said.

MDC President, Welshman Ncube last week revealed that the party had availed
203 candidates countrywide to stand for election under the party’s ticket in
the forthcoming elections.

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The world is watching you, says SADC


by Tawanda Majoni

The head of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to Zimbabwe, Bernard Membe,
today launched the body’s work in Harare amid calls for the respect of
people’s will in the general election set for July 31.

“The world is watching you, watching Zimbabwe to see that the will of the
people is respected,” said Membe, who is also the Tanzanian Minister of
Foreign Affairs.

He was representing President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania who is the current
Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

“As the world watches, it expects to see free, fair and credible elections
in Zimbabwe, as that will also make the work of the SADC observer mission
very simple,” he added.

Membe declared that SADC would “accept the outcome of the poll where the
will of the people will prevail”.

In 2008, the regional bloc concluded that the presidential run-off that
followed an inconclusive first round in March of the same year was not
legitimate, forcing President Robert Mugabe, who was the uncontested winner
when MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out, to negotiate a coalition government
with his political foes.

The SEOM head also called for unity ahead of the election, saying the
mission would “seek to encourage the nation to stay united in spite of the
political differences and affiliation”.

He called on law enforcement, polling and political party agents to exercise
restraint to ensure that voters had unfettered access to voting facilities
because “that is what will make this election free and fair”.

In his brief speech, Membe called on political parties and other electoral
stakeholders to sensitive people to turn up in large numbers to vote on
election day and urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure poll
credibility and transparency.

“Zimbabweans, don’t let yourselves down. I wish to encourage and add my
voice to the plea of the political leadership in this country to exercise
political tolerance and ensure peace before, during and after the July 31
Harmonised election,” Membe said.

He added that that SADC had over the years assumed an active role in trying
to solve the political problems in Zimbabwe even though “the fire keeps
coming back”.

Membe revealed that SADC had deployed 442 observers to cover all the polling
stations in Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.

“The number is small compared to the number of polling stations in the 210
constituencies and the challenges that come with that come with election
observation, but it is composed of distinctly qualified observers. Although
small, it will come up with super and detailed reports,” said Membe.

More than six million people, says ZEC, are now on the voters’ roll.

Since 2000, Zimbabwe has been locked in an acute political crisis, with SADC
coming in as a guarantor of a roadmap towards free and fair elections that
would usher in a new political dispensation.

In his speech ahead of Membe, the SADC Executive Secretary, Tomaz Salomao,
described the coming election as a landmark event.

“The election marks a new era towards achieving peace for sustainable
development,” said Salomao.

The launch was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi, and representatives of diplomatic missions.

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Mandaza claims Mugabe rigged 2002 election


by Mkhululi Chimoio

Academics believe Zanu (PF) has lost its social base and have predicted a
heavy defeat for the party in the upcoming harmonised election on July 3,
amid claims that President Robert Mugabe lost the 2002 presidential election
dismally but survived through rigging.

Speaking at a civic society organisation meeting convened by Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition at a local hotel recently, a political analyst, Ibbo
Mandaza, said Zanu (PF) was resorting to using state security organs as its
survival tool.

"I can confirm to you that Zanu (PF) has totally lost its control of
communities countrywide and will lose this election dismally," said Mandaza.

"President Mugabe's party lost its support long back in year 2000. I had a
friend of mine who worked with ZEC as a senior official who confirmed to me
that during the presidential election in 2002, Mugabe only polled 18 percent
of votes while Tsvangirai amassed the remaining percentage.

“This only shows how Zanu (PF) has gone down the drain. I am optimistic that
PM Morgan Tsvangirai will pull another land slide victory in this election
no matter what situation as Zimbabweans are now aware how Mugabe uses his
rigging election machine," said Mandaza.

Mandaza , a former senior public service official with strong contacts in
Zanu (PF), urged Zimbabweans to expose the party's rigging instruments to
further cripple it.

"If Zimbabweans expose Zanu (PF)'s rigging patterns this will help
completely blow this party off as it has caused a lot of problems to the

Sabelo Gatsheni, another commentator, said using state security officials
and violent campaigns towards elections indicated fear of losing.

"Using soldiers, police and intelligence officers in his campaigns signals
that (Mugabe) knows that the masses have turned against him. Use of the
country's security men might lead to a sham election. Zanu (PF) is no longer
relevant to masses but they will surely fight until the end using uniformed
forces as their tool," he added.

Also present was Brian Raftopoulos who said Zimbabwean opposition parties
have fought and won elections but were denied the opportunity to rule the

"Zanu (PF) has always denied hard fought victories to opposition parties
which simply indicates that they are no longer wanted by masses of Zimbabwe.
It's unfortunate that SADC and AU have also failed people of Zimbabwe by
allowing Zanu (PF) to remain in government even if they have been losing

He went on to urge SADC and AU to protect the vote of Zimbabweans.
"Zimbabweans have always voted against Mugabe and his party despite the fact
that elections were not conducted in a free and fair environment. Regional
and continental bodies must guard against Zanu (PF)'s rigging tendencies,"
he added.

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Human rights activist killed in suspected car crash plot

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
15 July 2015

A human rights activist has died while another is in hospital, after the
vehicle they were travelling in was sideswiped by two cars in a suspected
assassination plot.

Activist Elliot Dhliwayo was on his way to Harare for a protest organised by
the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), when the incident

Dhliwayo and another senior ROHR official are said to have been travelling
from Chivhu, along the Harare-Masvingo highway, “when two vehicles took
turns to sideswipe their car and did not stop when it crashed”.

Dhliwayo later died from the injuries sustained in the crash and was buried
in his rural home in Chivi, on Tuesday.

The other official, who cannot be named for security reasons, is still in

In a statement issued Sunday, ROHR (UK Chapter) President Ephraim Tapa said
Dhliwayo’s death was an assassination. He said the tragedy proved that the
Mugabe regime will stop at nothing to suppress opposition ahead of the

Dennis Benton, coordinator at lobby group the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition
(ZimVigil), said the two pressure groups were saddened by Dhliwayo’s death.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa Monday, Benton said Dhliwayo’s death was even
more tragic as leaves behind a wife and three young children.

He added: “Rights activists are at greater risk from the security
establishment in Zimbabwe as Mugabe tries to rig the next election to remain
in power.

“There is no respect for the rule of law, and activists are living in fear.
There has been a concerted clampdown on even rights lawyers such as Beatrice
Mtetwa, and this is likely to get worse in the next two weeks leading up to
polling day,” he said.

The ROHR protest, which was postponed out of respect for the deceased,
finally went ahead on July 12th when more than 100 activists petitioned the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for free and fair elections.

“The activists then proceeded to the Ministry of Home Affairs where they
left a petition demanding an end to arbitrary arrests, harassment and
torture of human rights defenders,” Benton added.

The alleged assassination of the ROHR activist comes as the British
government has reportedly stepped up its deportations of failed Zimbabwean
asylum seekers, a situation described by Benton as worrying.

“We are very worried. ZimVigil is meeting the (UK) Foreign & Commonwealth
Office on Thursday, when we hope to bring to their attention the precarious
situation in Zimbabwe.”

Benton expressed concern that the British government seemed to be under the
impression that the forthcoming poll will be free and fair, “presumably
based on assurances from (South African) President Jacob Zuma.

“But we have little faith that regional bloc SADC, as the guarantor of the
Zimbabwe Global Political Agreement, will honour its role.

“As ROHR and the Vigil if the elections are not deemed credible, we would
want SADC to order Mugabe to hold fresh elections that are in line with the
undertakings made in 2008 to ensure security sector reforms, a free and fair
vote and access and open access to media,” Benton said.

ROHR is an offshoot of the ZimVigil, which has held protests against rights
abuses outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in London every Saturday since 2002

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Baba Jukwa Triggers ‘Massive’ Police Officer Protest

By Shiellah Sibanda

Published: July 15, 2013

Zimbabwe’s Facebook Assange, Baba Jukwa at the weekend triggered the first
protest action by police officers in Zimbabwe’s 33 year history.

He spoke of this breakthrough in Harare’s ZANU PF stronghold, Mbare on
Monday where complaints of MDC-T activists being victimised have been
reported in recent days. His comments came after multiple reports reaching
ZimEye  recited how ZANU PF is allegedly forcing residents into fear and
that police officers waiting to vote in Harare on Sunday night, smashed
windows of several ballot centre building windows as they protested over the
slowness of the process.

“Yesterday in my chat with security officers who were waiting to vote at Mai
Musodzi in Mbare and at the Town House, they said they were determined to
make a statement and that no amount of frustration will stop them to make a
statement. I urge our gallant security forces to remain resolute and assist
in delivering a new Zimbabwe. Let the power to have a better be delivered
through your determination l witnessed yesterday. Keep it up our guys and
ladies. Tinosvika chete,” said Baba Jukwa.

Meanwhile Mbare residents have complained of alleged voter intimidation. One
resident told ZimEye on Sunday night:

I don’t think these elections are going to give us good life. The fact is
that the number of intimidation, threats and the forcing of people to
support  things they do not like: Everywhere ZANU Pf members are abusing
people of both opposition and independent candidates and people are being
penalised for merely vocalising their views. l discuss with my friends and
we have agreed to rather migrate to other countries. What l see is war which
is also smelt by many”, he wrote.

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Zim's political future shrouded in uncertainty


HARARE – In two weeks’ time, the people of Zimbabwe take to polling
stations, where they intend to entrust leaders with their vote to serve for
the next five years.

Two political parties MDC and Zanu PF are at the epicentre of the battle.
One is a “tried party” that has been in government for the past 33 years,
while the other has been struggling to take      over reigns for the past 13

The parties’ released manifestos contain interesting and exciting policy
proposals and it is the people who will choose which of the two parties get
their votes.

But as Zimbabweans focus on the election, uncertainty shrouds the country’s
future after election results are announced.

For the past 33 years, Zimbabweans have known one president, Robert Mugabe
who has been propelled by Zanu PF at most times through violent conduct and
voter rigging.

As of now, MDC and Zanu PF are ready for battle and campaigns on the ground
are swelling and showing pointers to a do-or-die political contest.

Leading the two main political parties in the campaign are Mugabe, 89 and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a 61-year-old former trade unionist.

But, who will the people trust with their vote?

For the past five years the parties have been in an “unholy” union, filled
with drama, power struggles and drawbacks following a 2008 bloody and
disputed election.

But, as the election fever reaches its pitch level, both parties are
confident of taking over the reins.

In recent years, Zanu PF officials have been on record saying the country
cannot be taken through the pen — suggestively referring to the ballot box.

The security forces, through their commanders, have been dodgy on whether
they would support Tsvangirai if he wins the presidential race.

They say the PM is not a liberation war cadre; hence he could not be

It is against this background that many Zimbabweans are uncertain of what
the future holds for them — if the coin lands on the other side.

While Mugabe is a witty old charmer, age and past blunders weigh heavily
against his political career.

There is another thought to Mugabe’s intention to give up the presidency as
he has previously indicated that he will relinquish power in the event
Tsvangirai wins the forthcoming elections.

But, some have doubted his sincerity, following his ?security sector reform

If Mugabe’s party is to be voted back into power, its political hegemony
will be extended with a further five years, clocking 38 years in power.

The party’s leader Mugabe would be 94.

Mugabe gets into the campaign oozing with confidence based on his liberation
war credentials, the land reform and recently his indigenisation programme.

Tsvangirai on the other hand is preaching political change and a
revitalisation of the ailing economy to create more jobs and the opening of
closed factories.

As people go for polls on July 31, images and shadows of this past
experience clouds their conscience, yet they are uncertain of what change
would bring.

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Time to give Zimbabwe back to the people

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Monday 15 July 2013

Right from the start, it was very clear that ZANU-PF thrived on chaos. When
things are orderly, ZANU-PF loses its script.

It is a party that flourishes only amidst chaos; it has sustained itself
this way since independence.

Demonising opponents, hero worshipping, corruption, beating up and murdering
people, refusing to obey court judgements, tempering with the judiciary,
stripping people of human and property rights, violence and spouting old
discarded Marxist rhetoric that no one practices anymore, including ZANU-PF
itself, are just a few things that ZANU-PF has been all about.

This is a matter of public record, which people, especially politicians, are
all too aware about.

Given ZANU-PF’s record, it came as a surprise to hear Dumiso Dabengwa making
a public statement at a rally that he had blocked the election of both
Tsvangirai and Mugabe in the 2008 elections.

“I think we achieved what we had set ourselves to achieve and that is to
make sure Morgan did not win that election and that Mugabe did not win that
election,” Dabengwa is quoted as saying at a rally in Chikomba over the

The idea, it seems, was to leave Zimbabwe without a clearly elected leader
so as to include those who had been rejected by the people at the polls. And
that is exactly what happened, is it not?

I mean, this is coming from a so-called ‘intelligence supremo’, who was
maliciously arrested for treason in 1982 and released in 1983 due to lack of
evidence. But Mugabe was not through with him yet as he had Dabengwa
detained immediately after release and he spent the following four years in

As an ‘intelligence supremo’, I would have believed Dabengwa could make an
assessment as to the right direction to take, not for personal gain but for
the sake of the country for which he had paid such a big personal sacrifice.

But short-sightedness and personal gain, as usual, always cloud up the eyes
of our politicians.

In 2008, instead of coming together to heave the monster that Mugabe is out
of power and give the nation a fresh start, Dabengwa now says he achieved
what “we had set ourselves to achieve”. I wonder what he means by “we”. Was
this not a conspiracy against the people?

Be that as it may, Dabengwa joined small political parties which, according
to figures released, were just enough to deny Morgan Tsvangirai victory over
Mugabe, sending the election into a run-off and triggering one of the worst
violence against unarmed civilians in Zimbabwe.

200 people died in that mêlée, causing Tsvangirai to pull out of the run-off
election, citing widespread violence against the citizens.

The result of that deadlock, thanks to the ‘intelligence supremo’ Dabengwa,
was the dysfunctional government of national unity which is still dominated
by Mugabe, who threw Dabengwa out of ZANU-PF and refused to save him like he
did the likes of Emerson Mnangagwa after losing elections.

Total lack of foresight, I would say, and he still scrounges around like a
politically homeless puppy. I expected better from Mr Dabengwa. Intelligence
supremo, my foot!

What Dabengwa, Welshman Ncube and Simba Makoni did at that time,
strengthened Mugabe not weakened him although the numbers still belonged to
Tsvangirai. Thanks to these three who achieved what they had set out to
achieve, Mugabe still does as he pleases with the nation and the three are
still in the political doldrums, desperately huddling together to try and
somehow conjure up numbers that might give them relevance.

But we can see that they are not so much concerned about Zimbabwe but about
themselves. They want a piece of the cake and will do anything to get it.

They are at it again.

Makoni, along with ZANU-Ndonga, have announced that they will stand by
Tsvangirai this time around. Dabengwa and Ncube made their own pact.
Although it is quite predictable, it makes my heart bleed when our leaders
do such things. Just how did it happen again that political parties in
Matabeleland, small and meaningless as they are, ended up together against
political parties from Mashonaland region?

Here we go again; why did this happen and why did MDC-T allow it to happen?

This is faulty in both design and intent and all the parties should have
worked harder to prevent something that is even primitively suggestive of
political divisions along tribal lines.

Am I forgiven to think that tribalism is again being used to gain more
political sympathy? Whatever the reason behind this arrangement, I am not
amused by all this because I am very sure that Zimbabwean people are now so
politically mature as to shun this kind of division. And here I am talking
and blaming all political leaders for allowing something like this to emerge
amongst them. This is downright disgraceful.

The heart of the matter is that it is a shame that the people of Zimbabwe
are now more politically mature than the political leaders they are
following. When so much as a whisper of tribalism is injected into politics,
Zimbabweans are the more poorer. The people of Zimbabwe want to be bombarded
with different ideas and look at different scenarios offered by different
political leaders, regardless of the origin of those leaders. We cannot
continue using tribal lines as demarcations of our political existence.
Tribalism must not be given a platform, never mind how scantly suggestive.

Why are all these political leaders behaving like Robert Mugabe, the man
they all say they want to replace?

I am sick and tired of politicians who don’t deal with this kind of
political cancer but go on as if all is fine. As long as we buy and sell our
ideas along tribal lines we are all going to perish together and that does
not need intelligence supremos to uncover.

These political leaders should have worked harder to stay together for a
purpose and not try to wrestle certain concessions before the did is

To be denied free political thought and choice of who to follow based on
selling of ideas to the electorate defeat our purpose. We cannot be made to
buy ideas based on homeboy politics and regionalism. From Kariba to Beit
Bridge and from Hwange to Mutare, we don’t need that, for goodness sake.

We are fighting a seven-headed monster whose tentacles can go in different
directions at the same time and vanquish us. We cannot afford any divisions.
We deserve a new, fresh start because there are things we must do. There are
issues we must correct and there are voices amongst us that need to be
listened to.

Zimbabwe needs a fresh start, minus ZANU-PF, of course, and unless we work
together for meaningful change, not for personal appeasements, we will be
doomed to another five years of whimpers, tears, bloodshed and sorrow of the

We must know what we want to achieve before we set out to try it. Fighting
Mugabe might be much easier than ruling the country, as Mugabe himself found
out after independence.

We, as individuals and as individual political parties, must set our
priorities and make them known to those whose votes we are courting.

We cannot sustain another five years of such disharmony where politicians
spend most of their time arguing about trivial issues at the expense of the
nation. Where they spend most of their time abusing us and taking us for
granted instead of taking orders from us.

We cannot have another five years of a multi-party government. WE must prone
the leaves off the tree and see the size of the branch we want to use. It is
our option and it is our chance although our politicians, once again, made
sure that we will not have a free and fair election. For that I blame all
the political parties’ leadership for spending time on themselves and not on
national issues. I blame the parliamentarians who view membership in
parliament as a business license to inflate their wallets.

Zimbabwe is in distress and needs to correct itself because we have been
made to waste time on politicians instead of on developing our nations.

Whoever wins these coming elections better understand that they are there
for the people and the nation first, not for themselves and their

Whoever wins these coming elections must be reminded now that their mandate
and only endeavour is nothing or more or less than giving Zimbabwe back to
the people of Zimbabwe.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it
is today, Monday, July 15, 2013.

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First day of special voting marred by serious logistical nightmares

Zimbabwe Election Support Network
July 14, 2013

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observed the beginning of the special voting for uniformed forcesand Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials in various parts of the country. ZESN is concerned about the disorganised and delayed start to the voting process and multiple problems that hampered the beginning of the special vote. The network deployed one observer in each of the polling centres across the country.

ZESN observers have reported recurrent problems in all polling stations around the country. These included the late opening of polling stations, shortage of sensitive voting materials such as indelible ink, ZEC stamps, ballot papers and boxes.

There was lack of consistency at polling stations on the availability of electronic and hard copies of the voters’ roll and the slow pace of voting, in areas where the process had commenced.

In most of the centres ZESN observers noted that voting did not start at stipulated time. At some polling stations for example at Dangababi primary school in Bubi district Matabeleland North, voting commenced at 1500 hours. Furthermore, some polling stations only received ballot papers after 1400hrs such as Fatima high school in Lupane district and Bubi Tatazela hall, which points to the lack of preparedness of ZEC for the Special Voting Exercise.

These logistical problems were widespread across the country as observed in the following centres; Madziva secondary school in Shamva, Chimhanda secondary school, Bindura primary school and Nzvimbo community centre all in Mashonaland Central province; Jameson high school and Inkomo Barracks in Mashonaland West province, Chirundu border post, Mai Musodzi hall in Mbare suburb, Highfield 1 high school in Harare province; Nyazura, Nyanga, Odzi in Manicaland province; Matabeleland South, Farmers hall, Murehwa district offices in Mashonaland East province, Bulawayo City Hall and Nketa primary school in Bulawayo, Esigodini in Matabeleland South province.

ZESN observers witnessed commotion at Mount Pleasant Hall in Harare province involving voters lined up to cast their vote. Voters who had gathered to vote at the polling station became impatient after some of their envelopes containing ballot papers to enable them to vote were not found. The commotion only subsided after senior police officers intervened and admonished the voters. At Chimanimani Court, Manicaland two polling agents were involved in a physical clash. It is reported that an MDC-T polling agent identified a Zanu-PF polling agent as a policeman and a brawl ensued leading to a temporary stoppage of voting.

ZESN observers reported the absence of party agents for all political parties in most polling stations such as Mberengwa Primary School in Midlands Province. This could show that some parties were not prepared to observe the process.

At Inkomo Barracks tent in Mashonaland West province, a ZESN observer noted that ballot papers had been changed because alterations were being made on ballot papers due to the withdrawal of some election candidates. At Odzi primary school in Manicaland province, a presiding officer had to intervene to stop the playing of some revolutionary music at a residence located near a polling station which was seen as campaigning within 200 metres of the polling station.

The network notes with concern that by end of first day of polling ZEC had not yet dispatched voting materials to Masvingo Province. Given the challenges experienced on the first day, ZESN is wondering whether or not ZEC will be able to overcome these shortfalls and ensure that all eligible special voters cast their vote by close of polls tomorrow. With only 17 days before the holding of the harmonised elections on July 31, the ZEC's handling of the special vote raises questions on the Commission's preparedness to conduct the national elections.

ZESN therefore urges ZEC to assure the nation that they have the capacity to run and manage the impending harmonised elections.

ZESN calls upon ZEC to immediately intervene and correct the anomalies noted by our observers. We reiterate our call for uploading the electronic copies of the final Voters Roll with updates of voters registered during the mobile registration exercise from 10 June to 09 July 2013 on the ZEC website to enable citizens to continue to inspect and check their names.

ZESN remains committed to promoting a free and fair election where each eligible voter has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

All this is happening in the context of a pending High Court urgent chamber application filed by the MDC-T concerning anomalies between those who applied to vote under the special voting and the actual number of uniformed forces employed by the government.

Visit the ZESN fact sheet


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Chaotic special voting worrying ahead of harmonised elections

Zimbabwe Election Support Network
July 15, 2013

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is observing the special voting process for uniformed forces and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials in all parts of the country. During the two days of the special voting, ZESN observers deployed at all special voting polling centres noted that the process was marred by serious logistical challenges countrywide.

ZESN notes that the process continues to be disorganised an indication that ZEC was unprepared to conduct the special voting process.

On Sunday 14 July 2013, ZESN observers reported challenges that included the late opening of polling stations, shortage of sensitive voting materials such as indelible ink, ZEC stamps, approved voters’ lists, ballot papers and ballot boxes. In addition, on the first day of voting and in most areas in the country voting began as late as 1600hrs instead of the stipulated time of 0700hrs by ZEC and continued late into the night and early hours of morning. However, observers reported that although voting continued late into the night many people failed to vote because their envelopes had not arrived at the polling station.

In Masvingo voting only started today but with several reports of outstanding deliveries of special voting envelopes. In other districts, ZESN observers at Seke Kunaka Clinic in Mashonaland East province, have reported that voting had not even commenced by lunchtime. Similar reports were received from Macheke in Mashonaland East province, Zvemukonde in Midlands province, Mamina Primary School in Mashonaland West province.

In Beitbridge, Matebeleland South by 1000hrs, 37 voters had been turned away because their names were not on the voters’ roll. This was also prevalent in other provinces.

ZESN observers also reported that, voting is continuing but at a very slow pace. At Lupane Primary School in Matabeleland North voters who are on the voters’ roll could not cast their ballots because their special vote envelopes had not yet arrived by lunchtime today. The polling station was expecting 119 special vote envelopes and had only received 13 envelopes. At Chinotimba Hall in Hwange in Matabeleland North province, by 0700hrs only 63 special vote envelopes were available out of the 544 expected special vote envelopes.

ZESN noted inconsistencies with the voters’ roll availability with some polling stations having informal handwritten lists such as at Mt Pleasant Hall and Town House in Harare. In addition we have also received with concern reports that some senior police officers were bringing their own lists for use at some polling stations. This is in contrary to the provisions of Section 81D (2) (c) of the Electoral Act which stipulates that each polling station should have an approved list coming from the Chief Elections Officer. In addition the law also requires the Chief Elections Officer to keep a consolidated list of all Special Voters which is open to the public for inspection at any time before the announcement of the final results. We therefore urge ZEC to avail this list for public scrutiny.

Given the logistical flaws, ZESN is extremely concerned that thousands of uniformed forces might have been disenfranchised as the law requires all approved special vote applicants to be crossed out from the main voters’ roll before the final election date.

It is only prudent that ZEC considers extending the special voting to ensure that all those issued with permission to cast special votes are given the opportunity to do so.

ZESN’s observations thus far, reveal an urgent need for ZEC to immediately put in place proper logistical provisions that ensure the smooth running of the impending harmonised elections and a firm assurance to the public.

The issue of the voters’ roll remains a contentious issue and we reiterate the need for ZEC to ensure that an updated voters’ roll is easily accessible to the public for inspection in in both hard copy and web-based electronic format.

ZESN is seriously concerned that the chaos that prevailed during the special voting process serves as a telling and worrying indicator that could repeat itself on 31 July. We are concerned that with only 16 days to the harmonised elections, this shoddy state of affairs could impact on ZEC’s preparedness to fully manage the election process on 31 July 2013. We urge that adequate resources are availed to ZEC to ensure that the organisation carries out its constitutionally mandated duties.

Prior to special voting ZESN noted several incidents of intimidation and arrests of human rights campaigners on allegations of breaching the Electoral Act contrary to the promotion of a free environment in which civil society can operate unrestricted. Such practices are inconsistent with fundamental rights and freedoms, and with democratic standards of civic education that allows people to make informed choices during election time.

ZESN remains committed to promoting a free and fair election where each eligible voter has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

Visit the ZESN fact sheet


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Q+A: Will Zimbabwe’s "watershed" elections be free, fair and peaceful?
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 15 Jul 2013 11:24 AM
Author: Katie Nguyen
Enlarge image
Zimbabwe Election Commission officials (ZEC) check ballot papers inside a polling centre in the capital Harare, July 15, 2013. Members of the uniformed forces are casting special votes in the general election, which will take place on July 31. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In less than three weeks, Zimbabweans will go to the polls for the first time since a violent, disputed vote in 2008 forced President Robert Mugabe to form a coalition with his main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe, seeking to extend his three-decade grip on power in the July 31 presidential election, has called the battle against Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) "the fight of our lives". However, he has urged his ZANU-PF party to avoid any violence, saying it was set to win cleanly.

Tsvangirai, on his third campaign to unseat Mugabe, has said nothing has been done to ensure a fairer vote and that ZANU-PF was using bureaucratic obstacles and tricks to try to hold on to power.

In 2008, hundreds of Zimbabweans, mostly Tsvangirai supporters, were beaten and killed, prompting an exodus of refugees into neighbouring countries.

Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke to three experts about the prospects for a peaceful general election, whether it would be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and the major concerns in the run-up to the vote.

The experts were Chofamba Sithole, a UK-based journalist and commentator, Knox Chitiyo, associate fellow at Chatham House's Africa programme and Jeffrey Smith, advocacy officer at the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.

Q: What indications are there that the elections will pass off more peacefully than in 2008?

Chofamba: President Mugabe has called for peace consistently over the past several months, and this message has been drummed religiously into the base by senior ZANU-PF figures as well. As the party usually blamed for most of the electoral violence, it is significant that ZANU-PF has stood down its most ardent and gung-ho supporters in this way – there's a sense among them that the cover of impunity and carte blanche previously available to them isn't quite available this time round. However, this is not to suggest that more formal instruments of violence such as war veterans and youth militia, police and the military will not be deployed in strategic areas, if not to unleash violence, then perhaps to brandish the threat of it as a way of intimidating non-compliant constituencies.

Chitiyo: The SADC (Southern African Development Community) and South Africa, as well as the AU (African Union), have been very clear that they don't want a repeat of the violence of 2008. I think that's been a very important factor. The second thing is, of course, the very short timescale towards the elections, which probably has, ironically – for all the concerns about whether there'll be time to have a good election – actually helped in terms of making it a less violent process. People are tired of violence. They don't want a repeat of 2008. People simply want a clear result one way or another. They simply want a decisive winner.

Smith: The relative decrease in violence, as reported in major news outlets, can be explained in part by the fact that President Mugabe and his allies know they do not have to rely on overt violence this time around; they merely need to harvest the fear of 2008–9, as well as years past. President Mugabe does not want to embody or represent a pariah state any longer; he and his party want to be brought back into the international fold and attract increased foreign investment. As such, there is a calculated attempt to construct this democratic façade; only when you start to peel back the layers of that façade do you begin to see serious concerns. For instance, there have been a number of reports from civic activists, particularly in rural areas, claiming that the police routinely reference Gukurahundi (a 1980s military crackdown in Zimbabwe's southern Matabeleleland and Midlands provinces), attempting to co-opt voters or otherwise dissuade them from voting. Military leaders, deployed as "historians" in rural areas, are also demanding that citizens reveal their political preferences. Taken together, this prevailing climate of fear and intimidation, combined with impunity for past transgressions, has created a toxic environment in Zimbabwe — one that may not necessarily bode well for a genuinely credible and peaceful election.

Q: What are the major concerns ahead of the election?

Chofamba: The voters' roll is the biggest concern in my view. It has remained an inscrutable mystery to the MDC parties and there's no clarity as to how many ineligible names still remain on it, with allegations made that it continues to enfranchise up to a million dead voters. In recent weeks, Morgan Tsvangirai has also complained about the role of the Israeli firm Nikuv International, which was contracted to work on the voters' roll. The firm's reputation from its involvement in elections in other countries on the continent – particularly Zambia – has not been altogether edifying. The public media also remains biased in favour of ZANU-PF and has taken to broadcasting President Mugabe's rallies live on TV and radio while denying the same to his rivals. Policing also remains a concern, especially where police deny the MDC parties permission to hold campaign rallies citing lack of capacity. Legally, parties are merely required to notify police rather than seek permission to hold rallies.

Chitiyo: One of the key issues is has there been enough time to register voters by July 31? The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is working flat out in terms of that but I think it remains a concern as to whether all the people who are eligible to vote will be registered in time. One big concern is if we have another runoff, if it's a very close poll and then we go into another runoff, that's when there'd be a lot of anxiety because of course, people would have memories of 2008.

Smith: There are several major concerns ahead of the election, including 1) a major lack of progress on reforms contained in the Global Political Agreement, which was meant to lay the necessary groundwork for an even political playing field; 2) increased intimidation, threats, and in some cases, violence against civil society; and 3) violations of the rights to freedom of expression and access to information. To my mind, the suppression of civil society and the human rights community represents a chronic problem in Zimbabwe that has critically undermined the electoral environment. Particularly since August of last year – when election-related rhetoric began to heat up – dozens of civil society organisations have been targeted by the police, punctuated by numerous office break-ins, arrests of key leadership figures, and trumped-up criminal charges. Organisations involved in voter registration, mobilisation, and education campaigns have unfortunately experienced the brunt of this onslaught. These ongoing incidents comprise a clear pattern of repression that should prompt outside observers to question the willingness of leaders in Zimbabwe to allow or otherwise ensure a free and fair election

Q: What progress has there been in enacting the reforms outlined in the global political agreement (GPA) that brought together ZANU-PF and MDC?

Chofamba: The biggest reform yet has been the adoption of a new constitution, and the adoption of amendments to the electoral law to conform with it. It clarifies vote counting and tallying, potentially doing away with such delays in announcing results as experienced after the March 2008 elections before the presidential runoff was declared.

Chitiyo: The main thing which was outlined in the GPA, and which was achieved, was the new constitution. I think there just wasn't the time for the other reforms (to be implemented). It was always going to be very tricky to try and get the reforms done because the parties were not really pulling together. There were massive disagreements particularly between ZANU-PF and the MDC on which reforms should be done and when. The major area for agreement was the need for a new constitution but beyond that in terms of other reforms – electoral reforms, security – there have been big disagreements.

Smith: There has been very little progress in enacting reforms outlined in the GPA, especially in regards to human rights and the rule of law. A primary reason for this outcome has been a lack of political will on the part of ZANU-PF to implement aspects of the agreement that might limit its power. Most troubling is the fact that ZANU-PF continues to command an unchecked monopoly of power and influence over the military, police, and related security forces. The media landscape also remains heavily biased, with ZANU-PF in control over the two main daily newspapers and all national broadcast media, which are subject to political interference and censorship. Amendments to highly repressive laws – including the infamous Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA); the Public Order and Security Act (POSA); the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act; and the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act – have also stalled, with little chance of reform before elections.

Q: How is civil society faring in the run-up to the vote?

Chofamba: Civil society remains active in the urban areas but it isn't quite clear how free they are to penetrate the rural hinterland, where ZANU-PF retains significant support. Civil society groups are mostly seen as adjuncts of the MDC.

Chitiyo: There has been some harassment of civil society activists. We've seen for example, people like the lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa being arrested and there's been some level of harassment of journalists – but civil society organisations and NGOs are registering to monitor the elections as per the constitution. I don't think it's accurate to say there's been a blanket repression of civil society. Overall, civil society is very much a part of the elections. Civil society organisations will be monitoring the elections, they're participating in the debates around the elections ... they've not been excluded from the process.

Smith: By all accounts, domestic civil society remains strong and committed to advancing democratic principles. Looking back over the course of the past year, we have documented nearly two dozen instances of civic leaders being arrested on spurious charges or having their offices broken into by police, often on the pretense that they are in possession of "subversive material" or conducting "illegal voter education". These actions are technically undertaken in accordance with domestic law, giving rise to a phenomenon that I call 'persecution by prosecution', whereby partisan state authorities arrest individuals in order to drain them of limited financial resources and time, often holding them behind bars for weeks in horribly squalid conditions.

Q: To what extent do Zimbabweans see the election as a watershed moment?

Chofamba: The elections are indeed a watershed moment because they herald inevitable leadership transition. Even if Mugabe should emerge as president once more, because of his age and failing health, ZANU-PF will now have to confront its succession question soon thereafter.

Chitiyo: Whether it's a watershed moment depends on who you talk to. All the parties are saying this is going to be a transformational moment for Zimbabwe – it's the end of the GNU (government of national unity), it's a new era for Zimbabwe – whereas I think people on the ground are a little more cautious about it. They feel there will be some change regardless of who wins, but it may be more of an incremental rather than a transformational change.

Smith: I think Zimbabweans, by and large, yearn for increased freedoms, including freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and to have their basic human rights both protected and promoted by their elected leaders. They want to be free from the shackles of fear and potential violence. They want economic freedom, respect for property rights, and the opportunity to put enough food on the table for their children and loved ones. In fact, it is these bread and butter issues that I think galvanise a vast majority of Zimbabweans, regardless of political affiliation. Unfortunately, to date, very few of these needs have been met, and I think a realisation of those needs and basic human desires would certainly amount to a watershed moment for them.

Q: Tsvangirai recently formed a coalition with former finance minister Simba Makoni and the small ZANU-Ndonga party. The leader of a splinter MDC party, Welshman Ncube, has also formed a coalition with the small opposition party ZAPU. How do these developments alter projections of the electoral result?

Chofamba: The formation of a coalition between Prof Welshman Ncube's MDC and ZAPU means that they have galvanised their position in the Matebeleland region and may well eat into Tsvangirai's vote there. It is impossible for Tsvangirai to secure an outright victory without Matebeleland, which has rallied behind him almost unanimously since 2000.

Chitiyo: What is in a sense more interesting is that the grand coalition that had been mooted didn't happen. There had been talk of bringing all the opposition parties together and that didn't happen. Rather than seeing a grand pact, we've seen minor regional pacts. It likely will have an effect – certainly on the parliamentary vote. The council elections, the parliamentary elections are important but at the end of the day what really matters is the presidential election and it's really down to Mugabe versus Tsvangirai. If Mugabe wins the presidential election, then it will not be an inclusive coalition government, it will be a ZANU-PF government because certainly they don't want yet another coalition, whereas if Tsvangirai wins because of this election pact with Makoni and Ndonga, he would need to form some kind of an inclusive government and he would also have to talk with ZANU-PF because they're still very much embedded within the structures of power. It's very much an all or nothing particularly for Tsvangirai this time around because if he loses the presidential election, people are not going to give him another chance I don't think - that's it. It would also be difficult for the MDC ... The government would be ZANU-PF and that would leave very little space for the MDC and what would happen to the MDC. So really there's all to play for.

Smith: Obviously, the lack of a cohesive coalition will strengthen the hand of any ruling party, regardless of the country or political context. This no doubt holds true for Zimbabwe and plays directly into the hands of President Mugabe. There is countrywide discontent with ZANU-PF, but to this point, the various opposition factions have been unable – or perhaps unwilling – to identify or effectively build upon their overlapping interests and objectives to create a "grand coalition". It is difficult to accurately forecast an ultimate victor, as recent polls suggest a tight race. I tend to think Zimbabwe will be faced with another presidential runoff, much like last time. Regardless, it will be interesting to see the overall voter turnout, as Zimbabwe has been plagued by increasing voter apathy in recent elections.

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Zimbabwe Election Candidates - 2013

Sokwanele has created a dynamic spreadsheet table, available online, to allow Zimbabweans to identify who their candidates are in the forthcoming elections due to be help on 31 July 2013. Find the table titled Zimbabwe Election Candidates - 2013 at this link, or by visiting the 'Elections 2013' link on our site navigation bar and slecting it from the drop-down options.

The information is derived from the Government Gazette published on 5 July 2013.

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A ballot and a prayer

Dr Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 15th July 2013.

Given the chaos that characterised Day 1 of the Special Vote yesterday with
one station receiving only ballot paper at one stage, it’s fair to say that
ZEC will be on ‘a ballot and a prayer’ come polling day 31 July.

Despite attempts by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to blame the chaotic
slow start of Special Voting yesterday on MDC appeals over the results of
the Nomination Court, Zec deputy chair, Joyce Kazembe contradicted herself
saying  “The printing of ballot papers delayed even beyond our expectation”
(The Herald, ZEC blames delays on MDC appeals, 15/07/13).

External attribution for failure and internal attribution for success is a
common human habit.

A question everyone is asking is how the ZEC will suddenly manage to service
up to 6 million voters with ballots for presidential, parliamentary and
council elections within 24 hours when they have failed to service the
controversial 80 000 special voters in 48 hours.

Kazembe then inadvertently said all ballot papers have serial numbers for
accountability purposes, something that might cause some people to think
that their vote is not secret. Your Vote Is Secret.

Clifford has been invited to provide a live comment tomorrow on Arise
cable/satellite TV channel between 2 and 3 p.m. on the Zimbabwe elections.
He will also be providing commentary on the polling on July 31.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,

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