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Israeli elections rigging machine exposed

July 19, 2013 in News

NIKUV International, a shadowy Israeli intelligence company allegedly hired
by Zanu PF to rig the forthcoming general elections through manipulation of
the voters’ roll, has a checkered history in the region, as it was dragged
to court in Zambia on allegations of tampering with voter registration to
rig polls, Zambian court records show.

Hazel Ndebele

Zambian court documents obtained this week by the Zimbabwe Independent ––
which first reported on Nikuv’s role in local electoral activities in
2000 –– show that although former Zambian Chief Justice Matthew Ngulube
dismissed the application by the United National Independence Party and
Liberal Progressive Front in 1996 on the technical grounds that the voter
registration was legally conducted by the electoral commission, not by the
Israeli firm as claimed, the allegations left Nikuv’s reputation badly

Nikuv, which was embroiled in a controversial US$6,9 million contract in
which under clause 2. l on page 85 it was to supply government with up to
four million voters cards although it eventually only registered 2,5 million
people in Zambia, has been involved in shady voter registration activities
in Zimbabwe for some years now.

Zimbabwe’s recent voter registration exercise was chaotic and the voters’
roll is in a shambles ahead of elections on July 31, raising fears of ballot
rigging and theft.

In the Zambian situation then, as is the case in Zimbabwe now, Nikuv was
accused of being contracted to manipulate and rig the elections from the
voters registration exercise to the declaration of results.

The applicants argued the company was hired to rig the electoral process to
retain the then ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in power.

The decision to approach Nikuv had been made by MMD in a bid to secure
re-election in 1996 after the party under the leadership of the late
president Frederick Chiluba had defeated founding leader Kenneth Kaunda in
1991 during the first multiparty elections in the country.

However, the applicants argued that the contract, signed by the
vice-president’s office and designed to rig elections in favour of MMD, was
“unlawful” as it violated the Electoral Act and Zambia National Tender Board

They also charged it ousted the jurisdiction of the Zambian Electoral

A government technical committee was appointed by the government to work
with Nikuv, effectively sidelining the electoral commission.
Nikuv has been working with Registrar General Tobaiwa Muede’s office amid
claims it has been manipulating the voters’ roll to help President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF to rig elections 2000.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai questioned Nikuv’s role during a meeting he
held with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita
Makarau and her deputy Joyce Kazembe three weeks ago.

He charged that Zanu PF, through the Registrar General office, was working
with the secretive Israeli company to tamper with the voters’ roll, which
Zec has also admitted is in a shambles.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the premier had asked Zec
to investigate the role played by Nikuv in the voter registration exercise.

The Zambian parties which took Nikuv to court wanted, among other things, an
order of certiorari (an order by a higher court directing a lower court,
tribunal, or public authority to send a record in a given case for review)
quashing the decision by the Zambian government to award the contract of
registration of voters to Nikuv and another order prohibiting the electoral
commission and the director of elections from delegating its function to
register voters to Nikuv.

They also wanted an order making it clear Nikuv is not entitled to conduct
the registration of voters in Zambia;

that the said contract be declared null and void;

that the said contract was wrongly classified as “secret” by the Zambian
government and that the registration of voters exercise being conducted
under the direction Nikuv be halted forthwith and that the said registration
be declared null and void as it was a violation of the laws of Zambia.

The applicants further wanted an order of prohibition to bar the Electoral
Commission and the Director of Elections from delegating its functions to
register voters to Nikuv and also an order of mandamus (an order instructing
a public body to do or to refrain from doing some specific act which it is
obliged to do under law) that the Electoral Commission be ordered to direct
and supervise the registration of voters and the compilation of an updated
voters’ register for the conduct of elections later that year.

Nikuv International – which was then called Nikuv Computers – had signed a
contract with the Zambian government in November 1995 to supply it with up
to four million voter cards at a cost of US$6 870 000.

The contract Nikuv to compile an up-to-date registration of voters,
something applicants argued was in breach of the Zambian constitution and
the Electoral Act which state that the electoral commission should be the
major player in the registration of voters and conduct of elections.

When questioned by the Supreme Court, Nikuv’s project manager Gershom Korda
confirmed his company had been awarded a contract but because he knew it was
known the firm was not registered, he chose not to give evidence to avoid
cross examination.

Despite the order being dismissed on technical grounds, the case left Nikuv’s
image tainted as it became notorious all over Africa as an elections rigging
machine which many incumbents and their governments, including in Zimbabwe,
resort to when they desperately need to win elections to ensure political

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Zanu PF implicated in corruption

July 19, 2013 in News

THE Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Annual State of Corruption
report for 2012 shows that mining policies appear to be partisan and are
being abused by Zanu PF for private gain.

Hazel Ndebele

The report brings to the fore corruption involving those entrusted with
power and authority.

Zanu PF officials who use the mining industry for political expediency and
self-aggrandisement rather than for growth and development to sustain the
industry are on the list of corrupt officials.

Top police and military officers, bureaucrats and influential business
people are also cited among the most corrupt.

According to the report, about 62% of Zimbabweans have paid a bribe in
different sectors of the economy, including the judiciary, tax revenue and
land services.

People interviewed by TIZ in Gwanda and Kwekwe, for instance, said: “Machef
emusangano (Zanu-PF top officials) ndivo vari pamberi penyaya dzehuori
nekuti ndivo vanotanga kana tasvika panyaya dzengoda (the Zanu PF bigwigs
are the ones involved in corruption as they are the ones who control gold

According to the report, if one does not bribe Mines ministry officials,
their chances of acquiring a mining licence will be close to nil, which
explains why most people are illegal miners.

It said politicians, acting in cahoots with the police as well as illegal
miners, are depriving the country of gold and revenues which should
contribute to economic growth.

The involvement of the police and military suggests that limited recourse to
justice is available to small-scale and artisanal miners because of fear of
backlash and intimidation.

TIZ lead researcher Farai Mutondoro said the main findings of the report
showed that illicit activities and corruption tendencies are destroying the

The mining sector contributes about 16,5% of gross domestic product (GDP)
with gold weighing in with around 30% of this contribution, implying that
gold is officially contributing around 5% of the GDP.
“There are high chances that this figure can be understated by as much as
10%-20% as a result of leakages and corruption,” said Mutondoro.

If incorporated, the gold contribution could be as high as 8% of GDP while
the mining sector contribution could be as high as 20%.

TIZ has recommended the establishment of a clear policy and the legal and
institutional framework governing the Community Share Ownership Trusts

Currently, the framework governing CSOT is not clear as there are
contestations between the ministry of indigenisation and the ministry of
local government over control of the CSOT.

It is government’s duty to ensure that the CSOT are governed by one ministry
and a CSOT Act would give it a clear legal structure which is non-partisan.

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CIO splurges US$3m on cars for elections

July 19, 2013 in News

THE Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), whose budget is secretive,
recently splashed US$3 million acquiring about 100 Nissan double cab
vehicles from a Harare car dealership for use by its members in rural areas
ahead of crucial general elections.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

The spy agency acquired the new 4×4 Nissan NP300 double cab vehicles through
a dealership known to the Zimbabwe Independent, which were distributed to
its officers in the rural areas last week.

The agency has in the past been involved in political activities, including
abductions and torture of MDC formations and human rights activists

Investigations by the Independent show the vehicles cost on average R245 000
each in South Africa. It could, however, not be established if the vehicles
had been imported from South Africa.

“The organisation bought new trucks for field operations, and distribution
started last week to all district officers,” a source said.

The security sector, which includes the police and army, has invested
heavily in new fleets during the course of the year.

Last year the army spent US$45 million on 1 000 vehicles ahead of elections.

President Robert Mugabe is on record saying CIO spies for Zanu PF and keeps
him informed of political activities within the party and MDC formations.

The Joint Operations Command (Joc) has over the years been taking an
increasing political role in the governance of Zimbabwe.
The security services politicisation and partisanship still remains one of
the outstanding Global Political Agreement issues.

Joc has been playing a commissariat role for Zanu PF since the emergence of
the MDC as a serious contender in the political arena.

Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka early this year told a Chinhoyi magistrate
that Zanu PF candidates for 2013 general elections were sending their
applications and curriculum vitaes to the CIO for vetting.

Mahoka made the revelations while testifying in an intra-party violence case
where she accused Temba Mliswa of setting party thugs on her in Hurungwe.

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Controversy over special voting rages on

July 19, 2013 in Elections 2013, News, Politics

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday said they are considering allowing
servicemen and women who failed to cast their ballot during the chaotic
two-day special voting process to vote on July 31 along with the rest of the

Hebert Moyo

Reacting to reports that it was not possible for those who failed to vote on
the designated days to do so with the rest of the country, Mugabe absolved
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of any wrong doing in the fiasco
that engulfed the process saying the failure by most uniformed forces to
vote was due to lack of sufficient voter education.

For example, Mugabe said some officers registered to vote in Beitbridge but
were on duty in Harare failed to vote because they thought their ballot
papers would be available in the capital.
He said this could have been avoided if there had been good voter education.

“Hameno kuti zvichaitika kuti vabvumidzwe kuvhota musi wa31 (I don’t know if
they will be allowed to vote on July 31), but we will be examining this
issue to see if it can be fixed,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe welcomed media reports that MDC–T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
accepted the reality of the July 31 poll but called on the MDCs and other
parties not to obstruct the electoral process with all kinds of applications
to the High Court and Supreme Court, saying Zec should not be treated as an
enemy but an institution assisting the parties.

“Let us freely help Zec and the security forces,” he said.

“Our parties should confer on situations to assist Zec and not just do
fault-finding. They are our elections as parties and Zec is helping to
create an environment where our people can cast votes for us,” he said.

Mugabe also took a swipe at Zanu PF members who decided to stand as
independents after losing primaries, saying they had expelled themselves
from the party.

He singled out Marian Chombo and attacked her for contesting against her
ex-husband, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.

“There is Marian, who still calls herself a Chombo. She does not want to
accept her divorce although she is divorced from her husband. She keeps
pestering her ex-husband. We didn’t interfere in her domestic affairs but we
will not remain silent on our Zanu PF issues. She must back off,” said

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Zanu PF, MDC-T sweat over ‘rebels’

July 19, 2013 in Elections 2013, News, Politics

MDC-T and Zanu PF’s chances of winning a majority in general elections took
a dent when some disgruntled party members refused to withdraw their
independent candidature by last Friday’s legal withdrawal deadline.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

The parties find themselves in a sticky situation with a combined 34
National Assembly constituencies with two or more candidates from the same
party filing nomination papers and therefore running the risk of splitting
the vote.

However, the MDC-T will be affected more than Zanu PF after most of the
latter’s disgruntled members withdrew from the race except four.

The four remaining disgruntled Zanu PF members running are Jonathan
Samukange (Mudzi South), Daniel Garwe (Murehwa North) and Marian Chombo
(Zvimba North), who are running as independents, and Munyaradzi Kereke
(Bikita West) who filed on a Zanu PF ticket together with the party’s
endorsed candidate, Elias Musakwa.

Kereke has since been expelled from the party over the issue.
Among Zanu PF members who withdrew their candidature are Dorothy Mabika
(Chipinge Central) and Christopher Chingosho (Headlands).

There are 28 MDC-T members who rejected the party’s directive to withdraw
and thus became independents in Bulawayo (5), Matabeleland North (4),
Manicaland (4), Matabeleland South (3), Midlands (3), Mashonaland West (3),
Harare (2) and Masvingo and Mashonaland East with one each.

Among the prominent MDC-T members who filed as independents are former MPs
Felix Magalela Sibanda, Samuel Sandla Khumalo, Prince Dube and Kidwell
Mujuru in Bulawayo, as well as Misheck Shoko and Emmanuel Chiroto in Harare.

In Manicaland, the MDC-T has double candidates in Dangamvura/Chikanga, Giles
Mutsekwa and Arnold Tsunga and independents Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South) and
Geofrey Nyarota (Makoni South).

Other MDC-T members who ignored the party’s directive to withdraw are former
MPs Severino Chambati (Hurungwe West) and Moses Mare (Chiredzi West). Former
Gweru mayor Tedius Chimombe is also contesting on an independent ticket in
Gweru urban.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the party was not worried about
“rebels” and they should consider themselves expelled after standing as

“The party resolved that all members who are still standing as independents
have been expelled and should not use the party’s symbols and colours in
their campaign materials. Our supporters have also been advised not to work
with rebels,” Gumbo said.

MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said the development was
bad for the party since it will split their votes, especially proportional
representation seats.

“We are confident that the development does not affect our presidential
candidate but obviously it will have a knockdown effect on those seats
allocated under proportional representation,” Chamisa said.

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Mugabe elections rush in disarray

July 19, 2013 in Elections 2013, News, Politics

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will be on the ropes this weekend as he faces close
scrutiny at the Sadc troika on politics, defence and security and the
African Union (AU) peace and security council meetings less than two weeks
before crucial general elections set for July 31.

Elias Mambo

Sadc and the AU, guarantors of the now abandoned Global Political Agreement
(GPA) and attendant roadmap towards elections, will meet to discuss Zimbabwe’s
state of preparedness for elections today and tomorrow amid unfolding chaos
engulfing the electoral process following a messy and rushed mainly due to
lack of funding and capacity within the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

The AU meeting will be held today in Addis Ababa, the Sadc one will on
tomorrow in Pretoria. The two meetings are expected to scrutinise Zimbabwe’s
electoral processes and make defining resolutions on the issue.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday, South African
President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu, who is
part of his facilitation team, said the troika will assess Zimbabwe’s
preparedness ahead of elections as well as review progress made on issues
highlighted during its last meeting.

“We are going to have a troika meeting over the weekend and Zimbabwe will
top our agenda since the country is going to hold elections at the end of
this month,” said Zulu. “We want to check on the progress that has been made
in terms of preparations for the elections and also get an update on the
preliminary report from the Sadc observer mission team.”

Sadc has deployed a 600-observer team – its largest contingent of election
observers ever – to check if the country was ready for polls. The AU also
has 60 observers.

Sadc troika chairperson, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will convene the
meeting which will be attended by Zuma in his capacity as the Sadc
facilitator on Zimbabwe. Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba also sits on
the troika.

South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation
spokesperson Clayson Monyela said Zimbabwean political parties were not
invited for the troika meeting despite complaints by the MDC formations over
the current chaotic electoral process.

“It is a troika meeting and only members of the troika will take part and
not political parties,” Monyela said.

Zulu, recently insulted by Mugabe as an “ordinary, stupid, idiotic street
woman”, said the troika will also discuss, among other things, the political
and security situation in Zimbabwe as the country marches towards elections
and review the resolutions made at its last in Cape Town in May and the
Pretoria summit in April.

The troika summit in May commended Zuma for his efforts in pushing for full
implementation of the GPA to ensure a credible, free and fair constitutional
referendum on March 16.

However, the troika urged the parties to the GPA, Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC, to
finalise outstanding reforms and follow the roadmap to hold free and fair

The Sadc troika and AU security council meetings come against the backdrop
of the Sadc extraordinary summit in Maputo last month where Zimbabwe was
urged to prepare for peaceful and credible elections.

It also said government should approach the Constitutional Court to seek an
extension of the polls date and go to parliament to regularise Mugabe’s
illegal amendments to the Electoral Act.

Government went to court – which always ruling in favour of the executive on
key electoral matters – and the application was dismissed, endorsing Mugabe’s

Mugabe said he would be sending Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to Addis
Ababa after accusing the two MDC parties earlier this week on reporting him
to the continental body, a charge they rejected.

African diplomats in Harare say Mugabe’s dispatch of Chinamasa to the AU
meeting is a desperate attempt to ensure the July 31 elections go ahead in
the midst of chaos and fears of vote rigging.

“Mugabe was the first leader locally to talk about the AU meeting in Addis
Ababa this week as he was trying to pre-empt its discussions.

Knowing that there was going to be a Sadc troika summit in Pretoria, he was
trying to outflank the increasingly firm regional leaders who are insisting
on free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,” an African diplomat told the
Independent yesterday.

“Just like he did when he invited Malawian President Joyce Banda to Harare
recently as he she is going to the next Sadc chairperson just after
elections next month and visited Lesotho this week for diplomatic lobbying
under the guise of King Letsie III’s birthday celebrations, Mugabe would be
sending Chinamasa to lobby the AU Commission chaired by former South African
president Thabo Mbeki’s right hand minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the AU
security council and the AU itself currently chaired Ethiopia’s Prime
Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Remember Mbeki will head the AU observer

Mugabe has always enjoyed good relations with Ethiopian leaders, right from
the days of Mengistu Haile Mariam who was given asylum in Harare after he
was ousted in 1991. Hailemariam has been AU chairman since January.

Together with Sadc, the AU is a guarantor of the GPA. Mugabe attend the AU
summit in Sharm el-Sheik in June 2008 a few days after his controversial
re-election widely rejected by Sadc and the continental body, as well as the
international community.

Sadc, under Mbeki’s leadership, brokered the GPA agreement leading for the
formation of the coalition in 2009 to prepare for free and fair elections, a
task it has dismally failed as shown by the current situation.

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July 31: Events leave Zim on edge

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

AFTER more than a decade of political and economic turmoil, which was
briefly interrupted by the coalition government between 2009 and this year,
Zimbabweans will on July 31 go to critical general elections in a bid to
break a running political stalemate which has nearly left the country as a
failed state.

Column by Velempini Khumalo

Of course, Zimbabwe did not become a failed state, but remains a fragile
state which is significantly susceptible to crises given its brittle
institutional arrangements and sub-systems.

Since 1980, Zimbabwe has been vulnerable to internal and external shocks or
domestic and international conflicts as shown by the situation in
Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s; events during the second decade of
independence following the adoption of the International Monetary
Fund-inspired reforms in 1991 and towards the end of that decade when the
labour movement became restless due to economic decline; and the explosive
coalescing of democratic forces against authoritarian Zanu PF rule in the
late 1990s, leading to the formation of the MDC in 1999.

Events between 2000 and now have shown that Zimbabwe is a fragile state with
weak institutional arrangements that embody and perhaps preserve the
conditions of crisis, politically, economically and socially.

Politically, the country is volatile due to the persistent stalemate caused
by disputed elections results and institutions that entrench exclusionary
coalitions in power along ethnic, regional and factional lines, a situation
exacerbated by fragmented security agencies that dabble in politics.

In economic terms, the situation is unstable since radical policies such as
land reform and indigenisation were adopted in the middle of an economy
which was already reeling from extended periods of mismanagement.

Socially, Zimbabwe has extreme inequalities and poor delivery of services,
particularly water, electricity, health and education.

Given the current situation, Zimbabwe’s next elections will be fought in
different political and socio-economic conditions.

Since the coalition government came in 2009, the political and economic
situation has relatively stabilised after the country adopted a
multicurrency system which led to the end of hyperinflation and tangible
changes on people’s lives and social conditions.

This has created a new environment in which the parties have never engaged
in an electoral battle before.

The change is also demonstrated by the drop in political violence and
intimidation. While there are still skirmishes, the brutality of the
previous elections has largely disappeared as parties preach messages of
peace and hope to ensure free and fair elections.

Opinion surveys show Zimbabweans remain anxiously uncertain about the
political future of their country. Despite cautious optimism the next
elections could bring definite change, many continue to fear the uncertain
future they face.

Amid claims in opinion polls that President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have
recovered support due to the controversial land reform and indigenisation
programmes — which in reality have not changed the living conditions of an
average Zimbabwean despite researches and books written to justify them —
backed by their liberation struggle, independence and sovereignty mantras,
while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party have lost ground
due to their mediocre performance in the coalition government and
mismanagement of local authorities, uncertainty has become the biggest
variable in the next elections.

Apart from party political fanatics who will vote for their organisations
and candidates even if they have not delivered and are unlikely to deliver,
Zimbabweans in general say they do not know who will win the next elections
even if there is growing fear of rigging after Mugabe unilaterally
proclaimed elections dates with the support of the judiciary.

The chaotic voter registration process and special voting fiasco, which were
beset by complaints and disputes, have given rise to the belief the
elections would be rigged, hence lead to the rejection of the results. That
will take Zimbabwe back to square one.

Optimists, however, say it is possible clean winners and gracious losers
will emerge. This is what Tsvangirai said he was told by Mugabe at one time
before he realised he was being taken for a ride.

Pessimists do not only talk of disputed outcomes, but a possible military
intervention if Mugabe loses, although analysts see this as a remote
possibility given internal and geo-political dynamics around Zimbabwe.

Dumiso Dabengwa has probably provided the most candid assessment of the
military factor in his few remarks on the issue than analysts and
researchers have done in volumes of studies and comments. Dabengwa says the
military will not be a major factor even if there is a decisive outcome
against Mugabe.

In other words, they will only continue to be a factor before and after
elections if only the people have not spoken clearly and emphatically.

Zimbabweans are torn apart between pushing for change and cynicism.

The new voters’ registration figures, which have pushed the number of
registered voters above six million and the record electoral turnout of more
than three million during the March constitutional referendum, show their
enthusiasm about the upcoming elections despite the lingering fear, feeding
off growing cynicism, of ballot fraud.

Fears of another stolen election, fuelled by Mugabe’s rivals who repeatedly
flag the issue either as campaign strategy or a genuine concern, are growing
by the day.

The situation is worsened by the fact that despite a change in the political
and economic environment, some things have remained unchanged, especially
institutions and individuals running elections.

As Botswana President Ian Khama said last year when his ally Tsvangirai was
losing the plot, almost all of those who ran the past elections whose
results were disputed amid accusations of human rights abuses and ballot
rigging, are still in charge.

To make matters worse, the reform process is stalled and by the time it
ground to a halt, it had not gone far enough to clean the system to allow
the country to start on a new slate.

The state machinery which organises or has a bearing on the electoral
process, including the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Registrar-General’s
Office, military, judiciary and public media (witness the propaganda
overdrive at the state-controlled Zimpapers and ZBC), remain intact, meaning
the people accused of manipulating and rigging elections before are still in

As the Global Political Agreement (GPA) staggers to an end, the dumping of
the roadmap, reform deficits, limited electoral institutional capacity and
credibility, the rejection of a United Nations (UN) electoral needs
assessment mission linked to funding of the polls and Mugabe’s defiance of
the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), all show a continued
absence of conditions for peaceful and credible elections, despite the new
constitution adopted in March 2013.

Zimbabwe has not invited the UN to observe the elections. It has invited the
Sadc, Comesa and African Union (AU).

Individual countries, which include Algeria, Kenya and Uganda, have also
been invited. From Asia, countries invited included China, India, Indonesia,
Iran and Malaysia, while from the Americas invitations have gone to Brazil,
Jamaica, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

The European Union (EU) and United States observers have either not been
invited or turned down. It was the expulsion of the EU head of the observer
mission to Zimbabwe, Pierre Schori, in 2002 which triggered Western
sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies.

This means international legitimacy is likely to be denied to the winner,
especially if it is Mugabe, despite that Western countries have of late been
pushing for rapprochement with Harare.

This leaves Zimbabweans — scarred by seemingly endless political wars raging
for over a decade now — torn in all directions during this election period.

Zimbabweans in general jump from great anticipation the next elections will
be a watershed and bring change to their lives to fear of rigging which will
keep things as they are, showing how people are politically tormented by the
current situation and attendant uncertainty.

What is clear though is that the next elections will be the most important
since the country’s Independence from Britain in 1980 as they have the
potential to usher in a new political dispensation or perpetuate the old
order after the country has gone through a four-year transitional

This followed a disputed presidential election run-off in June 2008 in which
at least 200 mainly MDC-T supporters were killed in an electoral bloodbath
triggered by the military which spearheaded a campaign of brutality to
rescue Mugabe from the jaws of defeat after he had lost the first round of
polling to his archrival, Tsvangirai.

Following the bloody June 2008 presidential election run-off and the
rejection of Mugabe’s disputed victory, Sadc, under the tutelage of former
South African president Thabo Mbeki — likely to bounce back as head of the
AU election observer mission with ex-Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo —
pressured Zimbabwe’s main political leaders to sign the GPA and form the
coalition government to give the country a respite to prepare for new free
and fair elections.

Throughout the four-year tenure of the unity government, Zanu PF and the two
MDC parties, their principals and Sadc leaders, via their current South
African facilitator President Jacob Zuma and summits, battled to implement
the GPA reforms and the attendant roadmap.
Summit after summit resolved Zimbabwe parties must implement the GPA and
roadmap before elections are held.

During their Maputo summit last month, Sadc leaders once again emphasised
that parties to the GPA must “undertake immediate measures to create a
conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, credible, free and fair

However, given the unprocedural proclamation of the election date and
illegal Electoral Act amendments, chaotic voter registration exercise which
disenfranchised thousands of people as well as the messy special voting
process, the situation seriously threatens Zimbabweans’ rights to freely and
fairly vote on July 31.

Thus, turmoil is becoming increasingly inevitable by the day, leaving the
country on the edge.

Khumalo studied political science, government, business and ethics, and
international relations at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

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Is Zim headed for another dead end?

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

SADC, the African Union (AU), European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and
other international organisations would admit that elections in Zimbabwe are
not for the faint-hearted, particularly from 2000 when the MDC emerged as a
formidable opposition to Zanu PF since Independence in 1980.

Herbert Moyo

The 2008 elections were disputed after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(Zec)took a month to announce the presidential poll results in which
President Robert Mugabe lost to MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai triggering a bloody run-off which resulted in the latter
withdrawing, citing widespread violence and intimidation against his

Zimbabwe was plunged into a crippling political and economic crisis
prompting Sadc to broker a power-sharing deal under the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) between Zanu PF and the two MDC parties to stabilise the

The GPA and subsequent Sadc summits resolutions on Zimbabwe prescribed a
raft of reforms to be implemented in the media and security sectors to
create an atmosphere conducive to the holding of free, fair and credible

However, Mugabe’s unilateral decision to push ahead with elections on July
31 without fully implementing reforms under the GPA is likely to give
international bodies headaches and create a crisis of legitimacy, especially
if Mugabe wins controversially.

It is interesting to see how Sadc will pronounce the elections when they do
not meet even the regional body’s own requirements for democratic polls or
the GPA.

What will the EU do since it had begun efforts to normalise relations with
Zimbabwe through the “Friends of Zimbabwe” initiative before the March
constitutional referendum? The EU had lifted targeted measures imposed on
some Zanu PF officials and companies in preparation for full normalisation
of relations.

A delegation of ministers, led by Zanu PF’s Patrick Chinamasa, was even
allowed to visit Europe for re-engagement talks. This followed an earlier
meeting where EU countries met Zimbabwean government representatives in
London on March 26.

While the EU waxed lyrical, the US remained unmoved refusing to lift
sanctions, suggesting that it will not accept a flawed election.

The AU and UN also find themselves in a conundrum.

Sadc appears to hold the highest moral ground having baby-sitted Zimbabwe’s
coalition government by appointing successive South African presidents Thabo
Mbeki and now Jacob Zuma as facilitators to the GPA negotiation process.

Although Sadc has endorsed previous elections — except Mugabe’s dubious
re-election in 2008 — despite outcries from the MDC parties, this time
around the regional bloc has remained steadfast in calling for reforms
before elections.

Only last month, Sadc reacted to Mugabe’s unilateral July 31 election
proclamation by requesting him to approach the Constitutional Court to seek
an extension to allow more time to implement reforms.

Analysts say the regional body wants to bring finality to the long-running
Zimbabwe election saga and is unlikely to accept a sham election.

Its resolute insistence on reforms has already been vindicated following the
chaos that characterised the special vote on Sunday and Monday where absent
or delayed ballot boxes and the late casting of votes at most polling
centres, demonstrated how Zec was not ready for the polls.

Political analyst Godwin Phiri said Sadc’s insistence on reforms signalled
that the regional bloc means business and is determined to ensure polls can
still pass the credibility test despite the inherent flaws.

“They (Sadc) have invested so much time and effort on Zimbabwe and so they
are determined to make the most of it,” said Phiri.
Sadc appears committed to salvaging the elections and ensure that they have
some semblance of credibility as demonstrated by the bloc’s decision to send
over 600 observers.

Of particular interest are reports that Botswana, a fierce Mugabe critic,
contributed 200 of these observers.

Phiri, however, warned that a defiant Mugabe will test Sadc’s resolve by
proceeding with the elections without full reforms.

A chaotic voter registration exercise was marred by claims that thousands
were denied the right to register as voters.

The MDC-T has written to Sadc complaining about the restrictive voter
registration exercise with party secretary-general Tendai Biti claiming that
more than 300 000 people failed to register in Harare alone.

According to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), 750 000 eligible
urban voters were not registered in urban wards deemed as MDC parties’

“If this issue is not addressed, it might seriously undermine the
credibility of the whole electoral process,” Zesn warned.

In addition, Zimbabweans in the diaspora, the so-called “aliens” (mainly
those born in Zimbabwe with foreign descent but failed to register as
voters) and prisoners will not vote despite constitutional provisions
granting them the right to suffrage.

Zec has blamed logistical challenges for this development.

Despite the glaring deficiencies, political commentator Blessing Vava still
believes international organisations should not have any problem endorsing
the polls as the prevailing conditions are just the same as those that
characterised the constitutional referendum.

“Why should there be a problem now when Sadc, EU and Zimbabwe’s own
political parties endorsed the referendum? The conditions are the same as
those under which the referendum was held,” said Vava.

But the situation is more complex than Vava says and even the partisan state
media failed to cover up the chaos of the special voting exercise.

They had to join other media houses in reporting that anti-riot police were
called in to control uniformed forces who attempted to force their way into
a polling station at Town House in Harare on Tuesday evening protesting
delays in the distribution of ballot papers.

“If that does not discredit the polls, then what else will?” asked Vava.

The UN will probably join the Sadc-AU bandwagon in demanding no less than
credible polls after Mugabe turned down its request to send in an assessment
mission as a pre-condition for releasing poll funding that government had
requested in February.

Clearly, the elections will be held without full reforms and the question is
what will Sadc, the AU, EU, UN and the US do particularly if Mugabe wins?

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Battle for the apostolic vote

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

LIKE the Biblical Moses who descended from Mount Sinai with two tablets of
stones with the 10 Commandments, President Robert Mugabe was completely clad
in white robes and held the trademark apostolic sect stuff when he attended
the Johane Marange annual passover feast at the church’s Mafararikwa shrine
in Manicaland last weekend.

Elias Mambo

Mugabe was the perfect picture of a deity, barefooted and surrounded by a
train of “prophets”, taking slow steps and chanting “Rugare! (peace)”, which
was acknowledged by tens of thousands of church members.

“Tambirai, tambirai, tambiraiwo zvauya nemutumwa (receive what the messenger
has brought from God)”, they sang as they welcomed Mugabe. To them a leader
is a messenger of God, chosen to lead the people as Moses was anointed to
take the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt to the promised land of Canaan.

“He is Gabriel and it is not by accident that he was given such a name and
we welcome him here every year to open our annual passover feast,” said one
senior church official who manned the rivulet which Mugabe crossed as he
descended to the shrine.

However, unlike Moses who came down from Mount Sinai with the 10
Commandments, Mugabe had gone to the shrine to meet the worshippers with
nothing but a plea for their votes in the general elections on July 31.

In his address to church members, Mugabe called on Zimbabweans to reject
political parties which believe that black people are not capable of
prospering without the assistance of Westerners. Mugabe also castigated
foreign ideologies being pushed by the MDC formations.

“You heard when the American President Barrack Obama came to Africa saying
that we must allow homosexuality in Africa. Surely, how can that happen
allowing a man and a man to marry? Where will the offspring come from,”
asked Mugabe.

Mugabe could not continue to pretend to be a deity shouting “peace, peace,

The political animal inside betrayed him and the true to form Mugabe
exploded as he bellowed “Pamberi neZanu PF (Forward with Zanu PF)” instead
of “Rugare!”.

Mugabe’s Marange excursion was instructive. As election fever grips
Zimbabwe, parties across the political divide are jockeying for the support
of local churches, especially those that draw thousands of followers to
their worship services. Most local churches have been infiltrated by
politicians who have turned places of worship into political rallies as the
struggle for the religious vote takes centre stage.

The church, seen as an important constituency in the power matrix, is now
invaded and used as political theatre to woo voters, shunning rallies which
are increasingly becoming stage-managed and tiresome.

Political parties are particularly battling to entice the United Family
International Church led by Emmanuel Makandiwa who draws up to 60 000
worshipers to his Sunday services.

For politicians, these numbers are a jackpot if harnessed. Mugabe and senior
Zanu PF leaders have been trying hard to endear themselves to churches.

The battle for the church vote intensified in 2010 after MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was forced to cancel his scheduled visit to the Zion Christian
Church (ZCC) Mbungo Shrine in Defe, Gokwe, after state security agents
reportedly threatened and intimidated the church with unspecified action.

In 2011 Vice-President Joice Mujuru visited Mafararikwa for the church’s
ceremony where she addressed more than 300 000 people. Like Mugabe, Mujuru
was promised more than a million votes.

Most politicians have now mastered the art of lacing their statements with
Biblical quotes to appeal to multitudes of churchgoers attending different
houses of worship.

After his address, Mugabe was whisked away without meeting hundreds of his
supporters who had been barred from entering the shrine because “it was a
church gathering and those wearing party regalia were not welcome”.

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Churches fear being hijacked

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

SOME churches in Zimbabwe have postponed their annual gatherings, which
usually take place between July and August, fearing the events would be
hijacked by politicians as the country marches towards crucial polls set for
July 31.

Staff Writer

Sources in the Salvation Army said the church’s annual meeting that had been
pencilled for July in Gweru was called off to avoid politicians turning the
events into political rallies.

“We were to have our annual meeting in Gweru but judging by the political
temperatures which are rising, the leadership decided to postpone them until
after the elections,” said a Salvation Army member.

“In the past we have seen politicians taking over our meetings and turning
them into rallies.”

The sources also said Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who is a senior captain
in the Salvation Army, would most likely have attended the meeting with her
party supporters.

As part of its campaign strategy, Zanu PF is approaching churches to woo
voters in an attempt to reverse the loss President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF
suffered in 2008 to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.

The flurry of “church activities” by Zanu PF bigwigs during the past four
years has betrayed the party’s motives.

Last week, Mugabe attended the apostolic sect annual passover festival in
Marange where he pleaded with them to vote for Zanu PF in the forthcoming

However, hundreds of his supporters, who had been bussed to the shrine, were
not allowed into the centre because church officials said it was a religious
gathering, not a party rally and anyone clad in party regalia was not

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church almost postponed its annual camp meetings,
which start on August 11 countrywide, when there was talk of extending
elections by two weeks.

“Plans were afoot to postpone the dates of the camp meetings countrywide to
avoid a similar situation which happened in 2012 when census officials
disturbed our gatherings,” said one church member.

Political parties are particularly battling to get the backing of the United
Family International Church (Ufic), led by Emmanuel Makandiwa, which draws
crowds of more than 60 000 people at Sunday services.

Senior Zanu PF officials such as Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, Local
Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Bright Matonga are regulars at Ufic.

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‘Mugabe relative wreaking havoc’

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

A CLOSE relative of First Lady Grace Mugabe, Lisbon Marufu, who is an
aspiring Zengeza West Zanu PF MP, has been accused of unleashing marauding
youths to disrupt MDC-T candidate Simon Chidakwa’s rallies.

Brian Chitemba

As the election date draws nearer, political temperatures are rising in
Chitungwiza where Zanu PF youths are moving around constituencies
intimidating MDC-T supporters, according to Chidakwa.

The aspiring MDC-T legislator said Marufu’s supporters disrupted his rally
recently at Zengeza grounds and he had to seek police intervention.

“We have had nightmares in Zengeza where two trucks packed with Zanu PF
youths are moving around intimidating our supporters not to attend rallies
while forcing everyone to Zanu PF functions,” said Chidakwa.
“This has made the political playing field uneven.”

Other frustrating tactics employed by Zanu PF include sticking posters on
top of MDC-T candidates’ posters as the former ruling party supporters seek
to dominate the election campaign period.
The Zanu PF youths’ disruptive behaviour, Chidakwa said, has already been
reported to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

“Despite the intimidating tactics, people are braving the tense atmosphere
to attend our rallies. We have also launched a door-to-door campaign as well
as churches and schools campaign distributing fliers to counter the removal
of our posters,” he said.

President Robert Mugabe has been preaching peace but some of his supporters
are turning a deaf ear and engaging in violent behaviour although the
situation is relatively calmer than during the 2008 presidential poll
run-off bloodbath.

Chidakwa is promising to address perennial water and sewer problems in
Zengeza West, while more attention will also be given towards rehabilitation
of roads and public buildings which have been neglected by successive
councils. He has also promised to resuscitate industries which were shut
down at the height of the economic meltdown.

The MDC-T’s strategy to revive the economy is through luring investors to
re-open closed companies to create employment for many youths roaming the

However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo dismissed Chidakwa’s claims that
party youths were wreaking havoc saying the MDC-T was panicking after
witnessing record crowds at Mugabe’s star rallies.

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Inside Zanu PF’s Mash Central stronghold

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

ELECTION fever has gripped Zimbabwe with posters and banners lining many
roads as the country gets ready to go to the polls on July 31.

By Faith Zaba

President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party, who have ruled the country
since Independence in 1980, face formidable opposition that promises
economic prosperity, transparent governance and respect of civil liberties.

Zanu PF had romped to victory in every election since 1980 until the March
2008 polls that shook Mugabe’s grip on power.

For the first time, Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential
elections and his party also lost its parliamentary majority to the MDC-T.

Mugabe then went on to contest the presidential run-off alone after MDC-T
leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out citing rampant violence and intimidation
against his supporters.

Zanu PF now faces the fight of its life against MDC-T again.

The MDC-T, whose support base has always been Matabeleland, cities and towns
since its formation in 1999, made great inroads in Manicaland, Masvingo and
Midlands province in the March 2008 elections.

It won in Manicaland, but lost marginally in Masvingo and Midlands provinces
to Zanu PF.

However, the Mashonaland provinces, where Mugabe hails from, have always
denied Tsvangirai and his party victory in previous elections by
overwhelmingly voting for Zanu PF.

A visit to Zanu PF’s traditional stronghold, Mashonaland Central, gives a
sneak preview of what Zimbabweans can expect in the forthcoming elections.

As you drive into Mashonaland Central along the Harare-Bindura road, there
is no doubt that you have entered Zanu PF territory.

Vendors selling oranges, tomatoes and roasted mealies are all clad in Zanu
PF regalia bearing Mugabe’s portrait. The women are wearing bright yellow
and green wraps with matching caps, while the men are clad in different
coloured T-shirts and matching caps.

As you pass them, instead of waving, which can easily be mistaken for the
MDC-T’s open palm symbol, you get the clenched fist Zanu PF symbol or the
thumbs up sign.

Entering Bindura you are greeted by a sea of bright yellow and green

Driving deeper into areas like Mt Darwin and Rushinga, MDC-T posters get
fewer while Welshman Ncube’s MDC banners and posters are non-existent.

In the eight hours that the Zimbabwe Independent crew drove through Mazowe,
Glendale, Bindura, Mt Darwin and Rushinga, it only came across five youths
wearing MDC-T regalia bearing Tsvangirai’s portrait.

At Matope Business Centre in Mt Darwin, three MDC-T youths in the company of
their aspiring House of Assembly candidate for Mt Darwin South Gift Sambama
could be seen putting up Tsvangirai posters, as Zanu PF supporters watched
with amusement.

Asked why they were sneering at the MDC-T youths, first-time voter Primrose
Mudita said: “Aiwawo (a dismissive tone), let them put up the posters, but
they won’t get any votes this side. Tsvangirai will not win, never! Ino
imbori nyika yaani? Not munyika yaBob (Never, whose country is this — not in
Robert’s country).”

“We were told by our leaders that people are free to join whichever party
they want and that we should allow them to campaign peacefully and we should
not pull down their posters. We don’t want to give them any excuse to have
these elections discredited. The message is very clear that we want a
peaceful and violence-free elections.”

The Independent crew was also able to watch the MDC-T supporters put up more
posters in Chatumbama which they referred to as one of Zanu PF’s no-go areas
in Mt Darwin South, where Sambama is squaring off with Indigenisation
minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

Sambama told this paper: “We have managed to put up our posters, but in some
areas they are putting up their posters on top of ours. Otherwise, we haven’t
encountered any other problems.

“We have held meetings with our supporters, but the problem is that people
are afraid to attend. People here don’t want to come out openly in support
of the MDC-T.”

Tsvangirai was in Mashonaland Central last week where he held several
rallies and meetings with party supporters.

During his visit after a poor turnout at Rushinga Business Centre and a
non-appearance of supporters at Matope, Tsvangirai said although
intimidation and open political violence have declined, the fear factor is
still lingering in the three Zanu PF Mashonaland provinces. He said his
supporters are still being intimidated and reminded of the horrors of the
2008 elections.

But is it really about the fear factor or is it about Zanu PF’s strategies
which are proving to be more effective or both?
In Mashonaland Central, Zanu PF is employing a village-based campaign
strategy, where the party is targeting at least 50 people per village.

Zanu PF Mashonaland Central chairperson Dickson Mafios said: “Our strategy
is not based on rallies, but is village-based. We are aiming for at least 50
people per village to vote for Zanu PF. We have 21 people in each village
who are in the party structures and we are telling each person to mobilise
at least two people to vote for Zanu PF.

“If we do that, from our calculations, we should be able to deliver a
minimum of 18 000 votes per constituency in Mashonaland Central,” Mafios

The issue of homosexuality is taking centre-stage in the party’s election
campaign, with Zanu PF telling villagers in Mashonaland Central that
Tsvangirai and his party are promoting same-sex marriages.

Zanu PF messages at the meetings held on Tuesday in Mazowe South claimed
that Tsvangirai would legalise same-sex marriages if elected into power.
They also alleged he is working with former white farmers to reverse the
land reform programme and his key allies are “western imperialists”.

Emotions ran high when speakers claimed that Tsvangirai will legalise

Mazowe war veterans deputy chair, Efanos Mudzimunyi, a survivor of the
Nyadzonya massacre, said: “It is impossible to vote for a person who
supports homosexuality. It is not godly; he is against God. They preach
Mugabe must go, but he is a leader chosen by God to lead this country and
MDC-T should respect God because he is the Almighty.”

Mudzimunyi said people would not vote for Tsvangirai because of his alliance
with the whites and Western countries. This, he alleged, would reverse the
gains of the liberation struggle and would be an insult to thousands of war
liberators who died in the war.

“Opposition in a country is not bad, but it should be home-grown. We have
our brothers and sisters who were massacred at Chibondo (some 20km away from
Mt Darwin) and are buried in mass graves there; and MDC-T is telling us now
that we must love whites who slaughtered them,” he said.

“We also went to war for the land and Tsvangirai wants to give them back the
land, so what did our brothers and sisters die for?”
Langton Shamuyarira, who is in his early 20s, concurred with Mudzimunyi,
saying people in his province preferred Zanu PF because of its
indigenisation and land policies.

Several people spoken to also said the focus in this election is to ensure
that Mugabe wins with 50% plus one vote.

Amos Gororo, from Rushinga, said: “What we want is to ensure that Mugabe
gets a decent exit while in office; whether it will be retiring or dying.

We know that the West is waiting to pounce on him if he loses and we don’t
want that. He has done a lot for this country and we don’t want him

So, if anything, it’s bhora mugedhi (vote for him) for Mugabe and where
there were impositions of candidates, you might see people voting for Mugabe
and not the MP. We want to secure victory for the president.”

In the March 2008 elections, Mugabe garnered a total of 157 626 in
Mashonaland Central compared to Tsvangirai’s 75 722 votes and in Mashonaland
East, the province behind the bhora musango (internal electoral sabotage)
strategy, Mugabe won 160 965 votes and Tsvangirai 119 661, while in
Mashonaland West the president had 134 730 and the MDC-T leader 107 345.

Tsvangirai also lost in Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South. In
Midlands, 166 831 people voted for Mugabe and 153 288 for Tsvangirai, in
Masvingo 156 672 preferred Mugabe and 145 198 Tsvangirai and in Matabeleland
South Mugabe had 46 156 and Tsvangirai 34 885 votes.

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Retired bishop endorses Tsvangirai

July 19, 2013 in News, Politics

MDC-T and Zanu PF’s dogged contest for the religious vote continued in
earnest this week with President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai both securing endorsements in different parts of Manicaland

Herbert Moyo

Retired Bishop Sebastian Bakare led a team of Anglicans in endorsing
Tsvangirai for the presidency at the party’s rally at Sakubva Stadium in
Mutare last Saturday.

Bakare equated Tsvangirai to the biblical Nehemiah who led the rebuilding of
the walls of Jerusalem.

“Zimbabweans are like the Israelites who endured two spells of bondage in
Egypt and in Babylon,” said Bakare. “Tsvangirai is Nehemiah who will lead
Zimbabwe out of the second bondage.

“I am here because of my yearning to see the birth of a new Zimbabwe.

He (Tsvangirai) has been sent to build a new Zimbabwe and that Zimbabwe will
not be built with fists,” Bakare said alluding to political violence that
has marred previous elections in Zimbabwe.

Some 100km away from Sakubva in diamond-rich Marange, Mugabe received
similar endorsement from the Johane Marange apostolic sect during its
passover festival.

Mugabe donned the lily-white garb of the sect in his quest to win over their

His efforts did not go “unrewarded” as he was endorsed as mutumwa (messenger
of God). Mugabe was subsequently promised more than two million votes from
the church’s membership.

Lyrics to well-known religious songs were suitably altered to accommodate
both politicians with chants of Tambirai mutumwa, tambirai mutumwa! (Welcome
the messenger) accompanying Mugabe’s every step into the shrine at Marange.

Not to be outdone, Bakare’s choir lionised Tsvangirai with the song lyrics
“Save ndimambo, ndiye mwenje kana murima handitye (Tsvangirai is king, he is
the light and even in darkness I fear nothing)”.

Away from the glare of the cameras and in a brief private moment, Bakare
continued with his pro-MDC crusade hailing Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba
Makoni for teaming up with Tsvangirai in a loose election alliance to unseat

“I am happy you are here,” Bakare whispered to Makoni. “We are the security
here in Manicaland, guarding the place for you,” he said.

Bakare has been a fierce Zanu PF critic over the party’s human rights
violations and interference with the internal affairs of the Anglican Church
due to its support for ex-communicated Harare Anglican Bishop Nolbert

In a show of support for Tsvangirai during the run-up to the 2008 elections,
Bakare called on voters to use their vote to “express themselves on the
state of the nation, wrecked by hyperinflation and a permanent political

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Why are prices not decreasing?

July 19, 2013 in Business

‘Price Stickiness’ is a concept popular in economic circles and used to
describe the resistance of a price to change despite changes in other
economic fundamentals that suggest a different price is realistic.

Kumbirai Makwembere

Prices are described as ‘sticky on the downside’ when they hold up at a time
when the costs of other factors of production are coming off.

However, they are also described as ‘Sticky on the upside’ when they
sometime fail to respond to a slight upward change in variables.

This concept of prices being sticky on the downside can be used to best
describe how prices are behaving locally when linked to inflation trends.

Zimstats recently announced that Zimbabwe’s year- on-year inflation in June
slowed down to 1,87% shedding 0,33 percentage points on the May 2013 rate of

Simply put, basing on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures the weighted
cost of goods and services locally shed 1,87% between June 2012 and June

The month-on-month inflation rate in June 2013 was -0,13% gaining 0,08
percentage points on the May’s figure of -0,21%.

Inflation has been on a downward trend since the beginning of the year.

Year on year inflation stood at 2,91% in December 31 2012.

There are several reasons for the decline in CPI figures chief amongst them
being the softening trend in the South African Rand since the beginning of
the year as the country imports close to 60% of its products from across the

The depreciation of the South African currency is a result of the unending
job disputes in their mining sector, particularly among platinum producers,
and this has resulted in output declining.

Again, demand for platinum has also been on a decline owing to the
technological advances in the production of catalytic converters as they now
require less platinum and palladium.

In addition production of vehicles has been falling especially in the
European Union. This has in turn reduced the amount of exports from South

The protracted recession in the Euro Zone has also had a negative impact on
the Rand since the European Union absorbs most of the exports from South

Another contributing factor to the decline in inflation figures has been the
subdued demand locally due to tighter liquidity. Disposable incomes remain
low and this has forced both individuals and corporates to reorient their
spending priorities.

Another reason why prices have been sticky could relate to the assertion
that South African exporters are increasingly invoicing their goods in US
dollar terms.

This has been done so as to eliminate or reduce the currency risk exposure.

Some executives in the retail business have concurred with this assertion
which somehow explains why prices are sticky downwards.

Ideally, the trends in inflation should be felt in the day to day life of an
ordinary Zimbabwean. If inflation is going down, as Zimstats claims, prices
should also come off and vice-versa.

This however has not been the case as the cost of living has in actual fact
gone up over the past 12 months. According to the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe the cost of living increased by 0,54% to US$564,73 in the month of
June from US$561,73 in May.

Therefore, why are prices not coming off when CPI figures have been
declining? What therefore could be the reason for the disparity? Could it be
that the CPI figures compiled by Zimstats are wrong?

Market players have in many instances argued that the CPI basket is outdated
and as a result does not give a true reflection of trends in consumed

The majority of Zimbabweans live from hand to mouth with food,
accommodation, transport and school fees accounting for close to 90% of
their incomes. These basics have gone up significantly over the past year
but inflation figures have not responded accordingly.

The importance of CPI figures cannot be over emphasised as they are being
used as a benchmark in many circles.

Examples include the wage negotiations whilst in corporate circles
executives use inflation figures as a measure of how well their companies
will be performing. These inflation figures are again used for planning

It is therefore important to put measures in place that ensure that any
statistics gathered in the country are accurate so that they can be useful.

CPI figures are not the only figures that are disputed by many in Zimbabwe.
Other examples that readily come to mind include nominal Growth Domestic
Product (GDP) figures. The country’s GDP for 2012 is estimated at US$9,80
billion according to the IMF report on Zimbabwe. Is this believable
considering that Zambia has a GDP of US$20,7 billion, Botswana US$14,41
billion, Mozambique US$14,3 billion and Malawi US$4,3 billion.

Well for GDP it is understandable as the economy is now informal to a larger
extent and as such collecting data from the sector is difficult. Bankers on
the other hand strongly believe that the amount of deposits circulating
outside the banking system now stands at US$4 billion.

The million dollar question is where is the money? What is the population of
Zimbabwe? All these are examples of statistics that are disputed but should
be readily available.

It would appear that the challenge we have as a country is on coming up with
such key figures or statistics.

There are many occasions where authorities have had to revise down their
growth projections. For instance, in 2012 government had initially projected
GDP growth to expand by 9,4% before revising the figure to 5,6% on
presenting the midterm fiscal policy. However, overall the economy is
believed to have grown by only 4,4% in 2012.

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Zim’s UNWTO preparations gather momentum

July 19, 2013 in Business

ZIMBABWE’S preparations for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
(UNWTO) general assembly are gathering pace with new confidence arising from
Treasury’s release of part funding for the critical conference this week,
businessdigest has learnt.

Taurai Mangudhla/Hazel Ndebele

Highly placed sources on Wednesday said the Ministry of Finance had already
paid for some key activities and is, by end of this week, expected to
release up to US$2 million towards the general assembly which Zimbabwe
co-host with Zambia end of August.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi refused to confirm the amounts, saying it was
too early to give exact figures, but said Treasury had disbursed cash
towards critical invoices for the event.

“We have already started eating significantly into the UNWTO state budget
which is a major relief for us,” Mzembi said.

“Government has actually started releasing money now and we have paid some
critical invoices for travel tickets for the UNWTO team, fees for the
professional conference organiser and the conference solution.”

The move is expected to bring new confidence to the UNWTO secretariat and
conference delegates weeks after the private sector undertook to fully fund
the event.

Early June, Mzembi said he was unfazed by Treasury’s reluctance to fund
preparations for the general assembly to be held from August 24 to 29,
saying the private sector had extended tremendous support and adequate
resources had been mobilised.

Zimbabwe requires about US$11 million for the successful hosting of the
general assembly.

According to the budget, US$6, 5 million is to be channeled towards core
general assembly activities while US$5, 2 million will go into
infrastructure development for the host town.

Earlier this week, Mzembi met industry players to discuss his term of office
as well as future policy trajectory in what was seen to be his farewell
event ahead of elections that are slated for next week.

Mzembi said the upcoming polls are a rebranding opportunity as governance is
among the six pillars to a country’s brand image.

Giving an update of preparations for the general assembly, he said
everything was in place with conference facilities being constructed by a
South African company.

Mzembi also said professional conference organisation (PCO) is being done by
a South African firm in partnership with a Zimbabwean company. The tender
for the PCO was only for US$300 000.

Mzembi said the National Tourism Policy which has three substantive areas
specifically that of tourism development related issues, tourism
facilitation in Zimbabwe and the broader institutional framework, will be
unveiled after the upcoming general elections slated for July 31 and
provides a road map for the sector for the next 15 years.

He also said Zanu PF plans to extend Statutory Instrument 124 of 2011 and
199 of 2012 for another five years. The instruments were enacted for duty
free exemptions on tourism inputs.

“One thing which wasn’t explicitly shared in the manifesto is that I have
proposed for an extension of the two instruments because you have not yet
fully benefited from them as Finance minister Tendai Biti never understood
matters to do with tourism and as such there was a policy gridlock which
filtered through to administration gridlocks at the level of the civil

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Zimbabwe’s inflation declines further

July 19, 2013 in Business

ZIMBABWE’S year-on-year inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index
(CPI) increased by 1,87 percentage points between June 2012 and June 2013,
figures released by Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) show.

Taurai Mangudhla

However, prices decreased by an average 0,13% from May to June as the
month-on-month inflation rate in June 2013 was -0,13 %, gaining 0,08
percentage points on the May 2013 rate of -0,21%, according Zimstat.

Year-on-year inflation performance shed 0,33 percentage points on the May
2013 rate of 2,20%.

The statistics agency said year on year food and non alcoholic beverages
inflation stood at 2,90% whilst the non food inflation rate was 1,35%.

Month-on-month food and non alcoholic beverages inflation stood at -0,33% in
June, shedding 0,05 percentage points on the May 2013 rate of -0,28% whilst
the month-on-month non-food inflation stood at -0,03%, gaining 0,14
percentage points on the May 3012 rate of -0,17%.

The CPI for the month ending June 2013 stood at 100,81 compared to 100,94 in
May 2013 and 98,97 in June 2012.

This comes as economic experts have predicted a further decline in Zimbabwe’s
inflation rate as the country’s economy slows down and local prices track
the declining value of the South African rand, resulting in generally
decreasing local prices.

The softening of the South African Rand since the beginning of the year has
helped Zimbabwe maintain a downward trend as it imports close to 60% from
its southern neighbour.

Analysts say the depreciation of the South African currency is a result of
the unending job disputes in the mining sector, particularly among platinum
producers, a development that has seen output declining.

Last month, Zimstat reported year-on-year inflation rate for the month of
May 2013 dipped 0,29 to 2,20% from the April 2013 rate of 2,49%.

However, while prices as measured by the all items CPI increased by an
average of 2,20 percentage points between May 2012 and May 2013, the
month-on-month statistics showed that prices are actually falling.

The month-on-month inflation rate in May 2013 was -0,21% which was 0,14%
lower than the April 2013 rate of -0,07%.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s latest monthly economic review states
that the decelerating inflation is on the back of depressed domestic
economic activity and tight liquidity conditions.

Going forward, the RBZ said inflation was expected to remain low and stable,
though largely depending on the movement of international oil prices, the
US$/Rand exchange rate developments, as well as fluctuations in the level of
aggregate demand in the economy.

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On campaign trail: Queen Elizabeth vs Amazing Grace

July 19, 2013 in Opinion

From Marie Antoinette, Emilda Marcos, Elanor Roosevelt, Winnie
Madikizela-Mandela to Sally Mugabe, spouses of political leaders have played
significant roles in shaping political processes and power retention schemes
of their partners.

Opinion by Pedzisai Ruhanya

With two weeks to go before Zimbabwe holds its post-transitional election,
it is important to interrogate the roles the First Lady Grace Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Elizabeth are playing as they
attempt to convince the electorate to vote for their husbands.

This is critical because history has taught us that spouses of political
players are potential sources of stability and instability to the political
aspirations of their husbands.

They can be stabilising or destabilising forces on the electoral campaigns.

They can be sources of wise counsel to their husbands, but they can equally
be destructive.

There are interesting contrasts between Grace and Elizabeth this far. Grace
kick-started the public campaigns when she addressed a Zanu PF rally at
Nzvimbo growth point in Mashonaland East Province.

She took to the stage and launched vitriol attacks against Tsvangirai,
describing him using all sorts of abusive words. Grace did not appreciate
the Zanu PF election manifesto in order to convince people why President
Robert Mugabe should retain the presidency.

Instead, Grace told her supporters and thousands of Zimbabweans who watched
news on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television (ZBC-TV) how ugly
Tsvangirai was.

She went on to openly declare that there was no vacancy at State House yet
there is an election to precisely fill that vacancy in terms of the legal
and constitutional requirements.

The message that Grace sent was that of arrogance and disrespect of the
electorate and the electoral processes. She was telling Zimbabweans that
their votes do not matter because Mugabe will remain president irrespective
of the legitimate and democratic will of the people.

Most critically, the arrogance, the lack of love, the hate language was very
spiteful to the voters. She did not plead for the people’s votes. In this
case, the millions who watched her public display of arrogance could hardly
be forced to support her husband.

In contradistinction to Grace, Elizabeth made a passionate plea for peace,
tolerance and the avoidance of hate speech by political leaders especially
those representing the MDC-T when she addressed thousands of supporters over
the weekend in Sakubva and Mucheke stadiums in Mutare and Masvingo

On Saturday, Elizabeth took to the stage in Sakubva stadium and told the
MDC-T leadership to address issues to do with maternal mortality arguing
that it was disheartening to experience the death of women during child

She said that families who have suffered such loses expect the leadership to
provide solutions to serious health problems especially in rural areas.

The crowd responded by a huge applause indicating that she was addressing
real issues to do with common everyday problems.

Elizabeth also talked about how families have been destroyed because of lack
of jobs and how women are stressed up because of failing to feed their
families and the agonies they have of looking after unemployed husbands and
graduate children.

She challenged Tsvangirai and his leadership to desist from hate speech and
attacking political opponents and come up with solid programmes to address
rampant poverty in the country.

The third issue she addressed was the issue of mandatory free primary
education for all children.

She argued that while the state would assist parents by funding primary
education, parents should then mobilise their resources in preparation for
secondary and tertiary education.

The suggestion and the solution received huge applauses during the two
rallies she addressed.

At Mucheke , Elizabeth summed up her message by urging people not to give up
their quest for freedom by citing the story of Moses when he led the
children of Israel to the Promised Land. He urged the supporters to continue
to invest in hope and change. She pleaded with them to remain focused on
victory by voting in their thousands on July 31. The Biblical reference
received a huge applause from the supporters.

What is clear from the campaigns of these two ladies is that Grace is
hurting Mugabe’s campaign through arrogance and failure to address real
issues that resonate with public expectations while Elizabeth has been
humbly pleading for votes by articulating how citizens would benefit if her
husband is elected president on July 31.

It is also becoming clear that Elizabeth appreciates some policies of the
MDC-T which are social democratic and seek to address the daily problems of
workers, the poor and students such as the need to revive the economy, job
creation and rural transformation.

In contrast, so far Grace thinks that Mugabe is a monarch who who is there
to stay at State House. She also exhibits lack of understanding of the core
issues in the Zanu PF manifesto.

She resorts to a mudslinging game in front of an electorate that wants
solutions to move the country forward and not a slide back to years of
political and economic decay that marked Zimbabwe before the formation of
the inclusive government in 2009.

Going by the public outrage at the hollow elections campaigns that are
marked by threats and hate speech, it is possible to suggest Grace could be
hurting Mugabe’s campaign while Tsvangirai could benefit hugely from the
clear articulation of election issues by Elizabeth provided she remains

The subject of morality that Grace dealt with was not strategic because she
is not a saint either. The point to observe from this is that those who live
in glass houses should not throw stones. My hope is that her advisors drew
some hard lessons from her misguided political outbursts that exhibited
thorough emptiness.

Unlike Grace, the late Amai Sally Mugabe was a mature and compassionate
woman. She was not involved in building mansions in a country engulfed by
poverty. Sally was not involved in extravagant shopping sprees in foreign
capitals unlike Grace who is notorious for that.

In short, Sally brought political capital to Mugabe. She was a source of
fortunes and not misfortunes to the First Family.

There is a general belief among Zimbabweans that the death of Sally marked
the beginning of the president’s political misfortunes as evidenced by the
massive civil servants strike in August 1996.

The strike came after Mugabe’s lavish wedding to Grace at Kutama Mission the
same year. The riled public servants were protesting against poor conditions
of service and extravagant spending associated with the government.

There are other cases worldwide where first ladies were the source of
political misfortunes for their husbands that Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s
spouses should learn from, especially during political campaigns

It should be remembered that former South African president Nelson Mandela
divorced Winnie Madikizela-Mandela when he realised that she was a source of
political instability because of her scandals that had a potential to
destroy Mandela’s political brand despite that she was an asset before that.

During the French Revolution in 1789, history students appreciate the
political disaster in Marie Antoinette, the wife of French King Louis XVI
when she allegedly said peasants should eat cakes at a time the country was
hit by bread shortages.

Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos
was known for her corrupt activities and her unquenchable thirst for
expensive fashion designs.

The late Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko’s wife was also known for her
shopping escapades in Europe while the country was engulfed in poverty and
civil strife.

Other first ladies in the mould of Sally who were sources of stability and
who contributed to humanity and world peace were the late United States
first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a humanitarian, a pioneer of
modern-day human rights and played a leading role in the formation of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

As the country proceeds with the electoral and political campaigns, advisors
of the two ladies should find time to counsel them with a view to making
sure that they are not liabilities to the two political gladiators, Mugabe
and Tsvangirai.

The same goes for the two gentlemen — they should address the economic and
political issues facing the country and not dwell on sloganeering and hate

Ruhanya is director of Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.

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Mugabe judges appointments stink

July 19, 2013 in Opinion

NEWS of President Robert Mugabe appointing six new judges to the High Court
and one more judge to the Supreme Court on Monday ahead of general elections
could have gone unnoticed by many ordinary Zimbabweans.

Opinion by Bart Simbisai

Some may have taken notice, but were probably unbothered.
The country has woken up to the news of new shotgun judicial appointments
for much of the last 33 years.

Mugabe has appointed judges at will for so long that it is no longer really
newsworthy except for those connected with the legal profession or related
to the appointees.

There is a worrying circumstance with the recent appointments which came
ahead of further appointments to the Electoral Court to be made soon.

These have been made on the eve of a new constitutional dispensation that
would totally change and substantially improve the process of making
judicial appointments.

The appointments also came on the eve of crucial general elections in which
judges have so far played a critical role.

On May 22, Mugabe signed and gazetted into law the new constitution.

Certain parts of the new constitution immediately became effective.

This included the establishment of the Constitutional Court.

Immediately after signing the constitution, he swore in two new judges to
the Supreme Court whose juries will have additional Constitutional Court
duties for the next seven years.

These appointments are in principle worrisome.

The inescapable conclusion is that the appointments were made in order to
pack the bench in the event of a change of government or to avoid the
rigorous processes under the new constitution.

The appointments were also made in the context of the next elections.

Judges always play a key role when elections are held, particularly if there
is a disputed outcome.

What else explains these appointments when there is no urgent need for
permanent appointments?

Could Zimbabwe have been worse off by waiting for the new reformed and
credible appointment processes to take effect on the assumption of office by
the newly elected president in three weeks’ time?

One only needs to compare the old and the new constitution to find the
underlying challenges sought to be avoided by the executive.

Appointments previously

Section 84 of the old constitution, which is still effective, provides that
the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, judges of the Supreme Court, Judge
President and judges of the High Court are appointed by the president after
consultation with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Where the president has appointed any of these judicial officers
inconsistent with any recommendation made by the JSC, the president shall
inform parliament as soon as is practicable. This requirement does not give
parliament powers to rescind or vary the appointment. It is simply a
courtesy notice.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has often argued that in terms of the old
constitution, as amended by Amendment Number 19, he is entitled to be
consulted when these appointments are made. But Mugabe has consistently
demurred and ignored all protestations.

What is clear is that under the old constitution, the president enjoys
extensive appointment power that makes the appointment of judges open to
manipulation. If the president is set on appointing a person who meets the
minimum legal qualifications, no one can stop it.

That is not the only concern. The appointment process is secretive. No
interviews are conducted. No vacancies are announced. People are approached
or willing candidates approach powerful people to inform them of their
desire to be appointed as judges.

If the executive is happy, the candidates are usually railroaded onto the
bench. Party political factors and connections play a crucial role. The poor
selection process explains the poor quality of many appointments, judges and
their judgments.

The JSC itself is made up of presidential appointees. It consists of the
Chief Justice, chairman of the Public Service Commission, Attorney-General
and two or three other members appointed by the president.

Of these two or three additional members, one of them has to be a current or
former judge or is or has been for not less than five years qualified to
practise as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe or possess such legal
qualifications and experience that the president considers suitable and
adequate for appointment to the JSC.

The remaining additional member(s) are to be chosen for their ability and
experience in administration or professional qualifications or their
suitability otherwise for appointment.

With a JSC that is made up of the president’s men and women, the president
has even greater power in determining who will be appointed. The JSC
commissioner position is a secondary position.

Save for the Chief Justice who enjoys some security of tenure, the rest of
state office bearers know that acting against the interests of the president
may prejudice their careers. As a result, the president is bound to have his
way if he insists upon it.

What the old constitution does not state is the role of the minister
responsible for justice.

In the experience of judicial appointments in Zimbabwe, the minister plays a
critical role in choosing candidates and recommending them to the president.
In fact, it is generally accepted that the president relies on the minister
to point out “suitable” candidates.

It is an open secret among legal professionals that those who want to go on
the bench need the minister’s blessings. The role of the current minister in
the purges of judges and packing of the bench since 2000 has left no doubt
as to his power in choosing who should sit or not sit on the bench.

New constitution
The new constitution seeks to limit executive influence in judicial
appointments by limiting the power of the president to push his preferences
as parliament has the final say.

In terms of Section 9.14, senior judges, that is, the Chief Justice, Deputy
Chief Justice, judges of the Constitutional Court and the Judge President of
the High Court, are appointed by the president.

Before the president can do so, the JSC is required to advertise the
vacancy; conduct public interviews of prospective candidates; prepare a list
of three qualified persons as nominees for the office; and submit the list
to the president. The president must select one of the nominees for
appointment from the JSC list and refer that nominee to the Parliamentary
Public Appointments Committee (PPAC) for its approval.

If the president considers that none of the persons on the list submitted by
the JSC is suitable, he/she must request the JSC to send a second list of
three qualified persons. The president is required to pick from the second
list and refer the nominee to the PPAC and he/she cannot object to the
second list. If the PPAC is unhappy, the process of submitting further names
is repeated until PPAC is happy.

This is a unique position which gives our elected representatives the final

These provisions introduce new critical components meant to curb the abuse
of political power in the making of judicial appointments. They are intended
to, as much as possible, insulate the bench from partisan political
appointments. They are also critical in securing the independence of the

The president and the minister responsible for justice under the new
constitution will no longer be at liberty to secretly originate candidates.
The process of selection will now be open and the vacancies publicised.

There will be an open application process, followed by interviews. A limited
list is submitted to the president from which he or she must pick. The
limited number of nominees on the list fetters the president’s discretion.

These cumbersome appointment procedures ensure that there is a series of
quality control mechanisms which will review the proposed appointees’
suitability, qualification and skills to ensure progressive jurisprudence.
So senior judges cease to owe their positions to political connections,
which is ideal for individual and collective judicial independence.

Appointment of other judges
With regards to the appointment of judges other than the senior judges, the
new constitution says the president must act on the advice of the JSC.

The previous constitution required that the president acts after

The change in wording is critical. The president no longer has the power
that he/she enjoyed under the old constitution where consultation was a mere

As with senior judges, the JSC must advertise each judicial post to be
filled; conduct public interviews of prospective candidates; prepare a list
of nominees for the office consisting of twice the number of nominees as
there are posts to be filled.

Unlike in the old days when the president or the minister responsible for
justice’s choice carried the day unfettered, the new constitution introduces
new measures meant to strengthen the bench and weed out partisan political
influence in making appointments.

It also presents an opportunity for public observation. It is a great effort
in attempts to restore credibility to the bench.

Composition of new JSC
The JSC itself, under the new constitution, is a widened body that is
intended to be representative of the various interests connected with
judicial work. It is now a body constituting of 15 members.

Clearly, the new constitution introduces a new animal with wonderful
democratic, progressive and accountable features. That partly explains why
Mugabe is in a hurry to appoint new judges in terms of the old constitution
just before elections.

Transparency of processes
The JSC is constitutionally required in Section 9.28 to conduct its business
in an open and transparent manner and in particular, it must ensure that all
interviews of candidates for judicial office are conducted in public.

Zimbabweans have made this choice to open JSC’s processes to public scrutiny
because of their life experiences. They have chosen that matters relating to
the JSC are so important that they should not be decided in dark corners.

They have elected to allow the public to see how judges are selected and
appointed. They want to see for themselves the candidates for judicial
office and make up their own minds about the justifiability of appointments.

They want to participate. They want an independent judiciary and accountable
judges, not political activists packed on the bench.

Reflection of society
The new constitution also demands that appointments to the judiciary must
reflect broadly the ethnic diversity and gender composition of Zimbabwe. The
fact that out of the group of seven, six appointees are women presented an
opportunity to show the new way under the new constitution.

However, the hurried appointments raised more questions than answers. It is
doubtful if some of the women appointed could have made it under the new
constitutional appointment process.

The greater danger is that if a new government comes into office in three
weeks’ time, it may look at the recent events and appointments as judicial

It may borrow from experiences of our recent past and tear the
constitutional fabric on the grounds of political necessity. The lesser and
yet more pernicious danger is that some promising judicial careers among
these questionable appointees may never resurrect from this momentary

Tired of the desecration of the judicial oath under successive oppressive
governments in the last two years, the people of Kenya took a novel
constitutionally mandated step and subjected every sitting judicial officer
to re-vetting. Many resigned out of shame. Others were asked to leave. They
could not defend their own previous conduct on the bench.

Unintended consequences
History has shown that politically motivated appointments have not always
produced supine judges.

In the United States, Franklin Roosevelt regretted the appointment of the
irrepressible Felix Frankfurter to the US Supreme Court. Theodore Roosevelt
regretted the appointment of the great Oliver Wendell Holmes. Chief Justice
Earl Warren became a sore to Dwight Eisenhower’s backside. There is hope.
But harsher judgment awaits their failures.

The secretive appointments on the eve of a new selection process and
elections is not only suspicious, but it stinks. The stench will linger on
for many years to come. Unfortunately, it will engulf the judicial gowns of
the new appointees.

As Lord Salisbury, the then British Prime Minister, after whom the
Zimbabwean capital was previous named, complained in a letter to the then
Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, in 1897 about poor judicial appointments: “…
the judicial salad requires both legal oil and political vinegar; but
disastrous effects will follow if due proportion is not observed.”

Zimbabweans do not want even a droplet of political vinegar on the bench,
especially given a series of recent controversial rulings, particularly the
Constitutional Court judgment on elections.

Simbisai is a senior Zimbabwean lawyer based in South Africa.

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Elections accelerating economic decline

July 19, 2013 in Opinion

As campaigning for the forthcoming general elections accelerates,
ever-increasing nails are being driven into the coffin of the Zimbabwean
economy, reversing the minor recovery achievements of the last four years.

Column by Eric Bloch

Key to a substantive growth of the economy has been, and continues to be,
that Zimbabwe attracts substantive foreign investment, which would assure
the revitalisation of the long distressed viability of the manufacturing
sector, enhancement of the development and growth of the country’s immense
potential of mining, recapitalisation and increased funding for the
financial sector, massive improvement in agricultural output, greatly
heightened tourism upsurge and redevelopment of considerable opportunities
of employment for many Zimbabweans desperately anxious to generate

The economy having intensively declined from 1997 to 2008, it was good that
there was some economic upturn from 2009 (once the so-called Government of
National Unity came into being), notwithstanding that the extent of the
recovery fell far-short of what was needed.

Because of the upturn that was achieved, which included cessation of the
worst-ever hyperinflation sustained anywhere in the world throughout
recorded history, hopes and expectations of recovery increased.

The guarded optimism of ongoing improvement steadily increased between 2009
and 2012, notwithstanding a continuing decline in the manufacturing sector,
resulting in more unemployment.

Complacency did not exist, for the revival of the economy was not as
extensive as needed, but nevertheless expectations of even greater recovery
progressively, but guardedly increased.

In recent weeks, on good and sound grounds, those expectations have ceased,
and instead the “doom and gloom” perceptions of previous years have been

The change in the formerly moderate anticipations has, within weeks,
radically changed.

That transformation from guarded optimism to negative and apprehensive fears
has been almost entirely a consequence of the exceptionally foolhardy
economic policy projections enunciated by various election candidates as
contained in some of their manifestos.

Foremost of those sources of destruction of the moderate expectation of
further and economic recovery has been the Zanu-PF election manifesto, and
to some extent the divide in the opposition to that party.

Among many ill-conceived and ill-advised economic policies contained in the
Zanu-PF manifesto is a declared intent to continue the destructive
indigenisation and economic empowerment programmes, instead of modifying
constructively and effectively those policies.

That would reverse the immense harm that the existing policies and
legislation have caused on the population and economy.
In the Zanu-PF manifesto, and the president’s speech during its launch, it
was contended that:

“Only the indigenisation and people’s empowerment reform programme can meet
the good of the people. There is no other alternative.”

“Takeovers will realise US$7,3 billion in assets for the government, and
will progressively create total value of US$29,2 billion.” (This is
tantamount to admitting an intent to expropriate business and their assets
without fair compensation).

It cannot be denied that if Zimbabwe would pursue indigenisation and
economic empowerment policies in a manner which would not benefit a selected
few using state-controlled (oft abused) funds, but instead as has
successfully been done by many countries in the Far-East, and several
countries in South America and in Africa, it would benefit millions of
Zimbabweans, and the economy as a whole.

In contradistinction, pursuit of the present ill-considered, dogmatic
policies, will leave more people unemployed and poverty-stricken, as the
much needed foreign investment will continue to be withheld.

A second most harmful aspect in the manifesto, reinforced by the
presidential statement, is the intention to restore the Zimbabwe dollar as
the national currency.

Although that electoral contention did not prescribe a time period within
which that should occur, and the president acknowledged that it must be
founded and secured by adequate national gold resources, it immediately
provoked immense nationwide concerns and fears.

The result has been increased reluctance of the public to avail themselves
of banking services, fearing a consequential loss of currency with a value,
being replaced by one expected to be devoid of value.

Fortunately, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Dr Gideon Gono, said that a
return of the national currency would not be immediate, but only when
accorded meaningful reserves’ support.

However, the political statement had planted such great fears that the
governor’s statement did not suffice to allay them, and the already severely
squeezed money market instantaneously contracted yet further.

The manifesto further pursued the frequently stated misrepresentation that
Zimbabwe’s economic ills are mainly a consequence of “illegal international
sanctions”, contending that they have cost the country US$42 billion in lost
donor support and foreign investment, withdrawals by foreign lenders of
private sector loans, and high “premiums” on such commercial loans.

These contentions were oblivious of the facts that save for measures on
government, its parastatals and some named individuals within the political
hierarchy (and enterprises owned by them), no substantive sanctions have
been applied.

They also ignore that the absence of loan funds was, to a very considerable
extent, due to Zimbabwe’s recurrent failures to effect repayments on
previous loans, endlessly defaulting in servicing its debts.

Similarly, despite the marked decline in donor funding to government, there
has been considerable donor provision for food, healthcare and education
financing by donors.

The consequence of these and other political misrepresentations are not only
a further damage to prospects of economic recovery but would accelerate
economic decline.

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Zim’s touch-and-go relations with West

July 19, 2013 in Opinion

WHEN President Robert Mugabe unilaterally announced that Zimbabwe’s general
elections would be held on July 31, this seemingly provocative action was
met with unusual silence by Europe and United States’ political class.

Opinion with Simukai Tinhu

This muteness contrasts with reactions prior to 2008 when such an
unprecedented move would have provoked an immediate and strong response from
senior officials in Washington and Brussels, and certainly from a British
prime minister.

Though this might not indicate an overarching change of policy, the
international community’s indifference to such a major political development
exemplifies what appears to be a broader phenomenon, namely, changing
attitudes in the West’s view of the Zimbabwean polity.

In particular, the lifting of sanctions against some members of Mugabe’s
inner circle is the clearest indication yet that the international community
is experimenting with reconciliation. Indeed, some of the Zimbabwean
government’s aides were recently invited to London for a “re-engagement

The European Union (EU) and US apparently did so on the basis that there has
been some progress on Zimbabwe’s political scene. But this rationale appears
disconnected if one considers that there have been virtually no political
reforms — apart from a seriously flawed new constitution which Zanu PF
intends to violate or change soon after the July elections (which they have
no intention of losing).

Reaching out to the West
One might argue that the Zimbabwe government has been making attempts to
reach out to the international community. In particular (and commendable),
the efforts by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, via his world tours, have
helped sanitise Harare.

There is, indeed, no doubt that Tsvangirai’s party, the MDC-T, has given
Harare a friendly face.

Mugabe, though half-heartedly and indirectly, has also been attempting to
reach out to the West. For example, his rhetoric against the British
government appears to have toned down as compared to the period in the
run-up to the elections in 2008.

Mugabe here to stay
The US and Britain might have also accepted that Mugabe’s party is unlikely
to be going anywhere. Reconciliatory language could be interpreted as some
level of acceptance that, contrary to analysts who dominate the discourse on
Zimbabwean politics, Zanu PF has support within the country.

Surveys undertaken by Afrobarometer and Freedom House show that support for
Zanu PF surged in 2012.

Phillan Zamchiya, a University of Oxford academic, explains that even if
Zanu PF were to lose the election, getting rid of Mugabe might still be an
impossible task as he will attempt to stay in power by hook and crook.

Thus, given that Mugabe’s party is deeply entrenched in Zimbabwean politics,
unrelenting and harsh criticism of his person and party by Washington and
London risks driving Zimbabwe into the arms of other interested parties,
particularly the Chinese.

China’s increasing grip on Zimbabwe is a threat to British’s influence in
the country, and has also left most Western countries in the cold in the
rush for minerals.

Not only have mining rights for the biggest diamond mine to be discovered in
a century been given to Chinese companies, Mugabe’s government has
threatened to revoke mining licences on other minerals granted to Western

So could the West’s change of tack in its relations with the Zimbabwe
government be seen as a demonstration of realpolitik in order to get access
to its mineral wealth? There is nothing new (or particularly surprising)
about states pivoting their policies to fit their interests. It is a common
and acknowledged practice in international relations.

Opposition’s fraying image
It is uncontroversial to observe Western support the opposition enjoyed in
the first 10 years of its formation has thinned out since the MDC-T and the
other formation headed by Welshman Ncube joined the coalition government.

This can partly be explained by the MDC-T’s fraying image as a result of
corruption and undemocratic practices in its internal workings.

Also, a desire to not want to be viewed as hypocritical by constantly
criticising Mugabe and his party for the same practices that the opposition
are guilty of, may explain why the West appears to be taking a more
“hands-off” approach with Zimbabwean politics.

Change of government in UK
There is little doubt that former British prime minister Tony Blair and
former US president George W Bush, through the Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recovery Act, were the main architects of the policy that saw
Mugabe’s government become a pariah state.

Blair’s relentless lobbying of the EU persuaded the Brussels-based
organisation to impose sanctions against Mugabe.

His successor Gordon Brown intensified the attempted defenestration of
Mugabe’s regime. When the current Conservative government took over, Prime
Minister David Cameron quickly faded into the background on Zimbabwe policy.

Today, the EU (without intensive lobbying from London), has become
circumspect in its criticism of Mugabe’s policies. Some of the most senior
Tory officials have been cited using a conciliatory tone towards Zimbabwe.

The British coalition government’s lack of interest in Zimbabwean politics
reflects the genesis of its government’s younger legislators who have little
inclination to engage seriously with Zimbabwean politics, and also
Westminster’s pre-occupation with internal problems such as the economy.

More faith in Zuma?
The former president of South African Thabo Mbeki, who was tasked with
resolving the political crisis that engulfed Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2008,
pursued a softer policy towards Mugabe’s government, dubbed “quiet

This policy was heavily criticised by the EU and US, with Mbeki seen as
reluctant to put pressure on his fellow “revolutionary cadre” to institute
political reforms.

It appears that Britain and the US were unable to rely on Mbeki to referee
the political situation in Zimbabwe, leaving the two powers with no choice,
but to directly deal with the government.

In contrast, President Jacob Zuma has been more assertive in the conduct of
his foreign policy towards Zimbabwe. In this regard, he has been supported
by US President Barack Obama.

As a result, in his most recent trip to South Africa, Obama praised Zuma’s
administration for reining in Zanu PF, and for confronting them on numerous
issues such as violence and intimidation, and lack of progress on electoral
reforms. As a result of this confidence, Washington and Brussels have taken
a hands-off approach and left Zuma to take a leading role on Zimbabwe.

Lessons from Kenya
The other argument proffered is that criticising Mugabe, and openly
supporting other political parties as in previous elections, risks
accentuating the influence of anti–Western rhetoric (already significant) in
Zimbabwean politics.

This could create a similar situation as in Kenya, where ill-timed
statements by British and American officials — warning Kenyans against
voting for someone wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) — were
seen as an attempt to micro-manage Kenyan politics.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, the ICC indictee, used these statements to run an
anti-Western campaign, credited with contributing significantly to his
eventual victory.

Thus, fresh attempts to defenestrate Mugabe and his party and at the same
time portray opposition leaders as saints, could be interpreted as giving
endless fodder for stoking nationalism and anti–Western rhetoric — favouring
Mugabe. By dropping the tactic of publicly criticising Zanu PF, one could
argue that Washington and Brussels are depriving Mugabe of ammunition to
take on opposition parties as imperialist agents.

But relations may change
For the last 10 years, EU and US officials have placed a burden on Mugabe’s
government to stop human rights abuses, corruption and an end to political
violence before they could rehabilitate his government back into the
international community.

However, despite having seen no political reforms; judging from the lifting
of sanctions, toned down criticism, and some conciliatory language used by
the two powers, it appears the substance of the relationship between
Zimbabwe and the international community is changing.

Rather than confrontations, the EU and US have been attempting to manage the
differences that they have with the Zimbabwe government.

But this does not mean that the era of tense relations with Zimbabwe have
come to an end. Given the chaotic nature of Zimbabwean politics at the
moment, a more difficult and potentially dangerous situation is likely to
result after the elections and the US and Britain might be forced to change
their stance again.

Tinhu is a political analyst based in London.

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Votes are usually won, not ‘bagged’

July 19, 2013 in Comment, Opinion

‘Vote Zanu PF to restore dignity, electorate urged.”

By The MuckRaker

Does that include calling candidates “ugly”? That their “ugliness” inspires
fear? What sort of dignity is that?

We noted that Zanu PF posters are claiming the party has created employment.
Exactly where is that employment? Perhaps the party could show us.

But the Herald’s front page on Monday showing all those policemen milling
around tells a story in itself. Zimpapers have yet to understand that much
of its propaganda is counter-productive.

“President bags votes” for instance is not a good thing to advertise. Votes
are won, not “bagged”.

“Victory is ours”, the Herald last Friday proclaimed. Just supposing Zanu PF
did win a majority of votes, it is unlikely to win an overwhelming majority.
What would it do in that situation? The other parties are obviously going to
reject an electoral outcome that is based on chicanery and military threats?

Then there is the captive media which has provided a platform for the former
ruling party which seeks to claw back what it lost in 2008. So a Zanu PF
victory would be the last thing anybody really wants: More unemployment with
sanctions as the excuse? More rallies and fist-waving but nothing to show
for it except threats and insults?

Rein in ‘commissars’

Adding to the circus, George Charamba has been calling for media
organisations to be objective in their reportage.

Zimbabwean media institutions, Charamba said, follow partisan agendas and
stories are well coordinated in support or against particular political

Journalists should be guided by national interests which should not be
swayed by political orientation added Charamba.
Said Charamba: “You cannot be seen to be supporting a political party
against all odds because you will sink with it. The facts are that Zimbabwe
was born in 1980 after a struggle. That is a fact, you cannot repudiate on

These are very sensible comments but why then is Charamba not reining in
journalists under his purview like Reuben Barwe and Judith Makwanya who have
become more of commissars than journalists? It is ironic Charamba made these
comments while the state media’s propaganda onslaught is in overdrive.

Barwe’s grovelling sometimes outdoes Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo or
even Webster Shamu.

As long as the rabid bias of the state media remains unchecked, Charamba’s
words ring hollow.
No more pretence

As the elections draw ever closer Zanu PF has stopped pretending they
expropriated land for nothing else other than patronage.

The Daily News reports that Vice-President Joice Mujuru has promised church
leaders in Masvingo farms and houses if they ensure Zanu PF wins the
forthcoming general elections.

“I instruct our party leaders here who form the Lands Committee, (Titus)
Maluleke, (Dzikamai) Mavhaire and (Felix) Chikovo the provincial
administrator to immediately see to it that the men of cloth get land,”
Mujuru said.

As if giving church leaders land for merely supporting Zanu PF was not
outlandish enough, Mujuru promised them houses for preaching the “gospel” of
Zanu PF.

“They do not have proper houses for their families as they spend most of
their time preaching the word of God,” was Mujuru’s lame justification.

“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.”

So much for redressing colonial imbalances!

Those in glass houses

Grace Mugabe told a rally last week there was no vacancy at State House. She
was repeating a statement she made in 2008. She said leadership was not
about changing women or going on holiday.

Indeed, it is not about trips to Hong Kong and Singapore either.

Tsvangirai flirted with women two years before he settled for his present
wife, the Herald told us.

Why does this sound familiar?
Grace pointed out that the president of Israel was older than her husband.
But she forgot to mention Shimon Peres was a ceremonial head of state.

The first lady got more than a mouthful for her diatriabe against
Tsvangirai, who she had labelled a philanderer “who wasted time on salacious
exotic beaches”.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, responded in kind saying: “Of
all the people, Grace Mugabe is not qualified to comment on the prime
minister’s morals because she destroyed the marriage of an otherwise
honourable first lady that we had.

“The philanderer the prime minister knows of is a president who fell in love
with his secretary whilst his legitimate wife was dying of a kidney ailment.

It is sad that Grace is taking us down this route during an important
election where we should be talking about our manifesto, issues and
programmes that address the people’s interests rather than name-calling.”

Ouch! As they say, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Madiba’s example

Nicholas Haysom’s account of Nelson Mandela’s tenure in the South African
presidency, carried in the Sunday Times, makes interesting reading.

Haysom was Mandela’s lawyer. He provided a fascinating glimpse into Madiba’s
five years at the helm.

How many people for instance know that he taught himself Afrikaans in prison
so that at the right time and place he would be better placed to negotiate a
transition to a non-racial democracy?

Haysom refers to the strong stand Mandela took against the Nigerian military
junta and the way he used sport to unify the nation.

The donning of the No 6 Springbok rugby jersey at the 1995 World Cup finals
would be his most effective evisceration of the white right-wing, Haysom
writes, illustrating Mandela’s political skills.

As president he rose each day at 5am or earlier and made his own bed, much
to the concern of hotel house-keeping staff around the world.

“He treated all who came into contact with him with equal and generous
attentiveness and appreciation,” Haysom tells us. He preferred informality
and was uncomfortable with protocol and ostentatious motorcades.”

His time at the presidency was known as the Camelot period. When he stood
down he had stocked the country with a reservoir of goodwill both internally
and externally.

When he stepped down, Haysom says, despite pleas to remain, he was
responding to one of his most strongly held beliefs.

“Presidents should not stay in office for long. Beyond one, perhaps two
terms, cronyism would become entrenched.”
And don’t we know it!

Quelle horreur!

The French have retrenched to the extent of excluding diplomatic wives from
this year’s Bastille Day which took place on Sunday.

The function is widely regarded as one of the more elegant national-day
parties with a selection of wines and cheeses that regulars look forward to.
We are told a newly arrived ambassador phoned the French embassy to point
out an omission.

His wife had not been included on the invitation. That was no omission, the
ambassador was told. That was an austerity measure!

Sacré Bleu! What next? No fromage? One wife chopped from the list said she
had been going for 33 years. Her husband got his card as usual but she had
to content herself with watching the parade down the Champs Elysée on TV.

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Mugabe still holds all the poll cards

July 19, 2013 in Opinion

THE campaign season has begun.

Opinion by Simon Allison

If all goes according to plan — the plan that nobody admits to liking, even
as everyone concerned seems powerless to halt it — then there is not much
time to persuade voters one way or the other: Zimbabweans will mark their
ballots in just a few short weeks, on July 31.

It’s hard to imagine, however, that there are any Zimbabweans who need an
introduction to this particular drama; and even fewer who haven’t made their
mind up one way or the other already.

As in 2002 and 2008, this presidential contest pits President Robert Mugabe
against his erstwhile foe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in a fight that
is about far more than occupancy of State House.
Even in South Africa, we know these characters well, and the plot.

Mugabe is, of course, the arch-villain: a template of how to do a tin-pot
African dictatorship, and how to get away with it, all the while maintaining
a flawless complexion (seriously, how does he do that? Ladies, ditch the
Clinique and seize the reins of state power instead).

Tsvangirai, meanwhile, is the plucky fighter, a tragic hero who has endured
arrests, intimidation, and the death of his wife, but remains Mugabe’s most
outspoken critic, even if he has been forced to compromise a few of his
nobler ideals along the way (can he recover from the ignominies of sharing
power, or the illusion of power, with Comrade Bob?).

This is meant to be Tsvangirai’s turn. He has patiently suffered through the
government of national unity, waiting for his opportunity to right the
electoral injustice that was the 2008 poll.

This time around, Zimbabwe has a new constitution, the security sector has
been comprehensively reformed and the election will be held under the
watchful eye of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) — all
factors meant to play into his hands, given that by now, surely, enough
Zimbabweans have had enough of Mugabe.
That was the theory, anyway.

The reality is a little different.

There is a new constitution, sure, but it’s not exactly the most progressive
document around, and many key provisions will only take effect after a
decade (by which time everybody, including the old man himself, reckons
Mugabe will have headed off into the “Great Presidential Palace in the

The security sector is exactly where it was five years ago — firmly in Zanu
PF’s pocket.

And Sadc is playing a very delicate game, which looks like it might have
backfired: after five years of general acquiescence to Mugabe’s demands, the
regional organisation finally stood up to Mugabe at a summit in Maputo on
June 15, demanding that he push back elections — which Zimbabwe is not even
nearly ready for — to give them a better chance of actually working.

Mugabe wasn’t happy, threatening to pull out of Sadc completely and
dismissing South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations
adviser Lindiwe Zulu, who has been co-ordinating the Zimbabwe mediation, as
a “stupid, idiotic woman”. This is going to greatly complicate the regional
body’s intended role as guarantor of the Zimbabwean elections.

It makes sense then, that on the day he launched his campaign, Tsvangirai
was already on the defensive. In fact, he sounds like he has already given
up hope.

“We participate with a heavy heart … We have tried our best over the last
four years, against serious resistance from our counterparts in government,
to ensure that this country is prepared for a genuine, free, fair and
credible election,” he told thousands of supporters in Marondera.

“Regrettably, what we have witnessed in the last few weeks is a concerted
effort designed to rob the election of legitimacy before it has even begun.”

Tsvangirai maintains that he trusts that the people of Zimbabwe “will do the
right thing”; and that he has got God on his side. Mugabe, however, has got
the army and the police on his side — and so far in Zimbabwe’s history, they
have been more powerful.

It is also important to remember that, even if all things were equal, Mugabe
would be no electoral push-over. Opinion polls in recent months have
repeatedly shown that Tsvangirai’s popularity has been hurt by divisions
within the opposition and his own scandalous love-life, putting him and
Mugabe neck-and-neck, with the wily president even edging in front on

This is all a long-winded way of saying that Mugabe is looking good to win
these elections — and if he does have to cheat, he doesn’t have to cheat by
all that much. This is hardly a revelation. We are talking about Zimbabwe,
after all, and one of Africa’s longest serving leaders.

What we should really be worried about is that, even if they are as flawed
as Tsvangirai thinks they will be, the elections might still pass the
regional test of fairness and transparency, making Mugabe a democratically
elected president once again.

For this possibility, Sadc has only itself to blame. Rewind to December
2011, to the just-concluded elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This was far from a model vote.

A range of international observers were watching, and uncovered a long list
of offences: evidence of vote tampering; impossibly high rates of voter
turnout in places known to be loyal to the president; strangely low turnouts
in opposition areas; the mysterious disappearance of 2 000 polling station
results in Kinshasa; and violence in the run-up to and during the campaign
which killed 18 people, mostly committed by incumbent Joseph Kabila’s
presidential guard.

And yet, Sadc, along with the African Union and three other African observer
missions, declared that the elections were “successful”, duly confirming
that the organisation’s standards of fairness and transparency are very low
indeed; and sending a message to other leaders, like Mugabe, that there is a
fair amount of electoral mischief that they can get away with before the
regional body will call them out on it. And if Mugabe is called out, he is
well within his rights to point out Sadc’s hypocrisy — and ignore their
Once again, somehow, Mugabe holds all the cards. There is a reason why he
has lasted in power so long — and why he still got a little while to go.

Simon Allison is a South African freelance journalist based in Hargeisa,
Somaliland. He specialises in Middle Eastern and African politics. He has
lived in Egypt, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

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Zanu PF bequeaths Zimbabweans grinding poverty

July 19, 2013 in Elections 2013, Opinion

Despite modest recovery, Zimbabwe’s economy is literally disintegrating
right in front of our eyes — the poverty figures released by the Zimbabwe
National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) for 2011/12 bear testimony to this.

Candid Comment by Dingilizwe Ntuli

The foundations of the country’s economy have long rotted away under
President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s ruinous 33-year rule plunging millions
of ordinary Zimbabweans into abject poverty.

Poverty is defined by the dictionary as the state or condition of having
little or no money, goods, or means of support. According to Zimstat, the
overall poverty rate has reached a record high of 63% with Zimbabwe’s
estimated population of 13 million vastly classified as poor and 16% living
in extreme poverty.

The poverty rate in Matabeleland North province is now the highest in the
country at a shocking 81,7% followed by Mashonaland Central with 75,4% and
Mashonaland West 72,4%. Bulawayo has the least poverty rate in the country
at 34,5% while Harare has 35,7%.

But just how did we get to these frightening levels of poverty having
inherited a relatively prosperous economy at Independence in 1980?

Zimbabwe is endowed with vast mineral resources and yet the depths of
poverty are increasing every year as the economy regresses. Why have we not
used these rich natural resources to improve the lives of citizens?

Corruption and poor governance, which Mugabe has allowed to flourish in his
successive governments by deliberately turning a blind eye, have given way
to poor policies that created limited employment opportunities and ruined
infrastructure resulting in poor resource exploitation.

Poverty can only be fought in the presence of strong institutions and
equitable distribution of resources. Many developmental programmes have
never been fully implemented because funds would end up in the pockets of
corrupt government officials.

Because of Mugabe’s seeming reluctance to punish corrupt officials over the
years, a culture of impunity developed and this created a society with a
small influential and powerful political elite and a poor majority.

The lack of transparency in the mining and sale of diamonds from Marange is
a case in point. Everything is done in secrecy with only a privileged few in
the know.
Political violence, intimidation and the absence of the rule of law have
also contributed to rising poverty and social decline in the country forcing
the International Monetary Fund to freeze aid and many charitable
organisations abandoning their operations in Zimbabwe.

Unemployment has reached about 85%, tourism has declined and hospitals and
schools function on shoe-string budgets.

While there may not be many Zimbabweans dying of hunger or sleeping in the
streets, the majority are languishing in an intolerable situations from
which they cannot extricate themselves.

Instead of taking serious and pragmatic steps to find solutions to reduce
poverty, Mugabe’s response has been to point the blame elsewhere — sanctions
imposed on him and his inner circle.

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Re-electing Mugabe simply disastrous

July 19, 2013 in Elections 2013, Opinion

WHEN Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, it was a relatively thriving
economy, despite emerging from a devastating liberation war and
international isolation.

Editor’s Memo by Dumisani Muleya

After 33 years of self-rule, the country is now at a crossroads again as
general elections loom. Given President Robert Mugabe’s disastrous record
and his old age, failing health and the way he is out of touch with reality,
re-electing him on July 31 amounts to helping him to fulfil his
president-for-life dream while condemning the nation to renewed implosion.

Besides his personal and maybe family interest, which includes the ambition
to be president for life, the need to secure immunity to avoid being held to
account and protection of his wealth, there is no public interest or
ideological principle behind Mugabe’s latest re-election bid.

Mugabe’s story after Independence is complex yet simple as it can be
digested into a life of power, violence and plunder, dotted with intervening
patches of success and vast swathes of failure.

Initially, as prime minister, Mugabe, who had little knowledge about how to
run an economy, kept the ship steady. This resulted in the continuation of
the command economy policies carried over from the Unilateral Declaration of
Independence and the war years.

The commandist policies were designed by reactionaries in Ian Smith’s
right-wing government to ensure survival of a siege economy. Taken over by
Mugabe’s left-wing regime, the policies maintained an economy under siege —
from within.

While Mugabe’s socialist agenda helped expand education, health and other
social programmes, the running thread through wealth redistribution in the
first decade was that of affirmative action, the forerunner to
indigenisation — racketeering by regulation.

Mugabe’s vast social programmes, funded by scarce public resources, were
later to wreak havoc with the economy until he was forced to adopt the
Washington Consensus prescriptions for crisis-wracked developing countries
which entailed macro-economic stabilisation, liberalisation on trade and
investment and a market framework. Predictably, this failed due to domestic
and exogenous factors.

Meanwhile, Mugabe tried to build a one-party state under an ideological
cloak of national unity and anti-imperialism. To consolidate and maintain
his authoritarian project, repressive and fascist methods were used. He
unleashed terror against his former liberation struggle Zapu comrades,
crushed dissenters, stoked the fires of regionalism and ethnicity, committed
and tried to cover up massacres in the mid-south-western regions, and
allowed corruption to spread — all well before the late 1990s when his
radical land reform programme finally collapsed the economy already reeling
under the weight of extended periods of mismanagement.

Some were initially fooled by the Mugabe regime’s rhetoric of
reconciliation, democracy and socialism, failing to understand its true
character and philosophy.

Only after 2000, following land invasions and fierce political repression,
did they begin to comprehend, and even then very slowly and perhaps not yet
fully, the Mugabe regime’s commitment to hold onto power at all costs.

Prior to that, by 1997, impatience over government’s failure on land reform
and failed economic policies, which triggered labour unrest and riots, had
led to growing discontent.

The raiding of Treasury and huge outlays to pay war veterans, the Congo war
and the currency crash, against a backdrop of underlying structural
problems, plunged Zimbabwe into a wave of uncertainty, instability and
eventually crisis.

Facing political demise due to his leadership and policy failures after he
was forced into abortive constitutional reforms in 1999, Mugabe went into
survival mode. There followed land invasions, repression, political violence
and killings, blood-soaked elections and disputed outcomes, sanctions and
instability — culminating into a political and economic meltdown which left
Zimbabwe on the brink.

Despite modest recovery since the coalition government emerged in 2009,
Zimbabwe, initially a source of optimism about Africa’s future, is now a
basket case of a country. Consequently, re-electing Mugabe on July 31 will
simply be a disaster for the country.

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What does Zec have to hide?

July 19, 2013 in Elections 2013, Opinion

AS the general elections draw closer, it is increasingly becoming clear
Zimbabwe is not ready for the polls despite what Zanu PF officials and their
state media hacks would have us believe.

The Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

President Robert Mugabe, his sycophants — who survive by clinging on his
political coat-tails — and grovelling state media journalists who know the
truth, but want to railroad the country into chaotic elections for their
narrow self-serving ends.

This has always been the strategy: Mugabe and his genuflecting Fifth
Columnists will do everything to subvert the people’s will by denying them
the right to participate in free and fair elections run by professional and
impartial electoral institutions and officials before stealing the result.

How do elections become credible when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(Zec), Registrar-General (RG)’s Office, bureaucrats, judges and state
security forces, mainly the military, are so shamelessly partisan? Why is
Mugabe and Zanu PF, as well as their cronies, afraid of free and fair
elections? If they are popular, as they would have us believe, why not allow
people to register and vote without hindrance in line with the constitution
and laws of this country, as well as the Sadc and international norms?

This brings us to the Zec issue. The Harare-based think tank, Research and
Advocacy Unit (Rau), has unearthed serious irregularities in the voters’
roll and wanted to launch the findings of its detailed audit. This comes in
the wake of its preliminary report released on July 5.

However, Rau was this week forced to cancel the launch because the RG’s
Office — which works with Zec and shadowy Israeli intelligence company Nikuv
International on voter registration — rushed to get a High Court interdict
to stop the event. This was despite the fact that the RG’s Office and Zec
were informed and thus knew what Rau was doing.

The reason, however, is not hard to find. Rau wanted to announce that the
voters’ roll is deeply flawed because two million potential voters aged
under 30 are unregistered; one million people on the roll are either
deceased or departed; 63 constituencies have more registered voters than
inhabitants and 41 constituencies deviate from the average number of voters
per constituency by more than the permitted 20%, among many miscellaneous

Judges came into the mix again amid Rau protests that the court order for an
interdict was granted and the application admitted and decided on yet the
certificate of urgency, which is part of the court application, was not
signed as is required by law. Rau says it finds it unprocedural and an abuse
of the justice system and court process the fact that it was not served with
the application when it was filed, meaning it only received it at the same
time as the order for an interdict.

Judges, as shown by the elections date case, have been playing a partisan
role in the electoral process, mainly since the 2002 presidential election
in a scandalous way. Elections can’t be free and fair in an environment
where conditions are not remotely free and fair.

What is happening is really a huge disservice to democracy. But the real
question here is: what is Zec afraid of? What does it have to hide?

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