Zimbabwe is in the middle of
early voting right now and, so far, the presidential election is not going too
well. The above video, by Nigerian-British viral video-makerIkenna Azuike, runs through it in two quick, funny, easy-to-understand minutes.
(Two glossary entries: Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980; ZANU-PF is
his political party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic
Here’s a bit more info on what’s
happening in Zimbabwe. The election will officially be held July 31, though
early voting began Monday for police and other officials. But polling places
have lacked ballots and other essential equipment, forcing many of them to turn
people away; only about 10 percent of eligible voters have been able to cast
ballots in what the Associated Press calls “poll chaos.” Many within and without Zimbabwe are calling on the country to
delay voting so it can better prepare, but the government is pushing ahead, a
plan that opponents say is a deliberate effort by Mugabe to derail the vote and
Nobody is very optimisticabout
the election. Soldiers and police across the country areclamping down on the political
oppositionand arresting activists;independent media is under pressure; Human Rights Watch warned, “The chances of
having free, fair and credible elections are slim.” This is the first
presidential election in Zimbabwe since 2008, when widespread violence by
pro-Mugabe police and soldiers caused an international outcry that ultimately
forced Mugabe to accept a power-sharing deal with an opposition figure, Morgan
Tsvangirai. Though few expect Mugabe to give up power willingly, he is 88 years
old and travels frequently to Asiafor health treatments; the question Azuike addresses at the end of his video is, who
will succeed him?
Members of the uniformed forces and election
officials who failed to cast their votes during the Special Vote will be
allowed to vote in polls set for July 31st, the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission announced Monday.
The security forces and civil servants were
supposed to have voted in advance of general elections on the 14th and 15th
According to ZEC, only 29,000 out of the 69,000 police officers
who registered to vote, participated in this early poll that was marred by
late delivery of ballot papers and delays at polling stations.
Constitutional lawyer and Education Minister David Coltart said while every
citizen should be allowed to vote, there is a provision in the Electoral Act
that stipulates that if a person has applied for a special vote they would
not be allowed to vote during the harmonized elections, to prevent double
Coltart said it’s not up to ZEC to just simply waive that
provision. “If they felt that provision prevents people from exercising
their right to vote then they should have gone to the Constitutional
The minister said if the State recognizes that all citizens must
be given the opportunity to vote then Zimbabweans in the Diaspora should
also be allowed to participate in the elections.
“There are many
Zimbabwean citizens in the Diaspora, especially in South Africa – there are
hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa. So is ZEC going to
ensure that those people can also exercise their vote?” Coltart
He said there needs to be consistency in the application of this
electoral provision. The minister said neighboring countries allow their
citizens who are resident in Zimbabwe, to vote in their respective countries
and Zimbabwe should also allow postal votes.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says over 26
000 members of the country’s disciplined forces who were supposed to
vote during the July 14-15 special voting exercise failed to cast
their ballots due to its failure to deliver balloting material on
Meanwhile, the electoral authority has already deployed
voting material to six provinces in a bid to avoid a repeat of the
voting debacle that marred special voting.
ZEC deputy chair Joyce
Kazembe told local and international observers, journalists and political
parties at an electoral update meeting in Harare on Tuesday that her
organisation will soon approach the Constitutional Court to ask for the
restoration of the lot’s rights to cast their votes July
Zimbabwe’s electoral laws do not allow a second chance to those
who would have missed an opportunity to vote during special
voting exercise, but Kazembe admitted her organisation was in fact the one to
blame for the failure by the majority police officers to cast their
ballots insisting the country’s laws do not shut out those
disenfranchised through the actions of the electoral body.
ZEC said it
entertained nearly 70 000 applications for the special vote but 63 268
applications were successful.“… 2 688 applications were rejected for various
reason, 37 108 managed to vote, leaving a total of 26 160 who were unable to
vote because of the challenges faced by the EMB (Electoral management Body)
itself but not the potential voters. The commission has been discussing with
the political parties on the way forward,” said Kazembe.
commission itself would like to enable those that have to vote to actually
not be disenfranchised because of the challenges of the commission itself. So
the desire for the commission is to allow all those who were unable to
exercise their right to vote to do so during the ordinary poll during the
31st of July 2013 whatever the law says,” stated Kazembe.
political parties that have been clamouring for a poll delay insist ZEC would
be violating the country’s electoral laws if it allows the disenfranchised
lot to cast their ballots.
ZEC insists this only affects those who failed
to vote out of their own making.
“The law says if anybody received
authorisation and does not turn up to vote, that person will not be able to
vote on the ordinary polling day,” Kazembe said, “However, if a person turns
up and the EMB itself fails to deliver, it is not the problem of the person
who has been given the vote.”
The ZEC deputy chair said it will turn
to the highest legal authority in the land to reassert the rights of the
“The commission is trying to address this matter by
actually approaching the Constitutional Court to see what takes precedence,
the right to vote which is a constitutional provision or what is
a provision in the electoral law,” she said.
She however did not state
as to when her commission will go to the ConCourt.
preparations for the July 31 polling by the rest of the population, Kazembe
said her organisation has already transported enough voting material to four
“We are actually carrying consignment to four provinces of
completely printed ballot paper for the presidential election, for the House
of Assembly elections and for the local authority elections. There
are actually six provinces that have been completed in respect
to printing,” she said.
The deployment of voting material is set to
complete by July 25.
"We are deploying, as we say, the most important
electoral material which are the ballot papers. Come tomorrow the last day of
printing and delivery all the papers by the 25th the ballot papers which
were the challenge of the special voting will have been deployed to
their respective places going with the presiding officers," said
Kazembe allayed fears ZEC would not be able to afford all
eligible Zimbabweans the chance to vote following the special vote
She said her organization has increased to 9 670 polling
stations countrywide, up from the 9 456 that were established during
The 2013 poll would be observed by 18 000 local
observers while 1 500 are foreign observers.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) has defended its decision to print 8 million ballot papers for the
July 31st elections despite there being only 6.4 million registered
Addressing a rally in Gweru over the weekend, MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said he was worried that “ZEC now wants to print 8 million ballot
papers when there are 6 million registered voters.”
“All such actions
undermine the credibility of the vote. I want to tell them that it
undermines the credibility of ZEC,” Tsvangirai told his supporters.
response to Tsvangirai’s concerns, ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau said the
Commission had allowed a 35 percent margin of error to ensure that ballots
do not run short.
According to online newspaper NewZimbabwe.com,
Makarau said ZEC wanted to avoid the problems which marred the special vote
for security services personnel when more than half of the 69,000 who were
expected to cast their ballots failed to do so due to the shortage of voting
The Commission blamed the special vote chaos on government
printers, resulting in the shortage of ballot papers and Makarau said this
time around, they would not be depending on one printing
With just eight days before the crucial poll, the MDC-T is
increasingly concerned that ZANU PF is doing all it can to rig the
elections, including allegations that it is working with the Chinese and
Israeli firm Nikuv to inflate voter figures.
warned that the MDC-T would be closely monitoring ZEC’s activities to ensure
the Commission did not aid ZANU PF in its rigging plot.
“Mugabe wants a
peaceful but rigged election. This rigging can only happen if ZEC chooses to
“But our eyes are wide open because we have to protect the
vote, we have to protect the voter and we have to protect the outcome of the
vote. This is important because we have to ensure that the people’s will
prevails,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.
On July 19th, the
MDC-T lost a court case in which the party was challenging the number of
ballot papers printed by ZEC for the special vote, particularly the numbers
in the police force.
ZEC said 69,000 police had registered for the
Special Vote and the MDC-T said this figure was way above the 44,000 police
officers who are paid a monthly salary, raising fears of ballot stuffing.
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has demanded that
the Registrar of Voters Tobaiwa Mudede hands over the voters roll to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
MDC’s secretary-general Tendai
Biti told the Daily News Mudede must hand the “discredited” voters’ roll to
Zec so as to prevent further tampering with the crucial document ahead of
“We have frightening figures of some half a million people
said to be 100 years old as well as some 1 million dead people still on the
roll,” Biti said.
“It is also now a fact that is known all over that
the notorious Israeli company Nikuv that has been working with Mudede has
helped them create four different voters rolls.”
He said since voter
registration closed two weeks ago, Mudede must now surrender the roll that
will be used for the elections to Zec.
“Political parties participating
in the elections must then be allowed to inspect and audit the voters’ roll
and then sign off the one that will be used for the elections,” Biti
“We are aware of the shenanigans around the voters’ roll. It is the
new theatre of vote rigging. “Zec also has an obligation to provide to
political parties a copy of the voters’ roll that is in analysable
A detailed research by think-tank Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU)
claimed nearly two million potential voters below 30 years are unregistered,
63 constituencies have more registered voters than the people staying in the
constituencies, 41 constituencies deviate from the average number of voters
per constituency by more than the permitted 20 percent.
“As a party,
the MDC has since written to Zec and Sadc highlighting these gross
anomalies,” the Harare East legislator said.
“We believe that if Zimbabwe
had to go through the election, it will produce a sham result as the
elections will not be held under free, fair and credible
Mudede yesterday told a news conference that a total of 6,4
million voters are eligible to vote in this year’s harmonised
The Registrar General of Voters claimed rigging through the
voters’ roll was “impossible.”
He said during the voter registration
exercise that ended on July 9, 747 928 new voters were registered while 234
000 voters transferred from their original to other wards.
printing of the voters’ roll was in progress and the register will be
distributed to all polling stations.
Mudede said a total of 860 389
people inspected the voters’ roll while 492 429 national identity cards were
issued during the voter registration.
The arrest last week of renowned human rights
lawyer and MDC-T parliamentary candidate Arnold Tsunga, has cast even more
doubt on the credibility of next week’s election.
This is according
to the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) which has condemned the
arrest of Tsunga and 50 MDC-T supporters last Friday. The group was arrested
after police accused them of participating in an ‘illegal’ rally in
The group was eventually released on Saturday after
being made to pay US$20 ‘admission of guilt’ fines.
Also last Friday,
police in Mount Darwin arrested the MDC-T parliamentary candidate for
Bindura North, Elliot Pfebve, who was detained over night before being
released without charge. His ‘crime’ was to put up posters of his party
President Morgan Tsvangirai.
SALC said: “The disruption and denial by
Zimbabwean police of peaceful political gatherings; the arbitrary arrest of
electoral candidates; and the intimidation of Zimbabwean citizens violates
the rights of freedom of association, assembly and expression of
Zimbabweans, members of the political opposition and human rights
The new constitution that was gazetted by Robert Mugabe
earlier this year is meant to uphold these rights and the rights of citizens
to partake in political activities like campaigning.
Director Nicole Fritz said the “uneven application of laws in Zimbabwe means
these rights are not being upheld.”
“The activities of the police, and
certainly the incident involving Arnold Tsunga, suggest that it’s much of
the same as we head towards elections, in that those in the political
opposition will be targeted and the rules governing free and fair elections
won’t be applied equally,” Fritz said.
She added: “This is reason for
concern that we won’t see free and fair polls.”
Tsunga’s and Pfebve’s
arrests come as the targeting of MDC supporters has continued to rise, along
with the intimidation and clampdown of civil society groups. Fritz said this
situation casts doubt on the credibility of the polls.
incidents suggest that not only are we going to see fraud and vote rigging
in the elections, but we are also going to see explicit intimidation and
possibly violence. And that is very concerning, because Zimbabwe can ill
afford for this to happen again,” Fritz warned.
SALC called on the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the election observers deployed by SADC
and the African Union to “investigate and address the recent incarceration
of Mr. Tsunga, and to ensure that the rights of all stakeholders are
respected and protected during this important time.”
Elections in Zimbabwe will be held next week
Wednesday, but hundreds of diplomats posted around the world have been
casting their votes this week.
Rita Makarau, the chairperson of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), revealed they had received 262
applications for postal voting from the Ministry of Foreign
Hebson Makuvise, the Zimbabwe ambassador to Germany, confirmed
to SW Radio Africa that staff at the Berlin mission cast their ballots on
‘We got our ballots in sealed envelopes, marked and put them
back in sealed envelopes ready to be dispatched to Harare,’ the Ambassador
This is also the first time that ambassadors, drawn from other
political parties than ZANU PF, have participated in the postal voting. The
exercise commenced on Monday as the envoys cast their ballots in 42 missions
around the world.
The envoys’ spouses, children above 18 and
household staff are also allowed to vote abroad. Trudy Stevenson, the
Ambassador in Dakar, Senegal said she and her husband will be voting after
they got their ballots on Tuesday. The embassy has a staff compliment of
‘Other embassies got their ballots much earlier than us
because they are easily accessible. I’m happy we received ours today
(Tuesday) and I will be exercising my democratic right to vote.
we are done we will use a courier to send them back home. I was disappointed
not to have voted in the referendum as our government had no capacity to
allow us to do so,’ Ambassador Stevenson said.
At the end of the postal
voting process, all envelopes will be sent to Harare, where they will be
guarded in a safe ZEC location until Election Day. On July 31st, after the
polls close in the country, the votes of diplomats and representatives
abroad will be counted, together with the votes of the general
Meanwhile, scores of people who failed to register to vote
demonstrated at the ZEC head offices Monday afternoon demanding to be
The group, comprised of people usually referred to as
‘aliens’ by the registrar-general’s offices, was wielding placards reading,
‘ZEC Please registers us’, ‘We are Zimbabweans’ and ‘we want to
Reports claim the group also demanded an audience with ZEC
chairperson Makarau. Kimberly Nyatsanga who led the protestors, most of them
from the capital’s Mabvuku high density suburb, told reporters that the
electoral body should allow them to vote or give them the chance to renounce
their foreign citizenships before the July 31st vote.
adoption of a new constitution in May this year, the country introduced new
voter registration measures that were set to restore the voting rights of
‘aliens’ who were disenfranchised more than a decade ago and are descendants
of migrants from neighbouring southern African countries.
this, thousands of Zimbabwean-born descendants of people who settled in
Zimbabwe were turned away from voter registration centres around the
The Pan African Forum has rejected the African
Union’s decision to name former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as head
of the AU election observer team to Zimbabwe’s July 31st
David Nyekorach-Matsanga, CEO of Pan African Forum, said the
former Nigerian president is too divisive and could create an Egypt-style
scenario in Zimbabwe.
The group described former Obasanjo as a
traitor who has betrayed Africa during past election monitoring missions
around the continent.
Nyekorach-Matsanga said Obasanjo has a dislike for
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and a “soft spot” for the opposition,
something he said could cause a conflict of interest in the
“We don’t have any personal hatred against General Obasanjo,
but this is a man who can never be trusted to observe any elections in this
African continent,” he said.
Nyekorach-Matsanga said the Zimbabwe
elections are critical not only to the southern Africa region, but to the
whole of Africa.
“We need sober minds, a cool observer, a person who is
not erratic, a person who has not betrayed Africa before, a person who has
never used double standard, and a person who has never failed election
observers before,” he said.
He said Obasanjo betrayed Africa
during past election monitoring missions around the continent.
Ghana, Obasanjo created a problem when he was the leader of an observer
team; in Togo, Obasanjo created a problem; in Senegal, Obasanjo created a
problem; in DRC, when Obasanjo was the leader of the negotiations between
(renegade CNDP rebel leader Laurent) Nkunda and the Congolese government, he
created a problem and aborted that mission,” he
Nyekorach-Matsanga said the former Nigerian president has no
democratic credentials to lead a continental election monitoring mission
because, as president of Nigeria, basanjo attempted to change the
constitution in 2006 to give himself a third term.
Nyekorach-Matsanga said Obasanjo cannot be an impartial observer because he
has in the past called Mugabe’s resignation.
“Obasanjo has called for the
removal of President Mugabe violently. He has also taken sides with Morgan
Tsvangirai. It is very, very incredible for any institution to take a man
who has already taken sides to go and observe an election in a country that
is facing an uphill task to produce a free and fair election,” he
Nyekorach-Matsanga boasts of the fact that his organization
defended Zimbabwe against Western sanctions. Yet, he said, he’s not biased
in criticizing Obasanjo.
“We have not only been supporters of
President Mugabe, we have been supporting the entire country against
sanctions. We are not rejecting Obasanjo because we hit MDC. No! We are
only saying the elections in the Zimbabwe need a sober head, somebody whose
track record is not litter with lies like Obasanjo,” Nyekorach-Matsanga
The AU observer mission is said to comprise 60 observers drawn from
African electoral management bodies, civil society organizations,
Pan-African Parliament, regional economic communities and human rights
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Tuesday chided some Zimbabweans for
going to live abroad, asking them: “You have your country; you fought for
it, why are you running away?”
Mugabe, speaking at a Zanu PF campaign
rally in Mutare, Manicaland Province, singled out Matabeleland South where
he said there was a “tradition” of going to neighbouring South
He told supporters: “In Matabeleland South, there has always been
a tradition that if you have not been to South Africa, then you’re not a
“I was 21 in 1945 and teaching at Empandeni in Plumtree... the whole
area had no men, just women. The poverty that was there! The women couldn’t
till the fields. Where were the men? In South Africa!
“They came back
from South Africa, some came twice a year carrying some blankets. That was a
tradition. If they got a bicycle, they were sorted. They would come, stay a
week or two and go back. In Matabeleland South that has always been the
“Then others from other provinces followed. Others then said
sanctions are biting, companies are closing, there’re no jobs. They included
nurses; they went to Britain during [Tony] Blair’s time, and Blair used that
to blame my government; said that these people are running from Mugabe’s
“If you said ‘Mugabe’, they would just say 'come in, come
in'. Even [Canaan] Banana’s wife went there and said ‘I’m being oppressed.’
Oppressing the former President’s wife, how evil could Mugabe be? Yet we
knew she went there to live with her children.
“But see now, they [UK
government] are saying these people are too many, they are causing tension
in Britain, let them go back.”
Mugabe insisted that those who went to
foreign countries were not doing any better than those they left behind.
Extending an invitation to the exiles to return home, he said his government
had a plan to create jobs in infrastructure development and
He told supporters: “You have your country; you fought for it,
why are you running away? Why run to Britain, a very cold and uninhabitable
country with nowhere where you can say you can live happily? The houses are
very small, why go there? So that you can say I went to England? Can those
who went there show us what they did with their time?
in America, they only come home to die. The coffins, we buy them because
they didn’t leave enough money behind to buy coffins.
“We have educated
our people; if you are an engineer, the mines are there. If you’re an
economist, an accountant, jobs are there. We want to build a lot, but we
were being disrupted by this chipukanana that won 20 seats in this
Mugabe went on to accuse MDC-T secretary general and Finance
Minister Tendai Biti of failing to save Mutare industries.
many companies have closed. We said before companies close, let’s help them.
We had US$500 million from the IMF. Biti said ‘ah, this much I will use
there, this much I will keep for elections.’
“We don’t have an idea where
this money went. They have houses in South Africa, every weekend they are
there. Our homes are here in Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe, 89, is on the campaign
trail across the country bidding for a new five-year term in the July 31
party member allegedly rubbed out Zimbabwe leader's face from election
campaign hats and sold them for $2
David Smith, Africa
correspondent guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 July 2013 01.01 AEST
is being billed as the most important election in Zimbabwe since
independence more than three decades ago, but that has apparently not
prevented one disloyal politician from making a fast buck.
of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has reportedly been arrested for erasing
the president's face from campaign hats and selling them for $2
The alleged cottage industry was revealed by the mines
minister, Obert Mpofu, at a campaign rally in Bulawayo last Sunday,
according to Zimbabwe's NewsDay newspaper. He accused some senior party
figures of hoarding campaign regalia instead of distributing
"When I was on my way here, I heard that a member from here was
arrested after being found with caps for the party campaign in his house,"
Mpofu was quoted as saying. "That person was scraping the president's face
from the caps and reselling them for $2."
Party insiders identified
the culprit as a member of the Zanu-PF provincial youth executive, NewsDay
reported, but its chairperson, Mabutho Moyo, denied knowledge of the
incident. "The same way you heard about the matter, is the same way I heard
about it. I have not received any report so I will have to check with the
provincial office to get accurate information," Moyo said.
and T-shirts are said to be in plentiful supply at rallies in the buildup to
next week's presidential election. The past year has also witnessed growing
demand for the House of Gushungo clothing range that includes berets,
T-shirt and golf shirt bearing the signature "RG Mugabe". But less
auspiciously it has been reported that money shortages are forcing Zanu-PF
to recycle some regalia and posters from the last election with the year
2008 rubbed out.
Concerns about election irregularities are mounting with
polling day just over a week away. An analysis of the electoral register by
the Harare-based non-governmental Research and Advocacy Unit found that a
million Zimbabweans who were dead or had left the country were still on the
voters' roll; the roll listed 116,000 people over the age of 100; there were
78 constituencies with more registered voters than adult residents; and two
million voters under the age of 30 were not registered. Early voting for
police officers was shambolic.
Mugabe's challenger Morgan Tsvangirai
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has warned the Zimbabwe
electoral commission that he will be closely monitoring it to ensure a fair
vote. State media and security institutions remain under Zanu-PF's control
and there have been reports of sporadic violence against MDC
On Monday South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA)
became the latest organisation to raise the alarm over "serious
irregularities" found by its election observers. It said: "Village
constituencies are being coerced to vote for the Zanu-PF and threatened with
a repeat of the pre-and-post 2008 election violence. A random register has
been conducted by Zanu-PF agents to monitor voter trends in
"In suburbs, townships, towns and cities, where people are more
likely to support MDC-T, registration centres were very few and marked by
long queues, resulting in fewer people registering; and security personnel
including the police and the army are openly canvassing for
The DA also criticised the South African president, Jacob Zuma,
the chief regional mediator on Zimbabwe, for rebuking one of his aides for
making "unfortunate statements" on Zimbabwe's lack of readiness to hold the
All polling stations to be
used in next week’s elections will be physically checked for mobile phones
and hidden cameras before voters are allowed to cast their votes
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been training its presiding and
polling officers to do a physical search of the polling stations before
voting commences on July 31st. The search involves a meticulous sweep of the
stations for any hidden cameras.
Voters who use or display mobile
phones or cameras inside the polling station on election day will be evicted
from the polling station and will likely lose their chance to
Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda, the MDC-T parliamentary candidate for Vungu
in the Midlands South province, told our Election Watch program on Tuesday
that the ban on the use of mobile phones and other image capturing devices
is to ensure that voters do not compromise the secrecy of their
ZEC has put in place 9,670 polling stations to be manned by a
staff of more than 15,000 officers for the upcoming elections. The
harmonized elections will see voters decide on the President, National
Assembly members and councillors.
The no mobile phone rule is
believed to apply to everyone else inside the polling stations including
polling officers, candidates, polling agents and observers. Notices will be
posted outside the polling stations reminding voters to turn off and put
away all their mobile phones and cameras before entering the polling
‘Besides their other shortfalls I think ZEC got it spot on, on
the issue of cameras and mobile phones because people in rural areas are
always lied to by ZANU PF that they have cameras hidden inside polling
‘The law, under the new constitution, protects the secrecy of
your ballot. Persons need not fear that their vote can be traced back or
persons will know who they have voted for. Once the counterfoil or stub has
been removed your ballot cannot be traced back to you,’ Sibanda said. He
said apart from ZEC’s efforts to conduct a credible election, the MDC-T has
been training its polling agents to spot ballot-stuffing and vote-rigging in
preparation for next weeks’ crucial poll.
‘We will be organized. We will
be prepared. And we will be effective,’ he said, describing how, of the many
ways to cheat in an election, the simplest was to stuff a handful of
pre-marked papers into a ballot box when nobody is looking.
simple he added was the ‘merry-go-round’ technique, in which busloads of
supporters are driven from one polling station to another, voting at each in
turn, with the connivance of election officials.
‘We will be watching and
we will be very vigilant, this time we will protect the vote and the voter,’
Sibanda’s comments were echoed by party
secretary-general Tendai Biti, who wrote on his Facebook page that he’s been
getting enquiries from people wanting to know if the party had a plan
against the rigging.
He said: ‘Of course, we have but surely we can’t put
it on Facebook can we. But I will tell you something. We have plan A, B and
C .The plan is simple. We will finish it off once and for all on 31 July
2013. They know it, we know it, you know it.’
With just eight days to
go before the poll, the number of observers jetting into the country is
increasing by the day. The MDC-T hope that most regional and foreign
observers will be deployed to rural areas, usually the flash points of
political violence in the country.
In the past, African Union and SADC
observers have visited rural areas associated with the opposition parties,
but have rarely set foot in the ZANU PF strongholds of the three Mashonaland
A new website,electiOnride.com, promises it will make results of the
harmonised elections to be held this month available online in real time. Well,
as real time as they are announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of
course. And there’s good reason to believe they’ll deliver on this – a lot of
work has evidently been put in building the application that is already
the tip in our mailboxes this afternoon from the people behind the website who
unfortunately didn’t want to identify themselves. Their response to our “who’s
behind this?” was, “electiOnride.com is a community of Zimbabweans and is not
run by any organization.”They do admit though that they are “not politically unaffiliated”
which we took to mean the collective support some party.Update: electiOnride.com just wrote to
us to clarify that they meant they are “politically
We clicked around
the website, and to say that we are impressed would be an understatement; a lot
of deliberate work was put into this. It’s professional work done by organised
people which says ‘organisation’ or support by an organisation(s). And besides,
it will take a lot of resources to gather that data and present it on the
On to the
application itself, using an interactive map divided into constituencies users
of the website can view in real time the results in each constituency in
Zimbabwe. This, the person that got in touch said, will make analysis of
election results more open and easy.
electiOnride.com also make it clear that they only
display data as published by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). According
to the email we got, they will have numerous “community” members all over the
country, who will populate the data as it is announced by ZEC. On how they will guard against errors, they said the
data submitted will go through an algorithm that checks for consistency. The
community members responsible for data entry, they said, do not know each other
and this will help with the integrity of the
They also said in
the email that they in the process of reaching out to
By Professor Matodzi Bulawayo, July
23, 2013 - Zimbabwean state security agents have stepped up their blitz
against non-governmental organisations after blocking civil society
organisations from conducting education programmes in three provinces. In
Matabeleland and Midlands provinces the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
blocked six election debates organised by Bulawayo Agenda in Gweru,
Plumtree, Tsholotsho and Lupane. The meetings, which were supposed to be
held last week up to this week. The debates were meant to facilitate
interface between various political party candidates running for
parliamentary office from across the political divide and the public so as
to promote citizen participation in elections. The police told Bulawayo
Agenda, the organisers of the election debates that they were only
authorizing political parties to conduct their campaign activities during
the run-up to the harmonised elections as they do not have enough manpower
to ensure public order at civic society meetings. In Manicaland, the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), the umbrella
organization for NGOs decried the shrinking operating space for NGOs after
some state security agents imposed a ban on their activities. NANGO
chairperson Effie Ncube said the ban on NGO activities is reminiscent of the
experiences of 2008 when a similar blanket closure of NGOs was enforced on
the 4th of June ahead of the presidential polls re-run. Meanwhile, lawyers
from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have petitioned the courts through
filing ex-parte applications at Tredgold Magistrates Court in Bulawayo
seeking to overturn the ban imposed by police on the holding of Bulawayo
Agenda election debates.
JOHANNESBURG–Ahead of some of the most important elections in
Zimbabwe’s history, Freedom Fone, a homegrown product designed to use cell
phones to help inform voters and monitor the polls, has run out of
“I think it could
have been a very useful tool,” said Freedom Fone’s Tina Rolfe. In Zimbabwe, a
country where opposition parties don’t have access to state-controlled media
outlets, Freedom Fone could have been used by politicians “to get their message
Robert Mugabe hasrushed national
elections to July 31, in an attempt to extend his 33-year
rule. The threat of violence hangs over the upcoming polls, and with only six
weeks to organize ballots for the millions of expected voters, irregularities
with voter rolls have already been reported.
was developed byThe Kubatana Trust of
Zimbabwewith funding fromThe Knight News
Challenge. It grew out of the desire to bring the
power of social media to communities without access to the Internet. Only a
quarter of Zimbabweans can get online, while nearly the entire population has
access to mobile phones.
At its core,
Freedom Fone is based on a simple idea; people with mobile phones can call
specified numbers for prerecorded information. They can also leave messages on a
simple to set up and easy to maintain system. In its implementation, the system
has brought access to information to people that have traditionally been kept
out of the loop.
is not limited to Zimbabwe. In Ghana and Tanzania, farmers use the system to
send and receive agricultural information. It was used to monitor parliamentary
elections in Egypt. It’s even been used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
toallow women to
access pre-recorded information on sexual assault, all while
A Freedom Fone
election observation comic
Freedom Fone has
found countless uses in communities across the world. But last year Freedom
Fone’s funding in Zimbabwe began to dry up. Its Harare offices now sit empty
most days, and with only a week before national elections, Rolfe only comes into
work for eight hours a week.
“At this point
we’re not equipped to deal with the whole election program,” she
in Zimbabwe is notoriously tight. A hard-to-track, easy-to-operate system like
Freedom Fone could have been invaluable in a country where citizens were jailed
simply forwatching videos of the Arab
Freedom Fone is
powered by free open source software that’s available to download from the
program’s website. To run it, a user needs to have a spare computer with 2GB of
RAM and a device to connect Freedom Fone to at least one SIM card. These devices
can cost anywhere between $65 and $1,200 depending on the complexity of the
system and the number of individual connections needed.
Freedom Fone was slower to take off in Zimbabwe than in many of the other
countries it’s used in. According to Rolfe, local use of Freedom Fone “was not
as high as we hoped.”
specifically, I think one of the stumbling blocks is that while mobile is
ubiquitous, it’s not as cheap as in other countries, like Kenya for example”
Eyebrows have been raised after Local Government
Minister Ignatius Chombo instructed the country’s 92 local authorities to
cancel all debt owed by residents.
Chombo told journalists Monday
that the directive was with immediate effect, and was in “line with ZANU
PF’s pro-poor policies”.
Using his ministerial powers under the both the
Rural District Council Act and the Urban Councils Act, Chombo said:
“Councils are directed to write off debts in respect of rentals, unit tax,
development levy, refuse charges and water and sewer fees as at June 30,
“Similarly amounts owed by residents in respect of rates since
February 2009 stand prescribed in terms of section 15 of the Prescription
Act,” said Chombo.
The ZANU PF minister said the move was meant to
bring relief to rate payers whom he said were suffering as a result of
illegal sanctions and local authority mismanagement by the MDC.
May, then Harare City Council Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda revealed that the
local authority was owed $162 million for rates and services, with
government departments accounting for $130 million of this debt. It is
unclear whether Chombo’s order extends to government departments as
Chombo’s move has been cautiously welcomed by ratepayers, with many
questioning the timing of the write off, just eight days before a watershed
Reacting to Chombo’s announcement on Facebook, former
journalist Methuseli Moyo wrote: “IZANU iyazenza izinto (ZANU PF never
ceases to amaze), they’ve just cancelled $500 I owed the Bulawayo City
Council. But the timing speaks for itself.”
Others said that it was
nothing more than vote-buying being extended to urban constituencies, with
Dorothy Ncube writing: “In the rural areas they are using food parcels, and
for urban dwellers, it’s bill cancellation.
Others likened the directive
to a donkey that comes to one’s homestead bearing a bag of maize: “You take
the bag and let the donkey go,” said Mthabisi Dube.
said this was a clever act by ZANU PF: “They know that no-one will dare
question this without running the risk of being unpopular with voters ahead
of the election.”
Bheki Jakobe however questioned the wisdom of the
minister’s order, saying this was going to affect local authorities’ revenue
inflows and their capacity to procure water treatment chemicals among other
things. These are the policies that bring the country to its knees, as we
saw with the BACOSSI,” Jacobe added.
The BACOSSI (Basic Commodity
Supply-Side Intervention) was part of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s
quasi-fiscal policies that also became an important campaigning tool and a
carrot to reward those who voted for ZANU PF in 2008.
SW Radio Africa
was not able to get reactions from the Harare City Council as the phone in
Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi’s office was not being answered.
Council’s public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu said the directive had not
yet been officially communicated to the authority and as such, she could not
Precious Shumba, director at Harare Residents’ Trust which led
the petition for the debt cancellation, said rate payers were happy that
their petition had been granted.
“On 19 October 2012 we petitioned
the authorities to cancel all debt accrued from February 2009 to December
31st 2010 – a period we strongly believed was most difficult for residents
and no tangible services were rendered during this period.
however believe that from 2011 people would have recovered financially to be
able to pay their rates. What we have always contested is to ask people to
pay for services that were not rendered,” Shumba added.
“We also feel
that the timing is suspicious, and we also view with caution the fact that
the directive wasn’t in writing, and is yet to be communicated to us or the
authorities. Any incoming council can reverse the verbal order,” Shumba
Shumba also expressed concern that the directive comes at a time
when authorities are being run by caretaker commissions, following the
expiry of the life of parliament on June 29th.
He said the
announcement should have been made during the tenure of elected councilors,
to ensure the cancellation was factored into budget projections.
MDC notes with great concern the populist directive made this week by the
caretaker minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development,
Ignatius Chombo in ordering local councils to write off debts owed by the
residents in all urban and rural councils.
While the MDC understands
the plight of residents and sympathises with them for the hardships they are
facing in failing to pay their bills because of mismanagement and corruption
of the Zanu PF government, we note with concern the timing of Chombo’s
It is not a genuine directive meant to benefit the suffering
people of Zimbabwe but it is a Zanu PF campaign tool as it has realised that
the people of Zimbabwe are going to punish them on 31 July for mismanaging
the economy over the last 33 years.
If Chombo’s Monday directive was
genuine, it should have been made in 2009 before the formation of the
inclusive government and when the people of Zimbabwe were facing a serious
cash crunch due to the hyperinflationary environment that had been brought
about by Zanu PF’s scorched earth policies.
Chombo’s directive will
cripple the day to day operations of the local councils as most of the
people who have highly inflated bills are senior Zanu PF officials including
Chombo who owns hundreds of properties across Zimbabwe that were acquired
under controversial circumstances.
It is the culture for Zanu PF
officials not to pay their bills and rates and at the beginning of this
year, Mugabe and his Grace owed ZESA US$300 000 while ministers from his
party owed the power utility similar amounts.
The decree by Chombo is
similar to Zanu PF’s policy of 2006 when it forced retail shops to slash
their prices, a directive that led to unavailability of basic commodities,
closure and loss of jobs to thousands of people.
Chombo is known for
making bankrupt policies and in 2009; he refused to comply with an MDC
directive to dismiss councillors from the MDC who had been fingered in
corruption by the party and dismissed.
The non-compliance on the MDC’s
decision by Chombo led to Robert Mugabe regretting the decision at a rally
in Chitungwiza last week.
For years Chombo has been unnecessarily
meddling in the affairs of councils that are mostly managed by the MDC to
the point that service delivery such as availability of water and refuse
collection has been seriously affected. Chombo has once again proved that he
is the biggest problem in local governance.
Chombo should know that
for residents to have better service delivery there is need to pay their
bills, which is a source of revenue for councils and failure to do that will
result in the decline of this and expose residents to diseases.
the MDC our position is that social services such as local governance play a
critical role in a functioning society and ensure that all local authorities
have technical means and resources to provide adequate water, sanitation,
refuse collection, energy and better roads.
Chombo should know that what
the people of Zimbabwe need are not populist policies but jobs and a service
oriented local council. People need the provision of affordable service
delivery which is an imperator in the next MDC government’s overall
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has “unfairly ostracised”
his outspoken international relations adviser for commenting on the
situation in Zimbabwe - despite giving her permission to do so three years
ago - sources say.
ANC, government and diplomatic sources told The
Star on Monday that the Zuma administration had authorised Lindiwe Zulu to
speak to the media and diplomats on developments in the southern African
So it came as a shock when the Presidency publicly chastised
Zulu for her “unauthorised”, “regrettable” and “unfortunate” comments at the
weekend, they added. The sources spoke on condition of
Zulu’s public dressing down came days after Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe implored Zuma to sanction the “idiotic street woman”
for allegedly imposing her views on his country ahead of the July 31
Addressing a post-ANC lekgotla briefing at Luthuli House on
Monday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe confirmed that Zulu had been
“given the responsibility to deal with the media and diplomats” on
A senior government official said Zuma had summoned Zulu to
explain the comments a news agency attributed to her, in which she was
quoted as saying he had called Mugabe to express his unhappiness over poor
Zulu apparently disputed the statement, saying
it was inaccurate.
Zulu is said to be “hurting”, but has decided to take
up the matter with Zuma behind the scenes out of respect for him and the
“She has the mandate to speak to the media and diplomats on
Zimbabwe. So it’s surprising that she’s being ostracised now.
Lindiwe is a diplomat. She will take up the matter after the Zimbabwean
elections as they are her primary responsibility,” said an ANC
Zulu failed to respond to repeated calls and text messages for
comment on Monday.
Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj on Monday night
confirmed that Zulu was previously given authority to speak on Zimbabwe, but
claimed it was given by members of the facilitation team without Zuma’s
He said, however, Zulu was authorised to speak on processes
rather than substantive issues. Maharaj said he blamed himself for not
removing Zulu after his appointment as Zuma’s spokesman.
was my fault. I didn’t say that now because I am the spokesperson, this
responsibility must be passed to me. And at the time, the questions were
process issues and not substantive,” said Maharaj.
Zulu angered Mugabe
when she bluntly said the elections had to be postponed to allow the media
and security reforms necessary for a credible poll.
the ANC would not publicly take up the matter of Mugabe labelling Zulu an
“idiotic street woman” because the relationship between the ANC and Zanu-PF
allowed the former to raise any concerns behind the scenes.
HARARE - South Africa remains unmoved by Zanu PF’s constant
goading of President Jacob Zuma in their futile bid to stump his impartial
mediation in Zimbabwe’s perennial political crisis.
source in Pretoria said yesterday that Zuma and the South African government
were “well aware” that the provocations by elements in Zanu PF were meant to
derail Pretoria’s efforts to mitigate “the suffering of the people of
“Everyone here has taken note of the unprovoked insults and
provocations by some leaders of Zanu PF which are all meant to derail
President Zuma’s even-handed mediation of the political crisis in Zimbabwe,
as well as South Africa’s efforts to assist Zimbabweans. It is an act of
desperation ahead of the July 31 elections,” the official, who requested
“This is clearly why President Zuma has taken the
deliberate, pragmatic and wise decision to diffuse the contrived diplomatic
row between Harare and Pretoria which is meant to confuse issues and to
derail President Zuma’s mediation.
“Sadly for these anarchists (in
Zanu PF), this won’t work. We will not give them any excuses for the
problems that are threatening the democratisation process as the elections
loom. These anarchists must know however, that they will soon have to
account for their actions.”
The official spoke as President Robert Mugabe
and Zanu PF were ratcheting up their attacks on Zuma and his trusted
international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu — threatening to ignite a
full-scale diplomatic row between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
tore into Zuma at a political rally in Matabeleland at the weekend —
comparing him scathingly and derisively to his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, and
accusing him of taking too much of a back seat in his role as a facilitator
to the Zimbabwean crisis. He also, once again, lashed at
Earlier this month, Mugabe referred to Zulu as a “stupid and
idiotic street woman”, further calling on Zuma to rein her in — prompting
the South African leader to try and defuse the row on Sunday.
spokesperson Mac Maharaj said: “We realise that Zimbabwe has just a few days
to go before the elections and we want to assure that no future incident
will arise ... Statements with regard to the election process will only come
from President Zuma”.
He said Mugabe’s concerns had not been on the
agenda of the meeting of Sadc’s Troika that was held in Pretoria on
“No questions arose over the removal of any of President Zuma’s
technical facilitation team ... no investigation is being conducted,”
“There was a simple question ... did anyone make a
statement out of turn; has the statement caused any problems; are these
problems such that they deflect from the real issues Zimbabwe faces? Our
statement is intended to remove this (contention) from the table,” Maharaj
party is using images of its leader from 1980 because it is concerned his
age has made him a liability in forthcoming elections, according to his
Aislinn Laing By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg4:59PM BST 23 Jul
Opposition politicians have raised concerns that at 89, Mr Mugabe's
age is an issue of national security, while Zimbabweans fear if he were to
die in office, it will spark a bitter power struggle that could destabilise
the whole country.
Nelson Chamisa, organising secretary of the
Movement for Democratic Change, said Zanu PF's use of the pictures taken 33
years ago from when Mr Mugabe first took office showed a "loss of
confidence" in the ageing leader.
"Even if you go to get an
identification card they won't ask for your picture of years ago, they want
the current picture," Mr Chamisa told party supporters at a weekend rally In
Gweru, central Zimbabwe. "If one uses his picture of 1980, people might not
even recognise him if they are to meet him today, this is fraud and a show
of loss of confidence."
He told The Daily Telegraph that Zanu PF was also
wary of Mr Mugabe's recent record in power, which has included violent land
seizures, economic collapse and widespread poverty and hunger, and preferred
to remind voters of his time as a freedom fighter.
"They are in love
with the Mugabe of the 1980s but not the Mugabe of today," he said. "I don't
think they want to be associated with the Mugabe of today."
comments come just a week before Zimbabwe goes to the polls to decide which
party and president will rule the country for the next five years, and
claims of skulduggery and vote-rigging.
Mr Mugabe turns 90 in
February, making him the world's oldest sitting politcal leader.
is known to have suffered from prostate cancer and there has been concern
about frequent trips to Singapore, reportedly for medical
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T leader and Zimbabwe's prime
minister since 2009 in an uneasy coalition, recently said at a party rally:
"We can't trust our future in the hands of a 90-year-old president, his age
is a national security issue and everyone has seen it that clearly he needs
Elias Mudzuri, an engineer and MDC MP, said there was little
doubt Zanu PF was engaging in a spot of retouching of its ageing
"In the posters I have seen, he's about 70," he said. "We
Africans may respect our elders and value their wisdom but this country has
been through an economic crisis and needs some fresh thinking."
Ibbo Mandaza, a Harare-based political analyst, said his age represented a
problem for Zanu PF but he could not be persuaded to stand down.
clear that his age is a liability and it was a major gamble to put him up
for election again," he said.
There has been much debate in Zimbabwe
about what Mr Mugabe's game plan is if he wins office. He recently allowed
his deputy, Joyce Mujuru, to chair cabinet several times, prompting
speculation that he was looking for an heir and had chosen the more moderate
of two front-runners – the other being Emmerson Mnangagwa, the defence
minister who has reportedly been working behind the scenes to deliver
another Zanu PF victory.
Dr Mandaza said Mr Mugabe was more interested in
remaining in power. "He wants to die in office and that's the big concern
for everyone because what would happen if he did?"
No one from Zanu
PF or Mr Mugabe's office could be reached for comment.
With just eight days to go until the elections,
the Zimbabwean business sector is in a state of limbo, which analysts
predict will last as long as the uncertainty about the country’s
Polling day next Wednesday has not yet been declared a national
holiday, and businesses are trying to make plans to accommodate the voting
rights of their employees.
But the technicalities of the voting day
are not the only issues adversely affecting the sector, which has already
felt the impact of uncertainty and instability in Zimbabwe’s political
Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera told SW Radio Africa that the
election period has had a “severe impact” on businesses because of a
“general reluctance to trade in and with Zimbabwe.” He said this reluctance
has grown because of politically related developments that directly
influence the sector.
“For example, when Robert Mugabe threatened to
pull out of the SADC bloc. We are an import based economy and that would
result in higher tariffs being placed on goods. So this instills fear in
local businesses because they’d be trading on an unlevel ground,” Kuchera
Kuchera said it was likely that most businesses will plan to either
close or run a ‘skeletal staff operation’ on polling day, but he added that
whatever the plan, elections are not good for businesses.
in Zimbabwe will also need to prepare for bouts of violence and chaos after
the elections. We might not be expecting any but like any sane business
person will say, this is not the time to only hope for the best. You also
need to plan for the worst,” Kuchera said.
The analyst meanwhile said
that the political future of the country and stability in the business
sector are closely linked, and until there is political certainty,
“uncertainty rules supreme in business.”
“We have seen companies closing,
some scaling down, and some on hold while they wait for the outcome of the
elections. It is clear that there are people who want to do business with
and in Zimbabwe, but they are waiting for stability and certainty,” Kuchera
ROHR demo outside election offices in Harare - 22nd July 2013
demo outside election offices in Harare – 22nd July
(Monday) between 1330hrs and 1430hrs a group of about 100 human right activists
under the banner of the Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe staged a
peaceful demonstration outside the ZEC offices at the corner of Kaguvi Street
and Jason Moyo Avenue in Harare.
bone of contention is that ZEC has no capacity to run a credible plebiscite come
31st July. They further argue that even if ZEC were capacitated to
run a smooth harmonised election, the body has disenfranchised millions of
bona-fide Zimbabwean citizens because of the flawed ZEC voter registration
process which had many bottlenecks designed to scuttle the urban
released figures a few weeks ago that Greater Harare had registered 27,000 and
Bulawayo Province 13,100 voters during the one month long mobile voter
registration exercise. During the same period, ZEC says Mashonaland East
Province accounted for 70,000 voters whilst Manicaland had 60,000.
has irked unregistered urbanites who are suggesting that ZEC re-opens mobile
voter registration and allow people to register until a day before polling. They
are also arguing that ZEC should allow all Zimbabwean citizens to cast their
ballot without having registered and that a supplementary voters’ roll should be
compiled comprising the unregistered voters.
spokesperson Mr Kimberley Nyatsanga said they will continue to pile pressure on
ZEC to do the right thing. This is the third time since the close of voter
registration that ROHR has staged a demonstration against ZEC. Nyatsanga says
they will continue to hold demonstrations picketing ZEC and the Registrar
President Ephraim Tapa declared that the election had already failed to meet the
free and fair threshold with millions in the diaspora and at home having been
denied their right to vote. He called on ZEC to avoid pushing the country into a
serious security risk by owning up to the Zimbabwe people and the world that
they had no capacity to deliver a free and fair election let alone a credible
The Vigil, outside
the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00
to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The
Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until
internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo is the only African on
the Booker longlist that includes celebrated authors like Colm Tóibín and
The longlist for the prize, one of the English language's top
fiction awards, names 13 writers from seven countries.
151 titles, it also includes authors from Britain, New Zealand, Canada,
Australia, Malaysia and Ireland.
Announcing the list, the judge Robert
Macfarlane said: "This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker
history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and
"These 13 outstanding novels range from the traditional to the
experimental, from the first century AD to the present day, from 100 pages
to 1 000, and from Shanghai to Hendon."
If you thought the name
NoViolet Bulawayo is an improbable one, it’s probably because hers is a
moniker. Born Elizabeth Tshele in 1981 in Tsholotsho, in the south of
Zimbabwe, she moved to the United States when she was 18.
winner of the Caine Prize, she is also the recipient of the Truman Capote
Fellowship. She won the Caine Prize in 2011 for the story Hitting Budapest,
included in her debut novel as the first chapter. The beautifully written
story is told using a deceptively simple but mature child
It begins: “We are on our way to Budapest: Bastard and Chipo
and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me. We are going even though we are not
allowed to cross Mzilikazi Road, even though Bastard is supposed to be
watching his little sister Fraction, even though mother would kill me dead
if she found out; we are going. There are guavas to steal in Budapest, and
right now I’d die for guavas, or anything for that matter. My stomach feels
like somebody just took a shovel and dug everything out.”
seven women are on the list, the others being Alison MacLeod with
Unexploded, Charlotte Mendelson with Almost English, Canadian Ruth Ozeki
with A Tale for the Time Being, and New Zealand's Eleanor Catton with The
The judges will meet again in September to decide a
shortlist of six books and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on
October 15 in London.
HARARE , Jul
23 2013 (IPS) - Moses Chiengerere is one of the Zimbabwe’s hundreds of
thousands of smallholder maize farmers keeping this southern African
nation’s granaries stocked with the grain.
“I make it a point that
anything over 24 bags (about two tonnes) goes to the (government) Grain
Marketing Board, so that I can get some cash. The prices are poor but the
only advantage is that if you sell to them, you will get first preference to
buy grain in the event of a drought,” he tells IPS, attributing his
successful harvest to the use of cow dung as a compound
Small-scale farmers – who previously contributed slightly
less than half of the 1.8 million tonnes of grain to the Grain Marketing
Board’s national reserve annually – have been left to fill it almost
This is because Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers, most of whom are
beneficiaries of the country’s controversial and violent land reform
programme of 2000, are producing way below expectation, despite occupying
the most productive land.
Under the programme more than 300,000
people forcefully occupied land previously owned and occupied by an
estimated 4,000 white commercial farmers. They were also awarded the title
deeds to the land.
But according to a report released in July by the
Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, titled “National Poverty Income
Consumption and Expenditure Survey”, commercial farmers contributed a paltry
15,6 percent to the national reserve last year.
In 1994, commercial
famers, who farm plots of land ranging from six to 20 hectares, contributed
2.1 million tonnes of maize to the national reserve.
While there are no
official figures about the number of smallholder maize farmers here, the
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) estimates that there are six million
smallholders farming on six hectares or less. Aside from maize, these
smallholder farmers also harvest crops such as sorghum and
Several reasons have been given by experts for the increased
contribution by smallholder famers to the country’s grain
According to agricultural expert and executive director of the
African Institute for Agrarian Studies, Professor Sam Moyo, it is a direct
result of the commercialisation of grain production by smallholder farmers
who previously only grew the crop for survival.
And it has resulted
in commercial farmers concentrating on other cash crops that give higher
returns, he tells IPS.
“With new policies encouraging technology,
extension services, new seeds and fertiliser to small-scale farmers, their
production started growing.
“Since they also eat the crop, they have very
high incentive to grow it. They are now competing very well with commercial
famers,” says Moyo, adding that smallholder farmers occupy 65 to 70 percent
of the country’s agricultural land.
Ted Mandizha from Mashonaland
West Province is one of those farmers who grows the crop for his family’s
survival and then sells any excess. He tells IPS that he keeps aside about
1.5 tonnes of his maize harvest for his family’s consumption, but usually
sells two tonnes of his annual maize crop to the Grain Marketing
Despite the ever-shortening seasons of rainfall, he is able to
produce a bountiful crop. Mandizha believes that the use of seed designed
for short seasons offers him an advantage.
“It is matter of using
short-season variety seed and also drought-resistant seed. They all
contribute to a better yield in this day and age of climate change,” says
Mandizha, who has been farming for more than 20 years.
Planting his crop
earlier in the season also makes a difference, he says.
“One of the
tricks in ensuring that you get a better yield is to plant your crops
earlier. That’s what I do, so that by the time the rains come, your crop is
already advanced and sometimes it will use the underground moisture to
mature. It is different from the old days when we used to have some longer
rainfall seasons,” he says.
But while smallholder farmers like Mandizha
are receiving support and subsidies, Moyo points out that government
policies are unsupportive of commercial famers and fail to help them adapt
to the changing trends in agriculture.
Moyo gave the example of
Zambia, where a 50-kg bag of fertiliser that would normally cost around 40
dollars is sold at a subsidised price of about 10 dollars. However, in
Zimbabwe, the same bag of fertiliser is sold at the market price of between
35 and 50 dollars. Moyo says these high prices make grain production
unviable, and hence commercial farmers are moving to other crops like
tobacco and horticulture.
ZFU director Paul Zakaria tells IPS that the
gap between commercial and communal output is due to the commercial farmers’
inability to practise large-scale agriculture without proper
“If you want to irrigate, you should have a pump that is
working, you should have power, either diesel or hydro-electricity, you
should have the financial capacity to do that. We all know that most of the
people that were resettled on commercial farms (do not have these
resources),” Zakaria says.
Robert Mugabe has succeeded in staying in office for 33 years with a potent mix
of populism and violence — and he may have an Israeli company to thank if he
extends his rule one more time.
leader faces his sternest test yet next week when he squares off in a
presidential election rematch against longtime rival Morgan
Few doubt that
Mugabe, a former liberation war hero, would be trounced in anything close to a
free or fair election — he has presided over the collapse of a once promising
economy and engineered the billion-percent bout of hyperinflation that killed
the Zimbabwe dollar.
That’s where a
company called Nikuv comes in. It is working with the Zimbabwe government’s
Registrar General, which among other things maintains the country’s famously
corrupt electoral roll.
journalists and opposition leaders believe Nikuv’s real role is to help Mugabe’s
loyalists rig the July 31 poll.
Movement for Democratic Change party said it was “concerned about electoral
fraud [by Nikuv] through manipulation of the voters’ roll, and the issuing of
multiple national identity cards to individuals that would then allow them to
In past elections,
turnout was suspiciously high in ZANU-PF’s rural strongholds. Widespread
problems with the roll led to lower turnout in cities and towns, where the
ruling party is wildly unpopular.
Independent reportedthat Tsvangirai
questioned Nikuv’s role during a meeting he held with Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission chairperson Rita Makarau last month.
Nikuv, which is based
in Hertzliya, Israel, has been operating in Zimbabwe since 1994, and has
presided over the increasing corruption of the electoral roll.
developing nations, Zimbabwe requires all voters’ names to appear on the roll.
If a voter is not on the roll, he or she cannot vote — making it a powerful tool
in the hands of the ruling party.
The respected and
independent Research and Advocacy Unit asserted that more than 1 million
Zimbabweans who are dead or have left the country are still on the voters’ roll.
It also says the roll lists 116,000 people older than 100 — until recently, Ian
Smith, the late leader of white-ruled Rhodesia, was still listed in his district
in the farming town of Beatrice.
the RAU report says 78 parliamentary out of 210 constituencies have more
registered voters than adult residents, making them ripe for rigging. An
estimated 2 million voters under the age of 30 are unregistered, even after a
registration exercise that barely made a dent in the ranks of the
Nikuv, for its part,
denies any partisan funny business and blamed the reports on election-time
“It is election time
and people are trying to throw mud from this side and the other side,” Ron
Asher, the company’s representative in Zimbabwe,told the Mail
& Guardian of South Africa.“We are
legitimate and professional. We have never been involved in any politics, not
now or ever.”
He said that Nikuv
works with public sectors across the world, but declined to say which government
bodies it works with in Zimbabwe.
The company’s website
says that the company was established in 1994 by a group of professionals with
an accumulated experience of 45 years in the field of population registration
and electoral systems in Israel.
It says it
specializes in population registration, identity documents, passports and
electoral systems. Nikuv’s electoral sevices′ include voter registration,
election district demarcation and the creation and printing of documents, such
as voter ID cards.
It’s not the first
time the company’s operations have come under scrutiny in southern
Opposition figures in
Zimbabwe’s northern neighbor Zambia cried foul in 1996 after the company won a
$6.7 million contract to handle voter registration. They claimed Nikuv was
brought in to rig the elections that would keep the then-ruling Movement for
Multiparty Democracy party in power, but a lawsuit over the issue was dismissed
on technical grounds.
has no diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe and Mugabe is one of the harshest critics
of the Jewish state on the international stage.
Mugabe forged close
ties with Israel’s arch-enemies Moammar Qaddafi of Libya and the Islamist
government of Iran. That didn’t stop his government from reportedlybuying
Israeli-made water cannons/2) for its feared police force, which is often deployed
to break up opposition protests.
News of the day: ZIMBABWE’S ECONOMY IS ON THE
There are reports out by MMC Capital predicting
thecountry will not meet previous growth
expectationsdue in part to the political risks and lack
of clarity on the indigenisation and empowerment regulations compellingforeign-owned companies to sell 51% states to locals.
This is bad news for Zimbabwe considering it is still recovering from
the fallouts of hyperinflation and economic stagnation under the Mugabe
administration. Just today the government has directed rural and urban councils
to write off alloutstanding debts for utilitiesfrom 2009 through June 2013, bills which
have been outstanding since the transition to the multi-currency system
necessitated by hyperinflation.
1STTV IS OFF TO A KICKING
1st TV began broadcasting on
Friday, less than two weeks before Zimbabwe’s elections. Executive
producer, Andrew Chadwick, has said that the market is “insatiable” and has
vowed that the channel will not be turned into a mouthpiece for the opposition.
He said, “Zimbabweans … will turn away from us in droves if they see we are a
mirror image of the state broadcaster, if we do for the MDC what they do for
to be expected, Mugabe is not happy about the challenge to his controlled media
monopoly and has vowed to “cripple” the station.
British Member of ParliamentJames Duddridge, has condemned what he
sees as the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission’s illegal operations working to
prop-up President Mugabe.
Duddridge be-moaned Zimbabwe’s preparedness
for credible elections citing the inconsistencies between the number of people
registered for special elections and the official number of registered police.
He also voiced concern over the 2 million extra ballot papers printed by
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has behaved in a manner that is
unacceptable, illegal and in complete defiance of constitutional law. President
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF have once again openly and blatantly distorted Zimbabwean
law, ignored binding demands for social and legal reform in the country by the
South African Development Community (SADC), thwarted a free and open media,
and dashed genuine initiatives to enable a fair-and-free election in Zimbabwe,”
“The future of another generation of Zimbabweans looks
depressingly bleak unless the international community do everything in their
power to hold President Mugabe and General Chiwenga, the head of the armed
forces, accountable for their actions,” he
HARARE - The chances of Morgan Tsvangirai winning Zimbabwe’s
presidential election on July 31 in the first round of polling have never
been better, many analysts believe, even if surveys (that are now
a-year-old) seem to tell a different story.
A majority of voters,
mostly peasants and the unemployed working class, are desperate for relief
from the grim economic situation created by previous Zanu PF
The brief glimpse of economic recovery following the
arrival of an inclusive government in early 2009 has faded; in reality there
is no investment and infrastructure repair has mostly come to a
Reforms to election laws, including the administration of
elections, make rigging or miscounts more difficult, despite chaos within
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) which last week showed — with its
poor handling of just the special voting — that it is not yet ready to run
But just as it seems more likely for Tsvangirai to win
more than 50 percent in the first round, the prospect of his possible
victory sends shivers down the spines of most Zimbabweans as they recall
what happened in the last poll.
Those elections were, as usual,
peaceful on the day, March 28, 2008. The official count showed Tsvangirai
easily beat Mugabe in the first round but was nearly 3 percent short of what
he needed to win, 50 percent plus one vote. But insiders believe Tsvangirai
had got more than 50 percent-plus-one and that Zanu PF knew this within 12
hours after polls closed, via the electoral commission.
prepared to stand down. He felt thoroughly beaten, and was tired. But there
was panic elsewhere in Zanu PF and some of the party elite began moving
The military and others in the security sector, in particular the
Joint Operation Command, which is an informal committee bound by no laws,
then hatched a plot for Mugabe to survive.
They would manipulate the
vote to deny Tsvangirai victory in the first round and then drive him out of
the run-off — by violence. Or so some insiders suspected.
it took an otherwise-inexplicable five weeks for the Zec to announce the
presidential election result, three weeks after the announcement of the
legislative elections, showing a narrow MDC victory.
secretary-general Tendai Biti claimed Tsvangirai had in fact won more than
50 percent in the first round. He was arrested; his claim could not be
proved. What is not in doubt is that major violence erupted soon after the
Hundreds of people were killed, mostly beaten to death,
tens of thousands had to flee their homes. As the pressure built, Tsvangirai
left for Botswana.
Finally, a week before the scheduled run-off,
there was massive violence which led to Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the
Tsvangirai arrived there, and announced he was withdrawing from
Mugabe stood as the sole candidate and, of course, won. But
there was no food on shelves, the currency was more useful to start a fire
than take to a shop, there were fuel shortages, power cuts, closed schools
and hospitals, and no money to pay civil servants.
African Development Community (Sadc) intervened, asking then President Thabo
Mbeki to mediate negotiations among the three main parties for a
power-sharing transitional government.
More than four years later,
Zimbabwe has a new Constitution.
Its election laws are much better, it
has a couple of independents on the electoral commission and its
chairperson, Judge Rita Makarau, is more wary of her reputation than her
predecessor. It’s not all good, but it is better.
There is also President
Jacob Zuma’s mediation team, who know all of each political party’s
strengths and weaknesses, and who are concerned enough to have called an
Sadc security troika summit today, mainly to discuss “the status of
preparations” — or lack thereof — for the elections. It is clear that a
Tsvangirai victory would be a move into the perilous unknown.
Zanu PF, assured by Tsvangirai that he will not prosecute Mugabe or other
party leaders, would accept the results; perhaps Sadc and Zuma’s interests
and behind-the-scenes influence would persuade the generals — who are still
on the record that they will not serve Tsvangirai — that there can be no
A tightened election
timetable with almost a third of eligible voters missing from the register
leaves plenty of space for a nationwide gerrymander
It was uncharacteristically foolish of President
Mugabeto fast-track the election date to 31 July, in the
face of protests from some in his own party and the opposition, and pleas from
the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The folly became apparent in
the first week of the campaign (AC Vol 54 No 14, Election fever and
The Movement for
Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) rushed their primaries for candidates imposed
from the centre, amid grumbling from the grassroots. The rigging of the
electoral registers was messy, blatant and incomplete, and the registration
drive ended with tens of thousands of people waiting in queues only to be told
they would not get the chance to vote.
Beyond the registration
quarrels, the election campaigning has been chaotic and surreal at times, with
ZANU-PF struggling to prove that its 89-year-old presidential candidate is up to
another four years of executive power. Careful not to offend sensibilities about
age, 61-year-old Morgan
Tsvangiraihas taken a more
nuanced line. He insists that Mugabe told him privately that he wanted to retire
but the ZANU-PF hierarchy would not allow him to because it couldn’t agree about
who would take over. So ‘Let Mr. Mugabe retire gracefully’ has become
Tsvangirai’s parting shot at his campaign rallies. Just to make clear the
contrast, the MDC-T proudly announces that Tsvangirai will address 60 rallies to
Mugabe’s ten before polling day.
The launch of ZANU-PF’s
election campaign in Harare on 6 July was marred when, to fill a slot before
Mugabe’s arrival, the candidates were presented and, not being the faithful’s
preferred choice, several were jeered. Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo suffered ignominy when the crowd chanted the
name of his ex-wife, Marian Chombo, who is challenging him as
an independent after a controversial primary (AC Vol 46 No 15,
Straying from the
manifesto, Mugabe launched an attack on South African President
Zuma’s representative, Lindiwe Zulu (‘that stupid
ignorant woman from the streets’) and threatened to withdraw from SADC. This
grabbed the headlines in the following day’s media, which quite forgot about the
manifesto until the end of the week, by which time it was stale
Baba Jukwa – a
spy in ZANU-PF At the next rally in rural Chiweshe, Mugabe’s frailty was obvious.
Instead of a glad-handing walk through the crowd, he was transported the 200
metres to the podium in the bed of a pickup truck. The Facebook page of the
mischievous ‘Baba Jukwa’ claimed that Mugabe had been rushed
back to Harare and hospitalised, with the army on stand-by for a coup. Two days
later, dressed as an honorary prophet, Mugabe was addressing tens of thousands,
at the annual Passover of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church in Manicaland, on
the evils of homosexuality. To some nervous laughter from the crowd, he said he
would allow gay marriage but would imprison any couples who didn’t produce
children within a year.
punishing schedule ended the week with a rally in Mutare, where attendance
rivalled that of the nearby Apostolic Passover. Manicaland is a key battleground
where Tsvangirai’s alliance with Simba Makoni may help: both
men hail from the province but have very different backgrounds. Tsvangirai is
the grassroots trades unionist and Makoni is a technocratic former Finance
Minister, one of the few top former ZANU-PF officials to back the MDC
The MDC-T’s launching
rally in Marondera on 7 July was well attended but some impact was lost by the
absence of Dumiso
Dabengwa’s Zimbabwe African
People’s Union and Welshman
Ncube’s MDC-Ncube from what some opposition activists had promised
would be a grand coalition. A few rallies in smaller centres have been disrupted
by ZANU-PF youths, sometimes with police help.
The real but unspoken
issue is what happens when Mugabe goes. A defeat in the first round could bring
intervention by the Zimbabwe Defence Force, whose Commander, General
Chiwenga, is known to harbour ambitions. A Mugabe win, however, would
heighten the struggle for the succession within ZANU’s ‘civilian wing’. The new
constitution allows a casual vacancy in the presidency to be filled by the
incumbent party’s nominee. Control of the party machine will be critical if
Mugabe does not serve out his term.
ZANU’s Politburo has
become increasingly acrimonious. At the last two meetings,
Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her faction have lashed out.
First Mines Minister Obert
Mpofuwas called a thief and a liar over diamond revenue,
then Defence Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa’s faction was blamed for some
controversial primaries and the crude role played by security officers in their
rigging. At least a dozen candidates have security backgrounds and some
prominent figures have failed to get nominations, including the party’s official
spokesman, the affableRugare
Gumbo, a Mujuru-loyalist. Mujuru has complained to Mugabe about
military involvement: a general has been seconded to every provincial party, to
coordinate the campaign. Mugabe, nervous of the factions’ agendas, sees the
security forces as an insurance.
ZANU-PF has never shaken
off the conspiratorial secrecy of a liberation movement and treats even its own
proceedings as state secrets. Its ageing leaders have the utmost difficulty with
the daily briefings on Facebook and Twitter from Baba Jukwa, a supposed ZANU
insider who claims to reveal party secrets from the night before and gets a
quarter of a million hits a week. The electoral register, another closely
guarded secret, appeared online for people to check the Registrar General’s
list, which he has been loathe to release as the constitution
The opposition parties,
however, have their own schisms and splits. The prospect of a grand electoral
pact was to have been announced at simultaneous press conferences by Tsvangirai
and Makoni in Harare and Ncube and Dabengwa in Bulawayo. Minutes before the
start in Harare, word came through that the Bulawayo team had declared its own
separate alliance. Their more optimistic supporters believe the deal will be
revived before the polls but the manner of the cancellation was clearly aimed at
causing Tsvangirai maximum embarrassment in front of the expectant press corps.
Tsvangirai is campaigning vigorously; if he fails, the favourite to succeed him
as leader would be Tendai
Biti, who may find it a crowded field.
So far, Tsvangirai and
Mugabe have dominated the election fight, with much less heard from their
cohorts. Yet behind the scenes in both parties there is much unease about a
possible election meltdown. A veteran ZANU-PF official said he would expect
‘problems, whether we win or lose’. MDC activists are consumed with trying to
expose irregularities and illegalities in the election management. They concede
that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairwoman, Justice Rita Makarau, has
done a far better job than her predecessor but say she is heavily constrained by
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede and ZEC Deputy Chairwoman Joyce Laetitia
Kazembe, both ZANU-PF loyalists.
The electoral register
may be even less representative than that used in 2008’s violent elections. Over
two million potential voters between the ages of 18 and 30 didn’t register but
in 63 of the 210 constituencies, there are more registered electors than
inhabitants (as measured by the last census). The bulk of those 63 seats are in
rural areas, which ZANU-PF regards as its loyal heartland.
This means, says Zimbabwe’s Research and Advocacy Unit, that
almost 30% of the country’s adult population is unregistered. The unit also
found that a million people who have either died or emigrated remain on the
When the first 30-day
registration drive descended into chaos, Makarau told Mudede to rerun it to end
on 9 July. Help-lines clarified applicants’ rights, advertisements spelled out
which documents were essential and how so-called aliens could register. Mudede
squirmed round some of these but things improved, even if his work-to-rule
officers slowed the process.
The ZEC’s big
credibility test is how to handle inflation of the register. Blocks of electors
are moved around to suit ZANU. In Harare’s up-market Mount Pleasant, an
opposition stronghold, more than 3,200 soldiers have been registered at army
headquarters and 1,900 police at a nearby training depot, plus 800 prison
officers. Most of these 6,000 electors live outside the
So the seat could become
marginal, unless a way can be found to stop the country-wide
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