The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Election poem for Zimbabwe

JULY 23, 2013 AT 4:27 PM

How can you vote for someone who gets his medication from somewhere beyond
the sea but he says we have good hospitals

Who sends his daughter to another university in the middle east but he says
we have good education

Who says we are a free nation and soverign state but he can’t walk freely on
the street

Who doesn’t experience the continuous cutting of power

Who drinks borehole water because he fears the taped water is not clean

Who doesn’t want to drive around because he fears he bumps into potholes

Who preaches the gospel of fidelity yet he destroyed another man’s family to
get his wife

Who preaches peace and sends out his militia to kill, beat his own people,
abducts and makes people disappear

Who claims to be famous and popular yet if anyone criticize him he or she is
punished for that

Who bad mouths people from the poor suburbs calling them people without a
totem yet he still wants their votes.

In the elections people must vote for better schools not for hot sitting
classes with kids writing on dusty grounds

People must vote for better roads, for better power supply, for clean water,
for better hospitals and clinics

People must vote for total freedom, vote for the rule by your own and not by
the east, not the chinese to come and replace the whites

Please no more look east policy because the east themselves have a look west

We want to have a look up policy and work out our own solutions with what
God has given us

We want a leadership that doesn’t loot the resources and leave all the weak
and less fortunate to their own peril

We want everything for everyone, where a normal employee can afford a decent
life, paying their own bills, buying their owns needs

We must vote for a shift of our lively hoods, a change , a change for the
better and a new generation

We must vote wisely as we may either dig our own graves and even for our
unborn sons and daughters

The first step to our freedom is removing the stumbling block

Remove by just casting your vote for a change by just casting your vote for
a change

Don’t be fooled by the same old orations , we want a good performer not a
good sweet tongue .

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A very funny video explains Zimbabwe’s election ‘chaos’ in under two minutes

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-maker Ikenna 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 Front.)

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 sow confusion.

Nobody is very optimistic about the election. Soldiers and police across the country areclamping down on the political opposition and 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 Asia for health treatments; the question Azuike addresses at the end of his video is, who will succeed him?

Azuike’s YouTube series, “What’s Up Africa,” is well worth subscribing to.

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Failed Special Voters to vote in general elections

By Violet Gonda
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

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 of July.

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.

But 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 voting.

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 Court.”

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 asked.

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.

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Over 26 000 cops disenfranchised  ZEC

23/07/2013 00:00:00

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 time.

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
Court to ask for the restoration of the lot’s rights to cast their
votes July 31.

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.

“The 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.

Opposition 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

“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 disadvantaged group.

“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.

Turning to preparations for the July 31 polling by the rest of the
population, Kazembe said her organisation has already transported
enough voting material to four provinces.

“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.

Kazembe allayed fears ZEC would not be able to afford all eligible
Zimbabweans the chance to vote following the special vote debacle.

She said her organization has increased to 9 670 polling stations
countrywide, up from the 9 456 that were established during the

The 2013 poll would be observed by 18 000 local observers while 1 500
are foreign observers.

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ZEC prints more ballot papers than registered voters

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

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 voters.

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.

In 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, 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 materials.

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 company.

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.

However, Tsvangirai 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 be complicit.

“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.

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Mudede must give voters' roll to Zec: MDC

FUNGI KWARAMBA  •  23 JULY 2013 3:20PM

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 crunch polls.

“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

“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 said.

“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 form.”

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 conditions.”

Mudede yesterday told a news conference that a total of 6,4 million voters
are eligible to vote in this year’s harmonised elections.

The Registrar General of Voters claimed rigging through the voters’ roll was

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.

He said 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.

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Tsunga arrest casts doubt on election credibility

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

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 Chikanga-Dangamvura.

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 defenders.”

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.

But SALC’s 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

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.

“These 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.”

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Diplomats cast their ballots ahead of July 31st

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

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 Affairs.

Hebson Makuvise, the Zimbabwe ambassador to Germany, confirmed to SW Radio
Africa that staff at the Berlin mission cast their ballots on Tuesday.

‘We got our ballots in sealed envelopes, marked and put them back in sealed
envelopes ready to be dispatched to Harare,’ the Ambassador said.

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 four officers.

‘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.

‘Once 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 public.

Meanwhile, scores of people who failed to register to vote demonstrated at
the ZEC head offices Monday afternoon demanding to be registered.

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 vote.’

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.

After the 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

Despite this, thousands of Zimbabwean-born descendants of people who settled
in Zimbabwe were turned away from voter registration centres around the

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Group Rejects Former Nigerian Leader as AU Observer Head in Zimbabwe

James Butty
July 23, 2013

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 election.

David Nyekorach-Matsanga, CEO of Pan African Forum, said the former Nigerian
president is too divisive and could create an Egypt-style scenario in

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 election.

“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

He said Obasanjo betrayed Africa during past election monitoring missions
around the continent.

“In 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 said.

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.

In addition, 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 said.

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 said.

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 organizations.

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Mugabe mocks Zimbabwe exiles

23/07/2013 00:00:00
     by Staff Reporter

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 Africa.

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 man.

“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 tradition.

“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 evil regime.

“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 mining.

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?

“Even those 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 province.”

Mugabe went on to accuse MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister Tendai
Biti of failing to save Mutare industries.

“Watch how 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 elections.

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Mugabe official arrested for erasing president's face from party regalia

Zanu-PF party member allegedly rubbed out Zimbabwe leader's face from
election campaign hats and sold them for $2

David Smith, Africa correspondent, Wednesday 24 July 2013 01.01 AEST

It 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.

A member 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 it.

"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.

Zanu-PF caps 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 supporters.

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 villages.

"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 Zanu-PF."

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

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No cameras or mobile phones inside polling stations

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

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

The 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 vote.

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 ballot.

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

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 station.

‘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 stations.

‘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

Equally 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,’ explained Sibanda.

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 provinces.

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Zimbabwe Elections: Website to show results in realtime using interactive maps

electiOnride.comA new website,, 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 available online.

We received 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, “ 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: just wrote to us to clarify that they meant they are “politically unaffiliated.”

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 website.

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. 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 data.

They also said in the email that they in the process of reaching out to ZEC.

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Police Block NGO Meetings Ahead Of Polls

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
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
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.

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Tech tries to outmaneuver a tyrant in Zimbabwe

By  | July 23, 2013, 3:01 AM PDT

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 funding.

“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 out.”

President Robert Mugabe has rushed 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.

Freedom Fone was developed by The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe with funding from The 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.

Freedom Fone 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 to allow women to access pre-recorded information on sexual assault, all while remaining anonymous.

A Freedom Fone election observation comic

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 said.

Media control 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 Spring.

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.

Funding aside, 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.”

“In Zimbabwe 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” said Rolfe.


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Ratepayers cautious as Minister Chombo orders debt write-off

SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

Eyebrows have been raised after Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
instructed the country’s 92 local authorities to cancel all debt owed by

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, 2013.

“Similarly amounts owed by residents in respect of rates since February 2009
stand prescribed in terms of section 15 of the Prescription Act,” said

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.

In 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 well.

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.

Khanyile Mlotshwa 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.

Bulawayo City 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 comment.

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.

“We 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 said.

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.

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Chombo’s directive on councils irrational

Tuesday 23 July 2013

The 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 directive.

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

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

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.

As 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 development agenda.

31 July 2013: I Vote for Change!!!

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Shock after Zuma chastises Zim adviser

July 23 2013 at 11:02am

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

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 country.

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 anonymity.

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 polls.

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 Zimbabwe.

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 election

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 ruling party.

“She has the mandate to speak to the media and diplomats on Zimbabwe. So it’s
surprising that she’s being ostracised now.

“But Lindiwe is a diplomat. She will take up the matter after the Zimbabwean
elections as they are her primary responsibility,” said an ANC source.

Zulu failed to respond to repeated calls and text messages for comment on

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 consent.

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.

“Partly it 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.

Mantashe said 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

The Star

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SA unmoved by 'contrived' diplomatic row

STAFF WRITER  •  23 JULY 2013 3:16PM

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.

A highly-placed 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 Zimbabwe”.

“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 anonymity, said.

“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

“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.

Mugabe 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 Zulu.

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.

Zuma’s 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 Saturday.

“No questions arose over the removal of any of President Zuma’s technical
facilitation team ... no investigation is being conducted,” Maharaj said.

“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 said.

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Robert Mugabe's 'age a liability ahead of Zimbabwe election'

Robert Mugabe's 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 rivals.

Aislinn Laing By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg4:59PM BST 23 Jul 2013

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

His 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.

He is known to have suffered from prostate cancer and there has been concern
about frequent trips to Singapore, reportedly for medical treatment.

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 to rest."

Elias Mudzuri, an engineer and MDC MP, said there was little doubt Zanu PF
was engaging in a spot of retouching of its ageing figurehead.

"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."

Dr 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.

"It's 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.

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Zim business sector in limbo ahead of elections

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2013

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 future.

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 arena.

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

“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 said.

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.

“Business 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 said.

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ROHR demo outside election offices in Harare - 22nd July 2013




ROHR demo outside election offices in Harare – 22nd July 2013


Today (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.


Their 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 vote.


ZEC 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. 


This 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.


ROHR 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 General's offices.


ROHR 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 outcome.


Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinators

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.

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NoViolet Bulawayo makes Man Booker Prize longlist


Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo is the only African on the Booker
longlist that includes celebrated authors like Colm Tóibín and Jim Crace.

The longlist for the prize, one of the English language's top fiction
awards, names 13 writers from seven countries.

Selected from 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 subject."

"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.

A previous 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 narrator.

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.”

In total, 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.

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Smallholders Feed a Nation as Land Reform Fails

By Misheck Rusere

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 entirely.

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 millet.

Several reasons have been given by experts for the increased contribution by
smallholder famers to the country’s grain reserves.

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 Board.

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

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 resources.

“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.

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Robert Mugabe's Israeli Connection
By Dave Goldiner Zimbabwe’s strongman 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.

The 89-year-old leader faces his sternest test yet next week when he squares off in a presidential election rematch against longtime rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

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.

Investigative journalists and opposition leaders believe Nikuv’s real role is to help Mugabe’s loyalists rig the July 31 poll.

The opposition 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 vote twice.”

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.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported that 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.

Unlike many 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.

More disturbingly, 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 unregistered.

Nikuv, for its part, denies any partisan funny business and blamed the reports on election-time politicking.

“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 Africa.

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.

Ironically, Israel 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 reportedly buying Israeli-made water cannons/2) for its feared police force, which is often deployed to break up opposition protests.

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Free & Fair Zimbabwe Election update

Welcome to our daily Free & Fair Zimbabwe Election update Today's edition highlights Zimbabwe’s economy in light of the elections and an update on Zimbabwe’s new independent TV channel.

Also included are links to today's tops stories and a feature story on a British MP’s accusations of illegalities of the election process.

As usual if you have any news please drop us a line -
News of the day:

There are reports out by MMC Capital predicting the
 country will not meet previous growth expectations due in part to the political risks and lack of clarity on the indigenisation and empowerment regulations compelling foreign-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 all 
outstanding debts for utilities from 2009 through June 2013, bills which have been outstanding since the transition to the multi-currency system necessitated by hyperinflation.


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 Zanu-PF.”
As was to be expected, Mugabe is not happy about the challenge to his controlled media monopoly and has vowed to “cripple” the station.
1 Zimbabweans Scramble For ChannelZim And 1st TV
2 Pfebve arrested for putting up Tsvangirai posters
3 Zim Government writes off all outstanding water bills
4 Mugabe sleeps every five minutes – Ncube
5 You stole Sally’s husband, Grace Mugabe reminded


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 ZEC.

“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,” wrote Duddridge.

“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 concludes.

Copyright © 2013 Free & Fair Zimbabwe Election, All rights reserved.

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Is SA scared of Bob Mugabe?

Kiekie Mboweni, Nkowankowa | 23 July, 2013 01:01

The South African envoy to Zimbabwe, Lindiwe Zulu, has been left to dry in
the public space by her political masters ("Mugabe tears into Zuma",

Zanu-PF and President Robert Mugabe, in particular, have clung to Zulu's
comments like they will determine the credibility of the whole elections.

When Thabo Mbeki was the mediator, his so-called "quiet diplomacy" was
heavily criticised as being lenient on Mugabe and his party.

Five years later, President Jacob Zuma's mediation efforts have not moved us
any closer to a lasting solution.

It is unfortunate that the Presidency has decided to appease Mugabe by
distancing itself and the president from Zulu's remarks.

They seem to be afraid to upset their counterparts in Harare ahead of the
elections. For as long as Pretoria treats them with kid gloves, we will
never have a lasting solution north of the border.

Calling Zulu a "stupid and idiotic South African street woman" is an insult
not only to her, but to all women of this country.

The least the Presidency could do is to force its counterparts to apologise
for using undiplomatic language, just like they chastised Zulu for the

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What if Tsvangirai wins?


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 administrations.

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 standstill.

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 full elections.

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

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.

Mugabe was 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 assets.

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

That’s why 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.

MDC 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

Finally, a week before the scheduled run-off, there was massive violence
which led to Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the run-off.

Tsvangirai arrived there, and announced he was withdrawing from the run-off.

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.

The Southern 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.

Perhaps 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 going back.

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Zimbabwe elections: Is the voters' roll rigged?

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Zimbabwe – Rushing and cheating
JULY 22, 2013

From Liz Linsel

A tightened election timetable with almost a third of eligible voters missing from the register leaves plenty of space for a nationwide gerrymander

bobIt was uncharacteristically foolish of President Robert Mugabe to 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 finance).

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 Tsvangirai has 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, Stalin’s textbook).

Straying from the manifesto, Mugabe launched an attack on South African President Jacob 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 news.

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.

Tsvangirai’s more 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 openly.

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 Constantine 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 Mpofu was 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 affable Rugare 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 requires.

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 register.

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 constituency.

So the seat could become marginal, unless a way can be found to stop the country-wide gerrymandering.

- See more at:

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