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MDC-T, MDC candidates arrested

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

MDC-T Mutare West parliamentary candidate, Shuah Mudiwa was yesterday
arrested by the police in Marange for addressing an unsanctioned rally.

By Obey Manayiti

Yesterday, Manicaland assistant police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector
Luxson Chananda said he would only comment after getting details.

But lawyers representing Mudiwa, who is also MDC-T provincial
vice-chairperson, confirmed the arrest.

Blessing Nyamaropa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said
Mudiwa was likely to face charges of holding an illegal rally.

Police have also arrested MDC parliamentary candidate for Zengeza West
Gideon Mandaza, on allegations of being involved in political violence.

MDC deputy spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi confirmed Mandaza’s arrest,
saying he was detained at Harare Central Police station’s Law and Order

“We view this as the on-going intimidation by the partisan police working on
the instructions of Zanu PF. We demand his immediate release to enable him
to campaign freely,” said Chihwayi.

Efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson, Charity Charamba were
fruitless yesterday.

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Electoral processes not transparent: Aspiring senator

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

An aspiring Senator for people living with disabilities has expressed
concern at the manner in which nominations for the two representatives in
the Upper House of Assembly are being done.


Henry Chivhanga of the Disability Amalgamated Community Trust (Dact) said,
while it had been announced that elections for the two representatives would
be held on August 2, the process leading to the poll was shrouded in

He said the selection and composition of the Electoral College was not clear
amid fears that candidates affiliated to political parties would prevail on
the day.

“Information about the process leading to the elections is not being made
public. It is not clear how the Electoral College composed of up to 30
organisations will vote for candidates who they do not know,” said
Chivhanga. “This is why there is suspicion that elections will be rigged.”
He said the Electoral Act stipulated that all registered organisations for
people with disability were eligible to participate in the Electoral

But Chivhanga said some Trusts organisations such as Dact were being denied
that opportunity in favour of only those registered as Private Voluntary

“I have been tossed from one office to the other, including the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, the Attorney General’s office and the Department of
Social Welfare, but all of them failed to adequately explain what is going
on,” he said.

According to the Electoral Act, people constituting the Electoral College
should be living with disabilities and half of the delegates must be women.
The people must be registered voters, while four of the nominees should be
chosen by the national disability board.

ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But recently she met representatives of people with disabilities and
disclosed that elections for the two senators would be conducted within an
electoral college, that shall be constituted in a fashion provided for in
the Electoral Act.

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It’s game over for Zanu PF—Bennett

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

MDC-T treasurer, Roy Bennett (RB) has been living in exile in South Africa
since 2010, after fleeing what he called persecution by President Robert
Mugabe’s faction in the government of national unity (GNU).

Last week, The Standard (S) caught up with the former Chimanimani
legislator, who spoke about this week’s elections, the future of Zimbabwe
and many other issues.

S: We are a few days away from election day. What should be done to ensure
that the plebiscite is fairer than the previous one?
RB: According to the observers, it was an illegitimate election in 2008. We
are going into an election endorsed and facilitated by Sadc. They guaranteed
free and fair elections. That agreement has already been broken in many
ways. There is duplicity, lack of transparency and the lack of a commitment
by politicians who make agreements and don’t honour those same agreements.

S: Why does MDC-T keep on referring to Sadc, yet you know that the regional
body has Mugabe sympathisers?
RB: Sadc guaranteed the government of national unity. We take part in the
elections now because it’s a Sadc brokered process with a Sadc appointed
facilitator. This means the regional body is responsible and accountable for
the elections. It’s up to the people to claim their space. It’s game over
for Zanu PF, it’s game over for Sadc. The people of Zimbabwe are going to
embarrass them all hugely by demonstrating their will democratically.

S: Why is the opposition in Zimbabwe not unified?
RB: We are not the opposition, we are the ruling party, and we hold the
majority of seats in parliament. There is major unification of all forces
opposed to the Mugabe regime, there is only a minority with Welshman Ncube
(MDC) and Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu), who for personal reasons have taken their
personal agendas before the national agenda. But a united front can bring
democracy to Zimbabwe.
We have had a very serious approach from the Zapu leadership. They will
disown Dabengwa and publicly say that they are part and parcel of the unity
of Zimbabwe.

S: So, do you think Tsvangirai could win the elections?
RB: It will be a landslide victory for the MDC and the presidential
candidate Tsvangirai. Zimbabwe will never be the same again. I believe this
[result] will be accepted and we will move on to the next stage to the
evolvement of our country. I honestly believe if the election should be
rigged, the people of Zimbabwe are not just going to sit on their hands and
accept it as they have done for the last 13 years. I see Zimbabwe moving
into an ungovernable state should the election be stolen.

S: You live in South African exile and you are the party treasurer, how do
you manage this?
RB: The fact that I’m the treasurer is one of the reasons I have been
targeted [by the Mugabe regime]. Having been honoured by the people of the
MDC to be elected as treasurer general, it’s a key role to raise the
financial resources and place the party in a very strong position for
I can’t be in Zimbabwe. They will arrest me again if I go back. This
persecution comes down to my role as the treasurer of the party and to the
fact they are blocking any funding to mobilise the people of Zimbabwe
through the Political Parties Act. As long as I would be now in Zimbabwe,
they would arrest me, kill me, do whatever they want. Of course it’s
terrible to be in exile, it affects your family and life.
But it’s a sacrifice one has to make for what one’s beliefs are. Zimbabwe is
my home and I will come back when the MDC-T is in power. Had it not been for
the international community, there wouldn’t have been an overthrow of
apartheid in South Africa and there would never have been an overthrow of
the Rhodesian government in Zimbabwe.
I also want to add my disgust about those parts of the international
community who only participated in the fight against apartheid effectively
when it was the black and white issue — and now when it’s a black and black
issue, sit down and fold their hands.

‘Land reform irreversible’

Standard: What is your view of the past land reform? Do you look forward to
ever repossessing your farm?
Roy Bennett: However skewed the land position has been, it’s irreversible,
it’s done.

S: So you don’t hope to repossess your own farm?
RB: Whatever will be done specifically, there must be justice and
transparency. MDC has always said there will be a land audit by a land
commission and there will be a just and fair compensation for all
Zimbabweans — clearly: I’m not saying whites but all Zimbabweans. They will
come up with an agrarian reform to economically empower the people who
possess the land.
With the land audit, the vast majority of stolen farms will be released
because many Zanu PF politicians and military elite are holding more than
one farm. Once the compensation has been paid and the title deeds are
released, serious agriculturalists will be able to get lines of credit and
drive the economy forward.

S: Some quarters assert that you were involved in illegal diamond mining
activities with the mining giant De Beers in the nineties. Is it true or
just part of their election campaign?
RB: This allegation is ridiculous. In 1996 De Beers came to my farm and
spent three months exploring Harinyari River. We never found out what their
findings have been. But notice: I lived in Charleswood Farm up to 2004 when
I was evicted with my workers. There was a permanent labour force of 350
people and I used to truck in 2 000 people to my farm every day. You can’t
tell me I was mining diamonds with all those people around and they didn’t
know about it. This is really part of Mugabe’s desperate election campaign.

S: Do you contemplate coming back to Zimbabwe one day?
RB: You need to understand the road we have travelled is long. I am a third
generation Zimbabwean. I have no other home apart from Zimbabwe. My first
language is Shona. So of course I will return home — the day after MDC is in

Bennett proud of his stint with bsap

S: In the late 70s you were a member of the British South Africa police,
which was not famous for protecting human rights. Nowadays, as activist for
the MDC, you claim for democracy and people’s freedom — how can we
understand this big change?

RB: I am very proud of having been a member of the BSAP. I was an
investigating officer for the Pearce Commission against officers who had
carried out human rights abuses. This is on record.

In 1978 I left the police, while the Rhodesian war was in full swing and
pursued a career in agriculture.

After the independence, I chose to remain in Zimbabwe and to help building
the new Zimbabwe. I believed what Robert Mugabe pleaded in his inauguration
speech in 1980: All weapons should be turned into plough shares; racism was
the most evil of all evil. And Mugabe said because the struggle had been
white against black, it never should be black against white.

But rantings of the past hold no water. The promises were not kept.

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Mugabe will fall – Report

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

With three days to go before the harmonised elections, a new report says
there is a real chance that President Robert Mugabe may finally be dislodged
from power by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, despite spanners being put
along his way.


A special election edition of the Zimbabwe Transition Barometer boldly
claims that the July 31 election was not merely a ritual meant to prolong
the stay of Zanu PF in the saddle of power, but offers a possibility of
power alteration between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

It says although democracy was not fully functioning in the country with the
systems favouring the incumbent, the MDC-T in general is tipped to get more
ample representation in Parliament and in councils despite the skewed
electoral environment.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC)-produced barometer argues politics
in the country was now different and no longer business as usual, especially
for Zanu PF which used to wield absolute power.

It says the wave of democratisation that has swept through Zimbabwe in the
past four years following the formation of the GNU has brought about some
measure of accountability and political change to the electoral politics of

The barometer says in the run-up to the election, the MDC-T and Tsvangirai
have been able to mobilise thousands of prospective voters and promote mass

“Citizens seem to feel more efficacious when they feel strong parties
represent their views,” reads the report.

It says outside political parties, counter-prevailing institutions of power
have been redefined with civil society, independent media, political
parties, Sadc and the international community serving as a check on state

The barometer says pressure applied to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) has resulted in some of its members changing their way of doing

“Defending the interests of Zanu PF is no longer necessarily the default
option,” says the report.

The barometer focuses on four areas which it says are material to both the
outcome and nature of the elections. These are: Amendments to the Electoral
Act and democratisation; African Union and Sadc Engagement; Absence of
“overt” violence and ZEC “On or Off-guard for the elections”.

It says the AU and Sadc, being the “guarantors” of the GPA, were central to
the elections. Their role is expected to ensure that the country holds a
credible election able to lead towards a democratic transition from the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the past political conflict epitomised
by the 2008 disputed polls.

Previously, the AU has been criticised for being seen to be inactive in
shepherding the Zimbabwe transition process.

The report said the involvement and interest shown by AU and Sadc will
likely translate into them taking responsibility for the outcome of the
election by ensuring a smooth political transition and resolution of any
arising election related disputes.

“Given the tension that characterises the political environment towards the
elections, the contentions and counter accusations so far expressed in the
election related matters, and the low public confidence in electoral
processes; a disputed election is likely,” warns the barometer.

But it says the presence of AU and Sadc as guarantors of the elapsing GPA
would likely lead to a timely address of disputes; restraint on flagrant
defiance of democratic election tenets; and raising the confidence levels of
the voters to freely express their vote.

“Should the election outcome lead to the need for a power transfer, the role
of the AU and Sadc will also be crucial,” the report says.
But the barometer says the negative forces weighing down on ZEC’s
professionalism will likely escalate towards Wednesday’s elections.

It says ZEC will likely split into two camps – the proponents for a credible
electoral process and those eager to push through their partisan interests
in the institution.

However, the barometer says in terms of the implementation of the law, some
presiding officers might behave in a discriminatory manner in some areas
that have a history of intimidation.

“Due to the fact that some voters are not privy to the amendment of section
57, they might, as per tradition, hold up their ballot papers for the
presiding officer to see the mark,” says the CiZC report.

“It is also possible that political parties might fail to field election
agents in all the polling stations due to logistical challenges or as a
result of intimidation by competitors. Such areas include rural areas in
Mashonaland provinces, rural Midlands and parts of Masvingo such as Mwenezi
and Chiredzi north.”

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MDC-T threatens Tsunga with expulsion

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

MUTARE — Human rights lawyer, Arnold Tsunga and Patrick Sagandira will be
expelled from the MDC-T if they fail to withdraw their candidature ahead of
Wednesday’s harmonised elections, a senior party official has warned.


MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has directed that Tsunga and
Sagandira withdraw their candidature in Dangamvura-Chikanga and Makoni
Central constituencies respectively before the polls.

Tsvangirai has endorsed Giles Mutsekwa in Dangamvura-Chikanga and
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader, Simba Makoni to represent MDC-T in Makoni
Central, after he forged an electoral pact with the former finance minister
in President Robert Mugabe’s government.

MDC-T acting national chairman, Morgan Komichi, who was in Manicaland last
week to address factionalism in the party, said those who were defying
Tsvangirai would be expelled from the party.

“President [Tsvangirai] has been very clear on the candidates. Giles
Mutsekwa will stand for Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency and Simba Makoni
for Makoni Central. Anyone who objects will be expelled from the party,”
said Komichi.

“The MDC-T is a big institution and no one is bigger than it. If those
candidates [Tsunga and Sagandira] defy our President’s call then that is
called indiscipline and the MDC-T does not tolerate indiscipline.”

He said the party’s national council was not happy with the level of
factionalism in Manicaland province, and warned that those divisions could
cost the MDC-T in Wednesday’s make-or-break harmonised elections.

“I want to call all the MDC-T people in Manicaland to bury the hatchet and
work together,” said Komichi. “Manicaland is important to us because this is
one of our strongholds. Let’s all be one and vote for our official

Mutsekwa said he was the candidate officially chosen by the party to
represent the Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency.

“The people of Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency ought to know that I am
their candidate. There is no parallel candidature, because President
Tsvangirai has made a ruling that I am the official candidate,” he said.

“Tsunga was told of that position and he accepted it. He was also told that
he would be deployed elsewhere in the party, but we are surprised and
perplexed that he is defying the party’s directive.”

But Tsunga said: “I am not defying the party’s position at all. The party is
called Movement for Democratic Change and this is democracy. Yes, the party
decided that I should step down, but, if I do so I would be letting my
people in the constituency down. Let the people speak and l will follow the
wishes of the people.”

Tsunga dispelled the assertion that having two candidates in the
constituency would split votes.

“No ways, I have enough votes to win and all our votes will also work in
favour of President Tsvangirai,” Tsunga said.

Sagandira also said he would not withdraw.

“I want the people in Makoni Central to know that I am the MDC-T candidate
whom they should vote for,” said Sagandira.

“The people of Makoni Central and I have done a lot of ground work, so for
me to withdraw will be the biggest let down of the people in my

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AU observer mission wants credible elections

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

THE African Union (AU) observer mission has said it will not hesitate to
condemn the outcome of Wednesday’s elections if they are not held in a
credible manner.


Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, deputy head of AU observer
mission, Aisha Abdullahi said the continental body was impartial and would
not endorse a discredited electoral process and results.

“We will not be associated with a flawed election and we will not accept the
results,” she said.

Abdullahi however said the AU was so far satisfied with the political
climate in Zimbabwe which she described as “peaceful”.

“We have observed that the campaigns are being conducted peacefully with a
few incidences here and there, but overall we are satisfied,” she said.

She said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had explained the
logistical problems that it experienced during the flawed special voting
held on July 14 and 15.

“ZEC admitted that the process was a nightmare and that they faced many
challenges,” she said. “However, we remain optimistic that there will not be
a repeat of the same issue.”

In a pre-election statement, the AU observer mission said they had noted the
concerns surrounding the special voting and the voter registration

“The process was clouded by uncertainties about funding, logistical and
management challenges which the electoral body encountered. AU observers
noted that registration was essentially slow in pace.

Thousands more Zimbabweans were unable to register,” read the statement. “In
all the centres observed by the long term observers, the entire special
voting process was paralysed by a failure to deliver ballot papers timeously
by ZEC.”

The AU mission said they had received complaints for civic organisations
that were not happy with being excluded from the electoral process.

The mission also raised questions on the media coverage concerning the state
broadcaster which featured Zanu PF more than any other party.

“The mission notes that the national broadcaster has tended to provide live
and in-depth coverage largely to a single political party,” it said.

One of the observers who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had
approached the ZBC over the issue after many political parties had
complained about the unfair coverage and being charged higher rates for
their adverts.

“We went to ZBC over the issue and whether by coincidence or not, two days
later we noticed that the other parties were now being accommodated,” said
the observer.

Some observers at Electoral Commissions Forum for a Sadc seminar on Friday
expressed displeasure at the way the special voting was held by ZEC and
questioned its readiness for the national elections.

Many were keen to know how ZEC would be able to hold an election involving
6,2 million voters in one day when they failed in two days to serve over 69
000 people.

“Following the much disputed special voting which saw thousands failing to
cast their votes due to logistical hiccups, what guarantee is there that
this will not be repeated on election day?” said one observer.

Also speaking at the meeting, MDC-T secretary general and Finance minister,
Tendai Biti said the special voting had gross omissions and it was highly
unlikely that ZEC would ready itself in time for the harmonised elections.

“The shambolic special voting is evidence that ZEC is not ready, has no
capacity to carry out a free and fair election.
“In some parts of Masvingo, ballot papers were not delivered while in some
areas they arrived as late as 6pm.”

Efforts to get a comment from ZEC were fruitless yesterday.

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Mutambara out in the cold

July 28, 2013 in Politics

HE came with a bang, taking over the leadership of the pro-Senate faction of
the MDC in February 2006, but it now appears the former University of
Zimbabwe student leader will exit the political limelight anonymously.


Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara’s name won’t appear on the
Presidential ballot papers when Zimbabweans vote on Wednesday.
Neither did his name appear on that ballot paper after he pulled out of the
race in support of Simba Makoni in 2008.

He tried the Zengeza East parliamentary seat but lost to MDC-T’s Alexio

He has cut a lone figure in these dying days of the inclusive government
despite being one of the principals to the power-sharing government.

Instead, it is President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
MDC leader Welshman Ncube who are on the campaign trail seeking the keys to
State House.

Mutambara, who has promised to unite democratic forces of change when he
took over MDC in 2006, is bruised, battered and unable to command the
respect he gained seven years ago.

Back then, the robotics professor said he had a mission of uniting the
democratic forces of change, would work to refocus and energise the vision,
values and strategy of these forces and the development of a comprehensive
macro-economic blueprint that resolves the economic crisis.

He said then that the split of the MDC had caused distress on Zimbabweans
and it needed someone from outside to resolve the crisis.

“As the party goes towards two separate congresses, the infusion of new
leadership, untainted by current disagreements, is imperative to facilitate
the reunification process,” Mutambara said then.

The reunification bid failed and his party was to split into two after the
party’s congress in 2011, which elected Welshman Ncube as the leader.

At the end of that congress Mutambara promised to be a soldier in the party
even though he did not have a position.

He said MDC was the only party in Zimbabwe that had made a transparent
change in leadership.

“Before the national council met [last December], I said I was not standing
for any position because I believe in leadership renewal and it is good for
our party democracy,” he said.

Some months later, Mutambara was singing a different hymn saying that he was
still the leader of the party.

He was seen to be closer to Mugabe in the inclusive government.
When MDC said Mutambara should step down from his post in government, Mugabe
supported him.

The fight for the party was to spill into the courts with High Court judge
Lawrence Kamocha declaring him an illegitimate leader of the smaller faction
of MDC.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mutambara said he was busy but would return
the call.

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Mugabe is gone, vows Tsvangirai

July 28, 2013 in News, Politics

MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said Wednesday’s elections will
send President Robert Mugabe into his long overdue retirement, vowing this
time around no one was going to stop him from assuming power.


Addressing thousands of MDC-T supporters at an open space in Chegutu,
Tsvangirai said he was already looking forward to his inauguration as the
new President in a few days’ time, as he was confident people will
overwhelmingly vote for him.

“This time around we must tell him [Mugabe] to go and rest. Come August 1,
Mugabe will be history,” he said. “This is the only opportunity we have to
change the direction of the country. To beat all the shenanigans, people
must go out and vote in their masses and our polling agents must also be

Tsvangirai said he won the 2008 elections in the first round, but the result
was rigged, to reflect that no candidate had garnered an outright victory.

“This time we will not allow them to subvert the will of the people. We are
not going to allow a daylight robbery of our victory. You have a
responsibility, not only to vote but to peacefully defend our vote,” he told
his supporters.

Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was already behaving like the “proverbial”
opposition, countering whatever MDC-T was doing.

He said while the Chegutu rally had been earmarked for Pfupajena stadium,
Zanu PF at the 11th hour bulldozed its way to hold its own meeting at the
already booked venue.

“Instead of telling people where the party will take the people in the next
five years, they are busy either disrupting our rallies or organising
counter meetings,” said the MDC-T leader.

He said on Wednesday, Zimbabweans have a choice between the old ways of
doing things, characterised by poverty and despair or a new beginning, full
of hope for prosperity.

“What will Zanu PF do in the next five years, which it did not do in the
past 33 years? This is why Mugabe’s campaign speeches are focussing on
history. He is the one who caused all our problems,” said the Prime

Tsvangirai said if elected, one of his first challenges would be to end the
culture of violence and impunity. He said an MDC-T government would
differentiate between party and government business. Tsvangirai said an
MDC-T government would curb corruption, create jobs and reopen industries.

“When government implements programmes it should be for everyone and not
only for those connected to the party. We do not want a government whose
pre-occupation is to consolidate its grip on power by intimidating and
scaring people,” he said. “In three days’ time you will have the opportunity
to get out of poverty.”

At another rally in Chinhoyi, Tsvangirai alleged that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) was trying to steal the elections for Zanu PF and Mugabe.

The MDC-T leader said he was giving ZEC up to tomorrow to provide him
information regarding how many ballot papers were printed for the
presidential poll.

He said up to yesterday, ZEC had not provided him with a copy of the voters’
roll, despite concerted efforts to get one.

Tsvangirai said there were plans to disenfranchise those who were previously
regarded as aliens until the recent enactment of a new constitution.

“ZEC, we are giving you up to Monday to prove your integrity and exonerate
yourselves from these shenanigans”. You have denied people the right to
register, mainly those in MDC-T strongholds like Harare,” he said.

“You messed up the special vote of 70 000 in two days. How are you going to
handle more than six million [people] in one day? Prove your integrity. The
time to steal elections is over.”

Tsvangirai revealed that they have information to the effect that ZEC
printed eight million ballot papers for the president poll and another eight
million for the parliamentary one.

Efforts to get a comment from ZEC were fruitless yesterday.

Tsvangirai said the country was in a “sorry” state because of lack of
leadership, conflict of policy and no clear vision of where the country is

Tsvangirai said the record of MDC-T was there for all to see as the economy
improved with food on the shelves, children going back to classrooms and the
health sector improving.

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‘Zim needs God-fearing leadership’

July 28, 2013 in Community News

Harare — Christian leaders have urged the people of Zimbabwe to pray for a
God-fearing leader ahead of the crucial elections on Wednesday, noting that
everyone has a responsibility in nation-building.

Report by Hazvinei Mwanaka

The group, which is made up of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, the
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and
Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, said Zimbabweans and Christians
should put God first.

Churches have always played a vital role in peace, mediation and conflict
resolution in different circles throughout Zimbabwe’s turbulent political

The leader of the group, Dr Goodwill Shana said it was everyone’s
responsibility to pray for a God-fearing leader who shunned violence.

“Everyone has a responsibility to pray for a God-fearing leader who will not
mislead people in the face of challenges. We have to be strong and pray for
God’s guidance. We encourage every Zimbabwean from different political
parties to shun violence, but rather maintain peace and tolerance before and
after elections and to accept the results as they are,” said Shana.

Other denominations in the country also encouraged people to pray for the
forthcoming elections to ensure a peaceful and credible election which does
not give a disputed outcome.

Faith Family Church International member Chipo James said the church was the
force that should guide the country adding that there was need for people to
tolerate and appreciate one another.

“We encourage every Zimbabwean to pray vigorously for us to have a peaceful
election. Everyone is to blame for the political situation in Zimbabwe,
hence everyone should pray even harder. We do not want to return to the 2008
scenario and everyone should make a concerted effort for us to have a
peaceful and positive election outcome,” said James.

Zimbabwe’s previous elections were characterised by violence, intimidation,
bloodshed and deaths. Recently churches in Zimbabwe launched a peace
campaign dubbed Ecumenical Peace Observation in Zimbabwe to promote peace in
the run up to, during and after the country’s election, as part of efforts
to curb the violence that has been known to flare up during election times.

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Farmers cry foul over GMO potatoes

July 28, 2013 in Community News

BULAWAYO — Genetically-modified potatoes which are being smuggled from South
Africa continue to flood the country despite spirited efforts by local
farmers to stop their illegal importation which is driving them out of


The government banned the importation of potatoes about three years ago to
protect local farmers.

Investigations by Standardcommunity revealed that cheap potatoes from South
Africa continue to flood the southern parts of the country, especially

Farmers who spoke to Standardcommunity said the smuggling of potatoes had
become a major challenge in reviving the once vibrant sector.

“We are concerned that potatoes continue to be smuggled into the country at
our expense,” said Danisa Moyo, a farmer from Umguza in Matabeleland North.
“We have enough supplies of potatoes to feed the country and there is no
reason why we should have these genetically-modified potatoes on the local
market. That is killing the local farming industry.”

Moyo blamed rampant corruption at Beitbridge Border Post where the smugglers
are allegedly paying government officers to let in the agricultural produce.

“There is need to deal with the smugglers who are bribing Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority [Zimra] officials, police and security officers so that we can
stop this rot,” said Moyo.

The Potato Council of Zimbabwe (PCZ) recently gave a stern warning to those
who continue to smuggle potatoes in the country.

“The Potato Council of Zimbabwe promotes the production of locally-produced
potatoes. We warn all stakeholders that South African potatoes are being
illegally imported and sold on the Bulawayo market,” said the council in a
statement. “Please be advised there is a risk of confiscation when the
government authorities take measures to stamp out this illegal trade.”

The PCZ said there were adequate supplies of locally-produced potatoes in
the country.

PCZ vice-chairman, Ronald Museka said smuggling of potatoes was affecting
the viability of the local potato farming industry.

He challenged Zimra and law enforcement agents to stop the smuggling of
potatoes into the country.

Efforts to get a comment from Zimra were fruitless last week.

Local consumers are shunning local potatoes arguing that they were too

In Bulawayo, a bag of imported potatoes costs about US$8 while
locally-produced potatoes cost between US$12 and US$16 for a 15kg pocket

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Kalangas do away with marriage practice

July 28, 2013 in Community News

THE Kalanga community in Plumtree in Matabeleland South has dumped a
controversial cultural practice, whereby young women were ordered to have
sexual intercourse with their fathers-in-law first before they slept with
their husbands.


The villagers who spoke to Standardcommunity last week said they have since
stopped the practice because it was a violation of women’s rights.

“Long back when we were growing up, what used to happen is that before the
new bride formally got married to her husband, she was supposed to have sex
with her husband’s father to verify whether she was a virgin,” said
Bhekizulu Tshuma (74), one of the villagers.

He said the new bride was not supposed to refuse as it was part of the
Kalanga culture.

Another villager, Loghty Nleya (77), said besides testing for virginity, the
practice was important in strengthening the relationship between the father
and son.

“Because of this practice, it was common that in most instances, a woman’s
first born did not belong to her husband but to her father-in-law instead,
since he would have been the first one to sleep with her and break her
virginity,” he said.

Village elder, Mbimba Mhlanga said although the practice had since stopped,
it was important to curb sex before marriage.

“We have since stopped the cultural practice and it is no longer there,”
said Mhlanga. “We were advised by the government and many health
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that the practice posed a danger in
transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as HIV and
Aids,” said Mhlanga.

Mhlanga said at one time in the community a whole family was wiped out due
to HIV and Aids because of that practice.

“There was a serious campaign by the NGOs after some families perished after
contracting HIV,” he said.

He however added: “The problem is that nowadays our daughters are losing
their virginity at a tender age because there is no one to monitor them.”

Mhlanga said the cultural system was also meant to prepare the son to take
over his father’s younger wives in case he died.

“In our Kalanga culture, men used to marry a lot of wives and in case the
father died, the son would take over his surviving wives,” he said.

Mhlanga admitted that the controversial practice was incest but “we accepted
it because it was part of our culture”.

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Zim to tap into US$38bn aid for development

July 28, 2013 in Business

ZIMBABWE is set to tap into the US$38 billion aid for development
cooperation fund set by the European Union (EU) for African Caribbean and
Pacific (ACP) states, a result of the country’s re-engagement with the
trading bloc.


Finance minister, Tendai Biti last week said as part of the on-going
re-engagement with the EU, government and the European Delegation to
Zimbabwe are in the process of jointly programming for the 11th European
Development Fund (EDF) set to benefit ACP states.

“The first phase was completed in October 2012 whereby a draft country
strategy paper and proposed areas of cooperation for the 11th EDF were
submitted to the EU,” Biti said in his mid-term fiscal policy review

He said individual country allocations are yet to be finalised confident
that Zimbabwe would benefit from the facility.

Zimbabwe missed the previous two facilities due to the country’s sour
relations with the EU bloc.

EDF usually runs for six years and the 11th EDF facility begins next year up
to 2020.

Other than ACP countries, the EDF also caters for overseas countries and
territories. EDF covers economic, social and human development, and regional
cooperation and integration.

Zimbabwe built bridges with the EU following the formation of the inclusive
government in 2009.

As a result, EU assistance to the country increased and to date the EU and
its member states have provided US$1 billion in development assistance to
Zimbabwe in the areas of food security and agriculture, social sectors and
the promotion of governance.

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Stability, enabling environment key in any business — Chirume

July 28, 2013 in Business

ALBAN Chirume (AC) was appointed Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) chief
executive last month following the departure of Emmanuel Munyukwi.

In this question and answer session with Ndamu Sandu (NS), the former
Securities Commission of Zimbabwe boss opens up on his vision and the
transformation from being the regulator to the regulated.

NS: What immediate measures should be put in place by the post-election
government to ensure a better performance by ZSE?
AC: The important thing is stability. Consistency in policy pronouncement
that’s critical. It reduces risk to the companies or investors. A lot of
policies are already in place. Our problem is trying to get that stability
in place and trying to ensure funding, creating an enabling environment. If
we can get in new capital into the market and that is done by the stability.

NS: What is the impact of indigenisation on the stock exchange?
AC: Initially the market was negative on it when it was pronounced. The way
I personally see the indigenisation is more to look at what are the benefits
we can gain working towards some of the indigenisation policies. How can the
stock exchange create avenues for companies to meet the indigenisation

NS: In other countries, there are stock exchanges where indigenisation
shares are traded. Are you looking into that and the creation of a secondary
stock exchange for small to medium enterprises?
AC: We are looking at the second tier market. It’s one of our four major
projects. We are targeting that in the first quarter 2014 we should have the
market in place. We have done initial consultations with SMEs. There is a
committee working on the listing requirements which involves capital.

In other markets, SMEs are defining them as less than US$3 million whereas
to us that’s a company which might be on the main board. We need to have
rules which meet our local environment. We are not looking at SMEs only but
at companies with a potential to grow that would want to list. We are
meeting all stakeholders.
On indigenisation, we are still putting our minds to it. We need to look at
the whole indigenisation issues. Various people can see it as an opportunity
for companies to create a market for them or to be part of the market. The
four major projects we are doing are quite taxing and for now they are
critical in what we are doing.

NS: What are the four major projects you are working on?
AC: The first one is automation of the trading platform. The second one is
demutualisation or privatisation of the stock exchange. The third one is
listings requirements. The fourth one is that SME (stock exchange). Below
that we have other smaller projects. One of my passions is trying to create
a bond market increasing the instruments traded on the stock exchange.

NS: How far have you gone with plans towards demutualisation?
AC: We have got two advisors of this project (Imara and Corporate
Excellence) who are working together. We expect that in early October that
process of working out the demutualisation will be in place.

NS: There are companies with primary listings elsewhere but have secondary
listings on ZSE and some who are not listed elsewhere but are on the bourse.
Are you looking at measures to reverse that?
AC: We are not going to reverse anything. The listing of a company on the
stock exchange is on its own volition. You choose to be listed on a stock
exchange because you believe that it will give you a good profile and you
are able to raise money through your listing.

If you believe the market is not good enough to absorb your requirements,
sometimes you list elsewhere. Sometimes you list because of the benefits of
being listed in those areas.

There could be tax issues involved. What we need to work on is to ensure
that our market is attractive; the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is attractive for
companies to list and what they want to see where there is good corporate
governance and ensure that listing requirements are at international level
and we do manage our listings. Now we are far quicker if we don’t see the
company being able to meet the listing requirements or continuing
obligations such as publications of financial statements, holding AGMs then
we will ask them to delist. Those things make our markets attractive.

NS: What are your projections for market cap by year end?
AC: I haven’t come up with a figure. I will expect it to be more than where
we are or about US$5 billion. It all depends on what happens after the

NS: How are you managing the transitions from being the regulator to the
AC: The transition is easy. When I was at the Commission I believed in what
we were doing. I believed in fairness in what we were doing and that it is
international practice. By coming to the stock exchange, I am confirming my
belief in what we were doing. We are in constant conversations with our
regulator on issues.

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Automated trading system to double ZSE turnover

July 28, 2013 in Business

THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) annual turnover is expected to nearly
double to US$1 billion after the setting up of an automated trading system
(ATS), chief executive officer Alban Chirume has said.


The automation system will replace the current manual system where brokers
place orders on bids on a board during trading sessions on the floor for
allotment to be done.

“In Kenya and Botswana, turnover increased two to three fold [after
automation], which means we expect our annual turnover to increase from the
US$450 million to close to US$1 billion,” Chirume told Standardbusiness last

He said the automation would cost over US$2 million, adding the current
platform was fraught with risks. He said automation was expected to extend
the trading hours on ZSE.

“Basically, dealers can trade longer. We expect that brokers can deal from
their own offices. They wouldn’t come for call over sessions,” he said.

Chirume said automation and the coming on board of the central securities
depository (CSD) would help in the settling of transactions.

Chengetedzai Depository Company was in 2010 awarded a tender to run the
country’s first securities depository system.

Chirume said he was hopeful Chengetedzai would go electronic by the end of
September or October.

“Both systems will be talking to each other, reducing elements of fraud,
whereby people sell stocks which they do not have, selling fraudulent
certificates,” Chirume said.

“It will determine the ownership so before the deal is done, it will check
whoever is selling has the assets [share certificate] and whoever is selling
has the money.”

ZSE has remained resilient in the face of problems facing the economy.

Market capitalisation is around US$5,7 billion for 63 active listed
counters. This market capitalisation is far below the Lusaka Stock Exchange
at over US$9 billion where 22 companies are listed.

Chirume said listed companies were going through difficult times in terms of
working capital and liquidity.

“Sometimes the companies are undervalued and if they can access the correct
capital we will then see that the value might grow up. Liquidity crunch is
on the investors’ side,” he said, adding that disposable incomes in Zimbabwe
were low.

He said the domestic investor was literally looking at bread and butter
issues and not investing on the stock market.

As a result, Chirume said over 40% of trade was foreign and could go as much
as 49%, which means the appetite was more on foreigners.

“It’s constrained in the sense that foreigners are not trading much. We are
trading 49% or 40% of a small figure. We will see these things change once
our economy starts getting to grips,” Chirume said.

“We are in the top 10 in terms of the number of listed companies in Africa.
That’s an indication that if we can get our market to be correctly valued we
have a lot of potential.”

He said in Africa ZSE was in the top five in terms of liquidity ratio,
meaning that for the total market capital there were more trades compared to
other markets.

“In relative terms, if things go right economically, we will move up
significantly,” he said adding that there is a correlation between total
market capitalisation and Gross Domestic Product.

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Hurdles await new government

July 28, 2013 in Business

ZIMBABWE goes to the polls on Wednesday to choose a candidate with the keys
to unlock the country’s problems, amid revelations the new administration
immediately requires at least US$4 billion to meet the growing needs.


In his mid-term Fiscal policy review last week, Finance minister Tendai Biti
painted a gloomy picture of the outlook, citing the expanded bureaucracy
arising from the new Constitution which increased the number of MPs among

He said the government would inherit domestic arrears, would have to fund
the education and health sector and source for resources to fund the
2013-2014 agricultural season.

“At least US$4 billion for doing immediate things would be required by the
new government,” Biti said.

He said the new commitments would put pressure on Treasury, which has been
collecting an average monthly revenue of US$290 million in the first half of
the year.

“We have been collecting revenue of around US$290 million which has all
largely been going to salaries and I suspect that come August 30, unless
there is a fundamental change in the increase in our revenue, the issue of
paying salaries is going to be a challenge,” Biti said.

“I reckon that the new government is going to require a salary buffer of
US$1 billion, to avoid default on wages given the increase in the number of
offices that have been created by the new Constitution.”

In the outlook, Biti cut the growth forecast to 3,4% this year from the
initial 5%, weighed down by underperformance in agriculture and mining.

Biti said the country can get out of the challenges if it holds a credible,
legitimate free and fair election.

“The chances of the international economy restoring confidence in us will be
very high,” he said.

The run-up to Wednesday’s harmonised election has seen the economy virtually
coming to a standstill or worse off looking into the post-election period.

The banking sector, which had withstood the heat in the absence of a
functioning lender of last resort, has taken a knock, as big clients are
withdrawing their money for safe havens such as Botswana or under the pillow
saying the deposits would return after the elections, an executive said last

It is understood that banks that were working on the recapitalisation plans
to meet the US$50 million deadline have been told by suitors to wait until
after the elections.

“It’s really bad because people are taking their monies, even big depositors
that would normally keep their money are taking it out,” an executive said.

The sector is going to take a further knock following government’s directive
to local authorities that they write-off debts accrued by ratepayers since

This has left banks exposed, with Biti warning that seven institutions would
fall as a result of the directive.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Charles Msipa told
Standardbusiness last week the sector was praying for credible elections and
the new administration should implement clear policies to attract capital

“We need capital inflows into the country that will be directed to a variety
of sectors and infrastructure such as power generation, water supply, road
and railway networks,” he said.

He said there was need for affordable long-term capital to allow industries
to retool and finance operations.

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We have an obligation to cast our vote

July 28, 2013 in Opinion

The coming election will not be free and fair because the electoral process
is gravely flawed.

Sunday View by Alois T Masepe

A free and fair election is not determined by the environment prevailing on
the polling day but on whether the electoral process, system and
administration are seen to be fair and just to the electorate and all the

It is fundamental in a democracy to ensure that the electorate is fully
empowered to freely express its leadership choice and preference and that
the contestants are treated equally by the election administration organ and
the state-controlled mass media during the election campaign period.

Democratic principles demand that an electoral process should put the voter
on centre-stage. The system must bend backwards to ensure that the voter is
in a position to cast his ballot free from undue influence from state organs
and to also guarantee that the cast ballot serves its intended purpose.

The system must respond to the electoral needs of the voters as opposed to
the electorate being force-marched and stampeded to meet the requirements of
a lopsided process.

In this country and other politically underdeveloped countries, the
electoral process is hinged and centred on the political status quo and is
intended to protect the ruling elite. Such a process and system has never
and will never produce a free and fair election.
Should we then vote on Wednesday?

My answer is a resounding “Yes”. We must vote in spite of the imponderables
thrust in our path.

Previous elections do show that the urban voter plays political truancy on
election days. The voter turnout in urban centres averages less than 30% of
the registered electorate. The same sad story of voter apathy goes for the
Matabeleland provinces.

Contrast this trend with the voter turnout in the rural hinterland where an
acceptable average of 75% threshold is achieved and the picture emerges
clearly that the urban voter is guilty of political irresponsibility and
gross negligence and recklessness.

The urban voter stands accused of electoral inertia and apathy and is
ultimately responsible for the confusion and tragedy that visited us in the
aftermath of the March 2008 election.

If we had achieved a 50% voter turnout in urban centres and the Matabeleland
provinces, the country could have avoided the June 2008 presidential runoff
mayhem and consequently, the ill-fated Government of National Unity.

We need to understand that the status quo is engaged in a well-orchestrated
and co-ordinated strategy to frustrate the voter as a self-preservation and
damage control measure.

If we boycott the election, we will unwittingly be indulging in
self-sabotage and acting in accordance with the undemocratic designs of
those plotting against the people.

It is said people get the government they deserve. Accordingly, as we march
inexorably towards Wednesday’s election, those of us who are on the voters’
roll need to resolve that the results that will come out of the electoral
process reflect the true will of the electorate.

We need to rid ourselves of the syndrome and mindset that influences us to
believe that Sadc, the African Union or South Africa will tackle our
political problems for us.

The truth of the matter is that we are our own liberators: friends,
neighbours and well-wishers will try to assist but we, as citizens, are
ultimately responsible for resolving our political challenges.

The choice is clear: the voter turnout on Wednesday will either show
evidence of a citizenry that has finally awaken from its deep political
slumber or a nation that is politically dazed and sleep-walking towards the

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Enemies of change have something to hide

July 28, 2013 in Opinion

The clamour for political change in Zimbabwe is now loud and clear.

Sunday Opinion by Christian Chitaka

However, the remaining and pressing question is whether political power will
be peacefully transferred from one hand to the other or from one political
party to the other. This note examines some of the outstanding challenges
likely to stand in the way of political change.

Among all the factors, fear in its multiple variants seems to be the
greatest obstacle to change. Therefore, without conquering fear, the people’s
votes on Wednesday will count for nothing.

It is therefore important to unpack the different variations of fear that
are likely to stall the transition of power from one hand to another or from
one political power to another.

For some time, Zimbabwe has been under the control of an authoritarian
regime that survived through embezzlement of state funds and unorthodox
acquisition of resources such as minerals, land, property and political

Elites from such a regime fear the threat of redistribution of their
resources due to democratisation. However, elites who invested in the
physical capital rather than in land or oil fear that their resources can be
easily damaged through an upsurge of political revolution, like what
happened in Tunisia and Libya.

Consequently, this group is more prepared to make concessions and
democratise than risk a violent clash with the opposition.

In this regard, those looking forward to removing Zanu PF from power should
make deals with those that have invested more in physical capital than those
that have invested heavily in diamond fields, gold, and some other
irremovable resources. The biggest challenge is that, these people cannot
move these resources out of the country.

The only way out for them is to rig the elections and in the worst-case
scenario, to die fighting for their looted resources. The new leader and his
party should be prepared to deal with such situations in a manner that will
benefit them.

One best way is to spare the looters at the time when they are expecting
retribution. Revenge or vengeance will not work in Zimbabwe.

Therefore, as political parties are moving towards the election day, their
official and unauthorised spokespersons should be very careful of what they

Uttering statements such as “we are going to send so and so to The Hague” or
“we are going to remove so and so from power”, or “investigate so and so”,
will not bring political change.

This is the time for those with the gift of wisdom to speak and not for the
clever ones.

This is important because the international media would obviously want to
know and disseminate the information on what the winning party is going to
do to its adversaries. In short, it is time to exercise temperance and
self-restraint. If anything, it is time to preach peaceful co-existence.

For those blocking transition of power because of fear, it is better for
them and for their children that they manage change while there is time to
negotiate and compromise. Security of resources should be derived from law
and a consistent system of governance.

It is crazy to see mortal human beings behave like vampires, arguing that
they fear for their children.

The resource curse is another challenge. In most cases, countries with
abundant natural resources more often than note fail to democratise. This is
mainly because the powerful elites can live off natural resources rather
than depend on popular support for tax revenue.

Thus, most Zanu PF leaders and defenders rely much on their ill-gotten
resources rather than on popular support. This can also explain why Zanu PF
seems to be richer than the country.

There are individuals who also seem to be richer than their own country. As
a result, Zanu PF was able to commission and donate various equipment and
foodstuffs to a people that had been wallowing in poverty for the past four

Illiteracy can be another challenge to democratic transition in Zimbabwe.
This is because a poorly educated and illiterate population may elect
populist politicians who, sooner rather than later, abandon them. The
vaunted high literacy rate is not evenly distributed.

In areas such as Mount Darwin, Bveke, Chitange, Gungwa, Dati and Rushinga,
there are multitudes of voters who do not appreciate the voting processes in
this country.

Politicians in these areas have been thriving out of the ignorance and fear
of these people.

In these areas, only voter education is needed because Zanu PF did nothing
since 1980. Roads in those areas are very poor; they rely on mission
hospitals and bridges built by the late Ian Smith.

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SundayView:Zimbabweans must shun violence all round

July 21, 2013 in Opinion

Zanu PF will forever be very grateful to the Ian Smith regime. The regime
which Zanu PF has emulated, left enduring lessons of which the most
important ones are the use of terror and outright violence against
opponents. Zanu PF has learnt this lesson with a passion and zeal only
equalled in religion. The ever-increasing talk of an election has raised
political temperatures to unheard of levels as parties gird their loins for
the votes. The fact that there were sporadic outbreaks of violence during
the referendum is in itself a harbinger of bad things to come. During the
March 16 referendum, Zimbabwe’s major political players were in agreement
about the “Yes” vote. There was little disagreement about it.


Just when the coast seemed clear for the referendum, Zimbabweans were jolted
from their usual slumber by violence across the country during the
referendum. People in Mbare were beaten up by Zanu PF’s youths calling
themselves Chipangano. The Prime Minister’s rally in Harare was disrupted by
the police. As if that was not enough, the PM’s offices were invaded by the
police and staffers were arrested. Zanu PF’s daggers were out and battle
lines drawn.

Ironically, while all this was happening, President Robert Mugabe was in
Rome, at St Peter’s Square listening to the new Pope calling for a world
that respects humanity, the environment and gives men dignity.

The violence that rocked the nation from the death of little Christpowers
Maisiri hitherto, was intentionally brewed for two major reasons. Firstly,
it served to test the preparedness of the terror and violence machine ahead
of the elections. Remember violence, intimidation of opponents and outright
murders are the only weapons remaining for the beleaguered party which is
clearly devoid of any ideology.

Secondly, the violence was meant to fire warning shots into the air. Nobody
should be under any illusion about how the contest will be played out. The
game will be really nasty.

Look at how the rural communities flocked to the polling stations to approve
a constitution they did not even know. The referendum, for all intents and
purposes, stood as the finest ground to test voter preparedness.

All this points to several facts that we will have to comprehend sooner
rather than later as we head for the next elections and any other election
that Zanu PF will contest.

Zanu PF has become a larger than life party like Stalin’s communist party,
controlling everything from economics, social life, politics, to how we
think and act.
The continued invasion of our privacy by the police, the daily battering by
the army and intimidation by the CIO, all point to a country haunted by the
very institutions which must protect it. This has nothing to do with a
defective constitution. Our woes will not end with a new constitution like
the one we have, which protects fundamental freedoms. Our woes will only end
when we shake off our usual lethargy and be brave enough to go out and vote.

Zimbabweans must also speak out loud against violence. This should also
include naming and shaming perpetrators. The private media must be applauded
in this regard as in the past it has done quite a lot to name, shame and
speak loudly against violence.

Lastly, war credentials are no compensation or justification for his
post-war villainous deeds.

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Simple message that’ll set us free

July 28, 2013 in Editorial

It is difficult to imagine how the presidential election can be won by
anyone other than President Robert Mugabe.

From the Editor’s Desk by Nevanji Madanhire

The playing field is so grossly slanted in his favour that it will take a
miracle to defeat him. Public radio and television are under his control;
more than 90% of programmes extol his virtue while denigrating all who stand
in his way.

Public newspapers are also doing the same, spewing propaganda and using
abusive language to assassinate the character of his main rival, Morgan
Tsvangirai. The uniformed forces — the police and the army — are at his beck
and call and are involved at all levels in the electoral processes including
the printing and distribution of ballots.

Intimidation has once again resurfaced in the rural areas; this is obvious
considering how hundreds of thousands of people have been commandeered to
Mugabe’s election rallies against their will.

Contrary to the new constitution that forbids traditional leaders from
participating in politics, they are at it again.

But it is simple things that might change the course of history, come
election day.

Those who have read Greek mythology might remember the story of the
Minotaur. The Minotaur was a monster conceived when a bull coupled with
human. It was therefore a man with the head of a bull. It was shut up in a
labyrinth and young lads and maidens were sacrificed to feed it. Anyone who
dared to enter its lair and fight it never made it because of the impossible
maze that guarded it.

But it was the simplest of things that enabled its eventual slayer to defeat
it. Theseus was given a thread by a maiden who had fallen in love with him.
He pinned the thread at the entrance and unrolled it as he hunted the
Minotaur. The thread enabled him to retrace his way out of the labyrinth
after he had defeated the Minotaur in single combat.

Mugabe can be compared to the Minotaur; there is maze of laws and state
agencies shielding him and making it impossible to defeat him in a fair

But again, a simple message can be the game changer: “Your vote is your
secret.” The message has not been hammered enough into the heads of voters
especially the less sophisticated of our brothers and sisters living on the
farms and remote rural outposts.

It’s a simple message which does not need any gadgets to convey. Many people
are enthralled by the use of social media to spread political messages but
these are useless as far as mass communication is concerned.

Much has been said about the effectiveness of Facebook and Twitter in
spreading revolutionary messages during the Arab Spring but discerning
analysts are beginning to doubt whether they played the decisive role in the
revolutions that changed the face of North Africa. Many think the word of
mouth was hugely more effective.

The story is told how, in Egypt, revolutionists would jump into taxis and,
in fake mobile telephone conversations describe in detail their plans.

The taxi drivers would then convey to whoever hired them on that day what
they had heard and, so the messages were spread.

If each one of us told the person next to him that his or her vote is secret
and no one will ever know how they have voted, the game changes immediately.

How does the game change?
It is the fear that someone will know how one has voted that is at the core
of our tainted electoral democracy. It is what makes intimidation effective.
Intimidation is illogical; you can’t beat people up and expect them to love
you and vote for you. It only works when it has been taken to its logical
conclusion, that is, when the voter feels watched while in the ballot

Once the message has sunk that no one will ever see how you vote, that there
are no gadgets that are used to watch you as you vote, that there are no
cameras, cellular phones or satellite dishes that record how people vote,
then the fear will dissipate and people will freely express their will.

But once this message remains in the grey area in which it dwells presently,
people will continue to fear that they will be murdered or their property
will be taken away after the elections as has happened in the past and fear
is still all pervasive.

The partisan role of traditional leaders will continue to influence how
people in the rural areas vote. The mere presence of security forces in
certain areas will continue to intimidate unsophisticated voters, forcing
them to vote in a certain way.

Once people are convinced their vote is secret, political violence will
cease to be a useful tool of recruiting voters. Traditional leaders’ role in
intimidating their subjects will fall away and all voters will refuse to be
assisted to vote by these leaders and instead, in genuine cases where
assistance is needed, the voter can demand that only his close friend or
relative should come to their help.

Everyone knows what has gone wrong with this country and would like to play
a role in correcting the mistakes. Everyone knows who is responsible for the
sorry state we find ourselves in and would like the country to have a new

Unfortunately, fear stands in the way of a new beginning. There is a cabal
of political sharks who have benefited from the common people’s fear and
would like the status quo to continue. The truth of the matter is that we
can stop them in their tracks on Wednesday if we get rid of our fear.

Elections have failed to bring any change in the past 30 years, leading lots
of people to doubt their usefulness. This doubt has led to apathy; millions
of people have withheld their vote and will probably abstain from voting on

They should be told clearly that a large voter turnout makes it nearly
impossible to manipulate the ballot; therefore it is important that anyone
who is registered to vote should do so. Again, this message, like the one of
voter secrecy, needs to be conveyed quickly.

Let’s all vote on Wednesday and see what happens!

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More to election than meets the eye

July 28, 2013 in Editorial

In less than 72 hours, six million Zimbabweans who are registered to vote
will have an opportunity to exercise their democratic right to choose their
leaders at various centres across the country.

The Standard Editorial

It is commendable that all political parties have urged their supporters to
shun violence and they have heeded the call.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor
Welshman Ncube, who are the main presidential candidates, have all managed
to hold their massive rallies in peace, presenting a different picture from
the 2008 violent election.

However, the absence of violence alone should not fool anyone, especially
the visitors who are in the country to observe the elections, into thinking
that they are witnessing a democratic electoral process in motion.

There are lots of things that are wrong with this election as the playing
field remains heavily skewed in favour of Zanu PF.

The role of the police and army in this election is suspicious considering
the Service Chiefs’ open allegiance to Mugabe. They have continued to play
an intimidating role, especially in the communal lands.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s preparedness to hold a credible poll is
also in doubt after they bungled the special vote where only 29 000 people
voted out of 69 000, after failing to get ballot papers in time.

The State-owned media, which remains blatantly biased in favour of Zanu PF,
has been beaming Mugabe’s rallies live, while denying the same opportunity
to his rivals.

In view of these and other contested matters, we therefore urge Sadc and
African Union observers to look beyond the surface and study the electoral
environment carefully.

They need to travel to remote areas and see for themselves the climate of
fear that exists in Mashonaland provinces and other areas affected by
political violence in the past.

The state of the voters roll, the way ballots will be secured and the
credibility of the counting process all need to be evaluated before
observers can make any statements endorsing the poll. Zimbabwe’s voters have
one thing clear in their minds; they do not want another disputed election

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