Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (12)


It's a date! The referendum on the constitution passed by Parliament will be held tentatively on March 19th.. Elections are expected to follow in July. At the same time the resignation of Simpson Mutambanengwe as head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been announced, due to health reason.(1) MDC-T's demand of changes in ZEC's secretariat are resisted by Zanu-PF.(2) The job of aligning existing laws with the constitution has to be completed by June 29th, the last day of the current Parliamentary session. (3)

UNDP has now approved funding of the referendum and election exercise, though no figure has been given.(4) )In view of the need for outside funding, it is puzzling that ministers of the three coalition parties are demanding luxury vehicles and expensive houses as exit presents. Seemingly greed is not any party's monopoly.(5)

A media conference on February 17 on the constitution will be addressed by both President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Opinions differ, from the National Constitutional Assembly's Lovemore Madhuku denouncing the constitution as "coming from on high instead of the people" to MDC's Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga acknowledging the proposals "are not perfect" but a great improvement on the present constitution.

As always, it comes down to Mugabe: by limiting the presidential reign to two terms, the new constitution ensures that the country won't be saddled with a second Mugabe.(6) However, critical voices claim the executive still wields too much power.

A South African Court has ordered the SA Presidency to hand over a report on Zimbabwe's 2002 elections, which had been kept under wraps and which is believed to show the election was irregular.(7)

Fears exist that elections without security sector and media reforms may lead to a repeat of the 2008 situation. On February 10 Zanu-PF failed to turn up at a meeting with the South African team on the issue, attended only by the two MDCs.(8) Human Rights Watch said there was no guarantee that Zanu-PF will cease its repressive practices. Intimidation, violence and unfair arrests are daily occurrences (9)

Zanu-PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo accused western government of interference in Zimbabwes internal affairs by using NGOs.(10). Presumably this is intended to excuse the ongoing clampdown on civil society. ZimRights and its officers were formally charged with conspiracy to commit voter registration forgery and related charges, which they deny. Three officials are behind bars, others are on bail.(11) The home of a Bindura MDC-T MP was raided and 840 radios seized, which he said were donations to the community by a well-wisher.(12) The Zimbabwe Peace Project also suffered a raid, with police allegedly searching for smuggled goods.(13) Eight members of WOZA including its leader Jenni Williams were beaten and tear-gassed during a peaceful anti-constitution demo in Harare. The following day a group of WOZA Bulawayo demonstrators were similarly assaulted.(14) Police critical of Zanu-PF face problems. Asst, Inspector Collen Musorowegomo was jailed for 12 days "for involvement in politics", following his report critical of police behavior in 2008.(15) A state witness in the long drawn-out trial of a policeman's murder, failed to identify the 31 MDC supporters accused of the 2011 murder (16) Survivors of political violence met in Zaka to plead for peaceful electioneering.(17)

Hundreds of students were evicted from students' residence because of December demonstrations against corruption and other issues.(18)

According to the Zimbabwean UK, a senior army officer has issued fake documents of residency for use by soldiers to enable registration as voters.(19)

Vote-buying too continues, with Zanu-PF handing out residential plots to Apostolic Church followers, with its potential of millions of votes. The party had long been wooing the sect, with leaders including Mugabe and Joice Mujuru appearing at gatherings dressed in white robes.(20) Chiefs have been promised new cars by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.(21)

The Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism (CISOMM) criticised the coalition government for failing to implement major Global Political Agreement (GPA) provisions, as well as for poor service delivery and human rights violation.(22) The public service has been awarded a 5.3% pay rise to avert strikes.(23)

Zimbabwe has secured an Australian US$30m grant to improve water and sanitary services in 14 small towns, which comes as a relief to hard-pressed local authorities.(24)Harare has been bedeviled with water and currently faces water rationing. Harare's Mayor has indicated that the city's problems require long-term solutions. (25). The country is currently experiencing heavy downpours.(26)

Rows have erupted in Bikita, Masvingo Province, where diamond and other mineral finds were reported last year. War veterans and others object to licenses issued to persons from outside the province.(27) The troubles of RioZim's Renco Goldmine continued, with operations drawing to a halt. The High Court ordered Tourism Minister Walter Mzwembi and others to vacate the mine.(28) The Mining Ministry announced the seizure of 28 hectares of unused land leased to Zimplats. The company claimed it had not been advised of this decision.(29) Companies were given two years to establish a platinum refinery.(30) Both China and India, anxious to invest in Zimbabwe, have signed major contracts to gain entry to lucrative sectors of the economy.(31)

US$12m have been set aside for construction of an assembly hall to accommodate the forthcoming UN World Tourism 20th general assembly, due to be hosted jointly by Zambia and Zimbabwe.(32)

Perhaps the saddest comment on Mugabe's devastating policies post-2000 is the recently announced O-Level results of some 82% failure. At independence the new government expanded the inherited education system to cover previously disadvantaged children by providing free education. As a result, the country's literacy rate rose to rate among the highest in Africa. As the latest exam results show, this record has been eroded.(33)At its peak, the crisis closed down schools due to lack of all necessities, including teachers.

  1. BBC 13.2, Reuters 13.2, SW Radio Africa 13.2
  2. Herald 9.2
  3. Daily News 13.2
  4. SW Radio Africa 12.2
  5. New Zimbabwe 7.1, Zim. Independent 8.2
  6. VOA Zimbabwe 8.2
  7. SW Radio Africa 14.2
  8. Daily News 14.2
  9. Zim Independent 8.2, VOA 8.2, Nehanda Radio 14.2
  10. VOA Zimbabwe 13.2
  11. VOA Zimbabwe 8.2
  12. VOA Zimbabwe 8.2
  13. SW Radio Africa 11.2
  14. SW Radio Africa 13.2, 14.2)
  15. Standard 10.2
  16. SW Radio Africa 12.2
  17. SW Radio Africa 12.2
  18. SW Radio Africa 11.2
  19. The Zimbabwean UK 13.2
  20. Nehanda Radio10.2
  21. Standard 10.2
  22. SW Radio Africa 13.2)
  23. New Zimbabwe 14.2
  24. VOA Zimbabwe 6.12
  25. Herald 6.12, Daily News 6.2, SW Radio 6.2
  26. Herald 14.2
  27. Zim.Independent 8.2
  28. Zim. Independent 8.2, New Zimbabwe 11.2
  29. http://wwww.iol.co.za, http://www.bdlive.ci.za
  30. Reuters 12.2)
  31. Mail and Guardian 8.2
  32. Zim Independent 8.2
  33. Zim. Independent 8.2

Letzte Änderung: Saturday, 16-Feb-2013 22:36:31 CET
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13.2.2013 Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe vor der Wahl (11)