Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (15)

Column 15

Peaceful elections?

Women from all political parties demonstrated for peace (1), in line with the demands of political leaders for a peaceful election campaign. Events of the week seem to indicate that such hopes remain dim.

Thus during the Bindurance Bob-Birthday celebrations, War Vet. leader Elijah Dondo threatened violence against anyone not voting for Zanu-PF. Zanu-PF's vote gathering drive also assumed terrifying dimensions, with youths going from house to house in Harare and Chitungwiza, claiming they were on a recruitment drive. Names and addresses were noted, with house-dwellers asked to produce Zanu-PF cards and if unable to do so, were instructed to buy one.(2) Police arrested 14 MDC members on their way to a rally, subsequently charging them with hindering police from carrying out their duties. (3)

Political violence continued to cause ructions within the coalition government. The stormy cabinet meeting of February 26, with MDC Ministers accusing ZANU-PF of responsibility for the death of twelve-year old Christpower Maisiri, son of a Manicaland MDC candidate, ended in several resolutions to improve the political climate. These include instructions to police to track down the arsonists and for police and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to present regular security reports. All government officials were told to condemn violence. President Robert Mugabe repeated his call for peace during the meeting. These issues were openly raised at the boy's funeral on March 1st.(4) Premier Morgan Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of the elections, if political violence continued, with MDC-T demanding an independent Maisiri inquiry.(5)

However, these utterances were overtaken by subsequent police statements that no foul play was involved in Christpower's tragic death, Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the fire was caused by an explosion of tobacco chemicals and ammonium nitrate, findings rejected by MDC. The victim's mother had told investigators the fire began on the roof and spread downwards, not upwards from the ground. Three of four arson suspects have disappeared from their homes.(6)At his 89th Bindura birthday bash, complete with giant 89kg cake, gold coins specially minted with his image and 20 000 guests, Mugabe accused MDC of manufacturing reports of violence in fear of an election defeat. He refuted his party's responsibility in Christpower's death and repeated that he would remain in power. (7) The Kenyan artist Gado (aka Godfrey Mwampembwa) showed Mugabe crouching on the shoulders of a belligerent General resting on a downtrodden Zimbabwean, ordered to shout "Happy Birthday" louder. (8)

The police clampdown on non-Zanu-PF meetings escalated when riot police broke up a Harare gathering on March 7th due to be addressed by Premier Morgan Tsvangirai, with police first claiming this had not been cleared with them, later blaming "breakdown of communication". The meeting took place the following day.(9)


The Constitutional Parliamentary Selection Committee - (COPAC)'s - campaign to publicise the constitutional proposals ahead of the March 16th referendum has lurched into chaos, with too few copies of the documents available, too little time for debate, uncertainty regarding funding and general apathy. The rural population was largely still in the dark about the constitutional proposals content.(10) The National Constitution Assembly (NCA) has appealed against the Court ruling that the President's referendum date decision could not be challenged. The NCA wants a referendum postponement to allow more time for debate.(11) An NCA meeting on the constitution was banned by the police.(12) The pressure group Sokwanele considers the referendum date illegal in terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), with insufficient time to disseminate and debate the the constitutional proposals. Only some 100 000 copies were printed for a 12m population, with COPAC claiming US$500 000 are needed to print sufficient numbers.(13) Welshman Ncube's MDC has pulled out of COPAC's campaign, citing unfair representation.(14)

The police continued their campaign against shortwave radios, by raiding a radio station of the Bulawayo community Radio Dialogue, seizing 180 radios and interrogating and charging Radio Dialogue's head of programme, Zenzele Ndebele. Ndebele's trial was twice postponed.(15) In Rusape police visited homes of several MDC supporters, demanding radios allegedly handed out by MDC MP Pishai Muchauraya. ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, who said his party supported the police in seizing radios allegedly brought into the country illegally, like his leader accused MDC of exaggerating the level of political violence.(16)

Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)s continue to be targeted. Jestina Mukoko was again one of the victims. In 2008 she was arrested and held for 72 days, during which time she was badly tortured. Ms. Mukoko was instructed to report to the police as she was running an unregistered organisation. The Zimbabwe Peace Project of which she is an employee is properly registered.(17) Masvingo Resident Minister and Governor Titus Maluleke, who had banned 29 NGO meetings during 2012, forced 45 NGOs to disclose sponsors and projects at a meeting held in the presence of police, informing them from now they would be strictly monitored.(18) The Zimbabwe Organization for Youth in Politics announced a campaign against police targeting of NGOs.(19)

Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi confirmed that only friendly countries would be invited to send observers to the forthcoming elections. Registration of observers for the referendum has begun.(20)

South Africa

President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team visited Harare for an updated on the referendum issue. Finance Minister Biti was quoted as advising the team that Zimbabwe was not ready for elections. Efforts are seemingly under way to postpone elections to September, i.e. after the much publicised UN World Tourism summit to be hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia.(21)

The South African government has refused to comply with a Court ruling to hand over the 2002 election report to the Mail and Guardian, saying it would appeal against the ruling.. The report by two eminent judges commissioned by President Thabo Mbeki has been kept secret and is suspected of revealing irregularities during the election, which would throw a poor light on Zanu-PF.(22) The South African President was criticised by Judge Ariranga Pillay, former Chief Justice of the SADC Tribunal, for not preventing the suspension of this court, which has not yet been reinstated. Following a Tribunal ruling that Zimbabwe's fast "land reform" was unlawful, SADC leaders suspended the court in 2010 to consider the court's mandate. The Tribunal had held Zimbabwe in contempt of court for refusing to honour its 2008 original ruling and in breach of the SADC Treaty and other international legal obligations.(23)


The heated pros and cons indigenisation argument continued, with two camps emerging, one around Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who insists on his 51-49% formula, the other around Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono, who argues that one size cannot fit all and claimed that he had Mugabe's support. The issue of one chosen firm, Brainworks Capital, which brokered all partnership agreements, has drawn criticism, as has the method of vendor payment, with purchasers `paying' with future dividends pledged to pay the shares purchase price.(24) The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) intends to open proceedings to probe proceedings concerning the issue.(25) Under the agreement, the government has to pay Zimplats US$ 972m within 10 years. Failure to do so, would mean the shares revert to Zimplats.(26) Mugabe waded into the debate, saying Kasukuwere was wrong in acceding to payment for Zimplat shares, payment of the 51% were the minerals in the ground. Adding to the confusion, Kasukuwere said on March 7th the Zimplats agreement was not binding. Furthermore, the Mines Ministry announced an increase in royalties by platinum producers, (27)

Mugabe conceded that the banking sector was in a different category to mining companies, as this brought capital into the country.(28) Gono and Finance Minister Tendai Biti argue that a 51% indigenization would adversely affect the fragile financial sector.

A new way of banking through the mobile phone company Econet has enabled Zimbabweans without access to traditional banking to send and receive cash.(29)

Zimplats has refused to pay a US16.7m fee to Brainworks, as it had not engaged the broker, who was appointed by the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Biard (NIEEB). Similarly Anglo American Platinum rejected a demand by a Brainwoks demand for US$3m fee in connection with the indigenization of Unki Mine.(30)

The government has gazetted its intent to seize an area of 27,498 hectares (67,949 acres) previously leased to Zimplats Holding. The company has 30 days in which to appeal.(31) However, the company is still holding out for payment of US$153m for ground released in 2006.(32) On top of it all, Zimbabwe Platinum Mineral Limited (Zimplats) has announced a loss of US$6.4m for the half-year ending December 2012.(33). Zimbabwe has the second-largest platinum deposit globally.

Zanu-PF youth complain that they are not benefitting from indigenisation, while MDC claims access to a US$30m youth empowerment fund is politically Zanu-PF partisan.(34)


The government has decided to close areas in Bikita, where kimberlite ground was discovered last year, in order to stop a diamond rush as had happened in Chiadzwa. Senior officers of police and army have rushed to apply for claims in Bikita.(35)

The Red Cross reported that some 6m Southern Africans suffer from adverse weather conditions, particularly in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe and are subject to hunger and malaria, cholera and diarrhea. An appeal for funds has not met with the required response.(36) Due to a poor 2012 season, an estimated 1.67m Zimbabweans will require food aid from this month. Maize prices have soared, with Zambia imposing an export ban. The debate over genetically modified maize from South Africa - resisted by Zimbabwe and other southern African countries - has re-emerged.(37)

A hangman was recently appointed, but there are no immediate plans to carry out death sentences on the 77 individuals in death row, the Prison Services have stated. No executions have been carried out for 12 years.(38)

  1. Voice of America Zimbabwe 1.3
  2. Standard 3.3
  3. Africacare view 4.3 SW Radio Africa 5.3 SW Radio Africa 7.3
  4. Zim Independent 3.3
  5. New Zimbabwe 28.2, standard 3.3
  6. News24 5.3, SW Radio Africa 4.3 Voice of America Zimbabwe 4.3
  7. Daily Mail UK 2.3, Reuter, 2.3, Mail and Guardian 2.3, Standard 3.3
  8. The Nation, Kenya
  9. Agence France-Presse 6.3, New Zimbabwe 7.3) ,http://www.timeslive.co.za 6.3
  10. Zim. Independent 1.3
  11. SW Radio Africa 1.3
  12. SW Radio Africa 5.3
  13. SW Radio Africa 4.3
  14. SW Radio Africa 4.3
  15. SW Radio Africa 1.3, 5.3
  16. SW Radio Africa 1.3
  17. SW Radio Africa 7.3
  18. The Zimbabwean UK 3.3
  19. VOA Zambia 5.3
  20. New Zimbabwe 5.3, Business Week 5.3, SW Radio Africa 7.3
  21. Herald 6.3, SW Radio Africa 7.3, Financial Gazette 7.3
  22. SW Radio Africa 5.3
  23. SW Radio Africa 4.3
  24. Zim. Independent 1.3, New Zimbabwe 7.3, Daily News 7.3
  25. Daily News 1.3
  26. Zim. Daily Mail 2.3, 5.3
  27. New Zimbabwe 1.3, http://www.iol.co.za/ 6.3, Reuters 7.3
  28. http://www.bdlive.co.za
  29. Zimbabwe Mail 5.3
  30. Mining Review 1.3, New Zimbabwe 7.3
  31. Bloomberg News 1.3, SW VRadio Africa 6.3
  32. New Zimbabwe1.3
  33. Zim.Daily News 2.3
  34. VOA 5.3
  35. Zim. Inependent 25.2
  36. Reuter 4.3
  37. IRIN 4.3
  38. Zim.Independent 1.3

Letzte Änderung: Friday, 08-Mar-2013 13:36:17 CET
Vorherige Meldung:
4.3.2013 "Wie wird Zimbabwe seine Schulden los?" (Gesprächsnotiz)