Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (17)

Column 17


Yes! As expected, the voters, of whom 3m turned up at the referendum polls, more than expected, voted 95.5%voted in favour of the constitution.(1) Some 60% of voters came from the rural area, 40% from urban area, which some commentators felt was a straw in the wind indicating a change in favour of Zanu-PF. Now for the elections, the date of which is yet unknown, despite various contradictory statements by members of the coalition parties.(2) The parties are said to be wooing the electorate with promises of food aid, with two poor seasons have resulted in 1.4m persons currently receiving World Food Programme aid.(3)

SADC's Electoral Forum said the referendum was peaceful, which the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) confirmed.(4) The bloody 2008 events were not repeated, though some incidents of intimidation and irregularity were reported, such as the presence of police inside polling stations.

Some observers complained that some electoral officials did not follow the rules, with observers asked to leave polling stations once the results arrived.(5) On the eve of the referendum, scuffles broke out in Harare's volatile Mbare township, with MDC-T supporters assaulted while putting up "Yes" posters.(6) Allegedly police were instructed to vote for Zanu-PF.(7) MDC-followers were intimidated on voting day by ZANU-PF members in various centres. Sokwanele also reported anomalies in counting and collating votes in certain centres.(8)

While President Robert Mugabe attended the Pope's inauguration (9), a stormy controversy raged at home about police actions. These appear to ignore the human rights clauses guaranteed under the new constitution, which is expected to become law at the end of April. It augurs badly for the forthcoming pre-election era that the day after the referendum MDC's communication office was raided, 4 staff members as well as Tsvangirai's chief legal adviser Thabani Mpofu arrested. The prominent lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was held for obstructing the cause of justice, while assisting her clients.(10) Two other MDC employees were arrested three days later and released after questioning.(11)

A High Court ruling ordering Ms. Mtetwa's immediate release was ignored by the police and also a magistrate, who refused her and the other accused bail, remanding them to April. The latter were accused of running an NGO and impersonating police officers to compile corruption and criminal dossiers against government officials, such as Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.(12) Ms. Mtetwa's arrest sparked off widespread protests, including those by Amnesty and African lawyers' organisations.(13) Ms. Mtetwa's incarceration and humiliation at the hands of prison officers seems to be revenge for her feisty work as a human rights lawyer, for which she has received international acclaim. It also points to Zimbabwe's political instability and the absence of security sector reform.(14)

MDC Headlands official Samson Magumura was charged in connection with an arson attack on a car of a ZANU-PF official. Magumura claimed he was innocent and the charge politically motivated.(15) Following anonymous calls, the staff of The Zimbabwe, a privately owned newspaper, went into hiding.(16)

South African President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team observed the referendum (17) and returned after the results were known to try and defuse the political tension.(18) MDC-T Morgan Tsvangirai told SADC referendum observer that Global Political Agreement (GPA) reforms needed to be in place before the elections.(19) SADC leaders had been disappointed with the MDC factions for not dealing with the outstanding GPA reforms. Zuma had told the SADC troika, that reforms needed to be put in place. Without this there would be no even playing fields. He also said that SADC observers should be stationed within Zimbabwe up to and following elections.(20) On March 20th officials from Zambia and Tanzania joined the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC). An Extraordinary SADCC summit may be called to discuss the Zimbabwe situation.(21)

The role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been questioned, with ZEC having refused referendum accreditation to key civil society organizations.(22) According to a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) report, close relations exist between ZEC and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). ZDI alleged most ZEC commissioners had an intelligence background or were former, in some cases serving army officers.(23) This begs the question whether ZEC is in a position to conduct free and fair elections, as the same officials are in place as in 2008, when the announcement of the results were unduly delayed. At that time doubts were cast over the conduct of the election by SADC, the African Union and the international community, but ZEC declared the proceedings free and fair.(24) MDC-T seems divided over ZEC, with Premier Morgan Tsvangirai exonerating the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of blame in the 2008 election debacle, blaming unnamed "underhand forces". At the same time Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu called for ZEC's reform.(25)

It was also surprising that Tsvangirai agreed to two Mugabe appointments, that of Zanu-PF Politbureau member Jacob Mudenda as head of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and Supreme Court judge Rita Makarau as head of ZEC, who was sworn in on the eve of the referendum. Mudenda was Matabeleland Governor at the time of the 1980s massacres in the province. In the past Tsvangirai objected to President Robert Mugabe appointing officials, provincial Governors or Ambassadors unilaterally.(26)

Questions have been raised whether Tsvangirai felt "too cosy" within government and/or whether he is resigned after his long struggle against Mugabe.(27) Either way, it would not be good for Zimbabwe.

A new Statutory Instrument is to be introduced to facilitate raising funds for the coming election.(28)


The National Indigenisation and Empowerment Board (NIEEB) was granted interim relief by the High Court from Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) searches of the premises of three Minister suspected of corruption.(29). ZACC general manager Sukai Tongogara, daughter of the late legendary Zanla Commander Josiah Tongogara, is reported to be in hiding, following threats against her for attempting to investigate top Zanu-PF men.(30) ZACC has vowed that it would continue its work.(31)

Tsvangirai has challenged Mines Minister Obert Mpofu to explain the source of his immense wealth, which had enabled him to purchase a bank.(32)

The banking sector is still under threat, with Indigenisation Saviour Kusukuwere insisting that foreign banks must comply with the 51% indigenisation rule by end-June.(33)


Zimbabwe's tourism did not get the needed boost at the recent German Tourism Bourse, with a poor display and a delegation lacking the presence of some top officials such as the Tourism Minister. No mention was made of the August UNWTO summit to be hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia. Six airlines have meanwhile offered themselves as carriers for the UNWTO.(34)


The R200m building project of Robert Mhlanga, who is involved in Zimbabwe's diamond industry and a close friend of President Mugabe, is nearing completion. This vast estate is believed to be Mugabe's bolthole at retirement.(35)

  1. SW Radio Africa 19.3
  2. VOA Zimbabwe 21.3, SAPA-AFP 21.3,SW Radio Africa 21.3
  3. The Zimbabwean UK 21.3, Voice of America 21.3
  4. The Zimbabwean UK 17.3
  5. SW Radio Africa 20.3, Nehanda Radio21.3
  6. AFP 15.3
  7. Standard 17.3
  8. SW Radio Africa 16.3, SAPA-AFP 16.3, Sokwanele 16.3, 17.3, Standard 17.3,(New Zimbabwe 17.3
  9. AFP 18.3
  10. SW Radio Africa 18.3
  11. SW Radio Africa 21.3
  12. SW Radio Africa 18.3, 20.3, AP 19.3, Nehanda Radio 18.3
  13. SW Radio Africa 17.3, Sokwanele 17.3, 18.3, SAPA-AFP 17.3, 19.3, AP 19.3, 20.3
  14. Mail and Guardian 20.3
  15. SW Radio Africa 18.3, News24 20.3
  16. VOA Zimbabwe 19.3
  17. VOA Zimbabwe 15.3
  18. VOA Zimbabwe 20.3
  19. Standard 17.3
  20. Daily News 19.3
  21. VOA Zimbabwe 20.3
  22. SW Radio Africa 18.3
  23. Mail and Guardian 15.3
  24. SW Radio Africa 15.3
  25. Zim. Independent 15.3
  26. Zim. Indepenenden 15.3, SW Radio Africa 15.3
  27. Zim. Independent 15.3
  28. Zim. Independent 15.3
  29. Zim. Independent 15.3, Daily News 15.3
  30. Standard 17.3
  31. SW Radio Africa 21.3
  32. SW Radio Africa 21.3
  33. Zim. Independent 15.3
  34. Standard 17.3
  35. SW Radio Africa 20.3

Letzte Änderung: Wednesday, 27-Mar-2013 09:30:55 CET
Vorherige Meldung:
15.3.2013 Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe vor der Wahl (16)