Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (20)



The High Court has excused President Robert Mugabe from setting a by-election date, as the lifespan of the current parliament cannot be extended beyond June 29.(1) Three ex-legislators had sued the President for delaying the by-elections. They have now taken the case to the Supreme Court.(2) Initially the President had asked to be excused because of his intention to hold a general election by June 29, but Premier Morgan Tsvangirai entered the case, arguing this was too soon. The Attorney-General then amended the President's plea to remove the proposed election date, thus thwarting Mugabe's attempt to stampede the country into elections. Tsvangirai then withdrew from the case, presented in the state media as a defeat for the MDC leader.(3)To avoid hurried elections, the COPAC management committee decided a section of the new constitution dealing with the timing of elections should be deferred to 2018. (4)

An US offer to help fund raising for the election, while also considering the lifting of sanctions, was scornfully rejected by Zimbabwe, as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson had said in his offer letter that international observers should monitor elections.(5) A Danish offer of help was also given, with the proviso that reforms were effected and international observers permitted.(6)

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said that Zimbabwe was not ready for elections, but that these would be held, as the coalition government had reached its sell-by date. Reforms were needed as well as funding und an "army" of international observers to avoid a flawed election.(7) Biti also demanded reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), media access, barring police from polling stations and an announcement of election result within 12 hours. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai angrily rejected Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa's assertion that the security sector could not be reformed, pointing out that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) stated the army and police had to be impartial.(8) Tsvangirai ruled out another coalition with Mugabe out, confident he would win the elections. (9)

A 40-member mission of the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SPF), composed of Members of Parliament, parliamentary staff and officials, visited Zimbabwe from March 11-19. The SPF, which had criticized the 2002 elections, met in Namibia last weekend, with Zimbabwe an item on the agenda.(10)

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered the presidency to hand over the contentious Zimbabwe 2002 elections report, which had been kept secret, to the Mail & Guardian newspaper within ten days. Judge Joseph Raulinga said the report gave a balanced overview of events before, during and shortly after the elections.(11)


The police seem determined to `get Mtetwa'. The renowned lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who was incarcerated eight days after her arrest on charges to obstruct justice, faces 20 alleged offences in a trial set for May 27-31. Most of the charges were not previously mentioned in the state attorney's papers. For instance, the allegation that she shouted at the police their action was "unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic", was augmented to the effect that she added the officers were "confused cockroaches" and "Murimbwa dzaMugabe" - Mugabe's dogs.(12). Her four clients, close allies of Premier Morgan Tsvangirai, whom she was attending at the time of her arrest. will be tried on May 13. They are believed to have compiled dossiers on the corruption of highly placed Zimbabwe-PF officials.(13) Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAAC) Chief Executive Officer, Ngonidzashe Gumbo will be tried on fraud charges on May 20.(14)

The President is to deal with Justice Charles Hungwe's suspension and is expected to sack him. The judge, accused of neglect in 2 old cases, was hounded by the media, following his instruction for Mtetwa's instant release - ignored by the police - and his issue of search warrants of offices of Ministers suspected of corruption.(15)

Political unrest

The Robert Kennedy Centre (RKC) website reported on the recent visit of a RKC delegation to Zimbabwe, congratulated the country on its provision for Human Rights protection in the new constitution. However, it criticised the omission to introduce Global Political Agreement (GPA) reforms, the increasing lack of equal access to information and media, as well as intimidation, political violence and suppression of civic society organisations.(16) Despite this report, the US congratulated Zimbabwe on its referendum results.

Constantine Chiwenga, head of the armed forces, is said to have held meetings with war veterans and military men, urging them to support Zanu-PF.(17) A War Vet. leader named Andrew Ndlovu claimed war vets. were not honoured and respected, with many falling on hard times.(18)

Zanu-PF members linked to Murehwa North MP David Parirenyatwa were reported to have intimidated villagers against voting MDC by threatening a 2008 violence repeat.(19)

Analysts are pessimistic about security sector reports, given Zanu-PF's roots in the military. Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa ruled out any such reform, which he described as a plot to effect "regime change".(20) The Standard's "Sunday Opinion" is convinced Mugabe will refuse any reforms, relying as he does on the unreformed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Attorney General to rig elections. According to the anonymous "Baba Jukwa's" blog, Morgan Tsvangirai scored 67% against Mugabe's paltry 29% in the first round of the 2008 presidential election. This should have made a second round unnecessary. Instead, rigged results led to Zanu-PF violence and Tsvangirai's withdrawal, allowing Mugabe to claim a new mandate.(21) The paper also urged MDC-T to re-think its ideology and strategy.(22)

Despoite all misgivings, Members of the three coalition parties serving on the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) launched an appeal for peaceful campaigning.(23)

Vote Rigging

Zimbabwe Vigil (ZV) founder member Ephraim Tapa visited the country for the first time since 2002. He believes the referendum record result was rigged, with people unaware of the constitution's contents and indifferent whether it is introduced or not. Tapa echoed other voice including MDC-T's Tendai Biti and Roy Bennet, who queried the figure of 3.3m votes cast, considering the actual experience of short queues and general disinterest.(24)

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) states that Zanu-PF will not use pre-election violence this time round. Fearing SADC and AU disapproval, it is embarked on a subtle psychological operation. Strategies used include "partisan registration of voters, ideologically appealing to popular groups, state financed patronage, control of state media and targeted persecution (25)

MDC expressed concern about an alleged massive Zanu-PF rigging exercise, alleging that names from the socalled "anti-sanction lit", which had been compiledin 2012 as a protest against EU and US sanctions, were being transferred onto the voters registration list.(26)

23 Bulwayo youths were arrested for protesting against the Zimbabwe electricity supplier ZESA's staff policies. Wellwishers clubbed together to pay bail after 21 spent 2 nights in prison.(27) Three members of the National Youth Development Trust in Bulawayo were questioned and released the same day for mobilising residents to register as voters. Police have recently cracked down on anyone helping non-Zanu-PF supporters to register.(28)

Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC complained to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, head of SADC's politics, defence and security organ, that he was sidelined by the two other Global Political Agreement (GPA) leader, President Mugabe and Premier Tsvangirai.(29)

Chaos has resulted from a police crackdown on illegal bus touts who demand protection money from drivers.(30)

Party affairs

Zanu-PF infighting continued, with reports of top-level Mashonaland East resignations.(31) Zanu-PF Chairman have been instructed to repair shambolic party structures.(32) Some Zanu-PF members are said to be disgruntled because a small clique only benefits from deals involving mining and farming.(33) Individuals close to the Zanu-PF Mnangagwa-faction are alleged to have met secretly to plot the removal of Didmus Mutasa, accused of dictatorial behaviour. The continuing splits over Mugabe's succession are allegedly weakening the party.(34)

Mike Madiro, said to be close to Mnangagwa, who was suspended from Zanu-PF with four others, after charges of misappropriation US$700,000 paid by diamond companies for use by the party, appeared in court with a colleague on April 9th, accused of stealing cows intended for Mugaabe's birthday party. The singling out of Madiro is seen by observers as part of the ongoing factional fights.(35)

MDC-T is similarly plagued by in-fighting. Several "heavyweights" were reported to have been sidelined.(36) Five MPs sacked by the smaller MDC, have joined MDC-T, thereby ditching former MDC leader Arthur Mutambara, who had saved their parliament jobs.(37)


Frank Chikane, secretary-general in South Africa's ex-President Thabo Mbeki's office, claimed Mbeki's quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe forestalled an outbreak of civil war.(38)

A UN Dispute Tribunal found an UN official in Zimbabwe was unjustly sacked in 2008 after predicting an outbreak of cholera and political violence, because of Agostinho Zacarias, then country representative for Zimbabwe close ties with Zanu-PF.(39)

Zimbabwe's Mineral Marketing Corporation sold $408m worth of Zimbabwean diamonds in 2011 to Dubai, up from $1.7m in 2008.(40)

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa declared in a hardhitting BBC interview that Zanu-PF would accept the outcome of the general election poll, maintaining Zanu-PF would emerge victorious.(41) The Minister disclaimed knowledge of the Mugabe family's land ownership, which allegedly owned 14 farms totalling 16,000 hectares. He had no conscience about the farmer driven off the land he himself owned, in view of the racist land allocation in the colonial era. (42)


Tobacco is transforming rural life, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB). The projected 170m kg crop is expected to be exceeded. Some 83 000 growers were registered this year, compared with 59 000 in 2012. New, often young, small-scale tobacco farmers were doing well.(43) In Wedza, however, successive poor rainy seasons were causing farmers to barter livestock for maize. (44)

The Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) between the EU and Zimbabwe was criticized by the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (Seatini). The resulting elimination of the export taxes was a blow to both the National Trade Policy (NTP) and Industrial Development Policy (IDP) intended to promote the trade and industrial revival.(45)

Air Zimbabwe has resumed daily national and regional flights after suspending flights two years ago, following threats by creditors.(46)

Zimbabwe has appealed for African financial help to host this year's UN World Tourism Ogranisation's summit. Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi has also approached diplomatic missions for financial support.(47)The World Economic Forum has rated Zimbabwe 120 out of 140 countries assessed for safety and security, factors which affect tourists' perceptions.(48)


Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kusukuwere said that the licence of Telecel Zimbabwe, owned 60% by Egypt-based Orascom, and a local consortium named Empowerment Corporation will not be renewed unless foreign ownership is reduced to 51%. He threatened Standard Chartered Bank and three mining companies with closure, unless they complied with the 5t% indigenous ownership.(49) Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono overruled Kasukuwere, by stating that no plan existed to close down Standard Chartered Bank, (50)

  1. The Zimbabwean UK 8.4
  2. SW Radio Africa 5.4, 10.4
  3. Zim. Independent 5.4, Herald 5.4, The Zimbabwean 6.4
  4. Zim.Independent 5.4
  5. Herald, 6.4
  6. SW Radio Africa 11.4
  7. Reuters 8.4
  8. Daily News 8.4
  9. Washington Post 10.4
  10. Voice of America Zim. 5.4
  11. News24 10.4
  12. The Zimbabwe UK 8.4), SW Radio Africa 8.4
  13. SW Radio Africa 6.4
  14. The Zimbabwean UK 8.4
  15. AFP 10.4, Nehanda Radio 11.4
  16. http://www.sokwanele.com/ 9.4
  17. Voice of America Zim. 4.4
  18. Daily News 5.4
  19. The Zimbabwean 10.4
  20. Standard 6.4
  21. Standard 7.4
  22. Standard 7.4
  23. Voice of America Zimbabwe 9.4
  24. ZV 6.4, SW Radio Africa 9.4
  25. Standard 7.4, Sokwanele 11.4
  26. MDC 10.4
  27. SW Radio Africa 8.4, 10.4
  28. SW Radio Africa 10.4, 11.4
  29. Mail and Guardian 5.4
  30. SW Radio Africa 5.4
  31. SW Radio Africa 5.4
  32. Zim. Independent 5.4
  33. Standard 7.4
  34. Standard 7.4, Daily News 8.4, SW Radio 11.4
  35. SW Radio Africa 9.4)
  36. Zim. Independent 5.4, SW Radio Africa 9.4
  37. New Zimbabwe 9.4, Nehanda Radio 10.4
  38. Daily News 5.4
  39. SW Radio Africa 5.4
  40. http://www.ft.com/5.4
  41. New Zimbabwe 4.4, Zim. Independent 5.4
  42. New Zimbabwean 6.4
  43. Standard 7.4
  44. Standard 7.4
  45. Standard 7.4
  46. Voice of America Zim 8.4
  47. .( SW Radio Africa 11.4Mail and Guardian 5.4, Zim. Independent 5.4)
  48. Zim. Independent 5.4
  49. SW Radio Africa 8.4
  50. SW Radio Africa 10.4

Letzte Änderung: Friday, 12-Apr-2013 12:09:51 CEST
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5.4.2013 Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (19)