Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (24)



The constitutional Bill was passed unanimously by Parliament and is expected to be similarly accepted by the Senate, providing Zimbabwe a new constitution.(1)

Voters Roll

An MDC-T MP tabled a motion that no election date should be set, before another voters' registration is set in train and finance made available for voters' education. (Daily News 9.5) The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) lacks funds for an efficient voters' education. Widespread concern has been expressed about the role and pro-Zanu bias of ZEC, raising questions about its ability to conduct free and fair elections.(2)

Voters registration proceeded slowly and chaotically, with accusations that ZEC was tampering with the list. The distribution of voting centres is lopsided. Thus Manicaland, which is larger than the Mashonaland Central area, was provided with only 40 centres for 26 constituencies, while Mashonaland Central was allocated 70 for only 18 constituencies, according to a MDC-T spokesman.(3)

Thousands were excluded as a deliberate ploy not to register MDC voters, both MDC factions state. They claim that mobile voter registration centers were only advertised in the state-controlled media five days after teams of the Registrar-General Office were deployed in various provinces. Thus people were advised to register only after the event. Registration in Zanu-PF strongholds however proceeded smoothly. In Bulawayo too residents complain the exercise was chaotic.(4)

MDC-T accused the pro-Zanu-PF Registrar Geneneral Tobaiwa Mudede of using the voters roll exercise to rig the election and carried out registration is though it was a clandestine exercise in order to deny MDC voters the vote. ZEC staff at Harare centres such as Glen View and Dzivaresekwa were under-manned, causing long queues and chaos. Mudede's office denied MDC information regarding registration centres in rural areas, while making this available to Zanu-PF. Where information was available, MDC found that partisan officials "frustrated prospective voters in most centers." No information as to time and place of registration in rural areas was available. Moreover, the cost of registering was exorbitant, with national registration cards costing US$5, while socalled aliens are asked to pay US$40.(5)

So far some 30 000 new voters were registered, according to ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau, who rejected all criticism.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) deplored the lack of publicity regarding the exercise and called for the relaxation of registration requirement, such as acceptable proof of residence in urban areas and by rural area Chiefs. If landlords or chiefs failed or refused to produce proof of residence or endorsement, it meant exclusion of potential voters. Thousands of young voters are unable to register through lack an IDs. The Registrar General, long suspected of withholding IDs and hampering registration of persons seen as anti-Zanu-PF, has said that one million dead voters had been removed from the roll.(6)


Calls for reforms before elections seem to be shouts in the wind, with Mugabe scoffing at any extension of the coalition government after June 29, the date he wishes the elections to be held. Both MDCs maintain the date is a non-starter.(7). The security sector chiefs are resisting regional pressure to accept reforms.(8)

The row over security sector and media reform worsened, with pro-Zanu media stepping up attacks on Morgan Tsvangirai. The Prime Minister toured SADC and other African countries to urge leaders to ensure reforms before elections. He hoped to gain the support of the incoming head of SADC, Malawi's President Joyce Banda and the head of the SADC Troika on security, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Banda was charmed by President Robert Mugabe during her recent visit to Zimbabwe, declaring her support of his fast-track land reform, while Pohamba has always treated Mugabe with deference.(9)

Another acrimonious row also escalated concerning MDC-T contact with security sector chiefs. Two journalists and a lawyer of the Zim.Independent were arrested, held for 7 hours and later charged for publishing a story based on a statement by MDC-T defence and security secretary Giles Mutsekwa. The latter confirmed holding talks with military hardliners.(10) The army chief, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, denied such meetings and called Premier Morgan Tsvangirai "a sell-out".(11)

The Zimbabwe Democratic Institute (ZDI) feared the lack of security sector reforms could frustrate fair and free elections and implored South African President Jacob Zuma, to ensure that the military stayed out of politics.(12) The Brussel-based International Crisis Group (ICG) doubted that conditions were in place for fair and free elections, given the population's pervasive fear, transgressions of Global Political Agreement (GPA) clauses and rejection of the UN assessment team.(13) The ICG thinks that the losing party in the elections will be accommodated by the winner in a new government.(14)

Zanu-PF - MDC rivalry

A report on the appointment of the heads of ZEC and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) claimed that the controversial appointments of Justice Rita Makarau and lawyer Jacob Mudenda, a former Zanu-PF official, had been cleverly engineered by Zanu-PF. The MDC factions had been granted the appointments in 2010 of Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe and Prof. Reg Austin respectively, with the understanding that in case the posts fell vacant, Zanu-PF would be able to appoint candidates of their choice.

Mutambanengwe never actually functioned, leaving ZEC in the hands of his pro-Zanu deputy. He resigned because of health reasons, but was believed to have been put under Zanu-PF pressure to do so. Austin had previously resigned, complaining of lack of support and sufficient funding to carry out his work.(15)

The Zim. Independent editorial presented a view of MDC-T's policy blueprint, with party calling for an end to corruption and dictatorship, promising transparency and accountability. Yet another opinion column bemoaned that both MDCs succumbed during the coalition to similar practices as Zanu-PF, blocking `new' candidates and imposing others against the will of a majority.(16) Zanu-PF lobbied for African intelligence agencies' support by lavish entertainment of delegates to the 10th conference of Africa's "spies", with Mugabe condemning western governments.(17)

The police raided MDC-T offices in Gwana and seized 10 motorcycles without explanation.(18)

MDC-T is expected to face tough competition from Zanu-PF in the forthcoming elections, though MDC-T Finance Minister Tendai Biti has rejected polls which recorded a collapse of his party's popularity.(19)

Party squabbles

Campaigning for Zanu-PF's primary elections are under way, with warring factions at each other's throats. Young Turks, military, women and the two opposing factions loyal to Vice President Joice Majuru and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are jostling for positions. Mujuru appears to be forging ahead.(20)

Stalwart Mugabe supporter Didymus Mutasa attacked Mnangagwa for his leadership bid, saying Mujuru was Mugabe's legitimate heir. The Mnangagwa faction is accused of intending to change before the elections and remove Mugabe as the presidential candidate. The Herald's columnist Amai Jukwa had the temerity to say "Mugabe Must Go".(21) Speaking at a funeral, Mugabe attacked the formation of factions and instructed leaders to organise themselves before the election.(22)

MDC-T is in a quandary over urban Councillors suspected of corruption, who wish to stand again for the party. Investigations into corruption allegations were ongoing, according to a spokesman.(23)


The Manicaland Business Action Group (MBAG) said the share ownership trusts, some 50 of which have been set up under the indigenisation scheme, each worth about US$10m, have failed to benefit local people, whose lives remain largely unchanged.(24)

The government plans to monopolise the sale of all mining products. All policy changes will be discussed with all stakeholders, before coming into effect.(25)

Human Rights

SW Radio Africa described a pervasive climate of fear, with the continuing arrest and incarceration of MDC officials, such as youth leader Solomon Madzore, accused of insulting the President.(26)

Mudzi West villagers were intimidated by a Zanu-PF member, George Katsande, the son of Mudzi West MP, known for his attacks of opponents of his party.(27)

The Zimbabwean, UK's Wall of Shame published a dossier on Transport Minister Zanu PF Shamva North MP, Nicholas Tasunungurwa Goche, who allegedly led the 2008 Operation Mavhotera Papi - where-did-you-vote - in his constituency, leading to the death of a number of MDC supporters and injuring hundreds.(28)

Journalist Gift Phiri published the horrific account of his torture at the hands of the Masvingo police superintendent in April 2007. The UK Zimbabwean's Wall of Shame had published then names of police officers who had beaten the then opposition leader, now Premier Morgan Tsvangirai. Phiri, the paper's chief reporter in Zimbabwe, was kept for days at the police station, suffering constant vicious beatings, with the police superintendent contemptuously tearing up all court orders to release him. When eventually Phiri was produced in court, battered and bruised, the magistrate ordered his medical treatment. It took months for Phiri to recover. The clinic was raided by the police and medical notes destroyed. Gift Phiri was later charged with publishing false news and acquitted.(29)

Reporters Without Borders "indicted" President Robert Mugabe with various offences against press freedom on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.(30)

Land issue

Zimbabwe may reopen negotiations over compensation for white farmers whose land was seized in the course of the "fast track" land reform of the last decade, but only of west will foot the bill. The issue was raised in recent meetings between Zimbabwe and two prominent American civil rights leaders, Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson, who paid separate visits recently to Harare.(31)

The journalist Jan Raath has taken issue with the book on the land seizure of some 4 500 farms by Joseph Hanlon and others. He says it contained "volumes of misapprehensions...former commercial farming areas have reverted to wild grassland, with scattered subsistence plots. Cattle have disappeared almost entirely. ...Food production has collapsed,...foodstuffs in supermarkets are almost exclusively imports from South Africa. Zimbabwe used to be self sufficient in food, and industrial products." (32)

Analyst Eric Bloch supported Raath. Tobacco production had indeed partially recovered, reaching 150m kg last season, which was still considerably below the 2001 crop of 237 m kg, which in subsequent years had dropped to 45 million kg. The partial recovery was due to funding provided to contract by major tobacco companies. Other crops did not show similar upward trends. Approximately 1 800 000 tonnes of maize were required annually, against the current yield of some 300 000 tonnes. Even in times of ideal conditions, crop outputs were low. Cotton, sugar, vegetables and other crops were lower than in pre-land reform days, with the national livestock herd estimated to be only 36% of 2000.(33) As a result of the depletion of cattle, the country had a milk deficit.(34)

  1. SW Radio Africa 7.5, 9.5, New Zimbabwe7.5, AP 9.5
  2. SW Radio Africa 7.5, 9.5
  3. SW Radio Africa 7.5
  4. Voice of America Zim.2.5,6.5, 7.5, SW Radio Africa 8.5
  5. MDC-T statement 3.5 http://www.mdc.co.zw 8.5
  6. SW Radio Africa 3.5, New Zimbabwe 2.5
  7. AP 5.5, Daily News 5.5, SW Radio Africa 6.5, Daily News 6.5
  8. Financial Gazette 8.5
  9. Zim. Independent 3.5, Financial Gazette 8.5
  10. SW Radio Africa 7.5, 8.5, Mail and Guardian 8.5
  11. Standard 5.5, Zim. Independent 6.5
  12. Zim. Mail 3.5, Mail and Guardian 3.5
  13. http://www.crisisgroup.org/6.5
  14. SW Radio Africa 6.5
  15. Zim. Independent 3.5
  16. Zim. Independent 3.5
  17. Zim.Mail 8.5, SW Radio Africa 8.5
  18. SW Radio Africa 9.5, http://www.timeslive.co.za/ 9.5
  19. Daily News 5.5
  20. Daily News 7.5, Voice of America Zim.8.5
  21. Standard 5.5, Zim. Mail 6.5, Zim.Independent 6.5
  22. Zim. Independent 6.5
  23. Daily News 7.5
  24. Voice of America Zim. 3.5
  25. New Zimbabwe 6.5, Reuters 6.5
  26. SW Radio Africa 8.5, Mail and Guardian 8.5
  27. SW Radio Africa 3.5
  28. Nehanda Radio 3.5
  29. http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/worldpressfreedomday/2013/05/02/case-study-zimbabwe/2.5
  30. SW Radio Africa 3.5
  31. Mail and Guardian 3.5, SW Radio Africa 6.5
  32. http://www.politicsweb.co.za/4.5
  33. SW Radio Africa 3.5
  34. Financial Gazette 9.5

Letzte Änderung: Friday, 10-May-2013 13:51:40 CEST
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3.5.2013 Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (23)