Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (28)


President Robert Mugabe was floored by SADC at the Maputo summit of June 15th. In a rare climb-down he had to concede that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa would request the Constitutional Court to appeal for a 14 day postponement of the election from July 31 to August 14.(1) SADC general secretary Tomaz Salomão said the organisation would comply with the Court's decision.(2) The Herald published a false report, claiming the summit upheld the 31. July date.(3)

The decision to ask for a postponement has plunged the country into a new crisis, (4) this time of Justice Minister Chinamasa's making: the Minister repeated his contention that there was no need for reform and also warned that the Constitutional Court could refuse to grant this, so that proceedings would be followed as planned.(5) Without further consultation, he then submitted an application to the Court, in which he asked for an extension, saying he had been ordered to do so by a foreign body, while the President had respected the Court and complied with its ruling. The wording virtually invite a refusal, so that a new petition was drafted by Prof. Welshman Ncube, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Chinamasa which was to replace the first.(6)The Justice Minister, however, continued to defy the party leaders by refusing to withdraw his own petition. (7)

The disunity within cabinet became apparent, when the majority of Zanu-PF Ministers left a cabinet meeting on June 18th before election matters were discussed. Thereupon responsibility had shifted to the party leaders.

Despite his humiliation, Mugabe, who had arrived with a huge entourage of 67 in Maputo, remained buoyant, describing the SADC outcome as a "triumph for Zimbabwe", deriding his coalition MDC partners as being scared of elections, as they were bound to lose. Others expressed fears that a mere fortnight was insufficient to effect the needed changes for fair elections.(8)

Following Mugabes unilateral announcement of the election date and truncating the electoral process, SADC pronounced not only on this, but also recommended the following moves to be overseen by SADC's facilitation team:

  1. The agreed amendments to the electoral act which the President had made into law by presidential decree would be sent to parliament on June 17th for debate and adoption.
  2. The SADC facilitation team and troika team appointed in Livingstone will sit in Jomic and not merely receive reports as Zanu-PF demanded.
  3. An Inter-Ministerial Committee is to implement agreed issues on media reform and monitoring of hate speech.
  4. The security forces will publicly state or restate their commitment to the rule of law, which means that they will not participate in politics.
  5. During the time that parliament is still in existence, the parties are to negotiate and make necessary amendments to POSA, AIPPA, the Broadcasting Act and section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. 6. SADC observers were to be deployed immediately.(9)While there was time before the elections to imp0lement the above, the real question is whether the political will exists to do so. During the coalition era, Zanu-PF resisted reforms set out in the 2008 Global Political Agreement. (GPA) (10) Following the Maputo summit, Mugabe rushed neither the Electoral amendments nor legislation concerning reforms to Parliament, despite the limited time before the body is dissolved.(11) The analyst Dr. Clifford Chitupa Mashiri expressed his dismay that Parliament is virtually without a workload at this crucial time, with only four more sessions before its dissolution at midnight June 28th. He also pointed out that there was no need for legislation for political parties to approach the state broadcaster with the request to broadcast their message, yet none had done so.

Still, it is heartening that SADC supported the many critics of Mugabe's unilateral move to make free and fair elections possible. Lawyers such as the independent legal research group Veritas had argued that the President could not decide unilaterally on an election date without Cabinet and government Ministers and that the necessary changes to comply with constitutional requirements could not be completed by July 31.(12) South African President Jacob Zuma also called on Mugabe to censure his generals publicly for their political utterances. Mugabe's response was that the security sector was still in the mode of the liberation struggle in which they had been involved and should be treated with "sensitivity".(13)

Mugabe thus miscalculated his confrontational attempt to present the Maputo SADC summit with a fait accompli.(14) Sundry court cases had been filed challenging the presidential decision.(15) Premier Morgan Tsvangirai and Prof. Welshman Ncube, Mugabe's MDC coalition partners vigorously supported each other in Maputo.(16)

Election campaign

Nonetheless MDC-N leader Welshman Ncube has refused an election pact with MDC-T.(17) The meeting of five parties, MDC-T, MDC-N, Mavambo Kusile Dawn, Zapu and Zanu-Ndonga, had been a report-back meeting not a discussion regarding an election pact.(18) MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala plans to boycott the election.

A ten-member African Unity observer team arrived in Zimbabwe to assess the pre-election situation.(19)

The security sector is under pressure to explain why some of its members are standing as candidates in the forthcoming Zanu-PF primary elections, when the Constitution bars security personnel from displaying any political bias.(20)


Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson, Rita Makarau, warned the media that Zec would monitor their work to ensure their reporting was unbiased.(21)A journalist was abducted by unknown assailants and beaten, leaving him in a serious condition.(22) MDC security personnel was also accused of attacking two journalists in the course of their duty.(23)

Voters Roll

The voters registration under the new constitution which began on June 10th appeared to be little different from the chaotic exercise conducted between April and May. Contrary to Justice Makarau's promise to correct the problems of the earlier proceedings, this has not happened. Angry would-be voters waiting in barely moving queues accuse ZEC of a deliberate go-slow to impede registration. In some wards only two days were given, without sufficient advance notice.(24)

During the April/May exercise, officials from Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede office carrying out the process, demanded proof of residence from urbanites, well aware that most township dwellers were not houseowners, but rented accommodation, usually without formal leases. Following complaints, the Cabinet ruled people were allowed to register after signing an affidavit that they lived in the constituency, but registry officials failed to provide the affidavits. As before, the pace of registration was deliberately slow in areas such as Matabeleland, while in Mashonaland areas it proceeded briskly. ZEC statistics have shown that in Masholaland East, Central, West, Zanu-PF strongholds, 204041 new voters were registered, whereas in Bulawayo, the second largest city, the number was only 5068 first-time voters. Zanu-PF voters were given registration slips needed for the election, while in urban areas MDC voters went largely without.(25)

Mudede claimed he had only finance for district registration available, raising further fears that many persons would be omitted from the voters roll. The constitution stipulates intensive, ward-based registration over 30 days.(26) The Registrar General refuted all criticism of his office and said that aliens, i.e. persons born in Zimbabwe of parents from other countries, had to produce documentary evidence or sign affidavits, which were "readily available" at the army's headquarters in Harare.(27) This disregarded the problems posed for rural people to travel to the capital.

According to the Mail and Guardian, the manner in which registration is proceeding is in line with a plan drawn up by Zanu-PF commissariat department under former Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena and former Central Intelligence Organisation director internal Sydney Nyanhongo. This had been implemented since 2010 and aimed the voters roll manipulation through various strategies, which included denying registration to as many rival parties' supporters as possible. Thousands of landless people had been gradually settled in urban areas through Zanu-PF housing co-operatives, with plots allocated in return for voting for Zanu-PF.(28)

Theresa Makone, MDC MP for Harare North, confirmed the numerous housing co-operatives established in her area, resulting in 10 000 new citizens. She suspected all was not well, when she inspected the voters roll on April 15 and found her name absent. She complained, buying another voters roll two days later. This time her name was included in Ward 18, but the number of entries had risen from 8 305 to 10 076, with ZEC registering some 2 000 in 48 hours, whereas the normal rate was 200 per day. Another Harare north ward No. 42 had 5196 people listed on April 15, with the number trebling by April 17 to 17068. Makone said the huge increase was due to people registered under housing co-operatives.(29)

Irregularities were also reported in Mbare, where Zanu-PF supporters were registered without the required proof of residence and vendors forced to take out Zanu-PF membership before being allocated a market place.(30)

Party affairs

All three parties were involved with primaries to choose candidates ahead of elections.(31) Zanu-PF has been locked in infighting for months, thus delaying its primary elections, which will now be held on June 24th. Apart from the battle line between the Joice Mjuru und Emmerson Mnangagwa factions, the old guard was also under pressure from the "young Turks" and challengers from the security forces. Numerous candidates are fighting for candidacies, as they seek to elbow each other out.(32)

MDC National Housing Minister Giles Mutsekwa has been involved in intra-party violence concerning primary elections.(33) MDC primary elections ended after a month, with some members claiming irregularities. In Matabeleland it was alleged that elections involving a white candidate were rigged to stop her election.(34)


The death in a car accident on June 19th of Zanu-PF MP Edward Chindori-Chininga has raised questions. The MP chaired the Parliamentary Committee on mining and energy, which last week issued a damning report about Zanu-PF and its allies in the diamond industry. This revealed that Mbada Mining paid US$293 million in taxes over four years, but only US$82 million was received by the government.(35)

It is feared that the missing taxes paid have been used to finance the military and bolster Zanu-PF's election campaign. Four companies operate in the Maranga diamond fields, one wholly government owned, the others in 50% partnership with government. The military is in control of the area. The parliamentary cross - party mines and energy portfolio committee found "serious discrepancies" regarding diamond payments.(36)

  1. Standard 16.6, SW Radio Africa 15.6, New Zimbabwe 15.6, Daily News 15.6, 16.6, New Zimbabwe 16.6, Independent 17.6, AFP 17.6
  2. SW Radio Africa 17.6
  3. http://www.zimeye.org/ 17.6
  4. Daily News 20.6
  5. http://www.timeslive.co.za/, New Ziana 17.6
  6. SW Radio Africa 19.6, 20.6, Herald 20.6
  7. Voice of America Zim.20.6
  8. Financial Times 16.6
  9. SW Radio Africa 15.6
  10. Daily News 19.6
  11. SW Radio Africa 20.6
  12. http://www.africareview.com/18.6,
  13. New Zimbabwe18.6
  14. Voice of America News 14.6, Zim. Independent 14.6
  15. Mail and Guardian14,6, Voice of America News 14.6
  16. http://www.zimeye.org/ 15.6, SW Radio Africa, 15.6
  17. New Zimbabwe 18.6
  18. Voice of America Zim.18.6
  19. SW Radio Africa 19.6
  20. SW Radio Africa 19.6
  21. The Zimbabwean 17.6
  22. SW Radio Africa 17.6
  23. Zim.Independent 14.6
  24. The Zimbabwean 14.6, Zim.Independent 14.6
  25. Mail and Guardian 14.6
  26. The Zimbabwean 14.6
  27. New Zimbabwe 19.6
  28. Mail and Guardian 14.6
  29. Mail and Guardian 14.6
  30. Mail and Guardian 14.6)
  31. SW Radio Africa 14.6
  32. SW Radio Africa 14.6 (Zim. Independent 14.6, New Zimbabwe 14.6
  33. SW Radio Africa 14.6
  34. Voice of America Zim.17.6
  35. SW Radio Africa 20.6
  36. Telegraph, 19.6

Letzte Änderung: Wednesday, 26-Jun-2013 09:26:16 CEST [an error occurred while processing this directive]