Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (29)



The rift between Zanu-PF and the two MDCs over the poll date deepened, with President Robert Mugabe apparently determined to ignore SADC's directive.(1) The President left for medical treatment in Singapore amidst confusion, two weeks after his return from the Far East.(2)

At its Maputo summit on June 15th SADC had recommended on a two-week postponement of the election date to August 14th and full implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement before elections. This is backed by South Africa's President Jacob Zuma.(3) President Robert Mugabe and his party, however, were still bent to go ahead without the series of GPA reforms. With Parliament due to be dissolved by midnight June 28th, the laws could not be amended. These included the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, Broadcasting Services Act, Police Act, Defence Act and others concerning electoral issues.(4) The issue of press freedom had also erupted again, with Zanu-PF dominating the media through state-controlled organs. While the Information Ministry had long resisted the issue of broadcasting licences, two stations were recently licensed, both with Zanu-PF links.(5)

Defiant Zanu-PF considered SADCs resolutions as irrelevant and SADC unable to interfere in Zimbabwe affairs, as articulated by Zanu-PF columnist Nathaniel Manheru.(6) During the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on Zimbabwe, the chairman expressed concern regarding the government's untruthfulness to SADC and the international to ensure free and fair elections.(7)

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa indeed had filed an appeal to the Constitutional Court (Concourt) requesting the fortnight extension of the election date recommended by SADC. However, he stated that this was done at SADC's request without good reason for change: a clear invitation to the Court to reject the appeal.(8) The MDC formations filed a further appeal, with Concourt deciding to hear both applications on June 28th , then postponed to July 4th together with four other cases on the same issue.(9) Legal experts see this delay as a setback for Tsvangirai, as his argument that time was needed for reform fell away with the dissolution of Parliament in June 28th. The coalition government was criticized for not effecting the reforms during its four years in office.(10)

Mugabe's proclaimed July date not only allowed no time for Parliament to debate and pass electoral amendments or reforms, his presidential decree regarding the electoral amendments had not only bypassed Parliament, but contained two changes inserted by Chinamasa: it curtailed the voters' registration period and deleted provision to prevent voting in two constituencies.(11)

The coalition partners had actually agreed to replace Chinamasa's appeal. This and other matters arising out of the Summit had been on the agenda at an agreed meeting of the party leaders on the morning of Friday, June 21st. However, Premier Morgan Tsvangirai, Prof. Welshman Ncube and their advisors waited all morning in vain for the President.(12)

By his non-show Mugabe signalled disdain of SADC's recommendations and his coalition partners.(13) The President had found it more important to officiate at a ceremony to accept US$16m from China for roadworks than to attend the meeting.(14) His spokesman denied he had left the MDC leaders waiting from 10.00 to 13.00, claiming Mugabe had gone to State House in the afternoon after attending to state business to find the coalition partners had abandoned the meeting. This was strenuously denied by both MDCs.(15)

Following this incident, Tsvangirai lodged the new appeal to Concourt.(16) In all, six cases on the issue await a decision, which the Court scheduled for July 4th.(17)

Voters Registration

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has accused Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede of not carrying out the current voters registration correctly, despite the US$20m the Finance Ministry had provided.(18) Registration was being carried out improperly on district and not on ward basis, as provided in the constitution. Instead of making registration easy, the process has become cumbersome and an ordeal for voters, with endless paperwork slowing the exercise. The cumbersome bureaucratic hurdles are seemingly aimed at disenfranchising voters in suspected MDC strongholds. Registration in urban areas is proceeding painfully slowly, while it is conducted briskly in rural areas.(19)

Justice Rita Makarau, head of the Zimbabwe Election Commission told SADC's observers that ZEC was ready for elections, with the registration going well.(20) The Parliamentary Portfolio on Defence and Home Affairs refuted this, following its tour of some mobile centres. Its chairman stated that thousands would be unable to register due to various delays. This supported residents' accusation that the limping registration exercise was fraudulent, with fewer voters registered each day. They claimed Zanu-PF hampered proceedings, for instance by busing people from peri-urban areas into Harare, thus preventing local residents from registering due to congestion. (21)

Allegedly, vote rigging is under way, as in Didymus Mutasa's constituency, according to an ex-Zanu commissariat member. Changes are being made in names or addresses of suspected MDC voters particularly in so-called "swing constituencies" in which Zanu-PF lost or won by a narrow margin, to render them ineligible on election day. Rural people are told that they will have to line up behind their Chiefs for the election, so that those absent or anyone who voted elsewhere will be deemed to be a MDC supporter.(22)

The Israeli company Nikuv International Projects with offices in Harare, was allegedly contracted by ZANU PF to manipulate the voters roll. Mudede had said that almost a million deceased voters have been deleted, but it is feared that thousands of eligible names were removed in MDC strongholds.(23)

Donald Y. Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs said during a hearing on Zimbabwe, said that "reports indicate that elements within Zimbabwean political parties and government security agencies have already begun efforts to intimidate voters and illicitly shape the outcome of the elections. This includes a troubling trend of arrests, detentions, and harassment of organizations and individuals working on human rights, electoral assistance, and related issues." (24)

Party affairs

Zanu-PF was shaken by the fatal motor accident of MP Edward Chindori-Chininga, whose death has been forecast for weeks by the anonymous Baba Jukwa, whose blog has gathered a huge following. The party was in disarray (25) over its primary election, which had to be postponed to June 27th. due to lack of stationery.(26), leaving no time for appeal by losing candidates.(27)

Both Zanu-PF and MDC-M were accused by party demonstrators of imposing candidates on them undemocratically.(28) The Mail and Guardian published a report on the goings-on within Zanu-PF over candidates, alleging "claims of bribery, cronyism and all sorts of threats and intrigue" that come with the process of choosing candidates.(29)

Two Daily News journalists were detained by Zanu-PF activists, as they tried to cover the demonstration.(30) The International Federation of Journalists and Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe expressed its concerns for the safety of journalists during the election campaign.(31)Two ZimRights officials accused of illegal voter registration and other offences as well as ZimRights were acquitted by a Harare magistrate, while four others are still facing several charges.(32)

Election Campaign

The election campaign is in full swing.

A review of the coalition era shows that politics were dominant, while bread and butter issues such as service deliveries have been neglected. The economy is in crisis, with high unemployment and poverty besetting the majority of the population and public utilities barely functioning.(33)

Senior army officers, who had been preparing for months for the elections, in breach of the constitution, were ready to be despatched to the provinces to spearhead a campaign to ensure a Zanu-PF win .(34) Mugabe presented tribal leaders and provincial governors with heavy farm equipment in an effort to support his campaign. The Chiefs are expected to pressurise their people to support Zanu-PF. (35)

Perhaps the clearest winner of all, ahead of elections is the mysterious Baba Jukwa, who continues to spill Zanu-PF secrets on Facebook and who has garnered a following of well over 180 000. A self-confessed Zanu-PF member, he says a rushed election will mean `his' party controls the current election system.(36)

Land issue

South Africa's Constitutional Court rejected a Zimbabwe government appeal against a Supreme Court judgment. It concerned a case brought by former commercial farmers regarding land expropriation, which the SAC Tribunal, since suspended, had ruled unlawful. The sale of Zimbabwe property in South Africa can now go ahead to effect restitution.(37)

  1. tp://www.iol.co.za/ [HYPERLINK: http://www.iol.co.za/]23.6
  2. SW Radio Africa 25.6
  3. New Zimbabwe 21.6
  4. SAPA-AFP 21.6
  5. Daily News 24.6
  6. New Zimbabwe 22.6
  7. News24, 24.6
  8. http://www.iol.co.za/23.6, Herald 24.6
  9. SW Radio Africa 26.6, 27.6, Daily News 23.6
  10. Voice of America 27.6
  11. http://www.iol.co.za/23.6, SW Radio Africa 21.6, 24-6, Zim. Independent 21.6
  12. Daily News 23.6
  13. New Zimbabwe 22.6, Voice of America Zim.22.6
  14. Standard 23.6
  15. Zimbabwean UK 24.6, New Zimbabwe 23.6
  16. http://www.timeslive.co.za/ 25.6
  17. SW Radio Africa 26.6, 27.6, Daily News 23.6
  18. Standard 23.6
  19. Standard 23.6, Zim. Independent 21.6
  20. Voice of America.Zim 25.6
  21. The Zimbabwean 25.6, 27.6
  22. http://www.sokwanele.com/20.6
  23. SW Radio Africa 21.6
  24. Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, Washington, DC. 18.6
  25. Daily News 23.6, 25.6, Standard 23.6, Voice of America 23.6
  26. The Zimbabwean UK 25.6, SW Radio Africa 25.6
  27. SW Radio Africa 26.6, 27.6
  28. SW Radio Africa 24.6, Voice of America Zim.21.6
  29. Mail and Guardian 21.6
  30. Daily News 21.6
  31. IFP 20.6, Daily News 24.6)
  32. SW Radio Africa 21.6
  33. Zim.Independent 21.6
  34. SW Radio Africa 24.6) Zim. Independent 21.6
  35. Zim.Independent 21.6
  36. http://www.economist.com/29.6
  37. SW Radio Africa 27.6, http://www.politicsweb.co.za/27.6

Letzte Änderung: Friday, 28-Jun-2013 11:17:20 CEST [an error occurred while processing this directive]